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.”

Uncertainty grows over May 19 propositions

During my recent state travels — both north and south — many people have said they’re going to vote against the six measures that would “balance” the state budget.

images14

I use the word “balance” loosely, because the budget borrows billions of dollars from the future, including lottery proceeds. It’s a farce.

Voters don’t trust the politicians, they worry the initiatives will take money away from the poor and disadvantaged, and they don’t care if the governor suffers a political blow.

The Terminator’s credibility is abysmal in a solidly Democratic state. Many people would rather see a Democrat in the governor’s office in the next election anyway. 

The skepticism about the propositions is not limited to liberals or moderates: Tax extensions in Proposition 1A have angered conservatives.

A low voter turnout also is expected, casting a further doubt over passage of the propositions.

What if voters reject the May 19 ballot measures? The Terminator and lawmakers will have to return to the drawing board and find a way to close the budget gap.

I suspect they’ll do so with more urgency than before, probably before the end of May.

Their own political hides will be at risk like never before. I doubt many of them would be good candidates for any job retraining, and they know it.

Water fight will pit homeowners against farmers

images13Here we go again: El Dorado Irrigation District on Tuesday declared a “stage 1” drought warning, asking consumers to voluntarily cut back their water consumption by 15 percent over last year.

We can expect more of the same from neighboring areas — including here — in the coming months as California faces the third year of a drought.

This is a familiar drill for longtime Californians: Consumers are asked to cut back on watering their lawns; wash cars with a bucket, not a hose; to use their washing machines and dishwashers less; use low-flow toilets; even shower with a friend (more enjoyable).

No problem. Californians gulp up natural resources, ranging from water to crude oil. We need to conserve.

But a big problem — and it will surface again — is all the water used to grow certain crops in California, such as rice and almonds.

Many of the crops touted in trade group booths at the state fair are “water hogs.” For rice, you just flood a field. We also subsidize some crops that are water hogs just to get them to market.

Farmers are represented by big trade groups, with long-reaching tentacles in Sacramento, so it’s always a drawn-out battle.

The recession is forcing us to rethink our practices — at home, in business and in government. It’s about time we rethink our farming practices too.

Video: Will ‘boobs’ save newspapers?

A home-grown video is making the rounds on blogs titled “Saving Newspapers: the musical.”

It’s a humorous 2:49 minute clip on YouTube from a Bay Area youth who runs a Web site called rockcookiebottom.com. You can see and listen to it here

Some snippets:

“Newspapers all across this nation are dying like the plague. Unless we think of something to do, it’s going to wipe us out like an Internet tidal wave.

“We live in digital ubiquity, where you get the news anytime for free. At this point, we’ll try anything to survive.

“Ideas:

“•Selling marijuana when California legalizes.

“•We could start to offer businesses good reviews on Yelp.

“•What about short selling stocks? Let’s make green technology. Let’s rob a bank.”

“If you want to be on the Internet, you gotta start thinking like them.

“It’s been tested, it’s been proven, boobs will get the traffic movin’. Boobs on the front page, boobs on the bloog, boobs in classified.

“What’s going to save newspapers? Boobs.”

Well, it’s an entertaining snippet from an up-and-coming entrepreneur. But newspapers have leaned on boobs for a long time (the women in British tabloids), and “advertorials” about businesses (AKA Yelp in print) are commonplace nowadays. (Advertorials are ads on the news page).

What’s next? How about some entertaining videos?