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Bob Price: Cowboy, lawmaker, union man and Elvis fan
Barbwire by Andrea Luigi Barbáno / Expanded from the 1-9-2019 Sparks Tribune / Expansions in blue / Updated 1-30-2019

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If you met Bob Price when I first did in 1975, you would not have concluded that he was a union electrician or a Nevada legislator.

When's the last time you saw a white guy with a huge Afro wearing bell bottoms?

Bob Price was about as conventional as a Martian convention. He played mean guitar and led sing-alongs with his fellow lawmakers on the Nevada Assembly floor during late-night end-of-session delays. He also made sure staff got paid for their overtime.

Bob died of an apparent heart attack at his Sparks home on January 4. He was 82.

He represented a North Las Vegas district from 1974 to 2002. The liberal Democrat served on every legislative committee and rose to chair the powerful Assembly Committee on Taxation. He and his wife, Nancy, a former university regent, relocated to Sparks after retirement. A Las Vegas park and recreation center was dedicated in his name in 2007. A memorial celebration will be held there at 2:00 p.m. on Jan. 19. The Nevada Legislature convenes in February and a tribute is in the works. Monitor this website.

He was a member of Las Vegas IBEW Local 357/AFL-CIO for more than half a century including service as the union's elected business manager.

His proudest possession was a lunch pail signed by Elvis Presley who visited with Price and his fellow workers during the 1969-70 construction of the International Hotel showroom (now the Las Vegas Hilton).

"We were on break from wiring the theater when The King of Rock 'n' Roll walked in to look at the work in progress," Price remembered.

"He sat down with us for awhile and you've never met a nicer guy. I had a pen but no paper, so I had him sign the lid to my lunchbox," he added.

Price was inducted into the César Chávez Nevada Labor Hall of Fame in 2011 and will be memorialized at Chávez Celebration XVII at the Grand Sierra-Reno on March 27.

Former State Sen. Joe Neal, D-North Las Vegas, served with Price for 28 years.

"He assisted me in integrating Local 357," Neal said.

"It was Bob who gave me the idea that the base point for integration of the building trades unions required getting enough minority members to affect union elections," Neal added. Nevada's first African-American senator will lead the memorial proceedings for his fellow César Chávez Hall of Famer next March.

In his later years, Price suffered through serious health problems. His family threw a last birthday party for him in 2016 at Manor Care in Sparks because they feared he might not see another. I attended. He proved everyone wrong.

It was not the first time Bob beat the reaper. In 1998, he made national headlines when he suffered a heart attack on a plane arriving at the Reno airport. He was revived by quick-thinking Rosalind Clarke of Aptos, Calif., who learned CPR because of witnessing her father's death as a child. She had never used her training before that day. Price underwent a triple heart bypass shortly thereafter. (Barbwire 4-5-1998)

Bob's union passions pre-empted pain. Several years ago, Nancy picked up Bob from a short hospital stay to bring him home. Instead, he insisted on going straight to that evening's César Chávez event. Even wheelchair-bound, he attended every subsequent César celebration through last March.

Price sometimes paid a heavy price. Because he refused to allow regressive sales taxes through his committee, Assembly Speaker Joe Dini, D-Yerington, removed taxation from Bob's purview so that Nevada's tradition of taxing those least able to pay could continure unchecked.

Majority Leader Richard Perkins, D-Henderson, unceremoniously informed Bob of the almost unheard-of maneuver that despite his seniority and experience, he had been stripped of his longtime chairmanship and made chair of a new minor committee in 1999. Adding insult to injury, Perkins barred Price from bringing his guitar to entertain his colleagues during long end-of-session breaks.

Reno casinos thus got the downtown railroad trench for which they were not willing to pay. City of Reno taxpayers will continue to shoulder a heavy burden for decades to come. The city has long been in default because the trench taxes which Price opposed have not covered construction loan payments.

Making matters worse, the city's principal lenders, Goldman Sachs and Deutschebank, are now both on the ropes amid mounting worldwide financial scandals. In the event of bankruptcies, a federal judge could order the Nevada legislature to raise taxes to pay the banks' creditors as has happened in other U.S. jurisdictions.

In 1990, the gambling-industrial complex conducted a scorched-earth primary campaign against Bob for proposing an amendment to stop casinos from contributing to political campaigns because they are a regulated industry. Speaker Dini descended from the podium to speak against it on the floor, a rare breach of legislative protocol in addition to a humongous conflict of interest. Dini owned a casino.

Bob was the only candidate I endorsed that year both in print and on my radio show. The continuing casino revenge story helped me beat Lush Rambo hisself. I gave Bob and Nancy permission to reprint my column which they distributed door-to-door. Bob defeated the casino shill by 31 votes, then returned the favor by forever fighting firing with fire. For the rest of his career, he introduced legislation to protect employees from arbitrary firings, instead requiring just cause for termination. Alas and alack, Nevada remains a fire-at-will state in which non-union workers have few rights.

Price's daughter Teresa continues her father's advocacy and has long been an activist against smoking in gambling halls.

Her dad facilitated passage of ethics legislation, sunshine laws providing for more government transparency, and re-naming Nevada State Route 375 as the Extraterrestrial Highway. When the state formally christened the central Nevada road in 1996, several cast members of the soon-to-be-released movie blockbuster "Independence Day" showed up.

Not to be outdone, the onetime Nevada Nuclear Test Site electrician donned a Darth Vader helmet and upstaged the stars. The Hollywood media machine made Darth Price an international celebrity for about 15 minutes. By then, he had trimmed the 'fro and could get the helmet over his remaining hair.

Robert Earle Price, Jr., was born May 23, 1936, in DeLand, Florida, or so he thought. The 1940 U.S. Census states he was born in Texas. Neither state has a record. Thus are legends born.

Bob Price and the Gambling Ranch Hands was a TV show when Las Vegas had only one television station. (No wonder he got along with Elvis.)

Like other guitar players, "Bob married a blonde, a brunette and a redhead, not necessarily in that order," Nancy Price quips. She served six years as an elected university regent and retired as an Air National Guard chief master sergeant.

Legend has it that tiny Nancy can shoot both eyes out of a one-eyed jack at 300 yards, which explains why it's hard to find a complete deck of cards at Chez Price in Sparks.

Bob qualified for a private pilot's license and co-owned several light aircraft.

"My husband Bob made people laugh, the greatest gift one can give," Nancy Price muses.

Nevadans will long remember the great gift of Bob Price passing thru their lives.

Photos and additional references for the above will be linked to this column at Remembrances may be sent to me.

"Another Elvis has left the building," one friend wrote.

To paraphrase Neil Young, long may he strum.

Be well. Raise hell, old friend. Esté bien. Haga infierno.

Andrew Barbano is a 50-year Nevadan, executive producer of Nevada's annual César Chávez Day celebration, first vice-president and political action chair of the Reno-Sparks NAACP, superannuated labor/consumer/civil rights advocate, member of Communications Workers of America Local 9413/AFL-CIO and editor of and BallotBoxing.US and and As always, his opinions are strictly his own. E-mail Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Sparks Tribune since 1988 and received its ninth Nevada Press Association award (6th first-place) at the 29 Sept. 2018 NPA annual convention in Las Vegas. (Such ephemera and about six bucks will get you a Latte Mocha Cotsafracas Chingade at just about any Starbux worldwide, guaranteed.)


PINK SLIPS, PURGES AND PRUNING. I need to hear from recently purged Eldorado Hotel-Casino, Circus Circus-Reno and Silver Legacy employees. Barbwire spies report perhaps 100 workers getting the ax just in time for the holidays. In this newspaper, at Barbwire.US and in the London Guardian, I have lamented the deepening desperation of renters here in Tesla boomtown.

I'm now getting complaints about medical and dental practices purportedly pruning their patient loads, cutting loose the less-lucrative. That's de facto malpractice but medical professionals are lawsuit-proof under Nevada law — unless you're rich enough to personally pay a few hundred grand in legal fees.

That's why TV lawyers only advertise for arrest or accident cases these days. If you've been cast adrift by patient pruning, call me at (775) 882-TALK or e-mail me.

Sore-oppressed Soul-Sister Cities: Menlo Park and Reno-Sparks-Fernley share similarly sad high-tech stretch marks

"All humanity has left the area": paying for Tesla's Gigafactory
Barbano and Nevada conservatives decry corporate welfare depredations

By Rory Carroll / The Guardian 7-3-2018

Editor's Note: The Guardian publishes 180,000 newspapers daily in London and environs and generates ONE BILLION monthly web page views.
(I should live so long.)


"Facebook is taking everything": rising rents drive out Silicon Valley families
Property companies advertising their proximity to Facebook’s campus are giving low-income residents a choice: pay a huge rent increase or move out
By Sam Levin / The Guardian 6-20-2018

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Smoking Guns—>

Crystal Balls: Peerless Predixions 2019 & Beyond
Barbwire by Andrea Luigi Barbáno / Expanded from the 12-26-2018 Sparks Tribune

Barbwire 30th Anniversary Trilogy
Now well into a 4th decade of equal opportunity harassment of the rich, famous & powerful
Sunday, August 12, 2018, marked 30 years since the first Barbwire appeared in the Rail City's newspaper of record since 1910. "The Chilling of Hot August Nights" brought the first of nine Nevada Press Association awards. I'll add more memories of the early days of the Barbwire as time, space and the political season allow. (See above right.)

Part 3: Biting the hand that feeds me
GOP '18 upsets: Déjà vu all over again
Laxalt and Heller favored to win in November
Barbwire by Andrea Luigi Barbáno
/ Expanded from the 9-5-2018 Sparks Tribune
Part 2: Biting the moonhowlers
Good reasons to lie to those pesky pollsters
Heller eats sheep balls to get the courage to perpetrate guilt by association
Barbwire by Andrea Luigi Barbáno
/ Expanded from the 8-29-2018 Sparks Tribune
Part 1: Bitten by my buds
Machine Gun Michele and her low-caliber, low-cut friends
The censored Barbwires of the 2015 legislature finally see ink and my fantasy fiancée bares all
Barbwire by Andrea Luigi Barbáno
/ Expanded from the 8-22-2018 Sparks Tribune

30 Years before the masthead: Barbano remembers the Barbwire's greatest hits
By Kayla Anderson / Sparks Tribune 8-22-2018

Barbwire by Barbano moved to Nevada's Daily Sparks Tribune on Aug. 12, 1988, and has originated in them parts ever since.
Whom to blame: How a hall-of-famer's hunch birthed the Barbwire in August of 1987
Tempus fugit.

$75 dead or alive: Still crazy after all these years
A mass murderer becomes famous on TV a century later

How come nobody noticed 'til now?
Barbwire by Andrew Barbáno
/ Expanded from the 2-21-2018 Sparks Tribune

Triangle Shirtwaist Factory owners Max Blank and Isaac Harris. Is not Mr. Harris eerily familiar to television junkies?

From the Emmy-winning opening slate of the blockbuster "Cheers" television series. Combined with its "Frasier" spinoff, it lasted 20 years.
The "shirtwaist kings" immigrated from Russia and made a fortune manufacturing "Gibson Girl"-style blouses. (Photo, "The American Experience"/PBS)
The Emmy-winning opening slate of the "Cheers" television series before the "slate" of creators is superimposed. Looks like Mr. Harris' dead ringer (at left) is having a bloody good time.

"Who ya gonna believe, me or your own eyes?" Chico Marx disguised as Groucho Marx in "Duck Soup" (1933)
Back to the story of the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist holocaust

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Copyright © 1982-2019 Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 50-year Nevadan, editor of and; and former chair of the City of Reno's Citizens Cable Compliance Committee. He is the executive producer of Nevada's annual César Chávez Day celebration and serves as first vice-president and political action chair of the Reno-Sparks NAACP. As always, his opinions are strictly his own. E-mail

Barbwire by Barbano moved to Nevada's Daily Sparks Tribune on Aug. 12, 1988, and has originated in them parts ever since.
Whom to blame: How a hall-of-famer's hunch birthed the Barbwire in August of 1987
Tempus fugit.

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

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