I'm surrounded -- I got 'em just where I want 'em


Expanded from the 7-9-00 Sparks (Nev.) Tribune

The greatest philosopher I ever met used to run a dress shop in Sparks. John Hanks, Sr., is an old WWII aviator, retired crop duster, aircraft constructor and freelance driver of the great iron bird. He once worked as a master wrench on Bill Harrah's hydroplane racing team. Back in the 70s, John and I shot TV commercials and auto races all over the west coast, winning our share of awards in the process.

My friend John has a great sense of humor. When making presentations to women's clubs on behalf of his northern Nevada Pauline's Sportswear franchises, he would stand, square up his leather Eisenhower flight jacket and say "good afternoon ladies. I'm Pauline."

When you spend as much time on the road as John and I did, you learn a lot about each other. I discovered that, in addition to his many other talents, John was the world's greatest philosopher:

"The only thing worse than warm beer is no beer" -- words which I have often put to good use.

"When all else fails, read the instructions." I still haven't gotten that one quite right.

My wife and I see John and Marge Hanks every so often when they include northern Nevada in their travels away from Lake Havasu, Ariz.

John once told me a story about a WWII fighter ace out on solo patrol. (This actually happened and I welcome additional details, especially the pilot's name.)

The American was jumped by a half-dozen or so German fighters. Radioing his predicament to his base, he said "I've got 'em surrounded. I'll hold them till you get here."

As good as his word, he shot down most of the Luftwaffe planes by the time help arrived.

I was reminded of that story last week in reviewing the latest wide-ranging attacks against Sen. Joe Neal, D-North Las Vegas.

A lot has happened since I last visited this issue on June 18. (See "With friends like these, who needs enemies?")

The day after that column ran, the Las Vegas Review-Journal published a statewide poll proving the failure of all the expensive efforts of the gambling-industrial complex to discredit Sen. Neal's initiative petition to raise the world's lowest gaming tax.

The public supports him by 63% to 26%.

Sen. Neal ventured into the lion's den a couple of days later, addressing a Reno-Sparks Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

One conservative business leader told a reporter afterward that even though he does not support Neal's proposal, he thinks the senator has done the state a great service by forcing a debate on Nevada's tax structure.

The intensity of the attacks on Sen. Neal have only increased since, some paid for with taxpayer money.

Las Vegas CityLife, the alternative weekly which is basically the southern Nevada version of the Sparks Tribune editorial page, excoriated the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada for not supporting Neal.

"What good would our position do?" PLAN leader Bob Fulkerson of Reno told CityLife Senior Editor Hugh Jackson.

"For the alliance to drop into the tax debate would be 'at worst, disastrous; at best...meaningless,'" Fulkerson said.

"That's a hell of an endorsement of your organization's clout and effectiveness, Bob," Jackson noted.

Ensuing editions brought a series of responses.

Last Sunday, the Las Vegas Review-Journal published almost a full page commentary (not posted with the web edition) in which University of Nevada-Reno Prof. Bill Eadington excoriated Sen. Neal. Dr. Eadington heads the UNR Institute for the Study of Gambling and Commercial Gaming. It's a carbon copy of the conservative, business-spawned and supported think tanks which I have so often criticized over the years.

Such organizations serve as fronts for corporate propaganda under the guise of academic objectivity. I delved into the subject in my University of Nevada series which ran from October '96 to January '97 and occasionally thereafter, all archived on this website. (Use the search engine).

Eadington has also served as gaming's front man speaking to the media against employee attempts to unionize.

The gambling industry loves cozying up to the U-System. Colleges are not only great promotional tools, but university relationships provide an air of legitimacy to an industry always craving it. Casinos remain in the business of pimping, boozing, gambling and whoring and thus exploit every opportunity to present themselves as something else.

Eadington's Review-Journal diatribe was a typical case of intellectual dishonesty hiding behind a PhD.

But the U outdid even that with the publication of the July-August edition of "Nevada Silver & Blue, the magazine of the University of Nevada, Reno."

Call Greg Bortolin at (775-784-4941) and ask for a copy. You paid for it. From the full-color cover to a series of articles comprising 24 of the magazine's 48 pages, Mr. Bortolin and his cronies have produced a p.r. piece worshipping the gambling industry and trashing Sen. Neal by name. Three full pages are devoted to Prof. Eadington and his wondrous academic objectivity.

The gamblers and their shills always repeat the same story: should Neal's tax increase go into effect in 2003, everybody will get fired as Nevada casinos conduct wholesale closings.

I repeat my standing offer: deed those distressed megaresorts over to me instead. I'll find a way to manage.

All of this shows the gamblers at their most penuriously powerful and egregiously greedy. They are apparently so desperate in light of the Review-Journal poll that they are prepared to "do something, even if it's wrong," as John Hanks once said.

Be well. Raise hell.

NevadaLabor.com | U-News | C.O.P. | Sen. Joe Neal
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© Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 31-year Nevadan, a member of Communications Workers of America Local 9413, manager of Sen. Neal's website and editor of U-News, where the past four years of columns may be accessed. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Sparks Tribune since 1988.

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