Sparks sues Reno for slander

SPARKS, Nev.—The City of Sparks has filed a defamation lawsuit against the City of Reno. The suit, filed Monday, claims that city officials and longtime residents of the Biggest Little City are slandering and perpetuating a stereotype against Sparks through their insistence on repeating the old joke: “Reno’s so close to hell, you can see Sparks.”

“It wasn’t a funny joke 50 years ago, and it isn’t funny now,” said Sparks Mayor Geno Martini. “It’s putting people off from coming to Sparks, and it needs to stop.”

But proving criminal intent in a slander case like this is difficult. There’s a good chance Sparks’ lawsuit will fail—and some believe that could prompt the city to readopt its original name—Harriman, after the Southern Pacific Railroad tycoon.