LAS VEGAS -- Either Las Vegas City Councilman Michael J. McDonald has a formula for stretching his $37,000 city paycheck to the limits or he has just won the Kentucky Derby!
Since his reelection to his second term on the council Mr. McDonald has managed to make an extreme change in life style.
For thirty-four years, the length of McDonald's entire life, he has resided with his parents at a humble cottage located at 4908 Carmen Blvd. in a neighborhood located several blocks from the Municipal Golf Course.
The Clark County Assessor evaluated this modest 1095 square foot dwelling at $46,140 in 1999.
This past Spring, McDonald made two major changes in his lifestyle; he quit his job as a Las Vegas Metropolitan Police officer, and he moved into a lavish 2,300 square foot bachelor pad at 9016 Opus Drive on the opulent Canyon Gate Country Club.
Mike's new leased digs are evaluated by the County Assessor at $328,480.00!
The villa is loaned to the councilman rent-free by Bobette Tegano, the mother in law of Joey Cusamano. Mr. Cusamano, who is listed in Nevada's Black Book of "undesirables" banned from casinos, is an associate of Rick Rizzolo, the owner of the Crazy Horse Too topless club.
What occurred in Mike's career to inspire such an extreme change in lifestyle?
According to Councilman McDonald's critics he is the recipient of a huge pay back for votes he inspired or controlled on the City Council.
The first alleged favor was to approve the illegal expansion of his close friend Rick Rizzolo's topless nightclub in the face of strong neighborhood opposition. What infuriated neighbors was the fact that someone at City Hall apparently helped Mr. Rizzolo skip the always required parking and traffic studies along with sidestepping fire capacity laws. Rizzolo did not even have a building permit issued prior to opening his addition!
Then Mike took time off from a council meeting to transparently protest the expansion of a potentially competitive business, the Sporting House, that speculated on opening a larger topless club than Rizzolo's. Mike stated that he felt the Sporting House expansion would adversely impact nearby residential neighborhoods, but he remained conspicuously silent when Rizzolo's Crazy Horse expanded within 400 feet of an apartment house filled with Hispanic children.
The second purported favor was for extending his friend Steve Kalish's Republic Silver State Disposal Inc. contract an additional twenty years even though the franchise was not due for renewal for another seven years.
The topless nightclub illegal expansion sparked a lawsuit against the city council and city planning commission.
The Silver State Disposal favor resulted in an ethics investigation against McDonald.
Councilman McDonald counters that he has been a frugal bachelor living with his parents and has made several good investments. When pressed for details about his investments he dodged the question and stated that his sister manages his finances unbeknownst to him and that he is spending the proceeds from a slip and fall lawsuit he recently won.
In addition to Mike's brand new Ford Expedition, our photographer also noticed that Mike's old house is not for sale. The cost of keeping two houses is even more impressive based on the estimated lease payment that the Opus Drive villa would bring on the open market!
The Tribune's real-estate expert tells us that the Canyon Gate villa is actually worth a fair market value of near one-half million dollars and such a house would lease for about $3,000 to $4,000 per month not including utilities or Association fees.
The councilman makes about $3,000 each month from the city. Add these to his police retirement and we estimate that Councilman McDonald grosses approximately $5,000 per month maximum. Subtract about $1,000 each month for taxes since he has no write offs or dependents and Mike ends up with $4,000 to cover the expenses of two houses, two nice cars, and the support of his parents.
McDonald also has a membership in the House of Blues Foundation which cost another $2,000 per year.
©1999 Las Vegas Tribune