The June Swoon Morally Obtuse Golden Goosies


Expanded from the 6-13-99 Daily Sparks, Nev., Tribune

The Sparks election is over and nobody much cares. The Balkan War is sort of over, kinda like the Gulf War.

As one bloodsport supplants another, Barry Bonds is back in a Giants uniform and all is again right with the world.

With most of the mean season gone (hockey's about done but rasslin' lasts forever), the timing is marginally appropriate to award the Academy of the Morally Obtuse Summer Golden Goosies.

THE SEN. JOE NEAL BROKEN RECORD AWARD goes to newbie Sparks City Councilman Mike Carrigan who credited his big win to a platform asserting that growth is not paying for itself. He sounded just like the anti-establishment North Las Vegas Democrat, save for never playing the flipside of the record. So he gets only half a Golden Goosie.

THE QUEEN VICTORIA SILVER MEDAL goes to Sparks mayoral runnerup Peggy O'Neill. This award is named in honor of the time her majesty attended an international steeplechase which the British entry did not win.

"And who was second?" inquired the queen.

"Your majesty, there is no second," came the stiff-upper-lip response.

Like Carrigan, pretty Peggy gets a one-sided memento for apparently running on the same half-platform with only a slightly different result.

THE WHOLE THING TROPHY goes posthumously to the late Barbara Bennett, elected mayor of Reno in the upset of the century 20 years ago last week. Her Honor set the enduring standard for local follytix.

Especially in Reno, any candidate who says "I'm for controlled growth and my opponent took tons of money from developers" can inquire about reserved parking at city hall.

Pete Sferrazza used those words to win six elections. Had Martha Gould chanted the Bennett mantra in 1995, she and not His Egoness Jeff Griffin would have succeeded Sferrazza as Reno mayor.

Carrigan apparently sang half the Bennett songbook well enough to win by 40 whole votes. O'Neill would have done better save for one thing: Sparks is still a small town. People talk to each other.

They knew both mayoral candidates were in fact status quo establishmentarians. O'Neill's campaign thus became quite transparent. You can't run as a partial populist.

THE JOE NEAL AWARD goes to Sen. Joe Neal, the only officeholder in the state with the guts to play the flipside of the record. Neal has for years said to all who will listen that the reason our cities are stressed is because the gambling industry, principal cause of said uncontrolled growth, does not pay its fair share.

THE TRAVELING SALESMAN PURCHASE ORDER goes to Harrah's honcho Phil Satre, someone who has not lived here for years but is sort of moving back for a few days a month. Such carpetbagging apparently qualifies him for appointment to the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority where he will ensure that the latest corporate welfare tax increases properly benefit his company.

THE COLUMBINE HIGH SCHOOL AWARD is a tie between Sens. Bill Raggio, R-Reno, and Maurice Washington, R-Sparks. Raggio sponsored a bill liberalizing spanking. Washington liberalized the places where people may carry concealed firearms. Gov. Kenny Guinn liberally signed both measures. Perhaps their intent was to make it easier for abused kids to defend themselves.

RUMPLED KILT-SKIN AWARD goes to Michael Mahatma Moore, fresh off being censored by the Bravo Network which refused to air his pre-Columbine satire entitled "Teen Sniper School."

The Emmy-winning director has now been nominated for a high honor by International Gentleman's Quarterly. He asks webheads to write "I vote for Michael Moore in the International Man of the Year category" to GQ before June 30.

"Should I actually win, GQ will take my picture and not only put it in the magazine but blow it up and hang it over Picadilly Circus in London," the baseball-capped buddha added via (what else?) e-mail.

"We are convinced this will ruin GQ."

A worthy cause and worth another meaningless vote. If you missed the Sparks election, here's your chance to make amends and have just about as much impact on how things are run.

THE SILVER SPOON WHERE THE SUN NEVER SHINES AWARD goes to billionaire presidential candidate Steve Forbes, who made a speech last week decrying dastardly blackguards (politicians like him) who want to get their greedy hands on Social Security. Forbes would instead turn our money over to those paragons of virtue on Wall Street.

He also promises to shred the new $20 bills which "look like Monopoly money" in his expert opinion.

Forbes certainly knows his subject. His late father left him with a bigger gold card limit than most national treasuries.

Forbes advocates a flat tax, which means he wants his rate lowered to your rate. Combined with privatizing Social Security, Forbes would complete what Ronald Reagan began 20 years ago, history's biggest transfer of wealth to the top five percent.

Will our betters become benevolent when we have no more to give other than our firstborns?

Not likely.

"A group called Billionaires for Steve Forbes cheered as Forbes announced his candidacy for president in New Hampshire March 16," reports Labor Notes magazine.

"Dressed in tuxedos and sequined gowns, members of the group carried signs reading 'Tax Cuts for Me, Not My Maid' and 'Keep the Wage Gap Growing.' Behind the event was a Boston group, United for a Fair Economy, which pointed out that Forbes' flat tax proposal would slash taxes for millionaires and billionaires (Forbes himself would save $174,000 a year) and raise taxes for those earning under $100,000."

Ron Gunzburger, publisher of the Politics1 Report wrote last week that "the Forbes campaign announced plans for the multimillionaire publisher to do something different: reach into the pockets of other wealthy people. After paying for much of the campaign to date from his own pocket, the campaign announced that Forbes would hold his first major fundraising event on June 16."

Apparently, too much ain't enough. Other than Dan Quayle, Forbes has no competition for a Morally Obtuse Golden Goosie.

Remember, the only way to eat goose or crow is with lots of ketchup.

Be well. Raise hell.


Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a member of CWA Local 9413. He is a 30-year Nevadan, editor of U-News and head of Casinos Out of Politics (COP). In 1998 he served as gubernatorial campaign manager for State Senator Joe Neal, D-North Las Vegas.
Since 1988 Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks, Nev., Tribune, where an earlier version of this column appeared on 6/13/99.

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