Updated 11-13-2005

Patriot Games

Expanded from the 8-21-2005 Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune

"When dictatorship comes to the U.S., it will arrive packaged as democracy."
— American Author and Playwright Sinclair Lewis

Tomorrow, Sparks Mayor Geno Martini and the five members of the city council will deliberate on what may well be their most important decision in public life: a resolution in opposition to portions of the grotesquely misnamed Patriot Act. (Specifically, "to oppose any portion of the USA PATRIOT Act that would violate the rights and liberties guaranteed equally under the state and federal constitutions.")

In the documentary "Unconstitutional: The War on Our Civil Liberties," conservative former congressman Bob Barr, R-Georgia, states that the Bush administration requested that the Patriot Act be passed without hearings. Congress went Dubya one better and passed the 345-page monstrosity without even reading it. Few wanted to risk future campaign commercials accusing them of being soft on terrorism. Then-Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft said opponents would be helping terrorists. Barr and Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., came up with a less brutal compromise, but the White House succeeded in replacing it with the Ashcroft version at 3:45 a.m. on the day of passage.

Flailing about to look effective after being caught asleep at the switch on Sept. 11, 2001, Washington's response was sadly predictable. Our leaders cosmetically reorganized the government, moving the organization chart around like a game of dominoes.

Tom Ridge came up with the terror alert bar chart coloring book. The president and congress topped him with the Patriot Act. The coloring book proved much less harmful.

Most citizens today agree that we are no safer than pre-9/11. As with environmental protection, we live with officials sold on the idea that saving lives must be cost effective and not hurt stock prices. The chemical industry ordered congress not to mandate increased security at vulnerable manufacturing plants.

America has gone back to business as usual. Silicon breast implants are making a comeback, as are scissors and boxcutters in airline carry-ons. Airport screeners are the same as before, only now they labor without worker rights. Job seekers both benign and malign continue to cross our borders at will.


    "The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it to be always kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be exercised at all. I like a little rebellion now and then. It is like a storm in the Atmosphere."

— Thomas Jefferson
Letter to Abigail Adams
from Paris
Feb. 22, 1787

    "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be."

— Thomas Jefferson
as quoted by Mark Crispin Miller
"None Dare Call It Stolen – Ohio, the Election and America's Servile Press"
Harper's Magazine, August 2005, at 46


The Patriot Act allows you to be personally abused so that you can witness the government doing something — even if it's wrong.

The new and improved version allows the government access to your medical, financial (read "gun purchases") and employment records without your knowledge or prior approval of a judge or grand jury. The Bill of Rights has been shredded. To use the favorite term of current Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales, congress has declared as inoperative the "quaint" concepts of probable cause and due process of law.

The Sparks City Council on Monday has the opportunity to join conservative Elko, Nevada, liberal Eugene, Oregon, and almost 400 other communities in asking that the Patriot Act be revised to conform to the Constitution.

Any argument that local votes can't impact national policy is a cop-out. When the federal government utterly failed to come up with a viable energy policy after the 1973 Arab oil embargo and resulting gas lines, the states formed a working substitute. The National Governors Assn. has often taken the lead on issues which eventually become national policy. Likewise, the nation's mayors. (A)

Breaking the power of the tobacco lobby on the federal level and in most states (backward Nevada is a rare exception), communities all over the country have passed ordinances to limit cancer-causing cigarette smoking in public places.

And so we come to the Sparks council's brush with greatness, a 2005 version of the Boston Tea Party. As the late Tip O'Neill once said, "politics ain't beanbag." The resolution up for consideration at 3:00 tomorrow isn't timid. It's revolutionary.

It asserts that current laws "contain a multitude of new and sweeping extra-constitutional law enforcement and intelligence gathering powers."


    Dear Mayor Martini:

    Please add my name to the list of those who are in favor of a resolution opposing portions of the paradoxically titled "Patriot Act."

Charles Springer

    Mr. Springer,

   Thank you for your comments. I will keep them in mind at our council today.

Geno Martini

UPDATE 10-30-2005

Sparks mayor vetoes support of full citizenship for residents of Washington, DC, and criticizes council's Patriot Act vote


It also gets right in the feds' faces: "In accordance with Nevada state, county, or city policy, an agency or instrumentality of the City of Sparks may not without probable cause: (1) initiate, participate in, assist or cooperate with any inquiry, investigation, surveillance, or detention; (2) record, file, or share intelligence information concerning a person or organization, including library lending and research records, book and video store sales and rental records, medical records, financial records, student records, and other personal data, even if authorized under the USA PATRIOT Act; (3) retain such intelligence information; and...that an agency or instrumentality of the City of Sparks may not: (1) use state, county, or city resources or institutions for the enforcement of federal immigration matters, which are the responsibility of the federal government; (2) collect or maintain information about the political, religious, or social views, associations, or activities of any individual, group, association, organization, corporation, business, or partnership, unless the information directly relates to an investigation of criminal activities based on probable cause, not mere suspicion of criminal conduct; (3) engage in racial, religious, or ethnic profiling nor use national origin or any other identifiable characteristic(s) as factors in selecting individuals or groups to target for investigation except when race, religion, ethnicity, or national origin is part of the description of a specific suspect..."

This is weighty stuff. It tells the feds that we will not allow our police officers converted into unfunded border patrol cops. Former A.G. Ashcroft ordered that police report the immigration status on the victims of crime, making both witnesses and victims afraid to come forward. If anything more was needed to prove the war on drugs a joke, Ashcroft thus provided the punchline.

Ever worry that the feds will come and take your guns? The Patriot paves the way for exactly that.

Political blackmail is not out of the question. Some councilmembers are rumored to worry that a vote for the resolution will irritate administration groupie Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., who controls Nevada highway funds.

Only the people can swat down such tactics. You may call city hall at (775) 353-2311 and leave a message for the mayor and council expressing your support for the resolution affirming the Bill of Rights and opposing the USA PATRIOT Act. Call, write or testify before your councilmembers at city hall tomorrow. You will find contact info at the city website or below (B). The complete text of the resolution, as well as additional references, will be linked to the web edition of this column at The council hearing will be cablecast on Reno-Sparks Charter cable SNCAT 15.

Thomas Jefferson advised that a little rebellion every 20 years or so is a healthy thing.

So rebel.

For your city and your country.

Be well. Raise hell.

Sparks Council votes to oppose Patriot Act

SPARKS, NEV. (8-22-2005) — The Sparks City Council today voted 3-0 in favor of a resolution in opposition to the Patriot Act.

At the last minute, city staff brought before the body a watered-down alternative although no staffer stepped forward to present the proposal when the mayor asked.

The broadest possible range of political opinion joined in support, from the American Civil Liberties Union, Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada and the Culinary Union to the Libertarian Party and the Nevada Eagle Forum. (I took dark pleasure witnessing longtime Eagle Forum leader Janine Hansen speak on behalf of constitutional rights. She led the George Wallace party's statewide opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment in the mid-1970's.) I have been informed that representatives of the National Rifle Association have voiced agreement with the resolution.

Voting in favor were councilmembers John Mayer, Judith Moss and Phil Salerno. (The mayor only votes in case of ties.) Councilmembers Ron Schmitt and Mike Carrigan were absent. With only a bare quorum present, a unanimous affirmative vote was needed or the measure would have failed.

Only two or three citizens spoke against the resolution. About two dozen others spoke in favor and others expressed their support by handing in cards to the mayor. While the mayor and council received a number of phone calls, the largest number of expressions apparently arrived via electronic mail. From the chair, Mayor Martini told local activist Juanita Cox that her e-mail would be included in the official record.

The resolution now passed by the cities of Elko and Sparks as well as Elko County. It has been given to the Reno City Council which has thus far not agendized it.

Those afflicted with Charter cable will have at least five opportunities to view reruns of the Aug. 22 hearing via the Sparks Centennial Channel (cable 15) in Sparks-Reno-Washoe County: Tuesday, Aug. 23, at 10:00 a.m.; Wednesday, Aug. 24, at 2:00 a.m.; Thursday, Aug. 25 at 6:00 a.m.; Friday, Aug. 26, at 7:00 p.m.; and Saturday, Aug. 27, at 10:00 a.m. Check the SNCAT access TV station website for any cablecasts which may be scheduled in the week of Aug. 28. (All times PDT.)

Read the text of the Patriot Act resolution

Sparks Council opposes Patriot Act
Daily Sparks Tribune 8-23-2005

Sparks City Council condemns Patriot Act
Reno Gazette-Journal 8-23-2005

Council condemns sections of act in 3-0 vote
Communities throughout Nevada will be approached
Associated Press/Las Vegas Review-Journal 8-23-2005

Consejo de la Ciudad de Sparks rechaza la Ley Patriota
AHORA 8-24-2005


    A. Associated Press, May 29, 2005; "World's mayors seek to fight global warming, make cities greener"

     B. Sparks City Council contact information

P. O. Box 857
431 Prater Way
Sparks, NV 89432-0857

Phone: (775) 353-2311
City Clerk/City Hall Fax (775) 353-2489

Mayor, Geno Martini

Ward 1, John Mayer

Ward 2, Phil Salerno

Ward 3, Judy Moss

Ward 4, Mike Carrigan

Ward 5, Ron Schmitt

... and more ammo

      Rinfret, Pierre A.; "Peace is Bullish"; Look Magazine, 5-31-1966

      BARBWIRE: Lemming Cliff Notes, 6-5-2005

      BARBWIRE: We have met the enemy and he is us, 5-29-2005

      BARBWIRE: Payback Time, 8-7-2005

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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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