How hard-right “squeak” helped win them seats on The Union editorial board

This is telling: “A delegation (from the NC Republican Women Federated) met recently with the newspaper’s management to present their case,” hard-right political blogger George Rebane wrote this morning on his blog.

“They were well received and given enough consideration so that now the editorial board includes three members who would call themselves conservatives. In these days of rampant liberal bias in the media, this was a welcome turn of events.”

The members turned out to be real hard-right political activists, not just “conservatives”: local tea-party activist and founder Stan Meckler; longtime CABPRO member Norm Sauer, who has repeatedly shown up at board of supervisor meetings to complain about Agenda 21 and the federal government; and Rachel Helm. Meckler had lobbied hard for a position on the board.

The NC Republican Women Federated board is here. Its members include Rebane’s spouse, who regularly writes for the CABPRO newsletter, and Tom McClintock’s staffer, among others. (McClintock no longer represents our western county, but his political reach still is felt).

This is the same group that invited tea-party gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly and “Constitutional Sheriff” Richard Mack to speak in our community — both of whom express extreme political views.

The Union’s new publisher Jim Hemig, a longtime Swift manager, is a registered GOPer, the voter rolls show. He joins a long list of conservative publishers.

The Union once was owned by the Ingram family, who are staunch conservatives.

The more things change, the more they stay the same in our western county. And the squeaky political wheel gets the grease — again.


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“Bullets and Burgers” in Uzi shooting accident is a popular tourist spot

“The Arizona shooting range where a 9-year-old girl accidentally killed her instructor with an Uzi is ranked the top-rated tourist attraction in the Las Vegas area, garnering hundreds of favorable online reviews on,” according to NBC News.

“Bullets and Burgers, a business operating at the outdoor shooting range at the Last Stop camping and restaurant outpost near the Nevada border, allows customers to shoot a variety of weapons — from fully automatic machine guns to .50-caliber sniper rifles.”

‘”We even have the actual firearms used in several Hollywood hits including The Terminator and Rambo II,’ Bullets and Burgers touts on its website.

“Shooting instructor Charles Vacca, 39, died Monday after he was shot while trying to teach the girl how to shoot a 9-mm machine gun. Police say Vacca was hit at least once in the head.

“While no charges will be filed in the incident, Bullets and Burgers apparently violated its own age restriction: Minors must be at least 10 years old to shoot and be accompanied by a parent or guardian, its website says. The business couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.”

The rest of the article is here.

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The Union’s new publisher is a registered GOPer, voter rolls show

Jim Hemig, the new publisher of The Union, has been putting together an editorial board with some polarizing political personalities, such as Stan Meckler and CABPRO member Norm Sauer.

Norm, along with other Agenda 21 foes and CABPRO supporters, spoke at the Supes meeting this week, speaking out against sending a letter to Gov. Brown to weigh in with the Feds on local fire protection. Norm’s a regular on such issues. The Supes disagreed — and should have. Local tea-partier Meckler had been seeking a seat on the editorial board. Others are “progressives” but don’t resort to such high-pitched, negative rhetoric.

But what are Publisher Jim’s politics? He’s a registered Republican, according to the voter rolls, which are public information.

Jim is a longtime member of the Swift management team. (Jeff Ackerman is still on that team). Most of the past publishers of The Union have leaned to the right, or far right — not left. The Ingrams, who used to own the paper, are staunch conservatives. So is Jack Moorhead, a former publisher.

One local joked that being a conservative might be part of the job description for publisher of The Union.

In the past, the newspaper’s management has teamed up with the Contractors PAC and longtime conservative business people to support like-minded local candidates. It’s an open secret.

Let’s hope Jim can break with the past and show some real nonpartisan spirit. After all, the voter roles are “purple.” The Union also has to attract new readers.

Hemig was a speaker at the local tea party’s general membership meeting this week. He’s spoken to local Democrat groups too.

I’ve been disappointed with the treatment of Democrat Jim Firth in The Union’s pages and wonder if Terry Lamphier is next.

In Truckee, a more “progressive” newspaper called Moonshine Ink has been challenging the Swift-owned newspapers. It is generating most of the buzz.

For the record, I’ve been a “decline to state” voter since I was 18 and have voted for Democrats and Republicans.

Good luck Jim!

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Get out the vote in local races

I’m not endorsing candidates in the Grass Valley City Council race (and in fact, have only endorsed one local candidate in nine years — clerk-recorder Greg Diaz — and posted a campaign sign in our yard for one, on Election Day — supervisor Nate Beason).  But I’ve enjoyed watching Jim Firth’s campaign for City Council unfold in Grass Valley.

The hard-right activists, partisans and “good old boys” have vilified him, largely because he is chairperson of the Nevada County Democratic Party. The Union has helped fuel it, with its own “good old boys” commentary.

But Firth’s platform — if you bother to read it — is nonpartisan and thoughtful, focusing on growth (including a new “destination” resort), a diverse economic development strategy and it is non-combative (unlike the hard right’s). It represents the “winds of change” that many longtimers fear. “Gentrification” is inevitable. I don’t think the longtimers would be “pushed out,” either. Rather, it’s more about the newcomers also having a voice in our community. The voter demographics also reflect this change.

I found this post of his interesting on Firth’s Facebook page:

“If the 99 percent vote, the 1 percent won’t matter. Over the last 10 or so years Nevada County has changed in one unusual way in its population and voter registration. In Nevada County in 2004 there were 72,742 eligible voters and 65,411 registered voters. Of that number 20,906 were Democrats, 28,625 were Republicans, 11,619 Decline-to-State and the remainder Libertarians, American Independent, Greens, and others. By October of 2008 there were 74,577 eligible voters, 63,769 registered voters, 20,342 Democrats, 27,138 Republicans and 11,599 Decline-to-State, with the remainder others. By 2012 there were 76,246 eligible voters, 60, 590 registered voters, 20,064 Democrats, 23,896 Republicans, 12,712 Decline-to-State and the remaining were others. Between 2004 and 2014 the voting eligible population increased by 3,504. However, registered voters decreased by 3,179. That’s a swing of about 6,000 potential voters. Democratic voter registration stayed virtually the same, as did Decline-to-State, but Republican registrations decreased by 3,242. Conclusion: Republicans are fading away.

“My vote is my voice. Many voters are now ‘turned-off’ by political parties, but voting is still the key that American citizen hold in their hands. Whatever your choice, be sure to register to vote today. Vote-by-mail is a very simple way to exercise your right, you can register on-line at

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How blogs and Facebook are reshaping local media

This morning The Union had a front-page article behind its “pay wall” that Dollar General is going to open its store across from the Fowler Center by yearend and is considering opening one in Rough and Ready.

This was “old news” to readers here, because it was reported last week. It happens regularly: People are finding out more about local news on blogs, social media, even digital newsletters from homeowners’ associations — all free.

Just this week, the “conversation” about The Union columnist “Bored Georgeman’s” ill-informed column about organic food was on Facebook, not in The Union. “What I find truly amazing is that there can be such a degree of discussion here about Boardmans article and still not one comment on The Union website where he published it,” a reader here noted.

The local hard-right political blogs largely have become a “mudpit” of anonymous comments, thanks to a lack of moderation. But hardly a nanosecond goes by without mentioning this blog — often laced with insults and personal attacks. One anonymous fellow named “fish” — with much too much time on his hands — constantly “cuts and pastes” the comments from here over there.

Longtime morning habits are changing. More and more people — including the ones with more disposable income — start their day reading through personal emails and perusing Facebook, not reading a newspaper. Local “free” online sites include, KNCO, and KVMR, along with Facebook and blogs.

Even more efficient, an aggregation website called “Nevada County Voices” has become a “go-to” guide to local news sites, blogs and other commentary. Though The Union is assembling an editorial board, this site’s motting is “One County, Many Voices,” and it’s true. It’s right at the touch of keyboard. Thanks to local resident Anna Haynes for building it, a real sign of ingenuity.

All of this digital content also is available for free “anytime, anywhere,” thanks to smart-phones.

Small digital news sites are booming. “The typical outlet is between four and six years old; editorially, it is focused on coverage of local or even neighborhood-level news; it is just as likely to operate as a nonprofit organization as for-profit model; and it has a lean full-time editorial staff of three or fewer people,” according to a recent study by the Pew Research Center.

Our community has been isolated from the changes, because of its older, conservative demographics but that is changing — and it will continue to change at an accelerated pace.


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Public invited to celebrate Bridgeport Covered Bridge groundbreaking

Editor’s note: This is the official press release from what was reported here last week.

The public is invited to attend the Groundbreaking Ceremony of the stabilization project for the Bridgeport Covered Bridge, located in the South Yuba River State Park on Tuesday, September 2, 2014 at the entrance of the bridge. The Bridgeport Covered Bridge has been an important part of California’s history for over 150 years, and is the longest single span wood covered bridge left in the world.

The Groundbreaking Ceremony will be held in front of the Bridge at Noon with local officials, State Park staff and other community leaders instrumental in the effort to save the Bridge.

“That work to restore and reopen our beloved bridge will commence on the day after Labor Day is an auspicious moment. Working with the dedicated members of the Save Our Bridge Committee has been a labor of love and a testament to what we can do when we unite as a community,” said Caleb Dardick, Executive Director of the South Yuba River Citizens League.

The $1.5 million stabilization and restoration project has two phases. In Phase I, contractors will stabilize the bridge to help secure the structure before a more comprehensive restoration can be completed.b. The stabilization work is scheduled to be completed by December 30, 2014. Phase II will include the repair and restoration of the bridge so that it is sound, safe and reopened to the public. The planning, permitting and engineering work necessary for Phase II is scheduled to begin in the 2014-2015 fiscal year.

“Thanks to the huge outpouring of community support and leadership of our elected officials at the State, County and municipal levels, this project is now moving forward and funding for both phases of construction has been achieved,” said Doug Moon, Chair of the Save Our Bridge Committee.

“The bridge is a very important part of California State parks, and we are looking forward to this restoration, so that future generations and visitors to the park can continue to enjoy this unique piece of history,” said Matt Green, Sierra District Sector Superintendent, California State Parks.Built in 1862,  the 229-foot Bridgeport Covered Bridge has been closed to the public since 2011 due to safety concerns over severe structural problems. In Fiscal Year 2012/13, the South Yuba State Park had 890,000 visitors, most coming from different parts of the world to see the Bridge.
For more information about the Bridge, please visit:

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A bronze sculpture by John Mowen proposed for GV roundabout

From the blog of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine:

A 7-foot-tall bronze sculpture, “Moving Within,” created by the late John Mowen, the popular artist and Nevada City gallery owner, is being proposed for the roundabout at Sierra College Drive.

The Grass Valley City Council is expected to consider the plan at its meeting on Tuesday night. “Roundabouts provide a unique opportunity to display artwork and define gateways,” according to a City memo. “The City has received a request to place (an) artwork sculpture by John Mowen in the center of (the Sierra College Drive roundabout).”

In 2009-10, the Council approved the installation of a Kurt Steger artwork in the East Main-Idaho Maryland Roundabout to honor the City’s history “by creating free-standing artwork depicting the City’s historic past,” the memo reads.

Mowen died in January. The Mowen Solinsky Gallery, whose doors opened in 2004 in a restored Gold Rush-era building, has been recognized as a model gallery, exhibiting and selling exceptional contemporary art.

“The greatest blessings of this work come from connecting to others who also feel that our passion and where we go inside ourselves with what we do in the world, is vital to the survival of the soul,” John said about his artwork.

(Photo: and Izzy Schwartz)

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