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Bullshots and Bum Watches
by Andrew Barbano
Aug 14, 2011 | 623 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Washoe County District Attorney Dick Gammick is a magician. Little Richard flew apart like a bum watch over last week’s column and did so on camera. On Thursday’s statewide “Nevada Newsmakers” show, Sam Shad asked us about reinstitution of the once-banned “Early Case Resolution Program” (see Barbwire “Red, White and Screwed,” July 3). Sold as a way to save money, it pushes defendants to plead guilty within 72 hours of arrest. No muss, no fuss, no rights, no mas.

Gammick keeps stats favorable to himself but doesn’t think it important to track brown, black, undereducated, young and poor people, those most jeopardized by such quickie convicting. Judge for yourself. Go to for reruns and 24/7 webstreaming.

The blame game

Now the tale can be told. The person most responsible for the Barbwire was just named poet laureate of the United States. Philip Levine has won both a Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award. In his younger days, he labored at the fabled Ford River Rouge Plant and later became an English professor at California State University, Fresno, where the son of Italian farm workers took every class he taught.

His wicked sense of humor kept me coming back. If he hadn’t made it in literature, he could have scored “The Tonight Show” as a standup comic. Maybe he’ll get there now as the bard of the working class.

Somewhere among all the laughs, us kids learned something. One day, we were going over the work of some famous writer when Levine came across a particularly poorly composed passage. The comedian disappeared and the slight man with a bird’s nest of curly hair and Coke-bottle-bottom spectacles turned gravely serious.

“Bad writing is bad writing,” he thundered, no matter who wrote it. The biggies don’t deserve any slack because of who they are. I didn’t know it at the time, but that was the day the Barbwire was born.

Bullfighting in Tonopah, Part Deux

The conquistadores building a 2,764-acre, taxpayer-subsidized solar power array have applied for all the usual Nevada charity: 20-year sales, use and property tax breaks of 75 percent, corporate welfare that drains funds for schools, roads, parks, police and fire protection.

Last February, Gov. Brian Sandoval appointed a member of his transition team to the Nevada Commission on Economic Development.

Steve Hill is founder and senior vice-president of Silver State Materials, a Gomorrah South outfit that will supply concrete to the Tonopah solar project as a subcontractor to Cobra Energía, the Spain-based company building the thing.

One of the state agencies that will review applications: the Nevada Commission on Economic Development. Mr. Hill is rumored to be Gov. El Bruté Obtusé’s frontrunner to head an expanded economic diversification apparatus that will give Hill even more clout over corporate welfare goodies.

These guys make Judge James Russell’s conflicts of interest in the congressional race seem picayune. Russell did not disclose that GOP nominee Mark Amodei was both his former law partner and current co-investor in a $500 mining claim. Hizzoner didn’t think this worthy of disclosure when he kept a large number of candidates of all persuasions out of next month’s congressional election, geometrically increasing Amodei’s chances. Apologists say the conflicts are small potatoes, but they don’t know how law firms peddle juice.

Snakes on the high-desert plain

Cobra Energía will break ground shortly on the Tonopah solar extravaganza even though the project has yet to jump through a passel of regulatory hoops. Serious questions remain about adequate water. A required wage determination study has not been conducted. The developers have failed to obtain required permits for their materials pit or concrete batch plant. But hey, it’s Nevada and business is business.

Groundhog daze

At 6 p.m. Thursday, the Storey County Planning Commission meets at the courthouse in Virginia City. Comstock Mining, Inc., will make another run at a special-use permit to allow drilling 12 hours a day, seven days a week in a largely residential area. For info, call 775-847-0321. You also can watch the TV show I did about it. Check the expanded web edition of this column at for the latest statewide Barbwire.TV schedule, also viewable 24/7 online. This presents just one reason to support the return of community radio and television to these parts. Go to ReSurge.TV to volunteer your time or treasure or both.

Grind Sierra

As reported last week, the new regime at northern Nevada’s largest hotel is hiring wholesale temps to replace both union and non-union workers. Some soon-to-be-fired longtime Grand Sierra employees are being forced to train their replacements. The Nevada State AFL-CIO and Nevada Alliance for Retired Americans have scheduled conventions at the property Aug. 21 through 23. Will delegates picket the place? Word is that the culinary union has reached agreement on a new contract, but that doesn’t cover everyone. At least four other unions represent GSR workers and some have no union at all, including clerical and front desk staff. For reservations, call India.

Best hope for an Obama second term

Make sure that a batshit crazy church lady becomes the GOP nominee (sound familiar?). Sen. Harry Reid and Newsweek editor Tina Brown might be available to consult.

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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