Trouble over waters

Some ugliness went down June 8 at the Blue Max in northwest Reno. Nobody disputes that. However, the cause of the ugliness remains in question.

Here’s what’s clear: The Saddle Tramps, a widely known rockabilly band, were playing, and people were having a good time. One local radio DJ, who had been drinking during the show, decided he wanted to switch to water. The bar told him he had to pay for bottled water and refused to give him a cup of tap water for free.

Then the ugliness ensued. The DJ and the doorman got into it, and when all was said and done, the DJ was beaten up pretty bad, a glass door was broken and there was a lot of bad blood.

The Saddle Tramps are taking the side of the DJ, saying all he wanted was some water, which seems reasonable (and, yes, the Blue Max does charge for water during cover-charge shows, unless someone is specifically there as a designated driver). The band, in an e-mail sent en masse to the media, is calling for a boycott of the bar. The bar says the DJ came unglued and started the ruckus.

I don’t know what happened; I wasn’t there. But I do know that this dispute does not bode well for Reno’s music scene, which has been surging quite nicely over the last six months or so. A prominent local band and one of the more consistent music venues don’t need to be squabbling like this.

We’ll keep you posted as things play out.

Several e-mails hit the information superhighway last week claiming that Sharron Angle and Don Gustavson, the local Republican Assembly representatives from Districts 29 and 32, respectively, had become reapportionment targets because they opposed Senate Bill 299. The bill, which passed unanimously in the Senate and breezed through the Assembly with a 37-4 vote, will add a ninth member to the eight-member Washoe County Airport Authority board—the new member chosen by the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority. The bill also weakens the power the city councils of Reno and Sparks, as well as the Washoe County Commission, have over the representatives they nominate to the board.

This is a scary move, because ultimately, it means the Airport Authority will answer less to the public. Since the RSCVA is not elected, and since the city councils and the county commission—which are elected—will have less influence on their appointees, it means other interests besides the public’s interest will now have more power.

Angle and Gustavson, as well as Democrats Bernie Anderson of Sparks and Tom Collins of Las Vegas, were right to vote against this bill. But claims that Angle and Gustavson could be merged into predominantly Democratic districts during reapportionment as revenge for their nay votes on SB 299 are huge exaggerations. The truth is, Angle and Gustavson have been potential targets of reapportionment since before the session began. Some see the representatives—especially Gustavson, whom the Gazette-Journal didn’t even endorse as an incumbent (and the RGJ is renowned for endorsing all incumbents)—as being vulnerable. Yes, it is possible SB 299 gave their foes more motivation to reapportion them out, but is not the reason.

With the special session dealing with reapportionment taking place as this very newspaper is being delivered, nothing’s been decided yet. Again, we’ll keep you posted.

News from Sparks: The Sparks Tribune, the small, six-days-per-week daily of the Rail City, has a new managing editor.

J.D. Wilson, who was formerly the paper’s education reporter, became the new head honcho this week. He replaces Dan Eckles, who will be returning to the sports desk, where Eckles’ true passion lies.

I know J.D. from my time at the Tribune, when I was a reporter and he was an intern. He was also a finalist for our calendar editor job here at the RN&R a little more than a year ago. I think he’ll do a great job, because he’s young, enthusiastic and talented. Congratulations, and best of luck.