Friday, 19 July 2024


SOUTH LAKE COUNTY – Another campaign financial report for District 1 supervisorial candidates, released Monday, shows almost a tripling in the amount of money the two contenders have pulled into their coffers since July.

District 1 supervisor candidates James Comstock of Middletown and Susanne La Faver of Hidden Valley Lake raised approximately $38,859.08 from July 1 through Sept. 30, according to a report due Monday to the Registrar of Voters Office. That amount is almost twice their combined resources reported from the start of the year through June 30.

While the fundraising for the District 1 race continues to climb, the total amount raised for the two candidates so far this year – $60,882.53 – is still at least $50,000 less that the combined war chests of Gary Lewis and Denise Rushing in the record-breaking 2006 race for the District 3 supervisorial seat.

Comstock raised the most from July through September, bringing in $21,125.98, up from $2,229 for the May 18 through June 30 reporting period and well above the $9,727.19 he raised from March 18 through May 17. His year-to-date total is $34,875.17.

La Faver, who topped Comstock by 11 votes in the June primary, raised $17,733.10 during the latest reporting period. From May 18 through June 30, she brought in $2,047, with $3,704 accumulated in the May 18 through May 17 timeframe. La Faver has raised $26,007.36 this year.

In matters of spending, Comstock paid out $15,965.46 from July through September, and has spent $23,949.22 in his campaign this year. La Faver spent $10,049.67 during the reporting period; her year-to-date expenditures total $17,315.99.

Another financial report is due from the candidates on Oct. 23, the Registrar of Voters Office reported.

The breakdown of donations and expenses for the two candidates follows.


Total raised this reporting period: $21,125.98

Expenditures this reporting period: $15,965.46

Total raised calendar year-to-date: $34,875.17 (including $700 in loans from candidate)

Expenditures for calendar year-to-date: $23,949.22

Payments made:

Lakeshore Lions, parade entry, $10

Lake County Registrar of Voters, candidate statement fees, $224

Chris Jones, consulting, $2,000

Lake County Farm Bureau, dinner meeting, $25

Sternberg Bookkeeping, Internet Web page, $155.10

NTLC Newsletter, newsletter, $250

Save Prop 13, newsletter, $250

Republican Women Voter Guide, newsletter, $250

Democratic Voter Guide, newsletter, $100

Citizens for Good Government, newsletter, $80

Barb Thornton, buttons and balloons, $844.95

Chris Jones, consulting, $1000

Voter Information Guide, newsletter, $265

Lake County Fair, dinner meeting, $60

Umpqua Bank, 4H/FFA Donation, $763.75

AMIA, dinner meeting, $50

AMIA, event donation, $20

Econoline Signs, signs, $600

Tony Siciliani, brochures, $3,773.78

Clover Communications, brochure artwork, $1,000

Chris Jones, consulting, $1,000

Bud's Custom Meats, processing, $238

US Post Office, stamps, $21

Econoline Signs, signs, $561

Econoline Signs, sign stakes, $32.40

Tony Siciliani, mailings, $2,391.48

Contributions received:

Betty and John Muller, retired, $150

Lake Elephants, political action committee, $999

Luchetti Ranch, rancher, $5,000 ($10,000 year-to-date)

Mike Browning, rancher, $1,000 ($1,500 year-to-date)

Jim Jonas, business owner, $200

Don Emerson, retired, $200 ($450 year-to-date)

John Warren, accountant, $1,000

Carl Richman, school administrator, $100

Robert and Becky Parker, business owner, $200

Ernie Sanders, retired, $100

Matt Woodard, business owner, $200

Larry and Martha Menzio, business owner, $200

Bill and Irene Throop, power plant tech, $100 ($300 year-to-date)

Duane and Carol Sanders, business owner, $200

Wayne Jackson, business owner, $1,000

Middletown Indian Rancheria, $1,000

Fletcher and Barbara Thornton, judo instructor, $300 ($550 year-to-date)

Rich Devita, retired, $200

Mark and Robert Borghesani, business owners, $200

Rudy and Faith Smith, grape grower, $1,000

Denise Sutton, optometrist assistant, $100

Erik Rupee, attorney, $200

N. Gary Merkel, business owner, $100

Bonnie Yount, Realtor, $100

Milton and Elen Hath, retired, $200

Jack and Karen Lair, business owner, $200

John and Angie Roderick, retired, $200

Dick Frye, business owner, $100

Sharon and Carl Morgensen, school administrator, $100

Ron Minudri and Terry Schweitzer, business owner, $400 ($500 year-to-date)

Hank and Karen Lescher, business owner, $200

Jim and Connie Indrebo, business owners, $300

Caroline and Ernie Emery, retired, $200 ($300 year-to-date)


Total raised this reporting period: $17,733.10

Expenditures this reporting period: $10,049.67

Total raised calendar year-to-date: $26,007.36

Expenditures for calendar year-to-date: $17,315.99

Payments made:

Lake County Registrar of Voters, CD of registered voters, $96.93

Lake County Registrar of Voters, reimbursement to county for election expense,$224

US Postal Service, stamps and mailing costs, $304.60

Copy Shack, DS offset on WB, copies, flyers, $392.46

Larson New Media, campaign ad design/run, $170

HP Home and Home Office Store, printer ink, $10.16

Office Depot, office supplies and equipment, $126.33

Perfect T's and Screening, signs, $134.69

Lake County Publishing, newspaper ads, $2,165.14

Voter Guide Slate Mail, $200

Bicoastal Media, LLC, broadcast ads, $2,772

AD-Vantage Marketing, campaign mailings, $2,813.52

Contributions received:

Nonmonetary contributions

Beth Rudiger, jazzercise instructor, $105

Monetary contributions

Susan J. Cameron, retired, $100

Robert L. Fisher, engineer, $100

Christopher Layton, owner of Pine Grove Resort and Spa, $250 ($750 year-to-date)

Beatrice Moulton, retired, $50 ($100 year-to-date)

PG&E Corp., gas and electric company, $250 ($350 year-to-date)

Jane M. Renner, director, Orchard Gardens Senior Home, $100

Robert Riggs, attorney at law, Katzoff and Riggs, $150 ($7,133 year-to-date)

Linda K. Sereni, retired, $198

Craig Waters, technician, Genentech, $100

Jon M. Webb, principal, Albion Surveys Inc., $500

Robert Barton, retired, $50 ($100 year-to-date) *

Lynn J. Bettencourt, retired safety engineer, $100 *

R. Joy Birum, retired, $100 *

Victoria Brandon, retired, $500 *

Joan K. Clay, retired, $150 ($200 year-to-date) *

Marilyn G. Davin, retired freelance writer, $100 ($200 year-to-date) *

R.S. Devoto, owner, DeVoto Vineyards, $2,000 ($2,500 year-to-date) *

Ron Green, attorney at law, $100 *

Charlotte Griswold-Tergis, retired, $500 *

Lilo Hansen, Hardester's Market, Middletown, $25 ($125 year-to-date) *

Hollis A. Harris, Internet sales, self-employed, $500 *

Gloria Hovde, retired, $100 *

Lake County Democratic Central Committee, $100 ($300 year-to-date) *

Lake County Democrats Club, $300 *

Laura Lamar, photographer, $200 *

Mona M. Locke, retired, $25 ($125 year-to-date) *

Joseph P. Luiz, sales manager, Shannon Ridge Winery, $100 *

Paul Marchand, physician, $1,000 *

Robert Marelli, retired, $200 *

Tom McFarling, owner, McFarling Insurance, $100 ($200 year-to-date) *

Merial L. Medrano, Rev.Trust, retired, $99 ($198 year-to-date) *

Constance T. Miller, retired, $100 *

Beatrice A. Moulton, retired, $50 ($100 year-to-date) *

Philip Murphy, farmer, self-employed $200 *

Richard M. Norton, retired, $100 ($200 year-to-date) *

Kathernie A. Regalado, retired, $100 *

Ed Robey, supervisor, Lake County, $250 *

Robert R. Riggs, attorney at law, Katzoff and Riggs, $5,983 ($7,133 year-to-date) *

Denise Rushing, supervisor, Lake County, $200 *

Debra S. Sally, veterinarian, Clearlake Vet Hospital, $50 ($100 year-to-date) *

James R. Serventi, retired, $100 ($175 year-to-date) *

Angela Siegel, teacher, $100 * *

Janice M. Stewart, director, $99 ($198 year-to-date) *

Joan F. Stoneberg, retired, $150 ($200 year-to-date) *

Helen P. Whitney, co-owner, Whitney Plumbing, $100 *

Joan Worster, retired, $50 ($100 year-to-date) *

Yoxagoi Orchards, farmer/owner, $500 *

* = Denotes those that had "Intermediary: Lake County Citizens Coalition" below their entry. The Lake County Citizens Coalition matched those donations dollar for dollar at a Sept. 20 event; at that event, $14,766 was raised, $7,383 from the public and $7,383 from the coalition, plus an unmatched amount of $380. Those funds are included in her reporting period total.


LAKE COUNTY – A pot holder too close to a lit burner or a space heater left on overnight could be all it takes to start a home fire. In fact, cooking and heating are among the leading causes of home fires in California and that is why Cal Fire, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, is asking for homeowner’s help in preventing home fires.

CAL FIRE responds to more than 300,000 emergencies and calls for service each year. More than 5,000 of these emergencies are fires inside homes and other buildings.

“In the past three years hundreds of people have died in home fires in California,” said Cal Fire Director Chief Ruben Grijalva. “What is so tragic is that many of these fires are easily preventable when residents take simple steps.”

It is because of these startling figures that this year’s theme of Fire Prevention Week 2008 is “Prevent Home Fires!” From Oct. 5 through11, Cal Fire and fire departments across the country will be encouraging their communities to check their homes for fire hazards. With a little extra caution, preventing the leading causes of home fires – cooking, heating, electrical and smoking – is within their power.

Here are some simple steps to help prevent home fires:

  • Cooking: Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period time, turn off the stove.

  • Heating: Keep all things that can burn, such as paper, bedding or furniture, at least 3 feet away from heating equipment.

  • Electrical: Replace cracked and damaged electrical cords; use extension cords for temporary wiring only. Consider having additional circuits or receptacles added by a qualified electrician.

  • Smoking: If you smoke, smoke outside; wherever you smoke, use deep, sturdy ashtrays.

Each year, the week surrounding the date of Oct. 9 is celebrated as National Fire Prevention Week.

Why Oct. 9? The date commemorates the infamous “Great Chicago Fire” of 1871 that killed 250 people and destroyed over 17,000 homes.

Fire Prevention Week is organized each year by the National Fire Protection Association.

For more fire safety tips visit the CAL FIRE Web site at





My wife thinks that I am a living version of Inspector Javert from the classic story of Les Miserables. I see everything very black or white, right or wrong, Rapala or live bait; and due to this strict code I could never be a police officer, because I feel the law enforcement system is fundamentally flawed and not up to the standards of what I think it should be. I respect all officers that put their lives down every day for each of us, and I personally thank them every time I see them; it’s just that the system they work under has problems.

This dogmatic belief system has kept me from eating at the Blue Wing in Upper Lake for over a year now. I know what you are thinking: “Uff Da, Ross! What could cause you to develop such strong feelings over such a great restaurant?”

A couple of years ago I went with my family to The Blue Wing. We went several times and each time I was dissatisfied with the meal I received (although to be fair, my wife and daughter loved their meals). I eventually wrote them an e-mail with my complaints. I mentioned how the “snapper” dish was actually made with tilapia, and the salmon wasn’t marinated as stated, only glazed.

I went on to explain how I knew these things, and that I wasn’t just some quack hoping for some compensation. They never responded to my complaints in any way which would most likely have doused my fire quickly, so I mentally wrote them off and wouldn’t return. Like I said, black or white.

Skip ahead a few months, and the Blue Wing hires a new management staff. My inner Inspector Javert did not waver (fans of Les Miserables will be thinking right now, “Y’know, things didn’t end well for Javert”). Friends and colleagues would tell me how much they love The Blue Wing and that I should give it another try. “No!” my little snooty inspector’s voice would respond. “They had their chance.”

Now jump ahead in time to this week. I found myself running some errands in Upper Lake and decided to swallow my pride and eat at The Blue Wing. While I always try to stay impartial from the beginning, I will admit there was a small little part of me harboring some bad attitude from my previous experiences.

It was in the late afternoon when I arrived and they were still serving from the lunch menu, so I ordered the Asian sampler with spicy Thai chili sauce. The shrimp was cooked perfectly, and the onion rings were big, thick and crispy, although I couldn’t really see what made them “Asian.”

The Thai chili sauce is fairly mild and sweet. The interesting thing about the Thai chili sauce is that you can taste the heavy chili flavor in the midst of the sweetness and there is this momentary feeling of “This is going to hurt,” but no strong spicy hit ever comes, just a mild burn. Even my daughter, who hates anything spicy (blame that big Norwegian part of her), could easily enjoy this sauce.

I asked my server if the Blue Wing’s house Chardonnay was aged in oak or stainless steel and Allie (my server) said that since she wasn’t old enough to drink and hasn’t tasted it she couldn’t tell me, but she quickly gave me a free sample to answer my own question. It was very good without being too “oaky,” which I expect from most chardonnays, so I ordered a glass to go with my meal.

I asked to see the dinner menu mainly out of curiosity. I wanted to see if the dishes I had in the past were still around, but they weren’t. This was a happy circumstance in my opinion, and for two reasons: I’m glad that the dishes that disappointed me in the past weren’t still being pressed upon the public, and it’s good to have a menu that’s rotated often so that the staff and patrons alike don’t get bored.

Although dinner was still half an hour away, my waitress offered to have the kitchen prepare something off the dinner menu for me. I’m always willing to push my luck with service industries to see what I can get away with so I asked for the marinated seafood salad, and Allie (obviously knowing I have already eaten one whole plate of food) very considerately asked if I wanted a half order or a full order.

I was very impressed that the staff was so helpful, anticipating my desires and exceeding my expectations. I frugally decided on a half order, but it was a mistake ... it was so good I would have happily gorged on a full order. The marinated seafood salad is like a ceviche but without the heavy vinegar flavor. Filled with mussels, scallops, shrimp and salmon, and served with toasted soft bread, it was worth the trip alone.

The prices are fair for the quality of food, service and ambiance. The interior has comfortable seating with a lot of warm wood, and in nice weather there’s dining on the patio and garden shared with the historic Tallman Hotel (I think it’s a requirement to precede Tallman with the word “historic” nowadays). With Zoom Wine’s tasting room across the street, Upper Lake has a great little date night area to be enjoyed.

So here I sit with my inner Inspector Javert pouting at his revelation that he has been persecuting a respectable man for so long, but I am happy to say that my past disagreements with the menu at the Blue Wing are gone. Don’t worry, I’m not going to throw myself into a river; maybe Victor Hugo would be disappointed, but then, I’m not French.

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.


LAKE COUNTY – This week fire officials are reminding area residents about the important steps they can take to protect their homes from fire.

The National Fire Protection Association's theme for Fire Prevention Week 2008 – which is Oct. 5 through 11 – is “Prevent home fires.”

The importance of this effort is made clear in the numbers – home fires killed an average of seven people every day in 2006, the association reported.

You can protect yourself and your home from the major causes of home fires by taking some basic precautions.

Cal Fire Sonoma-Lake-Napa Unit Chief Ernie Loveless is asking everyone to check each room in their home for these common hazards and learn to spot situations that may cause a fire risk.


  • Are portable heaters placed at least 3 ft. from anything that can burn?

  • Are matches and lighters kept in a locked cabinet where children cannot reach them?

  • Has your wiring been inspected to make sure that it meets code requirements?

  • Are electrical cords in good condition, not frayed or cracked?

  • Do you have a smoke alarm in each bedroom, outside each sleeping area, and on every level of your home?

  • Are smoke alarms interconnected so that when one sounds that all sound?

  • Do you test your smoke alarms once a month?

  • Does your family practice your home fire escape plan twice a year?

  • Does your home have an automatic sprinkler system, which will contain a fire?

  • Does your home have carbon monoxide alarms?


  • Is your stove top clean and free of clutter?

  • Do you stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling, or broiling food?


  • Do you have a sturdy metal fireplace screen?

  • Do you have your chimney cleaned and inspected at the beginning of each heating season?

  • Do you encourage smokers to smoke outside the home?


  • Do you have arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs)?

  • Do you burn candles in your bedroom? National Fire Protection Association discourages the use of candles in the bedroom – the largest number of candle fires occur in bedrooms.


  • Do you have heating equipment cleaned and inspected by a professional each year?

“Fire Prevention is everyone’s responsibility,” said Loveless.

He encourages everyone to talk with your family members about fire prevention and check areas in their homes for hazards.


From left, Madelene Lyon, Wilda Shock, Congressman Mike Thompson, Ruth Coleman, Rob Brown, Mark Covella, Myron Holdenried, Steve Brookes and Supervising Ranger Ryen Goering break ground on Clear Lake State Park's new education pavilion on Saturday, Oct. 4, 2008. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.

CLEAR LAKE STATE PARK – Sharing the wonders of nature with today's children – who increasingly are in front of a video screen rather than climbing trees and playing in the open air – is a principal goal behind the Clear Lake State Park's new education pavilion, which was celebrated Saturday.

The groundbreaking for the education pavilion was part of “A Wild Affair in Your Park.” Rain earlier on Saturday had organizers of the outdoor event a little concerned, but the weather cooperated to offer a sunny and not-too-cool, picture-perfect fall afternoon.

Construction of the education pavilion, which will be located near the park visitor center, is expected to begin next month, said Madelene Lyon, president of the Clear Lake State Park Interpretive Association, which has worked for the last four years to make the project a reality.

Saturday's celebration was especially poignant in the aftermath of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposal earlier this year to close 48 state parks – among them, Clear Lake State Park and Anderson Marsh State Historic Park – in order to address the state's budget crisis. That proposal was withdrawn in Schwarzenegger's May budget revise.

Federal, state and local officials who took part in Saturday's event credited Lyon for her hard work and tenacity in getting the project off the ground – including raising the $183,000 to build the pavilion.

After the idea originally was proposed four years ago, Congressman Mike Thompson – who took part in the groundbreaking – went to State Parks Director Ruth Coleman, one of his former staffers, and asked her for help.




Madelene Lyon (right) shows State Parks Director Ruth Coleman a model of the education pavilion at A Wild Affair in Your Park on Saturday, Oct. 4, 2008. Photo by Elizabeth Larson. 



At that time, Coleman set aside $60,000 for the project, an amount she managed to protect through a budget crunch and the threat to shut the park made earlier this year.

“This is a very important milestone for this park,” Coleman said Saturday.

Coleman said the pavilion's construction is coming at an important time. Pointing to the project's theme of “No Child Left Inside,” Coleman said it will help bring children back to the outdoors.

She said children today spend 30 minutes a week in unstructured play outside, versus 14 hours in front of a screen. “It's like they are under house arrest.”

That's leading to young people coming to parks with a very different mindset than those shared by previous generations, said Coleman.

Thompson, Coleman and Lyon were joined in the official groundbreaking by Supervisor Rob Brown; Wilda Shock of the Keeling-Barnes Family Foundation; Myron Holdenried, whose grandparents, Fred and Nellie Dorn, donated the property that became the state park 60 years ago, and who himself has donated to the pavilion effort; Steve Brookes, representing the Priest Family Foundation, another major project donor; the park's Supervising Ranger Ryen Goering; and Mark Covella, Bay Area manager of the California Conservation Corps, which will build the pavilion.

In addition to the $60,000 provided by the State Parks Department, the $183,000 raised to build the pavilion came from a variety of other sources, including a $6,000 grant from the California State Park Foundation, $10,000 from the Keeling-Barnes Family Foundation, and funds from the Priest Family Foundation and other local, private contributions.

Still needed, however, is money to outfit the pavilion with scientific and other equipment, said Lyon. In addition to featuring the groundbreaking, A Wild Affair – which Lyon said was a one-time event – also was a fundraiser to raise those additional funds.




Congressman Mike Thompson (center) checks out the Lake County Vector Control booth at A Wild Affair in Your Park on Saturday, Oct. 4, 2008. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.




Fifteen wineries and nine restaurants were featured, sheltered under tents set up within a green outline on the ground that signified the education pavilion's footprint. Visitors also could look at exhibits from the visitor center, included a large stuffed mountain lion. Live music added to the festive fall atmosphere.

As soon as the state signs the contract, the pavilion's construction can begin, said Lyon.

Covella said the California Conservation Corps is aiming to start construction in the middle of November.

A Conservation Corps team of about 12 people from Ukiah, led by two crew supervisors with general contractor experience, will build the facility over a span of about four months, he said.

Some of the work is likely to be held up by rain during the winter season, but if all goes well the building could be completed by spring, said Covella. Lyon added she would love to see the building completed in time for the Heron Festival and Wildflower Breakfast next April.

During his remarks, Thompson said Lyon had been tenacious in her desire to see the pavilion built. “When she knew that was the right thing to do, she didn't let go,” said Thompson.

But, he added, he didn't need much convincing. “She had me at 'hello.'”

Thompson, who reminisced about the importance of the outdoors in his childhood, said he looked forward to coming back when the pavilion was open and children were there to enjoy it.

Brown, who had traveled to Sacramento earlier this year to argue against closing the park, also credited Lyon for her efforts. He added that it's fortunate to be in a community “where we can put something like this together.”

Former state senator and current Assembly candidate Wes Chesbro said a longterm strategy is needed to help preserve the state's parks.

“State parks have been underfunded for years and years and years,” which he said he plans to address if he's elected in November.

A Wild Affair was six months in the making, said Lyon. “We're very, very pleased about how it turned out.”

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





Fifteen wineries and nine restaurants served up special offerings at A Wild Affair in Your Park on Saturday, Oct. 4, 2008. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.





LAKEPORT – A mediation held Friday for the various parties involved in a series of lawsuits revolving around the Vista Point Shopping Center didn't end up in a settlement, according to the city of Lakeport's attorney.

Steve Brookes said the day's mediation results don't mean the suits can't be settled in the next few months, although he said it's hard to predict how long the legal matters might take to resolve.

Brookes, along with attorneys from Meridian Investments, Superior Acquisitions and Park National Bank took part in the mediation, held in Walnut Creek. Excused from the proceedings was Donica, the company owned by Matt Riveras, who purchased the shopping center from the city late last year.

The web of lawsuits around the center goes like this.

Park National Bank is suing Meridian Investments in an attempt to foreclose on the $1.9 million loan for the lease on the shopping center's buildings, which Meridian has held for many years. Meridian reportedly began defaulting on the loan in late 2007.

Donica has filed a notice of default against Meridian, saying the condition of the shopping center's buildings broke the lease.

Park National then named Donica in a suit which Riveras told Lake County News earlier this year was an attempt by the bank to get its money back and prevent him from getting the property.

Superior Acquisitions, whose owner Barry Johnson made an unsuccessful bid for the shopping center last year, filed a lawsuit against the city and Mayor Buzz Bruns in April. By selling the land to Riveras, the suit claims the city violated an exclusive negotiating agreement it had entered into with Superior Acquisitions in 2004 for the property.

Finally, the city is counter suing Johnson, saying he was negligent in managing the Will-O-Point Resort. The city alleges the trailer park's uncapped sewer cleanouts led to an April 2006 city sewer system overload and a release of treated wastewater, which ultimately cost the city millions to remedy with state regulators.

All of the parties were ordered to the Friday mediation, although Donica was excused, Brookes said.

The exact nature of what was discussed in the proceedings is confidential, said Brookes. However, he said the various parties, which were kept in separate rooms, exchanged information and shared their versions of the complex story with a mediator, who took notes.

“The majority of the discussion was between Meridian and the bank and Superior,” said Brookes.

Donica, Brookes added, is supposed to attend a December settlement conference with the other parties.

In January, Park National Bank's foreclosure suit against Meridian will go to trial. “Their issue is how much are they going to get paid.”

Brookes said the parties involved in the mediation appeared willing to have another session, which he said isn't unusual in mediation proceedings.

This month a large amount of discovery is preparing to take place in the various suits involving the city, Johnson and Riveras, Brookes said.

“Everybody's going to be deposing everybody for a couple of months,” he said.

Because Brookes himself is a potential witness on the city's behalf, he expects outside counsel will be hired to represent the city and Bruns, but he has no estimate on the potential cost.

The additional legal fees the city may incur also won't be covered by the city's insurance carrier, which ruled the matter is a contractual dispute not covered by its memorandum of coverage, as Lake County News has reported.

The December settlement conference will likely shed light on whether or not a conclusion is possible in the near future, but Brookes said he doesn't know if the matters can be solved by year's end.

“The variables are many at this stage,” he said.

Brookes is scheduled to give the City Council an update on the mediation in closed session following the public portion of the Tuesday council meeting.

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


Several cancer survivors, including Jan Kendal of Marysville, Calif., released white homing pigeons at the closing ceremony for Sponsoring Survivorship on Saturday, Oct. 4, 2008. Photo by Harold LaBonte.


LAKEPORT – Several dozen Lake County residents gathered in downtown Lakeport Saturday morning under cool gray clouds, ready to run or walk for a good cause.

An estimated 150 friends, family and event personnel were on hand to cheer them on during the 13th annual Sponsoring Survivorship walk/run fundraising event anchored at the Bank of America parking lot on Main Street.

The proceeds benefit Lake County women with financial assistance during their battles with cancer.

Participants were offered three challenges: a two-kilometer walk, a five-kilometer walk or run, and a 10-kilometer walk or run route. The majority of those choose the 5k walk. Event coordinators reported there were 200 participants.

More than three dozen businesses provided funding, goods and services, as well as raffle prizes which were awarded at the conclusion of the event Saturday morning.

Event organizers could not specify the precise number, but indicated that they appreciate the many individual volunteers and service groups that contributed their time and expertise to plan and execute the complex event.

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



Runners and walkers get ready to go at 9:12 a.m. in Lakeport on Saturday, Oct. 4, 2008. Photo by Harold LaBonte.




Jill Shaul crosses the finish line 40 minutes later after the start. Becky Pledger (left) distributed medals to those participating. Photo by Harold LaBonte.



LAKE COUNTY – On Saturday, the day after he voted along with the majority of the House of Representatives to pass a massive bailout bill, Congressman Mike Thompson was back in his district, fielding questions about his decision to change his vote and what the bailout itself will possibly offer America.

Last Monday, Thompson cast a no vote, along with 227 other House members, to defeat the first version of the proposed bailout bill, the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, HR 3997. The vote was 228 to 205.

The House followed that with a Friday vote for a different version of the bill that the Senate had passed two days earlier. Thompson voted yes on that bill.

“This wasn't just about Wall Street, it was about Main Street,” Thompson said during a Saturday interview with Lake County News.

The first version of the bill, which Thompson called “the Bush bill,” would have given Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson $700 billion “with no questions asked,” he explained.

It was a bill, he added, that nobody really liked.

The push for that bailout bill came days earlier, said Thompson.

He and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi were flying home to California from Washington. First, however, Pelosi had a meeting with Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.

On the trip home, Pelosi told Thompson about the meeting, during which Bernanke and Paulson had reportedly warned that the economy would “implode” without the intervention of Congress.

Before the Monday vote, Thompson said he received hundreds of phone calls from constituents, most of which were overwhelmingly against the bailout. He estimated he received eight calls urging him to vote for the bill and about 1,200 asking him to vote no.

After the first version of the bill went down to defeat, work began on another version.

Thompson said he believed everyone in Congress came together to try to work through what was, for many, a new issue.

Members of Congress also met with academics and economists to try to find out the best course to take, he said.

Thompson said he talked to everybody that had insight into the economic issue that he could. He said they needed as many eyes on the plan as they could get.

Hundreds of pages added to legislation

The text of the bill that the Senate, and later the House, finally passed on Oct. 3 is – at about 450 pages – roughly three times as long as the original bill that failed on Sept. 29.

A key addition is an increase in deposit insurance coverage offered by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. at FDIC-insured banks. Previously, deposits up to $100,000 were insured; that now rises to $250,000 per account owner. The increase became effective Oct. 3 and runs through Dec. 31, 2009.

Many of the additional provisions are related to energy production incentives, including credits for renewable and clean energy sources, such as solar, biodiesel and geothermal; energy conservation and efficiency provisions; extension of energy credits for refined coal facilities; carbon capture requirements for certain fuels; and financial incentives for refining tar sands and oil shale.

There also are tax extenders and alternative minimum tax relief, with extensions for both individuals and businesses; temporary suspension of limitations on the contributions of food to charitable organizations made by farmers and ranchers; temporary tax relief for areas of the Midwest hit earlier this year by severe storms, tornadoes and flooding; and temporary tax-relief bond financing and low-income housing tax relief for areas hit by Hurricane Ike, among many other measures.

One notable addition to the final version of the bill is a four-year reauthorization of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000, which supplies funds to rural communities for roads and schools based on historic timber receipts.

Since the bill ran out at the end of 2006, it has run into repeated roadblocks as proponents attempted to get it extended. In recent years Lake County has received about $1 million a year, which has been split between the county road department and local schools, most notably those in Upper Lake, where much of the county's timber was harvested.

A seven-year cost recovery period for motorsports racing track facilities that was added, which Thompson reportedly wrote, has earned him criticism for what many consider is just one example of the pork added to the new bill.

The need to free up credit hits business, government

As work on the new bill continued, Thompson said he was still hearing a large portion of his constituents urging for a no vote, but with the economy a “ticking time bomb” and credit being withheld from small and large businesses alike, something had to be done to get the credit markets working again.

Lines of credit, necessary for operating business, needed to be freed up, said Thompson, who pointed to 159,000 jobs lost last month and California's 7.6-percent unemployment rate, the highest in 12 years.

He also heard from constituents facing the loss of jobs and contracts because of the credit crisis.

Credit concerns were an issue for the state of California as well. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger sent a letter to Paulson last Thursday, pointing to the effect the nation's financial crisis was having on California, a sentiment he also shared with California's Congressional delegation, including Thompson.

Schwarzenegger, who stated his belief that the bill wasn't a Wall Street bailout but rather “a lifeboat” for millions of Americans whose life savings, livelihoods and retirements were on the line, wrote that California's economy is “uniquely sensitive to national and international economic conditions and fluctuations in the financial markets.”

The immediate impact on state government, said Schwarzenegger, was a lack of liquidity in credit markets, with many state and local governments unable to secure financing for bond offerings and the routine cash flow used to make critical payments to schools, local governments and law enforcement.

In California, Schwarzenegger was anticipating issuing $7 billion in Revenue Anticipation Notes for short-term cash flow purposes and seeking help from the Federal Treasury if the situation didn't improve quickly.

As he decided on the bill, Thompson said he received written commitments from both Pelosi and Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank,who chairs the House Financial Services Committee, that regulatory reform legislation to protect taxpayers and establish a safe financial system will be at the top of their agenda in moving forward.

Then on Thursday, Thompson got a call from presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama.

“I wanted him to assure me this (market reform) would be a priority,” said Thompson.

Obama gave him that assurance, telling Thompson it will be a priority in his administration if he's elected president next month.

By Friday, Thompson was prepared to vote yes on the revised version of the bill passed on Wednesday by the Senate. That bill succeeded in a 263-171 vote.

But that bill also, said Thompson, was far from perfect.

“I don't think there was a light-hearted vote cast,” said Thompson.

President Bush signed the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 on Friday, within hours of its passage.

In the end, Thompson concluded the bill was the only – albeit imperfect – option Congress had, and it was better to vote for a flawed rescue package and start trying to work through the crisis than take no action at all.

“My vote on Monday, I think, was the right vote,” said Thompson. “My vote on Friday was the right vote.”

Hearings on the causes of the financial crisis are scheduled to start next week, said Thompson.

The hope is that the information that comes from those hearings can lead to new legislation on market reform in the coming year, with Congress hitting the ground running with a plan in January, he said.

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


LAKE COUNTY – A San Francisco man sentenced last month to prison in connection with a 2005 break-in is appealing his sentence.

Renato Hughes, 24, was sentenced on Sept. 8 by Judge Arthur Mann to eight years in state prison on charges including burglary and assault with a firearm related to a Dec. 7, 2005 incident at a Clearlake Park home.

With time served and a 15-percent time credit, Hughes was expected to serve just over four years of the sentence.

At the time of the sentence, Hughes' defense attorneys, Stuart Hanlon and Sara Rief, indicated an appeal would be filed.

Hanlon and Rief were right. On Sept. 10, an appeal with filed with the Lake County Superior Court and forwarded to the Court of Appeals, said Sean Keane of the San Francisco-based First District Appellate Project, which represents prisoners in appellate cases.

Although Hughes previously had private representation, Keane said the court has ruled Hughes is indigent, which qualifies him for the First District Appellate Project's services.

An attorney has not yet been assigned to Hughes' case, Keane said.

Court records show that the court recorder has to get the trial transcript to the appellate court by Oct. 30.

Keane said the matter itself likely will be dealt with through an exchange of letter briefs. If the judges and attorneys request it, the case could have oral arguments.

Because of the length of the trial and the massive transcript, Keane said he didn't expect a briefing on the case to be issued until next February.

“There's probably not going to be any actual events in the case for a while,” he said.

While Hughes was found guilty in August of burglary and assault with a firearm, he was acquitted in of two counts of first-degree homicide by a jury in Martinez, where the trial had been moved due to a change of venue motion.

Because Hughes was alleged to have been taking part in a violent crime that could result in death, he was charged with the deaths of friends Christian Foster and Rashad Williams under the provocative act doctrine.

However, it was homeowner Shannon Edmonds who actually shot the men as they ran from him home. Edmonds was not charged in the case.

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


LAKE COUNTY – Lake County's fire districts were called on Sunday night to respond to a bus crash near Williams that claimed several lives and injured dozens of people.

Northshore Fire Battalion Chief Pat Brown said the emergency resulted in what was by far the biggest movement of local emergency equipment for a mass casualty incident.

Cal Fire officials reported that the crash was reported to them at approximately 6:26 p.m. Sunday. It took place on Lone Star Road and Abel Road, east of Interstate 5 between Williams and Colusa.

Brown said a bus that came from Colusa Casino had overturned along the stretch of rural road. There were 52 patients, 40 of them critical and five dead at the scene. Late Sunday news reports placed the number of dead at 10.

Nine ambulances from fire districts around the lake could be seen racing along Highway 20 toward the valley between 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Northshore Fire – which has a mutual agreement with Williams – sent three ambulances, said Brown, along with two from Lake County Fire Protection, one from South County Fire, two from Lakeport Fire and one from Kelseyville Fire.

Cal Fire said it sent four engines from Middletown, Clearlake Oaks, Wilbur Springs and Brooks.

Lake County Fire Protection Battalion Chief Willie Sapeta was the strike team leader for the Lake County resources, said Brown. Lake County News was unable to reach Sapeta late Sunday night.

Brown said there were ambulances and fire trucks from all over the valley, including Woodland, West Sacramento and Yolo County. “There was a lot of equipment there,” he said.

Helicopters transported crash victims to hospitals around the North State. Brown said some patients also were taken to Santa Rosa.

At around 8:30 p.m. all of the local ambulances and trucks were released, said Brown, who himself got back home at around 9:30 p.m.

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SACRAMENTO – After several failed attempts to get a bill approved to address the rights of dying patients, last week Assemblywoman Patty Berg earned the governor’s signature on a bill that requires doctors to tell terminally ill patients about their options at end of life.

“I’m so pleased that we were finally able to do something to address the rights of dying people,” said the third-term Democrat from Eureka.

Assembly Bill 2747 succeeded where Berg’s other, more ambitious, attempts had failed. While conservative religious groups called the measure a stealth bill designed to sneak euthanasia into California, Berg maintained it actually only dealt with information and the right to be informed.

The bill says that a patient who learns they are dying of a terminal disease has the right to ask and be told about all the end-of-life options available to them – from pain management to hospice care.

A recent nationwide study by cancer doctors found that only one in three terminally ill patients were told about their treatment and pain-management options by their doctors, even when their doctors knew the patients were dying.

Those patients who did receive frank information were less likely to die in intensive care, more likely to receive hospice; and their families were better prepared for their loss than were the families of patients who were uninformed.

Berg is serving the sixth and final year she is allowed in the Assembly under the state’s term-limits law. Rather than risk yet another defeat on her efforts to enact Oregon-style “death with dignity,” Berg opted for the relatively modest approach of simply requiring that people be informed.

Berg’s end-of-life information bill, as it was known in the Capitol, became a lightning rod for conservative religious groups and others who were still inflamed over her previous attempts to give dying Californians the same rights available in Oregon, where terminally ill people have the right to end their own lives with prescription medication.

“I think he understands and appreciates the simple message of human dignity in this bill,” said Berg, adding that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger did the right thing “and real people will benefit from this.”

Among supporters of the bill: The California Medical Association; the California Psychological Association; California Nurses Association; California Commission on Aging; AIDS Project Los Angeles; Conference of California Seniors.


LAKE COUNTY – The much-needed rain that arrived around the county on Friday made roadways slick and likely contributed to a series of vehicle collisions that continued to occur throughout the day and into the night. {sidebar id=100}

The California Highway Patrol on Friday issued a reminder to county residents that the first major rain of the fall season was making area roadways extremely slippery.

The cause of the slick conditions, according to a report by CHP Officer Adam Garcia, is a film of oil that accumulates on the roadway and rises when the rains begin to fall – creating a “slip and slide effect.”

From noon to midnight there were six collisions reported along Highway 20, with at least one of them resulting in minor injuries. Another on Highway 29 shortly after 2:30 p.m. involved two vehicles and resulted in minor injuries, while no injuries were reported in a crash involving two vehicles on Highway 175 at Cobb Elementary.

Shortly before 11 p.m. a vehicle was reported having crashed into a ditch on Soda Bay Road just west of Park and was on fire. Rocks also were reported in the roadway on Highway 29 just north of the Coyote Grade.

Garcia's report explained that vehicle control rests on four little contact points where your tires touch the pavement.

If rainwater builds up between tire and road, traction is broken and results in hydroplaning, which is what happens when the tread "channels" on the tire cannot conduct all the water from between the tire and the road. That forces the tire to ride on top of the water that's in between, like surfing, according to Garcia.

Hydroplaning's risk increases along with speed; it doesn't usually occur at speeds below 35 miles per hour, Garcia reported.

Many crashes are caused by driving too fast for current conditions, so when rain or snow arrive, Garcia said the first thing to do is slow down. Reduce your speed by a third in the rain and by at least half in the snow, and more if ice is present. It's also important to slow down if you encounter fog.

The importance of adjusting one's driving to weather conditions can be a matter of life and death.

CHP statistics show that last year in California 106 people were killed in collisions that occurred in rainy, snowy or foggy conditions.

More than 7,696 people were injured in crashes under similar weather conditions, according to the CHP.

The National Weather Service reports that the unseasonably strong low pressure system that brought rain to Northern California on Friday is expected to result in showers on Saturday morning, with the likelihood of rain expected to decrease as the day advances.

The weather is expected to clear by Sunday, with some clouds but no rain forecast next week, the National Weather Service reported.

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


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