Brian is a poor excuse for a Greenspun

COMMENTARY: Steve Miller
Las Vegas Tribune
January 23, 2002

I apologetically write this article because I had the greatest respect for the late Hank Greenspun.

When I was 14 years old I was a finalist in the SUN Youth Forum. As a reward, Mr. Greenspun let me guest write his Where I Stand column on the front page of the Las Vegas SUN. This experience inspired me to become a writer. He then helped my partner Keith Austin and I produce the "Teenbeat Club Television Show" on his TV station, KLAS TV. The program aired for 4 years during the 1960s.

I also have the highest regard for Las Vegas SUN Executive Editor, former Governor Mike OíCallahan. Mike was my probation officer when I was a teenager.

When recently hearing one of the SUNís reporters say, "That Steve Miller is really becoming a pain in the ass," Mike responded, "You should have known him when he was sixteen. I straightened him out and he became one of our townís leading citizens." Thanks Mike.

For many years I have had the honor and privilege of knowing Milton Schwartz. Milton is one of the finest men I have ever known. He is wise, honest, and generous to a fault.

I also know and respect most of Hank Greenspunís family especially his widow Barbara, niece Susan, and daughter Jane. Unfortunately, I also know Hank's son Brian.

Itís hard for me to believe that Brian is the offspring of Hank Greenspun.

Last Friday, Brian Greenspun penned a highly disrespectful column in the SUN about Milton Schwartz. Mr. Schwartz was criticized because he once owned a competitive TV cable company.

In his column, Brian resorted to name-calling - something he is prone to do when confronted by facts.

He called Milton Schwartz "one of the smallest people I've ever met." Brian ended his childish diatribe with more name-calling by referring to Milton as "stupid." This is not the first time Brian has viciously attacked persons who are self-made.

In the March 28, 2000, edition of the Las Vegas Tribune, I wrote an article entitled "The history of Government Access TV in Las Vegas." The portions reprinted below may enlighten those who are unfamiliar with Brian's true character:

***

Hank Greenspun's Community Cable Co. was granted an exclusive Clark County TV cable franchise by the Nevada Public Service Commission in 1973. The "Community Cable Ordinance" stipulated that a Government Access Channel and a Public Access Channel would be made available immediately. By the year 1987 - fourteen years later - neither had been implemented.

In 1987, after inquiring of the then-mayor and council, and learning of their objection to being televised in action, I began the process of bringing Cox Cable's predecessor, Prime Cable, before the city council on a Show Cause action to defend their reason for not having implemented the channels they long ago agreed to provide.

The Cable Company's owners began fighting my efforts with their biggest guns. I began being attacked regularly in Brian Greenspun and Jeff German's columns in the SUN while the then-mayor and my fellow councilmembers tried to thwart my every move to open up city and county government to public scrutiny.

Undaunted, in spring of 1988, I placed a Show Cause item on the council agenda requiring Prime Cable to show cause why they had not complied with the 1973 ordinance. I also promised to open public bidding by other companies if the channels were not started immediately.

Just to show how serious I was, I invited half a dozen national cable TV companies to come to town to make presentations before the Show Cause hearing was held. Several accepted my invitation and started heavy political lobbying and PR telling the councilmen and mayor that they would open the two government channels and pay for all production facilities in exchange for the exclusive franchise then held by Prime.

The councilmen and mayor warned me of the political ramifications of my lone actions and recommended that I back off. Even knowing I was up against a newspaper, I persisted.

The news stories intensified in the Review-Journal. At that time the SUN and RJ were not operating under a Joint Operating Agreement. The SUN tried to ignore the growing cable story, but prepared to fight my efforts on a different front.

I was invited to meet with Prime Cable's Brian Greenspun at the SUN newspaper office. Brian immediately threatened my political "career." He said I would commit "political suicide" if I continued to force his company to open the government channels. I told him that he was an inspiration, and promptly walked out of his office.

I came home to find my TV cable cut from the telephone pole behind my house and thrown into my swimming pool along with a bunch of nuts, bolts, and clamps. I intensified my quest to open up city and county government meetings to gavel-to-gavel cable TV coverage.

During a committee hearing I chaired on the issue, Brian repeatedly called me a "liar." I declared him out of order. He continued his name-calling. I recessed the hearing and summoned a city marshal to the hearing room. I instructed the marshal to stand by to remove Brian if he persisted in disrupting the hearing. Brian behaved at the insistence of his attorney John Moran, Jr. The following morning, the RJ wrote a story about the incident that proved embarrassing to Brian.

Negative stories about me in the SUN became more frequent and caustic.

Several months later, after extensive RJ news coverage, Prime Cable begrudgingly supplied government access channels for the city and county but insisted the taxpayers pay for all production costs. The council obediently voted to allocate $95,000 per year for production.

Before the vote, I argued in vain that the cost must be paid by the cable company in exchange for their exclusive franchise and for ignoring their original agreement for fourteen years, but the rest of the council was afraid of joining my "political suicide." Furthermore, Prime Cable gifted the mayor and each councilman free deluxe home cable service.

To pay me back for my successful effort, Brian made good on his "political suicide" threat. In 1991, Brian did not object to Jan Jones printing a much-altered LV SUN article in her mayoral campaign advertisements against me. Brian did not protest when Jones edited 56 words from the copyrighted SUN story to support a false caption slandering my reputation. He has sued others for reproducing copyrighted SUN articles without authorization.

***

Obviously, Brian does not fit the shoes of his late father. In 1998, I attended a SUN Editorial Board meeting. Brian was a half-hour late. When he arrived - sans socks, the gentleman I was with said, "Its an honor to meet the owner of the Las Vegas SUN." Brianís mother, Barbara, tersely responded, "I am the owner of the Las Vegas SUN!"

That said it all.

Its sad that our town must rely on people like Brian and his two proxies, Jeff German and Jon Ralston, to disseminate his brand of propaganda on Cox Cable channels 1 and 39, and in "his" newspaper.

I empathize with Barbara and the rest of the family. I also feel sorry for those who must work with him. With a child like Brian left to carry on the Greenspun familyís good name, Hank must be spinning in his grave.

Editorís note: The Los Angeles Times on July 8, 1991, stated: ".... Steve Miller was someone a lot of powerful people loved to hate. It was MillerÖ.who proposed opening competition to the sole cable television network in town, operated by Brian Greenspun, who owns the newspaper, the Las Vegas SUN." In September 1999, the Las Vegas Review-Journal listed Miller in their special edition THE FIRST 100. The RJ editors stated: "Steve Miller -- City Councilman involved in government access TV and the CAT bus system." Visit his website at: http://www.SteveMiller4LasVegas.com