‘Online’ coupons in The Union save you $$$

I’ve blogged before about the boom in online coupons. Startups such as nevadacountymall.com and goldcountryonthecheap.com are tapping the market with Web sites.

But a little-used feature in The Union also can let you clip coupons online – in this case ones that run in the print paper.

On Friday, I “clipped” a coupon for a $19.95 smog check from Magnussens auto dealership in Auburn by going to theunion.com.

Here’s what you do: Go to The Union’s “e-edition” on the Web. With the “e-edition,” you can read the print version of the paper online but also clip coupons that run in the newspaper.

I found the ad on page B3. The vendor, Technavia, provides a print feature for the page. Just hit the “print” button and voila, the coupon comes out on your printer.

My appointment for a smog check at Magnussens – “Home of the $19.95 Smog Special” – is tomorrow. I’ll let you know if the dealer won’t accept a coupon that is printed on a standard sheet of office paper, not newsprint, but I expect he will.

I’d gladly pay The Union for a subscription to this “e-edition.” With $19.95 smog checks, it would easily pay for itself.

I hope The Union does a better job of marketing this feature. This is a good example of its value.

Future news more partisan because of blogs?

Brit Hume of Fox News, of all people, is warning us that becasue of blogs, future news will be “more partisan.”

In accepting an award the other night in D.C., Hume said: “We’re getting bloggers and Web sites and all sorts of individual entrepreneurs, and we have a vaster menu of choices today than we’ve ever had.

“But I think that we also have the danger that everything will be presented from one political viewpoint or the other, and that the media that confront us are going to be more partisan than ever.”

OK, thanks Brit. Seems the media is doing just fine in presenting some partisan reports, with or without bloggers.

As one blog Think Progress.org pointed out: In the same speech, Hume thanked the MRC – an “unabashedly conservative outfit” – for feeding him reports as anchor of Fox News’s special reports. 

On course, conservatives make the same complaints against the New York Times and other publications.

I remember both sides making the same charges against the media even before Al Gore “invented” the Internet, or so he said.

Tech firm coming here: Some personal insight

I was glad to hear that Huntington Labs of Mountain View announced on Thursday that it was coming here – swimming against a tide. I expect them to expand further. 

I worked hard to sleuth out this story last fall as editor/writer/chief bottle washer at The Union (so it’s disappointing that KNCO got the scoop on Thursday’s news).

When The Union had an Editor, it was his/her job to make sure the staff kept track of stories like this that were in the works – called a “tickler” file. So it goes in the era of “big oven” journalism, driven by cost cutting where staffs are stretched thin. It’s bad for business in the long term, however: When the product isn’t “unique” anymore, readers vanish.

Here’s how I got wind of the Huntington Labs story last fall: Gil Mathew of the county Economic Resource Council told the Board of Supervisors in a public meeting that a Mountain View firm that makes high-tech valves might be coming here. No more details were offered.

I did some digging, including combing a long list of Mountain View tech companies and put in a call to the economic development manager for the Bay Area city (also home to Google). I also made a call to a competitor and bingo: The firm was identified.

I phoned the owner, and he was surprised. Then he got a bit hot and made some legal threats if I published the details.

(This happens a lot in a small town: I’ll never forget how hot a co-owner of the Holbrooke Hotel got when I sleuthed out the hotel was up for sale. He shouted some not-so-nice words. I played the phone message for my wife one night. Still, I took the high road: We organized a family get-together at the hotel since. The customer service was better this time.)

In the case of Huntington Labs, I decided just to identify the company as “a 40-year-old firm that makes high-tech valves, hardware and other equipment.”

The economic-development person in Mountain View called me after the story ran, eager to “retain” the unnamed firm, but I wouldn’t divulge the name. I also took some  well-deserved heat from readers for being cagey.

In my mind, I didn’t want to scuttle the deal, but I didn’t want to sit on the story either: Residents have a right to know what’s going on.

I later ran into a rep of Huntington Labs at a county Economic Resource Council bus tour. He apologized for the outburst.

In small towns, feathers get ruffled easily when you do some digging. It’s a balancing act for sure. But you could write a book about it: funny stories to tell. Once the ex-wife of one of the area’s high-ranking elected/appointed officials called to vent about her ex-husband. Help!

In the case of Huntington Labs, I’m glad the outcome was a positive one: A “win-win.”

Now if we can just keep Thomson Grass Valley and others from packing up, taking the high-paying jobs with them. We mostly keep getting older.

I often wonder whether our family should just open a medical supply business here and call it a day.

NC will fix our streets despite cut in tax receipts

Despite lower sales tax receipts, a map outlining the road repair in incorporated Nevada City for this summer was rolled up and left on our fence by city officials on Thursday — an informal and low-cost form of communications in a small town.

It shows Nile Street, the main drag going down to Pioneer Park, getting a needed repaving this summer. The repaving of streets will occur in June or July and take one day. I counted 20 projects on the map.

The paving is occurring because residents voted to approved a 1/2 cent sales tax increase in 2007 to repair, resurface and improve all of the city’s streets. (The URL http://www.fixourstreets.com is still working).

I scanned the letter outlining the road-repair plans and put it online: Fix our streets

Using Twitter for emergencies at Sierra College?

Sierra College board of trustees member Aaron Klein is going to propose using Twitter for emergencies at the next board meeting:

“Let’s create a Sierra College Emergency Message account on Twitter for each of our campuses,” Klein writes on his blog. “The incident commander and site administrator for each campus would have access and could send messages.”

Klein’s idea stemmed from a stabbing on the Rocklin campus earlier this week.

That’s a good, pragmatic use of Twitter, Aaron. Good thinking!

One point to consider, though: Possible liabilities of depending on Twitter rather than networks that might be certified to meet certain legal requirements for public institutions.

As the use of Twitter explodes (with a year-to-year growth rate of 1,382 percent), more people are thinking of practical applications besides monitoring friends.

Thomson GV’s accounts center going to Midwest

Here’s a scooplet: According to a letter being sent to suppliers this week, Thomson Grass Valley is moving its accounts payable processing center to Indianapolis. 

As previously reported, Thomson GV is up for sale. As I blogged when the deal was announced, the outcome could have a profound impact on the local economy.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it remains here. We need Thomson to retain our HDTV mecca status, local tax receipts — and what few higher-paying private sector jobs are left.

Will Council decision on Berriman fan flames?

Buried beneath the news of GV’s top administrator Dan Holler turning down an up to $7,000 raise is a more significant item:

The City Council voted 4-1 (Poston was the “no” vote) on Tuesday night to begin the process of allowing a portion of Berriman Ranch to be built in the 2006-2010 timeframe — compared with the 2016-20 horizon as called for under the city’s General Plan.

On Monday I blogged about the “pro’s” and “con’s” of the Berriman Ranch issue, highlighting its importance.

Though the Council’s decision is a boon for the project’s supporters, including SCO Engineering, others are raising the issue of fairness.

It’s just this concern — how the Council deals with changes to the general plan — that led to the Measure Z and Measure Y growth measures (AKA “let voters decide”) that were defeated last fall.

Will this fan the flames again? Well, I doubt Tuesday night’s decison will not soon be forgotten.

To coin a French phrase: “Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.”