George Boardman: No lack of candidates for the You Can’t Make This Stuff Up awards |

George Boardman: No lack of candidates for the You Can’t Make This Stuff Up awards

When it came time to considering candidates for the sixth annual You Can’t Make This Stuff Up awards, my focus naturally gravitated toward Nevada City.

While there were many worthy candidates for this year’s coveted awards, it’s hard to top the Queen of the Northern Mines when it comes to chaos and bizarre behavior in public. The price of parking and the health dangers allegedly associated with the new 5G cell technology kept City Hall in a constant state of turmoil throughout the year.

The Nevada City Elementary School District seemed to get caught up in the spirit with its ham-handed announcement of the closure of Nevada City Charter School. But at least they were planning ahead, unlike the Sierra Montessori Academy. Six weeks into the academic year, leaders of the school realized they didn’t have enough students and abruptly shut down.

Nevada County, led by the green eyeshade faction of the Board of Supervisors, likes to continually remind us they are good stewards of the public’s money, yet managed to under-bill Grass Valley hundreds of thousands of dollars for taxes due for over a decade until an outside consultant blew the whistle. If anybody in Grass Valley City Hall noticed, they didn’t say anything publicly.

All of this adds to the competition for the awards, which are guided by the observation of Chicago journalist and humorist Finley Peter Dunne that “the job of the newspaper is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” I don’t claim that all of the awards that follow are fair, but they are justified.

MONEY OVER THE DAM: The directors of the Nevada Irrigation District canceled an $800,000 consulting contract because they weren’t sure what they were trying to accomplish.

YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK: A Nevada City staff report reminded City Council members “there are inefficiencies and extra expenses involved in having consultants, attorneys and council members all involved in the process without clear direction from the council on how to proceed …”

THIS IS STEWARDSHIP?: The county under-billed Grass Valley hundreds of thousands of dollars for taxes due the county for over a decade.

HOW BIG WAS IT?: Some businesses in Glenbrook Basin were evacuated for over an hour while sheriff’s deputies removed what they thought was a bomb from a pick-up truck. It was later determined to be a firecracker.

NO KIDDING, PART I: Nevada City Mayor Reinette Senum urged supervisors to investigate tree mortality she said is linked to cell towers. “This is not part of the conversation,” she said.

NO KIDDING, PART II: Nevada City School District Superintendent Trisha Dellis, who doubled as principal of Nevada City Charter School, skipped a meeting called to explain to parents why the school will be closed. “… if I were there, it would be more of a negative feeling for people,” she said.

MIXED SIGNALS: A small group of people gathered on Brunswick Road to protest the health dangers said to be associated with the new 5G cell technology. They protested near two cell towers.

PIE(EYED) PIPER: “El Perro” the rapper was reported passing out pot and putting on a performance across the street from Nevada Union High School.

JUSTICE DELAYED …: After 2 years in court, a woman originally charged with torture, kidnapping, robbery and false imprisonment received 5 years of probation after pleading no contest to simple kidnapping. Her co-defendant, who faced life in prison, also received 5 years of probation after pleading no contest to three charges in 2018.

PINE CONE TAX No. 1: 43 percent of students in Nevada County qualify for subsidized school lunches, according to county education authorities.

PINE CONE TAX No. 2: About 1 out of 7 Nevada County residents were living in food-insecure households in 2015, the most recent year for which statistics are available. That number is probably higher today.

PINE CONE TAX No. 3: About 35 percent of households in Nevada County are struggling to get by, according to United Way.

BUT THE BEARS LOVE IT: Waste Management had trouble collecting garbage on Banner Mountain because work performed by PG&E and NID restricted access to garbage cans. Nobody informed WM ahead of time.

SOME FLOURISH: While graduating seniors at Silver Springs High School were told “we can flourish,” the Grass Valley Police Department posted a picture on its Facebook page of all the tobacco and vaping products it seized from the students during the school year.

THE COST OF FINDING THE PERFECT CERAMIC ROOSTER GOT MORE EXPENSIVE: Nevada City quadrupled its hourly parking rate from 25 cents to $1.

ON SECOND THOUGHT: The City Council reduced the new rate to 50 cents after strong objections from local businesses and residents.

BETTER LATE …: Halfway through the summer season and after three people had drowned in the South Yuba River, SYRCL started distributing yellow bandanas warning people of the danger. The decision to distribute the bandanas was made last winter.

TRUE THAT: Local blogger George Rebane wrote that Nevada City’s “left-lurching governance has been comedy central as long as people can remember.”

SAY AGAIN: “And this is a second reading, it’s not a third reading, so what I would suggest is that within this period in two weeks from the third reading that we have a workshop and come back more educated and more informed and we make our recommendations and try to get those put into the ordinance as soon as possible.” Nevada City Mayor Reneitte Senum discussing the town’s new telecom ordinance. It turns out there is no third reading.

LACK OF FORESIGHT: Six weeks into the academic year, the people who run Sierra Montessori Academy decided they didn’t have enough students to complete the school year, and closed the facility.

They said it:

“It’s really based on the strange, rambling conspiracy theories of this guy. It’s all a bunch of nonsense … The whole thing is quite sad.”

Sgt. Brian Blakemore of the Grass Valley Police Department, after Grass Valley Charter School cancelled its annual fundraiser because of supposed security threats concocted by a conspiracy theorist online.

“I want to correct what appears to be a common misconception. Those students who opt out of testing and receive a zero do not bring down the average.”

Sandy Hakala, president of the Nevada City Elementary School District Board of Trustees, after Superintendent Trisha Dellis was quoted in The Union as saying that opting out of the tests brought down the test score average of students at Nevada City Charter.

“We’re still kind of planning it out. We really don’t know how long it’s going to take. We don’t want to feel rushed.”

Sean Powers, director of the county Community Development Agency, on implementation of a pot growing ordinance more than 3 years in the making. It was finally adopted in May.

“But there’s a rush on this.”

Supervisor Heidi Hall, commenting on a permit to build a cell tower on Wildlife Lane that was two years in the making.

“This isn’t rumor, the staff is upset, it adds stress to the staff. Grass Valley doesn’t do this nonsense.”

Former Nevada City Mayor Evans Phelps, describing the mood at City Hall.

“We’re essentially providing water to them for free. It’s a form of theft.”

NID Director Nick Wilcox, describing the 15,000 acre feet of water that leaks from NID canals annually and may end up in local wells.

George Boardman lives at Lake of the Pines. His column is published Mondays by The Union. Write to him at

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