Pirate Laureate of the High Desert Outback of the American Dream


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The Barbwire's Silver Anniversary—>Now we go for gold
Barbwire by Barbano moved to Nevada's Daily Sparks Tribune on Aug. 12, 1988, and has originated in them parts ever since.
Whom to blame: How a hall-of-famer's hunch birthed the Barbwire in August of 1987
Tempus fugit.

   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.

Everybody knows the scene is dead
   But there's gonna be a meter on your bed
That will disclose
   What everybody knows.

— Leonard Cohen

Mayday! Taxes smolder while citizens do slow burn
Barbwire by Barbano / Expanded from the 5-1-2014 Sparks Tribune
Updated 5-5 and 5-8-2014

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


Support Dondero next

We Don't Need No Education—> Neverending Barbwire Series


Watch for show times. Help us get the word out.

Support the project at

Updated 8-30-2011
Reruns on Carson-Dayton 226

Additional programs
on Boulder City cable. Go to and then
go to the BCTV link.

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 as well as ongoing efforts at developing new media, including a regional, non-corporate community radio station and the return of community television to Reno-Sparks-Washoe.

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 selected on-demand re-runs from the 2009, 2010 and 2011 Barbwire.TV archives

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


Support Dondero next

Thursday is May Day, both celebration and distress signal.

It's also Labor Day everywhere save the U.S., home of the most repressive labor laws among westernized industrial nations. (Just ask the Northwestern University football team.)

So a cheap celebration is in order.

You can participate in socially relevant street theater for the price of a bus ride or a bottle of beer.

Which is all Renoites can afford with the city facing bankruptcy trying to pay for the site of the gathering.

The party starts at 5:30 p.m. near the Reno Arch on the Union Pacific Corporate Welfare Memorial Railroad Trench Plaza.

You remember the trench — that guaranteed savior of downtown.

Plant your feet on the boondoggle that has the city's debt spiraling toward a billion dollars while streets can't get fixed and schools fall apart. (And the Black Tower still wants to give the Reno Aceholes baseball billionaires an extra million tax dollars a year.)

The Industrial Workers of the World, aka The Wobblies, are sponsoring the May Day soirée.

IWW organizer Paul Alan Lenart put out a list of grievances. Among them: "Giant fast food chains paying less than a living wage, then lying that most of their employees are just teenagers...Ownership of most of the earth's resources by an investor class that rapes the planet, exploits workers and blocks sensible environmental planning...Gold mining destroying Comstock communities...Big Oil destroying land and water, then greenwashing their image with lies...Giant banks getting practically zero-interest money from the Federal Reserve, then buying into the usurious short term loan market."

A giant Wall Street bank, Goldman Sachs, has local taxpayers by the short-and-curlies, graciously postponing payment on a huge part of Reno's trench debt.

Can we just deed over City Hall and call it even?

Taxes will also provide May Day bloodsport a couple blocks away at Circus Circus where the member organizations of the Nevada State AFL-CIO will draw and quarter the teachers' union business gross profits tax initiative and endorse candidates.

Complicating matters, the closest thing to a convention party happens the same time as the death-defyin' speechifyin' at the Trench.

Never fear.

True politicos can be two places at once (see below).

I expect good turnout at both events because nobody at Circus Circus is buying the drinks. (Is a hospitality room with a no-host bar really a hospitality room?)

The teachers' business tax will likewise dominate the Washoe Democratic Party's convention on Saturday at Wooster High.

The November ballot question will face less of a dogfight among the Donkeykongs.

A resolution to oppose the school support initiative will be introduced at the AFL-CIO confab.

Politicians can easily attend all three events, even the simultaneous pair.


By employing the classic acrobatic strategy once espoused by a British member of Parliament: Simply straddle the fence while keeping an ear to the ground.

Aw, hell. Who needs teachers, cops and firefighters anyway?

Let's party.

Be well. Raise hell. / Esté bien. Haga infierno. (Pardon my Spanglish.)


HONOR YOUR DON. Campaign season is upon us. I'm working to elect legendary Nevada photographer Don Dondero (1920-2003) for the Nevada Press Association Hall of Fame.

His life's work appeared worldwide, including the Tribune and most probably every newspaper in Nevada.

Enlist in the campaign to install Big Don.

Please send me your memories and endorsements via e-mail or to P.O. Box 10034, Reno NV 89510.

The Barbwire got the late Reno Gazette-Journal columnist Guy Richardson elected in 2012.

Help me double down

TOO LEGIT TO QUIT. The Barbwire's ongoing investigation of phony Nevada graduation rates, now in its third year, just got respectable. (Scroll down to Hiding in Plain Sight.) Read it and weep, then review the series for yourself.

TOAST ALERT. Teachers' union tax petition supporters and opponents would do well to review the Barbwire of Feb. 28, 2013.

Passage of the tax initiative could easily lead to a successful court challenge that would at the same time blow out not only the revenue hike, but also term limits and the state's worst anti-union laws. Something for everybody. [UPDATE]

ANTE INTO THE GAME: Support the new season of Barbwire.TV by putting your money where my mouth is.

PayPal monthly subscription software is now operational at the website.

A thousand thanks to those who already responded and keep sending show suggestions. Current frontrunners include (pardon the pun) wild mustangs as canned goods, education and  i-Guns with César Chávez in Nevada recently surging.

Now come queries about ballot questions. The Jan. 30 column brought a surge of inquiries about the Nevada State Education Association corporate tax petition on this November's ballot.

Stay tuned.

"Media is the plural of mediocre."
                              — Jimmy Breslin

  Please forward additional ideas or vote on the above.

  I encourage you to donate to the cause at Barbwire.TV/

The medium that shapes public opinion needs at least one refuge where it is not filtered through the distorted green eye shades of prissy corporate accountants for whom profit is the only priority; where self-censorship is the journalist's normal work environment and where all sins of omission are tacitly encouraged and forgiven with the wave of a balance sheet.

This is important.

We've got work to do..

Be well. Raise hell. / Esté bien. Haga infierno. (Pardon my Spanglish.)



Andrew Barbano is a 45-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 and and 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 Sparks Tribune since 1988.

Smoking Guns...

Nevada State AFL-CIO conventioners join anti-education initiative business coalition
Steve Sebelius / Las Vegas Review-Journal 5-2-2014

BREAKING NEWS: State illegally uses tax money vs. teacher tax vote
By Dennis Myers / Reno News & Review / 3-13-2014

We Don't Need No Education
The continuing Barbwire series


TRANSITION: All Nevada labor mourns the passing of longtime Nevada Assn. of Letter Carriers leader Joe Assalone. Watch for memorial service details. His namesake scholarship campaign annually awards thousands.

Committal Service
Monday, May 19, 2014
11:20 a.m. — 12:00 Noon
Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery
1900 Veterans Memorial Highway
Boulder City, NV 89005

UPDATE: 5-7-2014 —> From Letter Carriers Branch 720 President Glenn Norton:

The services for retired NALC State President Joe Assalone will be held on Monday, May 19 at 9:30 a.m. at St Francis of Assisi, 2300 Sunridge Heights Parkway, Henderson NV 89052.

Interment to follow immediately at Veteran's Memorial Cemetery at 11:20 am.

No obituary of any sort has appeared anywhere save on this website. All info will be appreciated. Only one memory and no obituary have been posted on Palm Eastern Mortuary's Assalone page as yet. I have requested one via that website, but they have neither responded nor posted my remembrance. That's OK. The dead have limitless time. Here is my Facebook memo about my friend and brother Joe.

Posted to I've placed an item in the April 24 Sparks Tribune about Joe's passing. Please send me an obituary and photo for

I posted the following on Facebook on Sunday, April 20:

There are two ways to tell if someone is your friend. First, if he/she always tells you the truth. Second, if that person is willing to run against the prevailing winds on your behalf, no matter the cost.

Such a man was my friend Joe Assalone. When I was the Democratic nominee for Congress against Barbara Vucanovich and the Laxalt machine in 1984, Joe was one of my strongest advocates. It was the year of re-coronation of King Ronald the Vague and Democrats had no chance, so why support them?

Joe took my case all the way to the top of NALC in DC, several times. He wouldn't let go in the face of the word "no."

He finally had to inform me that the national leadership assumed I couldn't win and even though Mrs. Vucanovich had always voted against the interests of NALC, the national union was going to send her money anyway.

I think of that irony and my friend Joe every time I check my box at Reno's main p.o., re-named for Barbara by her successor, Jim the Dim, and a place I am proud to have picketed on many occasions with my NALC/APWU brothers and sisters.

I don't re-fight old battles or old battle axes. Mrs. Vucanovich and I had a pleasant conversation not long before her recent death. May she rest in peace.

I hope that Barbara and Joe find a way to have a conversation. That old man will never stop organizing.

Requiescat in pace.

Be well. Raise hell. / Este bien. Haga infierno.

In Solidarity Forever,

Andrew Barbano

ps to Joe: I mailed back my raffle tickets and a check for your scholarship program earlier this month, so there's no need to call, although I wish you would.


Hello Andrew.

I was sorry to learn of the passing of brother Assalone but appreciate the story you related about his fight against his own union over donating money to a member of Congress that never supported the National Association of Letter Carriers or other unions. I recall a story he told me about how the U.S. Postal Service could simplify their bulk mail service and entice more businesses to utilize it but the U.S.P.S. wasn't interested in hearing about it. It's still so complicated that many businesses pay fees to mailing houses to deal with the U.S.P.S. bulk mail rules.

I no longer have one of Joe's business cards but I seem to recall that he included the saying (roughly quoted): I shall pass this way but once. Any good that I can do or kindness that I can show, let me do it now, for I shall not pass this way again.*

Joe did his share and will be remembered by many that he met along the way of life.

In solidarity,


Dan Rusnak is the retired Business Manager of Laborers' Union Local 169.

* Here's the full quote from the back of one of Joe's business cards: "I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good, therefore, that I can do or any kindness that I show to my fellow creatures, let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again."

...and more ammo..

Nevada Day Required Reading
The Lady in the Red Dress
The Barbwire's classic Nevada Day column written in 1983
The compleat history of the Silver State in 500 words

Sparks Tribune 10-31-2013 and previously

Barbano on the Barbwire plots new TV season
Barbwire Special Web Edition / 10-21-2013

Barbwire: Nevada not really a state
No, we were not Battle Born in Kenya
Top 10 reasons Nevada lives in the 19th Century

Barbwire by Barbano / Expanded from the 10-17-2013 Sparks Tribune

Low-income penalty: Nevada socks it to the working poor
BARBANO: Nevada is one big company town
Dennis Myers / Reno News & Review 10-10-2013

State of Health
National health care comes up against a very sick state. WHAT'S IN IT FOR US?
Dennis Myers / Reno News & Review 10-10-2013

USA at crossroads: New Deal or new Confederacy?
Barbwire by Barbano / Expanded from the 10-10-2013 Sparks Tribune
UPDATE—>Bill Moyers: Shutdown is simply secession by other means

...and more ammo yet

The Post-Dated Recession: Pay me now or pay me later
Barbwire by Barbano / Expanded from the 9-6-2012 Daily Sparks Tribune

The Post-dated Recession
By Joshua H. Silavent / Daily Sparks Tribune / 5-3-2011

Union decline and rising inequality in two charts
by Colin Gordon
Economic Policy Institute / 6-5-2012

Used in
journalist Mark Robison's extensive Hard Labor: Nevada unions tout role in helping workers, firms, economy (Sunday 2 Sept. 2012 Reno Gazette-Journal, page one, Reno Rebirth section of the print edition). Union men Jim Burrell, Paul McKenzie and Guy Louis Rocha did the movement proud. Not included in the RGJ online edition.

The Barbwire Labor Day column
Reno Gazette-Journal / 9-3-2012

Nevada Press Assn. Better Newspaper Contest
HAT TRICK: Barbwire takes first place three years in a row.

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

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Copyright © 1982-2014 Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 45-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 moved to Nevada's Daily Sparks Tribune on Aug. 12, 1988, and has originated in them parts ever since.
Whom to blame: How a hall-of-famer's hunch birthed the Barbwire in August of 1987
Tempus fugit.

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