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If we had to choose one single thing that would most benefit Nevada and its citizens and bring balance back into the political system it would be to ban political contributions from the gaming industry. There is nothing else that so distorts the legislative landscape as does this huge flow of lobby money from the gaming resorts to our eager-to-please politicians. But take heart, change may be on the way.

One after another, gaming jurisdictions have taken note of this problem and are moving to correct it. They are banning gaming industry political donations. Last week the Illinois House voted 82-21 to prohibit candidates for office and public officials from receiving contributions or gifts from casinos or horseracing tracks.

In an industry where public confidence is so essential it is ludicrous to have legislators receiving dole from the very people they are charged with regulating. Circle the wagons --- help is on the way. Of course, a letter to Carson City wouldn't hurt either.

Jack Lipsman
National Federation of Gaming Employees
March 18, 2001

The following letter was received in response to the St. Patrick's Day Barbwire:

If a train ditch will prevent a train disaster in Reno like the one that happened in the midwest last week, then the price is cheap. Examine your logic once in a while.

Barbano replies:

Dear Sir or Ma'am: Thanks for your comments. If the ditch could provide the answer to the abortion conundrum or cure cancer, perhaps provide world peace or end world hunger, it would indeed be cheap. I submit the half-billion would be better spent in those pursuits. Human suffering would be alleviated in so many ways. Even Miss America contestants would have to announce new goals.

I've lived in Reno since 1971. Within the 2.1 mile area in question, I can't recall there ever having been a case of a tractor-trailer trying to sneak around the mechanical armed guards and getting t-boned for its trouble. The worst safety problems our tracks have presented have involved the munching of an occasional drunk or the all-too-frequent suicide. A trench will prevent neither and could conceivably make things worse.

The idea behind the trench remains, as I've stated, to limit the liability of Union Pacific on the day when - not if - a major nuclear or toxic spill happens. Trenchies contend that the ditch will make matters more manageable. I hope so.

Again, as I wrote, the real danger lies in UP tripling the traffic at double the speed all in the name of increasing corporate merger-spawned profits.

Up already enjoys diminished liability as a result of this ill-conceived bastard of a contract. The City of Reno has assumed all liability for whatever ghastly contamination it may find under the track bed. That could exponentially increase the cost of this public policy catastrophe and conceivably bankrupt the city and county.

Remember, we property taxpayers are the co-signers on this deal, as we are in all other types of public finance. If the convention authority goes insolvent for over-committing or underestimating room tax revenues, creditors can come after property taxes. Ditto downtown redevelopment agencies subsidizing movie theaters in a market which currently has more than twice the number of screens than its population can handle.

If you live here, you should be as concerned as me. If you don't live here, don't bitch.

Dear Sen. Washington:

After reasonable review, I've come to the conclusion that digging a trench and lowering the rail road track to help the Union Pacific in improving its safety and efficiency is corporate welfare at its worst. While most of us agree that government ought to help when it becomes necessary to help level the playing field for people and industry, providing for the care and safety on the lowest public denominator is unfair, unreasonable and probably unwise.

After all, it is the tourism industry, aka Major Casinos that benefit from this improvement by making the down- town area more efficient, safer and more navigable. Putting the burden on ordinary and often-times insolvent minimum wage working people seems unfair, wouldn't you agree? Such improvements would undoubtedly add value to the Casino Properties so affected which over the long run might increase real estate taxes on those entities. But in the short-run, the burden ought to be shifted from the have-nots to the haves. In this case, Major Casino Properties at and adjacent benefit immediately! If that rationale' is true, isn't it also true that we ought not tax the little guy to the extent contemplated by this bill.

Trusting that you took the time to read this letter, and with kind regards, I remain

Arno G. Seegers

Barbano replies:

Dear Arno: Thanks for sending your letter to the Washoe delegation. SB 255 looks like a disgustingly done deal, but if we can stop SB 437, it will severely contain the project inasmuch as it will stop them from blank-check construction.






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