The politics of wearing scrambled eggs

Expanded from the 6-22-2003 Daily Sparks, Nev., Tribune
and the 6-26-2003 Comstock Chronicle

All the caterwauling about Nevada's splendidly sleazy legislative impasse has achieved at least one positive result. The fiasco has held up a mirror to our collective face. Apparently, we enjoy scrambled eggs.

Nevada is a great place to live if you enjoy an upper middle class income and have no dependents other than a dog.

A few years back, a young mother in Louisiana found me on the web and inquired about services for her autistic child. I suggested that she advise her husband to turn down his lucrative job offer and move somewhere else. They bravely chose to come here, and I'm glad they did, but mom has run herself ragged pushing for, and in some cases inventing, new services for her kid.

She need not have looked for help within the current political structure which hasn't changed in decades no matter which party holds power.

Last week on Sam Shad's "Nevada Newsmakers" TV show, longtime Carson City pollster Don Carlson predicted that five state senate seats will change hands next year, with the Republicans maintaining control. He also predicted that the GOP will take control of the lower house for the first time in many moons. It won't matter as long as the usual suspects remain in charge.

Awhile back, my Sparks Tribune colleague in columny Dennis Myers reported his 2002 conversation with a high-level Republican operative. Myers asserted that the GOP was in a position to run the table in last November's election, including taking the State Assembly. The GOP pro did not believe him.

In early October of last year, I had pretty much the same exchange with a veteran reporter from one of the Gomorrah South dailies. I told him that although I didn't have access to any polls, I had a gut feeling that the Republicans could capture the assembly. He replied that the possibility had been thoroughly reviewed by the entire hierarchy of his paper. Their expert and learned consensus was that the Democrats would lose perhaps one seat and retain control.

In fact, they came within a cat's whisker of becoming a permanent minority. That and more can happen next year. If U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., gets a high-profile, well-funded opponent, the three-term incumbent will run as an underdog.

Few heroes or heroines can be found in this year's legislative comedy-drama. Some nutso Republicans think nothing of closing Nevada's schools and having the state budget perhaps created and overseen by federal courts. (The latter is not an altogether meritless idea.)

So many Democrats and Republicans abide in the pocket of the gambling industry that, if not for the 1996 ballot question allowing minority veto of new taxes, the casino moguls' tax plan would have passed long ago. As the editors of the Carson City Nevada Appeal pointed out last week, without minority rule the latest casino shell game would have become law unreviewed and unread by legislators. That same plan, endorsed by casino-anointed Gov. Dudley Do-Right, would have resulted in almost zero new tax liability for corporate gaming. (See
"Casinos continue to cook the books.")

Nevada will survive the current crisis. We have no choice. A lot of people, especially children, will be damaged in the process. So what else is new in these parts? After all, we certainly know you don't really need schools for Nevada-style education. Recent press reports glorified a 19 year-old girl embarking on a career as a prostitute in a legal brothel.

Only a coalition of longtime outsiders and progressive newcomers can change this retro place. So what can galvanize such people? History points the way. In times of strife, new ideas come from third parties. When they get popular enough, one or both of the existing dinosaurs steal the fresh concepts and swear they thought of it first.

To predict the flow of — and hope for — the state's future, watch to see who pilfers the positions of the Libertarians and the Greens.

I hope both put some wins on the board next year.

BOTOX BULLETIN. Darlene Jespersen, fired from Harrah's-Reno for refusal to wear makeup, has appealed the dismissal of her wrongful termination lawsuit. (The Tribune broke the story first on June 16.) Her new lawyers are apparently not yet up to speed. On CNN last week, one neglected to note that Harrah's females are basically mandated to never age. They risk firing if they fail to forever look like their photos taken after a corporate mandated makeover. Much more about this at, including Ms. Jespersen's makeover pics. More soon.

CABLE CAPERS. The City of Reno Citizens Cable Compliance Committee meets at 6:30 p.m. this Thursday at Reno City Hall. Lots of interesting items on the agenda. Tune in the live cablecast on SNCAT/Charter Cable Channel 13 in Sparks and Reno.

HERESY DEPT. Earlier this month, I spoke before a women's organization. I advised them not to get too rah-rah about voter registration and precinct politics. Most voters cast their ballots in direct correlation to the winning candidate's television budget. I thus don't have great faith in the potential of motivating the participation of the documentedly disinterested.

Be well. Raise hell. | U-News | C.O.P. | Sen. Joe Neal
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Copyright © 1982-2003 Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 34-year Nevadan, a member Communications Workers of America Local 9413 and editor of and Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune since 1988.


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