Fatal Conservatism
Expanded from the 4-2-2006 Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune
UPDATED 8-8-2006, 1-16-2008, 3-9-2008, 4-6-2008, 1-16-2011, 1-16-2014, 8-8-2014, 4-28-2015, 12-27-2015, 3-4-2016, 3-4, 8-3-2017, Top 10 11-15-2017

To Die For / Barbwire / 1-16-2024
Happy Birthday, my daughters. — AB


In memoriam
16 January 1959 — 4 March 1978

Rural Nevada is a very dangerous place should you ever need medical attention — and nothing has changed in four decades. January 16, 1959, brought the births of Debra Joyce Donlevy/Carson High '77 (1959-1978) and Donna Leslie Cline (1959-1999). Their youth was cut in twain on the same night in 1978 within the loneliness of the High Desert Outback of the American Dream. They made much of the little time they were given. Remember them fondly.


Betty J. Barbano
2-7-1941 / 12-27-2005

Last week, the region's newspaper of record reopened a pair old wounds, one quite personal.


(John Hanks photo)

Debra Donlevy died as a result of a Gabbs highway accident and subsequent poor emergency care. [MORE]

UPDATE: WEDNESDAY 1-16-2008 7:52 a.m. PST, 15:52 GMT/SUT/CUT — On Jan. 16, 1959, Debra Joyce Donlevy (Carson High School '77), and Donna Leslie Cline, were born. Ms. Cline went on to become a journalist and news anchor, Miss Wheelchair Nevada and Miss Wheelchair America. She was made a paraplegic in the March 4, 1978, single-car rollover accident near Gabbs, Nev., which took Debra Donlevy's life. Ms. Cline went on to become a revered humanitarian in Texas where she died in 1999.

(From the U-News breaking news/almanac archives.)

Happy Birthday
January 16, 2011

Donna and Debbie would have been 52
Barbwire / Daily Sparks Tribune / 1-16-2011


A cold chill went down my spine when I saw those headlines:

"65 minutes from crash to hospital: Rural response times worst in U.S."

"All-volunteer ambulance crews struggle to save lives with outmoded equipment and lagging funds"

"Responders left stranded: Help from state hard to come by for isolated ambulance crews"

The Reno Gazette-Journal devoted more than five full pages to a (pardon the expression) bang-up job of reporting by Jason Hidalgo, Jim Sloan and former Daily Sparks Tribune ace Steve Timko.

"Issues faced by rural emergency medical services (EMS) are piling up: old ambulances that leak oil and break down during emergency runs…The average time it took rural ambulance crews to get victims to the hospital after arriving at a fatal crash scene in 2004 was 43.65 minutes – the longest transit time in the last seven years. That transit time was typical of most western states but was 16 percent longer than the average (nearly 37 minutes) for all states in the U.S.," Sloan and Timko wrote.

The concluding article's banner could be engraved on many tombstones: "State tracks response times but it fails to analyze the data."

This is typical of Nevada government. Cow county budgets get cut first. Gov. Bob Miller (D) and future Gov. Kenny Guinn (R) dismantled their predecessor Mike O'Callaghan's (D) exemplary rural clinics mental health program during the recession of the early 1990s. The system has never recovered.

Only when a relative of a powerful politician or businessman dies in the outback will chronic EMS problems be addressed.

How chronic?

In 1978, my late wife's firstborn, Debra Joyce Donlevy (Carson High '77), died as a result of Nevada's third-world rural emergency response system.

Her slow, painful death after a traffic accident near Gabbs could have been a bad TV script. It started with an ambulance breakdown, a long wait for a replacement and a quack doctor who had been run out of Canada for incompetence. [UPDATE: Gabbs still dangerous.]

A beautiful 19 year-old girl, who need not have died in the opinion of experts, succumbed to a system which remains dysfunctional almost three decades down the long and winding road.

The same holds true for education. Last Thursday, the RGJ published a guest editorial by Andrew E. Kelly, principal of Hug High School. He detailed a long checklist of ills attributable to his student body's bad luck in not having been born rich.

"We have segregated our children by poverty and race into a few schools that are challenged with getting each of their students to meet the standards and meet the basic needs they come to school without," Kelly wrote.

So what else is new? Pick any Nevada school district official. Each will pull a Pontius Pilate, pleading that every school gets the same amount of money per pupil, period.

In December of 1992, the RGJ published a magnificent series which proved once again that figures don't lie, but liars figure. Factor in all the extra money and goodies donated to upper class schools by affluent parents and the myth of equal education collapses.

The Reno paper had to threaten to sue the Washoe County School District to obtain the data for the 16-page exposé.

"District officials have known about the problem for years, but they've done little to fix it," reporter Veda Morgan wrote more than 13 years ago.

"Although Nevada's superintendent of public instruction disagrees, the state's public schools have been ranked last overall among all states in nine education categories rated by U.S. Education Secretary William Bennett," wrote reporter Wayne Melton on the front page of the RGJ on March 3, 1986.

The above represent textbook definitions of conservatism: maintaining the status quo and opposing change.

In 1982, I said that Nevada needed to make a choice. Would we become a modern society or remain an adolescent boomtown mining camp warning families to get out of Dodge?

On our roads and in our schools, our young are being extinguished by a state whose co-dependent majority is so used to being exploited that it is accepted as normal behavior. Witness how the twin corporate welfare queens of gambling and mining are treated.

I have said for years that only newcomers who don't view abuse as proof of love are capable of changing this high desert plantation.

So far, their impact is not apparent as kids continue to evaporate before our eyes.

BALLARDINI RETRENCHMENT. An unusual item was just added to Wednesday's Reno city council agenda. Somebody wants to repeal the panel's unanimous 2001 support of preserving the Ballardini Ranch. Councilmembers Dave Aiazzi, Pierre Hascheff and Jessica Sferrazza were part of that 7-0 vote five years ago.

Should repeal pass, it probably means that acrimony between city and county officialdom has sunk to new lows with lust for added property tax at new highs. Register your opposition to this infantile paralysis of adult governance. Call 334-2001, fax 334-2097. Click here for complete Reno City government contact info.

Do it!

ALSO ON WEDNESDAY, I'll be joining Sam Shad and the usual suspects on Nevada Newsmakers at 12:30 p.m. on KRNV TV-4. Shad's co-host will be Paul Enos of the Nevada Motor Transport Association, the keep on truckin' lobby. They will interview Chuck Alvey, President/CEO of the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada (EDAWN) and Tim Rubald, Executive Director of the Nevada Commission on Economic Development.

Mr. Rubald's landmark 1999 economic study grows more relevant with time – smoking gun proof that the gambling industry is a drain on government resources, a Wal-Mart with table games.

Verita Black Prothro, northern Nevada director for U.S. Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., will join us on the peerless pundit panel. Between the gambling-industrial complex and the Ballardini bears, birds and bunnies, it should be a kickass show.

Those afflicted with Charter cable may view the rerun at 9:30 p.m. on channel 12 in Washoe, Carson and Douglas counties. As always, I'll post the extensive statewide rebroadcast schedule online. The Reno City Council goes into session at 10:00 a.m. It may be viewed live on Charter/SNCAT-13 in Washoe County.

Be well. Raise hell.

Smoking Guns

Nevada education ranks dead last in nation for third year running
Dismal placements in children’s health, education, economic security, state of families & community
Las Vegas Review-Journal / 7-22-2014
OLD NEWS IS NEWS AGAIN: Nevada remains a hellhole for children
By Dennis Myers / Reno News & Review 8-7-2014

We Don't Need No Education: Barbwire Exclusive Continuing Statewide Roundup

Imported physicians remain a problem News Roundup

Reno Gazette-Journal major news roundup on rural emergency medical services (EMS) failings

Special report: State of emergency on Nevada's rural highways
Reno Gazette-Journal 3-26-2006

Responders left stranded
Help from state hard to come by for isolated ambulance crews
Reno Gazette-Journal 3-27-2006

Tahoe EMS responder responds to RGJ series
Politics get in the way of services

Reno Gazette-Journal 4-24-2006

Small central Nevada town of Gabbs loses all EMS

Reno Gazette-Journal 8-5-2006

Editor's Note: Many of the news links on this site are from Nevada dailies. In late 2006, the Reno Gannett-Journal began nuking much of its archive. If you encounter any broken links, I encourage you to contact them and send me a copy. On the one hand, they want to build their web traffic in order to increase the price of ads. On the other hand, they are killing that very traffic. Far be it from me to reconcile the Dilbert-style motivations of an outfit for which a 38 percent net profit is not enough. If you can explain it, please enlighten me. If you would like an e-mailed copy of any of the above stories which have been nuked, please let me know. (Before you e-mail me, please read this bulletin — AB)

The Dean's List

   The Dean of Reno Bloggers could very well be Andrew Barbano, self-described "fighter of public demons," who started putting his "Barbwire" columns online in 1996 and now runs 10 sites.

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Copyright © 1982, 1984, 1996, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2011, 2014-17, Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 37-year Nevadan, editor of and webmaster of Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune since 1988.

2017 UPDATE: Andrew Barbano is a 48-year Nevadan, editor of and; and former chair of the City of Reno's Citizens Cable Compliance Committee, He is producer of Nevada's annual César Chávez Day celebration and serves as first vice-president, political action chair and webmaster of the Reno-Sparks NAACP. As always, his opinions are strictly his own. E-mail


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