Tuesday, 23 July 2024


LAKEPORT – An Upper Lake man was sentenced to four years in state prison last week after pleading guilty to felony gross vehicular manslaughter and fleeing the scene of a crash.

Judge Arthur Mann handed down the sentence to Sean Thomas Selig, 24, on Jan. 20, according to a statement from the Lake County District Attorney's Office.

Selig was represented by attorney Judy Conard and prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney John Langan.

The charges against Selig arose from an Oct. 6, 2004, crash in which his passenger, 21-year-old Samuel Adrian Solario, was killed.

The two young men, who investigators said had been spotted having drinks at a Nice restaurant and bar, were riding in a GMC Sierra pickup truck, driven by Selig, along Lakeshore Boulevard in Nice when the crash occurred.

Selig overturned the vehicle then, according to investigators, he fled, allegedly leaving Solario at the scene, where he died.

The District Attorney's Office said that Selig allegedly went to a friend's home where he spent the night, not mentioning that he had been involved in the crash.

According to the report, Selig allegedly told law enforcement that he had an “alcoholic blackout.”

Langan said Solario's parents confronted Selig the day after the fatal crash.

Selig allegedly told them that Solario had been driving, a story he would repeat to law enforcement throughout the investigation. Langan said Selig first gave that statement to officials not long after the crash occurred.

Selig also allegedly had stated that he had been ejected through the driver side window from the passenger seat without suffering any apparent injury, a story which the District Attorney's Office called “implausible.”

Early in 2005, Selig left Lake County to move to Redding. He was staying there with his grandparents when he was arrested by the California Highway Patrol in August of that year and brought back to the county for face the charges.

The case took a long time to resolve. Since it got under way, the original prosecutor, David McKillop, left to accept a position in Kern County, so Langan took the case over.

More recently, Conard – who could not be reached for comment late Monday – had accident reconstructions prepared in order to evaluate the incident, according to Langan.

Fleeing the scene and the accounts of the story he gave to officials ended up being “aggravating factors” that counted against Selig in court, according to the District Attorney's Office.

Mann found those factors outweighed Selig's youth and lack of any prior criminal convictions. He also denied Selig's probation request, nothing that his actions belied his account of the blackout.

Selig, now being held in the Lake County Jail, originally also had faced hit-and-run charges.

Although Mann denied Selig's probation request, the prison time he gave, based on the penal code's description of gross vehicular manslaughter sentences, was the lower term. Selig could have faced a maximum of 10 years in prison.

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




I stopped by the Kitchen Gallery in Lakeport to pick up some things and asked Lexie Firth if she could recommend someplace for lunch. Without hesitation she said Molly Brennan’s, just a few doors down, right there on Main Street. She continued to say that they had a fantastic shepherd’s pie, great fish and chips, and many different types of beer.

So I walked down the block and I was seated quickly and took note of the room. The early industrial look of the old Main Street buildings gives the appearance that Molly Brennan’s has been in business for over a century. It has a very Irish pub décor to it with natural brick walls, wood floors, and the almost stereo-typical UK beer advertisements.

The menu if full of the type of food you would expect from a pub-style restaurant. It’s a good-sized menu, not pages full of meaningless dishes trying to please everybody. On the menu was Guinness Irish stew (don’t think that didn’t tempt me), bangers and mash, salmon, burgers, even salads, appetizers, and soups. This is basic meat and potatoes cuisine; if you’re looking for truffles, foie gras and caviar you won’t find it here. My Anglophile wife could happily eat at Molly Brennan’s every meal for a month and never get bored.

I asked my waitress, Jessica, if Molly Brennan’s had either a signature dish or something that she recommended, and without hesitation she said the fish and chips. I love fish and chips so Jessica was already doing great.

The lunch crowd started to fill the room quickly and I was asked to move from my table to the bar to make room for the swelling population, and I’m OK with that. The move allowed me to more closely watch Jessica, the sole waitress on duty, as she swiftly but deftly managed to take care of every table without ignoring anyone. Normally a lone waitperson tends to get flustered under a lunchtime crush but not today. Jessica moved swiftly yet unhurriedly through the room as if she practiced moving around the room blindfolded in her spare time.

The other patrons at the bar were openly talking to each other even though they didn’t know each other. People were talking about their plans for the day, the depth of the lake and how Californians don’t know the meaning of the word cold like people from the Midwest do. As I sat there listening to everyone around me I started to realize that Molly Brennan’s isn’t a reasonable copy of an Irish pub, it was an authentic Irish pub! I’d bet that the only person who wouldn’t feel welcome there would be someone carrying a snake.

My food came in a reasonable amount of time and I was happy to see that it was a full plate of food. The fish was cooked just right and had a crunchy breading. The fish itself was moist and hot, and sat on top of a side of coleslaw that was a surprising discovery, it was one of the best coleslaws I’ve ever had. There seemed to be a hint of orange to it, which by itself will get me to come back just to try it again. The plate included a caper tartar sauce (I love capers so Jessica’s recommendation was spot on!).

Personally I think there are only two ways to make fish and chips: you either do a great job or you screw it up. There’s no middle ground, and no best ever, just great or bad. Molly Brennan’s did a great job. In addition to the caper tartar sauce, salt, fresh pepper (in a grinder), ketchup, and malt vinegar were all offered with the meal. I just can’t pass up malt vinegar with deep fried fish, can you?

The fries … oops sorry, chips, were lightly seasoned and obviously freshly made. For all of the people who don’t watch the BBC everyday, in the United Kingdom French fries are called “chips” and potato chips are called “crisps.” As the great Irishman Oscar Wilde said, “We have really everything in common with America nowadays except, of course, language.”

Molly Brennan’s has a beautiful Web site with all of the information about the restaurant that you could need. The Web site alone makes you feel like you’re in a pub. There’s a calendar of events, and the whole menu for you to browse at your own convenience, but I caution you, it’ll make you hungry!

They also have a Myspace page ... it’s probably best if you just browse for their page when you get to Myspace than for me to type out the link, so if you can’t get enough of the Irish pub community it’s a nice place to visit.

Molly Brennan’s hours of operation are Monday, Wednesdays and Thursday, 11a.m. to 11 p.m., and Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 11a.m. to 2 p.m. (closed Tuesdays).

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.


Pictured from left to right, Elmo Mosby, Gloria Harris, Bessie Bell, Dolly Townsend, Rick Mayo, Aqeela El-Amin Bakheit and Daniel Coleman. Courtesy photo.

CLEARLAKE – The Clearlake branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) installed its new officers at its January meeting.

The group met on Jan. 10.

The oath of office was administered to the new officers by Daniel Coleman, former president of the Vallejo branch of the NAACP and longtime member of the Clearlake branch.

The newly sworn in administration consists of President Aqeela El-Amin Bakheit, Vice President Rick Mayo, Secretary Dolly Townsend and Treasurer Bessie Mayo. St. Elmo Mosby and Gloria Harris were elected to the executive board. The officials will serve two-year terms.


The mission of the NAACP is to ensure political, social and economic equality of rights of all persons and eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination. Any person in accord with the principles and policies of the Association may become a member with the consent of the board of directors.

The monthly meeting of the Clearlake branch of the NAACP is currently scheduled for the second Saturday of each month at 1 p.m. at the Clearlake Public library, located at 14785 Burns Valley Road.


CLEARLAKE – A civil rights and wrongful death lawsuit filed in federal court by the families of two young men shot during an alleged break-in of a south county home has been settled.

Sherrill and Howard Foster and Sheila Burton's lawsuit against Shannon Edmonds and his ex-girlfriend, Lori Tyler, concluded following a Dec. 12 settlement conference facilitated by a federal court judge, according to Russell Robinson, the attorney for the Fosters and Burton.

The families sued over the deaths of their sons, Rashad Williams and Christian Foster, both 22, who were shot to death as they fled from Edmonds' and Tyler's Clearlake Park home in the early morning hours of Dec. 7, 2005.

Robinson said the settlement is governed by a confidentiality agreement, so the monetary amount cannot be disclosed.

The San Francisco law firm Cesari, Werner and Moriarty represented Tyler. Dennis Moriarty, one of the lawyers representing Tyler, did not return calls seeking comment on the case.

In a Sept. 25, 2008, letter to federal Magistrate Bernard Zimmerman of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, Tyler's attorneys noted that she was unemployed and on disability. “Like defendant Edmonds, Ms. Tyler has no funds to contribute towards a settlement ...”

Allied Insurance, which court records noted was the liability insurance carrier at the time for Edmonds and Tyler, paid the settlement.

“We have settled with our policy holder and as far as we are concerned the matter is closed,” said Liz Christopher, a media spokesperson for Allied and its parent company, Nationwide Insurance.

Christopher added that the company does not discuss the details of private policies.

In 2007 the Foster and Burton families filed the lawsuit against Edmonds and Tyler in federal court, alleging that the shootings were racially motivated and followed a fight, as Lake County News has reported.

Edmonds allegedly shot Christian Foster and Rashad Williams as they ran from his home. Their families have denied they were there to take part in a break-in, which is what the District Attorney's Office alleged had led to the shootings.

The District Attorney's Office did not file charges against Edmonds, who is white, for shooting the two young black men, saying they did not believe they could successfully prosecute him based on the available evidence.

Officials did prosecute the young mens' friend, Renato Hughes, for their shootings under the provocative act law, which allows a person to be prosecuted for any deaths that occur during a violent crime in which they are alleged to have taken part.

The case led to accusations of racism and allegations that Hughes could not get a fair trial in Lake County. His trial was moved to Martinez and he was acquitted this past summer of the two mens' deaths, but found guilty of burglary and assault with a firearm, and sentenced to eight years in prison. He is appealing the conviction.

The families' suit alleged that Rashad Williams' and Christian Foster's civil rights were violated.

The lawsuit was amended after its original filing to add the city of Clearlake, the county of Lake and 100 unnamed individuals – believed to have been Clearlake Police or Lake County Sheriff's employees at the time – as defendants.

The Foster and Burton families alleged that Edmonds was a known drug dealer. They added the local governments to the suit for allowing Edmonds and Tyler “unlawfully to sell recreational drugs, to possess firearms, to use minors in unlawful sale of recreational drugs, and for failing to protect persons such as Christian and Rashad.”

In May, federal Judge William Alsup dismissed the case against the county and city, as Lake County News has reported.

The case was set to move to trial in September of 2009. However, with the federal claims against the jurisdictions dismissed, Robinson said the federal court was losing its jurisdiction over the case.

Zimmerman, a magistrate judge, kept the case in federal court, however, and asked the two sides – including Allied Insurance – to sit down to the Dec. 12 settlement conference, Robinson said.

Robinson said the parties reached an agreement by day's end.

“It was not an easy case to settle,” he said, crediting Zimmerman for bringing the two sides together.

The families willingly settled the case, but it isn't a truly satisfying conclusion, he said.

“You can't bring their kids back,” said Robinson.

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



T. Watts at the KPFZ microphone. Courtesy photo.


…build your penitentiaries

we build your schools

brainwash education

to make us the fool …

– Bob Marley, circa 1976

In the academic year 1968-69, I was a freshman at Willamette University in Salem, Ore. The school was founded in 1842 by Jason Lee and the Christian Pioneers. It is the oldest university west of the Mississippi.

Trust me, I was no Rhodes Scholar, but one day in freshman English class, I did excel. I had the dubious distinction of being the only African-American in the class. There were only 12 of us enrolled at the campus of, I believe, 1,200 students.

Our English professor was a kindly matron whose name I recall as Mrs. Bothun. On that fine day of CyberSoulMan excellence, Mrs. Bothun asked the class in general, in whom did Dr. Martin Luther King pattern his nonviolent civil rights movement strategy after.

I remember the stunned, what-on-earth-is-she-talking-about, blank stare from my classmates. Mind you these were the peerless, fearless, cream of the Pacific Northwest scholars. I was astonished that they didn’t know that Dr. King had studied Mahatma Gandhi. How could they not know of some semblance of the train of nonviolent thought?

In what may very well have been my only verbal response of the whole semester, I gave the correct answer. I may not have been able to talk much, but my little brain was rapidly spinning toward the precept of what Mr. Marley was singing about above.


Just about this time last year, thanks to my association with www.theworldofblues.com, I was on the legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise somewhere in the eastern Caribbean. It was a blues-studded voyage. There was a slew of performing artists aboard including Charlie Musselwhite, Papa Mali, Michael Burks, Irma Thomas, Cyril Neville, Shemekia Copeland and the great Master, Taj Mahal. All in all, there was something like 70 artists on 19 different stages. You’ll have to trust me on this one. This is not a commercial.

We embarked from Fort Lauderdale and made ports of call in San Juan, Puerto Rico, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands and St. Kitts, West Indies. Taj Mahal’s family genealogy wove its way through St. Kitts in generations past. It was very interesting to see Taj come off the boat to headline the St. Croix Music Festival when we got there. I reported on it for www.soul-patrol.com. Excerpts from that coverage are reprinted with permission here.

Taj Mahal, the “Grand Marshall” of the cruise, afforded me an opportunity for an exclusive interview, most certainly African in its points of origin, yet globally universal in its content.

Approaching the halfway point in the weeklong cruise, the ship docked at the island of St. Croix. Taj came off the ship to headline the St. Croix Music Festival. He reached the stage at about 9:30 p.m. after a daylong lineup of great music. The crowd was jubilant and in the zone.

I noticed that during some up-tempo numbers, Taj's singing voice slips into what I perceived as kind of an “alter ego,” lower register voice that seemed to inject spurts of party down, dancing energy into the crowd. I asked Taj about that alter ego and he clarified my perception by saying, “That voice exists deeply in Africa. It's a spirit channeling voice. You find it in West Africa, Central and South.”

If you listen to the South African vocal group Mahiathina & The Mahotello Queens, they have a section with two different guys that sing real low. They're called Groaners. They channel the spirit voice of the ancestors. It's like the song says:

when you hear that spirit

movin' in your soul,

it's a message from an ancestor

who lived a long time ago

(ruled the world and all of its gold).

(The following is, transcribed to the best of my ability, the words and thoughts of African Elder Taj Mahal, Ethnomusicologist, Philosopher and Funky World Traveler and Musician …)

The Master's Dissertation

We've had to go through the experience of re-aligning ourselves after slavery disconnected us from the cultures in Africa; west, east, wherever people came from. We had no cohesive cultural situation short of redeveloping ourselves in this new land that we were brought to and enslaved in.

By the time the technology to record came around, of course the dominant culture first recorded everything that had Eurocentric ideas. Then they recorded black music. The technology recorded the information but someone outside the community decided what got recorded. They made the choice according to what they thought was the most commercially viable music and that's where a lot of confusion stems from.

This history is a bittersweet pill. Everybody has to take the position that they took. Number one was coming up with the information and giving it up. Two was getting the information and deciding it had commercial viability.

So, over the years, it was a hand-in-hand thing, but we, the ones generating the information were not necessarily conscious of it. It was always tied to the monetary factor that was not connected to culture. If you're lucky enough to visualize how music fits in our lives as a cultural aspect then you realize the necessity of getting busy and passing it on to the next generation.

You see, the music is connected. It's a common mistake that African Americans make when we say, “Well, I don't wanna hear that because that's taking me back, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.”

Brother, you can't get forward if you do know what's goin' on in the back. There's a wealth of information that's there in modern antiquity as well as ancient antiquity. Information that is empowering to you being in this world. You don't necessarily have to be, or feel outnumbered. You can feel you! You by yourself. Are you with? Are you without? Wherever you are, you’ve got to stand the ground that you're on.

My perspective is that artists like me have a huge audience that's under serviced. I'm talkin' bout Keb' Mo', Guy Davis, Corey Harris, Sparky Rucker, Jerry Ricks and Otis Taylor, among others.

Responsibilities of black artists

If you know that what you are doing as an artist is important, then you need to protect that work. It needs to be protected all the time. You can't allow yourself to get so far out there that there is no protection around what you are doing. You don't have to go back too far to understand how deep this is. All I have to do is say Fred Hampton or Sam Cooke and let it rest.

The real point of it is, not what you are against, but what you are for. In the end, it's what you are for. Oftentimes, because of the way we were raised in this environment, we tend to use the negative as the conversational point. We sit up and spit all day long about how this person is or ain't this or that. It goes back to that master/slave relationship. "If "Massa" would do right, kind of thing. Then, when "Massa" walk up on you and wanna know what you talkin' bout' we say, "Oh, nuthin' Massa. We ain't got nuthin' ta say roun' h'yar. Whus it lak? We sick today or sump'n?"

It's all a version of that mindset that we must grow out of. We have to move toward a more global way of doing things. We must face the fact that we are not going to be able to refit the pieces the way they were before they changed them. You gotta go from where it is now.

One of the reasons I take people off the cruise to St. Kitts, where my father's people are from, is that most Americans have very little idea beyond themselves about anyone around them. No common understanding about other peoples. The whole system was designed and conspired to keep people workers. You don't wanna be thinkin' too much. Now, there ain't no jobs so they don't care. You can starve! Go to jail. We'll let you work!

We need to get above all this craziness that they have layered in on our minds and become proactive. Information like The Secret and The Four Agreements is great in that respect. That is what I liked about the '60s. There was so much information around. So much they didn't want you to know. A lot of it only went through a couple of different printings and it was gone. Great stuff on alternative energy and alternative spiritual stuff. Yogi Bhajan, Baba Meir, they were all coming through. Of course it didn't come through on the commercial side of things. You have to have your antennae up. As the Rastas say, serious reasonings for you mind. That's what I appreciate.

The failure to support originators of the music

Everything is tied to the money scene. People are used to making decisions based on having or acquiring more money. When you do not have, you make a different decision the decision to go play for $125 at the casino as opposed to $35 at a juke joint, for example. What's a brother to do? One is the environment, the other your pocket being fat.

You really figure out the politics involved in what people are supposed to do. They are not going to work on what's right. It's going to be based on the politics. You see, the average guy can never afford to fail upwards. You see these other guys come in, lose several billion dollars, get ousted, beat down in the public's eye, then somehow in a couple of years, morph into the head of blah, blah, blah, inc. Wait a minute. You know that wouldn't happen in the community. You mess up, we don't forget it.

Ultimately, we must become responsible for creating the places that young people can study the history of and play the music. Until we do that we just have to put up with the way it changes.

Conservative estimates say that over $500 billion goes through the hand of African Americans yearly. That would make us somewhere between ninth and 13th as a country in terms of gross national product. Can you imagine the impact on Haiti and other Third World, Central and South American, South Pacific Island and African countries we could have if we actually controlled that? Anywhere we wanted to really. That's as opposed to still having to come out from under Massa's house. "Oh, Massa, you really gon' let me go to Africa? Oh, Lord have mercy, Massa."

Why do we have to have the table set for us? And I ain't mad at nobody. I'm just talkin' 'bout, well, here's the money. And we have all these people posturing, sitting around.

I'm sure the dominant culture looks down on us. We have all this money coming through and we don't even have national convention hall!

So our work is cut out for us. We sorely need a sound economic base if we are to begin to implement real change. We need to impress upon our youth the historical connection and impact it is having on what they/we are doing and not doing.

And what might be working for us spiritually is the fact that the one drop theory may yet come back and kick the dominant culture in the butt!

(End of Excerpt.)

When Taj Mahal makes his point above in the paragraph that starts with, we need to get above all the craziness … I believe he underscores the the pervasiveness of the brainwash education theory.

From my personal experience here in Lake County, working with students at two of the local high schools (that shall remain unnamed), I was appalled at the lack of discipline exhibited by students at one of the schools. In one classroom I visited, it was very sad to observe the obvious disconnect from learning by the students. Some of the educators appeared to be just doing time. We as parents and citizens have a huge amount of work to do. It is imperative that we come together and get busy.

Keep prayin’, keep thinkin’ those kind thoughts!


Join me on Monday, Jan. 26, on KPFZ 88.1 FM for Blue Monday. At 8 a.m. I will be interviewing Teeny Tucker, nominee for best independent blues CD of 2008 by the Memphis Blues Foundation. This interview also will be streamed over the Internet on Tuesday, Feb. 3, at 3:00 p.m. on www.theworldofblues.com, In The Blues Spot.

Upcoming cool show: Morris Day & The Time at Cache Creek Casino; Saturday, Feb. 14, at 8 p.m.

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


From left, Gloria Flaherty, Kathy Fowler, and Gail and Sheri Salituri met Thursday at the Lake Family Resource Center in Lakeport to present money collected by Inspirations Gallery in 2008 as part of the Barbara LaForge Memorial Fund. Courtesy photo.


LAKEPORT – Lake Family Resource Center's effort to build a domestic violence shelter received another important donation Thursday.

Inspirations Gallery owner Gail Salituri and the gallery's director, Sheri Salituri, presented the center

with a check for $2,200.

This is the first of the LaForge Memorial Fund presentations this year.

The LaForge Memorial was created last year in memory of Gail Salituri's friend, Barbara LaForge, who was violently murdered in October of 2002.

“No woman should be a victim of any sort of abuse,” said Salituri, who gave her support for the effort to work to provide a safe place for abuse victims.

Salituri raffled original artwork, and held silent and live auctions of artwork she created and others donated at her gallery located at 165 N. Main St., Lakeport, to benefit the future home of the domestic violence shelter project.


The Lake County Arts Council joined in to support this cause by inviting Salituri to their Friday Night Flings, where artwork is raffled and sold periodically.

Salituri offered special thanks to local businesswoman Kathy Fowler, who also is a board member for the Lake Family Resource Center.

“Kathy Fowler is always there for me, and with me, during these events to support us in our quest to generate money for the center project,” said Salituri.

She added, “We are just a small business in Lake County, but we hope to serve as an example for reaching out and helping others, and hope our community will join in with us to assist this cause.”

Currently, “Red Hills Road in Fall,” an original oil measuring 24 by 30 inches, is being created for the upcoming Wine and Chocolate event's silent auction.

In addition to this new creation, “Red Hills Road II,” a 24-inch by 30-inch Giclee, will be offered at the event as a raffle item.

Salituri said her next scheduled event will be in March at the First Friday Night Fling at the Lake County Arts Council's Main Street Gallery.

A sneak peak of the new pieces will be on display this weekend in Inspiration Gallery's windows, 165 N. Main St.

For more information about the fund, call the gallery, 263-4366, or visit Salituri's Web site at www.inspirationsgallery.net/.


A snapshot of local unemployment numbers compared with those at the state and national levels. The blue bars represent Lake County's unemployment trends over the 12 months of last year, with the red line representing California's unemployment rate and the yellow line showing the US unemployment numbers. Lake County News chart.



LAKE COUNTY – Unemployment rates in Lake County, California and the nation are continuing their steep upward climb, according to new government reports. {sidebar id=116}

California's unemployment hit 9.3 percent in December, up from 8.4 percent in November, according to the state Employment Development Department (EDD). In December of 2007, unemployment in California was at 5.9 percent.

The US unemployment rate was 7.2 percent for December, up from 4.9 the previous year, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In Lake County, December's unemployment rate was at 13.1 percent, the highest local rate since March of 1997, according to EDD records. That was up from the 12.4 percent rate last November.

Lake County's December 2007 unemployment rate was 9.6 percent, with 2,420 people out of work. This past month, approximately 3,430 people were out of work locally, a growth of 1,010 people added to the unemployment rolls over a year's time.

California lost 78,200 nonfarm jobs in December, and had 257,400 fewer jobs in December 2008 than it did the previous year, according to the EDD.

In all, California has 1,732,000 unemployed workers – a number that was up by 166,000 from November and up by 653,000 compared with December of 2007. Those who were unemployed included 785,200 who were laid off and 125,300 who left their jobs voluntarily.

The rest were either new entrants or reentrants into the labor market, or persons who completed temporary jobs, according to a federal household survey.

Not all of those on unemployment are receiving any help. The EDD reported that 655,445 people across the state received regular unemployment insurance benefits during the December survey week, compared with 593,670 in November and 451,098 in December 2007.

EDD reported that new claims for unemployment insurance were 87,979 in December 2008, compared with 80,920 in November and 56,984 in December of last year.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that, nationwide, payroll employment fell by 524,000 jobs in December and by 1.9 million over the last four months of 2008, with job losses being “large and widespread across major industry sectors.”

The actual number of unemployed nationwide increased by 632,000 in December to reach 11.1 million, the bureau reported.

Since December 2007, when the recession is recorded as starting, 3.6 million people have become unemployed across the nation, which caused the national unemployment rate to climb by 2.3 percentage points.

Government looks at solutions

In a statement on the recent unemployment report, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said he is fighting for “aggressive economic stimulus” in the state's drawn out budget negotiations.

“Our increasing unemployment rate makes it clear that the crisis in our nation’s economy that has led to job losses is completely tied to our state budget shortfall,” Schwarzenegger said.

He said the state's fiscal problems can't be solved without working to stimulate the economy, and he's pushing for four elements he believes are immediately necessary: spending reductions, increasing revenues, making government run more efficiently and stimulating the economy by putting people back to work and helping families stay in their homes.

Economic stimulus for the entire nation is a stated goal of legislation at the federal level.

Last week, North Coast Congressman Mike Thompson reported that the House Ways and Means Committee, of which he is a member, voted 24-13 to support a comprehensive economic recovery package – HR 598 – that is making its way through Congress. The legislation is due to be combined with other legislative components into HR 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Thompson is advocating for rural areas to receive a fair share of bond funding in the legislation that is targeted at infrastructure projects and job training programs.

During his first weekly address on Saturday, President Barack Obama discussed the $825 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan, which he said will jumpstart the economy and tackle unemployment.

“Just this week, we saw more people file for unemployment than at any time in the last 26 years,” he said, noting that experts agree that if nothing is done the nation's unemployment rate could reach double digits.

Some of the plan's key points involve creating four millions jobs over the next few years while building new infrastructure – such as 3,000 miles of new electric grid transmission lines – weatherizing millions of homes, securing ports, renovating schools and protection health insurance for millions of Americans who face losing it.

Republicans in Congress, including Sen. John McCain and House Minority Leader John Boehner, are skeptical of the proposal.

In a Sunday appearance on NBC's “Meet the Press,” Boehner warned against raising taxes during a recession, and was critical of the plan favored by Obama and a reported majority of Democrats.

“We need an economic rescue package, but we all want one that works, one that helps small businesses, helps American families, helps create jobs and preserves jobs in America, and what we see with their plan is a lot of spending that I just don’t think will work,” Boehner said.

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


LAKEPORT – A local attorney has pleaded guilty to a felony count of possessing child pornography in a case that first began nearly two years ago.

Robert Wayne Wiley, 75, of Lakeport entered the plea on Jan. 9 as part of an agreement reached with the Lake County District Attorney's Office, said his attorney, J. David Markham.

The plea deal resulted in a second, identical charge being dropped against Wiley, who had been scheduled to go on trial Jan. 27, Markham said.

Originally, Wiley was arrested on one count but later was charged with four felony counts of possessing child pornography, Markham explained. “Then the judge reduced it to two counts after the preliminary hearing.”

Deputy District Attorney Ed Borg said the second count was dismissed under a Harvey waiver, which allows the judge to consider the additional charges in making a sentencing decision.

Wiley, who worked for many years representing juveniles in criminal and civil matters in Lake County Superior Court, was arrested in September of 2007 as the result of an investigation that first started several months earlier.

In February of 2007, a bailiff in Department A, where juvenile matters are handled, found a thumb drive – a small media device for holding computer files – in the jury box, as Lake County News has reported.

When the bailiff plugged it into a computer to see if he could find out who it belonged to, he allegedly found pornographic images of children and turned it over to the sheriff's office, who in turn passed it on to District Attorney's Office Investigator Craig Woodworth.

The children in the materials were not children Wiley either knew or represented, according to court documents.

Woodworth – assigned to the Northern California Computer Crimes Task Force, headquartered in Napa – examined the computer evidence, including the thumb drive and computers that were taken from Wiley's home and office, said Borg.

It wasn't until the summer of 2008 that Wiley as formally charged. Borg said the computer examinations took a long time, and resources for that work are stretched thin.

At the same time, a special master was brought in to help review what materials were appropriate to be included in the investigation. Borg explained in a previous interview that a special master is another attorney who examines materials before they're submitted to law enforcement in order to protect “work product,” or materials that could compromise attorney-client confidentiality,

All local judges recused themselves from the case, which was heard by retired Fresno County Superior Court Judge Harry N. Papadakis.

Borg said the probation report, which will make suggestions about sentencing, hasn't been completed.

Wiley worked in the county's juvenile court system, which is run the Lake County Probation Department. Because of a close working relationship he had with the probation department, the agency has recused itself from preparing the report. Borg said Mendocino County's probation department is preparing the report instead.

Markham said Wiley is due to be sentenced on Feb. 27.

The penal code offers three sentencing options – 16 months, two years or three years in state prison, said Borg.

However, since Wiley has no previous criminal record, he'll probably receive probation. “It's not a case where it's likely at all that he'll go to prison,” said Borg.

Wiley will be required to register under Megan's Law, Borg added.

There also will be repercussions with the California State Bar.

We are required to notify the state bar when we have an attorney charged with a crime, and then we notify them when they've been convicted of a crime,” said District Attorney Jon Hopkins.

From there, the state bar will determine what kind of disciplinary action to take, Hopkins said.

At the time of his arrest, Wiley lost his contract with the Lake County Superior Court to represent juveniles in civil matters, and agreed to end his contract for dealing with juvenile criminal cases with Lake Legal Defense Services, which administers the county's public defender's contract.

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


The new playground equipment that Justin Lazard donated to the city of Lakeport. Photo by Harold LaBonte.

NOTE: This article includes some explicit terms that may not be appropriate for children.

LAKEPORT – A New York man who recently made a gift to the city of Lakeport is facing trial this March for charges stemming from a July 2006 arrest.

Justin F. Lazard, 42, goes on trial March 3 for indecent exposure and annoying or molesting a child, according to Deputy District Attorney Ed Borg.

Lazard – an actor, writer and former model – recently gave a new set of playground equipment to the city, which was dedicated in a small ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday, as Lake County News has reported.

The case against Lazard alleges that he was sitting on the metal railing that runs along the sidewalk at the lakeshore in Library Park, just north of the playground area, exposing himself and masturbating during the July 4, 2006, festivities.

Lazard's attorney, Paul Swanson, did not return a call seeking comment on the case.

Lt. Brad Rasmussen of the Lakeport Police Department said Lazard was arrested at about 6:18 p.m. July 4, 2006, after three officers on foot patrol encountered him. Lazard was allegedly sitting alone on the railing, with his genitals exposed.

Rasmussen said Lazard was told to stop but didn't, so the officers grabbed him. Lazard allegedly resisted arrest and began fighting the officers, so Rasmussen tasered him. That gave Lazard the dubious distinction of becoming the first person to be tasered by the police department's new tasers.

There was no evidence that Lazard was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, said Rasmussen, and he offered no explanation for his alleged behavior.

Rasmussen said that, following the taser incident, Lazard received a medical clearance from paramedics at Lakeport Fire Protection District, which is standard procedure after use of a taser on a subject.

Both charges currently against Lazard are misdemeanors, Borg said. The annoying/molesting charge would carry a one-year maximum sentence, while the longest sentence for the indecent exposure charge is six months.

“The most he's facing is one year in county jail,” said Borg. “It would be extremely unusual for him to get that.”

Since Lazard doesn't have much in the way of a criminal record beyond the 2006 charges, Borg said he's more likely to receive probation if he's convicted.

However, Borg added that conviction on the charges would require mandatory registration as a sexual offender in California and possibly New York, where Lazard now lives.

Borg said the playground equipment donation Lazard made to the city of Lakeport hasn't been brought up in relation to his criminal case.

However, it's proved to be a thorny issue for Lakeport officials, who at first didn't realize Lazard had been arrested on the indecent exposure charge by police in 2006.

Kevin Burke, interim city manager and police chief, said that Creative Playthings, the Framingham, Mass.-based manufacturer of the playground equipment, contacted city Public Works Director Doug Grider about the donation about six months ago.

“Our public works staff did not know who the individual was,” said Burke, adding that city staff also haven't had contact with Lazard.

However, it came to their attention sometime during the process of formally accepting the equipment that he was the source of the donation, said Burke.

“At that time it was discussed at length amongst city staff about whether or not we should accept the donation,” Burke said.

Ultimately city staff decided to accept the equipment – which came with no strings attached of any kind – because it would offer a substantial benefit to the children who use the park, he explained.

Burke said the city was aware of the potential public perception that it was an attempt by Lazard – who also is the heir to a banking fortune – to buy his way out of trouble.

However, coming from his police perspective, Burke suggested that many people accused of crimes do some kind of restitution.

Considering the sensitive nature of the the charges against Lazard, Burke said he is planning to have city public works staff remove the plaque on the equipment.

The plaque reads:

“This playground is dedicated to the children of Lakeport, CA,

Creating Childhood Memories

Donated by Justin Lazard, 2008.”

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


LUCERNE – District 3 Supervisor Denise Rushing invites the public to attend a Lucerne Community Town Hall Meeting at 3 p.m. Saturday, January 31, at the Lucerne Senior Center.

County staff will provide updates on the redevelopment process and other issues, and community organizations will cover the local volunteer efforts.

The agenda includes gathering additional community input on redevelopment questions and the Lucerne clubhouse.

This is your opportunity to participate in an open forum discussing critical issues of concern to the Lucerne Community.

The Lucerne Senior Center is located on Country Club Drive between 9th and 10th streets.

For more information, contact Rushing at 263-2368 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


CLEARLAKE – Clearlake community leaders are coming together to form a group to combat the mounting problem of homelessness in the city and county.

City Council member Joyce Overton is helping to lead the effort, which also will include a summit on the homeless issue..

According to Overton, the local homeless problem is growing.

Due to the country’s economic situation homelessness is hitting families who previously had a home of their own and the problem is increasing. And with foreclosures rising in our county homelessness will only continue to get worse, she said.

Overton said there are a few places for the homeless to go to receive food, but there is no place for most to sleep where it is warm, since there has been no shelter established in the community.

A few in the community have been guardian angels and have provided a place to sleep and stay warm by paying for a hotel room for the night or providing blankets, gloves, tarps and more – but Overton said it isn't enough.

The community is asked to come together as part of a call to action. Overton said a drive called “Warm for the Winter” has been established locally to help those in dire need.

Community members are asked to drop off gloves, socks (which are needed the most), stocking caps, ear muffs, coats, blankets and anything else that would help keep people warm.

Drop off points and monetary donations can be delivered to the Lake County Community Agency. (LCCAA), located behind Foods Etc.; Calvary Church, 14330 Memory Lane, behind the laundromat on Olympic; and Church of the Nazarene, 15917 Olympic Dr., corner of Olympic and Hwy 53.

Monetary donations are welcomed in the form of checks made out to LCCAA; be sure to put the purpose of your donation on the check.

Become a community leader by joining the homeless summit. For more information please call City Council member Joyce Overton at 350-2898.


THE GEYSERS – The Geysers area saw a 3.0-magnitude earthquake Thursday evening.

The quake was reported at 8:16 p.m., centered one mile north northwest from The Geysers and five miles west northwest of Cobb, according to the US Geological Survey.

The US Geological Survey reported that the quake was located one mile north

Late Thursday, six responses – two each from Kelseyville, Middletown and Camptonville, the latter located 175 miles away – reported feeling the quake.

The last earthquake measuring more than 3.0 on the Richter scale occurred on Jan. 4, when a 4.2-magnitude earthquake was recorded near The Geysers, as Lake County News has reported.

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


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