Sunday, 21 July 2024




I want a Whole Foods Market in Clearlake.

Those people who regularly read my column know that I have always supported local businesses and patronize the mom ‘n’ pop stores whenever possible.

So it may seem odd that I am calling for another franchise chain to take up residence here, but I have several reasons why I think a Whole Foods Market would be a benefit to our community.

For those who may be unfamiliar with the model of Whole Foods, they are a grocery store that offers mostly organic food, homeopathic remedies, and unique house wares. They are not a discount grocery store, but what they offer is high quality produce and products that promote a healthful lifestyle.

I have a recurring list of things to pick up from Whole Foods Market whenever we are near one, unfortunately that ends up being twice a year.

The paradigm of Lake County is changing. The population is growing, wineries are popping up like dandelions and upscale homes and family neighborhoods are becoming more common. We have a growing interest in farmers markets, community supported agriculture, and in locally produced foods.

Lake County has a very organic, vegetarian, health conscious population yet there are only a couple of health food stores, and for the most part they are no larger than the size of my living room. I try to visit all of these stores but since the nearest one to me is 20 miles away I don’t visit any of them as regularly as I would like. These factors suggest that a Whole Foods Market would be a good fit for our expanding and evolving community.

I even have the perfect location for a Whole Foods Market. The Lakeport Safeway has recently been remodeled to look like a foodie’s tourist destination, and now the Clearlake Safeway is slated to get a similar upgrade in the near future.

Unfortunately this will consist not of a remodel of the current location, but will actually be a complete move to a brand new location. The plan is to build an entirely new Safeway where the defunct water park currently is, and while this is good news for Safeway, I call it unfortunate for a couple of reasons.

Being a resident of Clearlake Oaks, my twice monthly major grocery runs consist of a 14-mile round trip. When Safeway moves to the water park location, it will add a few more miles onto the trip. People in the towns of Glenhaven and Spring Valley who have to drive a good distance anyway will then have even longer trips to make. And the people of Clearlake will no longer have a grocery store in the center of town.

Almost all of the major grocery stores will be crowded on the southeastern side of the city – Safeway, Ray’s and Walmart, with its expanded grocery section, all will be within sight of each other, and Foods Etc. not very far away from them.

With the recent move of the Rite Aid drugstore out of the Burns Valley Center, when Safeway leaves too there will be no major anchor store to draw customers to the smaller businesses in the center and they will suffer.

Launching a Whole Foods Market in the current Safeway location would be a good draw to help support the smaller businesses, while keeping a grocery store in a location easily accessible to the population of Clearlake. In addition, another large grocery store like Whole Foods would offer dozens of employment opportunities and revitalize the center of the community.

I’m sure that just like I have to drive to the other side of the lake for sashimi grade tuna at Bruno’s market and people from Lakeport drive across the lake to get the amazing steaks at the Lakeside Market, other people also would be interested in the products and goods that Whole Foods can provide and would commute to acquire these goods. So not only would Whole Foods profit from the city of Clearlake and all of the towns that surround it but from people from the other side of the lake that don’t have access to Whole Foods diversity.

Whole foods has a list of stores in development but the problem is that most of them are many times in a reasonable driving distance of Whole foods markets already in existence. Here in Lake County we would have to drive over an hour and over at least one mountain to get to a Whole Foods Market. If they were to open a Whole Foods Market in Clearlake they would be opening their doors in truly virgin territory not just expanding by inching through the cityscape.

Here's the bribe.

So, regional president of Whole Foods, I’m calling upon you to get a couple of friends and associates together contact me and I will give you all a personal tour of our county. We’ll look at the local communities that you would serve, I’ll give you a personal wine tasting tour, and show you how you could be on the ground floor of this evolving community.

We’ll call it a working vacation, market research, or just a chance to get away from the wife and kids, but I think you would really love it here.

Ross A. Christensen is an award-winning gardener and gourmet cook. He is the author of "Sushi A to Z, The Ultimate Guide" and is currently working on a new book. He has been a public speaker for many years and enjoys being involved in the community. Follow him on Twitter, .

LAKE MENDOCINO – Mendocino County officials are reporting Lake Mendocino's fourth drowning this year.

A 20-year-old Ukiah man drowned Tuesday evening, the most recent in a string of summertime drownings that have occurred in that body of water, according to Capt. Kurt Smallcomb of the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office.

“This is the most out there that I can remember for a long time,” Smallcomb told Lake County News on Wednesday.

Smallcomb said that Mendocino County Sheriff's deputies, Redwood Valley/Calpella Fire personnel, US Army Corp of Engineers personnel and California Highway Patrol were dispatched to Lake Mendocino at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday on the report of a possible drowning.

Officers arrived at Lake Mendocino Pomo B Swimming area and learned that the victim – a 20-year-old Ukiah man – had been swimming in the area, just past the ropes when he went under the water, Smallcomb said.

The man's friends attempted to retrieve him from the water without success before they telephoned 911 and requested assistance, according to Smallcomb.

The Mendocino County Sheriff's Dive Team was summoned to the location and began efforts to locate and retrieve the victim, who Smallcomb said they found at 9:40 p.m.

Smallcomb said the victim's name is being withheld until proper notification is made to the next of kin, who are believed to be living in Mexico.

According to the witnesses and friends of the victim alcohol did not play a part in the victim's death, Smallcomb said. He said toxicology tests on the victim are pending.

A Cloverdale man drowned in July, weeks after the death of a young Redwood Valley man. Smallcomb didn't have information on the third drowning previous to this latest incident.

Smallcomb said alcohol appeared to have been involved in the previous drownings.

He's unable to explain the increase in drownings this year over last, when he recalled having two such deaths.

Smallcomb said the sheriff's office's calls for service to Lake Mendocino are less this year, and the lake also doesn't appear to be as busy as far as boat traffic.

“I have no explanation for that,” Smallcomb said.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at .

A fuel spill that resulted when a semi truck went into Cache Creek following a collision on Tuesday, August 25, 2009, resulted in a portion of Highway 20 being shut down for several hours. Photo by Georgia Hughes.



CLEARLAKE OAKS – A stretch of Highway 20 reopened just after midnight Wednesday after officials spent hours dealing with a hazmat issue that resulted from a crash.

The collision that triggered the closure occurred just before 3:30 p.m. Tuesday on Highway 20 at mile post marker 35, east of Clearlake Oaks.

The California Highway Patrol reported from the scene that an RV's hood had popped open while it was going down the highway, causing it to pull over. A tractor trailer carrying pears swerved, hit the RV from the rear and then also hit three other vehicles.

The Button Transportation semi went into Cache Creek as a result of the collision, coming to a rest on its side.

Several people were injured in the crash, with some of the victims suffering major injuries, according to the CHP. The truck driver was reported to be uninjured.

A short time after the crash Caltrans closed the highway between Highway 16 and Highway 53 as emergency medical personnel arrived.

Two REACH air ambulances transported two crash victims from the scene to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.

With the truck in the creek, concerns about a fuel spill resulted in a call for hazardous materials cleanup. State Fish and Game and Lake County Environmental Health subsequently joined the effort.

About an hour after the crash officials were looking at putting a dike in Cache Creek to divert the spill. A request also reportedly was made to Yolo County to reduce the flow of water through the creek in an effort to contain the truck's fuel.

Two big rig tow truck were tasked with pulling the truck and its two trailers from the creek, an operation it completed shortly before 9:30 p.m.

With the truck out of the creek, Caltrans was able to finish roadway cleanup. Willits Tow is to repair approximately 100 feet of guard rail damaged by the wreck, the CHP reported.

The CHP noted that the highway reopened at approximately 12:07 a.m. Wednesday.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at .

LAKE COUNTY – As fall arrives, Lake County will have plenty of great food and wine events to enjoy.

If you're curious about great local food and wine, you can now follow me on Twitter. Log onto and see what events I’ll be attending.

Sept. 3-5

Lake County Fair. Adults, $8; kids, 6 to 11, $5; age 5 and younger, free. Rides, exhibits, food. For gate opening and closing hours visit .

Sept. 4

Meet the Winemaker, Blue Wing Saloon & Cafe. High Valley Winery Dustin and Bobbie Brassfield will be pouring their wines. 9520 Main St., Upper Lake; 707-275-2233 or .

Meet the Winemaker, Lake County Wine Studio, Reynaldo Robledo will be pouring six wines with appetizers. Cost is $10. Also featured will be an art show featuring Bernard Butcher's black and white photography. 9505 Main St., Upper Lake; 707-275-8030.

Sept. 5

Labor Day Weekend Concert, Moore Family Winery featuring C.A.M. Jam blues and classic rock. Doors open at 5 p.m.; show starts at 6 p.m. Ribs, chicken and corn on the cob cost $10; hot dog meal costs $5. 11990 Bottle Rock Road, Kelseyville; 707-279-9279 or .

Sept. 7

Labor Day Blues Concert, Blue Wing Saloon & Cafe, Upper Lake. Premier slide guitarist Roy Rogers. Show starts at 5 p.m. and includes a set by Gerald Mathis and Starlight. Tickets are $30. Sponsored by Gregory Graham Wines. Tickets available at the Blue Wing Saloon or the Tallman Hotel. 9520 Main St., Upper Lake; 707-275-2233 or .


Sept. 12

Wildhurst annual Wine Club Harvest Party. Caribbean theme with steel drum entertainers. Caribbean cuisine will be served by Watercolors Restaurant. Holdenried Ranch, 2 p.m. to 6 p.m . $45 per person for members, $55 for non-members. RSVP: 707-279-4302.

Sept. 18-19

Lake County Wine Auction, Kelseyville. Tenth annual wine auction and black-tie gala is a must-attend event that benefits local organizations and programs that support the arts, health and community. Local and regional wineries provide ample wine-tasting opportunities while local purveyors serve gourmet foods. Guests can enjoy live music amid the buzz of a silent auction and the energy and excitement of a live auction and have the opportunity to enjoy other special events such as winemaker dinners scheduled throughout the weekend. Sponsored by the Lake County Wine Alliance. 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. National Guard Armory, Hill Road, Lakeport. Cost is $100 per person. 707-278-0129, .

Sept. 24

Tapas Thursdays, Teo’s Lakside Bistro, 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. every Thursday through October 22. $35 per person. This week Michael Noggle will pour his Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc. 2570 Lakeshore Blvd., Nice. Tickets and information: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 707-263-1109.

Sept. 25

An evening with Cowboy singer Dave Stamey, Wildhurst Vineyards courtyard. 6:30 p.m. $25 per person. Proceeds benefit Kelseyville FFA. 3855 Main St., Kelseyville. Information: 707-279-4302.

Sept. 26

Kelseyville Pear Festival, Main Street, Kelseyville. 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Food, parade, exhibits, art show and sale. Information: 707-279-9022 or .

Pear specialty drinks, Kelseyville. In conjunction with the Kelseyville Pear Festival, sommelier Stephanie Cruz-Green will create wine-based pear cocktails, such as pear-tinis and pear bellinis for festival-goers to enjoy. 3940 Main St. Information: 707-279-2112.

Harvest Education, Six Sigma Winery, Lower Lake. The Six Sigma Ranch vineyard team will lead a demonstration on "Harvest 101." The event includes grape picking followed by a light lunch served with Six Sigma wines. Cost is $25 per person. Reserve your spot by Sept. 21. Six Sigma Winery, 13372 Spruce Grove Road. Information: 707- 994-2086.


If you have a food or wine related event and would like to have it listed in the coming months, call Ross at 707-998-9550.

LAKE COUNTY – Beginning Thursday and lasting and throughout the weekend, the weather is forecast to be close to average for Lake County, but the remnants of Tropical Storm Ignacio may bring partly cloudy skies and a chance for thunderstorms over the higher elevations.

High temperatures Thursday should top off near the average temperature of 91 degrees, according to the National Weather Service in Sacramento (NWS). Lows are predicted to be near 52 degrees.

According to the Old Farmers' Almanac, the record high for this date was 113° in 1924, which the county will be well below. The record low of 40 degrees for this date was set in 1921.

NWS states that it will be partly cloudy later Thursday and Friday. Some Bay Area meterologists are predicting that Friday will be warm and muggy, due to the remnants of Tropical Storm Ignacio moving through the area, which a chance of higher-elevation thunderstorms.

Both Saturday and Sunday will in the normal range, with highs around 90 degrees and lows in the 60s, according to the NWS.

The Weather Channel's long-range forecast predicts that Lake County will cool off a bit throughout next week with highs topping off in the 80s.

For up-to-the-minute weather, visit the LakeCoNews homepage.

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

UKIAH – Mendocino County officials are reporting what they believe is that area's first death from the H1N1 influenza.

A 42-year-old Mendocino County man died Aug. 21 with probable H1N1 influenza, according to Mendocino County Public Health Officer Dr. Marvin Trotter.

Trotter said confirmatory tests are pending from the State Public Health Laboratory.

This man – who had a history of longstanding medical issues – is the first person in Mendocino County suspected of dying with the H1N1 virus, said Trotter, who extended his agency's deepest sympathies to the family.

“While we have identified 12 laboratory confirmed cases in Mendocino County through testing, we are following current state and federal testing recommendations which are to test only those hospitalized patients and deaths,” Trotter said. “We want to emphasize that there are hundreds of H1N1 cases in the county. The vast majority of these cases have mild or moderate illness, and the patients recover without medical treatment.”

As of Aug. 18, there have been 115 H1N1-related deaths in California, according to the California Department of Public Health.

Nationwide, the Centers for Disease Control are reporting 7,983 hospitalized cases and 522 reported deaths.

In Lake County, three cases have been confirmed but there have been no deaths, according to Health Officer Dr. Karen Tait.

Mendocino County has been hit harder, with 12 hospitalizations in addition to the death.

“Unfortunately, it is anticipated that there will be more deaths and severe influenza illness throughout the United States and California before this pandemic ends,” Trotter said.

Officials have noted seeing a lot of H1N1 flu activity this year during the summer, which usually is down time for the seasonal flu. Trotter is concerned about more people becoming ill as the fall and winter months approach.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has stated that the H1N1 vaccine is scheduled to be allocated in mid October.

Prioritization guidelines will be issued by the CDC and the state as there may not be enough H1N1 vaccine for everyone. Mendocino and Lake counties are both developing vaccination plans to address the most vulnerable populations, based on CDC guidelines.

Officials urge people to take precautions to avoid getting sick: Cough and sneeze into your elbow or a tissue and dispose of the tissue after each use; wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer; avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, even after washing your hands; avoid close contact with sick people; stay home from work or school when you are sick and don’t return until you have been free from a fever for 24 hours without any fever reducing medicine; and get your season flu shot.

The Konocti Challenge provides a great day of activity and some of the county's best views. Courtesy photo.

LAKE COUNTY – I don’t know about you, but for a fair weather, leisurely bike rider like me, the annual Konocti Challenge Bike Ride on Saturday, Oct. 3, is an awe-inspiring event.

Hundreds of intrepid bicyclists come from all over to tackle this challenging and beautiful ride.

There are four ride options, the 65 or 100 mile course following the circle of the lake, or the 19 or 30 mile family ride. All of the choices offer beautiful views and first class rest stops.

Pre-registration is Friday, Oct. 2, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Lakeport Yacht Club. This is a benefit for the Rotary Club of Lakeport.

The ride release times for the 100, 65 and 30 miles rides are from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Saturday morning with the 19 mile family ride having a mass start at 10 a.m.

I give the sponsors great credit for their honesty in their descriptions of the courses. While the really serious riders want this information so they can line out their strategy, the rest of us just gape in wonder at the changing elevations they expect you to be able to make.

The short version of the rides is as follows (for the nitty, gritty details you can get them on their Web site at ).

The 100-mile ride is for riders who are really ready to test themselves, knowing they really earned the absolutely great steak and chicken dinner at the end a great day in the saddle.

The 65-mile ride is also not for the faint of heart! Like the 100 mile ride you will ease into the ride as you enjoy coasting along the beautiful Clear Lake shoreline keeping Mt. Konocti in your sights from across the lake. The 65 mile ride also offers some of the Challenge's greatest vistas. The Web site says you may want to pack a camera.

The 30-mile ride sets you on a course traveling south of Lakeport through rows of engaging orchards and quiet country roads.

The new 19-mile fun ride is designed for you and your family to spend a wonderful day of riding together enjoying beautiful Lake County and each other.

All rides offer full SAG support and rest stops along the way.

There really isn’t anywhere else that offers more beautiful countryside and magnificent views than Lake County, so if you choose to participate in one of the rides or just go out and cheer the riders on, it is a great way to spend a beautiful fall day in Lake County and support a great organization.

Pre-registration fees are $60 for the 100-mile ride, $50 for the 65-mile ride, and $40 for the 30-mile ride and $10 for 12 and under and $20 for 13 and over for the 19-mile family ride. Add $10 to the fees if you wait to register at the event. You can also get an official ride jersey for $75.

For more information you can call 707-349-0815 or see their web site at .

COBB – A Wednesday morning crash claimed the life of a local man.

Frank Hartmann IV, 21, of Clearlake was pronounced dead at UC Davis Medical Center, where he was flown by REACH air ambulance after the crash, which occurred at approximately 6:50 a.m. Wednesday, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Steve Tanguay.

Tanguay said Hartmann was driving a 1972 Harley Davidson motorcycle northbound on Harrington Flat Road south of Sulphur Creek Road.

Witnesses reported that Hartmann was traveling at a high rate of speed and passed two vehicles over painted solid double yellow lines, according to Tanguay.

As Hartmann entered a curve in the roadway, he lost control of the motorcycle, which Tanguay said struck a dirt embankment on the east side of the roadway.

The motorcycle returned to the roadway where it overturned, ejecting Hartmann from the motorcycle, Tanguay said. Hartmann landed approximately 100 feet from where the motorcycle overturned.

South County Fire responded to the collision scene and transported Hartmann to a landing zone where REACH then transported him to U.C. Davis Medical Center, where Hartmann was pronounced deceased, Tanguay said.

Neither drugs nor alcohol are considered to be factors in this collision, which Tanguay said is still under investigation by Officer Brian Engle.


Later in the evening it was reported that candles had been left in the roadway near the crash scene.




CLEARLAKE OAKS – Officials are estimating that Highway 20 will be closed until early Wednesday morning because of a crash that injured several people and left a big rig in a creek.

Several California Highway Patrol units were reported to be at the scene, where the crash occurred shortly before 3:30 p.m.

The crash occurred on Highway 20 at mile post marker 35, east of Clearlake Oaks, leaving the roadway closed down not long afterward, according to the CHP.

At 5:30 p.m., officials estimated that the highway will be closed for approximately eight hours.

Caltrans was closing Highway 20 at Highway 16 near Brooks in Colusa County and also was shutting down eastbound Highway 53. CHP units were being called to respond to turn traffic around at Highway 16.

The big rig, carrying pears, was said to be in Cache Creek, with Fish and Game and hazmat units called to the scene. Officials were discussing damming the creek to try to contain the spill.

County Environmental Health officers were on their way to the scene shortly before 6 p.m.

Two REACH air ambulances landed at the scene to transport several people injured in the head-on crash. Specifics about the number of injured were unavailable Tuesday afternoon.

More updates will be provided as information becomes available.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at .

LAKE COUNTY – The Clear Lake office of the California Highway Patrol reported Thursday that several local law enforcement agencies will participate in a sobriety checkpoint this coming Sunday, Aug. 30.

CHP, Lake County Sheriff’s Office, Lakeport Police Department and the Clearlake Police Department will conduct the joint sobriety checkpoint.

“Our agencies have a zero tolerance approach of impaired drivers on our city and county roadways,” said CHP Area Commander Lt. Mark Loveless.

Loveless said funding for this program was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

“The desired result is to save lives and make everyone’s family summer excursion, for both our community residents and those visiting our beautiful county, a safe and pleasurable memory,” Loveless said.

The sobriety checkpoint will be staffed by officers and deputies from each department who are trained in the detection of alcohol and/or drug impaired drivers.

Drug recognition experts, certified by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, will be on site to provide on the spot assessments of drivers suspected of drug use.

The officers and deputies will also be equipped with state of the art hand-held breath devices which provide an accurate measure of blood alcohol concentrations of suspected drunk drivers.

Cal-Trans employees will be on site providing traffic control in order to ensure the safety of officers and motorists alike.

Lt. Loveless said that, traffic volume permitting, all vehicles will be checked and drivers who are under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, or unlicensed, can be expected to be arrested.

“Our goal is to ensure the safe passage of each and every motorist by targeting roads where there is a high frequency of drunk driving,” Loveless said. “Driving under the influence enforcement patrols as well as sobriety checkpoints are effective tools for achieving this goal and are designed to augment existing patrol operations. By publicizing our efforts, we believe that we can deter motorists from drinking and driving.”

From left, Lakeport attorney Don Anderson says he'll challenge District Attorney Jon Hopkins in the 2010 election. Photo of Anderson by Elizabeth Larson; Hopkins photo courtesy of the Lake County District Attorney's Office.


LAKEPORT – Although the November 2010 election is more than a year away, the race for Lake County's district attorney post already is taking shape.

In an exclusive interview granted to Lake County News, Lakeport attorney Don Anderson this week announced that he'll challenge incumbent District Attorney Jon Hopkins in the 2010 election.

Hopkins, 63, also confirmed to Lake County News this week that he'll seek reelection next year.

“I'm going do it again in 2010,” said Hopkins, who was elected in 2006 after running unopposed.

Anderson, 57, who was a deputy sheriff for 15 years before getting into law 20 years ago, said of his reasons for running, “It's just disheartening to see what Lake County has been through over the last several years, especially recently.”

High profile cases like the trial of Bismarck Dinius have hurt the county's reputation, he said, noting that the Dinius case contributed to his decision to run. In fact, Anderson visited the courtroom many times during the trial to watch how it unfolded.

He added, however, that the problems that he sees in the District Attorney's Office “were there long before the Dinius case.”

Responding to Anderson's challenge, Hopkins said opponents in race bring in better community participation. “And that's always a good thing, I think,” he said.

However, Hopkins – who has 37 years of experience in the criminal justice system – is giving no quarter when it comes to how he runs his agency. While Anderson is criticizing Hopkins for how he handles his department, Hopkins replies with criticism of Anderson that focuses on lack of prosecutorial experience.

Anderson says he sees system from both sides

Anderson said he has support from law enforcement and his law colleagues in choosing to run.

He said his longterm girlfriend Jennifer McGee is all for his decision to seek the district attorney job. “She's been encouraging me to do this for some time,” he said.

Anderson also has the support of his four daughters, two stepsons and 11 grandchildren.

He's not new to campaigns, having run for sheriff in 1994 among a field of five. Anderson came in third in that race, which was won by Rod Mitchell. Next year, Mitchell also is facing a challenge from Francisco Rivero, who has announced his plans to seek the sheriff's post.

Anderson, who has lived in Lakeport since his family moved here when he was a junior in high school, also gained a place in local law enforcement history in 1981 when – following a shootout – he helped capture a couple who shot and killed another deputy sheriff, Richard Helbush.

Annika Ostberg Deasy, who was sentenced to prison in California, was returned to her native Sweden earlier this year, a decision made by federal and state authorities that had concerned both Hopkins and Anderson, as Lake County News reported.

As he's pursued a career in law, Anderson has focused on civil and family litigation as well as criminal defense cases.

One of the strongest attributes in his favor, according to Anderson, is that he's seen the system from both sides – both as a deputy and as an attorney.

As a former deputy, “I know what it's like on the street,” said Anderson.

As an attorney, he's worked on high-profile cases involving police officers, such as former Lakeport Police Officer Richard Erickson, who was acquitted of several charges including allegations that he had misappropriated government funds.

He also represented Shavon Vestal in her suit against the city of Clearlake and the Clearlake Police Department. Vestal's father, David Vestal, was shot to death in June of 2008 during a confrontation with Clearlake Police. Shavon Vestal had sought $32 million; the case recently settled, with the city's insurance carrier paying Vestal $125,200, while her young son received $25,100 and her boyfriend $15,100.

Anderson said he wants to bring back the integrity the office had under former district attorneys Robert Crone and Stephen Hedstrom, both of whom went on to be judges. When Crone and Hedstrom headed the agency, they made their charging decisions based on good reasons, said Anderson.

Currently the District Attorney's Office is charging cases that never should have been charged – and not charging cases that should be prosecuted, said Anderson.

The kinds of problems Anderson cites appeared in the Dinius case, during which the prosecution handing over 119 pages of discovery evidence on the morning the trial started. He said other defense attorneys have shared with him the same problem, which Anderson said illustrates an attitude of wanting to win a case no matter what.

Anderson said he would continue the District Attorney's Office's practice of pursuing grants to support its operations, but he cautions that putting too much emphasis on grants can mean that the money ends up dictating what gets charged.

Addressing questions about his experience, Anderson said he's done many trials and has a good win record.

“It's much harder to defend a case than to prosecute a case,” Anderson said.

In order to build a better relationship with the public, “First you have to change the whole philosophy of the department,” Anderson said.

That would include giving deputy district attorneys more power to resolve cases. Anderson said deputy district attorneys currently have little power to take such actions.

It's important for a district attorney to have confidence in his or her deputies, and Anderson said the District Attorney's Office has a lot of very good young prosecutors.

Hopkins emphasizes decades of experience

Hopkins said he knows the complexities of running a prosecutor's office, and has 24 years of prosecutorial management. His agency this year has a $3.8 million budget.

He said he's also worked as a public defender, and represented thousands of people in that capacity while working in Los Angeles.

“I have a lot of empathy and compassion for the people charged with crimes,” Hopkins said.

An Ohio native, Hopkins is a father of three and grandfather whose early career included seven years as a public defender in Los Angeles County before he moved to Santa Cruz in 1979.

There, he worked as an assistant district attorney and a chief deputy district attorney for seven years before taking the executive director's position with the California District Attorney's Association for a year.

In 1987 he returned to the Santa Cruz County District Attorney's Office as a chief deputy. He was loaned out to the Lake County District Attorney's Office for a homicide case in 1998.

Later – after an unsuccessful application to take on that county's district attorney's job when it was vacated – he and wife, Annette, made the move to Lake County permanently, where he was the No. 2 man in District Attorney Gary Luck's office.

In 2006 he was elected district attorney.

Hopkins has taught for the National College of District Attorneys and the California District Attorneys Association, as well as the Hastings College of Criminal Advocacy.

“I feel like what I'm trying to accomplish here is basically take a farm team from the minors into the majors because of all the young people we've got, because we can't attract experienced people with the low wages that we pay,” he said.

Hopkins said he has a lot of experience with supplemental revenue in the form of grants, and experience with personnel issues in the prosecutor's office.

He also points to “heavy duty, major trial experience.”

An important skill is to be able to teach less-experienced prosecutors so they are ready to take on the cases that are important to the community, said Hopkins.

Lake County doesn't have a lot of violent offenders, but when they do appear, the District Attorney's Office needs to do a good job at prosecuting them, said Hopkins.

Earlier this week Hopkins told Lake County News that he doesn't intend to apply to succeed Judge Arthur Mann, who announced Monday that he's stepping down from his post in Lake County Superior Court's Department 3 effective Nov. 1. Hopkins said that's because he's happiest as a prosecutor.

While Hopkins brings heavyweight credentials and qualifications to his post, he's also prone to the weaknesses that can come with incumbency – including the baggage of unpopular prosecutions.

While he ran unopposed in 2006, the situation for the coming election early on promises to be much different.

Hopkins is at the lowest ebb of his political popularity since arriving in the county, due in no small part to the public outcry over the Dinius case.

He's been roundly criticized both locally and by sailboat enthusiasts around the world for prosecuting Dinius and not Russell Perdock, the off-duty sheriff's chief deputy whose powerboat was traveling at high speed in nighttime conditions when it hit the sailboat Dinius was piloting.

Hopkins said he couldn't convict Perdock based on the evidence available to him, and in an interview last week maintained his belief that the lights on the sailboat Dinius was piloting were off.

Some community members have stated an intention not to wait until next year's election, but to begin a recall petition on Hopkins immediately.

In 2007 he and Sheriff Rod Mitchell both refused to sign on to a countywide ethics policy for department heads, citing First Amendment concerns and the code's prohibition against becoming involved in supervisorial elections, as Lake County News has reported.

Hopkins also was the source of severe criticism for prosecuting San Franciscan Renato Hughes for two counts of homicide in connection with the December 2005 shooting deaths of his two friends, Christian Foster and Rashad Williams.

The three had allegedly broken into the home of Clearlake Park resident Shannon Edmonds, looking for marijuana. During the break-in 17-year-old Dale Lafferty, son of Edmond's then-girlfriend Lori Tyler, was beaten nearly to death and suffered permanent brain damage.

On the stand in the trial – which was moved to Contra Costa County due to pre-trial publicity – Edmonds testified that he shot at Foster and Williams in the back as they ran from his home.

The case came to be cast in racial terms, as Edmonds is white and the other men black. Despite Edmonds' admission to shooting Foster while he was down, Hopkins did not prosecute Edmonds. He did charge Hughes with murder under the provocative act, a law that's not often used but that allows a person involved in a crime that could yield a lethal response to be charged with murder for any deaths that result.

Leaders with the state's chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People protested the prosecution on the steps of the courthouse in Lakeport.

Hopkins won burglary and assault with a firearm convictions on Hughes, who a jury acquitted of the murder charges.

He maintains that he can't base his department's course on public sentiment.

“There are a lot of aspects to this job that don't strike the eye,” he said. “You have to be able to make judgment calls without bending to outside influences.”

Those influence include local people of standing or – in the age of connectivity – people speaking out on blogs, he explained.

“You need to be able to make decisions without worrying about political implications,” said Hopkins. “That's a very tall order because people want to have things done their way.”

Hopkins added, “The minute you bend to that you've lost your independence, you've lost your objectivity, you've lost your professionalism.”

He said decisions have to be made based on an obligation to the county's residents.

“I'm very proud of the fact that I've actually gone to battle in those types of cases against the odds and sent dangerous people away, protecting the community,” Hopkins said.

What's next for the hopefuls

A 2010 election calendar issued by the Lake County Registrar of Voters Office notes that the petition for signatures in lieu of a filing fee must be filed between Jan. 4 and Feb. 25.

Declaration of candidacy and nomination papers will follow, between Feb. 16 and March 12, with the extension period for nomination papers lasting from March 13 to March 17 – in the case an eligible incumbent doesn't file.

Hopkins said he has many plans ahead as he seeks a second term. He said he has much more to do that requires another term to complete.

“I started out to achieve a lot here,” he said, adding that he wants to take that a lot further.

He said his goal is to build an office that has obvious leadership succession, which includes grooming not just a successor for others who have the training to take on difficult tasks.

“The DA can't do it all,” he said, noting there are many complicated aspects to leadership.

Anderson said his main focus now will be listening to the community.

“I really would like to get input back from the community,” about both problems and solutions, said Anderson.

Anderson can be contacted at his office at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 707-263-1775. Hopkins' office can be reached at 707-263-2251 or through the Lake County District Attorney's Web page, .

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at .

LAKEPORT – After 30 years on the bench, Judge Arthur H. Mann announced Monday that he is retiring.

Mann, 62, said his retirement as judge of Lake County Superior Court's Department 3 will become effective Nov. 1.

“Although I am retiring, I am not quitting,” Mann said in a statement released from his office Monday afternoon. “I anticipate that I will remain working as a retired judge until my successor is selected.

“I wish to thank all the other judges that I have had the pleasure of working with as well as all the Court employees,” Mann continued. “I will miss working with my fellow judges and court staff as much as I will miss being a judge.”

Mann began his judicial career on July 10, 1979, when he was appointed judge of the Kelseyville Justice Court.

Since then, he's been a justice court judge, a municipal court judge and a superior court judge. In that capacity, he's heard everything from minor cases to cases involving murder.

“Being a judge is the best possible profession that I can imagine, and I always looked forward to going to work each day,” he said.

Mann and the rest of Lake County's Superior Court judges have six-year terms, which aren't up for reelection until 2012, according to the Lake County Registrar of Voters Office.

That means Mann's retirement will create a vacancy that is up to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to fill, said Philip Carrizosa, spokesman for the state's Administrative Office of the Courts in San Francisco.

“Generally, the governor's office has a list of people who have filed applications for a judgeship,” Carrizosa explained.

The Governor's Office sends those names over to the California State Bar's Commission for Judicial Nominees Evaluation, said Carrizosa. The commission sends out questionnaires to people who may know that candidates, and conducts candidate interviews.

The application process is the governor is very detailed, and Carrizosa said the Commission for Judicial Nominees Evaluation's work in identifying a suitable candidate is confidential.

The commission assigns ratings to candidates on a scale including extremely well qualified, well qualified, qualified and not qualified, Carrizosa said.

The commission's evaluation of the candidates then go to the governor's judicial appointment secretary, which assists in deciding the best candidate for the position, he said.

Generally, the governor will wait until a position is officially vacant – in this case, November – before beginning the selection process, said Carrizosa. He said he would expect the governor to appoint a new judge sometime in early 2010.

It can take some time to fill a judgeship. The last judicial vacancy in Lake County occurred in July 2004, when Judge Robert Crone decided to retire. It was the following July before Richard Martin was sworn in as his successor.

An official with the Governor's Office wasn't available late Monday to confirm if they've started to receive applications from candidates.

Superior Court judges currently make $178,789 annually. However, local judges have agreed to take a nearly 5-percent pay cut in response to the state's decision to close all courts on the third Wednesday of the month as a cost-saving measure, as Lake County News has reported.

There so far have been no local members of the justice system who have stated they'll seek Mann's post.

However, one who said he won't apply is District Attorney Jon Hopkins.

“I don't think I would be as happy doing that as I am being a prosecutor,” said Hopkins, 63, noting he wouldn't want to be tied to a courtroom.

Hopkins added that being a judge is “a tough job. There's a lot of work involved with it.”

Mann ended his statement by thanking the community “for giving me the opportunity to serve them and I thank them for their support of the judicial system. As a retired judge I hope to continue serving the public.”

He also wished his successor good luck, “and I know that whoever succeeds me will have a rewarding career.”

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at .

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