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.


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.

San Diego planning commission latest to support effort to make temporary outdoor spaces permanent

“Though many questions came up about the city of San Diego’s initiative to transition temporary outdoor spaces to permanent ones, none of them were enough to stop the city Planning Commission from voting in favor of the ‘Spaces as Places’ program during its Sept. 9 meeting,” as the La Jolla Light is reporting.

“A primary example of space to which this could apply is outdoor dining that has proliferated since last year to help restaurants replace indoor capacity lost in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“’Spaces as Places is proposed for the post-pandemic world, when restaurants can operate at full capacity indoors and outdoor dining would represent an expansion of restaurant seating capacity and … enhance the overall public experience,” said project manager Sameera Rao.’

The rest of the article is here.

Nevada City Council votes 3-2 to remove Laurie Oberholtzer from the planning commission

The 3-2 vote is at about 4:18:21 on this video after a marathon Council meeting (I watched a couple of baseball games in between). The “yes” votes were Daniela Fernandez, Duane Strawser, and Erin Minett, and the “no” votes were Doug Fleming and Gary Petersen. Although I didn’t always agree with Laurie O., I want to thank her for her volunteerism and tireless efforts to protect the town’s R1 neighborhoods over the years. In my view, Laurie O. largely fell victim to small-town politics, some deep-seated personality conflicts, and/or a “power play,” as Doug (go Northwestern Wildcats) succinctly put it. We all have something to contribute. “And the band played on???”

(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay

BALTIMORE- We’re hanging out at an inn that looks out on the docks of Chesapeake Bay, enjoying the sunshine and watching the boating enthusiasts who are hosing down and polishing their vessels.

We feel a sense of relief (and pride), having just dropped off our son, Mitchell, at his dorm at Johns Hopkins University for his sophomore year.

It has been a long journey from Nevada City on a narrow-body plane, which stopped in Dallas before landing here. Summer air travel is more of a hassle than usual, thanks to COVID-19. You need to mask up at all times and keep your vaccination card close at hand.

Mitchell and his friend and classmate Nicole were reunited last night, enjoying dinner in Baltimore’s “Little Italy.” We ate at the hotel and watched a ballgame.

This afternoon, the campus was filled with parents and their students, carrying a varied assortments of boxes and bags into the dorm rooms.

We wrapped up late in the afternoon, said our goodbyes and headed back to our hotel in an Uber.

We’ll meet again for dinner on the weekend before we head home, but for now it’s mission accomplished.