COLUMN: Steve Miller
Las Vegas Tribune
August 9, 2000

A Tank in Every Driveway?

Only in Las Vegas could this story unfold. A Retired Clark County firefighter drives his 1964 Daimler Ferret armored personnel carrier around town every day as his primary form of transportation.

In a town where jet helicopters have replaced block-long limousines for the richest of the rich, a guy like Bill Stojack driving around in a tank should not grab much attention, but it has lately because of an overreaction by City Hall!

Stojack and his tank is a common sight in the area near Rancho and Charleston where he usually hangs out with a classy crowd at Starbucks or the Macaroni Grill.

Bill's "ride" is unusual in three distinct ways: it has rubber tires; is fully licensed and insured; and has a WORKING fifty-caliber machine gun mounted on top!

As an ardent 2nd Amendment advocate, I really LOVE Bill's tank, and I must admit, I'm jealous as Hell! Furthermore, Bill has unceremoniously saved hundreds of lives during his career as a fire fighter, so he obviously values human life enough to keep the machine gun unloaded. (He does carry several hundred dummy rounds in the tank to let people know what they look like.) So what's the big deal?

Bill Stojack is the perfect example of the type of level headed, altruistic guy who should be able to drive around with a machine gun on top of his tank - unloaded, and in plain view of course. Besides, what would a tank be without a cannon? Just a big, ugly car like a Hummer.

If Bill is legally allowed to park an ugly Hummer in his driveway without covering it up, then why not a tank? Therein lies the rest of this story.

When I first met Bill at Starbucks, I really liked the guy. He reminded me of a shorter version of John Wayne with a Pancho Villa mustache, a true modern day Las Vegas legend. A guy who likes to help people, a guy who likes to save lives! A retired fireman.

Somehow Bill and his tank fit perfectly together. They are truly meant for each other -- like Las Vegas and Elvis; Bob Stupak and Phyllis McGuire; Sigfried and Roy; Jan Jones and Indian Casinos; Dice Clocks and Steve Wynn; or a fireman and his hose!

Now comes City Hall.

"Oh My God! There's a old bald dude driving a tank to Starbucks every morning! Call the Marshals! - Call the Inspectors! - Call the Mayor!"

Bill and his three restored military vehicles lived happily (until recently) at his home east of Rancho Road. Bill is very popular with his neighbors and they often ask him for rides in one or another of his collection. He also loves to show the machines off in parades and charitable events. Bill has a big heart - and a tank with an operable fifty-caliber machine gun on top!

When Mayor Oscar Goodman got wind of the unusual military collection, he called Bill before the City Council. The rest is history.

At the hearing the Mayor refused to allow any of Bill's neighbors to speak in his favor and ordered Bill to cover the vehicles up when they are parked on Bill's own driveway!

Stojack objected saying that he drives the tanks and 1953 Army jeep everyday and covering them each time would be an unfair burden - furthermore none of his neighbors are complaining.

(Does Pep Boys sell tank covers?)

Oscar persisted in his quest to "beautify" Bill's neighborhood with the mandated masking of the collection from the sight of passersby.

Then Councilman Michael McDonald cautiously jumped in and asked the Mayor to chill out and leave Bill alone. This caused Oscar to become more agitated! The Mayor insisted that those damn tanks be "covered up" or else!

Stojack remarked about his neighbor who has not cut his grass in two years and whose yard looks like the Apex landfill. When asked if he reported the slovenly property owner to the City, Bill responded "I'm not that kind of guy." It makes people wonder why the City is picking on Bill?

Oscar again demanded "You will have to put covers on your tanks!"

Bill countered that he can park his vehicles in front of his house (or the Mayor's for that matter) any time he wants for as long as seventy-two hours without breaking any law, and he doesn't have to cover them when they are parked on the street. The City Attorney concurred.

Then obediently, Councilman Lawrence Weekly made a motion to force Bill to cover his vehicles each time he parks them on his own driveway. Bill tried to respond but Oscar cut him off. A neighbor stepped forward but was also silenced.

The Council voted unanimously in favor of Weekly's motion. The tanks WILL be covered FROM NOW ON when they're on Bill's driveway!

This entire charade took more than an hour to play out before the Las Vegas City Council and the viewing public. It also did irreparable harm to the Council's waning credibility to say nothing about a citizen's rights under the United States Constitution! As a point of clarification, it was made clear that Bill Stojack's tank can continue to legally be driven and PARKED on public streets, just not parked in his driveway while uncovered. It is also clearly known that Bill's fifty-caliber machine gun is NOT A CONCEALED WEAPON and therefore can legally remain in operable condition atop his tank as long as it is visible to the public. Hmmm!

Now I'd like to make a humble suggestion to Bill so that his efforts are not in vain, and to assist him in teaching a lesson on Constitutional Rights to the Mayor and Council.

Bill: Since there is no law against parking your tank on the street, and since there is no law that prohibits you from positioning your UNLOADED fifty-caliber machine gun at perpendicular angles, I suggest that you alternately park your beautiful tank in front of the Mayor's house on Bannie Lane, or in front of City Hall.

Just make sure that the barrel of that gorgeous "Fifty-Caliber" points where the sun rarely shines. They'll get the point!

Your buddy, Steve.