Sun file photo
Wednesday, July 29, 2009 | 2 a.m.
- County rejects Prive's appeal for temporary license (7-28-2009)
- Big fine establishes hard line on nightclubs (7-27-2009)
- Liquor license rejections force Planet Hollywood clubs to close (7-23-2009)
- Next to gaming board, other enforcers look like pushovers (7-15-2009)
- Planet Hollywood to pay $750,000 fine over Prive (7-12-2009)
Beyond the Sun
As Prive nightclub seeks to regain its liquor license, it will rely on the formidable skills of attorney Jay Brown, who over three decades has earned a reputation as an influential advocate in local government circles.
Brown’s hiring by the club has led some to cast the licensing fight, which the Clark County Commission will consider Tuesday, as a classic case of juice versus justice.
Brown is friendly and familiar with, and respected by, most local politicians, including county commissioners. He’s a former law partner of Mayor Oscar Goodman’s and is a longtime friend of Sen. Harry Reid.
But commissioners contacted by the Sun said it’s not the reputation of the messenger, but the merits of the message that will decide the case.
“I have not been greased, nor will I be greased,” Commissioner Tom Collins said. “Jay Brown puts his pants on a leg at a time just like the rest of us. All I can promise is to do what is right by the law.”
Brown couldn’t be reached for comment.
The county denied Prive a permanent liquor license last week, after the Gaming Control Board slapped Planet Hollywood with a $500,000 fine to settle claims the casino knew or should have known about illegal acts — drug use, underage drinking and assault — at Prive. As part of the settlement, the casino admitted to the acts.
The county Business License Department denied Tuesday the club’s request to operate with a temporary license until an appeal of its license revocation could be heard. That action has forced the club to close.
The hearing before the commission will involve Metro Police and county licensing officials giving their account of what has gone on in the club. The club’s representatives, in this case Brown, will present a case for a liquor license, likely involving personnel changes and safeguards to prevent future problems.
Commissioner Steve Sisolak said he takes “very seriously” the Gaming Control Board’s actions.
“These are major allegations,” he said, adding that “no one has come and talked to me beforehand.”
“When they do come to the board, they will have a lot of explaining to do ... and they are going to have to have some pretty compelling arguments” to persuade him to vote to grant the club a permanent liquor license, he said. “Gaming and tourism is our No. 1 industry, and if someone in that industry is not acting responsibly, that’s a real problem.”
Commissioner Larry Brown said part of the commission’s job is to protect the reputation of the tourism industry. Nightclubs overall appear to be operating within the law, but “poorly run clubs in town ... take away from the majority of those clubs and casinos that are doing everything by the book.”
The accusations against Prive “are very, very serious,” he added.
Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani said she will be open-minded, but noted that she has seen instances in which those with power to put someone out of business overshot their authority.
“I believe in aggressive discipline and if the owner doesn’t take those steps then that’s a different story,” she said. “But if you’ve taken steps to do everything, and then another governmental body comes in to take your license — well, I just have to listen very carefully.”