Las Vegas Tribune February 11, 1999
by Steve Miller 

"Where such is not allowed" 

At last week's rather bizarre afternoon session of the Las Vegas City Council, the friendships of the Mayor and a Councilman with the owner of a topless nightclub became the setting of the stage for one of the most acidic and contemptuous hearings I have ever witnessed. At the beginning of two hours of hearings on the appeal of the expansion of the Crazy Horse Too, Councilman Michael McDonald reluctantly abstained from participating and left the room. His excuse was that the nightclub owner and he shared the same attorney. 

The sharing of attorneys is certainly not a violation of state law and would not on its' face preclude McDonald from taking part, especially since the attorney in question did not participate in the hearing. The actual reason may have been that Councilman McDonald, as reported in the Review Journal, is a close friend of the owner of the Crazy Horse. He neglected to disclose this important information.  At least the disclosure of a close friendship would have been a valid reason for abstention in lieu of the disingenuous excuse he gave. 

Mayor Jones admitted, after being asked to abstain by a citizen, that she had attended social functions at the Canyon Gate home of the owner of the topless club. She explained that this is not a violation of state law, and unlike McDonald, she then exercised her right to participate in the hearing. 

One by one, the protesters stepped forward to vent their frustration at the fact that the city had "allowed" the 6000 square foot expansion of the sexually orientated business to take place when the law states that "such is not allowed." In rebuttal to the protestations, city staff dutifully defended their "decision" to recommend that the club be "allowed" to expand in spite of the letter of the law that was printed in the description of item number 88 on the agenda:

" Variance on property located at 2478 Industrial Road to allow the expansion of a non-conforming use (Crazy Horse Too) with a 6,000 square foot addition where such is not allowed."

When the subject of inadequate parking at the nightclub was brought up, Mayor Jones made it absolutely clear that she would not allow the parking issue, and other important issues such as the close proximity of the club to high density residential and a public park, to be discussed at the hearing. Just the lack of discussion of the inadequate parking issue is grounds for judicial review of the council's actions in District Court. 

Judges have reversed previous council decisions because the Mayor and Council refused to allow full discussion of all related issues, and parking is certainly one of many related issues. 

Protesters were not allowed to talk about the fact that parked cars of patrons of the club spill over into adjacent neighborhoods and businesses. Similar 26,000 square foot public facilities are required by city law to provide at least 300 spaces. Curiously, the 26,000 square foot Crazy Horse is required to provide only 134 spaces. In fact, their stated reason for being required to provide so few parking spaces is that their fire capacity is only 109 persons. 

This is ludicrous. (Let's see, 109 persons divided into 26,000 square feet equals 238 square feet per patron. Plenty of room to stretch out!) Typical businesses of 26,000 square feet have fire capacities of 900 persons. It almost seems that the 109-occupancy figure was stated arbitrarily to allow the reduction in required parking. Mayor Jones refused to hear this information.

Throughout the hearing the Mayor shot the messengers. When a neighboring landowner stepped forward to complain about crime in the neighborhood, Jones shot back with remarks about how poorly she kept her property. When a wheelchair bound man came forward to complain about handicapped access and lack of accessible parking, Jones accused him of being an associate of this writer whom she described as the "owner" of a competing topless club who was stirring up this issue for "political" reasons. 

Never did Jones address the public's actual concerns about the impact of this expansion on the quality of life of the children in the neighborhood. She only wished to persist in defending her staff's decision to allow the expansion to take place. Eventually she won out with her three faithful Councilmen voting with her to "allow" what was described on the agenda as "not allowed." The March, 1998 edition of George Magazine described Las Vegas as one of the "10 most corrupt cities in America." What was witnessed at last Monday's City Council meeting was a perfect example of why the authors choose our city as a subject for their article.