Jeff Ackerman: Builders, leaders aren’t out to ruin our town |

Jeff Ackerman: Builders, leaders aren’t out to ruin our town

Before I get into another traffic jam, it’s important to know that some of my best friends are contractors and politicians. That’s right. Some of the very ones who are ruining Grass Valley today. At least according to some who want to save the city from the grips of “cronyism and good ‘ol boy” politics.

Take Keoni Allen, for example. You may have heard his name before. Keoni is a local contractor who also happens to be president of the Nevada County Contractors Association. He’s a friend of mine. In fact, Keoni recently completed a pretty big renovation on The Union building, and we couldn’t be happier with the results.

Keoni and his wife, Peg, raised two sons right here in Nevada County. The same Nevada County some accuse Keoni of trying to destroy. They do that by referring to Keoni as a “developer,” somehow suggesting that if he has his way, this slice of paradise would be a parking lot. Labels make it easy. Keep things nice and tidy. Much easier to think of Keoni as a “developer” than as a husband, father, longtime resident, good community citizen and … “contractor.” Especially when you’re trying to scare folks into believing that Keoni and traffic are killing us.

They’re wrong, of course. Unless you think that a 20-mile drive from Penn Valley to Nevada Union High School during “commuter rush hour” ought to take less than the 20 minutes it takes me each morning. That’s right. I leave my house at 6:45 a.m. each day and arrive at the high school 20 minutes later, where I deposit my daughter for her daily studies. And I even take the “failed” Idaho-Maryland exit, where I spend a whole 30 seconds waiting to make a left turn. It’s absolutely horrid. If it gets any worse, I may need to leave my house at 6:44 a.m.

Then there are my politician friends, the other ones who are working with Keoni to destroy our fair community. People such as Grass Valley Councilwomen Patti Ingram and Lisa Swarthout. I know them, too. They were raised here, which is probably why they are working so hard to ruin the place.

That’s right. Patti and Lisa both know Keoni. I’ve seen them laughing together at community fundraisers. (It’s safe there because they know that the guys who are out to get them rarely attend community fundraisers). They were probably plotting to bring more cars to town. Either that or a park, or library, or Little League field. You never know with those three.

I also know Jim Moule and Matt Weaver, two businessmen who are trying to build new stores in town – the kind of stores that generate sales tax revenues so the city can pay for … you know … police protection. Jim and his family own Moule Paint and Glass up on East Main Street. They have a parcel across the street they’ve been trying to get going on but have been slowed by threats that thousands of glass and paint buyers are poised to storm the Idaho-Maryland offramp, causing bumper-to-bumper backups as far as the eye can see. It must be some terrific paint and glass.

Actually, some are concerned that Moule’s project might result in my being stopped at Idaho-Maryland for 32 seconds instead of the normal 30. It’s something to do with a “Two Second Rule,” which lawyers are at this moment trying to interpret.

And Matt, as you know, is building a new auto dealership off of Idaho-Maryland and has already agreed to give the city a traffic signal, his left leg and kidneys as part of a mitigation fee plan. There are some who think he ought to throw in his tonsils and next born, just in case.

Who are these gallant knights who want to rescue Grass Valley from the Princes and Princesses of Darkness (a.k.a., Lisa, Patti, Keoni, Matt, Jim and lots of other longtime community leaders)? Unless you have lots of time to attend government meetings or engage in the electronic missiles they frequently lob on the World Wide Web or e-mail, you don’t see much of them. And when you do, it’s mostly a rant about all that is wrong with Grass Valley … “developers, cronies, pay-offs, traffic, blah, blah and more blah.” I suppose they finally got tired of telling us how “Bush stole the election!” and need something a little more local.

It is an election year, and there will be two seats on the Grass Valley City Council up for grabs, so perhaps some of them will surface long enough to actually run for office, where they can really be part of the solution. If so, it will be great to get to know them a whole lot better. It’s amazing what you learn about a person once you actually take the time.

Besides, you can never have too many friends.

Jeff Ackerman is the publisher of The Union. His column appears on Tuesdays. Contact him at 477-4299,, or at 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley 95945.

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