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Barack Brian Obama Sandoval Carter
by Andrew Barbano
Jan 30, 2011 | 660 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A few days ago, I got a very bleak prediction from a usually optimistic officeholder: The 2011 Nevada Legislature will fail to keep state and local governments and our educational system from pretty much collapsing. The people will be forced to take to the streets.

Fine by me. I have long expressed admiration for peaceful popular uprising. The citizens of the Philippines and Ukraine earned everlasting respect for coming out by the thousands to protest stolen elections. Unlike us in 2000, the thieves were expelled. just overthrew the government of Tunisia and Egypt might be next.

President Obama should have made his economic policy by following Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman’s New York Times columns. Instead, he put the foxes back into our financial chicken coop, signed off on an economic stimulus that was much too small and got his ass kicked last November by the guys who got us into this mess.

A double-dip depression is now in the offing. Only severe hardship resulted in passage of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal in the 1930s. Looks like instant replay on the horizon. I hope the pain proves worth the gain, but is there another FDR out there?

A tale of three


President Obama and Gov. Sandoval now have something in common with President Jimmy Carter. All seem possessed by a curious passion for rearranging furniture.

Political commentator Jeff Greenfield said this about that in his 1980 book, “Playing to Win”: “Don’t reorganize the government. In many ways, this is the most important piece of advice available to an incumbent executive ... (It) is always an obsession ... and it is always such an astonishing waste of time that it prevents an incumbent from accumulating anything like an impressive record. When you are meeting with your cabinet officers on which agency gets a new office, you aren’t setting policy, you aren’t cutting the budget, you aren’t getting your legislative program through ... and you aren’t making life one whit better for the people who voted for you.”

Greenfield noted that Carter’s new Department of Energy never got around to making energy policy. The office responsible for regulations was too busy moving 19 times, “often back and forth among the same three buildings.”

Reminds me of an old joke about deck chairs on the Titanic. Or new ones about color-coded alert levels.

Courting Catherine Cortez Masto

Madame Attorney General is in for tough sledding in her second term. On Jan. 16, I noted her increasing union troubles because Nevada labor laws can be broken with impunity on her watch. Lady Catherine likes to flip responsibility to local district attorneys or the state labor commissioner, an office which walked away from its statutory duty to advocate for workers two decades ago. Local DA’s won’t touch labor law violations because they represent the counties which are some of the worst violators. And they think it’s the AG’s job. So Nevada workers, like utility ratepayers, are largely left twisting in the wind under the regime of the ambitious AG.

Capital punishment

The Ledge may provide headline entertainment, but Carson City is always good for other kinks and kicks. Thursday, Feb. 10, provides a double header. In the kinks department, the Nevada Commission on Ethics hears charges against Washoe County District Attorney Dick Gammick. If found guilty of abusing his office, he could be defrocked.

However, the bullet-domed DA has an ace in the hole: He’s a Republican. Former Sen. Maurice Washington, R-Sparks, got bailed out of serious potential criminal liability a decade ago. Were he a Democrat, the “D” after his name might well have been changed to “detention.” (See the Barbwire archive at

The late State Controller Kathy Augustine was impeached and convicted of using her office resources in her re-election campaign, pretty much the same charges Gammick faces. Fortunately, Sen. Bill Raggio, R-Reno, controlled the upper house majority at the time and gave her 40 lashes with a limp noodle. The penalty for conviction upon impeachment is removal for a constitutional officer. Former prosecutor Raggio invented a diversion for his fellow Republican. Gammick may not be so lucky.

On the same day, the Public Utilities Commission has set a pre-hearing conference on the action filed by International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1245/AFL-CIO. The union alleges that chronic understaffing statewide has put the reliability of most of Nevada’s electrical grid in serious jeopardy. The case has already broken new ground — nobody expected the corporate-oriented PUC to even take up the matter.

Feb. 10 in Carson City will favor those who get their kicks by being in two or three places at once.

Dirty business

Environment Nevada just published a killer 78-page report entitled Dirty Energy’s Assault on our Health: Mercury. It roasts those wonderful profitmongers at NV Energy for all the mercury the company’s polluting power plants put into Nevada air. The full report will be available for download with the expanded web edition of this column at

Capital punishment, part deux

Gov. Sandoval’s budget calls for axing the job of stimulus watchdog Mary Keating, the courageous woman who blew the whistle on former Gov. Jim the Dim’s text-messaged lewd and lascivious liaisons launched at taxpayer expense. Outrageous.

Be well. Raise hell.

Andrew Barbano is a 42-year Nevadan and editor of

E-mail Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks Tribune since 1988.
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