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What may well be the first marriage of talk radio, talk TV and webcast webchat

Gov. Jim the Dim does it again
Expanded from the 5-10-2009 Daily Sparks Tribune

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

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



My Carson City viewers got first break on this laugher last Thursday.

Hot on the heels of announcing his plan to gut the Millennium Scholarship Program as a short-term patch on the state budget, Gov. Gibbons put a muzzle on state departments.

In an e-mail, he banned supervisors and state employees from talking with lawmakers or media.

Other governors have tried the same tactic and it has always blown up in their chiseled faces.

To paraphrase actor Will Smith's memorable line in Ray Bradbury's I, Robot, Jim Gibbons is the dumbest smart person I have ever known.

The Nevada legislature only meets for 120 days every two years.

Boiled down to basics, it's all about lawmakers gathering information from state agencies in order to form their budgets.

Information thus becomes the currency of power.

Regular readers know that I once criticized former Gov. Dudley Do-Right's skimming of Nevada's share of the national tobacco settlement to fund university scholarships for Nevada high school students graduating with at least a "B" average.

The money was supposed to repay the state for the costs of cigarette-induced cancer and other ailments over many decades.

Gov. Kenny Guinn proposed the scholarship program in 1999 in order to have something spiffy to propose in his first state-of-the-state address.

It was his second choice after Guinn's casino controllers shot down his trial-balloon about fixing Nevada's taxation system. (Welcome to déjà vu all over again.)

I modified my criticism after a college professor told me that the scholarship program has really made a change in the university environment.

Many more students can now participate in getting an education rather than "sleepily rushing out to their minimum wage jobs as soon as the bell rings."

Gov. Jim the Dim would sell off the tobacco settlement, currently worth about a third of a billion dollars, at a deep discount to speculators.

The legislature would have to find new money to fund the scholarship program in 2011, by which time Gibbons will have been comfortably retired by the voters in order to spend more time with his family.

CLINGING TO THE LEDGE. On Carson Charter channels 10 and 26 this Tuesday, we will discuss state employee issues live from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m.

You may view the proceedings in real time on your computer via Barbwire.TV and participate by calling (775) 882-TALK.

On-demand downloads will be available later in the broadcast day.

Former university regent Howard Rosenberg had to cancel last Thursday.

I expect him and some of his UNR students for this Thursday's program.

Reruns will air next week in my regular Sparks-Reno time slot, below.

YOUR CITY COUNCIL INACTION. That's not a misprint.

Due to inaction by the Sparks City Council, many Charter Communications basic and expanded-basic cable ratepayers will not be able to see the latest round in the Lazy 8 Casino debacle. (See right and below and ReSurge.TV.)

Councilcritters Phil Salerno and Mike Carrigan have been barred from voting by the Nevada Ethics Commission, so developer Harvey Whittemore needs all three remaining members to vote in favor or his controversial project.

Regular readers may recall how Sparks, Reno and Washoe County rolled over for Charter last year, allowing the bankrupt cable catastrophe to move public, educational and governmental programming to the higher-cost, lower-audience, lightly-surfed, harder-to-find digital tier.

Maybe it was by design.

I daresay that there's more than one person at Sparks City Hall who wants Monday evening's meeting observed by as few voters as possible.

CABLE CLUNKERS, PART DEUX. Two of my five predictions from last year have already come true, Charter's bankruptcy and Reno City Manager Charles McNeely's resignation.

Next up: bankruptcy for Sparks, then Reno, followed by a rash of retirements by local officials who discover unfulfilled needs to spend more time with their families.

Desperate for money because their financial shell game is falling apart (witness the departures of McNeely and former chief financial officer Andy Green), Reno councilmembers want to raise the franchise tax on electricity, water, natural gas and cable television by one percentage point – typical Nevada politicians penalizing those who can least afford it.

The joke's on them.

Last I heard, the maximum cable franchise fee allowable under federal law stands at five percent, a ceiling they reached long ago.

SING THE SWAN SONG SATURDAY. The final quarterly commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., will be held on Saturday, May 16, from 1:00 to 7:30 p.m. inside the First United Methodist Church at First and West streets in downtown Reno.

Rev. John Auer is preparing a spectacular finale in honor of the Baptist preacher who inspired him to enter the ministry.

It will be especially poignant for this very holy man who suffered slings and arrows for daring to remind Nevadans that the Fifth Commandment was not repealed by the warmongering Bush administration.

Rev. Auer retires and leaves Reno this summer, a great loss for this community of shallow conscience.

Show up Saturday to reward him for his good work.

The theme is "Where Do We Go From Here?" toward finishing the work of Dr. King.

I'm hearing from too many quarters that racial justice may be treated with benign neglect now that Barack Obama sits in the oval office.


Saturday's commemoration will emphasize "using the arts to cross cultures and create communities so that we may cooperate for non-violent social change."

The event will feature dancing, panel discussions and lectures.

It will conclude with a home-made Tongan dinner and entertainment.

For more information, call (775) 322-4564 or go to

CORRECTION. In last week's column, I got Ira Hansen's family relations wrong.

Janine Hansen, who was my TV guest last Tuesday, is Ira's aunt.

My apologies.

Be well. Raise hell.

Smoking Guns...

From: Chrystal Main
Sent: Thursday, May 07, 2009 8:07 AM
To: DCFS - ALL.DCFS (Restricted)
Subject: FYI

The Governor's Office has asked that the following information be shared with all DHHS agencies:

It has come to the attention of the Governor's Office that some agencies may have concerns with the budget bills proposed by the Department of Administration. These bills were drafted to support Governor Gibbons' executive budget and have the full support of his office.

Please do not testify against Administration bills in committee as those bills support
the Governor's agenda.

If you wish to testify on other bills that you have a personal interest in, please insure that you are either at the Legislature during your regularly scheduled time off or have taken annual leave.

Please do not identify yourself as an employee of DCFS, rather you may identify
yourself as a state employee if the Committee asks you where you work.

Chrystal C. Main, Social Services Chief
Systems Advocate
Division of Child and Family Services
4126 Technology Way, 3rd Floor
Carson City, NV 89706
(775) 684-4453
(775) 684-4457


From: Office of the Governor [mailto:nvg@GOV.NV.GOV]
Sent: Wednesday, May 13, 2009 11:19 AM

Subject: Press Release - Governor Calls on Citizens to Demand Openness From the Legislature

For Immediate Release:  May 13, 2009


Legislators need to hear from Nevadans immediately


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?

Continuing cable depredations

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

...and more ammo

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
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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 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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