E-petition to stop reopening of the mine

An e-petition is online to stop the reopening of the Idaho-Maryland mine. It’s here.

This is another good example of using Web technology for grassroots activity, just as with Facebook. It’s a growing trend.

It’s interesting to see who signed the petition and their arguments. Many of them are thoughtful.

I don’t know of an e-petition for people who want to reopen the mine, but I’ll keep an ear to the ground.

I expect the debate on the mine to become a humdinger as the process continues — paling in comparison to last year’s growth initiatives and more along the lines of the NH2020 debate.

Let’s hope all the facts get out. NH2020 created a lot of controversy, but people tell me they’re not sure what it really said. That was depressing to hear.

What locals can learn from Sonoma’s GOP

images5As the Republican party struggles with its worst identity crisis in years, it’s worth looking at how county central committees in the state are coping — or not.

This is a good “case study” about embracing change, no matter what your politics.

In our county I don’t see much of a “growth” strategy for the local GOP: For the most part, the same “old guard” is holding court with the same ideas. It’s more of a social club: Playing poker is still a big deal.

The county GOP should reinvent itself: recruit more “new blood,” become more inclusionary, and target younger people and “decline to state” voters, a growing rank here and elsewhere.

It also could take a cue from what the GOP is doing in Sonoma County, a rural place whose demographics — political and cultural — have changed over the years not unlike ours. In both places, liberals are more of a political force.

The Sonoma County GOP has some cutting-edge ideas. It consistently has the highest turnout of Republicans of any other county in California, too.

The group has stood up to the leadership of the GOP and adopted a more libertarian, independent stance.

This idea has “legs” at a time when the national GOP is struggling: Senator Arlen Specter just jumped ship and some sectors think Rush Limbaugh is a persuasive leader.

Critics have created a new mascot for the party: The Goposaur.

But Sonoma’s Central Committee is undaunted:

•The group is financially independent from the Republican National Committee and the California Republican Party.

•It does not receive any money from the RNC.

•It has its own bylaws and standing rules.

Its views speak to a growing rank of people, here and elsewhere:

“I’m a conservative first,” wrote “Pink Elephant Pundit” blogger Tabitha Hale, whom I profiled on this blog. “I ended up with the GOP simply because, like most conservatives, I tend to vote with a lesser of two evils mentality.”

The Sonoma County GOP is no shrinking violet, either: It took a bold stand and censured Gov. Swarzenegger for “terminating” his own tax pledge.

“The media is touting President-Elect Obama as the ‘transformational’ political figure of our time; but they are unjustly overlooking an extraordinary political transformation that has occurred right here in California,” the group said.

“Schwarzenegger, who began his political life as a tax-cutting reformer . . . has reached across the aisle and found his true niche as just another, run-of-the-mill tax and spend liberal.”

The group’s stand has been well received.

“Based on the post election exit polls, this action by the Sonoma GOP is exactly what Republicans should be doing,” RedCounty.com wrote last November.

“This speaks to the loss of support by McCain and Republicans for over-spending and over-taxation. Will other counties follow suit and stand up to the leadership of the GOP?” it continued.

The Sonoma County GOP also supports HR 1207, libertarian Ron Paul’s bill to audit the Federal Reserve.

Whether you agree with the politics or not, the Sonoma County GOP is a good example of a political group that has not been afraid to embrace change to “grow its business.”

Scooplet: 5 Mile House expected to reopen

The landmark 5 Mile House just outside of Nevada City on Highway 20 is in escrow and expected to reopen as a bar and restaurant, according to my sources.

Let’s hope the deal closes. It was a visible and popular venue for our community. We frequented it for the burgers on a sunny weekend.

The place had been on the block for months. The 1890 roadhouse had recently undergone an extensive renovation.

So there you have it, a “twofer”: a small-town scooplet and economic bright spot.

The holy grail of civil, stimulating discourse

Aaron Klein and Doug Keachie are political opposites but have generated some stimulating discussion on this blog and have agreed to disagree in their debates. I’ve learned something from both. Others have too. Here’s a response from another reader:

Actually Doug, we can all be friends if we treat differences with respect as you and Aaron do. I respect both of you, and hopefully I can add to the discourse here in the same spirit.”

With this attitude, we have a lot of potential to become collaborative and learn from each other in our community. Isn’t that the way it is supposed to be? Thanks to all of you.

BTW, this blog is not “moderated.” Once you post your first comment, the other ones automatically appear without moderation. The only exception would be a post that gets caught in “spam.”

When life here seems like the bar in Star Wars

images4Living here sometimes reminds me of walking into the cantina bar in Star Wars.

I’m sure you remember the scene: lots of, well, unique characters and entertainment.

In the latest example, local bloggers Russ Steele and George Rebane decided to start a rumor that I was running for a county supervisor’s seat in 2012.

They never bothered to ask me about it. They just decided to publish the “rumor” on their blogs. I guess they’ve learned, or hoped, that in a small town rumor becomes fact.

These are the same guys that The Union proudly touted as new monthly columnists and the force to help them build a more interactive community Web site.

I presume the paper wouldn’t “reverse publish” a rumor like that into print. You’ve got to watch that stuff if you take your credibility seriously.

No I have no interest in small-town politics: “been there, done that” to a large extent. But I’m flattered at their suggestion.

I’m tied up now on some projects, but I still can’t help but ponder whether to write a book about my experiences here. Many of the chapters would write themselves.

This would certainly get a mention about how some bloggers practice “citizen journalism” in a small town.

Now back to the cantina. A guy playing the Star Wars cantina theme with his hands is here. You’ve *got* to check it out.

What we can do when state government fails us

ca_flagThe idea for a state Constitutional Convention to focus on badly needed fiscal reform is gaining steam, and it is timely because the May 19 ballot measures to “balance” the budget are expected to lose.

This will force Arnold and his sand-pounding compatriots back to the drawing board.

A group will gather Monday in Auburn to discuss the state budget and the effort to call a constitutional convention, and we’re all invited.

“California’s state budget and our fiscal management processes are fundamentally broken,” said an email on the topic. “One idea gaining popularity is calling a new state Constitutional Convention in 2010 to focus on long-term fiscal reform.”

The meeting will occur Monday from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Auburn Civic Center, 1225 Lincoln Way.

The Sierra Business Council is hosting a discussion with the Bay Area Council’s chief executive Jim Wunderman on the topic.

Important: Please send an RSVP to sfrisch@sbcouncil.org, because space is limited.

The Bay Area council has a good board. I know and respect many of them, such as Warren Hellman. It’s a concept worth thinking about.

Some background on the issue is here and here.

The Onion halts print editions — no joke

The Onion, the satirical news publication, is ceasing publication of its print editions in San Francisco and Los Angeles after this week, blaming declining ad sales.

“It is an unpleasant task to discontinue print in those two cities — and to lay off the good people who worked hard to make them profitable — but I believe it is the wise business decision to make,” chief executive Steve Hannah said in a memo to workers.

The other eight local Onions will continue printing. The Onion also is offered online.

The full report is here.