Some ‘small-mindedness’ on Foothill closing

Ashland Shakespeare Festival
Ashland Shakespeare Festival
The closing of the Foothill Theatre was troubling because of some “small mindedness.”

The “Save the Foothill” effort just petered out. I wish the city, civic leaders and the local media (in their editorials) would have been more squarely behind keeping it open. More attention lately was put into a production called “Recession” at “Off Broad Street.”

City Council wasn’t nearly vocal enough. The Mayor should have led an effort for a resolution/campaign keep it open. I never understood that.

The “whisper campaign,” always present in a small town, was a heated debate between community theater versus Actor Equity (union) theater.

Some people in town criticized the union wage structure. This included people on the board of the Nevada Theatre Commission.

Others, typically a contingent of past and present community actors, argued that community theater was just as good as professional theatre. This included people on City Council.

Some people in FTC management and on the board were perplexed. A professional theater group is a “feather in the cap” of any small town.

Here’s the reality:

•The theater won’t be filled as much as it was before without FTC. Just do the math. The Nevada Theatre Commission will have to work hard to keep it occupied. A plan has been floated for the city to run the Theatre but that won’t happen now.

•People from out of town will be less likely to come here for community theatre, compared with a professional theater group. This means less money will “trickle down” into the community. It’s a classic example of our provincial mindset to think otherwise.

•The Executive Director of the FTC is an elected and hard-working board member of the chamber. But the city has no FTC now, which is, well, an unfortunate situation.

We often get involved in small-town debates without seeing the “big picture.” It’s usually a sign that we need more leadership in our community — from businesses, civic leaders and the local media.

Next up: The fate of Thomson Grass Valley, one of the biggest tax revenue generators in the city and is up for sale. The blow from losing this one will be much greater.

Did Hastert plea bargain bring justice?

Hastert (from
Hastert (from
The county DA’s plea bargain in the Thomas Hastert loan-fraud case — announced on Thursday — included a “no contest” plea to 59 counts but dropping 25 others.

The DA and Jerry Brown, who’s running for governor, sent out a laudatory press release.

“Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. announced that the man behind an ‘elaborate real estate scam,’ Thomas Hastert, pled guilty today to 59 felony counts of embezzlement, securities fraud, and selling unregistered securities,” it read.

It’s hard to imagine Hastert acted alone in his hard-loan deals, but dropping some of the charges — filing false documents, for example — will make it less likely that any others around here will be prosecuted.

I’m sure others in our community noticed this. No wonder perceptions linger of a “good old boys/girls network.”

As for restitution, it sounds good on paper — as well as politically — but will the victims ever get full restitution in their lifetime? Just do the math.

I hope the judge — the last “backstop” on this deal — more closely scrutinizes this agreement before it becomes final. The local media and community should too.

In instances like this, you need good investigative reporting in the news pages.

You also need a camera in the courtroom: The local paper just used a mugshot for the dramatic hearing. If you’re going to run an audio clip, you also need to edit it down from a full hour.

Will KVMR replace Bonanza Market in NC?

Folks in downtown Nevada City are wondering whether KVMR will go into the space where Bonanza Market is located on Broad Street.

Despite some efforts to spruce it up, Bonanza remains a tired-looking space, at least to me. KVMR has been looking to expand into larger quarters for a long time.

I’d prefer that the high-profile space remain retail — ideally a Trader Joe’s-*like* market. (Not Trader Joe’s, mind you).

I’d also prefer to see a business go there that would generate some shopping $$$, as well as foot traffic from visitors and locals.

On the other hand, if the *long overdue* deal for California Organics to go into the Broad Street Furnishings building materializes, my hometown will get a good organic market. The deal is still hung up over bridge financing, according to my sources.

Besides an organic market, it would be cool to get a barbershop back in town. And an ice cream store to replace the one that just closed.

Gary Tintle is committed to getting an ice-cream parlor back into the space where Confectionary Mines was located. Gary is a co-owner of the space.

A couple of people are interested. Cutting the rent will help.

Gary is being lobbied to sign on as president of the city’s Downtown Association, replacing John Paul, who resigned. Whatever it takes to bring that group together is welcome.

Improving the mix of businesses downtown will help draw more locals and tourists alike, helping to draw it out of the recession.

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,” 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.”