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Jon Ralston:

Goodman still knows little, except, perhaps, how to win

Fri, May 20, 2011 (2:01 a.m.)

I’m not sure which was the more telling moment in the debate Wednesday evening between mayoral hopefuls Carolyn Goodman and Chris Giunchigliani.

Was it when the mayor’s wife looked at her watch, a la Bush 41 and for the second consecutive debate, like an aristocratic princess wondering how long she had to spend on such irksome, plebian tasks while awaiting her coronation as queen?

Or was it when Giunchigliani referred to her expletive-laced explosion of anger during a venture to help union-organized nurses at the county hospital as “one clip out of a 20-year history,” as if it were some unthinkable aberration?

Debates can illuminate a lot: Knowledge, character, intellect.

And if I may say so, Wednesday evening on “Face to Face” we saw the brightest spotlight yet turned on what this race is all about: A privileged, isolated dilettante who appears to know little about anything and who is trading on her husband’s golden last name versus a cutthroat, often polarizing pol whose career has been characterized by hard work and extensive knowledge undermined by unnecessary nastiness and consensus un-building.

It should be hard for thinking people not to be offended by Mrs. Goodman’s Oscar-worthy performance as some kind of successful entrepreneur (so she ran a private school) who should be handed the job because she stood by her husband’s side for 12 years. Luckily for her, most people who will vote starting Saturday won’t be thinking about much other than her last name, and many probably realize the mayor’s job is so relatively unimportant that they would rather have The Clueless One than The Nasty One.

Rarely have campaign ads so captured the truth about two candidates as the ones now airing in this race. Giunchigliani’s memorable and funny take on Goodman running a “My husband did it so I can, too” campaign is matched by the brutal takedown of the commissioner by the mayor’s wife in an ad that shows Giunchigliani’s pointlessly harsh ripostes to a UMC doctor during a board meeting.

For those who cynically think this has always been about Oscar trying to circumvent term limits by getting his wife to run, the mayor’s ratcheting up of his efforts cannot go unnoticed, capped by that outrageous taxpayer-funded piece that was so blatant an attempt to remind people of their last name it had a disclaimer: “THIS IS NOT A POLITICAL MAILER.” (By the way, Carolyn Goodman said during the debate that she probably threw it out. Priceless.)

Mayor Chutzpah had the nerve to tell the Sun that when he campaigns for his wife, it’s as a husband not the mayor: “When I make my phone calls, I say ‘it’s Oscar calling.’ ”

So, yes, it’s shameless, but you also can’t help but be struck how vacuous Carolyn Goodman has seemed. She has been repeatedly asked about gay and illegal immigration issues and appeared not to do homework in between and then ludicrously claimed her comments were taken out of context.

Last night, I asked her what her plans were since the Giunchigliani ad accuses her of having none and there is no evidence anywhere she does. She doesn’t even bother with an “issues” tab on her website. Let them eat veal Oscar?

She could not come up with one plan, and when pressed said: “I will be working with Zappos to help them develop their businesses and bring other IT companies down here.”


Later, Goodman tried to ridicule Giunchigliani for taking credit for the rental car tax bill that helped fund the downtown performing arts center, claiming it had failed in Reno and required a city bailout (not quite true). And Don Snyder, the father of the project, has given Giunchigliani credit for the tax, which has raised an estimated $100 million for the center. Some failure.

So Goodman knows nothing. So what? As I have said before, Oscar knew very little when he ran, and look what happened. It’s a popularity contest for a sinecure. Or, in this case, it’s a last name contest — one we know, the other is unpronounceable.

Even if she weren’t running against The Family name, Giunchigliani, despite her pools of goodwill, has made a lot of enemies. She did not read Dale Carnegie, she does condescend, and she often treats people around her as servants or fools. This is indisputable. (In fact, I would love to poll the city residents in Clark County government to see how many are voting for her to get her off Grand Central Parkway.)

Politics is, as the cliché goes, the art of addition, not subtraction. Giunchigliani has subtracted many potential allies over the years. Carolyn Goodman long ago added the only one who matters.

The debate video is posted at lasvegassun.com.

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Discussion: 15 comments so far…

  1. You know, I said it when the race first started, now it appears Goodman reads my posts. It comes down to who you want as the face of Las Vegas, a hardened ultra liberal, with no personality, or Ms Goodman with a happy Oscar at her side, probably some sort of city ambassedor. The answer is clear, its Goodman. So whack their thumbs off, and put them in the stockaid , and vote Goodman.

  2. We foolishly picked two poor candidates. Duh! Now we get to choose one. I pick 'clueless' and hope for the best.


  3. Term limits exist for the position of mayor for one great reason - TO FLUSH OUT the cronies. The bowl needs to swirl with a few choice people who know who they are and are grasping for straws against a grassroots campaign poised to win.

    For Goodman to run on the utterance of one F-bomb (which is clear that Chris G clearly regrets) shows that Carolyn does not understand high stress closed door political meetings.

    Come on Jon in Vegas politics there are plenty of F-bombs to go around.

    This would not be an issue except for that Chris is a woman! Call her to the carpet over one word in her career. The very point that it was brought up in the public commission meeting was a witch hunt. Do we so quickly forget that it was Chris who filed a whistleblower complaint against Jim Rogers?

    The public does want someone who talks the talk of saving government money and will kick some a$$ when they need to get it done.

    You can't audit and consensus build at the same time from people who are working toward only their agenda. I call it STEALING we all know you can't negotiate with thieves. Consensus build all you like with frauds, but you will have to bruise their precious little egos and use the NO word to fix the problems.

    Carolyn Goodman ought to look at her closest advisor ethically challenged former councilman Michael Mack who brought such pride to our city by having his lap dance caught on tape for operation G string. He is also in business with her own kid Ross. Worried about the F bomb? What do you think happens behind closed doors surrounded by winners like this!

    The people Chris G is not building consensus with are the very types of politicians who don't work in the best interest of the general public. Again, when a man does it its politics - when a woman fights for what is right you label her something that rhymes with witch.

  4. If only the world voted for people based on their skills and not their popularity. What is this, high school?

    Giunchigliani's record of public service is extensive and readily available to whoever wants it. Mrs. Goodman's record of public service is, oh, oops: she doesn't have one.

    Mrs. Goodman portrays herself as a consensus builder. I would ask her this: Which candidate was endorsed by a U.S. President and which one, along with her husband, refused to greet the U.S. President when he came to town? Furthermore, which candidate changed her political party affiliation to protest a sitting U.S. president?

    (Hint: It wasn't Giunchigliani).

    I don't see what that act did to build relationships or consensus. To me, it was exactly the opposite; hostile, juvenile and petulant.

    In every race there's a winner and a loser. If Goodman wins this race the community will be the real loser.

  5. Jon,

    I think there is a difference between being someone who is firm at times and someone who is nasty. People who know Chris G absolutely love her to death. PERIOD.

    That doctor was blowing his top off in the middle of a commission meeting. Chris was bringing the discussion back around to the point, which wasn't her.

  6. I am disgusted by the sexism of #oscarswife. What happened to women supporting women? She has never done anything that would qualify her to be our Mayor and yet when asked for some clarification about why she deserves our vote, she goes on sexist tangents to discredit Chris G.


  7. Chris G. and unions is really all you need to think about. Look at the county contracts, then ask yourself if you want Chris G. supporting the same kind for the city.

    Jon probably has the right of it by wondering how many people are going to vote for Chris G. just to rid the county from her.

  8. Damn, Ralston...

    At whom are you going to sling all of your vitriol and invective now that your hated enemy Oscar Goodman will soon be out of office? What was it about Oscar that you so loathed? Was it jealousy over his success at being a good campaigner? Was it the fact that he was successful at keeping his mob clients out of the hoosegow? Was it that he seemed to be happy and you seem to be a bitter and deeply unhappy individual? Or was it simply that he's never been popped for a DUI and you have?

  9. Both candidates give me the creeps, but why swear at Ralston? He is just a speed bump on the road traveled by politicians.