Saturday, 23 September 2023


Newspapers do best when they report news and are not news, themselves. Some publishers don’t understand but their papers can make news headlines, themselves, when they hide news from their readers. Yes, there are papers that hide news. They think it’s OK to keep readers in the dark. Some call it “spiking.” More and more publishers are falling into this trap; publishers of big papers and little papers. Civics students say they’re “part-of-the-news” papers instead of “news” papers.

The New York Times, one of the biggest papers, is itself a stinky story, these days. They no longer publish, “the news, the whole news, and nothing but the news.” They print stories that are flattering to friends or a certain political party and spike reports that are hostile. Some observers say, big advertisers and government agencies apply pressure to kill stories at the Times. Other reports tell how editors slant stories and print opinions disguised as stories in the news section. Apparently, editors think their readers are too dumb to know. It’s embarrassing to watch. Some say it’s no longer a newspaper but a party line for the communist left. Times’ reports have become a tainted tale others are telling.

Most subscribers aren’t dumb and eventually find out when their daily goes off the track. They may be helped in their discovery by the publisher of a rival paper. Good journalists print all the news all the time, even when it’s about another paper. They never cave in to big promoters or government representatives who want stories killed. Trustworthy papers can in fact make money telling horrible stories like that of the Times fiasco.

One Internet newspaper, the Drudge Report, has become a huge success by posting stories other papers spiked. Readers’ ears perk up when they hear a paper is hiding news. Like the elephant, they never forget.

Second-rate publishers think they’re doing nothing wrong when they print part of the news. It’s my paper and I’ll print what I want, they suppose as they entrench themselves in tall ivory towers and lock the doors. Big companies will always send in big checks to pay for big adds, they assume. Little subscribers who made them successful are forgotten. They’re surprised when big advertisers stop sending big checks because little subscribers stop buying a party line rag.

When circulation numbers drop, foolish publishers do all the wrong things to reverse the decline. Sometimes, they think readers want to be entertained so they print entertainment instead of news. Other times, they imagine sex sells so they hire glamorous representatives who look like call girls. They “dumb down and tart up” in a vain effort to stop the slide. Nothing works, however, until they go back to printing all the news all the time and make a sincere effort to rebuild trust with readers.

Good journalists work their trade like a marriage with subscribers. They know the connection between reporting and civic duty. In first year journalism, they learned the Founding Fathers gave American reporters Free Press security with an obligation to use it. Yes, Free Press is a duty as well as a privilege. Free Press guarantees government can’t control reporters to hide part of the news from the people. First-rate publishers practice this freedom and never develop comfy relationships with government agents. Government has three branches; judicial, legislative, and executive. Judges, policemen, congressmen, governors, district attorneys, sheriffs, presidents, council members, school boards, and school superintendents, are all some of the government’s employees. Publishers who’re seduced into informal relationships with government representatives are two-timing their readers. They’re sleeping with the enemy. They betray constituents in the community. Voters can’t vote the rascals out if they don’t know who the rascals are. Disloyal dailies, themselves, make unpleasant news stories that need to be told.

Faithful editors also apply the “Free Press” principle to business promoters who try to control news by canceling adds. Wise editors know, advertising income is directly related to readership numbers so they stay loyal to readers and hang up on fat-cat marketers who want to get them in bed. Dedicated newspapers protect their reputations and are always, of the subscriber, by the subscriber, and for the subscriber.

Unfortunately, two local papers, (Lake County Record-Bee and Observer-American) are following in the footsteps of the New York Times. It’s a great tragedy for local voters and taxpayers. They can‘t get the information they need to make democracy work. Publisher Gregg McConnell has made himself a tall ivory tower and shut himself in. Apparently, he believes he has no civic duty. He’s rapidly losing the respect of his “little” subscribers. It’s a terrible mess and another interesting story worth reading.

McConnell started bad when he came to Lake County, by assigning a daft reporter to code enforcement who immediately developed a comfy relationship with government authorities. Front page stories began to appear showing government is good and taxpayers are bad. One unfortunate Clearlake Oaks resident found his picture on the front page of McConnell’s paper because he had an old car in the yard and a roof leak. Code enforcement red tagged his house. Everyone who took a high school civics class was alarmed. McConnell’s articles made government agents look like heroes and citizens look like criminals. It was clear from the beginning, McConnell understands Free Press backwards. He protects government from the people.

One concerned citizen called McConnell on his infidelity to subscribers. A letter writer from Kelseyville, Darrell Watkins, wrote a civics letter and submitted it for the opinion page. McConnell saw it as criticism and didn’t print it. Watkins also purchased four copies of “We the People” and sent them to McConnell and his top employees for remedial civics training. A credentialed teacher, he also volunteered to tutor McConnell and his editors. McConnell thought this was the height of haughtiness and didn’t accept the offer. Some good did come out of Watkins’ effort, however. McConnell stopped going out with county code enforcement officers and coming home late with government lipstick on his collar. Unfortunately, reports say he’s become an “item” with other government agents and fat-cat marketers around town. Subscribers have a right to know about these indiscretions. He just can’t keep his journalistic pants zipped up.

McConnell’s most recent and ongoing affair is with government representatives at Konocti Unified School District. President Bush’s no-child-left-behind law identified failing schools in that district. Minds are a terrible things to waste and children left behind should make very, very big headlines. A Free Press would ring alarm bells long and loud until everyone knows KUSD trustees are a bunch of rascals. They could quickly be voted out of office. Taxpayers are paying tens of millions of dollars every year to provide schools for their children and they‘re not getting their money‘s worth. Unfortunately, McConnell‘s papers aren’t a Free Press. He can’t keep his journalistic marriage vows with his readers because he and some of his reporters are sleeping with the enemy.

Some readers were utterly bowled over when McConnell splashed the front pages of two papers (March 20, 2007) with the glowing picture of Louise Nan, superintendent of KUSD. Louise was “woman of the year“ burbled McConnell’s reporters for spending “years working in the KUSD.” Her district has failed Lake County for years and she receives front page fame. What was McConnell thinking? Should Lake County taxpayers believe failure is success? Should a government representative of a failed school district receive great honor from the Free Press? Questions continue and the story gets worse.

Nan returned the award favor. Nan nominated and Observer-American editor Cynthia Parkhill received, the prestigious “award of appreciation” from the “Association of California Schools Administrators.” How cozy! Newspaper editor Parkhill puts government leader Nan on the front page of her paper and government leader Nan nominates Parkhill for a grand award from her school organization. One hand washes another. What a snug little relationship! Yes, Parkhill’s own paper did her write up.

From all this, it’s apparent Parkhill has been assigned to cover school news. When she writes a school story (like a recent report on Pomo Elementary) most readers think the schools are getting recognition when they’re failing. Parkhill’s stories lull taxpayers to sleep. She’s like the watchman that whispered when he saw the enemy and the watchdog that ran under the house when burglars came. Education thieves are stealing knowledge from her master’s kids in broad daylight and Parkhill doesn’t want to “alarm” anyone. She returns home late at night to her readers with rumpled hair and government cigar smoke all over her clothes and thinks nobody will notice. Civics students do notice, however. They understand how softball coverage of important news is directly related to cozy relationships between government and the Free Press. Unfortunately, Lake County taxpayers continue to spend tens of millions of dollars for schools that continue to fail.

Former Lower Lake High School (chemistry and physics) teacher, Russell Hunt, wrote about the sad state of Konocti schools in a “Speak Your Mind” letter: “The children are wild and running the school. There is absolutely no discipline and little or no learning going on. The average child is … graduating with an eighth-grade education. Bottom of the barrel state test scores are evidence of this.” This is the news that McConnell hides in a small letter on the opinion page.

McConnell recently added another paramour to his government harem. He met recently with the new Clearlake police chief, Allan McClain (Observer-American, July 18, 2007). McClain, like most highly paid government agents, is very smart. He understands McConnell’s weakness. He knows courting the “Free Press” means job security for him. Yes, McConnell responded. “Police Chief McCain should be applauded for his efforts to reintroduce a personal connection between the citizens of Clearlake and the peace officers who work to keep them safe,” ardently cooed the publisher in his report. How sweet. Unfortunately, McConnell didn’t take the opportunity to report on drug trafficking, burglaries, missing persons, and unsolved murders in Clearlake.

Democracy could work in Lake County. It can’t until the Free Press returns. McConnell needs to find another line of work. Civics students hope the new publisher will be loyal to his readers. They pray papers will print all the news all the time and stop consorting with government fanciers. Voters will get enough information to throw the rascals out when they don’t get what they pay for.

Darrell Watkins is a graduate of Ambassador College, Brickett Wood, UK and a graduate of Pepperdine University School of Education, Los Angeles. He lives in Kelseyville.

Lake County News welcomes commentary items from its readers. Submit them for consideration to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Guest commentaries are the opinions of the writers and do not necessarily represent the views of Lake County News, its staff or contributors.


The preponderant opinion among the people of Lakeport seems clear: they very sensibly want to preserve the Natural High site as public open space, and to take any steps necessary to keep the option of its becoming a city park at some later date open. This parcel is uniquely precious, since it's the only remaining location on Main Street that provides more than a transitory glimpse of Clear Lake and an opportunity for shoreline recreation. Selling it off for commercial exploitation in order to reap the transitory gains offered by private developers would be like burning heirloom antiques to take the chill off the living room.

Unfortunately the wisdom of the citizenry doesn't seem to have made much impression on some members of the city council, who apparently are letting dollar signs prevail over common sense. Equally unfortunately, some statements in the print media (not on Lake County News, which knows better) may have created a false impression that the councilors' determination to facilitate commercial development on the site is “unanimous” a misapprehension which could lead to the discouraging conclusion that attempts to persuade them to change their minds would be fruitless.

Here are the facts: on June 19 the Lakeport City Council did indeed approve changing the parcel’s General Plan designation from “Open Space” to “Residential/Resort” as one of the interim stages in the adoption of the city's newly revised Plan. If this recommended change is confirmed, it could make eventual acquisition of the site from the school district for park purposes much more expensive and perhaps impossible, by eliminating the thrifty possibility of tapping into Quimby Act funds for its purchase, but far from being unanimous, the decision hung by the flimsiest of threads: only three of the five councilors a bare quorum were in attendance and one of the three voted no.

The next stage of Lakeport's General Plan adoption process will come in a Planning Commission public hearing (at a date yet to be announced), and that meeting will provide an opportunity for a decisive expression of opinion in favor of retaining this splendid public asset for public benefit.

In the meantime, all Lakeport residents are urged to phone, write and email their councilors (contact information at, to speak to them in person at every opportunity, and also drop into Watershed Books (305 N. Main St.) to sign a petition opposing the zoning change.

As for the rest of us the concerned citizens of Lake County who don't happen to reside in Lakeport we have every right to make their voices heard as well. As our county seat, Lakeport's destiny is our business too, whether we live in Middletown, Blue Lakes or points between.

Victoria Brandon is chair of the Sierra Club Lake Group. She lives in Lower Lake.


If you value the Internet, it's time to take action.

Monday, July 16 is the deadline to sign a petition to Congress demanding that they protect the Internet from being taken over by phone and cable companies who want to become the gatekeepers of the Internet.

To sign the petition, go to, where you can learn more about this important issue.

The central issue is “Net Neutrality,” which no discrimination on the Internet.

Net Neutrality prevents Internet providers from speeding up or slowing down Web content based on its source, ownership or destination.

Net Neutrality is the reason why the Internet has driven economic innovation, democratic participation, and free speech online. It protects the consumer's right to use any equipment, content, application or service on a non-discriminatory basis without interference from the network provider. With Net Neutrality, the network's only job is to move data not choose which data to privilege with higher quality service.

The battle for Net Neutrality won't end next week, and it requires everyone to educate themselves about the issue.

Helping spread the word is the coalition, an historic grassroots alliance of hundreds of groups from across the political spectrum, thousands of bloggers, and millions of everyday people concerned about the future of the Internet.

The coalition came together last year when Congress first took up dangerous telecom legislation that failed to protect Net Neutrality, which has been called the Internet's First Amendment.

"I think's success surprised everyone, especially those who thought the public was way too uninterested in issues like 'Net Neutrality' to give a damn," said Tim Wu, a leading Internet scholar who first coined the term Net Neutrality the fundamental Internet principle that prevents big phone and cable companies from discriminating against Web sites and services.

After leading the effort to stop telecommunications legislation last year that would have handed phone and cable companies unprecedented gatekeeper power over what Internet users see and do online, is ramping up its campaign to reinstate Net Neutrality this year.

While phone and cable companies spent millions and millions on inside-the-Beltway advertising and Astroturf groups, the Coalition which takes no corporate money kick-started a public conversation about what the future of the Internet should look like. Word spread thanks to local organizers, bloggers of all stripes, and Internet auteurs, who made dozens of viral videos about the looming threat to Internet freedom.

To find out more about Net Neutrality, check out the following video.


I participated, in a very minor way, in helping to change the name of the Kelseyville High School mascot so that it would no longer have the name "Indians" in it.

The reasons were very simple: it was the will of the majority of the local Pomo people, and their wishes and feelings regarding this matter appeared more important to me than a misplaced "pride" in the name of a team by local residents who could not even relate culturally to such name, not knowing much about Pomo culture and obviously not interested, believing it was alright to represent the Pomos with a mascot parodying the 1940s Hollywood version of an Indian from the plains.

Furthermore, the argument of those who did not want the change was essentially as follows: "We think we are honoring you, the Pomo people, with this 'Kelseyville Indians' mascot name, so we don't really care what you think or feel, get over it ... "

In other words we are the masters of the land and we make the rules ... This did not sound like respect to me, as a matter of fact I found it to be arrogant and insulting to the Pomos, and a thinly veiled expression of redneck racism.

Kelsey was not a nice person, and this has nothing to do with any of his living descendants, who are probably very nice people, so I do not mean to hurt or embarrass them and I apologize if I do. But even a plaque in Kelseyville somewhat acknowledges that he mistreated Native people. It does not say that he enslaved them, nearly starved them, murdered some of them, tortured some of them and molested young Pomo girls, including the daughter of a chief ... all abuses that lead to his and Charles Stone early demise at the hand of the Indians, which gave interested parties the excuse they were waiting for to commit yet another act of genocide in the state of California (Bloody Island), whose official and federally sanctioned policy was the extermination of native people in order to grab all (nearly all) the land and its resources. Am I going too fast?

Mistreatments of the Indians, abuses, provocations by criminals, no legal recourses or protection for the Indians whatsoever, exasperated Indians finally administering their own justice or implementing protective measures as any free people should, and then the official California policy of extermination came into effect, such as butchering up to 200 Indian men, women, elders, children, babies, as a payback for the killing of a couple of white people.

Of course the state policy of paying for Indian scalps (men, women, children, to the tune of $1 million) did not require any violent act on the part of the Indians to be implemented and taken advantage of by psychopaths. It was just another opportunity to make money without having to do any work, just murder, which the federal government approved, by reimbursing California.

Why is it that such ugly aspects of California history, such atrocities, are mostly suppressed, unknown to the nation, while almost everyone has heard of the Wounded Knee massacre? Is it because California represents the end of the American rainbow, the ultimate American dream land, and no one wants to

tarnish the immaculate fantasy of the golden state?

Some say why dig up such "cans of worms"... If the past is a "can of worms," why celebrate Columbus Day? The man was lost, he enslaved, killed, maimed and tortured hundreds of thousands of gentle, generous, welcoming Indians in order to get gold, he was a mass murderer of the likes of Cortez and without any conscience ... Is this something to be proud of?

How can America pretend to be the world moral leader when it not only will not clean up its past, but honors such murderers and thieves, lying about them in order to make them appear to be heroes, and teaching children that they are heroes? Logically, it would appear to only mean one thing, that Euro-Americans would do it all over again and in the same manner, if given the opportunity. This is what is usually known as not learning from the past.

If this is not the case, then why have a town, such as Kelseyville, named after what everyone could agree was a shady character at best, and someone who today would be charged and jailed for murder and child molestation? (He would not, today, be protected by the 1800's California Civil Practice Act, Section 394, which prohibited Indians from giving testimony for or against whites, assuring their abuse at the hands of the lowest and most brutal of the frontier population, and, because of the Pomos' inevitable retaliations and the subsequent outcries of the politicians and the press, the validation of the inhuman official policy of extermination).

Nothing has really changed in the way this civilization operates by the way: first create a problem (in this case the provocation and abuse of the Indian population by criminals who were legally protected), then offer the solution that facilitates the fulfillment of certain goals (here the attempted extermination of the Indians, so as to "clear the land" for "settlers" and for America to expend). How can we hope to have a clean and healthy future as a nation when we insist on keeping garbage in our basement and call it part of our history and heritage, and wave it in the air as a badge of honor?

If we are to remember that it is Kelsey and Stone who, by their abuses, were responsible for the Bloody Island massacre, we can also understand that honoring Kelsey with the name of Kelseyville is basically saying to the Pomo people that abuse and genocide were perfectly alright and justified, and it is keeping

the wounds they suffered open and unhealed, and festering among them, as it would be festering among Jewish people if Hitler was honored in Germany.

It is also saying to the world that America has two standards: one by which it treats its own Native people, and one by which it insists the world abides ... this is commonly known as hypocrisy. Of course America is not the only country to do so ... Canada, Mexico, South America, Australia, New Zealand do the same, but we are in America, and America does lead the world.

I do believe it is time to come to terms with the past, not out of guilt but out of a desire for a healthy future, and to change the name of Kelseyville. It is important because human beings, children among them, were butchered on Bloody Island without cause, and this past, rooted in greed, the most virulent form of racial hatred, and the immorality of this state and this nation's 19th century leadership, must be healed.

People who profess to follow any kind of religious law should be leading the charge on this, as I do not think the values they profess to uphold sanction criminality, and local religious leaders should be involved, to transcend politics and races and set an example of what it means to be human, to have a human heart, a living and functioning conscience, a spirit or soul.

It would seem to be a basic requirement of religious leadership, if organized religions are to be taken more seriously. It might also more properly define what it means to be American, if America is to be respected by the world for something other than its might, that is to say if it is to be truly respected rather than feared.

Raphael Montoliu lives in Lakeport.


In the blink of an eye, the life as you know it could change forever. A poor decision or an unwise action could affect you, your family, friends as well as those that you don’t even know.

Every 15 minutes, someone in the United States is killed or seriously injured in an alcohol-related collision.

I refuse to call these traffic accidents simply because the term “accidents” implies that these crashes resulting in injuries or deaths are unavoidable, when, in fact, they are predictable and preventable. This is particularly important when referring to alcohol-related traffic crashes since drinking and driving is the conscious (albeit impaired) choice of the driver.

Many of us have a sense of invincibility that it can’t happen to me. It can and it does. We all know someone who has either been the victim or the cause of such crashes because the statistics show that approximately one-third of all fatalities are caused by the impaired driver.

With this in mind, the decision is yours to make. Do I take the chance and gamble that I can drive safely to my destination after drinking or throw away life as I know it, possibly destroying my future and the futures of those around me?

The choice is yours.

Lance Mino is an officer with the Clear Lake office of the California Highway Patrol.

If you have any questions about this article or ideas about future ones, contact CHP Officer Adam Garcia, 279-0103.


I wanted to let the dust settle for a while before leaping into the Scooter Libby-Bush commutation fray, for several reasons.

First, this was not unexpected, at least not to anyone who has consistently watched this administration distance itself from any problems or hints of illegality (except for that part about defending the Constitution, which Bush never really meant anyway).

Second, when it did happen, either a pardon or some other intervention, it was clear the Democrats would scream and the loyal GOP members would praise it as the right thing to do, since “there was never any underlying crime in the first place” and Libby should never have been prosecuted or tried or found guilty or punished, apparently.

And third, how can the Dems complain about this when President Clinton (perhaps we’ll have to start referring to him as Clinton I soon) lied to a grand jury and faced impeachment and walked away without punishment? That third point is the most partisan and intellectually dishonest of the arguments.

Here’s why: Lewis “Scooter” Libby was a career administrative operative, and worked in his last government job as the chief of staff for the vice president of the United States. He got caught up in the Valerie Plame-CIA outing incident, and we know that Scooter did not leak her name or identify to anyone. (We actually know that Karl Rove did that, and probably Cheney, too, but they’ll never be prosecuted.)

So Scooter didn’t give up a CIA agent, but learned that someone had. And then under oath to a grand jury, he lied about what he knew, who he got it from and when, and basically protected the backsides of his bosses and his bosses’ bosses.

He was prosecuted by a Republican-appointed special attorney, tried in a federal court before a Republican-appointed judge and found guilty unanimously by 12 people from all persuasions.

The federal law specified a sentence for lying to a grand jury and obstructing justice, and the judge imposed that sentence. Bush said “Tut-tut, too much” and while giving lip service to honoring and respecting the jury system and the verdict, essentially wiped away any punishment but a fine.

I hope Bush sees fit to do so for all those currently incarcerated for perjury and/or obstruction of justice who have no prior records, because if it’s too much for Libby, should it not be too much for anyone similarly situated? We are, after all – or so I’ve been told – a nation of laws not of men. Or are we?

Enter the Republican pundits who say Bill Clinton did the same thing and went unpunished. Wrong, wrong, wrong and here’s why that is dishonest: Clinton faced impeachment, and articles were voted out of the House and delivered to the Senate. That’s the same as the filing of a complaint, and it’s up to the Senate (think court) to conduct the trial.

The Senate did, and was unable to convict Clinton of any of the charges contained in the articles.

“That’s just politics!” one harumphs, and should have been impeached anyway.

Remember who held the majority of both houses in 1998 when this entire Clinton-Lewinsky thing occupied our spare time (and way too much of the media)? That’s right, the Republicans. And they couldn’t convict a Democratic president.

Libby convicted, not punished. Clinton not convicted, not punished. Not quite an even equation, is it? George Bush stated for the world to hear when the Plame case emerged that if someone in his administration was responsible for breaking the law, he would take care of them.

He certainly has.

Doug Rhoades is an attorney. He lives in Kelseyville.



Upcoming Calendar

09.23.2023 9:00 am - 12:00 pm
California Coastal Cleanup Day
09.23.2023 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Lakeport Splash-In at Clear Lake
09.23.2023 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
09.23.2023 5:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Passion Play fundraiser
09.24.2023 11:00 am - 3:00 pm
Acme Foundation 25th anniversary celebration
09.26.2023 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
09.27.2023 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Town hall on homelessness
09.28.2023 7:30 am - 8:30 am
Rotary Club of Middletown
Middletown Art Center
09.30.2023 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
10.05.2023 7:30 am - 8:30 am
Rotary Club of Middletown
Middletown Art Center

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