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The crabby cure for what ails us
by Andrew Barbano
Jan 16, 2010 | 818 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Lately, I’ve been noticing a bland sameness in the statements of people declaring for state and local office. They all support education and all say our broken taxation system needs fixing. Nobody gets any more specific, so allow me.

1. Unwind the 1981 Tax Shift (aka the Tax Shaft) that reduced property taxes and made us dependent on unstable sales taxes, three of every four dollars of which are paid by Nevadans.

2. Close the loopholes allowing the mining industry to get away with murder.

3. Get state lawmakers to do what they promised and failed to do last year: Close many of the corporate welfare tax exemptions in state law. My favorite is the sales tax exemption for NASCAR teams at Las Vegas International Raceway. Casino mogul Steve Wynn’s tax subsidy of his megabucks art collection was another.

4. Eliminate STAR Bonds, which have put the city of Sparks in serious financial jeopardy thanks to the underperforming Legends at Sparks Marina/Scheels development.

5. Raise the tax on our largest, most profitable casinos, which, with minor exceptions, continue to enjoy the lowest taxes in the world. Don’t believe it when big casinos cry poor boy. (For more info go to

6. Stop spending room tax and property tax money on casino promotion through convention authorities and downtown redevelopment agencies. The room tax was imposed in 1955 to support local projects but has long since been skimmed by the gambling industry to promote with tax money what they should do for themselves.

7. Tax profitable businesses that pay nothing or next to it, such as Wal-Mart and the Hyatt Place hotel at the Reno airport.

8. Keep in mind that the state can be successfully sued to raise taxes to support education. On July 15, 2008, then-University Chancellor Jim Rogers published legal research noting that 27 other jurisdictions have lost in court.

It’s that simple. But will any candidate have the guts to propose this very obvious fix? Don’t hold your breath.

Relapse Department

The city of Sparks is re-hiring the same consultants who previously screwed up the wages for the workers on the RED development/Scheels/Marina project. Knowing full well that only the tip of the iceberg has been sighted by the Titanic, embarrassed city staff noted, “We’ve only had nine complaints filed.” Just wait awhile. See

Community Media Update

The baby I helped birth 20 years ago is undergoing some growing pains. Les Smith has left Sierra Nevada Community Access Television, replaced by interim executive director Larry DeVincenzi, who brings decades of local media experience. Steve Halliwell, a longtime mainstay at commercial TV stations, has joined SNCAT as production director. I’ve worked with both of these gentlemen over the years and the community will be well served by their involvement. The monthly producers potluck happens at 5:30 p.m. this Wednesday at SNCAT’s fancy new digs in Meadowood Mall, between Macy’s II and JC Penney, across from Bully’s Sports Bar.

Details of my next regional Barbwire TV program will be announced soon. The subject will be — what else? — jobs.  The Dec. 6 pilot is in reruns statewide. Check your local listings or go to the Web edition of this column at to view it online.

The goal is to expand public affairs programming on non-corporate airwaves, including a new full-power FM regional radio station.

If you would like to donate to the community radio and TV project, go to ReSurge.TV or send a check or money order to ReSurge.TV, P.O. Box 10034, Reno, NV 89510. If you are in business, I can provide deductible advertising expense options. If you need to donate through a non-profit organization, that option is also available.

Wednesday Part Deux

Immediately after the SNCAT producers meeting, Washoe County’s new education czar will address the Truckee Meadows Democratic Alliance. Dr. Heath Morrison will speak on his reform agenda for the Washoe County School District. The location is Reno Democratic HQ, 1465 Terminal Way, Suite 1. I wanna know what he plans to reform without any money to do anything here in the stingiest state in the nation.

Getting crabby

If you’re a citizen and not crabby, you haven’t been paying attention. The Democratic Alliance hosts its annual crab feed at the Sparks Parks and Recreation Center, 98 Richards Way, on Feb. 13. Assemblymember Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, will serve as mistress of ceremonies and I will be suggesting some ideas to make the evening more … er ... humorously aggressive. For more info, call 323-VOTE.

Songs from the labor siren

The late great U. Utah Phillips called her the greatest labor folk singer working today. Peter Yarrow and Pete Seeger number themselves among her fans, as do I. Smithsonian Folkways has distributed her songs, many of which you heard on my once and future radio-TV simulcast.

The legendary Anne Feeney ( comes to Reno’s West Street Market at 7 p.m. on Feb. 21. The event is being underwritten by my brothers and sisters at the Reno General Membership Branch of the hallowed Industrial Workers of the World union, better known as the Wobblies. Admission is free (the place seats about 75), but “donations are suggested from those currently employed.”

I can’t overly praise this country girl’s talent. Favorites on my show included “Get the Bosses Off Your Back,” “Hallelujah, I’m a Bum,” and my personal pick, “We Just Come to Work Here, We Don’t Come to Die.”

For more info, call 233-8522 or (608) 358-7751 or e-mail

Be there, dammit.

“From Wharf Rats to Lords of the Dock” is a one-man play by Ian Raskin, a film of which will be shown by the Wobblies at 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 26, at Mountain Mike’s Pizza on Kietzke at Vassar, across the street from KRNV TV-4. It’s also free.

It’s the story of firebrand labor leader Harry Bridges of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. In December 1958, Bridges came to Reno to get married to his Japanese-American fiancee. They were informed that an ancient Nevada law forbade it. Bridges made it an international cause celebre and hired lawyers who got the statute struck down in just four days. As I recall, they were wed at the Mapes Hotel with Charles Mapes hisself in attendance.

For more info, call Rich Haber at 746-5720 or e-mail

Be well. Raise hell.

Andrew Barbano is a 41-year Nevadan, second vice-president of the Reno-Sparks NAACP, member of Sparks-based Communications Workers of America Local 9413/AFL-CIO and editor of As always, his opinions are strictly his own. E-mail Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Tribune since 1988.
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