Gov. Guinn's first attack: babies and sick kids


Let's get this upfront: the following is both a professional and personal attack on the new governor of Nevada. I not only challenge his conduct, I also question what he, himself, has become.

I've been telling people since the election that to predict Kenny Guinn's administration, simply look at his past. He will attack the weak in order to preserve the perks of the powerful.

During George Bush's 1991 Gulf War recession, the state's cash flow went to hell. Dixiecrat Gov. Bob Miller put his old buddy Kenny in charge of cutting the budget.

Guinn balanced the books on the backs of the physically and mentally disabled. Injured workers ended up damaged for life because the system established to fix them had mutated into another way to maim them. Now, the mutant master sits in the governor's chair.

Guinn and Miller closed mental health clinics statewide, eliminating what had been Gov. Mike O'Callaghan's crowning achievement in the 1970s.

Kenny Guinn's first full-color, warm and fuzzy campaign brochure was mailed to every Nevada household in 1997.

"When a person runs for governor of Nevada, you should know who he is," the booklet states in huge letters.

"The issues facing Nevada today are clear," the flyer asserts. "Education, taxation, growth, public safety, health care and senior assistance...Kenny Guinn... knows that the key to understanding them lies not in government telling us what we need, but in government listening to what we have to say."

I want to know who said to hurt kids. Less than 24 hours after Guinn was sworn in, his chief hatchetman announced that babies and poor children will take the first major hits. (As of this writing, the Reno Gazette-Journal stands alone in failing to publish the story.)

Guinn has marked for execution a program to teach parenting skills to those with newborns. He will also terminate low-cost health insurance for children of the working poor.

I told you so, long ago. Look over the 1996-97 Barbwire series on the financial mismanagement of the university system, something Guinn bizarrely converted into a qualification for office.

Awhile back, I heard Mr. Guinn address a labor convention and tell of his humble beginnings as the child of poor California fruit pickers. (See the Barbwire of 9-21-97)

He sold that story better than Bill Clinton sold Hope, Arkansas.

Guinn might have been able to bullshit the voters, but he can't bullshit me. I am also the son of central California fruit pickers who likewise sent their offspring to Fresno State. I retch when I witness one of us sprinkle the dust and sweat of the sweet fruit orchards onto the bitter pills of phony and shameless self-promotion.

The most toxically obnoxious of the nouveau riche relate stories of their commoner roots as a ploy to sell placebos to their lessers.

Beware when you hear "I'm really just like you, so you know you can trust me."

We want to believe their sincerity, projecting onto them our own hopes that we would help the helpless had we succeeded to such an exalted position.

Alas and alack, anointed ones often show that the deep scars of childhood do not necessarily produce the milk of human kindness.

Heaven forbid that we raise the lowest gaming taxes in the nation just because many casino workers don't make enough to feed their families.

Not to worry. Guinn's patroons and their puppet poltroons will permit no such sacrilege.

In Kenny Guinn, I recognize how blind ambition has burned out any memory of whence he came. Like so many Fresno farmer boy phonies I have known and loathed, he mouths empty tales of life among the lowly, but really doesn't know who they are anymore.

You now know who Kenny Guinn is. I remain revolted at what he has become.

The least that the morally obtuse gentleman can do is stop twisting his roots into a hangman's noose for the likes of those who raised him up.

Let the farm rest in peace, governor. You left its dust in your tracks long ago.

GOOD SISTER MCCARRAN. Back in Fresno, I learned early that there were only two kinds of nuns. Type A carried such a commanding presence that they could convey a message with a nod: "I know lots of things, young man. You are going to learn many of them from me, and that's that." That was Sister Mary Margaret Martha Patricia McCarran, 1904-1998.

She sometimes showed flashes of Type B, those nuns who could teach you as much as Type A, but whose main tool was laughter rather than that mysterious, elegantly humble awesomeness.

Immaculate Conception Church on Pyramid Way in Sparks proved an awesome place last Thursday morning. Every pew was populated for a nevermore gathering of Catholic clergy, real Irish priests, family and friends, trade unionists, retro politicos, flaming liberals, moonhowling conservatives, the Sparks Addams Family and even the local vestiges of the John Birch Society.

The diminutive daughter of the legendary U.S. Sen. Patrick McCarran spanned Nevada's 20th century. From the day we met at a Truckee River Defense Committee meeting in the early 1970s, I just plain liked her. She warmly reminded me of the good side of the old Fresno I knew so very long ago.

Godspeed sister. I'm proud to have known you.

Be well. Raise hell.


© Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a member of CWA Local 9413. He is a Reno-based syndicated columnist, a 30-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 1/10/99.

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