“So, mark your calendars and put a note on the refrigerator: the next NCTPP luncheon meeting will be held on WEDNESDAY, March 9, at THE MINER’S FOUNDRY CULTURAL CENTER in Nevada City,” the local tea party website reads. “We will have plenty of room to spread out, and plenty of free parking around back.”
“Our featured speaker will be Jeff Ackerman, Publisher of The Union. As always, get there early for a good seat. The doors open at 11:30 with lunch serving at noon.”
Now Ackerman is backing out of the event, he says through “spokesman” Todd Juvinall’s blog. “Jeff Ackerman just emailed me to let me know he can’t attend the TPP meeting due to prior commitments,” Todd writes in an afternoon blog “update.”
“Prior commitments”? Why would the tea party have published Ackerman’s attendance at a luncheon meeting — normally attended by 150 people — as the lead item on its website without an understanding of the commitment? As of this afternoon, the announcement is still up there, promoting Ackerman’s attendance.
In journalism this doesn’t pass the “smell test,” as we like to say.
BTW, Todd and his supporters (George Rebane, Mike Sherman and Barry Pruett) also are sore that I dared to bring up the Mother Jones’ reporting on the tea party this week. They all were riled that I brought up complaints by some citizens that The Union has become “The Tea Party Gazette,” a perceived ongoing bias.
As I’ve said many times, the internet is breaking the bottleneck of communication in small towns such as ours. More people are hopping on this blog every day as we “connect the dots” in our community — in this case, the peculiar relationship between the hard right bloggers and our local newspaper.
Through Todd, The Union publisher also had a little “valentine” for the readers here: “He and his followers are, by and large, non-constructive and therefore of very little value to me.”
Now that The Union publisher is out from the tea party get-together next month, maybe they can invite me to speak!
Editor’s note: I received this op-ed page submission from the CLAIM-GV group. David Watkinson, of the mine, is welcome to respond or submit his own opinion column:
February 6, 2011 was the 100th anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s birth, and when Grass Valley evaluates the controversial proposal to reopen the historic Idaho-Maryland Mine the late president’s signature phrase holds a timely piece of advice: Trust, but Verify.
When President Reagan uttered those words he was referring to an arms control treaty with the Soviet Union. At first glance, a nuke treaty with the Evil Empire seems a world away from reopening a historic gold mine in rural Grass Valley, California.
But the proposal by Emgold – a Canada-based mining company that has never actually operated a gold mine – to resume mining at Idaho Maryland carries both big promises and huge risks for our community, and it deserves equally serious scrutiny.
First, some history: in 2006, Emgold proposed a scheme to reopen the mine and build a ceramics plant to manufacture tile from excavated rock. That proposal quickly ran into trouble. State regulators and mine experts found serious problems with Emgold’s Draft Environmental Impact Report and by 2009 the project appeared to have quietly died.
But like a bad penny, Emgold’s scheme has returned.
Emgold is expected to submit a revised proposal by April 8th, and ultimately the Grass Valley City Council will vote it up or down. Before approving the proposal, however, the Council must verify its many golden promises:
Jobs: Under its initial plan, Emgold promised to create four hundred jobs over the next 20 years – 200 in the mine and another 200 in the ceramics factory. Sounds pretty good, especially in these tough economic times, right? But hold on – not only are these jobs figures speculative, but the Grass Valley General Plan has slated the mine site for a business park with the potential for 800 new jobs – 400 more than the mine promises. A potential loss of 400 jobs is a bad deal for Grass Valley.
Impact on Existing and Future Businesses: Not only could the mine cost Grass Valley long-term jobs, but it’s common sense that a mine might dissuade other high-paying employers from locating in the area. High-tech manufacturers have cautioned Grass Valley that vibrations from mining and increased truck traffic could upset sensitive operations and force them to leave town.
And visitors might decide to spend their tourism dollars elsewhere if, rather than a church bell, they wake to the sound of 20-ton trucks rumbling through town. Grass Valley is already burdened with the tragic closure of Weaver Auto. Imagine the repercussions from a failed mine operation in downtown Grass Valley.
Public Safety and Pollution: Emgold’s own project proposal envisions a huge burden on Grass Valley’s streets, totaling 220 20-ton truck trips per day, seven days a week (that’s one every 7 minutes!). Then there’s the need to drain and clean 72 miles of mine tunnels of toxics-laden water and the risk of dewatering local resident’s wells. The price tag for ensuring public safety and environmental health grows quickly.
Cleanup and Long-Term Costs: Emgold promises the mine will operate for 20 years, but this promise is based on both the speculative value of gold and assumed (but not proven) gold reserves left in the mine. If gold prices crash or the reserves are smaller than anticipated the mine could close and leave Grass Valley with an unusable industrial mine site and long-term cleanup costs. The uncomfortable fact is that there is a failed mine behind every ghost town in the American West. Grass Valley has recent experience with closed mines: the discovery that the Newmont Mining site was contaminating local waters, the city was forced to spend more than
three years and $2 million in legal fees just to force the mine operators to clean up their mess.
Grass Valley cannot afford – and should not pay for – another costly mine cleanup.
Emgold has made a lot of promises to Grass Valley. But reopening the mine carries huge risks: loss of long-term jobs and businesses, increased traffic, air and water pollution, threats to public health and quality of life and a huge cleanup bill if those promises aren’t kept.
Before the Grass Valley City Council approves reopening the Idaho Maryland Mine it must prove to the community that the benefits greatly outweigh the risks.
The Gipper was right: when it comes to our long-term safety, security and prosperity we should Trust, but Verify.
Ralph Silberstein – President,
Mike Pasner -Vice-President,
Citizens Looking At the Impacts of Mining
RealtyTrac is out with the foreclosure data for 2010, shown here. “For a frightening way to visualize the foreclosure crisis, we’re borrowing a Google maps technique described by Barry Ritholtz (on his Big Picture blog),” according to businessinsider.com. The details are here.
The Egypt Influence Network, created by an up-and-coming entrepreneur Kovas Boguta, shows some of the most influential tweeters during the Egyptian uprising.
“Boguta, formerly a math whiz working for Wolfram Alpha, tells Co.Design that he started by hand picking a few Twitter accounts that were widely watched during the revolution,” according to FastCodeDesign.com. “Then, he used algorithms to glean who those accounts were most connected to.
“And finally, he applied Google’s Pagerank algorithm to the follower lists, to determine who was most important–and mapped the results, awarding bigger bubbles to the bigger players in the network. The English-speaking accounts are in blue, while those in Arabic are in red.
“The biggest bubble, unsurprisingly, belongs to Wael Ghonim, the Google executive who created the Facebook page that became a clearing house for protest organizers, and who became a symbol of the cause following his arrest and emotional reappearance on Egyptian TV.
“Someday in the near future, the chart you see below might be useful to social scientists, hoping to understand the role Twitter played in bringing about the end of Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year dictatorship.”
The Google executive’s role in the protests is here.
“Our featured speaker will be Jeff Ackerman, Publisher of The Union,” it reads. “As always, get there early for a good seat. The doors open at 11:30 with lunch serving at noon.”
The Union has been dubbed “The Tea Party Gazette” by some critics in town, citing its “softball” interviews with Mark Meckler and perceived favoritism. The publisher wrote an interview himself titled “Local attorney seeks return to founding principles in government.”
The Union also ran an article (apparently not fact checked) where Stan Meckler incorrectly claimed KVMR “refused” to interview him. KMVR responded by running a photo of Meckler being interviewed last summer by the news director. Whoops.
Neither The Union nor Meckler apologized for the egregious error, however. Neither did George Rebane, an avid tea partier who could have mentioned it during his commentary on KVMR, where he has a platform.
During the speaking engagement in March, I also wonder if the three-part investigation of the Tea Party and Meckler by Mother Jones will be discussed.
Part three, which ran on Wednesday, focuses on Lee Martin, who is identified in some corporate filings as the group’s assistant treasurer. “He’s better known to tea partiers as the husband of Jenny Beth Martin, a cofounder of TPP (along with Meckler),” as the article notes.
The article probes Lee Martin’s past: “He was busted by the IRS several years ago for failing to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in payroll taxes related to a failed business that pushed him into bankruptcy,” it reads, adding, “He also happens to be married to one of the group’s leaders.”
The meeting would be a good opportunity for an open community dialogue about the “pros” and “cons” of the tea party — whose co-founder is based in our county.
But it also could be a good chance for a small-town newspaper publisher to exchange some friendly banter with a favored demographics — and maybe sign up some more subscriptions. Meeting in Nevada City, where the residents vote “blue,” not “red,” helps make the tea party appear more mainstream, too. In my mind, it’s no coincidence.
That’s OK — people can always express their opinions when they vote. We’re a “purple county” now. The victories of Terry Lamphier, Greg Diaz and Tina Vernon are all cases in point. From what I hear some longtime “R’s” are deeply concerned.
The lunch meetings at the Miner’s Foundry also help fill up one of our most picturesque venues, generating some money in town.
You can expect to see our hard right blogging contingent in the corner, cheering on the proceedings.
“The more things change, the more they stay the same.”