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Las Vegas Mayor A Good-Time Guy For Bad Times

OSCAR GOODMAN: Hi, folks. How are you?


Unidentified Man: This is Liane Hansen.

GOODMAN: Hi, Liane. How are you? Nice seeing you.

HANSEN: Nevada Job Connect may be a depressing place these days, but the office of Mayor Oscar B. Goodman is quite the opposite. It is cheery and colorful, filled with playful knick-knacks and photos of the mayor posing with celebrities. There are a few bottles of booze unabashedly on display - Goodman is famous for his love of gin. He even had an endorsement deal with Bombay Sapphire and gave the proceeds to charity.

GOODMAN: The famous glitzy stretch of casinos that includes the famed Bellagio and Caesar's Palace and the MGM Grand is not officially part of Las Vegas. It's actually outside the city limits in Clark County.

GOODMAN: And you'll see the cranes here. We have a new City Hall. They're building the new City Hall. It's going to be a beautiful building. They built the new Rush Tower over at the Golden Nugget. The cranes over the performing arts center are banned. In the city of Las Vegas, we are, I think we're thriving as far as creating a future for ourselves. So, I'm not complaining.

HANSEN: But what about the lack of development now? I mean, that big boomtown in that part of Las Vegas...

GOODMAN: Well...

HANSEN: ...that is the Strip and now it's not.

GOODMAN: ...basically, unfortunately, a couple of the projects that were on the Strip either ceased or were put on hold. But this is the history of Las Vegas. We have, I think, over 50,000 hotel rooms.

HANSEN: But are they full?

GOODMAN: They're full on the weekend, I'll tell you, and the restaurants that are in them are sure full 'cause even the mayor has to use a little juice to get in.

HANSEN: On the weekends, but during the week?

GOODMAN: Well, during the week, we're the envy of the whole tourist world. Let's say, we're 70 percent full during the week. What other city could claim that?

HANSEN: Mayor Goodman, you are known as a cheerleader...

GOODMAN: I am a cheerleader.

HANSEN: ...for this city, a perpetual optimist, eternal...

GOODMAN: Well, I have to be. I come from a background of representing reputed gangsters. If I went in and didn't think I was going to win, they'd all be in the electric chair.

HANSEN: How would you assess the state of Las Vegas economy right now?

GOODMAN: Well, the state of Nevada's economy is rocky, but our infrastructure's in place. We have the very, very best to attract tourists. There is some suffering that's taking place now with foreclosures, with unemployment, but we're going to come back as soon as the world gets confidence in their monetary situation.

HANSEN: Was it necessary to try and diversify the economy of Las Vegas, given that gaming and tourism bring in money but if people don't have money to spend, that can drop off?

GOODMAN: Unidentified Woman #2: No, I'm all right, dear.

HANSEN: The mayor's son, Dr. Oscar B. Goodman, is a physician and researcher there.

GOODMAN: Being ill can be a consuming process in and of itself. Patients just love to come up here because they can get away from it. You know, they don't have to think about their illness. It de-stresses the body, it makes you tolerate the treatment better. I think it's great. I think it actually gives us a niche here.

HANSEN: Next week, we'll examine the ways Las Vegas is diversifying its economy through health care and alternative energy, and you'll hear how a new generation is trying to revitalize the old downtown. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR Staff
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