Principle Lessons: Big Bad Bill, two good Joes and Jessica
Expanded from the 10-27-2002 Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune
Updated 11-8-2006

"You're never given more than you can handle," my wife reminds me every so often when I need to hear it. I really needed to hear those words a few days ago.

Last week, I notified you of the death of a frequent visitor to this column. Jessica Ann Hale Gomes was one of the most principled people I ever knew. Along with Carlene O'Neil, she refused to sign for UPS packages during the 1997 national Teamsters strike. Although not union members, both thought accepting the proceeds of struck work was wrong. They were fired for their principles. The Teamsters Union took up their cause and won reinstatement and a cash settlement from Bently Nevada in Minden.

Jessica Ann Hale Gomes

In the 45 years she was given on this earth, Jess traveled some brutal highways. She made the most of her misfortune and in doing so, provided inspiration for everyone who hears her story.

You want guts? Flash back to April 3, 1985. Jessica and her husband, David, were riding a motorcycle near Livermore, Calif., when an 18-wheeler lost a set of duals. The huge tires became rolling missiles, sending the two riders flying.

California Highway Patrol troopers found David with half his face gone, lying at odd angles (with two breaks in his back) in an eight-foot pool of blood. The officers figured him for dead and concentrated their efforts on her. Jess thought otherwise.

"She crawled up to the highway, put me on my side, took her shirt off and put in on my face," David told me.

"She shook me till I started breathing. She saved my life."

Jessica's Story

Fired for refusal to sign for UPS packages during 1997 strike

After a long legal struggle,
won reinstatement and a modest cash settlement

A profile in courage

Carson City newspaper — Family mourns loss of "incredible heart"

He added that the troopers' biggest concern seemed to be the sight of a seriously injured topless woman reviving her husband on a busy public thoroughfare.

God called Jessica home on a Nevada highway on Oct. 18. Medical examiners probably wondered at 4-3-85 tattooed onto her flesh.

As fate would have it, her 14 year-old son happened to drive by the scene as a passenger in another vehicle. He recognized his mom's car, but the utter destruction all around told him not to stop.

On US 395 between Carson and Gardnerville, some guy in a truck crossed into opposing traffic, launched himself and hit two other vehicles. Alcohol is suspected.

A memorial service was held yesterday at the Fish Springs Volunteer Fire Dept. I will be announcing details of a fundraiser for the family soon.

NEAL BRINGS THE HEAT. Democratic gubernatorial nominee Joe Neal will address a luncheon at the Reno Holiday Inn on Sixth Street this Tuesday beginning at 11:30 a.m. The 30-year state senator from North Las Vegas will considerably up the ante on Gov. Dudley Do-Right. Neal will speak on universal health care for all Nevadans so that no one will have to choose between medicine or food or heat. Seating is limited. Contact me or Bill Moon at (775) 329-1900 immediately if you want to attend. The cost is $20 per person. This is not a fund raiser. The price covers the cost of lunch. Watch for more details.

CHARTER CABLE UPDATE. Last Tuesday, the Reno City Council passed an ordinance establishing what the city terms a "Citizens Cable Compliance CommitTee." Translation: Charter Cable watchdog. At my suggestion, the council amended the proposal to expand the panel to seven from five members. The latter number was just too small given the amount of work ahead. Consumers won't have another chance at modifying the Charter Cable franchise agreement until 2017. Monitor for updates.

GOD EQUALS GOP DEPT. On Oct. 13, I printed an update of my 1998 column on a narrow cadre of wing nut Republicans who belong swear allegiance to a national organization which believes in government by the Bible. According to a TV show the local outfit produced in 1998, they have a strict litmus test for candidates they endorse. Any candidate they support is subject to expulsion into the light of reason.

That 1998 formative meeting was chaired by Mike Weber, assisted by his wife, Bonnie. Participating and looking for support were Sen. Maurice Washington, R-Sparks, Assemblyman Don Gustavson, R-Sun Valley, and future Assemblywoman Sharron Angle, R-Reno. They were forming a local chapter of an outfit of American ayatollahs misleadingly called the National Federation of Republican Assemblies (NFRA). It has no official link to any state legislature, save for the fact that they'd love to take over a few.

Mike Weber is now running for the east Sparks/rural Nevada assembly seat currently held by longtime Assemblyman John Marvel, R-Battle Mountain. Bonnie Weber knocked off incumbent County Commissioner Joanne Bond and faces Democrat James Balough for the north valleys seat.

The nefarious NFRA hasn't gone away. In a recent campaign mailing, Bonnie Weber announces that she serves as national secretary of the organization. If you like injecting right wing religious intolerance into your politics, the Webers, Washington, Gustavson and Angle are your candidates.

You may access the 1998 and 2002 columns, with links to NFRA info, at the Barbwire archive at

BIG BAD BILL'S BIGGEST BUST. Apparently, the private investigators the Republican Party sicced on Sen. Washington's opponent Joe Carter came up dry. There's just nothing scandalous in his background.

I think they needed to dig back further. Two of Carter's ancestors served on the Washoe County Commission in the 1870's. I'm sure there's some dirt to be had there.

That would be about as good as the bullshit negative campaign Maurice and his hitmen have been running against the railroad engineer. They took some still frames from a TV debate and distorted them. Then they accused Carter of siding with them dirty liberals from Gomorrah South to send Washoe tax money to Las Vegas. They even use a quote from former Assemblyman Ken Haller, D-Reno. From 1991.

The truth is otherwise.

LV did hit Washoe's treasury hard in 1991 after Sen. Bill Raggio, R-Reno, raised the specter of a southern Nevada fiscal raid in a misguided attempt to save Sen. Erik Beyer, R-Reno. A Beyer victory in 1990 would have preserved Raggio's position as majority leader. Beyer nonetheless lost to Democrat Diana Glomb.

Raggio's demagoguery of the north-south fair share issue inflamed Las Vegas Democrats and Republicans alike. Las Vegas has long been the tail that wags the dog, producing revenue which the state distributes to Nevada's northern counties. At the same time Raggio was pouring on kerosene, the Washoe county assessor discovered a tax sharing error in Las Vegas' favor. The southerners would have overlooked it had Raggio not enraged them, so Washoe County had to pay the money back to the state treasury over many years. That's why Reno streets went unrepaired for so long, among other things.

Now, in a desperate attempt to save Washington, Raggio is using one of the greatest screwups of his own career to smear Carter.

Be well. Raise hell.

Smoking Guns

Sen. Washington won re-election in 2006 despite his requesting a bill draft fo the 2007 legislative session allowing biblical creationism aka "intelligent design" to be taught in Nevada schools.

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Copyright © 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010 Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 34-year Nevadan, a member Communications Workers of America Local 9413 and editor of and He hosts Deciding Factors on several Nevada television stations. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.)Tribune since 1988.

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