George Boardman: It’s not healthy if you venture north of Nevada County |

George Boardman: It’s not healthy if you venture north of Nevada County

Observations from the center stripe: Old tech edition

THERE’S A lot to be said for old technology like home-delivered newspapers when the latest PG&E blackout knocks you off line…WHY DOES the media keep using a term only a bureaucrat can love to describe a PG&E blackout? Call it what it is…SUMMER IS officially over, at least in my mind. I had to wear long pants three days in a row…WHEN I was younger, my hair was thick and my waist was thin. Now it’s the reverse…THE LAST mileage sign you see at the California border on I-80 says Reno is 10 miles from Verdi. The first sign you see in Nevada says Reno is eight miles from Verdi…

Nevada County isn’t the healthiest place to live in California, but it’s a much better place that the counties north of us, according to a new report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The foundation studies inequalities in health, fresh water, and income at the county level across the United States. Analysts look at many factors that help determine health outcomes, including fitness, environmental quality, income, and lifestyle choices like smoking and drinking.

As is generally the case in most of these studies, money has a lot to do with the results. Thus, it’s no surprise that Marin and San Mateo counties, which lead the state in per capita income, ranked first and second among the state’s 58 counties for health and living past age 75.

Eight counties in the greater Bay Area were among the top 12 counties, which along with Southern California coastal regions ranked highest in the study. The state’s inland and rural northern counties ranked near the bottom.

Ken Brummel-Smith, a doctor who focuses on geriatrics, fitness and active living, said the study confirmed two important facts: fitness is critical to healthy living, and long-term health often correlates to income. “A determinant factor behind the rankings is socioeconomic,” he said.

The six counties that ranked for poorest health outcomes were all in the rural north state: Lake (58), Siskiyou (57), Modoc (56), Trinity (55), Plumas (54) and Yuba (53). Some of the state’s highest obesity rates were also in those counties, including Yuba (28%), Siskiyou and Trinity (25%), and Lake (24%).

Another four counties from Northern California added up to the nine of the 13 lowest ranked in the state, with Humboldt (49), Shasta (48), Tehama (46) and Del Norte (45) joining the list.

Brummel-Smith said money spent on health care alone does not equate to improved health. Investments must also be made on what he termed “social health,” including fitness and more healthy lifestyles, that help prevent long-term health issues, he said.

Nevada County ranked 16th among California’s counties, according to the Johnson study. While we tend to be higher than the state average when it comes to smoking and drinking, we have generally good access to health care and a lot of opportunities for outdoor activities.

Just be careful when you venture north of Nevada County.


Like most cities in America, San Francisco is trying to find a way to get children back in school, while parents are scrambling to help students with distance learning.

But this being San Francisco, the school district’s social warriors won’t let such mundane matters deter them from carrying on the fight against the racial and economic injustice that plagues America.

That explains why the San Francisco School Names Advisory Committee held 10 meetings to produce a list of 44 schools — nearly one-third of the city’s total — whose names must be changed because they are associated with slavery, genocide, colonization, exploitation and oppression, among other factors.

Principals and interested parents of the targeted schools, who may have better things to do with their time these days, have now been tasked with coming up with suitable replacement names by late January or February. This has not been well received by some.

Mayor London Breed, who is Black and presumably a benefactor from the effort to erase the city’s racist past, said that instead of debating what to call dozens of schools, “the district should be focused on getting our kids back in the classroom.”

Parent Jonathan Alloy said the timing is absurd given distance learning’s negative impact on Black and brown children. “We’re not actually helping disadvantaged children by changing the names of the schools they can’t attend,” he said.

As you would expect, Washington and Jefferson, both slave owners, make the list. But Abraham Lincoln, the emancipator of slaves, was also dinged because in dealing with Native Americans, “the majority of his policies proved to be detrimental to them,” the committee determined.

Father Junipero Serra also made the list as a “colonizer and slave holder” who oppressed the Native American tribes he encountered. Presidio Middle School was also dropped because before the Presidio was a U.S. military fort, it was a Spanish fort established by the colonizers.

Several schools that made the list were a real stretch. El Dorado Elementary was faulted because “the concept of El Dorado, especially in California, had a lot to do with the search of gold, and for the indigenous people, that meant the death of them,” said a committee member.

Dianne Feinstein Elementary also made the list because when she was mayor of San Francisco, Feinstein reportedly replaced a vandalized Confederate flag, one of several historic flags flying in front of City Hall at the time.

Thomas Edison Elementary School barely escaped the name change list. A committee member tried to blackball him because he euthanized animals, including Topsy the elephant. “He euthanized them without scientific research,” said committee member Mariposa Villaluna. “It wasn’t like hamsters in a cage. You know what I mean.”

After the committee decided that didn’t meet the criteria, Villaluna responded, “Long live Topsy.”

School district officials appear to be backing down from the criticism that greeted the list. “Staff will convey the concerns expressed by some community school members regarding the challenge of making recommendations at this time given that we are in distance learning,” a spokeswoman said.

Whatever the final outcome, I’m reminded of an observation (in a much different context) by author William Faulkner: “The past is not dead. It’s not even past.”

George Boardman lives in Nevada City. His column is published biweekly on Tuesdays by The Union. Write him at boredgeorgeman@

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