‘Surety bond’ on Walgreens debacle?

Whenever I drive by the now-stalled Walgreens project in Burger Basin, I wonder how badly the City of Grass Valley got duped by the builder.

Beyond the painful delay, enough of a disappointment, did the city require a “surety bond“? In the construction trade, a performance, or surety bond, is routinely requested. It helps ensure that builder promises to do what he/she says.

With a surety bond, the city might at least collect some needed money down the road, rather than just watch the weeds grow again on the site of the former Jim Keil Chevrolet.

Meanwhile, I notice a new Walgreens has sprung up in the fast-growing Highway 49 corridor in North Auburn. What a debacle.

Downside of NCTV: public access programming

We enjoy watching local government meetings on NCTV: It’s a valuable and expanding public benefit.

We pay for it, mind you: through a monthly charge on our Comcast cable television bill. Check out the line item on your bill next time.

But some of the programming is truly God-awful: Take the show, “Grass Valley News,” for example, which sucks up almost a half hour of programming — sometimes twice daily.

After watching a re-run of a Grass Valley City Council meeting Monday night, which included an important discussion on changing the city’s general plan so Berriman Ranch could “cut in line” (a controversial, under-covered topic), the station switched to this “news” show.

It was about as Bush League as you can get: Somebody read the local police blotter while showing generic photos of Paris Hilton in black leather, a Rambo guy toting a gun, a woman in a bikini, and an almost nude old man on a bike. It was totally unrelated to anything local.

An equally bush “world news” segment of the show followed.

Hey, NCTV: Find some better programming or we might as well lobby Comcast for reruns of the “Beverly Hillbillies.” This is truly the downside of a flat population: a shallow pool of professionalism.

I know this is a waste of our family’s money, and if better understood, probably yours.

Sierra Christian School to rebuild — differently?

After closing in January as a full-fledged school and now operating as a “home school,” Sierra Christian School in Nevada City plans to rebuild and grow into a K-12 school.

This time around, the approach seems decidedly more fundamentalist.

“The situation in public schools got progressively more hostile toward God, with the passage of gay rights supported SB117, forcing the public schools to teach their agenda as ‘normal,'” reads a letter being sent out to generate support.

It adds: “If you get a chance to participate in ‘The Truth Project,’ please do so. This Focus on the Family produced series clearly illustrates how the atheistic agenda has reached into our families, our jobs, our government, our schools, our science and every aspect of lives to promote alternatives to biblical principles.”

Wow. I was disappointed in this marketing approach. I thought religion was about teaching tolerance. To each his/her own, I guess.

I prefer the “glass is half full” approach in teaching children about the complexities of life, not such a negative one.

It will be interesting to gauge the demand: The demographics of our county is changing. Or is it? This will be an interesting barometer.

Sierra College, local highs benefit in 500K grant

Here’s an economic bright spot: Sierra College has won a $500,000 grant to draw local students to technical careers.

There’s nothing like people with skills in science, technology, engineering and math to help sustain and fuel our area’s economic growth.

Among other high schools, Nevada Union High is teaming up with Sierra College to offer more STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) curriculum.

This is a cool way to train our young people and help keep them here, filling jobs in the tech and science sector. They can begin learning the skills in middle and high school and further hone them at local Sierra College campuses.

Is KNCO’s Web site ‘pooping out’?

Some time ago, KNCO radio rolled out a “new and improved” Web site that offered high hopes.

But I’ve been losing interest. Sometimes when I look, KNCO.com hasn’t been updated for hours — or even days. Today is a good example: The last local story is dated April 3 at 6:15 p.m., but today is April 6 at noon.

I do notice more ads on the site: “Monetizing” Web traffic is always a good thing. But the real-time content is pooping out. Do advertisers know? If it’s a technical glitch, somebody ought to hop on it.

I don’t listen to AM radio too much, but I assume this morning’s newscast is more current than what’s on the Web site. Can’t you at least just roll the information onto the Web after the newscast? If you’ve invested in a Web site, you should maintain it.

Census work gets underway here, with GPS

You may not have heard yet, but census canvassing got underway here on Sunday, putting people to work and verifying addresses in the first major effort of its kind since 2000.

Census workers will be visiting every home in the county in the next two months to update address lists and maps for the U.S. census. In a cool technology twist, many census workers will be equipped with hand-held GPS devices to increase accuracy.

All told, the Census Bureau will verify and update more than 145 million addresses nationally, with more than 140,000 census workers. The work is being conducted out of 151 local census offices.

You’ll get a courtesy knock on the door and explanation for the visit. Census information has remained private for 72 years, so don’t get alarmed. Workers who violate the law are subjected to a fine and prison term.

I hope the “get off my land” types in our county understand the need to collect this information. I’m also glad the workers aren’t out during the pot harvesting season, a bad time of year to go randomly knocking on doors.

Accurate census data is valuable for all of us to help guide our public policy. Let’s applaud the effort.

Silicon Valley: egos vs. exit strategies

A $7 billion deal for IBM to buy Sun Microsystems collapsed over the weekend, reversing the stock market’s 4-week rally.

I can’t imagine why Sun’s board wouldn’t have embraced an acquisition at twice the price of where its stock has been trading. Sun has struggled for years.

This reminds me of Yahoo’s board rejecting a buyout from Microsoft last year at a similar premium.

Both examples are a reminder that business people need an “exit” strategy. What better one than selling to a competitor such as IBM or Microsoft? Too often egos get in the way.

Co-founder Scott McNealy of Sun always has had an inflated sense of his company — understandable but not productive. At this point, it would be best for Sun and its shareholders that McNealy — a great father and golfer — moved on.

I think that was the lesson learned from co-founder Jerry Yang at Yahoo, who was instrumental in rejecting Microsoft’s offer. In both cases, the other board members should have played a more active role.