Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website SierraCulture.com. 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.
I keep hearing such speculation in the wake of Grass Valley attorney and Loan Sense businessman Thomas Hastert’s arrest for allegedly “brazenly deceiving” investors and borrowers in our county and neighboring ones.
Seventy-three criminal counts were filed against Hastert in Nevada County Superior Court last month for alleged embezzlement, securities fraud, conspiracy and filing false documents.
Hard-money loans — financing where a borrower receives funds secured by the value of a parcel of real estate — were commonplace in the go-go days. Many of the deals unraveled when the market plunged.
Hastert alone allegedly brokered more than 270 hard-money loans.
The investigation into the Hastert case is ongoing. Investigators often have a hard time with these cases unless victims come forward.
“White collar” crime is tedious and time-consuming work, requiring special expertise. But it often touches a lot of people, so it is worth the time.
“Nevada County selected for major conference,” the Union reported in a front-page headline this morning. The gathering will be held in May of next year, according to an official of the Grass Valley/Nevada City Convention and Visitors Bureau, the article read.
Sound familiar? It should. “Nevada County selected for historic conference,” the paper reported in an identical front-page headline and article last October. The conference will be held in May of next year, according to an official from the county Economic Resource Council, this article read.
It’s like “deja vu, all over again, ” to quote Yogi Berra, with the exception of different officials speaking. Isn’t one enough?
As I’ve blogged before, one of the best ways to jump start our local economy is to spend more dollars on local contractors — one of our area’s biggest employers.
An expansion is underway at Sierra College, and officials are working on a plan to step up use of local contractors, according to my sources. Meetings are ongoing.
The county also is going to check with Sierra College to improve its use of local contractors, county executive Rick Haffey said in a memo.
Last fiscal year, 59 percent of contract dollars went to Nevada County firms, compared with 64 percent this year, Haffey said.
I applaud this effort and hope it continues.
Local contractors sometimes get criticized for being too expensive, but I’m skeptical. As any homeowner knows, you can receive a “low-ball” bid for work and then wind up paying a lot more because of costly change orders.
The Getty Trust, a museum giant but also the owner of the 452 acre Loma Rica Ranch in Grass Valley, is slashing its operating budget by nearly 25 percent for the coming fiscal year because of severe losses.
The cuts are “an emergency response to investment losses that have totaled $1.5 billion since July and nearly $2 billion since mid-2007,” according to a front-page article in this morning’s L.A. Times. (I’d been hearing the same thing for a while.)
The art institution could “fall off a huge cliff” if it delayed drastic cuts and hard times continued, according to its president.
The trust had bet heavily on “alternative investments,” including hedge funds, private partnerships, raw materials and distressed companies.
The Loma Rica housing project — which has taken longer than planned to win an OK — is still going ahead. The organic farm is open, too, though some staff cutbacks or increased monitoring of the project would not be a surprise.
I like the “smart” housing project — a lot of it is walkable. As I’ve blogged before, it would be a shame if rancor about whether to reopen the Idaho-Maryland mine would trip up other projects, including Loma Rica.
Smart growth is better than no growth or ill-planned growth. We’ve suffered from both in the past.