A way to move forward on the Sierra’s toughest issues

“As the 2014 election season came to a close many of us were left reflecting on our divisive political system. How did we come to a point where even the most straightforward of questions becomes politicized? With so many looming issues, from climate change, to the spread of disease, to international military conflicts, (don’t think we’ve missed the connection between them!) how have we become so paralyzed?,” writes Brittany Todd, the communications manager of Sierra Business Council on the SBC blog.

“At Peak Innovation last month, a common theme arose. SBC’s 20th Anniversary Conference became a lesson in ‘coming to the table,’ in bringing together people with differing opinions and objectives and finding common ground.

“Acclaimed citizen writer Terry Tempest Williams spoke in length about the strategy during Peak Innovation’s opening night. She gave anecdotes from the gatherings she’s held, coined, ‘Difficult Dinners,’ where thought leaders, divided by background, opinion, political leanings and more, are brought together to share a meal, as well as the societal etiquette that such a social contract demands.

“NY Times Bestselling Author and Co-host of CNN’s Crossfire Van Jones closed Peak Innovation with a similar message. Jones called for us to accept our common ground, or come to the table, and listen. Through listening we can find shared priorities, the possibility of cooperation, and ways in which we may take collaborative action.

“And I didn’t just hear about this simple strategy at Peak Innovation, I saw it in action. I won’t name those who were at the table, but following the Vision Awards Ceremony I found myself in deep conversation with a county supervisor, the head of a conservation group, and a fellow SBC staff member, discussing whether there’s any value in taking local action on climate change when the global picture seems so grim.

“And that’s what it all comes down to. If we can all come to the table and recognize the common ground, the humanity, that represents each of us regardless of opinions, then we can have a real conversation, one where we listen to each other and come to understand how our opinions were formed. Perhaps then we can reach real compromise and start moving forward on the many issues that our world is facing.”

The rest of the article is here.

Nevada City Council nixes year-round lighting — forgets that Commercial is the “new” Broad Street

996592_10201194555200390_1676370434_n-300x224A majority of the people speaking at last night’s Nevada City Council meeting were in favor of year-round string-lights in downtown. They included the small business owners who are “economic engines” in the downtown, creating jobs and drawing locals and visitors.

Without the lights, it is too just too dark downtown for businesses and their patrons, they kept saying. Nevada City’s street lights are gas lamps. The pro-lighting advocates included popular downtown businesses such as Treats and Matteo’s Public.

But the Council — reflecting a Laurie Oberholtzer political mindset that has long gripped the city — said “no,” you can only have the string-lights between November 15 and January 15.  This included two council members, Jennifer Ray and Terry Anderson, who effectively act as Laurie O.’s “proxy” on the council.

This time the vote was 4-1, with Evans Phelps the lone dissent.  Evans also objected to the Council’s decision to reject a privately funded trail at Sugarloaf and ran for City Council. The Sugarloaf decision left me shaking my head, too, as I discussed it with Tom Mooers of Sierra Watch one afternoon while we were both in town — he with his dog, and me with our magazines.

Ray, Anderson, Duane Strawser and Robert Bergman all voted for the lighting restrictions. Compliance will be voluntary, however.

On Facebook, Reinette Senum was critical of Laurie O. “Let’s talk about the fact that you are the one behind the anti-boardwalk campaign and won’t let it rest, Laurie,” Reinette wrote. “That’s why you went after the terrazzo lights, because, god forbid, it actually was good for Commercial Street and that damn boardwalk.”

To be sure, Laurie O. has been good for the city in some respects, honoring the need to maintain its historic character, as stated here before.

But the rigidity has also been polarizing and unrealistic. And a good example was the outcome last night.

We get around to a lot of towns in our business — from Truckee, to Tahoe City, to Old Town Auburn, to Auburn, to Loomis, to Lincoln and to Grass Valley. Most of them are being revitalized with new businesses and energetic entrepreneurs.

Comparatively speaking, Nevada City has too many vacant buildings, particularly on Broad Street. In fact, there’s no restaurant anymore on upper Broad Street, with the closures and continued vacancies of Las Katarinas, Cirino’s and Citronee. A worthy addition has been the Szabo tasting room, however.

Commercial St. is the “new” Broad St.

I would argue much of the action has shifted to Commercial St., with Matteo’s, Three Forks Bakery & Brewing Co., the Boardwalk and stalwarts such as J.J. Jacksons, Ikes Quarter Cafe and Sopa Thai.

Reinette Senum has been a force in bringing new vibrancy to Commercial Street, thanks to the Nevada City Farmers Market (which the “old guard” did not think of), and — yes — the Boardwalk. Reinette also was a major force in getting Three Forks to open.

The First Friday Artwalk is a wonderful event, bringing locals and visitors alike to town. It features the Boardwalk, which also is home to the annual farm-to-table dinner and live music weekly.

Nevada City needs some downtown business owners on the City Council. There was apathy in the last election, much of it from dissatisfaction with the “old guard’s” lock on city politics. But Evan Phelps has helped change that, though she was a lone voice last night.

We need to celebrate the innovations in Nevada City and the innovators, not live in the past. It’s the right thing to do, but Nevada City also faces too much competition from neighboring foothill towns. It’s living on a reputation from the past, a dangerous economic dilemma.

(Photo: Reinette Senum’s Facebook page)

TV pilot called “Grass Valley” on “world of medical marijuana growers” is in the works

Heather Donahue (Credit: Getty)

“Talent is currently being cast for the television pilot ‘Grass Valley,'” according to casting news for Backstage.com, a long-established, popular publication where actors go to find casting information. The producers include Heather Donahue, actress of the Blair Witch Project and author of a book called “Grow Girl.” (Here’s a People magazine article about Heather).

“‘Grass Valley’ is a half hour, single-cam pilot that takes a look at the world of medical marijuana growers.

“Four lead roles and one supporting role are being cast for this paid production. Additionally, this is a great opportunity for actors anywhere (including L.A.), as travel expenses will be provided. Submissions are being sought worldwide.

“For more details, check out the casting notice for “Grass Valley” here, and be sure to check out the rest of our Los Angeles audition listings!”

Here are the details:

‘Grass Valley’

Casting notice expires: November 14, 2014

Grass Valley Productions
Matt Herman and Heather Donahue (author of “Growgirl,” actress of the “Blair Witch Project,” “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” “Taken”), writers.

Casting “Grass Valley,” a half hour, single cam presentation pilot that takes a look at the world of medical marijuana growers. Stacks of Franklins and pint sized mimosas, baby mamas and sheriffs, the weed world is flush with cash, sort of illegal, devoid of sense, and overripe for comedy.

Rehearses and shoots Fall 2014 in Grass Valley, CA.

Pays $100/day. Travel and expenses covered.

SEEKING TALENT Select a role below for more information and submission instructions.
Carly (Lead): Female, 25-33, All Ethnicities
single mother of two who is smarter than she pretends to be. Mark’s friend with bennies and the object of Pete’s obsessive affections. Works… more

Pete (Lead): Male, 30-35, All Ethnicities
short. If he were in a comic he would have a !@#^)*& in a thought bubble over his head. He’s really smart, but has the worst luck in the wor… more

Leon (Lead): Male, 28-35, All Ethnicities
spirit baller whose face gives up nothing but stubble. Lean guy with a smooth way about him. A meditator, ladykiller, and an incredibly gift… more

Mark (Lead): Male, 30-40, Caucasian
Jewish, skaterboy hooligan from SoCal who still looks like both of those things, even as he approaches middle age. Has a daughter age 8 and … more

Jaime (Supporting): Male, 18-34, All Ethnicities
Leon’s live-in assistant. Sort of like Anthony Hopkins in that movie where he played a butler, except he’s also a fabulous gay burner. He ma… more

Seeking submissions nationwide/worldwide Sign up or Log In to apply.
To view the application instructions for this job, sign up or log in.

Journalist whose work led to the Brown Act dies

Editor’s note: Michael Harris was a former colleague at The Chronicle. I was one of the youngest reporters on the staff in the mid-’80s and people like Michael would take me to lunch. We’d chat in the newsroom about our stories. A real class act.

“Michael A. Harris, a former Sausalito official whose work as a San Francisco Chronicle reporter inspired the Ralph M. Brown Act, California’s anti-secrecy law, died Thursday in Chevy Chase, Md. He was 92,” as the Marin I-J is reporting.

“‘Your Secret Government,’ Mr. Harris’ celebrated 10-part series for the Chronicle in 1952, prompted Jack Craemer, late editor of the Independent Journal, to work with Modesto Assemblyman Ralph M. Brown on legislation enacted in 1953 ensuring meetings of public agencies were held in public.

“‘Michael Harris was the godfather of the Brown Act,’ said Terry Francke, founder of Californians Aware, an open government organization, and former general counsel of the California First Amendment Coalition. ‘Anyone who has ever been helped by (public) access to meetings owes a debt of gratitude to Michael,” he said. ‘He deserves a tip of the hat.’

“In 1965, Harris broke a story about assessment scandals in which officials lowered assessed valuations used to calculate taxes. He traveled the world for the Chronicle to study transit systems, returning to write stories probing plans for Bay Area Rapid Transit.”

The rest of the article is here.

GOPer Donnelly “endorsing liberty,” not Neel Kashkari

Editor’s note: This is the same guy that the Nevada County Republican Party endorsed in the June primary over Neel Kashkari. The Nevada County Republican Women Federated also invited Donnelly to speak in our community. The San Bernardino County lawmaker was placed on probation for three years after taking a loaded gun to Ontario International Airport in his carry-on briefcase in 2012. Also read “California GOP convention: A divided party fights for its survival” on Breibart News.

Transparent California shows six-figure annual pensions, “double-dipping” and more

A friend of mine sent me this URL: http://www.transparentcalifornia.com. Forbes magazine recently wrote this about the website and its database.

“Transparent California is provided by the California Policy Center and the Nevada Policy Research Institute as a public service. Transparent California is dedicated to providing accurate, comprehensive and easily searchable information on the compensation of public employees in California. Complete and accurate information is necessary to increase public understanding of government and help decision makers, including elected officials and voters, make informed decisions.”

If it were a serious newspaper, The Union would use this tool to help shine a light on the runaway pension problems in our community and statewide (including six-figure annual pensions and some serious “double-dipping.”) Some of the hard-right folks who complain the loudest about pensions also might find their friends and acquaintances listed here. “People in glass houses …”

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Hooking up with Mohamed Al-Fayed at Harrods Food Hall

Harrod’s Food Hall (photo credit: Jeff Short)
As the Summer Olympics in London loom, I was reminded of a trip to one of our favorite cities.

When our son was two years old, our family went to London for a week just after Christmas around the year 2004. We flew across the “pond” on Virgin Atlantic from SFO and rented a small apartment in the Kensington neighborhood. Our son slept quietly in the bulkhead (and being just two years old, we paid next to nothing for his fare).

Being a food fan, we did some shopping at Harrod’s famed Food Hall, not far from our rented flat. Even in the dead of winter, you can find fresh fruit (from Africa, for example), beautiful oysters and Dover sole. (They filet it for you on the spot). It’s not cheap, but we are a small family. And the presentation is mind boggling.

One afternoon we were in the Food Hall, and I spotted Mohamed Al-Fayed walking through the store, greeting visitors. Al-Fayed owned Harrod’s (much to the Royal’s chagrin). His son was with Princess Diana when both died in a car crash in Paris in 1997.

Anyway, I was excited to see the owner of Harrods — a regular — while holding our son in my arms next to the fish monger. Overly excited, I suppose, I shouted across the way to my wife: “Shannon, it’s Al-Fayed, Al-Fayed.”

Immediately, a half dozen bodyguards came out of the woodwork and stood guard around him (and near me and our son).

I did not have a chance to greet him, but he shook many people’s hands and thanked them for coming to the store.

The experience still cracks me up. This weekend we will watch the Olympics quietly on the “tele.”

Mohamed Al-Fayed

County swimming hole on the Yuba named among the best in Ca.

A swimming hole on the South Yuba River has been named one of California’s best, according to a report on KCRA News this weekend.

The swimming hole, which includes a deep pool and waterfall, is just outside of Nevada City.

The details, as well as a guide to other swimming holes, is here.