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Nevada County has a reputation to protect (and more)

“The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear”-Socrates

We seem to be developing quite a reputation. First, newspapers throughout California delighted in reporting about the fistfight that broke out at the local Republican gathering between former supervisorial candidate Gregg Seghezzi and current candidate Rene Antonson. Just imagine how many more articles about our county would be popping up if we actually elected them to the Board of Supervisors.



Then, last week, the Sacramento Bee ran a front-page article describing Nevada County as “a local hotbed of the nationwide property rights movement.” Wow! We’re famous! Of particular interest throughout the state is Measure D, which will be on our local ballots next November. If enacted, we, the taxpayers, may be forced to pay real estate developers millions of dollars.

It works like this. Suppose a developer buys a 455-acre tract of land near Donner Lake for about $1 million with the knowledge that much of it cannot be built upon because it is located on irreplaceable watershed. Then, if Measure D passes, the developer will claim that his land would be worth $9 million if he could build on the watershed. If the county attempts to prevent him from building he will just file a claim against the county for eight million dollars. Independent analysts estimate that Measure D will cost the county about $10 million per year. Measure D, due to its slippery wording, is commonly referred to as “The Lawyers’ Full Time Employment Law.” A similar law was enacted in Oregon two years ago and has been in litigation ever since.




For your voting information, current supervisors Bruce Conklin and Izzy Martin are unalterably opposed to Measure D. Candidate Drew Bedwell is for it; he is one of its principal backers. Candidate Robin Sutherland, amazingly, says she hasn’t decided yet. Just what we need-a candidate for county supervisor who does not know enough, or can’t make up her mind, or is afraid to speak out, about fundamental issues affecting our county.

Placing our little local battles in truer perspective, last week we experienced the first anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. One of the sobering aftereffects of this event is precisely that-it tends to place in perspective the difference between our petty daily conflicts and what is truly important in our lives. The acts of fanatical suicide terrorists raise the specter of the ultimate battle of the forces of evil against the forces of good. And in this battle, we tend to be left with a sense of helplessness, of leaves caught by overpowering winds over which we have little or no control.

Yet, that is not so. It cannot be so. The forces of goodness do not live somewhere “out there.” They live within us, the millions of Americans that make up this great nation. They live in the way we conduct our lives, and politically, the way we vote. It is true that acting individually, alone, few of us have the power to change the course of history. But acting individually, as part of an honest and humanitarian majority, we do, indeed, have the power to change the world.

Thus, as Election Day approaches, let us give thought to the type of people we want to represent us, to speak for us and on our behalf. The qualities we seek, no matter what our political party or affiliation, in order of importance, should be:

— Integrity

— Intelligence

— Experience

— Common sense

— Courage-to do what is right whether or not it is popular

— Charisma-that power to lead others and accomplish our chosen goals

— Shared values on such subjects as

— Safety and security

— Fiscal policy

— Preservation of our resources

— Welfare of our children, our elderly, and our poor and disabled

(Notice that I have not put labels, such a Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal, anywhere on the list.)

In the coming days, we will be bombarded with political ads, speeches and commentary. We have a job to do; a job that is sometimes intrusive and boring. Our job is to listen, to consider, and to choose wisely. It may not seem like much, but it is. It is the principal way that we-little insignificant us in rural Nevada County-may help win the war against the forces of evil.

Hank Starr, a divorce lawyer who lives and practices in Nevada City, writes a monthly column.


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