Tomorrow we recover from the insanity | TheUnion.com
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Tomorrow we recover from the insanity

Jeff Ackerman, Publisher
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

It’s all over but the shouting … and the crying and the stomping of the feet and the name-calling and the lies and the deceptions and the campaign violations and all of the other wonderful antics that make voters want to run out and vote these days.

And in the end, the losers and their supporters will blame us.

That’s why today is one of my favorite days, just after National Milk Bone Day.



They say nearly 60 percent of those registered to vote in Nevada County will have done so by 8 tonight. That sounds terrific, until you realize that less than half of the estimated 70,000 residents eligible to vote will do so.

The rest may still be recovering from fumes of another poisonous election season. Election Monoxide, they call it.




Before Wednesday’s blame game formally begins, it’s important that I recap the events of the past several months.

Someone decided it would be neat if California had its primary elections in March so the candidates and ballot opponents could spend a human gestation period ripping the place apart.

What began innocently as an NH 2020 debate … scratch that. What began innocently as a debate on growth versus no-growth … scratch that.

OK … so it didn’t begin so innocently. Someone built a home in the woods and noticed someone wanted to do the same thing next door. So he contacted the League to Stop Neighbors From Building Next Door and they filed suit, claiming the neighbor didn’t have the right to cut any trees down because he didn’t have the correct bumper sticker.

Probably the same guy who wondered why, when he opens his window, he doesn’t hear the birds singing anymore. He forgot that he squashed them six months earlier under his new $1.2 million redwood home.

Before anyone knew what was happening, there were signs all over town.

“Yes On Neighbors” and “No On Neighbors.”

Some signs even read “My Neighbor Is Neighbors.”

Soon someone filed suit to have all of the signs removed, claiming they blocked the migration path of the endangered Nevada County Native, who wish they would have closed the gates 25 years ago, before the bumper stickers started arriving from the Bay and beyond.

Inevitably, political lines were drawn, somewhere along Neal Street, and the battle was on. Some of the skirmishes even drew real blood, as neighbors scratched and boxed and administered nasty noogies to other neighbors outside an otherwise boring political meeting one summer night.

Since the Board of Supervisors has a lot to say about what neighbors can and can’t do to one another in the privacy of their own backyards, the two seats up for grabs on that board became hot property themselves.

How hot? By the time the FPPC hangs the laundered money out to dry, the four (OK … five) candidates for the board will have spent a combined half-million dollars for two jobs that pay $32,000 per year, plus name tags and microphones.

Not trusting their yards to any one candidate, a few guys decided to pass out a petition asking registered neighbors one simple question: “Do You Want Black Helicopters To Take You and Your Private Property Into Outer Space?”

More than 5,000 registered neighbors said no, qualifying it for an official ballot measure.

You could argue that 65,000 county residents who were eligible to vote decided they’d kind of like black helicopters to take them into outer space. At least until the election was over.

Then the fun really started.

We were invited to be host to a debate, but when one of the candidates decided he’d rather wait outside on a tree stump, we backed out.

“I thought a debate had to have at least two sides?” I asked my staff.

“Yeah. But it’s Wednesday night, and there’s nothing else to do,” my staff replied.

So we went, and it was one of the best one-man debates in Nevada County election history. The best part was when the moderator said, “OK … you have two minutes for rebuttal.”

All the while the letters kept pouring in, encouraging people to vote for so and so and such and such.

“How come I never see any letters I agree with?” some would wonder.

“Because your side doesn’t write?” we’d guess.

One day, the phone starts ringing and the e-mail starts dinging from neighbors wondering why they have to read a Sacramento weekly alternative newspaper to learn about an innocent supervisor candidate’s victimization at the hands of her evil opponents.

“Beats me,” I say, wondering why a Sacramento weekly newspaper would do a cover story on a Nevada County supervisors’ race. “Don’t they have better political stories right down the street at the Capitol?” I ask myself.

Then it dawns on me. A friend of a friend of a friend planted a story and called it “news.”

That’s how the game is played. There was more planting done this season than Farmer John saw in a lifetime.

So now it’s Election Day. When neighbors awake tomorrow, 25 percent of them will be happy, 25 percent will be sad and 50 percent will be wondering what all the fuss was about.

Jeff Ackerman is the publisher of The Union. His column appears on Tuesdays. Contact him at 477-4299,


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