Pirate Laureate of the High Desert Outback of the American Dream
The Barbwire Molly Ivins Memorial Columniator Hall of Flames


Site map
SITE NAVIGATION TIPS: When all else fails, read the instructions (A favorite John Hanks aphorism I've been using for decades)

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

Get ahead of corporate-influenced news—>Subscribe to Barbwire Confidential

Photo: Debra Reid, Sparks Tribune

   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...
   Everybody talking to their pockets.
Everybody wants a box of chocolates
   and a long red rose.
   Everybody knows. Everybody knows.
That's how it goes.
Everybody knows.

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

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

The Veep and the Bus Boy
Fire hazards and ego trips
Barbwire by Andrew Quarantino Barbáno
Expanded from the Sparks Tribune 4-19-2023 / Expansions in blue

Greatest Hits Dept.


Barbwire nominee Dennis Myers elected to NPA Hall of Fame

Support Don Dondero
and Jake Highton
and David Toll and
Foster Church and
Norman Cardoza
Send endorsements

Barbwire wins 11th Nevada Press Association award

GOLD 2017-18

2018 First-Place Winners

From the depths of despair to the den of iniquity & holy of holies

"Excellent work. These are some of the most moving columns I've read."
— NPA contest judge/9-29-201

The Grasshopper and
the Dragonfly


Kicked off the Ledge

Back to the Future in
Mississippi West Nevada


Gold 2017
Don't ask Renown Med for marijuana to help your chemo

We Don't Need No Education
Toxic turf threat ignored

Kate Smith & Lady Gaga

Bronze 6-pack
In the Uber-Nevada legislature, words can kill
On artificial turf, don't breathe unless absolutely necessary (above)
Leading questions, lead-headed leaders

Hopelessly trying to win an earthquake
2013 Loony Tunes Legislative Lexicon
The politics of media ga-ga boosterism

More statewide and national award winners

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

1997 Pulitzer Prize entries

15-year overnight success

Daily Sparks Tribune 2-10-2008

The Barbwire's Greatest Hits
BEATING LUSH RAMBO AT HIS OWN GAME: Highlights from radio days
mp3 file

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

Tomorrow's news today —> Subscribe to Barbwire Confidential


If the Secret Service has come for me by the time you read this, please write me in jail.

I tried to warn Vice-President Kamala Harris' retinue that if the secret location of her Tuesday speech was the UNR Student Union's fourth-floor theater, she would be walking into a fire trap. That theater is unsafe. (Barbwire 12-12-2013)

The site was never disclosed because of "security concerns."

The Reno Gazette-Journal added that Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve would be joining her. [[ UPDATE: As did actress Rosario Dawson ("Men in Black II"; "César Chávez") ]]

A City of Reno press release made me worry more.

Schieve along with former Nevada governor and current UNR President Brian Sandoval on Monday announced a half-hour "business roundtable discussion" at 9:00 a.m. Tuesday in the rotunda room at the UNR Library (aka the "knowledge center," whatever the hell that means).

Which is right next door to the Crowley Student Union.

The Nevada (lithium) Battery Coalition, Mayor Schieve and Sandoval were slated to welcome Dilawar Syed, U.S. State Department.Special Representative for Commercial and Business Affairs.

It appeared an attempt to piggyback on the VP's event. The library rotunda is too small for the vice-president, media and the invitation-only crowd recruited by her staff.

It's a sad day when the vice-president of the United States has to hide from the public because of the ever-present threat from moonhowlers.

At least she's requiring proof of negative COVID-19 tests from anyone attending, which is more than I can say for just about anywhere in this town save a few medical facilities.

[[ UPDATE: Her speech was held at the nearby Nightingale Concert Hall. About 500 attended, none wearing masks. ]]

CHILLING PROSPECT. If anything should happen to President Biden and VP Harris, House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Mar-A-Loco, becomes president of the United States.

BILLY THE BUS BOY BUSTED. Veteran journalist Peggy Santoro was recently named Reno Gazette-Journal executive editor and has made it a much better publication.

Over the past week, the RGJ published a scathing series about the Washoe County Regional Transportation Commission and Executive Director Bill Thomas. Begun under former Executive Editor Brian Duggan in 2021, it's damning. (Gee, maybe they did read all the union stuff I sent them.) Reporter Jason Hidalgo's investigation demonstrates cronyism, favoritism, conflict of interest, low morale, blackballing and multiple executive resignations.

The RGJ devoted more than half of last Sunday's front section to the exposé (five and a half pages), following another front page story last Friday.

Reno Councilmember Jenny Brekhus comes off like Princess Cassandra, the legendary seer of Troy who warned her family not to let that huge wooden horse thru the gate. Like the doomed city, RTC commissioners hired the only executive director candidate with zero transportation experience.

Last year, current RTC chair and Sparks Mayor Ed Lawson said “We need to blow the thing up and build a better system."

Now is the time to start the process in order to avoid a repeat of 2021's Hat Trick Strikes.

Conspicuous by its absence was any mention of the bus system's unsafe worker and passenger conditions, all created by hiring for-profit corporations to manage the system. Why? Plausible deniability so elected officials and guys like Thomas could say they have nothing to do with anything that goes wrong.

The current bus system was created in 1982 when the region was served by a creaky predecessor called Nevada Transit. The only efficient part of it was Elderport, a senior/disabled shuttle started and managed by legendary community activists Dorothy Pharis and Patricia Fladager.

Nevada Transit boss Jerry Hall saw an opportunity. Promising to "save Elderport," he got a sales tax increase placed on the November 1982 ballot. As with the more recent sales tax hike to build and maintain schools, voters were given no alternatives.

Hall folded Elderport and ousted Fladager and Pharis immediately after voters reluctantly imposed a new regressive tax on themselves. He shunted the funds to his new empire.

By the end of the decade, mismanagement led to a union organizing drive spearheaded by driver Lou Martino. Workers voted for Teamsters Local 533 which has represented drivers and support staff ever since. In the 1990s, the late Martino was elected the union's secretary-treasurer and principal officer.

The Regional Transportation Commission consists of one Sparks and two Reno councilcritters along with two Washoe County Commissioners. Somewhere along the line, they chose to subcontract transit system management to for-profit subcontractors. Big mistake.

Practically, that meant handing some outfit more than $400,000 a year to send three — count 'em — three whole executives to Sparks-Reno. Until 2021, there had been only one transit strike, under Martino in 2002.

Then came French government-owned Keolis Transit. Because of the toxic management style of Mr. Thomas combined with Keolis ignoring COVID-19 safety, the union went on strike three times in 2021, winning all three, a labor Hat Trick.

The union contract expires on June 30, 2024. Keolis has cost the transit system hundreds of thousands in damages due to chronic abuse of workers. After RTC gave him a raise last year, Mr. Thomas currently makes more than $350,000 a year.

Now is the time to unwind the wasteful subcontracting and bring management back home. How wasteful? A few years ago, RTC found that a position in its budget totally duplicated one at the transit contractor. Did they eliminate the job description to better use taxpayer money elsewhere?

Hell no.

They created a new job out of whole cloth so that they could preserve that line item.

Until Mayor Lawson's explosive comments, the only RTC commissioner to call for an end to subcontracting was the late Sparks Councilmember John Mayer.

Alas and alack, Keolis will be in charge until at least 2026.

In August of 2022, Bill Thomas and Ed Lawson supported allowing Keolis to exercise its first option to renew for 3 years under its 2019 10-year contract (3 years followed by 2 years, then another 2 years) starting July 1, 2023; approved by RTC commissioners.

Performance is periodically reviewed, so hope springs eternal.

The Reno Gazette-Journal series will be linked to the Barbwire expanded edition at along with the complete history of RTC's adversarial relationship with its workers.


CLINGING TO THE LEDGE. Teamsters legislative days happen late next week. Details at

TWEET OF THE WEEK from Donald J. Trump: "I recorded this special message just for YOU. I'm committed now more than ever. Are you? Please watch & donate."


Should I send flowers to New York's Bellevue Hospital? Or the Nevada Mental Health Institute?

I can dream, can't I?

Stay safe, get vaxxed and pray for children afflicted by U.S. gun and environmental disasters, as well as those of Ukraine, Sudan and more than five dozen other war-torn lands.

¡ se puede!

Be well. Raise hell.
/ Esté bien. Haga infierno. (Pardon my Spanglish.)
être bien, élever l'enfer (Pardon my French.) Stammi bene. Scatenare l'inferno. (And Italian.)
Andrew Quarantino Barbano is a 54-year Nevadan and editor of,,, BallotBoxing.US,,,, and among others. He is a longtime member of the Reno-Sparks NAACP and Sparks-based Communications Workers of America Local 9413/AFL-CIO. As always, his comments are entirely his own. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Sparks Tribune since 1988.

Web Xtras & Smoking Guns—>

Why the science is clear that masks work
By Zeynep Tufecki / The New York Times / 3-10-2023

For all the news you never knew you needed to know 'til now, subscribe to BARBWIRE CONFIDENTIAL—>Cheap. (HushHush!) Hie thee to BallotBoxing.US/

Peruse the Underbelly of the News —> Subscribe to Barbwire Confidential

For all the news you never knew you needed to know 'til now: Tell your friends and friendly enemies to subscribe to Barbwire Confidential for warm laughter, cheap thrills, hot scoops and occasional cold logic at BallotBoxing.US/ Cheap at twice the price. (Hush Hush!)

Barbwire dark foreshadowings unfortunately have a way of becoming reality. I thus suggest inoculation by signing onto the HushHush! list at BallotBoxing.US/ It's cheap as well as enlightening entertainment. Thank you kindly for your support.

$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

SITE NAVIGATION TIPS: When all else fails, read the instructions (A favorite John Hanks aphorism I've been using for decades) | 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
The Barbwire Molly Ivins Memorial Columniator Hall of Flames
Annual César Chávez Celebration
War Rooms:
Banks, Cabbies, Cabela's/cabellyup, Cable TV, Cancer Kids/Mining, Energy, Food, Health Care, Resurge.TV/consumers, Starbucks, Wal-Mart
We Don't Need No Education
In Search Of...


Copyright © 1982-2023 Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 54-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 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

Get ahead of corporate-influenced news—>Subscribe to Barbwire Confidential

Site composed and maintained by Deciding Factors, CWA 9413 signatory

Comments and suggestions appreciated. Sign up for news and bulletins