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Baseball, welfare, Crackerjack and politics
Expanded from the 4-19-2009 Daily Sparks Tribune / Updated 1-9-2017
Additional sections are highlighted in red

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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 just hope it works," said Assemblyman Bernie Anderson, D-Sparks, as he and his family walked in to the new downtown Reno baseball parlor on Friday evening.

I had to agree. The taxpayers are into this thing for a $50 million downstroke with much more to come, so we'd better get something out of it.

It remains to be seen whether notoriously fickle Nevada sports fans can fill two-thirds of the seats for every home game to keep the billionaire owners at breakeven.

Herewith, a lifelong baseball fan's impressions of the Reno Aces Corporate Welfare Stickball Emporium.

THINK AND DRESS FOR CANDLESTICK PARK. I sweated as I walked to the ballyard, but took dark pleasure viewing shivering fans who forgot that summer turns to winter about the fifth inning hereabouts.

For most of the game, winds blew in from the northeast, a true rarity in these parts, dampening hopes for an opening night home run.

LET'S GET PHYSICAL. The infield is slower than Eskimo molasses in January.

One labor guy said he actually saw water splash up from an infield hit.

Stuff like that is usually intentional, but the Reno infielders don't seem to need any help from soggy grass.

It really damaged the game.

The price of a beer averaged about seven dollars.

I inquired about a box of Crackerjack at a concession stand and was informed they didn't sell it, but perhaps the roving vendors did.

Hmmm…maybe they need to rewrite the lyrics for the seventh inning stretch.

THE BIGGEST RIPOFF. We expect to get goosed for food, but $30 for an Aces baseball cap and $20 for a lousy visor?


Try getting that at the end of the season.

Expect to be ordered to trash your water bottle upon entry so that you have to pay for hydration inside.

Having promoted a few sporting events, I asked one of the usherettes about the leave-and-return policy.

Concert fans are notorious for needing to visit their cars during the show. (Perhaps the stash is too heavy for one trip.)

So, what happens if you need to leave and return at an Aces game?

You buy another ticket and if the game is a sellout, they will be happy to see you next time.

So there.

BUNS, PART DEUX. The basic design of the seating is wrong.

The architects should have gone to a modern movie theater or playhouse that employs what's called "stadium seating."

That simply means that the rows of seats are steeper than usual, providing a clear line of sight to the stage or screen.

The Aces stadium does not utilize true stadium seating.

Superman could x-ray a game even if were he seated behind the likes of the UNR basketball team.

I didn't fare so well, placed behind three beautiful women of average height sporting lots of hair.

I spent most of the game watching the pitcher from the left side of a lady's head, then tilting to her right to watch the batter.

That's the most serious flaw which could have and should have been corrected up front.

But fans will suffer for it for as long as the ballpark operates.

Had the seating been designed in true high-perch stadium style, spectators would have clear views no matter who sits in front — except, of course, for the jerk who stood up to flirt with all nearby women every time his wife excused herself.

No architect has as yet provided such spectatorial pest control.

NOT-SO-JUMBOTRON. The big screen is not so big.

Some people who wear glasses had trouble reading the graphics.

The scoreboard only allows for four-character team names.

That's OK for Aces v. Bees, but what happens when somebody else hits town?

WEAPONS OF MASS DISTRACTION. I'm a freaking purist who likes to watch baseball games, any game from little league to the bigs.

I heard from many people that AAA baseball is largely a social gathering with the announced purpose rather secondary.

The small stadium was very noisy at all times because most people were talking and not paying attention to the game.

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


The Aces also put a lot of crap between innings.

I like baseball. I don't like having to watch a blindfolded kid trying to tackle one of two giant cockroaches.

In the late innings, a local radio station could be heard in the left field area. I don't know if it emanated from the parking lot or leakage from the in-house sound system.

Combined with the cacophony of conversation, it really impaired my enjoyment of the game.

FACES IN THE CROWD: Assemblymember Bernie Anderson, D-Sparks, and family; longtime local entrepreneurs Shirl and Gay Elliker; Laborers' Union Local 169 business agent Mike Kinney; Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 350 apprenticeship coordinator John Williams; State Sen. Mike McGinness, R-Fallon, and grandson; Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev.; local media maven and special event consultant Jim Webster; media personality Dave Newman and his wife, Laura, a media marketer in the daytime and one the region's best fiction writers 24/7; magazine editor Jackie Shelton, daughter of perennial Sparks-based funny car dragster champion Ricky Ruiz; Mark Carey II, operator of Orange Tree Productions; Monte Neugebauer, DDS, and spouse.

CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE: At least the Aces recognized the contribution of organized labor, where the Reno Gazette-Journal ignored it.

Paul McKenzie and the Building & Construction Trades Council of Northern Nevada/AFL-CIO were credited on the mini-tron, as were Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 401/AFL-CIO and Sparks-based Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 350/AFL-CIO.

Reams were written about the tight construction deadlines which were met to open the ballpark. All of it reinforced one hard fact: If you want a big job built right, on time and on-budget, you need skilled union construction workers.

Even anti-union employers like Don Carano and John Ascuaga recognize this and have always employed union labor to build their high rises.

BOX SCORE. The building trades council donated its opening day box to the Boys & Girls Club of the Truckee Meadows.

Thanks, guys.

CULTURE CLASH: The ironic national anthem. Just as singer Emily West was hitting her highest note, a uniquely downtown Reno chorus joined her land-of-the-free crescendo.

Babies started crying in the playground area, an ambulance wailed by and a honking train cacophonized its way through the adjacent corporate welfare railroad trench.

Chaos may be a theory, but Reno has refined the practice.

ON THE AIR: On Tuesday, we will discuss state employee issues and, of course, revenues and taxes, live on Carson City Charter cable channels 10 and 26. [UPDATE: We discussed the federal Employee Free Choice Act on Tuesday and will do the state employee issues on April 23.]

Live web streaming will be available at Barbwire.TV and on-demand re-runs will be uploaded later the same day.

My guest last Thursday was environmental consultant Bob Tregilus, co-chair of the Alternative Transportation Club & Electric Auto Association of Northern Nevada.

He is working with a broad range of organizations on such things as electric cars and pollution-free highways. See

He'll be at the annual Earth Day celebration today at Reno's Idlewild Park, which is where you should be, too.

After church, give thanks to God for the planet you call home and promise to take better care of it by getting righteous with Mother Nature this afternoon.

Be well. Raise hell.

Smoking Guns...

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
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Copyright © 1982-2009, 2017 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 news and talk 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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