Tuesday, 25 June 2024


LAKEPORT – A judge on Friday dismissed a libel suit filed by a local doctor against the Lake County Record-Bee though he faulted the newspaper for its “irresponsible” use of language.

In the course of the hearing the newspaper's attorney argued that the law allows the press “literary license” in covering the news.

In May local neurologist Dr. Camille Keene filed suit against the paper, its parent company MediaNews Group of Denver, Publisher Gary Dickson, Managing Editor Rick Kennedy and former reporter Elizabeth Wilson in response to a story published April 15 about local radio personality Eric Patrick.

In the story, Wilson reported that Keene had diagnosed Patrick with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – more commonly known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease – before further testing concluded that he instead had another disease called Dystonia.

Keene sued after the newspaper refused to retract or correct the article and remove the word “misdiagnose.”

The 40-minute hearing on Friday was to determine whether or not to dismiss the case under an Anti-SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) motion, which the newspaper's San Francisco attorney, Rachel Matteo-Boehm, filed.

An anti-SLAPP motion requires a plaintiff to prove, in brief, that they have been injured and can win the case if it goes forward, as Lake County News has reported.

Appearing in court Friday were Dickson and Kennedy, along with Matteo-Boehm. Wilson, who has since taken a job in Southern California, did not appear, nor did Keene.

In court documents, managing editor Kennedy claimed to have had nothing to do with the article's creation or editing, and stated that he only discovered the newspaper was being sued after he overhead a conversation about it while standing in the line at the local Burger King. Dickson had only recently succeeded Publisher Gregg McConnell when the article was published.

Keene's attorney, John Borba of Santa Rosa, argued that the use of the words “misdiagnosis” and “misdiagnose” in the article and the headline was a “gross mistake” that led to damage to Keene's reputation in the Lake County community.

“At no time did she ever give a diagnosis or a preliminary diagnosis,” said Borba.

Keene was not quoted directly in the article, nor was she contacted for it, said Borba. However, Patrick stated in the article that Keene had said to him at one point that his condition “looks like” ALS.

Visiting Judge J. Michael Byrne agreed that there was a “conflict of facts” surrounding that statement.

“This article could have been written in a professional manner,” said Borba. Rather, it was written in such a way that made Keene appear incompetent. “That's what the layperson would conclude.”

He said they could have called Keene to ask if she had ever rendered a statement such as the one attributed to her. Borba said Keene is a good doctor who was recruited to this area by Sutter Lakeside Hospital.

Borba also questioned the newspaper's use of medical documents to defend itself when Keene wasn't allowed to do so.

“They've already tried this woman,” he said of Keene. When typing her name into Google, Borba said the article and the term “misdiagnosis” comes up.

“It has affected her business,” he said. “Her business has declined. It's not something she should have to go through.”

Borba argued that a person's reputation is just as important as freedom of the press.

The article, he added, “violated every notion of decency.”

In her arguments, Matteo-Boehm said Keene had failed to prove her case under the anti-SLAPP statute. She argued the case also failed from another perspective; while it was styled as a defamation case, Matteo-Boehm said it appeared more like a matter of trade libel because Keene was claiming damage to her practice.

The law distinguishes between defamation and trade libel, and the requirements to meet a trade libel case are more stringent, Matteo-Boehm said.

That, Matteo-Boehm argued, meant that Keene needed to make a “prima facie” showing – one that is sufficient to raise a presumption of fact, according to legal definitions – that there was actual malice involved in the article's creation, “and there's none of that here.”

In order to survive an anti-SLAPP motion to strike a libel case, the plaintiff must prove reckless disregard and knowledge of untruth, said Matteo-Boehm.

“We looked very hard at the article,” she said. “It's our belief it just doesn't convey a defamatory meaning.”

An important paragraph in the story – in which a University of San Francisco doctor is quoted as saying he would have thought Patrick had ALS if the tests hadn't come out the way they did – was omitted from the version of the story submitted to the court by Keene, she added. A comparison of the original story and a copy of the story included in Keene's original complaint, which was filed with a different law firm, confirms that paragraph was omitted.

Byrne said that, for him, the word “misdiagnosis” was incorrectly used in the story.

From his reading of the situation, Byrne said Keene didn't offer a diagnosis, but a “preliminary evaluation.”

“She's done the right thing, she's following up the right way,” he said of Keene sending Patrick for further evaluation with a specialist. “That's not a misdiagnosis.”

Byrne added that the word “misdiagnosis” should not have been used. “I think that's a substantially false statement.”

Matteo-Boehm said the article lacked a defamatory meaning. “We do believe that the article is either protected opinion or substantially true.”

If it's substantially true, it's not actionable, she added.

Keene hadn't met the burden of proof to show what she did or didn't do in comparison with the article's version of events, said Matteo-Boehm.

It was Patrick's conclusion, based on what Keene told him, that he had been misdiagnosed, Matteo-Boehm said.

The judge maintained his difficulty with the language used. “I don't think 'misdiagnosis' is the reverse of diagnosis,'” he said.

Matteo-Boehm suggested that another reason to treat the article as opinion is that people can disagree about what a misdiagnosis is.

She argued that the law recognizes the right of the press to exercise “tremendous literary license.”

Previous articles the newspaper ran about Patrick's case, which stated he had been diagnosed with ALS, were not cited as a problem by Keene, Matteo-Boehm added. She again suggested it was a trade libel case, and added Keene hadn't pleaded or proved malice on the part of the newspaper.

Byrne said he saw “irresponsible use of the world 'misdiagnosis'” in the article, but agreed that he didn't see signs of malice. He added that he was sure it has had dramatic effects on the doctor and her position in the community.

Borba said actual malice can't be determined by the article alone, although the work was clearly irresponsible. But he stated he believed he could prove malice if he was allowed to conduct discovery in the case, and able to depose both Wilson and Patrick. At that point, he said, he would amend his complaint to plead malice.

He maintained it was not a case of trade libel, but a matter of a person's reputation.

Byrne asked him if, by the same token, it's similarly damaging for a person to give a restaurant a bad review. Borba said it's different, because most restaurant owners don't go to school for 10 years for their profession.

“I'm from Napa County, they do down there,” Byrne quipped.

Borba said the reporter and editor extrapolated in publishing the story with the word “misdiagnosis” in it. “There was a serious error in judgment made by the Record-Bee on this article.” He added that the paper had given “a very poor welcome” to Keene, who was brought here to practice medicine.

Matteo-Boehm said the anti-SLAPP statute addresses the discovery Borba asked for, and allows for it. But Borba was obligated to complete discovery before the Friday hearing.

“The time for that has passed,” said Matteo-Boehm.

Borba said all of the county's judges had recused themselves from the case, which made pursuing discovery difficult.

Byrne credited both attorneys with doing a good job in their arguments.

“I had a lot of trouble with the word 'misdiagnose,'” he said. “From a moral perspective, it should not have been in the article.”

He said it was important to balance Keene's considerations with freedom of the press.

Byrne concluded that the article, though flawed, had demonstrated that what was said in it was substantially true overall, and that no defamation had been established. Nor were malice or trade libel established, he added.

He ended by granting the newspaper's motion to dismiss.

Matteo-Boehm said a statement of decision is required under the anti-SLAPP and she offered to prepare one. Byrne directed her to create a tentative statement of decision.

While the Record-Bee survived this suit, it's not out of the woods yet.

Next month, the paper must appear in small claims court to defend itself against a second defamation lawsuit filed by former Clear Lake Riviera Community Association board members Sid Donnell, Sandra Orchid and Alan Siegel.

The three allege that the paper's publication of a guest commentary and numerous letters about the association and their leadership – without any fact-checking – resulted in damage to their reputations. At the same time, the paper did not publish an opinion piece Donnell submitted to defend he and his fellow board members.

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


LAKE COUNTY – Earlier this month a task force netted 24 arrests as part of a round of compliance checks on people convicted of sex crimes and other violent offenses.

On Oct. 15 and 16, members of the Region II Sexual Assault Felony Enforcement (SAFE) Task Force conducted a two-day enforcement operation in Lake County, according to Capt. James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office.

The focus of the operation was to conduct probation or parole searches and compliance checks on registered sex offenders and other felons convicted of domestic violence, child abuse, and drug related offenses, Bauman reported.

The task force consisted of six teams of five officers each from 13 different law enforcement agencies.

The two-day operation covered communities across the county and the check of approximately 110 locations resulted in a total of 21 felony arrests, three misdemeanor arrests and five new cases requiring further investigation.

The 24 arrests were based on charges relating mostly to parole or probation violations, possession of narcotics or illegal weapons, being under the influence of narcotics or alcohol, and outstanding warrants.

In some cases, the arrests for violations of probation or parole entailed illegal contact with minors, possession of pornography, possession of computers with internet access, and possession of alcohol or drugs.

Sheriff's Det. Mike Curran, the designated SAFE Task Force Agent for Lake County, said the operation was the most successful multi-agency effort he has coordinated in the 18 months the grant has existed in Lake County.

Bauman reported that the agencies participating in the two-day operation included the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, Lake County District Attorney’s Office, Lakeport Police Department, Lake County Probation Department, Lake County Narcotics Task Force, California Highway Patrol; Clear Lake Area State Parks, Lake County Animal Care and Control, State Parole, Mendocino County Sheriff’s Department, Napa County Sheriff’s Department, Marin County Sheriff’s Department and the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department.

The SAFE Task Force is funded by a grant provided by the Law Enforcement Branch of the California Office of Emergency Services and administered through the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department.

SAFE Task Force operations are conducted periodically in Lake and other counties within Region II to enforce the compliance of sex registrants and other convicted felons on parole or probation.


LAKE COUNTY – Lake County's unemployment rate hit 10 percent for September, the highest rate for that month in a dozen years.

However, Dennis Mullins of the Employment Development Department's Labor Market Information Division's North Coast Region said that, looking at the county's employment trends, he believes rates should start to drop soon.

September's 10-percent rate was up 0.2 percent from August's 9.8 percent, noted Mullins, and 2.4 percent above the September 2007 rate of 7.6 percent.

At 10.0 percent, Lake ranked 49th among the state’s 58 counties, said Mullins.

Neighboring county rates included 8.8 percent for Colusa, 6.4 percent for Mendocino, 9.4 percent for Glenn, 6.9 percent for Yolo, 5.2 percent for Napa and 5.8 percent for Sonoma, according to Employment Development Department statistics.

Marin had the lowest rate in the State at 4.7 percent and Imperial County had the highest with 24.5 percent, Mullins said.

The comparable California and U.S. rates were 7.5 and 6.0 percent, respectively, he added.

The highest unemployment rate recorded in Lake County so far this year was 10.5 percent, which it reached in January, as Lake County News has reported. March and July both recorded 10.2-percent unemployment rates.

Mullins reported that year-over job growth in Lake County was led by trade, transportation and utilities, which added 80 jobs; followed by private educational and health services, 70 jobs; and government, 30 jobs.

At the same time, year-over job losses occurred in leisure and hospitality, which led decliners by dropping 90 jobs, followed by natural resources, mining and construction, declining 40, other services which lost 20, and 10 lost jobs each for information and financial activities, he said.

The farm, manufacturing, and professional and business services had no change over the past year, Mullins noted.

From August to September, statistics show that the county lost a total of 560 jobs in all industries, with 530 coming in the farming sector alone; that period coincided with the end of the local pear season. Other sectors such as retail; trade, transportation and utilities; and transportation, warehousing and utilities lost jobs during that time, Mullins reported.

One big jump was in local and state government jobs, with 200 of those added from August to September, statistics show.

Mullins said that rural counties this year appeared to have eclipsed the higher unemployment rates they suffered in late 2001 after the country was hit by an economic downturn.

In 2001, Lake County's average unemployment rate was 7.1 percent, which rose to 8.3 percent in 2002 and 9.2 percent in 2003, according to Employment Development Department numbers.

By 2004, the numbers started to drop as part of a natural cycle, Mullins said.

And, indeed, the 2004 average rate dropped to 9.1 percent, lower than the previous year despite recording an 11.3-percent unemployment rate in January of that year, a rate which it hadn't seen since 1998.

The average unemployment numbers show that 2005 and 2006 also were better, at 8 percent and 7.7 percent, respectively.

Then, in 2007, the numbers began to climb again, rising to 8.5 percent. If this year's numbers continue on their current trend, the 2008 average is likely to be higher.

But Mullins said it's important to balance the tough economic news with an understanding of the trend.

Looking back further, Mullins said the county went through a cycle of dropping employment and a sagging economy in the early 1990s, and it took about five years to move through that trend.

“We're in a similar type of cycle,” he said, adding that Lake County is only about a year into that trend.

While Lake County's unemployment rate is high, Mullins said it appears to be peaking, which means it should begin to decline over the next five years as part of another recovery cycle.

The very seasonal nature of Lake County's economy – with agriculture and tourism important factors – makes for more notable employment trends, with spring usually showing better employment rates, he said.

Mullins also pointed out that Lake County actually gained 10 jobs in September 2008 over the same month last year, reaching 15,320 private industry jobs. At the same time, Mendocino County's much larger employment pool lost 530 jobs, falling from 33,270 to 32,740, with manufacturing hardest hit. That same sector in Lake County was unchanged.

Adding jobs as Lake County did, Mullins added, is out of the ordinary for the state right now.

Also notable is that Lake County's civilian labor force grew by 820 over the past year, said Mullins, while Mendocino's only grew 290.

“Comparing Lake to Mendocino kind of gives you some perspective,” he said.

Across the state, the housing and financial sectors have been hardest hit when it comes to job loss, said Mullins.

He said that when the housing bubble burst in the last few years, the impact on housing and construction reverberated through the rest of the economy as jobs were lost and sales slowed.

Mullins added that California's counties are following state and national economic and employment trends.

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


Pictured from left to right: Officer Mike Humble, Diana Dittman, Linda Morton, Marilyn Wafford, Wendy Ferrell, Wayne Forrest, Barbara Sears, Mike Paselk, Deborah Bussear, Tommy Peralta, Cathrine Smith, Cathrine Noel-Repetski, Sally Lalonde and Deanna Jones. Photo courtesy of CHP Officer Adam Garcia.

LAKE COUNTY – On Monday the California Highway Patrol's Clear Lake Area Office congratulated and gave thanks to the school bus drivers of Lake County during School Bus Driver Appreciation Week, Oct. 20 through 24.

CHP Officer Adam Garcia said the following Lake County school bus drivers are part of a club of individuals with 100,000 or more safe miles behind the wheel: Cheryl Alvord-Smart, Glenn Courtney, Jennifer Campbell, Diana Dittman, Linda Morton, Marilyn Wafford, Wendy Ferrell, Wayne Forrest, Barbara Sears, Mike Paselk, Deborah Bussear, Tommy Peralta, Catherine Smith, Catharine Noel-Repetski, Sally Lalonde, Thomas Aragon and Deanna Jones.

“It is only fitting that we honor these drivers that get our children to school and back home each and every day safely,” Clear Lake CHP School Bus Safety Officer Mike Humble said. “Their hard work and dedication exemplifies true professionalism. “

The yellow school bus has been an essential part of public education as we know it. It is a part of the fabric of the American institution, and is an important part of the very foundation of how we educate our children.

In California there has been developed a system that has proven to be the safest form of transportation in the world. The state has the strictest regulations relating to the construction and use of the school bus and the education and training of drivers.

According to the National Academy of Sciences, the US Department of Transportation and other authorities agree that school buses are the safest form of transportation for getting children to and from school. Riding in a school bus is much safer than using any other form of transportation – including personal vehicles, railroad and airline travel.

The Transportation Research Board, part of the National Academy of Sciences, reports that a child is 13 times safer in a school bus than in other modes of travel. Children driving to school or riding with other teenage drivers are 44 times more likely to be killed than in a school bus.

All school bus drivers must successfully complete 20 hours of classroom training and 20 hours of behind the wheel training. Then they must pass all testing requirements at the DMV and CHP to obtain a California special driving certificate.

In addition, state law requires each driver to hold a valid first aid certificate from the American Red Cross, pass a drug test, physical examination and obtain background clearance from the California Department of Justice.

All school bus drivers must also continue their training by completing 10 hours of instruction each year.


LAKE COUNTY – At a time when many families are finding themselves challenged financially and needing help, local residents can offer some assistance by donating canned food on the annual “Make A Difference Day,” which takes place this Saturday, Oct. 25.

AmeriCorps members will collect canned and nonperishable food from people in front of local grocery stores from 10 a.m to 2 p.m. on Saturday.

Stores where collections will take place include Hardester's Markets in Middletown, Cobb and Hidden Valley Lake; Red and White Market in Clearlake Oaks; Riviera Foods in the Clear Lake Riviera; Sentry Market in Nice; Grocery Outlet, the Willow Tree Shopping Center and Bruno's Shop Smart in Lakeport; and John's Market in Kelseyville.

Lake County Hunger Task Force members will then pick up the food and take it to senior centers, food banks and food pantries, said task force member Lorrie Gray.

The food donations will be made available to local families at the Lake County Community Action Agency, Lakeport Food Cupboard, Lake County senior centers, Gleaners and the Middletown-based Catholic Charities.

The effort is made possible through a partnership between Lake County Hunger Task Force, Catholic Charities and Lake County AmeriCorps.


SACRAMENTO – When it came to getting bills signed into law in the state Legislature this year, state Sen. Patricia Wiggins (D-Santa Rosa) led the pack.

Wiggins had 17 bills signed this year, up from 11 last year, according to her spokesman, David Miller. That number doesn't include the bills she co-authored with another legislator.

Those 17 bills put Wiggins ahead of the other 39 state senators and all of the Assembly.

Assembly member Patty Berg (D-Eureka) had 10 bills signed into law this year, with two vetoed, according to her office.

Legislators sent a total of 1187 bills to the desk of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2008, and he vetoed 415 of those measures, for a record rejection rate of 35 percent, Miller reported. Wiggins had seven bills vetoed.

“All of us who work for members of the legislature feel each and every one of our respective bosses’ bills are important of course, but in a practical sense, Sen. Wiggins’ bills included measures that removed obstacles for businesses – a sentiment this governor obviously shares – measures which protected consumers, measures which protected both business and consumers alike, and measures which were good for both people and the environment,” said Miller.

He added, “She had some other very practical bills that were vetoed, as well, but by and large she was able to successfully move a large number of bills that will positively impact a broad range of Californians.”

Lists of the signed and vetoed bills follow, with brief summaries of what each bill was intended to do.


SB 157: Non-Profit Organizations

Over the past several years, there have been a number of laws passed pertaining to winemakers and winegrape growers participating with nonprofit organizations at charity events, including pouring wine for tasting as well as taking orders for wine to be filled back at their wineries or businesses. This bill would make all of those laws consistent, has passed both houses of the Legislature. Signed Sept. 26.

SB 562: Salmon Restoration Funding

Allocates nearly $5.3 million in Proposition 84 funds to the state Department of Fish and Game for coastal salmon and steelhead fisheries restoration. Prop. 84 (the Safe Drinking Water, Water Quality and Supply, Flood Control, River and Coastal Protection Bond Act) was approved by California voters in 2006. Gov. Schwarzenegger signed this bill into law on April 11, a move which also enable our state to leverage up to $20 million in federal funds for salmon this year.

SB 579: Firefighters

Authorizes Los Angeles County to permit firefighters who retired after April 1, 2007 to reinstate from retirement and work beyond the retirement age, as long they meet certain physical requirements. Signed June 2.

SB 607: Home Winemakers

According to the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, a section of state code forbad competitions for wines made by home winemakers, including those held at county fairs or the state fair. This bill, which Gov. Schwarzenegger signed on June 6, updates the law to officially legalize such events.

SB 608: Judges’ Retirement

This bill makes several changes to the provisions governing the ability of a member of the Judges Retirement System I to elect an optional settlement prior to retirement. It restores the ability of judges that have attained the minimum age for service retirement with at least 20 years of service to elect to designate their spouse to receive an optional settlement in lieu of a pre-retirement death benefit. Signed on Feb. 28.

SB 634: Olive Oil Standards

Each year sees increases in the volume and types of high quality olive oil produced in California, some of which rivals the best oils produced in the world. This bill recognizes that growth and progress by establishing standards for olive oil in California, in line with international standards. Signed on Sept. 30.

SB 662: Veterans Homes

This bill makes technical clarifying changes to the Military and Veterans code regarding management of the state’s Veterans Homes. Gov. Schwarzenegger signed this bill into law on July 22.

SB 780: Funding for Rural and Underserved Telephone Services

Allows for the continued funding of a program paid for by all customers of home and cellular telephone services to protect rural and underserved areas of the state from outrageous phone bills. Signed on Sept. 26.

SB 911: Hot Air Balloons

Allows for the continued exemption of hot air balloon operators from regulation by the California Public Utilities Commission (the PUC) in order for the industry to be able to maintain reasonable priced liability insurance for carrying passengers. Signed on Sept. 30.

SB 1016: Landfill Disposal

Requires cities and counties to measure the amount of waste that is actually deposited in a landfill as opposed to the amount that they could supposedly divert. Will give the California Integrated Waste Management Board a more accurate and timely portrayal of how cities and counties meet the 50% diversion requirement. Signed on Sept. 26.

SB 1093: San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority

This bill is a cleanup measure to last year’s SB 976, which transferred multiple city-operated ferry systems under one state organized ferry system. Specifically, SB 1093 ensures that the level of ferry service in the cities of Vallejo and Alameda are not diminished, and that no downtown redevelopment projects designed around the ferry system are negatively impacted. This bill also requires that if the state takes possession of any ferry facilities or vessels, the city will receive just and reasonable compensation. Signed on Sept. 27.

SB 1123: PERS-Governor’s Pension Commission

Proposes to enact certain recommendations of the Governor's Pension Commission, which met during 2007, relating to: a) retirement and health benefits for employees and retirees being adopted by various California public governing bodies in open, public session, and b) the creation of a State Advisory Actuarial Panel, composed of professional pension actuaries, to discuss and suggest "best practices" for actuaries employed by public retirement systems. Signed on Sept. 27.

SB 1149: Rural Telephone Grants

This bill continues funding for a grant program that provides residential telephone services and cellular coverage to people who are considered to be low-income and/or live in rural areas where no telephone services are currently offered. Signed on Sept. 27.

SB 1431: State Park Easements

This bill seeks to clarify that the state Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) can use conservation easements to protect and preserve state park lands, and enable DPR to make grants to state or local government agencies, or nonprofits, to purchase and hold conservation easements for protection and preservation. Signed on July 17.

SB 1627: Accountability of Board of Pilot Commissioners

This bill places the Board of Pilot Commissioners (Board) under the jurisdiction of the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency for the purpose of ensuring appropriate oversight, accountability, and transparency of the Board. The board should be as robust as possible to make certain pilots are properly trained and licensed, so that environmentally devastating accidents, such as the Cosco Busan incident, are minimized or, prevented. Signed on Sept. 29.

SB 1690: Crab Bill

This bill will create an industry advisory group for California crab fishermen, which will ultimately develop recommendations for a sustainable crab fishery. Signed on Sept. 30.

SB 1699: Design Build for Hospitals

This bill allows Sonoma Valley Hospital to use a “design-build” bidding process to build new hospitals or retrofit existing hospitals. The design-build process is different from a typical bidding process for construction projects because it consolidates the design and construction phases for constructing a building to be done by a single entity, which will save SVH time and money. Signed on Sept. 27.


SB 623: Posted Prices of Gasoline

This bill would have required owners of gas stations to post the price differences between purchases of gasoline with cash and with credit cards. Vetoed by the governor.

SB 992: Adult Recovery Maintenance Facilities

Creates a new category of licensed rehabilitation facilities called Adult Recovery Maintenance Facilities, and gives the Alcohol and other Drug Programs (ADP) authority to ensure these facilities are offering quality services to people in rehabilitation. Vetoed by the governor.

SB 1167: Auto Insurance/Steering Consumers

This bill requires the insurance commissioner to convene a task force that would address “steering” issues and issue a report of their findings and recommendations to the Legislature by December 2009. Some auto insurance representatives continue to persuade consumers to make their vehicle repairs at certain auto body shops, even if the consumer has already selected a shop. Such “steering” is a result of lax existing anti-steering laws that need to be reevaluated in order to protect consumer choice. This bill has passed both the Senate and Assembly. Gov. Schwarzenegger vetoed SB 1167 on Sept. 26.

SB 1376: PERS Omnibus Bill

This bill is the annual "housekeeping omnibus bill for the State Teachers Retirement System (STRS) that makes many technical, non-substantive word changes in the STRS Law, or repeals obsolete or non-operative sections of that law. Gov. Schwarzenegger vetoed this bill on Sept. 26.

SB 1442: Supplemental Instruction/Career Technical Education

This bill clarifies that schools can teach career technical education courses in their after-school or summer school programs. This bill has passed both houses of the Legislature. Vetoed on Sept. 28.

SB 1557: Smart Growth Planning

This bill adds a provision to the State’s Smart Growth planning priorities that seeks to address green house gas emissions. It would strengthen state law with regard to land use by updating Assembly Bill 857, a landmark piece of legislation (signed into law in 2002) to address state practices re: land use. Unfortunately, the provisions of AB 857 have largely been ignored, making SB 1557 necessary. Vetoed by the governor.

SB 1645: Energy Design Element

This bill would require the Energy Commission to update its Energy Aware Planning Guide, and require the Commission to work with the state to develop climate change and energy models for local government general plans. This bill has passed both houses of the Legislature. Vetoed by the governor on Sept. 28.


AB 572: Adult Day Health Care

Modernizes current statute regarding job descriptions and definitions for adult day health care centers, conforms existing law with recent industry reforms, and provides flexibility for transportation and meals.

AB 990: Spud Point Marina

Provides Sonoma County with a process to adjust fees that the marina can levy on consumers.

AB 1889: Potter Valley Unified School District

Allows the district to convert to a four day week.

AB 1952: Veterans' Business Licenses

Code clean-up to ensure all veterans receive waiver of city, county and state business license fees.

AB 2149: Elder Financial Abuse Prevention

Prohibits financial advisors from using titles like "certified senior advisor" unless they are recognized by an accreditation organization and meet certain standards.

AB 2150: Elder Financial Abuse Prevention

Prohibits insurance agents from using titles such as "Senior Life Insurance Expert" or Certified Senior Financial Advisor" unless the Insurance Commissioner has specifically authorized the use of the title.


AB 2527: Targeted Case Management

Fixes language in statute that prevents non profits and joint powers agreement entities from claiming Targeted Case Management funds.

AB 2747: End-of-Life Care

Requires health care providers to discuss all legal options for end-of-life care upon request of a terminal patient.

AB 2840: Congressman Mike Thompson

Names a portion of land in “south spit” after Mike Thompson.

AB 2842: Medicare Part D Fraud Prevention

This bill, modeled after a Maine law, prohibits cold-calling and bait and switch tactics used in Medicare sales.


AB 317: Adult Day Health Care

Allows an adult day health care center to receive reimbursement for partial days of attendance if the center is forced to evacuate during a declared emergency.

AB 2543: Geriatric and Gerontology Student Loan Repayment Program

Establishes a student loan repayment program for social workers and marriage and family therapists who work in geriatric care settings. Also prioritizes physician loan repayment for geriatrics.

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


LAKEPORT – Citing its frustration at not reaching a contract with Sutter Health, SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West (UHW) has called for an informational picket to be held next week at Sutter Lakeside Hospital.

The picket, scheduled on Wednesday, Oct. 29, will be held in Lakeport and at Sutter Medical Center in Santa Rosa.

On the same day, UHW plans a strike at Alliance Clinic in Healdsburg and 10 hospitals, five belonging to Daughters of Charity and five Sutter Health facilities – three Alta Bates Summit campuses, Sutter Solano Medical Center in Vallejo and Sutter Delta Medical Center in Antioch. California Nurses Association members will strike in solidarity with UHW at those hospitals.

"We were surprised to receive notice of SEIU's informational picket and believe that the picket has nothing to do with issues we are discussing locally," said Sutter Lakeside Hospital spokesman Mitch Proaps. "We have been bargaining in good faith with SEIU and will continue to do so."

UHW is alleging "unfair labor practices and bad-faith negotiation by hospital management" as the reason for the strike, which was called less than a week after the union negotiated what representatives called a "landmark" master agreement with Catholic Healthcare West.

Sutter hospitals have been in contract negotiations with UHW and its 3,300 caregivers since May, the union reported. Since Sept. 30, those workers have been without a contract.

The management of Sutter Health – the largest hospital corporation in Northern California – has "refused to accept any proposal workers have offered to improve patient care, and instead proposed dramatic cuts that would make it harder to recruit and retain experienced staff," according to a union statement.

Proaps said UHW presented its final group of proposals to Sutter Lakeside in early October. "We are in the process of developing a comprehensive response to those proposals and have a bargaining session scheduled in early November."

He added, "We are proud of what we offer our employees – we provide excellent working conditions, wages, and benefits and strive to be an employer of choice in Lake County."

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Darian Munson was arrested Monday evening in Clearlake for an Aug. 26 homicide in Bay Point, California. Photo courtesy of Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office.



CLEARLAKE – A local man has been arrested in connection with a Bay Area homicide.

Contra Costa County Sheriff's deputies and Clearlake Police on Monday night arrested Darian Nikia Munson, 31, of Clearlake.

Munson was being sought in connection with the fatal stabbing of 25-year-old Derrell Wood, said Jimmy Lee, spokesman for the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office.

The stabbing occurred shortly before 11:30 p.m. in Bay Point on Aug. 26, said Lee.

"What we understand is that there were a number of people gathered for an event after a funeral," said Lee.

Most of those gathered were friends and family; Lee said Wood and Munson don't appear to have been related but they knew each other.

At some point a confrontation occurred and it's alleged that Munson fatally stabbed Wood. Lee would not divulge the precise details of the crime, including how many times Wood was stabbed.

Lee said a $1 million arrest warrant was issued for Munson, who was considered armed and dangerous. Contra Costa County Sheriff's deputies searched the county for Munson but were unable to locate him.

Officials had initially though Munson was in the Pittsburg or Richmond areas, according to a press statement Lee issued on Oct. 17.

"The detectives continued to work the case and developed some information that he was in Lake County," said Lee.

Lt. Mike Hermann of the Clearlake Police Department said his department worked with Contra Costa deputies to search for Munson, beginning at his parents' Clearlake home.

After not finding him there, they moved on to check some other locations, eventually locating Munson at the Sunset Lodge on Lakeshore Drive at around 6 p.m. Munson was taken into custody without incident, Hermann said.

Hermann added that he knows of no previous contacts between Clearlake Police and Munson.

Munson, whose booking sheet lists him as a laborer, remained in the Lake County Jail on the $1 million warrant on Tuesday, according to jail records.

"We'll be looking to get him back here as soon as we can," said Lee.

Capt. James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office said Munson was scheduled to be transported to Contra Costa County on Wednesday.

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





CLEARLAKE – A vacation home was destroyed in a Friday night fire, according to a local fire official.

Lake County Fire District Battalion Chief Willie Sapeta said the fire in the doublewide trailer, located at Scenic Road and Manakee Avenue, was dispatched at 10:32 p.m. Friday.

Fifteen firefighters along with three engines, a water tender and two medical units from Lake County Fire were on scene within five minutes, said Sapeta. They were joined by two Cal Fire engines and an engine from Northshore Fire's Clearlake Oaks station.

When firefighters arrived, the trailer was fully involved, according to Sapeta.

Sapeta said it took close to an hour for firefighters to contain the trailer fire. They had the added danger of downed power lines in the area, which made their efforts more challenging.

Two adjacent structures, a mobile home on the burning trailer's east side and a garage on the northeast, both sustained minor damage, he said.

The main trailer itself was a total loss, Sapeta added.

The trailer was vacant at the time of the fire. He said no firefighters were injured in attempting to control the blaze.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, Sapeta said.

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


THE GEYSERS – A 3.0-magnitude earthquake occurred early Thursday just a few miles from The Geysers.

The US Geological Survey reported that the temblor occurred at 4:17 a.m. two miles east of The Geysers, four miles southwest of Cobb and four miles west northwest of Anderson Springs.

The quake was recorded at a depth of 1.1 miles, the US Geological Survey reported.

Eleven other earthquakes were reported at The Geysers, Cobb and Anderson Springs during the rest of the day, ranging in magnitude from 1.2 to 2.6.

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SOUTH LAKE COUNTY – On Tuesday afternoon officials shut down a portion of Highway 29 over Mount St. Helena for several hours due to a bus fire that in turn caused a small grass fire.

The California Highway Patrol reported that Caltrans closed Highway 29 at Tubbs Lane in Napa County and also on the Lake County side of Mount St. Helena due to the fire involving a tour bus, which first was reported at approximately 12:48 p.m.

Power lines also were reported to be down in the area, requiring the assistance of Pacific Gas and Electric to cut power to the lines before they caught fire.

Michael Selmi of Cal Fire's Incident Command Center in St. Helena said the tour bus caught nearby grass on fire, burning one and a half to two acres on each side of the highway. He said firefighters have contained the blaze.

No one on the bus was injured, Selmi reported.

Selmi said the highway was expected to be closed until about 5:30 p.m.

Cal Fire remained at work for several hours mopping up the fire area, he said. “We'll be on scene there for a while.”

Selmi said the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

CHP reported that one-way traffic control was instituted at around 6:30 p.m., and the roadway was clear and fully reopened about an hour later.

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


Families were an important part of the grand opening event on Saturday. Photo by Aimee Gonsalves.


HIDDEN VALLEY LAKE – Despite the economic concerns that face much of the country, several small businesses celebrated opening their doors as part of a community celebration on Saturday afternoon.

The grand opening for Hidden Valley Lakes' Hardester's Plaza had something for everyone – a chance for businesses to introduce themselves, pets in Halloween costumes and a range of family friendly events. In every direction there were smiling children enjoying ice cream cones and hot dogs.

Many of the business owners out at the plaza on Saturday expressed a very hopeful outlook for the future, with the belief that, if the community sticks together, it can get through the hardships of the current economic situation.

People are definitely taking into consideration how they spend their money these days, but the advice from Linda Fergusson of New York Life is to spend your money within your community. Fergusson offers insurance and financial services.

Fergusson said she's concerned but positive about south Lake County’s economic standing. She believes if residents continue supporting local stores and if more people start their own businesses it would help the community.

Ross Hardester of Hardester's Market shared an opinion similar to Fergusson's.

Hardester said he believes people are nervous about starting new businesses but if the community supported its local economy by spending their money here – versus, for example, shopping where they commute to work – it would help the county come through these tough times.

Shelley Weiser with H&R Block and Shelley Weiser Bookkeeping said that her business has felt the effect of the economic struggle because so many small businesses are closing their doors and no longer in need of bookkeeping services. However, she's hopeful for the future, adding that the community needs to attract more businesses,which would create local jobs.

Not seeing a dropoff in business these days is Ting's Thai Kitchen, owned by Charlie and Ting McFarling. The restaurant, which opened in the spring, offers authentic Thai food. Charlie McFarling noted that business is staying steady.

Although new to the plaza location, Patricia Tyrrell said her Guangxi Martial Arts school has been working with children and adults for many years. When it comes to finding activities that are close to home, and good for your body and mind, martial arts may have something to offer, she suggested. Besides self-defense, martial arts teach confidence and respect, which are very important for children.

Another unique business at the plaza is Chic la Chef to the rescue, which offers a Wednesday night take-out service for families. They'll also offers a “Budget Busters” class in November in which they'll teach class participants how to create meals their whole family will love without spending a fortune at the grocery store.

The new Hidden Valley Pet Palace hosted a doggy pet costume contest Saturday afternoon and the winner was Bailey the bride, a cute little Chihuahua.

Pet palace owner Terri Gonsalves said she's nervous as a new business owner given the hard times. However, she said she's excited about what she is doing and hoping to make a positive start with her new business. She offers grooming and a full line of pet care supplies.

And if you bring your dog in for pampering you can get pampered yourself at Patrice Ryan's Dream Salon, which opened in February.

Ryan said she's optimistic that the economy will get better soon. She added that business is good and they're excited to meet more clients.


Aimee Gonsalves is a new writer for Lake County News. Disclosure note: She is the daughter of Terri Gonsalves of the Hidden Valley Pet Palace.




Children had a chance to take a turn in the jumphouse on Saturday. Photo by Aimee Gonsalves.





Dogs came dressed up and ready for the Halloween pet costume contest. Photo by Aimee Gonsalves.






The contest winner was Bailey the Chihuahua, dressed as a bride. Photo by Aimee Gonsalves.




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