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, July 31, 2005

We took the Scenic Byway

Since our four girls went away to college, and started lives of their own, Ellen each year looks forward to a drive to Lake Tahoe for a birthday treat. We were herding grand kids on her Birthday, so today we took a drive into the Sierra. But, this time we incorporated the 160-mile Yuba-Donner Scenic Byway drive, written up in Union by Laura Brown in “A day's adventure”, The 160-mile Yuba-Donner Scenic Byway offers sights, history, 28 July 2005.
Picture yourself on a Sunday drive. Good music is playing, and the air conditioner works. The road twists and turns through alpine forests, quaint towns and golden valleys. Traffic doesn't exist. And when a sight beckons you to stop and get out of the car, your lungs fill with sweet-smelling mountain air.
For music, we took along my birthday present to Ellen, a silver marvel called XM2GO. A portable version the XM Radio in our GM Pickup. We picked music to fit our mood and the scenery. No commercials for viagra, used cars, or bank loans, just pure uninterrupted music of our choice. No fiddling with the tuning knob to find a clear station. True, we had a few drop outs when near the bottom of north facing canyons, but they were short. Silence replaced the music, no rush of static or popping sounds. When the line of site to the satellite was reestablished the music just came back on.

Just imagine, this beautiful music coming from a studio in New York, via satellite, to a Volvo gliding along the Yuba, a complement to the beauty we found around every bend in the road. As I drove, Ellen read Laura’s article, and we stopped to capture Laura's enthusiasm for the views and the history of the area.

We started early with coffee and bagles at the Wisdom Cafe in Nevada City, and renewed our strength with a great lunch at Moody’s in Truckee. After lunch we took a detour to Lake Tahoe, stopping at the beaches, to watch the swimmers and boaters enjoying a lovely Sunday afternoon at Tahoe. And so did we.

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Saturday, July 30, 2005

More facts lost in traffic, hidden by air pollution

Gary Pesselt is worried about "Traffic and pollution," but he is on the wrong road to the facts, July 30, 2005
If this week was the worst air quality, just wait until the Northstar and South Hill projects get approved, much against the majority's wishes. Northstar will have 2,100 new houses, which means at least 4,000 more vehicles around town daily.
Look at the charts dude. Grass Valley’s bad air peaks between 8 to 9 pm, in the evening. Not during the commute to, or home from, work in Grass Valley. The bad air is blowing in from the valley and the bay area. The air flow is up hill, from west to east. This is flow is recognized by the EPA and CARB. Check with the regional air quality board and the Transportation Commission for details.

Mr Pesselt is spending too much time at the Friday market misinformation booths, he should spend more time doing some real research before writing letters.

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Liberal mind set ignores obvious facts

Ron Lowe wants to know "Who is John Roberts?", July 30, 2005
The American public is in the dark about Supreme Court nominee John Roberts - secrecy surrounds his past. What we know about Mr. Roberts so far is that the Bush administration is doing everything in its power to hide pertinent information about him.
Really? A Google search for John G. Roberts Jr, produced 3.7 million records. The White House delivered 75,000 pages of documents to the Senate Committee, all in the public domain. I guess, Mr Lowe and the Senate Democrats all have the same problem, liberal induced ignorance of the facts.

Those with an open mind know who Judge John Roberts is, and welcome his addition to the Supreme Court.

UPDATE: John Roberts other papers (here.) (Thanks to Instapundit for tip)

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Large scary number update

As I wrote (here,) the SDAs will be incrementally developed. CCAT disputed that claim (here.) Now Gerard Tassone, Grass Valley Mayor in his on words, from an Other Voices, Special Development Areas and how to get involved, July 30, 2005
The city's General Plan encourages the SDAs to plan for a diversity of land uses and housing types with a development style that is compatible with Grass Valley. It also stipulates that these four SDAs will be annexed and incrementally developed by 2020 and not developed all at once.

Grass Valley is not going to be flooded by traffic congestion as claimed by CCAT, it will happen over 20 plus years. They are just no-growters who are using large numbers to scare people over future planned development.

Full Other Voices (here.)

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Friday, July 29, 2005

Another VDH Must read

Victor Davis Hanson, Reformation or Civil War? The jihadists cannot be reasoned with, only defeated, by National Review Online, July 29, 2005

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Stopping in place does not fix existing problem

David A. Price is concerned in "Here we go",July 29, 2005
The city of Grass Valley has consistently run 200 percent to 300 percent over budget on nearly all of its projects. Where's the accountability?
Where are your facts sir? Which projects are you referring, and how many have resulted in over runs? A sample of one is not a trend.
News flash: the state has no money! If and when they get some (probably in the form of a new tax), what makes you think they will give it to a project that they know will go over budget by 200 percent?
You are right, the state has no money. Nineteen other Counties in California have transportation sales taxes and are not dependent on state handouts. We can take responsibility, for our traffic situation or we can sit and fume. I recommend taking a responsible route. As a tourist destination, visitors help pay for local road improvements.
The only way to get a handle on this traffic problem is to stop all city annexations and new building in the entire county. Contractors will still be busy doing repair and remodel jobs; of course, they will cry like babies about it but the work is here.
The construction industry makes up 17 percent of our local economy according to a recent study. Do you think local business would like to take a 15 percent cut in business, assuming that repair and modification produces just 2 percent.

Patti Ingram is a true leader, she is willing to be proactive and fix the problem. Stopping all development cannot will not fix an existing problem.

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Thursday, July 28, 2005

Global Warming Update: Tree Ring Circus

If you want to know about the "hockey stick" in Congress, check out this story at Fox News (here.)

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Make do traffic experts

Grant Cattaneo sees "Grass Valley becoming a city of gridlock" in an Other Voices, July 28, 2005
But if you think it is bad now, wait until the next report card comes out. Citizens Concerned About Traffic (CCAT) (http://www.ccatnc.org) estimates that 15 additional grades of "D" or worse will be given to the city.
The Transportation Commission and the City of Grass Valley uses professional traffic engineers who collect data on traffic movements, and then use sophisticated models to calculate intersection conditions.

Who does CCAT use to make their projections, the back of an envelope, a pencil and some wishful thinking? Or, do we have some covert traffic expertize in the community?

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Global Warming Update: In a stroke of genius?

It must be very strange to be President Bush. A man of extraordinary vision and brilliance approaching to genius, he can't get anyone to notice. He is like a great painter or musician who is ahead of his time, and who unveils one masterpiece after another to a reception that, when not bored, is hostile.


Hyperbolic? Well, maybe. But consider Bush's latest master stroke: the Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate. The pact includes the U.S., Japan, Australia, China, India and South Korea; these six countries account for most of the world's carbon emissions.
Read Powerline's post (here.)

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Insight on the first church of global warming

H. Sterling Burnett asks Global Warming: Religion or Science?, in Human Events Online, Posted Jul 27, 2005
The “theory” of global warming posits that human activities such as deforestation--but primarily the burning of fossil fuels--are causing an increase in the amount of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, enhancing the natural greenhouse effect. This warming, the theory continues, if unchecked will lead to all manner of apocalyptic events.

I placed the word “theory” in quotes because I am reluctantly coming to the conclusion that the idea that humans are causing global warming is really more akin to a religious belief--a revealed truth about human sins (fossil fuel use) and their consequences (all manner of calamities)--rather than a testable scientific explanation.
Full article (here.)

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Some answers to Crestview Interchange questions

Edith Lufkin is looking for "Unanswered questions," based on bad assumptions, July 28, 2005
. . .that this interchange is really just pork for the developers of North Star and South Hill, that the taxpayers of Nevada County will get stuck with the $50-plus million tab, that existing traffic needs and problems (like the Dorsey interchange) deserve priority.

ooo

If taxpayers are going to put up $50 million for highway "improvements," they deserve real answers to real questions.
The Dorsey Drive Intersection is still the top priority of the transportation planning community. Just look at the program funding plans, Crestview is not in these documents.

The purpose of the meeting Ms. Lufkin attended was to inform the public about how the intersection location was determined, should developers decide to build it. The presenters were contractors working for the Transportation Commission. The Commission was requested in 2004 by the City of Grass Valley, to coordinate the activities of the developers, Caltrans and City Planners. This meeting was to keep the public informed on the planning process.

The meeting was hijacked by the audience who demanded answers to their Crestview questions. Gerard Tassone, the Grass Valley Mayor, stepped up to answer questions without preparation. A brave man in my estimation to face this hostile audience for two hours.

Looking at transportation planning documents for the next twenty years, there is no taxpayer funding for Crestview. Crestview is a development driven requirement, and if it is ever built, it will be funded by the developers, not local tax payers. However, it was the job of transportation planners to pick the location, not the developers.

This letter is just one more lame attempt by the no-growth crowd to get readers all fired up by creating a nexus between the Crestview Interchange and their wallets. A nexus that does not exist!

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Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Fifth CCAT Responce to questions

Ingrid Cattano from CCAT answered the questions posed in my Large Scary Number post.

I will post her comments as she wrote them in red and my answers below in black. To keep my comments form getting too long, I am answering each question in a separate post.

5) When showing failing intersections, why does CCAT ignore the fixes that are in the works, through the Regional Mitigation Fee program?

CCAT Response: There are very few fixes that have specific dates and funding. . . .

A transportation Capital Improvement Plan in place with cost estimates and projected improvements expected once they are in place. Western Nevada County has mitigation fee program inplace, which is collecting developer mitigation fees. It is true, this progress is often held up by lack of State Funding and Caltrans' ability ot meet our program needs. While this process may not be fast enough for CCAT, it is in place and working. You can find details reports on the Grass Valley and Transportation Commission web sites.

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Turn up the heat on job creation

Jim Hurley writes about "Heat and housing," July 27, 2005
But I'm sure the Grass Valley City Council will not succumb to the heat. I'm sure they will look for job growth in areas where wages are commensurate with housing costs rather than increase the burden on affordable housing with the high proportion of low-income jobs expected from reopening the Idaho-Maryland Mine.
At last nights Grass Valley City Council meeting the Idaho-Maryland management team said they already have multiple application from highly qualified people who already live in Nevada County, but are now commuting to jobs outside. One commuter spoke in support of the mine, wishing to live and work in the same community. So far most of the 25 people hired are locals. The mine managers stated they plan to hire most of the 400 person work force local.

One of the biggest needs in the County is entry level jobs for our young people, who are not college bound. The mine and ceramic manufacturing plant will have some of those jobs. More importantly, the 400 core jobs, will generate multiple support jobs in the community somewhere in the range of 1,200 to 2,800 more jobs. With more jobs local, we will have fewer commuters to the valley for work and shopping.

I say turn up the heat on the City Council to keep mine permit and approval process moving.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Streets of Gold Once More

I went to the Grass Valley City Council meeting tonight, to find out more about the Economic Viability of the Idaho-Maryland Mine being reopened. All but a few seats were full when I arrived. According to the study by Bay Area Economic opening the mine is viable, with, or without the ceramic processing plant.

I also discovered the permitting process “is not going to be easy,” according to Lisa Swarthout a Council Member. She almost made it sound like a threat. Another Council member, Dean Williams want to kill the project straight way by requiring the Council to follow the existing zoning of Business Park and Medium Density Housing in the General Plan. The 101 acres would have to be rezoned to Manufacturing for the mine to open. Council Woman Patti Ingram pointed out the land to be rezoned had been a mine dump, and was not suited to Business Park or Home development without extensive cleanup, which would increase the cost of any development. Mark Johnson, was also interested in resolving circulation problems on Centennial Way and rezoning issues before granting any permits. Mayor Tassone was concerned about the environmental issues, which will be covered in the EIR.

Multiple people addressed the Council in support of the mine and the jobs it will bring to the community. Not just the projected 400 jobs, but also the support jobs which will be created. One speaker estimated the multiplier was between 7 to 12 times, that is 2,800 to 4,800 total jobs. Another pointed out that these are jobs that cannot be outsourced overseas. Many speakers received rounds of applause, much to the consternation of the Mayor. Only one speaker, representing Grass Valley Neighbors, challenged the mine development. No applause for him.

In the end, the Council voted to accept the Economic Viability Study and start the process to develop a Master Environmental Assessment, hire the consultants to help with the process including an Environmental Impact Report request for proposal. It will take another two years before any final decisions are made, with multiple public meetings built into the process for the monkey wrench throwers to muck up the works. Lots of blogging opportunities over the next two years.

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And the unintended consequences are?

From a New Scientist Editorial
It was a shock, then, to discover last week that economists are still not convinced that millions of people and companies cutting their electricity consumption will have a positive impact at the national level. Why? Because the world works in peculiar ways. A company that saves on energy, for example, will not necessarily bank the money. It is equally likely to expand and increase its energy use.

Householders' actions also have unexpected effects. Because microwave ovens are more efficient than traditional ovens, you might expect the fad for microwaves to slash national energy bills. Not so. Microwave ovens fuelled the growth of prepared meals and frozen foods, both highly energy-intensive industries.

Yes, and many of the alternative energy schemes simply do not pencil out, as they consume more energy than they produce. It is best to look a the bigger picture when considering alternatives. There is always an unintended consequence!

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Forth CCAT responce to questions

Ingrid Cattano, of CCAT answered the questions posed in Large Scary Number.

As noted in previous posts, I will put her comments as she wrote them in red and my answers below in black. To keep my comments form getting too long, I am answering each question in a separate post.

4) As noted before, why does CCAT web site seem to favor the Loma Rica development over the others?
CCAT Response: It is unclear what the author means by “As noted before”, but there are no comments for or against any of the developments on CCAT’s website, except to point out that the increased traffic from the four SDAs as proposed will create a major problem to the community.
Ingrid maybe right. I can no longer find the paragraph that generated my original concern. There are two possible explanations. The CCAT web site was updated, or I confused it with the Grass Valley Neighbors web site which comes up first when doing a Google search. It looks like I made a mistake and apologize to CCAT for my error.

When searching for the appropiate paragraph I cam across this highlighted feature on the CCAT web site Front Page and Bulletin Board :

Be Sure to catch Harold Berliner's Article: Don't let your taxes pay for private developments

This article attacks the Crestview Intersection and the developments which it supports. It is a one sided argument which attacks Crestview and South Hill developments and promotes the development of the Dorsey Drive Interchange, which will make Loma Rica development possible.

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California's true believer in church of global warming

U.S. an environmental slacker
By Dianne Feinstein, Dianne Feinstein is California's senior U.S. senator in the LA Times

Polar ice caps are shrinking, glaciers are melting and coastlines are falling away. The culprit? Global warming caused by burning fossil fuels. Unless we take strong action, these conditions will only get worse.

For too long, the Bush administration has led people to believe that this isn't happening, and, if it was, the remedies would only hurt our economy. The administration's inaction on global warming ignores the findings of scientists throughout the world, and could imperil both our nation and the rest of the globe.
Complete article (here.)

Another point of view from the UK.
Bush’s lack of guilt on global warming
By John Kay, the Financial Times July 25 2005

In the recent Group of Eight Gleneagles discussions on climate change, US President George W.?Bush made four assertions: there are large uncertainties about the science and the economics; the Kyoto agreement would involve large costs and negligible benefits for the US; proposals to deal with greenhouse gas emissions that exclude developing countries are ineffective; and that research and development on new technologies should take priority over expenditure for meeting emissions reduction targets. It pains me to say it but on all points Mr Bush is right.
We know that average surface temperatures have been increasing since 1975. We do not know why. We know that human activities have contributed to this increase but not by how much. The size of the human contribution is of indirect significance since the problems that arise from global warming would occur whatever its cause. The size of the anthropogenic component is significant only because if human activity can have a major effect on raising world temperature it can also have a major effect on moderating an increase.
Full article (here.)

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Monday, July 25, 2005

Global Warming Update: Warming denial by expert

Bill Steigerwald from SITNEWS in Alaska interviews Fred Singer, the godfather of global warming denial in Cooling It On Global Warming

Read whole article (here.)

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Third CCAT reply to questions

Ingrid Cattano from CCAT answered the questions posed in Large Scary Number.

I will post her comments as she wrote them in red and my answers below in black. To keep my comments from getting too long, I will answer each question in a separate post.

3) Is CCAT trying to scare citizen’s into opposing the mine, or do they have another agenda?
CCAT Response: CCAT’s objective is to have development in Western Nevada County take place in a measured way, by having potential traffic problems solved before they arise. New traffic problems should not be allowed until current problems are fixed.
I am wondering how CCAT proposes to pay to fix potential probes “before they arise.” The community approved a Mitigation Fee Program, as required under state law to assure that new development pays its way. This law insures that development pays for the new infrastructure required by development, including roads. These fees are collected before building takes place, but the City has five years to collect fees before building out the infrastructure. This is an ongoing process. It is true, that Grass Valley has been slow to get projects started. In many cases, because Caltrans is involved. One example being the East Main - Brunswick intersection.

Since the Dorsey Drive Interchange construction will not start until 2008, but be should be finished in 2010. State funding could delay it some more. We will not know until the California Transportation Commission allocates the funds this fall. For, now let’s assume it is 2010. That is five years for Grass Valley to work on the current intersection funded under the Regional Mitigation Fee Program and Grass Valley’s Capital Improvement Program.

Yes, the process is slow, and it gets hung up from time to time, but it is designed to solve the problems new development creates. That said, some of the problem intersections have been with us for a long time, even before the Mitigation Fee was established. These problems need to be solve by Grass Valley with the money they have collected from property owners improving their business for years. CCAT may want to focus on encouraging Grass Valley to fix these existing problems, rather than focusing on new developments and contractors, who are, and will pay for transportation improvements.

Under the established process, it is highly unlikely solutions will be in place before the problem arises, unless CCAT has a better funding solution.

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Blog Tutorial: Commenting

Several people have requested to have an opportunity to respond to my posting directly on the page. I turned on the COMMENTS several weeks ago, but few have posted any comments on the page. I get two or three e-mails, but few comments on the page. Please share your thoughts with other blog readers by clicking on comments.

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Global Warming Update: Myth of consensus

Professor Benny Peiser on the The Myth of a Scientific Consensus on Climate Change, in the Hawaii Reporter, 7/23/2005
What happened to the countless research papers that show global temperatures were similar or even higher during the Holocene Climate Optimum and the Medieval Warm Period, when atmospheric CO2 levels were much lower than today? That solar variability is a key driver of recent climate change, and that climate modelling is highly uncertain? An unbiased analysis of the peer-reviewed literature on global warming will find hundreds of papers (many of them written by the world's leading experts in the field) that have raised serious reservations and outright rejection of the concept of a "scientific consensus on climate change." The truth is, there is no such thing.

As a matter of fact, a recent survey among some 500 international climate researchers revealed that the scientific community is far from any consensus.

The survey, conducted by Professors Dennis Bray and Hans von Storch of the German Institute for Coastal Research, found that "a quarter of respondents still question whether human activity is responsible for the most recent climatic changes." That is a sizeable minority. Remarkably, a research paper about the survey and some of its key results were submitted to Science in August, 2004. However, shortly after the paper was rejected, the journal published Oreskes' study, which claimed a universal consensus among climate researchers.
Read the whole article (here.)

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Second CCAT reply to questions

Ingrid Cattano, of CCAT answered the questions posed in Large Scary Number.

I will post her comments as she wrote them in red and my answers below in black. To keep my comments from getting too long, I will answer each question in a separate post.

2) Why is opening the Idaho-Maryland mine considered in these traffic numbers?
CCAT Response: The Mine's traffic report, page 3, states there will be 1,190 vehicle trips per day of which 256 “will be made by large trucks”. The mine will significantly increase vehicular traffic on the streets of Grass Valley and Hwy 20/49.
Let us look at the number in more detail. Total employment, is estimated at 400. That makes ups 800 of the 1,190 trips, 400 employees going to and from work. All workers will travel a specific path from their home to place of employment. This could be 400 employees from any company, or a collection of companies, as Grass Valley remains the regions commerce center. Yes, as businesses expand in Grass Valley, truck traffic will increase as they deliver supplies and haul products to market over Hwy 20/49, both which are scheduled to be improved. The schedule of improvement will depend on the availability of state highway funds, which will depend in part on robust growth in the state’s economy.

“The Mine” will become a vital part of Grass Valley’s economy as more and more local manufacturing goes off shore. The mine employment is not going off shore. It is going to stay right here in Grass Valley, producing 400 well paying jobs. In the most part, replacing jobs and related traffic that will go off shore in the next five years.

Lumping the mine traffic with the large scary number is just short sighted.

UPDATE: Bob reminded me that those 400 jobs create an additional 1200 support jobs in the community. Jobs that are not going to Nevada, Arizona, or Oregon. The mine is in Grass Valley, and those 1600 jobs are anchored here.

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Sunday, July 24, 2005

Answers to CCAT Questions

Ingrid Cattano, of CCAT answered the questions posed in Large Scary Number.
I will post her comments as she wrote them in red and my answers below in black. To keep my comments from getting too long, I will answer each question in a separate post.

1) What City Council is going to approve all four annexations in the near term, when they are phased in the General Plan?
CCAT Response:
The General Plan of Grass Valley has specifically identified housing units for the three of the four annexations as follows:
Loma Rica 180 units, yet the proposal as submitted to the City is for 1,229
North Star 363 units, yet the proposal as submitted to the City is for 2,140
Kenny Ranch 50 units, yet the proposal as submitted to the City is for 463
Bear River nothing specified, but the proposal is for 312 units
At the current time, the City has not specified any phasing plans for the SDAs, so it difficult to assume any scenario except to estimate the total projects’ traffic impacts.

Page 3-24 of the General Plan, regarding the SDAs indicates agreements on land use, and housing units, all of which have been ignored by developers’ proposals submitted to the City. In addition, page 3-24, has no discussion of phasing.
We must have different Grass Valley General Plans. The one I downloaded from the Grass Valley web site, only has 22 pages in section three. The last page is 3-22.

Ingrid is right, no SDA phasing is listed in the general plan. I was taking my information from the NCTC Traffic model, which shows phased growth over 25 years. The GV information was taken from table 3-3 of the GVGP. However, I found this statement in the GVGP which was not in the Traffic Model description.
Figure 3-3 and the percentage formula thereon is not intended to be used as a phasing or sequencing plan for future annexations.

Ingrid had better information.
However, let us take a reality check. The GVGP projects a need for 2,820 new housing units in the Grass Valley Planning area from 1999 to 2020. . .

From the GP:
“Optimally, 32% (900 units) of total housing demand (2,820) can be accommodated through infill. Only 23% (643) of the projected 20-year net new housing demand can be satisfied as allowed by annexation agreements, even if the three areas were to “build out” their full housing unit allocations within the 20-year time frame.”
Even with the optimal build out, it looks like GV is still short 1277 units, so they may opt to expand the SDA number and consider South Hill homes. Regardless, if the total build out is 2820 over 20 years, that is 141 houses a year. To reach the worst case number presented by CCAT, at 141 houses a year, it will take 30 years to build out 4,144 homes.

Most of that building is not going to happen in Loma Rica, Northstar and South Hill until the interchanges are built. It is highly unlikely Loma Rica is going to be approved until the Dorsey Drive in under construction in ten years. And given it took 20 years to get Dorsey launched, it will take an equal amount of time to get Crestview on Caltrans’ schedule, unless the developers decide to fund the interchange.

Looks like phased development to me. We are not going to wake up in ten years and deal with 46,000 more vehicles on the road. Maybe in 50 years. More than enough time for developer mitigation fees and sales taxes to buy us less congested roads.

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More Public Transit not the solution

In this blog, and in my now defunct Transportation Infrastructure blog, I often commented on public calls for more public transportation to solve the growing traffic congestion. The problem is people are not using public transportation, and the decline continues. In Sacramento the Regional Transit is reducing bus services, do to the lack of riders and raised fares as operating costs increase. The Gold County Stage is also struggling.

In doing some research on declining transit ridership for a regional magazine, I came across this Census Journey to Work chart. It tells the story!

journey_to_work.gif

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Saturday, July 23, 2005

Only round one

Mark Rosso in "Politically motivated", July 23, 2005
It doesn't surprise me that the Democrats found some "I" that wasn't dotted or some "T" that wasn't crossed in the governor's redistricting initiative.
The Democrats may have won round one. But, I was listening to Bob Costas, who drafted the redistricting initiative, on Tom Sullivan’s KFBK radio show. Bob points out there are two elections in 2006, where a revised initiaitve can be presented to the folks for a vote. He also requesting a higher court review of the lower decision. Stand by for change.

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Winning or losing, depends on who you read

Michael Schwalm sees a "Changing war rationale," July 23, 2005

Mr. Schwalm is an angry man who spends too much time reading the main stream media, he should spend a little more time reading the blogs. We are winning in Iraq.
The first "happy face" Bush used to justify his invasion has now fallen apart as a pack of lies (WMD and Saddam's ties to alQaeda).
What if Saddam had WMDs and we did nothing? Would the bombers in London this week have has access to WMD, rather than have to make their own explosives in a bathtub?
The second "happy face" he put up was that he was going to spread Jeffersonian democracy all over the Middle East. This "happy face" sounds great in his speeches but is falling apart when checked against the reality on the ground.
If you only read the Main Stream Media, Iraq is falling apart. But, the troops and Iraqis see a different view, not often reported in the press. One example from Power Line See Update below
“Tens of thousands of Iraqis stood silent for three minutes in over 130 Fahrenheit heat to commemorate victims of terror and in a sign of unified defiance of terrorism and I have not seen a single report on this. I waited all day Wednesday and all day today and nothing."
We hear little about the Iraq constitution in the MSM, you have to read the blogs to get the news. (Here) and (here.)
Bush has now come up with a third "happy face" for his true believers called the "flypaper defense." The preposterous idea is that the 150,000 America troops in Iraq will act as "flypaper" attracting all the Islamic terrorists he has created so that they will not show up here.
Austin Bay a military blogger in the Weekly Standard. He was talking to Gen. Abizaid on a recent trip to Iraq.
"The mood of how this war is going in Baghdad and Arab capitals is better than in Washington and London," Abizaid said. Déjà vu all over again, though with dust this time, and no roll: It's the conversation with the naval officer.

Why? I asked. Why is that? Why the rank negativism? We were standing under a camou net, waiting for the Iraqi police brigadier now charged with directing Iraqi security operations in Falluja. Abizaid had taken off his helmet, and passed it to one of his aides. "Here's how I answer that. The Arabs see the Iraqis taking control of their own lives. And I see that. I see that every day. The fact is you have Iraqi leaders and soldiers who go out and face it [the insurgency] every day. The Iraqis have been fighting and dying at a rate three to four times greater than ours, so I wouldn't sell them short."
Read the whole article (here.)
When they do, I suppose his fourth "happy face" will be the "domino theory."
President Bush has always said this war on terror would be a long one. Iraq is only one front on the war. We need to pay attention to the home front, where the MSM is erroding our will to succeed.

UPDATE: From a link on the Instapundit:
I'VE [Glenn Renolds] PUBLISHED EMAILS FROM 1ST LT DAVID LUCAS before, but now he's got an oped in the News-Sentinel that's worth reading. Excerpt:

"Let's support our troops. Bring them home." Please don't ever say those words again. Nothing is so disheartening to our troops who are in harm's way than to hear our own citizens say things like that.

I know that the war my men and I fought is a totally different war than the one I see being reported by almost the entire media. There are a few exceptions to this, but they are generally overwhelmed by the massive anti-war/anti-Bush crowd. . . .

I will wrap this up by saying that you are entitled to your beliefs, and you should believe in whatever you want, but don't pretend to know what you are talking about just because you have watched 30 minutes of CNN the night before. Go and talk to the people who have been there — not the people who make assumptions from a TV studio — and then form your opinion based on facts. [Emphsis added by Russ]

Don't pretend to support troops by trying to undercut their efforts at the same time. Just go to bed at night and pray for their safety and thank God that they are there to protect you and your family, no matter your beliefs.

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Friday, July 22, 2005

What a hectic day

The whole day was off kilter. First no online Union until almost noon. Coffee, the Union and little web logging starts my day at six o'clock. Went to pay my yard helper at noon and the wallet was empty, so we had to make a fast trip to the bank. Spent an hour trying to figure out how to pay the Comcast bill online, their web site could use some human engineering, or it was one of my dumber days. Hoover, our diabetic dog had a low blood sugar attack and we had to make an emergency trip to the vet. Power was out when we got home, fried power line near the house. Fueled the generator, but the cable was out, no surfing or web logging. When slow ISDN was our internet connection, and the PG&E power was out, we could still get online with the generator. Now with digital cable, the fiber optic amplifiers and distribution boxes require PG&E power. Our higher speed connection only works when the PG&E power is on along the cable route. Best part of the day was going for icecream, while waiting for our internet to be turned on. It is back on now.

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DU Update: Health risk too small to observe increase

An Analysis of Uranium Dispersal and Health Effects Using a Gulf War Case Study

Abstract

The study described in this report used mathematical modeling to estimate health risks from exposure to depleted uranium (DU) during the 1991 Gulf War for both U.S. troops and nearby Iraqi civilians. The analysis found that the risks of DU-induced leukemia or birth defects are far too small to result in an observable increase in these health effects among exposed veterans or Iraqi civilians. Only a few veterans in vehicles accidentally struck by U.S. DU munitions are predicted to have inhaled sufficient quantities of DU particulate to incur any significant health risk (i.e., the possibility of temporary kidneydamage from the chemical toxicity of uranium and about a 1% chance of fatal lung cancer). The health risk to all downwind civilians is predicted to be extremely small. Recommendations for monitoring are made for certain exposed groups. Although the study found fairly large calculational uncertainties, the models developed and used are generally valid. The analysis was also used to assess potential uranium health hazards forworkers in the weapons complex. No illnesses are projected for uranium workers following standard guidelines; nonetheless, some research suggests that more conservative guidelines should be considered .[Emphasis added]

Full Report (here.) Caution, this as a 208 page pdf.

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Planning Created Rosville Development

Letters to the editor on sprawl continue make reference to Roseville style developments along I-80 and SR-65 as something to be avoided. These letter writer should know that this is where the Placer County voters decided they wanted development to take place, on the marginal range land that is too rocky to support agriculture.

Citizen developed a plan called Placer County Legacy (details here), which designated areas to be preserved, habitat to be protected, and land available for development. Our attempt to do that was NH2020. Unfortunately this process got hijacked by the Board of Supervisors, who were more interested in preservation, than a balanced plan that would allow for the modest growth needed for economic development, affordable housing, and the creation of local job. Job that could reduce the need for commuters to seek jobs in Roseville. Jobs Placer County was creating through effective planning. More local job would also reduce the number of commuter who were shopped in Roseville, at lunch and after work.

According to Larry Burkhardt, local sales tax leakage to the valley Counties is over $100,000 a year. This is up from $60,000 in 2000. More local jobs produce more local tax revenue. Look at Placer County’s successes in land use planning and economic development, then ask, why can’t we do the same in Nevada County? With good planning we can maintain our quality of life and have economically viable development.

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Union Online version is stalled out

Multiple articles and letters to comment on, but the online version of the Union is not working as of 10:00. Please check back later today.

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Thursday, July 21, 2005

Is it time to stop pretending?

NCCLI members suggest "Community leaders should focus on jobs," July 21, 2005

Rose Asquith, Chris Crain, Patty Park and Carol Wong, participants in the annual Nevada County Leadership Institute program studied economic development issues and submitted a final report to the Board of Supervisors.

We believe that there is a unique opportunity and need for an increased proactive government role, differing from a regulatory or reactive one. Our view is not one of central planning, but a role which is clear in its communication and support on economic development. Such involvement is consistent with their publicly stated goals.


We recommend that the Nevada County Board of Supervisors, in conjunction with cities and other public groups, adopt a key role by:


Communicating clear policy and tone to staff economic development;


Regularly update the public on related issues, policy, actions and responsibilities;


Add attention to related infrastructure needs (e.g., land use, traffic, education, broadband).

The NCCLI Team is on target. We have fractured economic development in Nevada County. Recently the County Staff submitted a grant request to study economic development without coordination with the Economic Resource Council, which is the County’s prime economic development contractor. Last minute coordination took place when the grant request was discussed on an open meeting with the ERC present. One ERC board member noted that developers are required to fund economic development studies, which is a duplication of county funded economic developmnent studies. Both clear examples of what the NCCLI team is writing about.

Following the Chabin Report, a study of County economic development needs in the early 1990s, the ERC was created as a public private partnership, funded by both government and private donations. Larry Burkhardt, a professional economic developer was hired to coordinate local economic development. Then the turf wars broke out. The Chambers, Business Association, and Downtown Association did not want to give up any turf to ERC coordination. Thus, today we have fractured economic development activities.

The ERC funding was never at the level defined in the Chabin Report. There was enough funding for one full time economic developer and part time staff. No funding for any economic development programs. Over the past nine years the ERC struggled to fund programs with State Rural Economic Development grants. When the State budget crashed, this Trade, Commerce and Technology funding vanished.

Now, after nine year of make due funding, on going turf war skirmishes, and squishy community support Larry Burkhardt is now leaving for a County in Colorado with a robust economic development program, with a well funded budget, a staff of four, plus a benefits package equal to those in private sector corportations.

It is time for the community take a serious look at our economic development infrastructure, our ability to create entry level and well paying jobs. If the community, both public and private, cannot fund economic development at a level where we can have a professional staff and well funded programs lets stop pretending.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Really late to the story

Ron Lowe, "Wink and a nod?" July 20, 2005

It looks like this letter was written weeks ago, or Mr. Lowe does not follow the news.
Who in the Bush administration leaked a CIA agent's name to columnist Robert Novak? We now know, we always knew, it was President Bush's sidekick Karl Rove. What kind of punisment will be meted out by the Republican establishment for what could be called a treasonous act or at best a hijinks gone bad.
An update the the Rowe/Plame story (here):
The person, who works in the legal profession and spoke only on condition of anonymity because of grand jury secrecy, told The Associated Press that Rove testified last year that he remembers specifically being told by columnist Robert Novak that Valerie Plame, the wife of a harsh Iraq war critic, worked for the CIA.
President Bush made is very clear, he will fire anyone who broke the law. It is not clear that Rowe broke any laws by discussing information provided by Novak. See my other posts on this issue (here) and (here.)

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Tuesday, July 19, 2005

A great idea!

Sometimes when surfing the web you come across a great idea that should be shared with everyone. This is one:
ICE your cellphone
The I.C.E. (in case of emergency) system for highlighting emergency contacts in a cell phonebook was the brainchild of a British paramedic, who has often struggled to get contact details from shocked or injured patients. His ambulance district in East Anglia and the Vodafone mobile network last year launched a national campaign encouraging people to enter I.C.E. in front of loved ones' contact information in their phones so emergency responders know exactly who to call, right away.
Details (here.)

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Fallout from some unsupported information

Lynette Eldredge provides some unsupported facts in "Facing fallout of global proportions," July 19, 2005
Depleted uranium, the waste product of uranium enrichment, is of particular concern in today's world. It is used in a variety of applications, from stabilizers in planes to encasements for tanks, and in bullets and missiles. It is an extremely heavy metal; its weight and hardness make it desirable for these applications. It has been touted to have the same properties as natural uranium and to therefore be of low risk to human health. However, while DU and natural uranium are essentially equivalent chemically, there are important differences, stemming from how DU is used and where it is now found in the environment.
DU according to the World Health Organization fact sheet on DU:
* The uranium remaining after removal of the enriched fraction contains about 99.8% 238U, 0.2% 235U and 0.001% 234U by mass; this is referred to as depleted uranium or DU.
* The main difference between DU and natural uranium is that the former contains at least three times less 235U than the latter.
* DU, consequently, is weakly radioactive and a radiation dose from it would be about 60% of that from purified natural uranium with the same mass.
* The behavior of DU in the body is identical to that of natural uranium.
* Spent uranium fuel from nuclear reactors is sometimes reprocessed in plants for natural uranium enrichment. Some reactor-created radioisotopes can consequently contaminate the reprocessing equipment and the DU. Under these conditions another uranium isotope, 236U, may be present in the DU together with very small amounts of the transuranic elements plutonium, americium and neptunium and the fission product technetium-99. However, the additional radiation dose following intake of DU into the human body from these isotopes would be less than 1%.

The writer does not provide any data source for these claims of birth defects .
DU oxidizes when exposed to air and burns readily when it hits a target, releasing a cloud of radioactive particles. Because of the intense heat generated by the explosion, the aerosolized particles are "ceramicized" and when inhaled are very difficult to clear from the lungs and other target organs. Up to 70 percent of the particles are of respirable size, and some are in the nanoparticulate range (at least 31 percent, according to a 1984 Department of Energy finding). Inhaled nanoparticles pass freely throughout the body and into the nucleus of cells, where DNA damage occurs. These particles are likely responsible for the spectacular increases in cancers and birth defects observed in Afghanistan, the Balkans and Iraq (childhood leukemia rose 242 percent between 1990 and 1999 in Basra, and rates of birth defects are astronomical).

From the World Heath Organization:
* Erythema (superficial inflammation of the skin) or other effects on the skin are unlikely to occur even if DU is held against the skin for long periods (weeks).
* No consistent or confirmed adverse chemical effects of uranium have been reported for the skeleton or liver.
* No reproductive or developmental effects have been reported in humans.
More unsupported claims:
American veterans of Gulf War I have developed the same symptoms observed among citizens of Iraq. Although there were only 147 deaths and 467 officially wounded, out of 580,400 who served, 11,000 are now dead, and by the year 2000 there were 325,000 on permanent medical disability.
According to the VA Web site, 419K Gulf War Vets were receiving benefits, of the total 228K have less than 30% disability, and 191K with greater than 30% disability. I could not find any data to ties these disabilities to DU. Disability is often given for many reason. When I retired the Air Force offered me a 20% disability for a slight hearing loss and one eight loss of lung capacity. I refused, as all could have been the result of simple aging. Vets often vie for a disability, as it can reduce their income taxes by the precent of disability. Maybe I should not have been so noble.

More on DU on my web log (here) and (here.)

UPDATE: Although the incidence of cancer and birth defects appears high in the Basra area, the link to depleted uranium is far from clear as no epidemiological studies have been made. Other factors include prenatal care, diet and posion gas used in the 80s war with Iran. On the other hand a the Royal Society found that most soldiers and civilians are unlikely to be exposed to dangerous levels of DU during and after its use on the battlefield. Because DU is so heavy and dense - all 320 tons of it used in the Gulf War would fit inside a cube just eight feet wide - it tends to fall quickly to earth and stay near the point of impact.

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Monday, July 18, 2005

Global Warming Update: G8 common sense

Global warming: Common sense prevails
The G8 declaration blows apart Green delusions.

Philip Stott, Emeritus Professor of Biogeography, University of London at Spiked Online.com has a common sense review of the G8 global warming declaration (here.)

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Energy Audit Update: Corn

A reader takes exception to my energy audit post, thinks I have not been following the issue, and he is right it has been a while since I read any indepth reports. The writer sent a link to the following USDA Report. I will have to catch up to the issue and read the report. In the mean time, for your review.

The Energy Balance of Corn Ethanol: An Update
Ethanol production in the United States grew from just a few million gallons in the mid-1970s to over 1.7 billion gallons in 2001, spurred by national energy security concerns, new Federal gasoline standards, and government incentives. Production of corn-ethanol is energy efficient, in that it yields 34 percent more energy than it takes to produce it, including growing the corn, harvesting it, transporting it, and distilling it into ethanol.
A quick summary of various determinations of the net energy balance in recent research can be found (here.)

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Oh the tangles lives we live.

Richard Colombini writes we need to "Just say no to traffic woes," July 18, 2005

Below are a few thought on Mr. Colombini’s Other Voices, which seems to support some development, but not others. Sorry it is such a long post.
Without this crystal clear vision, planning will be chaotic, and we'll wind up with an untidy patch quilt of development that will resemble an unassembled jigsaw puzzle.
Where was Mr. Colombini when the Grass Valley General Plan was written and updated? Is this not the vision for Grass Valley? All the SDA are required to submit a development plan? Does this not provide a vision for the development?
Two of the "big four" developments would depend upon a proposed $55 million (Crestview/Smith) interchange. This would mean more infrastructure, more traffic and eventually, inevitably, probably higher property taxes for all of us to help pay for something we don't want or need.
Let us be real clear, Crestview is a development driven interchange and will be paid for by the developers if they want it to happen in the next 20 years. As Mr. Colombini notes, Dorsey Drive has been in the planning for 20 plus years. The legislative budget cycle is 3 to 5 years, the Caltrans planning cycle is about 7 years, and then it takes 2 to 3 years to build. So if the developers do not pay for the Interchange it will not happen until well after Dorsey Drive is done in 2012, or maybe 2013, or whenever it gets funded.
But the two big, out-of-town developers probably don't care what we want as long as they make a huge profit. They can take the money and run, leaving a big mess behind for us to deal with.
By damming the “two out-of-town” developers, does this elevate the two local developers in the public mind? Are they all not going to make profit, while building much need houses? What keeps the local developers from building a mess and then leaving town, they will not chained to their developments?
Instead, the city should focus upon building the Dorsey interchange at Highway 49 because it is needed to relieve existing traffic problems in the Brunswick basin and Hills Flat area, provides a more direct connection to the hospital, and allows for expansion at Sierra College and Litton Business Park.
Yes, there is certainly some public good in building the Dorsey Interchange. But, it is just coincidence it will also make the Loma Rica development possible.
Why would the city want to create a whole new set of traffic problems when the current problems aren't being adequately addressed? The Dorsey interchange concept has been languishing for 20 years, and it's time to implement it now. With rising construction costs, it's not going to get any cheaper to build in the future, and the fact is, it should have been done years ago.
Right, Dorsey Interchange should have been done a long time ago. But, it is being built with both state funds and mitigation fees. The State funding has been held captive by the Governor to solve a spending problem by the Legislature, who have been overspending social programs demanded by liberals. The mitigation fees have been collected, and will continue to be collected. But, without the planned developments there will never be enough fees to pay off the loans.
. . . we, not the developers, should be making the decisions that determine how we will grow in the future, not the opposite, as seems to be happening at this time with this current administration down at City Hall. This amounts to the tail wagging the dog or the cart pulling the horse.
You know this is a lot of horse puckie. The City of Grass Valley has an open planning process, with multiple public meetings. The Transportation Commission has a open process with multiple opportunities for public comment. The big problem is we rarely hear from the public, until very very late in the planning process, A process they have ignored. Then the late to the table complainers are hurt, when no one listens to them. If letter writers complaining about development and traffic would attend planning meetings, listen, and then speak, we would have fewer uninformed letters to the editor on traffic congestion and development. The whole process would work better.
In another twist, the council wants to relax traffic rules to favor developers. Rather than confront traffic problems, the council is relaxing rules such as the two-second policy in order to mitigate the problem. Relaxing traffic rules amounts to cutting the corners off of a square peg to make it fit into a round hole, or, if you can't win the game, change the rules so you can.
More puckie. The developers have been paying traffic mitigation fees since 2001, to fix the traffic problems, with millions in the bank. Grass Valley business have been paying for stop lights that never get put in. The City of Grass Valley, has create the impression that nothing is being done by not spending the money collected to fix the existing problems. Also, if the City stops development, they stop the flow of mitigation fees paid by developer, thus the need to relax the two-second policy. A policy that was not well though out in the first place. Attend the meetings folks and this information is available.
Clearly , the City Council must learn to say "no" to unwise developments.
I am assuming that Mr. Colombini thinks, the Loma Rica development is wise development, since he supports Dorsey Drive which is required for Loma Rica to go forward? Oh the tangled lives we live.

Taking a page from Mr. Lamphere, a Grass Valley Planning Commission, who often comments on traffic and growth issues in Letters to the Editor, this is a personal comment, and does not reflect my views when sitting on the Transportation Commission. As an at large member, my job is to support the public views on transportation issues.

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No Online Union This Morning at 8:30

We are watching grandkids in Rosville and cannot walk to the then ditch for a dead tree version of The Union. Will have to wait for the online version to be posted later today, before we can comment.

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Federal Court Deals Blow to Climate Alarmists

Washington, D.C., July 15, 2005—In a key decision for the future of national energy policy, a federal court upheld the Environmental Protection Agency’s refusal to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant. The Federal District Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit concluded that, even if the EPA possesses the authority to regulate carbon dioxide (an issue the Court did not attempt to resolve), EPA acted within its legal discretion in declining to regulate carbon dioxide.

“This is a great victory for American consumers, who do not have to worry that EPA, under the pretext of unscientific climate alarmism, will force automakers to downsize the average vehicle or make costly modifications pricing larger, safer cars out of their reach,” said Competitive Enterprise Institute Senior Fellow
More (here)

Now if we could just get the California Air Resources Board to get the message that CO2 is not a pollutant, and the Governor return using real science in the decision making process, he could help us keep our savings from being drained a way by junkscience advocates.

UPDATE: Environmental groups claim "the court's decision allows states, such as California, to formulate their own policies for controlling CO2 from cars and trucks." It will be interestig to see how the Federal County rules on The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (AAM) lawsuit, filed by Central California auto dealers to challenge Calfornia's plan to force significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions for new vehicles sold in the state after 2009.

In September 2004, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) announced it will require new vehicles sold in the state in 2010 to emit 22 percent less carbon dioxide (CO2) than today's vehicles. By 2016, new vehicles must emit 30 percent less CO2 than today's vehicles.

Your cost will from $1000 to $3000 per vehicle. You new vehicle will be lighter and have less acceleration than your current vehicle.

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Saturday, July 16, 2005

Rowe/Plame Much Ado About Nothing Update:

Best quote of the week is by NY Time’s, John Tierney:
[T]his scandal is about a spy who was not endangered, a whistle-blower who did not blow the whistle and was not smeared, and a White House official who has not been fired for a felony that he did not commit. And so far the only victim is a reporter who did not write a story about it.
[HT: Cliff May NRO]

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Large scary number

Large numbers have a distinct appeal to the no-growthers in our community, whither it is total build out or traffic congestion. Surveying the Grass Valley Friday Market scene, I come across the Concerned Citizen about Traffic booth and map display. As I Studied the map, showing the projected daily trips generated by the four proposed annexations, and the Idaho-Maryland mine reopening, a tall gentleman wearing a CCAT T-shirt approached. “Scary number” he said, pointing to 46,000+ new daily trips. “Not if it takes 50 years,” I said. My CCAT tour guide went on to explain, that all the annexations and the mine have submitted their paper work, and they will all soon create massive traffic congestion. “Any questions,” he asks.

I have multiple questions:

1) What City Council is going to approve all four annexations in the near term, when they are phased in the General Plan?

2) Why is opening the Idaho-Maryland mine considered in these traffic numbers?

3) Is CCAT trying to scare citizen’s into opposing the mine, or do they have another agenda?

4) As noted before, why does CCAT web site seem to favor the Loma Rica development over the others?

5) When showing failing intersections, why does CCAT ignore the fixes that are in the works, through the Regional Mitigation Fee program?

This whole display is designed to scare, not inform citizens. Sad!

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Letter writer gets off topic

David Unterman is off this wall in "Column on target," July 16, 2005
Mr. Ackerman stays on topic better than I do - I can't forget the worldwide protests and warnings before the invasion, trashing the Geneva conventions, bending the truth about weapons of mass destruction, Afghanistan out of control, the U.S supplying Saddam with nerve gas in the 80's ...
Perhaps Mr. Unterman forgot that many of those protesting the war in Germany, France and Russia were on Saddams payroll. The US appeals court agreed with President George W. Bush that members of al-Qaeda were not protected by the Geneva conventions. Enemy combatants are stateless and they did not sign the Geneva Conventions. There is no evidence that Afghanistan is “out of control,” or that the US supplied Saddam nerve gas in the 80s. Perhaps Mr. Unterman can share his evidence in a follow up letter?

Mr. Unterman should have taken his own advice and stayed on topic, praising Mr. Ackerman.

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Friday, July 15, 2005

Blood Thicker Than Water?

Michael Fumento has some thoughts on how Governor Schwarzenegger could be Terminating California’s Prosperity
Think Tamminen. When Schwarzenegger appointed him California EPA secretary in 2003, environmentalists rejoiced. He "may hold the most powerful environmental job in the U.S. outside of Washington, D.C.," declared an interviewer. And that was BEFORE Schwarzenegger heaved him upstairs to Cabinet Secretary, where he presides over Cal/EPA and ALL the state agencies.

Tamminen is greener than the Jolly Green Giant. Until the Arnold appointment, he was executive director of Environment Now. He was or remains affiliated with a forest of environmentalist organizations including the Natural Resources Defense Council, Baykeepers, Surfrider Foundation, Heal the Bay, Malibu Foundation, the Waterkeeper Alliance, Energy Independence Now, and coalition of about 50 green groups called Clean Farms Clean Water.

He's on the board of directors for the Wishtoyo Foundation, which he approvingly says is "making the environment a cultural and not a scientific issue." Lovely.
Schwarzenegger never promised a "pro-science" administration, but did say he was pro-business. Tamminen's appointments therefore would seem awfully curious except that he admitted to an interviewer that much can be attributed to being a longtime friend of Schwarzenegger's environmentalist wife Maria Shriver, who is also a cousin of outspoken environmentalist and long-time Tamminen colleague Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Blood is truly thicker than water.
More (here). Apparently family relations are more important to The Gov than our economic welfare.

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Rove-Plame Game Updates

See my Fire Rove updates below. Click (here).

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Thursday, July 14, 2005

It is all the Sun's fault

Who is Ignoring Science?
By Alex Avery and Dennis Avery at Tech Central Station
The latest science indicates that the temperature increases over the past 150 years are simply a recovery from the Little Ice Age that lasted from 1400 to 1850. Current global temperatures aren't even as warm as the Medieval Climate Optimum of 900 to 1350 AD, a time when wine vineyards flourished in England. Vineyards also thrived in Britain two thousand years ago, during the earlier Roman Warming. At this point, three independent, real-world climate records -- ice cores, seabed sediments, and plant pollen databases -- indicate that a moderate 1,500-year climate cycle has occurred for the last half-million years, driven by variations in the intensity of our sun. And the science supporting the natural climate cycle grows day by day in the peer-reviewed literature.
Right!

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Forget the facts, it is politics

Paul Moore has already convicted and wants to "Fire Karl Rove," July 14, 2005
President Bush has a perfect opportunity to show if he is a man of his word. He promised that when he found out who leaked information from the White House, he would fire that person. I hope to see Karl Rove in the unemployment line (woops - no such thing).
Let's wait investigation is over and we know the facts. From what we know now, the law does not apply to Rove, though the Democrats would like to rewrite it on the fly. Of course they would never let the facts get in the way of some nasty politics.

UPDATE: For the Agent Protection law to apply the outed CIA Agent must be overseas, or have been in the past five years under cover. In his book Wilson makes it clear this was not the case for his wife. When Wilson was sent to Africa, his wife Valerie was acting as an analysist, out of a known CIA office. She was briefing agencies in Washington on WMD issues, and was know to be working for the CIA. No law was broken! Period!

UPDATE: More (here).

UPDATE: From the Washington Times this morning:
A former CIA covert agent who supervised Mrs. Plame early in her career yesterday took issue with her identification as an "undercover agent," saying that she worked for more than five years at the agency's headquarters in Langley and that most of her neighbors and friends knew that she was a CIA employee.
"She made no bones about the fact that she was an agency employee and her husband was a diplomat," Fred Rustmann, a covert agent from 1966 to 1990, told The Washington Times. More at Power Line (here).
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Wednesday, July 13, 2005

How Hot Will the Greenhouse World Be?

Science magazine arrived in the mail with a special collection of articles on the most compelling puzzles and questions facing scientists today.

One of the 125 top science questions on page 100 was: How Hot Will the Greenhouse World Be? The answer is we do not know, much more work required on climate change models. For the past ten years, scientists have been trying to solve cloud sensitivity and the impact of aerosols on climate change. Problems that significantly increase uncertainty in current climate change models.

According to Science, we still do not know what is causing the warming, and how warm will it get. Yet legislators and the Governor are spending your tax dollars to solve a problem science cannot adequately define. Sounds like the kind of leadership we deserve for not demanding they abandon the use of junkscience in Sacramento.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2005

UPDATE to Lamphere suggestion we expand public transit

The Sacramento Area Council of Government's looked at transportation mode choices in the region, given increasing congestion by 2027. In a study they found:
At the regional level, people do not change travel modes significantly. The MTP goals call for providing a range of travel choices, but people continue to prefer the auto for most travel. In 2000, 50 percent of all trips drive alone in autos, carpools comprise 43 percent, transit handles less than 1 percent (90,000 riders per day), and 6 percent bicycle or walk. Even with a MTP 2025 heavily emphasizing transit improvements, by 2025 total transit ridership barely doubles (180,000 riders per day), or 1.2 percent share of trips. Congestion at the levels found in Sacramento in 2025 or 2027 is nowhere near severe enough to entice many people to switch to transit. Indeed, in nearly every major urban area around the country, even those such as the Bay Area and Los Angeles with extreme congestion, people gradually shifted away from transit to driving during the 1990s. Thus even the small increase in transit use reverses a decade-long trend in the opposite direction. The typical response to heavy congestion involves finding a new route or cutting through neighborhoods to get out of the traffic jam, not switching to transit or bicycling. In our hectic urban world, few people are willing to forego the auto's advantages -- convenience, flexibility, and shorter travel time -- and choose transit, given the relatively low cost of driving and time lost to congestion typical of Sacramento in 2025.
Why would travel patterns be different in Western Nevada County?

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Why should we care about press think?

Thanks to Mark in Mexico, there should be no doubt what the press thinks is important, given their performance at the White House Press daily breifing yesterday, relative to what most citizens are really interested in:

Of the 59 questions asked, here is Mark’s breakdown:
Karl Rove / Valery Plame: 42 questions - 71%
Supreme Court nominee: 9 questions - 15%
voting right legislation - 2 questions - 3%
Terrorism / GWot - 2 questions - 3%
Korea nuclear talks - 2 questions - 3%
Our troops in Iraq - 2 questions - 3%
G8 / African hunger/debt - 0 questions - 0%
HIV/AIDS - 0 questions - 0%
Social Security - 0 questions - 0%
Oil prices - 0 questions - 0%
Hurricane aftermath - 0 questions - 0%
United Nations scandal - 0 questions - 0%
Read the whole discussion (here). Note that Global Warming is not on the list.

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Climate Change: Warning real science ahead

Climate Science is a new climate change web log to watch. A review of the first posts indicate it will debate the real science of climate change.

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Saving our freedoms

Jeff Ackerman, Union Publisher, "Let's not lose freedom in the fight," July 12, 2005

Jeff is worried about protecting the freedom of the press, and wonders:
As much as we ought to fear terrorism, there is an even greater threat today. Free speech and freedom of expression have been under attack for several years now, and the public doesn't seem to mind much. They think it's just a "media" problem and that it's time nosy reporters got tossed into jail, anyway.
One reason the public might think it is a “media” problem is that we have been bombarded by reports of the “media” making up the news. From Dan Rather on CBS, to AP Reporters adding words not spoken, to Bee Columnist Diana Griego Erwin who made up 43 sources.

These are people we are suppose to trust. Our trust in all the press is eroded when reporters we know make up sources, or make up the story and attribute it to an anonymous source. That is why the public is not too concerned when one goes to jail for an anonymous source. If it was anyone but Judith Miller, who used anonymous sources to promote WMDs in Iraq, I would be more sympathetic.

That said, Jeff is right. We need to protect the First Amendment guarantee of free expression. But, we need to protect all Amendments. But, the press likes to be selective, picking those freedoms they like, ignoring challenges to those they do not. The right to bear arms for example. Or, the lack of outrage by the press over the taking of private property by the government to generate more tax revenue. Fifth Amendment is protection from the taking of private property, that was seriously eroded by the Supreme Court, yet we see little press outrage.

When defending freedom you cannot be selective! Protect them all, or lose them all!

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Monday, July 11, 2005

Bike and Public Transit shopping?

Terry Lamphier, a G V Planning Commissioner has some, "Suggestions to improve traffic woes," July 11, 2005
A) Planners need to take a serious look at public transportation. Specifically, public transportation needs to be made free, expanded and pleasurable. Roofed waiting areas to hold off sun and rain are a minimum.
The cost of public transportation is not the issue. The issue is how people choose to live. The US Department of Transportation has been tracking public transportation usage since 1964. Study after study has shown, that public transportation does not go where people need to travel. These same studies show that once family income reaches $25,000 a year, they buy and old beater car, and never ride public transit again.
We also need to push making our community more bike and foot friendly.
With 20 percent of the County’s population over 65, and 71 percent living outside the city limits of GV and NC, I can just see our County elders biking the weeks groceries to their homes in the woods. Public transit does not go in to the woods where 71 percent of the people live.
B) Rethink the impact of the Nevada Union High School. Students contribute heavily to the most critical failing intersections. The rural nature of our community makes some bus rides excruciating long, and many students have after-school activities that make personal transportation important.
Consider a three part program:

1) Create parking lots outside of town, with free parking for students, well served by express buses to school;

2) ban off-site parking around the school;

3) use fee parking on campus (waived for students with special needs or after-school activities).

If you think the latest dustup on parent notification was big, try taking away student cars. Cars they have been deaming about for sixteen years.
C) Help the private sector to become pro-active. This, admittedly, is the most complicated and radical. The business community has a lot to gain by improving the traffic situation — less development restrictions, better access for customers, a more pleasant community in which to live.
Yes, those store owners are really looking forward to all those public transit and bike riders coming to town to shop. Why bother with the bike and public transit ride to GV or NC when Target, with great parking, is only 30 minutes away in Auburn. Soon a Home Depot. Fifteen minutes more the Rosville Galleria beckons. Just a little more time than it would take to ride public transit to Glenbrook, or go bike shopping.

Nevada County had a Transportation Management Association (TMA) to promote carpooling and alternative transportation, including transit in the early 1990s, but the business community gave it only lukewarm support and it was soon abandoned.
How could the idea be made to work? Those in the private sector could receive some sort of government recognized “traffic impact credits” for their contributions, which they could allocate/barter between themselves to be used when applying for development rights, building permits and the like.
How about giving builders that provide broadband access a “traffic impact credit.” Buildings and homes with broadband telecommunication access make fewer shopping trips and fewer trips to government offices.

I am a Transportation Commissioner speaking strictly as a private citizen and not as a representative of the NCTC.

UPDATE: A pdf of the DOT study on Rural Transit (here)

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GLOBAL WARMING- G8 Winners and losers

The G8 Summit is over and the results on global warming depends on your perspective. Both sides are claiming victory. However, it appears to me that the G8 may have adopted President Bush’s viewpoint on global warming. See this analysis by Marlo Lewis of the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
G8 Statement:
Climate change is a serious and long-term challenge that has the potential to affect every part of the globe. While uncertainties remain in our understanding of climate science, we know enough to act now to put ourselves on a path to slow and, as the science justifies, stop and then reverse the growth of greenhouse gases


The phrase comes straight out of Bush's "Global Climate Change Policy Book," from Feb. 2002,
Yes, "as the science justifies." The science is still in doubt. We are still waitiing for Professor Mann to produce the source data for the hockey stick he produced in the UN IPCC Report.

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Sunday, July 10, 2005

Reconstructing Judith Miller

The Union Editorial Board. Reporter's jailing shows need for a shield law, July 9, 2005
Judith Miller, a reporter for the New York Times, sits in a jail cell today for refusing to reveal a source for a story that she did not write.
If it were anyone but Judith Miller, I might feel prone to some sympathy. Miller wrecked her reputation for honest reporting by hyping Saddam’s WMDs, then passing the whole mess off by claiming it was her sources that were wrong. She did a great disservice to her readers and her sources. No protection for these sources. Now she is trying to repair her reputation by refusing to give up her sources on the Plame affair, for a story she did not write Hummm.

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Peak Oil Update: Alternative sources cost more energy

This audit was long overdue:
Turning plants such as corn, soybeans and sunflowers into fuel uses much more energy than the resulting ethanol or biodiesel generates, according to a new Cornell University and University of California-Berkeley study. Natural Resources Research (Vol. 14:1, 65-76).

In terms of energy output compared with energy input for ethanol production, the study found that:

• corn requires 29 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced;
• switch grass requires 45 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced; and
• wood biomass requires 57 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced.
In terms of energy output compared with the energy input for biodiesel production, the study found that:
• soybean plants requires 27 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced, and
• sunflower plants requires 118 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced.
Though it was not in this study, the production of hydrogen, consumes more energy than it produces as well. It looks like we are stuck with oil for the near term, until we produces enough nuclear energy to make low cost hydrogen feasible.

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Saturday, July 09, 2005

On Lake Tahoe

We are spending a weekend with all our children at Sugar Pine Point campground, on Lake Tahoe. More blogging when I return to broadband land.

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Let's complete the mission

Ed Patterson wants the President to "Bring troops home," July 9, 2005
Have we completed the task we set out to accomplish in Iraq? Is it time to honor those who have suffered and died? Is it time to say to those who are fighting, "You have done your job well. Thank you. Come home." I think it is. So I ask Mr. Bush, please make the most difficult decision of your life and bring our troops home.
We have not competed our task yet, to leave now would allow the islamic terrorist to win. The President will bring the troops home when the Iraq Government can protect it’s people from the terrorist. We can best honor those who have give then the ultimate sacrifice by finishing the mission.

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Thursday, July 07, 2005

Slow blogging

We are in the final round of family reunion events, blogging will be slow until Sunday! Please check in on Monday.

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Grass Valley Redevelopment

Melanie Wellner writes, "Don't displace locals," July 7, 2005


Some good words of caution about turning Grass Valley in to another tourist mecka.
When I first moved to this area in 1972, I walked the streets of Nevada City and knew I that this was the type of small town in which I wanted to live. There were all the functioning businesses one needs in life - a pharmacy, an auto parts store, a health food store, a fabric store, etc. Now I rarely go to Nevada City. I am not a tourist.
We will hear more complaints about people shopping out of town, if Grass Valley turns it self into another tourist destination, and stops being a center of commerce.

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