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December 1, 2015

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Goodman: Despite what Harry Reid says, prostitution isn’t hurting Nevada’s economy

Mayor says he disagrees with Reid that brothel industry impedes economic development


Steve Marcus

A view of the Cherry Patch II brothel at Amargosa Valley in Nye County.

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Reid Seeks Prostitution Ban

Moonlite Bunny Ranch brothel owner Dennis Hof answers the media questions on Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011, at the Legislature in Carson City. Launch slideshow »

Nye County Brothels

A sign for the Shady Lady Ranch brothel in Nye County. The Shady Lady, off U.S. Highway 95 about 30 miles north of Beatty, was the first brothel to hire a male prostitute. Nye County is one of 11 Nevada counties where prostitution is legal. Launch slideshow »

Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman isn't buying Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's argument that prostitution is hurting the economies of the 10 Nevada counties that have have legalized it.

"I personally don't believe that," Goodman told reporters today at his weekly news conference.

Reid told the Nevada Legislature Tuesday that having legalized prostitution in the state is an impediment to economic development and called for outlawing it across the state.

"That may be his perspective," Goodman said, "but I don't believe that anybody ever said to their husband or wife, 'We're not moving our business to Nevada because they have legalized prostitution there.'"

Goodman said the matter has never come up in any of the discussions he has ever had with businesses considering moving to the state.

"No, no — let's talk about education," Goodman said. "That comes up. That's something important to talk about. That's something that affects each and every one of us, our potential workforce."

Goodman said that before he became mayor, he tried cases around the state and represented, at one time, Sally Conforte, who was the wife of Joe Conforte, the owner of the Mustang Ranch, which was the state's first licensed brothel in 1971.

"These small counties, like it or not, depend on the tax revenue generated and the business generated by brothels being located there," Goodman said. "I think if you don't live where the activity takes place, you really may not understand the importance of it for that community."

Although state law prohibits prostitution in Clark and Washoe counties, Goodman said illegal prostitution takes place all over the Las Vegas Valley.

"Go any place in Las Vegas, any hotel, or any major arterial at 3 o'clock in the morning or 4 o'clock in the morning and you tell me there's not prostitution here. I'll call you a monkey's uncle," he said.

Goodman said his position has been misinterpreted in national publications that he is in favor of legalizing prostitution in the city.

"I'm not, as the mayor. I've never said that before," Goodman said.

However, Goodman said he has advocated discussing the issue.

"There's no doubt that prostitution does exist," he said. "It's demeaning to women. There are young teenagers who have been basically enslaved into prostitution. Human trafficking involves prostitution. All of that is very bad.

"People who have strong religious feelings may very well harbor a great adamance toward prostitution," he said.

However, professors at UNLV have argued that prostitution could be regulated "to make sure that it's safe that people won't be rolled, won't be harmed, won't get sexually transmitted diseases," he said.

Those academics also say that revenue can be raised as a result of it, Goodman said.

"Therefore, there are pros and cons," he said. "I've always said there's nothing wrong with discussing it. I have never advocated for legalization of prostitution, because I don't believe our constituents would want that here."

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