Suede shoe psychos & entrepreneurs with lotsa manure


From the 8-1-99 Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune

You may buy into an NBA franchise next April 15. You can then have the pleasure of seeing your tax money support Steve Wynn's latest rape of the public treasury. He's had lots of experience.

Wynn cashed and cajoled the 1997 Nevada Legislature into forcing school children to directly subsidize his infamous casino art gallery. As Sen. Joe Neal, D-North Las Vegas, pointed out to his colleagues, Wynn moved for a subsidy from Nevada taxpayers after congress eliminated a capital gains tax break for high-priced art collectors.

Now, Wynn's going for a triple dip into your pocket. Business, media, political and civic leaders from the governor on down have swooned and drooled over Wynn's drive to extract public funds to build a sports palace. Wynn demands a freebie arena to justify his buying an NBA or NHL franchise, or both.

Mr. Wynnderful has made it a point to trash sports teams as money-losing propositions which he nonetheless will endure out of the goodness of his heart.

If you're the kind of person who believes that bullshit, I fear for your children when a used car salesman wants to take your daughter for a demonstration ride.

First, you can buy an NBA franchise, lose money on its operation, sell it and recoup your losses plus a substantial profit. Lord Rupert Murdoch or his successors will be waiting with their checkbooks.

I have a hunch Wynn will set up his new shell game as Al Davis has the Oakland Raiders. Mr. Davis and his blackguards are currently costing Oakland taxpayers about $16 million a year in subsidies for the money-losing Oakland Coliseum which was expanded to get the Raiders back to their hometown.

Ever wonder why Blackbeard Davis is the team's "managing general partner?" Because such entities allow rich people to escape federal taxation.

Two-time Pulitzer Prize winners Donald Barlett and James Steele delved into such tax dodges in their bestseller "America: Who Really Pays the Taxes?" (Touchstone/Simon & Schuster, 1994)

They told the tale of a star-studded outfit called "The Beverly Hills Gun Club, Inc., a subchapter S corporation, managing general partner (of a firing range and movie star hangout ). The partnership documents provided not only for the distribution of any profits but for the allocation of losses or expenses so that the gun club operations could be written off on the personal tax returns of the investors," actor Sylvester Stallone among them.

Substitute the "NBA Las Vegas Cold Deckers" basketball team for "Beverly Hills Gun Club" and do a little creative accounting. Wynn buys a major sports franchise or seven. He can turn around anytime and sell a franchise at a profit, as it will almost certainly appreciate. If all else fails, he can move it to another town whenever the whim strikes him, another Al Davis pro sports innovation.

No matter what, local taxpayers get stuck with a white elephant stadium and no team.

Wynn can sweep the team's losses to his personal tax return while Nevada taxpayers take the huge capital risk of building the stage for his show. Wynn earned $3.75 million last year, probably not including the chunk he made leasing his artwork to his own hotels.

This grandiose scam makes Wynn's Fellagio art tax loophole seem picayune by comparison.

All of the above comes before any use of the team as a star-power marketing tool for Wynn's gambling properties. Wynn has seen Jack Nicholson, Dyan Cannon and Spike Lee at NBA games. The promotional value alone will generate a return on investment making all the rest pure icing on the cake.

Is everyone from Gov. Dudley Do-Right on down that dumb or that corrupt?

Read More About It:

The 1998 Hot August Riot. The four-letter word which froze Hot August Nights.

HOT AUGUST FIGHTS. An old cop once told me the cardinal rule of running a police department: it must reflect its community or it cannot protect and serve.

There is a disconnect between Reno, Sparks and Washoe County law enforcement entities and their community. Sparks will sport black eyes for years to come because several officers ignored Jennifer W., the victim of the now nationally infamous "Internet Rapists."

Worse, Federal District Judge Edward Reed issued a scathing report criticizing three Reno officers for apparently executing a citizen in his own home, then meeting at a nearby convenience store to get their stories straight. RPD later "mistakenly" destroyed all the evidence.

My police department does not represent me when officers do such things. They did not reflect my wishes last year when they went through downtown breaking the heads of tourists and locals at random.

Hot August Nights is another example of the gambling industry corrupting all it touches. I think the cops reflect the mindset of casino owners, not average citizens.

In 1986, its first year, Hot August Nights was $105,000 in the red as opening day approached. The founding sparkplugs were typical salesmen, somewhere between suede-shoes and psychos.

It takes entrepreneurs with lots of manure to sell grandiose schemes to gullible true believers, but these graying groupies had broken the first rule of show promotion: be in the black before the first ticket is sold.

They were saved because Nevadans came out in droves. I had the thankless task of telling people who had driven all the way from Tonopah in their formals that the prom was so crowded that the Reno fire marshall had closed admission.

Locals turned an embarrassing fiasco into a tremendous success. We took it from red to black overnight. Now, the gambling-industrial complex has twisted it into A Clockwork Orange.

Don't risk your health or your wealth. Tune in oldies radio and stay home.

Be well. Raise hell.


Nevada Labor | U-News | C.O.P. | Sen. Joe Neal
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© Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a member of Communications Workers of America Local 9413 and editor of U-News, where the past three years of columns may be accessed. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks Tribune since 1988 where an earlier version of this column appeared on 8/1/99.

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