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Hall of famers give the boss the finger
by Andrew Barbano
Jun 19, 2011 | 716 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
San Francisco 49er hall of fame defensive back Ronnie Lott gloried in his tough guy reputation. After winning a Super Bowl ring in his rookie season, he went on to a legendary career.

His hardassed cred was cemented after a game in which he injured a pinky finger that got caught in an astroturf zipper. Ouch.

Lott was told he could regain full use after the break healed and he underwent extensive physical therapy. He was further informed that it would cost him the rest of the season. So he had the finger cut off. Now that’s a hardass.

He had nothing on Sylvester Kelley. The old union man died last week at age 87. His memorial service was held Saturday in Silver Springs. A military service will be conducted on Monday, at 3 p.m. at the Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery, 14 Veterans Way in Fernley.

Kelley gained statewide fame over the past year as the featured player in print and TV ads from his electrical workers union blasting the bandidos at NV Energy for the company’s ongoing campaign to destroy the retirement benefits of its former workers.

Kelley returned from World War II with a Purple Heart and a finger mangled by German shrapnel. When he sought work at NVE predecessor Sierra Pacific Power, the outfit wouldn’t hire him because his bent digit wouldn’t fit into a company safety glove. I guess supporting the troops wasn’t in the business plan.

Kelley simply had the finger amputated and went on to become a highly-respected foreman, troubleman and leader in IBEW Local 1245’s Reno unit.

Over the next several days, Local 1245 will feature its 2010 interview with Kelley in six video installments at its online media library which will be linked to the web edition of this column at

Like Ronnie Lott, Sylvester Kelley was the real thing. And really tough till the end.

‘Toon up

Tribune cartoonist Woodrow Barlettani is a world class talent when it comes to creating alternate universes out nothing more than ink and an impish imagination. If you’re not on Woody’s list for daily Reno Aces baseball cartoons, which he e-mails almost immediately after every home or away game, sign up. His address is

Back in the saddle

with Shad

Now that the legislative session is over, I guess Nevada Newsmakers has room for at least one evil, liberal union rabble rouser. That would be me.

I’ll be back on the Sam Shad pundit panel at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, on KRNV TV-4. The full statewide rerun schedule will be linked to the web edition of this column at

Also listed thereat, you will find the coming week’s regional reruns of the new Barbwire TV series. Next installments run at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m., today and 11 a.m., 2 and 11 p.m. on Monday, on Reno-Sparks-Washoe Charter cable 216 and Carson-Dayton Charter 226. You may also view them 24/7 online, including this season’s shows and some of my greatest hits going back to 2009.

I heard from a reader/viewer in the Virginia Foothills area who experienced audio problems on Charter 216. If you’re a Charter victim, please let me know what you’ve witnessed. And if you know anybody on the Storey County cable system, have them  write me or call 882-TALK.

Memories of Maria

Last Sunday, you read my personal tribute to Nevada’s great civil, human and labor rights matriarch Mary Valencia Wilson who died earlier this month at age 66. With the permission of her family, I wrote and distributed Mary’s official obituary which was picked up on dozens of major and minor websites and several newspapers. I was especially pleased to see Mary’s story make That network needs all the saving grace it can get after losing the Big Angry Head, speaking of whom ...

Countdown to Keith

Countdown fans have been waiting for months for a Keith Olbermann fix. Much of northern Nevada will have to wait longer. According to the Current cable network website, customers of DirectTV, Dish Network, Comcast and AT&T UVerse will be able to view the premiere of Olbermann Part Deux at 5:00 p.m. PDT on Monday, June 20. Only those with over-the-air reception or Charter cable will be shut out. has a page where you can write the gods of Charter to beg them to place the Al Gore network on their systems. I strongly recommend that you go there and do that.

As Olbermann said on Jimmy Fallon’s show last Friday, “you should watch Countdown because most television news shows suck.” And he mostly wasn’t kidding. Here’s another remedy.

Back from the

ashes dept

Support the return of community radio and television. The first step toward restoration was well done. After going dark for six months, Charter Channel 216 came back to life broadcasting live legislative hearings and floor sessions fed to Reno-Sparks-Washoe from AccessCarson. (An obscure East Reno newspaper columnist got it started.)

We have acquired new volunteers and we’re going to have a working group meeting soon. Spread the word.

Go to Barbwire.TV for more information, to sign up and/or contribute to the cause. It’s important.

Be well. Raise hell.

Andrew Barbano is a 42-year Nevadan, First Vice-President of the Reno-Sparks NAACP and editor of E-mail Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Tribune since 1988.
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