Vegas mayor takes heat for harsh Obama criticism
LAS VEGAS (AP) – Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman’s harsh criticism of President Barack Obama for suggesting that people saving money for college shouldn’t blow it in Las Vegas is stirring a backlash.
A group of black community leaders and residents has accused Goodman of overreacting and apologized to Obama for the mayor’s remarks.
Goodman said Tuesday that Obama is no friend to Las Vegas and would not be welcomed in the city if he visits.
At a news conference Friday at City Hall, Las Vegas Ward Five Chamber of Commerce President Katherine Duncan, Assemblyman Harvey Munford, D-Las Vegas, and several others criticized Goodman’s remarks.
“We want to offer an open invitation to our president,” Duncan said. “We want to offer our sincere apologies on behalf of our mayor.”
Resident Mike Marks, 60, said Obama’s use of Las Vegas “is just an analogy, like ‘don’t put the cart before the horse.”‘
Goodman, in a statement, said he “feels if the demonstration … is a measure of the outrage in West Las Vegas, the poor turnout, where members of the news media equaled the protesters, speaks for itself.”
The mayor was among a host of top Nevada elected officials who criticized Obama’s comment.
At an appearance Tuesday at a high school in Nashua, N.H., Obama said, “You don’t blow a bunch of cash on Vegas when you’re trying to save for college. You prioritize. You make tough decisions.”
Goodman and others are worried that Obama’s words will discourage visitors from coming to Las Vegas as the city struggles from a two-year meltdown of foreclosures, bankruptcies and unemployment.
Several lawmakers said they were shocked that Obama singled out Las Vegas again after commenting last February that bailed-out banks shouldn’t go to Las Vegas using taxpayer money.
Obama, in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he wasn’t saying anything negative about Las Vegas and he always enjoys his visits to the city.
Friday’s news conference came a day after a community meeting in which Goodman stormed out following a racially charged exchange with a resident.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported the exchange was over school integration and Goodman’s role in the black community.
At the meeting were fliers denouncing Goodman’s Obama comments.