Media Life: Evicted courthouse swallows take their case to Auburn city hall

By: Gus Thomson/Media Life
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There’s really no way to prove where they came from. But since early spring, for the first time in recent memory, swallows are taking up residence in the nooks and crannies of Auburn’s city hall roofline. And all the fingers – presumably index – are pointing toward a nearby landmark whose owner has taken measures over the past two years to evict the hardworking migrants. Two years ago Placer County supervisors voted $36,000 to install netting on the cornices at the Placer County Courthouse. While the guano-covered sidewalks and autos at the Placer County Courthouse were an obvious offshoot of the courthouse swallow population, the move was made, ostensibly, to protect brick grouting from acidic bird droppings and prevent a continued public health problem caused by bird related insect infestation inside the building. The netting went up before the birds returned from their South American wintering abodes as far south as Argentina in early 2009. And while the plucky swallows dug in and established nests on other areas of the courthouse, their numbers appeared to have decreased over the past two years. From county to city home Evicted from the prime courthouse real estate near the dome, the homeless swallows appear to have discovered a new domicile about 100 yards away at the Auburn Civic Center, which is better known as Auburn City Hall. Dozens of nests have now been built there and the swallows have made themselves at home, swooping and darting around the picturesque former schoolhouse. Now it’s the city’s turn to deal with a problem that appears to have been foisted on them by a county concerned about ridding the courthouse of swallows but not as concerned about where the birds would end up. In political parlance, what was once a county problem has now crossed jurisdictions and is now a city problem. Maybe, the next step is to ask the Board of Supervisors for a few thousand dollars from their revenue sharing pot for what can only now be considered one more unfunded mandate foisted on one government by another. 3 remains No. 1 While KCRA 3 doesn’t get any Media Life love for pre-empting Wednesday’s Stanley Cup hockey telecast to give its news team the opportunity to chase tornadoes in the Sheridan area, the truth is, they were probably doing their loyal viewers a favor. The Sacramento area isn’t exactly a hockey hotbed and the San Jose Sharks’ absence probably cooled any interest for all but the most die-hard puck fans. That willingness to go the extra mile for a story – and maybe enrage the hockey crowd in the process – is again reflected in the May ratings, with the NBC affiliate bruising the competition like a Zdeno Chara forearm shiver to the cranium and winning every time period. The latest stats show KCRA 3 was No. 1 in all head-to-head newscasts. Take early evenings, when the most viewers arrive home and switch on a TV news telecast for their weather and crime fix. KCRA more than doubled the competition during the 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. slots, with an average of 114,698 households during the earlier telecast and 94,770 at 6 p.m. In fact, you would have to go back to early 1998 to find another station winning the 5 and 6 p.m. ratings war. They may be chasing tornadoes during hockey games but they’re giving Sacramento viewers what they want. Media Life’s Gus Thomson can be reached at or (530) 852-0232. .