Laureate of the High Desert Outback of the American Dream
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High Holly Days
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
Everybody knows the scene is dead
But there's gonna be a meter on your bed
That will disclose
What everybody knows...
Everybody talking to their pockets.
Everybody wants a box of chocolates
and a long red rose. That's how it goes.
council allows anybody with a pulse to plumb and wire:
we didn't even get kissed afterward
The circular legal logic of a circular firing
Barbwire by Barbano / Monday 12-14-2015 Sparks City Council Meeting Special
Online Report / UPDATED 12-22-2015 and 1-12-2016
is not personal, it's business" Sparks Mayor Geno Martini
so Hizzoner admonished the standing-room-only crowd in the city council chambers
as the hearing began. He apparently forgot that his words came from the script
of The Godfather, a euphemism for cold-blooded mob assassination. As
my sainted mother used to exclaim, Madonna du Carmela!
Reno Gazette-Journal didn't even do us the courtesy of sending their
new Sparks reporter who could use a bit more experience in Rail City
skullduggery. KRNV TV-4 sent a cameraman to get background video and
aired a 20-second voiceover at 11:00 p.m. [UPDATE:
The RGJ's 12-22 "Sparks" page had nothing.]
As we heard weeks ago, the fix
was in early. The current council appears to have fallen into the
pattern of the John Ascuaga's Nugget-controlled councils of
1975-83 where decisions were illegally made in secret and all public
votes were unanimous, as was every one last Monday. To keep things
looking rosy at city hall, the councillors of old did their deliberating
in private illegal, but effective until the "reform"
anti-Joe Conforte council of '75 itself got reformed by the
voters eight years later.
Like Alexander Dumas' Corsican
Brothers, today's corporate minions can read each other without
ever meeting and sometimes without speaking. Perhaps a psychic got
the vote count exactly right early on.
In three hours of testimony, the
non-questioning council listened impassively, then called their staff
back to repeat what staff said earlier. Of about 40 who turned in
forms to testify, I estimate the count at about 34 against to 6 in
favor. [UPDATE: Not a bad guesstimate.
The city clerk's tally was 39 opposed to 6 in favor.]
After allowing people to let off
steam, the councilcritters openly rationalized themselves into thinking
this was a good idea, that it would exempt the city from liability
because this antiquated ordinance had so many flaws that the republic
would fall and the angel of death would take first-borns if they didn't
strike it from the face of the earth.
It thus became necessary to
burn down the city in order to save it.
The vote was 4-0 to repeal the
standards with the newest councilmember, Charlene Bybee, abstaining
due to a conflict of interest with the Associated Builders and
Contractors, the non-union organization which happens to favor
keeping licensing requirements. Julia Ratti reinforced her
reputation as a marshmallow regrettably once endorsed by organized
As Justice Clarence Thomas
might say, it was Kafkaesque. Their self-delusion is little short
Assemblymember Ira Hansen.
R-Sparks, brought in a last-minute Legislative Counsel Bureau opinion
that the vote would constitute an illegal repeal of rules under Nevada
Revised Statutes (NRS) 237. He recommended they postpone for further
study, as he did on Nov. 23 when he advised them to wait and see what
Reno does. City staff torpedoed Ira's research at the end to make
the council feel warm and comfy.
Their annual comprehensive financial
report was presented and the presenter didn't even offer a brief overview
for us peons or the great unwashed watching in TV land. Sparks is
in serious financial trouble because of the Marina
corporate welfare project
they discussed none of it. Everything's rosy.
THE SORTA BRIGHT SIDE: If labor didn't
put up a fight over this, it would be open season on unions (more
than usual) for the foreseeable future. We put up a helluva fight.
And it's never over.
We did get lip service that the city
might call workshops to come up with new regulations. Believe it when
you see it. Representing the Reno-Sparks
NAACP (as I did on Dec. 14, noting that we passed a
resolution in opposition to repeal last week), I successfully
lobbied the Sparks council NINE FREAKIN' YEARS AGO to establish a
diversity commission. Never happened despite continual prodding.
Reno will probably get new standards.
City staff, still suffering from the Cashell-induced Republican
hangover, has recommended weak new standards for plumbers and electricians
which require NO high school diploma or GED, exactly
the position of the Builders Association of Northern Nevada. It
will never fly at council, but the staff doesn't care. That's how
they think and who they are. City manager Andrew Clinger was
an apparatchik of Gov. Veto El Obtúsè. Odds-on
betting is that a city staffer surreptitiously removed the standards
from a 300+ page garden-variety building code revision in 2013.
Julia Ratti is the only Democrat
on the Sparks council but proved as weak as her reputation. I witnessed
a group-think dynamic in play all Monday afternoon. Everybody backslaps
everybody and Sparks City Hall seems to house one big happy pro-business
family. Ratti, Schmitt, Smith and hizzoner are
all lame ducks. With the three council seats up next year, our work
is cut out for us.
A BIZZARRO KAFKAESQUE CLOSE: Gloria
Lou Alanko testified about
the disastrous new home she bought in 2005 from the developer behind
all this, AJ Witt of Silverwing. (How's that for the ultimate
Awhile later, I followed her to the
microphone and reiterated what I had printed in my column. With the
construction defect law neutered, today she would have no recourse
to threaten legal action. She would be in a no-way-out box if unqualified
workers screwed up construction as they did in 2006. Somehow twisting
my words against me just before the vote, City Attorney Chester
Adams said he agreed with me and that's why he advised repeal
of the qualification and licensing standards.
Franz Kafka, call your office.
Labor leaders have said several times
that Sparks residents blithely go to the Marina and think all is wonderful.
They won't see reality until things start to collapse. (I've started
that with my revelations about the toxic
turf at Golden Eagle Park which seems expensively epidemic throughout
Sparks City Hall press releases consistently
assert that city inspectors ensure construction to the highest international
standards. (We can't even buy kid-safe Astroturf. so who needs certified
electricians and plumbers?) In the columns I've written
since Nov. 17, I have reiterated how lack of enforcement over
many years opens the city to liability. So the council wiped out their
authority while still guaranteeing code compliance. So unqualified
workers may be depended upon to perform work at the highest level
and nothing will ever go wrong. Right?
If it does, a smart lawyer will have
one helluvan argument: The city removed qualification standards and
yet certified the work as world class. But it wasn't. So the city
is liable for damages.
They don't care. They want Silverwing
to do the cheapest possible construction, flailing at a failing and
dying downtown. And so we continue our work for labor rights
and public safety.
Be well. Raise hell. / Esté
bien. Haga infierno. (Pardon my Spanglish.)
questions and lead-headed leaders
Barbwire by Barbano / Expanded from the Tuesday 1-19-2016 Sparks Tribune
councilman voted despite conflict of interest
Barbwire by Barbano / Expanded from the Tuesday 1-12-2016 Sparks Tribune /
fair name befouled in fallow fields of North Vegas
reasoning followed by circular logic leads to Sparks City Council forming
circular firing squad
Barbwire by Barbano / Expanded from the Tuesday 12-22-2015 Sparks Tribune
been Nevada's best-funded, most successful school system for over 100 years?
Stacy guest column / Reno Gazette-Journal 1-3-2016
View Opinion: Certification of Plumbing and Electrical Workers Needed
The Reno and Sparks City
Councils are being swayed by builders and contractors to abolish requirements
that workers who install plumbing and electrical systems in residences
be certified. This approach insures that builders and contractors
have cheap labor, leaves that labor pool formally unskilled, and puts
home buyers at risk of shoddy workmanship in what is most families
In this important issue where certification of construction workers
is being viewed by local government as largely concerning contractors
and labor, a local non-profit called ACTIONN (Acting in Community
Together in Organizing Northern Nevada) is working to bring a public
voice. The group, made up from 43 local faith and other community
groups, had representatives at several of the workshops and hearings
in Reno and Sparks, to help present the public interest.
From concerns of its members, ACTIONN developed standards for developments
in Northern Nevada. These standards are requiring apprenticeship and
training programs providing pathways to living wages; requiring businesses
to pay a living wage; requiring developers to hire local and to buy
materials locally, where possible.
Sparks City Council recently voted to remove its entire
ordinance requiring certifications for all construction. Reno
conducted several workshops and has a draft ordinance to come before
the City Council in January 2016.
Renos draft ordinance would exempt residential construction
projects of 3 floors or less of frame construction from certification
requirements, as long as the contractor maintains a working ratio
of one certified journeyman or licensed plumber to six subordinate
employees, and one journeyman or licensed electrician to six subordinate
The argument for abolishing the certifications is that it makes available
a supply of cheap labor and provides entry level construction work
for those who cannot meet the requirements of being able to read English
or do not have a high school diploma or its equivalent. Economic development
requires a skilled, not a cheap, workforce to draw new investment.
There are non-profits that provide English as a Second Language classes
at little or no cost, and there are non-profits like Northern Nevada
Literacy Council that offer individualized programs and classes to
working persons to help them get their high school equivalency at
no cost to the worker. Requirements for certification provide motivation
toward a more qualified work force.
Lack of certification exposes home buyers to the danger of shoddy
workmanship. There are no statistics on defective residential construction
nationwide, or even in any one state. The figure has been estimated
to be three to five percent of new construction, according to Dr.
Ruth Martin, author of Crumbling Dreams. Testimony at one hearing
indicated that northern Nevada is not free from construction defects.
In states like Nevada where the Legislature recently pulled the teeth
of construction defect legislation, the home buyer has virtually no
protection if the builder/contractor does not honor any warranty that
comes with the home. City inspectors are few and lack the time and
expertise to truly inspect each home before they issue a certificate
of occupancy. The City has immunity, and an overwhelmed contractor
can walk away, file bankruptcy, or get a license under a new company
name, to avoid financial responsibility.
Ruth Stacy, MA, is a volunteer leader with ACTIONN and a legal researcher/writer
retired from the State of Nevada.
of Gloria "Lou" Alanko before the council on 12-14-2016
My name is Lou Alanko,
and Im here to talk about certifying plumbers and electricians.
After reading statements by J. Carter Witt, owner of Silverwing Development,
I decided to speak out.
I own a Silverwing house, and I have to disagree when he says that
certification would cost his company massive losses because
he could lose experienced workers
I say Hogwash!
If he had had more of those
experienced workers building my house, I probably wouldnt be
Shortly after my Silverwing house closed on July 29, 2005, I requested
a second walk-thru because of issues discovered after moving in, over
30 items on the list. In December, I submitted a Warranty Service
Request for the outstanding items. It took Mr. Witts experienced
workers almost 14 months to complete the work.
On 7/18/2006, I paid ($300)* for a home inspection on my new
house. I figured if theres so much wrong that I can see, I wonder
if theres more that I cant see.
On 7/29, I submitted a Warranty Service Request to repair six items
from the report, including safety issues. Eight months later,
the work was finally completed, work I would have never known about
if it wasnt for the home inspection report.
In the meantime, there were other problems a roof leak
in the attic, frozen drain lines, and a broken pipe leading to the
I dont mean to single out Mr. Witt, but he seems to be spearheading
the campaign to get Sparks to remove the certification requirement
for electricians and plumbers and to stop Reno from reinstating it.
When developers like Mr. Witt say certification will cost his company
massive losses, we should realize the ones who will suffer massive
losses are homeowners who get stuck with expensive repair bills down
Im requesting that you not only require certification of plumbers
and electricians, but that you also enforce that requirement.
Not enforcing the requirement in the past is no excuse for removing
the requirement now.
I repeat: Not enforcing the requirement in the past is no excuse
for removing the requirement now.
As we move into a new era of growth in Sparks and Reno, developers
may be tempted to cut corners.
One area they shouldnt
cut is public safety.
Please do the right thing
and certify your plumbers and electricians.
* added orally during her testimony
following bulletin was widely distributed before the council meeting
the day that Sparks City Hall will decide whether or not to drink
the toxic Kool-Aid of anti-education and low wages mixed with a twist
of bigotry. They vote today to remove licensing qualifications for
electricians and plumbers.
Builders Association pointman Don Tatro
has said worker education is unnecessary, "just show up on time"
(TV-4, Dec. 11 2015) and "28 percent of workers have no diploma,"
adding that state and federal law are enough. (Barbwire,
He must be new on the job. Nevada is
the only western state without a licensing law and the feds don't
license local construction workers.
A contractor told the council last month
that his "whites and Mexicans don't read." (Barbwire,
NAACP last week voted to oppose the removal
of licensing requirements for electricians and plumbers which comes
before the Sparks council at 2:00 p.m. today.
councilmember Ed Lawson played a trumpish card yesterday by asking
a Sparks voter "shouldn't we ask for a citizenship verification?"
I hope he will support hiring trained workers to build a wall around
the city with a moat, since he seems to be a big fan of red
Lawson added that "we don't license
these contractor's (sic), so how do we have the ability to red tag
the labor? We inspect the work that has been done, not the people
doing it. I think this is a State issue."
He likewise ignores that there is no
state licensing law for electricians and plumbers.
Fight back! Call the council at (775)
353-2311 or e-mail.
Show up at Sparks City Hall this afternoon
at 2:00 p.m. if you can. Proceedings will be broadcast via Charter
Cable 191 and AT&T U-Verse Channel 99.
Complete smoking gun details at http://NevadaLabor.net/
Be well. Raise hell.
didn't even kiss us afterward
Sparks unanimously allows unlicensed plumbers & electricians
Contact Mayor Martini, City Manager Driscoll and
5 voting councilmembers
capture and import the above into your e-mail windowand show up
if you can.
Proceedings will be broadcast via Charter Cable 191 and AT&T U-Verse
your Sparks councilcritters at (775) 353-2311.
Find ward maps and e-mail addresses at http://cityofsparks.us/city-services/mayorcouncil-and-manager/
diminish the value of technical education
WARNING: Sparks City Council votes Dec. 14 to allow unlicensed plumbers
Guest editorial from Stan Jones and Andrew Barbano
Reno Gazette-Journal online 12-10-2015 / Print edition
to radio campaign rallying Sparks workers & citizens
the voices of Jim McClain, Donna Lewis and Andrew Barbano
NAACP unanimously opposes removal of licensing standards
the NAACP has always supported the need for an educated workforce,
AND WHEREAS the City of Sparks
is proposing to remove licensing qualification requirements
for plumbers and electricians,
BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED that
the Reno-Sparks NAACP opposes passage of Sparks City Council
Agenda Item No. 10.2 on its 14 December 2015 agenda, which would
remove all such licensing qualification standards.
Passed unanimously at the 12-10-2015 Reno-Sparks
NAACP general membership meeting
deeds done dirt cheapagain and again
by Barbano / Expanded from the Tuesday 12-8-2015 Sparks Tribune
and training: Dirty deeds done dirt cheap
education with a twist of bigotry and racism before the Sparks City
by Barbano / Expanded from the Tuesday 12-1-2015 Sparks Tribune / Updated
artificial turf, don't breathe unless necessary
turf all over town
Barbwire by Barbano / Expanded from the Tuesday 11-24-2015 Sparks Tribune
apprentices work cheap in Nevada
minimum-wage plumbers and electricians building your house?
Barbwire by Barbano / Expanded from the Tuesday 11-17-2015 Sparks Tribune
100 Years of Union Apprenticeship Training: Still the Best
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