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.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Got Gun, Part II

Rich Somerville writes of 400 Barney Fifes, May 29, 2005
Mr. Butler wrote that the sheriff's office was so alarmed that a newspaper was checking out public information that it mailed a warning to Nevada County's 400 private pistol-packers.


Even if The Union published the names (why not?), why are those Barney Fifes on the list so fearful?
Well here are some suggestions:
One year after Australia's gun-owners were forced to surrender 640,381 personal firearms to be destroyed, including semi-automatic .22 rifles and shotguns, a program costing the government over 500 million dollars, the results are in...

• Australia-wide, homicides are up 3.2%
• Australia-wide, assaults are up 8.6%
• Australia-wide, armed-robberies are up 44%
• In the state of Victoria, homicides-with-firearms are up 300%
• Figures over the previous 25 years show a steady decrease in homicides-with- firearms, with sharp in crease in last 12 months
• Figures over the previous 25 years show a steady decrease in armed-robbery- with-firearms, with sharp in crease in last 12 months
• From 1910 to present, homicides in Australia had averaged about 1.8-per-100,000 or lower, a safe society by any standard.
It looks like the criminals forgot to turn in their guns. When criminals know you do not have a gun they feel much safer to use theirs. That is why we do not want a list of gun owners published in The Union.

If you have a comment click here.

Thanks Union Readers

We broke readership records yesterday, three times the average. Thanks for visiting.

UPDATE: Do not forget to check out the the ERC Blog

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A closer look at the travel details

Mark Selverston is morally offended in "Doolittle's support for DeLay makes me mad," May 31, 2005
DeLay certainly has a lot of baggage; he sold DDT as pesticide, for goodness sakes.
Gosh, was this before or after it was illegal to sell in the US. It is still sold and used around the world.
But what really gets me mad is that DeLay blocked laws that would require businesses operating in the Mariana Islands in the South Pacific, a U.S. territory, to follow the same laws that apply in the U.S. This seemed reasonable to me, given that those same businesses wanted to tag their products with "Made in the U.S." labels.
Business have been, and continue to be fined for violating US labor and safety laws according to on line newspaper reports from the region. The issue mentioned above relates to businesses paying the US minimum wage, when the prevailing wages in the region were about $3.00 an hour. Forcing business to pay US minimum wage, would make the Mariana Islands business noncompetitive in the region. The US taxpayers would then have to pay a lot of welfare, once the economy collapsed. Humm. Maybe, Mr. Delay did the right thing?

I wonder, how the other 198 previously unreported special interest trips by 43 House members and their aides, including eight years of unreported travel by the second-ranking Democrat, House Minority Whip Steny Hoye, impacts on Mr. Selverston’s sense of morality?
To these trips make him mad? Or is it just Mr Delay's trips?

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Where in the world?

Kent Gallagher is totally off the wall in his "Highway 49 interchange costly to taxpayers," May 31, 2005
The Union recently reported that the new Highway 49 interchange proposed one mile south of the McCourtney interchange will cost approximately $55 million.

This is an interchange proposed by the developers of the proposed developments known as Northstar and South Hill. These two projects are seeking our approval for as many as 2,417 residential units. This is at least 300 percent more than the current General Plan would allow for.

Since the developer pays none or a nominal amount for this freeway interchange, the rest of us taxpayers get to foot the bill. . . .
What in the world? Where do letter writers to The Union get their information? Not attending Transportation Commission Meetings, that is for sure. The tax payers are not funding the Crest View interchange. We have a regional mitigation fee program in Nevada County. New development pays for the roads, intersections, and build out impacts. This interchange is not in the Transportation Commission’s Budget, nor in Caltran’s Budget to build. This is a development driven interchange and will be paid for by the developers. Well in reality, it will be paid for by the people buying homes or businesses in the Northstar and South Hill Village Developments. The cost of the Interchange will be divided by the number of homes and businesses built, and each buyer will pay their share for the privilege of easy SR- 49 freeway access.

I am not comfortable with the 300 percent number either, but need time to do more research. Watch for an update later today.

Oh, time for some disclosure. I am a Transportation Commissioner.

If you have a comment click here.

Monday, May 30, 2005

VA cutback details

John Combest needs to look a bit deeper into "Our soldiers come home to cutbacks," May 30, 2005
Why Dr. McGinnis shared her thoughts with me, I'm not sure. I'd like to think it's because we've become friends. She told me something I didn't want to hear - the "powers that be" have been cutting staff. She looked weary when she said, "I'm going to a meeting and they are about to cut 70 more people."
Let’s see, according to a Google search, the “cuts” are a temporary hiring freeze, due to the lack of funds in the 2005 fiscal year budget. A budget set by Congress. The VA Hospitals will not be laying off people, they will just not be replacing people who leave until the 2006 budget is passed around October 1st, 2006. The VA Sierra Nevada Health Care Center currently has 750 staff members.

According to a VA Press Release, President Bush is seeking a record $70.8 billion in the fiscal year 2006 budget for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), with the overwhelming majority of these resources targeted for health care and disability compensation.

The FY '06 budget proposal calls for $33.4 billion in discretionary funding -- mostly for health care -- and $37.4 billion in mandatory funding, mostly for compensation, pension and other benefit programs. This represents an increase of 2.7 percent over this year's discretionary budget.

If you are concerned about VA benefits, call Congressman Wally Herger and Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, so our troops are not “coming home to cuts.”

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Nevada County Military Welcome Home

Fred Buhler and his friends want you to support our troops with a rousing Welcome Home when they return from combat, and their familes while they are on duty. Fred has the details in the current issue of The Republic, and on the Friends of Nevada County Military web log. Link (here).

If you have a comment click here.

Blogging in the Learning Section

David Mirhadi has a nice write up on Nevada County blogs in today's Learning Section. One small correction, he give my profession as a retired engineer. My degree is in Social Science. However, the greatest complement I ever received was from a TRW Division Manager. "You are one of the finest conceptual design engineers in the company," he said, during my second annual review with the company. I was also, one of the few non-degreed engineers to run a TRW Lab. I must admit, I was a better conceptual design engineer, than a Lab manager.

UPDATE: David left out the ERC Blog

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Sunday, May 29, 2005

Hubbert's Peak Oil Revisited- Oil shale deposits

Global oil shale resources are estimated to be 2.6 trillion barrels, with 2 trillion barrels are located in the Eastern and Western deposits in the United States. About 1.5 trillion barrels are located in Utah, Wyoming and Colorado. Full report can be found (here).

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Lack of Peak Oil interest troubles former Mayor

Former Mayor Linda Stevens, sees an "Opportunity lost," May 29, 2005
I recently attended the first annual Town Hall Conference at the Veteran's Hall in Grass Valley, where 200 community members participated. Though I know it was one of the first beautiful days we had received after a long spell of rain, the Veterans Hall should have been packed with 1,000 people. Are our community and our leaders going to continue to stick their heads in the sand in denial over the coming energy crisis known as Peak Oil?
First it was Y2K, then global warming, now it is peak oil. Why do we have to live under an impending crisis? An what can 200 people do about solving the imagined oil crisis. What about a 1,000. The world did not come to an end with Y2K, the data does not support global warming, and even the Kyoto proponents admit it would kill economic growth, all the while not changing global warming by one millionth of a degree.

Now we have the same Y2K and Global Warming crowd trying to get us all cranked up about an energy crisis that does not exist. More (here) and (here).

Has anyone noted that the real goal of this crowd is to slow or reverse economic growth?

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Totally confused

Melissa Damiano is a little confused in "Shame on you, Union," May 29, 2005
I must tell you how disappointed I was to read your article on the remodeling of The Union offices (May 21). I cannot believe that a company that in many ways relies on local advertising dollars to stay in business would actually use a contractor from Roseville to perform necessary work on your building. I'm sure there are many wonderful local contractors that would have appreciated the business. Why go out of the county to hire someone to remodel your office? You set a very poor example and took much needed small business dollars out of the county.
Just for the record the Prime Contractor on the Union remodel is Keoni Allen, a local contractor. It has been a huge project to rebuild The Union building while keeping the newspaper running. My hat is off to Keoni and his crew for working nights and weekends to get the job done.

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Saturday, May 28, 2005

More Peak Oil Nonsense

The need for alternative transport was the most important conclusions of the Conference. "Fifty percent of our energy usage comes from transportation," petroleum expert, Stephen Andrews explained. Panel members discussed available options such as bio-diesel bus service using locally produced bio-diesel as well as the need to work with county Supervisors to resolve the mass transit problems. "We don't need to re-invent the wheel. The alternative solutions are already here," stated Senum, "We just need to make these solutions available to the public."
What I want to know is how the Supervisors are going to solve public transit problems? It is not their problem. The problem is that people refuse to ride public transit if they have any other means. Gold County Stage ridership is declining, so creating more does not seem to be the solution. Analysis of the probem from October 2004 can be found (here).

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Peak Oil Report

We have been looking for a report on the Town Hall Institute Peak Oil discussion. The folks over at Yubanet have a report by THI. It is another Y2K scare if you ask me.
Once the world demand for oil surpasses its supply, the economy, and everything vital to our survival, will shut down. Economic collapse is inevitable unless serious preventative and alternative measures are taken immediately on a local and nationwide level.
Remember this Y2K mata from 1999, economic collapse is inevitable unless. . .

It costs $6.00 a barrel to get oil out of the ground now. It costs $18.00 to extract oil from tar sands or oil shale. Expect the price of oil to go up, as we switch to this new source, but we will not have to take the drastic measures proposed by the folks at THI. We have a over a trillion barrels of tar sands and shale oil, a 500 year supply at the current use rate. I think in 500 years we can come up with clean nuclear based energy for our vehicles.

If you have a comment click here.

Thank You Card for our Troops and Families

Grab a tissue and click (here).

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Remembering on Memorial Day

Pat Butler, Memorial Day weekend is fun time, right?, May 28, 2005

Pat is right, It is time to stop and think about those we lost in the pursuit of freedom. I stop to remember 1st Lt. Don Clark a close friend killed in a F-100F crash in Viet Nam, my first B-52 Copilot Major Herb Rice who died in an AC-47 Puff the Magic Dragon in-flight fire, and Capt. John Hardy a former Aviation Cadet room mate who married my wife’s cousin, lost in the China when his F-4 was shot down.

I remember my Dad who trained Chinese pilots to fly B-26s in Texas, Uncle Fred a navy gunners mate in the Pacific, Uncle Ken the company clerk who was nearly killed in Italy, and Uncle Bud a Seabee who followed the Marines ashore in the Pacific Islands. They were my heroes when I was growing up.

There are thousands of freedom fighters from WWII, Korea, Viet Nam, Afghanistan and Iraq who deserve a moment of reflection. Please take the time.

If you have a comment click here.

Read to succeed

Robert Shoemaker thinks the "Governor's education reforms adequate," May 27, 2005
The recent Other Voices column titled "Plan won't improve education" by Shane Valdez calls for some serious rebuttal.

He is responding to our Governor's statement that our education system is facing a crisis because a growing number of students are failing and almost a third of them are not graduating from high school. This is not a new problem. It is an old and continuing problem. Unfortunately, our legislators and school administrators have, for many years, tried to fix it by throwing more and more money at it. Unfortunately, again, most of the money was spent on pop courses instead of English, mathematics and sciences and, as a result, many graduates of our high schools and colleges cannot read, write and express themselves so they can successfully compete in our modern day world.

I agree with Mr. Shoemaker, the Governor is on the right track for some accountability in our schools. I over heard a upsetting comment and one of our local museums last week. “I am concerned that many fourth graders who come in cannot read,” said the curator, “They mouth the words, but cannot understand what they are reading.” What a disturbing thought, our local schools are rated second in the state, just behind Marin County.

One of the seminal events in my life, was repeating the third grade. At the beginning of my second try at third grade, Mrs. Warnike took me in the closet, at the back of the room. I can not remember her exact words, but her message was clear. If you do not apply yourself this year, you will be back in my class again next year. You are not going onto the fourth grade until you learn to read. No social promotion for me.

Successfully completing my second attempt at the third grade, I am an avid reader. I married an avid reader, and we have four daughters who read for the pure joy of curling up in a big chair with an interesting book. If it had not been for Mrs. Warnike, where would I be today? Learning to read and comprehend allowed me to succeed, to make my dreams come true. Thanks Mrs. Warnike!

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Friday, May 27, 2005

Jazz Jubilee and no Union Online

No online Union this morning, not much to comment on.

Ellen and I are off to the Jazz Jubilee this morning, so blogging will be light until we return.

If you have a comment click here.

Advice to bloggers and professional journalists

Dan Gilmore posted a presentation he is giving at the World Editors Forum in Seoul, Korea on his blog. If you have any interest in journalism, as a reader, writer or newsmaker, it is worth your time to read.

If you have a comment click here.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Affordable Family Formation

San Francisco has one of the lowest child populations in the state, if not the nation. They have the highest cost of housing. In Nevada County we have a declining population of children and rapidly rising home prices. A regular blog reader sent me a link to an interesting analysis of the last presidential election by Steve Sailor. He found a strong correlation, between states that Bush won and states with economical housing and decent public schools. Details (here). Those regions with poor schools and high housing prices voted for Kerry.

In an Other Voices last year, a radical liberal writers claimed that liberals would soon be the majority in Nevada County. We will soon be a blue county he predicted. If Steve Sailor is right, as the price of housing climbs our community becomes less family friendly. Nevada County may soon reach a point where it is no longer conducive to affordable family formation. We may go from being a conservative red county to a liberal blue county.

If you have a comment click here.

GLOBAL WARMING UPDATE: Cherry picking data

I have written in the past about the First Church of Global Warming choosing the data that supports their global warming thesis, ignoring the long term trends. Dr. George Taylor an Oregon State Climatologist at Oregon State University's College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences shows us how this works in a Tech Central Station article, "Snowpack in a Greenhouse?" The details (here) with multiple graphs and charts. You do not have to be a scientist to understand the results.

If you have a comment click here.

Blog interview

The Union is writing a story on local blogs. David Mirhadi, the Lifestyle Reporter, called Wednesday morning with some blogging questions. Look of his story in The Union next Monday.

If you have a comment click here.

Protect private roads

Helen Zimmermann writes about the "Threat to private roads," May 26, 2005
If you live on a private road in Nevada County, please pay close attention to the proposed winery ordinance coming before the Planning Commission today. If passed as Nevada County staff has recommended, it would allow unlimited use of private roads for wine tours, educational tours, retail sales by appointment, and promotional and industry activities for the winery without additional funding of the private road or a requirement to make the private road fire safe, even in very high fire districts.
While I am a strong advocate of economic development, and I am aware of a UC Davis study that ties the survival of small wine makers to selling their product on site, I am against the use of private roads with out compensation by the non-owner users. A few years back a group of relatives decided we were tired of gravel roads, and pooled a small inheritance from a favorite Aunt, and pave our dusty roads.

Once the roads were paved, the whole neighborhood started using our roads, increasing traffic by three to four times. Now, we are responsible for the maintenance of the roads, but everyone is using them with out sharing in the cost. The road is marked as private, no trespass, 10 mph. Still they come traveling at 45 mph, leaving skid marks, tearing up the berms. All without compensation to our informal road association.

If you, or your guests, use a private road then share in the cost of maintenance. Since the wineries are inviting guests, they should pay for the private road maintenance.

If you have a comment click here.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Destroying the Earth

Sam Hughes has some advice for those SUV drivers, coal plant opeators, and others intent on destroying the earth.
Destroying the Earth is harder than you may have been led to believe.

You've seen the action movies where the bad guy threatens to destroy the Earth. You've heard people on the news claiming that the next nuclear war or cutting down rainforests or persisting in releasing hideous quantities of pollution into the atmosphere threatens to end the world.


The Earth was built to last. It is a 4,550,000,000-year-old, 5,973,600,000,000,000,000,000-tonne ball of iron. It has taken more devastating asteroid hits in its lifetime than you've had hot dinners, and lo, it still orbits merrily.

So my first piece of advice to you, dear would-be Earth-destroyer, is: do not think this will be easy.
More advice for a dedicated earth destroyer can be found (here).

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Tip for the day: The Wilo

Be sure and make a reservation if you are looking for a great steak at the Wilo, at the corner of Hwy 49, and Newtown Rd. Ellen and I had some great steaks on Saturday, but we saw multiple couples turned a way who did not have a reservation. Back up plan is to eat in the bar, which is first come first serve seating. Come early and eat hearty!

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Dr. Tom Barnett on peak oil

From Tom's blog:
Another great front-page WSJ on the global oil markets, pointing out that after the rising demand of India and China and other emerging markets, the key culprit in persistently high prices today is the fact that global oil companies simply haven't invested in refining capacity for years now.

What's interesting about this is that it's really a self-fulfilling prophecy: the oil companies resist sinking the big bucks because they fear oil is receding in importance in coming years and decades as we shift to hydrogen (e.g., British Petroleum becomes Beyond Petroleum), and so by eschewing these investments, they create persistent high prices that accelerate that shift.

But if you don't believe in that, you can always stick to the Hubbert Curve and wah-wah-wah yourself all the way to some scary doomsday scenario.

If you have a comment click here.

Public offical blogging

Brittany Retherford writes "Spencer issues public apology," May 25, 2005
John Spencer, Grass Valley’s representative to the Nevada County Board of Supervisors, also attended the Grass Valley City Council meeting Tuesday night. He spoke during public comment, issuing an apology to Councilman Dean Williams for comments made on The Union’s editor’s blog about the City Council participating in team-building sessions.
Williams responded by saying “we are all pretty much learning as we go along, I don't think it is a big deal as long as your intentions are good.” He added, “I hope you keep blogging and I recognize that your political values and priorities are reflected in a significant part of the population.”
John claims he will not be doing any more blogging, thinking that public servants should be held to a higher standard. I feel partly responsible, for John’s problem. When The Union announced their Blog, I encouraged all our public officials to monitor the blog and participate. John immediatly took up the challenge. However, one of the rules of blogging is to lurk for a while and see what the tone of the discussion is before jumping in.

John, please return to the conversation and contribute your insight to public issues when you are ready. All the commentors on the blog appreciated your openness and welcome your contributions.

If you have a comment click here.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

I have activated RSS

You can now access NC Media Watch using an RSS reader.

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Peak Oil Meeting?

Did anyone attend the Town hall Institute's Peak Oil program? If you did, please let us know the results.

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Bike trail economics

Steve, a supporter of bike trails writes:
A big issue not being addressed is that of bikes, bike paths and multi-use trails are an economic positive to a community. Downieville has been helped by a recreational bike economy for many years now. The Lake Tahoe Rim Trail, the American River Trail, the Monterey Bay Trail system and many, many more across the country provide real positive economic impacts, mush less offer the chance for fun and exercise for our grossly obese country. Placer County DOT is doing a lot of work with bike lanes and multi-use paths. The short Truckee River Trail near Tahoe City spawned a number of new bike rental businesses, and there are many more examples.
This is not true in all cases. In 1996, I went to a rural economic development conference. One of the presentations was from Trinity County, who recounted the experience of an exlogging town who focused on attracting mountain bikers. They studies the issue ,and decide they need to rehabilitate the local cafe to meet the new demand. Upgrade the only motel in town with new bathrooms. Both upgrades required they expand the city sewer plant. The investments were made and the bikers invited to come ride the abandon logging trails surrounding the town. The bikers came, but economic development did not. They found the mountain bikers bring their own food, slept in their vans, and when home without showering.

My other concern about building trails for citizens to bike to work and the store, is the growing number of seniors. We are loosing our young people and the senior population is growing. How many seniors are going to use all these new bile trails. Are we like the small town in Trinity County, that assumes bike trails are good economics, but once built, failed to perform a according to the vision.

I wonder how well are our existing bike stores doing? If you have some insight, please let me know.

If you have a comment click here.

Neighborhood whiners make demands

Becky Trout writes the "Mill site neighbors win half-refund," Supervisors agree to pay out $500, May 24, 2005
When neighbors recently decided to protest a wood-grinding operation at the old Bohemia Mill site, they had to shell out $1,000 for the appeal. With the project now canceled, the residents on Monday asked for their money back.

In a compromise vote Monday afternoon, the Board of Supervisors voted 3-0 to refund $500 to the neighbors of the proposed Fire Safe Council wood-processing facility.

But Supervisor Sue Horne took umbrage with the neighbors' curt letter, which stated: "We are demanding a refund in the entire amount of $1,000. Time is of the essence. If we do not receive payment in full by June 1, 2005 we will be forced to file this claim in Small Claims Court."
What a bunch of spoiled children. They badgered, threatened, whined and got their way, now they want their money back. No, they demanded their money back. It is time for this neighborhood group to grow up and start acting like mature adults.

If you have a comment click here.

City of Grass Valley was missing!

This morning the ERC hosted a breakfast at the Holbrook Hotel to recognize SMA - America’s contribution to the local economy. It was exciting to hear about this emerging solar energy company with 19 employees, part of a global manufacturer of solar controllers. A environmentally sensitive company with great potential in Grass Valley, it would have been nice if the City of Grass Valley has sent a representative to honor this growing company. Howard Levine, from the Downtown Association as front and center promoting Grass Valley, but no one from the City Council or the City Staff. Why? Is it true that Grass Valley takes economic development for granted?

Their actions speak louder than their words.

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Monday, May 23, 2005

Canada has almost as much oil as Saudi Arab

OIL'S DIRTY FUTURE Canadian oil sands: Vast reserves second to Saudi Arabia will keep America moving. . . Details in the Sunday San Francisco Chronicle (here).

We have not heard much about results of the Town Hall Institute's Peak Oil conference on Saturday. Here is some facts you might want to consider when the doom and gloom report makes the news. We have similar oil shale deposits in the US. We have trillions of barrels of oil if the price is right.

If you have a comment click here.

Growing impact of bad global warming science

My article, with contributions by Editor Rich Ehisen, “Global warming battle getting hot” was published by Statnet’s Capitol Journal on the 16th of May 2005. You can go to Statenet and click on the archives, and select the 16 May edition, or down load a PDF version (here).

If you have a comment click here.

Lampheir on the way out?

Brittany Retherford ponders is "Terry Lamphier's future uncertain," May 23, 2005
Terry Lamphier predicted he might end up being the shortest term planning commissioner in the history of Grass Valley in an "Other Voices" column that appeared more than two months ago in The Union.

And on Tuesday, this prediction might come true.
Though I rarely agree with Mr. Lamphere, I found his Other Voices instructive. They were a window on his thinking on the Planning Commission. His no growth mantra was in full view. That is transparency we do not often get unless we go to the Planning Commission meetings. However, the City Council wants a team player on the Commission. Someone who is not rocking the boat, while they were trying to steer a reasonable course to economic growth.

More comments on Lamphier's positions (here) and (here)

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The Senate makes it's own rules

Ron Lowe wants us to “Defend the undefendable?, “May 23, 2005
Mr. Frist goes to Washington and breaks the rules to change the rules. President Bush has come out in the open joining forces with Senator Frist (R-Tenn) in an effort to scuttle the filibuster. Bush, Frist and Hatch defend their efforts to eliminate the 200-year-old filibuster from Senate rules.
I am not clear which rules Mr. Lowe is talking about. The filibuster is not called out in the Constitution. It is a rule that was established by the Senate and has been changed five times in 200 years. For 200 years Judges have been give an advise and consent up or down vote of a simple majority. Now, the Democrats after 40 years of power, have changed the rules to a super majority, if their leadership wants to prevent a specific Judge from reaching the appointed bench. So who is not playing by the rules? One has ask, how would the Democrat operate if the roles were reversed, the Republicans were the minority party? Yea, that's what I thought.

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Sunday, May 22, 2005

Growing up and leaving the Left

Keith Thompson writes and interesting saga about growing up and leaving the cultural left in the Sunday Chronicle. Details ( here )

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PNM is now available in paperback

This is an important book that everyone should read, if you are on the political right, or the left. It is a new way of looking at global conflict. Copies are on the shelf at Odyssey Books, next to Longs Drug in Glenbrook.

This book review first appeared in The Union Prospector some months ago, and on this blog. Now that the paperback is out, I am renewing the post.

The Pentagon’s New Map: War and Peace in the Twenty-First Century
by Thomas P.M. Barnett
GP Putnam’s Sons

Barnett distills four themes: security, economics, politics and culture into a cutting edge vision of globalization. All are key to war and peace in the twenty-first century. He provides insightful analysis of problems the Pentagon faced once the Cold War ended. Who was the next great enemy, needed to justify new high tech weapons? What was the hunter-killer subs new mission, with the Soviet fleet rotting in port?

Barnett’s views languished until September 11, 2001, when the Pentagon got a new mission -- eradicate terrorism. A mission they were ill equipped to accomplish. Our armed forces can rapidly smash rogue armies in weeks, but are having trouble rebuilding nations which takes decades.

A brilliant thinker, Bartlett divides the world into the core, nations connected by trade and communications in the global economy. The disconnected nations, which he calls the non-integrating gap, are isolated from the global economy by religion, failed leadership and economic stupidity. In Barnett’s view the world will be safer, once the core works to shrink the gap.

I highly recommend this important public policy book.

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Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence

The Imaginarium is sponsoring a series of six lectures by Dr. John Billingham, a NASA expert and SETI Institute Senior Scientist. Ellen and I attend the first lecture with some friends who share an interest in astronomy and planetary systems. We were impressed by Dr. Billigham’s ability to explain complex processes to nonscientist in his soft English accent. The next five lectures will be held 7:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. every Friday night, through June 27th at the Houser Room at the County Superintendent of Schools Office. If you have any interest in SETI you should join us next Friday night, and see for yourself if this is a “once is a life time opportunity.”

If you have a comment click here.

Forbes on Leaving California

Rich Karlgaard, Forbes Publisher has some interesting thoughts on why people should leave L.A.. But, where should they go?
One-third of Los Angeles residents now tell pollsters they are sick of their city. The percentage of L.A. malcontents has doubled in only two years, according to polls cited by Anne Taylor Fleming, a local essayist. Of course, one learns to take any poll analysis with a grain of salt. But my gut tells me this one has it right. The radio talk shows in L.A. these days yap constantly about the prices of houses, car commutes that never end and the breakdown of public services. What religion is to contemporary U.S. national politics--a bitter and hardening divide--illegal immigration is to California politics. Los Angeles has become the Fallujah of this ideological war zone.
Full story (here)

Could Nevada County be a destination for these LA malcontents. The only destination mentioned in the article is ” . . . in pricey California you can find bargains in the Red Counties in the foothills west of Merced, the newest University of California branch.“ Why not Red Nevada County? Do we really need more L.A. refugees ?

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Saturday, May 21, 2005

GLOBAL WARMING UPDATE: Latest global temps

The folks over a have been graphing the global temperature since 1978. The latest charts can be found (here). Does not look like much warming to me.

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Laugh of the week

Be prepared to smile if you are a right winger, frown if your are a lefty. Now that you have been warned, click ( here).

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Tip for the day

Ellen and I cleaned up the yard today and saw mushroms and toadstools peaking out of the leaves. One fried with a little olive oil and garlic is scrumptious, the other will kill you. If you are not trained to know the difference, leave them in the woods. My you live long and thrive.

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Citizen Numeracy Project Update

I attended the May session of the Citizen Numeracy Project at the Nevada County Library on Thursday. A project sponsored by the Nevada City Rotary Club. More details here.

I am planning on attending the June and final session. Dr. George Rebane and Dr. Ron Knaus did a great job explaining why we “should always question the numbers” in the newspaper, see on TV and hear on the radio. “Social issues are determined by the numbers,” said Rebane. As voters, we need to understand how our political leaders use “numbers” to capture our votes, and extort tax dollars from us for questionable projects. Long term studies by the Department of Education show the voting age population of the U.S. to be over 35% functionally illiterate and almost entirely inumerate. We are easy targets unless we have the tools to challenge the numbers we are feed by special interest groups.

My biggest disappointment was the small audience. The people who would benefit most were not in attendance. This would be great course for reporters and editors, in all media - newspapers, radio and video. With knowledge gained in these four session, they would be better equipped to explain the social statistics they present to us -- the consumer.

Maybe Dr. Rebane and the Nevada City Rotary Club would consider holding special sessions for our local media. I am certainly better equipped deal with social statistics after attending only one session.

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Lets look at all the points

Chris Cerruti really is "Missing the point," May 21, 2005
Mr. Levein's "Democrats shift with political winds" missed the point, which is tough to do after ranting for 600 words. All politicians shift with political winds. Besides, both sides of the aisle agree Social Security has issues to be addressed. They disagree on, more than anything, redirecting Social Security monies to private accounts. That is the issue to discuss, not out of context quotes.
Well, the Senate cannot discuss the issue because the Democrats will not open discussions until the President takes voluntary private accounts off the table. Controlling what issues will be discussed before the discussion starts, limits choices. Has everyone noticed that President Bush says what he is going to do, and then does it. Political winds are not that strong in the Whitehouse. The President spends more time leading than sampling the political wind.

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Got Gun?

Pat Butler, Union Editor, writes "Letter shouldn't concern gun owners," May 21, 2005

The Union has asked Sheriff Keith Royal for the names, addresses and occupations of the approximately 400 gun packers in the County .
We have no plans to publish all the names or the addresses on the list. We are, however, considering doing stories on the permits. Some of the questions we have include how many people have concealed weapons permits, how difficult are they to obtain in Nevada County, what are your obligations once you get a permit and why do some people feel they have to carry a gun?
I can offer one explanation, the growing meth violence and home invasions in Nevada County might be one reason. Here is the story of Sandra S. Froman, President of the National Rifle Association of America, from the Town Hall blog.
[Froman] admits she might not have been involved with guns had a 3 a.m. break-in not forced her to get involved. Froman was a 20-something lawyer in L.A. when she woke up to a strange noise at her front door. She looked through the peephole and saw a strange man crouched with a screwdriver at her lock. She pounded on the door and screamed, thinking surely he would leave once he knew someone was home.

To her horror, she saw him stand up, look through the peephole back at her, and bend back down to go to work. She called both her nextdoor neighbors. No one answered. She called 911 and they told her to lock herself in her bedroom until the police got there. She told them she had no lock on her bedroom door. She ran around the house turning on every light, the stereo, the TV to draw attention to the house. She checked the peephole--he was still there. Between the last time she looked and the time the police got there, the man finally fled, unable to bust the lock.

"The next day, I was a woman on a mission," she said. She said she went to a gun store, which was quite an achievement for this West Coast-dwelling, Ivy League-educated lawyer, she said. She told the gun store guy (what are they called? 'Clerk' sounds too delicate.) she needed a gun. When he asked which gun, she said "any gun." He promptly suggested she get some firearms training first, which she did.

"I found that shooting a gun wasn't that hard, and it was fun when I hit the bullseye," she said. She became a great shot pretty quick, practicing every weekend. After diving into her new firearm hobby, she noticed people she knew (some of whom were her fellow lawyers) thought anyone who owned a gun was a dangerous criminal. After asking some of her range-friends why some of her lawyer-friends thought that way, they suggested she join the NRA to learn about the politics of the 2nd Amendment.


"Every woman is entitled to such security," she said. "Everyone is safer when the criminals don't know who's armed."
Full story here.

UPDATE: If the criminals have a "public list" of who is packing a gun, they now know which homes to avoid. Does that make your home more vulnerable?

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Friday, May 20, 2005

Book Review in the Prospector

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed
by Jared Diamond
Viking Adult

Ecocide, and more ecocide is the theme of Collapse. How humans wrecked their environment and then vanished, or are on the verge of vanishing. I have always been interested in the Easter Island, Viking, Mayan, and Anazazi cultures and their demise. The author uses five criteria for evaluating these and other cultures for their sustainability. I found each chapter opening segments interesting, but Diamond eventually grows repetitious, tiresome, and preachy.

Diamond opens with a chapter on life in Western Montana, which mirrors Nevada County in many ways. Rural communities struggling after mining and timber industries are gone, and rich outsiders moving in, driving up the price of property, driving out young families who must move to find jobs and affordable housing.

Diamond claims mine executive religious fundamentalism is the reason they did not reclaim abandon mines. “God would soon arrive on Earth, so reclamation was irrelevant.” In studying Idaho mining, I found mine executives to be more hard core realists, who cut corners whenever possible. Lack of reclamation was more economics than religion.

An interesting book, but a bit tedious. Get a copy from the library and read the first chapter.

If you read this review in the paper, please note my last name has an " e" on the end.

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Tip for the day

Want to get ahead today? Forget what your parents told you. Instead, do something foreigners can't do cheaper. Something computers can't do faster. And something that fills one of the nonmaterial, transcendent desires of an abundant age. In other words, go right, young man and woman, go right. (Daniel Pink, A Whole New Mind)

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Bike commuter responds

A devoted reader comments on my bike lane question:
As a bike commuter, I know the value of bike lanes. Your complaint about the council against a wider Highway 49 runs against the idea with bike lanes: if you build it they will use it. You want a wider 49 for tourist to use, on the basis if it is easier to use they will be more likely to come to Nevada City. With bike lanes, if you build them, you are encouraging people to use them. Riding without bike lanes can be nerve wracking and dangerous.

You full well know that with traffic planning you have to encounter, what is this intersection/road going to look like in 5 years...IF you make it easier and safer for people to commute on bikes, then you will likely have that traffic rise, thought it takes time. With gas costs rising and waistlines bloating outward biking to work/school is a brilliant idea. Small initial investment, low up keep cost with health benefits...Maybe the several grand a year people save from biking (minimal gas costs, lowered car insurance, fewer car repairs) could go into the community stores or real estate with purchases inside the county, opposed to money going to international gas/oil companies and national insurance agencies.

Boston can be a hard city to bike in but Cambridge and Somerville have taken the time/money to cater to bikers and have a healthy year round population of bicyclists who commute. We have bike trails from suburbs into the city, you can't go more than 15 minutes without seeing a bike shop, all owned by small business owners. It reduces traffic, saves money, lowers pollution and produces a healthier population. With the smog problems California is dealing with and such a mild climate, biking is a natural choice.
Yes, but in Nevada County we have more and steeper hills than in Boston, Cambridge and Somerville.

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Union blog exchanges

Some spirited exchanges on the Union's Blog on how goverment should spend our money.

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Decisive or devisive?

Chuck Shea writes "Nevada City doesn't need new district," May 20, 2005
I recently attended the Business Improvement District hearing held at and by the Nevada City Council. The purpose was to make a recommendation to the staff to proceed or not to proceed to the next step in the approval of the Business Improvement District

The chambers were almost packed on both sides of the aisle, as this has become a very decisive issue within the business community of Nevada City.
I wonder if “decisive issue” was the right term. It seems to me to be more a “divisive issue” as Nevada City struggles to define a future worth having. We have a dynamic group promoting change, and a stasis group who wants to keep Nevada City as it is. The stasis group does not want to widen SR-49, nor promote a better business climate in Nevada City. This will be an interesting struggle to follow. Stay tuned.

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I asked for help and a reader comments

In responces to my post on the Nevada City Council wishing to keep SR-49 two lanes:
I'm shaking my head! How short sighted among other things for a city that depends 98 % on tourism( what else do they have to offer?) to want to make it more difficult for the tourist to reach them?! What about the G.V. council, what do they say? I think it's about time to have a forum on Hwy 49 and see what Joe average citizen has to say. I'm sure all those that are commuting out of the county every day, 5 days a week would like to sound off!

It's time to hold these officials feet to the fire and get them to reveal their personal agenda for Nevada Co. They are hold overs from an age that no longer exists. We are not the unsophisticated rural hick county that they may remember from the 40's and 50's, if in fact they remember that or just wish it were so! These people must really live in the twilight zone! We are on our way to being a high tech, diverse, sophisticated and wealthy county that I suspect will some day rival Marine Co.!
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Thursday, May 19, 2005

Trailer Life Article

Our Trailer Life article is in the June edition. You can learn how Ellen and I put down a "wood" floor in our Airstream trailer. This is a do-it-your self article. Check it out (here), but be warned it is a 4.7Meg PDF.

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Tip for the day

A warm weekend is coming. Stay out of the Yuba this weekend and stay alive. The water is high, and only minutes away from a frozen snow pack. If you fall in the cold water will sap your strength and you will drown.

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Call for action on meth problem

The Union Editorial Board "It's time to get serious about meth," May 19, 2005
As details of yet another potential horrific methamphetamine-related crime unfold at the Nevada County Courthouse this week, we're still waiting for our civic and community leaders to give us some sign that help is on the way.
Some strong words by the Union on taking a leadership position on this important issues. Support the Union by calling or e-mailing your elected representatives and demand action on this critical problem.

Board of Supervisors Contacts

Nevada City City Council Contact

Grass Valley City Council Contacts

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Comcast responds

DeeDee Brady makes an important point in "Comcast plans to channel funds into NCTV," May 19,

Last year alone, we paid approximately $234,000 to the area. These municipalities determine how they will distribute these funds to local programs, including public access channels. Comcast does not dictate how these funds are to be spent locally.

Even if the ongoing negociations produces more franchise money, how much is passed through to NCTV will be determined by city and county leaders.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Something to think about

The Union’s circulation is about 17,000 news papers a day. Assuming that on average two people read each paper, 34,000 people may read the Union’s ads each day. According to a 2004 Pew American Life and Internet survey, seventeen percent of Internet users are blog reader. Marketing organizations are now using 25 percent. Using the United Way survey, that indicated 72 percent of Western Nevada County residence have access to the Internet, we can calculate the approximate number of blog readers in Nevada County. The approximate population of Western Nevada County is 83,000, or about 60,000 with Internet access. If between 17 to 25 percent are blog readers, we have a potential population of 10,000 to 15,000 blog readers in Western Nevada County. One third to one half the number of Union readers.

According to Pew Research, blog readers are more likely to be young, male, well educated, internet veterans. Since February 2004, Pew has seen greater-than-average growth in blog readership among women, minorities, those between the ages of 30 and 49, and those with home dial-up connections.

Local advertiser should investigate the marketing potential of local blogs.

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Help me please

The Transportation Commission met today. We approved the Commission's Work plan for 2005. This plan was reviewed by the County and three City Councils, Nevada City, Grass Valley and Truckee. Their comments on the plan often provide insight into the thinking of city leaders. Nevada City passed the following resolution: “The Council is opposed to the widening of Highway 49 to become a four-lane highway from Auburn to Grass Valley, feeling this would be detrimental to the rural character and quality of life in Nevada County.”

How can a city that is almost totally dependent on tourism, want to make it less safe for tourist to come to Nevada County. Why would they want tourist to be trapped in congestion, trying to reach Nevada City. The more pleasent the trip to Nevada City, the more people will come. Can someone please explain this lack of market savvy?

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Tip for the day

I was off to Truckee for a Transportation Commission meeting this morning. When ever we go to Truckee, Ellen and I try to have lunch at the Rainbow Inn. It was closed. The Rainbow Inn is now closed on Tue and Wed until 19 June 2005.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Bike lanes and tax dollars

Nick Jedenoff, wants you to be Be cool; ride a bike to work or school, 17 May 2005.
Nevada County bicycle clubs, businesses, and governments are promoting Nevada County Bike to Work day this Friday. Since there isn't a single student who thinks school isn't a ton of work, that means Friday is also Bike to School day! According to recent columns and letters published in The Union, students, parents, and residents of school neighborhoods are frustrated with traffic jams, in particular at Nevada Union High School. It is clear to many that traffic jams are becoming too common in Nevada County. Incredibly, none of these mentioned bicycles as part of the solution.
As a Transportation Commissioner, when asked to approve more money for bike trails, I have always asked this question: How many people actually use these bike lanes? This is an important question in calculating the cost to benefit ratio. Is this truly the best use of our tax dollars. The National Household Travel Survey, 2001, show that less than 1 percents of the nations commuters bike to work. The main reason is that driving to work, is really a multi task mission, dropping kids off at school, taking them to dental appointments, piano lessons, ball games, and pick up the dry cleaning.
The County of Nevada has used grant money (not local tax dollars) to add bicycle lanes to Ridge Road near Nevada Union.
As I recall federal grant dollars were used to create the bike paths on Ridge Road. Tax dollars you paid when pumping gas into a more practical commuting vehicle. Your tax dollars are being used to build bike lanes on County roads. My question is this the best use? How may people actually use these bike lanes. I see more bikers trying to get killed on Banner Lava Cap than I do in the bike lanes.

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Monday, May 16, 2005

Just the facts please

Paula Orloff lets her anger over come better judgment in "Military squanders our taxes," May 16, 2005
Meanwhile, Congress proposes billions in budget cuts for domestic programs in 2006, which includes education, health care, veterans' benefits (!) . . . .
Really? How about this?

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jim Nicholson announced today that President Bush will seek a record $70.8 billion in the fiscal year 2006 budget for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), with the overwhelming majority of these resources targeted for health care and disability compensation.

"This budget demonstrates the President's ongoing commitment to provide the very best health care and benefits to those veterans who count on VA the most," Nicholson said.

The FY '06 budget proposal calls for $33.4 billion in discretionary funding -- mostly for health care -- and $37.4 billion in mandatory funding, mostly for compensation, pension and other benefit programs. This represents an increase of 2.7 percent over this year's discretionary budget.

Since when is a 2.7 percent increase a cut? I wonder if the remainder of Orloff's information was factual, an emotional fantasy, or more trash from

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Who lied and when did they lie?

Fred Levien point out that "Democrats shift with the political winds," May 16, 2005

Politics is politics. And usually not my area of expertise. But I find it insulting to all of us in Grass Valley (especially those who have Social Security income) to be spoken to as if we were mind-numbed robots suffering from acute memory loss. Having politicians expecting us to swallow their statements without questioning their judgment and looking at history is demeaning.
Fred makes several important points, but one I would like to highlight. The Internet does not forget. Once published, a politicians words remain there forever, especially with newspaper archives on line. Wake up folks, your Democratic leaders are on soft ground. You need some new leaders with ideas and plans, not attacks on Republicans.

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Sunday, May 15, 2005

Sun Weather Warning

Check this out, class 9 (0-9 scale) magnetic storm on the Sun. Details ( here). We are going to feel the heat.

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We are not running out of oil, only incentives to produce

Conclusions from a US Department of Energy Report, 2004, "Strategic Significance of America’s Oil Shale Resource." Full Report (here)
The oil shale resources of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming exceed 1 trillion barrels, in-place. Rich, high quality zones yielding greater than 30 gallon per ton are found throughout the region. Past failures to commercialize this vast resource can be attributed to price uncertainty and immature technology, not an inherent deficiency in the resource. Worldwide, there have been significant advances in technology in the past two decades. Mining and retorting technologies are being practiced in Estonia, Brazil, China and Australia. In the past several years a new, more environmentally sensitive, in-situ technology has been studied that promises production of high quality oil and gas from thick, deep beds where the majority of the resource lies. Environmental technologies and regulations have matured to a point where regulatory uncertainty is diminished. Oil shale is highly concentrated, and contrary to popular perception provides the greatest yields of oil per acre disturbed of any of the Nation’s energy resources. The rapidly expanding and highly profitable development of Athabasca tar sand resources of Alberta, Canada serves as a model for the initiation and growth of an oil shale industry in the United States. As the tar sand industry has matured production efficiency has improved to over 80 percent and costs have declined, reflecting the learning process. There are direct parallels between tar sand and oil shale with respect to resource size, resource quality, mining, recovery and upgrading technologies, and production certainty. In nearly all respects oil shale compares favorably to tar sand. Getting the industry started is the hardest step. This is because of the high capital costs, investment risk, and customary uncertainties surrounding a first-generation facility. Once started, a maturing of an oil shale industry, similar to the tar sand industry, can be expected. If the United States is to supply more of its own energy needs and reduce its dependence on foreign sources of oil, it has little choice other than to develop its oil shale resources. The current economic climate and evidence for the emerging viability of oil shale warrant development of a Program Plan to advance this objective.
We do not lack oil resources, only the incentives to tap them. We will not run out of oil for 500 years at the current rate of consumption. A rate that is increasing 1.5 percent per year.

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Y2K and the Peak Oil Crisis

Town Hall Institute Conference on Peak Oil

The all-day conference (9am to 6pm) is lined with a myriad of information, resources and experts to assist the public in understanding the facts on "peak oil" (the end of cheap petroleum) and what solutions are available on a community and individual basis.

The event, which hopes to reach a wide cross-section of community, will be hosted by organizer, Reinette Senum, and includes the following; appearances by District 1 Supervisor, Nate Beason, and folk singer/story-teller, Utah Philips. (From Yubanet)
UPDATE: Nate is only "speaking about civility and informed debate," he is not part of the Peak Oil discussion.

Attendees will learn, the only solution is to abandon suburbia, your SUVs, plant a garden, install solar panels, and become self sufficient.
At the First US Conference on Peak Oil and Community Solutions earlier this year in Yellow Spring, Ohio, Heinberg described the following characteristics that alternative infrastructures should have to survive difficulties: "organic, small-scale, local, convivial, cooperative, slower paced, human-oriented rather than machine-oriented, agrarian, diverse, democratic, culturally rich, and ecologically sustainable." He suggested that people "grow more of your own food, conserve energy, become active in your local community, learn useful arts and skills, stock up on hand tools. We must plant the seeds for what can and will survive."
Has anyone noticed this is the same solution promoted for the Y2K Crisis. I wonder, how may of the folks at the Peak Oil Conference at the Vet Hall were members of the Nevada County Y2K Crisis Response Team. Remember, the Y2K crisis did not happen. So, Peak Oil is the next big crisis that will force us back to a 19th Century life style. Will you be scraping horse manure off your shoes after crossing the street, if this group gets it's way.

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Saturday, May 14, 2005

Stealth teams frame and contol issues.

Pat Butler, Union Editor, asks the question, Do problem resolution, politics mix?”, May 14, 2005
How will we resolve our thorny growth issues in western Nevada County?

On the facing page, we present two Other Voices columns [here and here]that say at least part of the solution can be found in team-building. They suggest that if our elected officials learn to work together, we are on our way to becoming a more productive and efficient local government.

But even successful training benefits only those who receive it, which leaves out the rest of us in this case.
Being new to the community Pat may not be familiar with the stealth teams lurking in a vast collection of neighborhood associations, many affiliated with the Federation of Neighborhood Associations (FONA). We also have the Rural Quality Coalition, which we have not heard much from lately, and SYRCL lurking in the back ground. Many of these organizations have members who have attended the Sierra Business Council Leadership training classes, where they learned how to frame issues, and communicate these issues to weak and reticent government leaders.

The neighborhood associations, FONA and RQC are basic no-growth organizations. Their mission is to protect the neighborhoods from change, unless it is a change they approve: better roads, less traffic, bike and hiking trails. They have access to strategic planners, community planners, pro bono legal assistance and committed leadership. They are tightly integrated, by mission, vision and a common enemy -- change.

On the other side we have the Chambers of Commerce, Downtown Associations, California Association of Business Property and Resource Owners, Nevada County Business Association, Nevada County Contractor’s Association, and to some degree the ERC Board of Directors, all organizations interested in economic growth, affordable housing, and jobs that enhance everyone's quality of life. But, they cannot agree on how to achieve those goals They are not integrated by mission, vision, or a common enemy. They engage in turf wars over the mission, the vision, and who should lead. They cannot find enough common ground to challenge the no-growthers on a common front. When the no-growther threaten legal action, they all turn and run. “We sell products to both sides of an issue.”

Each one of the above organizations has a vague vision for what they want Nevada County to be in ten, twenty years. But, it is not a shared vision. The neighborhoods organizations focus on their neighborhoods. FONA and RQC share a vision to keep Nevada County just like they found it in the 1980s. The business community cannot agree on where they should focus their energy: retail, tourism, recreation, job creation, construction, development, so they try to do it all. This dilutes the effect, and often pits one organizations against the other as they compete for members, and funds to sustain idnividual orgaizations.

So, we should not be surprised when the neighborhood won the battle over the wood processing plant. They had a strategy, a play book and mentors to help them frame the issue and stay focus. They had access to pro-bono legal advice and SBC trained leadership. The Fire Safe Council got only limited support from the pro-business organizations.

These stealthy teams in our community and are functioning quite well. They are shaping our future to fit their own stasis vision. A vision that does not include economic development, or change. Unfortunately, this is a shallow vision with a whole host of unintended consequences. We will cover these unintended consequences in a future essay.

More team training for our government leaders would not help, they need LEADERSHIP training! They need to find the strength and the support to do what is right for the WHOLE community, and not let the neighborhood organizations frame and control the agenda.

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Playing with the grandkids

It has been a light blogging day. We are watching our grandkids for a day. Here is a photo taken at the Nevada County Railroad Museum on a cellphone camera.


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Team building litigation

Pete Soderberg gives readers some "Step-by-step look at benefits of working together," May 14, 2005.

Mr. Soderberg trains teams to spell out words with a rope while blind folded. I wonder if one of the words is litigation. When we do not get our way, we call a lawyer. Why does that required a team building excercise?

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Friday, May 13, 2005

Tip for the day

If you have cable at your home, or on your street, sign up for broadband Internet. We have had it for a month now and it is awesome.

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Beale AFB -Realigned

Beale AFB will be realigned, loosing jobs. A total of 179 jobs, 8 Military and 171 Civilian jobs will be lost. No new mission for Beale AFB. More as the news rolls out.

UPDATE: Get your own copy of the list here.

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Thursday, May 12, 2005

The NIMBYs won again

Fire Safe Council grant in jeopardy, May 12, 2005
Sierra Pacific Industries announced Thursday it’s reneging its offer to lease the Old Bohemia Mill site off Brunswick Road and East Bennett Street to the non-profit, said Tim Feller, a district manager with Sierra Pacific.

“There’s too many lawyers, too much distrust with the process and now conspiracy theories,” Feller said.
I am reminded again about the MIT Housing Study: “. . . here was a significant increase in the ability of local residents to block new projects and a change of cities from urban growth machines to homeowners' cooperatives.”

Once again the NIMBYs have succeeded in winning over the good of the community. When are we going to wake up and stop neighbors from control what happens on properly zoned private property? Supervisor John Spencer did his best, but the Planning Department did not do a adequate job on the zoning issues. Bring in the lawyers. The County Council was not prepared at the Board of Supervisors meeting, and the other Supervisors got cold feet. Our government leaders cannot let our communities become homeowner cooperatives, they have to step up and lead. What a shame, in this period of tight funding, the Fire Safe Council will loose the funds for a wood processing facility. The community is the looser, due to the handy work of some NIMBYs lawyer.

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Tip for the day

If you are looking for a WiFi Hot in Western Nevada County, check out the Economic Resource Council's webpage. On the left side, you can click on Connectivity: Wired or Wireless for a list of free and for fee Hotspots.

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Hockey Stick Analysis

A more complete analysis of the Global Warming Hockey Stick issues can be found here.

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Revisions, more revisions

Fixing Social Security

William J. Toensing
May 6, 2005

A few weeks ago, Congressman Doolittle came to Grass Valley pimping for Bush's flawed Social Security privatization plan. Although roundly booed, I doubt he will listen to his constituents, only the corporate interests that pump thousands into his bloated campaign funds.

Saving Social Security

By William J. Toensing
May 12, 2005

A few weeks ago, Congressman Doolittle came to Grass Valley promoting Bush's flawed Social Security privatization plan. Although roundly booed, I doubt he will listen to his constituents, only to Bush and the corporate interests that pump thousands into his bloated campaign funds.
Wonder who made this little error? Was it the Union, or an intemperate choice of words?

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How strong are local government retirement plans

Donald A. Herrmann raises an interesting issue in “Unfair attacks on governor”, May 12, 2005
The state's finances are chaotic. "More of the same" mentality won't solve them; just shoveling more debt into the future for our children and grandchildren to pay for us is plain immoral. The "defined benefit" pension plan has been virtually abandoned in the real world. Witness San Diego on verge of bankruptcy: overly generous pension plans the primary culprit.
If San Diego is on the verge of bankruptcy, how are local government pension plans? Nevada City sweetened the retirement pot a few years ago like San Diego. What is the future forecast for Nevada City? How about the County? Does anyone know?

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Getting to the real worth of NCTC

Jerry Martin gets to the real issue in "Cities can help NCTV", May 12, 2005
In the current Comcast bill, subscribers pay $2.33 per month toward a "franchise fee." All the franchise fees from more than 10,000 Comcast household subscribers are re-distributed from Comcast to the three municipalities. Every month they collect at least $23,000 from Comcast.
Yearly total is $276,000. This does not consider the fees paid by Cebridge in Lake of the Pines which has about 3,000 customers. If the Cebridge “franchise fee" were the same, the total annual revenue could be $350,880.
In almost every other city/town in the USA, between 20 percent and 100 percent of franchise fees are given to their public access stations to cover operating expenses. But so far, each of our three local governments has been deplorably unsupportive. If they gave 50 percent of the franchise fees, NCTV could function well, rapidly becoming a station we all deserve.
At 50 percent, the NCTV annual revenue would be $179,940, more than enough according to Mr. Martin.

I guess the City and County agree with me, NCTC is not worth much.

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Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Tip for the day

Be sure to stop by Diegos for lunch. Some of the best food in Grass Valley. Diegos is on Colfax Avenue, between the Beam Center and Hennesy School parking lots. The sign says Pasties.

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Beale AFB Update - Friday Press Conference

The BRAC list will be released Friday, May 13, 2005. The Save Beale Team has announced a press conference to respond to the Secretary's recommendation regarding the fate of Beale Air Force Base, Friday at 11:30 am at the Yuba County Board of Supervisors chambers located at 915 8th Street in Marysville. They expect a large media presence and encourage attendance.

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Another fantasy writer solution

C. Robert McElwain wants "No more new homes", May 11, 2005
I understand that the greedy and money-hungry people in the government of Grass Valley are backing the annexation of Loma Rica Ranch and Kenny Ranch to Grass Valley. As I understand it, these two areas would add 750 new homes to this area. I do not think that we need that. These people should stop to think that 750 new homes will bring close to 1,500 more cars to our roadways, which are not in good enough condition to handle that increase. It is also a part of the annexation plan to have a commercial area at each location. We don't need more stores. The stores that we have now have a hard time surviving and do not need more competition.
Another local living in a fantasy land where economics does not apply and we have draw bridges on all entry roads. As the state population grows at 500,000 a year, the state has mandated that Nevada County build it’s fair share of the new homes needed by this growing population. Failure to plan for, and build these homes, will restrict state grants needed for other services. The long term impact of no new homes, especially homes that are affordable for core service providers, police, health care, and teachers. Failure to build these homes will soon turn the country into a third world community of wealth home owners, served by servants that must commute to work from surrounding communities. Our quality of live will decline, as young people, seek more vital communities with affordable housing.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Tip for the day

When calling SBC 611 for service, and you want to get past the push this, push that quiz, just type four zeros, as in 0000. This will take you right to a human being.

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Beale AFB Update - Ridgecrest

So much for the Governor's plan, for California communities to stick together on the BRAC.

From the Bakersfield Californian (subscription required)
Base supporters in Ridgecrest and the Antelope Valley are so confident that they're talking about jobs they hope to gain from other bases.

Edwards would be a great location for the U-2 and unmanned Global Hawk reconnaissance planes currently stationed at Beale Air Force Base near Sacramento, Stults said.
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Is inclusionary housing coming to your neighborhood?

Corrected and revised at 9:20pm

Affordable housing is a growing national problem. There has been an explosion in inclusionary housing initiatives across the county. Sacramento County just passed an ordinance requiring that for every 100 develpopment homes built 15 have to meet specific inclusionary criteria. Under the rules a $400,000 home would be sold to an extreamly low income home owner (3) for $75,000 dollars, a very low income home owner (6) for 116,000, a low income home owner (6) for $186,000. These inclusionary homes cannot be sold for 35 years, or rented until 55 years have passed. This is really bad economics. How can the owner/buyer sell and move up as their needs change. The kids grow up and need a room of their own. A family must care for an aging parent, requiring a home with more bedrooms. Most middle class family wealth is in their home. These exclusionary homes will not accrue any wealth for 35 years.

The cost of the 100 homes in a development would have to go up by $37,000 to pay for the inclusionary 15 homes. So the $400,000 homes now cost $437,000. Question is, how will the exclusionary home owner be taxed? At the $75K, 116k, 186K rate, or the $437,000 rate? Does a family that can only afford a $75,000 home, afford the taxes on a $437,000 home? Some Habitat for Humanity house owners are being taxed out of their homes. How do you tax one neighbor six times the other and maintain a civil neighborhood?

Some question we need answers to before we adopt inclusionary housing in Nevada County.

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Monday, May 09, 2005

Too few global skeptics

By Bill Steigerwald, TRIBUNE-REVIEW, Sunday, May 8, 2005
Too many journalists belong to the First Church of Global Warming.
In the late 1980s, when global warming was "discovered" and hyped by the mass media into a looming crisis for all mankind, most journalists were way too eager to accept the gospel of apocalyptic global climate change.

When global warming first debuted, it sounded like another bad Hollywood sci-fi disaster movie - a bigger-budgeted, more politically dangerous version of "Attack of the Killer Ozone Hole" and "Who'll Stop the Deadly Acid Rain?"
Amen! Full article here.

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Who is responsible?

Shane Valdez writes the "Governor’s Plan won't improve education," 9 May 2005.

In typical liberal fashion, Mr. Valdez refuses to accept responsibility. The problem is always some else’s fault.
If the governor truly believes that "our future depends on the quality of education we give to our students," then his reforms wouldn't just blame teachers. His solutions would address the problems that are causing our school systems to fail. His solutions would ensure that our classrooms are not overcrowded; our schools are safe; our students have textbooks; our school facilities are in good condition; and our districts are able to maintain a diverse curriculum including athletics, arts, and vocational courses. If the governor would focus on providing teachers with an environment that would maximize their teaching skills, maybe more teachers could exhibit the greatness that they possess within them. Maybe then, our education crisis will be solved.
In the early eighties I got into a two year debate with my brother in law, who was in the US Department of Education, on why the US Education systems was failing. As a result, I read study after study assessing the US Education system. When I finally gave up the pile was over two feet high. What did I learn -- the current system lacks accountability.

As a parent of four daughters, my wife and I decide, we were going to have to provide that accountability. Ellen, who has a teachers certificate from Indiana University volunteered on school councils, I did science projects in the class room, and we met with our children's teachers on a regular basis. When we found an incompetent teacher, we asked that our child be moved to another class room and the process started all over again. We saw first hand, teachers who should have chosen another profession.

No where in Mr. Valdez’s solution, did I find any accountability. Give us more money and we will do better is his messsage What I want to know is, how come church and charter schools turn out a higher quality product on less money? Could it be accountability?

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Don adds:
The voucher system is and has been and is the only way to correct the present public school system! The P.S system is a dead horse and we need to stop beating it! My mother was a p.s school teacher for 35 years and when she retired in 1956 it was already starting to slide into decline. It is just a tool for the liberal left to indoctrinate the young into their kind of thinking! You only have to read Orwell's book, "1984" to know where they want to go with the schools. Isn't it ironic that the left is all for choice, except where schools are concerned. They understand the secret that you get the young and train them the way you want them to think!

Sunday, May 08, 2005

The ephemeral county?

Joel Kotkin writes, "The ephemeral city / San Francisco has lost its middle class, become a 'theme park for restaurants,' and is the playground of the nomadic rich and restless leeches living off them," in the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday, May 8, 2005

As the housing prices continue to rise in Nevada County, and the middle class moves away, do we become a foothill version of San Francisco? Just a thought.

Read the whole article.

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Great Mother's Day

We are home. Had a great time with Ellen, the grandkids, and the rest of the family.

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Happy Mothers Day to All Mothers

Ellen and I are off to Roseville, where three of our four daughters are a hosting a Mothers Day Brunch. Our number four daughter is in Cambridge, MA, we will talk with her later today. I love these family get togethers, with the daughters, husbands, and the grandkids. Have a great Mothers Day with your family.

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Saturday, May 07, 2005

Democrats -- Why should the majority rule?

Pamela Hall is worried about a 'Constitution in exile' movement, May 7, 2005
This month's New York Times Magazine cover story highlights the extreme judicial philosophy known as "constitution in exile." This philosophy threatens our most treasured rights - the 40-hour work week, the minimum wage, and basic environmental protections.
Ms. Hall pulls at our heart strings with her argument, but is is not that simple. What liberals are really worried about is loosing their cherish concept of a “living constitution." A Constitution that can be adjusted at the whim of some liberal judge. They are afraid the courts will go back to interpreting the law based on the Constitution as written, not what some judge crafts to meet his concept of current social and economic needs. Welfare, minimum wage and environmental protections are not in the Constitution.

Our founding Fathers knew that the Constitution would need adjustments, they knew it was not a perfect document, so they created the Amendment process to make those adjustments. The Democrats know the majority has to concur to amend the Constitution. Under their "living constitution" concept, all they need is a liberal judge willing to make a new interpretation of the Constitution. If they fail the first time, they keep going back to the court until they get a ruling they like. Damn the majority!

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Friday, May 06, 2005

Firesafe Council needs your help - more jobs for NC

The Firesafe Council is in jeopardy of losing a $312K grant to develop a bio-mass processing facility, if they cannot be operation by early summer. As always, they have run into the government process, requiring studies, public meetings, hearings all driven by NIMBY delaying tactics.

An appeals hearing for the Wood Use Center is scheduled for 2pm on Tuesday May 10th at the Rood Center. The Fire Safe Council has been working for the past two years to bring this valuable community protection project to the county. This project will be many exciting benefits: small diameter timber use, economic development, jobs for forest contractors, and improved forest health through the removal of the bio-mass fuels, reducing fire danger across the region.

The Union Editorial Board, pointed to the need for entry level jobs to help solving our growing meth problem. Here is an excellent opportunity to create entry level jobs, not only at the processing facility, but in the forest and woodlands gathering bio-mass, reducing the fuel load. It is a win-win for Nevada County.

Supervisor John Spencer has worked hard to find the Wood Use Center home at the Bohemia Mill site on Brunswick Rd. Now it is time to support John and the Fire Safe Council, by attending the appeal hearing, and lending your support for fires safety and more entry level jobs. The solution is with in our grasp. Let's not let a few NIMBYs destroy this fire safety project, with so many benefits for our comummity.

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Thursday, May 05, 2005

The Union on Meth Problem - a solution

The Union editorial board writes about A band-aid approach to meth problem, May 5, 2005

The Union solution to our local meth epidemic:
We have an economy that is producing fewer quality jobs for blue-collar workers, which leads to a shrinking middle class. That in turn creates a sense of hopelessness for far too many people, making them more vulnerable to drug, alcohol and gambling addictions.

Fixing that problem, however, seems to be beyond the scope of our professional political class that is more concerned with winning than serving.
Job creation is a local issue that requires a partnership between the public and private sector. The public sector is responsible for developing the infrastructure needed to support economic development. The private sector must leverage this new infrastructure into more jobs. In this regard, the Economic Resource Council is responsible for coordinating this partnership to produce more jobs. However, the Public Sector is underfunding the ERC. While the Private Sector has shoulder more than their fair share of the burden. This ERC funding issue will be explored in future posts.

I do have one concern about “quality jobs for blue-collar workers.” Globalization's is expanding and products that require manual labor are going overseas, where labor rates are lower. One sector that needs more qualified blue-collar workers, that can ot be outsourced, is the local construction industry. When I say qualified, I mean drug free, willing to follow directions, and have some common sense problem solving skills.

Nevada County needs more housing to lower the demand, which in turn will lower the rapid growth in housing prices. Our local government can reduce restrictions on housing development, and get the ball rolling on more housing development, creating more quality jobs for blue-collar workers. Yes, solution are in our reach, but we need to have a “professional political class” willing to lead.

Lower housing costs, will make Nevada County more attractive to business in higher cost areas in California. These relocated business can take up the slack, as the construction build out slows, especially if we plan for the education of these blue-collar worker into value added industry workers. Yes, it takes planning and leadership.

More on this issue in future posts. This is more complex than outlined above, but the solution is with in our grasp. The question is, where is the leadership to make it happen?

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Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Team Building flack at the Union

Jeff Ackerman and The Union is under fire for Column on Grass Valley Team building.

I vote with Jeff. Team building is an industry with a questionable product. I have participated in team building exercises, through out my Air Force career. In 1973 as an Air Force Major at Air Command and Staff College, I was busted and counseled for spending too much time watching team building evaluators manipulate the outcome, and not participating in the exercise as prescribed by the scenario. In industry, I have participated in one day, two day, three day, one week, and two week team building exercises. The best, and most educational part was the evening cocktail hour. I learned more about my team leaders by observing them after a few drinks dropped their guard, than in the exercises. I spent two days a month for, nine months, learning how the Sierra Business Council builds community teams around issues, and how to manipulate the outcome of community meetings. Again, the evening libations and social conversation proved to be more informative than the exercises. Hum, maybe the City Council should spend the $1,800 on a couple of cocktail parties, and forget the paper, sticker, and marker exercises.

More details at on The Union Blog

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