Unbought and Unbossed
Expanded and updated from the 1-21-2007 Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune
"Stand with anybody that stands right. Stand with him while he is right and part with him when he goes wrong."
Abraham Lincoln, 10-16-1854
One of the great lessons children and adults learned from the first Harry Potter book was that while it is difficult to stand up to your enemies, it is even more difficult to stand up to your friends.
That's why Joe Neal stands head and shoulders above every political figure I've encountered in four decades of Nevada politics.
Although he has been retired for two years, the impact of former State Sen. Neal, D-North Las Vegas, still reverberates in the state and around the world. That's not just hype from a fellow old war horse like me who was proud to side with the good senator against friend and enemy alike. The evidence gathers every day at his website, which still earns very consistent traffic because his positions on the great issues remain so relevant. (For example, look at his 2002 health care proposal at JoeNeal.org. I have maintained the website pro-bono since his retirement.)
The 32-year legislative veteran has been enjoying his family and a less hectic pace for the past several years, but like any old fire horse out in the pasture, when the alarm bell goes off in town, his first impulse is to jump the fence and head for the smoke and flames. Well, fire departments from London to Las Vegas came calling last week.
It started with longtime Gomorrah South political writer and alternative weekly editor Steve Sebelius, who wrote "almost overlooked in the whole mess was a person who (Assemblyman Morse) Arberry, D-Las Vegas, says is supporting him, but who would make a great (Clark County) commissioner in his own right: former state Sen. Joe Neal!", Sebelius wrote in LV CityLife.
"Neal lives in the district; he ran against (resigning Commissioner Yvonne Atkinson) Gates the last time out, garnering but 21 percent against Gates' 63 percent. Neal's retired now, but if he still has the fire in the belly, we think he'd be a great choice. Plus, think of how the Strip would react if their old foe Neal was put in charge of gambling regulation!"
For those who don't follow follytix as bloodsport, the Clark County Commission, which has ultimate power over Las Vegas Strip casinos, has long been the most powerful political body in the state.
LV lawmakers look at the commission as a step up from the legislature. Two former assemblymembers now sit on the seven-member panel. Because Gates is a Democrat, the governor must appoint a member of the same party under Nevada law.
Since my colleague in columny Sebelius started the brushfire, the least I can do is help fan the flames, so I called Sen. Neal at home.
Would he take the job if Gov. Jim Gibbons offered it?
Recent BARBWIRE Media Hits
and Ego Trips
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.
RENO NEWS & REVIEW, 11-9-2006
BARBANO: Nevada's newly-hiked minimum wage is nowhere near enough
Reno Gazette-Journal, 11-11-2006
"If Gov. Gibbons appoints me for the remaining two years, I will accept," Neal says.
Sebelius is entirely correct that the good senator was the principal thorn in the gambling industry's side for many years, asserting and presenting hard evidence that the gambling industry did not pay its fair share for the growth it causes.
Sen. Neal and I stood alone at the legislature for several sessions against both business and labor, all of which opposed an increase in what was then the world's lowest gross gaming tax.
Finally, with the state in fiscal crisis in 2003, a major tax hike was passed. I have been chaffing lately at all the accolades heaped upon former Gov. Dudley Do-Right for getting the $833 million tax package passed. In fact, Gov. Guinn advocated the gambling industry's plan which would have cost the casinos a mere six million a year.
The untold story lay behind the scenes as Sen. Neal and a few key players put together the plan which became law and held the gamblers more accountable. Recipients of hundreds of millions a year in corporate welfare from Sparks to the Strip, the casinos still have it soft, but at least they're paying a bit more thanks to Sen. Neal.
Sparks and Reno remain in critical financial condition today because of casino corporate welfare. Joe Neal did something about it. Imagine what he might do if elevated to the Clark County Commission.
Time to make some calls.
JOE NEAL AMONG THE STUFFIES. Las Vegas Sun columnist Jon Ralston last week quoted the UK magazine The Economist as stating "there is only one party that matters in Nevada, and that is the Gaming Party." Guess who originated that one? You got it Sen. Joe Neal.
CORRECTION. Last week, I noted that former freedom rider Erma Fritchen would be honored for her long and distinguished record of civil rights activism, but I got the wrong event. She was honored at the annual Martin Luther King Day service last Sunday at Reno's Second Baptist Church.
TOMORROW AT CITY HALL, the Sparks City Council will vote on establishing a diversity commission, something long past due which Reno has had in place for years. Contact your councilcritter and ask him to support it.
THE HOLY MAN NEEDS HELP. Revered Western Shoshone elder Corbin Harney is quite ill and requires constant care. He has endeared himself to many northern Nevadans in his visits over the years as he labored for the environment, worker rights and civil rights. He is in need of funds for food, transportation, medication and health care at the beleaguered Poo Ha Bah traditional native healing center in Tecopa Hot Springs, Calif. Those who wish to donate may send checks to Corbin Harney, Post Office Box 187, Tecopa, California 92389.
Be well. Raise hell.
Governor's Office/State Capitol
101 N. Carson Street
Carson City, NV 89701
Fax: (775) 684-5683
Governor's Office/Las Vegas
Grant Sawyer State Office Building
555 East Washington, Suite 5100
Las Vegas, NV 89101
Fax: (702) 486-2505
Johnson, Chalmers; REPUBLIC OR EMPIRE? A National Intelligence Estimate on the United States; Harper's magazine; January, 2007; (not available online for several months, if at all). I love it when heavy hitters validate what I've been saying for years in the tiny Sparks Tribune.
Barlett, Donald L. and Steele, James B.; America: What Went Wrong? (1992); America: Who Really Pays the Taxes? (1994); America: Who Stole the Dream? (1996) ; Andrews & McMeel/Universal Press Syndicate. For additional comments on the work of the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning team, use the NevadaLabor.com search engine and sweep for "Barlett."
The Orwell Diversion by Alex Carey
Excerpted from the book available below
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
SEE ALSO: Lapham, Lewis H.; Tentacles of Rage: The Republican Propaganda Mill, A Brief History; Harper's Magazine cover article; September, 2004, page 32.
By one conservative estimate, the corporate right has spent about $3 billion over the past three decades manufacturing public opinion to suit big business goals. Lapham's number covered the early 1970's to the present day. Alex Carey noted that by 1948, anti- New Deal corporate propaganda expenditures had already reached $100 million per year, not adjusted for inflation, for advertising alone. (Carey, ibid; page 79)
Adjusted for inflation, that 1948 $100 million becomes $801,659,751.04 in 2005 dollars.
Conservatives Help Wal-Mart, and Vice Versa
As Wal-Mart struggles to rebut growing criticism, it has discovered a reliable ally: conservative research groups.
New York Times 9-8-2006; Free registration may be required
BARBWIRE: Labor Day '94: People vs. corporate con job, 9-4-94
Chilling forecasts from Alex Carey
BARBWIRE: The Nevada Republican Party Becomes Communist, 3-30-97
A prescient Plato on the dangers of oligarchy
The sands of time do not cloud the long memories of the sheiks of Araby
Rinfret, Pierre A.; Peace is Bullish; Look magazine, 5-31-1966
Barbwire Oilogopoly Archive
I've been telling you so for more than 10 freakin' years
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Copyright © 2007 Andrew Barbano
Andrew Barbano is a 38-year Nevadan, editor of NevadaLabor.com and JoeNeal.org, and a member of the Reno-Sparks NAACP. As always, his opinions are strictly his own. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune since 1988.
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