Bob Cashell plays Eddy Arnold

Expanded from the Sunday, 4-11-2004, Daily Sparks, Nev., Tribune
4-15-2004 Comstock Chronicle

The Reno City Council just renewed Charter's cable monopoly and didn't even kiss us afterward.

It's not that the councilcritters wouldn't pay attention, it's that they only paid attention to getting paid — by everyone in northern Nevada.

As I've previously detailed, Charter's deregulated, inflated pricing will pick the pockets of every resident of this region whether or not they are themselves cable subscribers.

I figured going in to last week's rush to judgment that consumers had three potential votes. Jessica Sferrazza and Toni Harsh were almost a given. Although they had not supported the Cosmetic Citizens Cable Committee on a series of small issues, they were the most supportive of the formation of the CCCC in 2002.

Pierre Hascheff, the senior member of the body, is a fair man. After the attorney and CPA advocated a full financial review, the flow seemed to be going the consumer way.

Mr. Hascheff eventually had to leave for a court appearance. Before doing so, he advocated sending the proposed contract to the city's financial advisory board, as the committee which I chair had unanimously recommended.

He returned to find that four of his colleagues had taken 30 pieces of silver on Ash Wednesday.

Early and often, the public demonstrated overwhelming consensus on one issue: Charter does not deserve a 15-year renewal. It was best stated by Ms. Sferrazza, who said "I don't think we should be rewarding poor service." The pattern was consistent in three viewer call-in town hall meetings, three Reno Gazette-Journal Internet votes, KOLO TV-8's web sampling, letters to the editor, mail and phone calls to councilmembers.

President Jenna Bush will be planning a kegger to kick off her re-election campaign before Renoites will again be able to lift a finger against Charter. If the financially shaky company doesn't go bankrupt and get a judge to wipe out what the city thinks it may get, the deal may transfer a few million to the city treasury from thee and me over the next few years. No harm would have come from further scrutiny.

But the proponents moved it forward because they well understand that the more sunshine you allow on a shady deal, the more public opposition will grow. The city expended about $60,000 for expert advice, then chose to ignore it. This travesty was rubberstamped less than three weeks after the public's first look. [1]

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas might have called the proceedings both Kafka-esque and a high-tech lynching.

I think that Mayor Bob Cashell and councilmembers Dave Aiazzi, Dwight Dortch and Sharon Zadra voted as they did because they share one common trait: when a big corporation kneels before them, expensive suede shoes getting scuffed on the floor, they feel important. After watching them in office, it's apparent that none of the three councilmembers possess the capacity to be good public servants. They ran for office to be something, not do something.

The day after they leave, they will undergo future shock and withdrawal pains when the suede-shoed in chic suits won't return their calls.

But what explains Bob Cashell? The Texas good ole boy from humble roots who struck it rich out west switched parties after being elected lieutenant governor in 1982. A picture of him with King Ronald the Vague hangs on his office wall.

In "The American President" (Aaron Sorkin's film now reincarnated as "The West Wing"), Michael Douglas tells Annette Bening that the White House is the greatest home field advantage in the world. The country boy was admittedly bedazzled by the show Sen. Paul Laxalt, R-Nev., put on while romancing his defection.

Cashell was our best bet for a fourth and prevailing vote for a cable franchise which would save ratepayers some money, guarantee payment and hold the derelict company accountable for a change.

He reminded me of a story I heard from a friend of country music legend Eddy Arnold. At a Gomorrah South hotel one day, fans cornered him, autograph books in hand. After awhile, Arnold excused himself. One aggressive mom chased him down and chastised him for leaving the children wanting.

"Lady, I'm old, I'm rich and I don't have to give a dam," he whispered.

Alas and alack, our own Texas poreboy let the po'folk down. From as little as he participated in the debate, I think he just didn't much care.

The public was thus skinned and stuffed by an unworthy menagerie of political animals: three sycophants and a bull elephant disengaged from the arena.

The battle now moves to the governments of Carson City, Washoe County and soon, Sparks. The biggest little zoo debacle has spawned a growing list of volunteers who don't want what happened to Reno ratepayers happening to them.

The mayor famous for his personal generosity had heart failure.

We are all the poorer.

EASTER CANDY. I've been collecting Mel Gibson jokes from the best humor writer I know, my wife. To assuage hurt feelings, the actor-director sent flowers and movie candy to the Israeli embassy. The JuJuBes did not go over well.

Happy Easter/Passover.

Be well. Raise hell.


[1] 3-30-2004 On NBC KRNV TV-4's Nevada Newsmakers, in response to a question from host Sam Shad, Reno Mayor Bob Cashell essentially endorsed sending the franchise draft to the city's financial advisory board for review. When Mr. Shad asked the mayor if the franchise draft would be sent to the FAB as our panel recommended, Mr. Cashell responded "it probably will, yes." Apparently, yes really means no.


Reno City Council sentences ratepayers
to 15 more years of Charter rape and pillage
despite 3 town hall meetings, 3 Gazette-Journal Internet votes,
KOLO TV-8's web sampling,
letters to the editor,** massive e-mails,
paper letters and phone calls to councilmembers.

Reno Gazette-Journal
*4-8-2004, **4-7-2004

City should reject cable deal
Reno City Council can cut cable TV rates
Reno Gazette-Journal Op-Ed 4-7-2004

Cable TV showdown April 7 at Reno City Hall
Daily Sparks Tribune 4-4-2004

Citizens panel urges denial of 15-year cable franchise
Reno Gazette-Journal 4-2-2004

Reno City Council April 7 meeting packet documents

Adobe Acrobat Reader documents

Reno Gazette-Journal ill-informed editorial
"City getting best of Charter deal"
Reno Gazette-Journal 4-2-2004

Ratepayers beware: The city and Charter like this deal
Beware of pigs wearing lipstick
Reno Gazette-Journal 3-30-2004

Getting beat up at Reno City Hall
CONSUMER TRIANGLE: Ratepayers must fight the company,
the council and the city staff

Daily Sparks Tribune 3-28-2004

No cable TV complaints allowed until 2019
City gives the store away

Daily Sparks Tribune 3-21-2004

Barbano's Conspicuously Unofficial Cable Consumer Page
Everything about how we got to where we are today

Cable Industry Economics
Everything your friendly local cable provider doesn't want you to know

The City of Reno's Official Cable Compliance Committee Page

City of Reno Cable Links and Info

Draft Cable Franchise Agreement as a .pdf download

Draft Cable Franchise Agreement in .html

City of Reno Staff Report on Draft Cable Franchise
Bring your salt shaker

Draft Changes to Master Cable Ordinance as a .pdf download

Draft Changes to Master Cable Ordinance in .html

Dr. Robert Sepe's advice: City takes some, leaves some
(and leaves some of us aghast!)
.pdf Adobe Acrobat Reader download
.html web browser viewable version

You may also get copies of the above documents by calling the community relations office
at Reno City Hall at (775) 321-8318; fax 334-3124; or e-mail RenoDirect.

At the mercy of cable monopolies
Clearly, deregulation has failed
San Diego Union-Tribune 3-15-2004

Consumer Reports
The Consumers Union Video & Cable information index

Charter Cable's Checking Account Isn't Choosy
What's a mere $2,300 between friends?
Daily Sparks Tribune 2-22-2004

National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA)

Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
Watch your language if you call, John Ashcroft might be listening | C.O.P. | Sen. Joe Neal
Guinn Watch | Deciding Factors
| BallotBoxing.US
Barbwire Oilogopoly Archive


Copyright © 1982-2004 Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 35-year Nevadan, a member Communications Workers of America Local 9413 and editor of and

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.