Nevada City Council hits a new low in considering removal of Mayor Senum

Though I don’t always agree with Nevada City Mayor Reinette Senum, I appreciate all that she’s done for the city. Reinette is a co-founder and former manager of the popular Nevada City Farmers Market, organizer of community-wide cleanings, advocate of the Commercial Street Boardwalk, and farm-to-table events.

Reinette’s “Goat Fund Me” campaign was cited as a “novel idea to fight the increasing threat of wildfires” in the Los Angeles Times.

She is a recipient of a prestigious Lambert Award: “Her list of community accomplishments is long and growing longer each year. She has helped transform our historic community in ways that have put Nevada City on the cutting edge of the 21st Century,” said David “Sparky” Parker at the time. “The Famous Marching Presidents are proud to honor Reinette with our 25th annual Lambert Award.”

But at last night’s City Council meeting Vice Mayor Erin Minett requested that Council put an item on the agenda at the December 10 council meeting for the possible “sanctioning” or “removal of the current mayor,” effectively demoting Reinette to a Council member if it were to pass.

Erin cited “a number of things that have occurred over the past month that have been kind of upsetting … in the city.”

She cited examples such as Reinette speaking out about the recent PG&E power outages and not clarifying that the views were her own, comments about the “ready, set, go” wildfire evacuation plan, as well as her opposition to the 5G wireless ordinance. Erin read from a prepared statement.

Council member Valerie Moberg said she had some questions as to what the legalities are for such an action but was assured that the issue was just being explored. Valerie seconded the motion and it passed.

We can expect a circus at the December 10 meeting. Fans and foes of Reinette will fill up the room — western Nevada County public theater “at its finest.” In 2016, she apologized in this well-publicized case involving the Dallas police.

The more things change, the more they stay the same in Nevada City. But this is one of the most counterproductive attempts I’ve seen. I don’t think it will be successful, either, but it will further polarize the town.

Reinette Senum 

Erin Minett (Photo credit: City of Nevada City website)

 

 

McClatchy’s financial distress has the company exploring options — including a sale

“McClatchy [the Sacramento Bee’s owner] reported a series of financial reverses Wednesday so severe that it may not be able to meet its obligations in 2020. Specifically it has a $120 million pension funding payment due in the spring,” as the Poynter Institute is reporting.

“That ‘greatly exceeds the company’s anticipated cash balances and cash flow’ it said in a press release. An appeal to federal pension guaranty authorities for relief may not be successful.

“Given that possibility, the company has retained financial and legal advisers to explore options. Typically that is a first step toward a company exploring the possibility of a sale.

“The publicly traded McClatchy newspaper chain, with 30 outlets including the [Sacramento Bee], Miami Herald and Kansas City Star, still gives the McClatchy family voting control. Those directors, to date, have fiercely resisted seeking bankruptcy protection or selling.

“However, as I reported 14 months ago, Chatham Asset Management, a hedge fund, is both McClatchy’s biggest lender and biggest stockholder. Thus Chatham is well positioned to acquire the company or influence a choice of other refinancing options.

“Chatham is no stranger to operating newspaper companies, with a controlling interest in a large Canadian chain and the parent company of the National Enquirer.

“The alert on severe ‘liquidity pressures’ came as McClatchy reported third quarter financial results. Its revenue losses continue to be worst among publicly traded news companies — 12.4% overall compared to the same period a year ago, and 19.3% in total digital and print advertising.

“The company posted a $304 million loss for the quarter — though that figure is misleading. All but $9.5 million of that was from a markdown of assets, as accounting regulations require periodically.

“The reevaluation reflects the plummeting value of McClatchy’s papers but does not require any outlay of cash.

“In a conference call with analysts, chief financial officer Elaine Lintecum said the company is ‘early in these negotiations’ and therefore declined to comment beyond the press release.

“CEO Craig Forman said the goal is to restructure outstanding debt, including the pension payment, but ‘we cannot assure you these efforts will be successful.’

“McClatchy has had several rounds of layoffs and buyouts this year, and this fall eliminated Saturday print editions in 12 of its markets. It plans to do the same in the other 18 in 2020.”

The rest of the article is here.

Here’s how PG&E’s outages are disrupting local students

NJUHSD Family,

This is a follow up communication to our stakeholders to share the adjustments the high school district has made following the Public Safety Power Shut Offs this Fall.  We want to thank you again for your patience during this unprecedented Fall season. While we certainly hope this is not the “new normal” across the region, we do anticipate, and will plan for, continued PSPS scenarios in the short term future.  

The following modifications have been made and agreed upon for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year.

  1. The end of the 1st semester has been pushed back to after Winter Break (January 17th).
  2. The minimum days calendared for December 18, 19, and 20 will be converted to regular school days.
  3. January 15, 16, and 17 will now become minimum days to accommodate final exams.
  4. The calendared “Snow Day Make-up Days”, March 25 & May 2, will be regular school attendance days.
  5. The district will be filing J-13A waivers with the state.  Should these waivers be granted, students would be exempted from making up the additional school days missed due to power outages.
  6. Graduation dates will remain the same as originally scheduled, regardless of whether or not the J-13A waivers are granted.
  7. In an effort to mitigate school closures this Winter season, we have developed delayed start bell schedules, which would allow us to start school at 11:00 on days when we anticipate inclement weather to dissipate by mid-morning.
  8. Lastly, we are working with our labor unions to negotiate additional “Emergency School Closure Days” into our future school calendar.  This would mean an increase to the number of currently scheduled “Snow Days” in the future.

Thank you again for your patience and support.  Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions or concerns.

Thank you much!

Dan Frisella

Assistant Superintendent

Nevada Joint Union High School District   

530.273.3351 ext. 206

Local gov’t writes letter of concern about PG&E shutoffs

Editor’s note: This letter is being submitted to the CPUC. A press conference is set for this afternoon:

RE: Letter of Concern on Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) Impacts
President Batjer and Honorable Commission Members:

On behalf of the County of Nevada, City of Grass Valley and City of Nevada City, we are submitting this joint Letter of Concern to you regarding the wide sweeping effects of the October 2019 PG&E Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) on western Nevada County. Recognizing that PSPS events are intended to help prevent catastrophic loss of life and property from utility caused wildfires, it is imperative that these effort carefully balance with the myriad negative impacts that PSPS events have on local communities.

The recent PSPS events affected over 43,000 PG&E customers within Nevada County. Our Access and Functional Needs (AFN) populations are in jeopardy through the loss of refrigeration for medication and food, inadequate access to charging stations for life-sustaining devices, inadequate heat to stay warm at home, and life-threatening impacts to local dialysis clinics and other medical facilities.

Nevada County Emergency Operations Center identified other public safety risks that included the loss of cellular and broadband VoIP phones for hundreds of households, resulting in the inability to call 911 or receive event updates including evacuation messaging through our CodeRed emergency notification system.

Nonfunctioning traffic lights resulted in increased auto accidents. Despite the loss of communication systems for some, increased calls for service resulted for the Nevada County Dispatch Center and 211 call-center, stressing our law enforcement and community service resources.

For a small County of less than 100,000 people, the financial impacts are widely felt. In the cities of Nevada City and Grass Valley and the unincorporated area of Penn Valley, 332 full-service food facilities (sit-down meals/fast food establishments) adhere to specific guidelines prior to reopening to the public after each PSPS event. The aggregate average daily impact to these food service business owners are estimated around $398,400 a day with $1,195,200 in loss for a three-day PSPS event.

Locally-owned grocery stores are hardhit, with inventory loss in the hundreds of thousands of dollars in perishable food products in addition to lost sales revenue. These long-standing locally-owned businesses are less equipped to absorb such extraordinary financial losses than their corporate competitors.

Many businesses are non-operational from indirect impacts like school closures, loss of internet to process credit card transactions, gas shortages, infrastructure capacity stresses and loss of communication services. A recent survey of small locally owned retail businesses in the City of Grass Valley found losses were as high as $5,000 to $10,000 for a 2-day event, with many reporting losses as financially significant.

Other unintended impacts that PSPS events have include increased risk of wildfire from generators and warming fires on private properties from homeless individuals and residents who do not have access to regular heating in sheltered facilities or homes. Public service financial impacts result in staggering costs to taxpayers with the loss of productivity for the County alone estimated at $313,000 as of the date of this letter.

Further, social service departments reliant on State and Federal funding are at jeopardy of not receiving reimbursement funding for services provided. Similarly, PSPS events have a direct impact on public school funding per day for every closure that occurs with indirect costs for those students with working parents or who are socio-economically disadvantaged that receive free or reduced meals.

Schools are unable to provide a safe and supportive environment for their most vulnerable students during such events. Wide-sweeping reoccurring PSPS events create cost to individuals that are cyclical in nature with repeated food spoilage replacement, loss of revenue from work outages to school closures, and repeated purchases for back-up equipment like generators, lights, batteries, and fuel.

Residents reliant on wells are without basic amenities like running water, operating bathrooms, and heat for days compounding the indirect impacts of falling behind on personal deadlines, bills and taxes. The economic disruption to our community has a rippling effect for weeks and months even after the power has been re-energized. These costs have a long-term impact that is both quantitative and qualitative in nature.

Accordingly, the City of Grass Valley, City of Nevada City, and the County of Nevada jointly call upon the California Public Utilities Commission for PSPS management guidelines that mitigate the direct and indirect public safety and economic impacts that our residents, businesses, and public agencies have suffered.

Regulatory actions need to include specific requirements for electrical utilities to: 1) Ensure cellular and landline communication services are maintained throughout every PSPS event, 2) Provide health and safety amenities, such as access to subsidized generators and oxygen to vulnerable populations and healthcare service providers for each PSPS event, 3) Ensure timely, accurate and consistent communication is provided to all utility customers and community stakeholders to mitigate undue financial hardship to residents and businesses, and 4) Require that PSPS events are targeted as precisely as possible so as to prevent unnecessary power interruption across broad regions.

We strongly urge the CPUC to work with City and County partners to develop PSPS best management practices that balance wildfire precautionary efforts with public safety and economic impacts.

Sincerely,

Richard Anderson, Chair, Board of Supervisors, County of Nevada
Lisa Swarthout, Mayor, City Council, City of Grass Valley
Reinette Senum, Mayor, City Council, City of Nevada City