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Julia Ratti for mayor: Why not?
by David Farside
Apr 20, 2009 | 768 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The last few weeks have been very interesting. Doing what columnists should do, I have everyone upset with me. Well, not everyone. Only the city manager, most of the City Council, Catholics and some friends.

Sparks city government says it has had “enough of Farside” because I criticized Councilman Ron Schmitt and the council in general and the city manager in particular for accepting the overpayment of room tax from the RSCVA. They shouldn’t blame me because they don’t know how to count money or can’t remember their political agreements.

Some Catholics were really upset when I challenged the infallibility of the Pope. I thought he was insensitive to human needs when he opposed the use of condoms as a health aid, preventing the spread of HIV in Africa. I reminded them of the Sermon on the Mount in which Christ said, “Love they neighbor as thyself.” I don’t think he mentioned whether or not they should wear condoms.

A few friends called me, very upset because of a caption on an article I wrote about friends in politics. They were wondering why they weren’t considered my friend. I fouled up the caption that read, “I have no friends, only enemies.” I should have written, “In politics I have no friends, therefore, I know who my enemies are” or something like that. Old friends are hard to find and even harder to keep.

But getting back to politics, Mayor Geno Martini and Schmitt want the council to have another meaningless public discussion on the Lazy 8 project. Instead of each council member reading the planning commission report, they want the commission to present a formal presentation to the council explaining it. Maybe they did read it and just don’t understand it.

If they really want to have a public hearing, they should investigate how Red Hawk Land Co. received the right to build a gaming project anywhere in Sparks in the first place.

In 1994, the Sparks City Council approved a possible relocation of a gaming facility planed by Red Hawk. I have heard rumors swirl that former Mayor Bruce Breslow and some other council members received special financing arrangements on property they supposedly purchased from Red Hawk. At the time, Terry Reynolds was Sparks’ city manager. What’s remarkable is that no one from that council seems to remember giving their consent to Red Hawk and some say they were never told about that clause in the agreement. What’s interesting is that Reynolds, the one who should have known and was obligated to tell the council members, later quit his job as manager. He now holds an executive position with – who else? – Red Hawk Land Development. I know, I’m too cynical.

Anyway, why do we need another hearing on the Lazy 8 project? Red Hawk sued the city for a breach of the 1994 agreement. The city settled the suit and was ordered to approve the project. Maybe the council doesn’t understand or can’t remember the settlement their predecessors signed.

In another matter, the City Council, by a 4-1 vote, voiced its opposition to Assembly Bill 443, which would allow voters in each ward to elect their own representative in the general election. They said in a recent, and public, council meeting that they are not opposed to the ward-only vote but think the charter committee should handle the change. If they are not opposed to it, what difference does it make if it is passed by the Legislature or approved by the charter committee?

The only rational council person voting to support the Assembly bill was Councilwoman Julia Ratti. She supported the change and said she believed the change would provide “a better system if we ran by the ward.” She also noted there are about 60,000 registered voters in Sparks and campaigning city-wide would give the advantage to “the candidate who has the most money” over a grassroots candidate. And, she’s right.

Serving just a few months on the council, it is evident that Ratti’s logic, political philosophy, common sense, experience as a facilitator, organizer and volunteer will serve her well if she pursues the office of mayor of Sparks.

She has been involved with Partners in Education, Gang Alternatives Partnership (GAP) Girl Scouts and Sparks Pop Warner.

She is the founder of the Human Services Network, a coalition of human service providers working together for the betterment of our community.

Her political ladder of success will depend on how she establishes herself on the city council. If her votes are based on her principles, using her intelligence, logic and empirical knowledge, she’ll do fine — unless she gets too involved with other councilmen’s personal vendettas and political agendas. If, in the future, she decides to trade her principles just to build a political consensus, it might be a long climb to higher aspirations.

It’s never too early to set your sites on a political target. With Assembly-man Bernie Anderson and others hinting they are interested in becoming mayor and Martini precariously perched in the center of our political arena, Ratti, if she decides to run, could be the next mayor of Sparks. Why not?

David Farside is a Sparks resident and political activist. The polemics of his articles can be discussed at farsidian2001@ His Web site is
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