Editors’ choice

Illustration By John Craig

Best speaker

Ian Hill
Sierra VisionLaunch Inc., director of corporate alliances
“You are the CEO of your life” is one of the themes that Ian Hill delivers during the roughly 60 or so motivational speeches he makes each year. A one-time speaking engagement about three years ago at a local business breakfast has evolved into appearances across the country. Although he addresses different topics for different groups, the message is consistent. Hill, 34, urges people to take it upon themselves to improve their workplace and community. He doesn’t just talk the talk, either. He donates the bulk of his speaking fees to youth programs across the country. Locally, he founded Reno’s I Can Do Anything Charter High School, and his latest project is a new charter elementary school. After a job coaching track at the University of Nevada, Reno, fell through in 1991, Hill went from busboy to director of hotel operations at the Eldorado Hotel-Casino in four years. He was later transferred to director of food and beverage before leaving only recently to join Sierra VisionLaunch Inc., a private venture that fast-tracks mergers, acquisitions and public stock offerings for high-tech companies.

Best axed radio commentator

David Farside
When KSRN radio took David Farside’s 90-second commentary off the air, it demonstrated just how tenuous a foothold the First Amendment has in Reno. Champion Chevrolet pulled its sponsorship of “Farside Fodder” shortly after the Sparks activist criticized John Ascuaga’s Nugget for charging $2 for soft drinks during the rib cook-off, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported. Without a sponsor, the station yanked Farside. In the past, Farside has criticized Ascuaga for moves such as lobbying against a room tax hike, a position that has Sparks officials instead seeking a property tax increase to fund needed municipal services. By pointing out the influence of special interests over local politicians, Farside is a credit to journalism. KSRN should be embarrassed for not doing more to keep him on the air. But sadly, in this day and age of sanitized programming by corporate-owned radio stations, potential profit margins tend to win out over free speech every time.

Best gadfly

Sam Dehne
“My mission is to expose and correct rotten government in Northern Nevada," says Sam Dehne, explaining why he’s attended every public meeting in Washoe County for five years running. Fans of community access television know him well. The retired Air Force lieutenant colonel and former airline pilot is a regular speaker—and critic—during the comment period for most city and county meetings. He contends that the paper trail from campaign contributors to local politicians explains why connected developers regularly catch breaks at the expense of citizen interests. For his part, Dehne takes pride in the term gadfly, which he defines as a person who rouses people from complacency. "If any citizen knew one-tenth of what I’ve found out by attending these meetings, they’d be doing the same thing," he says.