How The Union alienates itself from community leaders

Ed Scofield is considered our most conservative supervisor now that John Spencer is gone. Barry Pruett goes out of his way to embrace Ed while dissing the rest of the Rood Center. But The Union’s editor, with his persistent anti-government diatribes, makes even Ed look like a mushy moderate.

In this editorial Ed does a good job of showing the editor of “The Tea Party Gazette” that a recent attack on government spending (the latest to drum up circulation to his demographics) – and in this case against a new transit center – was misguided. I was going to blast him too. I did some research on the project and found his assertions false. But bowing to discretion being the better part of valor, I decided to let it go. I couldn’t help but notice how Jeff treats the Transit Center differently from the way he writes about his big advertisers, treating them with kid gloves. Here’s the rebuttal from Ed and Ms. Guerra of Transit Services:

The recent editorial by Jeff Ackerman, “Pennies from heaven to the president, governor and down to the Supes,” made some less than flattering statements regarding the construction of the Tinloy Street Transit Center as well as public transit in general.

Opinions can and do vary widely in our community. Often these differences hinge on a person’s level of knowledge and level of actual responsibility in any given matter.

Let’s face it, it’s easy to have a strong opinion when you aren’t really held accountable for the outcome. As Transit and Transportation Commissioners representing this community we have been provided with a high level of education on these matters and have been chosen by the community to make decisions and be accountable for the outcome. With that in mind, we offer a different perspective.

OK, it’s pretty clear that the editor doesn’t believe that operating a transit system in Nevada County is worth the expense. And he is correct when he points out that the cost to operate a transit system in rural areas requires subsidies above and beyond rider fares.

This is true in nearly all transit systems, rural and urban. As far as transit’s value to a community, the question has been asked and answered in literally thousands of communities on many occasions.

In Nevada County and throughout our country the answer has been that we support transit, and believe it has a place in our transportation options. In response to this, your government officials move forward under the assumption that transit is here to stay for the foreseeable future.

Let’s move on to the question raised by our local newspaper: Why are we spending $1 million on a new “bus stop” when the economy is weak and we are laying off employees?

When this question is simply put, this action does seem somewhat illogical. But opportunities sometimes materialize requiring that action be taken in an unconventional manner.

First a little background: The Tinloy Street Transit Hub (much more than a “bus stop”) has been extensively studied and reviewed by Grass Valley, Nevada City, the county and the community. It has been determined to be a necessary repair/upgrade to our community transit system. The new facility replaces the current hub at the corner of Neal and Church streets and resolves numerous safety, traffic and accessibility issues. In short, if we want a transit system in Nevada County, this new facility will eventually need to be built.

The $1 million price tag for this project is certainly a great deal of money. But this project will construct the one and only transfer hub for Gold Country Stage. This project will require the total reconstruction of Tinloy Street between East Bennett and Bank streets including new parking, street lighting and ADA compliant sidewalks. The transit station itself will have a restroom and storage building, covered shelters for passengers and enough room to service four buses simultaneously. All of these features will meet the standards of appearance approved by the City of Grass Valley. The price tag is commensurate with the benefit this community will receive.

So why are we building it now, when the economy is struggling? The answer is, because an opportunity presented itself.

We must understand that government financing is complicated and often illogical. But the basis for the complex rules are to protect public money and to (at least attempt to) meet broad (state and nationwide) goals and priorities.

One of our recent national priorities was to try to stimulate the weak economy (federal stimulus program) by constructing needed infrastructure, thus improving our country and creating jobs. The federal stimulus program offered funding to help construct the Tinloy project.

As mentioned earlier, government funding can also be frustrating and illogical. We would have preferred funding to help with operational expenses rather than new construction, but this was not allowed under the stimulus program (or under other programs used for funding this project). The opportunity was not ideal, but it was a viable opportunity.

We accepted this funding to help with this project (several other similar funding sources were also accepted and used).

So was this a good or a bad move for our community? Should we have rejected the funding offered to our community because it exacerbated the national debt?

Your local government’s decision was to accept the money, construct a project needed for our community’s future, and construct it with a local contractor. Judge for yourself.

Ann Guerra is the Chair of the Nevada County Transit Services Commission. Edward C. Scofield, District II Supervisor, is the Board of Supervisors appointee to the Transit Services Commission.

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for 12 years, and he was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News for eight years, among other positions. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing, swimming, and trout fishing in the Sierra.

12 thoughts on “How The Union alienates itself from community leaders”

  1. Next thing you know there will be yelling and screaming by the town __________ (you fill in the blank) about all those jobs folks around these parts are getting paid for by the Bucks from The President. How dare he help anybody in Nevada county get or keep a job and providing for themselves. Oh, forgot, Government don’t create no stinkin’ jobs!

    Frankly, was good to see this not left to lie quietly in some dust bin and taken head on by the Good Supervisor! Have seen Supv Beason not back down from the ___________ (pick another appropriate word), as well.

    With all the foaming at the mouth newspapers not being able to sustain themselves, wonder how fast they would turn down any grant money from Washington or Sacramento to do as they please to help a poor, down and out community newspaper survive?

    1. In fact, newspapers want it both ways: While bashing supposedly wasteful government spending, they are busy lobbying lawmakers to keep legal notices when they could just as easily be posted on government websites or competing publications to save taxpayer $$$. The details are here:

  2. Here are some other comments from Facebook:

    Nina Bigley commented on your post.
    Nina wrote: “Well written. You’re right, government funding is convoluted and complex to most, but it is what it is. The criticisms should be directed to the decades of bureaucrats that set up such a system. The County was right to accept the funds since the project met required criteria. Meanwhile, if the County procures local vendors and contractors, we all win.”

    Public Transportation A Civil Right?
    A new report ( indicates that the poorest Americans spend 42% of their annual income on transportation. Jason Kambitsis reviews ( the case being made for transportation equity:
    The report [by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights] argues that inadequate mass transit creates barriers to employment. It notes that three out of five jobs that are suitable for welfare-to-work participants are not accessible by public transportation. It also cites a Brookings Institute study that found 45 percent of jobs in the nation’s 98 largest metro areas lie 10 miles or more beyond the urban core.

    from The Daily Beast

  3. Ed Scofield is to be applauded for his bold move to break from what is seen as a key portion of his base on this issue.

    Democrats (and independents) who break with what many in the Nevada County blogosphere caricature as their base deserve our support as well on this issue, as evidenced by this editorial comment by George Skelton in today’s LA Times:

    Here is Gavin Newsom on economic development:

    “Every time we talk about regulatory reform, it’s in the context of the budget, of appeasing the other side to get a deal,” Newsom complained. “It’s a political discussion, not a policy discussion.”

    Good point. Brown — all Democrats — should grab the issue for themselves. Legislative leaders say they intend to.

    “We need to change the perception that California is not business-friendly,” says Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento).

    As Skelton points out in the article, now that the budget is done the single most important issue in our state is the economy, and we better get on it. After the shenanigans of the last month in Washington over the debt ceiling it is now painfully clear that California can not wait for the nation, and I believe the Sierra Nevada can not wait for California.

    The reality is our economic future, as it always has, rests in our own hands.

    While others on the blogosphere are busy chasing boogymen, and vehemently denying they are religious bigots by raising the specter of Muslim extremism as the greatest threat since the fall of Constantinople, real Americans are suffering through the worst depression since the 1930’s. Economic historians may well determine that America’s current ‘lost decade’ is a worse calamity.

    It is time for well meaning Californians to take their destiny in their own hands, reject the politics of diversion coming from our national leaders, and chart a course that will lead to concerted, localized, on-the-ground action.

    One opportunity to do so is coming up when Sierra Business Council hosts its Sierra Innovation Summit on September 16th in Rocklin.

    I’m am hoping that people of all political persuasions will show up to talk about what they are doing on the ground. Ed Scofield would be most welcome.

    The Sierra Innovation Summit will feature keynote addresses about the current economic landscape of the Sierra, and innovation-based tools for sustainable economic growth, as well as exciting sessions about opportunities and tools for keeping business at the forefront of innovation in rural and developed parts of the region. We will be featuring new tools and strategies designed to overcome our current economic malaise and try to motivate leaders to get of their ideological behinds and get down to work. Opportunities to network and visit with friends and colleagues will be available.

    Gavin Newsom is an invited speaker, and I hope he shows up to put some meat on the bones of his 38 point plan to get California’s economy moving again.

    Enough grousing, the economy is an issue that should galvanize all of us to break down the barriers.

    In the mean time, Kudos to Ed Scofield for standing up for Nevada County and not being cowed into laying back. He made a brave move and deserves our support.

  4. Ed Scofield has been an intricle part of this community for over 40yrs. (maybe more) He always has this communities best interest at heart. Any means to demean or bash his service is deplorable. I trust him. I value his work.(not to mention he is a hell of a nice guy)

  5. You may be interested in the following:

    The prime contractor for the project is Hansen Bros. (Grass Valley). Three of the six subs are from GV. Approx. 80% of the construction costs will go into local companies
    Difficult to estimate # of local jobs and duration of jobs, but it is safe to conclude that locals will be working/working longer than they would have otherwise.

    The fish are biting in the Rockies.

    Nate Beason

  6. Just got home to the ‘Breaking News’ headline on the Union:
    Well hell, so much for world peace, where’s my half double decaffeinated half-caf, with a twist of lemon…

    And to finish the article therein entitled ‘County may release deposition in $1.9M suit’

    “The Nevada County Tea Party Patriots’ Board President Stan Meckler also requested the document, but as of Tuesday morning had not received a response from the county, he said.

    “I believe that we have a right to know what’s going on with this lawsuit,” Meckler said. “We need some clarification as to who is responsible for this fiasco.”

    Forget the fact the TPP aren’t a registered political party, or a media outlet, or anyone else that should be privy such a sealed depo, just don’t tell me it’s all about fiscal stewardship, and that there is no social or power-grabbing agenda.
    Seems like a wizard behind such a populist tidal wave of their own herald would have better things to do than usurp the processes. And what’s with The Union lending credence?
    (read the rest of their investigation from Feb if you have not, btw)

    Release the testimony, show the warts, admit the mistakes – it cannot be much worse; and so far, no one is convinced.
    Just steal their fame-seeking bluster.
    And The Union’s gotta get outta the sack with these cranks – I think they’re both actually doing more harm than good at uncovering any ‘wrongdoing’ by sending these messengers and using these tactics.

  7. Here’s another story that will never make The Union.

    Hege Dalen and her spouse, Toril Hansen were near Utöyan having dinner on the opposite shore across from the ill-fated campsite, when they began to hear gunfire and screaming on the island.

    “We were eating. Then shooting and then the awful screaming. We saw how the young people ran in panic into the lake,” says Dale to HS in an interview.

    The couple immediately took action and pushed the boat into Lake Tyrifjorden.

    Dalen and Hansen drove the boat to the island, picked up from the water victims in shock in, the young and wounded, and transported them to the opposite shore to the mainland. Between runs they saw that the bullets had hit the right side of the boat.

    Since there were so many and not all fit at once aboard, they returned to the island four times.

    They were able to rescue 40 young people from the clutches of the killer.

    “We did not sleep last night at all. Today, we have been together and talked about the events,” Dalen said.

  8. Even Alan Simpson (R) asking just who in the Hell does Grover Norquist think he is didn’t make the wingnut editorial “cut”. Hey “The Union” , where your boss at? (Beyonce, Diva) and Grover, Alan Simpsons askin, “Who’s Your Daddy”? on national tee vee…Tea Party, answer the man…Kate

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