List of Chrysler dealerships planned for closing

Thirty-one Chrysler dealerships in California are slated to close, including Liberty Motors Dodge Chrysler in Grass Valley.

Dealerships in Chico, Oroville and Sonora also are on the list. A Carson City dealer also is slated to close.

The full list of dealers is here.

The closings are part of bankruptcy court proceedings and would require court approval. Bankruptcy courts typically go along with such proposals, however.

In the end, Grass Valley could wind up with no new car dealerships, compared with as many as three last year. This could be more bad news for city sales tax revenue.

Liberty also sells used cars. Its GEM electric cars are made by Chrysler.

Layoff fears keep many from vacationing

National Lampoon's 'Vacation'
National Lampoon's 'Vacation'
A growing number of workers are afraid to take summer vacations, because they don’t want to risk losing their jobs, CNN reports.

“It’s going to be an interesting summer,” a Miami Herald business columnist told CNN. “The people who still have a job are really feeling overwhelmed and overworked. They’re afraid to take vacations, but at the same time, they need them more than ever.”

About 34 percent of Americans don’t take all the vacation time they earn each year, according to a recent survey by Expedia.

Even when Americans take vacations, they keep working via technology such as an iPhone or BlackBerry.

Companies suffer from the lack of vacations, because some workers are too tired or ill to be productive, as CNN points out.

Do county grand jury reports need more ‘teeth’?

Civil grand juries, which investigate our local public sector, are one of the oldest forms of government.

Some grand jury reports are poorly written, trivial or too expensive to implement. But other reports play a key role as a community “watchdog.” Many small communities are void or nearly void of watchdogs.

Our county grand jury is better than most, tapping the talents of retired professionals and others in our community. The resumes of many grand jury members are impressive, coming from legal, business and other professional backgrounds.

The latest county grand jury report is critical of the Grass Valley Animal Shelter for its euthanasia rates.

“The euthanasia rate at the Grass Valley shelter is significantly higher than the other shelters in Nevada County,” according to the report. It recommends the shelter look at alternatives and work more closely with the other ones in the county.

The police department’s response to The Union is that “we have a great shelter with great employees.” The enthanasia rate “would not be accurate based on my recollection” is another statement from the police.

Then the paper quotes “sources” as reporting a copy had been forwarded to City Hall, but not the department. “Sources”? Sounds like the police department again.

A process is in place for the department to officially respond, and let’s hope the paper reports that too.

I have a bigger concern, though: Why are civil Grand Jury reports so often thrown under the bus around here?

Too many are discredited when the facts speak for themselves. Worse, others are ignored all together.

Too many people in the public sector still have a problem when *anybody* “shines a light” on the public sector and/or tries to hold them accountable.

It’s time we consider giving the reports more teeth to ensure that the recommendations are adopted, or at least more seriously considered.

The goal is to improve local government.

Sample: Web traffic down at The Union, KNCO

Recent Web traffic is falling at the Union and KNCO but rising at Yubanet, according to a sampling of users at Compete.com, a Web analytics firm.

The results are similar at Alexa, another Web analytics provider. The figures are based on a sampling, not actual figures, which typically are proprietary.

The Union remains the top Web site with 56,650 unique visitors per month, according to Compete.com. But the figure is down 5 percent for the month and 13 percent for the year.

Yubanet ranks a distant second with 27,759 monthly unique visitors, up 49 percent for the month and 60 percent for the year.

KNCO ranks third with 18,335 “uniques,” down 18 percent for the month and 1 percent for the year.

The figures are based on a sample of Internet users that have given Compete.com permission to analyze the Web pages they visit and ask questions via surveys.

Compete.com warns of a low sample at KNCO.

Unique visitors are individuals who have visited a Web site at least once in a fixed time frame, typically a 30 day time frame.

“Feeding the beast” with compelling Web content (as we used to say at CNET) is a challenge. The Union and KNCO could update their sites more consistently. Sometimes I see a “breaking news” logo that is hours stale. Blogging is rare.

Coming up with Web features that engage the community is a challenge too: In The Union’s online contest for a mother-daughter lookalike, most of the photos are from workers at the newspaper itself, not from outside in the community. Let’s hope customers/readers submit some photos before the contest ends this month.

I’d be more interested to see some good data posted on the site, such as the *searchable summer camp database* that is running in the Marin Independent Journal. Check it out here.

Updating a Web site always is a resource issue, but it’s where the industry is headed, so you have to give the appropriate priority. Community papers that stop publishing print editions on some days, such as the Sierra Sun and Nevada Appeal, will *depend* on it.

Weird NC police blotter items now on Facebook

Nevada County police blotter items are now a Facebook group site, the latest example of the boom in social networking for locals.

The site was started by “Rainy Blue Cloud,” whose shown in a picture in a red dress and cowboy boots while holding a chain saw.

“I was hoping someone would be brilliant enough to start this group,” wrote one follower.

The site shows a blotter item from Nevada City that reads: “A caller from the 300 block of Broad Street reported an individual dancing like a robot in a parking lot. Police were unable to locate the dancer.”

NC police blotter item sometimes make the New Yorker, Columbia Journalism Review and other publications.

The site is here.

The biggest threat to our planet: sprawl

A cool YouTube video called “Built to Last” is generating some buzz that explores the link between “New Urbanism” and environmental issues.

“What if school, work, the office or church was just a five-minute walk?” it asks. “We’d have less parking garages and more parks.”

It continues: “This idea has a name and it’s called New Urbanism, aka traditional neighborhood design.”

The video is winner of The Congress for New Urbanism CNU 17 video contest.

It is created by independent filmmaker John Paget with First+Main Media (Drew Ward, Chris Elisara and John Paget).

The video is here:

Can we support nonprofits without fireworks?

I was glad to see the Grass Valley City Council vote late Tuesday to ban fireworks.

It’s something I’ve been suggesting for years — despite the criticism. I love the tradition, but the world is a different place.

Can we support nonprofits without fireworks? I hope so.

I hope it will force us to think more deeply about what nonprofits bring to our community, besides the joy of shooting off cones in the driveway.

I liked the way our community rallied behind the nonprofits when fireworks were temporarily banned last year.

This also will force nonprofits to do a better job of explaining why they’re valuable to our community, well beyond setting up a fireworks stand in the parking lot of a shopping center.

When it comes to the ban, could Nevada City be far behind?