Two local bank robberies in nine months

The only remaining bank in Nevada City has now been robbed twice in nine months — this week and last June — and the suspects are still at large. One is here.

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From conventions to concerts, cancellations over “Religious Freedom Act” in Indiana begins

“An October conference has become the first to pull out of Indianapolis due to controversy over the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA),” Indiana television station WTHR.com is reporting.

“The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) announced Monday they are pulling their 2015 Women’s Conference from the city in response to the legislation Governor Mike Pence signed into law last week. The conference was scheduled from October 9-11 at the JW Marriott.

“‘AFSCME is pulling our Women’s Conference out of Indiana this fall as a sign of our disgust and disappointment with Governor Pence’s discriminatory law,’ the release continued. ‘We stand with the ever-growing number of corporations and associations who are taking similar action this week, and demanding fairness for all in the state of Indiana.’

“The NCAA said RFRA could cause a re-thinking of its relationship with the city and state. ‘Indianapolis is a preferred partner in heavy rotation for a lot of NCAA championships,’ UIndy sports marketing expert Larry DeGaris explained, and said NCAA could change that as plenty of other cities would love the Final Four.

“And losing the games would not just mean lost tourist dollars downtown. He said NCAA playoffs bring business-to-business relationships that can become highly lucrative deals.

“In an interview with NBC, NCAA President Mark Emmert called the law disturbing and disheartening. He also indicated that it could impact the future of big-time college events Indiana.

“Monday afternoon, the first concert cancellation was announced, when Wilco posted that they were canceling their May 7 show at Old National Centre. ‘The ‘Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act’ feels like thinly disguised legal discrimination to us. Hope to get back to the Hoosier State someday soon, when this odious measure is repealed,’ the band wrote on Facebook.

“Monday night, Nick Offerman (known to many as ‘Ron Swanson” from NBC’s “Parks and Recreation’) and his wife Megan Mullally (‘Karen” from NBC’s “Will & Grace’) announced on Twitter Monday night they were cancelling their summer comedy tour stop in Indiana scheduled for May 16 because of the RFRA.

“A performance set for this Wednesday at Indiana University will still go on as planned, but Offerman tweeted that he would donate all proceeds from that event to the Human Rights Campaign.”

The rest of the article is here.

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“Fair and balanced” reporting on the new “Dorsey Marketplace”?

Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 7.55.08 AMOn the same day the The Union reported that a formal application for the 26-acre “Dorsey Marketplace” was filed with Grass Valley on Page 1, it ran an Other Voices from the owner on the Op-Ed page touting the project. It also ran a Q&A with the mall owner on its website — on the same day. And the “news story” is locked up behind a paywall.

What a coincidence! And what “fair and balanced” coverage!

“With the completion of the Dorsey Drive interchange, the site is ideally suited for a retail project,” owner Russ Jeter maintains. The editorial is now the top “story” on The Union’s website.

“Something special for this community”

And a quote from the city community development director — whom the community hires be the “watchdog” of this project: “We want to make sure it’s something unique and something special for this community.”

The application comes just four months after the interchange opened amid controversy about the real motives for building it in the first place.

And today’s “reporting” in The Union — now under the “watchful eye” of longtime Swifties Jim Hemig and Brian Hamilton — includes no written opposition to the project or skepticism. It is a one-sided presentation of the development.

Whether you support the project or not, skepticism might justifiably include:

•Whether we can support another big shopping mall in our community, given our flatline growth and plenty of commercial vacancies (including longstanding vacancies at the Pine Creek Shopping Center).

•Whether the optimistic sales tax projections can come to pass because people will merely shift their shopping habits from downtown Grass Valley or Brunswick Basin for the new “Dorsey Marketplace.” A “robbing Peter to pay Paul” strategy but not a growth strategy.

•Whether a “destination” shopping mall is really going to be a draw to visitors “off the hill” or in Auburn, because they have their own malls.

•Whether cutting down the trees on another prominent hillside will be very visually attractive to our visitors and locals.

•The impact of the prolonged drought on a project like this.

This is just as much an economic development debate as an environmental and “growth” debate. But none of that appears in any depth in The Union’s “reporting.”

I checked the city of Grass Valley’s website and could not find a link to the formal application on the front of the website or anywhere else for that matter — it only appeared in The Union, along with all the positive comments from the malls’ owners.

According to the formal application plans, the site is slated to include around 150,000 square feet of retail space, which includes quick service retail, 7,745 square feet of restaurant space, 2,825 square feet for office and financial services, 26,450 square feet of mixed use space, and a 30,450 square-foot movie theater. More than 1,100 parking spaces are also proposed.

And people wonder what gives rise to the perception of a “good old boy network” in Grass Valley. Po-dunk.

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Nevada County health services: What is available?

Editor’s note: Here’s an email I received from the League of Women Voters, which does a wonderful job of providing information for our community.

Members and friends of the League of Women Voters of Western Nevada County are invited to attend our next monthly meeting at Peace Lutheran Church on Saturday, April 11, when a panel of local local healthcare professionals will present “Nevada County Health Services – What is Available?”

The panel will include Sharyn Turner, R.N. with Nevada County Superintendent of Schools, Cindy Wilson, R.N. with Nevada County Health Department, and a representative from Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital’s Emergency Services. These experts will discuss the range of ongoing medical services available to citizens, from the hospital emergency room to county-run health programs.

We will also learn about health-related programs and services in place in local schools, and how well we are prepared, at a local level, to deal with a severe health crisis.

The presentation is sure to include useful information for everyone. Program time is 10 a.m.-12 p.m., including ample time for Q&A. Please join us at 9:30 a.m. for complimentary refreshments and coffee service. Peace Lutheran Church is located at 828 West Main Street, Grass Valley.

The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization encouraging informed and active participation in government. It influences public policy through education and advocacy. For more information, please visit www.lwvwnc.org.

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The Union’s “Father knows best” retiree columnist wags finger at millennials

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“Get off my lawn!”

51Kx00F73mLThe Union continues to confirm that its “sweet spot” for readers is in the aging, declining demographic — not our youth.

Last week, in a sycophant-toned column, Publisher Jim Hemig issued a public apology to Eskaton’s management for reporting the news — negative in this case — largely to keep them on as advertisers.

And sure enough, this morning, I saw a banner ad on its website promoting Eskaton as a “best of” winner in The Union for the 11th year or whatever it was — despite some serious allegations against the outfit. Good going Jim! You made Swift’s management proud.

This morning The Union’s “Father knows best” columnist, George Boardman, is wagging his finger at UC students for — well — acting like college students. He chides them for not acting like adults.

George suffers from being an out-of-touch “70-something,” locked up at home all day behind gated walls.

From what I can see, millennials are looking for solutions to a world that its “elders” helped create: one where they could rightfully ask: “Where is the adult in the room?”

They see a society marked by political polarization and intolerance, hateful behavior, politics dictated by wealthy special interests and so on.

The list includes the Ferguson, Missouri, debacle, crybaby Republicans angry they are not President, the ill-conceived Citizens United decision, State of Jefferson political temper tantrums and other headlines.

Around here, they probably also read the looney letters to the editor in The Union — like the moronic one this morning titled “Democrats can’t claim long history of civil rights fights.”

As for The Union, printing George’s column only gives rise to what has been called the “war on the young.” In short, more affluent older Americans are benefitting at the expense of younger people.

•Student loan debt is rising and college costs have risen faster than inflation. Some of our “electeds,” such as Tom McClintock, patron saint of “Get off my lawn!” conservative retirees, don’t want to help address the problem either.

•In our area, we have a problem with housing affordability and a lack of jobs for younger people.

•Today’s generation is faced with having to cover the bills sent to them for seniors’ medical care and retirement.

•The recession has made everything worse.

If I were a millennial, I’d be angry too. And The Union’s idea of a “conversation” is publishing a column by “Father knows best.” What a joke.

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The Bee launches improved commenting online

“Open commenting is back at sacbee.com,” the Editor writes this morning.

“Last Tuesday, The Sacramento Bee rolled out a new registration system that opens commenting to readers who do not subscribe. It is not, however, our system of old, which allowed anonymous commenting that too often devolved into rancorous and sometimes offensive so-called conversations.

“Sign-up has been simplified. Should you want to comment on a story or opinion piece, you must be registered and use your real name. You can choose to do that through a social media account if that’s easier and you like the connection. If not, you can use The Bee’s registration. If you click on the comments link above each story, you will find directions to register, FAQs and our community commenting guidelines.

“Like the printed newspaper’s Letters to the Editor, online commenting has provided a valued platform for community connection. The differences between the two, however, affected the quality of the conversation. Letters historically required names and addresses and were verified by Bee staff. Commenting developed in an online era that enabled and even celebrated anonymity; some of those commenting told us they felt it was their right to remain anonymous and say whatever they wanted.

“But anonymous commenting too often affected the people we wrote about, who were vilified by trolls. Parents told our education reporter they didn’t want their children interviewed for fear of ugly comments. Latino legislative leaders complained about racism. We learned we couldn’t allow comments on certain stories. Derogatory comments ranged from racist to vulgar to vicious personal attacks – all of which violate our commenting policy, even then. Some 300 comments each day were flagged by readers as problematic, and Bee digital staff would remove about half of them.

“The Bee shut down comments late in 2013. We’ve spent the time since then developing and testing various approaches. Right now 1,373 people, mostly subscribers, are registered and commenting, with their names attached. They’ve written more than 11,000 comments that meet the goal we state in our guidelines, which is to enable readers to “share information and opinions and engage in community discussion” that is thoughtful and relevant to the story being discussed.

“You will see two key changes in our comments:

“▪ Reporters might jump in on a conversation if they can add information, respond to a question or correct a fact.

▪ We will insist that you use your name to register, or we will remove your commenting privileges. That happened immediately on Tuesday with a reader who registered with a false name.

“Your registration to comment will have an added benefit for you: It will help us provide a better reader experience overall at sacbee.com. We’ve developed technology that allows us to suggest stories in which you’ve shown an interest over time (think Amazon and its technology to recommend books you might like). We won’t be pushy about this, but we will make suggestions in your story feed.”

The rest of the article is here

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Enjoy your Easter week

I grew up in the Episcopal Church, and I still love the songs of the Easter season. For whatever reason, we have been out of town on some religious holidays, including Easter and Christmas, over fifty some years.

I try to find an Episcopal or Catholic church that celebrates with lots of music. Some memorable experiences were an Episcopal church in Fort Lauderdale, when we went to visit friends that I once worked with at the Sun-Sentinel newspaper, including an easter egg hunt for our son; St. Nicholas Episcopal Church in Tahoe City; Grace Cathedral in S.F., in the neighborhood where I first lived in S.F.; Church of our Savior in San Gabriel, where I grew up; Notre Dame de Paris, where we celebrated Christmas two years ago; and St. Martin in the Fields in London’s Trafalgar Square, where we attended a  glorious Christmas concert one year.

Organs, trumpets, guitars, whatever. Some of the songs i enjoy are “Hail thee, festival day” and “Welcome Happy Morning.” Enjoy your Easter week. Or Passover, which begins April 3.

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