MLB locks its doors

“As expected, Major League Baseball and its players association did not find common ground on a collective bargaining agreement by 11:59 p.m. ET Wednesday night,” as The Athletic is reporting in an email newsletter. “The league is closed for business for the first time in 26 years. We have a lockout. Here’s a 30-second guide to our new reality. Why?

“The players want a larger share of the revenue. Historically it has hovered around 50-50 in the modern era. Currently, owners get 57 percent while the players receive 43 percent.

“The players also want to end service time manipulation, or diminish its effect on their earning power. We’ve seen it repeatedly — young stars shelved in the minor leagues longer than necessary. Clubs game the system in order to depress salary and keep a player under team control longer.

“Finally: the union wants to incentivize competition. The league has seen more teams outright tank in the last few years, which has an adverse effect on the on-field product and on player salaries. No tanking team is going to line up to pay a mid-tier free agent; so where do those guys play? There are myriad possible solutions, but the sides can’t seem to agree on a route. 

“So, what do we do now? Until an agreement is reached, coaches and front office personnel will not be able to communicate with players. No one can sign contracts. No offseason training allowed. None of it.

“For now, we wait. Talks will resume immediately. Let’s hope this lockout isn’t too long.”

BTW, if you are a sports fan, I recommend a subscription to the Athletic, or at least checking it out. The subscription-based website is part of a growing publishing trend. The writing and analysis is top-notch.

Pittsburgh Pirates owner buys The Union and Sierra Sun newspapers

The Union and Sierra Sun newspapers are being sold to a well-off gentleman named Robert Nutting who is the principal owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team; a small ski resort in the “Keystone State”; and — last but not least — a chain of small newspapers, magazines and some phone directories based in Wheeling, West Virginia.

The net worth of Nutting and his family comes to an estimated $1.1 billion (with a “b”). Nutting’s family is listed as the 10th wealthiest owner in the MLB, according to Wealth-X, a global-wealth intelligence firm.

“BOTTOM-LINE BOB”

Nutting’s nickname, at least to some of his critics, is “bottom-line Bob.” An Instagram account titled “Spend Nutting, Win Nutting” pokes fun at the MLB owner. A fan once was asked to remove a T-shirt at a Pirates game that was critical of Nutting. It also read “Spend Nutting, Win Nutting.” An alternative newspaper in West Virginia, The Wheeling Alternative, also is a frequent detractor.

In 2018, the appearance of the Pirates mascot at a GOP dinner in Pittsburgh, which included a visit by then-President Trump’s counselor Kellyanne Conway, raised eyebrows. The Pirates said it was not a political endorsement.

The editorial board of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has been a harsh critic of Nutting. In an editorial last month that conjured up images of Scrooge himself (ahead of Christmas, no less) the Pulitzer Prize-winning PG wrote: “We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: If Bob Nutting doesn’t want to pay to field a legitimate Major League Baseball team in Pittsburgh, he should sell to someone who will.” (The PG won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Reporting). 

Nutting, 59, whose title is CEO of Ogden Newspapers and The Nutting Company, reiterated his family’s “commitment to the industry and the critical role of community newspapers.” The family leadership also includes Bill Nutting (VP) and Cameron Nutting Williams (chief revenue officer).

The sale is set to close Dec. 31, and with the acquisition, Ogden Newspapers now will publish 54 daily newspapers and a number of weekly newspapers and magazines, including the Utne Reader (a longtime vanguard of the alternative press), in 18 states.

Ogden will continue to operate the existing Swift publications under the name Swift Communications. After the close date, Swift will change its name to Questor Corp. Swift’s Acres USA and Breaking Ground Institute will be part of Questor, along with a portfolio of commercial and residential real estate properties in various states.

Founded in 1975, the second- and third-generation family owned Swift Communications has operated magazines, newspapers, websites, book publishing and other digital products in western state cities, according to its press release. In California, that includes Grass Valley, Truckee, and South Lake Tahoe; and Carson City in Nevada. In Colorado, that includes the Aspen Times and Snowmass Sun, Glenwood Springs Post Independent, Vail Daily, Summit Daily News, Steamboat Pilot, Craig Press and Sky-Hi News near Winter Park. Swift also includes publications and offices in Park City, Utah.

“The publications, communities and most of all the great people who have been a part of our company since its founding in 1975 will be very much missed,” Bill Waters, CEO and chairman of the Board of Swift Communications, said in the announcement. “We know the time has come to pass the baton of stewardship to new owners who can carry forward the important mission.”

LET’S GIVE BOB A CHANCE

Let’s give Mr. Nutting a chance with our local newspapers. Despite the criticism of being “bottom-line Bob,” Nutting founded the Pittsburgh Pirates philanthropic arm, Pirates Charities, in 2010.

Our son, who is a student at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, might be one of the few locals to own a Pittsburgh Pirates baseball hat. He said he liked the color scheme.

“Nutting was born on March 29, 1962 in Wheeling, West Virginia,” according to Wikipedia. “He earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Nutting likes the outdoors, enjoying his time fly fishing, skiing and flying his personal twin-engine aircraft. Nutting and his wife, Leslie, have three daughters. An avid conservationist, Nutting is the driving force behind the Pirates’ ‘Let’s Go Bucs. Let’s Go Green’ initiative to make PNC Park operations more environmentally friendly.”

Leslie Ganyard Nutting is “a painter based in West Virginia, though her roots are in California. . . . She uses field painting opportunities to slow down, look closely, think openly, and intensely feel the world as it is,” according to her CV. Leslie studied art at the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Museum of Art and received her MFA in painting from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. I like her work: It reminds me of some of the bucolic American landscapes we have hanging on the walls at home.

Nutting (credit: NuttingCompany.com)

The Pirate Parrot (credit: MLB.com/Pirates)

T-shirt (credit: Amazon.com)

Family farm helps feed people in Nevada County

“Kenneth and Aleta Barrett are the owners and operators of Starbright Acres Family Farm, and in this video take us through their journey in moving to the Grass Valley area with their two young children, and with little farming experience, they have continued to meet the challenge each year to plant and harvest a variety of vegetables for local residents.” Credits: some photographs from Starbright Acres Family Farm, music: http://www.bensound.com

Don’t let culture wars ruin our schools


We are a small, rural area, but some of our local students go on to some of the nation’s best colleges and universities. This includes “top 10” schools such as Stanford, Columbia, and Johns Hopkins, as well as our top-ranked “UCs,” led by Cal Berkeley then UCLA, among others. This is a credit to our district’s hard-working teachers, college counselors, and administrators.

As longtime residents and parents, we are extremely grateful for it. I should add we also are grateful for programs such as the Sierra College Fire Academy and our community college’s associate degree nursing program; education is not “one size fits all.” 

Our towns can benefit from this comprehensive education: In the past, for example, a “bring them home” campaign has sought to attract and retain young professionals and entrepreneurs to start a business here and help us thrive. We need to nurture this philosophy to help our local economy thrive. Let’s face it: We are a declining and aging population — not the ideal path toward sustainability. 

Despite our best efforts to prosper, there are some FRINGE (capitalized) efforts in our towns that risk undermining all this — you know, “one step forward, two steps back.” Case in point: At a Nevada Joint Union High School District board meeting on Wednesday, a trustee (Jim is that you?) requested the school board hear from a group AGAINST Critical Race Theory. Argh! 

Though I’d choose a less academic-sounding term, Critical Race Theory is an approach to studies which holds that “racism is systemic, and that even laws and policies that are race-neutral on their face can have racist outcomes,” according to Education Week. Duh!

But opposition is mounting in this era of culture wars: 27 states have introduced bills or taken other steps that would restrict teaching critical race theory in K-12 schools or limit how teachers can discuss racism and sexism, the publication adds.

“In public discourse, critics of diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives have misinterpreted and misappropriated the term, using it to refer to a host of educational priorities, from history lessons on the Civil Rights Movement to diverse classroom libraries to culturally responsive teaching,” adds Education Week

Meanwhile, while communities such as ours “zig,” the bigger world “zags.” Many of the nation’s top universities are celebrating the role of diversity, and rightly so. I learned that Johns Hopkins, for example, has launched an exhibit about the indispensable role of blacks in shaping the university. I learned a lot from the project. It stemmed from Johns Hopkins learning from its own past (its founder owned slaves), rather than sweeping it under the rug. 

I am hopeful that the outcome of Wednesday’s meeting will be full steam ahead with what our schools are doing. It is the right way to go, to be sure. 


Have mask will travel

HONOLULU- We have built an eclectic collection of face-masks: Colorful ones, plain N95 masks, even a blue-and-gold one with a Cal Berkeley bear.

For a short week, we escaped to Hawaii, which is a travel bargain because of Covid. On the islands, vaccinating is upwards of 65 percent. We have been vaccinated since spring, and we brought a pile of masks along.

Visitors are required to show vaccination cards before exiting the airport. Hotels check vaccination cards at check-in. It is the strictest procedure I’ve seen. (A lost credit card can be replaced, but DO NOT lose a vaccination card). The six-foot rule is enforced, even at the beach.

I’ve noticed some Japanese tourists have worn masks in pre-COVID visits to Hawaii. Now we’re all joining them. The mayor has participated in the effort, handing out free masks to beach goers at Waikiki.

Despite all this, Hawaii has still struggled with COVID. Going into Labor Day, hospitals’ ICU units were full or near full. The state has just 223 licensed ICU beds.

Of course, it is still possible to have a great time in Hawaii in the COVID era. We are reading books while glancing out at the ocean, taking long walks on the beach, eating fresh fish, and swimming often. Aloha!



Target store coming to Grass Valley

A Target store is coming to the McKnight Crossing Shopping Center in Grass Valley, according to Target’s corporate website. The future store is “located at 111 West McKnight Way, Grass Valley, CA, 95949,” according to a posting on Target’s corporate website.

The link is here.

Grass Valley has long been seeking “big box” stores to help boost its tax base.

Target, headquartered in Minneapolis, has 1,915 stores in the United States. About 75 percent of the U.S. population lives within 10 miles of a Target store.

The space now occupied by Kmart in the shopping center previously had been listed for lease. It is expected to close by yearend.

The next nearest Target is in Auburn.

Diaz: “Forensic Audit” in Nevada County – Unnecessary

“The California Secretary of State and several counties, including Nevada County, are receiving a large number of calls and correspondence requesting ‘forensic audits’ of elections,” according to Diaz’ statement that is posted on YubaNet. “When someone calls for a ‘forensic audit’ they’re essentially asking for an independent third party to come into our election systems, review our logs, machines, and source code, and physically dissect the equipment.

“A ‘forensic audit’ is not authorized under California law. It is an intrusive process that adds an unsecured, non-authorized entity into our election systems — compromising our entire chain of custody and risking the security of our elections. Any unauthorized access to the proprietary components, including hardware, firmware, and software of voting system equipment, is a violation of the contract terms with the voting system vendors.

“If forensic audits were conducted, the county would be required to replace the existing election equipment: voting machines, computers, software, and related electronic equipment. We would have to purchase new voting equipment after every forensic audit. The current election system equipment cost Nevada County approximately $600,000 to obtain. We have two elections every two years, at least.  In short, county taxpayers would have to spend at least $600,000 after every such audit, with costs rising all the time.”

The rest of the article is here.

CNN projection: Newsom defeats recall

California Gov. Gavin Newsom survives GOP-backed recall effort and will remain in office after a majority of voters voted “no” in Tuesday’s recall election, according to a projection from the CNN Decision Desk.

California voters were asked just two questions on the recall ballot: First, “yes” or “no” on whether they want to remove Newsom from office. 

Newsom will now finish out the remainder of his term.

—CNN

The Nevada County election results are here. Newsom defeated the recall in our County too. The margin was narrower than the statewide number but still decisive.

In Truckee, Measure T — a Truckee Fire Protection District measure — was winning.