Happy trails to Gene Evans, Jack Evans and journalism

Expanded from the 3-4-2001 Sparks (Nev.) Tribune

I can't think of Gene Evans or Jack Evans and feel sad. They bring nothing but pleasant memories.

In these parts, the two unrelated men were best known as hotel-casino advertising executives, but that doesn't begin to tell their stories.

Gene Evans, who died Feb. 22 at age 80, was editor of the Elko Daily Free Press back in the 1950's before it turned into a newsletter for the Idaho Militia. He also served as Democratic majority leader of the Nevada State Assembly.

A brief item in a
Las Vegas newspaper noted that he was the sponsor of Nevada's first open meeting law. True enough, but another bill became his towering contribution to history.

Two people can rightly take credit for creating meaningful regulation of the Nevada gambling industry: Democratic Gov. Grant Sawyer who proposed the legislation and Gene Evans who got it passed over the vitriol of political and industry opponents.

Gene and I worked on a lot of charitable events over the years and I remember a lot of war stories which will run here at a later date when his family announces the particulars of a memorial service.

Oddly enough, perhaps the one thing that sticks out in my mind about Gene Evans was a defense of his onetime boss, Charles Mapes. Gene was media and public relations director of the Mapes Hotel for many years after leaving Harrah's. Mercurial Charlie Mapes did a lot of crazy things in his life. Perhaps his wisest decision was hiring Gene Evans to front for him.

One day, I made a comment about Mapes in front of Gene. His response: "Say what you will about Charles Mapes, but I'll tell you one thing. Whenever he asks you to do something, he always says 'thank you.'"

On that day, Gene Evans taught me how a true gentleman conducts himself. Charlie Mapes looks better to history because of Gene's community activities on Mapes' behalf.

In the 1970's when Gene held forth at the Mapes, Jack Evans performed similar tasks for Harrah's. He had the little job of coordinating all of Harrah's advertising and promotions between far-flung properties and departments. Jack's true love was jazz. I remember his astonishment one Sunday afternoon when long-haired, rock 'n' roll Barbano walked into the Musicians Union hall to attend a concert sponsored by For the Love of Jazz, the still-vital organization Jack co-founded.

Jack the Music Man died at age 71, the day after Gene. It now occurs to me, more than three decades down the road, that the kid who looked up to them for experienced wisdom now stands in their shoes and feels wholly inadequate to the task.

As your mythical musical Auntie Dale Evans once wrote, happy trails, guys. Till we meet again.

DUBYA-itis. Perhaps we can blame the guy in the W-House for creating w-fatigue. Journalists are supposed to ask the five w's whenever writing a story: who, what, when, where, why (plus "how" and "huh?").

Just as the legislative press corps dropped the crowning achievement of Gene Evans' career, other recent minor sins have cut the credibility of local journalism. The Reno Gazette-Journal, like every other paper in the state, yesterday announced that state consumer advocate Tim Hay had withdrawn his court challenge to Sierra Pacific Power's all time record $311 million rate increase. Why? The Gazette-Journal didn't print the answer. Read the Carson City Nevada Appeal or the Las Vegas Sun. (The Tribune does not publish on Saturdays.)

An RGJ news story a few months ago announced the grand opening of the first Love's Barbecue Restaurant in northern Nevada. Actually, the first Love's in Reno opened on Plumb Lane near Lakeside Drive more than three decades ago. The tile-roofed building now houses a flower shop.

Another business story allowed a company to boast that one executive "became the youngest partner in Nevada advertising agency history in 1984, when he was 26."

Not only unverifiable, but absolutely untrue. I've known and worked with younger agency principals. Just as an editor should have zapped such an obvious piece of smoke-and-mirrors puffery, so should some responsible adult have checked the morgue for barbecue restaurants.

Who cares? I do. The Reno Gazette-Journal, like many papers, has institutionalized a pig-headed idea that once they print it, it's true forever regardless of facts to the contrary. Subsequent readers will rely on embedded inaccuracy.

Editor Gene Evans would have thrown rocks at such oversights.

NURAy NOTICE: You may consider as gospel that the Nevada Utility Reform Alliance will hold its next meeting on March 17 (yes, St. Patrick's Day) at 1:00 p.m. at the Progressive Leadership Alliance conference room, 1101 Riverside Drive in Reno.

At last month's meeting, consumer advocate Hay spoke and those present laid the groundwork to organize statewide.

For information, contact Charles Laws at (775) 787-8935.

THE AWFUL TRUTH: Hay pulled the SPP case because he didn't think he could prevail in court after Carson District Judge Michael Griffin refused to grant an injunction to keep the blatantly illegal rate increase from going into effect March 1. (Read more about it at the Barbwire Energy War Room.) Hay may return to court later after fighting the hike at the Public Utilities Commission level.

If you see him on St. Patrick's Day, buy him a beer. He'll need it.

Be well. Raise hell. | U-News | C.O.P. | Sen. Joe Neal
Guinn Watch | Deciding Factors


Copyright © 2001, 2006 Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a member of Communications Workers of America Local 9413 and editor of Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Sparks (Nev.) Tribune since 1988.

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