Payback time for Richard the Rotten and disaffected Democrats


"If you don't think too good, don't think too much."

— Ted Williams

Who'da thunk that the best advice I got last week would come from the Splendid Splinter of the Boston Red Sox, perhaps the greatest hitter ever (unless you're a fan of Josh Gibson).

Newly crowned home run king Mark McGwire represents possibly the best current example of balancing thought and action. His powers of discipline, forethought and concentration are matched only by his quick and decisive actions.

President Clinton could certainly learn from the seasoned sluggers.

Alas, it seems that the country is fixated on payback rather than progress. The Republicans apparently want to settle scores for the resignation of Richard the Rotten. I've had phone calls from clucking conservatives crowing for the president's head.

Trash Bubba as they might, he cannot hope to reach the level of abuse of power achieved by Nixon and Henry the K. Just last Friday marked the 25th anniversary of the Nixon-Kissinger-CIA military overthrow of the democratically elected government of ChilÚ and assassination of President Salvadore AllÚnde. (See this column from 7-19-98 and 9-2-88.)

If payback is what people require as political bloodsport, look no further than Sparks and Carson City.

State Sen. Joe Neal (D-North Las Vegas) may have lost the battle in his recent quest for governor, but continues the war. He has already ordered the most populist bill drafts of the 1999 Nevada legislative session.

His proposes to raise the gross gaming tax on the state's 31 largest casinos; eliminate Las Vegas Strip casino mogul Steve Wynn's art tax loophole (which gives Wynn millions every year at the expense of school children); and prohibit gambling enterprises or their executives from influencing politics (as New Jersey always has).

Now that's serious payback. But there's more. Neal has positioned himself to become the most powerful man in Nevada. He may leave the Democratic Party and become an independent if such action would throw the Nevada State Senate into a 10-10 tie come January.

It all depends on whether or not Sen. Ernie Adler (D-Carson City) can hold onto his seat. Ditto Sen. Maurice Washington (R-Sparks). Should Adler win and Washington lose to former Sparks Mayor Jim Spoo (D), the senate will likely have 11 Democrats and 10 Republicans. If Neal becomes non-partisan after the election, the upper house will be tied in knots.

That can be very good for Sparks and northern Nevada. Casino lawyer and Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio (R-Reno) and the gambling-industrial complex will see their power seriously diminished. Lawmakers will be far less able to increase your taxes and fees while continuing to reduce those of their gambling house overlords.

Northerners probably need not fear sectionalist Sen. Dina Titus (D-Las Vegas) becoming majority leader under such a scenario. To put it as nicely as possible, she and Sen. Neal don't exactly get along.

I'm going to love watching this unfold. Joe Neal is the most honorable political figure with whom I have ever been associated. His principal problem raising money for his self-styled poor man's campaign originated in the fact that for all his years in office and all the people he knows, he is not the type of person who can ask anything for himself.

Alas, politics does not reward the shy. But I feel kind of good knowing that about him.

Be well. Raise hell.


© Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a member of CWA Local 9413. He is a Reno-based syndicated columnist, a 29-year Nevadan, editor of U-News and was campaign manager for Democratic candidate for Governor, State Senator Joe Neal.
Barbwire by Barbano has appeared in the Sparks Tribune since 1988 and parts of this column were originally published 9/13/98.