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"Our republic and its press will rise or fall together." — Joseph Pulitzer

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Photo: Debra Reid, Sparks Tribune

   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...
   Everybody talking to their pockets.
Everybody wants a box of chocolates
   and a long red rose.
   Everybody knows. Everybody knows.
That's how it goes.
Everybody knows.

By Leonard Cohen (1934-2016) & Sharon Robinson
© 1988 CBS Records, Inc.

I hope you understand I just had to go back to the island.
Leon Russell, 1942-2016

Law & Order Special Victims: Nevada's Disposable Cops
Barbwire by Andrew Quarantino Barbáno / Expanded from the Sparks Tribune 12-14-2022, expanded on Dec. 20. / Expansions in blue

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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

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If you watch the longest-running TV drama in U.S. history, you are acquainted with New York Special Victims Unit Capt. Olivia Benson.

We had somebody that good in these parts for 16 years but her employers — us — destroyed her.

I don't know about you, but I wouldn't want to be a cop these days. Police departments nationally are pirating officers from other jurisdictions because they can't get enough applicants. One Rocky Mountain chief hired a dozen New York City cops to come to Colorado for much better money.

As usual, stingy low-tax Nevada is a leader in screwing over our first responders.

Police departments around the state are training grounds for those seeking the holy grail, the City of Henderson P.D. which by reputation pays the best in the state. Want to work for the highway patrol? You have to start at the disastrous Ely Prison. Sparks has long had trouble getting qualified applicants.

Can't blame current Rail City Chief Chris Crawforth for wanting the Reno job. He's the most community-oriented cop I've experienced in all my time in this state. After fighting independent review for many years, Las Vegas Metro PD finally caved to getting a citizen police review board after a few fatalities, "accidental" shootings and choke-hold "accidents," especially that of Charles Bush. He was a black casino executive killed by a choke hold as he was rousted out of bed during a mistaken no-knock raid. Bush was once a UNR student.

Perhaps the kicker came when two LV Metro officers were arrested for getting into a pickup and doing drive-by shootings for sport. (Barbwire references at

When the heat of night subsided, LV's citizen review apparatus fell into disrepair. Former Reno Police Chief Steve Pitts established citizen review during his tenure but it fell into disuse.

Mayor Hillary Schieve's attempts to get Reno to establish citizen review met with start-stop hiccups. A panel was authorized. I sat in on the initial formative meetings. Then the city staffer in charge left for greener pastures and matters stagnated. Mlle. Mayor worked toward a regional human rights commission five years ago. Washoe County said no. Sparks said we can't afford it. (What else is new?) Then came the plague. Today, Reno's commission meets quarterly.

Enter Chief Crawforth who initiated a citizen board as one of his first official acts in Sparks. He is now a finalist for the Reno job and I hope he gets it. In that position, he will be able to set the standard for the region and perhaps the state.

In October, I related the story of disabled Washoe Sheriff's Deputy Kim Frankel, a 16-year officer who became the Olivia Benson of Reno-Sparks. She was very good at sex crimes investigation but was horribly injured in the line of duty and permanently disabled. Some drunk crashed into her cruiser.

The privatized and Orwellianly named "workers compensation" system made her condition worse and permanent because Washoe County refused to pay for her medical care. Why pay when you can throw someone away?
"Insurance" becomes a scam when workers are not compensated.

Detective Frankel is one of many victims of legislative intrigue. Anything to keep business taxes low.

When the Nevada State Industrial Insurance System (SIIS) was privatized in 1993, making a few guys rich, some lobbyist prevailed upon a lawmaker to remove the "bad faith" clause from the law. Without being able to allege bad faith by her employer, in this case Washoe County, Deputy Frankel has no legal recourse. She and her husband lost their home and moved to Oregon to live with relatives.

I am reliably informed that Washoe County Sheriff Darin Baalam never even called, let alone go to bat for one of his people to get her the care she needed.

The treatment delay made her permanently spastic, unable to hold a fork. Just speaking is a hard chore. She has no hope of a cure now and is making it her mission to fix Nevada law.

Hers is not the only case. A North Las Vegas officer has been unable to get care for his heart/lung condition. The same damnable third-party insurance administrator that destroyed Deputy Frankel holds the NLV contract and is apparently just waiting for Lt. Wil Crespo to die.

Assemblymember Jill Dickman, R-Sparks, has submitted a bill draft request to fix the law next year. Sen. Skip Daly, D-Sparks, will co-sponsor the bill in the upper house. Alas and alack,, if help ever arrives, the damage to these officers and countless others will already be irreparable. Stay tuned.

MEMORIES OF MILLS. Former Washoe County District Attorney and Judge Mills Lane, 85, died in Reno on Dec. 6. He did my show in what was perhaps his last TV appearance in 2002. Just a couple of months later, he was permanently disabled by a stroke. He had the misfortune of being stricken while home alone and was not discovered until the next day. By then, irreparable harm was done and he could barely speak for the rest of his life.

Anyone who's lived here awhile has a Mills story. Herewith, a few of mine.

Sahara Tahoe, Stateline, Nevada (21 November 1972) — In what would be his only northern Nevada match, Muhammad Ali squares off against world Light-Heavyweight Champion Bob Foster for the North American Boxing Federation heavyweight title. The referee is future Washoe County DA and District Judge Mills Bee Lane in his first championship fight. Former Golden-Glover Lane (20-1) achieved his own world fame, officiating at dozens more championship bouts. He starred in his own nationally-syndicated television show, Judge Mills Lane, for three years. Ali knocked out Foster in the eighth round but not before Foster became the first opponent to open a cut on the prettiest one's face. Lane gave away copies of TV reporter and now-retired attorney David Kladney's above photo for many years thereafter. The Reno Gazette-Journal used it with Lane's front-page obituary on 12-7-2022.

Barbwire Exclusive
The Day Muhammad Ali and Sir David Frost faced off in Reno
Barbwire by Barbano / Sparks Tribune 9-5-2013


EX-CONFIDENCE. Catching a local taxi, a northern Nevada visitor opened a newspaper and asked the cabbie about this guy Lane who had just gotten a nationally syndicated TV show.

"Do you know him?" asked the traveler.

"Yep," said the cabbie. "He sent me up on robbery charges years ago. I've voted for him at every election."

TRIBUNE SUBSCRIPTION, THE HARD (TIME) WAY. Mills subscribed to the Sparks Tribune because he was a Barbwire fan. That's not hype. The straight shooter told me so.

"You stick your chin out there every week and call 'em like you see 'em," he said.

One day, the D.A. came to the old Tribune building at 10th & "C" Streets downtown to renew his subscription and paid with a credit card.
Unfortunately, a new employee stole his info and used it not long thereafter. Big, big mistake. That poor lout's probably still in prison someplace.

KID STUFF. My Number Four Son had just turned 18 and was not at all enthusiastic about showing up to vote. My wife knew how to handle him.
She had introduced him to Mills at a show we did (see below) and he sat with us after our act. The kid became a Mills fan that night.

"You'd feel bad if Mills Lane lost by one vote, wouldn't you?" mom later asked.

He couldn't wait to vote and has never missed an election since.

READY FOR PRIME TIME. Several years before Mills resigned his Washoe District Court seat to become the star of the nationally syndicated "Judge Mills Lane" TV show, my wife, Betty, provided him with show biz experience. A realtor, she was on the committee for the annual Reno-Sparks Association of Realtors fundraiser, a charity benefit stage show at the former Flamingo Hilton Hotel-Casino downtown.

She called Mills and asked if he'd help. He asked for a script so he'd know what he was getting into, so I wrote a skit with my talk radio show as the setting. Some of it never saw the light of day. We got censored by the real estate gods when Betty did a spoof commercial for "Assist to Sue," a combination personal injury law firm and real estate broker.

"When we're done, you won't have to worry about your house anymore because you won't have one," the skit read in part. "We'll take care of everything and you'll see what we mean by broker."

The stuff we were allowed to do got a lot of laughs and Mills got the biggest ovation from the packed showroom, of course.

A few days later, Mills' secretary called Betty. Her boss was astounded by the thank-you card she sent — accompanied by two dozen fresh flowers.

In all his years, apparently no one had ever before sent the D.A. a big bouquet.

That was my Betty. That was Mills Lane.

¡ se puede!

Be well. Raise hell.
/ Esté bien. Haga infierno. (Pardon my Spanglish.)
être bien, élever l'enfer (Pardon my French.) Stammi bene. Scatenare l'inferno. (And Italian.)
Andrew Quarantino Barbano is a 54-year Nevadan and editor of,,, BallotBoxing.US,,,, and among others. He is a longtime member of the Reno-Sparks NAACP and Sparks-based Communications Workers of America Local 9413/AFL-CIO. As always, his comments are entirely his own. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Sparks Tribune since 1988.

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Jean Stoess dies at 85
The former Washoe County Commissioner passed away on Dec. 3 according to the December 13 Reno Gazette-Journal. The Barbwire will remember a great public servant in next week's edition.

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$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

Triangle tragedy recalled as requiem
"The Fire in My Mouth," a new oratorio by Pulitzer honoree Julia Wolfe, premiered with the New York Philharmonic Jan. 24

By Michael Cooper / The New York Times 1-23-2019

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Copyright © 1982-2022 Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 53-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 a longtime member 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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