COMMENTARY: Steve Miller
Las Vegas Tribune
May 22, 2002
A Letter to Nowhere!

On December 15, 1999, a concerned Meadows Village property owner sent a certified letter to former Las Vegas Fire Chief Mario Trevino. The letter was entitled "Overcrowding of nightclub and blockage of emergency engress/egress."

The letter was copied to Mayor Oscar Goodman. No response was forthcoming from either recipient.

The letter stated:

"Enclosed please find a letter dated September 15, 1999, addressed to Deputy Fire Marshal Jeff Donahue and copied to Mayor Oscar Goodman. I am writing directly to you because, to this date, I have not received a reply to my previous letter. I believe that an emergency overcrowding condition exists at The Crazy Horse Too, 2476 Industrial Rd., an adult orientated business located near my property in Meadows Village.

I am in the transportation business so I often take patrons to this establishment, and in doing so I have observed what I believe is serious overcrowding on numerous occasions. As a former Bostonian, I can't help but remember the horrible Coconut Grove nightclub fire of 1941 that killed over 300 people in an overcrowded room with inadequate exits.

The Crazy Horse Too appears to be seriously overcrowded on the many occasions I have observed. I have also observed 50 - 100 persons waiting outside while cars and busses blocked emergency vehicle engress/egress to the building.

This business recently expanded by an additional 6,000-sq. ft. without obtaining permits until after construction was completed. The addition, which was stated to be for a private employee 'dressing room,' was immediately observed being used by the public with no additional parking space provided.

Therefore a reexamination and enforcement of the fire capacity and parking requirements is warranted at the Crazy Horse Too. The bar's limited parking facilities cause cars and busses to overflow into my neighborhood that often park illegally on private property creating a traffic and safety hazard requiring tow-aways. The most serious offenses occur after 9PM on weekends especially on Holidays and convention dates.

Please enforce fire capacity laws at the above establishment before someone is seriously injured or killed. Consider this letter a forewarning of a serious threat to the safety of the patrons of this establishment. If fire capacity numbers were at one time miscalculated or ignored, it is now imperative that such fire capacity limits be recalculated and enforced before a disaster occurs."

The letter was signed by Peter Christoff. Amazingly, Mr. Christoff states that he did not receive a response to this second letter from either Chief Travino or Mayor Goodman. That was 1999.

(It needs to be noted that Mayor Oscar Goodman was the former criminal defense attorney of several of Crazy Horse owner Frederick "Rick" Rizzolo's closest friends and business associates.)

In 2002, there is a new Fire Chief and Mayor Goodman is serving his third year in office. Meanwhile the same problems continue unabated at the Crazy Horse. Recently, the bar's owner purchased the shopping center that houses his bar and two adjacent businesses: Allstate Auto and Marine; and Buffalo Jim's Professional Wrestling School - businesses owned by Buffalo Jim Barrier.

It is well known that Rizzolo is seeking to expand his bar, but long-term leases held by Barrier are preventing him. Rizzolo has never offered to buy out Barrier's leases that are in good standing and have nine years remaining.

Immediately following Rizzolo's takeover of the property, City of Las Vegas Marshals, under the probable direction of Rizzolo's close friend Councilman Mike McDonald, placed No Parking - Fire Lane signs on the side of Barrier's Allstate Auto and Marine. Rubber cones were also placed to discourage cars from parking adjacent to the business. But after the sun goes down, the posted fire lanes suddenly become a valet parking lot for Rizzolo's bar in direct violation of city law!

After photographing the violations, Barrier informed the new Fire Chief David Washington who immediately dispatched a team of inspectors. After viewing the photographic evidence, one of the inspectors told witnesses that the new owner of the property was "politically connected." He also stated that he would inform the property owner to cease and desist using the posted fire lanes for parking.

That night and every night thereafter, the fire lanes have been clogged with valet parked cars. The Fire Department has done nothing! In contrast, violators who park there during the daytime operating hours of Barrier's businesses are threatened with being towed.

According to Barrier's lease, the landlord has the right to designate engress/egress lanes, but only the Fire Department has the authority to designate Fire Lanes. Then, why did the City of Las Vegas Marshall's post the No Parking - Fire Lane signs adjacent only to Barrier's business?

Could this be a quid pro quo by Councilman McDonald in exchange for Rizzolo's help during past and future elections - at a time when Rizzolo's competitors are getting the jump on him with new high tech $25 million palaces not far away?

This is not the first time McDonald has used his office to try to help his friend's business. Remember "Rev. Rizzolo's Church" that was allegedly created to block Sig Rogich's topless bar application?

Mayor Goodman recently called me to deny doing favors for Mr. Rizzolo's best friend who he once defended in court, and emphatically claimed that he is neutral in Rizzolo's ongoing battle to evict Barrier to make room for expansion.

Since Mayor Goodman has been aware of the Fire Lane problem for more than three years, and because the Mayor contacted me to complain that he is not playing favorites based on his law firm's defense of Rizzolo's best friend, I now ask our good Mayor to intervene in this transparent situation.

Mayor Goodman, for the safety of the public, either enforce the No Parking - Fire Lane signs 24/7, or put an end to the City's participation in political patronizing.

Steve Miller, as a former City Councilman, was the author and sponsor of the Las Vegas Ethics in Government Law. Visit his website at: