Column: Elko’s shovel protest |

Column: Elko’s shovel protest

Barry Smith

Carson City should be getting just a little bit jealous of Elko.

Out there on the flat part of I-80, they’re getting a whole lot of publicity by collecting 10,000 shovels to protest the federal government.

They had a parade, even, and they built a giant shovel in front of the courthouse.

It’s all because they don’t like the fed’ral gummint in Elko. You remember that whole Jarbidge thing, where the road got washed out and the gummint wouldn’t let them replace it.

The Elko folks were going to rebuild it by hand – well, with shovels, really – and instead they accidentally got rid of the U.S. Forest Service supervisor, Gloria Flora.

(She’s OK. I didn’t mean to suggest they got rid of Flora with shovels. Or by hand. Actually, they got rid of her with flagrant rhetoric.)

Then Flora accidentally won an award from the Wilderness Society for protecting the environment from Elkoans.

She did this, as far as I can tell, by hitting the lecture circuit in places other than Elko to complain that her federal employees were afraid for their lives. Of course, the employees are still in Elko, or other parts of Nevada, because nobody invited them to hit the lecture circuit.

Anyway, this is starting to bother some people in Carson City. Shouldn’t we be collecting something and building a monument in front of the courthouse so that we can hold a parade and maybe attract some publicity?

No, I’m not going to suggest a big statue of a gay couple getting married. That was Kit Miller’s idea, and I don’t want that debate to get started again.

One of the reporters here suggests that Carson residents could collect the plastic bags our mail is coming in and shove them back in the big blue mailboxes as a protest against the U.S. Postal Service.

I’m not sure how much attention that will get. We could try it, see what happens. Is there anybody out there willing to stand up on behalf of the Postal Service, hit the lecture tour and perhaps win an award from the Wilderness Society? I think not.

Then somebody else suggested maybe we could borrow Elko’s shovels and start working on the bypass. Hell, they can’t get a road built in the middle of nowhere. That’s nothing. We can’t get a road through the middle of town.

But that’s just a copycat idea. When Elko gets done with the shovels, they can send ’em down and we’ll give ’em to the Nevada Department of Transportation, in case they have a shovel shortage and guys are falling over from nothing to lean on.

Speaking of the bypass, we do seem to be collecting roundabouts in Carson City.

After that one on Fifth and Edmonds was such a huge success (at least for the residents of the Riverside neighborhood who haven’t noticed there is a roundabout and plow through at top speed no matter the other traffic), we’re now thinking of putting a few on Arrowhead.

We could collect roundabouts from all over the world – well, Truckee, anyway – and let federal employees drive around and around in them until they get dizzy. Then we’ll send them out on lecture tours.

We could collect nuclear waste casks, but Yucca Mountain is already in line for that. And I don’t think that would tick off the federal government much.

We could collect politicians, as we have a jump-start on the rest of the state every other year. Fortunately, the voters in the rest of the state did us a favor by ordering most of the politicians to vacate Carson City within 120 days of arriving for a legislative session.

They should have called it the “be out of town by sunset” law.

But I figure, as long as we’re collecting politicians, we ought to collect all kinds of people. In fact, here’s my plan:

According to the U.S. Census, every person counted is worth about $670 in federal dollars. During the last census, Nevada couldn’t find about 29,000 people, who may have been on lecture tours in Montana at the time. Nevertheless, those people cost us big time when it comes to Washington deciding how to give us back our tax dollars.

(They say 788 people were missing in Carson City alone. My question: Did they check the restrooms?)

Carson City should find those 29,000 people, invite them over for the weekend, and then tell the census people we’ve had a population boom. They won’t be that surprised, because Las Vegas apparently has that many people moving in during a typical lunch hour.

Don’t stop there, either. Invite your relatives for a little Carson City vacation for the days the census people will be counting. They like large families. Just because yours now numbers 17 in a three-bedroom home should not cause alarm.

Who knows? We could get Carson City’s population up over 100,000. We’d be rolling in federal dough.

We could buy our own shovels. We could build roundabouts around our roundabouts. We could go on lecture tours.

We might even win an award we can put in front of the courthouse.