John Barrette

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February 23, 2014
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Scene in Passing: Extra innings ain't just for baseball fans

Philosopher Lawrence Peter Berra captured the essence of politics and government with a quote about baseball.

“It ain’t over til it’s over,” said the Yankees catcher and star who later managed the Yankees and Mets.

The quote from Yogi Berra dealt with how a season and scrappy teams keep on keepin’ on, but it also captures extra innings or what’s going down right now in Carson City. Take last week’s vote on capital improvement projects and a city sales-tax hike. Is it really over?

“I will vote the same way in two weeks,” said Supervisor John McKenna, who provided the fourth vote on a plan and to hike city sales tax by one-eighth of a penny. He and Supervisor Jim Shirk were the possible swing votes going into Thursday’s meeting. Mayor Robert Crowell and supervisors Brad Bonkowski and Karen Abowd were already for the plan, but a supermajority was required.

One more routine vote tally is needed to finalize the tax hike March 6, but even then things “ain’t over” by any means. The multipurpose athletic center project is just 60 percent designed in its current incarnation, for example, and it is the closest to shovel-ready.

Other probable projects are an animal shelter, streetscape and related enhancement to business corridors on Carson and East William streets, and upgrades at the Community Center for cultural events. So Carson City is now at the end of the beginning rather than the beginning of the end.

McKenna said these vote are tougher than most because the board is spending money against the grain, so he wanted a vote of the people. His job, he said, is to fix a sewage plant, but he’s less certain about, say, a new animal shelter. But he feared more delay and community stagnation.

He credited Shirk for intensive work attempting a different and innovative way of paying for the projects without a sales-tax hike, but the Shirk motion to switch to that alternative couldn’t get a second.

Next he plans to propose a citizens panel to work on fleshing out projects’ plans, with both opponents and proponents represented. Is that a way placate opponents? It’s hard to know for sure.

His overture on that and his praise of Shirk, however, come against the backdrop of his run for a second term as supervisor from Ward 3.

His sole opponent to date says that, like Shirk, she favored an alternative for financing — but a much different one. Lori Bagwell’s idea would have been to seek a vote of the people on retooling the quarter-of-a-penny program for quality-of-life proposals, which is 18 years old, to encompass plans for projects other than just open space and recreation facilities.

In some ways, government/politics just ain’t ever over.

John Barrette covers Carson City government and business. He can be reached at

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The Nevada Appeal Updated Feb 23, 2014 12:43AM Published Feb 23, 2014 12:43AM Copyright 2014 The Nevada Appeal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.