Sierra Pacific Powerful
No matter whether they call it Reddi Kilowatt, Nevada Power or NV Energy,* it's just bright new branding for the same old monopoly rape and pillage — the public knows it and the latest poll proves it
Time for another initiative petition after 21 years?
Barbwire by Barbano / Expanded from the 1-16-2011 Daily Sparks Tribune

Updated 1-17-2011, 2-1-2011, 2-5-2011, 2-13-2011, 3-6-2011, 7-31-2011, 4-28-2015

   Everybody knows the dice are loaded.
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed.
   Everybody knows the war is over.
Everybody knows the good guys lost.
   Everybody knows the fight was fixed.
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich.
   That's how it goes. Everybody knows.
— Leonard Cohen

HAT TRICK: Barbwire wins 3rd straight Nevada Press Association First-Place Award


The new season of Barbwire TV. The first show will be about (what else?) jobs. The lack of them is well documented. How we've blown them and where they can be regenerated, that's something else. I guarantee you'll get mad enough to want to get even. Watch for show times. Help us get the word out.

Support the project at


If Reform Fails: Health Care, Jobs and Unions — new power to the people on the public airwaves

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.


Click here for on-demand re-runs
from the 2009 legislative session

15-year overnight success

Daily Sparks Tribune 2-10-2008

The Barbwire's Greatest Hits
Highlights from radio days
mp3 file

HAT TRICK: Barbwire wins 3rd straight Nevada Press Association First-Place Award

We coulda been contenders.

In 1980, future Sen. Randolph Townsend, my wife Betty and I trooped to Winnemucca and Elko to convince local governments to buy the CP National utility system.

Sierra Pacific Power campaigned the old fashioned way — hosting steak fries and schmoozing the hicks into endorsing SPP acquisition.


The cow county brahmins wouldn't even listen when eminent economist Dr. David Schwartz convincingly presented the case for hooking into the public power grid.

Large swaths of rural Nevada have long enjoyed cheap power through the Rural Electrification Administration, a relic of that communist Obama's pinko predecessor, Franklin Roosevelt.

At a county commission meeting, in the presence of onetime Elko girl and future Sparks utility crusader Rosalie Beasley, then-Elko County Commissioner and future GOP Assemblymember John Carpenter called me a socialist.

Zounds. (John turned into a pretty good lawmaker in later years and we've enjoyed some laughs over it since. He even wisely opposed privatization of the Elko County hospital a few years back.)

The SPP barbecues worked and today Elko, along with the rest of the Silver State, suffers the highest residential utility rates in the mountain west. We face another huge increase now before the Public Utilities Commission and more on the way.

In the throes of the Enron price fixing debacle a decade ago, Sen. Joe Neal, D-N. Las Vegas, pushed for public takeover of Gomorrah South's Nevada Power. An advisory question on the November 2002 ballot showed 58 percent in favor.

Southern Nevada Water Authority directors voted to offer $3.2 billion earlier that year.

Sen. Townsend, who became a Republican after a 1985 conversion in the Oval Office of St. Ronald the Vague, damned Sen. Neal with faint praise.

Townsend asserted that SPP/NP had acted heroically to keep the lights on while being raped by Enron's criminal price manipulation. SPP/NP ineptitude cost Nevadans hundreds of millions, but Mr. Townsend said his comments defending the dupes and dunces had nothing to do with Sen. Neal's proposal to expedite a public acquisition.

Sen. Neal asked PUC to rule on offer to buy utility

Morgan Stanley backed public takeover, warned of rate hikes

It never happened. Predatory Sierra Pacific gobbled up its larger southern counterpart and morphed into NV Energy.

In 2009, the monopolists reported record profits of $182.9 million and scored an additional $134 million in federal stimulus money while cutting jobs, closing all but one customer service office statewide, hiring out-of-state workers, screwing over employees and breaking decades of commitments to retirees.

Compounding the confounding, Public Utilities Commission Chairman Sam Thompson just resigned. Insiders say he was a rarity — a pretty fair guy on a body stocked by the last two Republican governors with people like them.

Gov. Dudley Do-Right hisself was a former utility CEO. New Gov. Brian Raggio Sandoval has conflicts of interest up the kazoo and remained on the payroll of Sen. Bill Raggio's lobbying and law firm until he was sworn in. The juice outfit's clients include NV Energy.

Billy Brawl: Raggio Resigns
Barbwire 1-9-2011
Courtesy of Hugh Jackson's Las Vegas Gleaner

No wonder that the most recent of ongoing consumer surveys portrays one very pissed-off electorate.

Last month, IBEW Local 1245/AFL-CIO, which has represented the utility's workers since the Truman administration, conducted a poll of 1,000 likely voters.

It found 82 percent supporting a plan to form a "citizen utility board" to represent ratepayers before the PUC. Just 10 percent opposed.

The Nevada consumer advocate's office has been watered down since Randolph, my wife and I lobbied it into existence in 1981 after qualifying a statewide initiative the previous year.

The small staff has been burdened with non-utility duties in addition to going up against a stacked PUC.

At minimum, Attorney General Catherine Cortez-Masto needs to ramp up her vaunted PR machine to better inform and involve the public which apparently doesn't know that the consumer advocate exists.

The learned lady already has enough trouble with labor. Many union leaders view her as merely the latest in a long line of AG's failing to enforce labor laws. That rubs especially raw in a state where few can remember the last time we had a labor commissioner who actually worked for the interests of workers rather than employers.

Mrs. Cortez-Masto has a golden opportunity in an upcoming hearing. Last year, IBEW 1245 asked the commission to investigate dangerous understaffing statewide.

Surprisingly, the PUC agreed in December. The consumer advocate should intervene on behalf of ratepayers.

Staffing and reliability are national problems. On Jan. 14, National Public Radio reported that the U.S. lags far behind most industrialized countries with respect to maintaining and upgrading our power grid.

As a result, "on any given day, there are about half a million of our citizens without electricity for two or more hours per day.

"This is in contrast to, for example, Japan, that in Japan...customers experience four minutes of outage per customer, per year," an expert told NPR.

The IBEW survey also found strong support for requiring shareholder approval of top executive pay and creation of a public utility agency for electricity and gas services similar to northern and southern water providers.

Somewhere, Joe Neal is laughing.

Poll respondents supported stockholder salary approval by 63 percent with 21 opposed. Creation of a publicly owned utility was supported by 54 percent, 18 opposed.

I wonder how Elko feels these days.

Déjà vu all over again: The union is reviewing bringing these issues before the voters via petition.

The Barbwire has an exclusive copy of the poll findings and more analysis posted with the web edition of this column at ----->

Union spokesman Eric Wolfe may be contacted at 415-564-4410. I could not reach current consumer advocate Eric Witkowski for comment. Mrs. Cortez-Masto's communications specialist is Erin Bilbray.

Like the mythological Sisyphus, looks like we have to roll the rock back up the hill all over again.

Stay tuned.

REMEMBERING MY DAUGHTERS. On Jan. 16, 1959, two babies were born. They became sisters in both life and death.

Debra Joyce Donlevy (Carson High '77) was born to my future wife in Enid, Okla. Donna Leslie Cline was probably born in Phoenix, Ariz., where the young women met in 1978 and decided to drive to the Nevada capital that March.

They never made it. A rollover accident near Gabbs seriously injured both. Debbie died enroute to Reno after a quack doctor who had been run out of Canada failed to treat her at Hawthorne's Mt. Grant Hospital.

Donna was left a paraplegic. She became a news anchor first in Arizona, then in Las Vegas at KVBC (now KSNV TV-3) where she won the Miss Wheelchair Nevada and Miss Wheelchair America competitions. She helped launch a national disability cable network and lived her few remaining years in Texas, where she earned the prestigious Barbara Jordan Award. Donna died in 1999.

In 2006, former Sparks Tribune reporter Steve Timko was part of a Reno Gazette-Journal team that exposed the inadequacy of rural Nevada emergency medical care. The killer series hit me hard. It showed that after three decades, nothing much had changed.

You travel at your own risk in the High Desert Outback of the American Dream. If you get sick or injured, support remains dangerously weak.

Donna is buried in Texas. Debbie lies beside her mom in Carson City.

While breath abides in my body, I will keep telling the story of my girls whose lives were cut in twain by Mother Nevada's harshness.

They would now be 52 and probably grandmothers.

Alas and alack, what might have been.

Longtime local public media producer Laurice Johnson hosts a benefit for Vietnam vet and author Rick Macauley, a UNR journalism graduate. It starts at 6:00 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 22, at the VFW Hall, 255 Burris at Baker Lane behind Reno's Moana Pool. Details: 707-815-4146.

César Chávez Celebration IX is right around the corner and this year, it happens while the legislature is in session. César Chávez would have been 84 on Thursday, March 31, 2011. We will celebrate the great union man and his message at Circus Circus-Reno that evening. Watch for news and updates.

Support the return of community radio and television to Sparks-Reno-Washoe. See Barbwire.TV for more information, to join the club and contribute via the web. It's important.

MLK DAY: If you can make it, join the annual Martin Luther King, Jr., Highway Caravan on Monday morning, Jan. 17. Details at [UPDATE: Unions participate in strong numbers]

Be well. Raise hell.

Andrew Barbano is a 42-year Nevadan, chair of the Nevada César Chávez Committee, producer of Nevada's annual César Chávez Day celebration, first 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.

* Company filings before the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada are often titled "Sierra Pacific Power Company d/b/a NV Energy and Nevada Power Company d/b/a NV Energy." [FYI --> d/b/a is short-hand for "doing business as".]

Smoking Guns

Nevada Press Assn. annual award winners announced 9-18-2010.
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

Bill Moyers: Welcome to the Plutocracy
Money fights hard and it fights dirty
Speech delivered at Boston University on 29 Oct. 2010
Part of the Howard Zinn Lecture Series

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
War Rooms:
Banks, Cabbies, Cabela's, Cable TV, Cancer Kids/Mining, Energy, Food, Health Care, Resurge.TV/consumers, Starbucks, Wal-Mart
Search this site | In Search Of...


Copyright © 1982-2011 Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 42-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 first 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.

Site composed and maintained by Deciding Factors, CWA 9413 signatory

Comments and suggestions appreciated. Sign up for news and bulletins