Steve Miller is a former Las Vegas City Councilman. In 1991, the readers
of the Las Vegas Review Journal voted him the "Most Effective Public
Official" in Southern Nevada. Visit his
website at: http://www.SteveMiller4LasVegas.com
Vegas elections show ignorance
and vulnerability of most voters
INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
August 21, 2006
LAS VEGAS - Two guys named Bob Beers just ran for public office. One
Bob Beers ran for Nevada Governor and spent over a million dollars. He
The other Bob Beers ran for state assembly, spent nothing, and won.
Vegas' psudo-popular Mayor Oscar Goodman didn't run for anything this
year, but Robert "Bob" Goodman did. Bob Goodman, who is no relation to
the outrageously over rated but famous Mayor, ran for Nevada Lt.
Governor, spent nothing, and received
over 27,000 votes also based on false name recognition. He trailed by
only a few
hundred votes the
leading candidate who spent close to a half million dollars.
During previous local elections, outraged voters would've blamed such
anomalies on our old electronic voting machines that lacked a paper
ballot back up. This year, all our voting machines printed a paper
ballot for voters to verify before casting their votes. Now a recount
is finally possible, so ended the suspicion of rigged elections.
The average resident of Las Vegas moved here less than three years ago
-- 6,000 new residents move into this valley each month. Many register
to vote at their first opportunity, and most vote at shopping centers
starting seventeen days before election day.
During that seventeen day early voting rampage, and after most people
have cast their votes, the TV stations finally get around to airing
candidate debates, and most of the issues are finally discussed -- but
usually after half the people have already voted. The foolish early
voters are usually stuck voting for who spent the most on
billboards, direct mail, TV, and radio ads. In most cases, the
candidate with the richest early war chest has a head start and easily
wins, often over much better candidates.
Political power brokers love and protect the 17 day early voting system.
In other cases, new-Nevada voters vote for the candidate with the most
name recognition such as Beers and Goodman, though they are often
unknowingly voting for
someone other than who they intended.
Then, of course, there are those who demand their ballot be printed in
Spanish. Most if not all campaign speeches, debates, and materials are
in English, so how are they to know what English-speaking-only
candidates stand for? They don't, so purchased name recognition usually
wins their vote.
In the case of one local candidate who likes to have a few highballs
before making political speeches, he mistakenly told an audience that
he's for "opening the borders" between the US and Mexico, when he meant
to say he was for "closing the borders!" The next day, after he sobered
up, he sent the news media a retraction they didn't print, and a week
later, Hispanics in Politics endorsed him.
Then there's the often used trick of waiting for the last minute before
the Tuesday election and running advertisements claiming your opponent
has committed a felony, or produces porno films. Both happened in last
week's Nevada primary election.
In the case of porno, current Nevada Secretary of State Brian
Krolicki who is running for Lt. Governor, accused his opponent
Barbara Lee Woolen
owning a company involved in the
production of pornographic films. He neglected
that Woolen's company rents lights, cameras, and other motion picture
equipment -- that she has nothing to do with what the equipment is used
for after it's rented. He won, she lost. Woolen vows to sue for
Incumbent Clark County Commissioner Myrna Williams, two days before the
election, was accused by her opponent Chris
Giunchigliani of being "investigated
for corruption by the FBI" in the operation "G-Sting" case.
Other than being accused of being "asleep at the switch," and having a
photograph published showing her snoozing at a Commission meeting,
Williams had nothing to do with the G-Sting case that convicted four of
It worked, Giunchigliani won and Williams lost after spending close to
two million to try to gain a forth term. Williams also vows to sue for
I feel empathy for Williams because I was inadvertently
involved in creating the issue that was exaggerated to slander her.
For years, I've been a lecturer on Political Science
and Journalism in classes at UNLV and Clark County
Community College. For that reason, my advice is often sought on
how to run political campaigns. Very early in this year's campaign, I
was contacted by the third candidate in this year's Clark County
Commission race, 20 year old UNLV student Priscilla Flores. She asked
on how she could learn about, and make a name for herself in local
Prisicilla that Williams had slept during years of Commission
meetings, and if she could get a picture of her slumbering, it could
possibly help the public relations student place second or third in a
minimally funded campaign. I also told her of Giunchigliani
advocating the legalization of marijuana.
Priscilla asked how she could obtain a photo of the sleeping
Commissioner and another of Giunchigliani, a
teacher, extolling the virtues of pot? I suggested she
go to a Commission meeting with her
video camera, place it on a tripod and zoom in on Williams to record
everything she does until
she doses off. Then use a still frame of her sleeping in a mailer with
the caption "Asleep at the switch." I also told her there was a photo
in front of a classroom, and it would be easy to superimpose Giunchigliani's
actual quote from the LV
Review-Journal; "We have the right to use marijuana," handwritten on
asked me to
help her research, design, and author a
factually accurate campaign mailer. I complied, but ask her not to
reveal that I was helping her as I thought it would encourage
retaliatory political attacks on the young woman.
heeded my suggestion and mailed voters thousands of the following
fliers with the two provocative photos and references to substantiating
NEIGHBORS, I NEED
Our County Commission
has been disgraceD!
County Commission, District
E - Democrat
Dear District E
name is Priscilla Flores, and I’m a candidate for Clark County
are my two main opponents.
from their bickering political attack
mailers to show you what I’m up against. Please read the following and
who should be the next Commissioner.
Asleep at the switch
on as a free consultant with Billy Roger’s Nevadans for Responsible Law
Enforcement, a committee supported by The
National Organization for the
Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML),
which wants to legalize dope and have it sold in convenience markets.
She once went ballistic when a Deputy District Attorney and a Nevada
State Senator said her efforts were financed by an investor with ties
to the South American drug cartel. - October 08, 2002, Review Journal
Assemblywoman Giunchigliani told the Review Journal “We
right to use
November 1, 2002,
Giunchigliani appeared on CNN Newsnight with Aaron Brown
said, “All this
simply recognizes that in the privacy of your own home, if you're an
don't get busted for it.”
on November 2, 2002,
the Canadian National Post reported: “She (Giunchigliani)
while watching Saturday Night Live with friends. It (marijuana) made
her hungry and a little high. ‘It was so mellow,’ the assemblywoman
remembers. ‘You didn't go out and get in a fight.’"
Giunchigliani sponsored the losing AB362 which
would have increased the threshold for marijuana levels from 2
milliliter of blood to 15 nanograms. The bad bill would have also
provisions allowing urine tests for marijuana use. The
purpose of the bill is to get to the driver who is impaired and not
“casual user” of marijuana (who drives after smoking.)
is incumbent Commissioner
Myrna Williams who is no
longer in touch with the real needs of her District
while she continues doing the bidding of developers in newer parts of
the Las Vegas
Valley. To prove
my point, just look at the extent of her political campaign
contributions that have so-far exceeded one-million dollars! Keep in
mind that most of her bounty is from people who have requirements which
are not representative of the needs of you and me; her true
amazed that Commissioner Williams could
silently through six
of political corruption
and not have a clue as to what was going on!
nodded off while favors were being granted by four of
her colleagues; Erin Kenny; Dario Herrera; Lance Malone; and Mary
Chauncy, and did nothing to stop it! All
four were found GUILTY OF CONSPIRACY,
WIRE FRAUD, AND EXTORTION!
I feel its impossible that Williams did not
was going on right before her eyes during Commission meetings. As we
painfully have learned, these favors extended beyond the strip club
and into the realm of home builders and other developers according to
that surfaced during the “G-Sting” trial.
must have known!
was not Flores who profited from my help, it was Giunchigliani who won
the election. Also, the secret that I had helped design the Flores
What bothers me more however, is that Giunchigliani went much
farther with my idea than I ever intended, and ended up committing
slander against her opponent. Her tactic even made the pages of the Los Angeles Times.
Giunchigliani went way over
the line with her last minute
attack piece accusing Williams of being investigated by the FBI for
despicable political tactic
I spent years trying to stop.
Myrna Williams was never of
interest to the FBI.
Years ago, the same tactic
was used against me, and in no way did I ever want to see it resurface
after my ten year court battle with ex-Mayor Jan Jones. Giunchigliani
campaign manager husband Gary Gray should have learned a lesson from
the MILLER v.
defamation lawsuit against my 1991 Mayoral opponent who was
also desperate to win at any cost.
Whether legal or not, these examples show one of the only ways under
funded or desperate candidates can win against well funded
such as Michael
and Myrna Williams, however, two wrongs don't make a right.
Priscilla will turn twenty-one several days before the November general
election. She may not have won a seat on the powerful County
Commission by telling the brutal truth about her two opponents, but she
has learned a valuable lesson about Vegas politics,
and she certainly did make a name for herself.
But when the dust settles, the winners may end up like Jan Jones,
having to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees to defend
themselves in well deserved defamation law suits.
Unfortunately, it was proven in my own slander case that such lawsuits
be won in Nevada, and desperate candidates continue to use the Jones
technique without regard to the damage they do. Maybe its because the
citizens who blindly vote to put such
people in public office are many of the same citizens chosen to sit on
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