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Charter digital cable channels 16 & 216 in Reno-Sparks-Washoe
Charter high-definition channel 80-295

Kool-Aid, pickle smoke and jackalopes
Expanded from the 3-22-2009 Daily Sparks Tribune
Updated 3-23-2009

Save northwestern Nevada community television

Donate to the cable ratepayer legal defense fund at our PayPal-enabled ReSurge.TV Consumer War Room

The math behind the move
Updated 11-16-2008

Charter Communications plans to illegally move four channels of analog to the digital tier.

One channel of analog bandwidth accommodates two to 10 channels of digital programming, depending on the complexity of the streams. High-definition movies eat up a lot of bandwidth.

A Charter statement quoted on TV-4's Aug. 4, 2008, 11:00 p.m. newscast said that Charter is doing this to "free up more bandwidth for high definition channels."

Charter thus gains bandwidth for between 8 and 40 digital channels by banishing community TV to the digital tier, a net gain of 4 and as many as 36, depending on content.

Charter VP Marsha Berkbigler, in her first speech to the City of Reno's Citizens Cable Compliance Committee in Dec. 2002, said each additional channel is worth $1 million a year to Charter — and that's at 2002 prices.

So Charter stands to make between $4 million and $36 million by doing this, unadjusted for inflation.

Sue the bastards
Barbwire / Daily Sparks Tribune / 8-10-2008

Deregulation means never having to say you're sorry
Barbwire / Daily Sparks Tribune / 8-3-2008

Last year's columns about skulduggery at the Nevada Legislature which led to this mess

MORE: Smoking Guns

Government contact info

Barbwire.TV: 15-year overnight success
Daily Sparks Tribune 2-10-2008

The Barbwire's Greatest Hits
Highlights from radio days
mp3 file

I usually take little pleasure in saying I told ya so.

Not this time.

The Kool-Aid drinkers, pickle smoke inhalers and jackalope worshipers in local government can just take their heads out of the sand long enough to put in earplugs.

Last Jan. 4, I wrote that "rumbles out of the Black Tower pirate ship show hint of desertion at the top. City of Reno finance director Andy Green is reportedly resigning to take a similar job at much more money in Pasadena, Calif." (He did.)

"Green's principal assignment has been to wax a rosy shine over the cracks in Reno's financial structure, something I've been warning about for many years.

"Green's departure represents the second recent proof of local municipal financial collapse.

"Last month, Reno councilcritters Jessica Sferrazza and Dave Aiazzi publicly inquired about researching the effect of the city defaulting on its bond payments.

"I will still bet money that Sparks goes bankrupt before Reno files, as the larger city has a better cash flow and can hold out a bit longer.

"Looks like it's high time for Reno City Manager Charles McNeely to serve notice and hightail it for his estate in Brazil, where his lessons in learning to speak Portuguese will pay off handsomely.

"I hope he says hello to Joe Conforte for us."

I've long been saying on my TV show that when McNeely decides to get out of Dodge, that's a sure sign that the jig is up. The Iron Fist will leave it to the municipal version of CSI to clean up the mess.

Look for wholesale retirements from Reno and Sparks councilmembers up for re-election next year as the fiscal profligacy of both towns brings them down.

Most city managers burn themselves out after about three years and have to move on.

McNeely having lasted four times that long is testament to his ability to suck up to the downtown power structure to the detriment of schools, parks, roads, police and fire protection.

Anybody want to bet that his new San Bernardino gig is merely a short-term career closer so that he can say he left Reno in good shape?

Here's another tidbit from the Barbwire of June 25, 2006:

"In bygone times, McNeely has looked to the local African-American community for political cover when his job performance has come under fire.

"His actions of last week sent a gut-punching message to local civil rights leaders that he doesn't need them any longer now that the beach of Ipanema beckons.

"While McNeely practices the bossa nova, the boss who succeeds him will be left to muddle through like he was never here, which will be McNeely's evaporatingly ephemeral legacy.

"Let's hope that the new boss isn't the same as the old boss."


SI SE PUEDE. The César Chávez holiday bill will be heard in the Assembly Committee on Government Affairs at 8:00 a.m. on Monday, March 30, in legislative hearing room 3143, third floor.

AB 301 by Assemblyman Ruben Kihuen, D-Las Vegas, and a bipartisan group of 18 others, orders the governor to declare the last day of March every year as César Chávez Day.

The late, great union leader was born on March 31, 1927.

The bill will not cost anything, as it does not mandate the closure of state and municipal offices or places of business.

It will, however, take us a step closer toward a national César Chávez commemoration.

Mr. Kihuen is looking for local citizens and former César Chávez associates to testify.

Call me.

Kihuen will speak at the annual Chávez Day celebration at Circus Circus the day after the hearing.

BURN THE MIDNIGHT OIL. Washoe County School District students who want to enter the annual César Chávez essay contest have until noon Tuesday to get their entries to

Sue Davis, Director
Teaching American History Project
P.O. Box 30425
Reno, NV 89520-3425

All submissions must be received by 12:00 noon on Tuesday, March 24, via school mail or regular mail.

The top three in each age category will receive their prizes at the annual César Chávez celebration at Circus Circus Hotel-Casino in downtown Reno.

Doors open at 5:30 p.m. on March 31.

See for more information or just call or write me.

EX POST LOSERS. Did you love hearing the nutso right talking heads squeal last week that increasing taxes on the $165 million in bonuses already paid to A.I.G. bandidos was unconstitutional? Actually, ex post facto laws (a.k.a. bills of attainder) are passed all the time.

I looked into this in researching whether or not new legislation could force Charter Communications to unwind its banishment of public, educational and government access TV programming to the lightly-surfed but more expensive digital tier.

So sue us: Charter tells Sen. Reid and Reno
Ratepayers group may sue Reno as well as Charter
Daily Sparks Tribune online 11-11-2008
+ Barbwire Special Edition 11-12-2008
Updated 11-14-2008

FCC investigates cable TV pricing
Associated Press 11-4-2008

FCC investigates complaints about moving cable channels and pricing
Orlando Sentinel 11-7-2008

Charter Communications hires bankruptcy lawyers
MultiChannel News 2-8-2009

Charter misses $74 million payment
Reuters 1-15-2009

Website predicts 2009 Charter Communications bankruptcy
Moody's downgrades Charter on reorganization talk


According to one legal website, "The Supreme Court's decision in Calder v. Bull had a substantial impact on legal history. As a consequence of this decision, individuals deprived of vested property rights could no longer cite the ex post facto prohibition in their argument for relief. Instead they relied on constitutional protections on the sanctity of contracts to protect themselves against legislative action that threatened their property rights."

Calder v. Bull was decided on August 8, 1798, when many of today's conservatives were barely in high school.

CONNIPTION CORRECTION. Unlike some guys I won't name (Lush Rambo), when I make a mistake, I set the record straight.

On Feb. 8, I printed an alleged quote from FOX Noise media mogul Rupert Murdoch that "we have never been a company that tolerates facts."

Turned out to be misreportage of the word "facts" from a video clip. He actually said "fat."

Of course, if he had said "tact," we all would have more easily understood.

CONSTRUCTION CASUALTY UPDATE. The TV version of the Barbwire will be in reruns until at least the middle of next week due to major construction at Sierra Nevada Community Access Television.

Watch Barbwire.TV for updates.

Be well. Raise hell.

Smoking Guns...


(3-23-2009) — I have been informed by a reliable source that, unlike the Nevada Public Employees Retirement System which bases retiree income on an average of the last three years on the job, the California system uses one's highest paid year on the job, which will undoubtedly be Mr. McNeely's new position as opposed to Seaside, Calif., in the mid-1990's.

My source is very knowledgeable in such matters and has seen a lot of Golden Staters head home as their careers fade into the sunset.

It does start a 12-month clock ticking on Mr. McNeely in SanBerdoo.

Not even 30 pieces of silver
Reno City Council Signs Community TV Death Warrant

Contact Sen. Harry Reid for help
Sparks Tribune / 11-23-2008

Rise of the machines
Barbwire / Daily Sparks Tribune 11-16-2008

The devil and the deep blue sea
Charter cable deal and Reno "settlement" offers are all death warrants for community television. Court battle looms closer.

Sparks Tribune / 11-11-2008 + Barbwire special web edition, 11-12-2008

Wisconsin statewide franchise law has not dropped cable prices as promised
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel 11-8-2008

Falling all over ourselves
When will Sparks, Carson City, Washoe and Douglas counties get mad over Charter cable's ripoff?
Barbwire / Daily Sparks Tribune 10-5-2008

Michigan Judge rules for cable ratepayers
Decision holds great importance for Nevada

Barbwire / Daily Sparks Tribune 10-5-2008

Charter in serious financial trouble
Barbwire / Daily Sparks Tribune 10-12-2008

Charter offer deficient
Barbwire / Daily Sparks Tribune 9-28-2008

Reno-Sparks NAACP opposes Charter channel switch

Charter negotiates Russian-style: Will accept 100% of everything
Daily Sparks Tribune 9-5-2008

Donate to the cable ratepayer legal defense fund at our PayPal-enabled ReSurge.TV Consumer War Room

Reno city council votes unanimously to sue Charter to keep community TV accessible
Resurge.TV will also file

...and more ammo

The Dean's List

   The Dean of Reno Bloggers could very well be Andrew Barbano, self-described "fighter of public demons," who started putting his "Barbwire" columns online in 1996 and now runs 10 sites.
RENO NEWS & REVIEW, 11-9-2006

The campaign against forcibly-paid newspaper obituaries
And they wonder why the newspaper business is dying?

Phillips, Kevin; Numbers Racket: Why the economy is worse than we know
Harper's Magazine; May 2008; page 43
Phillips has authored numerous books on history and politics over the past 40 years. His most recent, Bad Money: Reckless Finance, Failed Politics and the Global Crisis of American Capitalism, was published by Viking on April 15, 2008.

NAOMI WOLF: Fascist America in 10 Easy Steps
There are some things common to every state that's made the transition to fascism. Author Naomi Wolf argues that all of them are present in America today.
Alternet 5-20-2007

Johnson, Chalmers; REPUBLIC OR EMPIRE? A National Intelligence Estimate on the United States; Harper's magazine; January, 2007. I love it when heavy hitters validate what I've been saying for years in the tiny Sparks Tribune.

Barlett, Donald L. and Steele, James B.; America: What Went Wrong? (1992); America: Who Really Pays the Taxes? (1994); America: Who Stole the Dream? (1996) ; Andrews & McMeel/Universal Press Syndicate.

Review of Alex Carey's Taking the Risk Out of Democracy:
Propaganda in the US and Australia

The Orwell Diversion by Alex Carey
Excerpted from the book available below

ORDER Taking the Risk Out of Democracy
Corporate Propaganda versus Freedom and Liberty
By Alex Carey
Edited by Andrew Lohrey
Foreword by Noam Chomsky
University of Illinois Press

     SEE ALSO: Lapham, Lewis H.; Tentacles of Rage: The Republican Propaganda Mill, A Brief History; Harper's Magazine cover article; September, 2004, page 32.

     By one conservative estimate, the corporate right has spent about $3 billion over the past three decades manufacturing public opinion to suit big business goals. Lapham's number covered the early 1970's to the present day. Alex Carey noted that by 1948, anti- New Deal corporate propaganda expenditures had already reached $100 million per year, not adjusted for inflation, for advertising alone. (Carey, ibid; page 79)

     Adjusted for inflation, that 1948 $100 million becomes $801,659,751.04 in 2005 dollars.

Conservatives Help Wal-Mart, and Vice Versa
As Wal-Mart struggles to rebut growing criticism, it has discovered a reliable ally: conservative research groups.
New York Times 9-8-2006; Free registration may be required.

      BARBWIRE: Labor Day '94: People vs. corporate con job, 9-4-94
Chilling forecasts from Alex Carey

      BARBWIRE: The Nevada Republican Party Becomes Communist, 3-30-97
A prescient Plato on the dangers of oligarchy

The sands of time do not cloud the long memories of the sheiks of Araby
Barbwire 9-10-2006

      Rinfret, Pierre A.; Peace is Bullish; Look magazine, 5-31-1966 | 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
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Copyright © 1982-2009 Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 40-year Nevadan, editor of and, former chair of the City of Reno's Citizens Cable Compliance Committee and serves as second vice-president, political action chair and webmaster of the Reno-Sparks NAACP. As always, his opinions are strictly his own. E-mail

He hosts live news and talk (775-682-4144) Monday through Friday, 2-4:00 p.m., at
Barbwire.TV and Reno-Sparks-Washoe Charter digital cable channels 16 and 216, high-definition channel 80-295. Barbwire by Barbano premiered in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune on Aug. 12, 1988 and has originated in those parts ever since. Tempus fugit.

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