My Point of View/By Rolando Larraz
I have known Oscar Goodman for many years, even before he became the Happiest Mayor in the World, while he was a well-known defense attorney. Never once did this newspaper refer to him as the Mob Attorney because we believe that above all, he was a defense attorney, a very expensive defense attorney, who defended those who could afford his high price, regardless of their profession.
I know of casino dealers that were Oscar’s clients, construction workers with friends in the right places, gamblers and even priests, so as a defense attorney he even defended some wise guys and even mob-connected people if they had the money.
When Oscar decided to run for mayor of Las Vegas, there were a lot of mixed feelings, and many people believed that because I speak with an accent, I must not have common sense; I knew that he would make a very good mayor and as the mayor, he would do good for Las Vegas, the city that I adopted as my city since I lost my own when the communists took over my country.
We, at Las Vegas Tribune, became a supporter of the new political figure in motion. The daily newspaper wrote an editorial titled “Anyone but Oscar,” and Las Vegas Tribune responded with another editorial, titled “No One but Oscar,” and when he won the election, we proudly ran with a “Big O roll right into Las Vegas City Hall” and were proud to learn that his now late mother found the headline “very nice” as she told us with a wonderful smile.
One day we gathered at an opening of the first Italian Restaurant in what is today the East Fremont District; during the event Oscar came up to me and asked what I was doing after the opening ended and I told him that I was going home because it was past my bedtime.
Oscar told me that he wanted to show me something, and he wanted me to go with him to see it so I said “okay.” A few minutes later he asked me if I was ready, and we left.
At the front door of the Italian Restaurant was Oscar’s car with the chauffeur and his escort; Oscar went in by the left door and I went in on the right, but automatically someone pushed me into the middle of the car so I was sitting between an alleged mob lawyer and someone that I did recognize right away; later I recognized as then-City Councilman Lawrence Weekly (he does not like to be called Larry anymore since he became a local political figure with a name and reputation for himself).
I was not worried much because I had nothing to worry about, my conscience was clear; I had never done anything wrong to the mob; I didn’t remember ever knowing any mobster (that’s why I’ve lived this long) and I’ve always been a defender of the Black community; so we all rode to the place that Oscar wanted to show me… the very First Friday that Oscar is so proud of.
In all the years that I’ve known Oscar and during his three terms (twelve years) as politician (mayor of Las Vegas) I never asked him for a favor and he never asked me for a favor or asked me an out-of-line question. We always respected each other and as it has always been my way with any other politician and public official, I never asked for a favor because if I ask for a favor I can’t do my job as a journalist; that is why I have never joined any political group or association; I never belonged to the Circulo Cubano (Cuban Club) founded and run by my dear friend, the late Agustin Menendez and his wife Nelly; I never joined the Latin Chamber of Commerce or the Mexican Club (Club Cultural Mexicano), founded by another dear friend and at one time associate, Eddy Escobedo and his wife.
Oscar and I still talk four times a year and this week is one of those four times, because it is Oscar’s birthday. One may ask why this year is any different than any other year and I have to reminisce about the past. It is because I am old, I am tired and I do not know if by Thanksgiving I will be up to call my friend and wish him a Happy Thanksgiving or a Happy New Year.
This week is Oscar’s birthday and I want him to know that all these years have been a real pleasure knowing him and an honor being his friend, mayor or not. To me, he is not only Oscar, he is my friend.
Happy Birthday, my friend!
My name is Rolando Larraz, and as always, I approved this column.
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Rolando Larraz is Editor in Chief of the Las Vegas Tribune. His column appears weekly in this newspaper. To contact Rolando Larraz, email him at: Rlarraz@lasvegastribune.com or at 702-272-4634.