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Mark Johnson: One question …

Every single person I know … every acquaintance that I have spoken with recently … is 100% against reopening the Idaho-Maryland Mine. The destruction of our valued way of life looks like it would be assured. Knowledge is required when assessing what damage might be done.

Which leads me to my question: Have any of our elected officials or any member of their staffs contacted British Columbia Court of Appeal Judge Lauri Ann Fenlon or British Columbia Attorney General David Eby concerning the charges Mossman and another defendant face following Mossman’s “cut and run” tactics utilized against his own countrymen?

Knowledge is required, and I believe knowledge will be attained after the judge and attorney general of another jurisdiction who are in charge of prosecuting numerous charges have been questioned thoroughly.

To not do so, to disregard one’s duly elected duties, in any matter, is reason for immediate recall. Knowledge is required when making a life-altering decision that will affect thousands of taxpaying citizens. To not seek knowledge is to forfeit leadership.

Mark Johnson

Grass Valley

Nancy Kendrick: Don’t miss The Union’s documentary on women’s suffrage

I had the pleasure of attending the special premiere of The Union’s most recent documentary film in their series — “Golden Stories of Our Past: Women’s Suffrage.” If you get a chance to see it (there will be more opportunities) run, don’t walk.

To quote the program: “Though not widely known, Nevada County was at the epicenter of the struggle for women’s suffrage, which achieved near universality with the passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920. In fact, it was prominent Nevada City residents Aaron Augustus Sargent and Emily Clark Sargent who penned the amendment’s key 28 words.”

I learned there are four other documentaries in the series, all bringing to life “the experiences of Nevada County women in the 19th and early 20th centuries, with a special focus on women who have traditionally been excluded from these accounts: Asian, Black and Nisenan.”

Kudos to all involved and thank you for an enlightening and entertaining evening of local and national history.

Nancy Kendrick

Nevada City

Mike Hardin: Don’t deny potential for super spreader events

Has anybody mentioned the part the Nevada County Fair played in the recent surge in COVID-19 cases among the 0 to 17 age group? According to the numbers put out by the Nevada County Health Department, the numbers involving this age group quadrupled in after the fair.

A recent article in The Union says that we should not blame what happen in the past to make the numbers go up and instead look to what we can do in the future to solve the problem.

I suggest if an event in our small community is a COVID-19 super spreader, we label it as such and learn from that. Our children rely on us as adults to make the right choices for them to keep them safe.

Mike Hardin

Nevada City

Editor’s note: In-person school began at the same time, as well, in western Nevada County.

Charley Hooper: Well done

Kudos to The Union for their Aug. 28 edition. I especially liked “Helping those in need,” by Steve Cottrell; “To finish is to win,” by Walter Ford; “Think positive and stay up,” by Walter Ford; and the update on the Bennett Fire.

Charley Hooper

Grass Valley

Michael Ireland: Cities with mines close by?

I was intrigued to read the “Other Voices” column of Sept. 7, ”Where is city with gold mine?“ However, as I began reading, I realized that I misunderstood the title.

I thought it read, “Where are cities with gold mines?” I was intrigued because I would like to know of other cities, like our community, that would have a substantial mine within the city limits.

I know that the mines were here first and that the communities developed afterward. That would make sense. But to reintroduce a substantial working mine back into a community that has grown without one for over 50 years just doesn’t make much sense to me.

So, someone please enlighten me. Have there been other communities that have allowed mining in similar situations like ours? And, if so, what has been their experience?

Michael Ireland

Alta Sierra

Fran Freedle: California looks doomed

I guess Democrats don’t really care about the failing state of California. We have surging crime and DAs who ignore the law, resulting in unsafe neighborhoods. We have raging wildfires leaving many homeless with charred ground rendered unbuildable. The crippling drought with no water solutions in sight has harmed not only farmers, but consumers with escalating food costs.

Our broken unemployment system is nothing to brag about with many valid claims still waiting to come to the top of the stack. We have so many shuttered businesses that many will probably never return, leaving in their wake numerous unemployed Californians who have lost their jobs forever.

Housing is unaffordable — out of the range of so many that they are moving out of state. Suffocating taxes continue to escalate. People need to wake up to the reality that our state is just plain broken as a result of poor leadership by the governor, and by the supermajority Democrats in the state Senate and Assembly who continue to pass laws that are more harmful than helpful. They all fail on their core responsibilities.

California needs to wake up to reality, but I wonder if they ever will.

Fran Freedle

Grass Valley


Terry Robinson: I’m vaccinated; why should I have to wear a mask?

When the pandemic hit a year and a half ago, I considered myself at significant risk of the more severe symptoms. So I hit my local paint supplier and purchased another gallon of denatured alcohol for hand sanitizing, and hunkered down for more than a year. I guess that’s not too difficult for a hermit like myself.

When a vaccine became available, at the first opportunity I made two trips to Sacramento to get my vax shots. This was no small task. How long has it been since you braved the traffic on I-80? It takes a lot of time to make a round trip.

During my hunkered-down phase, I continued with my usual projects but relied on my extensive inventory of parts and materials until they started running low. Not wanting to associate with others, I resorted to buying online. I created a file on my computer of good sources, keeping track to reduce my search times. This worked very well.

The serious COVID-19 cases now are almost all unvaccinated people, so why is it I’m still being requested to wear a face mask in many establishments? Is this merely to give those unvaccinated a false sense of security?

If someone doesn’t want to get the vaccine, I’m fine with that. That’s their choice, but don’t try to require me to wear a face rebreather. I won’t do it and I won’t feel guilty about it, either. If the unvaccinated get sick, I’m sorry for them, but it won’t likely be my fault. It was their choice.

In past years, being retired, I made three to five visits to hardware, building supply and nursery suppliers a week. Now in the past year and a half I have made 10 to 15 visits for those larger items like bags of concrete and lumber not suitable for online purchases.

I find it sad that our fine local businesses have been the big losers here. They are darned if they do and darned if they don’t. Regardless, my new buying habits are now firmly entrenched and will not change going forward.

Terry Robinson lives in Nevada City.

Editor’s note: As more information about COVID-19 and its evolving variants is learned, the guidance evolves as well. We know that the vaccinated can spread the disease, and can catch the disease. We’ve always known that the vaccines greatly reduce the likelihood of becoming seriously ill from the disease.


Don Rogers: Olympian ski resort, whatever the name

So. Palisades Tahoe. Um, OK.

I get that squaw is an offensive word, and that is nothing new. It was derogatory before Squaw Valley was named. The valley, the creek, the ski resort.

Apparently it began with a French butchering of Algonquian words for female friend, woman of the woods, little woman baby. And “squaw sachem”: female chief. This contrarian view is from Vincent Schilling, an Akewsasne Mohawk and associate editor at Indian Country Today, making a case in 2017 that the word was not originally disrespectful. Other indigenous writers over the decades have written similar essays.

The dictionary definitions today, however, uniformly paint the word as a slur. And it sounds like a slur in old movies, old books, historic texts. Or if not a slur exactly in its old usage, certainly not a sign of great respect, either. Probably why Minnesota in 1995 passed legislation to rename all geographic features in the state bearing the word.

Anyway, the Washoe people native to the valley don’t like it. They praised the ski resort for at last changing the name this week.


The new name came from more than a year of research, surveys, focus groups and the best marketing minds in the industry.

For the resort, Palisades echoes the granite outcroppings forming the mountain’s legendary chutes and cliffs, the extreme stuff we mortals only gawk at — the terrain of McKinney, McConkey, Mosely. There’s a thrill.

Locals no doubt get it straight away. The Palisades. Well, of course. But the former Squaw Valley is an international draw, not primarily a locals mountain. I can’t imagine many vacationers getting it. Not ahead of some other connotations, anyway. And that’s too bad.

If the granite massif doesn’t come immediately to mind with respect to the resort’s new name, what does?

I mean, you have to live in western Colorado to understand the sweet meaning of a Palisade peach, and a lot more people eat peaches than ski or snowboard.

Is there a more common name for a development that fashions itself highfalutin’ — a subdivision, a gated community, a condo building, a spa — than Palisade? Palisade Gardens, Palisade Terrace, The Palisades at Squaw Valley, all real places.

Must you be academic to think first of the dictionary meanings and connotations: fortress, fenced-off, defensible space, impending combat?

The greater ouch for me, cringing a little, is the liberal reference to this word in the history of Indian wars. Pioneers defend palisades they’ve thrown up against the natives.

So no, can’t say I was a fan at first hearing the name. Less so upon reflection.


But like the important thing for some voters in the past presidential election, anything other than the incumbent name is a positive step.

So if Palisades doesn’t roll smoothly off the tongue and hearkens images of something gated and spiky, at least it’s no longer Squaw.

Granite Chief might still have been problematic, though there’s a real ring to it. Olympic Alpine might lack creativity, I suppose, since it came too quickly to my mind and Squaw Valley already went routinely by Olympic Valley.

Tahoe is in the name, which links nicely to the lake, of course. If Palisades is pure vanilla, at least Tahoe gives a geographical cue to the uninitiated. Still, it also contributes to the problem with the name, doubling down on generic if you don’t happen to be steeped in local lore.

But the resort formerly named Squaw is hardly generic. This is easily the pearl of the region, the one that always gets the nod for the best skiing in Tahoe. It will stay this way, of course, whatever the name.

It may also serve as evidence that the sweet promise of crowd sourcing boils down so easily to too many cooks in the kitchen.

Don Rogers is the publisher of The Union, Lake Wildwood Independent, and Sierra Sun. He can be reached at drogers@theunion.com or 530-477-4299.

Tom Durkin: Reality bites back

Unmasked, unvaccinated folks are getting tiresome.

Now, they’re whining about being discriminated against. They’re complaining about being refused service in some businesses, events and nightclubs.

Many of them have disrupted public meetings and schools. They have been viciously vitriolic in their treatment of public health officers, city and county officials, school administrators and members of the media.

They have shamelessly displayed signs with slogans stolen from the pro-choice, abortion rights movement (“My body, my choice”). They have intimidated people on the streets and in the stores.

They deny reality. Some claim the pandemic is not real despite all evidence to the contrary. Others espouse ridiculous conspiracy theories like claiming the vaccines themselves spread the virus or that there are microchips in the vaccines.

They claim that they are not responsible for the spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus. If not them, who? Gremlins? Democrats?

They wave American flags around as if that justifies their disgraceful behavior. They claim to be “patriots.”

There is nothing patriotic about spreading disease to your fellow citizens.

By asserting their rights not to wear masks or get vaccinated, they have violated our right to public safety and health. They are the reason we can’t have nice things like indoor dining and live music and theater. They are the reason we still have to wear masks and physically distance.


And now the no-maskers and anti-vaxxers feel picked on? Somehow, I just can’t generate much sympathy for them … except for when they’re dying or long-hauling an oxygen tank wherever they go.

Then, I just feel sorry for them as human beings. I hate to see anybody suffer or die. They are proof that the more you ignore reality, the more reality bites.

I’m also sorry they believed and supported the corrupt politicians, medical quacks, conspiracy theorists, anti-government militants, and merchants of meds and merch who exploited them for their own nefarious gains and agendas.

Merch is slang for merchandise sold to promote a person or cause. Hats, T-shirts, flags, bumper stickers and you get the idea. There’s much money to be made selling to the faithful.

The money from merch, however, is pocket change compared to the alternatives-to-medicine industry. It’s good that some people are getting healthy in the hope or misguided belief that good health will make them immune.

It’s bad that some other people are buying into, and sometimes dying from, snake-oil remedies.

I do feel a special sympathy for the well-behaved unvaccinated people who wear their masks religiously and practice pandemic social parameters. Some unvaccinated people and kids under 12 genuinely can’t get vaccinated. Through no fault of their own, they can’t enjoy the privileges granted to those of us who are vaccinated.

Many others, for reasons beyond reason, choose not to get vaxxed. Several are friends of mine. I’ve given up trying to convince them, but I can’t give up worrying about them.

From all reports, COVID-19 is an agonizingly slow and painful death, and for some, survival is no blessing.


Pandemic skeptics point out that “only” 1% of COVID-19 patients actually die. Yeah, well that’s “only” 660,000 American deaths and counting.

What bothers me is how little attention is being paid to long-haul COVID-19. According to a March 30, report from UC Davis Health, anywhere from 27% to 33% of COVID-19 patients suffer post-disease maladies ranging from loss of smell and taste to permanent lung damage.

Brain fog, fatigue and severe headaches are also common symptoms of long-haul COVID-19, but the insidious illness has been known to damage hearts, nerves, kidneys and even the skin.

Remarkably, age, health and severity of the disease seem to have little relationship to the seriousness of long-haul COVID-19, the UC Davis report noted. Even long-haul patients who were asymptomatic can develop crippling disabilities.

If 660,000 dead people represent 1% of COVID-19 patients, the long-haul percentage extrapolates to somewhere between 17 million and 22 million people who survived but did not recover.

According to an April 15, story from the U.S. News & World Report, groups like the Long COVID Alliance and the Survivor Corps are emerging to demand Social Security and workers compensation benefits for people too injured by COVID-19 to go back to work any time soon, if ever.

“If they end up being a huge political force, then they can help force change in the disability system,” said Andy Imparato in the U.S. News report. He is executive director of Disability Rights California, a nonprofit legal services organization.

Talk about economic impact.

It’s easy to feel sorry for the true victims of COVID-19.

As for the unmasked and unvaxxed fanatics out there, God loves you, and I’m trying. Thanks for taking one for the herd, even if it disables or kills you.

Tom Durkin is a freelance writer, editor and photographer in Nevada County and a member of The Union Editorial Board. He may be contacted at tjdurkin3@gmail.com.

Hits & Misses: “Women’s Suffrage” documentary is a HIT

Each week we’ll run through the sublime, the trivial and profound issues, decisions and goings on that strike us as Hits or Misses. you can join in, too, by emailing your Hits & Misses to editboard@theunion.com.

HIT (from reader Shanti Emerson): To The Union’s special premiere performance on women’s suffrage featuring interviews with local historians in the Nevada Theater with exquisite new murals adorning its walls. Dinner before at The National Hotel’s newly opened dining room. Try their mussels.

HIT (from Editorial Board member Jo Ann Rebane): To our county election staff and workers who were competent and welcoming to all voters.

MISS (from Rebane): To voters across the state who missed the opportunity to put a stop to an incompetent governor and California’s dysfunctional political monopoly.

MISS (from Editorial Board member Skip Pollard): To Larry Elder for promoting a false narrative about a stolen election before the election has even taken place just because polls show him trailing. With no evidence of “shenanigans” as he claims, such lies undermine our democracy and ought to be broadly repudiated by the Republican Party.

HIT (from Pollard): To former President George Bush for sounding the alarm in a speech marking the anniversary of 9/11 when he said we’ve seen “growing evidence that the dangers to our country can come not only across borders, but from violence that gathers within. There is little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home, but in their disdain for pluralism, in their disregard for human life, in their determination to defile national symbols, they are children of the same foul spirit.”

MISS (from Editorial Board member Ed Beckenbach): To the Texas Legislature and governor. My father was born in Dallas. My mother was born in a little town in south Texas, Bay City. I was born in Houston and went to college there at the Rice Institute (now University). My elder sister was born in Austin. I am a proud Texan and joke about Texas and Texans often at social gatherings. But not right now. The Texas abortion law is an abomination. It is an affront not only to women everywhere, but to all rational people of whatever sex. It must not stand.

HIT (from Beckenbach): To The Union, which has has been around for 157 years, and the print version that is an integral part of my day’s beginning, as I know it is for many others (about 14,000, I am told). In addition, the image of Nevada County needs the physical The Union. Close your eyes and envision downtown Grass Valley. Now do the same for Nevada City. Lastly bring up a vision of the front page of The Union. Do all three not match and complete each other in some almost magical way? So a big hit to Swift Communications and to our local team. You need to not publish The Union on Mondays? OK. You need to raise the subscription price a little? OK. Just keep the presses running.

HIT (from Editorial Board member Paul Matson): To the recent pandemic health and safety rules implemented by our performance arts venues and groups. Led by executive directors Gretchen Bond of the Miners Foundry and Amber Jo Manuel of the Center for the Arts, new identical rules are in place at both facilities. Community Asian Theatre of the Sierra, InConcert Sierra, Music in the Mountains and the Nevada City Film Festival have all joined in. For full details please visit https://minersfoundry.org/ and https://thecenterforthearts.org/. It’s been a tough go for these groups during these challenging times. High marks for moving forward while protecting the audience and staff, all with a very level, mutually agreed upon playing field.

MISS (from Editorial Board member Thea Hood): To mixed messages. While President Joe Biden ordered widespread vaccination mandates last Thursday, Vice President Kamala Harris doubled down on allowing women to make choices without government interference regarding their own bodies. Another hypocritical message?

MISS (from Editorial Board member Tom Durkin): To the ID.me program used by the Employment Development Department, which is tediously slow and extremely difficult to comply with. It rejects documents capriciously and attempts to connect with video fail repeatedly. There is no way to request assistance. If the video fails or they send you a link that doesn’t work, the only option is to start over.

MISS (from Publisher Don Rogers): To the cause of recent wildfires being … us. “Campers” in the case of the River Fire. People without homes, motorists flicking out still burning cigarettes, or parts of vehicles causing sparks. Chainsaws, metal weed whackers, poorly installed generators and so on. Arsonists not in their right minds. There’s no end to human carelessness, recklessness, and worse.

HIT (from Rogers): To genuine patriotism and the symbol of the U.S. flag. The flag is for all Americans, and Democrats in particular have an onus to reclaim the stars and stripes so that this is not left as rallying colors only for the worst kind of nationalism. The flag needs, like the national anthem and the pledge of allegiance, to serve as a force of unity, however flawed the republic itself. The symbols are aspirational, touching our highest hopes and dreams. This simple point seems way too easily forgotten.