Saturday, 20 July 2024


Ivan Garcia Oliver will face trial next year for several charges relating to the November 2007 stabbing death of Michael Dodele. Lake County Jail booking photo.

LAKEPORT – On Wednesday a judge ruled that a Lakeport man will stand trial for a November 2007 homicide.

Judge Arthur Mann ruled that Ivan Garcia Oliver, 30, will be held to answer for the stabbing death of Michael Dodele.

The 67-year-old Dodele, who had moved to the Western Hills Mobile Home Park in Lakeport just weeks before his death, had just been released from prison after serving 19 years for a rape conviction in Sonoma County.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff, who is prosecuting the case, alleges that Oliver killed Dodele after seeing him on the Megan's Law Web site, which tracks sexual offenders.

Oliver will face charges including murder, burglary, elder abuse, a special allegation of using a knife and another special allegation of committing a felony against someone because they were on the Megan's Law Web site, said Hinchcliff.

Judge Mann also ruled at the end of the two-and-a-half hour preliminary hearing that Oliver should stand trial for possessing a sharp instrument at the Lake County Jail, said Hinchcliff. About a month after his November 2007 arrest, Oliver was found in possession of a shank he had made from a plastic jail toothbrush.

Oliver's defense attorney, Jeremy Dzubay, stressed that it's important to understand that both sides don't present their evidence at a preliminary hearing, which is the prosecution's chance to prove they have enough evidence to go forward.

On Dec. 22 Oliver will return to court for arraignment, at which time Dzubay expects a trial date to be discussed.

Dzubay said he's anxious for the trial to take place because then he and his client will have the opportunity to present the whole truth of the case.

He estimated a trial will be at least a few months out from the Dec. 22 arraignment date.

“There's a great deal of scientific evidence that's going to have to be analyzed” – both by the defense and prosecution, Dzubay said.

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CLEARLAKE – A Clearlake man was arrested in Missouri on Monday on felony drug charges after being found with drugs wrapped up to look like Christmas presents.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol reported arresting Matthew S. Bell, 25, in Montgomery County on Dec. 8.

Also arrested was Alexander K. Lojek, 28, of San Francisco.

The agency said in a written statement that a Missouri State Highway Patrol officer stopped a vehicle traveling along Interstate 70 driven by Lojek.

After Lojek and Bell allegedly gave the officer conflicting information, the officer began searching the vehicle with a K-9.

According to the report, the vehicle search revealed 9 pounds of marijuana, 102 pills of Hydrocodine, 174 pills of Valium and 86 pills of Oxycodine.

The contraband was located in packages wrapped as Christmas presents, the agency reported.

Lojek and Bell were arrested and charged with four counts of felony possession of a controlled substance with the intent to distribute.

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This is the second in a series of articles on Robinson Rancheria's effort to disenroll certain of its tribal members.

NICE – Late last month, the Robinson Rancheria Band of Pomos Citizens Business Council informed several dozen members of its intent to remove their tribal membership, an action taking place not just locally but around California and the nation.

Between 60 and 74 members have reportedly been told they will be removed from the tribe's rolls unless, as a result of a half-hour appeal hearing granted to those who request it, the council chooses to let the members remain.

The appeal hearings to determine the future for these potential disenrollees began this week.

Tribal Chair Tracey Avila said this week that questions surrounding these tribal members and their entitlement to be included among the band's number have been an issue for years, going back to 1990.

This is the largest disenrollment action the tribe has ever taken, she concedes, as the tribe prepares for a January election to determine who will be tribal chair, as well as two other seats.

A June 14 election was decertified, and the tribe's election committee – dominated by Avila's family – has ruled that her challenger for the seat, EJ Crandell – who won the June election – has been disqualified from running.

Crandell and other tribal members, including potential disenrollee Luwana Quitiquit, say the disenrollments are purely political and retaliatory.

The tribe's own enrollment ordinance states that disenrollment is possible on three grounds: the person obtained enrollment by error, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation; they became a fully recognized member of another tribe without relinquishing their Robinson Rancheria membership; the person is a descendant of a disenrollee and doesn't otherwise meet membership requirements.

The ordinance doesn't allow for disenrollment due to adoption, which traditionally has been a common practice among American Indians.

However, the tribal council has passed a resolution to strike the adoption process, which Quitiquit and Crandell say is an ex post facto law, which is prohibited in the tribe's 1980 constitution, just as it is the US Constitution.

If it's truly the case that Robinson's disenrollment is born out of politics and animosity toward rival families, the Robinson band wouldn't be unique. That's because attempts to reduce tribal membership through these types of actions aren't new to Lake County, California or the nation.

On Nov. 10, 2007, 25 members of the Elem Colony were removed from that tribe's rolls, including the last native speaker of the tribe's language. Then-chairman, Ray Brown Sr. acknowledged the move to County News in a previous interview, saying that the move was justified because many of the people were adopted into the tribe and weren't blood relations.

To date, an estimated 2,000 Indians have been disenrolled by 15 California tribes – not including those currently proposed at Robinson, according to John Gomez, president of the American Indian Rights and Resources Organization (AIRRO), a group that focuses on human and civil rights issues.

Bureau of Indian Affairs Deputy Regional Director Dale Risling, based in Sacramento, said “quite a few” tribes are going through disenrollments currently.

He said his agency hears about most of them through the media, and not directly, since they don't usually have a role in settling the disputes because of tribal constitutions. “The ones that we really get are the ones that require our involvement.”

Tony Gonzales, spokesman for the American Indian Movement-West, said gaming tribes decertifying members has become a big problem nationwide as well.

That's because a lot is at stake, with gaming tribes across the nation generating revenues in the realm of $46 billion.

“Unfortunately, in the process to gain more money for themselves, they are decertifying members,” said Gonzales. “The irony, too, is they're adopting non-Indians into their tribes.”

Some blame gaming for disenrollments

In California, Gomez said the vast majority of disenrollments have occurred since the passage of Proposition 5, the Tribal Government Gaming and Economic Self-Sufficiency Act of 1998 that allowed gaming on tribal lands, and Proposition 1A, passed in 2000, allowing tribes to operate slot machines and banked and percentage card games.

He said it's mostly the gaming tribes who carry out reducing membership in this way. “I don't believe it's just about greed. I think it's about greed and retaining political power.”

Gomez was among 200 people disenrolled by the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians in 2004. Two years later, as many as 175 more Pechanga tribal members saw their membership disappear. “Both times it just happened prior to regularly scheduled elections for tribal council.”

The Redding Rancheria's first tribal chair, Bob Foreman, and his family – all 76 members – were disenrolled in 2002 after their lineage was questioned. Despite providing DNA samples to prove their ancestry, Foreman – who had been tribal chair for 20 years – was pushed out of the tribe.

Gomez said Foreman, who incidentally was born in Nice, went on to be a founding member of AIRRO.


Foreman died Nov. 19, and Gomez and other AIRRO members are traveling to Redding for his funeral this weekend, at which time they're expected to discuss possible action in response to Robinson's disenrollment move.

He said disenrollments often evolve around election disputes, as in Robinson's case. Similarly, Gomez said the Mooretown Rancheria of Oroville reclassified 30 percent of its membership and denied them voting rights so they couldn't participate in an election planned four days later. “The tribe still counts them as members but they're members without rights.”

Many tribal members will attempt to justify disenrollment actions saying that there is a question about ancestry, but he points out that such questions didn't arise when the tribes were counting members for federal government assistance.

As tribal rolls dwindle, federal funding also can go away, he said. However, the larger gaming tribes can afford to fund their own programs.

Quitiquit and some other tribal members facing disenrollment, many of whom asked that their names not be used at this time due to fear of retribution, said they felt Robinson Rancheria's casino and gaming had given rise to many of their current problems.

Rather than helping Indians get a leg up, they say that gaming is leading to expulsion of tribal members – among them veterans and elders – who may face a life on welfare without the support of their tribal communities.

Some Indian activists have even gone so far as to call disenrollment the “new Indian genocide.”

The problem is such a concern in Indian Country that last year, American Indian Movement activist Dennis Banks said that the Bureau of Indian Affairs needed to intervene to stop the California disenrollments.

A Government Accountability Office report issued last month, titled “Confirmation of Political Appointees: Eliciting Nominees' Views on Management Challenges within Agencies and Across Government,” also recognizes the problem.

The report urged political leaders to ask the following question of nominees for the Secretary of the Interior, which includes the Bureau of Indian Affairs: “Tribal membership disputes and tribal leadership disputes seem to be occurring more and more frequently. What experience do you have in working with tribal leadership and trying to resolve these types of disputes or in trying to prevent them?”

Far-reaching implications for loss of tribal membership

Gomez said AIRRO is seeing the same thing happening around the state – Indians stripped of lawful citizenship and all of the associated rights – from housing to education to health care to jobs.

When membership in a federally recognized tribe is lost, federal help goes away, he said. “It cuts across everything that has to do with their lives.”

The affects aren't just social or economic, but emotional and psychological as well, said Gomez. Being put out of a tribe has serious implications about identity for people who are being told they are no longer Indian.

If Robinson Rancheria goes through with its proposed membership reduction, Quitiquit said the implications could be devastating.

Among the first acts she expects is for disenrolled members to be banished from the rancheria. That would mean leaving their homes; Quitiquit's own family stands to lose two of an estimated 10 homes at stake.

Being cut off from the land also would mean they could be prevented from visiting the graves of their family members at the rancheria's cemetery, said Quitiquit. Gomez said that's happened in other areas.

There would also be a loss of education opportunities and funding, as well as Indian health services,which are critical due to the high number of tribal members suffering from diabetes and chronic diseases, particularly elders.

Those who hold jobs with the tribe also could be fired. She said some of the members in question already have been put on administrative leave from their jobs. A “no gossip” memo also was reportedly issued by Avila to staff, warning that discussion about the disenrollments would result in termination.

Quitiquit, who recently left her job as a cook for a program that provides meals to 24 homebound elders, said 20 of those elders are facing disenrollment. The four who would be left would not be enough to justify continuing the federally funded meals program.

Elders would lose their monthly retirement payments of $400, said Quitiquit. “All the elders are suffering right now because we don't have it.”

All members currently on the disenrollment list have had their payments suspended, including the $300 per capital payment plus a $2,000 Christmas bonus, funded through federal grants and revenues from the tribe's casino on Highway 20.

One elderly woman who is a caretaker for her grandchildren told Quitiquit she won't be able to make ends meet outside of the tribe.

Quitiquit said the tribal council, in its attempt to maintain power, can take these actions under the guise of sovereignty. “Forget about our civil rights.”

In the last election, many people voted for Avila because she said she was not for disenrollment, said Quitiquit. “We were completely fooled.”

She added, “If this is what happens to us, then down the road it's going to happen to the other tribal members they don't like.”

Tomorrow: Avenues of redress, government involvement and what the Bureau of Indian Affairs might do in the Robinson Rancheria case.

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Shauna Brewster will be sentenced on the elder abuse and neglect charges on Jan. 12, 2009. Lake County Jail booking photo.


LAKEPORT – Following a five-week trial a local woman has been convicted of felony financial elder abuse and neglect.

On Wednesday, a jury convicted Glenhaven resident Shauna Michelle Brewster, 53, of one count of felony financial elder abuse and one felony count of elder abuse/neglect, according to Senior District Attorney Rachel Abelson, who prosecuted the case and is assigned to all elder abuse cases in the Lake County District Attorney's Office.

Brewster, who was defended by attorney Don Anderson, faces five years in prison, Abelson said.

The crimes allegedly were committed over a year-and-a-half-long period against 75-year-old Glenhaven resident Lawrence Russell, for whom Brewster became private conservator in early 2003, said Abelson.

Russell had been previously conserved by a jury and found to be “unable to provide for his needs for physical health, food, clothing, shelter” and that he was “substantially unable to manage his financial resources or to resist fraud or undue influence.” The public guardian served as his conservator for a brief period of time before Brewster agreed to be his conservator, Abelson said.

She said the theft was most egregious during Russell’s stay at Meadowood Skilled Nursing Facility in Clearlake.

The financial abuse came to light when Russell's medical bills, mortgage and other bills went unpaid, said Abelson. Russell's home had gone into foreclosure after payments were not made for seven months, and almost no money was left in Russell's checking account.

Brewster, as Russell's conservator, had the authority and responsibility to control his finances for his benefit, said Abelson.

Thanks to the attention and care of Meadowood Skilled Nursing Facility Staff and other individuals involved with the conservatorship proceedings, the Lake County District Attorney’s office got involved in the investigation of abuse and filed charges, Abelson reported.

Abelson said the elder abuse/neglect charge resulted from a series of events in which Russell was placed in situations that left his health endangered, including a situation where he sustained second- to third-degree burns on portions of his upper body.

The burns were not treated properly and became infected, said Abelson. Thanks to the quick intervention of Lake County Adult Protective Services and other concerned neighbors he was hospitalized to treat these injuries.

Russell's last hospitalization on Jan. 17, 2007, resulted in a diagnosis of neglect by the treating doctors and ultimately led to his placement at the skilled nursing facility, where he remained until his death in May of 2007, Abelson said.

Brewster's jury trial commenced in front of Lake County Superior Court Judge Arthur Mann on Oct. 28. Abelson said the lengthy trial spanned approximately five weeks with periodic breaks.

During the trial it was revealed that Brewster was passing checks to her boyfriends, manicurist or at a local grocery store for cash back, according to Abelson.

During the approximate three months Russell was at Meadowood Skilled Nursing Facility there was approximately $4,000 in cash back she received, Abelson said. There was little evidence that the $4,000 in cash was used for Russell's benefit.

The prosecution’s case included more than a dozen witnesses and thousands of pages of evidence. Abelson said Lake County District Attorney Elder Abuse Investigator Martina Santor investigated the case.

Brewster, whose booking sheet lists her profession as mediator, also has used the last names of Armstrong, Fullmer and Barnes, and has warrants out of Sacramento County for violation of the felony probation cases she has there, said Abelson. Brewster remains in the Lake County Jail without bail due to those outside agency warrants.

Sentencing in the case is scheduled for Jan. 12, 2009, Abelson said.



KELSEYVILLE – A judge has ruled that the Lake County Record-Bee and a community member owe no damages in a libel suit filed over letters the paper printed earlier this year about the Clear Lake Riviera Community Association and its board.

Judge Vincent Lechowick entered his ruling in favor of the newspaper and Clear Lake Riviera resident Darrell Watkins on Dec. 3, deciding that neither owed any damages to plaintiffs Sid Donnell, Alan Siegel or Sandra Orchid, all former community association board members.

Donnell, Siegel and Orchid filed the suit in small claims court over the summer, claiming defamation of character over a series of letters Watkins had written and the paper had published which the plaintiffs said included false charge against each of them. They were seeking $7,500 each in damages.

Lechowick heard the suit on Nov. 6, and originally had indicated a decision would be issued within a few weeks.

“The judge’s decision was good for the Record-Bee, the media, in general, and for those citizens who have a desire to state their opinion,” Dickson said Tuesday.

Watkins felt vindicated by the decision.

“The little boy and the Record-Bee were victorious in their big battle at the OK Corral against the naked emperor and his gang,” he said. “Alan Siegel, Sid Donnell and Sandra Orchid's shut-up-little-boy bullets bounced right off the thick Free Speech and Freedom of the Press body armor worn by the good guys.”

Reacting to the decision, Donnell said the newspaper successfully smeared and defamed a California State Teacher of the Year, an executive secretary for the Chamber of Commerce and a retired U.S. Army officer.

The result, he said, was that the spirit of volunteerism in a group of individuals who did nothing more than attempt to better their community has been extinguished – all on behalf of a group of individuals who have contributed nothing to their community and “demonstrated a total disregard for their neighbors and their neighborhood.”

Watkins was one of several writers who, over the course of this year, has written letters criticizing Donnell, Siegel and Orchid for a variety of association actions.

He's alleged that they have broken bylaws, not had the bylaws properly accepted by the association membership and have fined homeowners – in some cases, thousands of dollars – for not cutting brush without using an established judicial process.

The content of the letters included allegations of illegal activity, which the plaintiffs said the newspaper had failed to fact-check and which they said had, in turn, damaged their reputations.

The former board members have dismissed all of Watkins' allegations as false.

They also had accused the paper of playing “political football” with a rebuttal letter Donnell had submitted for publication, but which the paper initially refused to print.

At the hearing Dickson said a corporate attorney had advised him not to print Donnell's letter in light of the suit. Siegel insisted the letter was submitted well before the suit was filed. Lechowick suggested the paper should have published it in the interest of fairness.

Dickson indicated at the time that he would publish the letter; however, shortly afterward, Donnell withdrew his publication request. He explained that he, Siegel and Orchid were no longer on the board and wanted to get on with their lives without being subjected to further attack.

Before the Nov. 6 hearing began, Donnell, Siegel and Orchid were served with a lawsuit filed by John Stoddard and a group he formed called We the People.

Filed Oct. 20, the suit names the three as well as another past board member, Boone Bridges, and 100 Does. It seeks injunctive relief and special damages in an unspecified amount.

The suit alleges breaking of election laws, violating the association's covenants, conditions and restrictions and amending those documents without a 50-percent-plus-one vote of homeowners.

This is the second libel suit the Record-Bee has faced this year.

The first suit was filed by neurologist Dr. Camille Keene over an article published in April that claimed she had diagnosed a man with a disease he didn't have. A visiting judge dismissed that case on Oct. 24, but nonetheless said the newspaper had used language “irresponsibly.”

In both cases, the judges indicated during court that the plaintiffs had not proved the damage needed to support a libel case.

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LAKEPORT – A local man was arrested along with two others in Colorado this week on suspicion of involvement in transporting and distributing high-grade marijuana across state lines.

On Tuesday, investigators with the multiagency Boulder County, Colorado's Drug Task Force reported that they completed an investigation into the transportation and distribution of high-grade marijuana from California to Boulder.

The investigation, which concluded in an unincorporated area of Boulder County, resulted in the arrests of Robert Weldin, 47, of Lakeport; Kevin Reed, 45, of Santa Rosa; and Timothy Dabrowski, 27, of Boulder.

Investigators also seized 32 pounds of high grade marijuana – priced by Weldin at $3,500 per pound with a grand total of $112,000 for the 32 pounds – along with US currency, and the vehicle used to transport the marijuana from California to Boulder.

The three men were taken into custody without incident, officials reported.


Sgt. Nick Goldberger of the Boulder County Drug Task Force said the investigation was still under way and he couldn't discuss more of the circumstances at this point. “It's kind of developing,” he said.


Goldberger also couldn't discuss if they were working with Lake County authorities to investigate if the men were part of a larger distribution ring, or where the marijuana originated in California.

The Boulder County Jail reported that Weldin remained in custody on Friday afternoon, with bail set at $50,000.

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LAKE COUNTY – After years of lobbying and delays, Lake County has been notified that a Veterans Affairs outpatient health clinic will open here in 2010, which local veterans leaders say will be an important and positive step for the county's large veteran population.

The VA clinic slated to open locally is one of 31 to be opened in 16 states. All but two of the clinics are slated to open in 2010.

Frank Parker, president of Lake County United Veterans Council, said he thinks the decision to locate a clinic here will have a profound – and positive – impact on local vets.

“It's going to make life a lot easier on the veterans in this county,” he said.

Dean Gotham, president of Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 951, agreed with Parker's assessment about the clinic, which he said is needed.

In announcing the new clinics, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. James B. Peake said the new facilities will bring VA care closer to the veterans who have earned it.

The two states with the most planned new clinics are Michigan and California. Besides Lake County, California is expected to get new clinics in Oakhurst, Susanville and Yuba County, all of them having the 2010 opening date.

The new clinics will be part of the the largest integrated health care system in the country, run by the VA, which has 153 hospitals and about 745 community-based clinics. The VA’s medical care budget of more than $41 billion this year will provide health care to about 5.8 million people during nearly 600,000 hospitalizations and more than 62 million outpatient visits.

The community-based outpatient clinics, or CBOCs, will become operational by late 2010, with some opening in 2009. Local VA officials will keep communities and their veterans informed of milestones in the creation of the new CBOCs.

This new expansion in the health care system comes on the heels of Congress' recent passage of the largest veterans health care funding increase in the VA's 77-year history, according to Congressman Mike Thompson's office. Since January 2007, funding for veterans has been increased by more than $16 billion.

The increased funding means 15,000 new VA health care workers – among them 1,705 new doctors and 6,468 new nurses – as well as more medical services, better care and shorter waiting times for doctors' appointments for the 5.8 million veterans who rely on the system, according to Thompson's office.

The funding also will add more than 5,200 new case workers to reduce the six-month delay for the nearly 400,000 veterans backlogged in the system waiting to receive their earned benefits.

County Veterans Service Officer Jim Brown said Tuesday that the announcement means that the county's large veteran population – spanning the time from World War II to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – won't have to travel to clinics in Ukiah and Santa Rosa.

That will be especially important for older veterans, said Brown. “Care closer to home is far more important, especially when you've got some chronic illnesses.”

He said having a clinic closer also will be important for preventive care, such as routine checkups, which he said has been missing for local veterans.

Lake County is home to about 8,000 veterans; Brown estimated between 2,500 and 4,500 use the VA health care system. That high per capital population helped land the clinic.

Brown said a local clinic has been on the drawing board for a long time, and he's worked with Thompson's office since about 2000 to get a clinic here.

“The need has always been here, it's just been getting the VA's funding,” he said.

In a Tuesday statement, Thompson – himself a Vietnam veteran – lauded the VA for the clinic decision.

“We always have to remember that the services and benefits we have in place for veterans are not what veterans deserve to get, it’s what they have earned,” Thompson said. “That’s why we’ve been working in Congress to make sure that vets are treated with respect and have access to the care and services they have earned for their service. This new center will mean a huge improvement in the quality of care for Lake County’s 8,000 veterans.”

In 2006, Lake County was supposed to be on the list of new clinic locations but for some reason wasn't included, said Brown. Because of that, he's still a little cautious about the clinic actually becoming a reality, although he concedes, “It finally looks like it is going to get here.”

Brown said that he expects the clinic will be located in the south county – either in Clearlake or Lower Lake – because the area is home to the largest number of veterans in the county.

Normally, the VA rents space for their clinics, often near a hospital since the clinics usually don't have x-rays or labs, Brown said.

Just when the clinic will open isn't clear. “Nobody has given us a firm date yet,” he said. “My hope would be that if they could get that done sooner it would happen.”

More complicated health care procedures will still require that veterans travel to Fort Miley in San Francisco, said Brown. Five days a week, a van provided by the Disabled American Veterans and driven by volunteers leaves at 6 a.m. from Clearlake for the daylong trip to take veterans to health appointments at the VA facility.

Both Gotham and Parker say they drive to Ukiah or Santa Rose to be treated in the VA system.

“They do a good job over there,” Gotham said of the Ukiah clinic.

He added that the issue is not quality but, rather, the drive time for local vets to get back and forth to medical appointments.

A lot of veterans, particularly those who served during the Vietnam War, have post traumatic stress disorder, he said. “And they're making us drive all over the state.”

Not having to spend hours traveling to doctors will be a big boon to local veterans, who have wanted the clinic, said Parker. “It's going to take a big load off of them financially, mentally.”

Gotham announced the new clinic to the Vietnam Veterans of America meeting Tuesday night, said Parker – news which received a round of applause.

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This is the third in a series of articles on Robinson Rancheria's effort to disenroll certain of its tribal members.

NICE – As tribal disenrollments escalate among tribes in California and the rest of the nation, many Indians facing the loss of their tribal membership and identity are struggling to find justice.

The fear of what may happen if they are stricken from the tribe's rolls is dominating the lives of between 60 and 74 current members of the Robinson Rancheria Band of Pomos, who were notified late last month that they are up for disenrollment.

John Gomez, president of the American Indian Rights and Resources Organization (AIRRO), said there's no real way for disenrolled Indians to seek redress. Gomez himself was disenrolled from the Pechanga tribe.

Because tribes invoke sovereign immunity, and because the Indian Civil Rights Act doesn't involve a course of redress for violations of those civil rights, the courts don't take action even though they acknowledge that the disenrollment actions are highly suspect if not illegal, said Gomez.

A 1978, the US Supreme Court's decision in Santa Clara Pueblo v. Martinez, set an important legal precedent for how the US government and the courts deal with matters of tribal enrollment, said Gomez.

In that case, a female member of the Santa Clara Pueblo and her daughter argued that a Pueblo ordinance that denied tribal membership to children of female members who marry outside the tribe violated the Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968, because it did not treat the children of male members who married out of the tribe in the same way.

District and appellate courts found for the petitioners, but the Supreme Court reversed the decision.

Writing the majority opinion, Justice Thurgood Marshall noted that “Congress' authority over Indian matters is extraordinarily broad, and the role of courts in adjusting relations between and among tribes and their members correspondingly restrained.” The court held that tribal sovereignty protected them from being sued in civil actions for declaratory or injunctive relief.

Marshall quoted the Indian Civil Rights Act's chief sponsor, Sen. Sam Ervin, who said the 1967 bill “should not be considered as the final solution to the many serious constitutional problems confronting the American Indian.”

Justice Byron White dissented, saying the act was meant to insure that Indians had the same broad constitutional rights as other Americans.

“Given Congress' concern about the deprivations of Indian rights by tribal authorities, I cannot believe, as does the majority, that it desired the enforcement of these rights to be left up to the very tribal authorities alleged to have violated them,” White wrote.

Because of that decision, Gomez said the government, and particularly the Bureau of Indian Affairs – which manages relationships with 562 Indian tribes – tends to defer to tribal councils in what it considers internal matters.

“There's just nothing that we can do to step in,” concedes Bureau of Indian Affairs Deputy Regional Director Dale Risling. “It has to be resolved internally.”

Ideally, the issues can be resolved if tribes have courts or internal review processes, Risling said.

The BIA also is taking a hands-off approach to an election dispute within the tribe. EJ Crandell won the vice chair seat in a June 14 election, which was decertified by an election committee dominated by his rival for the seat, current Tribal Chair Tracey Avila.

Crandell and tribal members up for disenrollment say the action is in retaliation for his election.

A new election date, set for next month, will see Avila running for her seat unopposed, since the election committee ruled Crandell is ineligible to run on what he asserts is a trumped up technicality.

Superintendent Troy Burdick of the BIA's Central California Agency wrote Crandell a letter last month in which he said that, while the tribal council's decision to reschedule an election was “unusual” and not fully in compliance with the tribe's election laws, “it is not the Bureau's place to interfere in this process or to take a recognition action at this time that would disrupt a tribal process.”

Constitutional process gives Robinson members hope for justice

Still, in the matter of Robinson's disenrollment, the BIA may be able to intervene.

Last week the BIA did just that in a dispute involving the San Pasqual Band of Mission Indians in San Diego County.

The BIA told the tribe they couldn't disenroll about 60 members whose ancestry was disputed, according to press reports. However, the agency said the tribe could appeal the decision.

In that case, the BIA could intervene because San Pasqual's constitution gives the BIA oversight in such

membership decisions.

Gomez, said that's because most tribes' constitutions don't include such language providing for oversight. “It doesn't happen as a matter of course.”

The San Pasquale development could have important implications for Robinson Rancheria, whose constitution – ratified in 1980 – has a provision to allow the BIA to hear rule on disenrollment appeals.

“In this particular situation, according to their laws, their constitution and enrollment ordinance, the BIA will become involved in a disenrollment appeal,” said Risling.

Robinson members who are disenrolled can appeal to the BIA, which will then make a determination. “That's not the case with most tribes,” Risling said.

The tribe's constitution sets up an appeals process, Risling explained. The appeal would have to be made through Burdick's office, which would prepare an administrative recommendation. If his decision was appealed it would go to Risling.

BIA hasn't done a full review of the case, yet, Risling added.

The agency would have to review a number of membership rolls that were passed, said Risling.

“We would act as fast as we could because these are really imp issues,” he said, adding it would be hard to give a timeline. “It depends on the circumstances.”

He said he didn't think the disenrollment action would be stayed while they're reviewing the appeal, meaning members would lose financial and other services. Any payments or services withheld would be an issue for separate agencies such as the National Indian Gaming Commission and state health services officials.

So are people who are disenrolled from their tribes no longer Indian?

Risling said no. “They would certainly be considered Indian.”

However, not being a member of a federally recognized tribe means they are no longer eligible for many services and programs, he said.

In California, descendants from the state's judgment roles make people eligible for Indian health services. That provision is due to many tribes being terminated in the 1950s and 1960s.

Some members up for disenrollment are considering the possibility of forming their own tribe. But Risling said that can be an extremely complicated and difficult matter involving a federal acknowledgment process.

That process requires applying tribes to show longterm existence, and cultural and historical ties to an area.

“I'm not saying that it can't be done,” said Risling, but with another, larger tribe already there, the difficulties are manifest.

Lake County News will continue to follow the Robinson Rancheria disenrollment situation and provide updates on as soon as they are available.

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The winner of the silent auction was Mr and Mrs. Loitta of Cobb. Fowler has been an important supporter of the effort. Photo courtesy of Gail Salituri.

LAKEPORT – A memorial fundraiser that honors a local artist while supporting the building of a local domestic violence shelter will continue into 2009.

Gail Salituri of Inspirations Gallery created the LaForge Memorial Fund earlier this year in memory of her friend Barbara LaForge.

Along the way, Salituri has garnered some important support from local organizations and members of the business community.


The Lake County Arts Council has joined the effort, providing space for the raffle sales at the November Friday Night Fling at their Main Street Gallery in Lakeport.


Raffle tickets were sold for John Clarke's custom framed “Cable Car” lithograph. The winner is Sabrina Rogers. The winning tickets were drawn by Kathy Fowler at Inspirations Gallery and winners were notified by phone.


Lyle Madeson's photography of a boat on Clearlake was won by Lakeport Police Officer Mark Hommer of Lakeport.


The signed and numbered “Cable Car” lithograph brought in several bids and the final winning bidder was by Diane DeBartolo.


"Every dime we collect will be presented to the Lake Family Resource Center to help them build the shelter,” said Salituri.

“I first learned about this shelter from a local news article and realized it would be the perfect beneficiary,” she said. “Kathy Fowler has been right by my side in every way you can image when it comes to assisting this project, it makes this such a delightful and heartfelt cause and event."

Salituri said her goal is to generate $5,000, but in the struggling economy she is only halfway there.




Kathy Fowler shows off Salituri's original painting of Springer's Pond at the November First Friday Fling. Photo courtesy of Gail Salituri.



“So this means, we continue,” she said. “It does not end here, we will take this event right into 2009. I will continue to paint for this project until we reach our goals.”

Salituri offered her gratitude to those who come to her with donations or who buy raffle tickets.


This month they will begin selling raffle tickets for a beveled mirror valued at $600, a silver tray donated by the Kitchen Gallery, a gift certificate from Main Street Pizza and a very exciting new Giclee, "Pomo Basket" from Salituri's archived collection, "Pomo Artifacts." This Giclee is 11x14 in size and valued at $375.


Various auction items are on display at Inspirations Gallery. They have several 8-inch by 10-inch originals of vineyards with opening bids of $99, with suggested retail at $400. All custom framing is donated by Sheri Salituri. Winners will be announced on Valentine's Day.


Donations can be made to the LaForge Memorial at any Westamerica Bank, or contact Gail or Sheri Salituri at 263-4366 or




Sabrina Rogers, left, with the custom-framed John Clarke lithograph of a cable car. Gail Salituri stands at right. Photo courtesy of Gail Salituri.





LAKEPORT – A man accused of the stabbing death last year of a neighbor will appear in court Wednesday for his preliminary hearing.

Ivan Garcia Oliver, 30, of Lakeport is facing a murder charge for the November 20, 2007, death of 67-year-old Michael Dodele, who lived in the Western Hills Mobile Home Park in the unincorporated portion of Lakeport.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff said Oliver's preliminary hearing is scheduled to start at 8:15 a.m. in Judge Arthur Mann's Department 3 courtroom.

Besides the murder charge, Oliver is facing a charge of having a weapon in jail. Less than a month after his arrest for Dodele's murder, a jail correctional officer found him with a shank he had made from a plastic toothbrush.

Hinchcliff, who is prosecuting the case, said Oliver is alleged to have killed Dodele because he believed he was a child molester.

Following the murder last year, the murder drew national attention because Oliver had reportedly found Dodele on the Megan's Law Web site, which tracks those convicted of crimes of a sexual nature.

The unclear language of Dodele's list of charges is alleged to have led Oliver to his incorrect conclusion that Dodele had perpetrated a crime against a child.

However, Dodele – who had moved to Lakeport a few weeks before the murder – had actually been convicted of raping a woman in Sonoma County and sent to prison in early 1988. He had only been released from prison a short time before his death, as Lake County News has reported.

Oliver was scheduled for a preliminary hearing last June, but a number of delays pushed the hearing out farther.

One of the factors in delaying his local court appearances was his prosecution in San Diego County, along with his half-brother, on illegal dumping charges.

Oliver was indicted last December for conspiracy and aiding and abetting in dumping hazardous materials in a creek in San Diego County.

Assistant US Attorney Melanie K. Pierson of the US Attorney's Office's Southern District said that Oliver was convicted of the charges.

“In the sentencing in the federal criminal case he was sentenced to 15 months in custody for violating the federal hazards waste law,” said Pierson.

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


Hopefully by now readers will have become accustomed to my sense of humor, but while all of the facts you will read here are true, today’s column is written in a very sarcastic attitude. Please keep your tongue planted firmly in your cheek as you read.

Nutmeg is evil. Call your congressman, congresswoman, congressbeast; we have to enact laws against nutmeg. Nutmeg “mules” sometimes working under the guise of “spice importers” need to be captured at the boarder and deported. (Please, don’t really call your congressional representative ... )

Nutmeg has spent years quietly positioning itself into key areas of our culinary repertoire, and even a key part of many pharmaceuticals. Our recipes are defiled by its presence. Eggnog, baked goods, and even recipes for meatloaf – once pure and all-American – have all been sullied with nutmeg.

The pharmaceutical companies aren’t interested in nutmeg for its flavor; they use it because nutmeg is a known antibacterial, natural preservativ, and hallucinogenic! Myristicin is the active ingredient in the illegal drug called “Ecstasy” and is a major component in nutmeg. Elemicin is another compound found in nutmeg and is also a known hallucinogen.

Both Myristicin and Elemicin have chemical structures similar to Mescaline, another illegal drug. Nutmeg also contains a weak carcinogen called safrole, which has been named as a contributor to the overall incidence of cancer, so much so that it has been banned as a food additive by the Food and Drug Administration.

Nutmeg is considered by most authorities as a pseudo-hallucinogen. People who attempt to get high with nutmeg generally report that the negatives far outweigh the positives of abusing the “spice.” Not only is nutmeg filled with dangerous hallucinogenic but in ancient Rome priests used nutmeg as incense in their depraved heretical worship rituals.

Small amounts (measured in teaspoons) of freshly grated nutmeg can cause dry mouth, euphoria, nausea, increased heart rate and feelings of impending doom. Moderate amounts can, in addition to the previous, cause hallucinations, dehydration, vomiting, stomach cramps and feelings of being disconnected from reality. And if a person consumes too much nutmeg, permanent psychosis can occur. If this weren’t bad enough nutmeg is so toxic to the human body that if it is injected intravenously it causes DEATH!

Connecticut has the unofficial designation of “The Nutmeg State,” a tradition which sprang from rumors that unscrupulous merchants carved nutmegs shapes out of wood and sold them as actual nutmegs.

A corresponding story tells of people who didn’t understand the proper use of nutmeg that was being imported with sailors to Connecticut was to be grated into foods, but thought that nutmeg was cracked open like a nut and so believed they were swindled. When opened like a nut, nutmeg does resemble wood.

Some gamblers sprinkle nutmeg on gambling tickets for luck. Inmates in prisons have been known to sell nutmeg stolen from the prison kitchen for cigarettes and money. Upon discovery of this illicit trade, nutmeg is now banned from most prisons. Malcolm X wrote in his autobiography that before his conversion to Islam he paid for nutmeg in prison and it was better that marijuana.

Nutmeg is the seed pit of the tree Myristica fragrans. This seed pit is surrounded by a net-like covering called an arillus that is removed and then becomes the spice “mace.” The mace is covered by a sweet pericarp (aka, fruit) that is made into candies and jams. The exterior fruit doesn’t ship well, so it typically is only seen in the nutmeg’s native areas of Indonesia, India and the Caribbean. Or is this just a great conspiracy for these cultures to enjoy the sweet fruit of their local trees and then ship the dangerous nutmeg to pollute our society?! Evil, I say, evil!

Small, damaged or worm-infested nutmegs are processed into nutmeg oil. The scent of nutmeg is strong so it should be used sparingly. It is said to resemble the fragrance of myrrh. Over 8,000 tons of nutmeg is shipped annually around the world. Nutmeg is also widely believed to be an aphrodisiac.

I, for one, do not want to have to worry about leaving nutmeg unlocked in my home. How do I protect my daughter from dealers pushing nutmeg on street corners?! With its grubby little hands in illegal drugs, prisons, gambling and non-Christian worship practices, how much longer can we afford to let nutmeg freely move through our culture!?

Don’t even get me started on the evils of dill!

If you absolutely must use nutmeg, always use fresh ground.

Fairly Traditional Eggnog (with my own unique twists)


2 large eggs

2 Tablespoons plain white sugar

½ cup heavy cream

1 or 2 shots of your favorite rum, brandy, or whiskey

1 dash of cayenne powder or tiny dash of hot sauce (you won’t be able to taste it in the finish product but it acts as a natural flavor enhancer)

Freshly grated nutmeg

Separate the two eggs, reserve the whites and put the two yolks in your favorite pickle jar, cover and shake until the yolks lighten in color. Add the sugar, cream, liqueur, hot pepper and shake a few moments until combined. Whip the egg white into soft peaks and then gently fold the egg yolk mixture into the whites. Pour into glasses and grate the nutmeg right on top of the drink.

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.


The future of many marine species is greatly at risk from manmade under-sea noise pollution, conservationists warned this week, prompting urgent discussions at this week's 9th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS).

A report released today by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), “Ocean Noise: Turn it down,” showed that, in recent decades, ocean noise created by human activities has risen dramatically, posing a major threat to many marine mammals.

Noise from commercial shipping, sonar, seismic exploration by the oil and gas industry, off-shore construction and recreational activities, is contributing to a progressively more disorientating environment for the world's cetaceans.

Whales, dolphins, porpoises and other cetaceans rely on under-water sounds for communication, navigation and to locate food. Escalating manmade noise pollution can cause behavioral changes in cetaceans such as abandoning breeding and feeding areas, and in extreme cases lead to stranding and even death.

In recent years, international bodies such as United Nations, IMO (International Maritime Organisation) and the European Union have given greater attention to ocean noise pollution and IFAW believes that CMS can play a vital part in ensuring that robust resolutions to protect these species are urgently implemented. IFAW is calling on CMS Parties and the CMS Secretariat to consider a wide range of measures under discussion at the Convention to tackle underwater noise.

“Protecting marine species from ocean noise is critical to their survival. Ocean noise can travel over vast distances and affect marine species across many national sea boundaries,” said Veronica Frank, IFAW Campaign Officer. “Therefore it is vital that countries work together to build strong agreements to prevent marine species being drowned out by disruptive, man-made noise.”

IFAW's report highlighted that ship noise in the Pacific Ocean has doubled every decade over the past 40 years, and that the global shipping fleet is expected to double in size by 2025.

In contrast, the distance over which blue whales can communicate has been cut by a staggering 90 per cent as a result of increased noise levels.

IFAW’s ocean noise report particularly condemns high intensity noise such as seismic surveys and military sonar. These emit sounds above 200 decibels which can injure marine animals. Scientists have also linked high intensity sonar with fatal strandings of whales and dolphins.


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