COMMENTARY: Steve Miller
Las Vegas Tribune

December 26, 2001

Thank God 2001 is Over!

This was the year that was! Tragedy, hypocrisy, and stupidly reigned. Here are a few of my favorite local examples followed by my nominations for some apt awards:

*** My year started with a trial that should have only taken five or six days but somehow lasted for over six weeks. Perhaps it was the cameras in the courtroom, but nonetheless I lost. Soon thereafter an appeal was filed with the Nevada Supreme Court. They will be asked to rule whether too much superfluous, collateral, and irrelevant information was allowed to be presented to the jury. In the coming year, if the Justices rule in my favor, a new trial may be ordered. If not, it will be open season on anyone who dares to run for public office in this state from now on.

*** In another trial, the Tabish and Murphy case, Judge Joseph Bonaventure attended an autograph signing party at the Horseshoe and released sealed transcripts while he is still presiding over upcoming motions.

I'm aghast that the judge allowed an amateur author to have access to sealed court documents, and then the judge had the gall to go the Horseshoe to promote the same author's poorly written book while the case is still within his jurisdiction! This is the same book that demonizes Tabish and Murphy for purportedly having oral sex in front of jail guards and a half dozen attorneys. The actions of this judge in helping to promote such a piece of trash should discount all his trial decisions.

In the New Year, Judge Bonaventure needs to recuse and let an impartial judge take over this case.

*** Next year, the latest proposal for a rollercoaster ride which would drop passengers 700 feet from the Stratosphere's tower and travel along Las Vegas Boulevard toward Sahara Avenue will be brought before the city council. Let's face it, the Strip hotels never wanted the Stupak Tower, now they want the Stratosphere roller coaster even less. It will be just too much competition for them to handle. Friends of mine in nearby Meadows Village are very supportive because it means jobs for neighborhood workers. I hope the council sees the fabricated "protest" for what it is: just another attempt to keep the city second fiddle to the Strip.

*** Then, on Dec. 17, one of our community leaders put his foot in his mouth and was quoted in the New York Times saying, "If someone's going to cannibalize us, I want to be the cannibal."

Philip G. Satre, chief executive of Harrah's, made the wacky statement when he was asked about casinos outside Nevada taking away existing casino's business. Instead of trying to help Nevada in this time of need, Satre is gung-ho to build casinos on the roads leading into our state, hence his self-serving statement. Few in Nevada took notice of his gaffe possibly because Harrah's is a giant advertiser and generous political campaign contributor.

Then, last November on the Jon Ralston TV show, another Harrah's executive, Jan Jones, complained that this writer criticized her when she was Mayor of Las Vegas for helping to bring gaming to Detroit to compete with our town. She responded, "well, that's absurd!" Ralston interrupted her to say, "No, you're just doing that now in your new job." Jones flippantly responded, "But that's my job!"

With friends like Satre and Jones, Las Vegas needs no enemies, especially when our town is suffering a 6.7 percent unemployment rate according to the Department of Employment, Training & Rehabilitation. Almost forgot, Satre and Jones are among the chorus of Strip hotel executives warbling for an increase in OUR taxes, not THEIRS.

In the New Year, I hope we give these predators the respect their deserve.

*** Last but not least is topless bar owner Rick Rizzolo.

After a patron of his Crazy Horse Too was found laying in front of the bar with a broken neck, Rizzolo tried to excuse the event by saying "A customer leaving the club drunk did trip, but in no way was this man beaten."

Meanwhile, attorney Donald Campbell is busy pursuing what could be a financially devastating lawsuit against Rizzolo and his business for allegedly letting his steroid bouncers twist the man's neck until it snapped. The New Year will also see Rizzolo in court for the wrongful death of another patron who witnesses say was beaten to death by some of the same steroid bouncers.

*** My 2001 awards for Professedly Smart People Saying and Doing Really Moronic Things goes to: Phil "The Cannibal" Satre; Jan "That's my job" Jones; and Rick "A customer leaving the club drunk did trip" Rizzolo. (Sorry Judge Bonaventure, I only had three awards to give out.)

One thing is for sure, it will be impossible to top the tragedy, hypocrisy, and stupidity of 2001.


Steve Miller is a former Las Vegas City Councilman and Clark County Regional Transportation Commissioner. Steve is the State Coordinator of the Nevada Coalition Against Gambling Expansion Outside Nevada. Visit his website at: