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César Chávez Day 2010: Produce your own revolution
by Andrew Barbano
Mar 13, 2010 | 727 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
March 31, would have been legendary labor leader César Chávez’s 83rd birthday. We will celebrate his life and legacy that evening at the Circus Circus Hotel-Casino with César Chávez Celebration VIII.

Nevada’s first César Chávez Day came when he visited Reno on July 15, 1986. (See for the story and photos.) Then-Mayor Pete Sferrazza personally presented a proclamation from the city. Annual celebrations have been held since 2003.

This is the first year that there will not be an essay contest conducted in conjunction with the Washoe County School District. I suspect budget cuts lie at the root, a situation I certainly understand. (Remedy below.)

A few days ago, I came up with a new idea for involving students that works well with the nonprofit organization that will be the principal beneficiary of this year’s event: Sierra Nevada Community Access Television. I served on the organization’s founding board 20 years and have been among its most vocal protectors and defenders ever since.

Great Depression, Part Deux has hit SNCAT hard, like every other aspect of the economy. As I have noted for the past few weeks, the community TV station needs help with a critical $40,000 challenge grant from the prestigious Community Foundation of Western Nevada which will match public contributions dollar-for-dollar –– all tax-deductible. My personal thanks to those who have already anted in.

To replace the essay contest, what better way to raise the profile for SNCAT fundraising and involve students than a César Chávez video competition? I will make it as simple as anything can get. Nevada students will compete in four categories: elementary, middle, high school and college. Produce a 60-second public service announcement on any issue you passionately care about. Upload the same at your YouTube page and send me the URL so that the judges and I may review your work. The decisions of the judges will be final.

We will show the winners at the César Chávez Celebration on the evening of March 31. We will also produce a TV show to air on SNCAT featuring the winners and best runners-up. I know time is short, so anyone who has something already uploaded, even if it’s slightly longer 60 seconds, enter it. Spanish language entries are cool. I’ll have some help there. Any other language, I’ll need a translation. Winners will get nice prizes, as always.

Time is short but this is going to be a lot of fun. The event will also premier the inaugural César Chávez Silver State Public Service Awards. Nominations are open for for labor organizer of the year, employer of the year, humanitarian of the year and union project of the year. We are again inviting members of César Chávez’s immediate family plus federal, state and local officials.

Doors open at 5:30 with dinner at 7:00 p.m. Contact me for ticket and sponsorship information.

¡Sí se puede!

Short Shots

I hope the Teabagger caravan scheduled to harass tiny Searchlight, Nev. this weekend has been canceled. The yahoos who don’t know that the Boston Tea Party was perpetrated to protest a tax cut have been scheduled to bring busloads of dingbats to the home town of  U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. With the serious injuries suffered by the still hospitalized Mrs. Reid in Virginia a few days ago, let’s hope that the Reid-haters show some class and call off the big harass.

I can dream, can’t I?

The Luv Guv Strikes Again

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, Gov. Jim the Dim is reaching new lows in employee relations. The state employees association (they are not a union because they have no collective bargaining rights under Nevada law) are circulating a petition for people who “disagree with Gov. Gibbons’ proposal to unclassify state employees within the Nevada System of Higher Education.” Workers would lose all their rights and become fire-at-will employees who can be discharged for no reason at all, just like at anyone laboring on the greater Nevada plantation. For more info, go to, the Web site of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 4041/AFL-CIO.

The dismantling of Nevada’s starving educational system continues.  What to do? Let’s call on Sweet Sue.

Suing for Schools

My latest TV program is now available online. Go to the front page of and click on the very obvious link. The Reno-Sparks NAACP and other organizations are seriously reviewing the potential of what is known as an adequacy lawsuit against the state for neglecting its constitutional mandate to provide for education. The program addresses the broad context. Twenty-seven other jurisdictions have lost similar cases. Research will be linked to the Web edition of this column at

Be well. Raise hell.

Andrew Barbano is a 39-year Nevadan, member of Sparks-based Communications Workers of America Local 9413/AFL-CIO, political action chair and webmaster of NAACP Reno-Sparks Branch 1112, producer of the César Chávez celebration and editor of As always, his comments are strictly his own. E-mail Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Tribune since 1988.
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