Vicente Fox Vindicated

Expanded from the 6-19-2005 Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune.
Edited for the 6-24-2005 Comstock Chronicle

Mexican President Vicente Fox recently stirred up a hornets' nest when he stated that "there is no doubt that Mexicans, filled with dignity, willingness and ability to work, are doing jobs that not even blacks want to do there in the United States."

He later apologized, but the resulting firestorm of criticism brands us as hypocrites. Our country benefits from immigrant labor while decrying it and often looking the other way when those workers are abused. Slavery is still practiced in the capitalistic land of the free 140 years after the North supposedly won the Civil War. Las Vegas is its distribution hub. [1]

Some argue that if employers were heavily sanctioned for hiring non-citizens, the problem would disappear. Not so. Employers will do whatever it takes.

Apparently, the local job market is so tight that Sparks and Reno gamblers are bringing in temps from all over the globe.

"John Ascuaga’s Nugget already has hired about 90 temporary employees from Poland, 15 cooks from Korea and 20 workers on 10-month visas from Mexico, Executive Vice President Larry Harvey said," according to the June 18 Reno Gazette-Journal [2], "'and we’re getting ready to make another trip to Korea in July to look for more,'" he added.

"Because unemployment remains low in Washoe County — 3.5 percent in May (the latest report) — finding qualified workers always is a challenge, Harvey said. That’s why the Nugget, Harrah’s and other properties rely so heavily on international workers," RGJ business editor Ryan Randazzo reported.

"That makes college students a helpful addition to the work force, because just as business drops off in the fall, they return to school, said Rick Marsh, director of human resources at the Eldorado Hotel Casino.

"'We get quite a few of the Polish students who are going to college and they come over here to work during the summer months,' Marsh said. 'They like the tip jobs, and are a strong work element for us during the summer,'" the RGJ wrote.


Are those furriners filling jobs American blacks and perhaps some of my Italian cousins won't take? How about importing some unemployed people from other foreign lands like Michael Moore's hometown of Flint, Mich., where 26 years of General Motors exporting production to Mexico and the far east has produced the most depressed economy in the U.S.? How about beleaguered farm communities in the red state corn belt where property values have plunged and towns depopulated? Where are the temps from Dustbowl, Oklahoma, or Coaldust, W. Virginia?

The casino braceros may bring unintended consequences. I hope the Polish kids tell their fellow workers about Lech Walesa and the Solidarity trade union which broke the back of communism and shredded the Iron Curtain with a little help from U.S. taxpayers and Pope John Paul II. I hope they ignite fire in the bellies of workers at the union-busting employers noted above.

It's easy to give an American job to an immigrant. All an employer has to do is fill out a form stating that after a diligent (harharhardeeharhar) search, he has found no U.S. worker willing or qualified to do the work. The boss thus must import his wife's British best friend from her Vassar College days.

On the same day that a federal magistrate swore in 61 new citizens in Reno last week [3], a state official lamented that a high school diploma is unnecessary to find work in the currently hot job market. [4,5]

About 20 years ago, a Reno executive let slip to a reporter that gambling industry moguls had admitted behind closed doors that they did not support economic diversification because they did not want competition for the undereducated, low-wage labor pool.

Even though we have diversified, the gambling-industrial complex still proves quite resourceful at finding cheap non-union help.

My father came though Ellis Island over 100 years ago. I fault no one who seeks honest labor. I am repulsed by our very unfair and hypocritical system which abuses one worker to exploit another.

MEMORIES OF MRS. MENDIVE. Every household in Sparks and then some got last Wednesday's Sparks Centennial edition of this here newspaper. By chronicling the lives of people for whom Sparks schools were named, Tribune staff performed a valuable service for future historians. I've lived in these parts well over three decades and did not know that Kate Smith Elementary School was not named for the big band era singer with the throaty voice, rather for a beloved educator.

However, one glaring omission demands remedy.

The centennial opus carried a story entitled "The man behind Mendive Middle School," a brief biography of educator Louis S. Mendive. While noting that Mr. Mendive's wife was named Madeline, we failed to remember that she served as editor of the Tribune for much of the 1970s, possibly into the early 1980s when she was succeeded by Jo Ewalt. I believe she left for awhile and returned for a brief tenure sometime back then. My lapse of institutional memory demands fresh research, so here's an idea for next year's annual progress edition: a list of Tribune editors going back to 1910. We'll have to do it for the centennial celebration of the paper in five years, so we may as well get cracking.

MORE JOB JEOPARDY. If I can remember to show up this Tuesday, I'll share Sam Shad's pundit panel with former Assemblyman Jason Geddes, R-Reno, and Reno-Sparks Chamber of Commerce honcho Harry York. Featured guest will be the boss of the threatened Hawthorne Army Ammunition and Weapons Plant, which may lose 199 jobs. [6] "Nevada Newsmakers" airs on KRNV TV-4 at 12:30 p.m., repeating at 9:28 p.m. on Charter Cable Channel 12 in Washoe-Carson-Douglas and next Sunday morning on whitesheets radio KKKOH.

References and history of the above issues, as well as the Nevada Newsmakers statewide broadcast schedule, may be accessed in the web edition of this column at

Be well. Raise hell.


(1) Bristol, Emmily; "American Slave Trade: Business is booming in the dark work of human trafficking. The new hotbed: Las Vegas;" Las Vegas CityLife, April 14, 2005; page 20.

      Shafer, Jack; "Sex Slaves, Revisited — Looking back at the New York Times Magazine piece 16 months later," Slate, June 7, 2005.

In the aboventitled article, Mr. Shafer states that the U.S. number of 50,000 noted in the June 12 Barbwire (and a number of recent publications and broadcasts) is several years old and newer estimates have been lower. Such statistics appear to contain a lot of best-guess factor, understandable given that slave overlords generally don't report to the U.S. Dept. of Labor on a regular basis.

(2) Randazzo, Ryan; "Caesars staffers laid off but temp work available in casinos;" Reno Gazette-Journal, 6-18-2005.

(3) Mullen, Frank X., Jr.; "61 immigrants become new U.S. citizens;" Reno Gazette-Journal, 6-18-2005.

(4) O'Driscoll, Bill; "Workforce outlook shows optimism;" Reno Gazette-Journal, 6-18-2005.

(5) O'Driscoll, Bill; "Job market Strengthens;" Reno Gazette-Journal, 6-18-2005.

(6) Abrahms, Doug; "Closing Hawthorne AAWP will kill 199 jobs;" Reno Gazette-Journal, 6-18-2005.

...and more ammo

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The Enemy Within

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Copyright © 2005 Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 36-year Nevadan and editor of Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune since 1988.

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