Dropping the hammer & fumbling the ball

Expanded from the 11-16-2003 Daily Sparks, Nev., Tribune
An updated version also appeared in the 11-20-2003 Comstock Chronicle

Every so often, this here little newspaper makes me especially proud. Tribune reporter Tim Omarzu has performed stellar public service with his recent stories on the City of Sparks' continued criminalization of work and the plight of the laid off Sundowner Hotel employees. Kudos also to whichever editor assigned the items.


Man hired Galletti Way worker,
got ticketed

Man fined for "parking"
on Galletti Way

No health insurance
for ex-Sundowner employees

Alliance for Workers Rights forms ex-Sundowner network

Sparks criminalizes work

Striking Teamster proves prophetic about Sparks Police Dept.

Omarzu's work constitutes important journalism affecting the lives of real people. Last week in Sparks Municipal Court, Gary Stevens of Reno was convicted of parking with intent to hire — not a hooker, but a worker. And in broad daylight.

Last August, Stevens was hurting from broken ribs and needed someone to help move a mattress. He was ticketed for stopping his car in a posted no parking zone to talk to a man who needed a job. National security was obviously at risk. This perp was trying to hire somebody. For money.

America cherishes her myths. You know them (and their anti-matter realities): All persons are created equal. (But some are more equal than others.) With hard work, you can be whatever you want to be. (But it helps if daddy's rich and mama's good looking.)

I don't know about the equality thing, but the hard work idea is dead meat. While our federal tax dollars are being misused to export American jobs, all levels of government are criminalizing work here at home.

Take the City of Sparks. Please.

The state casual labor office on Galletti Way, near the Nevada Mental Health Institute, has been a flashpoint for years. Until Tom Stoneburner of the Alliance for Workers Rights got involved, the state didn't even have a Spanish speaking worker on hand to talk to job seekers. Many of them come from countries where talking to the government can get you jailed or killed, so some are understandably reluctant to walk into a place where no one speaks their language.

This established a pattern of people standing out front waiting for potential employers to hire them for a day. So the City of Sparks started busting employers. After a few meetings with Stoneburner and the ACLU, I thought the issue was settled and all seemed to remain quiet for some time. Then along came poor Mr. Stevens.

Judge Larry Sage, in the finest tradition of former Judge Andy Cray, the man Sage defeated in a very acrimonius campaign last year, found Mr. Stevens guilty as charged. The man who never had so much as a parking ticket now finds his drivers license in jeopardy with four demerits on his record.

Sage, like Cray in his ludicrous decision about Teamsters Union UPS picketers, apparently always sides with the cops no matter what fairness calls for. I wonder about the reasons why one unfortunate citizen, not a regular labor contractor, got busted. Has city hall put out the word to turn up the heat?

Unofficial exceptions to ordinances happen all the time. The unofficial policy of the Reno Police Department is that parking meter violations are not enforced around city hall on days when the council meets.

Please don't tell anyone. And don't work too hard.

AT LONG LAST. I can't wait till the Tribune's new website,, is uploaded. Then, I can get lazy and just link stories to the news sites I manage. I wondered why we're not and checked out its pedigree. Apparently, some speculator based in Hong Kong grabbed that Internet handle awhile back. Alas and alack, he won't make any money on it.

SPORTS TRIVIA. I normally don't write about sports and try to avoid carping too often about the Reno paper, but some opportunities are too juicy not to squeeze.

The Reno Gazette-Journal reported that last Saturday's UNR-Hawaii football game would not be televised. Actually, people like me willing to suffer the indignity of Charter Communications' ridiculous monopolistic price structure, could find the game live on Fox Sports Digital Channel 404.

The RGJ has been particularly remiss in under-reporting TV sports. The Speed Channel has been available in this area for several years. Formula One junkies, myself included, have been able to view live world championship racing on the channel, but word one has not appeared in local sports pages, including the Tribune's.

Charter is changing the local channel lineup this Wednesday (RATE INCREASE ALERT!) so it's time to give local sports editors a 2x4 upside the head.

I got indigestion reading RGJ sportswriter Joe Santoro's column last Friday. A month ago, with UNR fresh off a huge victory at Pac 10 powerhouse Washington, he gloried that Coach Chris Tormey had at long last lived up to Santoro's sage predictions and wise advice. Last Friday, he fell back into bitchy fan mode and pretty much called for Tormey's head.

Santoro typifies the finest in football philosophy as once espoused by a southern gentleman: "Go get 'em, coach. We're with you, win or tie." Kinda like many UNR boosters.

If Mr. Santoro wasn't at the game, I hope he at least watched UNR's upset victory on Channel 404.

MORE CABLE ENTERTAINMENT. The City of Reno's Citizens Cable Compliance Committee, which I chair, meets this Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. in the Reno Council Chambers at Reno City Hall. It will be cablecast live on SNCAT Channel 13 with reruns scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 19, at 8:00 p.m. and Monday, Nov. 24, at 6:30 p.m.

City staff is renegotiating Charter's franchise agreement and has come under fire from our committee for dropping the ball. Needless to say, we've ruffled more than a few feathers. Tune in for additional delightful enlightenment on the wonders of Charter cable this Tuesday evening. Ask the National Weather Service to monitor proceedings with an anemometer to properly measure the intensity of animosity.*

Be well. Raise hell.


*UPDATE: The meeting was canceled due to lack of a quorum. Click here for details. | C.O.P. | Sen. Joe Neal
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| BallotBoxing.US
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Copyright © 1982-2003 Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 34-year Nevadan, a member Communications Workers of America Local 9413 and editor of and Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune since 1988.


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