Tuesday, 19 January 2021

News

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CHP said the teen who crashed her car into a Kelseyville laundromat early Tuesday is believed to have been driving under the influence. Courtesy photo.




KELSEYVILLE – The California Highway Patrol is investigating an early morning crash on Tuesday in which a car slammed into a laundromat.


A report from Officer Adam Garcia of the Clear Lake area CHP office said that at 4:35 a.m. Tuesday a 17-year-old female was driving a 2005 Ford car westbound on Gunn Street in Kelseyville at a high rate of speed.


Gunn said the girl lost control of the car and collided with a wooden fence on Gunn near Saderlund Street.


Garcia said the car then turned back across Gunn Street, traveled off the south road edge and collided with the Launderland Laundromat before coming to rest inside the building.


The collision caused major damage to the structure of the laundromat and total damage to her vehicle, according to Garcia.


The teen is believed to have been under the influence of alcohol at the time of the collision, said Garcia. She was subsequently arrested for suspicion of DUI.

The investigation into the collision is continuing, Garcia reported, led by CHP Officer Steven Curtis.


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A Cal Fire helicopter drops water on the fire near Lower Lake Sunday. Photo by Harold LaBonte.

 

LOWER LAKE – A fire that broke out Sunday afternoon along Spruce Grove Road quickly spread to 100 acres in the area's rugged terrain.


Cal Fire spokesperson Suzie Blankenship said the fire was reported at 3:32 p.m. along Spruce Grove Road near the Noble Ranch subdivision, south of Lower Lake and four miles northeast of Middletown.


Cal Fire, South Lake Fire Protection District, Lakeport Fire Protection District and Lake County Fire Protection District responded, said Blankenship. A total of 10 engines, two helicopters, two air tankers, an air attack, four fire handcrews, three dozers and one water tender fought the blaze.


The fire quickly moved from a flat area into steep terrain, said Blankenship, burning up grass and oak woodland and reaching 100 acres in size.


Firefighters on the ground and in the air struggled to control the spreading fires, which were several hundred yards apart yet close enough to impede the air strikes from both the helicopters and fixed wing tankers.


Dust devils raced across the flat lands, whipping up the wind and flames, and spreading the fire quickly over several more acres.


The tankers dropped retardant while the two helicopters scooped water from nearby ponds. The helicopters required refueling after flying for more than and hour and 45 minutes.


Several homes were threatened but Cal Fire reported that no structures were lost.


Blankenship reported Sunday evening that the fire was 50-percent contained.


Area residents at the scene reported hearing what they thought sounded like a power transformer exploding and reported seeing downed power lines. Witnesses also said fire was seen around the lines shortly thereafter.


However, Cal Fire's Blankenship said the fire's cause was still under investigation.


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The fire burned across flat land and up into more rugged hillside terrain. Photo by Harold LaBonte.

 

 

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Firefighters had to work quickly, as the wind whipped up the fire and helped it spread in the dry conditions. Photo by Harold LaBonte.

 

 

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Area residents trying to return home had to wait until fire officials gave them clearance. Photo by Harold LaBonte.

 

 

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Another shot of some of the burned acreage. Firefighters had the fire 50-percent contained Sunday evening. Photo by Harold LaBonte.

WASHINGTON – On Wednesday, members of both houses of Congress reached out to help National Guard and Reserve physicians maintain their practices during lengthy overseas deployments.


Members of Congress introduced legislation that would exempt physicians serving in the Armed Forces overseas from a Medicare law that currently places a 60-day restriction on the amount of time one physician can fill in for a colleague on a leave of absence.


This limit creates serious hardship for physicians in the National Guard and Reserves, who are absent from their practices for longer than 60 days when they are called for active duty.


The House version was introduced by Representatives and Vietnam combat veterans Mike Thompson (D-CA) and Sam Johnson (R-TX), who authored the temporary version of the bill (HR 2429), which in May passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 422-0.


U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and U.S. Senate Republican Whip Trent Lott (R-MS) introduced the Senate version Wednesday.


"When our Reserve and Guard physicians are deployed, they don't just leave behind their families - they also leave their patients," said Thompson. "Doctors taking care of our troops overseas shouldn't have to worry that their patients aren't being cared for here at home. This bill will help thousands of physicians protect their patients and practices when they're called to serve."


"Every day members of the National Guard and Reserve are asked to put their jobs and their lives on hold to serve their country in harm's way overseas, and this includes thousands of doctors who save countless lives on the battlefield. The least Congress can do is ensure that, in leaving home, these brave men and women aren't also asked to sacrifice their medical practices," said Wyden. "I commend Congressman Thompson for his leadership and his commitment to passing this important legislation."


Medicare currently allows physicians to enter reciprocal billing arrangements, whereby replacement physicians can care for the absent physician's patients and bill Medicare accordingly.


However, these arrangements cannot last longer than a 60-day period. After 60 days, a second replacement must be found. Securing replacement physicians is an expensive and difficult process, especially for practices in remote and rural areas.


Physicians who cannot secure multiple replacements during their absence can either lose their patients to other doctors or their patients must go without care.


HR 2429 suspends the 60-day cap for physicians filling in for members of the National Guard and Reserves who are called for duty through the rest of the calendar year.


This bill has been endorsed by the American Medical Association and is supported by the Reserve Officers Association.


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LAKE COUNTY Increasing southwest winds combined with an unseasonably strong low pressure system off the coast will sweep a chance of rain into Lake County overnight bringing cooler temperatures for today and tomorrow, according to the National Weather Service in Sacramento (NWS).


But until that happens, a red flag warning for fire danger has been issued due to the current low humidity and increasing winds by the NWS.


Breezy Southwest winds will blow in from the coast across interior California later today and into this evening bringing cooler temperatures and increasing clouds, NWS reported.


Scattered showers and a few thunderstorms may occur in the evening and overnight in Lake County. Tomorrow will be overcast with a 40 percent chance of light rain, predicts the NWS.


The NWS predicts a return to warmer and drier conditions which are more typical by the end of the week.


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


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LUCERNE – California Water Service (CWS), which owns the Lucerne water district as part of its Redwood Valley District, has filed an application with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) for a 21.3 percent rate increase, to become effective on July 1, 2008 or later, and a 3.4-percent increase the following year.


In its announcement of the application, which covers several other districts, the company said that for the average residential customer using 7 Ccf (700 cubic feet), or 5,236 gallons, of water per month, the monthly water bill would be $14.31 (48 cents per day) higher the first year and $2.76 (9 cents per day) higher the following year.


The application is for review of CWS centralized services costs, which were last reviewed in 2004. The company said costs for centralized services provided to all districts have increased, including those for water quality testing, engineering, maintenance, information systems, accounting, and conservation

programming. After the CPUC reviews these costs, Cal Water will be allowed to allocate them proportionally to all districts.


The CPUC recently adopted a streamlined processing plan to review Cal Water’s entire operations starting in 2009. The current application is an interim request to transition to the new schedule.


Among increased costs the company hopes to cover with the new rates are: Increased allocated company benefits costs for health care, pension, and retiree health care,$25.5 million; increased other general expenses, $8.3 million, and increased allocated general payroll expense, $8.3 million.


Lucerne Community Water Organization (LCWO), which intervened in the company's last rate increase request, is reviewing the current application. At its monthly meeting Thursday, July 12, LCWO made no decision on whether to intervene in the current request. Scheduling decisions made on Thursday by an administrative law judge for the CPUC are not yet available. LCWO's next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, August 9, 7 p.m. at the Lucerne Alpine Senior Center,Country Club Drive at 10th Ave.


The company's proposed schedule would open settlement negotiations on December 26, 2007, with hearings before the CPUC in San Francisco from January 11 through 15, 2008.


In an apparent effort to avoid the kind of public outcry which occurred in Lucerne in 2005 when CWS announced its request for a 273-percent rate increase, the company is asking that some increases be deferred and recovered subsequently.


It requests “authority to institute a rate deferral with subsequent recovery for the Salinas and Visalia districts to avoid rate shock issues associated with requested large percentage increases. Applicant requests recovery of $4,856,600 deferred from rates in Salinas by instituting a $0.126 surcharge on all water sold for a period of sixty months. Applicant requests recovery of $8,078,600 deferred from rates in Visalia by instituting a $0.111 surcharge on all water sold (and an equivalent flat rate surcharge) for a period of sixty months.”


The rate increases proposed in other districts covered by this application are:


  • Chico District by $6,380,400 or 49.1 percent in July 2008, $1,651,100 or 8.5percent in July 2009, and by $1,651,100 or 7.9 percent in July 2010;


  • East Los Angeles District by $7,193,200 or 36.5 percent in July 2008, $2,034,800 or 7.6 percent in July 2009, and $2,034,800 or 7.0percent in July 2010;


  • Livermore District by $3,960,900 or 31.2 percent in July 2008, $942,200 or 5.6 percent in July 2009, and by $942,200 or 5.4 percent in July 2010;


  • Los Altos-Suburban District by $5,172,500 or 30.5 percent in July 2008, $1,189,100 or 5.4 percent in July 2009, and by $1,189,100 or 5.1 percent in July 2010;


  • Mid-Peninsula District by $5,435,100 or 23.7 percent in July 2008, $1,634,200 or 5.8 percent in July 2009, and by $1,634,200 or 5.5 percent in July 2010;


  • Salinas District by $5,119,700 or 29.8 percent in July 2008, $3,636,900 or 16.3 percent in July 2009, and by $2,271,300 or 8.7 percent in July 2010;


  • Stockton District by $7,474,600 or 29.0 percent in July 2008, $1,422,400 or 4.3 percent in July 2009, and by $1,422,400 or 4.1 percent in July 2010;


  • Visalia District by $3,651,907 or 28.4 percent in July 2008, $3,546,440 or 21.3 percent in July 2009, and by $3,620,482 or 17.6 percent in July 2010.


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LAKEPORT – A 14-year-old Kelseyville boy died as the result of a car accident, not a July 4 gang-related assault, authorities reported Wednesday.


Lakeport Police Chief Kevin Burke reported that the Wednesday autopsy of the teen, who died Sunday, revealed that his death resulted from injuries he sustained in a Friday car wreck.


The 14-year-old gang assault victim was one of four teenagers riding in a car along Bell Hill Road, as Lake County News previously reported.


A 15-year-old Lower Lake boy was driving the car, went through a stop sign at a high rate of speed and ended up going off the road and into a tree. The three male teens fled the scene, leaving behind a 16-year-old female who claimed to be driving.


On Saturday night, the 14-year-old and another male juvenile who had been in the car showed up at the hospital to seek treatment. The 14-year old died early the next morning,


The 15-year-old boy who was driving the car was arrested Sunday morning for felony hit-and-run, according to the California Highway Patrol.


The car accident came two days after the incident in which the teen was assaulted by a gang of juvenile males as he walked along 11th Street on the evening of July 4. Lakeport Police said it was a gang-related incident.


Police have since arrested a 16-year-old teen who is a documented member of the Nortenos street gang for the assault.


Because of the sudden manner of the boy's death, Burke had been concerned that the gang assault case might turn into a homicide investigation.


But with the autopsy report's conclusions, Burke said, “We're going to investigate the original attack as an assault with a deadly weapon,” which was his department's original course.


“Even though the victim has now passed away we still have a strong case and are going to continue pursuing that investigation,” he added.


Burke said previously that he has four department members assigned to the case, and they are aggressively looking at new leads, which could lead to more arrests.


The 16-year-old charged with assault with a deadly weapon will undergo a fitness hearing in three weeks in which the District Attorney's Office will argue that he be tried as an adult, said Burke.


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The Ely Stage Stop will soon begin its historic move to its new home along Soda Bay Road, where it will be the centerpiece of a new museum. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.

 

KELSEYVILLE – A long-held dream of many local history lovers is beginning to take shape.


Within the next two weeks, the Ely Stage Stop – believed to be one of the county's oldest stick-built buildings – will begin its move from its current location along Highway 29 to its new home as a museum on Soda Bay Road.


The stage stop was built around 1859 to 1860, said Eric Seely, the county's deputy redevelopment director.


Seely probably knows more about the stage stop than anyone. Since joining the county a year and a half ago, he's worked with the Lake County Historical Society to make the project a reality.


Before than, he worked for two years on the project while employed by Beckstoffer Vineyards – who owns the land where the building is currently located, and donated the building to the county.


Beckstoffer also donated a five-acre parcel and a one-acre easement along Soda Bay Road where the Ely Stage Stop and a new museum will be located.


The county will own the building, said Seely, but the historical society will operate it.


Seely and members of the historical society met at the museum site Friday evening to go over the project's status and walk the property.


It was the last of three public meetings in the process of developing the museum's master plan, Seely explained, which is necessary in order to finalize the site and get grading and building permits.


The stage stop building will set atop a hill along Soda Bay Road. Historical Society President Randy Ridgel pointed out that the view is to die for, and he's right: the museum will look out across a meadow framed with oak trees toward the slopes of Mt. Konocti.


“For a change, the actual site is more dramatic than the artist's rendition,” said Ridgel who, along with wife Jackie, have worked to make the dream a reality.


Below the museum, situated so as not to obstruct that incredible panorama, will sit four historic barns that will house historic farm equipment and other implements and displays, Seely said.


Greg Dills, who chairs the historical society's Ely Stage Stop committee, said they have one barn that needs to be moved by the end of August. He's also wrapping up negotiations on the other barns, he said.


The project won't be done all at once, Seely explained. “We're doing this project as funding permits. We're doing it in stages.”


The first phase will include the house move and installing a new roof, Seely said. Future phases will include a wraparound porch; the house's complete restoration with modifications to make it adhere to existing building code; and developing water, power and phone utilities.


“We're still looking at a couple of years,” he said.


The house originally didn't have a kitchen, said Seely; that was in a separate building. While they know a lot about the house, they haven't been able to find photos of it dating before the 1940s.


As much as possible, original materials are being saved for reuse. The house's chimney will eventually be reconstructed with the original bricks.


Two of the original windows are still extant, and will be used as template for new windows to replace missing windows, Seely said. Shortly after Beckstoffer donated the building, one of its largest windows, made with a type of wavy glass common in old homes, was broken by a vandal who tossed a brick through it.


The historical society, said Seely, has received “very substantial” financial contributions to support the stage stop museum. They've also received a lot of help in the form of volunteer time.


The house will begin its move this next week, Seely said. A Bay Area contractor who received the $60,000 contract to move the house will take it west to a staging point where it will be moved across the highway in preparation to travel cross country.


Officials including Caltrans, AT&T, Pacific Gas & Electric Co., the county, the contractor who is moving the house and the subcontractor will meet at 10 a.m. July 18 at the site where the house will be moved across the highway to finalize their plans.


At about 6 a.m. Sunday, July 29, Highway 29 will be closed for a few hours as the house is moved across the highway, said Seely.


The next day, Monday, July 30, the house will begin its trek overland, Seely said, moving around springs, crossing one creek on a specially constructed bridge, and continuing to its hilltop location.


“The big day is going to be the final push up the hill,” said Seely.


The house move is likely to last about a week in total, Seely estimated.


To learn more about how you can help the project, contact the historical society at its Web site, http://lakecountyhistory.org, or contact Seely at 263-2580.


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


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The view from the site where the stage stop building will sit. The land for the museum and the stage stop building were donated by Beckstoffer Vineyards. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.
 

 

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Octavio Sanchez has been charged in a July 4 gang-related assault in Lakeport. Lake County Sheriff's booking photo.

 

LAKEPORT – A second suspect has been arrested in connection with a gang-motivated assault on a 14-year-old boy in Lakeport on July 4.


Lakeport Police Lt. Brad Rasmussen said investigators identified Ukiah resident Octavio Juan Sanchez, 20, as one of the subjects responsible for the assault, which took place as the 14-year-old and his brother walked along 11th Street.


Sanchez, Rasmussen reported, is a documented Norteno gang member with an extensive criminal history record, including prior arrests for assault with a deadly weapon, making threats, possession of a dangerous weapon and participating in a criminal street gang.


He's currently on parole with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for possessing drugs in a jail or prison, Rasmussen said.


Rasmussen explained that Lakeport Police sent their report on Sanchez to the District Attorney's Office on Wednesday. On Thursday, the District Attorney's Office filed a complaint on Sanchez that included charges for assault with a deadly weapon, battery with serious bodily injury, child abuse and criminal street gang enhancements.


The problem was, although police had Sanchez in their sites as a suspect, they were still trying to find him when the case was filed, said Rasmussen.


Then, just after midnight early Friday morning, the California Highway Patrol came across Sanchez after they found him during a traffic stop. He was acting strangely, said Rasmussen, so CHP arrested him for public intoxication and took him to the Lake County Jail on a parole hold.


“We don't know what he was doing in Kelseyville last night,” Rasmussen said on Friday.


Officer served the arrest warrant on Sanchez in the Lake County Jail Friday afternoon, according to Rasmussen.


Rasmussen said gang investigators from Ukiah helped Lakeport Police identify Sanchez. “We've also identified two other Norteno gang members as having been involved,” he added.


Police are still building their case against those individuals, he said, but he anticipates more arrests are in the works.


Sanchez and the other two Ukiah residents are members of the Aztec Cholos – or ATC – that are a Nortenos subgroup, said Rasmussen.


The three suspects have a connection to a 16-year-old male juvenile, also a documented Norteno gang member with an extensive arrest history, who was arrested not long after the incident for assault with a deadly weapon, said Rasmussen.


Although authorities don't know why these gang members were traveling back and forth to Lake County, Rasmussen said the gangs tend to be well organized, and are willing to travel to other areas to support each others' activities.


In past years, said Rasmussen, “We've seen examples of Surenos from Los Angeles coming to Lake County,” in order to visit friends and gang connections who had moved here.


The 16-year-old in custody is set to undergo a fitness hearing later this month, with the District Attorney's Office seeking to prosecute him as an adult, as Lake County News previously reported.


Rasmussen said police aren't sure just how many gang members they have in the Lakeport area, but added, “Some of our primary people are in custody.”


Meanwhile, on July 8, the 14-year-old assault victim died suddenly after having been involved in an automobile collision on July 6, just two days after the assault. Rasmussen said the boy's death doesn't change the facts of the case, and won't halt the prosecution continuing.


The investigation also is continuing, with Rasmussen, Det. Norm Taylor and Officers Jarvis Leishman or Destry Henderson working the case.


Police are seeking out additional witnesses to interview them about what they saw on July 4, Rasmussen said. Anyone with information should call Taylor, Leishman or Henderson at Lakeport Police, 263-5491.


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THE GEYSERS – A 3.0 earthquake hit The Geysers area early Wednesday.


The quake occurred at 7:15 a.m., and was centered one mile west northwest of The Geysers and six miles west southwest of Cobb. The quake was measured at a depth of 2.5 miles.


The larger quake was followed by a 1.3 magnitude quake at 7:48 a.m., centered two miles north northeast of The Geysers and four miles west southwest of Cobb, 2.1 miles deep. Another smaller quake, a 1.2, happened at 4 p.m. right at the location of The Geysers.


The Geysers has a consistently high amount of seismic activity, which US Geological Survey seismologist David Oppenheimer said is due to geothermal activity in the area.


As for quakes 3.0 and above, The Geysers and Lake Pillsbury areas had several of those larger quakes in the spring, but in recent months the greater magnitude activity has tapered off.


Small quakes continue on an almost daily basis at Pillsbury, which had a 2.0 quake at 1:45 p.m. three miles north northwest of Lake Pillsbury. That location is several miles from the epicenter of the larger quakes recorded this spring.


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LOWER LAKE – A fire that burned 100 acres of grassland beginning Sunday afternoon has been contained.


Cal Fire officials reported that firefighting crews finished the process of mopping up after the blaze on Monday, when the fire was finally out.


The fire was located near the Noble Ranch subdivision off of Spruce Grove Road.


No structures were damaged and no injuries reported, according to Cal Fire's incident command center.


The cause of the fire is still under investigation, Cal Fire 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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LAKE COUNTY – An emergency call that reported a potential hostage situation this week ended with arrests for marijuana cultivation.


A report from Lt. Cecil Brown of the Lake County Sheriff's Office explained that Ukiah resident Laurz Taylor Settera, 18, placed a 911 call on Wednesday at 8:35 a.m.


Laurz Settera reported that he and his father, Marcus Settera, 44, had been held in their home for four hours by two armed men, Brown reported. The young man also reported that the two men shot his father in leg, put his father in his father’s Jeep Grand Cherokee and drove him away from the home in Clearlake Oaks.


Brown reported that seven patrol deputy sheriffs began searching for Marcus Settera's vehicle, with one detective participating in the search from a helicopter.


Deputies contacted Laurz Settera, said Brown. They found him to be extremely excited, and difficult to understand. He had minor injuries, which he said he sustained while fleeing the residence.


The deputies went with Laurz Settera to the residence, where they found a significant marijuana growing operation inside the home. He told the deputies that he and his father lived in Ukiah and that they rented the home in Clearlake Oaks for the purpose of growing marijuana.


At 10:50 a.m. Wednesday, Sgt. James Beland and Deputy Thomas Andrews located the Jeep Grand Cherokee in Lucerne, Brown reported. They conducted a high risk stop of the Grand Cherokee, as they believed one or more suspects may be inside.


Deputies contacted Marcus Settera in the Grand Cherokee, according to Brown. He said that he had an appointment that morning, had been away from home for more than two hours, and hadn't been shot or abducted.


Settera added that he had not been confronted or held by armed men in his home, Brown reported.


Laurz Settera and Marcus Settera were arrested for cultivation of marijuana and possession of marijuana for sales. They were booked into the Lake County Jail, and have since posted bail.


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LAKE COUNTY – With the union representing them saying it's launching an effort to recall four county supervisors, In-Home Supportive Services providers and clients around the county may soon find themselves at the heart of a very political season.


California United Homecare Workers (CUHW) represents the more than 1,300 local IHSS providers in Lake County. Earlier this year, IHSS workers voted to make CUHW their primary union, according to Tyrone Freeman, CUHW's president.


In an interview with Lake County News, Freeman said the union is launching a recall of Supervisors Anthony Farrington, Rob Brown, Ed Robey and Jeff Smith, claiming the four incumbent supervisors have failed to respond to the needs of IHSS workers and clients.


On June 5, the board forwarded a proposal to the state that would give IHSS workers $1 an hour raise if they underwent drug testing and were trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and first aid. Meeting those requirements would make them eligible for inclusion in the IHSS Public Authority registry and, therefore, the raise.


Freeman and the union were angered that the board took up the issues without bringing them first to the negotiation table. In a June 29 letter, County Counsel Anita Grant told Freeman that the county fully intended to meet and confer with the union if the state was willing to help support the proposal financially.


Nevertheless, the recall was announced and is going forward, said Freeman. Of the 1,379 IHSS workers recently counted, 584 voted on the recall, with 540 voting to support it and 44 voting against.


So, how do IHSS workers feel about the recall? Lake County News spoke to one on each side of the issue to offer two of many opinions.


A pro-recall viewpoint


Laurel Elliott of Nice has spent the last three and a half years providing home-based care. She first worked in Nevada, then came to Lake County and began providing IHSS care to her mother, beginning in December 2004. Elliott works full-time as her mother's caregiver.


IHSS care has made it possible for her mother to live at home and have a greater quality of life than if she was in a care facility, said Elliott.


Care facilities are also extremely expensive. About 10 years ago, Elliott said she worked as a supervisor of housekeeping services in a nursing home, where monthly care costs for patients ran between $3,600 to $4,200 a month.


“I really don't think the prices have gone down any,” she said.


It's because of such issues that Elliott feels strongly that IHSS workers need better pay, greater respect and more support. She said it's her opinion that the county hasn't offered any of those resource to IHSS workers.


As she's watched negotiations between the county and the union, Elliott said, “I got the impression that the county doesn't want to negotiate, they like things the way they are.”


Elliott said she supports the recall effort, and so when Freeman sent out a letter to union members early in June asking for them to vote on support for the recall, she said she sent back the voting card with the ballot marked “yes.”


She added that she thinks the entire board should go, even District 3 Supervisor Denise Rushing – who Freeman said will not be a target – because she voted for the June 5 proposal. Elliott said IHSS workers helped get Rushing into office, but by accepting the proposal she didn't return that support.


Elliott said she thinks the recall as a “50-50” chance of succeeding. She said she's not sure yet if she'll actually work on the union's recall effort at the local effort, which Freeman said will include a community group to screen potential replacement candidates.


She said she feels the union has supported workers “by not letting us be railroaded into something that won't benefit us,” which for her applies to the proposal the board considered June 5. “I don't agree with it,” she said.


On the drug testing issue, Elliott said if IHSS care recipients request it, “then I think it's valid.”


However, for IHSS workers like herself who are working for family members, drug testing might not make sense.


In her mother's case, “It's not like she's getting someone she doesn't know.”


Said Elliott, “One of the reasons that I support the recall election is because I don't like being labeled a criminal or an addict. I'm neither one.”


That, she said, is how the drug testing proposal makes IHSS workers feel. “That to me shows a distinct lack of respect for the IHSS workers.


When she worked as a home care provider in Nevada, Elliott said she was required to undergo a drug test and a background check because the parents of the man who was her care client required those steps. Her client's parents paid for the test, Elliott said. She said she understood that request, since she was a stranger to her client's family.


Elliott said she feels it would be more fair if all IHSS workers were required to undergo background checks and drug testing as a condition of employment when they are first hired. Still, she questioned the necessity of it when working for a family member.


“She knows my history, she knows my background,” Elliott said of her mother and added that she does not use drugs.


Elliott said IHSS workers are needed now and likely will be even more needed in the future.


“The people who are against us now, in 20 or 30 years, they may need us,” she said.


If IHSS workers aren't given fair treatment, said Elliott, home care may not be available in the years ahead.


Counterpoint: Against the recall


Lynne Quartarolo of Kelseyville is on the other side of the recall effort. She said she abstained from the vote – not even returning her ballot – because she's unhappy with the union and its attempt to unseat area supervisors.


“If I sent the card in, I was voting for it,” she said.


And that meant allowing the union to take money from her paycheck to support the recall, and Quartarolo said she doesn't have any budget room when it comes to her wages.


The 62-year-old caregiver works more than full-time – 200 hours a month, seven days a week. She has no benefits such as sick leave – “if you don't work, you don't get paid” – and no health benefits, because she's too young for Medicare.


For the last three years she worked as an IHSS care provider in Lake County. She's also been a home care worker in New Hampshire and even England.


She said she doesn't consider herself a union member – “because I refuse” – and believes the union's approach to drug testing requirements “is totally wrong.”


Quartarolo said the union wants everybody to get the raise offered by the county even if they don't go through background checks and drug testing.


“I'm more than wiling to go for a drug test,” said Quartarolo, and said that those who don't shouldn't get the raise.


She also questioned why IHSS workers locally aren't annually testing for tuberculosis, which has been required in other places she's worked.


In negotiations, Quartarolo said the union has come away asking for less for workers, not more. “We've got to have some benefits.”


In June 2006, said Quartarolo, the “perfect solution” was on the table between the county and the union, which included benefits and a provision keeping IHSS workers' wages $2 an hour above minimum wage. That proposal also included stipulations for background checks, training and drug testing.


Quartarolo said she was watching the meeting on television – her work keeps her from attending board meetings – and saw the union representative turn the proposal down because it wasn't offered to all workers, notably those who wouldn't submit to the necessary testing.


“I wanted to come through the TV set,” she said.


She added, “This is why I'm not a member of the union.”


Turning down that raise proposal, said Quartarolo, to her mind demonstrated that the union was not “speaking for all of us,” but only for those can't – or won't – undergo testing to be entered into the IHSS registry.


Next, a look at the recall process and when it might take place.


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


{mos_sb_discuss:2}

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