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Stone walls at Sparks City Hall
Expanded from the 6-28-2009 Daily Sparks Tribune
Updated 7-2-2009, 7-4-2009, 7-12-2009

Daily Sparks Tribune graphic copyright © 2009 Erik Holland

Sparks government lawyer Chester Adams has violated the unbreakable rule of old Chicago politics: Never sign nuttin', never say nuttin' on da phone and once you gotta story, stick to it.

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But the learned Chester lives in another time and place.

Bad for him, worse for taxpayers, great for joke writers.

Mr. Adams failed to stick to his story several times before, during and after last Monday's council session.

The latest Chet chumscrub occurred when Sparks union leader Richard "Skip" Daly (no relation to Chicago mayor Richard Daley) found that the low bidder on a major city construction contract was not legally licensed.

The contract should have gone to the next lowest legal bidder, expediting the distribution of more than $7 million into the community.

Alas and alack, Chester's ego got involved.

Depending on who was talking, the Spanish Springs-Vista Blvd. sewer line bid was either rejected, revoked, reworked, reissued or regurgitated.

The first story from city purchasing manager Dan Marran was that the city had screwed up the specifications and he was thus rejecting all bids.

Mr. Daly pointed out that Marran's authority to do such things under city ordinance stops at $25,000, which is considerably less than $7 million last time I checked.

Daly sent a letter to city manager Shaun Carey asking for any documents proving Marran's ceiling had been raised.

Chet raised the roof and stonewalled instead.

"In light of your comments threatening litigation against the city, please be advised that I have directed my clients to cease all further communications with any representative from your organization concerning this matter," Chet wrote.

I've voiced that gripe about Chet for years.

He refers to councilmembers as his "clients"and treats his real clients – the people of Sparks – as the enemy.

"Because of the possibility of future/pending litigation, please be advised that I do not authorize any legal representative from your organization to speak with any officer, employee or agent of the City of Sparks about this matter," Chet declared.

You don't wave a red flag like that in front of my friend Skip Daly.

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Who is Chet to order Daly or any other citizen not to talk with public officials?

Chet's next move was to get the Regional Transportation Commission to cover his ass.

Categorizing the obvious, an RTC rep told the Tribune (link at right) that the sewer job had to be done before scheduled street construction.

But the city knew that all along, planning the sewer work for summer and road construction in fall.

Forgetting the Chicago rules, Chet's story meandered again at Monday's council meeting, going from rejecting all bids as noted by Marran to revoking the original bid offer, a big legal difference.

"The contract has been cancelled," Adams said at the June 22 council meeting.


What that means is anyone's guess.

Daly asserts that because of the amount involved, only the city council can stop the bidding process.

Indeed, when a final contractor is chosen, the council will have to award the deal.

That's all he asked the council to do last Monday.

Follow the law. Justify the delay in an open forum.

With Chet stonewalling, Daly went to court.

Chet's longwinded response was filed last Thursday.

Some of it is delightful nonsense: "A bid made pursuant to a municipality's Request for Bids is simply an offer to which the duty of good faith and fair dealing does not apply."

I wish he had put that on his campaign brochures last year.

I worked against his re-election but two things pulled him through. Highly respected Judge Brent Adams ran a well-monied, high profile campaign and two in three Sparks voters voted early.

Chet Adams? Brent Adams?

The newbies were there to vote for president.

Downticket races got scant attention.

So now we’re stuck with four more years of Chester the disaster.

In all 18 pages of his quibbling response to Daly, he never shows that Mr. Marran had the authority to reject the bids.

Game, set, match.

You can get a copy by calling Chet at 775-353-2324 or e-mailing him at

Daly's filing may be accessed with the web edition of this column at

Chet's ego is hanging up millions of dollars in construction funds which could already be in the pipeline to a struggling community.

He told KRNV TV-4 that "We fully intend to litigate this."

Daly told KRNV that "We offered to the City of Sparks to let go of the lawsuit if they put it on the Sparks City Council meeting for July 6. They declined. What they said is, ‘we don't want to set a precedent,' and for me, that means they don't want to set a precedent for following laws in the City of Sparks."

Covering Chet's exposed rump at the June 22 council meeting, Councilman Ron Schmitt said he would place revocation of all original bids, legal and illegal, on the July 6 agenda, essentially conceding Daly's point that Mr. Marran was without authority to do what he did.

Nonetheless, Chet's response in court last week says that a citizen has no standing to prevent an action which is contrary to state law.

Chet's court brief contains another hoot: "When public officers are bound to exercise their own judgment, no superior court will attempt to exercise it for them or substitute its judgement (sic) for that of the officer even though the complained of action is manifestly erroneous."

Didn’t Richard Nixon once say "if the president does it, it's not illegal"?

Sparks city government acts exactly that way.

They don't protect workers' wages at the Sparks Marina project and have not assessed contractually mandated penalties for screwing people out of their pay.

Two of the stores which recently opened are in blatant violation.

"The City of Sparks is just like Storey County," one labor leader told me, "they don't deal in good faith (as Chet's brief admits) as long as they think it's good for them, regardless of what the law says. The attitude they've had about all this stuff is that they're above the law."

So I guess Chet is the right lawyer for these guys, if not the taxpayers.

Be well. Raise hell.

Andrew Barbano is a 40-year Nevadan, second vice-president of the Reno-Sparks NAACP, a union member, labor advocate and editor of As always, his opinions are strictly his own. Reruns of his legislative session TV programs are cablecast Monday through Friday, 2-4:00 p.m. on Reno-Sparks-Washoe Charter digital channels 16 and 216 and high-definition channel 80-295, available on demand at Barbwire.TV. Check local listings for other Nevada cable systems. E-mail Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks Tribune since 1988.

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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.

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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.

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ORDER Taking the Risk Out of Democracy
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Foreword by Noam Chomsky
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     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.

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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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