How some Nevada City old-timers roll out the welcome mat for new businesses

Golden Era (Photo: Kial James for

Golden Era (Photo: Kial James for

Despite a sluggish local economy, Nevada City is undergoing a boomlet: Its new businesses in recent years include ol’ Republic Brewery, which is expanding again; Three Forks Bakery & Brewing Co., Wheyward Girl Creamery, LeeAnn Brook Fine Art, Los Mineros, Mi Pueblo Taqueria, Goldtown Hideaway and the Golden Era.

Nevada City Winery also is under new management. Lefty’s is expanding, and The Stonehouse restaurant could wind up with a new exciting owner, as previously reported.

Residents, including our family, are thrilled. We remember when the Stonehouse (whose owners included the family of The Union columnist George Boardman), Broad Street Furniture and other business shut down.

The bad news is that some old-timers (AKA “we know better, and we were here first”) want to throw rocks at the economic development. Some examples:

•The owners who bought and refurbished Cirino’s and turned it into the Golden Era lounge are the latest example. The lounge is drawing hundreds of people on weekend nights and people from Sacramento and elsewhere, who spend money at a local restaurant or go shopping. A photo gallery is here.

Yet the business faces criticism from a cadre of vocal old-timers, because it has led to a temporary closing of Duffy’s Alley, a shortcut on the Golden Era’s property that also has become “sketch” at night, though it might have been “quaint” in the ’50s. The owners must assume liability for whatever happens in the alley.

Instead of rolling out the welcome mat, the “old guard” are circling the wagon, including a cartoon by RL Crabb (of Grass Valley). It’s small-town stuff.

•The owners of the Goldtown Hideaway are seeking to bring some needed lodging to town but are facing a court challenge by “Friends of Spring Street.” A Nevada County Superior Court judge affirmed the decision of the city council of Nevada City to allow the operation of Kendall House.

•Former Mayor Reinette Senum and acclaimed Bay Area chef Jason Moniz have opened Los Mineros. The traffic to the restaurant has been a catalyst to cleaning up the nuisances on Lower Commercial Street. The Union should do a report on this. Instead, Reinette continues to get slammed.

What’s the problem? People who resist change. People who see the little picture instead of the bigger one. It’s an epidemic in our western county. It’s hard to ignore too, because of the toxic personal attacks that are part and parcel of the discussion.

But for the vast majority of residents, the change is welcome. We are happy to roll out the welcome mat for them.

Nevada City’s recent successes are becoming a regional story too — like the success of Truckee (who’s pulled ahead of the “pack”), Loomis (an up-and comer with High Hand, an expanding Loomis Basin Brewing Co., and award-winning wines from Casque Wines), and Auburn (with award-winning Carpe Vino restaurant and a boutique hotel from the owners of the Gold Miners Inn in Grass Valley in the works).

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The entrance to “Duffy’s Alley” that The Union and RL Crabb didn’t show us


“Duffy’s Alley” is not an alleyway — it is a private deck.

Both the article and photo on the front-page of this weekend’s edition of The Union and the cartoon by RL Crabb titled “You don’t know what you got until it’s gone” focused on the new gate on Broad Street for “Duffy’s Alley.” Crabb has plastered his Facebook page with the cartoon and his own biased comments about the gate, inciting a mud pit of dialogue and personal attacks to skeptics that is an “alleyway.”

But what the article and the cartoon didn’t show us was the Spring St. “entrance” to this supposed “alley” (pictured above). It is not an “alleyway” — it is a private deck of a private business. The owner is liable, not the city, the “public” or anyone else.

Crabb wrote: “As I recall, businesses in NC are liable for the sidewalks in front of their buildings, yet I don’t see anyone denying passage because of it. And in all the years that the feet of the citizens have trodden upon said alley, I do not recall anyone having sued anyone for scraping a knee there. Has there been a single case of sexual assault? Hmm?”


There is also a mud pit of personal attacks, led by Crabb himself. In pointing to this blog post, he wrote, “To this a**hole, …

In one comment — from a former journalist, no less — I learned that I “founded CNET” and “sold it for millions.” Wouldn’t that be nice! But how ignorant and inaccurate.

The Union was wrong in its reporting this weekend. There is not a “heated debate” in town about this alleyway. It is an “old-timers debate” about change and and old-timer’s mudslinging campaign to any detractors — just like the local politics.

But there should be no “debate.” As this photo shows the Spring St. side of “Duffy’s Alley” is not an alleyway at all. Rather, it is the deck of a private business, which is liable for people who might get hurt while just “(tress)passing by.”

Why didn’t The Union or Crabb show this side of the “alleyway”? Because it would have undermined their point — and made it moot.

The family who opened the Golden Era lounge adjacent to this “alleyway” bought a vacant building, refurbished it and have helped revitalize the town. The patrons eat dinner nearby and shop. The Golden Era also is attracting a younger demographic. This is just the latest example. Read “How some Nevada City old-timers roll out the welcome mat for new businesses.”

This family has lived here for 35 years, and their children graduated from the schools here.

This isn’t a debate. It is a travesty and another “smear” campaign to anyone who dares to question that this is an “alleyway” — which in this case is the majority of residents.

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U.S. News ranks UC Berkeley best public college in the nation

Editor’s note: How satisfying. I’ll be visiting Cal for my 35th reunion this year, along with some of my college friends.

“California is home to some of the country’s most prestigious universities, attracting top students and teachers from all over the world,” the San Francisco Chronicle is reporting

“This year the No. 1 school in the U.S. News & World Report 2016 rankings of top public colleges in America is UC Berkeley, followed by UCLA.

“On the news magazine’s separate list of best national universities, which includes both private and public, Stanford is in a three-way tie with two other universities. (Find the top 10 best schools in the best national universities category below.)

“Several University of California campuses fall within the top 50 on the national list: UC Berkeley ranked 20th; UC Santa Barbara shares the 37th spot with Case Western Reserve of Ohio; UC Irvine and UC San Diego are in a tie for No. 39; and UC Davis ranked No. 41 along with five other universities.

“In a list of the top national liberal arts colleges, Pomona College tied at 4 with three other universities including Wellesley and Bowdoin colleges. Claremont McKenna ranked 9th.

“Among regional universities, offering a full range of undergraduate programs and some master’s programs but few doctoral programs, Santa Clara University was second.

“The report from U.S. News ranks 1,376 schools and includes several lists including a best value colleges category and a new ranking looking at the most innovative schools.

“The annual rankings are based on academic excellence and focused on outcomes with graduation and retention rates carrying the most weight in the methodology.”

The rest of the article is here.

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The Union reports “a heated debate” in Nevada City but doesn’t back it up

Wonders never cease with The Union newspaper. This weekend it is reporting (on the front page, no less): “The blockade of a passageway next to a 150-year-old building in Nevada City lounge bar thrust its owners into the center of a heated debate in town and on social media.”

“A metal gate now stands at the entrance of what used to be known in the community as Duffy’s Alley, a passageway adjacent to the Golden Era cocktail lounge that had been used as a public shortcut.”

Huh? I’ve seen some of the “shifters” (AKA Nevada City’s bar-hopping, retired “good old boys,” at least in some instances) complain about the gate on Facebook, and I guess they went to The Union to raise a ruckus.

But it is not a “heated debate” in town.

Worse, the article doesn’t offer an on-the-record comment to back it up. The building once housed Cirino’s and before that, Duffy’s Success. The current owners have invested money to reopen the space, which was closed after Cirino’s shut down.

They ought to be praised, not blamed. The “old boys” of Nevada City can be a detriment to change, because of selfish, provincial agendas.

How are we going to attract millennials, higher-paying jobs and more business to our towns?

A “heated debate” over a gate is podunk.

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Twitter reveals it has suspended 125,000 ISIS-related accounts

“Twitter announced on Friday afternoon that it has suspended at least 125,000 accounts that are related to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) since mid-2015,’ according to CBS News.

“They were suspended, the social media network said, after threatening or promoting terrorist acts related to ISIS.

“‘Like most people around the world, we are horrified by the atrocities perpetrated by extremist groups. We condemn the use of Twitter to promote terrorism and the Twitter Rules make it clear that this type of behavior, or any violent threat, is not permitted on our service,’ the network said in a blog post on Friday.

“This disclosure is significant as it marks the first time that Twitter has made these suspensions public and appears to be a response to pressure from the White House as well as the French, Australian and British governments. It is also the most prominent and significant action by a technology firm since Obama administration cabinet officials flew across the country last month to ask Silicon Valley for help.”

The rest of the article is here.

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Broken links, upside down text on The Union’s new visitor guide for Grass Valley

The Union has published a new visitor guide for the Greater Grass Valley Chamber. (Publisher Jim Hemig is on the board of the Chamber). I noticed some unfortunate errors on quick glance — a broken link that is supposed to direct readers to the City’s new “Basecamp” website (promoted in The Union in a front-page article on Jan. 22), as well as the letters “Mill Street” being upside down on a map of downtown Grass Valley.

•On page 9, under Grass Valley City Manager Bob Richardson, the link from the digital edition goes to “ofgrassvalley/” (a dead link) instead of All told, 36 missing links (including 3 on full-page ads and 1 on a half-page ad); 19 broken links; and 6 erroneous duplicate or incomplete links, including ones for the City of Grass Valley and County Board of Supervisors.

•Then on page 27, a map of downtown Grass Valley shows the major street names, such as “Mill Street,” “South Auburn Street” and “Chruch Street” all upside down. I hope the visitors don’t get dizzy reading it.

Be careful out there!



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State of Jefferson ballot campaigns diminish to two from five

Editor’s note: I received this email from the “Keep It California” contingent:

“Following on the heels of our work with the Lake County Board of Supervisors to rescind their offer to put the State of Jefferson on the ballot, we worked with other counties to do the same. January saw Plumas and Amador remove the question from the June ballot and Sierra County’s supervisors adopted a resolution declining to join the State of Jefferson.

“Each of these county boards made it clear that the proponents of such a radical idea should prove they have local support by availing themselves of the initiative process before county dollars are spent on a ballot measure.

“The hugely publicized delivery of ‘thousands’ of names on 15 petitions from the State of Jefferson group to the state capitol on January 6th, turns out to be nothing but a photo op. Twenty, yes twenty, names were turned in from Nevada County and that was the highest number for any county.

“Most of the other counties had two to five signatures. County board members all over Northern California are incensed that the SOJ had misrepresented the counties’ support in the petitions submitted to the state. What a mockery of the democratic process!

“Nevada County Executive Rick Haffey wrote a very pointed clarification that the Nevada County Board of Supervisors do not support the State of Jefferson and do not plan to do so in the future.

“The initiative supporters in Nevada County turned in over 5,000 signatures (they need about 3,840) to get an advisory measure on the ballot. Margie Joehnck, our coordinator in Nevada Co., delivered a ‘Call to Action’ to the supervisors to begin at once to assess the possible fiscal and other effects the State of Jefferson proposal would have on the county, so we will have the information for our campaign should they have enough qualified signatures.

“Lassen County adopted ballot language for the advisory election in June. However, we are lighting a fire up there with an organizational meeting planned for early this month. Please contact us if you live in or near Lassen and can help with this campaign.

“So, going from the possibility of having to run campaigns in five counties down to a possible two counties is pretty significant work for two months.”

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