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Rats, fat cats and Olympic Kool-Aid
by Andrew Barbano
Feb 16, 2008 | 823 views | 0 0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Sometimes I hate it when I’m right.

Last week, the redoubtable Ray Hagar printed a story in the Reno Kazoo-Journal about local Olympic proselytizers taking a survey to see if us yokels will support a tax increase for a winter games bid.

“Without tax money, Reno-Tahoe would be hard-pressed to compete with other North American venues that also may want the 2018 winter games, (Lt. Gov. Brian) Krolicki said,” according to Hagar’s article.

That’s not what the light guv said two months ago.

“Krolicki thinks it can be done through private contributions, mainly from big corporate sponsors. ‘My vision is not to encumber the taxpayer in this process at all. Park City gave us a great model,’” he told the Reno News & Review last December.

Bull. Park City was another huge corporate welfare project sucking up over half a billion dollars in taxpayer subsidies, according to Hagar’s report.

The only North American Olympics that actually made money took place in Los Angeles in 1984, largely because almost no new facilities or infrastructure were needed. Montreal finally paid off its 1976 debts a few a years ago.

Here’s what I told the News & Review: “‘Thou shalt not finance it on the backs of the taxpayers,’ warns Andrew Barbano, a veteran Reno journalist. He has led the opposition to public funding for a Reno-Tahoe Olympics since a bid in the late 1980s.

“‘My biggest objection was they wanted to finance the Olympic bid and the construction of the Olympic project with the same damn thing they always do around the state of Nevada — raise the sales tax, which is the most brutal and regressive tax you can impose on people. My name’s been married to questioning the Olympics ever since.’

“Barbano questions whether the coalition can truly pull off the games without feeding at the public trough.

“‘I’m sure somebody will think of raising the sales tax again. They always try to burden the public with something like this.’

“Barbano calls it ‘corporate welfare’ and cites Northern Nevada’s rich history of infusing tax dollars into sports-related venues.

“‘I’d be very surprised if they can do [the Olympics] with 100 percent private money,’ Barbano says. ‘I just don’t think it’s going to be there,’” I told the RNR.

Misrepresentation sank the Reno-Sparks-Tahoe Olympic Organizing Committee’s bid to host the 2004 games and today’s jockocracy seems to have the same trouble telling the truth.

From Oly to Onie

The outstanding community service of Rev. Onie Cooper will be remembered on March 8 at the Second Baptist Church. The longtime civil rights activist succeeded after years of effort to get a stretch of highway named for the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Organizers are looking for letters recounting personal experiences from those who have worked with Rev. Cooper. You may mail them to “This is Your Life Onie Cooper,” in care of the church at 1265 Montello, Reno 89512.

From fighter to fashion

The Reno-Sparks NAACP will host a local showing of the 50th anniversary edition of Ebony magazine’s traveling fashion fair at the Grand Sierra Resort on April 23. For show info, go to For tickets, call Jane Moon at 722-7314.

From dream girls to dream world

Last Wednesday, I got to play pundit on Sam Shad’s TV show (you may view it at In the first two segments, Mr. Shad interviewed Nevada State Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno. The longtime public official said that neither Republicans nor Democrats have fielded a presidential candidate with the ability to inspire in the tradition of Harry Truman or John F. Kennedy.

The old political warhorse just hasn’t been paying attention.

He also said that a major study of Nevada’s tax system is needed since the Price-Waterhouse report was done in the early 1980s. He was wrong on both counts. The book-length Price-Waterhouse study was delivered to the 1989 legislature. I’ve got a copy and all it basically did was to categorize the obvious. Sen. Raggio also seems to have forgotten that major tax research was done under Gov. Dudley Do-Right just before the 2003 legislative session — the one that raised taxes but not our level of wisdom.

From fat cats to rats

I got a lot of calls last week from reporters trying to find out what’s behind the three cabinet level resignations from Gov. Jim the Dim’s staff. The directors of the state departments of public safety (DMV, highway patrol) and agriculture are leaving, as is the only remaining communications officer.

Former Reno police lieutenant Phil Galeoto’s departure at DMV/NHP is perhaps easiest to understand. He came into the job under a bit of a cloud, just like the man who appointed him (see “Missing drugs and guns, heavy criticism, then resignation” by Jeff German in the Feb. 14 Las Vegas Sun).

Perhaps we should take the public statements of the departing as face value. Cliché alert: Galeoto wants more time with his family. The ag director said her job wasn’t a good fit for her. Maybe they all became weary of the constant cacophony of criticism by those concerned that the governor’s pig-headed budget cutting is going to cost lives.

Or maybe the rats are deserting the sinking ship because the patches in the hull cannot be repaired and they’ve just sighted an iceberg they’re not warning us about.

From rats to rights

Casino dealers at Lake Tahoe are starting to organize a union. See

From gambling to glitches

Technical problems scratched last week’s scheduled launch of my new live call-in talk TV cablecast/Web cast. We are working hard to zap the gremlins in the system. My apologies if I inconvenienced anyone and I sincerely appreciate your patience. Stay tuned to Barbwire.TV.

Be well. Raise hell.

Andrew Barbano is a 39-year Nevadan, a member of the Reno-Sparks NAACP and editor of E-mail Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Tribune since 1988.
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