Thursday, 25 July 2024


Clear Lake State Park in Kelseyville, Calif., has a rich diversity of birds, including this male Pileated Woodpecker recently photographed in the park by docent Brad Barnwell.




KELSEYVILLE – If you enjoy Clear Lake and its superlative wildlife, you won’t want to miss the 16th annual Heron Festival taking place this weekend at Clear Lake State Park in Kelseyville.

This free event (except for the pontoon boat rides and the Wildflower Brunch) will feature an array of fascinating programs and speakers – including several local Lake County naturalists.

On Saturday and Sunday mornings at 8:30 a.m. Clear Lake State Park docent and local bird expert Brad Barnwell will lead the Audubon Birdwalk.

The walk will follow the riparian habitat along creeks that meander through the park. Along the way, wading and water birds, raptors, woodpeckers and riparian animal species will be viewed (bring your binoculars if have them). The walk will commence at the Visitors Center entrance ramp.

Popular wildlife photographer Philip Greene will show his spectacular photos and deliver his lecture on herons at 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. on Saturday at the Visitor Center Auditorium. Greene will focus on the nesting cycle of herons with special emphasis on mating behaviors, nest building, and fledging.

At 3 p.m. on Saturday Park docent, Glenn Smith, will lead a walk on the Dorn Trail to upland areas of the Park. You will see blooming native plants of the Oak woodlands and chaparral habitat, as well as great views of Clear Lake and Big Valley.

On Sunday at 10 a.m., Dr. Harry Lyons, professor of biology at Yuba College will present his popular “Myths and Music of Clear Lake.” Dr. Lyons offers an entertaining program that mixes biology, music and humor to tell the story of Clear Lake and its more than two million years of existence.

All of the programs will be in the Visitor Center Auditorium at the park.

A special program on Sunday, April 25, at 1 p.m. and again at 2 p.m. is the “Raptor Speak” presentation, featuring live owls and other birds of prey presented by Native Bird Connections. Learn about these lively non-releasable raptors in a fun and informative talk and bird demonstration. “Raptor Speak,” will be presented in the big tent next to the Visitor Center.

The festival also features a nature fair, children’s activities, a children’s Heron Art Show, visitor center tours, pontoon boat tours on Clear Lake, food, and music by the Kelseyville High School Jazz Band. On Saturday only, the Clear Lake State Park Interpretive Association is presenting its annual “Wildflower Brunch” from 9 a.m. to noon.

Tickets are still available for the Pontoon boat rides ($15 per person) and the Wildflower Brunch ($15 per person). All other activities are free. For a complete schedule or to make reservations for the boat rides or the brunch, go to or call 707-263-8030.

The event is presented by the Redbud Audubon Society, Inc. and the Clear Lake State Park Interpretive Association (CLSPIA).

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Dr. Harry Lyons uses a mix of biology, humor and music to tell the story of Clear Lake this Sunday, April, 25, 2010, during the Heron Festival in Kelseyville, Calif. Courtesy photo.

The goal of the expo is to help community members learn how to protect themselves from wildfire in case it happens as well as to protect against it altogether. Wildfires have threatened local communities in recent years; the Walker Fire east of Clearlake Oaks, Calif., in June of 2008 endangered the homes of residents in the Double Eagle Ranch. File photo by Elizabeth Larson.


KELSEYVILLE – Lake County’s first Wildfire Safety Expo will debut in May, offering community members and homeowners information on how to prepare for wildfire danger.

The free event will be held on Sunday, May 2, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Kelseyville Lumber Home Improvement Center, 3505 Merritt Road in Kelseyville.

“This event marks the beginning of Wildfire Awareness Week in California,” said Linda Juntunen, the expo's project coordinator. “We hope to provide helpful information so citizens will be better prepared in the event of wildfire. We have a few demonstrations planned that will be entertaining, but will also be valuable education tools. Some of our vendors will be doing live-fire demonstrations of their products, and I think the public will find them very interesting.”

Presented by the Lake County Fire Safe Council, partners for this event include the Kelseyville, Lake County, Lake Pillsbury, Lakeport, Northshore and South Lake Fire Protection Districts; the Lake County Fire Chiefs’ Association; Cal Fire; the Bureau of Land Management; and U. S. Forest Service.

A vendor fair will focus on fuel reduction methods, new fire-resistant building materials, home fire safety information and fire safe landscaping tips. Home fire protection products like Thermo gel and Barricade will be demonstrated.

Representatives from Lake County’s Building Department, the Air Quality Management District and Animal Care and Control will be on hand to answer homeowners' questions.

The Master Gardeners and PG&E will have tips on fire safe landscaping

Smokey Bear and Sparky the Fire Dog will be on hand for the kids, along with the Kid’s Fire Safety House.

Live fire demonstrations will be conducted and various pieces of equipment will be on display throughout the day, along with antique fire engines. The Forest Service also will demonstrate fire fighting methods and techniques.

“This event is a first for Lake County and will provide ‘one stop shopping’ for homeowners to take responsibility for their own safety and protection during the upcoming fire season,” said Jeff Tunnell, fire mitigation and education specialist for the Bureau of Land Management. “One of our themes is ‘Help them (firefighters) help you.’ Make it possible for the fire agencies to protect your homes safely and effectively.”

Take responsibility by learning how to protect your home and create the defensible space. Be fire wise and fire safe this season – attend the Wildfire Safety Expo.

Contact Linda Juntunen, project coordinator, at 707-263-4180, Extension 16, for additional information, or see the event flier at

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MIDDLETOWN – An Oakley man was injured Sunday when his motorcycle collided with a van on Highway 29.

The crash, which occurred at 4:45 p.m. Sunday, injured 51-year-old Darren Deberry, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The report from CHP Officer Steve Tanguay explained that Vargas Trejo, 37, of Middletown, was driving a 1994 Mercury Voyager van southbound on Highway 29 with six juvenile passengers – ages 3 to 17 – in the van.

Trejo was stopped and waiting to turn left onto Bradford Road when he looked in his mirror and saw that there was a motorcycle traveling southbound approaching his location, Tanguay said.

It appeared to Trejo that the motorcycle was not going to be able to stop in time before it got to the van, and so he moved the van forward to try to create more space for the motorcycle, according to Tanguay.

Tanguay said that Deberry, who was riding his 2000 Harley Davidson motorcycle, ran into the rear of the van and was ejected from the motorcycle, landing in the roadway.

Deberry was transported by CHP helicopter to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital for injuries sustained in this collision, which Tanguay said didn't injury anyone in the van.

He said alcohol is not believed to be a factor in this collision, which is being investigated by Officer Kevin Domby.

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UKIAH – A Kelseyville teenager was arrested by Mendocino County Sheriff's deputies Wednesday after she was found with marijuana and prescription drugs for which she allegedly didn't have a prescription.

Erica Allen, 19, was arrested but released on a cite following a vehicle stop by deputies, according to a report from Mendocino County Sheriff's Sgt. James Van Hagen.

Van Hagen said that at 10 a.m. Wednesday Mendocino County Sheriff's Office were on routine patrol in the 1000 block of N. State Street in Ukiah, when they observed a vehicle speeding in the area.

The deputies stopped the vehicle and contacted both occupants, one of which was Allen, riding as the passenger, Van Hagen said.

As the deputies spoke with both the driver and Allen they could smell the odor of burning marijuana coming from inside of the vehicle, Van Hagen said. Further investigation revealed that Allen allegedly was the one smoking the drug.

During A search of the vehicle and Allen's belongings, Van Hagen said deputies located 3 Percocet pills inside an Advil bottle without a prescription attached.

Allen was arrested at the scene for possession of a controlled substance. Van Hagen said that the Allen was then cited and released on the charge.

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SACRAMENTO – The California Community Colleges and California State University have worked together to create what is considered to be one of the most significant pieces of legislation for California students, which goes to the state's Senate Education Committee on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 1440, authored by state Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima), will simplify the transfer process between the two systems, increase efficiency and generate approximately $160 million annually in cost savings.

The savings would in turn provide access to roughly 40,000 additional community college students and nearly 14,000 California State University students annually for the same amount of money allocated in each system’s respective budget, according to the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office.

The bill will go before the California Senate Education Committee beginning at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday.

The proposed bill, for the first time in California history, promises community college students a clear pathway for transfer, state education officials reported. When they complete an associate degree they are guaranteed admission to the California State University system at junior status.

“The need to widen the transfer pipeline is essential as many jobs in today’s economy require either an associate or bachelor’s degree,” said Sen. Padilla. “Complexities of the current transfer process between the two systems are causing a bottleneck. This initiative will help break the cycle and increase graduation rates. It is a brilliant idea and I’m excited to be carrying this bill.”

According to a report from the California Legislative Analyst’s Office, community college students transferring to a California State University graduated with an average of 162 units when the minimum requirement is 120 units.

A new study by the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office finds roughly 50,000 community college students transfer annually to the California State University system. They do so with an average of 80 semester units when only 60 semester units are required.

Similarly, when these students arrive at the California State University, they take excess units to make up for courses that did not transfer from their community college.

“I came to California from Florida 13 years ago,” said California State University Chancellor Charles Reed. “One of my goals when I came here was to make the process of transfer from community colleges to the universities as simple as it was in Florida. The Florida transfer system is called the perfect 2+2 system. Up until now I have not been successful but I’m optimistic that now is the time transfer reform will pass in California. Chancellor Scott and I have talked about this for the last 10 years.”

In education reform states such as Oregon and Florida, transfer is made seamless. Enactment of transfer reform legislation in Florida resulted in students completing their bachelor’s degree with only 138 units.

California students and taxpayers can benefit from transfer reform, education officials reported, because many transfer students take up to a full year of classes beyond the semester units required for a bachelor’s degree. These extra units cost the public millions of dollars each year.

“Students attending our colleges often express concerns about the complex and confusing transfer process,” said the California Community Colleges Chancellor Jack Scott. “This transfer initiative will put an end to the confusion and serve as a student passport to the California State University system.

“The reform measure will provide great savings for students in that it will save them time and money. It will provide great savings for the state in that we can educate more students for the same amount of money. This is a nationwide imperative. We have got to produce more college graduates by 2020 as part of President Obama’s goal to make the United States the most educated workforce in the world once again,” Scott stated.

Community colleges have experienced a surge in enrollment during this economic recession. More students understand the reality of the job market and the need to secure a college degree.

Senate Bill 1440 recognizes the considerable work a student has completed when preparing to transfer to a four-year college or university and allows community colleges to grant an associate degree for transfer in the student’s field of study.

Preparing students to transfer to a four-year university is a core mission of the California Community Colleges. The Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) projects the state will face a shortage of a million bachelor’s degree holders for the workforce by 2025.

PPIC also states that, in conjunction with gradually increasing college attendance rates and California State University graduation rates, increasing transfer rates by 20 percent in the next 15 years will close that one million degree gap dramatically.

“Based upon projections made by the Public Policy Institute of California, Senate Bill 1440 will put California on the right path to begin meeting our state’s need,” said The Campaign for College Opportunity Executive Director Michele Siqueiros.

The California Community Colleges is the largest system of higher education in the nation composed of 72 districts and 112 colleges serving 2.9 million students per year. Community colleges supply workforce training and basic skills education and prepare students for transfer to four-year institutions.

The Chancellor’s Office provides leadership, advocacy and support under the direction of the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges.

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LAKE COUNTY – The two candidates in this year's race for District 2 supervisor will take part in a debate on Tuesday, April 27.

Challenger Joyce Overton and incumbent Jeff Smith will appear at the special event, which will be held in the council chambers at Clearlake City Hall, 14050 Olympic Drive.

The debate will begin at 6:30 p.m. and is expected to last an hour.

The Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce and Lake County News are sponsoring the debate, which will be broadcast live on TV8.

The public is invited to submit questions to Lake County News via e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ; fax, 707-274-8650; mail, P.O. Box 305, Lakeport, CA 95453-0305; or via Lake County News' Facebook page at .

Questions also may be submitted to the Clear Lake Chamber via e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ; fax, 707-994-3603; mail, P.O. Box 5330, Clearlake, CA 95422; or drop them off at the chamber office, 3245 Bowers Ave. The chamber can be reached by telephone at 707-994-3600.

The format used for the debate will put the same questions to both candidates, so as much as possible questions should be broadly applicable.

A small number of questions will be taken via note cards at the debate.

Questions about the debate may be directed to debate moderator Elizabeth Larson, 707-274-9904, or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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MIDDLETOWN – The Lake County Sheriff's Office is seeking information about a man who allegedly robbed a convenience story in Middletown on Sunday.

Capt. James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office said sheriff's deputies responded to the Store 24 convenience store on Highway 29 in Middletown at about 5:30 a.m. Sunday on a reported robbery in progress. The suspect had left the area prior to the deputies’ arrival.

Employees told deputies that an unknown white male adult had entered the store, pointed his finger at the clerk simulating a handgun, and demanded all the money in the cash register, Bauman said.

No actual weapon was seen, however Bauman reported that the clerk gave more than $200 in currency to the suspect before he fled on foot from the store. There was one patron in the store at the time of the robbery and he was ordered on his knees while the crime was committed.

The suspect was described as a white male adult with dark-colored eyes and a medium build.

Bauman said the suspect was wearing a black jacket with a camouflage hood, black or dark-colored denim pants, black gloves and white athletic shoes. He was last seen fleeing on foot to the east of the store.

Anyone with information relating to the robbery should contact the Sheriff’s Major Crimes Unit at 707-262-4200.

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SANTA ROSA – A Tuesday manhunt led to the arrest of a Rohnert Park man who was the suspect in an early morning home invasion robbery.

John Mark Haun, 39, was arrested following the multiagency search, according to a report from the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office.

At 6:30 a.m. Tuesday Sonoma County Sheriff's deputies were dispatched to a residence in the 200 block of Brey Road in Santa Rosa, adjacent to Spring Lake Park, for an in-progress residential home invasion robbery, according to the report.

As deputies converged on the scene, an alert witness informed patrol personnel that the suspect had fled the victim's residence and was last seen running toward a neighboring creek that runs east-west between Channel Drive and Montgomery Drive and is located a few hundred yards from the victim's residence.

Deputies immediately established a perimeter along both sides of the creek, which was heavily wooded.

A massive manhunt ensued with the assistance of the sheriff's helicopter and two K-9 teams – one from Santa Rosa Police Department and the other from Petaluma Police Department.

After approximately three hours of searching, the suspect, later identified as Haun, was located hiding amongst the brush along the creek. With the assistance of one of the K-9 teams, Haun was taken into custody.

A black nylon pouch was found in close proximity to where Haun was hiding. A black semi-automatic handgun was found in the nylon pouch. The handgun was later determined to be stolen.

Haun was booked into the Sonoma County Main Adult Detention Facility on charges of robbery, possession of stolen property, convicted felon in possession of a firearm, using a firearm in commission of a felony and resisting arrest.

Haun's bail is currently set at $40.000.

The Sonoma County Sheriff's Office asks that anyone with information regarding this incident contact Det. Jim Naugle at 707-565-2185.

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LUCERNE – California Water Service Co. on Monday lifted a boil water notice that had been put into effect last Friday.

Company officials on Monday issued a notice to Lucerne water customers stating that water quality testing confirmed that the water provided to Cal Water’s Lucerne system customers met all state and federal water quality standards.

That made it no longer necessary to boil water used for drinking and cooking, the company reported.

Cal Water and the California Department of Public Health issued the advisory on April 16 because a mechanical failure the previous evening resulted in the water at the treatment plant not being properly disinfected, with no chlorine added for 12 hours, as Lake County News has reported.

The company said Monday that it will continue to monitor the water quality to ensure that it meets all water quality standards, and that the boil water advisory was a precautionary measure taken until water quality testing could be completed.

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LAKEPORT – A Richmond man has been sentenced to probation and fines for a 2009 deer poaching case.

On April 12 Joel Calzada-Morales, 52, pleaded no contest to illegal spotlighting. Judge Richard Martin then sentenced Calzada-Morales to three years probation, ordered him to pay a fine of $1,150 and revoked his hunting privilege for three years, according to a report from the Lake County District Attorney's Office.

In addition numerous items seized by game wardens were ordered forfeited to the state, including two spotlights, four gun cases, a Benelli M1 12-gauge shotgun, a Savage .17 caliber rifle, a Remington 30-06 rifle and a Henry .22 caliber rifle.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff, who prosecutes Fish and Game violations in Lake County, filed charges against Calzada-Morales and another co-defendant charging them with spotlighting and unlawful possession of deer parts.

Spotlighting is the unlawful use of artificial lights to assist in the taking of a game animal, and is committed when the rays of an artificial light are intentionally cast or directed in an area inhabited by wild animals while the person is in possession of a firearm or weapon that could be used to kill an animal.

It is not necessary that an animal actually be killed in order to be a violation of the spotlighting statute, officials reported.

According to investigation reports, on Nov. 24, 2009, Fish and Game wardens were patrolling the Mendocino National Forest using aircraft spotters and wardens on the ground.

At approximately 9 p.m. wardens observed a vehicle moving through the forest shining spotlights out of the vehicle and into the surrounding hillsides, including in the State Game Refuge.

At approximately 11:20 p.m. wardens were able to catch up to and contact the occupants of the vehicle, including Calzada-Morales.

In the bed of the pickup Wardens Loren Freeman and Mike Pascoe found fresh blood and hair that they suspected belonged to an illegally taken deer, although the animal itself was not found.

The suspects claimed the blood and hair was from a jack rabbit. Inside the vehicle wardens located guns and spotlights.

Samples from the bed of the truck were sent to the Department of Fish and Game Forensics Laboratory in Rancho Cordova for testing. The forensic test determined the blood and hair was from a deer.

Hinchcliff, who has prosecuted poaching cases for the last 10 years, told Lake County News on Tuesday that he's seeing fewer poaching cases coming for prosecution.

However, that's not necessarily because there is less poaching. Rather, he said there have been significant cuts to Department of Fish and Game resources in recent years, meaning fewer wardens with less time in the woods.

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LAKE COUNTY – Lake County's unemployment numbers showed another slight upward climb in March, according to the state's newest report on employment rates.

The California Employment Development Department reported on Friday that Lake County's March unemployment rate was 19.5 percent, up slightly from the adjusted February rate of 19.4 percent but down from 19.8 percent in January. Lake County's March 2009 unemployment rate was 15.6 percent.

Statewide, unemployment in California increased in March to 12.6 percent, up from 12.5 percent in February. The Employment Development Department reported that the state's March 2009 unemployment rate was 10.6 percent.

The number of people unemployed in California was 2,308,000 – up by 31,000 over the month, and up by 362,000 compared with March of last year, the agency reported.

In Lake County, the 25,500-member labor force saw 4,980 people out of work in March. Employment Development Department statistics showed that the county's labor force had grown by about 130 people over February, when 4,930 people were unemployed.

Nationwide, March unemployment was 9.7 percent, which was unchanged from February, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. The March 2009 nationwide unemployment rate was 8.6 percent.

Lake County is currently ranked No. 50 out of California's 58 counties when it comes to unemployment, based on the Friday report.

The Employment Development Department report noted that the lowest unemployment in the state was found in Mono County, which had an 8.1 percent unemployment rate, while Imperial County, with 27 percent unemployment, had the highest rate.

Lake's neighboring counties posted the following rates and state rankings: Glenn, 18.1 percent, No. 42; Mendocino, 12.9 percent, No. 21; Napa, 10.7 percent, No. 9; Sonoma, 11.3 percent, No. 12; and Yolo, 14.7 percent, No. 28. Of those counties, Napa and Yolo showed slight improvements by percentage, and Sonoma showed no change from February.

In specific areas of Lake County, the lowest unemployment was reported in Upper Lake, at 10.3 percent, with the highest rate – 28.4 percent – found in Clearlake Oaks, the Employment Development Department reported.

The following unemployment rates were reported for other areas of the county: Nice, 27.9 percent; city of Clearlake, 27.5 percent; Lucerne, 20.5 percent; Kelseyville, 19.9 percent; Middletown, 19.8; city of Lakeport, 18.8 percent; Cobb, 17.5 percent; Lower Lake, 16.5 percent; Hidden Valley Lake, 16.2 percent; and north Lakeport, 15.6 percent.

The Employment Development Department said that nonfarm payroll jobs increased by 4,200 in March, based on data from two separate surveys.

The agency said California has gained jobs in each of the first three months of 2010, with gains over the period totaling 32,400 jobs. Nonfarm jobs in California totaled 13,842,000 in March, an increase of 4,200 over the month, according to a survey of businesses that is larger and less variable statistically.

The year-over-year change – March 2009 to March 2010 – showed a decrease of 458,400 jobs, down 3.2 percent, according to the report.

One of the two surveys used, a federal study done with a smaller sample than the state's survey of employers, showed an increase in the number of employed people during the month. It estimated the number of Californians holding jobs in March was 15,938,000, an increase of 53,000 from February, but down 463,000 from the employment total in March of last year.

The Employment Development Department report on payroll employment in the nonfarm industries of

California totaled 13,842,000 in March, a net gain of 4,200 jobs since the February survey. This followed a gain of 2,800 jobs, as revised, in February.

The report noted that five categories – mining and logging; manufacturing; educational and health services; leisure and hospitality; and other services – added jobs over the month, gaining 13,400 jobs. Educational and health services posted the largest increase over the month, adding 6,100 jobs.

Meanwhile, five categories – construction; information; financial activities; professional and business services; and government – reported job declines this month, down 9,200 jobs.

Information posted the largest decline over the month, down by 2,600 jobs. One sector – trade, transportation and utilities – recorded no change. One industry division, educational and health services, posted job gains over the year, adding 26,400 jobs (a 1.5 percent increase).

The Friday report said 10 categories – mining and logging; construction; manufacturing; trade, transportation and utilities; information; financial activities; professional and business services; leisure

and hospitality; other services; and government – posted job declines over the year, down 484,800 jobs.

The report noted that the largest decline both numerically and based on percentage was found in construction employment, down by 108,300 jobs – a decline of 16.3 percent.

In related data, the EDD reported that there were 768,583 people receiving regular unemployment insurance benefits during the March survey week. When federal unemployment insurance extensions are included, the total is 1,659,358 people receiving benefits. That's compared with 714,145 in February and 858,778 last year.

At the same time, the agency said new claims for unemployment insurance were 70,450 in March, compared with 63,766 in February and 79,979 in March of last year.

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NICE – After nearly a year and a half of filing appeals, writing letters and holding meetings with federal officials, last week dozens of local American Indians who had been disenrolled from Robinson Rancheria in Nice in December of 2008 began receiving certified letters from the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

While many of the ousted tribal members said they had been led to believe that the BIA was going to rule in their favor, the 11-page letter – with a stamped date of April 9 – was quite different.

“Based on the information provided, I have decided to affirm the Business Council's decision that you are not eligible to be a member of the Robinson Rancheria of Pomo Indians,” wrote BIA Acting Regional Director Dale Risling.

His letter concludes by stating that his decision is final for the BIA.

About 20 of the individuals hit with the disenrollment actions met on Friday in Nice to discuss what actions to take going forward.

They pledged to continue fighting and to seek an appeal, but one of their number, Wanda Quitiquit, noted, “We have to prepare ourselves for the true denial of our civil rights.”

Robinson Tribal Chair Tracey Avila did not return calls from Lake County News seeking comment, and directed her staff not to release to this publication a written press statement she sent to a local newspaper last week, instead suggesting that Lake County News could get the document from the newspaper.

In that statement, it was reported that 45 disenrollments had been upheld, but that number only accounts for appeals made to the BIA, according to documents submitted to the BIA by the tribe itself and obtained by Lake County News.

In fact, the names of another 22 people were removed from the tribal rolls in action taken in December 2008, according to those same documents.

Risling's letter explained that, according to tribal law, authority was delegated to the regional director to decide whether or not the actions taken by the Robinson Rancheria Citizens Business Council on Dec. 5, 2008, were legal based on the tribe's constitution.

On that date, the council – including Buffy White, Curtis Anderson Jr., Kim Fernandez, Stoney Timmons, Nicholas Medina and Chair Tracey Avila – took the final disenrollment action.

They began by disenrolling a dead woman, Marie Boggs Quitiquit – the mother of several of the proposed disenrollees – then passed 63 disenrollment resolutions for individuals including a 2-year-old child up to elders, one of them, Mildred Goforth, a native speaker of the Pomo language.

In addition, they disenrolled three other people who did not receive resolutions, for a total of 67 disenrollment actions, according to copies of the disenrollment documents and business council transcripts obtained by Lake County News.

Avila had told Lake County News in a December 2008 interview that the people whose names were removed from the rolls had been “on the table for many, many years.”

Risling's letter referred to a complicated series of past decisions by the tribal council regarding adoption ordinances and membership requirements, which was the reported basis for the disenrollment actions.

However, the Quitiquits and others whose names were stricken from the membership rolls say that they share lineage with the Anderson family, the current family in power whose members include Avila.

The group of disenrollees who met on Friday vowed to appeal the decision and keep fighting, despite the fact that they said BIA officials have told them they have no appeal alternatives.

Risling could not be reached for comment by Lake County News, with his staff reporting that he was in Washington, DC, last week.

Attempts to reach other BIA officials, including Fred Doka, who is reportedly one of Risling's deputies, also were unsuccessful.

Lake County News then attempted to reach BIA Central California Agency Superintendent Troy Burdick in Sacramento.

Although Burdick has spoken to this publication before, his staff said Lake County News needed to contact the BIA's Washington, DC press office, but refused to provide contact information.

Two calls placed to that office failed to elicit any explanations about the disenrollment action or if the people affected have any appeal or recourse.

Lake County Supervisor Denise Rushing said she was “stunned” by the decision and immediately concerned for those affected by it.

“Disenrollment has very real human impacts affecting members of our local community,” she said. “To whom can these people turn when they lose home, job, health care and income in one swift action at the hand of tribal government?”

Election matters still undecided

The Quitiquit family and other disenrollees point to contradictions in Risling's analysis of the tribe's constitution, conflicts between this action and previous actions taken by the BIA in tribal leadership matters, and to the BIA's indecision in the validity of a June 2008 election.

On June 14, 2008, the tribe's membership elected EJ Crandell as its new tribal chair, as Lake County News has reported.

However, Crandell alleges that Avila and her family members who sit on the tribe's election committee illegally invalidated that election in order for her to remain in power. Despite other elections that have taken place since that have selected other chairs, Avila remains in power.

The validity of the June 2008 election is up to Burdick to decide, but in recent meetings with Crandell and the Quitiquits, Burdick reportedly admitted that he has not made any decision on the matter.

That's a critical issue in connection to the disenrollment issue; opponents of the disenrollment said that the rightfully elected council wasn't seated at the time the actions were taken to strike the 67 members from the rolls.

Crandell and the Quitiquits also allege that the disenrollment action was taken in retaliation for Avila being voted out in June 2008. In previous statements Avila denied that. Since the disenrollment, several of those involved also are in danger of losing their homes through eviction actions.

While Risling said the business council followed the tribe's constitution in carrying out the disenrollment action, Wanda Quitiquit said that council resolutions are supposed to be released to the general tribal membership for approval, and that didn't happen.

The business council's disenrollments affected the family of Crandell's wife, and he said he believes he and other current tribal members who oppose the council are going to be targeted next.

Wanda Quitiquit agreed, saying that the BIA's decision has opened a “Pandora's box.”

She said Friday that she and her family members are concerned about whether or not they will now be barred entirely from the rancheria, including the burial sites of families and ancestors, and questioned if they will be prevented from using health care services provided through local American Indian health clinics that have funding from Robinson Rancheria.

Crandell said the business council is disregarding the wishes of the tribal members who formed the rancheria after termination, when the federal government basically dismantled the tribes.

He accused the BIA of allowing disenrollment to continue as a way of fully assimilating native peoples.

Rushing said she was concerned about what options are open to those who were disenrolled.

“Even in circumstances where disenrollment is upheld, I would hope that the tribe has a fair and just transition plan and that the BIA has an appeal process in the event that individuals civil rights are violated,” Rushing said. “I have not heard that such processes are in place, so this has the potential to be a significant justice issue.”

Disenrollment a nationwide issue

The local action to disenroll natives is not an isolated issue. In November 2007, the Elem Colony disenrolled 25 members, including the tribe's last native speaker, as Lake County News has reported.

The American Indian Rights and Resources Organization (AIRRO), a group that focuses on human and civil rights issues – to which several members of the Quitiquit family have belonged well before their own disenrollment – has tracked the issue around Indian Country.

The group's most recent estimate is that 11,000 American Indians around the United States have had their human and civil rights violated through actions taken by their own tribes.

In Northern California alone, they estimate more than 1,300 Indians have been stripped of their rights in some fashion, including disenrollment and banishment in tribes such as Pinoleville, Upper Lake, Hopland, Elem, Sherwood Valley and Potter Valley.

Nearly 2,200 more have been displaced in other parts of the state, including 770 from the Picayune Chukchanski and 440 from Pechanga, both in Southern California .

John Gomez, president of AIRRO, is one of those disenrolled from Pechanga six years ago, along with his entire family.

Over the weekend, Gomez led an AIRRO meeting in Sacramento in which the group collected stories of human rights violations.

Gomez said he's submitting those stories to the United Nations in Geneva on Monday morning as part of the United Nations' Universal Periodic Review of human and civil rights violations in the United States.

He said the United States is turning a blind eye to the growing issue of disenrollment, which he also blamed the federal government for creating through bad policies and broken treaties, including the Indian Civil Rights Act.

That 1968 law, which grew out of abuses by tribal leadership around the country, is supposed to prohibit tribal governments from creating laws that violate certain individual rights – such as freedom of religion, right to speedy and public trials, and freedom from bill of attainder and ex post facto laws, according to an explanation by the Columbia Legal Services and Northwest Justice Project in Washington state.

However, Gomez said those basic rights aren't always enforced by tribes or by the federal government. He said Indian activists have been trying to get the federal government to institute language to enforce the rights guaranteed in the Indian Civil Rights Act.

“We were hoping that under this administration it might gain some traction, but it's not a concern, it's really not on the radar right now,” with budgets and health care taking precedence, he said.

While the questions for potential Department of Interior secretarial nominees included a query about disenrollment, Gomez said Secretary Ken Salazar has done little to address the growing problem.

The United States and Canada have not signed on to the United Nations' indigenous rights declaration passed several years ago, which Gomez suggests is “because of their historical abuses of native people.”

He said many American Indians look at the United States' inability to enforce the Indian Civil Rights Act as “another broken treaty,” and a continuation of bad policies.

“Tribal officials are doing this to their people and the federal government is just not doing anything about it,” he said, with the reason being because of tribal sovereignty. “That excuse just doesn't hold water anymore.”

Even in cases where the BIA has ruled in favor of disenrollees – such as with the San Pasqual tribe – those people still have not had their rights restored by the tribe, Gomez said. “It leaves individuals and families in the same position as being disenrolled.”

Gomez accused the BIA of treating disenrollment “like a dirty little secret,” when really it's a policy failure. He suggested that members of Congress should be willing to work on the behalf of disenrollees.

He was concerned that it may take something drastic to get any action on the matter.

“Maybe Congress and the courts really won't do anything until someone gets hurt,” he said. “That might be what triggers a review of this.”

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 and on Facebook at .

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