Wednesday, March 2, 2005 | 11:05 a.m.
Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman told a group of fourth graders on Monday that if he was marooned on a desert island the one thing he would want to have with him is a bottle of gin.
And when a student quizzed Goodman about his hobbies he replied that "drinking" was one of them, said Mackey Elementary School Principal Kemala Washington, who was present for the mayor's visit.
Goodman was unapologetic for his comments that came during his visit to the elementary school in North Las Vegas.
"I'm the George Washington of mayors. I can't tell a lie. If they didn't want the answer the kid shouldn't have asked the question," Goodman said. "It's me, what can I do?"
Goodman was at the school with other special guests to read to the students as part of Nevada Reading Week.
The school principal and the president of the Nevada PTA said Goodman's alcohol-related comments were inappropriate for the young audience. And George Ann Rice, associate superintendent for human resources for the Clark County School District, said although she was unaware of the mayor's comments, if a school employee made similar comments disciplinary action would have been taken.
"It might be a written or a verbal warning but we would make it clear that kind of comment is absolutely unacceptable," Rice said. "We would remind the individual that employees are not supposed to share personal opinions in that manner, particularly when it's something that has the potential to offend a great many people."
Washington said the fourth graders didn't seem to pay attention to the mayor's gin and drinking comments.
"No one laughed. I think it just went over their heads," said Washington, who said she was surprised to hear Goodman talk about alcohol during the school event that she also attended.
"And when someone talks about drinking they think 'juice' anyway," she said.
Washington said the entire fourth grade at her school, about 85 students, were gathered to hear Goodman read three books and have a question-and-answer period.
"He was very good with the children," Washington said.
Washington said that when Goodman made the alcohol-related comments, "I wasn't really sure how it would be received, but we just went on to the next question and it really wasn't an issue."
Nevada PTA President DJ Stutz said that while it was wonderful that Goodman read to the kids, she thought the alcohol-related comments were inappropriate.
"Oscar's got a great reputation for being candid and social, it's part of his charm," Stutz said. "But every once in a while you ask, 'What were you thinking?'
"I do enjoy his candor but I do wish he would be more thoughtful in his approach sometimes."
Goodman said the comments did get him in trouble at home though.
"My wife wanted me to say her," Goodman said about what he would bring to a desert island.
Quips about drinking and drinking gin are commonplace in Goodman's public appearances, although usually those are in front of older audiences.
The mayor is particularly fond of gin martinis and became a pitchman for Bombay Sapphire gin in late 2002.
Clark County School Board member Sheila Moulton, who was in the classroom for the mayor's visit to the school, declined to comment on Goodman's answers.
"I will say he did an excellent job reading the story and I was very impressed with the way he explained things to the children," Moulton said. "It was 99 percent a great interaction."