Oscar Time at LVCVA

What’s it like to attend a meeting of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA)? What’s it like to see former Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman in action?

The accompanying video gives a hint of both….though the new Mayor of Las Vegas, Carolyn Goodman, wife of Oscar, seemed to score the biggest laugh of the day.

Last Tuesday, LVCVA’s big news was not another new event or advertising campaign. The news was that Oscar Goodman was given a part-time job as chairman of a new LVCVA “Host Committee”. The committee will focus on improving how tourists and conventioneers are welcomed to Las Vegas (and to Mesquite & Laughlin). Goodman’s pay is $60,000 a year. His independent contractor agreement runs for two years with a possible two-year extension.

Objectively speaking, Oscar Goodman is not exactly hireable. He’s past the normal retirement age; he’s too well-fed for the Wynn vegetarian crowd; he “seems” to love martinis a bit much; his days of cavorting around a day club pool are over, and he’s too red-faced for a Las Vegas billboard.

Oscar Goodman and the press.
Photo by Diane Taylor

And yet, Goodman can’t be ignored. As he says in the video, his colorful background as an attorney for a number of Las Vegas mob figures and his 12 years as mayor of Las Vegas make him “in demand”. He’s also so full of confidence and a quick wit that he is the center of attention whenever he rises to speak. Goodman can talk about the many virtues of Las Vegas while his audience laughs….and gets the message.

So welcome back to the spotlight, Ex-Mayor Goodman! Yes, we know you are also part of a new restaurant opening at the Plaza Hotel. Just knowing you’ll be in the news extolling downtown’s newest steakhouse or bragging about the city that you love…makes life just a bit more fun.

Although Oscar Goodman’s salary is a new expense for LVCVA, the organization has been diligent in cutting expenses to meet the lower levels of room-tax revenue received during the recession. VP of Human Resources Mark Olson reminded the board of the cost-saving steps taken by LVCVA: (Are you listening, Washington?)

1. Froze executive and management pay raises and bonuses
2. Implemented a hiring freeze – had a total of 103 vacant positions
3. Postponed capital projects
4. Spread payments to Nevada Department of Transportation road projects over 3 years vs. 1 year
5. Implemented multiple budget reductions throughout the organization
6. Eliminated reserve funds for the Master Plan Enhancement Program (Convention Center renovations)
7. Offered voluntary retirement incentives
8. Negotiated concessions from the bargaining unit
9. Implemented operational changes
10. Implemented mandatory employee furloughs

LVCVA VP of Human Resources Mark Olson
reports to the LVCVA Board.
Photo by Diane Taylor

Throughout the recession, Olson said, the goal had been that no LVCVA employees (union or non-union) would be laid off…and none were. (That’s an accomplishment.) As the economy has improved and room tax revenues have been slowly increasing, LVCVA wanted to “invest in human capital” and opened negotiations with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

Olson announced a two-year agreement with SEIU. The agreement had received union approval and needed board approval as well. The agreement included a one-time payment to union members in fiscal year 2012 of 3.5 percent, and a 1.25 percent pay adjustment in fiscal year 2013. The board approved the agreement.

As the video indicates, not all issues with the union have been settled, but preserving jobs was accomplished.

Below is a listing of the current members of the LVCVA Board of Directors. Board members are typically the area’s movers and shakers, They are given reserved parking while attending LVCVA Board meetings and they have access to a rather lavish breakfast buffet. (The board meetings are open to the public, so the public can access the buffet as well.) A number of new board members have been welcomed in recent months; here’s the current lineup:

Clark County Commissioner Tom Collins, Board Chairman
Station Casinos Executive Vice President Scott Nielson, Vice Chairman
Clark County Commissioner Lawrence Weekly, Secretary
Mandalay Bay President & Chief Operating Officer Charles Bowling
North Las Vegas Mayor Shari Buck
Boyd Gaming Executive Vice President & COO Paul Chakmak
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman
Henderson Mayor Andy Hafen
Caesars Western Division President Tom Jenkin
Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Kristin McMillan
Mesquite Councilman George Rapson
Las Vegas Councilman Steven Ross
Wynn Las Vegas & Encore President Marilyn Spiegel
Boulder City Mayor Pro Tem Cam Walker


3 responses on “Oscar Time at LVCVA

  1. Nice work again on the video and the capture of Carolyn’s large laugh-evoking comments. I’ve never attended a board meeting at the LVCVA and the video captured the splendor of the room. It’s great to be able to listen to much more of the comments than the broadcast media is able to put in their newscasts.

    Once again , a very informative report!

  2. A enjoyable journey inside the workings of Las Vegas LVCVA and of course the colorful ex-Mayor.
    You know he was simply hired to be the a combination “idea man” and spokesman for all things Las Vegas.
    Nice job. Your video work is impressive. That practicum at Iowa State really paid off.

    Mr T.

  3. Another great article. I always enjoy stories about the ex-mayor Oscar. Keep on doing the great job that you do. Thank you.

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