Small-town campaigning heats up in Grass Valley City Council race

Hey folks, there is a lot of work to do in our community. I am a life long Democrat, walked for Stevenson in ’52 and get really tired of the idea that Democrats are all liberal pinko’s.
That being said, I have a number of friends and supporters on both sides of the spectrum in our community, and when it comes to our community, I think that is how it should be – nonpartisan. Our agendas are for our jurisdictions, on some items you may disagree with me, on others agree but in the overall I think my vision for our area has been progressive. I have made miscalls and hit home runs – that is the way its is – but again, there is a lot of work to do and we better work together locally or we won’t get anything done.

—Howard Levine (wrote here today)

Howard is a social liberal and  proponent of the arts, but he also supports reopening the Idaho-Maryland gold mine, and longtime NCCA leaders support him. Howard would vote for a big-box store or big housing project, I’ll bet. So it may not be exactly “progressive,” at least to a Democrat. He will side with the current majority on City Council on most issues.

Michael Anderson complimented Howard on his statesmanship. It was a nice thing to say.

But then again, I guess Howard was not always so diplomatic, at least according to this reader who wrote an opinion column in The Union in March 1980: Levineopinion-1 It was based on Howard’s behavior while he sat on the Grass Valley school board. “We feel that such actions by an elected official cannot, and should not, be tolerated,” it said in part, calling for Howard to step down and calling out “a lack of skills.”

Who knows? Perhaps Howard won’t do that if he gets elected to City Council. But it’s at least worth raising the issue. Some merchants on the Downtown Association also have complained about Howard’s leadership style. Or his hubris.

Why doesn’t The Union cover the local elections with any insight? I’d proudly pass them the baton.

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.

16 thoughts on “Small-town campaigning heats up in Grass Valley City Council race”

  1. I’ve known Howard and Peggy since decades-ago Foothill Theatre Days, and Howard’s style has been the same to me for all those 20 years. Anyone with similar experience should know what he’ll bring to the GV City Council just fine. As always, I wish him and Peggy the best.

    PS For the record I wasn’t all that excited at first about the meter reader, but now I like it. Times change.

  2. I wish I could cast my vote in Grass Valley this election.

    Howard Levine is a gentleman of the first order. Ran a tough operation with the Downtown Association which has displayed improvements under his watch. May have aggravated some along the way but maintained his ground for the larger scope of GV. The sign of a good leader. I feel he is proud of Grass Valley which I believe Grass Valley is as proud of Howard.

    And as Geo. Boardman pointed out; he even got a haircut.

    Thanks Jeff and good luck Howard.

  3. I hope that if Howard Levine is elected to the council, he will reconsider his support for re-opening the Idaho Maryland Mine.

    Now that Emgold’s application has fortunately expired, the council should critique its own role in allowing such a poorly-crafted business proposal to drag out for nearly a decade, not only wasting valuable community resources, but preventing a more viable project for that site to be considered in its stead.

    We expect the council, at the very least, to recognize a viable business proposal when it sees one, but its handling of the Emgold fiasco suggests that it still has some important lessons to learn in this regard.

    It’s tempting to say that the council should be able to evaluate a proposal on its business merits altogether aside from its environmental impacts. But in truth the environmental impacts of a proposal are integral to its economic viability. It’s not clear to me that this fundamental aspect of doing business in the Sierras is well-understood by the current council, much less by hopefuls like Howard Levine.(See the work of Steve Frisch’s Sierra Business Council for a good understanding of this issue).

    Among the council’s biggest mistakes with Emgold was its failure to obtain a competent economic viability study of the project proposal contained in Emgold’s application. The 2005 study conducted by the SF Bay Area consulting group Bay Area Economics, an organization that had no experience with evaluating a mining project, was not adequate.

    The council should immediately establish, with community feedback, some ground rules and guidelines for a minimally-acceptable application for mining within city limits, since the impacts of such a development will profoundly affect Grass Valley’s character and business climate.

    There are good arguments for prohibiting mining altogether within city limits. The council should be willing to hear and consider these arguments.

    After some years working with others to critique Emgold’s application, I have come to the conclusion that the biggest overlooked fact about the idea of re-opening the IMM is its monstrously huge scale. Few really grasp this.

    The underground extent of the IMM is about the same as the city of Grass valley itself (~3200 acres). It runs under the Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital, under the Basin, and out to to the Y juncture of 174 and Brunswick.

    This geographical extent, as huge as it is, is exceeded by its potential sphere of harm (including hydrologic uncertainty about well failures, etc). This is all copiously documented in the work of CLAIM-GV (Citizens Looking At Impacts of Mining in Grass Valley).

    A common misunderstanding is that the mine — if reopened in the heart of downtown Grass Valley — would have limited impact, potentially affecting only those who live in close proximity to it.

    Because of its scale, every resident in Western Nevada County effectively lives in close proximity to IMM.

    My suggestion to Howard Levine and all other council hopefuls, as well as to he current council members, is to start this self-critique by reading Tom Grundy’s excellent and widely published article on the weaknesses of Emgold’s application. It was published in the Union, in Yubanet and in my own Sierra Voices, which I shamelessly plug here:

    Will Grass Valley Learn From Its Mistakes With Emgold?

    1. The issue that needs to surface in this election (and I haven’t heard it at all) is a “vision” for Grass Valley.

      Here’s what I had written elsewhere: “Somewhere along the way our community lost sight of and appreciation for the accomplishments and entrepreneur spirit made famous by a local pioneer, Charles Litton. We are more comfy and competent at construction, real estate and more cyclical industries. It’s too bad we don’t work harder to celebrate our vast diversity and creating new things. We could light the region on fire. We are stuck in our recent past, from the ‘ 70s on.”

      I wish all of the candidates would address this.

      BTW, we watched the GV Council meeting addressing “homelessness” last night. It was packed. They’ve got a real problem. I would have liked to hear some more about the systemic reasons for this, ie, lack of a sound economic development strategy. I also wonder if GV needs a new police chief like NC. New leadership sometimes leads to a fresh perspective.

  4. I find it rather “interesting” that the anti-folks grasp at ever straw telling us of the gloom & doom that would come from the re-opening of this project.

    I also found it rather interesting that (when gold was in the $600-800 oz range) that IMM had a plan for making tile as part of their disposal problem, but now that gold is well over $1,800 there seems to more than enough capital to provide a viable set of solutions to this issue.

    I am for the re-opening of this project if a number of problems can be over-come. These include getting NID tap water provided to all of the surrounding properties, but even if they do not, and considering that I have a in-depth education in hydrology, I find it “interesting” that the anti-mine people are now trying to tell us all how when this project is de-watered, it will empty all of the aquifers in Western Nevada County, and destroy the water quality.

    The great “traffic and how it will gridlock the city” issue seems to have been overcome with the traffic circle, and how our burgeoning high-tech industry (with just How-Many-Employees – I think the number was 6 employees) will be leaving.

    I also find it rather interesting how the critics of this project tell people to not to intervene, or add to the discussion about the quality of life in Grass Valley because they are not residents on this specific issue, but on another issue that has an effect on this same qualitative issue they welcome people from Penn Valley to intervene because they hold their wishes.

    Pot Meet Kettle!

  5. Brad:

    Many of the things you find “rather interesting” are simply not true.

    For instance, you say that “anti-mine people are now trying to tell us all how when this project is de-watered, it will empty all of the aquifers in Western Nevada County, and destroy the water quality.”

    I didn’t say that.

    CLAIM doesn’t say that.

    What we have said — and what professional hydrologists have gone on record as saying — is that there is considerable uncertainty about the effect on wells in the neighborhood of the mine.

    No one has even made reference to “all of the aquifers in Western Nevada County” except, so far as I’m aware, you.

    We could probably have a “rather interesting” discussion if we could first agree on the basic facts.

    1. Don, I’m glad to speak with people as we can certainly move further and better if we work from points that we agree upon, rather than try to beat the drum on the points which we do not.

      From my recollection didn’t the IMM people offer the people in the surrounding areas service from NID to resolve this issue? As somebody who knows the specific properties of the water in this area I have a “hard time” wondering why the people (that will be affected) are not just jumping up & down about getting rid of the crappy water they have? (Sorry that’s the engineer in me speaking). Mr. Pasner tells us that he doesn’t want to have the facility dewater into Wolf Creek as the water is soooo bad that his farm would be affected, but in reality this is the same water that he’s “OK” with having the residents drink? This in itself is a interesting conundrum as which way do you go, let the residents drink the so called “bad water” or have this “bad water” (which by tests show an slightly aciditic water level) go into Wolf Creek….

      Now I’ve had people tell me about the increased costs of NID water verses the cost of them pumping the water out of the ground (which is done “free” as there’s no cost to pump the water right? – LOL!!! Sorry), but when you look at the fully burdened costs (where you’ll be replacing the plumbing components in your home because of the lack of current ground water quality), these costs are greatly dwarfed by the other costs too (such as the health effects of drinking this sub-par water).

      Traffic – from my understanding that the IMM facility would have @10 extra transfer box loads an hour, and if you consider that this would mean a truck every 6 minutes, I cannot say that this would create a “traffic nightmare” especially when these trucks can enter (going westbound) the freeway at the Roundy-round entrance/exit on the freeway. Now a number of people have said that these trucks cannot use this on & off ramp, but when I spoke with the folks at Foster & Son’s Trucking (who are right across the road from the planned facility) they said that there is no issue with their trucks, so they cannot fathom that there would be a issue with the IMM trucks that are carrying the IMM by-products using it.

      We’ve then heard about the numerous high-tech jobs that will be leaving this area because of the “blasting”, and they might have a point there, but if you consider that the vibrations that this blasting will cause will be caused will be no-more than the ground movement (in Silicon Valley with the San Andreas) see’s every day. This is the reason why they have equipment that is specifically designed to isolate this issue, as it’s commercially available at a low cost, but people want to try to tell everyone that they can expect to have the glasses of water on their desks falling over every time a blast happens.

      I also wonder if sacrificing these 8 jobs will not be a reasonable trade-off for the hundreds of jobs that will be created by the several hundred positions that will be generated by the IMM facility, and the several hundred more support positions?

      There are trade off to everything we do in our lives, but I have a hard-time going thru the information as provided by the CLAIM group, as I have looked at much of what they’ve presented and wondered how they got their information.


  6. The mine controversy was the first big story I was aware of when I resettled here in Aug., 2005. I didn’t know what the truth of the situation really would be; jobs are good; water is good; tile? I admit to ignorance on this subject. But the impact would be far reaching, if all those trucks drove to I-80 using 49-S.(being improved with stimulus money, isn’t it?) No sound wall for my little stretch between the mobile home parks and I can hear those air breaks a coming, slowing down for the traffic light at Alta Sierra. No positives for us, living here. And, I’d wager a big increase in semi’s, big dump trucks, whatever, would turn that round-about into a L.A. freeway nightmare a fair amount of the day. Even now, I won’t go near there or the Brunswick Basin during mid-day.

    But, don’t think I get to vote (but voted on that $50 fire tax and just got a bill from the state, too, for fire protection.) and that fact, if true, certainly doesn’t engender a sense of community or concern with the happenings within village limits.,although there are, somewhere, poorer or homeless people wearing real warm, VT winter type, clothing via Hospitality House that have seen 25 below, w/o windcill days.

  7. Brad, thanks for your patient and civil reply, and your energy in discussing your support for the IMM at such length.

    I suspect that the other readers of this thread, which was not about the IMM at all, but about the council race, would probably appreciate it if we give it a rest, which I’m also inclined to do for the following reasons:

    First, for each of the points you raised — water issues, traffic, jobs — there are sound counter-arguments to yours (some are mine, some are CLAIM’s).

    I would refer you to the CLAIM website, but you concluded by saying that you question CLAIM’s sources, and you seem disinclined to study their research further.

    All I can say to that is that they have copiously documented their sources. And their primary source has always been the draft environmental impact report.

    I suspect that the best thing for you and I to do at this point is to agree to disagree.

  8. My parents being solid GOP conservatives, I blindly rooted for “I Like Ike’, WWII hero and all, way back when IKE and Adlai fought it out.

    But even as a young boy, I was enrapture listening to Stevens speak. A product of bygone thinking, priorities and values. Like Wm Buckley, Stevenson was a treasure; being in agreement took second place to witnessing their mastery of language, and the rhythm of their words.

  9. You say “but who knows”. I do. I served my 4 years on the GV School Board and Howard is a rock…..he needs your support, personality aside. Look at the bigger picture.

    1. Jon, I added my wife’s to mine…..

      I know this is a foreign concept to many, but try to understand that just because you have a penis doesn’t mean (in this day and age) that your wife is required to lose her identity, or you’re required to lose yours!!! LOL!!!

      Sorry if you’re so confused!

      1. So you’re Brad Peceimer-Glasse, now? Congratulations…sorry I didn’t get the announcement. I wish you everlasting happiness in your new identity (ies).

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