Butt-ugly reality for spring-fevered April Fools


Expanded from the 4-1-2001 Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune

Just in time for this Tuesday's Sparks election, the Tribune published a special section last week. Distributed to every house in Sparks, it was a cheap way to hit just about every potential voter and every campaign advertising budget. It also gives guys like me ammo for a few cheap shots.

But, as Travus T. Hipp said so long ago, sometimes cheap shots are the only shots you get.

SPARKS CITY COUNCIL WARD 5: My Tribune colleague in columny Ira Hansen is always right, usually extremely so, but on occasion, he's also correct. I agree that there are good candidates in this race.

David Farside is an articulate and effective community activist and would make an excellent councilmember. I will add one asterisk: sometimes, when outsiders get inside, they become less effective. Farside is an extremely fair and responsible person. He will have to move from advocating one view to balancing opposing views upon taking the oath of office.

Libertarian Ernest Walker already took the oath. He served one term on the council before being defrocked by Phil Salerno. Ernest made a basic mistake of salesmanship: never answer a question not asked. Pushing a tax limitation initiative damaged him politically. I've found Ernest highly principled and a great debater. However, he can be stubborn to the point of impracticality when he lets his party philosophy get in the way.

Not nearly as well known is Jim Martin. I see him a lot, as we are both members of the Reno-Sparks NAACP. As a longtime compliance investigator for the Nevada Equal Rights Commission, he has developed a reputation for great fairness in his handling of workers rights cases. He is very good at bringing employers and employees together to resolve disputes, a skill in short supply in any governmental entity.

How come Reno never gets choices like Sparks?

SPARKS COUNCIL WARD 3: I don't know anybody in the race personally, but if candidate Jim Hinen is going to run because former Rep. Barbara Vucanovich, R-Nev., likes him, he needs to review his alliances. My old adversary had one answer for everything in her 14 years in Congress: Just say no because everything costs too much. This is apparently her rationale for backing Hinen.

The Sparks Council has certainly lost its hard-earned reputation for fiscal prudence and Hinen shows all the signs of continuing the rudderlessness. In his Tribune ads, the self-styled conservative wants to look for alternatives to raising taxes, then advocates raising the room tax. I agree with him and Farside that the Ascuaga-imposed room tax deficiency is bad for the city, but in Hinen's case, the contradiction is glaring.

I also think he should clarify his stand on consolidation of services. Sparks is in real danger of becoming the East Reno of Ascuaga's California advertising if the consolidation push continues.

Vucanovich's endorsement thus fits the contradictory young candidate. She endorsed and worked for the location of a high level nuclear waste dump in Nevada, all the while saying she opposed it. You'll find the history with a site search of (I recommend reading this first.)

MUNI JUDGE: Incumbent Andy Cray is going to lose his job to Barbara McCarthy. A court bailiff with no legal training, Cray festooned Sparks with signs (same ones he's using now) and beat out much more qualified candidates in 1987. I worked for one of his opponents.

Sparks had added a second judge because of the increasing workload on the legendary John Morrison, who Cray replaced. Immediately upon Cray's taking office, both Cray and Judge Don Gladstone took extended vacations, requiring the expensive hiring of local lawyers as temp judges. The Tribune and the city council rightly trashed them for it and Gladstone was eventually defrocked by voters.

Cray has continued as he started, developing a reputation for coming to work late and leaving early. He once issued a clarification to the Tribune stating "that's what I think I meant to say." [UPDATE: Cray was defeated for re-election by now-Judge McCarthy. He ran against Judge Larry Sage in 2002 and lost again.]

WAGE WICKEDNESS: Last week, the Sparks council voted unanimously to support Assembly Bill 156, a measure to pay local area prevailing wages on fewer public construction projects.

In 1997, with only Councilman John Mayer in opposition, the body voted against a project labor agreement on the tax-supported Syufy-Century downtown theater. As a result, many non-union workers were never properly paid local standard wages and Syufy pocketed the difference. Proper pay for local workers will thus become an issue in this year's council campaign.

GET SET FOR A GARBAGE STRIKE. Multitrashional corporation Waste Management, Inc., now owns Disposal Services in Sparks, Reno and Fernley. They inherited a longstanding Teamsters Union contract. Most renewal issues have been settled, but the company's intransigence on one point may very possibly lead to a garbage strike. Lay in extra plastic bags and watch [UPDATE 5-7-2004: The above hard feelings morphed into the first northwestern Nevada garbage strike since 1967.]

WATCH THIS SITE. Those on my e-lists were notified last week that Darlene Jespersen, the Harrah's-Reno bartender fired for refusing to wear makeup, was scheduled for a live face-off with Bill O'Reilly on the Fox News Channel. It got postponed. Watch the site, sign up for the bulletins, or both.

FIGHT PREVIEWS: This Friday upon adjournment of the Nevada State Senate, the upper house's government affairs committee hears SB 564, a bill to privatize the work at the state printshop. All members of my union, Communications Workers Local 9413, should contact the union office the office at (775) 322-9413 for marching orders. We suspect private interests in Las Vegas behind the bill.

FIGHT TWO: Unions are often their own worst enemies. Witness the teachers. They could have made common cause with Sen. Joe Neal, D-North Las Vegas, in his campaign to raise Nevada's world-low gross gaming tax. Instead, they spent almost $200,000 on a business income tax initiative declared unconstitutional by the Nevada Supreme Court.

Now comes the Carpenters Union, which last week disaffiliated from the AFL-CIO, paving the way for warfare over who represents whom on construction jobs.

I found it more than a little ironic that the teachers held a rally last Saturday at the Reno Carpenters' Hall.

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Andrew Barbano is a 32-year Nevadan, a member of Communications Workers of America Local 9413 and editor of and JoeNeal. org/
Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune
since 1988.

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