The Empire Strikes Back
From The Daily Sparks Tribune 8-25-2002


As a columnist for the Sparks Tribune, Mr. Andy Barbano apparently has free reign to say whatever he wants without regard to truth and without the public knowing his professional ties to those whom he appears to support only philosophically. His ‘report’ in last Sunday’s paper concerning a ‘collision’ between a bicycle rider and a Citifare bus is an excellent example. It is designed to vilify a person, an organization and anyone who doesn’t agree with his personal view of life — supported by the Teamsters Local 533, a fact he neglects to mention.

Barbano: ‘reported’ a collision between a bicycle and an ‘errant’ driver who apparently left the scene of the accident, leaving the cyclist in intensive care at Washoe Med.

Truth: According to the police report and the video tapes collected from the bus, the bicyclist was in the far right lane at the time the bus entered the left turn lane. On his own steam, and through his own questionable judgment, the bicyclist veered over two lanes of traffic to enter the lane in which the bus was beginning a left-hand turn. The cyclist positioned himself between the bus and the curb and as the police report indicates, the bike struck the south curb of Prater, ejecting the rider and caused the bus to run over the front wheel of the bike. The police report indicated the bicyclist had made an improper lane change and improperly overtook the bus.

Barbano: The rider was in ‘serious’ condition in the Intensive Care Unit.

Truth: The rider was, indeed, taken to Washoe Medical Center, where he was treated for an ankle injury and hand abrasions, but not admitted, let alone admitted to intensive care. The police report also noted that the bike rider ‘confirmed he had a pre-existing injury to the ankle.’

Barbano: The ‘errant ‘ driver left the scene.

Truth: The Citifare driver, who was videotaped by striking workers in order to identify him, did not know there had been an incident (since there never was a collision) and returned to the scene immediately upon notification and cooperated fully with authorities. The bus driver was not cited in any way since the cyclist was documented to have made an improper change of lanes and improper overtaking of the bus.

Barbano: Says that the previously locked-out drivers ‘probably can’t make their voices heard…Thanks to a bogus court injunction…they can’t get into the building…’ where the RTC board meetings are held.

Truth: A temporary restraining order was issued prohibiting pickets from interfering with buses, passengers and/or drivers who are providing service at CitiCenter. This was issued by a district judge who found sufficient evidence to warrant the TRO. Further, RTC meetings are ‘open’ and members of the public are invited to give public comment. In fact, Barbano and a group of coach operators did attend an RTC Citizens’ Advisory Committee meeting on Wednesday and the RTC Board meeting on Friday, without restriction. Of course, they first called local television stations stating that they were to be barred from the meetings, inviting the cameras to view the ‘confrontation.’ There was no confrontation.

It must be made known to the readers of the Sparks Tribune and to the community that Mr. Barbano is not simply a columnist who has an opinion about current events. He also is a consultant to the Teamsters’ Union local 533, involved in the labor dispute with TMW. Mr. Barbano has a financial stake in the discrediting of TMW, Citifare and the Regional Transportation Commission. His “report” last Sunday was so erroneous it can be considered no more than propaganda, designed to promote a specific perspective—without the public’s knowing his affiliation to the Teamsters.

Let me be clear about one thing: The RTC--in its relationship with Citifare contractor TMW, or any of our other contractors--has no complaint with the Teamsters or any other union that represents employees that do work on our behalf. We respect their role in the employer-employee relationship. What is an issue is a blatant distortion of facts for the purpose of swaying public opinion to a perspective that suits Mr. Barbano, if no one else.

He must be recognized for what he is--a union representative, posing as a columnist.

© 2002 The Daily Sparks Tribune
Reprinted with permission.

Barbano responds: Before Mr. Krause engages in a game of Truth or Dare, he should prepare. He apparently does not even know what's going on in his front yard, let alone in the news. Locked-out workers and myself were indeed admitted to the two public meetings he notes, above. I wrote him in advance in order to clear the way. You may read his letter for yourself. I contacted him because locked-out Citifare workers told me that out-of-town rent-a-cops had barred them from Citifare offices, despite Mr. Krause's above admission that Judge Breen's order only applied to the downtown Reno switching station. He apparently failed to inform his hired muscle.

Who's really running the store? Perhaps more important is the inescapable conclusion to be drawn from the very fact that Mr. Krause personally responded. RTC purportedly long ago hired a British-owned management company to run the bus system — and for a very fancy fee at that. Four of five commissioners have played Pontius Pilate and washed their hands of the continuing labor unrest, leaving the crucifixion to their subcontractor. If RTC's elected board has backed away, why is Mr. Krause superseding the authority of his hired guns and getting into a fight with me so late in the game? Who's on first? The only possible answer: Mr. Krause and the board are actually calling every shot and merely using the subcontractor for political cover. Get them to blow their collective cool and they'll voluntarily blow their cover.

Barbano's correction from the 8-25-2002 Daily Sparks Tribune: Both the Sparks Police Dept. and Washoe Medical Center gave me erroneous information at deadline last week. The hit-and-run accident between a bicyclist and a Citifare replacement driver did indeed occur on Aug. 17. However, the cyclist was treated and released by Washoe Med and was never admitted to intensive care. At least Washoe Med's PR people apologized for the error. The nursing staff, always undermanned, had more than a dozen trauma deaths over that weekend. I can forgive them, but Sparks PD treated me like the local agent of Osama bin Laden.

Read the Tribune's next edition followup from the 8-19-2002 front page.

Barbano to Krause from the 9-1-2002 Barbwire Annual Labor Day column:

SPEAKING OF UNION BUSTERS. I really enjoyed Regional Transportation Commission Executive Director Greg Krause's rant against me in last Sunday's Tribune. For those who missed it, you will find it reproduced in its entirety at

The short version will suffice here: I'm a liar and clandestine labor propagandist to boot. I've printed my union credentials in every column in this paper for years, including the one Krause griped about. They've also been uploaded to since 1996. Since he apparently doesn't read websites, I've included a capsule with this column.

Mr. Krause also neglected to note that by calling me a liar, he said the same about Washoe Medical Center and the Sparks Police Dept., which provided the items in the August 18 column about which he complained.

He also neglected to note that I posted corrections as soon as Washoe Med and Sparks PD informed me of their previous inaccuracies. Those were uploaded to the website and distributed via e-mail on Saturday evening, August 17, well before the Sunday paper even hit the streets, but unfortunately long after the Tribune's deadline.

Most disappointing of all, Mr. Krause never wrote a word defending RTC's actions in royally screwing over its Citifare bus drivers, dispatchers and support workers. His silence spoke volumes — he has no defense. So he spent 800 words attempting to behead the messenger. That's a waste of money for the guy we taxpayers pay a minimum wage of $111,675.20 per year, before bonuses or merit raises.

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