Fiore ‘test wedding’ exposes disparity in park fees paid by supporters, public

Fees waived for leader of union that gave thousands to councilwoman’s campaigns

By: - June 5, 2020 8:31 pm

The hay barn at Floyd Lamb Park. Lamb Park. (Photo courtesy Save Floyd Lamb Park).

Mayor Pro Tem Michele Fiore is using Floyd Lamb Park as her own personal playground, constituents say, waiving thousands of dollars in fees for friends and for-profit events to use the park while schools, churches and nonprofits pay for the privilege.  

When Fiore supporter and Laborers’ Union leader Tommy White wanted his daughter’s May 2019 wedding held at the park, Fiore comped the $2,000 in permit fees and paved the way for a 150-person reception in a historic hay barn approved to accommodate 15 people.  The city’s permit for the event makes no mention of the hay barn.  It also wrongfully indicates $2,112 was paid to the city when it was waived, according to a city spokesman.

“So not only was the permit falsified not to show the hay barn, but Fiore waived one of her biggest contributor’s park fees, and endangered the lives of the 150 people who attended that wedding,” Karen Livingston of Save Floyd Lamb Park wrote to the city, referring to contributions made by the union and it political actions committees to Fiore’s various campaigns. 

“There was (sic) more than 15 workers in that barn at a time,” White said in a message when asked about the wedding. “Did you know the hay barn was filled with rats and open bags of fertilizer that could have caused fire.”

When told the Current was writing a story about the wedding, White cryptically replied “Then you should ask Governor Sisolak.”

White would not elaborate and Sisolak did not respond to inquiries.  The two were allies in the effort to build a publicly funded stadium for the Las Vegas Raiders. 

In late April 2019, White signed a donation agreement on behalf of Laborers 872, to clean out rodent droppings and pigeon excrement from the hay barn in preparation for his daughter’s wedding. According to the agreement, which was approved by the city council after the wedding, the union also laid 5,000 square feet of concrete (high heels and gravel don’t mix) and supplied and installed seven light fixtures.  

The work appears to have been done without the approval of historic preservation officials at the state and local level.  

An attorney for the Laborers Union said in a letter to columnist John L. Smith that White, not the union, ultimately made the donation which was requested by Fiore. 

“Shortly thereafter, Mr. White’s family member asked if the facility could be utilized to hold a wedding,” wrote David Rosenfeld. “He decided that it would raise concerns if the Local assisted in cleaning up the Park Maintenance Garage (Hay Barn) when his family member requested to use that facility. As a result, the Local did not do any work pursuant to the donation agreement.”

That timeline suggests that in the two weeks between April 27 and May 11, White’s family chose a location, sent invitations, and planned a wedding for 150 people.  

Rosenfeld did not respond to inquiries about the timing or why the donation agreement was not amended to reflect White, not the union, as the donor when the city council approved it on May 15, after the wedding.  

The donated concrete has since been ripped out to make way for Fiore’s planned renovation of the hay barn into an events center, an effort nearby residents fear is designed to benefit Fiore’s daughter, an event planner.

In a meeting with residents about the planned events center, Fiore’s assistant Chance Bonaventura called the White affair a “test wedding.”

Larry Confer, a member of Save Floyd Lamb Park, says neighbors applaud the restoration of the hay barn but oppose its use as an event center. 

Neighbors also want to know how Fiore was allowed to waive $9,000 in fees for a private, for-profit rodeo held at the park’s arena in May.  

The City was unable to identify any other for-profit events that received a fee waiver.  

City policy permits fees to be waived for legally compliant, non-commercial, community events with a public purpose.  

Rehab Roping Productions accepts cash only from its entrants, according to an advertisement, and has no business license, according to city and county records. 

Organizer Richie Griffith teaches Fiore’s grandson to participate in rodeo events, according to sources. In a Facebook post about her grandson’s success in the arena, Fiore thanks Griffith’s wife, Fallon, who obtained the comped rodeo permit from the city.   

LV Councilwoman Michele Fiore’s Facebook post.

A spreadsheet provided by the city indicates residents, schools and non-profit organizations routinely pay to use Floyd Lamb Park facilities.  

Two weeks before the White wedding, the city charged $950 for an event of 50 people at the Floyd Lamb Park gazebo.

The Electrical Workers Union 357 paid $7,200 to use the park’s gazebo for a one-day event, according to city records.

The union is not known to support Fiore, who sponsored a bill as a state lawmaker to limit union protests.

The city did not explain the wide variation in the amounts charged for the exclusive use of park amenities, ranging from $5 to $25 per person.  

Fiore has not responded to requests for comment.

The residents say they have 22,000 signatures calling for the city to halt construction of the hay barn.  

They’ve hired attorney Matt Callister to obtain a cease and desist order pending what they hope will be an inquiry by Attorney General Aaron Ford.  

Ford’s office acknowledged it had already received complaints about the rodeo event, which opponents contend violate the park’s prohibition on anything but passive forms of recreation such as hiking.   

“I think we feel that this has been done legally and appropriately,” Mayor Carolyn Goodman told residents during the public comment section of Wednesday’s city council meeting.  

A video provided to the city by Fiore’s office claims the hay barn is “falling off its foundation.” 

The assertion contradicts expert reports obtained by the city, which indicate improvements to the structure are required because of the hay barn’s renovation as an events center.

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Dana Gentry
Dana Gentry

Dana Gentry is a native Las Vegan and award-winning investigative journalist. She is a graduate of Bishop Gorman High School and holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Gentry began her career in broadcasting as an intern at Channel 8, KLAS-TV. She later became a reporter at Channel 8, working with Las Vegas TV news legends Bob Stoldal and the late Ned Day. Gentry left her reporting job in 1985 to focus on motherhood. She returned to TV news in 2001 to launch "Face to Face with Jon Ralston" and the weekly business programs In Business Las Vegas and Vegas Inc, which she co-anchored with Jeff Gillan. Dana has four adult children, two grandsons, three dogs, three cats and a cockatoo named Casper.