In Net neutrality victory, F.C.C. classifies broadband Internet service as a public utility

“The Federal Communications Commission voted Thursday to regulate broadband Internet service as a public utility, a milestone in regulating high-speed Internet service into American homes,” as the New York Times is reporting.

“The new rules, approved 3 to 2 along party lines, are intended to ensure that no content is blocked and that the Internet is not divided into pay-to-play fast lanes for Internet and media companies that can afford it and slow lanes for everyone else. Those prohibitions are hallmarks of the net neutrality concept.

“Mobile data service for smartphones and tablets is being placed under the new rules. The order also includes provisions to protect consumer privacy and to ensure Internet service is available for people with disabilities and in remote areas.

“The F.C.C. is taking this big regulatory step by reclassifying high-speed Internet service as a telecommunications service, instead of an information service, under Title II of the Telecommunications Act. The Title II classification comes from the phone company era, treating service as a public utility.

“But the new rules are an à la carte version of Title II, adopting some provisions and shunning others. The F.C.C. will not get involved in pricing decisions or the engineering decisions companies make in managing their networks.

“Opponents of the new rules, led by cable television and telecommunications companies, say adopting the Title II approach opens the door to regulatory meddling in the future and will deter investment and ultimately harm consumers. They plan to challenge the F.C.C. order in court.

“Supporters of the Title II model include the major Internet companies, start-ups and many public interest groups.”

The rest of the article is here.

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Kickstarter campaign launch for Wheyward Girl Cremery on March 2

10891957_1590356067863863_1081553004152132006_nFrom the blog of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine:

Downtown Nevada City continues its popular transition into a foodie destination due to its burgeoning number of artisan bakers, brewers, and local organic restaurants and farms. Now Wheyward Girl Creamery will be adding to the mix this summer when it opens its doors next to the popular Three Forks Bakery & Brewing Co. on lower Commercial Street.

Wheyward Girl will be Nevada County’s first creamery and the next building block of Nevada City’s growing local gourmet scene and economy.

Wheyward Girl Creamery owners, award-winning cheesemaker, Barbara Jenness, and culinary instructor (Tess’s Kitchen), Roberta DesBouillons are set to launch their Kickstarter campaign for the enterprise this Monday.

To start the campaign with a bang, a Mac & Cheese Kickstarter Kick-off, March 2, 5-7 p.m. in the parking lot of Three Forks, will be taking place the same day as the official Kickstarter campaign-launch. Three different flavored Mac & Cheeses will be served, showcasing Wheyward Girl cheeses.

“Many Nevada City residents are already feeling the positive ripple effect that downtown purveyors are having on the local economy,” DesBouillons said. “One can imagine Wheyward Girl having the same impact on Nevada City as Cowgirl Creamery did starting in Pt. Reyes, Ca., 20 years ago.”

Two decades, dozens of awards, two creameries, four retail stores and two thousand tons of cheese later, Cowgirl Creamery cheeses are sold to more than 500 stores, independent cheese shops, farmers markets and restaurants, and nationally through Whole Foods Markets.

Today, West Marin is one of the most vibrant local food sheds in the world and Nevada City is on its way with Wheyward Girl Creamery being an instrumental building block.

Like the iconic cheesemaking company, Wheyward Girl will be focusing on craftsmanship and is dedicated to promoting a healthy food network that will lead to an even healthier and vibrant community.

As owners, both Jenness and DesBouillons understand the importance of being socially and environmentally conscious and are committed to using locally sourced goat, sheep and cow’s milk to produce their artisanal cheese.

Initially, they will concentrate on fresh cheese, cheese spreads, and even butter. Other cheeses such as feta, mold ripened goat cheese, and bloomy rind will be added as their creamery grows.

Mark your calendar for this Monday’s Mac & Cheese Kickstarter Kick-off and to find out more in general, check out their Facebook page:

—Wheyward Girl Creamery

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Nevada County Supes set to hear a presentation from State of Jefferson contingent in May

State of Jefferson contingent speaking at the BOS meeting on Tuesday

State of Jefferson contingent speaking at the BOS meeting on Tuesday

The Nevada County Board of Supervisors is planning to hear a formal presentation from the State of Jefferson contingent at its May 12 meeting, Board Chairman Ed Scofield disclosed at the board meeting on Tuesday.

Scofield’s words came after Eddie Garcia, the committee leader for Nevada County’s State of Jefferson effort, spoke during public comments at the BOS meeting.

Garcia also is a director of the Nevada County Fairgrounds Foundation, along with Scofield.

Ed’s comments came after Garcia and Penny Lucas spoke out in favor of the State of Jefferson.

“The time has come for 51, and I hope you will schedule a meeting for our proposed presentation,” Lucas said at the meeting. (“The time has come for 51″ is a the slogan used by State of Jefferson proponents). She redefined the message as “Northern California” State of Jefferson sympathizers, but the political rhetoric was the same.

Ed answered to the public commenters: “Just for information, we are looking at our first meeting in May as a presentation.” That was news.

The three other supervisors at the meeting — Hank Weston, Dan Miller and Richard Anderson — did not speak up. The other supervisor, Nate Beason, was not present; he was representing the county’s legislative interests in Washington D.C.

The State of Jefferson contingent is lobbying North State counties to join its movement, although the reception has been a mixed bag.

How being a State of Jefferson sympathizer helps build bridges when it comes to politics in Sacramento and is an economic development strategy for our community remains open to question. It comes as groups such as the Rural County Representatives of California have been trying to build bridges with the Brown administration.

“Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.”

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“Voters be damned”? Grass Valley City Council appoints “old guard” Ben Aguilar as its fifth member

By a 3-1 vote, the City of Grass Valley City Council appointed Ben Aguilar, who is tied to the city’s “old guard” political circle, to be its fifth member over relative newcomer Jerri Glover. Ben, who did not even run for City Council in an election, fills the vacant seat left by Terry Lamphier’s resignation.

The decision assures a 5-0 vote in favor of major development in Grass Valley, although — at least for all I know — Jerri would have supported projects such as the proposed Loma Rica housing project and the Dorsey Drive shopping center. She was an outsider,  however, with an independent voice.

With the vote, the Nevada County Contractors Association PAC is ruling the roost in Grass Valley politics, as it has since Dan Miller defeated Lamphier for supervisor last fall, and The Union’s “new” management is firmly behind them. In short, it’s a return to the pre-Great Recession era and a rebuke of the “democracy of a small town” mindset.

Whether it is a good economic development strategy for Grass Valley, or a provincial one influenced by cronyism, remains to be seen. Grass Valley faces many economic challenges, and attracting newcomers ranks at the top of the list.

Ben Aguilar did not even run for City Council, but Jerri Glover did. Jerri finished third behind Jason Fouyer and Terry Lamphier. At a previous meeting, the Council decided to interview candidates. Ben has been an appointed Grass Valley planning commissioner. The interviews of candidates are here. (Click “video” on the February 10 meeting).

Glover had been incoming president of the Greater Grass Valley Chamber of Commerce but quietly resigned her post. The Chamber’s co-CEO is Keith Davies, who was appointed to the post. He is close friends with Miller and longtime resident and Grass Valley politico Patti Ingram — and has been since high school. The Ingram family used to own The Union newspaper and still holds sway.

Jan Arbuckle, Lisa Swarthout and Howard Levine all voted for Ben, while Mayor Jason Fouyer voted for Jerri. Fouyer was the only Council member who explained his rationale for his vote. The others, except for a brief comment from Jan Arbuckle, did not explain why they voted for Ben.

In informal queries from residents, Jan contended that she got more positive votes from Ben but did not identify them.

Young Aguilar has ties to the “old guard’ political circle in Grass Valley and the construction trade.  Jerri is a relative newcomer, from Texas, who has embraced a wide spectrum of the electorate — from staunch conservatives to liberals.

While seemingly illogical, last night’s vote shouldn’t be a surprise to local political pundits. The “long timers” in Grass Valley dominate compared with the “new faces,” as I’ve written previously. And most “new faces” only serve one term.

Grass Valley City Council election winners since 1992

2012 — Jan Arbuckle, Lisa Swarthout, Howard Levine
2010 — Jason Fouyer, Dan Miller
2008 — Jan Arbuckle, Lisa Swarthout, Yolanda Cookson
2006 — Dan Miller, Chauncey Poston
2004 — Dean Williams, Lisa Swarthout, Mark Johnson
2002 — Patti Ingram, Gerard Tassone
2000 — Steve Enos, Dee Mautino, Linda Stevens
1998 — Gerard Tassone, Patti Ingram
1996 — Bill Hullender, Linda Stevens, John Taylor
1994 — Gerard Tassone, Mark Johnson
1992 — Dee Mautino, Dan Miller, Bill Hullender

Last five elections (2004 to 2012) — 13 winners; (Dean Williams, Jan Arbuckle x 2, Yolanda Cookson for 4 “new” — only about 30 percent)

Last five elections – 3 new faces: Dean Williams resigned, Arbuckle appointed and elected twice, Cookson for 1 term

Eleven elections since 1992 – 22 candidates elected. Of that, six of them (Linda Stevens, 1 term and partial term appointed), Taylor (1 term), Enos (1 term), Williams (3 years and resigned), Arbuckle (appointed and 2 elections), Cookson (1 term) had lived in Grass Valley for 10 years or less.

The other 16 (about 73 percent) are longtime residents (20 or more years….some 40 or more years)

New faces: Most only served 1 term. Long timers have served 2 or more terms.

We had written at yearend, “Can Grass Valley turn over a new leaf politically”? While we will watch it unfold, the answer appears to be “No.”

“Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.”

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Obama vetos Keystone XL Pipeline bill

“President Obama on Tuesday vetoed a bill to approve construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, rejecting an effort by Republicans and some Democrats to force his administration to let the highly contested energy project move forward,” as the New York Times is reporting.

“By saying no to the legislation, Mr. Obama retains the authority to make a final judgment on the pipeline on his own timeline. The White House has said the president would decide whether to allow the pipeline when all of the environmental and regulatory reviews are complete.

“But the veto — his first rejection of major legislation as president — is also a demonstration of political strength directed at Republicans who now control both chambers of Congress. Mr. Obama is signaling that he will fight back against their agenda.

“The Obama administration must decide whether to approve infrastructure projects like the Keystone pipeline, which cross a border with another country.

“In his veto message to Congress, delivered with no fanfare on Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Obama wrote that the legislation ‘attempts to circumvent longstanding and proven processes for determining whether or not building and operating a cross-border pipeline serves the national interest.'”

The rest of the article is here.

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Inyo Register: Inyo Grand Jury investigating McAteer

UPDATED to include McAteer’s response and letter from the Inyo Register publisher that “the photo and caption (of the car) were inaccurate” but that “we do stand by the rest of the information.”

Regular readers (plural) brought this front-page article from the Inyo Register to my attention this weekend. It focuses on former Nevada County Superintendent of Schools Terry McAteer. It is not yet posted online, so I plunked down 75 cents for a one-day subscription (cheaper than the $2 one-day subscription for The Union).

I noticed this article cites a story that we dug up when I was editor of The Union in 2007. “McAteer’s tenure (when he was the superintendent of schools for Nevada County in the mid-200s) was not without controversy either. Complaints of nepotism made it to the local newspaper, The Union, in 2007 when McAteer hired his wife, Liz, as a long-term substitute teacher at Nevada Union High School that January …”

I took some heat for that story — not uncommon for stories of this nature in our community — but Terry and I had a cordial relationship by the time he left for Inyo County. I recall he made some astute observations about our community at a festive high-school graduation party for his son and some classmates, whose parents happened to be friends of ours. I have not spoken to Terry since he moved to Inyo County.

I hope Terry gets a fair hearing. This investigation is ongoing. Note to readers: Please be discreet in your comments. Here is the article from the Inyo Register:

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Click for larger image:

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Click for larger image to read McAteer’s response, letter from publisher — “the photo and caption (of the car) were inaccurate” — and letters to the editor from Inyo Board of Education members:

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Julia Jordan chosen as new CEO of the Lincoln Area Chamber of Commerce

Julia Jordan, former executive director of the Grass Valley Downtown Association, has been named CEO of the Lincoln Area Chamber of Commerce

From the blog of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine:

Mark Luster, president of the Lincoln Area Chamber of Commerce, has announced Julia Jordan, of Grass Valley, has been selected as the Chief Executive Officer for the Lincoln Area Chamber of Commerce, effective March 2.

According to Luster, “Following an extensive search, we are very excited about the opportunities we have with Julia joining the Lincoln business community in the Chamber’s top leadership role. She not only has extensive chamber and downtown association experience, but also brings the creative energy we’ve been looking for.”

Jordan joined the Grass Valley Chamber of Commerce in 2006, and has been serving as the Executive Director/CEO of Grass Valley’s Downtown Association since 2012. She is a business/economics graduate of UC Santa Barbara, and has an extensive background with organizations including the Nevada County Tourism Committee, and the California Main Street Alliance where she serves as vice president.

The Chamber’s members include Thunder Valley Resort, Pacific Gas & Electric Co., Sutter Roseville Medical Center, Kaiser Permanente, Eskaton of Granite Bay & Roseville, the Placer County Board of Supervisors, Gladding McBean and JMC Homes, among hundreds of others.

Lincoln’s Historic Downtown District stretches from First Street to Seventh Street between G and E Streets and is known for its friendly merchants and small-town charm. Annual Chamber and community events include a July 4th parade and fireworks, a downtown Farmer’s Market, Tour de Lincoln, Holiday Parade & Tree Lighting and more.

In 2006 Lincoln, with a population of about 45,000 people, was named “All America City” by the National Civic League. The prestigious All America City Award is an honor bestowed by the National Civic League recognizing communities of all sizes that have made major progress in meeting their most important needs. Since 1949, more than 4,000 communities have competed and nearly 500 have been designated All-America Cities.

In the early 1900s, the Lincoln Area Chamber of Commerce was established as a non-profit corporation of voluntary membership that invested time and money to carry forward programs set forth by its Board of Directors. The Lincoln Area Chamber of Commerce still carries forth that spirit.

—Lincoln Chamber and

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