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January 27, 2015

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Mayor opposed to escort service handbillers on Fremont Street

However, Goodman says new ordinance would allow such solicitors in pedestrian mall area


Leila Navidi

A handbiller passes out cards in May 2010 for an escort service on The Strip just north of Flamingo Road, outside the Flamingo.

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Handbillers on The Strip

A handbiller passes out cards in May 2010 for an escort service on The Strip just north of Flamingo Road, outside the Flamingo. Launch slideshow »
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The 1,500-foot-long canopy over downtown's Fremont Street Experience is shown in downtown Las Vegas in this file photo.

Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman admits he probably won't get his way because of First Amendment issues.

But he still doesn't like the idea of solicitors handing out glossy cards with near-naked women advertising escort services in the pedestrian mall of downtown's Fremont Street Experience, a practice that's common along parts of the Strip.

"It concerns me greatly, because, I'll tell you, if somebody wanted to hand one of those things to me when I'm with my wife or my daughter, I've got a concealed weapons permit and I can use it," Goodman told reporters at his weekly news conference at City Hall.

Goodman said he had made his viewpoints known to staff members about the escort service cards when they were discussing an ordinance as to what would be or would not be allowed under the domed Fremont Street Experience, the biggest tourist attraction in the city's downtown.

The city council is expected to take up the ordinance sometime this month or next month. The American Civil Liberties Union's Allen Lichtenstein has looked over the ordinance and said it was workable.

Last summer, the council decided not to take up a proposed ordinance that would create "free expression" zones within the mall. It also specifically prohibited certain activities at the Fremont Street Experience, such as using megaphones, throwing objects into the air and using Hula-Hoops.

The latest rendition of the ordinance would deal more with pedestrian traffic and safety, and stay away from banning activities, such as certain types of street performers, whose performances are considered a form of free speech.

For example, solicitors who flap their escort service cards would have to stay 10 feet from the perimeter of any outdoor setting and 20 feet from fire lanes and crosswalks.

However, Goodman said he wished the new ordinance could ban them.

"I think it's very, very bad that we can't control that," he said. "But free speech, I guess, is more important than protecting people from having something shoved in their face."

Goodman said the city's attorney has said they can't even hold the pamphleteer responsible if litter is created as a result of the cards.

"We can hold the person who receives the material, if they throw it down, but we're not going to do that, of course," Goodman said. "But I hope it doesn't happen."

Goodman, who describes himself as a civil libertarian, said he also believes there has to be a balance that is very important to the economic success of the downtown.

He said if those handing out cards disturb the public activities along Fremont, the city might have to go to court again to address such issues. The city has tried to limit activities in the past, but such ordinances have been thrown out by the courts.

Goodman said U.S. District Judge David Ezra, of Hawaii, who sat on the case where the city's ordinance was challenged the last time, wouldn't allow certain restrictions on Fremont Street.

"However, in a decision that he was involved in in Hawaii, he protected Wakiki Beach from the same kind of conduct that we've tried to stop here, saying that was not a public forum," Goodman said. "So I don't understand the difference other than we're Las Vegas. But I don't want to pick a beef with a federal judge — not yet."

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  1. When you limit one you have to limit others. Who makes the rules for the limits?

    When do they pass the rule that says the guys with the religious flyer's and sandwich boards can not be downtown? I am sure there are some that are offended by those guys also.

    I guess the added trash of the cards on the ground will be some help though, more jobs cleaning it up. ;-)

  2. I still say why can't they charge the people who are handing out this trash with littering when they are thrown to the ground, how many of you have slipped when walking down the side walks because of all these cards on the ground?

  3. With all the Brilliant minds in Las Vegas Government someone should be able to solve this problem. This seems to be a uniquely Las Vegas Problem and makes me wonder how NY solves it.
    Or does Las Vegas Really want to solve it?

  4. What a stupid thing for the mayor to say. 'I've got a concealed weapons permit and I'm not afraid to use it' What's he going to do, take it out and shoot somebody?

  5. When I see unsavory carnival like characters handing out anything, including religious paraphernalia, I try to avoid them at all cost. Some are more aggressive than others, but they all have one thing in common which is that they remind us that Las Vegas is very uncivilized. Is this the image that the average citizen and those in charge wish to project?

    When you walk in an area where the ground is covered with 5X7 pictures of scantily clad women (or men), do you associate it with security and safety? If you think having these people handing out any kind of material is good for business, then why doesn't the Cosmopolitan do it? Why doesn't the Aria do it? Does anyone expect some guy to hand them a flier with a picture of the Wynn hotel on it? NOOOOO!!! They have a good product and something called pride. If you have something good now days, word spreads pretty fast with something called the "Internet". That goes for escort services and strip clubs too. If your service or product is bad then you might need some carnival barkers to help get the suckers in.

  6. This type of card pushing activity goes on in the parking areas of WalMart, Target, and grocery stores, and sadly, these card pushers have the nerve to assault an adult with children, making the situation very awkward! There should be some standards in place that will protect children from such UNWANTED exposure! Maybe that is one way to attack this unwieldy problem. It is absolutely sickening their lack of common sense and decency.

    Lawmakers need to TAX the BROTHEL INDUSTRY and allow that industry to clean up the streets of illegal child sex trade. Most of the public has NO CLUE about this, and taxing these legal brothels will bring in millions of dollars of sustainable REVENUE for our state and thwart the exploitation of youth and others in the illegal sex industry.

  7. Oscar "Mighty Mouth" Goodman is as crazy as the last Mayor, Jan "Airhead" Jones. She was so upset that a "Gentleman's Club" was about to open on Fremont Street that she sent inspectors in to try and stop it. The "Airhead" failed even though she abused her power and misused city personnel in her attempt. The "Airhead" then whined that a strip club was "inappropriate" for downtown. Say what? Downtown, an adult playground, is an "inappropriate" place for an adult club? No wonder I refer to her as an "Airhead!" As for "Mighty Mouth," he thinks endorsing alcohol is "appropriate" for a sitting mayor to do. What a jerk!

  8. If you walk the strip near the Imperial Palace and the Flamingo, you will be bombarded with loud blasting music,midgets screaming in megaphones and other clowns dressed in some goofy costumes..Then of course, the illegal aliens standing ten and twenty deep shoving smut in your face as you walk by..Enjoy your visit to the classy Las Vegas experience..

  9. I say there should be a runway on Fremont Street and on the half hour (alternating with the great light show) there should be an auction of the girls for a visit. Hey what stays in Vegas doesn't bother me!