Pirate Laureate of the High Desert Outback of the American Dream


Barbwire Silver Anniversary 1988-2013 —>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

Hilton puts a contract out on Reno
Barbwire by Barbano / Expanded from the 1-14-1997 Daily Sparks Tribune

Also published in The Reno News & Review January 14, 1997.

The thug who committed rape, armed robbery and attempted murder at the Reno Hilton last August pled guilty on all counts January 7. In macabre irony, Hilton got rid of all its experienced security officers on January 13.

Only the skeleton of a once-proud force remained to terminate. Under previous ownership, northern Nevada's largest hotel-casino employed more than 140 guards as recently as 1989. In recent years, they were down to around 60. Hilton broke its media blackout only to assure the public that guest safety was still foremost on the corporate mind.

The facts, however, speak for themselves. Profit stands foremost. The hotel made about $20,000,000 last year, but that's apparently not enough to retain experienced security staffers, some of whom started when MGM opened the property in 1978.

Won't the free market force Hilton to maintain good security? No. The free market can be easily manipulated by megacorporations with tax-deductible budgets for propaganda campaigns and political contributions.

Hilton's minions juiced the Tailhook Bill through the 1995 legislative session, making it next to impossible to successfully sue a hotel-casino for breaches in security. Nevada gaming properties now have little legal liability for the safety of their guests and workers. They can, however, continue to advertise how much they care through pious public pronouncements from PR people who know negative publicity goes away in a day. Who remembers the more than 1,000 people who suffered food poisoning last May because Hilton's personnel policies pushed employees to work while sick?

The downsizing of any job ripples through a community, multiplying itself at least tenfold, according to a recent model developed by a Las Vegas college professor. By its own estimate, Hilton stands to save $562,000 by hiring contract security guards from a doorshaker service at $7.50 an hour. Hilton has even established a policy of putting other workers on part time and advising them to apply for partial unemployment benefits from the taxpayers.

Simultaneous with throwing its workers onto public assistance, Hilton wants a $262,427.60 property tax break from Washoe County. Its grounds: not enough profit.

One silver lining surrounds this corporate black cloud. About two-thirds of the fired employees are represented by a union. When United Plant Guard Workers of America Local 1010 wins its court actions, the downsized guards will enjoy the last laugh all the way to the bank.

But the most important results will come from citizens angry at corporate arrogance. The state of Washington already has a law mandating early warning of corporate downsizings. The security guards union wants to take it several steps further.

Because much of the problem lies in preferential government treatment for big business, the union plans to introduce legislation ordering socio-economic impact reports and public hearings whenever a major downsizing is in the works. The proposal calls for a full exploration of alternatives with penalties for profit gouging. The statewide Progressive Leadership Alliance presented the concept last week at a western regional conference in Oregon, and will support the idea when the Nevada legislature opens next week.

This program should even gain support from local chambers of commerce which actively recruit new businesses but can make only anemic efforts to keep them once they're here.

In his recent bestseller "Downsize This!", Emmy-winning producer Michael Moore endorsed measures with enforcement teeth: "To those of you free-marketers who disagree with these modest suggestions (and say) 'You can't tell a business how it can operate!' - I say: Oh, yes, we can! We legally require companies to build safe products, to ensure safe workplaces, to pay employees a minimum wage, to contribute to their Social Security, and to follow a host of other rules that we, as a society, have deemed necessary for our well-being...Just keep firing more workers, my friends, and see what happens," Moore wrote.

Help make it happen here. Tell your representatives you support a Workers Bill of Rights for powerless Nevada employees. When you've got nothing, you've got nothing to lose.

Be well. Raise hell.


Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a member of CWA Local 9413. He is a 30-year Nevadan, editor of U-News and head of Casinos Out of Politics (COP).
In 1998 he served as gubernatorial campaign manager for State Senator Joe Neal, D-North Las Vegas.
Since 1988 Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks, Nev., Tribune.
This site originally created and maintained by The NevadaWeb

SITE NAVIGATION TIPS: When all else fails, read the instructions | 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/cabellyup, Cable TV, Cancer Kids/Mining, Energy, Food, Health Care, Resurge.TV/consumers, Starbucks, Wal-Mart
We Don't Need No Education
Search this site | In Search Of...


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.

Site composed and maintained by Deciding Factors, CWA 9413 signatory

Comments and suggestions appreciated. Sign up for news and bulletins