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Special notice to Sparks Tribune readers

In its 25th year as a daily, the 102 year-old Sparks Tribune moved to twice-per-week publication as of 1 Sept. 2012. Alas and alack, the publishers have not done a very good job informing our readers and the general public. I've been getting phone calls. The print edition will now be published on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Four longtime columnists have been retained: David Farside, Jake Highton, Harry Spencer and the Barbwire. The newspaper's website will continue to publish stories on a daily basis.

My annual Labor Day column appeared in the Sept. 3 Reno Gazette-Journal.

I also highly recommend journalist Mark Robison's extensive piece Hard Labor: Nevada unions tout role in helping workers, firms, economy in the Sunday 2 Sept. 2012 RGJ (starting on page one of the Reno Rebirth section of the print edition). Therein, union men Jim Burrell, Paul McKenzie and Guy Louis Rocha did the movement proud. [Click here to access the shocking but not surprising graphic included in the print edition but not on the RGJ website.]

The RGJ also used a photo and information from this golden oldie.

Hope you enjoyed a happy Labor Day. Stay tuned. Be careful. Be cool.

Be well. Raise hell.

Andrew Barbano

Aug. 2012-Aug. 2013: the Barbwire's Silver Anniversary Year
Barbwire by Barbano premiered in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune on Aug. 12, 1988, and has originated in them parts ever since. Tempus fugit.

   Everybody knows the dice are loaded.
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed.
   Everybody knows the war is over.
Everybody knows the good guys lost.
   Everybody knows the fight was fixed.
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich.
   That's how it goes. Everybody knows.

Everybody knows the scene is dead
   But there's gonna be a meter on your bed
That will disclose
   What everybody knows.

— Leonard Cohen

A great week for scandals
School district master chefs continue cooking the books
Tenth in a continuing series on the collapsing future of Nevada education
Teachers' business tax petitions hit Nevada streets while Chicago teachers do likewise
Damning inspection report brings union call to oust Reno VA hospital leadership
State ignores voter registration lawsuit until the day after this column printed
I defy you to find all of the following elsewhere either in depth or in context.
NEEDED NOW MORE THAN EVER: New community TV channel

Barbwire by Barbano / Expanded from the 9-13-2012 Daily Sparks Tribune
Humongously updated on 9-14, 9-15, 9-17, 11-5-2012

HAT TRICK: Barbwire wins 3rd straight Nevada Press Association First-Place Award



Watch for show times. Help us get the word out.

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Updated 8-30-2011
Now rerunning on Carson-Dayton 226

Additional programs
on Boulder City cable. Go to and then
go to the BCTV link.

If Reform Fails: Health Care, Jobs and Unions — new power to the people on the public airwaves

The program premiers were available to every television set in the region because of a high-mileage media hybrid.

The shows appeared on both commercial and community stations. The non-corporate entity produced the events, commercial TV greatly expanded distribution.

Thus began an ongoing series of sane public interest programs which generate both entertaining heat and more than a little light.

Please spread the word and consider contributing to the cause online at ReSurge.TV.

You may also take the public option known as the U.S. Postal Service and send a check or money order to ReSurge.TV, P.O. Box 10034, Reno NV 89510.

Your contribution will help fund the distribution as well as ongoing efforts at developing new media, including a regional, non-corporate community radio station and the return of community television to Reno-Sparks-Washoe.

You are present at the creation of what I hope can become a new media model where the programming accurately reflects what's happening on the ground and the media impact is powerful enough to forcefully pass the message upward.


Be well. Raise hell.


Click here for selected on-demand re-runs from the 2009, 2010 and 2011 Barbwire.TV archives

15-year overnight success

Daily Sparks Tribune 2-10-2008

The Barbwire's Greatest Hits
Highlights from radio days
mp3 file

HAT TRICK: Barbwire wins 3rd straight Nevada Press Association First-Place Award


If you believe the latest PR from the Washoe County School District, life is beautiful and all the little children reside in Happy Valley with full stomachs and bright futures.

So what's wrong with that picture?

For starters on Sept. 10, a full report on purported increases in math, reading and science scores was not released, just carefully culled highlights.

Staffers told KRNV TV-4 news that the complete report was not yet ready. So why release just pieces? Only one plausible reason looms obvious to an old media manager: Get the positive stuff out now so that the full report will be old news when published and thus merit far less attention.

Clever. And cynical.

The real bomb will drop later this month when they validate the accuracy of the Barbwire's now ten-part series We Don't Need No Education. I reported in April that former Superintendent Heath Morrison's miraculous graduation improvements were really just a change in how dropouts were counted. Morrison later admitted it to the Charlotte (NC) Observer.

[UPDATE 9-14-2012] — The Nevada Dept. of Education today released its 2011-2012 Adequate Yearly Progress Report, a measurement based on federally required standardized tests.

Fewer than half of WCSD schools passed.

State and local officials downplayed the results and presented their solution to the Reno Gazette-Journal: They will change the method of counting next year, eerily echoing Morrison's reshuffling which made him national superintendent of the year before bailing out to the land of Jesse Helms.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg officials want their graduation rate computation changed and hired just the right guy for the job.

Next week's grad stats for Morrison's third year will be less interesting than the PR spin of school district officials.

[UPDATE 9-17-2012] TOLJASO DEPT. The Awful Truth in the morning: "Successes and Challenges" headlined the WCSD PR.

Challenges indeed. As only the Barbwire predicted last spring, Morrison's disappointing third-year graduation rate explains why he got outta Dodge after year two.

        WCSD Board Chair Ken Grein sent out a press release in the afternoon of Sept. 17 actually praising the slump in the graduation rate as something positive. He neglected to mention that the official (albeit pumped-up) rate has gone down on his watch.

"Our community, together with WCSD teachers, principals, and staff have worked hard the past few years to get more students to graduate. As a result, those efforts have resulted in the District's graduation rate climbing 14 percentage points between 2009 and 2011. WCSD announced today the District's graduation rate is at 69 percent, with the total number of high school students graduating stabilizing," Grein asserted.

Unlike the Titanic's stabilized water levels, Washoe may not be so lucky. (See below.)

The Morrison-manipulated rate stood at 70 percent after his second year with a projected 71 percent rate for year three (2011-2012), according to numbers WCSD provided to the Nevada Dept. of Education. ("Performance Targets for 2012...Graduation Rate: 71%." Go to Nevada Accountability Report at and click on Washoe.)

        Grein further touted the positive math/science/reading PR disseminated on Sept. 10 but ignored the embarrassing and contradictory Average Yearly Progress stats which the state published on Sept. 14.

"Together, we can work hard to ensure the 63,000 students in our District can graduate college and highly-skilled career ready," (sic) Grein stated. "To do so, we want to invite you to join us at the upcoming Door to Door for Student Achievement event on September 29 from 8:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. We will visit students who are struggling to pass the high school proficiency exams, who are behind on credits, and who have attendance issues who need your support and encouragement. Many need to know that our community cares about their future. By giving them the vote of confidence that they need, we can make a difference," Grein asserted.

Dr. Morrison used home visits to completely wipe some students off the rolls as though they never existed, thus pumping up his graduation improvement percentage. (See longtime Charlotte Observer education reporter Ann Doss Helms' blog as quoted in the Barbwire of 24 June 2012.)

True chutzpah means Nevada having to say you're sorry.

In a further display of self-congratulation, the district has published PR touting its application for a national award based on the manipulated Morrison stats.

In his Monday Sept. 17 press conference, new Washoe Superintendent Pedro Martinez, late of the Gomorrah South school district, noted that only 2,500 (58.14 percent) of the 4,300 current Washoe seniors are on track to graduate.

Hence the September door-knocking.

All well and good if older students are not wiped off the books Morrison-style. Oldtimers wryly note that such visitation ceases after the annual September nose count which determines how much money the district gets from the state.

Martinez seems like a good guy with the best of intentions but without enough thumbs to plug a leaking dyke. He and the administration are wedded to the validity of the Mythological Morrison Miracle (Barbwire 4-22-2012), belief in which has spread to Las Vegas.

No one has been able to find a vaccine for Nevada education's viruses in four decades and we don't have enough water to play Lourdes.

TAKE MY TAX, PLEASE. Without fanfare, the Nevada State Education Association began circulating its business tax petition about three weeks ago. They are telling supporters they need signatures turned in by Nov. 1. That's an awfully tight deadline and the union faces more court action by anti-tax moonhowlers. For info, call NSEA at 775-828-6745 or 800-232-6732.

For background on Nevada's regressive tax history which starves education and public services, go to

If the new taxes for education are not imposed, the only recourse left will be a lawsuit against the state for violating the Nevada Constitution's mandate to provide for an adequate system of public education.

Former University Chancellor Jim Rodgers published research several years ago showing that Nevada is wide open to lose such legal action, in which case a federal judge will order the state to raise taxes and the court system will basically run our school system for the foreseeable future.

Why not? A judge can't do any worse than what's been happening for the last 40 years or so.

READ MORE ABOUT IT: Click here for Rodgers' memorandum and related documents plus a Legislative Counsel Bureau smoking gun study. Stay tuned for a new report about deficiencies, questionable graduation rates and foisting blame by the Clark County School District.

Education Apartheid: The Racism Behind Chicago’s School “Reform”
Occupied Chicago Tribune 9-12-2012

What the Chicago strike's about
Teacher-Poet Glen Brown / 9-11-2012

Reaganaut: Fire all 26,000 as Reagan did the air traffic controllers who had endorsed his candidacy
CBS Chicago / 9-12-2012

REQUIRED READING. Get the Sept.-Oct. issue of Mother Jones Magazine for a sensational article on education and the depredations of turning the whole system into prep for a test that only white kids do well.

Also go to investigative reporter Greg Palast's website or the Occupied Chicago Tribune for a story entitled "The Worst Teacher in Chicago."

The worst teacher at a public school became the best at a private charter school for one reason: She took a huge pay cut, which pretty much sums up education reform according to conservative moonhowlers.

"Here's what the teacher who was terrible at $70,000 but brilliant at $41,000 told me," Palast wrote.

"'They're not doing this in white neighborhoods. They want to get rid of older, experienced teachers with seniority who cost more. Get rid of the teachers and, ultimately get rid of the kids. And the charter school gets to pick the kids who get in,'" Palast reported.

Can you see a profit motive emerging in all this?

New Washoe Superintendent Pedro Martinez did make one accurate statement to the media this week: "We need more resources."

That means money.

So circulate that tax petition.


V.A. BLUES. Reno's Ioannis A. Lougaris Veterans Administration Medical Center took a hard hit this week with publication of the long-awaited Office of Medical Inspector's Report detailing a long list of deficiencies.

American Federation of Government Employees Local 2152/AFL-CIO, the union representing hospital workers, has called for a change in management based on the scathing results.

You will find the union's statement ("gross mismanagement and direction obstruction of care by the Reno VA's leadership") and the study with the expanded web edition of this column at [CLICK HERE FOR SMOKING GUNS + 10-29 update —> Whistleblowers Fired.]

Still no word on another item I published a year or so ago that of $31 million in additional staff funding, no African Americans were hired.


[UPDATE 9-15-2012] It appears that raising a public profile and contacting administrators sometimes helps. There appears to have been a bit of a breakout of tokenism.

The NAACP lawsuit against the state for violating federal law requiring agencies to offer voter registration has been ignored. Which means fewer people will be able to vote in November. Who does that benefit?

BETTER LATE THAN NEVER DEPT. [UPDATE 9-14-2012] I am not on a big enough ego trip to think that I caused it, but the day after the latter item ran, the Las Vegas Sun published a long story about how the state has positively reacted.

Apparently the first that some of the plaintiffs heard about this came from the newspaper.

The truth is anybody's guess at this point. I've asked some questions. Stay tuned for answers. (As always noted hereinbelow, my comments are my own and not official statements from the Reno-Sparks NAACP.)

—>UPDATE 10-31-2012: NO HALLOWE'EN PRANKNevada Division of Welfare will now follow the law allowing employees to vote

SUPPORT THE NEVADA CITIZEN TV PROJECT to re-establish a sorely needed non-corporate community channel in these parts.

In-depth discussion — and in-depth investigation and analysis — can only come from such an entity.

For instance, I defy you to find all of the above elsewhere either in depth or in context. I've been doing this awhile.

You may donate at ReSurge.TV or contact me. This is important.

Thank you.

Be well. Raise hell.

Andrew Barbano is a 43-year Nevadan, chair of the Nevada César Chávez Committee, producer of Nevada's annual César Chávez Day celebration, first vice-president and political action chair of the Reno-Sparks NAACP, labor/consumer/civil rights advocate, member of Communications Workers of America Local 9413/AFL-CIO and editor of and As always, his opinions are strictly his own. Check local listings for other Nevada cable systems. E-mail Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks Tribune since 1988.

Smoking Guns...

Life and Death at the Reno Veterans Hospital
American Federation of Government Employees Local 2152/AFL-CIO Press Release
Union Executive Summary of Inspection Report
Office of the Medical Inspector Report
All Adobe Acrobat Reader (.pdf ) documents

UPDATE: Union Says V.A. Retaliated Against Whistleblowers
KRNV TV-4 / 10-29-2012

The Post-Dated Recession: Pay me now or pay me later
Barbwire by Barbano / Expanded from the 9-6-2012 Daily Sparks Tribune

The Post-dated Recession
By Joshua H. Silavent / Daily Sparks Tribune / 5-3-2011

Union decline and rising inequality in two charts
by Colin Gordon
Economic Policy Institute / 6-5-2012

Used in
journalist Mark Robison's extensive Hard Labor: Nevada unions tout role in helping workers, firms, economy (Sunday 2 Sept. 2012 Reno Gazette-Journal, page one, Reno Rebirth section of the print edition). Union men Jim Burrell, Paul McKenzie and Guy Louis Rocha did the movement proud. Not included in the RGJ online edition.

The Barbwire Labor Day column
Reno Gazette-Journal / 9-3-2012

Followed by a moon shadow

TRAVUS T. HIPP, 1937-2012

ADIÓS, COMPADRE — Our friend Travus, 75, passed away peacefully between 2:00 and 3:00 a.m. PDT on 18 May 2012 at his home in Silver City, Nevada. The sun is in eclipse as I write this at 6:30 p.m. on May 20.

CHANGE OF VENUE (5-22-2012) — Adiós in Silver City, Nevada, Saturday, May 26, 2012 —> Updated 5-27-2012 — > The auld church where Travus lived and died proved too small for the expected multitude, so gathering, gnoshing and remembering commenced at the Silver City Community Center, 385 High Street, at 10:00 a.m. PDT. The graveside memorial service began at High Noon. Travus was buried next to his rock star companion Lynne Hughes, a short walk away. My remembrance of Lynne from the 3-21-1993 Daily Sparks Tribune has been linked to Travus' formal obituary at this website. All memories accepted for permanent posting hereat. Stay tuned for pictures and stories of the appropriately rainy day.

Thanks for all your kind words. Keep up the good work and the good fight.

Be well. Raise hell.

Andrew Barbano

Travus T. Hipp & Tales of Nevada's Futures Passed
Expanded from the 6-3-2012 Daily Sparks Tribune

     At bottom, he was an artist who used his voice to soar and slice, a tenor for the tenor of our times. Many of his mourning California listeners talk about the vocal spells he wove, how he soundly organized the noise of daily life into music that entertained, engaged, enlightened, educated, enthralled and occasionally enflamed. [From the saga of Travus T. Hipp and contributions by The Barbwire to the May 25 Reno Gazette-Journal and May 26, 2012, Daily Sparks Tribune.]

Nevada Press Assn. annual award winners announced.
HAT TRICK: Barbwire takes first place three years in a row.

The winning entries
Suing for Schools: The 20-year shuck

Expanded from the 2-21-2010 Daily Sparks Tribune

Click here to view the show on your desktop

RED flags flying low over Sparks
Expanded from the 1-10-2010 Daily Sparks Tribune

The wrath of self-righteous racism
Expanded from the 11-8-2009 Daily Sparks Tribune

The campaign against forcibly-paid newspaper obituaries
And they wonder why the newspaper business is dying?


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.
RENO NEWS & REVIEW, 11-9-2006

The 2009 first-place Nevada Press Association award winners
Tony the Tiger & the flaky NFL
Barbwire / 11-30-2008
Deregulation is never having to say you're sorry
Barbwire / 8-3-2008
Nevada: A good place to visit, but do you want to live here?
Barbwire / 6-15-2008

...and more ammo

Economist: This is a true depression
Elliott Parker Guest Editorial / Las Vegas Sun / 11-27-2011

The plight of the paper pushers
The great recession made bashing public workers a national sport
Dennis Myers / Reno News & Review / 11-23-2011

Bury the Bad News with Rose-colored Reporting
How urgent can economic troubles be if leaders say things are getting better?

Dennis Myers / Reno News & Review / 11-23-2011

Fact-free nation: Inside the lie machine
Mother Jones Magazine May-June 2011 / Cover story and in-depth analysis

Bill Moyers: Welcome to the Plutocracy
Money fights hard and it fights dirty
Speech delivered at Boston University on 29 Oct. 2010
Part of the Howard Zinn Lecture Series

Barbwire Corporate Welfare Archive

From clear-cut forests to dirty Gulfstream waters, this land belongs to old BP

BP/ARCO: The greasy root of our evils

Barbwire / Daily Sparks Tribune 9-10-2006

The awful truth — Read it and weep, fellow suckers

Labor Day 2009: Rise of the Vampire Corpobots
Expanded from the 9-6-2009 Daily Sparks Tribune

Angry Americans and Freudian fraud
Using war to market cigarettes
from the 8-23-2009 Daily Sparks Tribune

BARBWIRE Nevada Corporate Welfare Archive

Propaganda fuels gasoline price fixing
Barbwire 8-14-2005

Donate to the cable ratepayer legal defense fund at our PayPal-enabled ReSurge.TV Consumer War Room

Phillips, Kevin; Numbers Racket: Why the economy is worse than we know

Harper's Magazine; May 2008; page 43
Phillips has authored numerous books on history and politics over the past 40 years. His most recent, Bad Money: Reckless Finance, Failed Politics and the Global Crisis of American Capitalism, was published by Viking on April 15, 2008.

NAOMI WOLF: Fascist America in 10 Easy Steps
There are some things common to every state that's made the transition to fascism. Author Naomi Wolf argues that all of them are present in America today.
Alternet 5-20-2007

Johnson, Chalmers; REPUBLIC OR EMPIRE? A National Intelligence Estimate on the United States; Harper's magazine; January, 2007. 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.

Review of Alex Carey's Taking the Risk Out of Democracy:
Propaganda in the US and Australia

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
Barbwire 9-10-2006

      Rinfret, Pierre A.; Peace is Bullish; Look magazine, 5-31-1966 | U-News | Bulletins + Almanac
Casinos Out of Politics (COP) | Sen. Joe Neal
Guinn Watch | Deciding Factors
| BallotBoxing.US | Barbwire Oilogopoly Archive
Barbwire Nevada Corporate Welfare Archive
Annual César Chávez Celebration
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Banks, Cabbies, Cabela's, Cable TV, Cancer Kids/Mining, Energy, Food, Health Care, Resurge.TV/consumers, Starbucks, Wal-Mart
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Copyright © 1982-2012 Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 43-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

Barbwire by Barbano premiered in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune on Aug. 12, 1988, and has originated in those parts ever since. Tempus fugit.

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