George Boardman: Nation’s conflicts impact us, found money, and a disjointed effort | TheUnion.com
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George Boardman: Nation’s conflicts impact us, found money, and a disjointed effort

George Boardman
Columnist
George Boardman
Laura Mahaffy/lmahaffy@theunion.com | The Union

Observations from the center stripe: Coronavirus edition

I’VE HAD it with stores that insist I have to wear a mask, but won’t stop me if I don’t wear a mask … I’VE ALSO had it with parents who let their children run around in stores unmasked. Don’t they know little children are excellent carriers of the coronavirus? ... COUNTY HEALTH officials lose credibility when they withhold details of local COVID-19 deaths that are available to the public in state records … I BELIEVE in vaccinations, but I’m going to avoid any COVID-19 vaccine “approved” by the Trump administration before Election Day ... PEOPLE WHO promote herd immunity should see how well it has worked in places like California’s prisons … THE PANDEMIC limited my physical activity. Now smoke is shutting me indoors …

A lot of people around here want to believe we live in a hermetically sealed box, isolated from the social turmoil that afflicts the rest of the country, especially in our big cities.

So you can imagine their surprise when a Black Lives Matter march in the second whitest county in the state was disrupted by a group of thugs in Nevada City claiming to be supporters of the Back the Blue movement.

Our elected officials were certainly perplexed. The leaders in Grass Valley and Nevada City each huddled separately while trying to come up with statements (how much thought does something like this require?) and then decided demonstrators should seek permits and let the police know they’re coming.

Not that permits and a heads up would have done much good at the Nevada City mugging. A group claiming to support police decided to break the law, possibly because of reports circulating in town that Antifa protesters were coming to town to loot businesses and burn down the place.

It is also possible they were looking for payback after a protester fired an Airsoft projectile into a Back the Blue rally in Grass Valley the proceeding day. (Both Grass Valley Mayor Lisa Swarthout and police Chief Alex Gammelgard were quick to point out the town has a much higher class of police supporters than the ruffians who showed up in the Queen of the Northern Mines.)

In any event, it was clear to anybody who witnessed the event or saw video that this was not a brawl with both sides throwing haymakers. One side was clearly intent on assaulting the other. “They were the aggressors, (they were) the agitators,” as police Chief Chad Ellis explained after the event.

Yet this was not clear to the three officers at the scene, who appeared at times to just be going with the flow and in any case made no arrests at the scene. Ellis defended their actions, saying they were outnumbered, have not been trained for counter protests or moving demonstrations, and had no warning.

There have been plenty of moving demonstrations in town, and police have to routinely deal with situations where they have no warning — that’s the nature of police work. Ellis also didn’t explain why the police on duty didn’t call for backup from neighboring agencies if they thought the situation was beyond their control.

Ellis rejected claims from some witnesses that police appeared to be siding with the thugs. “It is hurtful to hear that as chief of the agency and knowing these officers,” he said.

In any event, I suspected the town’s investigation will conclude that this is an example of big city problems washing up on a small town that wasn’t ready for it. Look for more training and possibly a beefed up police force.

Grass Valley should also use the Nevada City mugging as a cautionary tale. Just ask a couple of Grass Valley businesses that wanted to show support for the BLM by displaying posters with the clenched fist BLM logo.

City officials were quick to flag Pete’s Pizza and Tap House and Mint Grass Valley for being in violation of the city code. (These are the same city officials who didn’t shut down a ReOpen Nevada County rally on city property even though they lacked insurance required by the city.)

But the city may have done them a favor. The owner of Pete’s said she received threatening calls after her display was posted to a local Facebook group. Others complained about the displays at both businesses, saying they wouldn’t shop downtown again.

“It’s been really eye opening,” said Sam Anderson, owner of the Mint. “I didn’t know how many people were on the other side — I didn’t realize how many people in our town supported racism and bigotry.”

What we are experiencing here is no different than what’s going on in the rest of the country, and the election results won’t change any of it. Partisanship has reached the point where it’s almost impossible to have a rational discussion of any hot-button social issue.

“Our community has always had a diversity of opinion, but (in the past) we’ve all managed to live together peacefully,” Swarthout said recently. Those days are likely gone. Get used to it.

FOUND MONEY

Like a lot of other people these days, loyal reader Larry Kaufman has too much time on his hands. He decided to kill some of it recently by randomly entering the names of well-known political figures at the state Controller’s website for unclaimed funds, money turned over to the state by insurance companies, banks and other institutions when they can’t locate the benefactors.

He got hits on Gavin Newsom ($90), Kamala Harris ($797) and Nancy Pelosi ($1,425.84 held in four account by her or her husband), but Kaufman hit a veritable Gold Rush when he entered the name of Rep. Doug LaMalfa.

“The state is holding six accounts totaling $3,859.68, and 14 more accounts with unspecified amounts under $100.00 each,” Kaufman reports. “And lest I forget, there is another $2,417.54 in cash and another two Bank of America savings accounts each over $100 in the names of Doug LaMalfa’s parents, Milton and Karon.”

It is possible LaMalfa overlooked the money because he’s a busy man promoting farm subsidies while railing about the undeserving who collect food stamps. He certainly doesn’t need it — LaMalfa had done well as a rice farmer and the feds pay him $174,000 a year to represent our interests in Congress.

But as somebody who portrays himself as a fiscal hawk (at least when Trump isn’t blowing big holes in the deficit) and who takes a dim view of the government seizing more money from our citizens, we should expect him to at least practice what he preaches and liberate his own money from the clutches of the state.

DISJOINTED EFFORT

The county Registrar of Voters may have its act together for the general election, but I’m not sure about other government agencies that have to help make this happen. No, I’m not talking about the Post Office.

I went online recently to the California Secretary of State to reregister to vote because we’re going to move before Election Day. After spending 10 minutes answering the tedious questions only bureaucrats can come up with, I was informed that DMV doesn’t have my signature on file so I couldn’t complete the process.

I’ve been a licensed driver in California for 60 years.

George Boardman lives at Lake of the Pines. His column is published Tuesdays by The Union. Write to him at boredgeorgeman@gmail.com.


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