Velma Bishop: Mom is gone
Expanded from the 10-3-2010 Daily Sparks Tribune
Updated 10-4-2010
HAT TRICK: Barbwire wins third straight Nevada Press Association first-place award

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The program premiers were available to every television set in the region because of a high-mileage media hybrid.

The shows appeared on both commercial and community stations. The non-corporate entity produced the events, commercial TV greatly expanded distribution.

Thus began an ongoing series of sane public interest programs which generate both entertaining heat and more than a little light.

Please spread the word and consider contributing to the cause online at ReSurge.TV.

You may also take the public option known as the U.S. Postal Service and send a check or money order to ReSurge.TV, P.O. Box 10034, Reno NV 89510.

Your contribution will help fund the distribution of the Dec. 6 and Feb. 21 programs as well as ongoing efforts at developing new media, including a regional, non-corporate community radio station.

You are present at the creation of what I hope can become a new media model where the programming accurately reflects what's happening on the ground and the media impact is powerful enough to forcefully pass the message upward.


Be well. Raise hell.


Barbwire column on the depredations of Charter Communications and the Reno City Council wins 2009 Nevada Press Association first-place award

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She had no idea when she signed on to manage the headquarters of a long-ago congressional campaign that she would also become house mother to both a fraternity and a sorority.

We were not quite Animal House denizens back in 1972, but we sure came close at times.

Mom straightened out us kids on more than one occasion. She was also not shy about telling the candidate and his heavy hitters from Las Vegas a thing or seven about northern Nevada politics.

Velma Ruth Bishop

Former Rep. Jim Bilbray, D-Nev., today stands among Velma Bishop's many mourners.

Mom died at age 81 last Tuesday in Reno. She left children and grandchildren, dozens and perhaps hundreds unofficially adopted.

That includes me.

You never know, especially in your younger years, what happenstance may affect you forever. The friends I made during Bilbray's first run for congress 38 years ago have lasted a lifetime.

Nowadays, it seems Jim and I talk most often when I'm relaying news about one of the oldtimers who has left for the big voting booth in the sky.

We also occasionally chat about Harry Reid, Bilbray's former colleague both in congress and from their college days when they served as capitol police officers.

It's too bad that Velma's not around to sit down with Senator Harry and lecture him on the continuing differences between northern and southern Nevada follytix.

The year of recoronation of King Richard the Rotten promised to be tough on Democrats. In 1972, Velma's husband, Gail, was Democratic Gov. Mike O'Callaghan's assistant labor commissioner.

Big Mike chose well.

Gail Alexander Bishop of Operating Engineers Local 3 walked easily through both union halls and into the cherrywood offices of the rich and powerful. His calling card was the integrity of an honest man. People trusted him with good reason. (I still hold onto a few Gail Bishop political war stories which will be published when the time is right.)

Gail and Velma were distinguished by all the helping hands they held out to so many others for so many years. When Gail died in 1994, his 45th year of marriage, I of course attended his memorial service. I was dumbfounded by the steady stream of people who told stories about how this bright and funny man had enriched their lives — stuff that I never knew and that he would never brag about.

That's how Mr. Bishop lived. People asked me why I said nothing when the time came for personal remembrances. How could I say that this overly loquacious Italian had been rendered speechless? Like members of the family, I was surprised at all the complete strangers or people we barely knew who stood up to recount how Gail and Velma had helped them.

I couldn't think of anything to add. Gail's quiet good works were so expansive that it turned out I barely knew him.

Gail and Velma were the perfect match both in their personal lives and public service. Mom volunteered to help special needs children, raised funds for charitable organizations and was very involved with her church. Her kindness knew no limits.

Until about six months ago, she regularly participated in the activities of the Gail Bishop Chapter of the Nevada Alliance for Retired Americans. The late great Tribune columnist Orland T. Outland and I moved the resolution naming the organization when it was formed shortly after Gail Bishop's death. Gail had been president of its predecessor and also served on the Nevada Commission on Aging. The 20 Feb. 1994 Barbwire about him in .pdf format will be linked to the web edition of this column at Photos, too.

A couple of years back, Nevada historian and good-guy Republican Neal Cobb gave me a copy of something I had forgotten, a 104-page booklet entitled Cooking the Democratic Way: An eclectic personal stew of personal favorites collected by the Democratic Party of Washoe County.

Union-printed and published in 1978, it contains several hundred Donkeyite recipes from the likes of Eleanor Roosevelt to Carolyn O'Callaghan. For me, it's filled with sweet memories of old friends.

It also reminded me of better times in our public life, when there was room for serious discussion by serious people who might have often disagreed. It also recalled a time when local and national Democrats knew how to kick butt when necessary.

Velma Bishop's passing is another marker on the highway toward the devolution of our democracy from all you need is love to all you need is anger.

We will remember our spiritual Mom with love at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 4, at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints at 2050 Robb Drive, across from McQueen High in northwest Reno.

REID RAGE. "I can't stomach Angle but I hate Reid, so I don't know how I'm going to vote." So said a Republican union man I encountered a few weeks ago. I asked him what he's got against Sen. Reid.

"What's he done for us?"

Unlike political junkies like me who can immediately recall somebody's resumé, most people don't have an answer.

I ran into a flaming liberal Democratic woman who asked the same question. I checked off a quick list of Reid's greatest hits, starting with his securing the rights to 90 percent of the waters of the Truckee River for Nevada about 20 years ago.

"So what's he done for us lately?" Aaargh.

It's been slowly dawning on me that Senator Harry's real problem is that he doesn't look like a two-dimensional TV football jock. Remember the Bible story about why Saul was named king of Israel by acclamation: "Saul stood head and shoulders above any other man." (Old Testament, Samuel, Book One.)

Tribalism persists in our politics.

That's why we elected Gov. Jim the Dim over Sen. Dina Titus. He looked like a square-jawed governor and she looked and talked like the former Georgia girl she was at 97 pounds soaking wet. How's that working out so far?

GOP senate nomintea Sharron Angle is as cute, cuddly and perky as Katie Couric, as telegenic as Sarah the Vague and makes Jim the Dim look like an intellectual equestrian gold medalist.

In 1998, Sen. Reid rightly noted that Nevada was home to hundreds of thousands of new residents who didn't know him. He needs to reintroduce himself and his compelling life story all over again, something he has thus far failed to do.

Velma Bishop might agree.

Click here to read Velma's official obituary and kind words from friends.

Memories from friends will be added to this page as they arrive.

SEND REMEMBRANCES. Send remembrances of Velma and Gail to <>. They will be posted in perpetuity with this column at

Awhile back, a cyberguru mused that once something's up on the Internet, it's there forever. In the day and age of ghoulish, onerous and egregious pay-for-publication-or-it's-not-news-that-you-died newspaper obituaries, that's good enough for me. For info about my campaign against paid obits, see

UPDATE SINCE THE SUNDAY EDITION. Frank William Byrne, Sr., (IBEW Local 401/AFL-CIO), former executive secretary-treasurer of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Northern Nevada/AFL-CIO, passed away on Sept. 18. A memorial service is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Oct. 16 at O'Brien, Rogers and Crosby on Kietzke Lane in Reno. (Click here to read Frank's obituary and memories from friends. And send more.)

ANOTHER DISS FOR MISS. WEST. The Al Jazeera satellite network (perhaps the closest thing the retro nations of the Islamic remoteness have to news uncensored by their dictators), considers Nevada and Florida (aargh!) as microcosms of U.S. politics for this election season. A crew made appointments in Reno-Sparks and never showed up last week. Perhaps they got all they thought they needed in Gomorrah South, or perhaps not. The major statewide elections will be decided on the Reno-Sparks-Washoe-Carson-Douglas strip this year. Anyone who catches their report, if they did one, please send it on.

NEW AT NEVADALABOR.COM. Teamsters Local 533 donates $34,782.70 to the Ace vocational charter high school. UP NEXT: A Sparks, Nev., Reed High School student outcompetes the west coast to win a Teamsters regional scholarship...UP TWO: Teamsters 533 members' rock 'n' roll band Roadkill, made up of Washoe RTC drivers, will soon be featured in International Brotherhood of Teamsters publications...Laborers' International Union Local 169 opens its new $2 million training center in the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center...HAT TRICK — Barbwire wins third straight Nevada Press Assn. first place award which, with five bucks, will score you a cup of coffee just about anywhere.

TO THE SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS: Nothing short of a World Series rematch with the New York Yankees will do. Willie McCovey (like me) is getting way too old waiting to avenge Bobby Richardson's catch in 1962.

COMING SOON: The new season of Barbwire TV just in time for an election near you. No stone will be left unturned (along with a few heads), some stones will be rolling (along with a few heads) while voters rock 'n roll to the polls. Support the cause at

Be well. Raise hell.


Andrew Barbano is a 41-year Nevadan, chair of the Nevada César Chávez Committee, producer of Nevada's annual César Chávez Day celebration, second vice-president and political action chair of the Reno-Sparks NAACP, labor/consumer/civil rights advocate, member of Communications Workers of America Local 9413/AFL-CIO and editor of As always, his opinions are strictly his own. Check local listings for other Nevada cable systems. E-mail Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks Tribune since 1988.

Smoking Guns...

Nevada Press Assn. annual award winners announced on Sept. 18, 2010.
HAT TRICK: Barbwire takes first place for third year in a row.
Next year, we go for the sombrero.

The winning entries:

Suing for Schools: The 20-year shuck
Expanded from the 2-21-2010 Daily Sparks Tribune

Click here to view the show on your desktop

RED flags flying low over Sparks
Expanded from the 1-10-2010 Daily Sparks Tribune

The wrath of self-righteous racism
Expanded from the 11-8-2009 Daily Sparks Tribune

The campaign against forcibly-paid newspaper obituaries
And they wonder why the newspaper business is dying?


The Dean's List

   The Dean of Reno Bloggers could very well be Andrew Barbano, self-described "fighter of public demons," who started putting his "Barbwire" columns online in 1996 and now runs 10 sites.
RENO NEWS & REVIEW, 11-9-2006

The 2009 first-place Nevada Press Association award winners
Tony the Tiger & the flaky NFL
Barbwire / 11-30-2008
Deregulation is never having to say you're sorry
Barbwire / 8-3-2008
Nevada: A good place to visit, but do you want to live here?
Barbwire / 6-15-2008

...and more ammo

Barbwire Corporate Welfare Archive

From clear-cut forests to dirty Gulfstream waters, this land belongs to old BP

BP/ARCO: The greasy root of our evils

Barbwire / Daily Sparks Tribune 9-10-2006

The awful truth — Read it and weep, fellow suckers

Labor Day 2009: Rise of the Vampire Corpobots
Expanded from the 9-6-2009 Daily Sparks Tribune

Angry Americans and Freudian fraud
Using war to market cigarettes
from the 8-23-2009 Daily Sparks Tribune

BARBWIRE Nevada Corporate Welfare Archive

Propaganda fuels gasoline price fixing
Barbwire 8-14-2005

Donate to the cable ratepayer legal defense fund at our PayPal-enabled ReSurge.TV Consumer War Room

Phillips, Kevin; Numbers Racket: Why the economy is worse than we know

Harper's Magazine; May 2008; page 43
Phillips has authored numerous books on history and politics over the past 40 years. His most recent, Bad Money: Reckless Finance, Failed Politics and the Global Crisis of American Capitalism, was published by Viking on April 15, 2008.

NAOMI WOLF: Fascist America in 10 Easy Steps
There are some things common to every state that's made the transition to fascism. Author Naomi Wolf argues that all of them are present in America today.
Alternet 5-20-2007

Johnson, Chalmers; REPUBLIC OR EMPIRE? A National Intelligence Estimate on the United States; Harper's magazine; January, 2007. I love it when heavy hitters validate what I've been saying for years in the tiny Sparks Tribune.

Barlett, Donald L. and Steele, James B.; America: What Went Wrong? (1992); America: Who Really Pays the Taxes? (1994); America: Who Stole the Dream? (1996) ; Andrews & McMeel/Universal Press Syndicate.

Review of Alex Carey's Taking the Risk Out of Democracy:
Propaganda in the US and Australia

The Orwell Diversion by Alex Carey
Excerpted from the book available below

ORDER Taking the Risk Out of Democracy
Corporate Propaganda versus Freedom and Liberty
By Alex Carey
Edited by Andrew Lohrey
Foreword by Noam Chomsky
University of Illinois Press

     SEE ALSO: Lapham, Lewis H.; Tentacles of Rage: The Republican Propaganda Mill, A Brief History; Harper's Magazine cover article; September, 2004, page 32.

     By one conservative estimate, the corporate right has spent about $3 billion over the past three decades manufacturing public opinion to suit big business goals. Lapham's number covered the early 1970's to the present day. Alex Carey noted that by 1948, anti- New Deal corporate propaganda expenditures had already reached $100 million per year, not adjusted for inflation, for advertising alone. (Carey, ibid; page 79)

     Adjusted for inflation, that 1948 $100 million becomes $801,659,751.04 in 2005 dollars.

Conservatives Help Wal-Mart, and Vice Versa
As Wal-Mart struggles to rebut growing criticism, it has discovered a reliable ally: conservative research groups.
New York Times 9-8-2006; Free registration may be required.

      BARBWIRE: Labor Day '94: People vs. corporate con job, 9-4-94
Chilling forecasts from Alex Carey

      BARBWIRE: The Nevada Republican Party Becomes Communist, 3-30-97
A prescient Plato on the dangers of oligarchy

The sands of time do not cloud the long memories of the sheiks of Araby
Barbwire 9-10-2006

      Rinfret, Pierre A.; Peace is Bullish; Look magazine, 5-31-1966 | U-News | Bulletins + Almanac
Casinos Out of Politics (COP) | Sen. Joe Neal
Guinn Watch | Deciding Factors
| BallotBoxing.US | Barbwire Oilogopoly Archive
Barbwire Nevada Corporate Welfare Archive
Annual César Chávez Celebration
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Copyright © 1982-2010 Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 41-year Nevadan, editor of and; and former chair of the City of Reno's Citizens Cable Compliance Committee, He is producer of Nevada's annual César Chávez Day celebration and serves as second vice-president, political action chair and webmaster of the Reno-Sparks NAACP. As always, his opinions are strictly his own. E-mail

Barbwire by Barbano premiered in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune on Aug. 12, 1988, and has originated in those parts ever since. Tempus fugit.

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