Time for state lawmakers to cut pay to $1

I’m glad to see the local media finally starting to write about the state election being held today, which I’ve blogged about repeatedly in the past two months.

Trouble is, nearly half the people in our county have already voted: Most of our residents use mail-in ballots, so you need to get the coverage started *a lot* earlier.

As I’ve written, the ballot measures are expected to lose — except for Prop. F, which freezes the pay of lawmakers of lawmakers in future years when the general fund is expected to end the year with a deficit.

The largest governor’s salary in the nation is California, standing at $206,500 annually, according to stateline.org.

Arnold doesn’t accept it, though: He only earns $1. (He’s already a millionaire anyway).

It’s time for the Terminator to persuade state lawmakers to cut their pay to only $1 too, until we settle the budget mess.

It will send a long-needed message to the rest of us, who are suffering through one of the worst example of government fiscal mismanagement in history. It’s not like you couldn’t see it coming.

If you haven’t voted yet, you can click here to find your polling place.

A good background on the initiatives is here.

New GV and NC biz: from wines to ice cream

Grass Valley happenings: As I blogged on Friday, Sierra Starr Winery is in escrow to buy the building at Main and Mill streets (formerly El Dorado Savings bank) for a new, higher-profile tasting room downtown.

•A new county winery is expected to relocate into Sierra Starr’s old space for a tasting room — at 209 West Main in GV. The top candidate: Avanguardia.

•Over in Nevada City, a new ice cream store is expected to open soon at the corner of Broad and Spring, replacing Confectionary Mine. Signs already are plastered on the wall, signaling “opening soon.”

•Up on Highway 20, 5 Mile House is in escrow to reopen as a the popular roadside restaurant and bar, as I reported earlier. The “for sale” sign is down and you can see people moving about inside.

It’s a good to see signs of the economy perking up around here.

$24 billion shortfall at smaller U.S. banks

Here’s a sobering thought: The nation’s small and medium-sized banks are short $24 billion from meeting the government’s stress tests for capital, the Financial Times is reporting.

The stress tests would show capital shortfalls for 38 percent of the next 200 banks, the FT said. This would lead to a deficit of about $16.2 billion in common equity, according to the FT.

If the remaining 7,700 banks underwent the same financial testing, it would result in an additional $7.8 billion capital deficit, the report said

“This will ultimately migrate down the banking industry no matter what Treasury says,” a strategist at Sandler O’Neill told the FT. “It’s like telling bank examiners to close their eyes and not to think of a chicken.”

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Steele: “We wanted to help The Union survive”

In his blog on Monday, Russ Steele shares insights about what brought him and George Rebane to The Union as monthly columnists:

“As for the Union agreement, they asked for our help to provide some conservative views, and we wanted to help the Union survive.

“It is clear that TV and newspapers with a left and right views are surviving, and those with just left viewpoints are going out of business.”

That’s misguided at best.

Newspapers are going out of business, because their business model is changing, and they aren’t adapting quickly enough. It is largely a problem on the advertising and publishing side.

Papers are losing subscribers, because they are providing one-sided reporting and commentary, regardless of the political bent.

When was The Union ever a liberal newspaper?

Columnists who insult a newspaper’s readers and customers by calling them “IQ challenged” don’t do much for business either.

My idea of a more persuasive conservative columist is Victor Davis Hansen, whom I signed up for the paper.

Gathering to support incoming Cal freshmen

UC Berkeley
UC Berkeley
Our local Cal alumi group gathered this past weekend to honor and support the incoming Cal freshmen from our area.

It’s always an uplifting event. We met at a historic home in Nevada City to share our experiences, hear from the students and eat ice cream on a hot afternoon.

The students were going on to study engineering, as well as liberal arts. They already had contributed much to our community, as volunteers at hospitals, for environmental groups and as tutors and mentors for younger people.

We met at my home last week to interview some of them for two scholarships we offer to incoming Cal freshmen — one based on community service, the other based on leadership.

It was an eclectic group: We had an Eagle Scout, a black belt in Aikido, one who led an anti-bullying workshop at NU, one who started a swing dance club, and others who had visited Mexico to help a poor community.

All of the students had exceptional grades, test scores and a wide choice of universities to choose from. The gathering was a good opportunity for the students and their parents to get to know each other before school started.

Our Cal alumni chapter is a motivated group— the only active university alumni organization in the area.

I always make a pitch for the students to come back here when they finish their university education. Some of them want to — providing we have jobs for them.

Rebane and Steele: We’re “IQ challenged”

No sooner have our community’s “critical thinkers” George Rebane and Russ Steele completed their first monthly columns for The Union than they are now blaming the rest of us for “not getting it” if we express skepticism.

Their MO is to comment on each other’s blog, telling the rest of us how simple minded we are. Check it out here.

Russ insults Publisher/Editor Jeff Ackerman’s readers and customers, calling them “IQ challenged,” and George blames it all on our inability to comprehend the printed word.

I feel sorry for The Union and the local Republican Central Committee, which have turned to these two to build more *interactive, constructive dialogue* in our community. George now seems to be carrying water for developers, who need to build more broad based support among skeptics, not alienate them.

Rebane’s column this weekend had a major error, confusing “billion” with “million.” He promptly threw the paper under the bus for the mistake. Funny, since George always promotes personal responsibility as well as numerical illiteracy as his big “issues.”

Maybe he ought to be more engaged in the proofreading process.

Neither of their arguments held much water, either, and people called them out on their logic. For them it was a tough pill to swallow.

Russ complained that the Board of Supervisors was trying to grab additional board seats on the Economic Resource Council — even though the county subsidizes the group practically more than private industry.

To those of us who have served on the board and are familiar with it, a few more board seats among a couple dozen makes the group more accountable, but it doesn’t give the Rood Center a “power grab.” Russ was letting his “big government” ideology get in the way of pragmatism.

Rebane argued that senior citizens are the “cash cows” of our community, and we need to embrace them as part of our economy.

He claims “Nevada County barely makes a business case for locating or keeping information-based businesses” and others because of its location. But *our location* is what just *attracted* a Silicon Valley company here — Huntington Labs.

While promoting the retiree economy, George forgot to mention a key point: Retirees become elderly at some point and can create an undue strain on the economy.

We have a shortage of doctors, health-care workers and caregivers, largely because we have failed to diversify our economy beyond tourism and retirees.

Many service workers can’t afford to live here. Who’s going to take care of our aging population?

To be sure, a retiree economy is a double-edged sword. No analysis on that point, however.

George’s essay came across as self-serving and incomplete — for a Ph.D. no less.

He even missed the mark on the smaller points, “pooh poohing” top-notch amenities in our senior-living facilities, such as the fabulous indoor pool at Eskaton or the “patio” homes there.

In short, both of their “critical thinking” essays fell flat. They came across as out of touch, egocentric and intolerant of opposing views — not exactly constructive.

George and Russ keep talking down to us, not with us. How effective is this type of communication for a diverse community such as ours? We need commentators who can help unite us, not divide us.

Let’s get some more collaborative voices into the mix on local economic-development and economic issues. You need to provide a greater balance of views.

Let’s spend more time discussing the problem of declining enrollment in our schools, the need to attract younger people and families to our communities, and the need to create more higher-paying jobs.