Thursday, 25 July 2024

News

THE ARTICLE HAS BEEN CLARIFIED REGARDING THE LENGTH OF THE STATE TRIBAL GAMING MONOPOLY.

 

UPPER LAKE, Calif. – In a decision that could have implications for other California gaming tribes, the US Department of the Interior has denied the Habematolel Pomo of Upper Lake's proposed gaming compact with the state, a move that will push back the tribe's planned casino project.


The decision was handed down last week in a letter signed by Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Larry Echo Hawk, who asserted that the proposed compact – approved by the California Legislature last year – violated the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA).


“This is devastating but I don't think we're done,” Tribal Chair Sherry Treppa told Lake County News in a weekend interview.


The Habematolel Pomo have proposed to build a $25 million, 34,000-square-foot facility with 349 machines, six game tables, retail shops and restaurants on an 11.24-acre parcel on Highway 20 outside of Upper Lake, as Lake County News has reported. The tribe has a compact for Class III gaming, where the machines have the user playing against the house.


County Administrative Officer Kelly Cox, who has worked closely with the tribe over the last several years, said he was disappointed with the Department of the Interior's decision.


“I think that the tribe has tried to do everything right and it's been a very long process and I think they deserved a better outcome,” he said.


Cheryl Schmit, director of Stand Up California, a group that monitors Indian gaming across the state, said the Habematolel are seeing the impact of court decisions involving the Rincon and Colusa tribes that may end up having a negative impact on residents across the state.


Specifically, those two court cases faulted California's negotiations for revenue sharing agreements with tribes. “The citizens of California are not going to be able to be reimbursed now for the significant off-reservation impacts” of casinos,” she said.


If such decisions hold, “We are the losers,” Schmit said of the state's residents.


Echo Hawk's decision letter was offered on the tribe's third submission of its compact for approval, Treppa said.


The state Legislature approved the tribe's first compact with the state last December. The compact terms included the tribe's agreement to pay the state general fund 15 percent of the casino revenues, with an allowance to have as many as 750 gaming machines. However, if the tribe were to increase its number of machines, it agreed to pay $900 for every machine from 350 and above into the state's revenue sharing fund.


State approval cleared the way for the compact to go to the Department of the Interior for the final approval, and Treppa said the tribe initially submitted the compact to the agency on Jan. 12.


However, Department of the Interior officials raised questions about the compact's revenue sharing provisions, a point acknowledged both by Treppa and Echo Hawk's decision letter, signed Aug. 17.


Treppa said the tribe withdrew its first submission in order to resubmit it with additional documentation on Feb. 25, but they again had to withdraw it on April 8, before the 45-decision period ran out, because Interior officials continued to question the compact's provisions. The compact was submitted a third time on July 6, Treppa said.


Treppa said the tribe found out that Washington policymakers wanted to send a message to the state by denying the compact. The tribe sought guidance from Echo Hawk and his staff on what would constitute an acceptable compact.


She said they were told to read Echo Hawk's letter and that Interior officials would meet with them in a few weeks. A copy of the letter also was to be sent to the state.


At the same time, “We were also told that what would be an acceptable compact 'has not been adequately determined by the Department,'” Treppa said.


Echo Hawk said in his letter to Treppa, “We review revenue sharing requirements in gaming compacts with great scrutiny,” and consider if the state has offered in return meaningful concessions, which he identified as items the state otherwise isn't require to offer.


He said an important part of his agency's analysis on the issue came from the Ninth Circuit Court opinion Rincon Band of Luiseno Mission Indians of the Rincon Reservations versus Schwarzenegger, handed down in April. That ruling, said Echo Hawk, provided “guidance on the extent to which revenue sharing and variations on tribal gaming exclusivity constituted 'meaningful concessions' under IGRA.”


Treppa said the Department of the Interior was under the misconception that the tribe was receiving an entitlement by being able to receive state revenue sharing funds – reportedly about $1 million annually for tribes with less than 350 gaming machines. It only would be considered an entitlement under the 1999 compacts, she said.


The tribe also negotiated an exclusivity clause with the state wherein if a Class III nontribal gaming interest came within 100 miles of the Habematolel facility, it would end the revenue sharing requirement because it would impact the tribe's ability to maintain its net revenues, she said.


Echo Hawk's letter explained that, under IGRA, the Interior secretary has 45 days to approve or disapprove a compact. If the secretary doesn't specifically disapprove the document, it's considered to have been approved. The 45-day comment period for Habematolel's third try at compact approval ended last Friday, Treppa said.


Treppa suggested that the small tribe with 211 members – with nearly 60-percent unemployment among its membership – is in the midst of what appears to be a standoff between the US government and the state of California. She questioned why federal officials simply didn't wait to sit down and talk with a new governor beginning next year.


It's a clear policy change from what has been done in the past, Treppa said.


“We have become a pawn in their fight,” she said.


Treppa said the tribe will be pushing hard for clarification from the Department of the Interior. “I believe that there is going to be a backlash with this decision,” she said.


Echo Hawk, who formerly served as Idaho's attorney general, advocated for changes to that state's constitution to prevent Class III compact negotiations with tribes, according to Indian Country Today. Concerns that he would take an anti-gaming approach in his assistant secretary's job led to criticism of him from some corners during the confirmation process.


The impacts of the Rincon decision


In the 97-page Rincon decision, the tribe sued the state over the terms of a renegotiated gaming compact in which it was seeking to increase its gaming devices from 1,600 to 2,500. The state agreed, but sought 15 percent of the net win on the new machines and an additional 15 percent annual fee based on Rincon's total 2004 revenue, the court document stated.


In exchange, the state offered Rincon a 25-year extension of its compact and an “exclusivity provision,” the latter a provision that the tribe argued already was provided under Proposition 1A.


In a majority decision, the court decided that Schwarzenegger had negotiated in bad faith, and that the state's revenue requirements constituted “an impermissible demand for the payment of a tax by the tribe.”


The argument of bad faith and taxation, the court explained, could only be successfully countered if the state could prove that the revenue demanded in the compact was to be used for “the public interest, public safety, criminality, financial integrity, and adverse economic impacts on existing gaming activities.”


The state also had to prove the compact's terms were consistent with IGRA, the stated purposes of which include ensuring that tribes are “the primary beneficiaries of gaming and ensuring that gaming is protected as a means of generating tribal revenue.”


The Ninth Circuit Court maintained that Schwarzenegger had failed to successfully make those arguments. In particular, the court found that the state's revenue sharing would result in $38 million in net revenue for the state but only $2 million for the tribe, making the state the primary beneficiary, not the tribe, as the IGRA requires.


The court's decision noted that the Department of Interior has approved other compacts with California tribes that included general fund revenue sharing provisions, but had done so “reluctantly.”


“Often, the Secretary simply permits compacts with revenue sharing provisions to go into effect 'only to the extent they are consistent with IGRA,' thus leaving open the precise question at issue,” the court noted.


While the court noted that it was mindful that states like California “are currently writhing in the financial maw created by the clash of certain mandatory state expenditures at a time when state revenues have plummeted from historic levels,” it also stated it was “keenly aware of our nation’s

too-frequent breach of its trust obligations to Native Americans when some of its politically and economically powerful citizens and states have lusted after what little the Native Americans have possessed.”


The court asserted that when Congress created IGRA, it “anticipated that states might abuse their authority over compact negotiations to force tribes to accept burdens on their sovereignty in order to obtain gaming opportunities,” which is why the good faith requirement exists, and why IGRA condemns the kinds of state taxation demands the court found Schwarzenegger made of Rincon.


The Ninth Circuit Court's decision wasn't unanimous, and Judge Jay Bybee wrote a dissent in which he suggested that the Rincon decision “does not just upset the apple cart – it derails the whole train.”


He continued, “If the majority is correct, then there is nothing for California to do but to authorize whatever devices the Band wants. The Band wins. Everything.”


Bybee didn't find that California's revenue sharing proposal was a tax, and said IGRA does not address whether states and tribes may include revenue sharing in their negotiations – although it does allow them to discuss provision directly related to gaming activities, and the court itself previously had held that parties could negotiate over “fee demands.”


“The majority now holds that such fee demands cannot include general revenue sharing derived from the operation of gaming activities, but are limited to fees spent on the regulation of gaming alone. This restriction takes from the State its primary incentive in negotiating gaming compacts with the tribes,” Bybee wrote.


Bybee also didn't find that California negotiated in bad faith, since its constitution granted tribes the exclusive right to offer Nevada-style gaming.


With the state offering Rincon more than a 50-percent increase in gaming machines and the 25-year compact extension, Bybee suggested that such terms were within the range of good faith negotiations.


“Of course, whether the Band should accept the State’s offer is a very different question from whether the State has negotiated in bad faith,” he wrote. “But absent the majority’s intervention, both sides would have strong incentives to continue negotiations.”


Bybee said the revenue sharing provision that the court majority struck from the negotiations is found in 15 other California tribal compacts that the state recently had negotiated or renegotiated, all of which the Secretary of the Interior had approved, which could lead the tribes to arguing that their compacts must now be renegotiated.


He said it also would affect every state where compact negotiations have included revenue sharing provisions – among them, Connecticut, Florida, Michigan, New York, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Wisconsin – that the Interior secretary also had approved.


“The result is going to be chaos as tribe after tribe seeks to reopen negotiations concluded and duly approved,” Bybee said. “Nothing in IGRA compels our intervention in these negotiations.”


He said he expects legal challenges to similar agreements to result throughout the United States as a result of the court's majority decision. Such suits “will eat up State, tribal, and federal resources and will unsettle dozens of mutually beneficial revenue-sharing provisions that have fed both tribal coffers and revenue-hungry state treasuries.”


“The Rincon decision did impact us, but it shouldn't have,” said Treppa, noting that the tribe's discussions with Interior official centered on the same revenue sharing issues raised in the lawsuit.


If federal officials are suggesting that no amount of revenue sharing should be paid, “that's even more concerning,” said Treppa, noting that no tribal compact would get through, and there are many up for renegotiation.


Habematolel is the first tribe to have its compact turned down since the Rincon decision, Treppa said. She also believes that had a larger and more influential tribe been involved, the compact would have been approved.


The Ninth Circuit Court denied a request from Schwarzenegger to hear the case again, with the case now reportedly headed to the US Supreme Court.


Schmit said the decision could mean that the 1999 compacts won't be renegotiated, and it raises questions about the justification for the tribal gaming monopoly that's been in place for 10 years. She questioned if the state should expand gaming to everyone or is there a way to get tribes to recognize the need for being better neighbors.


The Interior secretary previously signed four ballot measures allowing four of the state's largest gaming tribes – Pechanga, Agua Caliente, Morongo and Sycuan – to expand their operations in exchange for $300 million in revenue to the state annually. “Those guys aren't paying the money that they promised they were going to pay,” Schmit pointed out.


The lawsuits will make it more difficult for tribes to reach compacts with the state. “What's in it for the state now? Nothing,” she added.


Then, last week, on Aug. 20, the Cachil Dehe Band of Wintun Indians of the Colusa Indian Community and the Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians, who sued the state and the California Gambling Control Commission, were successful in arguing for a higher limit to the number of gaming machine permits.


The result, said Schmit, is that another 8,000 slot machines will be added to the statewide cap, currently at around 75,000.


What's next for the tribe


Treppa said the compact the tribe negotiated with the state is “dead” and they must go back to the negotiating table, with the revenue sharing and exclusivity the main points that must be reconsidered.


They're concerned, however, about having to spend a lot of time and money to continue a process when they might still be disapproved, Treppa said. Another unknown – how the state's new governor might approach such negotiations.


The tribe also is communicating with Congressman Mike Thompson's office, which Treppa said has contacted the Department of the Interior to express its concerns.


She said the tribe is working with its lender, Luna Gaming, to keep the project on track. She believes the lender will continue funding their efforts as they renegotiate the compact. Luna Gaming, a Michigan-based gaming management company, has been involved in the project since 2005.


All work has since stopped on the property where the casino is proposed to be located. Treppa said they broke ground earlier this year.


“We began construction and we were sent a letter by the state telling us to stop construction because we didn't have an approved compact” by the Department of the Interior, but Treppa said the tribe disagreed, sent the state a letter explaining its position and continued.


When it became clear that the compact wasn't going to be approved, however, they had to comply with the request to stop construction, and the lender didn't want to fund any further improvements, she said.


The tribe is considering other options, such as scaling its compact back to a Class II agreement for facsimile slot machines that are more like electronic bingo, with people playing against each other, Treppa said. San Pablo has such a gaming facility, and it doesn't require payments to the state.


The county and the tribe reached a memorandum of understanding in 2006 that constitutes an in-lieu contribution equivalent to the amount of property tax that would have been paid on the 11-acre casino site, as Lake County News has reported. The funds are meant to cover public safety costs.


The tribe also contributed $378,000 to the Lake County Sanitation District for system upgrades and agreed to pay a small amount to support the county's marketing department, which later will be replaced by an amount equal to the county's 9-percent transient occupancy tax if they build a lodging facility, the county reported.


“They've been an outstanding group to work with, right from day one,” said Cox.


Treppa said the county “has been stellar in support of us,” noting the tribe won't turn its back on the county and the memorandum of understanding it negotiated with county officials. While that agreement still stands, the payments will be postponed, since they're based on compact approval.


Cox said he anticipates the tribe eventually will get the compact through, but he felt it was a shame they were put through so many delays.


Treppa said she'll start beating the pavement again in Sacramento to get the process going.


“We certainly are not of the mind to give up,” she said, adding, “Sometimes things happen for a reason.”


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

LAKE COUNTY, Calif – Lake County's unemployment took a turn upward in July while the state and national percentages remained unchanged.


The Employment Development Department's latest report stated that July's unemployment rate in Lake County was 17.3 percent, up from 16.8 percent this past June and 15 percent in July of 2009. The county was ranked No. 49 out of the state's 58 counties.


The state rate remained unchanged at 12.3 percent, but remained higher than the 11.8 percent recorded in July 2009, according to state documents. The unemployment rate is derived from a federal survey of 5,500 California households.


The Employment Development Department said nonfarm jobs in California totaled 13,874,900 in July, a decrease of 9,400 over the month, according to a survey of businesses that is larger and less variable statistically. Job losses were primarily in government employment, mostly temporary federal Census jobs, while private nonfarm payrolls grew by 13,700 jobs.


A survey of 42,000 California businesses that measures jobs in the economy showed a year-over-year change – July 2009 to July 2010 – of 103,800 fewer jobs, or a 0.7 percent decrease.


On the national level, the U.S. unemployment rate also was unchanged in July at 9.5 percent, according to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics. The national unemployment rate in July 2009 was 9.4 percent.


Statewide, the lowest unemployment rate was 8.6 percent in Marin County, while the highest was in Imperial County, which the Employment Development Department said recorded a 30.3 percent rate.


In July, Lake County had a work force of 26,010 people, with 4,510 of them out of work, according to state data, compared with 26,460 workers and 4,450 people out of work in June.


Lake's neighboring counties posted the following rates and state rankings: Glenn, 16.6 percent, No. 47; Mendocino, 11.4 percent, No. 15; Napa, 9.4 percent, No. 3; Sonoma, 10.8 percent, No. 11; and Yolo, 12 percent, No. 23.


Upper Lake continued as the county area with the lowest unemployment in July, 9.1 percent, while Clearlake Oaks again registered the highest unemployment locally at 25.5 percent, detailed state labor data showed.


The following unemployment rates were reported for other areas of the county, from highest to lowest: Nice, 25 percent; city of Clearlake, 24.6 percent; Lucerne, 18.2 percent; Kelseyville and Middletown tied with 17.6 percent; city of Lakeport, 16.7 percent; Cobb, 15.5 percent; Lower Lake, 14.6 percent; Hidden Valley Lake, 14.3 percent; north Lakeport, 13.7 percent.


State lost jobs in year-over-year comparison


The Employment Development Department said that a federal survey of households, done with a smaller sample than the survey of employers, showed an increase in the number of employed people during the month. The survey estimated the number of employed Californians in July was 16,018,000, a decrease of 51,000 from June, and down 83,000 from the employment total in July of last year.


The number of people unemployed in California was 2,251,000 – up by 7,000 over the month, and up by 100,000 compared with July of last year, the report said.


The agency's payroll employment report, tracking wage and salary jobs in the nonfarm industries of California, showed jobs totaled 13,874,900 in July, a net loss of 9,400 jobs since the June survey and a loss of 24,000 jobs in June.


The state said five categories – construction; trade, transportation and utilities; information; educational and health services; and other services – added jobs over the month, gaining 21,000 jobs. Educational and health services posted the largest increase over the month, adding 11,600 jobs.


Approximately 30,400 jobs were reported over five categories – mining and logging; manufacturing; professional and business services; leisure and hospitality; and government, the state said.


Government posted the largest decline over the month, down by 23,100 jobs, the state said, while one sector, financial activities, reported no change over the month.


In year-over-year comparison, five industry divisions showed a total of 65,400 jobs gained, including mining and logging; information; professional and business services; educational and health services; and other services. Educational and health services recorded the largest increase over the year on both a numerical and percentage basis, up 35,500 jobs, or 2.0 percent, according to the state.


Showing job declines over the year were six categories – construction; manufacturing; trade, transportation and utilities; financial activities; leisure and hospitality; and government – down by 169,200 jobs. The report showed that construction employment had the largest decline over the year on both a numerical and percentage basis, down by 54,300 jobs, a decline of 9.1 percent.


The Employment Development Department said there were approximately 666,502 people receiving regular unemployment insurance benefits during the July survey week. That compares with 643,428 last month and 812,165 last year.


New claims for unemployment insurance were 73,817 in July 2010, compared with 75,866 in June and 80,048 in July of last year, the report said.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

Image
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration Discovery Mission patch. Courtesy image.



 


Let the countdown begin. NASA's Dawn spacecraft is less than one year away from giant asteroid Vesta.


“There's nothing more exciting than revealing an unexplored, alien world,” said Marc Rayman, Dawn's chief engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.


“Vesta,” he predicted, “is going to amaze us.”


Dawn is slated to enter orbit around Vesta in late July 2011. As the first breathtaking images are beamed back to Earth, researchers will quickly combine them into a movie, allowing us all to ride along.


“It will look as though the spacecraft is hovering in one place while Vesta rotates beneath it,” said Rayman.


Previous missions have shown us a handful of asteroids, but none as large as this hulking relic of the early solar system. Measuring 350 miles across and containing almost 10 percent of the mass of the entire asteroid belt, Vesta is a world unto itself.


“It's a big, rocky, terrestrial type body – more likely similar to the moon and Mercury than to the little chips of rocks we've flown by in the past,” Rayman said. “For example, there's a large crater at Vesta's south pole, and inside the crater is a mountain bigger than asteroid Eros.”


Dawn will orbit Vesta for a year, conducting a detailed study and becoming the first spacecraft to ever orbit a body in the asteroid belt. Later, Dawn will leave Vesta and go on to orbit a second exotic world, dwarf planet Ceres – but that's another story.


Many scientists consider Vesta a protoplanet. The asteroid was in the process of forming into a full fledged planet when Jupiter interrupted its growth. The gas giant became so massive that its gravity stirred up the material in the asteroid belt so the objects there could no longer coalesce.


“Vesta can teach us a lot about how planets formed,” said Christopher Russell of UCLA, the mission's principal investigator. “There is a whole team of scientists sitting on the edge of their seats waiting for that first glimpse of Vesta.”


Dawn's official Vestian approach, which Rayman also calls the “oh man this is so cool phase” of the mission, begins next May. Unlike most orbital insertions, however, this one will be comparatively relaxing.


“This may be the first planetary mission that doesn't cause its mission team members to bite their nails while their spacecraft is getting into planetary orbit,” said Rayman.


A conventional spacecraft's entry into a flight path around a celestial body is accompanied by crucial periods during which maneuvers must be executed with pinpoint precision. If anything goes wrong, all can be lost. But Dawn, with its gentle ion propulsion, slowly spirals in to its target, getting closer and closer as it loops around.


“Dawn's entire thrust profile for its long interplanetary flight has been devoted largely to the gradual reshaping of its orbit around the Sun so that by the time the spacecraft is in the vicinity of Vesta, its orbit will be very much like Vesta's,” Rayman said.


With just a slight change in trajectory, the spacecraft will allow itself to be captured by Vesta's gravity.


“Even that gentle ion thrust will be quite sufficient to let the craft slip into orbit. It's like merging into traffic on an interstate – only gradual acceleration is needed,” Rayman said. “Dawn won't even notice the difference, but it will be in orbit around its first celestial target.”


Dawn's first survey orbits will be high and leisurely, taking days to loop around Vesta at altitudes of about 1,700 miles. After collecting a rich bounty of pictures and data from high altitude, Dawn will resume thrusting, spiraling down to lower and lower orbits, eventually settling in a little more than 100 miles high – lower than satellites orbiting Earth.


Parts of the surface may be reminiscent of features on Earth or the Moon with craters and perhaps even volcanoes.


“We don't expect to see active volcanoes,” noted Carol Raymond, the mission's deputy principal investigator at JPL, “but there could be ancient volcanic features still recognizable among the craters.”


Meanwhile, “other sights could be completely unlike anything we've imagined,” says Rayman. "It'll be pure excitement.”


To see a video about the Dawn visit http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2010/19aug_dawn2/.


Dauna Coulter works for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.


Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

THIS ARTICLE HAS BEEN CLARIFIED REGARDING THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN ARREST CHARGES AND THE PROSECUTORIAL PROCESS.


KELSEYVILLE, Calif. – The case against a Kelseyville man arrested last month after shooting a man who came onto his property has been dropped, according to the county's chief deputy district attorney.


Nickolas Leone, 48, was arrested on July 10 for felony discharging a firearm in a negligent manner for shooting John Allen Kniss, 32, of Kelseyville, as Lake County News has reported.


Leone later was investigated for an additional count of felony assault with a firearm, according to Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff.


The sheriff's office reported that the confrontation allegedly resulted after Kniss – who had been making threats over a woman Leone was seeing who previously had dated Kniss – drove onto Leone's property at a high rate of speed and tried to force his way through a gate.


Leone got his shotgun, told Kniss to leave and fired a warning shot, which Kniss ignored. He then shot Kniss in the arm and shoulder at a distance of 80 to 100 feet before Kniss fled the property, according to the original report.


Kniss was picked up about a week later on a misdemeanor bench warrant for battery on a spouse, false imprisonment and vandalism. At that time he still had several pellet wounds in the left arm, shoulder and chest from the incident, and admitted to authorities that the incident had occurred, officials said.


However, after reviewing the case, Hinchcliff decided that he would not formally charge Leone in the case.


He said Thursday that the evidence showed that Kniss had made threats earlier in the day. “There was a prior history of violent or potentially violent conduct” between Kniss and his ex-girlfriend, who had more recently been dating Leone.


Ultimately, Hinchcliff decided he would not be able to convince a jury that Leone wasn't acting in reasonable self-defense.


“I'm not necessary saying that he acted in reasonable self-defense,” Hinchcliff was quick to add.


“The decision I made is based solely on the facts of this case and is in no way meant to imply that if someone comes on your property you can shoot at them,” he emphasized.


Hinchcliff said a felony case is pending against Kniss for felony evasion, driving under the influence and using force or violence against peace officers from an incident earlier this year.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf.

LAKEPORT, Calif. – The 31st annual Clear Lake Splash-In, the largest gathering of seaplanes west of the Mississippi, will be held in Lakeport on Friday, Sept. 24, through Sunday, Sept. 26.


The public can get a closeup look at float planes on Saturday, talk with pilots, and witness a spectacle of aerial events including water-bombing contests, a parade of seaplanes, fly-bys and more.


Seaplanes and amphibians at the splash-in will include Grummans, Republics, Lakes, Cessnas, Pipers, deHavillands and a variety of experimental aircraft modified with floats.

 

For pilots, registration is from noon to 5 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 24, at the Skylark Shores Resort, 1120 N. Main St.


The Skylark Shores Resort docks will serve fixed-float planes and the ramp at the Natural High School field is available for amphibious seaplanes.


Land planes or aircraft unable to land on water more than once will be welcomed at Lampson Field, a few miles away. Shuttle service will be available Saturday and Sunday from Lampson Field to the seaplane venues.

 

For more information, visit www.clearlakesplashin.com.


Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

A consensus is building among current and former military leaders and defense industry executives that rising military personnel costs threaten the viability of the all-volunteer force.


In July, two separate advisory groups reached the same general conclusions regarding what needs to be done to sustain the force. In the nearer term, they say, one step that must be taken is to make military retirees pay more out of pocket for their health care benefit.


“Unless retirees contribute more for their TRICARE insurance, medical costs will not be brought under control and the national defense they served, and for which they fought and sacrificed, will be harmed,” says the final report of the Quadrennial Defense Review Independent Panel.


The panel is co-chaired by former Defense Secretary William J. Perry from the Clinton administration and Stephen J. Hadley who was national security advisor through President George W. Bush’s second term.


Longer term, and for the future force, panelists say, work must begin on designing new retirement, compensation and promotion systems to replace inefficient and rigid systems adopted after World War II. The situation is so critical that the Hadley-Perry panel asks Congress to establish a new National Commission on Military Personnel to lead the reform effort.


Arnold Punaro, a defense industry executive and retired Marine Corps Reserve major general, chairs a task force for the Defense Business Board that will deliver its final report to Defense Secretary Robert Gates in October.


Task force “initial observations” for cutting defense costs through best business practices, briefed to the board July 22, reinforces the notion that personnel accounts must be brought under control by modernizing retirement, pay, health benefits and the “up-or-out” promotion systems.


Both studies deal with a far wider range of initiatives to restructure forces and streamline organizations. The Hadley-Perry report can be read online at www.usip.org/files/qdr/qdrreport.pdf and task force observations are at http://dbb.defense.gov/meetings.html.


What both conclude on the need to control health costs and modernize compensation systems, Punaro said, is consistent with findings of the 10th Quadrennial Review of Military Compensation and the 2006 Defense Advisory Commission on Military Compensation. But now, with Defense Secretary Gates’ leadership and a new awareness among military leaders to the burden of mounting personnel costs, there’s a fresh groundswell for change, he said.


“I’ve heard a four-star military leader comment that DoD is turning into a benefits company that will occasionally kill a terrorist,” Punaro said in a phone interview Tuesday. The remark plays off a popular critique of General Motors before its recent bail out, that union contracts had transformed it into a health care company that occasionally built a car.


Both the business board task force and the Hadley-Perry panel agree that the current force must be protected from the changes to retirement, pay or promotion policies needed to create a more efficient future force.


“Updating military compensation and redesigning some benefits does not necessitate cuts in pay or benefits for current service members,” said the Hadley-Perry report.


“These are areas where any adjustment you make will take decades to change,” Punaro said. “With something like military retirement, you are not going to break faith with people who joined expecting a certain benefit, even though only 20 percent stay long enough to earn a retirement.”


But rapid expansion of military entitlements has become part of “the nation’s mandatory spending problems,” the task force found. Among “significant unsustainable trends” that the task force listed is paying military retirees and their families “for 60 years after they have served only 20.”


Another task force slide give details of how military entitlements have expanded “rapidly” over the last decade with Congress passing TRICARE for Life, a more robust pharmacy benefit, concurrent receipt for disabled retirees, extra-size active duty pay raises, an improved survivor benefit plan, sharp growth in housing allowances, a bigger death gratuity and more.


Punaro declined to criticize any specific initiative. But, he said, “nobody ever sat down and said, ‘What’s the cumulative effect of all this?’ ”


The effect, says the Hadley-Perry report, is personnel costs “have grown drastically on a per capita basis.”


As the economy recovers and the job market rebounds, Punaro said, the cost of sustaining the military will accelerate even more.


Punaro, who served as staff director of the Senate Armed Services Committee for eight years, noted that much of the recent entitlement growth has helped only retirees and their families, a population that now outnumbers the active duty community.


“TRICARE for Life, the largest new benefit ever passed, was not subject to any kind of serious review or debate, as best as I can tell. Is that the way to pass something like that? And, okay, just because you passed it, does it have to be in existence for 100 years? Bob Gates makes a pretty compelling argument that ‘health care costs are eating us alive’.”


Punaro criticized military associations that, he said, push continually for benefits with little heed to more pressing defense priorities. Military leaders and lawmakers this decade have been complicit, he suggested.


“It doesn’t’ take a profile in courage to stand up and be for every benefit that anybody has ever dreamed up. That’s easy. It takes a lot of courage to be responsible….It looks to some of us that we’ve changed the slogan ‘Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition’ to ‘Praise the Lord and pass the benefit.’ I remember working with military associations when their number one goal was a strong national defense, not more benefits.”


Tom Philpott writes a weekly column on military issues. To comment, send e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or write to Military Update, P.O. Box 231111, Centreville, VA, 20120-1111.


Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

MENDOCINO COUNTY – Another confrontation between law enforcement and illegal pot growers turned deadly this week when a man guarding a cultivation operation in Mendocino County was shot dead during a confrontation with a sheriff's deputy and a firefight took place between deputies and other suspects.


The incidents occurred during a series of pot eradications carried out early Wednesday morning in the 3000 block of Branscomb Road of Laytonville, according to Capt. Kurt Smallcomb of the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office.


The name of the dead man was not released.


Smallcomb said the Mendocino County Sheriffs Office Marijuana Eradication Unit, along with patrol deputies and detectives, was assisted by the Major Crimes Task Force, Mendocino County Special Weapons and Tactics Team, Mendocino County Probation, Homeland Security, Drug Enforcement Agents, Alcohol,Tobacco and Fireams agents and Forest Service agents in serving a search warrant at the Branscomb Road address just west of Laytonville.


The search warrant was for a large marijuana cultivation operation involving armed guards and ex-felons, he said.


On arrival law enforcement conducted several residential searches on the large parcel of property. Smallcomb said several marijuana plants were seized along with firearms and other narcotic paraphernalia.


At the residential site deputies arrested several suspects, Smallcomb said.


They included Laytonville residents 52-year-old Gerald Stephenson, arrested for being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, and cultivation and sales of marijuana; David Higgs, 50, arrested for possession of a controlled substance, possession of an assault rifle and tampering with a firearm serial number; and 41-year-old Kelly Dutra, arrested for cultivation and sales of marijuana. Also arrested was 22-year-old transient Delfino Contreras on an immigration violation.


Smallcomb said the suspects were transported and booked into the Mendocino County Jail.


Law enforcement then proceeded to two large marijuana grows which were identified as part of the same investigation, he said.


At the upper site officers encountered numerous armed suspects tending to the garden. A total of 426 growing marijuana plants were located and eradicated at this location. Smallcomb said several firearms and ammunition were further recovered.


It was at that location that the officer-involved shooting took place. Smallcomb said the Mendocino County District Attorney along with the California Department of Justice are investigating the incident.


Law enforcement also was investigating a lower site at approximately the same time as the upper site when the firefight ensued, Smallcomb said.


There was no evidence located which revealed anyone was shot or injured during the armed encounter, which Smallcomb said the Mendocino County District Attorney and the California Department of Justice are investigating.


At the site of the gun battle a total of 1980 marijuana plants were eradicated and a firearm and ammunition were recovered, Smallcomb said.


Smallcomb said the investigation is continuing.


Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf.

Image
An organic heirloom Brandywine ripening on the vine at Leonardis Organics in Kelseyville, Calif. Photo by Esther Oertel.




 


I may be overdoing it with this moniker for one of my favorite foods, but that’s truly what their fresh-off-the-vine, locally grown goodness tastes like to me. Like Pavlov’s dogs, the pungent smell of tomato vines can make me salivate.


The midsummer heat brings long-awaited fulfillment of my craving for fresh tomato sandwiches, and there is nothing better with which to make them than the beautiful array of local, farm-grown tomatoes available this time of year.


My affection for vine-ripened tomatoes is so great that the term “heirloom tomato” may be one of my favorite culinary phrases.


I’m thinking of them now, nestled in farmers’ market stalls in all their colorful glory. They’re calling my name: red, charmingly creviced Brandywines with their classic sweet taste; yellow firm-fleshed Persimmons; earthy, smoky Cherokee purples; Marvel stripes with their red and green striations, and oh-so-many more. Together they make a rainbow of sweet, savory, subtle, intense tomato flavor.


I’ll never forget when my husband got inspired by a seed catalog and planted more than 40 varieties of tomatoes in our home garden. We seemed to have tomatoes in every conceivable color and shape that year, from an almost black Russian variety to tiny yellow ones the size of berries.


I’m thankful that our dehydrator endured all its use that summer and that our friends enjoyed their Christmas gifts of our dried tomato experiments.


Tomatoes, along with eggplants and squashes, are botanically classified as a fruit; however, for culinary purposes, they’re considered a vegetable since they don’t have the high sugar content of other fruits.


On an interesting, if unusual, side note, in 1893 the U.S. Supreme Court was asked to rule on whether tomatoes should be treated vegetables or fruits. In that case regarding importation tariffs, the vegetable designation prevailed.


Supermarket tomatoes are no match for summer’s local crop. While the average American consumes almost 22 pounds of them each year (mostly in the form of ketchup and canned sauces), only 10 percent of us rate them as our favorite vegetable, largely due to the poor taste of those found in the produce departments of conventional markets.


Tomatoes are a fragile fruit, and do best when brought to the table from the vine in the shortest route possible.


Because supermarket tomatoes must endure shipping and cold storage, they’ve been bred for durability and a long shelf life, and that has done away with the complex mix of sugar, acid and chemicals that create good tomato flavor.


In addition, tomatoes that must be transported long distances are picked immature, before they’ve had the chance to develop their natural flavor, and are “ripened” later using ethylene gas, which gives them a red color.


When I buy a tomato from the supermarket in the off season, it’s the plum or cherry variety, which haven’t been as subject to the breeding that does away with flavor. In cooked dishes, canned Italian plum tomatoes often impart more flavor than fresh ones from the store.


Tomatoes are native to the western part of South America, including the Galapagos Islands, but were first cultivated in southern Mexico beginning in about 500 B.C.


They were brought to Europe by Spanish Conquistadors, and by the 16th century had spread throughout Europe.


They were not initially popular as a food, however, as they were thought to be poisonous. (While the leaves contain toxins common to members of the nightshade family, the fruit is – thankfully! – quite edible.)


Tomatoes are an absolute powerhouse of nutrition. They’re full of lycopene, an antioxidant which has been shown to be protective against a growing list of cancers, as well as a benefit to cardiovascular health.


If you’re interested in getting a healthy dose of lycopene, studies have revealed that organic tomato products have three times the amount than their conventionally grown counterparts.


Tomatoes abound in vitamins A and C, a range of B vitamins, potassium and fiber. They’re also high in vitamin K, which is essential for maintaining bone health.


I’m convinced that tomatoes are one of the healthiest things one can eat.


And, speaking of eating, what about that tomato sandwich I mentioned? My favorite way to create one is to layer slices of heirloom tomatoes of varying colors on sourdough French bread and top it with fresh basil leaves, real mayonnaise and a bit of salt and freshly ground pepper.


Sometimes I make a basil aioli to replace the fresh leaves and mayo, and I’ve shared that recipe below.


Modern-day aioli is a spin on the traditional sauce of garlic and olive oil that originated in the Provence region of France.


Aioli is often looked upon as a flavored mayonnaise, but a true aioli must contain garlic. If the garlic clove is eliminated from my recipe below (which is an option for its preparation), it would more appropriately be called basil mayonnaise.


Also shared below is my recipe for one of my favorite summer meals, a cooling tomato-based soup called gazpacho, which hails from the southern region of Andalusia in Spain. Chocked full of fresh summer veggies, you may be able to find most of its ingredients in your garden or local farmers’ market.


While some gazpacho recipes call for blending the entire batch of veggies into a puree, I prefer to puree only half of them to maintain an interesting texture and satisfying crunch.


Enjoy! Researchers have found that eating gazpacho helps guard against depression, so it’s guaranteed to make you happy.


Gazpacho


3 large tomatoes, diced

1 cucumber, peeled and diced

2 bell peppers, chopped (combine red, green, yellow or other colors)

1 red onion, chopped

1 stalk celery, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

¼ cup red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 cups tomato juice

¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped

¼ cup fresh basil, chopped

Juice of 1 lime

Tabasco sauce and salt & pepper to taste


Combine vegetables in a large glass bowl.


Add remaining ingredients and mix well.


Add half the mixture to a food processor and blend until smooth.


Combine puree with original mixture and chill for 4 hours before serving.


Garnish with diced avocado or cilantro, if desired.


Serves four.


Basil aioli


Combine one large egg, 1 clove crushed garlic, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a food processor. Process for a few seconds until mixture is emulsified.


Keep the motor running as you drizzle in just under a cup of extra virgin olive oil. Add 1/3 cup roughly chopped fresh basil and pulse a bit until combined. Scrape the aioli into a container and refrigerate.


Makes about 1-1/2 cups.


Esther Oertel, the "Veggie Girl," is a personal chef and culinary coach and is passionate about local produce. Oertel owns The SageCoach Personal Chef Service and teaches culinary classes at Chic Le Chef in Hidden Valley Lake. She welcomes your questions and comments; e-mail her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

LAKE COUNTY, Calif. — The fifth-annual Old Time Bluegrass Festival will be held at Anderson Marsh State Historic Park in Lower Lake on Saturday, Sept. 11.


The festival will be held from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., rain (under cover) or shine; gates open at 9:30 a.m.

 

This annual event brings together local and regional musicians for performances on two stages, as well as a full schedule of musician workshops led by pros Jim Williams, Andy Skelton, Don Coffin, and others throughout the day on such topics as banjo, fiddle, and flat-picking techniques for guitar.


Attendees are encouraged to bring their instruments for workshops and informal jam sessions behind the ranch house.

 

The Old Time Bluegrass Festival will feature demonstrations and vendors selling old-time handmade crafts, Art-in-the-Barn, beer and wine gardens with Lake County wines, food, children’s activities, and workshops that make this event fun for the entire family.

 

Entertainment during the festival will be provided by John Reischman & The Jaybirds, Bill Evans & Megan Lynch, Pat Ickes & Bound To Ride, the Anderson Family Band, Fur Dixon & Steve Werner, and Rita Hoskins.

 

Local favorites include the Konocti Fiddlers, the Clear Lake Clickers, the Cobb Stompers, Darrin Smith, and 3 Deep. Period attire is welcomed.


Sponsored by the Anderson Marsh Interpretive Association, the Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce and the Children's Museum of Art and Sciences, the event is a benefit for local educational programs and, this year, emergency first responder.

 

At the gate, tickets are $20; $15 in advance and available online. Children 12 and under are free and must be accompanied by an adult.


To get advance tickets online, go to www.andersonmarsh.org and follow the bluegrass link to purchase tickets.


If ordering advance tickets by mail, be sure to include your mailing address and phone number and send your check made out to AMIA to PO Box 672, Lower Lake, CA 95457.


There is an additional $3 service charge (per total order) if tickets are purchased on-line or by mail.


Advanced tickets can be purchased from one of the following businesses or organizations: in Clearlake at Marie’s Lakeshore Feed, Bob’s Vacuum and Highlands Senior Center; in Lower Lake at 2 Goomba’s Deli; in Middletown at Earth Goods (formerly Moontide); in Lucerne at Lakeview Supermarket & Deli; in Lakeport at Strings & Things, The Band Box, Watershed Books and the Lakeport Senior Center; in Ukiah at Dig! Music; in Sebastopol at People’s Music; and in Santa Rosa at The Last Record Store.


Seniors (age 60 and older) can get 20 percent off ($12 for each ticket) if purchasing advance tickets from either the Lakeport Senior Center, Lakeport, the Highlands Senior Center, Clearlake or from the Lakeview Supermarket & Deli in Lucerne.


For more information about the bluegrass festival visit www.andersonmarsh.org, call 707- 995-2658 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Anderson Marsh State Historic Park is located at 8853 Highway 53, Lower Lake, telephone 707-995-2658.


Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf.

Upcoming Calendar

27Jul
07.27.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
30Jul
07.30.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
3Aug
08.03.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
6Aug
08.06.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
10Aug
08.10.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
13Aug
08.13.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
17Aug
08.17.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
20Aug
08.20.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
24Aug
08.24.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
27Aug
08.27.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park

Mini Calendar

loader

LCNews

Award winning journalism on the shores of Clear Lake. 

 

Newsletter

Enter your email here to make sure you get the daily headlines.

You'll receive one daily headline email and breaking news alerts.
No spam.