John Barrette

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September 4, 2012
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Cruisin' the Muses: Politics is the greatest spectator sport

Take a bow, Carson City.

As Nevada's capital city, this community lives up to the expectation that folks calling it home are politically engaged and concerned about government-related matters.

This is no political or government column, but the columnist's beat mandate is culture, aging and health. So two recent events take this space away from culture and performing arts, at least in the usual sense.

Much makes Carson City special, but in this context we're talking involvement over apathy in what a friend used to call the greatest spectator sport in the world. Politics and government are low drama with high stakes. So, city residents, applaud yourselves.

Case in point: RAP (Rising Above Partisanship, formerly known as Women Rising Above Partisanship) held a recent forum on the new federal health care and insurance law.

Nearly 200 showed up, a good turnout given that presenters included some government bureaucrats who could put an insomniac to sleep.

But there was light entertainment at first. Kathy Bartosz, who introduced the moderator, joshed that the sponsoring organization's name had been changed when men got into the act.

She drew a laugh when she said Citizens Rising Against Partisanship was considered but rejected because CRAP didn't measure up as an acronym.

Additional amusement came after coverage of the event, when emails from folks on both sides of the political fence came my way.

A couple came from Ande Engleman, a Republican who helped Assemblyman Pete Livermore of Carson City get elected two years ago, and Rich Dunn, the Democrat running against Livermore this year.

Suffice to say Engleman critiqued the law and the Silver State Insurance Exchange for helping families of four earning $80,000 annually or more, while Dunn attacked all health care solutions that see the problem as supply side rather than as a demand issue.

Another case in point: AARP held a listening and discussion event to look into Social Security and Medicare funding issues. The lobbying organization for its aging membership featured a bunch of players, including former AARP national leader Erik Olsen.

He trotted out a tale about how the Reagan-era fix for Social Security-Medicare got handled. It seems a couple of staff aides, as often is the case in government, did the yeomans' work while the elected officials charged with the job were, well, elsewhere.

"That's my story and I'm stickin' to it," said the retired health care executive.

My own story is that Carson City is a great place for the arts, including the music to my ears called politics and government.

• John Barrette covers the arts, senior issues and health care. If you have a story or upcoming event that you want the public to know about, email him at or call 775-881-1213.

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The Nevada Appeal Updated Sep 4, 2012 10:00PM Published Sep 4, 2012 09:57PM Copyright 2012 The Nevada Appeal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.