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Je Suis Charlie
"Our republic and its press will rise or fall together." — Joseph Pulitzer

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An Alternative National Anthem
By Leonard Cohen (1934-2016) & Sharon Robinson
© 1988 CBS Records, Inc.

   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 that the boat is leaking.
Everybody knows that the captain lied.
   Everybody got this broken feeling
Like their father or their dog just died.
   Everybody talking to their pockets.
Everybody wants a box of chocolates
   And a long stem rose.
Everybody knows.

   Everybody knows that you love me, baby.
Everybody knows you really do.
   Everybody knows that you've been faithful,
Give or take a time or two.
   Everybody knows you've been discreet
But there were so many people you just had to meet
   Without your clothes.
Everybody knows.

   Everybody knows that it's now or never.
Everybody knows that it's me or you.
   And everybody knows that you live forever
When you've done a line or two.
   Everybody knows the deal is rotten
Old Black Joe's still pickin' cotton
   For your ribbons and bows
And everybody knows.

   Everybody knows that the plague is coming.
Everybody knows that it's moving fast.
   Everybody knows that the naked man & woman —
Just a shining artifact of the past.
   Everybody knows the scene is dead
But there's gonna be a meter on your bed
   That will disclose
What everybody knows.

   And everybody knows that you're in trouble.
Everybody knows what you've been through
   From the bloody cross on top of Calvary
To the beach at Malibu.
   Everybody knows it's coming apart.
Take one last look at this Sacred Heart
   Before it blows.
And everybody knows.

Everybody knows. Everybody knows.
   That's how it goes. Everybody knows.


I hope you understand I just had to go back to the island.
Leon Russell, 1942-2016

"The most painful state of being is remembering the future, particularly the one you'll never have." Kierkegaard


2021 Nevada Press Association Award Winner

The Piano Players at the Cat House
Barbwire by Andrew Barbáno / Expanded from the Wednesday 3-10-2021 Sparks Tribune / Expansions in blue

Plausible deniability is best described as the piano player at the Long Branch Cat House Saloon who swears he didn't know what was going on upstairs.

Prepare for plenty of caterwauling from that wasteful, wishful, sinful Coronavirus superspreader, the RTC Ride transit system.

For more than 25 years, I have been a lonely critic decrying the corrupt structure of the Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County. Five elected officials sit on the top level. They attend meetings and press conferences.

Tier two, their staff, is headed by former Reno Assistant City Manager Bill Thomas. A duplicative third level, a foreign-owned, for-profit overseer, actually hires employees and gets paid handsomely to manage, and mostly mis-manage, the transit system.

Whenever any controversy arises, each level passes the buck to another. Nothing is never anyone's fault. The current situation is the worst since the outfit was established in 1982. It can sicken and kill people and has done so.

The current multi-national management outfit has illegally refused to implement COVID-19 safety measures.

Keolis Transit of Paris, France, is now the broken rudder on a rudderless ship. Their local manager, Abul Hassan, just departed under a cloud. Keolis told Editor Bob Conrad that Mr. Hassan "is under investigation but would not say why."

RTC got $26.2 million in federal relief funds, most of which has yet to be publicly accounted for despite Teamsters Union demands.

Last week. Teamsters Local 533 President Gary Watson sent an information demand to Keolis "regarding...a contractual breach of our Collective Bargaining Agreement regarding Keolis Transit's use of temporary employees being utilized in the performance of bargaining unit work."

Translation: You're hiring rats to circumvent and bust the union. Under the union contract, any temps who work past 90 days become permanent employees retroactive to day one, meaning they get union pay and benefits. It hasn't been happening with some janitorial personnel who are now (oxymoron alert) permanent temps.

They work for an obscure limited liability company named Pulse Consulting run by one Masooma Ali — aka Mrs. Abul Hassan. One big happy family, eh wot?

Were Keolis and/or RTC aware of these shenanigans to keep workers underpaid and poor? I hear that Pulse has pursued the same shell game elsewhere.

They have even advertised for Reno drivers. Would you feel comfy knowing that your kid or grandma rides a maskless bus driven by a temp?

As the late Trib columnist Travus T. Hipp might ask, "who's doing what, with which and to whom?"

After finally forcing system bosses to adhere to safety standards, the best that can result from all this would be that the current Nevada Legislative session changes the Washoe and Gomorrah South transit system structures.

Reno Councilmember Jenny Brekhus says "It is long overdue for RTC Washoe transit drivers to be system employees, (not of) a profit-making contract operator. Service is failing and the public deserves accountability."

Former Sparks Councilmember John Mayer advocated just that years ago when he sat on the board, alas and alack, to no avail.

I have simpler tastes. I wanna know what happened to that $26 million.

Let your representatives know you are sick and tired of being sick and tired.

The current RTC Chair is Reno Councilmember Neoma Jardon (R), who serves with her colleague and COVID-19 survivor Oscar Delgado, D. Commissioners Vaughn Hartung (R) and Bob Lucey (R) represent Washoe County and Sparks Mayor Ed Lawson (R) acts for the Rail CIty.

E-mail addresses may be accessed via the expanded web edition of this column at

GETTING JABBED, PART DEUX. Retired Laborers' Union Local 169 Business Manager Dan Rusnak sent this last week:

"Had my second COVID-19 vaccine shot Tuesday morning. Quite a different response than to the first one. My left arm hurt after both injections. The second shot caused it to hurt more. When I went to bed I had chills. We put an extra blanket on the bed and I wore my bathrobe for extra warmth and thick socks on my feet as they were quite cold. Even with that I had trouble sleeping with chills and sore arm. The next morning I felt wiped out and watched TV rather than trying to look at the computer. By afternoon I was feeling better.

"The vaccine was Moderna. From what I have read, similar responses have been reported with Pfizer. Apparently, it is a result of the immune system working with a greater effort to block the coronavirus mimicked by the vaccine.

"If you haven't had the second shot, I suggest when you know what day you will get it, don't make plans for the following day that will require physical or mental effort. Just kick back."

Dan Rusnak is one of the wisest people I have ever known and his advice should be heeded. I'm scheduled for Moderna2 in a couple of weeks. My only reaction to the first shot was extreme lethargy. If you have fragile friends or relatives, I suggest not leaving them alone for the first 24 hours after jabbing.

Other Barbwire readers report various versions of the above and worse (crushing headaches, nausea, vomiting). It's still better than a gruesome death, so go get jabbed and suffer, baby, suffer.

Just avoid taking the bus to get your injection if at all possible.

¡Sí se puede!

Stay positive. Test negative. Take care of each other.

Be well. Raise hell. Esté bien. Haga infierno. (Pardon my Spanglish.)
être bien, élever l'enfer (And my French.)
Stammi bene. Scatenare l'inferno. (And Italian.)

Andrew Barbano is a 52-year Nevadan and editor of,, BallotBoxing.US,, and among others. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Sparks Tribune since 1988. E-mail <>

Superspreading for pun and prophet
Barbwire by Andrew Barbáno / Expanded from the Wednesday 3-3-2021 Sparks Tribune / Updated 3-4 and 3-6-2021 GMT / Expansions in blue

"Listen and understand. That Terminator is out there. It can't be bargained with, it can't be reasoned with, it doesn't feel pity or remorse or fear.
And it absolutely will not stop — ever — until you are dead!" —
Actor Michael Biehn in the classic sci-fi drama "The Terminator" (Released appropriately in 1984)

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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

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Maybe Arnold Schwarzenegger's Terminator 'bot actually foreshadowed a pumped up Coronavirus.

Speaking of bad actors, the superspreading Washoe County mass transit system is in dysfunctional turmoil. Abul Hassan, local boss of the operating subcontractor, has been terminated.

Last week, editor Bob Conrad reported that Hassan's employer, France-based multinational Keolis Transit, said Mr. Hassan "is under investigation but would not say why."

Drivers that I know are breaking out the confetti and getting ready to dance in the streets (courteously, safely and socially distanced, of course).

The way Mr. Hassan handled his job, the Teamsters Union saw only two possibilities months ago: He would either learn how to deal with organized labor, or he’d get fired.

Because of his adversarial attitude with workers who dared to complain about inadequate safety precautions, Mr. Hassan racked up perhaps a million dollars in legal fees. It remains to be seen how much of that will be born by taxpayers.

Teamsters Local 533 has filed over 70 actions with various agencies as well as a 2020 federal court case all because RTC and Keolis keep endangering drivers and passengers. More than two dozen (and probably more — RTC witholds info) operators have been sickened, at least two admitted to intensive care. It's even worse in Gomorrah South where two union drivers, both black ladies, are now in their graves. Grandmother Dorothy Frazier was 59, Ja'mesha McGuire was 28. (See

Union-busting Keolis attorneys have monkey-wrenched the court process to a point that justice delayed has truly been justice — not to mention safety — denied.

I've been beating up the current bus system since it was established on a lie in 1982 when boss Jerry Hall convinced voters to raise the local sales tax to save the volunteer-started and very popular Elderport senior citizen transit system. Immediately after it passed, Hall folded Elderport and skimmed the money to establish the current very necessary but very mismanaged behemoth.

Nevada transit systems are engineered to have three levels of management responsibility so that nothing is ever anybody's fault.

Several weeks ago, Sen. Dina Neal, D-N. Las Vegas, set up a statewide conference call between north and south transportation managers and their unions.

When asked about non-enforcement of federal and state mask and safety directives, Mark Maloney, Washoe RTC Director of Public Transportation, deflected the question by stating "that's Keolis, not us."

The workers have found pretty much the same mentality at all levels of government. Whether local (including law enforcement), state or federal, safety lapses are always somebody else's job.

The most Kafkaesque approach comes from the combined federal/state Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which informed the Teamsters that it only has jurisdiction over drivers, not passengers, and only when buses are not rolling. Once on the road (stop me if you've heard this one)'s not their department.

At least they responded. Most entities just ignore.

RTC spends tons of taxpayer money paying for puff advertising about its wonderfulness, touting almost 99.9 percent safety compliance. In reality, any driver who insists that a passenger wear a mask can be fired for such chutzpah. Unquestioning stenographic media keep repeating propaganda penciled by RTC's PR department.

KTVN TV-2 aired a hysterically erroneous story a few weeks ago and has yet to correct its falsehoods.

The all-time takeaway came last year when a driver refused to board a guy not wearing pants but could have been fired if he ordered the same dude to don a mask. (Maybe the current Nevada Legislature can pass a law legally defining masks as pants, thus solving RTC management's COVID conundrum.)

In that conference call, Sen. Neal asked about how the systems were using federal money earmarked for safety. Las Vegas RTC's responses were detailed although their system gets about a D+ given what drivers report from the streets. RTC just flamingly flunks.

Mr. Maloney responded that the north got $25 million with just $5 million related to service levels. Sen. Neal pressed him about "how much on bus (safety) retrofits, specifically?"

Maloney said he did not know but that Keolis took it "to profit and expenses."

Trying to get an accounting has been akin to pulling a chicken's teeth.

"The RTC has spent all of the $20.8 million CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act) grant received," RTC Executive Office Administrator
and Board Clerk Denise Thompson informed me.

"In addition, the RTC received a Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Act (CRRSA) grant of $5.4 million which will also be spent on RIDE, ACCESS and FlexRide contractor operating expenses for approximately January 2021 through March 2021 service," she stated.

Reno Councilmember Jenny Brekhus, who does not sit on the RTC board, tweeted "It is long overdue for RTC Washoe transit drivers to be system employees, (not of) a profit-making contract operator. Service is failing and the public deserves accountability."

Years ago, former Sparks Councilmember John Mayer was a lonely voice on the RTC board advocating exactly what Brekhus just suggested. He got no support.

"Accountability starts with the RTC director of operations," Teamsters President Gary Watson responded.

"What did Keolis and MTM Transit spend the $26.8 million CARES Act money on? One contractor received over $332,000 while the other got $7,000."

What's a measly $26.4 million between friends, Gary? (Missouri-based MTM manages RTC Access, formerly CitiLift, and RTC Flex for seniors and the physically challenged, respectively. The main transit system, formerly CitiFare, is now called RTC Ride.)

SMOKING GUN DEPT. Anyone who sees a crowded bus with maskless passengers, send me photos.

INSURANCE CON WARNING. Posing as Nevada insurers wanting to upgrade homeowner appliance warranties, robocallers have been scamming local senior citizens. Beware when they ask for bank account info. Anyone victimized, please call me and we'll go after their state licenses if they bothered to get one.

¡Sí se puede!

Stay positive. Test negative. Take care of each other.

Be well. Raise hell. Esté bien. Haga infierno. (Pardon my Spanglish.)
être bien, élever l'enfer (And my French.)
Stammi bene. Scatenare l'inferno. (And Italian.)

Andrew Barbano is a 52-year Nevadan and editor of,, BallotBoxing.US,, and among others. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Sparks Tribune since 1988. E-mail <>


Barnum, Reagan, Rambo, Gingrich & the Czar
Barbwire by Andrew Barbáno / Expanded from the Wednesday 2-24-2021 Sparks Tribune

Murderous MAGA moonhowlers meander among us
Would you vote for somebody who put out a contract for your murder?
Barbwire by Andrew Barbáno
/ Expanded from the Wednesday 2-17-2021 Sparks Tribune


A hard rain falls on the land of the giants
Barbwire by Andrew Barbáno / Expanded from the Wednesday 2-10-2021 Sparks Tribune

Maskerape: Get COVID-19 & vax on one bus ride
Barbwire by Andrew Barbáno / Expanded from the Wednesday 2-3-2021 Sparks Tribune

Capitol punishment and bus station blues
Barbwire by Andrew Barbáno / Expanded from the Wednesday 1-20-2021 Sparks Tribune

Bus drivers lay to rest one of their own, call on RTC to enforce COVID-19 protections
By Astrid Mendez / KTNV TV-13 (ABC-Las Vegas) 1-22-202

Funeral for 2nd Nevada bus driver felled by COVID-19

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Smoking Guns—>


$75 dead or alive: Still crazy after all these years
A mass murderer becomes famous on TV a century later

How come nobody noticed 'til now?
Barbwire by Andrew Barbáno
/ Expanded from the 2-21-2018 Sparks Tribune

Triangle Shirtwaist Factory owners Max Blank and Isaac Harris. Is not Mr. Harris eerily familiar to television junkies?

From the Emmy-winning opening slate of the blockbuster "Cheers" television series. Combined with its "Frasier" spinoff, it lasted 20 years.
The "shirtwaist kings" immigrated from Russia and made a fortune manufacturing "Gibson Girl"-style blouses. (Photo, "The American Experience"/PBS)
The Emmy-winning opening slate of the "Cheers" television series before the "slate" of creators is superimposed. Looks like Mr. Harris' dead ringer (at left) is having a bloody good time.

"Who ya gonna believe, me or your own eyes?" Chico Marx disguised as Groucho Marx in "Duck Soup" (1933)
Back to the story of the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist holocaust

Triangle tragedy recalled as requiem
"The Fire in My Mouth," a new oratorio by Pulitzer honoree Julia Wolfe, premiered with the New York Philharmonic Jan. 24

By Michael Cooper / The New York Times 1-23-2019

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Copyright © 1982-2021 Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 52-year Nevadan, editor of and; and former chair of the City of Reno's Citizens Cable Compliance Committee. He is the executive producer of Nevada's annual César Chávez Day celebration and a longtime member, officer and political action chair 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.

Betty J. Barbano
2-7-1941 / 12-27-2005

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