From his days as an appointee to the county transportation commission, Russ has long been a water bearer (AKA political Gunga Din) for the “old guard.”
Progressive Terry Lamphier’s upset of staunch conservative John Spencer for District 3 supervisor, and the transfer of The Union’s “Tea Party Gazette” publisher to Roseburg, Ore., upset longstanding “world order” in Grass Valley, so now Russ is summoned to mud-up the issue.
Firth is one of six candidates running for three open seats on the Grass Valley City Council.
The inflexible “old guard” interests of Grass Valley (pro-Loma Rica housing, pro-Idaho-Maryland Mine, pro-suing the County over airport land use plans and so on) are supporting Lisa Swarthout, Howard Levine and Jan Arbuckle. It’s a “slate.”
That’s fine. And it’s up for Grass Valley voters to decide. (Though many ardent supporter of Lisa, Howard and Jan don’t live in Grass Valley).
Facts are illuminating in a campaign — no matter whom you support — but Russ is stretching wildly (like “stretch” Willie McCovey) on this one.
Despite Russ’ trash talk, Firth says the most important issue facing Grass Valley is “JOBS!” But never mind that.
Russ is trying to link Firth’s opposition to a publicly funded baseball park in San Francisco in 1989 with a no-growth mindset in Grass Valley in 2012.
I happen to know a lot about both fights. In fact, I broke the story of the naming of PacBell Park on Page 1 of The Chronicle in April 1996. My story is here. It really “PO’ed” the Giants, who wanted us to sit on the story for a few days. But I had good sources, and they ultimately went along. Larry Baer and I visit at the ballpark.
The issue of PacBell Park was not whether to build a new stadium; it was how to finance it and where to build it.
A lot of people felt that the Giants should use private money, not taxpayer money. Owners Bob Lurie and later Peter McGowan were antagonistic figures. A lot of people also felt the Giants and 49ers should work together for a joint complex.
Firth, for one, “would rather see the Giants and the 49ers come up with a joint plan for a new sports complex at Candlestick Point,” as The Chronicle pointed out. And he opposed using public funds. (I’ll bet Russ would agree with Firth’s position, arguing for private — not public — funding for a similar project up here, such as a performing arts center).
In the end, guess what? The Giants funded their own stadium with private money. It was the first Major League ballpark built without public funds since the completion of Dodger Stadium in 1962. And it turned out fine — for the investors and the city.
The outcome wasn’t so rosy for the 49ers. Without any joint stadium, guess what the 49ers did? They left San Francisco all together and are building a new stadium in Santa Clara.
So Firth wasn’t such a dummy after all. In fact, his view saved the taxpayers money, and a joint sports complex could have kept the 49ers in San Francisco.
I don’t have any dogs in the fight for Grass Valley City Council. But I am continually “PO’ed” at petulant small-town politics and the lying that goes with it.
Let’s hope that whoever sits on the next Grass Valley City Council understands the value of a diversified economy. Betting on boom-and-bust cycles benefits only a few at the expense of many.
And let’s hope the Council values independent thinking. It sometimes leads to innovation. At best it’s still going to be a 4-1 vote most of the time anyway.
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