Fight the juice and wash out with the tide

Expanded from the 4-13-2003 Daily Sparks, Nev., Tribune
UPDATED 3-28-2006

Bend over. The biennial petting zoo more politely known as the Nevada State Legislature just reached its midpoint and the same old songs are being sung. The rich, famous and powerful will prevail and you and I will pay the tab for their victory party.

Major consumer bills died like flies last week while slop for the hogs was sloshed out wholesale. More than anything else, it shows that your legislators do not represent the average Jack and Jill. They simply react to the latest pressure.

Many years ago, an assemblymember told me that lawmakers make judgments based on what they've heard. Very few read and research the legislation before them. Those who do are both rare and remembered. The late Senate Majority Leader James Gibson, D-Henderson, was legendary for taking reams or reading home each night.

Most other lawmakers are "acoustic," to use Ellen Goodman's term about Ronald Reagan's presidential style. King Ronald the Vague was a passive personality, much like Nevada Gov. Dudley Do-Right. Reagan read nothing and watched old movies in the evening until it was time to go out in public the next day playing the role of his idol, the very active Franklin Roosevelt. The voters bought the shtick and awarded Reagan four consecutive best political actor Oscars.

and Smoking Guns

TOLJASO DEPT. — Charter and Cox anti-consumer legislation comes back to bite Nevada ratepayers in the ass. (3-28-2006 update)

The Empire Strikes Back
Barbwire April 6, 2003

City of Reno lifts censorship
of cable panel TV program

Reno Gazette-Journal April 6, 2003

Reality TVA government meeting about Reno's cable franchise gets too hot for television
Reno News & Review April 10, 2003

Cox Cable jacks up Las Vegas Valley consumer rates

Cable industry move to impose tax on satellite competitors revealed

Officials oppose public access channel
because Las Vegas community morality standard is too low

Las Vegas Review-Journal March 26, 2003

I testified last week against Senate Bill 429, the latest of several cable television industry attempts to increase its power over your wallet and mine. Even after I demonstrated that the bill would not only harm ratepayers but also the industry itself, the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee voted 6-1 to amend the bill exactly the way the cable monopolists wrote it. As a result, should Charter Cable melt down due to its ongoing financial problems, local governments will be powerless to step in to provide continuity of service. (How bad is Charter's service? For the past several months, they have been unable to do so much as get the time right. Their digital system's clock has been running a minute or more slow, so that viewers end up tuning in late to programs in progress.)

The two worst supporters of the monopolists earn that appellation because of their public reputations to the contrary. Sen. Maggie Carlton, D-Las Vegas, is a waitress elected by the Culinary Union. Sen. Randolph Townsend, R-Reno (a Las Vegas resident and former Democrat), has proven politically invulnerable because of the consumer crusader image I helped him create 25 years ago. Both supported the monopolists. Only Sen. Joe Neal, D-North Las Vegas, voted in favor of consumers. There was really no need to have a hearing. All the votes were brokered upfront.

A true people's lobby does not exist in Nevada. Large elements of organized labor and the mis-named Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada are supporting the Regressive Universal Sales Tax (RUST), the keystone of the gambling industry's plan to tax everyone else. Gov. Dudley Do-Right, of course, has made the gamblers' plan his own. Nothing other than a token gaming tax increase remains on the table, which will still leave Nevada's the lowest in the world.

I really hope this legislative session reaches its constitutional termination at 120 days with nothing resolved. I hope for special session after special session interlarded with chaos and anarchy. I hope for governmental collapse which would make look trivial the brief federal shutdown caused by House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Georgia, in 1995.

Only with such pressure will true change come to this retro state which every day still lives up to its hoary nickname of yesteryear as Mississippi West.

PARANOIA WILL DESTROY YA. Want to know why the Nevada cable industry was paranoid over Sen. Neal's Senate Bill 278, which would have allowed municipalities to step in if a cable franchisee defaulted? Industry reps are telling people they fear joint ventures between the likes of Sierra Pacific Power and city governments. They may fear it, but enterprising such a project in the Truckee Meadows would make the Reno railroad trench look cheap. SPP is in no financial condition to try such a thing even if it wanted to. But I'm sure the fear justified a fat lobbying expense account and legal fees, so some guys made out like, cable companies.

Ratepayers engage the industry all across the nation

Citizens fight corporate power and disinformation

Municipal Pugilism — Local government vs. big business

Publicly owned systems provide inexpensive cable services

WINNING FOR LOSING. Charter Cable scared the bejabbers out of City of Reno staff by threatening to sue over comments I made while chairing the Citizens Cable Compliance Committee last month. Charter's challenge resulted in rebroadcasts of the meeting being censored by the city. Alas, Charter ended up winning for losing. City attorneys finally reminded the lunkheaded staff that anything said in such a public forum is not actionable under Nevada law. Nonetheless, two reruns were scratched and only one will air, this Tuesday at 2:00 p.m. on Sierra Nevada Community Access Television (SNCAT) Channel 13 in Sparks and Reno.

The next committee meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 24, at Reno City Hall. Tune in for the live cablecast on Channel 13. One never knows what Charter's expensive lawyers might think up for next time.

That's entertainment.

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Copyright © 2003-06 Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 34-year Nevadan, a member Communications Workers of America Local 9413 and editor of and He hosts Deciding Factors on several Nevada television stations. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune since 1988.



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