Charlatans, welfare queens and heroes
Expanded from the Sunday, 10-17-2004, Daily
Sparks, Nev., Tribune
and the 10-22-2004 Comstock Chronicle
Last Wednesday, Reno City Councilman Dave Aiazzi once again showed why immature, toxic personalities have no place in public office. At the new City Hall black tower across the street from the Mapes Memorial Graveyard, I presented the case to adopt a long range cable TV backup plan.
The Citizens Cable Compliance Committee, which I chair, worked long and hard on the issue. Committee member Noel Thornsberry composed a very compelling strategy to ensure continuity of service should financially troubled Charter Communications melt down or provide degraded service. (Stop laughing. It can actually get worse.)
The council looks to Mr. Aiazzi for guidance as liaison to our committee. He derailed the plan by challenging our authority to bring forward such a proposal. We discussed that issue several times in our meetings. Mr. Aiazzi would have known this had he attended.
The council will fortunately revisit the issue once staff has researched our bylaws. I e-mailed the council a copy before they adjourned for the day. You may see it for yourself, along with my cover memo, at DecidingFactors.tv.
WEALTHY WELFARE QUEENS WIN AGAIN. I had to wait all day for the council to get to the cable issue. It will come back to haunt several powerful entities, including the insurance/HMO lobby. (See below.)
Just before noon, the council voted to give the Nevada Museum of Art $50,000 in taxpayer money to pay expenses for Gomorrah South gambling mogul Steve Wynn's "I'm rich so I can buy me some culture" art collection.
"A taxpayer may collect an admission fee for the exhibition of fine art otherwise exempt from taxation on its sale, storage, use or other consumption pursuant to NRS 374.291 if the taxpayer offers to residents of the State of Nevada a discount of 50 percent from any admission fee charged to nonresidents. The discounted admission fee for residents must be offered at any time the exhibition is open to the public and admission fees are being charged." Statutes of Nevada, page 3203
As usual, guitar-slinging gadfly Sam Dehne was the only one signed up to speak against this latest of Mr. Wynnderful's many outrages. I couldn't fill out the form fast enough.
I told the council that Mr. Wynn's collection has been heavily subsidized by tax breaks largely at the expense of Las Vegas area school children.
I noted my columns questioning whether or not the museum is breaking the law by not giving Nevadans the required half-priced tickets to see the subsidized artwork. (Page 3203, Statutes of Nevada, 1999)
I informed them that Mr. Wynn will increase his tax break if Ballot Question 8 passes in November.
Alas and alack, the councilcritters voted 7-0 to donate the $50,000 toward this thinly-veiled attempt to influence the election. [UPDATE 10-24-2004: The council will reconsider the giveaway on Oct. 27. Click here for council contact info. UPDATE 10-27-2004 Carol Vilardo, President of the Nevada Taxpayers Association, stated on Sam Shad's Nevada Newsmakers that the state's oldest taxpayer organization opposes Q-8. UPDATE 10-31-2004: Politics Makes Strange Bedfellows.]
"Media is the plural of mediocre."
After a little research, I found that the council also established a slush fund for itself last year. (City Council Resolution No. 6175, 5-28-2003) Each member and the mayor have up to $10,000 a year to sprinkle on community organizations, a great way to buy favors and votes. Reno has had to cut some worthy programs but somehow found an extra $70,000 in the budget.
They may now consider the issue as raised for the waning days of the campaign.
THE NUMBERS GAME. My pick to click for grossest campaign mistake of the week occurred Saturday. An e-mail came in from "Yes on Question 3." That's the petition which would wipe out the medical malpractice compromise for which we taxpayers paid with the 2002 special legislative session.
THE MAHATMA COMES TO TOWN
UN,R right place for controversial speakers
Reno Gazette-Journal Editorial
Debate over controversial speaker welcome
Reno Gazette-Journal Editorial
Mike on the road with Crackers the Corporate Crime-Fighting Chicken.
The letter was sent because of the Saturday start of early voting. Opening up the message, I found that it came from organized labor and asked me to support Question 6, the constitutional amendment to raise the minimum wage by a dollar an hour and index it to inflation.
Somebody screwed up the headline and told union voters to support the insurance/HMO initiative which Nevada unions officially oppose.
CRITICAL CONDITION. My all-day session at Reno City Hall gave me the chance to read most of "Critical Condition," the new book by legendary investigative reporters Don Barlett and James Steele.
The two-time Pulitzer winners have given the nation a head start on the subject of Michael Moore's next film entitled "Sicko." Both will decry the depredations of the dawn of corporate medicine.
I will soon publish my own well-researched suggestions about the current doctors vs. lawyers mess. I have some solutions which Nevada has yet to discuss, let alone try.
Barlett and Steele explain why there's a shortage of flu vaccine this year: the misguided notion that the free market can take care of all our health care needs. That assumption has killed a lot of people and continues to do so. No, Dubya, it's not because of trial lawyers.
Meantime, don't confuse the workers' Q-6 with the insurance lobby's Q-3, which will make it difficult for a malpractice victim to find a lawyer.
HE HONORED US. Richard Sorenson died Oct. 9 at age 80. A few years ago, I had the honor of sitting with him and his wife at a Carson City veterans dinner I attended with Sen. Joe Neal, D-North Las Vegas.
I sat down with an average-looking older man wearing a blue ribbon around his neck. Upon inspection, I found that I was staring at the Congressional Medal of Honor. It was like getting to meet Babe Ruth. I knew of his story, how he jumped on a live grenade during WWII, saving four fellow servicemen from certain death. He somehow survived the direct explosion to live the rest of his life suffering from his injuries.
I told Mr. Sorenson that I was honored to meet him, then I asked the oft-stated question: was he related to former Sparks Tribune editor Rick Sorensen, for whose father the Alf Sorensen Center in Sparks is named. Apparently, Richard Sorenson got that a lot and informed me that he was no relation to the longtime Sparks family. He didn't mind explaining it for the umpteenth time.
In this day of warmongering phobia, remember Richard Sorenson. I found in his presence that self-sacrifice transcends political discussion when you have the good fortune to meet that rare person who proved that "greater love hath no man than when he lay down his life for his friend."
Rest in peace, hero.
Be well. Raise hell.
Propaganda for fun and profit
A Blow Against the Secrecy State: Federal government
didn't even want to produce its photo ID law
Las Vegas Review-Journal Editorial 9-17-2004
ORDER "Taking the Risk Out of Democracy"
Corporate Propaganda versus Freedom and Liberty
By Alex Carey
Edited by Andrew Lohrey
Foreword by Noam Chomsky
University of Illinois Press
BEEN THERE, DONE THAT
The 1994 Labor Day Barbwire introduces Alex Carey
A brief history of neo-con PR and the roots of corporate propaganda
Copyright © 1982-2004 Andrew Barbano
Andrew Barbano is a 35-year Nevadan, a member Communications Workers of America Local 9413 and editor of NevadaLabor.com and JoeNeal.org. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune since 1988.
Site composed and maintained by Deciding Factors (CWA signatory)
Comments and suggestions appreciated. Sign up for news and bulletins.