Tuesday, 23 July 2024


On Wednesday, thousands of Californians across the state took action to save the renters' rebate, an important program recently defunded by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Organizers sought to send a loud and clear message that Californians do not accept elimination of this crucial program for low-income senior, blind and disabled Californians.

The statewide day of action came in response to Gov. Schwarzenegger's use of the line-item veto power to eliminate $191 million in tax rebates for low-income elderly and disabled Californians. This was the governor's single biggest line-item veto in the budget.

The governor defunded the entire Senior Citizens Property Tax Assistance program, also known as the “renters' rebate,” a program that has been in effect for decades.

With no forewarning, Schwarzenegger struck all funds from the program, despite the fact that the Legislature had included the funds in the budget approved by the state Assembly and Senate.

The Senior Citizens Renters Tax Assistance program, which has been in effect for four decades, makes senior and disabled renters who earn less than $44,096 eligible for up to $347.50 as a tax rebate.

Many eligible Californians had already filed their claims and were counting on these funds. With the governor's veto, the Franchise Tax Board now will not pay these claims.

Assemblyman John Laird (D-Santa Cruz), chair of the Assembly Budget Committee, characterized the cuts to the tax assistance program as “unconscionable.”

Tenants Together, a statewide organization for renters' rights, advocates for the rights of California's estimated 14 million renters.

“We're outraged that the governor would take aim at low-income senior, blind and disabled renters during these difficult times,” said Dean Preston, executive director of Tenants Together, California's statewide organization for renters' rights. “The state's neediest residents were counting on this money. The governor's veto is totally unacceptable.”

According to Nan Brasmer, President of California Alliance for Retired Americans, “The governor's veto of rebates for renters is a slap in the face to the neediest seniors. To add insult to injury, the governor also cut the tax rebate for homeowners, which also targets lower income homeowners, many of whom are seniors. We call on legislators to override the governor's veto and restore these rebates as soon as possible."

The group is collecting signatures on its online petition condemning the governor's veto of these funds. The petition can be viewed at www.tenantstogether.org.

The coalition opposing the Governor's veto is remarkably broad. More than 30 organizations have signed onto a letter to the governor urging the governor to fully fund the tax assistance program.

Signatories included Access to Independence of San Diego, California Alliance for Retired Americans, California Church IMPACT, California Disability Community Action Network, Center for Independent Living - Fresno, Coalition for Economic Survival, the San Francisco Tenants Union and others.


LAKEPORT – November has been a month for burglaries in Lakeport, with more than a dozen break-ins at homes inside and outside of the city limits reported so far.

Over a three-day period last week, six homes were reported burglarized at Lakeport Lagoons and Pier 1900, two mobile home communities on S. Main Street, as Lake County News first reported Saturday.

On Saturday at just after 8 p.m., another burglary was reported to a residence on 15th Street, said Lt. Brad Rasmussen of Lakeport Police.

About an hour after the burglary was reported, a Lakeport Police officer recovered most of the property reported taken from the 15th Street residence, including electronics, jewelry and coins – the kinds of things take in the other robberies around the city, said Rasmussen.

Meanwhile, outside the city limits, mobile home parks also are being hit at a rapid pace, according to Capt. James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office.

Since the start of November, Perk's Mobile Home Park has reported four burglaries and two attempted burglaries, while Lakeside Village and Northport – both off of Lakeshore Boulevard – and Sterling Shores off of Robin Hill have each reported a burglary in the past week, Bauman said.

Bauman said that, in two of the four burglaries reported at Perk's, vehicles were stolen. One, a 2002 PT Cruiser, was recovered in Nice the same day as it was reported taken. The other vehicle, a 2007 Buick Lucerne, was recovered several days after the burglary on Hickory Lane in Lakeport, less than a mile from Perk's.

In addition to the mobile home parks, Bauman said there have been five other burglaries reported at residences in the north Lakeport area since the beginning of the month.

The method of entry in all the burglaries has been pried windows or doors, said Bauman.

Because they appear similar, it's possible the crimes are related, but Bauman said that hasn't yet been proved.

Rasmussen said Lakeport Police has some leads on suspects who may have been involved in the burglaries in city limits.

As to whether they're connected to the burglaries outside the city limits, Rasmussen said, “We're looking into the possibility that they're related but right now we don't have enough information to prove that they're related.”

In the mean time, he urges anyone who sees suspicious activity in their neighborhood to call police immediately. Residents also are urged to keep residences locked and to put up security lighting to deter break-ins.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


The stolen truck was discovered on Socrates Mine Road on Nov. 10, 2008. Courtesy of the California Highway Patrol.


MIDDLETOWN – Two Middletown men have been arrested in connection with a stolen vehicle case, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Raymond Marrujo and Jason Hagan, both aged 34, were arrested Wednesday, according to a Thursday report from CHP Officer Adam Garcia.

Garcia explained that witnesses reported a dumped vehicle consisting of a pickup truck cab and frame on Socrates Mine Road in Middletown on Nov. 10.

CHP Officer Erich Paarsch responded and, with the assistance of Lake County Code Enforcement Officer Rod Hillard, was able to identify the vehicle as stolen out of Vacaville, Garcia said.

Paarsch and CHP Officer Kevin Domby obtained a warrant for a residence on Mead Road in Middletown where witnesses believed the suspects had been dismantling the pickup. Garcia said the search warrant was served on Wednesday with the assistance of the Lake County Narcotic Task Force.

Officers located the engine belonging to the stolen vehicle along with several other components, said Garcia. As a result of the search, Marrujo, a construction worker, was arrested for receiving stolen property and conspiracy to commit a crime.

CHP officers and Narcotic Task Force agents discovered information leading them to a second residence in Middletown off of West Road where they recovered more parts from the stolen pickup, according to Garcia.

There, they contacted Hagan, who they arrested, said Garcia.

Charges against Hagan include vehicle theft, receiving stolen property, conspiracy to commit a crime and several other charges including illegal dumping, altering a vehicle identification number and tampering with a vehicle, according to jail documents.

Bail was posted at $42,000 for Hagan, whose profession is listed as chef on his booking sheet. Marrujo's bail was set at $20,000.

Both men remained in the Lake County Jail early Friday.

Paarsch stated that the investigation is ongoing with additional suspects being sought in connection with the theft.


Hidden Valley Lake Association employees on Tuesday protested what they said was an illegal lockout that began over the weekend. Photo courtesy of Lora Darling.

HIDDEN VALLEY LAKE – Hidden Valley Lake Association employees on Tuesday were protesting what they said was the association management's decision to lock them out of work during ongoing contract negotiations. {sidebar id=106}

HVLA has 16 to 18 employees – most of them golf course maintenance workers, plus building maintenance and a few janitors – represented by Laborers International Union of North America, Local 139, based on Eureka, according to the union's business manager, Dave George.

George said HVLA officials have not given the union a reason for the action.

HVLA General Manager Jim Johnson would not comment on the situation when contacted by Lake County News on Tuesday.

Johnson said a statement will be issued once the association's attorney has approved it.

The union had a contract extension with HVLA until Friday, Nov. 14, said George. The lockout began on Saturday, when a union member who works as a janitor arrived and found he was locked out.

A second janitor was locked out Sunday, and the remainder of the union members were locked out of work on Monday, George said.

George, who accused HVLA of negotiating "in bad faith," said the union is taking its case to the National Labor Relations Board.

"We've filed a charge with the National Labor Relations Board to try to get injunctive relief to try to force the employer to put them back to work," he said.

On Monday and Tuesday, union members carried signs protesting what George said was an illegal lockout.

Union members participating in the protest said they were not authorized to speak on behalf of the union.

Instead, they handed out flyers explaining their case and asking for people to attend the next HVLA Board of Directors meeting, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 20.

They also asked for donations of food and toys to get through the upcoming holiday season.

Local 139 has represented workers at HVLA since 1996, said George.

George said negotiations between Local 139 and HVLA have been taking place "off and on" for some months. In talks with HVLA, it's come up that the association needs to cut its expenses 20 percent.

During the recent negotiations, George said HVLA brought in an attorney for the first time. "We've never used attorneys in negotiations," he said.

"It was not our choice, it was their choice," said George. "They've been bargaining in bad faith."

George said HVLA has refused to disclose workers' pay rates, most of which he guessed are around $11 to $13 per hour.

"They're trying to turn them into the working poor. They're there now, really," he said, adding that one of the union members has a home in foreclosure.

He said he had asked to meet with the HVLA Board of Directors but received no response. "We tried to head this off before it got to this point."

George said if the National Labor Resources Board finds for the union, HVLA could end up paying substantial amounts in back pay and benefits. He said the union has filed charges against HVLA previously and entered into settlements with them.

Correspondent Aimee Gonsalves contributed to this report.

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HIDDEN VALLEY LAKE – The deaths of four Pacific Union College students in a crash over the weekend has devastated fellow students and led to public tributes in their honor.

Boaz Joshua Pak, 20, and Simon Chulmin Son, 19, both of Hidden Valley Lake; Luke Kotaro Nishikawa, 22, of Honolulu, Hawaii; and Chong Whon Shin, 20, of Aloha, Ore., were killed in a crash that occurred on Deer Park Road east of the Silverado Trail in Napa County at about 11:45 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 15, according to the California Highway Patrol's Napa office.

"The PUC community mourns the loss of four wonderful young men who were already giving service back to the community," said College President Richard Osborn in a statement released Sunday. "Our entire campus is grieving along with their families. But as a faith-based college, we have hope that springs from our beliefs as we celebrate all these young men accomplished in their brief lives."

CHP Officer Jaret Paulson said that while it's early in the investigation, investigators believe speed was a factor.

The college reported Sunday that the students had just finished playing basketball at the college gym and were on their way to Safeway in St. Helena to get something to eat when the crash took place.

Pak was driving a 2003 Honda Civic westbound on Deer Park Road when the crash occurred on one of the last curves heading down toward Silverado Trail, according to Paulson.

“It appears the vehicle lost control and actually slid sideways into opposing traffic,” Paulson said.

Pak's Honda collided broadside in the eastbound lane with a 1993 Toyota pickup driven by 28-year-old Sandalio Martinez of Angwin.

Carlos Rio Ortiz, 20, also of Angwin, was traveling eastbound in a 1993 Honda Civic behind Martinez. Following the first collision, Ortiz hit the back of Martinez's pickup.

The four students were declared dead at the scene, according to the CHP.

Martinez sustained major injuries and was transported to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital for treatment, the CHP reported.

Ortiz, who suffered minor injuries, was booked into the Napa County Jail on suspicion of driving under the influence, Paulson reported.

Paulson added that the CHP also is investigating the possibility that Martinez may have been driving under the influence.

The students, he added, did not appear to have been drinking.

Three of the men were wearing their seat belts, while Shin was not, according to the CHP.

Paulson said the CHP is not saying driving under the influence caused the crash, “but DUI was there.”

Pak's vehicle suffered “significant” damage, said Paulson. It took emergency personnel a few hours to remove the young mens' bodies from the vehicle.

The investigation, evidence collection and scene measurements and cleanup took a long time, said Paulson. “We were there a good nine hours.”

While CHP was processing the scene, Deer Park Road was closed and Sanitarium Road was used as a detour around the collision scene.

“It's a tragedy, it's a huge loss to our community,” said Paulson. “It's a great reminder to everyone to slow down and buckle up their seat belts.”

On Sunday, Pacific Union College – the Angwin-based liberal arts college of 1,400 students that is affiliated with the Seventh-day Adventist Church – held a prayer meeting in honor of the four young men, with counselors and pastors available to students afterward.

Pak, Son, Shin and Nishikawa “were well known and liked on campus,” the college reported.

The college said that Pak was a biology and pre-pharmacy major, while Nishikawa was studying American history. Shin was involved in youth ministry at the Rohnert Park Korean Seventh-day Adventist Church and studied business administration and pre-dentistry.

Son was involved in a campus outreach program called Homeless Ministries, according to the college statement. On Saturday morning, students said that Son had gone to the Bay Area with a group of students to feed the homeless. He was majoring in nursing.

The college reported that grief counselors, residence hall deans, and the campus chaplain began working with students during Saturday night as news of an accident involving fellow students spread around campus. On Sunday, the college offered support groups and one-on-one counseling for the campus community.

The college's Web site is offering a message board at www.puc.edu/news/memorial for students, friends and family to post their tributes to the students.

Messages have been coming in from around the country and around the world in memory of the young men, with one poster sending condolences from the United Kingdom.

On Thursday at 10 a.m., Pacific Union College will hold a memorial service for the young men during their weekly colloquy in the college church.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


The Ely Stage Stop building during its summer of 2007 move. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.

KELSEYVILLE – The Lake County Historical Society has two interesting projects that need the assistance and talents of our local tradespeople.

The society is seeking help for its Ely Stage Stop Museum and cable car restoration projects.

In July of 2007, the Ely house, one of the county's oldest buildings, was relocated from Highway 29 near Kit's Corner to a beautiful five-acre parcel on Soda Bay Road adjacent to the Riviera area. This was all made possible by vintner, Andy Beckstoffer who donated both the historic building and the five acres.

The county of Lake, in conjunction with the Lake County Historical Society, has been charged with the challenge of turning this generous donation into a first-class agricultural museum and visitors center.

Restoration efforts on the stage stop have begun. Due to the fine efforts of Public Services Director Kim Clymire and his staff, the building now has a proper foundation, a new roof and windows.

Clymire plans to add a wrap-around porch to the building next year and begin restoration efforts on the interior of the building.

After the restoration of the building is completed the county plans to turn over the site to the Lake County Historical Society.

The Lake County Historical Society has grand plans for the agricultural museum that will be located near the Ely house.

Under the direction of Greg Dills, chairman of the Ely Stage Stop Museum Committee, they plan to erect four turn-of-the-century barns on the five-acre parcel. Two of the four barns have been donated to the society and one has already been disassembled for shipment to the museum site.

As the barns are reconstructed on site, they will be filled with unique agricultural equipment that has been donated to the historical society over the years. Horse-drawn wagons, tractors and farm implements are just a few of the items that will be featured.

In order to make this museum a reality, the historical society will need the talents of local contractors and builders.

They will need an excavating contractor to cut the pads for the barns, cement contractors to lay the foundations and cement flooring of the barns.

Also needed are carpenters to erect the barns, roofing contractors and painters to help complete the buildings. The historical society is a nonprofit organization dependent on volunteer efforts but tax credits can be issued for those contractors who wish to realize some compensation.

Another important project on the drawing board of the society and the county is the restoration of a one-of-a-kind cable car. Car 38 is the last example of a pre-1906 earthquake cable car. Built in 1907, it was one of the last to be built in likeness of the pre-quake models. Surprisingly it is in fairly good shape but needs to be refurbished from top to bottom in order to insure it will last into the next millennium.

Bud Boyce of Lower Lake, a welder with over 60 years of experience, has offered to work on the steel undercarriage. The wooden cab of Car 38 is in need of an expert finish carpenter with "old school" savvy to supervise the restoration of the woodwork. Also needed is a building large enough to house Car 38 while restoration proceeds.

If you or anyone you know might be able to assist the Lake County Historical Society in any aspect of these two worthy endeavors please call Greg Dills about the Ely Museum at 707-263-4180, Extension 12, or Randy Ridgel about Car 38 at 707-490-8279.

Visit the Lake County Historical Society's Web site at www.lakecountyhistory.org.


COBB – A followup meeting for community members concerned about the operation of the Bottle Rock Power Plant will be held this Thursday and will offer an update on progress in dealing with a variety of issues.

The meeting will take place at the Little Red Schoolhouse on Cobb, 15780 Bottle Rock Road, at 6 p.m. Thursday.

An initial gathering was held at the schoolhouse on Oct. 30, in which neighbors of the plant – which reopened at the end of March 2007 – made it clear they were tired of waiting for the plant's operators to finally address ongoing issues such as noise and concerns over potentially hazardous materials being stored on the property in drill sump ponds.

One of the most outspoken neighbors, David Coleman, shared his concerns at that meeting, and plans to attend Thursday as well.

Coleman, who said he “wasn't very reassured” by the last meeting, said he plans to put together information packages for several agencies to explain the neighbor's main problems.

While he said the plant's sound levels are bothersome, “Our core group is just mainly concerned with the toxicity of the material.”

The material in question is what comes out of the drills. Coleman said tons of material comes out of the 18- to 20-inch drilling holes that go down about two miles into the ground in pursuit of the geothermal resource.

At the October meeting Coleman said officials confirmed for the first time that those materials might be toxic.

“I thought the county's explanations were really quite pathetic,” Coleman said.

Water safety was another issue that came out on Oct. 30, with some plant neighbors saying their water wells had been contaminated.

Coleman said a lot of people pull water from Kelsey Creek, and he's concerned because the area's water also flows to Clear Lake.

Supervisor Rob Brown, who has put the meetings together, said the plant's management is “working to try to mitigate some of the concerns expressed at the meeting,”

Since Oct. 30 he has had discussions with county Community Development Director Rick Coel and Larry Bandt, vice president of engineering for Oski Energy, which manages the power plant for its owners, regarding sound control.

Speed issues on High Valley Road, where neighbors said plant trucks were driving too fast, causing safety problems and destroying the road, also are being dealt with, said Brown.

One potential development on the county side is consideration of hiring a geothermal consultant.

Hamilton Hess, chair of the Friends of Cobb Mountain, suggested on Oct. 30 that the county have a geothermal point person, which the county had in the past.

Brown said the suggestion was a good one, and the county is now looking at hiring planning consultant Melissa Floyd – who has worked with both the county and city of Clearlake – to fill that role. He said state funds would help pay for Floyd's services.

If the board approves hiring Floyd, she would monitor geothermal projects, said Brown. That would include coordinating contacts between county and state agencies – Environmental Health, Fish and Game and Air Quality – that have a role in permitting and overseeing such operations.

Floyd also would be the person community members could take concerns to, Brown said.

He'll introduce Floyd and the idea of hiring her to the power plant's neighbors Thursday.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


LAKE COUNTY – A strike team of local firefighters is in Southern California assisting with the efforts to fight wildfires that have claimed hundreds of homes and burned tens of thousands of acres.

Five engines – one each from Lake County Fire Protection, Kelseyville Fire, Northshore Fire, Anderson Valley and Hopland – left on Sunday, said Lake County Fire Protection Battalion Chief Willie Sapeta.

The group included three firefighters per engine, said Sapeta.

Chief Jim Robbins of Northshore Fire said his district sent two battalion chiefs, Jamie Crabtree and Pat Brown, to serve as strike team leaders.

Capt. Dave Bosserman of Kelseyville Fire said their three firefighters got the call to go at 3:30 a.m. Sunday. They took with them a type-three fire engine, which he described as a four-wheel-drive truck with a pump system on it, which is good for wildland firefighting.

Sapeta said his firefighters pulled out at 7:15 a.m. Sunday.

The firefighters got to their destination in Southern California last night at about 10 p.m., said Robbins.

Robbins said they were assigned to the nearly 29,000-acre Freeway Complex, which Cal Fire reports includes the Freeway and Landfill fires. Nearly 3,700 firefighters are currently assigned to that complex.

The fires started in Riverside County and are now burning through rugged terrain in Orange County. Cal Fire says the complex is 40-percent contained.

The local strike team was assigned to a 24-hour rotation to work the fires, said Robbins. Sapeta added that the firefighters were due to be on the fireline first thing Monday.

“They were going with five other strike teams to the head of the fire,” said Robbins. “They know the Lake County boys can put the fire out.”

He spoke with firefighters Monday morning after their briefing. Brown told him about the eerie experience of driving down Highway 71, the Chino Valley Freeway, and finding its eight lanes barricaded and empty of all but fire traffic.

Over the weekend Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proclaimed a state of emergency in Orange, Riverside and Los Angeles counties due to a devastating series of wildland fires that have hit the area beginning Nov. 14. Santa Ana winds have assisted in fueling and moving the fires, according to officials.

A day earlier, Santa Barbara County was hit with the Tea Fire, now at 95-percent containment, with an estimated 210 homes destroyed, Cal Fire reported.

Sapeta said they have no idea how long the local firefighters will be needed in Southern California, although they have a seven-day minimum and 14-day maximum commitment period, after which they'll be switched out if more help is needed.

Local firefighters have ventured out of the county to offer assistance on fires in other regions several times this year, said Sapeta.

In May, a strike team was sent to the Summit Fire burning in the Santa Cruz Mountains, then the Humboldt Fire in Butte County and the Mendocino Lightning Complex in June, and to Santa Clara County in July. Local fire districts sent nine ambulances to Colusa County in October when a bus crash occurred, killing several people.

Lake County has received its fair share of help this year. Cal Fire, the US Forest Services and fire agencies from around the state converged in Lake County in June to fight the 14,500 Walker Fire east of Clearlake Oaks and the 8,652-acre Soda Complex burned from June to July in the Mendocino National Forest.

While it was very busy in the beginning of the fire season, until recently it had quieted down, said Sapeta.

Sapeta said there have been some years where local strike teams have been called out during the winter months of January and February in response to Southern California wildfires fueled by those devastating Santa Ana winds, which can make a fire deadly at any time of year.

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HIDDEN VALLEY LAKE – A lockout of union employees at the Hidden Valley Lake Association continued on Wednesday, as the association itself issued a rebuttal to flyers the union members have been handing out this week. {sidebar id=107}

At the same time, federal officials are investigating a complaint filed by the union alleging that the association has broken federal labor law by not bargaining in good faith.

The first of the employees were locked out starting this weekend, with the rest of them finding themselves locked out on Monday, as Lake County News has reported.

The dozen and a half union members, represented by Laborers International Union of North America Local 139, continued a protest picket on Wednesday, asking the community for donations of food and toys to help them get through the lockout and the holiday season.

They stood on a corner by Hardester's Market and near the elementary school, dispensing flyers and waving to drivers, many of whom honked in reply.

Union business manager Dave George said they still haven't received any information from HVLA about why it locked out the employees. “It's been the strangest negotiations.”

George and the union maintain that the lockout is illegal, and that HVLA is not bargaining in good faith.

HVLA General Manager Jim Johnson has refused to comment publicly on the situation, and HVLA Board President Don Dornbush did not return a call placed Wednesday seeking comment.

However, on Wednesday HVLA did offer a written rebuttal to the flyers being distributed by the union workers.

The document, which HVLA would only hand out at its office, said that Johnson's place of residence, salary and pension package should not be questioned, and explained he is a Hidden Valley Lake resident who receives no pension from the association.

HVLA's response stated that Johnson has neither “'coerced' nor encouraged union workers,” the majority of which currently make more than the union contract rates.

The association also asserted that they've not suggested those contract rates be lowered, and added that the only HVLA employees who currently have pensions are union workers.

HVLA maintains that it has bargained in good faith throughout the negotiation process, and signed a contract continuance that ended Nov. 14.

According to the rebuttal, the union canceled a contract negotiation scheduled for Nov. 11, Veterans Day.

George told Lake County News on Tuesday that the union planned to file charges against HVLA with the National Labor Relations Board.

Joseph Norelli, the National Labor Relations Board regional director for the San Francisco regional office, confirmed Wednesday that his office had received the filing.

“We are just beginning to investigate this,” Norelli said.

On Nov. 14, the day the bargaining agreement expired, the union filed a charge alleging that HVLA had threatened the employees with a lockout on Saturday because they were at an impasse, according to Norelli.

He was notified by the union's attorney on Saturday morning that the lockout had begun.

Local 139 has alleged the lockout is illegal. For the lockout to be legal, Norelli said HVLA needs to show that they haven't committed unfair labor practices, that they're bargaining in good faith, and have been unable to reach an agreement and so must lock out employees.

“The law gives them that right,” said Norelli, but he said it remains to be seen if this is a legal or illegal lockout situation.

Norelli said he's expediting an investigation into the allegations at the union's request. The investigation could take as long as 49 days, although Norelli said they'll try to get it done faster than that.

The union has requested the labor board seek an injunction in federal district court that would require HVLA to immediately reinstate all of its employees, said Norelli.

That, in turn, could lead to a settlement or litigation before the labor board concerning whether or not the employees would have to be permanently reinstated and “made whole” with the payment of back wages and benefits, he said.

Norelli said Local 139 began filing a succession of charges against HVLA in the late spring.

“We investigated all of those charges and in September we found that there was merit to a number of those charges,” he said, adding that some charges also weren't found valid.

HVLA was found to have made changes in employment terms and conditions without notice or bargaining with the union, said Norelli, which is a breach of labor law.

As required by law, the labor board offered HVLA an opportunity to settle, which they did. That settlement required that HVLA – which didn't admit guilt – agree that they would not repeat the mistake, and would post a notice telling employees of their rights and listing the allegations.

“It's just bringing to everyone's attention that this was done unlawfully without bargaining,” Norelli said of the notice.

HVLA also had to reimburse employees for any losses they suffered which, in this case, were related to changes in the rules about letting employees take home company vehicles, he said.

After the settlement, things appeared to be resolved. “We haven't heard much from them since then until we got a charge late in the day on Friday,” said Norelli.

Norelli said the new charges against HVLA also raise concerns about the association's compliance with the previous settlement, which was reached toward the end of September, and is still in a 60-day notice period.

He said that settlement also required that HVLA not refuse the union relevant information requests about such things as wage levels – which George and Local 139 are alleging HVLA is now doing.

“We have not yet closed this case on compliance,” he said. “They may be breaching the settlement agreement, which would require that this settlement be set aside.”

That would necessitate a new complaint, which Norelli said could lead to a new settlement or to litigation.

George suggested that HVLA's new management may not fully understand its duties in the negotiations process.

An HVLA Board of Directors meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. The lockout is expected to be a topic of discussion.

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From left, Charles Burk and Malcolm Brown on their way into court on Monday afternoon. Photos by Harold LaBonte.

LAKEPORT – Two men who were the subject of a daylong search on Nov. 13 after an alleged break-in and assault were arraigned in Lake County Superior Court on Monday afternoon.

Charles William Burk, 30, a transient, and Malcolm Safa Brown, 40, of Graton, appeared in front of Judge Richard Martin but offered no pleas during the brief hearing.

They were arrested last Thursday after allegedly breaking into the Noble Ranch Road home of Burk's adopted parents and assaulting Burk's adopted father, Donald Merrill Sr., 52, and his son, Donald Merrill Jr., 22.

Burk and Brown are then alleged to have fled in a white pickup, ramming a deputy sheriff's patrol car while trying to escape, and then fleeing on foot into the Hidden Valley Lake community.

There, it's alleged they attempted to force their way into a home on Spruce Grove Road, but the home's owner, Brian Moynihan, 34, physically held the door closed and then chased them from his property.

Later in the day, Burk was found hiding under the exterior deck of a home on Stonegate, while Brown was arrested after being spotted on foot at Foothill Court and Spyglass Road.

When the men were arrested both were alleged to be under the influence of methamphetamine, according to a Nov. 14 sheriff's office report.

William Conwell was appointed to represent Brown, with Thomas Quinn to defend Burk. Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff is prosecuting the case.

Judge Martin read off a lengthy list of charges against the two men, including assault with a firearm, assault with force likely to cause great bodily harm, a charge pertaining to Merrill Sr.'s assault, battery with the intent to cause harm, larceny, vandalism with more than $400 in damage, assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer and causing damage to a law enforcement vehicle.

Burk also is facing attempted murder for the assault of his adopted father, possession of a firearm with a previous felony conviction and vandalism with more than $400 in damage for Moynihan's property.

In addition, the District Attorney's Office is charging special allegations for Burk's alleged used of a firearm and for a previous conviction in Oregon, along with possible probation violations in Lake County.

Brown has a record that includes multiple burglaries with violence in Sonoma County and at least one prison term that began in 2002. In addition to another violent felony conviction that was not specified in court, he has a Sonoma County conviction for drunk driving and may also be facing a parole violation.

During the Monday court proceedings, Burk sat with his head lowered and his chin cradled in his hand as he listened to the reading of the charges against him.

Martin issued a criminal protection order instructing both Burk and Brown to refrain from communicating in any way whatsoever with any of the victims or witnesses involved in this case.

The judge also continued the more than half a million dollars in bail for each man and instructed them to return Friday, Nov. 21, when a date for the preliminary hearing will be set.

Hinchcliff told Lake County News Monday afternoon that further charges may be filed against Burk and Brown as information and evidence continue to come in. He said he feels that the most serious charges already have been made.

Regarding possible punishment for the crimes Hinchcliff conceded that should Brown’s record show an alleged previous “second strike” he could spend a very long time behind bars.

Should he be found guilty, Burk could be facing close to 20 years in prison, Hinchcliff said.

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Carol Kesey with some of the chrysanthemums grown in her Lakeport garden. The flowers were on display at the Clear Lake Trowel and Trellis Club's Dance of the Mums show on Friday, November 14, 2008. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.


LAKEPORT, Calif. – The chrysanthemum – it's the flower of November, and is beloved in China and Japan. {sidebar id=105}

The beautiful fall flower with dozens of variations and colors was featured at a special show in Lakeport Friday afternoon.

The Dance of the Mums flower show, hosted by the Clear Lake Trowel and Trellis Club at the Lakeport Yacht Club, gave mum enthusiasts their first chance in several years to concentrate on the special flower, said club member Jo Jameson.

Another club member, June Beto, said the show – which also featured one of the biggest and tastiest selections of homemade goodies around – had many visitors, which may lead to future shows.

Lakeport resident and club Carol Kesey is considered by many to be the local expert on chrysanthemums. 


A delicate and exotic-looking Seatons' Galaxy spider, one of the many variations of chrysanthemum. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.


Kesey, who will be 91 in December, started growing chrysanthemums in the 1950s, when she moved to her home on Ninth and High streets. She still lives there, with a yard that's a veritable flower showcase.

“I just love them all,” Kesey said of flowers.

Mums generally are in season September through November, said Kesey. That means the flowers arrive in time for the Lake County Fair, where Kesey has won many show ribbons. But she hasn't been of a mind to brave the late summer heat to show her flowers at the California State Fair in Sacramento.

Jameson said Kesey has encouraged other club members to enter their flowers in the fair. She added that Kesey also is incredibly generous, and shares her flower starts with anyone who drops by and asks for some.

Kesey, who comes from a family of people with “green thumbs and muddy hands,” said growing chrysanthemums is addictive. “You just can't stop.”

Mums also have taken over her yard, forcing her to grow vegetables in pots rather than the ground.

Getting the big, lush flowers requires a lot of work, including a process called “disbudding,” which Kesey said involves breaking the flowers down a few times.

Many of the chrysanthemums at the show were grown by Kesey, with numerous arrangements crafted by her friend, Shirley Estrem. Not one to play favorites, Kesey said she couldn't pick any one in particular that she liked the best.

Each day Kesey spends three to four hours outside working in her garden. Kesey, who could easily pass for about 20 years younger than her 90 years, credits her garden and working in it for her youthful outlook and good health.

Growing mums, like life, take some time to get right, according to Kesey, who has a sparkling wit.

“In about 50 years you usually get it all figured out,” she said.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at [email protected]. 


Jo Jameson's arrangement, titled "Let's Swing." Photo by Elizabeth Larson.



Claire Grieve created this arrangement, titled "Chinese Checkers" with a mum grown by Carol Kesey. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.



Carol Kesey grew the mums for this arrangement, created by Nancy Benkelman, titled "Gold Miner's Find." Photo by Elizabeth Larson.



Chrysanthemums feature many different shapes and colors. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.



Heidi Thomason's arrangement, "Reaching for the Moon," with mums grown by Carol Kesey. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.


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