What does a middle of the road voter look like?

Here’s the recommendations of lawyer Jim Porter, a good guy, accomplished lawyer and columnist for the Swift-owned Sierra Sun, posted in that newspaper: http://www.tahoedailytribune.com/northshore/13494152-113/vote-county-district-yes

He’s for Jerry Brown (D), Brian Dahle (R), Ted Gaines (R), Heidi Hall (D), Art Moore (R) and Carolyn Dee (Truckee City Council). If you know our local politics (and Truckee’s) this is a mixed bag of Rs and Ds. For those who don’t know, Carolyn was recruited by the tea party to run for supervisor (though she declined).

Could the western county make endorsements like this? I doubt it. They’re far more polarized politically. Our local right wing nuts would go nuts over these endorsements.

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Longtimers still haunted by “ghost towns” might also need to think like “flatlanders”

I drove past the celebration of the Dorsey Drive intersection on my way to a meeting in Sacramento and it got me thinking about our community’s future. I support the Dorsey Drive intersection, but it’s going to set off a ferocious debate about the future of our towns.

A shopping center is already being discussed and — yes — it will have a big-box store (not just a BriarPatch and Sierra Cinema if that winds up happening). It has to, so it can “feed the beast” of city services in Grass Valley, thanks to annexation. The longer-term goal is to build the Loma Rica housing project and build sewers up near Loma Rica Airport.

Is the “small town” charm of our community, along with the success of our “mom and pop” merchants, at stake: you bet. That’s not to say it can’t be done appropriately. But I continue to worry about the “my way or the highway” approach to decision-making in Grass Valley. That has to change.

Nevada City is facing the same dilemma in the other direction, most recently manifested in the controversy over year-round lighting. The city still suffers from its own “my way or the highway” approach to preserving its historic charm, perhaps feeling pressure from its neighboring city.

Many of the long timers grew up here or remember when Nevada City and Grass Valley were “ghost towns.” They were revitalized by many of the same people who are here today.

In the case of Grass Valley, more growth was helpful, though it has brought about some unintended consequences of “feeding the beast” of city services.

In the case of Nevada City, maintaining historic standards helped make it unique — and draw visitors and locals. It gets a lot of kudos for its quaintness, including honors such as “coolest town.”

But what worked for each town in the ’60s and ’70s — when they were suffering — may not work now. California has grown up all around them, including Truckee, Lake Tahoe and other Northern Sierra foothill towns,  from Auburn to Murphys.

As any “flatlander” knows, too much growth can be too much of a good thing. Just look at Sonora, a cute little town surrounded by unsightly shopping malls. El Dorado County recently elected a supervisor who wanted to curb the rapid growth off Highway 50. That’s understandable.

Likewise, in thinking about Nevada City, a little more lighting can go a long way, along with loosening up on the rigid historic standards. The merchants who are concerned about running their business in the faint glow of gas lamps have a point. The city ought to listen more closely to what they are saying.

Finding the right equation for both towns is a little like Goldilocks and the Three Bears. In Grass Valley, it may be too hot. In Nevada City it may be too cold.

But we need to find the right mix. The only way to do that is by listening to all constituents: old-timers, newcomers, “flatlanders,” hippies and the red-neckies. We all have our own unique experiences and collectively we can come up with the right answer. But it will “take a village” or we’re going to mess it up. I’m looking for leaders who can unite, not divide, on this front.

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Nevada City Council nixes year-round lighting — forgets that Commercial is the “new” Broad Street

996592_10201194555200390_1676370434_n-300x224A majority of the people speaking at last night’s Nevada City Council meeting were in favor of year-round string-lights in downtown. They included the small business owners who are “economic engines” in the downtown, creating jobs and drawing locals and visitors.

Without the lights, it is too just too dark downtown for businesses and their patrons, they kept saying. Nevada City’s street lights are gas lamps. The pro-lighting advocates included popular downtown businesses such as Treats and Matteo’s Public.

But the Council — reflecting a Laurie Oberholtzer political mindset that has long gripped the city — said “no,” you can only have the string-lights between November 15 and January 15.  This included two council members, Jennifer Ray and Terry Anderson, who effectively act as Laurie O.’s “proxy” on the council.

This time the vote was 4-1, with Evans Phelps the lone dissent.  Evans also objected to the Council’s decision to reject a privately funded trail at Sugarloaf and ran for City Council. The Sugarloaf decision left me shaking my head, too, as I discussed it with Tom Mooers of Sierra Watch one afternoon while we were both in town — he with his dog, and me with our magazines.

Ray, Anderson, Duane Strawser and Robert Bergman all voted for the lighting restrictions. Compliance will be voluntary, however.

On Facebook, Reinette Senum was critical of Laurie O. “Let’s talk about the fact that you are the one behind the anti-boardwalk campaign and won’t let it rest, Laurie,” Reinette wrote. “That’s why you went after the terrazzo lights, because, god forbid, it actually was good for Commercial Street and that damn boardwalk.”

To be sure, Laurie O. has been good for the city in some respects, honoring the need to maintain its historic character, as stated here before.

But the rigidity has also been polarizing and unrealistic. And a good example was the outcome last night.

We get around to a lot of towns in our business — from Truckee, to Tahoe City, to Old Town Auburn, to Auburn, to Loomis, to Lincoln and to Grass Valley. Most of them are being revitalized with new businesses and energetic entrepreneurs.

Comparatively speaking, Nevada City has too many vacant buildings, particularly on Broad Street. In fact, there’s no restaurant anymore on upper Broad Street, with the closures and continued vacancies of Las Katarinas, Cirino’s and Citronee. A worthy addition has been the Szabo tasting room, however.

Commercial St. is the “new” Broad St.

I would argue much of the action has shifted to Commercial St., with Matteo’s, Three Forks Bakery & Brewing Co., the Boardwalk and stalwarts such as J.J. Jacksons, Ikes Quarter Cafe and Sopa Thai.

Reinette Senum has been a force in bringing new vibrancy to Commercial Street, thanks to the Nevada City Farmers Market (which the “old guard” did not think of), and — yes — the Boardwalk. Reinette also was a major force in getting Three Forks to open.

The First Friday Artwalk is a wonderful event, bringing locals and visitors alike to town. It features the Boardwalk, which also is home to the annual farm-to-table dinner and live music weekly.

Nevada City needs some downtown business owners on the City Council. There was apathy in the last election, much of it from dissatisfaction with the “old guard’s” lock on city politics. But Evan Phelps has helped change that, though she was a lone voice last night.

We need to celebrate the innovations in Nevada City and the innovators, not live in the past. It’s the right thing to do, but Nevada City also faces too much competition from neighboring foothill towns. It’s living on a reputation from the past, a dangerous economic dilemma.

(Photo: Reinette Senum’s Facebook page)

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An Aqua Velva man

CABPRO founder and former Nevada County Supervisor Todd Juvinall recently reported on his blog that he and a “gal pal” visited Doug LaMalfa’s rice farm in Richland for a political fundraiser. “We made the rounds … the tri-tip was so tender!” he reported, adding “I got this picture at the beginning of the evening and before he was shaking all those hands.” Urban dictionary defines a “gal pal” as a “guy who hangs around with all the girls.” It got me thinking that Todd is one of those “Aqua Velva” men.

(Credit: Todd Juvinall's blog)

Todd and Doug down on the rice farm (Credit: Todd Juvinall’s blog)

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The Union flubs another Elections Office article related to Measure S

My sample ballot arrived yesterday

My sample ballot arrived yesterday

In April I pointed to an egregious reporting error in The Union about the Elections Office. Without checking with the Elections Office, it ran a false and some would claim libelous statement from a pro-Measure S press release: “The ACLU is investigating whether actions taken by the County rise to the level of election tampering.”

I confirmed there was no such investigation, but The Union did not. After receiving notice from the Elections Office, Editor Brian Hamilton issued a major retraction “for our failure to confirm the allegation prior to publishing the news release at TheUnion.com, which inaccurately called into question the integrity of the county elections office with the false claim.”

The Union didn’t seem to learn anything from its mistake, because it is still writing one-sided articles about the Elections Office related to Measure S.

This morning, the newspaper sided with disgruntled candidates with the headline “Delayed sample ballots irk Nevada County candidates.”

The first 10 paragraphs deal with the candidates making a rather astonishing claim that they should somehow be refunded money for their campaign statements because ballot mailings were delayed. I’ve never heard of such a thing. It almost sounds as if they are trying to come up with an excuse if they lose.

But the article never fleshed out the Elections Office side of this story — and it offered no response from an Elections official until all the way down to the eleventh paragraph.

The crux of the story is this, as the Elections Office said in the very first sentence of its press release: “All sample ballots and sample ballot booklets will be in the hands of Nevada County voters in ample time for voter preparation for the November 4 election, although legal challenges (from the pro-Measure S supporters) nearly derailed the process.”

In addition, the ballots were delayed by a distribution snafu involving the post office.

The full statement is here.

Instead of putting this higher in the story, The Union quoted Patricia Smith, leader of Measure S, the medical marijuana cultivation initiative on the Nov. 4 ballot, as stating that delays in the sample ballot mailing could affect the vote on Measure S.

Talk about an “upside down” world. Most of us are tired of the bickering about Measure S. It has come to epitomize the culture wars, political polarization, nastiness and self interest at play in our western county.

One reason Measure S may go down to defeat has less to do with the initiative but how the campaign is throwing everybody under the bus but itself. There is little to no self-introspection.

And The Union has done an extremely poor job of shedding a light on it, going back to the campaign’s defamatory statement about the Elections Office in April, which it published without even confirming.

Measure S has shown the community at its worst.

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Why our local newspaper’s new editorial board is a farce

Editor’s notes: Here’s an example of how The Union’s editorial board polarizes, not unites. In this letter, one editorial board member — CABPRO supporter Norm Sauer — attacks a fellow board member Cheryl Cook. Sauer uses words such as “rant,” “ploy,” “contempt” and “diatribe.” The Union’s ballyhooed editorial board has become a one-way street.

“Cheryl Cook’s recent essay describing the authors of our Constitution as ‘privileged, white, male property owners who protected slave owners … buying and selling family members … ,’ and continuing to condemn ‘…old people … able to recall every statesman from 238 years ago,’ … but unable to appreciate the continued suffering of Blacks in the 1960s, and that the real threat to domestic tranquility is the Second Amendment’s right of individuals to keep and bear arms, disparages America and its founding documents.

“This rant is known as ‘deconstructionism’ wherein nothing respected about our history remains untainted. A deconstructionist’s ploy is the de-emphasis, or even effacement, by posing a continuous critique, to lay low what was once high.

“Cook’s essay tears down the old certainties upon which Western culture is founded and the foundations on which those beliefs are based. Sadly, I read her diatribe as an attempted erosion of our God-given inalienable rights, that “all men are created equal,” individualism, limited government, an educated and virtuous citizenry, and full republicanism.

“I can only scratch my head with wonder at her contempt. What purpose does she seek to serve in her destruction of American Exceptionalism?”

Norm Sauer, who lives in Nevada City, is a member of The Union Editorial Board. His opinion is his own and does not represent The Union or its editorial board.

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Truckee and Nevada City Chambers and Grass Valley Downtown Association: focused on their missions

We belong to a lot of organizations — from the ERC to SYRCL to the Center for the Arts —and we particularly enjoy our membership in the Truckee Chamber and Nevada City Chamber, along with the Grass Valley Downtown Association.

This week the Nevada City Chamber went out of their way to thank us for the fall issue of our magazine, which includes a fall-foliage map that it no longer can afford to print. So they hand out the map in our magazine to “leaf peepers.” This year, we also included a fall road trip in Nevada City and Grass Valley.

We also were in Truckee today meeting with President/CEO Lynn Saunders, ensuring Truckee’s support for Nevada County’s first restaurant week from January 23-February 1, showcasing local cuisine with prix-fix menus. It’s going to be a lot of fun.

We are a cash sponsor, and the event is being held in conjunction with California Restaurant Month and promoted by VisitCalifornia.com, the state’s tourism website. Lynn happily agreed to support the initiative, and we thanked her.

We also distribute our magazines at the Chamber’s California Welcome Center in Truckee — a huge volume of them — and we left some of the 2015-16 Placer County Visitor guides (now a full-fledged magazine) that we publish for Placer County. Cross-county collaboration is important, because tourists aren’t that aware of the boundaries — just the region. We all benefit from that.

We’re up and down “the hill” a lot, and we help with the communication between the west and east Chambers — dropping off the western county Chambers’ visitor guide in Truckee, for example.

We enjoy our membership in all of these organization. They steer clear of politics and are truly committed to promoting our community to visitors and business advocacy for locals.

Many thanks for all you do. We enjoy working with you.

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