Sunday, 19 May 2024


Something needs to be done to make the traffic coming and going on Highway 29 through Middletown stop and shop. But, what can be done?

Some have suggested that Caltrans re-route the traffic through the downtown area making the main street through town one way. If nothing else, this would provide more space for parking. But, is more parking space really the problem?

While the parking space available in Middletown needs improving, I do not believe that alone is Middletown's problem. Middletown needs to promote itself better.

The fliers for the town are out-of-date. For example, the wine tasting room featured on the Middletown brochure is now a candy store. Nevertheless, even if the brochure was up-to-date, I doubt that would be enough to make traffic want to stop and shop in the town.

Something more forceful and dynamic needs to be done. Middletown needs digital signage. For that matter, all of Lake County could benefit from digital signage. But, let's start with Middletown the gateway to county.

For months, the Middletown Area Town Hall has been talking about digital signage as a means to draw more attention to the local merchants. You could have one outdoor sign adjacent to the Middletown sign at the north and south end of the town. These signs would alert drivers to what the town has to offer them BEFORE they enter the town. Being dynamic, these signs would change just like a slide show on a computer screen. One sign could tell you a lot about the businesses that are on the main street and the planned activities in the town.

Please be advised, digital signage does not simply work its magic along the highway. It can work its magic along a storefront and even within the post office bulletin board via a flat screen LCD monitor. If you have ever ventured into the Clearlake Wal-Mart and been back in their TV section, you have witnessed digital signage at work. No, that was not a commercial network TV station all those TV sets were featuring. That was digital signage a computer program all those TV sets were running.

Digital signage even works its magic on the Internet. Want proof? See what Kevin Comora, president of Vizicast Multimedia, created for Middletown the last time he came for a visit. Visit and play the video link, “Middletown USA.” Just be sure to download the "powered by Scala" plug-in before you play the link. Otherwise, it will not work.

Lake County, as reported by this publicationi, want to record meetings with a webcam and place them on the Internet. Well, what the county should do is edit that video BEFORE placing it on the Net. Research has shown that most people do not want to listen or watch anything on the Internet that requires more than 30 minutes of their time. The idea of placing a hour or two-hour session of a Board of Supervisors meeting is definitely a mistake.

But, put up just the highlights? That might work very well. And, digital signage via a program like Scala InfoChannel Designer provides the way to get that done. That is the digital signage software used by more businesses around the world than any other. It is what makes kiosks work in hotels. It's what you see in modern shopping centers and airports.

Lake County has three Visitor Information Centers. One is in Middletown at the Calpine Visitor Center. One is located in Lucerne and one is located inside the Lakeport Regional Chamber of Commerce Office. Well, a touchscreen multimedia kiosk would do wonders for providing up-to-date information about what Lake County has to offer its tourists in all those locations. Want to find a good restaurant or hotel? Just press a button on the touchscreen and you get to see all your options.

What is really awesome about this is that one system can run an unlimited number of screens. Each screen could be running the same multimedia program or one uniquely its own. The same could also be said for Web sites.

But, there's more. The software program can be used to create wonderful multimedia DVDs to be included in Lake County's press kits. Last year, Lake County's Department of Economic Development sent a press kit to Roger Ailes, chairman of the Fox News Channel in support of a letter-writing campaign by Middletown High School students geared to bringing Fox News to Middletown for "Middletown Days."

While the campaign proved successful Fox News sent correspondent Adam Housley to speak at the parade there was no dynamic signage DVD in the press kit. Instead, it simply included a CD with PDF's on it. A dynamic signage DVD would have been much more impressive.

This Saturday, during "Christmas in Middletown," inside the Middletown High School Multi-Use Room, between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m., Kevin Comora returns to educate the local business community on digital signage and what it is capable of doing for them. Since Lake County's Board of Supervisors has proved funds to give Middletown new lights downtown, I think the time has come to give the county NEW marketing resources.

There is currently a moratorium on billboard signage in Lake County. But, according to District 1 Supervisor Ed Robey, there are no rules on the books regarding digital signage. Why? Because Lake County's signage rules have not been updated for 20 years!

Well, I think the time to bring digital signage to Lake County has arrived. What do you think? Before you form an opinion, see digital signage in operation up close and personal this coming Saturday at "Christmas in Middletown." I think this amazing technology will impress you.

Lamar Morgan lives in Middletown.


Throughout time and everywhere in the world, specific individuals and groups have imposed their wills on others, from the victors on the battlefields who enslaved their victims to those who defined the role of women to be subservient.

Middle Eastern patriarchies, which had the greatest influence on western civilization, further enshrined obedience as the highest virtue, in this case obedience to a God to whose access they alone declared holding the unique formula. In practical terms that meant submission to the Temple, the Church or the Mosque that were said to exclusively represent divine authority on earth, and that indeed shared, along with the State, tyrannical powers over the populations that had the misfortune of living within their reaches.

It appears to be the curse of all cultures called civilized, even the Aztecs, to have been pathologically obsessed with ideas of conquest, of dominant power, and of the submission and control of the populace under the authority of single rulers or governmental institutions, and in many cases of religious figures and dogma.

No other cultures but the West and the Middle East have historically so successfully used religion as a tool of domination, of coercion, of the breaking of individual will to serve and benefit the various kingdoms and empires whose aims and actions certainly never spoke of humility, but which were on the contrary driven to reign over the world by any means, rationalizing their arrogant and all-too-often abominable transgressions by, ironically, pretending, with the sanctioning of religious institutions, to represent "God's will" on earth.

The idea of submission or obedience as a fundamental necessity for spiritual salvation consequently never applied to the rulers, to those who assumed power over the people and who indeed had to be deified, to be made to rise to the elevated and grotesquely inflated positions of god-king, god-emperors, to be made to embody divine powers, so as to be free to exert tyranny over their own people and those they conquered.

Humanity has not yet completely cleared its own psyche of centuries of such conditioning, and considers questioning authority a daring act, when it is in reality a baby step in the vital process of reclaiming spiritual sovereignty, of restoring the integrity, unity and wholeness of the soul.

People still believe that submission to authority is the foundation of civilization, and are culturally programmed to think that without a fear of the law, without the threat of coercion, they would "revert" to chaos, to anti-social behaviors. They are trained to think that civilization rose out of chaos, of anarchy, of savagery, of barbarism, and that anything that threatens it would recreate such conditions.

Yet were not most so-called primitive cultures more orderly, united, stable, harmonious and grounded in timeless traditions than present societies, which are becoming ever more chaotic, unbalanced, diseased, divided, oppressive and unsafe? Nothing seems to produce chaos more surely than civilization, that is to say coercion, because living under the authority of another or of an institution or government, a person automatically learns to associate freedom with destructive behavior, precisely because freedom means expression, and expression means the ability to release what becomes, under such abnormal and unnatural conditions, prevalent emotions: anger, fear, resentment, rage in extreme cases.

Living under pressure, the civilized mobs periodically release such pressures illegally by participating in riots, in occasional bloody revolutions, and legally in global wars in which their barbarism is unleashed with the blessings of the State and of religious authorities and finds full expression, after which they are made to ponder their own inhumanity, and to welcome ever more control, ever more coercion, ever more "civilization", because told to fear themselves, to completely distrust what is defined for them by religion and science to be a degraded and brutal human nature.

This is why all major wars lead to ever greater losses of individual liberty, to the expansion of bureaucracies, to greater governmental and institutional powers, and to the greater power of those whose immense wealth place them in positions of extreme influence, and who marvel at the ease with which they can manipulate the willingly submissive and self-destructive masses.

Raphael Montoliu lives in Lakeport.


Veterans Day is an opportunity to honor our nation’s heroes and what they have done for our great country. While one day is never enough to appreciate the sacrifices these individuals have made, we should all take time today to think of and thank our veterans.

But today should be about more than what veterans have done for us. It should also be a day to consider what we are doing for our veterans. Are we providing them with the support and benefits they deserve?

As your congressman and a combat veteran of the Vietnam war, I frequently ask myself that question. Whether at Walter Reed Army hospital speaking with a soldier wounded in Iraq or at a town hall meeting talking with World War II and Vietnam veterans, I question whether our government is providing each of our veterans with quality care and support.

Regardless of your opinion on the war in Iraq, there is no denying that our troops are doing a great job. There’s also no denying that our ongoing involvement in this war has placed an enormous strain on our veteran services system. Thousands of service members have returned home from Iraq and Afghanistan with serious physical injuries and psychological trauma. More will follow them. Some of them need extensive treatment and care for their injuries, possibly for the rest of their lives. Others need significant help transitioning back into civilian life.

Unfortunately, too many of our veterans returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan are not getting the quality health care and support they deserve. Some aren’t getting the appropriate treatment they need to recover from their injuries. Some are struggling to transition back into the workplace. Some are facing mountains of paperwork and red tape before they can get care. And many who cannot return to work are struggling to pay their bills.

This strain is not only impacting our new veterans and their families; it’s affecting our older veterans as well. I hear from many veterans of previous wars who wait months before they can get an appointment with a physician. Sometimes they have to travel long distances to find a veterans health care facility that can give them the treatment they need.

There is clearly much more Congress can do to fulfill our civic and moral obligation to our veterans. And this Veterans Day, we can say we are making progress. Over the past year, Congress has worked to significantly improve how our country provides all our veterans with services and benefits.

Most important, Congress is in the process of creating historic increases in resources available for our veterans. This year, Congress voted for the single largest increase in veterans’ funding in the 77-year history of the Department of Veterans Affairs. The Veterans of Foreign Wars said “the record funding level acknowledges the deep debt this nation owes to its defenders.” The American Legion called these improvements “an impressive commitment to this nation’s service members, veterans and their families.” This funding will help improve health care benefits and facilities and add 1,100 more case workers to the VA’s staff.

But funding alone is not enough. We are making strides to address the inadequacies of the veterans health care system brought to light in part by the Walter Reed scandal. We’re also working to provide better health care programs for combat veterans suffering from traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. And last week, the House passed a bill that would help thousands of California veterans achieve the goal of homeownership.

We are taking the necessary steps toward providing each of our veterans, including the more than 50,000 veterans in the 1st Congressional District, with the quality care and support they deserve. Veterans kept their promise to serve our nation and we must keep our promise to them. Today, help keep this promise by showing your appreciation to those who answered the call of duty.

Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena) represents District 1, which includes Lake County, in the U.S. House of Representatives.



In March of 2007, my department released a report on our Web site containing select crime statistics from the 2006 calendar year. Eight months later, there were two articles published in a local newspaper about these statistics that lead to confusion and concern for many of the good citizens of our county. I have since been invited to interview for a third article - intended to correct the first two. However, I have determined that it is most appropriate for me to decline that invitation and present the correct information directly to the public.


The Lake County Sheriff’s Office is the largest law enforcement agency in the county and it has primary jurisdiction for general law enforcement in the unincorporated area. We receive a significant amount of support and assistance from a number of other law enforcement agencies including the California Highway Patrol, the Clearlake Police Department, and the Lakeport Police Department. Neither our department nor any of theirs could operate without the assistance of all others. I am constantly grateful for that mutually supportive relationship.


Incident Numbers: The Lake County Sheriff’s Central Dispatch is the primary public safety answering point in the county. Every time a citizen in our county dials 911 from a land-line telephone, the call rings into our dispatch center. In addition to providing law enforcement dispatching services for our own department, we also provide contracted dispatching services for the Lakeport Police Department and for all but one of the county’s fire protection districts.

An incident number is generated in our computer system for every 911 call that our dispatch center handles. (It is the first call that triggers the incident. Subsequent calls reporting the same incident do not generate additional incident numbers.) There are a variety of other ways in which an incident number can be generated in our dispatch center’s computer system. Every time a citizen reports an alleged crime, or a missing person, or a coroner’s case, or a stranded boater, etc., another incident number is generated. There are a variety of ways that our patrol deputies initiate incident numbers also; each time a deputy stops a motorist for a traffic offense, or serves a restraining order, or arrests someone for a warrant, another incident number is issued.

There are countless examples of how a citizen’s call into dispatch, or how a radio broadcast from a deputy or police officer, can generate an incident number.

In 2006, there were 45,668 incident numbers issued in our computer aided dispatch system. It is important to note that there may have been multiple telephone calls and radio broadcasts associated with every single one of those incidents. Over the course of a year, if you combine all of this with the thousands of phone calls and radio broadcasts that are unrelated to an incident number one can easily understand why we praise our dispatchers for their multi-tasking skills.

Reports: Deputy sheriffs write reports related to suspected and confirmed crimes as well as reports that document information for non criminal situations. To reiterate, all written reports are important documents but not all of those reports pertain to confirmed or suspected crimes.

In 2006, the Lake County Sheriff’s Department wrote 5,694 reports.

Uniform Crime Report: Each California law enforcement agency is required to report “Part 1” crime data to the California Department of Justice. Since 1931, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has been collecting that crime data from the states. The data is detailed in the federal Uniform Crime Report (UCR) which includes clearly defined index offenses to assure that all agencies are reporting data on the same type of offenses. In other words, the index offenses assure that all agencies are comparing “apples to apples.” There are two subcategories of offenses within the index: Personal Offenses and Property Offenses.

The eight index offenses (“Part 1” crimes) include:

1. Homicide

2. Forcible Rape

3. Robbery

4. Assault

5. Burglary/Breaking and Entering

6. Larceny/Theft

7. Motor Vehicle Theft

8. Arson

The aforementioned news articles compared the UCR data from the Clearlake and Lakeport Police departments against my department’s total incident numbers. We were not requested to provide our UCR data for 2006. When determining the average number of crimes per thousand residents, it is incorrect to suggest that the crime total is divided by 1,000. Rather, the proper method is to divide the total crimes by the total population served.

For calendar year 2006, the following information was reported for inclusion in the UCR:

Lakeport Police Department: 226 total index offenses

Incorporated Population: 5,234 (divided into 226 = .0431792)

Average 43.1 index offenses per 1,000 residents

Clearlake Police Department: 815 total index offenses

Incorporated Population: 14,877 (divided into 815 = .0547457)

Average 54.7 index offenses per 1,000 residents

Lake County Sheriff’s Department: 1,635 total index offenses

Unincorporated population 45,889 (divided into 1,635 = .0356294)

Average 35.6 index offenses per 1,000 residents

Our department’s countywide totals by index offense for 2006 are as follows:

1. Homicide: 4

2. Forcible Rape: 15

3. Robbery: 18

4. Assault: 758

5. Burglary/Breaking and Entering: 393

6. Larceny/Theft: 433

7. Motor Vehicle Theft: 4

8. Arson: 10

While these data do provide an accurate accounting of how many of those specific index offenses occur in each jurisdiction, that data alone does not aid in declaring any one community more or less safe than any other. There are countless variables to consider and each one can be a separate course of study.

It is worth repeating that the UCR data does not include all crimes reported to law enforcement agencies. One will note that many crimes such as vandalism, drug offenses, public disturbances, public intoxication, and DUI do not appear in the UCR data sets. We will continue to include all crimes reported to our department in future annual reports as these data give the public a view of issues of importance in their communities and it also helps to explain what occupies much of our time.


Lake County is a wonderful place to live and raise a family and the men and women of your Lake County Sheriff’s Office are working hard to keep it that way.

Rodney K. Mitchell is Lake County's sheriff, coroner and Office of Emergency Services director.


The recent workshop on quagga mussels (held at the Board of Supervisors chambers on Nov. 8) and previous meetings/Board of Supervisors discussions/classes are all similar and real scary. The threat is well defined (results of these mussels getting into a waterway); any chance of eradication is all but dismissed; significant ongoing monitoring of the lake (including water sample DNA analysis) is described to see if we have them (negative so far); and the public outreach to inform our residents is reviewed.

It is agreed that prevention is our only hope. The scary part is that no significant prevention actions (either underway or in the planning stages) are discussed.

The county says that prevention is a state task and we cannot afford to do anything but wait for the state to act. The state has stepped up inspection at several Southern California border inspection stations, which is good.

The state has assigned the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) as the lead agency and recently passed a resolution (AB1683) to give more power to agencies to fight against these invaders. A DFG employee at the meeting stated that while she is not aware of the current status on their effort, DFG is very understaffed and has had significant budget cuts recently. She did describe the effort where dogs are being trained and used to locate mussels (like drug sniffing) and Lake County will have two such dogs; that is also good.

When one analyzes the data presented at these meetings and then does some research to validate and expand this knowledge, the scare is amplified. All information indicates that if the mussels (quagga or zebra) were to reach Clear Lake (an ideally suited environment for them) the lake and the county would change forever.

Over a period of (5+ ?) years, the lake would be dominated by the mussels, the fishery as we know it today would be wiped out (bass included), many of the birds would be gone, the beaches and shores would be covered with sharp mussel shells and would stink from decaying mussel tissue.

The recreational lure of the lake would be gone as would much of the county revenue. However, costs would soar, water usage from the lake would become very costly as every water pump inlet would need to continually be cleaned or have expensive chlorine dispensers installed to keep the mussels from closing them off.

This would be another nail in the coffin of our struggling agriculture industry. All of this would cause property values to plummet and further hit the county revenue stream. And of course this is not isolated to our county; Cache Creek would spread the mussels into the delta and the state’s water distribution system.

Most would quickly say this doomsday scenario is at best exaggerated and probably not accurate, the lake has done well for hundreds of thousands of years etc., etc. Many are hoping that eradication of the mussels is not impossible as now assumed and scientists are trying to understand effective ways of doing so.

A “California Science Advisory Panel” (including experts on Clear Lake) was assembled to address this threat and their report “California’s Response to the Zebra/Quagga Mussel Invasion in the West” (May 2007) is available for reading on the Internet. This report confirms the serious threat to the west and concludes that it would be foolish to not do everything possible to prevent or eradicate these invaders even if significant short-term interruption to tourism, fishing or recreation would result. They admit that prevention/eradication costs would be high and may seem too over whelming but would be justified when compared to the long-term environmental and economic costs of an invasion.

So, why are we doing so little and not sensing a higher level of urgency on this topic?

We recently had a large bass tournament and several of the boats were from the Lake Mead area. Inspection was not enforced prior to going into our lake; any precautions taken with these boats were entirely up to the owners. Several Lake Mead contestants in the tournament admitted to taking no precautions prior to entering Clear Lake.

Many Southern California boats use our lake for many reasons. Even if a boat owner wanted to have a boat sanitized for mussels prior to launching, there is still no effective station for getting that done in Lake County.

One has to agree that ultimately control should be at the state level (ours is not the only lake at risk), but it is our lake and our local economy and we should not be willing to stand back and wait until the DFG gets its act together to protect us.

What can we do?

Controlling access to this lake is difficult at best. However this threat was first presented to the Board of Supervisors in 2005, and again early this year with a frightening update that the mussels were now in California and still no effective action or plan.

One possibility is to "shut down" our lake and publicize it widely; have the county declare that lake county waterways are off limits to out-of-county boats unless they are inspected and properly sanitized. Anyone proved to be violating this restriction will be fined $10,000. An action similar to this was proposed by one of our supervisors in February of 2007, but I guess ruled out as overkill?

At the very least something like this should be done until less intrusive (state?) controls are in place and effective.

Why is the Sierra Club not all over this? It is certainly a greater short-term risk to our lake than global warming. It is certainly more of an environmental threat than herbicides on our roadways.

Tell your supervisors you want them to escalate this issue as a county priority and assign a strategic task force to put a plan together. We should not panic over this but it does warrant our best effort.

Ed Calkins is chairman of the Clear Lake Advisory Subcommittee. He lives in Kelseyville.


My father was in education for 50 years as a teacher, counselor, psychologist and administrator. Today he is fond of saying that today's education systems are obsolete, irrelevant, impractical and socially dysfunctional.

Three of my children were labeled as having "disabilities" – all graduated with minimal reading, writing and math skills. This, despite the fact I read to them, gave them books and presented an example by reading constantly in their presence.

Still, they never developed a “love” for reading. The girls didn't suffer too much, but for my son, public education was devastating. The system was always demanding that he curtail his natural energy, always waiting for him to "change," for him to get "serious." By the time he reached that point, at 23, all the negatives of his educational years had left his esteem in shreds.

He eventually did get his diploma, but has read only one book, cover to cover, his entire life. And although his lack of reading skills have not curtailed his ability to make a living (he makes more money than I do an hour), in his daily life all those essential and mundane details that require reading comprehension are beyond him.

In Native families, we expect our kids to grow up fast. In Native society, a 9-year-old girl is perfectly able to feed and take care of her brothers and sisters responsibly. If you don't believe me, you need to take a few trips into the Third World, where real life still exists.

Americans want to keep their young people “children” far past the age necessary. Just look at the films of the '40s and '50s and you see college-age kids being treated the way we treat our early high schoolers today.

Native teens resent being looked down on by adults who actually believe the myth that what happens in a student's late teen years has some large effect on their progress toward adulthood. Native people know that what is important occurs much earlier in life – from 3 to 13.

Native people also treat our boys differently than our girls. Our system of education recognizes that boys must be allowed to be freely active much longer than girls. Aunties and grandmas are able to teach our daughters to handle complicated crafts and family responsibilities many years before the boys can be expected to follow their uncles and grandfathers.

It is in the temperament of most boys to need constant activity until the age of 11 or 12. My older sons never attended any educational facility until sixth grade, age twelve. By ninth grade they were "caught up"! By giving them those extra years of freedom, they progressed at an astonishing rate.

Putting boys and girls together in school is one of the worst things we do in today's social environment. Both sexes suffer terribly from this misguided "mixing." Many of the boys' ability to progress is virtually destroyed by the fifth grade, and the girls' progress is impeded by the distraction, time and effort each teacher must take to discipline and control the boys.

Just poll your fifth grade teachers in-county and ask them to discuss this issue those who are honest will report the truth. Many boys are left completely behind during this time, while the girls are ready to explode ahead.

We need to ask what the goal of education is. It can no longer be a simple acculturation or right of passage. Education must be more than a vehicle of academic achievement toward social or economic success.

We need to balance old-time survival skills with new-age information technology. We need students to learn where to search for and find needed information and how to process that information for their immediate benefit rather than focusing on retaining bundles of irrelevant facts.

Students need the tools to educate themselves, find tutors, and experience a real-time gathering and processing of information to function in today's society. We need honest assessments throughout their school years to identify their strengths and weakness, attitudes, interests and motivations. These assessments should drive their programs and this tracking should occur until they self-identify with a vocational or academic future. Some of our present facilities only focus their energies on those taking the academic track the others are left guidance-less.

American Indians have based our ideals of educational technique on oral language skills, visual learning, social motivation and acceptance of all levels of skill. It mirrors the values of our Peoples and supports the traditional social structures of the family and Tribe.

For our children to be successful we need new environments, fresh perspectives and revamped concepts of curriculum and educational organization to carry our children and grandchildren into a safe and secure future.

To do this we should be creative and fearless, examining any educational alternative; no matter how far from the mainstream it may seem.

James BlueWolf is a artist and author. He lives in Nice.



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