NC Media Watch

A quest for reason and accuracy in letters to the editor, guest editorials and other issues of interest to the citizens of Western Nevada County.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

MISSING DOTS

The missing dots in the Union’s What 2005 headlines to look like, January 1, 2005, from the Editorial Board.

It’s hard work to define a community worth having:
What's hard - and vastly more important - is to look at the coming year and try to figure out the headlines lying in wait for us.
I agree, looking ahead is hard work; it takes some reflection and ability to connect the dots. It is even tougher when you leave out some of the dots. Let’s look at the Unions dots, and some of those that maybe missing.
Here are some things to keep residents of Nevada County alert:

• The California financial mess. With the state budget shortfall at least $8 billion and growing, 2005 may be the most difficult budget year in state history. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's efforts to rein in spending to date have faltered. With the governor's budget plan due in January, even deeper cuts than have been predicted could impact Nevada County's schools, infrastructure and nonprofits.
Missing Dot: The County and City Housing Elements, which must meet state mandated affordable housing goals. Failing to act on the plan could result in local government being denied infrastructure and social service grants. Big savings for the state budget if local government does not comply with the affordable housing mandate. True, there may not be any money to grant, but local government must have checked all the boxes to be eligible.
• The vocal slow-growthers will be watching closely to see how Grass Valley handles the four large housing developments seeking annexation to the city. The City Council, with three new members, will have a hot potato in their laps with this issue. How it's handled could set the political tone for the county in 2005.
Missing Dot: The General Plan update, which will be just a contentious as the annexation process. Having failed to hold their seats on the Board of Supervisors, the slow grouters' will resort to the courts to constrain growth. We will see some legal challenges to any attempts to change the General Plan build out ceiling.

Missing Dot: We are loosing companies and families due to the lack of affordable housing. The Work Force Housing Team has defined the needs and a process, which requires building 25 to 30 homes at a time on high-density lots. Until the annexations are done, the land and infrastructure required for this type of development is not available. The economic and social survival of our community depends on a having affordable housing for the core workers, medical technicians, nurses, firemen, police and the workers required by a robust service and manufacturing sector.

Missing Dot: We have a new Board of Supervisors, with two experienced leaders to guide the early sessions. Some supporters of the newly elected Board members would like to undo some decisions made by the more liberal Boards, which was in power over the past ten years. This should only be done, in the context of moving forward, toward a positive vision of our future. We cannot go forward a future worth building, by looking in our rearview mirror.
• You thought 2004's tinder-box fire season was scary, wait till next summer. We stop worrying about the fire danger when the rains and snows come, but we shouldn't. The early snowpack measurements so far are below last year's at this time. Depending what the report is by spring, we'd better be sure that our firefighters are trained and ready to go. Remember San Bernardino ...
Missing Dot: Fuel load reduction, brush and grass weed eating, and building defensible spaces are as important as trained firefighters. Just as firefighters need training, so do home and property owner in fire safe practices. Removing the danger makes the fire fighter’s job much easier and certainly safer. In our neighborhood, we have experienced one downside to removing the fir and cedar saplings, buck brush and manzanita, as it has reveled more about our neighbor than we wanted to know. Now instead of a green screen, we see trash, junk cars and broken toys.
• After a flurry of concern about Nevada County's growing methamphetamine crisis following a succession of violent crimes and deaths, complacency has set in again. "Drug problem - what drug problem?" But don't be fooled - meth labs are cooking away and the ranks of users are growing day by day. Will it take another string of tragedies to stir the community into action instead of just talk? Stay tuned.
Missing Dot: What are we doing with the meth cookers we catch? Crime is down and the prison population is up in California. Is there a connection? Are we putting the meth cookers in jail, or just turning them back out on the street to start the process over again? How many meth cookers are return offenders?
• But lest we be labeled as predictors only of "bad" news, let us also anticipate beautiful mountain vistas amid clear skies and fresh breezes; energetic citizens with a smile and a helping hand for their neighbors; a heaping helping of music, theater and art; and public officials who offer us a vision to follow and then lead us there.
Missing Dot: Our public officials have not provided us with a clear vision for a future worth building, though Grass Valley is trying. Many officials and community leaders only tell us what they do not want the community to become: less growth, less traffic congestion, no big box stores, etc. The only sure method for creating a community worth having is to build it ourselves. That requires a positive vision, not a long litany of what we do not want our community to become. You cannot build a future worth having from a long list of negative pronouncements.

Missing Dot: The Economic Resource Council has started a vision process for economic development, which so far has been ignored by community leaders. It is an opportunity for the community to engage in a dialog about a community worth having, a community that has a robust economy capable of generating the revenue it needs to keep it’s infrastructure in good order, and a prosperous community which can support its nonprofit social service and art organizations. The ERC vision is posted at http://ercvision.blogspot.com. You are welcome to register and comment.

I am sure this is not all the dots that need to be on our vision. You are welcome to add more dots. Tell me what you think

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