Sierra College ranked among the top 150 of the 2,400 U.S. community colleges

“The Aspen Institute, an international nonprofit think tank and research organization, has rated Sierra College among the top 150 of the 2400 community colleges in the United States,” according to the community college. “This makes the college eligible to compete for Aspen’s 2019 top prize of $1 million for excellence in education.

‘”We’re especially honored because the Institute’s assessment is based on student outcomes, the success our students achieve,’ said Sierra Superintendent/President Willy Duncan. ‘This ranking tells us that we are giving our students the skills and knowledge they need to get good jobs or earn degrees at four year universities.’

“Known for the annual Aspen Ideas Festival where leaders from around the world meet in its namesake Colorado ski town, one of the Institute’s missions is to promote proven new ideas in education. The Aspen Prize is awarded for achievements in: quality of learning, access for underserved students, the percentage of students who earn degrees or certificates, and the number who land jobs and earn good salaries.

“Of the 11.6 million jobs created in the post-recession economy, all but 100,000 of them required at least some college education, according to the Georgetown University education and workforce center. Employers see higher-quality work, greater productivity, and more innovation from workers who are college educated.

“’Placer is growing at the second fastest rate of any county in California,’ said Duncan, ‘Community leaders tell me that an educated and skilled workforce is a major reason new employers choose to locate here.’

“The Aspen Institute will name ten finalists for the prize in May 2018 and will then visit each top-ten campus to select the grand prize winner in spring 2019. ‘Through this competition, we’re working to inspire community colleges across the country,’ said Josh Wyner, director of Aspen Education. ‘We’re working to ensure that more students succeed in college and, beyond the campus, succeed in their lives.'”

Charles Manson dies at 83

Charles Manson, Los Angeles Times / California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation)

“Charles Manson was an unlikely figure to evolve into the personification of evil. A few inches over five feet, he was a petty criminal and small-time hustler. And his followers bore little resemblance to the stereotypical image of hardened killers. Most were in their early twenties, middle-class white kids, hippies and runaways who fell under his charismatic sway,” as the Los Angeles Times is reporting.

“But in the summer of 1969, Manson masterminded a string of bizarre murders in Los Angeles that both horrified and fascinated the nation and signified to many the symbolic end of the 1960s and the idealism and naiveté the decade represented.

“Considered one of the most infamous criminals of the 20th century, Manson died of natural causes at a Kern County Hospital at 8:13 p.m Sunday, according to Vicky Waters, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. He was 83.

“Sentenced to death for the crime, Manson escaped execution when the state Supreme Court declared the death penalty unconstitutional at the time. He spent decades behind bars, an unrepentant and incorrigible inmate who’d been cited for behavioral issues more than 100 times.

“Manson did not commit the murders himself; instead he persuaded his group of followers to carry out the killings. The crimes received frenzied news coverage, because so many lurid and sensational elements coalesced at the time — Hollywood celebrity, cult behavior, group sex, drugs and savage murders that concluded with the killers scrawling words with their victims’ blood.

“Los Angeles residents were terrified by the crimes. Before the killers were apprehended, gun sales and guard dog purchases skyrocketed and locksmiths had weeks-long waiting lists. Numerous off-duty police officers were hired to guard homes in affluent neighborhoods and security firms tripled in size.”

“More than 40 years after the mass murders, Manson — whose wild-eyed stare was immortalized on a Life magazine cover — remains a figure of fascination, a homicidal anti-hero for a new generation. Rock groups have played songs that he wrote. Merchants peddle T-shirts bearing Manson’s likeness, as well as belt buckles, caps, necklaces, rosaries and cigarette lighters. Manson memorabilia is sold on the internet.

“’Manson became a metaphor for evil, and evil has its allure,’ said Bugliosi, who wrote — with Curt Gentry — the bestselling nonfiction book ‘Helter Skelter’ about the case. ‘People found him so fascinating because unlike other mass murderers who did the killings themselves or participated with others, Manson got people to kill for him.’

““Many people I know in Los Angeles,’ Joan Didion wrote in ‘The White Album,’ ‘believe that the Sixties ended abruptly on Aug 9, 1969, at the exact moment when the word of the murders … traveled like brushfire through the community, and in a sense this is true…. The paranoia was fulfilled.'”

The rest of the article is here.

The Union’s George Boardman’s “modest proposal”

An excerpt from George Boardman’s column this week:

“If we’re going to permit just about anybody to buy assault rifles and 30-round magazines, we can expect more mass shooting. And as Sutherland Spring and Rancho Tehama show, any place can be turned into a killing field. Even Grass Valley and Nevada City.

“Which leads me to this modest proposal: As a public service, everybody in the western county with a concealed weapon permit should post his or her social schedule where everybody can read it: What restaurant they’re planning to patronize, what movie they’re going to see, or perhaps a family outing to Western Gateway Park or a concert at Music in the Mountains.

“That way, the rest of us will know what venues will be populated by good men with guns. You know, just in case …

There, don’t you feel safer already?”

Readers skewer Todd Juvinall’s latest column: “Pure idiocy”

We’ve been hanging out in Livermore this weekend where our son has a  volleyball tournament against teams from the Bay Area and Central Valley. We like to expose him to the “outside world” whenever possible.

The Op-Ed page of The Union is a “living, breathing” example why it’s important to expose western Nevada County youth to the  outside world. It often is filled with myopic, provincial, insular, hermit-like voices — and lo and behold, one from Todd “You can’t make this stuff up” Juvinall graced the pages this weekend. When you read The Union’s Op-Ed page from out of town, our little community seems even further away — like Brigadoon for wing nuts.

“I would like to see unicorns and sweet blueberries too, but let’s get real,” provincial Todd writes, framing politics as a simplistic “winner take all” blood sport, sort of like cage fighting. That’s all he knows.

And as predicted, here’s the reader response:

• “Perhaps it is best that your 1992 Assembly bid was unsuccessful. If your view of our laws is that they are designed to ‘hobble Americans,’ then you have no business in our Assembly.” (Todd, believe it or not, was once a county supervisor. His political views are a little to the right of Atilla the Hun. Predictably, he was a one-term supervisor, even back in the heyday of local wing nut politics).

• “Mr. Juvinall’s world view seems to be driven by a ‘winner takes all’ mentality. As humans, driven at our basic level toward survival, we all have an innate need to conquer. But as humans, we also have an innate need to cooperate.”

• “Our founding fathers, despite their passionate differences, found a path that led them to compromise. Today’s winner take all attitude is the result of the extreme wings of political parties having too much power.”

• “Your comment indicates an intolerance for any view that contradicts your own. That is the crux of the problem, partner. By the way, I am not an ilk of any kind. I’m an individual speaking my mind the same as you, Todd. Or, do you see yourself as simply an ilk with opinions that are of no consequence?”

• “His letter is wrought with misinformation and pure idiocy. His comments on abortion are a good example of one individual trying to generalize a belief.”

• “Todd what I read is your rants and lies and your inability to ascertain the difference between what is good for our nation and what is only good for the GOP. True to form you insult when you have no argument. My reading comprehension is fine, but what about your ability to spell and use proper grammar?”

• “Todd you are the epitome of embarrassment.”

As Todd puts it, “You can’t make this stuff up”!

Annual Law Day Essay Scholarship Dinner in Grass Valley

We attended the Annual Law Day Essay Scholarship Dinner of the Nevada County Bar Association last night, where our son was one of the scholarship winners. A crowd filled the room at 151 Union Square in Grass Valley for a sit-down dinner to honor the students and hear Hon. Kathleen Butz, justice of the Third District Appellate Court, speak.

The topic of both the essay and speech was “The 14th Amendment: Transforming American Democracy.” Law Day is meant to reflect on the role of law in the foundation of the country, and local bar associations hold gatherings like this. President Eisenhower declared May 1 to be Law Day, but it is celebrated at different times.

The year 2017 marks the 15oth anniversary of the Fourteenth Amendment and the 50th Anniversary of Loving v. Virginia, 338 US 1 (1967), decided under the Fourteenth Amendment and overturning a law that disallowed individuals of different races to marry.

The essay judges, or “readers,” complimented the students on their essays and summarized their arguments before cash awards and certificates were presented to the three winners. Two other students received honorable mentions.

Most of the students were pursuing careers other than law (ours is interested in medicine), but all agreed upon the importance of cogent communication in their academic endeavors.

Ms. Butz spoke about some landmark Supreme Court cases about “due process” and “equal protection under the law.” She cautioned, however, that it is not a guarantee to protect rights and could face some headwinds in future cases.

She also praised the students, noting that the “question” was a challenging one.  It is here: Nevada County Bar Association Law Day Essay Contest 2017. She also visited with each student.

It was a congenial crowd. We enjoyed visiting with attendees including Superior Court Judges Tom Anderson and Candace Heidelberger, and lawyers Peter Bronson, Steven Munkelt, and Joe Bell, among others. Stephen Baker was the contest coordinator and presenter.

Dana and Michelle Milner — young business owners — are doing a good job at 151 Union Square. The dinner menu choices included steak and salmon with a fresh salad, along with an honor bar. We thanked them for their hard work as well. It takes “a village” to raise our youth, and this was an uplifting affair.

Wall St. Journal: Valparaiso law school suspends admissions

“The tough climate for legal education has claimed another victim,” the Wall Street Journal is reporting this afternoon.

“Valparaiso University, a private university in Northwest Indiana, said Thursday its board of directors voted to stop enrolling new law school students, meaning the law school will likely be wound down over the next few years.

“Enrollment has plummeted at Valparaiso University…

“The school, which enrolled only 29 full-time incoming students in 2017, is latest victim of declining interest in law school.”

The article is here.