Tuesday, 23 July 2024


T. Watts at the KPFZ microphone. Courtesy photo.




It is an unprecedented alignment of the stars. Not wholly unlike the recent total solar eclipse or the appearance of Halley’s Comet.

The CyberSoulChildren who are alive and conscious on July 31, 2009, can be cognizant of the fact that not one, but two major Motown acts are appearing at the same time in and around Lake County, within 60 miles of each other. The Four Tops are appearing at Cache Creek Casino Resort. Smokey Robinson is appearing at Konocti Harbor Resort & Spa.

This is an insightful, culture altering occurrence, juxtaposed against the golden anniversary of the birth of Motown. As a chronicler of the evolution of rhythm and blues, the time has come for me to offer up and perhaps correct some Sound Of Young America (as Berry Gordy called it) history.

I remember striving to find some semblance of that Sound on the airwaves when I arrived on the shores of Lake County in 1997. There was a commercial station that used to air a promo once or twice an hour that stressed that they played the best in Motown. They’d then follow it with a Billy Preston track or an Aretha Franklin track, neither of whom was ever a Motown artist.

Sometimes of course, they would play a legitimate Motown artist, but they would err (no pun intended) enough to make the CyberSoulMan uncomfortable. So, for those of you who are perhaps carrying around those suppositions as fact, here is the CyberSoulMan version of some Motown history. Be forewarned that I can’t squeeze the whole soulful slate into 1,000 words.

Motown was created by Berry Gordy on Jan. 12, 1959. Originally it was called the Tamla Records but incorporated as Motown Record Corp. a little over a year later.

At first it was simply a record label, a vehicle to expose to the world the very unique tapestry of the artists involved in the Detroit Sound. The first group signed to the label was the group formerly known as The Matadors. This was the group that Smokey Robinson sang lead for and when they signed with Tamla, they became The Miracles.

Other early Tamla acts were Marv Johnson, Mable John and Mary Wells. The first certifiable Tamla hit was “Money” by Barrett Strong, which charted at No. 2 on Billboard's R&B hit list in 1959.

The first million-selling record for Motown was “Shop Around” by The Miracles. The first Billboard No. 1 pop hit for the corporation was “Please Mr. Postman” by the Marvelettes.

Berry Gordy amassed a stable of artists that also included Martha & The Vandellas, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Tammi Terrell, The Supremes, Gladys Knight & The Pips and The Jackson 5.

Somehow, it became ingrained in parts of the American psyche that Motown was an exclusively African-American company. Nothing could be further from the truth.

From virtually its inception forward, Motown has been integrated. It has had many artists and acts that were not African American. Among them, Chris Clarke, Rare Earth, Judas Priest, Dorsey Burnette, R. Dean Taylor, The Pretty Things, Stoney & Meatloaf, Shaun Murphy, Duke Jupiter, Teena Marie, Michael McDonald and the great Bobby Darrin, among others.

Some of you may recall the film “Standing In The Shadows Of Motown,” which documented the saga of The Funk Brothers, the extremely jazz savvy studio musicians who did all the instrumental tracks for Motown from 1959 to 1972. They, too, were an integrated band.

Motown also developed Motown Latino Records which focused on Spanish language Latin American music.

In addition, Motown employed songwriting/production teams that included Smokey Robinson, Holland/Dozier/Holland, Norman Whitfield and many others that reflected accurately this melting pot called America.

Clearly, Motown wasn’t all African-American in its scope. Similarly, all African-American music wasn’t Motown. To insinuate that Aretha Franklin music is Motown distorts history. Though Aretha grew up in Detroit she was never Motown. There is room enough in Detroit for more than one iconic style or genre.

Billy Preston and others incorrectly tagged by that aforementioned radio promo not withstanding, there are many distinctions within the canon of African-American music, some of them geographic, some stylistic, some differences subtle, some very overt. It helps to do the homework. There will only be a quiz on the above material if you choose to self administer it.

The last time Smokey Robinson appeared in Lake County, I believe, was in 2004 at Robinson Rancheria. I had not seen Smokey live since 1967 when he was still fronting the Miracles. Tammi Terrill opened that show at San Francisco’s Basin Street West and gave the Smokey a good run for his money.

I was pleasantly surprised when Smokey played Lake County last. Not only had he matured gracefully, but he was a better performer. And he was my favorite in 1967. For those of you who can’t make his upcoming show, KPFZ 88.1 FM will broadcast my 2004 interview with him on Saturday, Aug. 1, between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Duke Fakir is the only remaining founding member of the Four Tops. Obie Benson, Lawrence Payton and their great baritone lead singer Levi Stubbs have gone on to glory in Soul Heaven. Don’t let that hinder you from attending their show if you are so inclined. They have recruited former Temptation Theo Peoples and Lawrence Payton’s son Roquel to round out and continue their great sound.

For an awe-inspiring deeply emotional view of Levi Stubbs performing for the last time with his group (and the new replacements) go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1May52b1RQ . Have your hankies on the ready!

Keep prayin’, keep thinkin’ those kind thoughts.


Upcoming cool events:

Sunday Brunch in the Garden, Blue Wing Saloon & Cafe, 9520 Main St., Upper Lake. Brunch served 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Chris Forshay featured on guitar and vocals, 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Information: 707-275-2244 or www.bluewingsaloon.com .

Will Siegal & Friends, 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Blues Monday, July 27, Blue Wing Saloon & Cafe, 9520 Main St., Upper Lake. Information: 707-275-2244 or www.bluewingsaloon.com .

Open Mike Night, 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, July 30, Blue Wing Saloon & Cafe, 9520 Main St., Upper Lake. Information: 707-275-2244 or www.bluewingsaloon.com .

Rootstock, 6:30 p.m. Friday, July 31. Library Park, 200 Park St., Lakeport.

Smokey Robinson in concert, 7:15 p.m. Saturday, July 31. Konocti Harbor Resort & Spa. 8727 Soda Bay Road, Kelseyville. Information: 800-660-LAKE or www.konoctiharbor.com .

The Four Tops in Concert, 9 p.m. Saturday, July 31. Cache Creek Casino Resort, 14455 Highway 16, Brooks. Information: 888-77-CACHE or www.cachecreek.com .

T. Watts is a writer, radio host and music critic. Visit his Web site at www.teewatts.biz.

LAKE COUNTY – August has a full slate of great events to attend in Lake County.

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

Aug. 2

Sunday Brunch in the Garden, Blue Wing Saloon & Cafe, 9520 Main St., Upper Lake. Brunch served 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Chris Forshay featured on guitar and vocals, 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Information: 707-275-2244 or www.bluewingsaloon.com .

Aug. 5-8

Blue Wing Blues Festival, Blue Wing Saloon & Cafe, 9520 Main St., Upper Lake. Four nights of blues music, two bands each night plus a barbecue dinner. 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tickets are $45. Information: 707-275-2244 or www.bluewingsaloon.com .

Aug. 8

No Fireworks Pancake Breakfast, Lakeport Fire Department, 445 N. Main St., 8 am. until noon. Hosted by the Lakeport Kiwanis to help support funding deficits for the Channel Cats Swim Team caused by new regulations banning fireworks sales. No Fireworks Pancake Breakfast tickets are available from Channel Cat swimmers, Miss Lake County Pageant participants and supporters, the Lakeport Kiwanis members and the firefighters at the firehouse. The cost is a $10 donation for a single breakfast and $25 for a family ticket. Info: www.kiwanislakeport.org; Arlin Pischke, 707-263-5412, or Jennifer Hanson, 707-263-3131.

Aug. 9

Sunday Brunch in the Garden, Blue Wing Saloon & Cafe, 9520 Main St., Upper Lake. Brunch served 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Vocal group Ear Reverence will perform, 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Information: 707-275-2244 or www.bluewingsaloon.com .

Aug. 16

Sunday Brunch in the Garden, Blue Wing Saloon & Cafe, 9520 Main St., Upper Lake. Brunch served 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Patrick Fitzgerald and Shelly Mascari will perform, 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Information: 707-275-2244 or www.bluewingsaloon.com .

Aug. 21

Taste of Lakeport, Main Street. Lakeport. 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Twelfth-annual wine tasting event featuring food, wine tasting, live music, and dancing. Businesses in downtown Lakeport stay open late for the event, which is a benefit for the revitalization of downtown Lakeport. Presented by Lakeport Main Street Association. Information: 707-263-8843, www.lakeportmainstreet.com .



Aug. 22

Concert in the Vineyard Series, Moore Family Winery, 11990 Bottle Rock Road, Kelseyville. Doors open at 5 p.m., show starts at 6 p.m. Bill Noteman and The Rockets, West Coast blues style music. Cheeseburgers cost $8; corn dog meal, $5. Information: 707-279-9279, http://moorefamilywinery.com/ or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Aug. 23

Sunday Brunch in the Garden, Blue Wing Saloon & Cafe, 9520 Main St., Upper Lake. Brunch served 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Chris Forshay featured on guitar and vocals, 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Information: 707-275-2244 or www.bluewingsaloon.com .

Ongoing activities

The New Cool at Konocti Harbor featuring David Neft. Konocti Harbor hosts “The Piano Man” David Neft, playing the grand piano from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., every Friday and Saturday in the relaunched dining room. 8727 Soda Bay Road, Kelseyville. Information: 800-660-LAKE or www.konoctiharbor.com .

Certified Farmers Market, Steele Winery, 4350 Thomas Dr. at Highway 29, Kelseyville. Saturdays, 8:30 a.m. until noon, May through October. A variety of produce grown in the area as well as flowers, coffee, pastries and bread, arts and crafts, and live entertainment. Information: 707-279-9475.

Langtry Estate and Vineyard Tours, 21000 Butts Canyon Road, Middletown. Langtry Estate and Vineyard is offering exciting and innovative tour programs. Guests ride in battery-operated Global Electric Motorcars. Tours are offered Tuesday through Saturday. The Tephra Vineyard Lunch Tours are offered at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. $40 per person includes lunch and wine tasting. Reservations required 24 hours in advance. Info: 707-987-2385

Tuscan Village Friday Concert Series, Main Street, Lower Lake. Live music, food, wine tasting. Presented by 2Goombas and Terrill Cellars. 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Information: 707-994-3354.

A Taste of Lake County Wine Tours, countywide. Spend the day sipping fine wine, enjoying a gourmet picnic amongst the vines, taking in the rustic beauty of Lake County. Tour includes picnic lunch and tasting fees. Perfect for small groups. Tours of Napa also available. Information: 707-987-1920 or www.aeroshuttleservice.com .

Beer Master Dinner Series, Molly Brennan’s, 175 N. Main St., Lakeport. Second Tuesday of each month, 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Different brewery featured each month, with beers paired with each course of a five-course meal including dessert. Advance reservations required. Information: 707-262-1600.

Lake County Wine Tours, countywide. Experience the “Undiscovered Wine Country” that is Lake County. Taste award winning premier wines at friendly tasting rooms and in stunning vineyards. Knowledgeable guide, all tasting fees and a gourmet picnic lunch included. Information: 707-998-4471 or www.lakecountywinetours.com .

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 – This weekend wine enthusiasts can experience the varied and unique winegrowing regions found in Lake County in a special annual event.

The fifth-annual Lake County Wine Adventure, a two-day passport event, will be held Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

This year’s Lake County Wine Adventure is once again being hosted by the Lake County Winery Association.

Lake County is part of the North Coast American Viticultural Area (AVA), which also encompasses Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino counties. Within Lake County, five other AVAs exist – Clear Lake AVA, Benmore Valley AVA, Guenoc AVA, and the recently approved Red Hills AVA and High Valley AVA.

Adventurous wine enthusiasts will have an opportunity to discover “wine with altitude” and taste the reason why Lake County – with a grape-growing history that extends back to the mid-19th century – is fast becoming known for its award-winning wines, ultra-premium winegrapes, resort-style wineries, and friendly tasting rooms.

Throughout the weekend, “wine adventurers” will taste wines from five of Lake County’s six distinct viticulture areas (AVAs) as they visit participating wineries, including: Ceago Vinegarden and Tulip Hill Winery in Nice; Brassfield Estate Winery in High Valley; Shannon Ridge Vineyards & Winery, High Valley Vineyard, and Noggle Vineyards & Winery in Clearlake Oaks; Villa La Brenta in Clearlake; Gregory Graham Winery, Ployez Winery, Terrill Cellars, and Six Sigma Ranch, Vineyards & Winery in Lower Lake; Langtry Estate & Vineyards and Off the Vine at Twin Pine Casino in Middletown; Moore Family Winery on Cobb Mountain; Kelseyville Wine Co./Dusinberre Cellars, Rosa d’Oro Vineyards, Steele Wines, Inc., and Wildhurst Vineyards in Kelseyville; Shed Horn Cellars, Sol Rouge Vineyard & Winery, and Zoom Wines will be offered at Lake County Wine Studio, a multi-winery tasting room and wine bar located in the town of Upper Lake; Bell Hill Vineyards will be offered at Focused on Wine, a wine bar located in downtown Kelseyville.

Adventure tickets may be purchased online at www.lakecountywineries.org for $30 each. Each ticket entitles the holder to wine tasting and hors d’oeuvres at each winery, as well as a logo wine glass, wine tasting booklet and winery map.

Several of the wineries also will offer barrel tastings, winery tours and entertainment. Event-goers may leave their adventure tickets with the last winery they visit to be entered into a raffle for several prizes.

Event organizers promote responsible hospitality and encourage all participants to designate a driver.

For more information, call 800-595-WINE, (707) 355-2762 or visit www.lakecountywineries.org .

HIGHLAND SPRINGS – Officials reported the summer's first drowning on Saturday, which occurred at Highland Springs.

Shortly before 5 p.m. officials were called to Highlands Springs where a male subject had reportedly drowned.

Lakeport Fire and the Lake County Sheriff's Office controlled the scene, while the Northshore Dive Team was called, said dive team leader Capt. John Rodriguez.

Rodriguez said the drowning resulted from a swimming accident.

He and two other dive team members – including Keith Hoyt – responded to the scene.

Hoyt said once the team got in the water, Rodriguez found the victim – whose name and age were not available – after about 10 minutes.

The man's body was found about 75 feet offshore in about 12 to 15 feet of water, said Rodriguez.

“We had about a 5-foot visibility,” Rodriguez explained, noting that the area of the lake where they were searching had a lot of snags and thick weeds.

The team, however, had good information about where the victim had last been seen, which Rodriguez said was the key to the whole operation.

“It led us right to the victim,” he said.

Hoyt said a group of the victim's family members were at the scene, where an event was taking place.

Some good Samaritans who also were at the lake had done repeated dives in an effort to help find the man, but with no luck. Hoyt said they were very close to the location were the body ultimately was found, but the water was a little too deep and the man's body was completely covered by weeds.

Hoyst said the men were extremely upset after being unable to find the man.

He said he thanked them for what they did, which he told them was more than a lot of people would have done.

“They did the right thing,” he said.

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

SACRAMENTO – After a grueling week, the state Legislature on Friday finished the work of passing a budget package that now will make its way to the governor's desk.

But the budget still has a $1 billion deficit, and North Coast legislators warned that the budget agreement won't cure the state's problems.

“These are difficult economic times that demand courage from elected officials, including those in the Legislature,” said Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. “Both Republicans and Democrats stepped up to the challenge, and I want to thank the legislative leaders and the entire Legislature for passing this difficult but necessary budget solution that cuts state spending, reforms government so that it runs more efficiently and does not raise taxes.”

He added, “Our job is not over, and I will continue to work with the legislature to move California forward, to stimulate our economy and create jobs and to enact additional reforms that will make government more cost-effective for the taxpayers.”

With a $25.1 billion budget shortfall plaguing the state, the Legislature approved 31 bills as part of a budget package that, according to the governor's office, includes $15.9 billion in cuts – $9.4 billion in education, $785 million in corrections, $1.6 billion in general government, $820 million in state employee compensation and $3 billion in health and human services.

The Legislature vetoed $1.1 billion in fund shifts, including Cal Fire's interagency agreement with the Legislature, $3.5 billion in revenue proposals and $1.4 billion in estimated savings that would have realized by delaying state payroll and health premiums.

Most significantly for local agencies, legislators vetoed suspending Proposition 1A, which protects local government revenues.

Legislatures also voted against taking a loan from the State Highway Account and other loans and shifts, such as one that would keep open state parks.

The California State Parks Foundation reported Friday that there is an $8 million cut slated for the state's Department of Parks and Recreation, which could result in the closure of between 30 and 50 state parks.

Another $2.3 billion was realized in reforms, including $510 million in 2009-10 for CalWorks, $300 million in 2009-10 and $4.2 billion in 2012-13 by stopping automatic funding increases and cost of living adjustments, $526 million 2009-10 and $2.27 billion in 2012-

2013 by reforming In-Home Supportive Services. Information technology reforms are expected to accelerate tax revenues by more than $160 million over five years and Medi-Cal reforms that are estimated to lead to savings of $1.8 billion beginning in 2012 through 2013.

In all, the budget found $24.1 billion in cuts, putting it just short of addressing the state's full deficit, according to the governor's office.

First District Assemblyman Wesley Chesbro (D-Arcata) said Friday that he was relieved that the state now has a budget, and can start paying its IOUs and improve the state's credit rating.

Chesbro said it would be wrong to call the new budget a permanent solution.

“It has too much borrowing and it postpones too many payments,” he said. “Too many people will be hurt by cuts: not just children, but also the poor and the aged. All Californians will feel the effects of these cuts.”

He said he wasn't willing to wait for months for a better budget. More tough choices likely are ahead if the country's economy doesn't improve, Chesbro added.

North Coast Sen. Patricia Wiggins (D-Santa Rosa) said the budget reflects the reality of just how volatile the revenue picture is in California.

“This budget revision was full of tough decisions,” she said. “Over the last five months, we have slashed state spending by more than $30 billion. The cuts we’ve made have been difficult for our schools, our children, higher education, public employees, public transportation, and the frail and elderly.”

She said the budget protected the minimum levels of education funding that Californians sought through Proposition 98, so that children can still receive a public education that prepares them to enter the workforce. CalWorks and Healthy Families also survived, 80 percent of parks funding was restored and IHSS remains largely intact.

Wiggins said the Assembly rejected the oil drilling bill, and the local gas tax bill also failed, which shaves off more than $1 billion off the deficit reduction effort. She said the governor could make up the the remaining deficit by line item vetoes of other services.

“We will continue to challenge the governor to tell Californians why he believes that initiatives like the decimation of social services are preferable to capturing additional revenue through the closing of corporate tax loopholes, imposing an oil severance tax, or implementing an independent contractor withholding plan to increase current tax compliance,” Wiggins said.

Local officials said this week they are still analyzing what the impacts of the deal will be on county and city governments and services.

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

Are you considering giving money to a child under age 18 (i.e., a minor) to help with their future – such as to help pay tuition, help buy a home or help start a business?

If so, then you probably don’t want to give the minor the money directly (either now or at your death). Instead you want the money held, and perhaps spent, for the minor and have what remains distributed when the child reaches a certain age.

What are your options? We will explore three: Trusts, custodial accounts and educational savings accounts.

Trusts are agreements between a settlor (you) and a trustee (you or someone else) to invest, manage and use trust assets for the benefit of the trust beneficiary, according to the terms of the trust document.

Typically, a trust is used when a significant inheritance is involved and also when a child with special needs receives “needs based” government assistance.

Trusts are desirable for many reasons. Trusts allow great control over the management of the assets and their distribution or use (such as an “incentive trust” that enables or rewards a beneficiary to reach certain goals).

A trust may exist for up to 90 years (so you can protect the assets) and may have multiple beneficiaries (such as a “children’s trust”). The cost of establishing and administering it – legal fees, trustee fees and other administration expenses – is a consideration.

If the money and other property to be gifted do not exceed $5,000, the gift can be given in trust to a custodial parent under a written assurance that the property will be held until the child reaches majority and that an accounting will be performed. This is a very simple type of trust with limited application.

When trusts are not used a custodial account under the California Uniform Transfer to Minors Act (‘CUTMA’) is often the next best solution. Money can be managed under custodial accounts for the benefit of one minor per account; assets must be converted to cash and split if there are two or more minors with each one having a separate account.

A custodial account is established by simply transferring an asset to a custodian to be held under a CUTMA document for the benefit of said minor. The custodian has great discretion. He may either distribute money directly to the minor or spend it for the minor’s well-being (i.e., to pay expenses), however the custodian sees fit, until the minor reaches majority, 18 years of age.

You can extend 18 to age 21 years (in the case of your lifetime gifts) and even to age 25 years (in the case of your testamentary gifts). Upon termination, all of what remains goes outright to the beneficiary.

Custodial accounts are desirable when small amounts of money are involved, and the costs of a trust are not justified. Furthermore, a custodial account allows you to avoid establishing a court supervised guardianship to control the money, which can be quite expensive and is less flexible as regards to the use of the funds.

That said, however, Trusts are more desirable when you wish to hold assets beyond the age of majority; when you wish to benefit more than one minor and do not wish to divide the trust assets in order to establish individual custodial cash accounts; and when you have specific wishes you want carried out.

Educational plans should also be considered. California has the Golden State Scholar Share Savings Trust – a so-called “Section 529 College Savings Account Program.” It can also be used for vocational schools and other post-secondary institutions that qualify for federal aid.

You can contribute cash (only) from after tax dollars into this plan. As donor you remain the owner of the funds and retain control over the account so that you can change the beneficiaries. The funds can pay for qualified educational expenses. Discuss this with your financial advisor.

Editor’s note: Dennis A. Fordham is an attorney licensed to practice law in California and New York. He earned his bachelor's degree at Columbia University, his juris doctor at the State University of New York at Buffalo, and his master's of law degree in taxation at New York University. Fordham concentrates his practice in the areas of estate planning and aspects of elder law. His office is at 55 First St., Lakeport. E-mail him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phone at 707-263-3235.

THE GEYSERS – A decision to delay a new geothermal project in The Geysers until further study is completed appears to have come directly from the top of the federal Department of Energy.

The decision regarding AltaRock Energy's engineered geothermal systems (EGS) project – scheduled to take place on a federal land leaded by the Bureau of Land Management to the Northern California Power Agency (NCPA) – came down earlier this month, as Lake County News has reported.

AltaRock, based in Sausalito and Seattle, plans to drill thousands of feet into the earth and fracture bedrock and inject water, which create steam for geothermal production.

It had already begun drilling into an old well in preparation to start the fracturing – also called “stimulation” – in August.

But a New York Times article late last month and ensuing media coverage in the interim pointed to the similarity between AltaRock's technology and that which was used on a project in Basel, Switzerland, in 2006. In that case, a company – not AltaRock – drilled into a fault and triggered a 3.4-magnitude earthquake and more than 3,500 more over the following year.

Dr. Ernie Majer, a scientist and geophysics department deputy division director for the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, said the decision to halt the project while more study was done came directly from his old boss, Dr. Steven Chu, now head of the Department of Energy.

“It came from the top, it came from Dr. Chu,” Majer told Lake County News.

Chu, Majer said, didn't want to let the project go forward until it was reviewed, and wanted the community fully informed all throughout the process.

Last fall, AltaRock received more than $6 million in funding from the Department of Energy funding for The Geysers project. It also has amassed another $30 million in venture capital.

The project moved very quickly through the approval process with only a month-long public comment process and one community meeting earlier this spring.

On June 8, Rich Burns, a Lake County resident and the field manager for the Ukiah BLM's field office, signed a finding of no significant impact on the project, noting, “the process will induce seismicity that is fully expected to be within the range of present levels (both frequency and magnitude) experienced at Anderson Springs, the closest community to the Project.”

That document also stated, “While it is acknowledged that the proposed project involves some uncertainty regarding seismic impacts, the mitigation and monitoring that will be required by BLM will mitigate these uncertainties to a level of insignificance. Drilling methods and associated activities for this project are typical of existing processes in the Geysers Geothermal Field/Geysers Management Area.”

Officials with the BLM, which needed to approve a federal permit for the company to move forward, stated that AltaRock's didn't disclose to them what happened with the technology in Basel.

In turn, AltaRock's executives have said they withheld no information, and that the Basel project is well known in the industry. They also told Lake County News that the Department of Energy had asked for more information, which the company provided, and they expected to changes to their project schedule, which called for fracturing to begin in August.

Earlier this month, BLM told Lake County News that they and the Department of Energy decided to do more study on the project.

This past week Tiffany Edwards, deputy press secretary for the Department of Energy, provided an agency statement to Lake County News about the decision.

“The Department is conducting additional analysis of the question of induced seismicity, and specifically comparing induced seismicity at the Geysers to induced seismicity at Basel, Switzerland to determine whether there should be additional safeguards beyond what is already planned for the Geysers site,” the statement said. “No stimulation activity will be funded by the Department until we've completed this additional comparative analysis and provided a final NEPA [National Environmental Policy Act] determination.”

Edwards did not respond to Lake County News' request for an estimate on how long the NEPA determination might take.

The written statement Edwards provided further noted that the geothermal technology in question has “enormous potential to provide renewable baseload energy to heat and power homes and businesses. That's why industry and scientific leaders, with the support of the Department of Energy, are working to develop better technologies that will help reduce the cost of these systems, including the cost of drilling and pipes that can withstand hot, corrosive fluids deep within the earth.”

The statement concluded, “Ultimately, we believe that scientific innovation could resolve those issues, and we can develop better ways to manage the deep reservoir to maximize heat production. The Department's support of enhanced geothermal systems is focused on addressing these obstacles.”

Geothermal isn't the only type of energy production raising concerns about earthquakes. Recent reports from Cleburne, Texas, have linked to a series of small quakes – the first in well over a century – to natural gas drilling.

A USA Today report explains that a process called “fracking” is being used in Texas. Like local geothermal production, it involves injecting water deep into the earth. Fracking is meant to fracture shale layers in an effort to release the natural gas.

Officials want more openness in process

Majer said he and other scientists – US Geological Survey seismologist David Oppenheimer and Mark Zoback, a Stanford University geophysics professor – traveled to Washington, DC earlier this month to meet with Department of Energy officials to discuss the project.

He said they met with Dr. Steven E. Koonin, Chu's under secretary for science, to go over the project. Majer said Koonin indicated he wants real-time seismic monitoring in place for the community.

He also attended the community meeting held by the BLM in Middletown in April to discuss the project. Majer said the community had clear concerns about the project.

Then the articles in the New York Times and elsewhere began coming out, said Majer.

“One of the big concerns was how is this different or is it different from what happened in Basel, Switzerland?” Majer said.

He said the Department of Energy has asked AltaRock to write a document and explain how their project would differ from Basel, and explore if the technology could cause similar seismic issues here. “If so, how are you going to deal with it?”

He said AltaRock – which has approached him at one time to be an advisor, a request he declined due to the inherent conflict of interest – is now in the process of providing that report.

Majer said the Department of Energy will have that report considered by three independent reviewers. If they agree with AltaRock that the risk is minimal, the Department of Energy will let them go forward. If the findings are different, the agency likely will request more study.

Once that review is done, the information will be released to the public, said Majer. “Dr. Chu wants everything open and above board.”

Majer, who did he thesis at The Geysers, is very familiar with the earthquake activity there.

The frequent earthquakes in the area are the result of geothermal production, he said.

For many years industry working in the area denied they were causing the earthquakes, but when study after study showed a direct correlation between geothermal production there, primarily the injection of water into fissures, “They just couldn't deny it any more,” Majer said.

Majer said Basel is geographically different, stress-wise, from The Geysers, so there isn't a reason for comparing the two areas. Europeans have used the EGS technology with some success, he noted.

He said the focus has been on the initial injections planned in AltaRock's project, but Majer suggested the more important question is what will happen in the years ahead as injection continues. That should lead to a closer examination of whether or not there will be an increase in the seismic risk, which exists everywhere.

The assertion that's been made about the project that the biggest quakes it will cause only will be 2.3 in magnitude is “ridiculous,” said Majer.

However, he said creating large fractures, causing major seismicity, actually will defeat AltaRock's purpose, because larger fractures won't heat water for geothermal production as well.

He said AltaRock needs to address the concerns and not just do damage control. The company has claimed some information about its operations is proprietary, he added.

The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory does seismic monitoring at The Geysers, said Majer, where they currently have a monitoring array for Calpine and NCPA.

That array currently has 23 real-time monitoring stations, and six more stations will be added to cover AltaRock's project, Majer said.

The array is far more sensitive than the US Geological Survey's. In July, it recorded 11 earthquakes measuring 3.0 in magnitude and above, compared to five found in the US Geological Survey's records.

The Department of Energy funds various projects to increase energy production, and Majer said he believes AltaRock is out in front of such projects in terms of time schedule. “This is the first project that the Department of Energy wanted to succeed.”

Majer said there is a lot of potential for geothermal production.

“There's so much more heat down there that's to be gotten out,” he said.

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

COLUSA COUNTY – On Wednesday a Clearlake woman was sentenced to 11 years in state prison for an elder abuse and assault case in which the man she cared for died.

Last month, Linda Suzan Holloway was convicted of felony elder abuse and inflicting great bodily injury, with a strike enhancement for a previous robbery, according to Colusa County District Attorney John Poyner.

Colusa County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Thompson sentenced the 56-year-old Holloway to three years for elder abuse, which was doubled to six years due to the strike enhancement, with five years for the great bodily injury charge, Poyner said.

Holloway's sentence comes nearly three years after 76-year-old William Lowe was found dead in his Colusa home, Poyner explained.

Lowe and Holloway were romantically involved, and Poyner said Holloway – a licensed vocational nurse – also served as Lowe's caregiver.

Poyner said their relationship was filled with violence that took place both in Lake and Colusa counties.

The Lake County District Attorney charged Holloway with assault with a deadly weapon – in this case, two butcher knives – for a Sept. 27, 1999, assault on Lowe, according to court records.

Poyner said Holloway stabbed Lowe 14 times in that case. Despite that fact, Lowe begged not to have her sent to prison. That charge couldn't be used as a strike in the case, Poyner said.

Because of state rules, Lowe was able to keep Holloway as his caregiver despite the violence and criminal cases, Poyner said. In the mean time, she arranged to cut him off from his family.

On the night of July 26, 2006, Holloway was arrested for driving under the influence in Colusa County, Poyner said.

After getting out of jail the following day she went to Lowe's home and found his body. Poyner said she attempted to take an overdose afterward.

But the autopsy – which Poyner had reviewed by two separate pathologists – revealed that Lowe had bruises on his chin and head, and that he suffered from broken ribs.

The medical examination found that Lowe died of a heart attack. Poyner originally had charged Holloway with homicide and wanted to be able to prove that the heart attack was induced by an assault, which the pathologists' reports suggested.

However, Poyner said that everything that could go wrong with the case did, including the pathologist missing his court date and losing the microslides that Poyner wanted to use to discuss the heart attack's cause.

The result was that he didn't have the evidence to prove Lowe's heart attack had been induced by the assault, said Poyner.

“It was a nightmare case to do,” he said.

Lowe, who owned a taxi company, didn't have much money. Poyner said Holloway was found to have some of Lowe's possessions but Poyner didn't have enough evidence to pursue charges of theft.

Holloway told investigators three or four different stories about what happened between her and Lowe during their last encounter. Poyner said each story included more physical contact between the two.

Finally, she told one of Poyner's investigators, “When I left I hit him like a linebacker.”

In the interim, while the case was working its way through the courts, Holloway was charged with misdemeanor driving under the influence of alcohol and received five years probation in February of 2008, Lake County Superior Court records show.

Poyner said of the case involving Lowe's death, “It's one of the screwiest cases I've ever tried.”

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

The new nonconfidential shelter will be located on Main Street in Kelseyville. Photo by Harold LaBonte.



KELSEYVILLE – After three years of planning, hard work and more than a few anxious moments, Lake County has a new domestic violence shelter facility.

On Thursday morning, the deed was recorded on the new Freedom House shelter, operated by Lake Family Resource Center. Escrow closed on Tuesday.

The new, nonconfidential facility will be located at 5350 Main St. in Kelseyville, said Lake Family Resource Center Executive Director Gloria Flaherty.

“The whole idea of having a nonconfidential location is really that it is owned and protected by the community,” Flaherty explained.

The property, now being run as a motel, includes 8,500 square feet of space, including a manager's unit, which will be used for Lake Family Resource Center's administrative offices, and motel units, which will be housing for families that have left violent situations, said Flaherty.

In addition, Flaherty said other program services – including counseling and parenting classes – will be located there.

The purchase price for the property was $1.1 million, said Flaherty.





Lake Family Resource Center staffers and board members along with center Executive Director Gloria Flaherty (far right) gather at Fidelity Title in Lakeport on Tuesday, July 21, 2009, to sign the escrow papers for the new Freedom House domestic violence shelter property in Kelseyville. Photo by Harold LaBonte.




Since the effort to build a new shelter began about three years ago, Flaherty said her organization has raised about $1.3 million, including $175,000 from the county of Lake and a $1 million loan from the state's Emergency Housing Assistance Program, which will be forgiven in 10 years if the property still is being used as a shelter.

Another $100,000 came from the Snite Foundation, which was facilitated by the Lake County Foundation, Flaherty said, Funds also came from the group's annual Wine and Chocolate event and from a series of fundraisers conducted by local artist Gail Salituri.

“It has been quite a journey,” said Flaherty.

Originally, the plans called for building a new facility on property at the corner of Live Oak and Highway 29. Lake Family Resource Center holds a 50-year lease on the land from Sutter Lakeside Hospital, which rents it to the center for $1 a month.

However, the difficult economy provided an opportunity to purchase buildings at a third of the price of what new construction would have cost, said Flaherty.

“We seized the day,” she said.

Flaherty said they received a call from the person who owned the property, proposing it as their new location. She said she went to look it over and realized it would work. Then the owner lost it to foreclosure. However, the person who had financed the building contacted them and the effort moved forward.

With Gary Olson of Big Valley Properties acting as Lake Family Resource Center's real estate agent, Flaherty said they made an offer in February that was accepted. The terms of the agreement called for a 90-day escrow with two 30-day extensions, so the deal had to be completed by this Saturday, July 25.

“There were a few anxious moments, let me tell you,” said Flaherty.

With the money left over after the sale, Flaherty said they will install alarms, cameras and a new phone system, increase the size of the kitchen, improve the laundry facilities and do some other remodeling.

“We will be working with all local contractors,” she said.

They'll put out an announcement seeking different kinds of services; Flaherty said they want it to be a community project.

In August or September they'll move their administrative offices from the current location on Lakeport Boulevard at the Vista Point Shopping Center. Flaherty said they spend $9,000 a month in rent there, and will cut that amount in half by moving to the new facility.

The domestic violence shelter itself isn't scheduled to relocate to the Kelseyville location until October, she said.

The center's child care services will remain on Lakeport Boulevard. Flaherty said another small office will be rented in Kelseyville. They also have applied for grants for a new and expanded child development center on the lease property at Live Oak and Highway 29.

Flaherty said the center will put together a community wish list for certain items, including sturdy furniture for the shelter facility. “We need things that are really going to stand the test of time and hard use,” she said.

At some point in the future there also will be a grand opening celebration to invite the community to come and see what it helped make possible, said Flaherty.

Most shelter campaigns such as this one take between three and five years, so Flaherty said she thinks the local effort moved quickly.

“In Lake County, when things are supposed to happen, they do,” she said.

Flaherty credited many people in the community for standing up to support the shelter – from the supervisors to the Lake County Community Development Department, the Lake County Foundation, Olson, Salituri and many others.

She noted that the thousands of dollars donated from the drawing's held by Salituri – who worked hard to raise awareness for the shelter project – will be used in the children's playroom.

The shelter will have 35 beds – not counting futons and foldouts – said Flaherty.

That's bigger than the 18 beds that Flaherty said the current shelter offers.

The increased number of beds is more needed than ever. The shelter currently has 31 residents, including 17 children, of which 12 are under age 6, said Flaherty.

Flaherty said of the shelter's residency rate, “In the last two years it has just skyrocketed,” going from an average of 10 people to now more than 20.

As the shelter's good news sinks in, Flaherty and Lake Family Resource Center are waiting to see the results of the state budget. The Legislature began voting on a reported 31 budget bills Thursday evening.

“The cuts that we're taking appear to be draconian,” said Flaherty.

The center already has had to lay off numerous staffers whose positions were funded by state money – including teen pregnancy prevention and parenting.

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




The property also will house Lake Family Resource Center's administrative offices and other services. Photo by Harold LaBonte.

If you follow news about food at all I’m sure you have been noticing lots of articles about the increased number of people who are contracting tapeworms from sushi. I looked at these stories rolling my eyes. One side of me said, “Duh! Sushi is becoming so popular that unqualified people are making it and even cutting corners,” while the other side of me said, “This is so overhyped and deceptive.”

Many of the stories currently causing the tapeworm scare stem from a Chicago man who is suing a restaurant, claiming he was infected with the tapeworm from a raw salmon dish in 2006 that has since grown to be a 9-foot-long tapeworm.

Oddly enough, almost all of the articles on the subject stop just short of revealing the fact that the Chicago Department of Health has cleared the restaurant in its own investigation. Hey, don’t let the facts get in the way of a sensational story!

Sushi and raw fish make great punching bags since they are scary and foreign foods. Nobody wants to mention that you can catch a tapeworm from beef and pork, by playing with your dog, or just shaking the hand of a person who has a tapeworm. Believe it or not, you can even catch a tapeworm from eating your breakfast cereal (if an infected bug is in it). Beef and pork tapeworms are the most common in America, yet we don’t seem to hear about those cases. Evidently the beef industry must have a high-priced assassin on retainer scaring off any reporters.

I was recently in a Sacramento sushi bar and was watching the sushi chef prepare ingredients and put them in the refrigerated case. When you have been in the aquaculture and food industry as long as I have, you develop an eye for spotting things that don’t fit. I watched the chef pull out a tilapia filet and then trim away some of the major red portions of the meat so that the filet now looked like a small red snapper filet.

In a matter of a few moments he had turned an inexpensive freshwater fish into what looked like an expensive saltwater fish. The average tilapia filet sells for $2 a pound while the snapper demands almost $20. In the past, I have found some Lake County restaurants substituting tilapia for red snapper on their menus. Not only do tilapia filets look different than snapper filets but tilapia tastes a lot like an anorexic snapper.

In Japan this type of substitution is a fairly common practice since the Japanese are much more interested in the flavor of the sushi, not the pedigree. Red snapper on Monday’s menu could actually be red snapper, while on Wednesday it might come from a rockfish. This has never been a real problem until tilapia came along. Salt water fish have a very low incidence of parasites while freshwater fish, like the tilapia, have a very high incidence of parasites.

Most (not necessarily all) saltwater parasites come from fish that are infested with marine mammal parasites. These marine mammal parasites don’t find the human body a hospitable place and usually die within a couple of weeks at most.

Freshwater parasites on the other hand, tend to be tapeworms which love the human body and travel though it like tourists on a three day weekend. As I’m sure you already know, tourists sometimes turn into residents and never leave. These tapeworms can live in a body for decades without giving off any symptoms at all. The fact that tapeworms can live in the body for so long without detection makes it very unlikely that the infected person could accurately trace ingestion back to the original source, and so sushi bars tend to get blamed just out of convenience.

Tapeworms can be contracted from any kind of restaurant that uses poor sanitation practices. The fact that sushi is prepared in front of the customer means that sushi bars tend to be cleaner than most other types of cuisine. Sushi chefs are trained to spot parasites in sushi, so only eat sushi prepared by high quality restaurants that know what to look for.

A little information about tilapia. Tilapias are actually several varieties of fish related to the Oscars that you see in aquariums everywhere. They are fast growing and omnivorous, meaning they’ll eat just about everything.

Vegetarian fish food is the least expensive to purchase so most fish farms use it. This keeps costs down and mercury levels almost non-existent, which is the good news. However this diet also adds no omega fatty acids that fish is so valued for, so at best tilapia is a good source of protein but that’s about all.

Tilapia also can be raised in almost any conditions, so a field being used to grow rice can also be used to raise tilapia, making the land more useful but also keeping the price on the fish low. On the other hand, this keeps the tilapia trapped in a small shallow pond to be an easy victim to play host for tapeworms. This is also why you only see saltwater fish on the sushi menu, but freshwater fish such as catfish, largemouth bass and bluegill must be cooked before eating to eliminate (kill) any parasites.

Since tilapia isn’t considered to be a common sushi ingredient it isn’t required to be frozen to sashimi grade standards. If you get a fish wholesaler that wants to make a higher profit he may offer tilapia to sushi bars as “red snapper,” and if the sushi chef doesn’t know better he may just offer this tilapia as snapper. Or it’s possible that, along the lines of what I witnessed, a sushi chef who wants to save some money will actually cut the tilapia to look like snapper. Either way, a knowledgeable and ethical sushi bar can stop Red Snapper from being counterfeited.

Now I don’t want to sound like an alarmist, so let me give you a statistic that might calm you. While it’s possible to catch a tapeworm from ingesting almost anything if it’s not properly or handled in a sanitary fashion, the incidence of tapeworms treated in the United States every year is about one person out of every 100,000. That is less than one person in the entire county here. So the chances of catching a tapeworm are very slim.

To be perfectly honest I have filleted hundreds of fish in my life and I have only actually ever found two live parasites in supermarket-purchased fish. The risk is there, but chances are quite low.

However, since I still buy Super Lotto tickets, this proves I believe in the long shot and I think it’s better to be safe than sorry, so if you want to make sushi at home but also want to avoid being like one of those people on the “Alien” movies with the creature bursting out of your chest, here’s how ...

First and foremost, only use commercially caught fish for sushi. The possibility of a home-caught fish being infected with a parasite is very high and despite what you hear about freezing fish killing parasites, your home freezer cannot reach the temperature needed to kill parasites. I’m sure that more than one fisherman reading this has frozen fish at home and thawed it weeks to even months later only to have the fish come back to life, and if the fish can do it the parasite can certainly do it too.

Secondly, when at the fishmonger’s be sure to ask for sashimi-grade fish. This is a fish that has been nitrogen blast frozen then stored at an incredibly cold temperature regulated by the Food and Drug Administration which has been shown to decisively kill all parasites.

Sashimi-grade fish go through several layers of grading and testing before they make it to the standard, each test making the fish that much safer than before. If you see a fish marked “sushi grade,” it is exactly the same as sashimi grade. The phrase “sashimi grade” is the actual FDA term while “sushi grade” is just the dumbed-down expression.

It’s best that you don’t make sushi at home without some sort of training. Of all of the cases of parasitic infection that are found per year, almost all of them are attributed to fish being served raw in some form by an untrained cook at home.

So take the time to take a sushi making class.Coincidentally I am planning to teach another one soon at Chic Le Chef in Hidden Valley Lake. Contact Julie Hoskins at Chic Le Chef, telephone &07-355-0174, or visit 19024 Redbud Road in Hidden Valley Lake for information on a class.

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.

LAKE PILLSBURY – Local officials aren't sure who was responsible for organizing a large rave event on privately owned land near the Mendocino National Forest last weekend.

The rave, with an estimated 100 people taking part, was reported on the night of July 18 to the US Forest Service, said Capt. Julie Lombard of the Forest Service's law enforcement branch.

Lombard said the event was discovered near Lake Pillsbury on land owned by Pacific Gas & Electric Co.

The rave began July 16, said Lombard. During that time, Forest Service officers made periodic walk-throughs at the event.

They made one arrest for possession of the drug Ecstasy – commonly used at raves. Lombard didn't have details about that arrest.

She said citations also were issued for off-highway vehicles, seat belts, possession of guns and ammunition, and possession of marijuana.

However, because the event was taking place on private land, Lombard said Forest Service officers didn't have the authority to shut it down.

Instead, on Sunday morning, they notified PG&E.

PG&E spokesperson Jana Morris confirmed that a company employee received a call for the Forest Service at 10 a.m. Sunday.

She said when PG&E employees got to the scene, they found a few people picking up trash and cleaning up.

No damage was reported and Morris said the company didn't know who had organized the event.

The concern for the company now is not having a repeat performance. “We have been working with the Lake County Sheriff's Office to identify a method to prevent it from happening in the future,” Morris said.

They're considering improving signage in the area to emphasize that the land is privately owned, Morris said.

Morris said the company neither condones trespassing or the kind of event that took place. “That's not an activity that we support.”

If people find suspicious activity taking place on PG&E land, Morris said they can report it by calling the company at 1-800-691-0410.

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

LAKEPORT – The prosecution, defense and judge preparing for a Carmichael man's trial for felony boating under the influence established some ground rules for the proceedings in a Thursday morning hearing.

They also argued a motion to allow the jury to visit the scene of a fatal April 2006 boating collision at night, via boat, which the judge delayed ruling on until later in the trial.

Bismarck Dinius was not present in court for the 40-minute hearing, but he was represented by his attorney, Victor Haltom of Sacramento, who appeared along with District Attorney Jon Hopkins before Judge J. Michael Byrne.

A jury was seated on Tuesday. Next Tuesday, testimony in Dinius' trial will begin.

Dinius, 41, is facing felony boating under the influence with great bodily injury and two lesser included offenses of boating with a blood alcohol level over 0.08 and boating while under the influence. The latter two offenses would only be considered if he is not found guilty of the felony charge.

Earlier this week Hopkins moved to have a manslaughter charge against Dinius dropped, as Lake County News has reported.

Dinius was steering a sailboat belonging to Willows resident Mark Weber shortly after 9:15 p.m. April 29, 2006, when the boat was hit by a speedboat driven by Russell Perdock, an off-duty sheriff's chief deputy.

Weber's girlfriend, 51-year-old Lynn Thornton, suffered blunt force trauma injuries to the head in the collision and died a few days later. Perdock was not charged; Dinius faces charges because he allegedly had a blood alcohol level of 0.12; the prosecution also alleges that the sailboat's running lights weren't on.

The hearing Thursday involved “in limine” motions. Proceedings in limine – which means literally “at the threshold” in Latin – are held before a trial starts and out of the presence of the jury.

Issues that were discussed at the hearing included time estimates on the case (Hopkins said he could present his case in two weeks, Haltom estimated he would take less time); renumbering the charges against Dinius; instructing the jury about the manslaughter charge being dropped; and not mentioning the outcome of a civil case related to the crash.

They also agreed on a stipulation that they would not introduce Thornton's autopsy photos, deciding that a pathologist's report would suffice. That will spare her family and friends, and the jurors, from seeing the graphic pictures.

“I don't think there's any dispute in this case about what caused the death,” said Haltom, adding he didn't think the photos were necessary.

The prosecution and defense also agreed with the judge that, at the end of each trial day, they'll disclose what witnesses they'll call the following day in order to be most prepared and help the trial move along more smoothly.

Haltom said that Thornton's son, John, has specifically asked to know when Perdock will appear on the witness stand, because he wants to be there for the testimony.

On Thursday, Byrne opened a sealed envelope of records subpoenaed from REACH Air Medical Services, which transported Thornton to UC Davis Medical Center, where she died three days later, on May 2, 2006. Byrne ordered that copies of the records about the company's response to the collision scene be given to both the defense and prosecution.

Haltom reported that on Tuesday and Wednesday he received a total of 116 pages of new discovery from the District Attorney's Office, including information about a new prosecution expert. “I've got a problem with that.”

He wanted the evidence of the expert – a retired engineer who worked for Baja, the company that manufactured Perdock's 24-foot power boat, and will testify on speed and engine RPMs, and how the boat's speedometer works – precluded from the trial.

Hopkins maintained he's entitled to look at issues about the boat. “I was not the one who insisted the case race into trial,” he said. “This is primarily directed at the issues that the defense is raising. I don't see any reason that it couldn't come in.”

He said he has another criminologist, Raymond Gieszl, who will look at the issue of the light bulbs in the sailboat's running lights, and whether it can be determined by looking at the bulbs whether they were on or off at the time of the crash, versus what witnesses saw.

“There's a pretty large gap between the conclusion of the defense expert and the prosecution expert,” said Hopkins.

He added that if Gieszl has an opinion that trumps the DOJ criminologist, “that's going to change the way I look at the case.”

Byrne suggested it would be an “undue consumption of time” to call two experts on one topic, and that it would further complicate things for the jury.

Hopkins replied by asking if the defense also wouldn't be able to call two people on the same topic. “Because that's what they've done.”

Gieszl, said Hopkins, is experienced at reviewing hands-on examinations such as that done by the criminologist.

Byrne said that since the lights were one of the case's core issues, he didn't want to limit evidence and would allow both sides to produce more than one witness on a topic. But he warned, “try to keep control of it” so they don't go past the time estimate given to the jury. The trial has been estimated to take a month.

Haltom said the case has been around for three years, and Hopkins needing to reinvestigate the case didn't, in Haltom's opinion, justify introducing new experts.

“I do agree with you that the case has been around for awhile and it should have been done early, or earlier than it has been done,” said Byrne.

Byrne said he thought anything the jury can find out about the speed of the boat is important, so he denied Haltom's request to stop the testimony.

Defense seeks “jury view” of the collision scene

The main motion of the day was Haltom's request for a “jury view”; in this case, he wants to take the jury on a nighttime excursion to the crash scene on Konocti Bay so they can see for themselves the lighting conditions on the lake at night.

Byrne said he was concerned about controlling the jury because of publicity, as well as whether or not they can replicate the nighttime conditions, which will be at the end of summer versus the early spring.

Hopkins was ready to argue against the proposal.

“What they are proposing is not a jury view. They're proposing what we call an experiment,” he said, arguing that the California Supreme Court also would call it an argument, a view he proceeded to back up by quoting cases going back to 1917.

Hopkins said a jury view would be if the jury was taken to a place where the court was convinced conditions were “substantially the same.”

“The defense wants to put jurors on a boat. We don't even know if that's going to scare some of those people to death,” Hopkins said.

Hopkins also questioned if they would be able to find the exact location of the crash. He said if it were a vehicle crash on a roadway, they would have skid marks and other conditions that don't change.

“In this situation,” said Hopkins, “it's all up to the wild guess and speculation” of Haltom's two experts, Dr. William Chilcott and Wes Dodd.

Byrne said he would rule on allowing the jury view after Hopkins presents his case to the jury.

“I still think there may be a good possibility that seeing some of these points at night may be of value,” said Byrne, although he agreed with Hopkins that the crash would be almost impossible to reconstruct.

Hopkins argued against the relevance of some of the witnesses Haltom wanted to introduce, including several involved in an internal affairs investigation of former sheriff's Sgt. James Beland, who has said he was ordered not to give Perdock a breathalyzer test at the scene of the crash.

He also was against allowing Annathea Danos on the stand. Haltom said Danos has said that her ex-boyfriend, sheriff's Sgt. Andy Davidson, told her on the morning after that crash that Perdock was drinking before the collision took place.

Hopkins said Danos didn't have firsthand knowledge of the situation, and that she and Davidson are in the midst of a contentious child custody issue. He added that it appears that Davidson wasn't on duty the night of the crash, and called Danos' information “silly gossip.”

Byrne suggested the witnesses with knowledge of the internal affairs investigation could be very relevant, because it could relate to Beland's motives and credibility. “I don't want to limit a relevant issue from the jury.”

Can the conditions be duplicated?

In order to understand the differences in sunset and moon phase between April 29, 2006, and the weeks in which the trial will take place, Lake County News visited the US Naval Observatory's online database.

Using exact latitude and longitude coordinates for Konocti Bay, the site said sunset occurred at 8:02 p.m. on Saturday, April 29, 2006.

That night there was a thin crescent moon – approximately 5 percent of which was visible.

When the trial starts on July 28, sunset will occur at 8:26 p.m., and the moon will be in its first quarter.

However, if the court waits until Tuesday, Aug. 18, conditions will very much resemble those on the night the crash occurred.

The US Naval Observatory's calculations for that night put sunset at 8:01 p.m., with a waning crescent moon; 4-percent of the moon will visible.

The main difference will be in the moonset. On April 29, 2006, the moon set at 10:51 p.m., while on Aug. 18 it will set at 6:59 p.m.

The US Naval Observatory's Web site can be found at http://aa.usno.navy.mil .

Regarding the precise location of the crash, at least one attempt has been made to find the exact location – Australian Tony Papworth has created a map, shown below.

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





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