COLUMN: Steve Miller
Las Vegas Tribune
October 11, 2000

"Like a Good Neighbor…Steve Wynn is There…"

A number of pioneer citizens who choose to remain in their beautiful homes on what was once the Desert Inn golf course are learning the true meaning of "political clout!"

Homes that have been sold to Steve Wynn for his planned resort are being intentionally allowed by Clark County officials to deteriorate into attractive nuisances; abandoned structures that attract vagrants. Their swimming pools are green with algae and are breeding disease carrying misquotes. Rats have also been reported, all under the watchful eye of Wynn and the Clark County health and code enforcement authorities that are obediently turning their backs on resident’s complaints.

Wynn's company has just made application to Clark County for rezoning the golf course from Residential to Tourist Commercial. The rezoning item will also be obediently approved within the next few weeks which would normally cause the property values to skyrocket for those who choose to remain in possession of their homes. Unfortunately, there is only one potential buyer: Steve Wynn. Wynn purchased all but twelve residences for the previous RE zoned values and says that that was his last offer.

Whether those who remain in their homes are there because they truly do not want to relocate, or because they want more money for their property, is a mute point. Their lives are still about to become miserable and county authorities are helping to exasperate their problems by ignoring their health and safety complaints!

A perfect example of the result of Mr. Wynn’s tactics is the Villa Flores Apartment building that sits in the middle of the Treasure Island parking lot. Fred Flores did not accept Wynn’s low-ball offer, and Wynn built around him never to mention a buy-out again. When Flores went to the County Commission for new zoning to build a time-share, Wynn’s lackeys on the Commission unceremoniously shot Flores down. His humble apartment building still remains residentially zoned and continues to be Flores’ only source of income from the ultra-valuable land.

Another example was the fate of the 70 senior citizens who were given little option but to remain until the last minute in their broken down trailers at the WorldWide Mobile Home Park once located across the street from the Treasure Island. Wynn wanted their land for an employee parking lot. Many of the park residents were too old or too weak to move, and many more did not have the funds to find another home.

The saddest part was that a community had formed. The World Wide residents were a coalescent support group for each other and breaking up such long term friendships was one of the cruelest things I have ever observed Wynn to do.

He began by offering park residents about $4,000 each to move out early. If they did not go immediately, he began reducing the offer each month until they did. Many left, but many more stayed because they could not afford to go. Wynn began cutting off their life support systems one by one.

First to go were the pay phones; then the gardeners; then the security; and finally the water and power. A few more senior citizens moved, but most held on to what had been their humble homes for the past thirty years. Park residents elected one of their younger neighbors as a spokeswoman. She went to the mainstream press with the revolting story but few media outlets responded. Those that did downplayed the story. The spokeswoman came to me and I helped her organize a demonstration on the once-public sidewalk in front of the Mirage.

The day of the demonstration, several dozen senior citizen residents, many in wheelchairs, showed up to tell anyone who would listen that Steve Wynn was heartlessly forcing them from their homes and not providing them with alternative housing. Unexplainably, not one media outlet covered their four-hour long demonstration.

The residents went back to their dingy trailers defeated. One resident who spent the day in front of the Mirage, 98 year old Mr. Hanson passed away shortly thereafter.

Wynn’s only response to the sidewalk demonstration was a bill draft prepared by his attorneys that was presented to Frankie Sue Del Pappa. Wynn’s law would allow the privatization of Strip sidewalks -- effectively prohibiting such demonstrations in the future.

That unconstitutional law is in force today thanks to Steve Wynn.

So what is to be the fate of the remaining Desert Inn Golf Course Estates homeowners? Since the Pappas case, the courts and other government agencies shy away from the improper use of eminent domain. Wynn cannot use his clout to force the county to uproot the homeowners for his whim without exposing the taxpayers to another Pappas-type court battle.

I can only predict more of the same for the D.I. homeowners, many of whom are our town’s pioneer citizens. Their beautiful golf course view will be the first to go to be blocked by a ten-foot high wall in their back yards. They can also expect noisy trash compactors and emergency power generators to be placed on the other side of their wall along with dumpsters full of wet garbage waiting for daily pick up from the R.C. Pig Farm.

Steve Wynn has already demonstrated that he has no respect for our town’s pioneer citizens as shown by the Carol Pappas and World Wide examples.

He says he will "build around" the holdouts, and he will. But the holdouts should keep in mind that their beleaguered homes are blocking the realization of Wynn’s latest pipe dream, and he is desperate to get his way. If the remaining homeowners can afford to move they should, but retain ownership of their D.I. properties. Wynn’s lackeys in the media will spin the story to say that the remaining homeowners are the greedy ones, but who is actually so greedy?

The Desert Inn Golf Course was the most beautiful residential community in our city for over fifty years, and those who had the good taste and good fortune to enjoy a lifetime residing in that lovely enclave deserve more respect than they are getting!

Unlike the indigent senior citizens at the World Wide Mobile Home Park, the Desert Inn Estates homeowners can readily afford to hold out for the highest price for their valuable properties. Meanwhile, their alacrity will once again prove that Steve Wynn and his unnatural political control of local government agencies is one of our state’s most appalling problems.

Steve Miller is a former Las Vegas City Councilman and Clark County Regional Transportation Commissioner. He was the author and sponsor of the City of Las Vegas Ethics in Government Law and the readers of the Review Journal voted him the "Most Effective Public Official" in Southern Nevada in 1991. Steve writes a weekly column in the Las Vegas Tribune: Visit his website at: