RGJ photographer arrested after altercation with guards near Tesla gigafactory

“A journalist from the Reno Gazette-Journal has been arrested after an altercation with security guards at Tesla Motors‘ Gigafactory in Storey County, Nevada, according to reports,” CNBC is reporting.

“The Storey County Sheriff’s Department did not immediately respond to CNBC’s phone call but told the newspaper on Friday that Andy Barron, the man in question, was booked on one charge of battery with a deadly weapon. (The newspaper identified him as a photographer).

“‘He was arrested after an altercation with the security guards when they attempted to detain him for trespassing,’ Sheriff Gerald Antinoro told the newspaper.

“On Tuesday, Tesla put out its account of what transpired, saying Barron was charged with two counts of felony assault with a deadly weapon.

“Barron was arrested after he and a co-worker climbed a fence with ‘private property’ signs on it and took pictures of the facility, according to the company.

“This led to an altercation between Barron and his colleague and Tesla’s security guards.

“‘The two Gigafactory safety managers asked the RGJ employees to wait before departing, as security management and the sheriff’s department were en route to the scene,’ Tesla said in its statement.

“‘Disregarding this request, the RGJ employees entered [their company Jeep]. As the Tesla employee attempted to record the license plate number on the rear bumper, the driver put it in reverse and accelerated into the Tesla employee, knocking him over, causing him to sustain a blow to the left hip, an approximate two-inch bleeding laceration to his right forearm, a three-inch bleeding laceration to his upper arm, and scrapes on both palms.”

(“Reno Gazette-Journal Publisher John Maher said the newspaper is taking the incident seriously,” the newspaper reported, adding “The newspaper’s vehicle was damaged in the altercation. A rock had been used to shatter the driver’s-side window and the driver’s-side seat belt had been cut in half.”)

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Fall issue of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine

Our fall issue — which we’re calling “Yuba River Journeys” — is now circulating. A link to our enhanced digital edition is here.

Our reporting includes the longtime efforts to preserve the South Yuba River, including some rare historical photos, such as hydraulic mining in the 1800s, fishing on the river in the ’20s, and a portrait of SYRCL’s co-founders from the ’90s, when a stretch of the river received “wild and scenic” status. The SYRCL photos are from the late Bob Lickter, who used to comment on this blog. We also feature David McKay’s photos of the Yuba, and a photo of singer Joan Baez at the river with Three Forks’ co-founders, among others.

Along with other features, some lesser-known tidbits include the rebirth of Nevada City Winery, Tess’ Kitchen Store planning to sell fine wine, and Copper River Bag Co., featured in Vogue and GQ, making handcrafted bags right here in Nevada City on Searls Ave. And some news about Nevada City’s Golden Era Lounge and Los Mineros (the taqueria of Reinette Senum and S.F. Chef Jason Moniz), and Nisenan Heritage Day. We largely wrote about Lake Tahoe this summer; this one is a “locals” issue.

Thanks to Dale Jacobson’s wife, Diane, for suggesting “Yuba River Journeys” while we were at Three Forks Bakery & Brewing Co. (also named after the river). She was interested in the culture surrounding the river — not just recreation but “all things Yuba,” from the mural at the Del Oro and “Christmas Card” movie, to Gary Snyder’s poetry and Alasdair Fraser’s music, to Yuba Blue Clothing and YubaNet. She also was interested in its history.

The scrollable format included in our digital edition puts our magazine in the palm of a reader’s hand. It includes about 350 customized links, including video and audio. One example: Mouse across “Whitewater” on page 2, click on the word, and listen to Alasdair Fraser’s composition about the Yuba River. We’ve embedded an “MP3” file. “Thanks Jeff!” Alasdair wrote on our Facebook page. You’re welcome.

(Photo: Adam Potts)


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America’s aging voting machines

“In his victory speech after his re-election in 2012, President Obama offered special thanks to those Americans who had stood in long lines to vote — some of whom were still waiting even as he spoke — and then offhandedly added, ‘by the way, we have to fix that,'” as the New York Times is reporting.

“The line got big applause, but now, three years later, much of the country is still far from fixing one major cause of the long lines: outdated voting machines and technologies.

“With the 2016 presidential election just a year away, the vast majority of states are still getting by with old machines that are increasingly likely to fail, crash or produce unreliable results. The software in them, mostly from the 1990s, doesn’t have the capabilities or security measures available today.

“A study released last month by the Brennan Center for Justice found that nearly every state uses some machines that are no longer manufactured. And 43 states are using machines that will be at least 10 years old next year, close to the end of their useful lives. A member of the federal Election Assistance Commission told the report’s authors, “We’re getting by with Band-Aids.”

“The central problem is a lack of money. The report estimates that it will cost at least $1 billion, and probably a good deal more, to upgrade voting systems nationwide. Election officials in 22 states say they need new machines but don’t know where the money will come from. Those states alone represent more than 120 million registered voters, and account for a majority — 324 — of the nation’s 538 electoral votes.”

The rest of the article is here.

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Will we follow Roseburg, Ore., culture or break from it?

(Credit: Portland Oregonian)

(Credit: Portland Oregonian)

Even the former publisher of The Union, “transferred” to Roseburg, Ore., and a longtime champion of our local right-wing nuts, conceded this in a column about President Obama’s visit to this rural town in the wake of a mass murder:

“Our behavior reminded me of inviting someone to dinner and having a family argument at the table. Have we forgotten our manners? Is that really what we wanted to show the rest of the country? At the end of the day, the president’s private visit with those families may have brought them some comfort, and who were we to deny them that comfort?”

(Credit: Portland Oregonian)

(Credit: Portland Oregonian)

No kidding. The Portland Oregonian captured much of the Roseburg, Ore., reaction well, including a photograph of some idiot with a Confederate flag waving out of his vehicle. Another said, “We stand with Sheriff Hanlin,” who has made no secret about his strident opposition to tougher gun laws.

Could it happen here? Of course. It has, with the Laura Wilcox shooting in 2001.

I’ve often figured that if President Obama came here for a visit, we’d have a waive of activists (people like Fran Freedle, Todd Juvinall, Don Bessee, George Rebane and Russ Steele come to mind, among others) standing on the street waiving their flags for the “State of Jefferson” or “we are those who reject mainstream climate science” or guns or whatever else they can think of.

You can bet on it. The systemic problem is that Roseburg faces the same problems as our towns: not enough jobs and a culture that clings to the past: logging and mining, for example.

Meanwhile, the city of Portland is on a tear: promoting its outdoor recreation, world-class restaurants and arts & culture. Powell’s Books is an icon.

When you stop to think about it, our towns have all those amenities and more.

Trouble is, we can’t decide whether to promote all that we have to offer or the “put up our guns” mindset.

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“How is it they don’t act” on guns?

“After another spate of deadly school shootings, Attorney General Kamala Harris said Friday she would join California Sen. Dianne Feinstein in her recurring fight to renew the ban on assault weapons,” as the Sacramento Bee is reporting.

“’I am so troubled by this,’ Harris, a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, told interviewers at Politicon Los Angeles. ‘I have seen assault weapons kill babies and police officers.’

“Harris said the nearly four-dozen school shootings this year, including the latest at Texas Southern University and Northern Arizona University, as well as the 2011 attack on former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Arizona, should have spurred her colleagues to enact stricter gun laws – if only “out of their own self-interest.”

“Harris suggested that members of Congress should have been locked in their chambers following the December 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School and shown the autopsy photographs of the slain students, “and then vote your conscience,” she said.

“‘How is it they don’t act? How is it, after 20 babies, six and seven-year-olds at Sandy Hook, are slaughtered, that they don’t act,’ Harris asked.

The rest of the article is here.

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Locals sue Volkswagen for “das blunder” and could wind up coordinating all statewide lawsuits

Nevada City resident John Vodonick has filed a lawsuit against Volkswagen in its vehicle-emissions scandal, and Nevada County Superior Court Judge Candace Heidelberger has given him and his attorney, Michael Nudelman, permission to petition the Judicial Council to coordinate all the California state court cases about the highly publicized incident, Sierra Foothills Report has learned.

This comes from an interview with Vodonick and court documents.

“On or about November 9, 2014, plaintiff leased and purchased a 2014 Volkswagen Golf TDI after reviewing the emissions standards for the car and based upon his belief the car was a ‘green’ vehicle,” according to the court documents filed in Nevada County Superior Court.

“Neither plaintiff nor the class had knowledge of the existence of the defeat device of the scheme of the defendants and each of them to obtain false, misleading and untrue certifications of emissions levels until approximately September 25. Plantiffs and the class had no means of discovering the fraudulent scheme of the defendants and each of them.”

“Plaintiff and the class have been damaged in the amount paid and laid out for each car together with interest thereon at the legal rate.

“Plaintiff and the class have been further damaged due to the embarrassment and shame that they bare as a result of owning cars purchased for the purpose of acting in an environmentally responsible way, while in fact owning cars which are highly polluting and damaging to the environment and contributing to climate change. The amount of such damages will be shown at the time of trial, according to proof.”

In her response, Heidelberger said: “The court has read and considered the application, declaration …, memorandum of points and … the court finds this is the proper case to hear this application.” It continues: “Plantiff shall be permitted to submit a petition for coordination to the Chairperson of the Judicial Council.”

This means that our locals could wind up with a lead role with all of the state’s class-action suits filed against Volkswagen.

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Ladies Night Out in Grass Valley


Smith Vineyard tasting room

Our community often seems loathe to accept change. But we enjoy it and get bored listening to the “naysayers,” so we ventured into downtown Grass Valley for the first “Ladies Night Out” on Thursday night. Our son is now old enough to stay home — doing his geometry homework in this case — so it was a “date night.”

We went to a preview for the Fall Colors Open Studios and Art Tour of Western Nevada County at The Center for the Arts, a two-weekend event we promote and help sponsor. We enjoyed the artwork, ranging from landscapes to contemporary. Our county has more artists per capita than any other in California, and we have some talented ones.


Art exhibit at The Center

We visited with a diverse group of people, including Dave Schmall (former publisher of The Union), Keith Porter (of The Center’s board), Jeannie Wood (of Community Asian Theatre of the Sierra) and Pamela Roberts of The Center, among others. John Vodonick of Nevada City gave me a “scoop” about local efforts to sue VW for “das blunder,” (AKA the diesel emissions scandal). More on that later.

After going to The Center, we headed over to Smith Vineyard’s tasting room, then we had dinner at Sergio’s Caffee. The weather was terrific so we sat outside, enjoying an entrée of fresh swordfish and salmon ravioli and glass of Nevada City Winery Chardonnay. The food was great, and Sergio is an affable host. He’s doing a great job.

We also saw plenty of “ladies” on the street with shopping bags, including a group of five that were dining at Sergio’s and enjoying themselves.

I joked to my wife about a blunder a few years ago when an out-of-town consultant published a visitor’s brochure for Grass Valley and “photoshopped” an “L.A. woman” carrying around a shopping bag downtown. It looked — well — photoshopped. Think of Reese Witherspoon of “Legally Blond” parachuting onto Mill Street for a photo shoot.

Last night, however, there were plenty of real “photo ops.” It’s good to see some nighttime vibrancy in our towns. I hope the event continues.

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