Reno City Hall Refuses to Save Soccer League -
Sparks Mayor Armstrong Offers Assistance
by Sam Dehné

On 18 October, 1999, Reno city hall summarily shut down the Northern Nevada Soccer League because it could not pay for police security that city hall unilaterally demanded that it needed. This meant that the Championship game scheduled the following Sunday was canceled. It meant that 600 regular league games which took place with very few incidents were for naught.
It also meant that the next season's schedule and the league itself were in dire straights. League president Fernando Corona reportedly cried when he signed the papers canceling the game... and possibly all of next season.
Without debating the merits of whether or not that much police protection is necessary, here are the events that took place the next day (19 Oct) as attempts were made to save the league:

1. I went to the Reno city council meeting and officially begged council to come up with the measly $280 to fund the 2 policemen they claimed were needed. I even pledged a $20 bill toward saving the game... which council scoffed at.

2. Reno city council then refused to fork over the $280... and the game continued canceled.

3. I contacted Sparks mayor Tony Armstrong and asked if Sparks could intercede to save the game... telling him that $280 was needed (2 cops at $35/hr for 4 hours). Armstrong immediately without taking a breath said he would personally donate $100 if I could come up with the other $180. I told him... I just did... pledging a donation of $180 from my pocket.

4. I contacted Mr Corona and told him of our donations and that he should contact Reno city hall and demand that the Championship game be put back on the schedule.

5. Corona called back shortly thereafter and said that citizen Bill Thornton had come forward with a check for $1,000.
The long and short of it is that mayor Tony Armstrong is a good man. He offered money from his own pocket to save the Championship game. Bill Thornton and his wife Barbara are good people. They came up with more than enough money to save the game.
In the meantime, I filed an official Reno city hall Citizens Initiative document demanding that there be discussion and action on the saving of the Soccer League on the next legal Reno city hall agenda. That way all of the citizens of Reno could have a chance to have their say... and Reno city hall will have to justify why it can spend $$$hundreds of thousands of tax dollars on their own (often elitist) pet projects... and not come up with some $9,000 for security for the next soccer season.
As an anecdote, the Reno Gazette called me 3 times to get information on these problems. When their story broke the next morning, they were so anxious to keep the name Sam Dehne out of the "limelight"... that they even had to neglect the wonderful generosity of mayor Armstrong...
Late breaking news: City hall has agreed that this issue will be addressed at Sam Dehne's Citizen Initiative at the Reno city council meeting of 9 Nov, at (tentative Time Certain) about 1PM.
And finally, after prodding from Sam, the city agreed to help fund police security for the league for the 2000 season. Once again mayoral impostor Griffin distorted the truth by saying there was no intent to let the league fold. Then why did they refuse to fund the Championship game... even after Sam volunteered $200 of his very own money? Without Sam's Citizen Initiative, there is every indication Griffin and Reno city hall intended to let the league fold. That would have been a travesty for the players... and for the city of Reno.
[Below is a Report by the Sparks Tribune on the Citizen Initiative Hearing at Reno city hall... where the man posing as Reno mayor resorted to name-calling... calling Sam Dehne a Smart Ass...]
Reno city council to look into future of soccer league
Sparks Tribune Newspaper Staff, Wed, Nov 10, 1999
The Reno City Council on Tuesday directed staff to study security and other requirements for next year's Northern Nevada Soccer League.
The council action comes in the wake of the near-cancellation of the league championships in October after gunfire at a playoff prompted the city to require uniformed police security at games.
The item was placed on the agenda at the request of Reno activist Sam Dehne who argued that the city should either waive the increased security requirement or pay for the officers itself next season. Dehne estimated the cost for security at $9,000, a figure disputed by Reno Mayor Jeff Griffin, who said Dehne was not aware of the issues.
"I recommend coming up with the money now, not waiting until next year," said Dehne, adding that the council regularly authorizes similar amounts for other purposes.
But councilman Tom Herndon asked why Dehne, who often argues that city expenditures be put to a vote of the people, would ask the council to authorize the money without a popular vote.
Dehne and the city council clash with each other on a weekly basis. After a previous meeting, Griffin sought unsuccessfully to have Dehne barred from attending council sessions. Griffin said the city has no intention of terminating the soccer league and characterized Dehne's intervention as akin to someone turning on a light and taking credit for inventing electricity. Councilman Dave Aiazzi pointed out that no representative from the league attended the Tuesday meeting and questioned if Dehne had the league's support.
League president Fernando Corona said today, although he had been in contact with Dehne, he was unaware that the item was on the Tuesday agenda.
Corona canceled this year's championship match because there were no funds for the officers, but a last-minute $1,000 donation by Bill and Barbarra Thornton allowed the season finale to take place.
Prior to the Thorntons' donation, Dehne offered $100 of his own and challenged the Reno City Council to come up with the rest.
City Manager Charles McNeely said the city is committed to keeping the league going next year, the only issue is one of security.
After a 12-year-old girl was killed by a stray bullet five years ago, police were required to patrol the games. But for the past two years, officers have only stopped by the games periodically, leaving security to volunteers.
Formal talks between the city and the league won't begin until January, but Corona said he will meet with his board next week to begin negotiations with the city on security arrangements for next year.
"If we don't get a deal with the city, I will get every member of every team in the league to march on City Hall," Corona said, adding that he will not let the league die.
The consensus among the city council was that the league should continue as long as public safety is maintained. The council directed to study the issue and report back within 45 days.
Reprinted with permission of author. Copyright 1999, Daily Sparks Tribune.
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