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A quarter century of Barbwire, part deux
by Andrew Barbano
Aug 14, 2013 | 1208 views | 0 0 comments | 26 26 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Twenty-five years ago on August 12, this column moved from regional magazines to the newly-daily Tribune.

Last week, I told how I got here. This week, highs and lows from over 1,300 Barbwires.

1. THE UNIVERSITY SCANDALS OF 1996-97. Rambunctious UNR Prof. Howard Rosenberg was elected to the university board of regents. The establishment tried to negate his win, arguing that he should not serve because he was a system employee. The Nevada Ethics Commission ruled in his favor. He served with distinction for a dozen years and now sits on the Washoe County school board.

Writing about it opened the floodgates of discontent. The last quarter of 1996, and much of 1997, were taken up with university skulduggery and financial chicanery, like illegally charging donors for three separate research programs that were all the same thing. (They changed the name on the door depending on who was visiting.) They also illegally shunted money to a new basketball floor.

People came to the Tribune to buy all extra copies of the paper. The newspaper's publisher entered the series in the 1997 Pulitzer Prize competition. It's available at

2. INJUDICIOUS CLARENCE.  My 1991 column accurately predicting the conduct of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was picked up by the San Francisco and L.A. Daily Legal Journals.

3. WE DON'T NEED NO EDUCATION, the current ongoing series about the Clark and Washoe County school districts and their phony graduation stats. The guy who started the shell game, Dr. Heath Morrison, just announced amazing results in Charlotte, NC. At least hiring him away got the modern-day Prof. Harold Hill out of Nevada. But the Music Man cancer persists.

4. TALLY HO. My 1996 obituary of local motorsports legend Merle Brennan was picked up by the world's best racing site based in Britain. That's one reason that's monthly readership eclipses more than half of Nevada newspapers and even some network TV affiliate websites.

5. WHAT I'M BEST AT: Obituaries of people I've known, from Paul Newman to average workers.

6. THE HIGHEST COMPLIMENT: "You're a hoot!" from a reader. Thanks.

7. THE LOW. A long-ago column got a good guy fired. In 1990, a commercial client told me that First Federal Savings in Carson City had been robbed but the branch lacked surveillance cameras. The feds didn't require it until after a place got hit. I printed the story and the bank fired its chief of security who had advocated for years to install cameras. A cover-her-ass exec made the retired Reno cop a scapegoat for her corporate cheapness. I wanted to expose it, but the old officer asked me to let it go.

8. WORK TO DO: Ratcheting up support for my two proudest public policy achievements. The Nevada Consumer Advocate's office needs a higher profile and more aggressive posture. The local community television station needs rebirth. Go to Barbwire.TV and join the cause.

Esté bien. Haga infierno.

Be well. Raise hell.

Andrew Barbano is a 44-year Nevadan and editor of E-mail
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