January 29, 2012 - 2:05 am
Look out, old Macky’s back!
You remember former Las Vegas City Councilman Michael Mack, who voluntarily ended his elected life 2005 after two appointed years and four elected ones, choosing to avoid facing the voters a second time after a series of ethical missteps.
Mack has been sniffing around politics again. He served as a consultant to Mayor Carolyn Goodman’s successful campaign last year, earning $28,000 for his advice.
But now, Mack may want back in for real. And Councilman Steve Wolfson’s appointment as Clark County district attorney has created a vacancy that may pave the way for Mack’s return.
It really shouldn’t.
Mack was an accidental councilman from the start. He was plucked from obscurity while running a failing pawnshop (in Las Vegas!) by then-Mayor Oscar Goodman in 1999. It was a desperate, 11th-hour move to block then-Councilman Michael McDonald from controlling a voting majority on the City Council. Even Goodman didn’t have much regard for Mack’s intellect, referring to him more than once as the least intelligent member of the Jewish faith with whom Goodman was acquainted, with a colorful metaphor thrown in for good measure.
Mack went on to prove that desperate choices are often not good ones. In 2000, he accepted a loan from car dealer Joe Scala, a loan that Mack did not disclose when he voted to reject a rival car dealer’s application to open a shop that would have competed with Scala’s. The city’s now-defunct Ethics Review Board found Mack had violated the law, and it referred the matter to Municipal Court, where Mack faced the possibility of losing his seat. A judge ultimately ruled the case against Mack had not been sufficiently proved, and he survived.
But things didn’t get better. Mack accepted a job doing public relations and marketing for the strip club Treasures, which created a conflict that left him unable to represent his constituents when the controversial club’s liquor license came up for review. And Mack actually sat in on city licensing investigation interviews — as a representative of the club.
Mack’s history with strip clubs didn’t end there, either: He was seen in a videotape seized by the FBI at Cheetah’s receiving a lap dance, behavior for which he later apologized. It doesn’t take a super genius to figure out why former Cheetah’s owner Michael Galardi might have wanted videotaped proof of Mack’s adult escapades lying around.
And who could forget Mack’s oft-repeated fundraising motto — “I’ll take anybody’s money. It’s all green”?
Late last year, as the possibility of Wolfson departing the council emerged, Mack told the Review-Journal’s Laura Myers that he was interested in a return to public life. “I’d consider it,” Mack said. “I had some great years on the council.”
No, he really didn’t. He had some years in which he was perpetually in trouble, and in which his constituents were perpetually embarrassed. His biggest accomplishment may have been running a contest to devise a name for northwest Las Vegas.
Now, it’s entirely possible Mack has changed in the years since, that he’s grown wiser and matured and developed a newfound respect for the concept of public service and what it means to be imbued with the public trust.
But it’s equally possible he hasn’t, and there’s no reason to take the risk by even considering a Mack appointment.
Mayor Carolyn Goodman isn’t in the tight spot that her husband was in back in 1999. There is no ambitious councilman seeking to wrest control of the council away from her. She can afford to make a good call. (In fact, the best call of all would be to hold a special election, although that’s more costly than an appointment.)
But there’s absolutely no reason to consider a Mack appointment. Some things we should just leave in the past.
Steve Sebelius is a Review-Journal political columnist and author of the blog SlashPolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/SteveSebelius or reach him at (702) 387-5276 or email@example.com.