City Fire Officials Accused of Helping Topless Bar to Expand
© Copyright Las Vegas Tribune
June 5, 2002
By Steve Miller

 Fire laws enforced only during day                  Ralph Rizzolo photographs tow trucks                 Fire Lane becomes valet-parking area after dark

LAS VEGAS - City of Las Vegas Fire Inspectors are being accused by a business owner of selectively enforcing Las Vegas Fire Code Section 10.207 as a favor to a politically influential topless bar owner.

On May 1, bar owner Frederick Rizzolo purchased the Industrial Road shopping center that houses Allstate Auto and Marine, a business owned by Buffalo Jim Barrier. Rizzolo owns the adjacent Crazy Horse Too topless bar and allegedly wants to expand his business into Barrier's leased space. The problem is that Barrier's lease is in good standing and has nine years remaining. Also, Rizzolo has shown no intention of buying out Barrier.

Rizzolo's name surfaced last year when the City of Las Vegas Ethics Review Board found Councilman Michael McDonald guilty of doing him favors. Prior to the Ethics Board's findings, McDonald was found to be living rent-free in a half million-dollar Canyon Gate villa owned by a business associate of Rizzolo. Immediately after the story was printed on the front page of the Las Vegas Tribune, McDonald moved out of the villa without explanation.

Now, McDonald's name is again being mentioned in a complaint from Barrier to LVFD Chief David Washington that city Fire Inspectors Timothy Stickler and Terry Paul are doing McDonald a favor by harassing Barrier's auto shop customers to cause him to move out so Rizzolo can expand his bar.

Last Wednesday, after leasing for twenty-one years with adjacent parking, Barrier discovered official LVFD "Fire Lane/No Parking" signs posted on the side of his garage. When several regular customers accidentally parked in the newly posted space, three tow trucks appeared on the scene while Rizzolo and several men watched and took photographs. Later that day, Barrier photographed the same space being used by Rizzolo as a valet parking lot with no sign of the tow trucks. He called the Fire Department to complain.

The following morning, Fire Inspectors Stickler and Paul visited Barrier's business and had the signs removed. They told witnesses that the fire lane belonged on the other side of the alley. However, that same afternoon Stickler and Paul returned, and to Barrier's dismay, had the signs re-mounted on the side of his garage. When questioned one Inspector reportedly said, "Mr. Rizzolo is politically influential." The next day, a six-inch wide red stripe was painted around Barrier's business along with orange cones and saw horses displaying additional No Parking warnings.

Each evening thereafter, Barrier has photographed the area being used as a valet parking lot in violation of the fire code. Also, according to Barrier, he must now inform his customers to park over one hundred feet away in order to avoid being towed.

Barrier also states that he is concerned for the public's safety in the event of a fire during times in the evening and late night when the fire lane is used for bar patron's parking. He told the Tribune that he asked Inspectors Stickler and Paul to make an inspection during those hours, but was refused.

Barrier believes that some LVFD officials are collaborating with McDonald to harass him as a favor to Rizzolo, though he vows to fight the effort and says he has no intention of moving while his lease is in effect.

According to sources, Rizzolo has been showing an artist's rendering of a new topless club he is planning to build over the space now leased by Barrier. Barrier pays only forty-three cents per foot for his 13,000 square feet and says that he cannot afford to move.

Editor's note: The author of this story is a former Las Vegas City Councilman.

For Information on Frederick Rizzolo, go to: The Rick Rizzolo Connection