The words “visionary” and “legacy” spill generously on this lovely afternoon in Symphony Park, where developers and community leaders have gathered to honor former Mayor Oscar Goodman. It’s a pomp and circumstance event—complete with showgirls and a perfumed audience of Goodman kin—that culminates with the unveiling of a bronze Oscar bust in the privately funded Tribute Plaza. After much adulation, he takes the podium, announcing, “I wish I was humble, because I would be humbled by this.”
We know this to be true. Humility didn’t get Goodman this sculpture by artist Benjamin Victor, nor the lavish praise that leads Smith Center Board President Don Snyder to jokingly assert, “I’m getting a little tired of honoring Oscar Goodman.” Had Goodman been humble, he wouldn’t have belligerently insisted on redevelopment projects in a way that bordered on arrogance. He wouldn’t have demanded a Mob Museum, cultural use of the 61 acres or the renovation of the historic Fifth Street School.
Standing in the park, we watch Goodman give shout-outs to those who helped him along the way, knowing his projects will be seen as local landmarks. “I don’t have to die now, because I’ve heard my eulogy [at the new City Hall opening],” Goodman jokes, “and now I have my tombstone.”