I’ve got a killer new ad campaign touting Sparks as prosperity Valhalla for businesses large and small.
How about “Succulently Solvent Sparks, where going-out-of-business sales never happen.” At least for the past six decades or so.
Going out of business sales make lots of money. And they are almost illegal in the Rail City.
Harry Spencer’s column last week reminded me of a couple of Sparks golden oldies. He mentioned the late Link Piazzo in his column. Link and his brother Chet were among the original investors who launched KTVN TV-2 on a shoestring and ended up selling it for millions. It’s still in business.
Their longtime business, The Sportsman, founded in Reno in 1938, has joined them in the big gymnasium in the sky.
Thereby hangs a tale.
Chet and Link apparently opened a location in Sparks but it did not do well, so they advertised a going out of business sale sometime around the 1960s. Business skyrocketed and they kept their belly-up bargain basement going for quite some time.
In the late 1970s, one of my advertising clients in Sparks’ Greenbrae Shopping Center became one of legion put out of business by chain stores muscling in. I put together going-out-of-business ads and got a call from the city attorney.
We would have to conduct a detailed inventory of every item in the store and submit it to city hall. No additional merchandise could be offered after the inventory was submitted.
Why the draconian demands?
“Chet and Link Piazzo,” the city’s top lawyer replied. Their elongated el-foldo went on for so long that the city council passed an ordinance requiring the strait-jacket inventory. Compiling a list of thousands of items would be both time-consuming and costly, not to mention that my client needed to be out by lease expiration.
So we advertised a “total liquidation” sale. And that’s why you don’t see any “going-out-of-business” sales in Sparks to this very day.
Nobody goes out of business in Sparks anymore. What’s not to like?
REID AND REPUBLICANS. Another item in last week’s paper fairly screamed for context.
Veteran Associated Press writer Scott Sonner’s story about the ongoing attempt by Washoe and Nye county commissioners to revert to paper hand-counted ballots was good but he hasn’t been around as long as the Barbwire.
Sonner reported on Republican Washoe County Commissioner Jeanne Herman’s campaign to revert back to the days of Boss Tweed and Tammany Hall — or at least to old-fashioned 1970s Nye County ballot box stuffing. (Barbwire 3-23- 2022)
The AP quoted attorney Patrick Flangas who testified against Herman’s measure before Washoe Commissioners last month. Her multiple “ballot security” proposals lost 4-1, with two Republicans and two Democrats against. She has since been pushing a more targeted proposal again calling for hand-marked paper ballots which would probably violate state law.
Mr. Flangas noted that he had been retained by the Republican Party in 1998 when Washoe County’s vote counting in the tight U.S. Senate race stalled the final result and hand tabulation was ordered.
Flangas said he advocated for a hand recount “because we knew — and everybody knew — that it would produce more error.”
Washoe’s woes resulted from a cartoon case of penny-wise and dollar foolish. The race between incumbent Democratic Sen. Harry Reid and Republican Congressman John Ensign was projected to generate a huge turnout so officials wanted to order more blank ballots. Back then, people would fill in their choice with special pencils and the finished ballot would be processed through a high-speed optical reader.
Scholastic Aptitude Tests and myriad others had been run that way for decades prior. To save about a hundred bucks, election officials decided to print additional forms in-house. Bad idea. They were printed or cut a little off so that optical readers could not read them.
No one challenged all the other elections on the Washoe ballot but the razor-thin Reid-Ensign race made a hand count of the relatively few poorly printed ballots necessary.
I volunteered to be among dozens of others who tediously worked for days at the registrar of voters office. Teams of three (one Donkeykong, one Elephantine and a non-partisan) hand-reviewed every ballot. In four hours of counting one night, my team reviewed a whopping 35 — three-five — ballots.
The statewide result was not changed and Reid officially won by 428 votes.
PULP FICTION? Sonner went on to quote Flangas as remembering “with a bit of integrity we haven’t seen over the last year, (Ensign) conceded the election after the recount.” His alternative would have been to challenge the election in court. Apparently Rudy Giuliani was not available.
CONSPIRACY THEORY TIME. Less than a year later in 1999, on Sam Shad’s Nevada Newsmakers TV show, Sen. Reid endorsed Ensign for senate! Dems were dumbfounded. No major Democrat filed in 2000 and Ensign handily won the seat of retiring Democrat Richard Bryan by 92,427 votes over TV lawyer Ed Bernstein. (Smoking guns at NevadaLabor.com/)
Did Harry cut a deal with his old buddy with the Vegas hair? Probably.
Makes sense. Get the guy who almost defrocked you into the senate with you and you will have no major GOP opposition in 2004. Which is exactly what happened. Reid defeated a Republican unknown by 210,265 the next time.
POLICE LINES. The Sparks Police Advisory Committee met last Monday but the event was neither available online nor via the city’s Charter/Spectrum cable channel. I’ll ask for an update. The agenda included items on the police department’s 2021 Use of Force Report and a presentation about hiring and recruiting practices.
According to the city’s website, two of the seven seats on the body are now vacant. Stay tuned.
GRAMMAR POLICE. Reno Gazette-Journal staff must have gotten too exuberant on St. Patrick’s Day. A March 17 headline noted “fish stockings” at the Sparks Marina. What kind of stockings do fish wear? Provocative fishnet, perhaps?
An Associated Press story noted “just 1,500 COVID-19 deaths” per day.” Green beer for the house!
And the Reno Police Dept. was investigating “a gun-related shooting.” Redundant? Perhaps not as long as there may be some vicious guys out there with crossbows or rubber bands.
“War crime” remains the most redundant phrase I know.
Pray for Ukraine.
Take care of each other and be careful out there.
Be well. Raise hell. / Esté bien. Haga infierno.
Andrew Quarantino Barbano is a 53-year Nevadan and editor of NevadaLabor. com, MississippiWestNV.org, CesarChavezNevada.com and SenJoeNeal. org/ Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Tribune since 1988. E-mail