Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman lambasted a Chicago television reporter as a "moron" today for casting aspersions on the city's planned Mob Museum and an artifact held up as a main attraction — part of the bullet-ridden wall from the St. Valentine's Day massacre.
The report on WLS-TV claimed that Las Vegas was overstating how much of the wall it had, and — because of a miscommunication between the city's public relations staff and the reporter — mixed up a photograph of the wall section the city is getting and a fake wall that Goodman and former Nevada Sen. Richard Bryan pretended to knock down at an event marking the beginning of the museum's interior remodeling and construction.
"We never said we're buying it all!" Goodman shouted at his Thursday morning press conference. "That's what's wrong with members of the media who aren't honest. They put out a very untrue message.
"First of all, he called Sen. Bryan the senator from Arizona, this moron. And then he said ... what we busted into was not the St. Valentine's Day wall. We never pretended that it was."
Actually, the story said Bryan is the former governor of Arizona. He is not. He was once the governor of Nevada.
A nonprofit group that's administering the museum project paid about $300,000 for the section of the wall from a Chicago warehouse that was the scene of a brutal gang murder on Feb. 14, 1929. Coverage of the murders cemented the event as a symbol of the violence of organized crime of that era. The collection once belonged to Canadian business George Patey, who originally had about 400 bricks but sold many off to collectors over the years. The museum has 331 of those bricks, said city spokesman David Riggleman.
Any story about the Mob Museum, formally known as the Las Vegas Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, generates widespread interest, and this one is no different, Goodman crowed.
"Morons get punished," he said. "And this guy's getting punished now. You know why? Because the phone is ringing off the hook now by people who heard the moron's story, or read the moron's story, who want to give us things for the Mob Museum."
Thanks to Alan Choate
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