If you haven’t noticed any good news lately, you’ve come to the right place.
I’ve often written that if you reflect on your life and wonder how in hell you ended up ensconced in the confines of the High Desert Outback of the American Dream, it’s because this place, its people and other resident critters need all the help they can get.
Here’s a Barbwire 2-for-1 sweet upper sundae with a cherry on top. Read on.
GOOD NEWS 1. In an overweight nation much more concerned with butt control than gun control, maybe we can split the difference (and perhaps the seams) by unzipping the old taboo of rent control.
Welcome back to back to the future. It’s 1978 again. This boomtown is exploding and people are living in tents down by the river. During the casino expansion four decades ago, speculators prowled with suitcases full of cash buying any property, no matter the price. They knew they could flip title in less than a year for a fat return.
The math was addictive. Buy an apartment house, jack up rents to pay for the financing, then sell when the next guy with a suitcase knocks on your door. Renters in Nevada have never had any rights to speak of. Those that exist are as weak as Kleenex in a hurricane.
I thought it couldn’t get worse than ‘78. Dead wrong. Landlords are now charging people hundreds of dollars just to APPLY for a rental. The going rate is $50 per person. That’s $200 upfront for a family of four with no guarantee.
You can get three of your credit reports online for a buck apiece. Landlords buy subscriptions and pay far less than consumers for detailed records. The bandidos are charging half-a-hundred-a-head just because they can.
I am calling upon public officials to see what can be done now and what legislation needs to be passed in the 2019 session. This is criminal extortion but legal in this exploitive backwater state in serious need of a consumer advocate like Barbara Bennett.
She came to public notice when she started a campaign for a rent justification ordinance, promptly trashed by the Reno City Council. When established landlords saw rents rising due to speculators, they raised theirs even without increased costs. (“Whatever the market will bear,” as Ebenezer Scrooge might say.) The streets and riverbanks took the overflow.
So in honor of the late, great Reno Mayor Bennett, let’s start a renters’ rights advocacy organization in her name. Volunteers, please call me. Since I’m helping launch a new advocacy organization this week anyway, why not double down?
GOOD NEWS 2. Tonight, April 25, the Nevada Museum of Art hosts the premiere of “Love, Chantal,” a docudrama based on the diary of a Reno teen who lost her life to an eating disorder. I tried to get a non-profit started in 2014 when dancer Callie Hutson died of anorexia at 24. I know her family and they tried everything but could not save her.
The same thing happened to local top gun attorney Robert Hager who lost his Chantal at just 19.
Another top gun, Peter Chase Neumann, invited me to a bar association dinner a couple of years ago. As fate would have it, I was seated next to Bob Hager who told me he was producing a film about eating disorders. He called me when the film was done and the rest is history, starting tonight. Admission is free.
Food and refreshments start at 6:00 p.m., film at 7:00, conversation and organizing at 8:00. Just in promoting this event, I’ve been amazed at finding affected people every time I turn around. We have formed the Chantal Coalition to educate the public about the warning signs. Eating disorders are the number one killer of American women aged 15-25. Early action brings hope. Volunteer at ChantalCoalition.org/
GET OUT THE MARASCHINO. And the vino. Legendary NAACP matriarch and community leader Dolores Feemster is out of the hospital and recovering at Manorcare in Spanish Springs.
She had not been there a day when she ran across a family in crisis and took steps to help. As they still say at Hug High, when somebody’s in trouble, call Dolores.
I told her that God apparently has a lot more work for her to do.
CONSUMER PROTECTION, PART DEUX: How to get a boileroom phone hustler to go away.
Q: “Hello, may I speak to Mr. Barbano?”
A: “Guilty as charged.”
Q: (Pause) “Have you committed crimes?” (pause, click)
These guys have no sense of humor. Probably Republicans.
Be well. Raise hell. / Esté bien. Haga infierno.
Andrew Barbano is a 49-year Nevadan and editor of NevadaLabor.com. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Tribune since 1988. E-mail <firstname.lastname@example.org>