It gets under your skin

A penetrating week for local officials. First, you’ve got your historic decision to dig a gargantuan train trench through downtown. The Reno City Council’s 5-2 vote to go ahead and pursue bids for the project is either the beginning of a “Great Reno Depression"—or the start of a whole new gambling boom for downtown.

The real story, reports our man William Puchert, who sat through the whole debate, is what happened after the vote. Councilman David Rigdon, who voted to proceed with the trench project, expressed concern that Mayor Jeff Griffin and city staffers would be handling much of the bidding and negotiating process without council oversight.

“This ‘dam the torpedoes’ attitude is not going to work,” Rigdon said, according to Puchert’s report at “We’re leaving the public out of the process.”

Rigdon proposed a subcommittee to oversee negotiations, but the idea was shot down by Griffin and Councilman David Aiazzi. The council voted 4-3 in favor of proceeding with bids the mayoral way.

Another probing issue blistered to the surface at the District Health Department’s Invasive Body Decoration hearing Wednesday—the sanitation of sharp metal objects.

Invasive body decorations include tattoos, piercings, scarification, subcutaneous jewelry insertion and branding.

Branding? Like in cattle? Is this big in Reno? Hmm. You can keep your trench project. You can turn the Truckee Meadows into the air cargo hub for the world. But tattooing, piercing and branding are where it’s really at.

The International Tattoo Convention comes to the Reno Hilton April 19-22. And invasive body decorating is an integral part of many other hot Reno events. Where would Street Vibrations be, for example, without ink-filled needles being pricked deep into tourists’ epidermal layers?

The Washoe County District Health Department is worried about the lack of regulations for transient invasive body decorators—gals and guys with sharp objects of varying degrees of sterility and no permit to poke.

More temporary facilities that do body piercing and tattooing at festive local events means more chance for health hazards, says Jeff Buckingham, coordinator of the regulatory effort. The proposed regulations would require any potential piercers to get a temporary operating permit, Buckingham says.

The county really just wants to be sure that temporary tattooers are operating using the same kind of health and safety regulations to which the professionals on Wells Avenue adhere. These guys are sharp.

But what’s the real point? With the right kind of marketing, Reno could become the matrix of invasive body decorating. Build the National Tattooing Stadium down by the river. Form the Institute for Subcutaneous Jewelry Studies on the University of Nevada, Reno, campus. Make room in the Riverside for P.T. Barnum’s Interactive Body Art Exploratory Center.

So what’s the big fuss about the trench project that some worry will potentially "bankrupt the city?" That’s small potatoes. Reno’s got other irons in the fire—branding irons.