In Las Vegas, convention authority board member’s racial controversies heat up By John L. Smith, CDC Gaming Reports June 17, 2020 at 8:00 pm At a time Las Vegas has been aching for a little good news as it gradually reopens its doors to visitors, it depends more than ever on its ability to communicate an attractive brand message to a world buffeted by a coronavirus pandemic and massive racial justice demonstrations. That’s why some people are bound to start wondering whether controversial Las Vegas Las Vegas City Councilwoman Michele Fiore, who finds herself in a media firestorm over racially charged comments she made during Black Lives Matter movement protests on the Strip and across the nation, is becoming a liability on the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority Board of Directors. The firebrand conservative is known for her unabashed embrace of the Second Amendment, the Bundy ranching family, and her aggressive style in office. Fiore also serves as a high-profile member of the convention board in Las Vegas, which touts itself as one of the world’s convention and trade show capitals. Pre-pandemic, business shows great and small gravitated toward the Strip to stretch out, and conventions are responsible for thousands of jobs and many millions in revenue for the local economy. Most of Fiore’s positions don’t make big headlines, but lately she’s having trouble staying out of them. Although she’s denied saying anything remotely racist and, on a second attempt managed to issue an apology to anyone she may have offended, fellow City Councilman Cedric Crear, the only African American on the governing body, has called for Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman to strip Fiore of her ceremonial title mayor pro tem. On Tuesday, Fiore voluntarily gave up the role, telling reporters her decision had nothing to do with the controversy. Fiore didn’t help herself at a recent county Republican Party convention in which witnesses complained that her speech about flaws of affirmative action descended into a race-based diatribe. As The Nevada Independent reported, Fiore said, “If there’s a job opening and my white ass is more qualified than somebody’s black ass, then my white ass should get the job.” The comment generated dozens of complaints, according to county GOP officials, and resulted in a public rebuke of Fiore by county party Chairman David Sajdak. In an attempt at damage control late last week, Fiore was forced to deny reports that during her speech she said, “white lives matter,” instead saying “all lives matter.” Las Vegas City Councilwoman Michele Fiore For promoters of Las Vegas as a place of inclusion for millions of visitors, it’s important to remember that image matters on the convention board. In addition to Crear’s stinging letter to Mayor Goodman, who also sits on the convention board, at least one recall effort against Fiore has begun. It’s all bad news that comes at the worst time for a Las Vegas struggling to get back on track as it tries to practice social distancing protocols and watches the COVID-19 case numbers rise. During a June 3 public meeting of the council, at a time Black Lives Matter protesters were taking to the streets of Las Vegas to demonstrate against police brutality and systemic racism, Fiore weighed in by reminding those present, “protesting does not give you the right of beating white people.” Crear waited until after Fiore’s controversy at the convention to implore Goodman to strip her of the ceremonial title that puts in in a higher profile at the city. He wrote in part, “During this highly volatile time in our country, it is beyond irresponsible to make such a biased statement. It adds kerosene to an already explosive fire and serves only to divide.” Fiore’s firebrand conservative politics and in-your-face persona aren’t for everyone, but this isn’t a question of style. If Las Vegas is going to continue to have a convention board that sees fit to send representatives to far-flung regions to meet and greet and drum up business, it only makes sense to send those who can remember they’re representing more than their personal opinion when they open their mouths. John L. Smith is a longtime Las Vegas columnist and author. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @jlnevadasmith.