Mafia Attorney Boss of Las Vegas (Oscar Goodman)

Jun 10, 2023 1.1M Views 2.3K Comments

Oscar Goodman was the attorney for some of the biggest mob names in Las Vegas and the United States. Oscar acted in the movie Casino where he played himself as Nicky Santoro’s (Joe Pesci) attorney in the film. Oscar was the mayor of Las Vegas for 12 years and is steeped with fascinating stories, controversy and quick wit. Join us to learn and explore the inner workings of a fascinating character from a bygone era.

► Video edited by: Natalia Santenello

Good morning, guys.
Here in Las Vegas,
and today we have a very interesting video.
We’re meeting up with
some old school locals here.
One being Oscar Goodman.
And if you’ve seen the movie Casino,
you’ve seen Oscar.
He played himself.
Who was the attorney in the movie.
Oscar’s been an attorney for some of
the biggest names in organized crime
in the city and the country.
Also the mayor for many years.
And then his buddy, Michael Schneider.
16 years in the Nevada State Senate.
Today’s video is gonna be
highly unfiltered.
These are the type of guys
that speak their minds,
know the inside stories,
understand Vegas inside and out.
And the goal is to get some content here
that you might not be able to see
anywhere else.
All right, guys, let’s do this.
♪ mellow jazz ♪
OSCAR: They had just written this book,
the Ovid Demaris book.
I have it up there, The Green Fell Jungle.
That one… that library…
The one I stole from the library.
PETER: Can I grab it?
OSCAR: Yeah, sure.
-And I didn’t steal it
from the library of course.
It was a tawdry version
of what Las Vegas was.
The Sin City aspect of it
and as a young lawyer
I was just looking to make a dollar
to be quite frank with you.
We came out with $87.00 between us,
my wife and myself.
We came over a hill
out near Boulder City,
and we looked out and we saw
twinkling lights in the desert there.
I don’t think we saw
a building taller than two stories high
and a tumbleweed ran in front of the car,
and I hadn’t seen a tumbleweed since
a cowboy movie that I’d seen
back in Philadelphia.
I think there was 70,000 people
living in Las Vegas at the time,
and maybe 100,000
in the whole Clark County.
PETER: What year was that?
-How old are you?
-Now, 83.
We were babies.
We left our families back there
and that was tough,
but if I was ever gonna do it,
it was gonna be then
or else, unlike you,
who is a world traveler.
Pretty sedentary guy,
I sort of stay in place
and get happy with what I’m doing,
and don’t look for other adventures.
I had a job waiting for me
in the DA’s office here as a law clerk
because they only gave
the bar exam once a year.
So I had to wait an entire year
before I took it but I used the year well.
I met a lot of the politicians,
and judges, and they had me…
I went to a very good law school.
They had me ghost write opinions for them,
and I made friends with them,
and when I finally hung my shingle up
it was like I was a lawyer,
and I was ready to take on clients,
and my wife and myself
got a wonderful gift from my father.
He was a lawyer in Philadelphia,
and he was embarrassed
that his son moved to Las Vegas.
That was his mindset.
When they said, “Where’s Oscar?”
he’d say, “Phoenix.”
[all chuckling]
That’s the way he looked at this story.
We used to go to a place
called The Hacienda.
Which is where the Mandalay is now.
And once a month
we’d have a nice steak dinner
with the $25.00 that my dad would send us,
and anything that was left over
she would play blackjack.
I would stand behind her
when she was playing blackjack
because I knew they weren’t
building these beautiful places
because people were beating them,
that’s for sure.
And it was a different kind of town then.
Much friendlier town in my opinion.
The dealers would talk to the customers.
They’d talk to me
who was standing behind her.
One day the dealer who was
dealing to her called me and he said,
“Can you do a bankruptcy for me?”
“I have a little bit of problems.”
I said, I’d never done one
but I had a little sign in my office,
“Where there’s a fee, there’s a remedy.”
So I learned how to…
[all laughing]
I learned how to do a bankruptcy real fast
and charged $250
for the cost and the whole works.
And he was forever indebted,
I was forever indebted,
and then one day,
and this is all the honest to God truth
that I’m telling you.
A phone call came into the pit
at the Hacienda,
and the guy on
the other end of the line said,
[raspy Italian accent] “Who’s the best
criminal lawyer in Las Vegas?”
Well nothing’s changed
in all the years since then.
Nobody ever says
“I don’t know.” in Las Vegas.
Everybody knows everything in Las Vegas.
The pit boss answers the phone and he says,
“Who’s the best criminal lawyer
in Las Vegas?”
and my dealer friend said,
“I don’t know whether he does any
criminal work but tell him to call Oscar.”
That’s how it all started.
The phone call came in
from a reputed mobster
from the East Coast.
Who’s stepbrother
had been arrested out here.
And they hired me to do the case
and I got a phone call at home,
[raspy] “Come to such and such address,
we got something for you.”
I said… And it’s late at night, I said…
Well, um…
[as raspy mobster] “You better get here,
we have a case for you.”
So being very brave,
I woke my wife up and I said,
“Sweetheart, will you take a ride with me?”
-So what were your feelings like
when someone…
When the mobsters reached out to you
and said, “We need you as an attorney.”
-That was the first one.
-What were your first thoughts though?
-Well, it was nourishing.
I mean these are people who had money.
They had a great lifestyle.
I learned that later on.
I mean every place I went with these guys
I had the front seat
at the World Series game.
I had first class tickets on planes
when I would fly from one place to another.
They took me to
the best restaurants to eat.
They always had a wad of green.
I mean it was a lot of money
they always carried on them.
They had beautiful women on each arm.
The women, even in 125 degree heat,
the women would wear mink coats.
I mean it was…
They were dripping with wealth,
and they were all characters.
See, there are no characters anymore.
They were characters
and many of them had physical deformities
and they had nicknames
to fit the deformity.
There was a fella who was
a Thalidomide child.
And he had a little arm, and they…
What did they call?
-Wingy, I knew Wingy.
-Wingy from Caesars, right?
Wingy had a little hand coming out here,
and Lefty Rosenthal, who DeNiro portrayed.
He was left handed, and Tony the Ant…
I mean everybody had some aura about them
that you don’t have today.
Today, a lot of the big shots…
And I’m a person who doesn’t believe
there is such a thing as a big shot.
I haven’t met one yet.
Met a lot of people
who think they’re big shots
but I haven’t met one yet.
I wouldn’t give you two cents
for 99% of the people.
-Now there are no big shots?
-I don’t think there were ever
any big shots but at least…
-No, at least the…
The alleged mobsters
who were running these places,
they didn’t hold themselves
out as big shots.
They were… They learned low profiles.
PETER: What about the mobster
Joe Pesci was playing in Casino?
-Yeah, that’s Tony Spilotro.
-Wasn’t he a loud mouth?
-No, with me…
See, no one believes these stories
but he treated me better
than any other client.
When I would leave town to try a case
and I wasn’t representing him on that case,
he would actually call my wife, who was
probably the straightest lady I know.
Founded the first non-profit,
non-sectarian school here.
“How is everything, Mrs. Goodman?”
“Anything I can do
for you or the children?”
Came into my office, we had a little lady,
a little Phillipino lady
who would serve coffee to our clients,
and treated her like
she was the Queen of England.
Never cursed around women.
So I never saw the tawdry side of him.
I… Uh…
With me, he never asked me
whether he could kill anybody.
-When you saw the movie, Casino then,
you’re seeing a whole nother
side of these guys, right?
-Oh, not only that,
if I had known what I was doing…
and… [chuckles]
..seen Casino before I saw it,
I would have been a lot richer.
I would have owned
islands in the Caribbean.
I would have owned planes and boats.
I was their lawyer but I had no idea
what these guys were
allegedly skimming off.
Millions and millions of dollars
and sending it back East
to the real hidden owners.
These were all front people.
-They were all out of Kansas City, right?
-No, no, just the Tropicana.
-Just the Tropicana?
I mean I would sit
in the back of the car with them
and they’d always have a chauffeur.
They were good portrayals
and that’s the way
the world saw these people
but there was a different side.
I did not know for instance…
And I’m their lawyer.
I’m Lefty’s lawyer and Tony’s lawyer, okay?
And this has happened more times than not
where I’m representing
a guy from the Lucchese Crime Family
and a guy from the Bonanno…
I don’t know the difference,
I’m a lawyer just doing lawyer work
and they’re hating each other,
they want to kill each other.
I had no idea about this
and for Tony to have had
a relationship with Lefty’s wife,
I wouldda bet
all four of my children
and we had some dogs,
and I’d throw the dogs in too
that it was impossible.
I see these guys together.
They like each other.
This could never be happening,
until I saw the movie.
I said, “They’re making this part up.”
And then I’ve had FBI agents
and IRS agents come to me and they…
“We used to follow them
and we know you knew it.”
Well, they know a lot of things
that they don’t know.
Uh, no. They were always…
They needed me.
I know that sounds funny and arrogant.
But I was the only person around really
who stood in the way
of their going to prison
or the electric chair.
-There were no other attorneys in Vegas…
-No one who would do that kind of business.
-Why didn’t they want to do it?
-Harry Claiborne was the best attorney.
Um, ended up our federal judge.
Uh, a brilliant marshaller of the facts
and good sense of humor,
related to the jury.
I tried many, many cases with him.
He wouldn’t touch a mobster
or an alleged mobster.
He felt that it was demeaning.
He felt that it would ruin his reputation.
-You didn’t feel that at all
when you started?
-I was proud of it.
You kidding me?
-Okay, why?
Why? They…
They could go to any lawyer
in the world if they wanted to.
They had all the money in the world
and they chose me, I wore it like a badge.
-So it represented
you were the best at what you did?
-In my mind.
And now how about
defending these characters?
-They were entitled to a defense,
number one.
-Number two, you’re a smart guy…
[clears throat]
..and I’m not gonna
take your money from you.
It would be real easy to but…
God forbid you go back to your home
and you see your front door is busted open,
and you walk in, and you see
your drawer has been rifled through,
and you pick up the phone,
and you call 911, and you say I was what?
-You weren’t robbed, you were burglarized.
Big difference, robbery is taking something
by force or threat of force.
Burglary is entering
with the intent to commit a felony
and there’s about a 15 year difference
between the two offenses.
So I never wanted my clients
to tell me what they did.
They don’t know what they did.
The only thing I ever wanted to hear
from any client
was if there was someplace else
rather than where
the indictment said they were
at the time the offense took place.
-So for you,
the number one thing was the law?
That’s paramount?
-That’s the only thing.
I wanted to make sure
the constitution was adhered to.
-And in every case
I found at least one FBI agent…
Because most of my cases were federal. least make one lie.
Catch him in it
and shove it down his throat,
and make the jury look at him
like he was the criminal.
It was almost like
a nullification defense in every case.
[coughs] ‘Cause they can’t do
their job right when it came to my clients.
They wanted them so bad they tasted them
and I wasn’t allowing them
to get away with it.
Prosecutorial misconduct
was not permitted in my court.
-So today, none of this exists here, huh?
-Oh, I think it may be worse today.
-How so?
-I think there’s more corruption today
than maybe back then.
The FBI stunk then, the FBI stinks now.
-So more corruption
in politicians and politics here?
-Nothing changes, no.
-Well there’s no mob
running the show, right?
-No, no, there isn’t.
Over the years, [clears throat] the mob…
I had a lot to do with
the mob disappearing.
Number one, when I became the mayor
they had nobody to represent them.
So they left.
That’s a joke.
Number two…
[Peter chuckling]
..every time I caught them
doing something wrong
they corrected it the next time.
So I was helping them refine their…
Their role.
And it got harder, and harder,
and then with the wire taps
they changed the law
allowing court-authorized wiretaps…
..using certain procedures.
If they didn’t follow the procedures
I would point it out.
Next time they followed the procedures.
So I made it difficult
by winning these cases.
By winning future cases because they would
correct what they had done wrong.
I was not a good winner.
The best thing I liked
about my practice is when I won
and I lost a lot of cases.
When I won though, I made them eat it.
I made them eat it.
I shoved it right down their throat.
I crowed on the courthouse steps.
I mean they knew
they had lost to Oscar Goodman.
Now two ways about it.
That was my compensation
more than the money.
-When you’re talking about
the tapping with the FBI…
-Have citizens lost more rights
on that front now versus then?
-Oh, I think everybody…
I think it’s worse now than ever before.
My wife got a bill, I think from Verizon.
Every phone call we’ve made
from this home with a number and to whom
for the past two, three years.
[coughs] It’s on the bill.
They know who we’re calling,
who’s calling us.
I mean big brother is sitting on your lap.
You don’t know it,
you don’t feel him, but he is there.
They know everything we’re doing.
We have no privacy whatsoever
and we have a government that really
doesn’t care whether we have it or not
as long as they have that information.
[Oscar on phone] Try not to eat too late.
Thank you. Love you.
PETER: How long have you been married?
It will be 61 years come June 6th.
-All your successes in life,
could you have done it without your…
She was my rudder.
She kept me honest.
She kept me straight.
Oh, the temptations were
so great when I came out here.
-What temptations, ladies?
-No, not the ladies, but the money…
The lifestyle.
It was all [unclear]-esque.
I mean it was…
It was like living a story book.
I was very susceptible to…
To not having too much
when I was growing up.
Not that I was poor but my parents were
very conservative, very straight and…
I never came close to
living the life, so to speak
and here it was offered to me on
a silver platter and I wanted to grab it,
and she said, “Don’t become your client.”
When Tony Spilotro got killed,
I found how much time I had on my hands
with very little to do because I had
spent so much time representing him
all over the country in these
rather difficult, challenging cases.
And one day
I looked at myself in the mirror…
And it’s not a pretty face,
I’ll admit that but I said,
“You know, I’m beginning
to really not like myself.”
“This isn’t me.”
I go down to the office every day,
I work seven days a week
’cause I like to work.
It’s play for me.
And I…
I was seeing how much
I could charge people,
and I was charging some very hefty fees,
and I said, “That’s not me.”
I took my family on a cruise in 1998,
and we have a wonderful family.
And they love us, we love them,
and I always would have
little family meetings
on important decisions
and I said to them,
“You know, I think I’d like to
do something different.”
They said, “What do you have in mind, dad?”
I said,
“I think I’d like to run for mayor.”
Well the kids voted
four to nothing against me.
I said, “Why?”
They said, “Dad, you’ve got more baggage
than the sky cops out at the airport.”
“There’s no way you could win”
And I said, “You know me,
if I’m gonna run, I’m gonna win.”
and I had won.
I had done every case that you can.
I represented the federal judge
that I told you about for the US Senate.
I was the only person to that point in time
to be a civilian on the Senate floor.
-Represented a fellow down in Texas
charged with killing a federal judge.
I won by 64%.
They called it a landslide,
I was disappointed.
The next time I got 87%.
-[Peter surprised] 87%?
And then the last time I fell off to 84%
but I’m looking for the 16% still.
-Why do you think you were so popular?
-I’m not sure I was popular,
I’m sort of a character.
Practicing the kind of law I did,
my constituents were jurys.
Being the mayor,
my constituents were the people.
They both want the same thing.
They want the person
who’s talking to them to be honest.
It’s hard to believe
but I never lied to anybody.
I know it’s impossible to believe that
but I called myself
the George Washington of mayors,
and the media was always
a little mean to me.
But the meaner they were,
the more I bit them back.
So I got the best of that.
But there was one incident where I…
I loved to read to kids
I was reading to a fourth grade class
and some kid was sent in by either
some mean-spirited parent
or some wise guy teacher,
and they had a question,
“Mr. Mayor, if you were on a desert island
in the middle of the ocean…”
“..what is the one thing
you would want with you?”
Well, I guess the average person
is gonna say a bible.
I said a bottle of gin.
there was a maelstrom that took place.
I mean they went nuts.
“We demand his resignation”
“How can he be
telling children to drink gin?”
And then it turned into,
“He wants showgirls
on the island with gin.”
He… I mean…
I was laughing at it
but it was that kind of thing.
I got a kick out of it.
-What other controversial proposals
or things you said?
-Well, I don’t think it’s controversial.
I did a lot of nice things.
We have a very bad graffiti problem here
and I said if they catch the kid
who painted my tortoise…
We have tortoises out there on the…
rock tortoises.
I want you to convict them
and to bring them to my office
and we’ll go on TV,
and I’ll cut his thumb off on TV.
Well you might have thought
that I was gonna do something bad.
The public loved it
and they brought the kid up…
Now you know where we are, Mike?
We can go in the back part here
right where this cab is.
PETER: So you were joking
when you said that?
-No, I was using satire.
-They caught the kid
and they brought him up to my office,
and he was trembling.
I didn’t feel sorry for him at all.
And I had a machete on my desk.
[Peter chuckling]
I said, “Okay, you’re not gonna
do any more graffiti.”
“Put your hand out.”
Well the tears started coming.
He screamed, and yelled,
and ranted, and raved.
He’ll never do another graffiti,
let’s put it that way.
PETER: When did this open?
MICHAEL: What is it, 10 years ago,
the Mob Museum?
OSCAR: 10 or 11 years ago,
my wife opened it.
It was my idea but she opened it.
-It was your idea?
-Oh, yeah.
Oh, did I get heat over this…
“Goodman’s building a monument to himself.”
“Goodman’s glorifying his clients.”
There’s a city councilman
who said this place
isn’t gonna make two cents.
I said it’s gonna make a fortune.
He said, “I’ll run through town naked
if it makes any money.”
I said, “I’d rather starve to death
than to see you naked.”
[Peter chuckling]
OSCAR: This used to be
the old post office and court house.
I tried my first federal case in there.
I made up my mind when I was elected
I wasn’t gonna raze any buildings.
I was gonna keep them intact.
So that’s a problem in Vegas, right?
They’re leveling a lot of the old history.
-Yeah, but not in my town.
-Not on your watch?
WOMAN: You picked this brutal day.
OSCAR: Brutal, brutal.
WOMAN: All right, have fun.
PETER: Take care, thank you.
PETER: The tourists love it?
The Europeans love it?
-They love it. Oh my god.
The English really love it.
Go down here…
PETER: What a beautiful court room.
OSCAR: Yeah, that’s where
I tried my first case.
-Your first case was right here?
[movie narrator]
‘..average American, organized crime…’
OSACAR: He was my client…
-‘..far from Main Street, USA, but then…’
‘..Virgil Peterson
and the Chicago crime commission…’
‘..shined a spotlight on the connection
between criminals and politicians.’
‘Organized crime cannot exist
without an alliance…’
‘..between those who control the rackets
and those who have authority.’
OSCAR: I’d like you to see
the one thing that I’m most proud of.
At the end here.
They made a movie about my life,
a documentary.
They put an FBI agent
in the desert with me.
PETER: FBI agent with you,
that’s him right there?
That’s the number one question
you get, right?
OSCAR: That’s Spilotro here.
This is the fella that Pesci portrayed.
He used to call this the gelt bag.
Gelt meaning money in Yiddish.
And it would leave empty,
and it would come back full of green.
MICHAEL: Is that yours?
OSCAR: Yeah.
PETER: Oh, that was yours?
OSCAR: Yeah.
I ate their heart out.
OSCAR: Now this is pretty nice.
This is part of a ship that was used
to bring in whiskey from Canada
down the Atlantic.
You don’t figure to see that
in a mob museum.
MICHAEL: I have never
been down in this part.
-Oh, this is great.
This meeting wasn’t that bad.
PETER: What’s your go to drink Oscar?
-Bombay Sapphire.
-Bombay Sapphire martini?
-No, just Bombay Sapphire…
-Okay, straight up?
-..and more Bombay Sapphire.
-And more?
-And a jalapeno.
The jalapeno is very important because
from here to here
it’s as mellow as can be.
And I’m not…
It’s cruel to do this
to somebody who doesn’t drink
but from here to here
you lose all sense of touch,
and feel, and smell.
So you gotta be very careful.
The cowboy sheriff
that I was telling you about…
Big guy, Ralph is
about 6’5” would you say?
OSCAR: Yeah, 6’4”, 6’5”.
-Just solid muscle.
In his older years he became ill.
We had our battle with each other
but like I think gentlemen do,
after the fight is over,
make up.
Then we became fast friends.
So he came down
to the restaurant years later
and he says, “Everybody’s talking about
that drink of yours.”
He’s a cowboy.
He spoke like a cowboy.
I said, “It’s a good drink, sheriff.”
He says, “I’m gonna have one.”
I said, “No, you’re not.”
He said, “Yes, I am.”
I said, “No, you’re not.”
“I hear that you’re not
as well as I’d like you to be…”
“..and you should not be drinking.”
He says, “I’m drinking.”
So he disappears
and this big galute
he ends up on the floor.
Had a couple hits of this
and he was flat out on the floor.
They had to carry him to his car.
MICHAEL: In his defense, he was Mormon.
-Well he didn’t care.
[Michael chuckling]
-Hi Hannah, nice to meet you.
-Nice to meet you.
-This is Peter.
-How you doing, Hannah?
-This is the Senator.
-Nice to meet you.
-So you like the music in here, huh?
We do, we’ve lived in Ohio forever
but we plan on moving here eventually.
-Good for you.
It’s a good place to live.
-Yeah, we love it.
-Little hot, but they have
plenty of this to cool you off.
Yeah, I love the Jalapeno.
-I do too.
[Hannah laughs]
Can I have my picture with you?
-You may. Of course.
-Thank you,
-It was so nice to meet you.
-Thanks for coming out.
I appreciate it.
-Thank you.
PETER: How great is that though?
-I love it, when I was actively practicing
I couldn’t talk to anybody
because everybody I talked to was wired.
-Oh, so it’s like bottled up inside of you?
-Yeah, and then I became the mayor,
it was wonderful.
I opened my door.
I talked to everybody.
But when I was actively practicing,
guys were sent up to my office
to record conversations with me
and ended up in lady’s rooms
with bullets in their head.
Here it is.
Thursday afternoon…
It’s not 3:00 yet is it?
-It’s 3:07.
-Okay, well not a bad crowd on a hot day.
-Oh, yeah.
Where do you see Vegas going?
Like what do you see as its future?
You’ve seen a lot of different cycles here.
-Well I think the only thing
that is gonna stop us will be imagination.
They always say we reinvent ourselves,
it’s not really that.
There are new iterations,
new projects that are different
than the one that preceded it,
and the people who
have the guts to build these things
really deserve a lot of credit ’cause
I don’t know whether I would have the guts
to put in hundreds of millions of dollars
to build a project
when I know right down the street
there’s gonna be
a bigger, and better,
and more expensive project.
But there’s a certain
mentality that does that.
So as long as that mentality is out there
and it doesn’t seem to dissipate,
I think we’ll keep on growing.
Good being here.
Thank you.
I’m gonna hold onto this.
MAN: Have a great day.
PETER: Thank you, sir. Appreciate it.
MICHAEL: Little harder
than it used to be, huh?
OSCAR: Yeah.
OSCAR: This is our Smith Center
for Performing Arts.
PETER: Oh, it’s beautiful.
-It’s a wonderful center.
OSCAR: And of course
our wonderful tax payers here cursed me
for using tax payer money
to have them build it,
and then when they had the opening night,
all those who cursed me said,
“Boy mayor, thank you so much
for building this.”
I say go home.
Don’t even bother me you misanthropes.
The only thing I like is I always imagine
a misanthrope, which is a hater,
married to another misanthrope,
and they wake up in the morning,
they try to hate each other.
And I love looking at them
hating each other.
I love it.
PETER: This is Downtown technically, right?
OSCAR: This is Downtown Symphony Park.
-So this really came around I was here
15 years ago and it didn’t look good.
-Nothing was here.
-It was nothing, okay.
-There are real bells in the tower.
‘Cause my wife and I donated them.
-So you were behind this too, Mike?
OSCAR: Yeah.
MICHAEL: We passed at tax…
..that goes to them
and it’s a tax on rental cars.
So there’s a little piece
of the rental car tax that goes to this.
-So every tourist that comes to town
who’s renting a car, whomever.
OSCAR: See that little bust over there?
It’s a bust of the second greatest mayor
of Las Vegas.
See him?
There we go.
Oscar Goodman.
No spray paint.
MICHAEL: He’s the man.
[Peter laughs]
You stand out in the bushes, Oscar?
-Every night.
-Ready to chop fingers?
-Look at this, isn’t this nice?
-It’s beautiful.
MICHAEL: They have a lot of weddings here
and everything.
OSCAR: Oh yeah, nice weddings.
MICHAEL: Courtyard and all that.
OSCAR: And this is
the Discovery Museum for children.
PETER: Oh, that’s great.
MICHAEL: This is beautiful.
OSCAR: It’s a real city now.
-What’s that building over there?
Is that an apartment tower?
This one with the…
-The kid who…
It’s the kid, when I was first elected
he came up to my office.
He was wearing Bermuda shorts and…
-And I said, “This is the way
you’re coming to the Mayor’s Office?”
“Dressed like that,
I’m gonna throw you right out the window.”
He says,
“But I believe in what you’re doing.”
It was a true story.
Sam Cherry.
I said, “What do you believe in?”
He says, “I believe that your Downtown
can really be made into something special.”
I said, “And what are you
gonna do about it?”
He says, “I’m gonna build the first co-op.”
I said, “You do that,
I’ll apologize to you.”
He’s built three of them.
OSCAR: Headline:
“Mayor wants to send homeless to prison.”
That was the end of it.
-So your solution to homelessness is what?
To take a building like that
and do the same thing you said.
-Go to cheaper land,
you build all the facilities.
Medical, job training…
-Right, yes.
-..sychiatric training, housing.
-Yes, yes.
-And then if someone can
get through to a better place,
they come back to society.
That’s the only way to do it.
-Because I don’t understand…
But there’s always the argument of freedom.
Personal freedom, right?
Someone’s personal freedom
to do drugs on the street.
-They don’t know the difference.
They don’t know whether they’re free.
It’s like they want to give these homes…
They wouldn’t know how
to turn on a stove, these people.
During Christmas
they give them frozen turkeys.
What are they gonna do
with a frozen turkey?
Guy’s walking along the street,
pushing a supermarket cart
with nothing in it except…
-I’m surprised the ADA hasn’t come out
and pushed some lawsuits
in cities like Portland and San Francisco.
If a wheelchair can’t
get down the sidewalk because of tents…
MICHAEL: Here’s what that whole concept…
The attorneys will slap lawsuits on you…
-Yeah, ACLU…
-They will say
you’re making these people do these things.
You can’t make ’em.
OSCAR: You can’t touch ’em,
that’s the hard thing.
You’re not allowed to touch them
to help them.
You can’t take them by the hand
and lead them
into Catholic charities
right across the street.
-Yeah, I don’t know what’s compassionate
about letting someone junk out
with needles in their arms
on the side of the street.
-Right, I don’t see it.
-But you’re not nearly as bad
as a lotta places, I gotta say.
I’m all over the country.
-I don’t want to become that.
You know, when I was first elected,
we went down to Coronado,
and I said to Caroline, my wife, I said,
“Sweetheart, I want to
go into the police station here.”
They have a very pretty police station.
And she said “Why?”
I said, “I got a couple questions
I want to ask the cops.”
So I went in there and I said,
“I’m Oscar Goodman,
I’m the newly elected Mayor of Las Vegas.”
“I got a couple questions.”
“I come down to Coronado,
got a nice little place here.”
“Walk the streets, don’t see any homeless.”
“How do you do it?”
He says, “We have very special treatment.”
Which means they take ’em like that,
take ’em over the bridge,
and dump ’em in San Diego.
-Do you want to do
that special treatment here?
-Yeah, absolutely.
-Put ’em in Carson City?
-No, I want to put them
in that place that you’re talking about.
That building where they’re gonna be
shepherded back into society.
All right, guys.
What an interesting day.
I want to thank all the people involved
that made that happen.
So Mike obviously got us to Oscar
but one of my followers, Bob, knew Mike.
And so that’s how it works sometimes.
What a fortunate opportunity to get
that time with Oscar
to hear what he had to say.
And like all my videos,
I never want to tell you
how to think about a topic or a situation.
But to understand
the point of view of someone
just by listening to them.
Agree or disagree.
Whether that might be…
Doesn’t matter.
But that’s how we understand
where people are coming from.
So thanks for coming along
on that video, on that journey,
and we’ll see you in the next one.
♪ upbeat jazz ♪

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