Scoops, dupes, shucks and jukes
Expanded from the 8-27-2006 Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune
UPDATED 8-31-2006


Try finding this stuff anywhere else.


   "While AT&T is installing more fiber optic cable and new electronics to provide the service, it likely will be drawn into a legal fight by Charter Communications. The City Council did not impose the same rules on AT&T that are in Charter's 2004 contract."

Reno Gazette-Journal 8-31-2006

CABLE COMPETITION? Don't hold your breath.

This Wednesday, the Reno City Council will review a video franchise for the phone company, the first major competition for clunky Charter Communications (now outsourcing customer calls to Mexico).

Reno's citizens cable advisory panel has not met since I left last November. Councilman Dave Aiazzi scuttled my reappointment, so the AT&T deal was negotiated in secret with no citizen input.

The 33-page draft agreement was not posted to the city's website until Friday and it's not exactly an easy read even for experts.

Reno's sorry record is still better than those of Sparks, Washoe County or Carson City, all of which have new Charter franchises in various stages of renewal. Washoe disbanded its citizens committee which never met in public. Carson's was nuked five years ago. Sparks had one cosmetic public hearing.

Ratepayer oversight is critical. Charter will not go down without a fight. The broadband bandidos have had Washoe County government running scared. Commissioners were supposed to have made some serious and public decisions on cable legal issues a couple of months ago, but nothing has surfaced.

Charter's lawyers have apparently made a very good case that allowing AT&T to phase in video service will somehow violate Charter's existing franchise rights.

Proposed AT&T Franchise
In Adobe Acrobat Reader .pdf format
Go to for free software

City of Reno Cosmetic Cable Compliance Committee page
with links to 15-year Charter 2004 franchise and other information

Nevada consumer advocacy website

Reno City Council contacts

That's laughable given the fact that Charter itself does not serve some areas.
I know neighborhoods that have waited years for cable hookups.

This threat echoes the national industry strategy to strangle competition in the cradle. The cable cabal argues that any competitor should be forced to serve the entire franchise area at once rather than phasing in.

In most towns, this would mean years of huge capital expenditures before any paying customers could connect. No one would invest in such a scheme. Such a delaying strategy could make obscene millions for the cable monopolists.

The threat of phone company competition has caused Charter to drop its rates by about 25 percent in Texas.

Stay tuned to the Barbwire online for developments, resources and to get on my mailing list.

A COLD SHOWER FOR SPARKS. I felt a little sorry for city staffers who went before the Reno-Sparks NAACP executive board last week. The Sparksites innocently asked what's right and what's wrong with the Rail City. They got a cannonade about longtime stonewalling by the chief of police.

Reno's top cop has often met with NAACP leaders over the past year. No one can remember the last time that happened in Sparks, a city with a dismal diversity record.

When Bruce Breslow was mayor, he tried to kick start a diversity dialogue. Some councilmembers told him to sit down and shut up.

A representative of Sparks' "Multi-cultural Awareness Council" was among those who met with NAACP leaders. I thus presume that city officials and Sparks PD are now aware that they've got about 50 years' worth of remedial civil rights work ahead. The NAACP's phone numbers are in the book.

Somebody make the call.

The words "racist" and "rail" are way too close in the dictionary.

JUST IN TIME FOR LABOR DAY comes a very depressing installment of the PBS P.O.V. series. Waging a Living airs on KNPB TV-5 at 3:00 a.m. this Tuesday, Aug, 29, and at 11:00 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 1. Millions of people in this country work themselves into the ground for wages so low that every day brings new desperation. Here's the scariest number I recall after watching the program: 18,000 Americans die each year due to lack of health insurance.

Damn us all for letting such things happen.

SPEAKING OF LACK OF HEALTH INSURANCE: Thanks to everyone from Arizona to Oregon who responded to my e-mail bulletin last week asking help for William Albiniano, an uninsured local eight year-old fighting for his life. An unexpectedly large number turned out for Saturday's fundraiser at the Sun Valley Bar, where raffles for a mini-motorcycle and a dirt bike brought in a fair chunk of money. I don't have the numbers, but I get the sense that the family now has a tiny bit of breathing room.

KRNV TV-4's Joe Hart and I have both called the sluggishly moving but self-congratulatory Nevada Checkup program for uninsured kids like William. [1] Mr. Hart will air the results of his encounters with state officialdom this Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. You may still contribute to the William Albiniano Medical Fund at any branch of Wells Fargo or Bank of America. Please do so.

SHARRON ANGLE IS RIGHT, but not that right. Less than 100 voters in Washoe and Storey counties were disenfranchised [2] due to snafus by local officials. Assemblymember Angle, R-Reno, lost the GOP congressional nomination for the seat being vacated by gubernatorial nominee Jim Gibbons, R-Nev., by just over 400 votes.

Angle's lawyer, a member of the Sparks Addams Family, will ask a judge to order a new election in all or part of the statewide second district. No one has brought forth an allegation, let alone evidence, that enough people were denied their right to vote to change the outcome. There should certainly be penalties for denying basic rights and I hope those shut out sue the bloomers off the responsible parties. (Yeah, I know, it's taxpayer money – but only financial fear can change things.)

Given the GOP's projected 55,000-voter registration edge, the dogmatic Angle is the only Republican whom Democrat Jill Derby might have any chance of beating this fall. Derby is running as a Republican conservative, even promising on current TV spots to repeal the estate tax for ranchers such as herself.

She should remember Harry Truman's advice: Give people a choice between two conservatives and they'll always vote for the real thing.

WIN-PLACE-AND-SHOW DEPT. Google the word "failure" and see who comes up number one. (His initials are Dubya.) I tried the same search at Yahoo. His Accidency, the President failed to finish first, but still came up a strong third.

What a guy.

Be well. Raise hell.


1. Las Vegas Review-Journal puff piece about availability of Nevada Checkup coverage: "Nevada parents whose children are uninsured shouldn't have to agonize over choosing between taking their child to the doctor or putting food on the table," the paper glowingly reports.
Practice what you preach.

2. Washoe County voters turned away at polls
K-Mart Taxes Groceries (Illegal in Nevada)
BARBWIRE special web edition for the Ides of August
Angle asks for the political equivalent of a Mulligan
8-15-2006, UPDATED 8-26-2006

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Copyright © 1982, 2006 Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 37-year Nevadan, editor of and webmaster of He is a member of the NAACP Reno-Sparks Branch. His opinions are strictly his own, as always. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune since 1988.


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