Rainy Tuesday -- Best time I've had in years


Expanded from the 9-10-2000 Sparks (Nev.) Tribune

How long had it been? Fifteen, maybe 20 years since I last experienced a day like last Tuesday.

The skies swelled stormy, overcast and portentive. Light sprinkles fell several times as I stood in front of a polling place gathering petition signatures. I told people that I would consider the droplets a baptismal blessing if no hard rain or lightning followed. My papers barely got wet.

I saw some old friends and made new ones while advocating recall of Reno's mayor this November and placing the gaming tax on the 2002 ballot.

When I got home and opened the mail, I found a check I had not expected.

While awaiting election returns, I watched the Giants win another game. What more could I ask?

The phone rang.

"There will not be a general election," boomed the familiar voice of Sen. Joe Neal, D-North Las Vegas.

He had just just taken everything the gambling industry had fired at him and thrown it all back.
By garnering a majority in a three-candidate Democratic primary, the veteran lawmaker was re-elected outright and will not face a November runoff. He will thus be free to manage his statewide initiative petition to raise the world's lowest gross gaming tax on the state's largest, most profitable casinos.

Under Nevada election law, if three or more candidates from the same party file for legislative office and no one else runs, whoever wins 50 percent plus one vote in the primary is elected.

"SIX THE HARD WAY" NEAL cleared the bar into majority territory by six ballots cast. His victory was even slimmer than the nine-vote margin won by Assemblywoman Dawn Gibbons, R-Reno, in a 1998 primary.

Neal was hit with the most intense gambling industry campaign since the 1990 attempt to unseat Assemblyman Bob Price, D-North Las Vegas.

Price had angered casino moguls by introducing a bill to restore punitive damages in wrongful termination lawsuits. Without the potential of punitive damages, unjustly fired workers find it hard to retain lawyers to represent them. Price acted after a series of Nevada Supreme Court decisions which basically legalized age and sex discrimination against employees.

The gamblers funded an ambitious candidate and hired a covey of costly casino campaign consultants, led by the late Jim Joyce.

Price nonetheless prevailed in the primary by 31 votes and was easily re-elected the following November. He still represents North Las Vegas today.

Neal's main opponent this year was Uri Lahajj Clinton, a 27-year old lawyer who works for non-union construction companies against homeowners who file construction defect lawsuits. He was funded by a who's who of the gambling-industrial complex.

He openly admitted that he would never have to work again if he defeated the senator.

Like Price's opponent a decade ago, Clinton's campaign drew on not only the unlimited funds of the casino bosses, but also their top-tier political operatives.

Despite such high-priced talent, they made amateurish mistakes. Clinton's hatchet job mailers were so grossly misleading that the Las Vegas Sun threatened to sue unless he apologized for abusing and distorting the newspaper's copyrighted reportage.

The mailers made it seem that the paper had endorsed Uri Lahajj Clinton, which it had not. He not only apologized, but paid for an ad so stating. That's a new one. Anyone with knowledge of anything similar in Nevada political history, please let me know.

If you're interested in the inside story of the self-defeating gambling industry election strategy, please look up the special August 31 Gomorrah South edition of the Barbwire.

RICHARD MILHOUS GRIFFIN. Nevada has the country's most restrictive petition laws. A huge bankroll is needed to gather enough signatures in the short time now allowed. Volunteer groups which can't pay California mercenaries two bucks a signature have it rough.

The petition to place recall of Reno's mayor before the people had only 60 days. Even though it did not qualify, I was proud to sign and circulate it.

Even though more than 5,000 Reno registered voters put down their names, Hizzoner once again claimed the tacit support of the great silent majority.

When more than 400 protestors marched on Reno City Hall awhile back, Griffin asserted that since most Reno residents had not shown up, those absent had endorsed his policies by default.

The Sparks City Council did the same thing when confronted with an overflow crowd of union protestors.

Anyone recall the name of the guy who invented the slithery idea of presuming to speak for all those not protesting in the streets?

DEFICIT SPENDING. Tomorrow, the Sparks City Council is playing with your wallet. They will vote on borrowing $2.8 million from the state to finance the city's deficit. Once the most well-managed in Nevada, why can't the Rail City pay its bills? Because the gambling industry skims so much corporate welfare and foists so many of its costs onto the taxpayers. Read the state study proving it. After all you, you paid the tab -- twice. Once for the social costs and again for the research categorizing the obvious.

Which is why I was proud to have been baptized by the refreshing rain of Tuesday last, the best day I've had in many years.

Be well. Raise hell.

NevadaLabor.com | U-News | C.O.P. | Sen. Joe Neal
Guinn Watch | Deciding Factors


© Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a member of Communications Workers of America Local 9413, editor of NevadaLabor.com and manager of Sen. Neal's website. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Sparks (Nev.) Tribune since 1988.

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