Monday, 22 July 2024


The Westwind fire burned three homes early Wednesday morning. Photo by Kim Clymire.


LOWER LAKE – An early morning fire on Wednesday burned three mobile homes at a Lower Lake mobile home park.

The fire broke out at the Westwind mobile home park at about 2 a.m. Wednesday, reported Chief Jim McMurray of the Lake County Fire Protection District. The park is located on Konocti Vista Drive off of Pt. Lakeview Road.

McMurray said two mobiles were completely destroyed, with a third burned but not as seriously as the others.

Two more homes were in the fire's immediate path, said McMurray, with many other homes in the park jeopardized as well.

No injuries to residents or firefighters were reported.

A total of five engines, three water tenders, one rescue and one medic unit were on scene, said McMurray, with units coming from his district as well as Kelseyville, Lakeport and Cal Fire.

Cal Fire, said McMurray, remains well-staffed in Lake County despite resources that are needed to fight Lake Tahoe's Angora fire.

McMurray estimated that 25 firefighters battled the blaze, which was contained by about 3:30 a.m., with all equipment returned to quarters by 6:30 a.m.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, McMurray reported. “They had a lot of debris to go through to make a determination.”

Information about the individuals who lost their homes was not available by publication time.

In situations where people lose their homes to fire, Georgina Lehne, executive director of the Lake County Community Action Agency, said the Red Cross is the first responder.

However, those in need can receive food from the agency's emergency food pantry as well as clothes, Lehne said. LCCAA can be reached at 995-0495.

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


The burned homes were closely surrounded by other mobiles. Photo by Kim Clymire.



LAKEPORT – It's been a busy and productive year for KPFZ, Lake County's community radio station.

As the all-volunteer station has pursued its goal of being on air at high power this fall, KPFZ and its volunteer force have secured the county's commitment of a $30,000 grant, reached an agreement for antenna space on Mt. Konocti and, now, found and rented studio space in downtown Lakeport.

Station manager and founder Andy Weiss reports that KPFZ's new studio space will be located at 149 Main St., Suite 240.

“The third element of getting community radio into Lake County is in place,” said Weiss. “We've raised the money, have permission to put the transmitter and antenna on Mt. Konocti, and now we have secured a very promising studio space.”

The new home for community radio includes three rooms – an office/reception area; a radio control room for "live" broadcasting; and a production studio for news, recording, editing, promos and on-air spots – amounting to about 650 square feet, Weiss said.

Weiss said the building that houses the studio “is Victorian, well appointed and charming,” with halls filled with artwork, a large deck out back, a location central to the courthouse, businesses and other media, plus great views of the lake, mountains and downtown Lakeport. All of those aspects make it an ideal place for a community radio station, Weiss said.

The building's owner, Ross Kauper, gave the station an excellent deal on a two-year lease with the option for third year, Weiss said.


KPFZ has been looking for independent studio space for many years, said Weiss. Previously, the station broadcast out of a private residence and the back room of a private business. He said KPFZers are all very excited about this big step towards putting community radio on the air in Lake County.


KPFZ's work is far from over, noted Weiss. “Next, comes the organizing and building process, with our target date of sometime in November 2007 for getting on the air."

If you are interested in finding out how you can help KPFZ, contact Andy Weiss, 274-2152 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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


Bill Winter of Lower Lake says he takes his truck with a 300-gallon tank to the Lower Lake County Water Works standpipe, in the background, every other day to augment his wells. Winter was one of several community members who appealed a decision to shut off the standpipe to the water district board Monday night. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.


LOWER LAKE – Families in Morgan Valley who draw extra water for their homes from a water standpipe owned by the Lower Lake County Water Works won a brief reprieve Monday night.

In an emergency meeting, the water district's board of directors voted 4-0 to rescind a decision from its June 12 meeting to shut off the standpipe on July 1. Board Chair Frank Haas said the board took the action due to dropping levels in the district's wells.

The board extended the shutoff notice to July 31, saying they'll reevaluate their water conditions at that time. They also urged out-of-district water users who rely on the standpipe to attend a Wednesday meeting of the Highlands Water Co. to see if that district might offer them water.

General Manager Al Tubbs explained that his first obligation, according to state water law, is to his in-district customers. The Morgan Valley residents who use the standpipe are outside of the district, he explained, and can only be sold water if the district has a surplus.

The district's eight wells are now running 16 hours a day to serve about 900 hookups. Water use in the district hasn't changed, he said, but the supply has, with wells that once produced more than 200 gallons a minute now producing just over 110 gallons a minute.

Of the roughly 20 people who crowded into the small board room Monday, most were Morgan Valley water users, who were concerned that they hadn't been notified that there was an issue and were finding out with little notice. They said they are paying customers, although they're not within the district proper.

Tubbs said there are standpipe users who are not reporting usage, to the tune of 10,000 gallons in May that can't be tracked. Community member Torrie Quintero said the amount of water all the residential users take out of the standpipe can't account for all of that missing water.

Tubbs said the district can't account for another 467,000 gallons in May throughout the rest of the district. That amounts to a loss of 28 percent of the water the district pumps from its wells.

A central issue for most of those in attendance was commercial and construction trucks being allowed to draw heavily from the standpipe, using the potable water for spraying down roads and dust control. One of the decisions that came out of the meeting was to cut off commercial access to the standpipe as of Friday, June 29.

The board agreed that there was an emergency, and that it should extend the deadline for shutting off the pipe until they've conferred with Highlands Water Co. and evaluated water supply. Morgan Valley resident Bernice Britt said she spoke with Highlands officials, who said they would need to put in a standpipe to serve the residents.

Board member Frances Ransley said she sympathized with the water users, but added “you are taking your chances” when you buy land with a well and no other water source.

“I realize you guys are between a rock and a hard place,” she said.

Britt said she and her neighbors would like to be annexed to the district and will pay to do so. Quintero, Jo Cunningham and Rebecca Barnes-Lipman said after the meeting that they're working on an annexation application to the Local Area Formation Commission.

Tubbs suggested also issuing new keys to the current standpipe users, which the board voted to do.

Originally, the district reported that 28 families used the standpipe. Upon further research, they found they only had 12 active residential accounts and four commercial accounts, which means that 12 keys are being used but not being paid for or logging water usage. The new keys will stop that, said Tubbs.

Tubbs said he very concerned for his wells, that if they run draw he's concerned they won't recharge. He warned water users that in a month's time they still may be cut off, and that they needed to find other water sources as a backup. In-district customers also are receiving a conservation notice in their next billing.

“This is the future,” said Ransley, noting that conservation was becoming an issue for everyone.

Ellen Hardenburger asked that the district notify standpipe users quickly if an emergency situation – like the wells running dry – looks imminent. Hardenburger said water users weren't notified properly of the possible shutoff being discussed at the June 12 meeting.

Quintero said there's state law – such as Tubbs noted in serving the in-district water users first – and there's real life, which includes longtime standpipe availability. She said real life leads to new laws, and that everyone needs to communicate and work together to find solutions to issues like water availability.

Supervisor Ed Robey sat in on the meeting, and advised the board that, procedurally, they should rescind the previous shutoff order and make separate motions to extend the deadline, which they did.

Separately, the board voted to end commercial trucks' access to the standpipe as of June 29, issue new keys and evaluate standpipe water usage after another month.

Standpipe users are urged to attend the Highlands Water Co. meeting on Wednesday. For more information on time and location, call 994-2393.

Despite the sometime heated atmosphere of the meeting, residents thanked board members during and after the meeting for changing their mind. Outside the building after the meeting, Tubbs and Quintero even shared a hug.

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


LAKEPORT – After five years, numerous trial reschedulings, one trial that ended in a hung jury and another that stretched over the past nine weeks, it took a jury just an hour and a half to convict a Clearlake man of a 2002 murder.

The jury in the trial of Edward James Munoz, 26, accused of the 2002 murder of Leah Leister, came back with a guilty verdict at 3 p.m. Wednesday, reported Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff.

Munoz was accused of the March 11, 2002 murder of the 26-year-old Leister, a single mother whose body was found in her Clearlake apartment.

Munoz pleaded not guilty to the crime, as Lake County News previously reported.

Hinchcliff said Munoz stabbed Leister 16 times, cutting her throat several times as well. “When he finished that, he duct-taped her hands together and her feet together,” said Hinchcliff, who has been with the case since its beginning five years ago.

Hinchcliff said Munoz initially told investigators that he was ordered to kill Leister by Nortenos gang leaders out of Pelican Bay State Prison because she was stealing drugs from the gang.

But at trial, Munoz changed that story and claimed he was lying initially, said Hinchcliff.

Speaking of the trial, Hinchcliff said, “It was a frustrating, long, tiresome ordeal.”

The same can be said of the entire process that led to this point.

Munoz has been in custody in the Lake County Jail since April 2002. Hinchcliff said there were numerous changes of attorneys, either at Munoz's request or when attorneys chose to leave the case. The result was that his trial was rescheduled 13 times before it finally started in Judge Arthur Mann's courtroom last fall.

George Boisseau, a private criminal defense attorney from Santa Rosa, came to defend Munoz, and was the man at his side during last year's trial, which ended on Oct. 11 in a hung jury, 11-1, over the issue of Munoz's guilt.

Boisseau was again at the defense table for the retrial, which Hinchcliff said started jury selection on April 24 and began two weeks later. During the past nine weeks, Hinchcliff estimated he called about 20 witnesses to the stand, some testifying for as few as 15 minutes, some for a day or longer.

This time, the jury came back in short order with a conviction, finding Munoz guilty of first degree murder with a special gang allegation. “The jury was firmly convinced of his guilt,” Hinchcliff said.

Munoz's sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 27, although Hinchcliff said it's a date that likely will be changed.

“There's a good chance that it's going to take probably about four months to get him sentenced just because of motions the defense is likely to file and we'll have to respond to,” said Hinchcliff.

Among those, Hinchcliff expects Boisseau will file a motion for a new trial.

Munoz, however, is not facing the death sentence, said Hinchclif, who explained that the District Attorney's Office is instead seeking life without the possibility of parole.

Death penalty cases, said Hinchcliff, must meet certain statutory guidelines, including multiple homicides or the murder of a peace officer, and a defendant's extensive prior criminal record. “It was our opinion that this case didn't satisfy the factors, so we were not seeking the death penalty.”

Going through the retrial process, Hinchcliff said, “My main concern was for the victim's family and her mother, and how frustrating it was for her.”

Leister's family wanted closure and for Munoz to be held accountable for the crime. “Finally, that's done for them.”

Next, the family must decide if they'll give victim impact statements at Munoz's sentencing, said Hinchcliff.

Munoz's conviction brings with it another tragic backstory. His older brother, Richard Munoz, is currently serving a 25-years-to life sentence for a murder that took place in the late 1990s. Retired Clearlake Police Captain Ron Larsen said Richard Munoz, while still a juvenile, cut the throat of a 14-year-old boy at Clearlake Commons Apartments.

This isn't the first case that Hinchcliff has seen to a conclusion after years of delays and investigation. Last summer, he won a murder conviction in the case of Paul James Smiraglia, 47, who was found guilty of murdering 43-year-old Diedre Coleman in July 2002. The jury in that trial, which lasted about a month, also returned a verdict quickly, deliberating only two hours.

Hinchcliff said he has some other homicide cases to prepare for, and will next go to trial in a home invasion burglary case Sept. 5.

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


LAKE COUNTY – The Employment Development Department's latest report shows that Lake County's unemployment rate dropped in May.

Unemployment dropped to 7.2 percent, down 0.6 percent from April, according to a report from Dennis Mullins of the Employment Development Department's North Coast Region.

While down from April, that 7.2-percent rate is still up from May 2006's 6.6 percent, Mullins reported.

California's seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate for May was 4.9 percent, according to Mullins, while the nation's was 4.3 percent.

Surrounding county rates included 8.5 percent for Glenn, 11.5 percent for Colusa, 4.0 percent for Sonoma, and 5.2 percent for Mendocino, noted Mullins.

Lake County's unemployment rate ranked it 39th out of the state's 58 counties.

Marin ranked No. 1 with the lowest unemployment rate, at 3.3 percent, Mullins reported. Imperial County had the highest at 16.2 percent.

Total industry employment grew by 190 jobs (1.3 percent) between May 2006 and May 2007, according to Mullins, ending the year-over period with 15,330 jobs.

Year-over job growth occurred in the following categories: farm; natural resources, mining and construction; information; professional and business services; private educational and health services; and government.

Year-over job losses occurred in manufacturing, financial activities, and leisure and hospitality.

Industry sectors trade, transportation and utilities, and other services had no change over the past year.

The farm sector led industry gainers for the year-over period adding 70 jobs and government – which includes federal, state and local agencies – gained 60, Mullins reported.

In looking at employment numbers, Mullins explained that as a sub-sector of government, local government represents about 90 percent of Lake's total government employment and consists of agencies such as public schools, the community college, tribal administrations (includes casinos), special districts (includes fire, water sewerage), and city and county governments.

Public schools account for about 40 percent of Lake's local government employment, he added.

Other industries that added jobs: natural resources, mining and construction, and private educational and health services each added 40; professional and business services and information were up 10 jobs each.

Leisure and hospitality led industry sector decliners for the period shedding 20 jobs, Mullins reported, while financial activities and manufacturing each dropped 10.

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



A firefighter worked to stop the blaze as it moved along a neighborhood fence on Saturday. Photo by Harold LaBonte.


LAKEPORT – Fire officials are reporting that the cause of a fire that endangered a Lakeport neighborhood on Saturday was a lawnmower.

As Lake County News previously reported, the blaze broke out near a neighborhood on Alterra Drive and Crystal Lake Way shortly before 3 p.m. Saturday.

About 30 homes are located nearby, and fire personnel advised residents of numerous homes to evacuate their homes as they worked to control it.

The fire was contained later that afternoon, with mop-up operations continuing until late into the evening.

Lakeport Fire Protection District Chief Ken Wells said Monday that the 4.5-acre blaze was traced to an area resident mowing grass.

Wells said because the fire was accidental, charges won't be brought against the person doing the mowing.

Lawn mowing is a serious source of potential fires, said Wells, who urged people to mow early in the morning or late in the evening, when fire danger is much less.

The blaze destroyed one barn, one playhouse, neighborhood fences and numerous junker vehicles, said Wells.

Putting out the fire relied on the efforts of agencies around the lake and beyond, said Wells.

A total of 36 firefighters from Lakeport Fire Protection District; Northshore Fire, including engines from its Upper Lake, Lucerne and Nice fire stations; Kelseyville Fire; the U.S. Forest Service; and Lake County Fire Protection in Clearlake fought the fire, said Wells. Another 30 hand crew members came from Cal Fire.

A total of 10 engines came from all of those agencies, plus a bull dozer and helicopters from Cal Fire and a Forest Service water tender, said Wells. Both Cal Fire and the Lake County Fire Protection District also sent battalion chiefs to assist Wells.

Wells added that there were no injuries, either to residents or firefighters.

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


SACRAMENTO – The amended version of Sen. Patricia Wiggins' bill to address the light brown apple moth's arrival in California passed the Assembly Agriculture Committee on Wednesday.

Wiggins introduced the bill last month, which originally proposed to create a task force to advise state Agriculture Secretary A.G. Kawamura on the apple moth. The task force, which Kawamura would choose, would then submit a report to him by Sept. 1.

The bill passed the Senate by a 35-1 vote on May 29.

Since its introduction into the Assembly, Wiggins has amended the bill to give agricultural commissioners and the state the tools they need to eradicate the pest, according to a statement from Wiggins' office.

The light brown apple moth has so far reached nine California counties, as Lake County News previously reported. The latest report from the California Department of Food & Agriculture says that 4,292 moths have been found in those nine counties, with trapping activities continuing in 50 counties statewide.

“I said when I introduced SB 556 that it was a work in progress, intended to reflect the needs of the state in this situation,” Wiggins said in a written statement. “This bill will fully reflect the nature and scope of the effort to detect, control and eliminate the moth as a threat to California agriculture.”

The amended bill, called the Light Brown Apple Moth Act, calls for additional staffing and logistical support geared towards eradication.

New aspects of the bill include:

– Creation of the “LBAM Program” within the Department of Food & Agriculture, requiring Kawamura to provide appropriate levels of staffing and logistical support for eradication.

– Establishes an “LBAM Account” within the Department of Food & Agriculture Fund, and requires that funds be made available for the purpose of eradication.

– Requires the Department of Food & Agriculture report to the Legislature annually, beginning January 10, 2008, regarding its expenditures, progress and ongoing priorities in combating the moth.

– Contains an urgency clause that puts it into effect immediately should Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger sign the bill into law.

The light brown apple moth was discovered in the Bay Area in February. It's known to damage as many as 250 host plants, fruits and trees.

Since its discovery in California, state and federal quarantines have been implemented to stop the pest spreading any farther.

One light brown apple moth was found in Napa County in May. Earlier this month, state and federal officials began eradication treatments in Napa and Contra Costa counties, using an organic insecticide in the hopes of protecting the state’s $38 billion agriculture industry.

David Miller, Wiggins' spokesman, said the bill may return to the Senate for approval of the amendments. He said Wiggins is hopeful that SB 556 will get to the governor’s desk soon.

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


SACRAMENTO A key Senate committee on Tuesday passed a bill by Patty Berg that would protect Californians from the kind of red tape snafus that slowed the flow of emergency aid to victims of Hurricane Katrina.

“Californians do not need red tape during disasters,” said Assemblywoman Patty Berg, D-Eureka. “My bill will prevent this by allowing doctors and nurses to help Californians in their time of need.”

Under Assembly Bill 64, California officials would recognize out-of-state medical licenses of emergency volunteers during a declared state emergency. The bill would establish a system where California medical professionals can also register their credentials so they can help fellow Americans in other states.

During the Hurricane Katrina relief effort, volunteer doctors and nurses were prevented from giving aid because they did not have Louisiana or Mississippi medical licenses. One such volunteer, Robert Edinger, told the Lexington Herald Journal that he was unable to help Hurricane Katrina victims on the gulf coast because he lacked a Mississippi nursing license.

“We must prevent the horrors of red tape during the Hurricane Katrina relief effort from happening in California,” said Berg. “Californians must never wait entire days or weeks for help when it is a life and death situation.”

Assembly Bill 64 is part of a national effort to create a national registry where medical professionals, dentists, veterinarians, pharmacists and members of the funeral home industry can help in other states besides their home state. Kentucky and Colorado have enacted similar legislation.

The California Nurses Association, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the California Association of Physician Groups, the California Dental Association, the Humane Society of the United States, the California Society of Health System Pharmacists, the California Federation for Animal Legislation, the California Professional Firefighters Association, and the Regional Council of Rural Counties support the bill.

The Senate Governmental Organization Committee voted unanimously in favor of AB 64. It now goes to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Visit Berg's Web site at



Bugler Pete Esterbrook of Santa Rosa performs a call to post during the dedication of a Seabiscuit Statue at Ridgewood Ranch in Willits, Calif. Saturday, June 23. Esterbrook is the only racetrack bugler in Northern California. Photos by Suzette Cook/



WILLITS – Former Vice President Walter Mondale and his wife Joan, celebrated throroughbred racehorse owner Harry Aleo, and descendants of the owner, trainer, and jockey of Seabiscuit on Saturday paid tribute to the legendary American racehorse as a classic, life-sized bronze sculpture of the equestrian giant was unveiled and formally dedicated at Ridgewood Ranch in Willits.

The private ceremony took place more than 55 years after a Seabiscuit statue had been removed from the ranch where the horse legend spent his final racing and retirement years, died, and was buried.

"Seabiscuit was a most unlikely champion – a down-on-his-luck horse whose looks didn't inspire confidence in anyone – except for the people who mattered most – his owner Charles Howard, his jockey Red Pollard, and his trainer Tom Smith," said Mrs. Mondale, official representative of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. "They were an amazing team, this horse and these three men. They worked miracles and in the depths of the Depression that seemed to go on and on, they gave people something to feel good about."

Retired Marine Col. Michael Howard, great grandson of Charles Howard, read a statement from Laura Hillenbrand whose best-selling book rekindled national interest and led to an Academy Award-nominated film about the great horse and the remarkable team who owned, trained, and raced him.

"I can say with perfect certainty that nothing could have thrilled (Charles Howard) more than to see people gather here at his beloved ranch to dedicate a statue crafted to celebrate Seabiscuit and to carry the horse's legend forward to new generations," said Hillenbrand. "May the world never forget the magnificent Seabiscuit."

Besides Mrs. Mondale and Col. Howard, other speakers at Saturday's event were Aleo, owner of Lost in the Fog, the most popular San Francisco Bay Area horse since Seabiscuit; John Pollard Sr., nephew of Seabiscuit jockey Red Pollard; Anthea Hartig, Western Director, National Trust for Historic Preservation; Jani Buron, former ranch resident and author of "The Spirit of Seabiscuit"; and Bill Nichols, former ranch hand and author of "Seabiscuit-The Rest of the Story". Dashing Lil'Biscuit, a Seabiscuit descendant, made a brief appearance.

Representing the Seabiscuit Heritage Foundation were the emcee, Jacqueline Cooper, owner and breeder of the American Legend Horse Farm which is raising Seabiscuit's descendants at Ridgewood, and Foundation President Tracy Livingston.

The foundation is a nonprofit group formed to protect and preserve the historic buildings and natural resources of the remaining 5,000 acres of the Howard Ranch. "The return of the statue marks the start of a new era at the ranch, one which ultimately will see the completion and execution of a full-blown restoration and preservation plan," commented Livingston.

Famed Western artist and sculptor Hughlette "Tex" Wheeler cast two statues from Seabiscuit in 1940-41 while the horseracing legend was still alive.

About a decade ago, the Howard family donated one of the sculptures to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, New York. In February 1941, Seabiscuit himself helped unveil the second statue at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California where it remains in the garden paddock area.

Custom design statue makers, Icon Bronze of Anchorage, Alaska and its affiliate, Atlas Bronze Casting of Salt Lake City, crafted the replica unveiled today from a new rubber and fiberglass mold of the original in Saratoga Springs. V. Fontana, a family-owned fine granite and marble products manufacturer near San Francisco that made the original five-ton dark diamond gray granite pedestal, used the same polishing equipment to produce the new base. The inscription is the same: "Biscuit's courage, honesty, and physical prowess definitely place him among the thoroughbred immortals of turf history. He had intelligence and understanding almost spiritual in quality."

Chris and Anita Lowe of Bishopstone, Wiltshire U.K., foundation benefactors and collectors of Seabiscuit memorabilia, generously provided funding for the monument. The Lowes were made honorary citizens and given a key to the city of Willits by Mayor Tami Jorgensen. "There have been countless famous racehorses throughout the ages from all over the world," said Chris Lowe. "But few if any have captured the imagination and inspired an entire nation as Seabiscuit."

Nestled in the oak and redwood-studded ranchlands and mountains of northern California, Ridgewood Ranch was where Seabiscuit was nursed back to health after a serious injury. Seabiscuit's recuperation set the stage for an electrifying blaze-of-glory career finish at Santa Anita Park that captivated Depression-era America.

Still a working ranch, Ridgewood has been designated one of America's most threatened historic places by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The current owner, Christ's Church of the Golden Rule, has endeavored to be a model steward of the ranch by keeping developers at bay and by permanently protecting the historic structures that constitute Seabiscuit's legacy. The church has worked toward restoring several historic buildings and has joined the Seabiscuit Heritage Foundation, the National Trust, and others to develop an overall preservation and resource management plan and identify necessary funding sources for the effort.

For more information, contact the Seabiscuit Heritage Foundation, Ridgewood Ranch, 16200 Highway 101, Willits, CA 95460, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. The foundation Web site address is

For a full gallery of picture from the Seabiscuit statue unveiling, go to,com_wrapper/Itemid,37/.




WASHINGTON – On Wednesday, 37 members of Congress from California and Oregon, including North Coast Congressman Mike Thompson, called for congressional hearings on Vice President Dick Cheney's involvement in the political decision that killed 80,000 spawning salmon.

They made this request to House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick Rahall (D-WV) after a Washington Post investigative report found that Cheney pressured mid-level bureaucrats in the Department of Interior to divert water from the Klamath River Basin for political gain.

"We've known since 2002 that the Bush Administration manipulated science in a perverse and petty attempt to win votes," said Thompson. "Now it appears that this manipulation goes straight to the top. Despite what he may think, Vice President Cheney is not above the law and not above Congress' oversight. We want a thorough investigation of his involvement in the largest salmon kill and fishing disaster in our nation's history."

In 2002, the Interior Department diverted water from the Klamath River Basin to farmers in Oregon, resulting in the death of 80,000 adult salmon.

The Washington Post reports that Vice President Cheney called for the damaging water policy to secure the farmer's votes, despite scientific evidence that it would endanger two federal protected species of fish, a violation of the Endangered Species Act.

Thompson and others brought a lawsuit against the Administration in 2002, and three courts found that the water diversion was "arbitrary and capricious and in violation of the Endangered Species Act."

In the letter to Chairman Rahall, the members of Congress wrote, "The ramifications of that salmon kill are still being felt today as returns to the Klamath River are so low that commercial, sport and tribal fishing seasons have been curtailed for the past three years. In fact, last year's commercial fishing season for all of California and Oregon was cut by over 90 percent, and was the largest commercial fishing closure in the history of the country, causing over $60 million in damages to coastal economies."

"Unfortunately, this is not the first instance of Vice President Cheney choosing political gain over the health and welfare of the American people and our natural resources," added Thompson. "It's time the vice president is brought out of the shadows and held accountable for his actions."


WASHINGTON – On Tuesday, Congressman Mike Thompson joined a bipartisan group of his colleagues in opposition of efforts to expand domestic offshore oil and gas drilling.

As they do each year, proponents of offshore drilling attempted to lift the current congressional moratorium on drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) through amendments in an appropriations bill.

Thompson and his allies criticized this proposal as dangerous and unnecessary, and they urged their colleagues to vote against them. The amendments will be voted on in the next few days.

"Lifting the moratorium on new drilling could result in disastrous economic and environmental consequences," said Thompson. "Yet it will do nothing to reduce our dependency on oil and gas."

The moratorium on OCS drilling has been a bipartisan agreement in Congress for 25 years, and it has been renewed annually since 1982.

However, the moratorium has come under regular attack, which is why Thompson recently introduced a bill to permanently protect the North Coast from drilling.

The Northern California Ocean and Coastal Protection Act (H.R. 2758) will permanently prohibit oil and gas drilling off the coasts of Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte Counties.

"California's North Coast would be especially vulnerable if the moratorium was lifted," added Thompson. "Drilling off the North Coast would threaten our marine life and cause our local economy to suffer."

The North Coast is part of a unique upwelling zone, one of only four in the world. These zones support incredibly abundant and productive marine life, which local fishing communities depend on.

The North Coast also supports a large tourism industry vital to local and state economies that is dependent upon its pristine cove and beaches and spectacular views.

"Every year, there are attacks against the moratorium, and I'm afraid that one day it might be lifted," said Thompson. "An oil spill off our beautiful North Coast would be devastating. My bill will make sure that never happens."

On Thursday, the House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources will review Thompson's bill.

Watch Rep. Mike Thompson speak on the House floor:,80_hflr062607_063.wmv&sTime=00:02:42.0&eTime=00:00:37&duration=00:02:55.0&UserName=anne%252E&sLocation=&sExpire=1.


CLEARLAKE – Clearlake Police are stepping up patrol of the Austin Skate Park after a large Sunday evening fight involving as many as eight people left five injured.

A report from Clearlake Police Lt. Mike Hermann noted that Clearlake Police officers responded to the fight at 630 p.m. Sunday.

When they got to the park, Hermann reported officers found three victims, including a 28-year-old male who was on the ground and unconscious. Two more victims also were found.

Police determined that the fight started when one male subject looked at another male's girlfriend. Hermann said several other subjects joined the fight, with as many as eight people becoming involved, ranging in ages from teens to young adults in their mid-20s.

Although police have indications that some of those involved with the fight may have been wearing gang-related attire, Hermann's report stated that there is currently no evidence to prove the fight was “gang provoked.”

Hermann said that none of the subjects involved in the fight were previously known to police.

The 28-year-old male victim was transported to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital for neck injuries that authorities later determined weren't life-threatening, Hermann reported. No actual weapon was used on the victim, who mostly suffered from bruising to the throat, said Hermann.

Two other victims, ages 20 and 17, were treated and released for minor injuries, Hermann reported.

Police contacted a witness to the fight and obtained pictures of some of the individuals involved that had been taken with a cell phone, according to Hermann.

The main subject in the case, said Hermann, has been identified but has not yet been arrested.

Because of the incident Hermann said Clearlake Police will be stepping up law enforcement in that area, aggressively patrolling the skate park during the summer months.

Sgt. Brett Rhodes is leading the investigation into the fight incident, Hermann reported. Anyone with information about the fight is asked to call Rhodes at 994-8251.

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


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