Flake County Headlines

This here is one of the most beautiful places in the world, but it has some problems. One of them is ticks. This is what is called a 'black area' for Lyme's Disease. Another is a preponderance of rattlesnakes, but they generally won't trouble you unless you accidentally step on them.

The worst thing about this place is the same thing that is wrong with the rest of the world. People! Mind you, there are some mighty nice people up here, but there are also a lot of folks who could profitably be replaced by empty space.

Lest you come here for a vacation (and manage to make it all the way home without being on probation: we got too many over-zealous cops) and decide you'd just love to live here, like I did; then maybe you ought to get more of an insider's eye of what this place is all about.

That's the purpose of this page. To inform you, maybe before it's too late.

They say you come to Lake County (California) either to Heal or to Die. If that's your options, then you ought to be aware before you choose.

I'll be adding interesting headlines to this page as I see them. All Local News.

Good Luck!

Well, here it is April and this page has not been updated for ever so long... Part of the problem is that there doesn't seem to have been much news. No juicy murders, none of that... But I begin to wonder if perhaps somebody from the Chamber of Commerce hasn't tuned in on this page and talked to the papers, and said "Hey, enough of that, you folks are cuttin' into business!"

Well, maybe, and maybe not. But due to lack of anything really exciting making it to the front page, we're just going to do a little condensation rather than quotation: so you won't feel left out of the loop. And it is not entirely without the usual grim humor...

In late December it was announced that crews would be drilling through a concrete plug that had been put in place to seal up one of the geothermal wells that was drilled in the 1960s. I believe the purpose of this drilling is to re-open the well, as technology has progressed somewhat since it was sealed, and it should be possible to use the well again for the generation of power: a thing California has come to need awfully badly (and awfully suddenly) since the White House became occupied by a delegate of Big Oil.

In case you didn't know, Lake County is rather volcanic. There are hot springs, and there were geysers until the project to tap into the power of the magma dome was begun in the 60s. (Last time a Governor visited the county was when Jerry Brown came up here to open the Geysers Geothermal plants, at that time the largest in the world.)

One of the ways to make better use of the lava so close to the surface is the contract with the city of Santa Rosa: they are now piping their sewage up here, and it will be forced down the wells to replenish the water which the lava turns into steam to run the generators.

When they started the project it was not without its unforseen problems. They discovered that they were, at first, venting deadly heavy metals into the atmosphere; but they quickly got that licked, and the foul smells went away, too.

But in a related article (to the one being quoted) it is noted that four other wells will be sealed: and that water rising into the Herman Pitt at the Sulphur Bank Mine is believed to be acidic and leaching mercury out of tailing piles and into beautiful Clear Lake.

Talk about a yummy treat for fishermen!

Well, not to worry too much. Lake County has always been known for its mercury mines, the last of which was closed pretty recently . And there have always been worries that the fish caught in the lake might be too high in mercury for safe consumption. But shucks, folks, the Chamber of Commerce has always been quick to respond to those worries, and there is absolutely no evidence that the high proportion of toothless people suffering mental illness has anything to do with mercury poisoning.

Moving right along...

In early January the State of California approved an electric rate hike of 7 to 15 percent. My bill came in at 400% above the previous month's bill, so I called up to try and find out what was happening. I read the woman at the other end the figures and she told me it was not 400%. She also said she only had figures before her on my energy use, not my billing. I read her the figures again, and said: "That's 400%." She said: "No it's not." I read them again, calculated them for her, and said: "That's 400%" She said: "No it's not." She then quoted the billing figures at me; which didn't change the 400% figure, but which proved that she had lied about having access to the billing figures. I call her on it. After a while she announced: "This call has gone on long enough."

I said: "You're right about that! My time is worth a lot more than yours! Put me through to your supervisor!"

She did, and his song and dance was much, much more polite. Seems that Pigs, Greed & Extortion (the Northern California Power Company) doesn't always read the meter. Sometimes they just guess. They call it 'referring to a formula,' but it is still guessing. When he looked at my last year's power consumption for Janaury, and the figures, thee was only a 100% increase in cost. He arranged to put me on a different program which bills me over the duration of the year on an average; and that turned out to 'save' about $21 a year. He also arranged to have the meter read by a human next time around.

Instead of $200 the next bill (for February) came in at $24.

Of course, the State Agency charged with keeping the utilities in hand has just authorised a 40% increase in rates.

Kind of reminds me of that insurance commissioner who refused to implement election mandated cuts, and who suddenly retired with millions on her $37,000 a year salary.

Am I suspicious? Am I cynical?

Do politicians take bribes? --That's a rhetorical question.

Meanwhile, local hospital workers have decided to copy the folks in Colorado in combating domestic violence by wearing black on Thursdays. I don't know if it will stop people from beating up on each other, but black is a better color all around when it comes to not showing bloodstains.

In late January there was a meeting to talk about charging people more for fire protection. Among the issues discussed was the riising number of fatalities (presumably due to fire, but unreported in the pages I've been perusing) and the increase in building permits issued.

Those of us who live up here in the hills have consistently opposed issuing more building permits because, despite the exportation of water from limited springs, there just ain't enough water to go around in a draught year; and California has a regular, well-documented draught cycle. The local politicians argue that they need to issue those building permits to increase the tax base. If you ask them why they need more money out of your pocket, they tell you its needed for increased fire protection (among the more reasonable things); an increase which would not be so much needed if they didn't keep issuing the damned building permits! And then folks move up here and wonder why they run out of water in the summer, and why the water costs keep going up when the only things the water company has done in years is install locks (so they can turn off your water if you run out of money) and water meters (so they can charge you more for what you get).

There was also a meeting to discuss hunger in the county.

Meetings are great things. They let the people who hold them feel like they are doing something about a problem, even when they result in nobody getting fed. Personally, I keep a bag of stuff in the car. A can here, a can there; I suspect I have given more food to hungry individuals in the last year than all the meetings in the state have managed to put together in the same time. And my friends do the same thing.

In late January the snows came. We don't get heavy snows every year, but sometimes they are respectable. If you live up here, you probably need all-weather tires, and it's a good idea to have chains. I live on a road where a man has his own grader, so it gets plowed pretty quickly. Unfortunately, he plowed the snow so thoroughly into my driveway that I had to spend two hours shovelling out. And when I started to back the Jeep out, he came along and plowed me back in. I am lucky in that I am too old to have to go out in it each day, so I spent a lot of time snowed in.

How much? Well, I did have to dig my way to the wood pile out back, and the little trail was about two and a half feet deep.

The snows came about the same time Dictator Bush announced that he was letting up on big oil producers with regard to environmental laws; despite the fact that California's energy shortage wasn't related to those issues but was brought about by price gauging. Bless his heart, Mr. Bush is at least keeping his promises to his supporters.

In early February the paper informed us that the Board of Supervisors had asked the Grand Jury to figure out how and under what guidelines it could raise the salaries of the members every year. "It needs to be put to bed," said District 4 Supervisor Anthony Farrington. "We can't be wasting taxpayer dollars deciding how we'e going to adjust our salaries on an annual basis."

One way might be to NOT give themselves a raise every year, but rather, to 'adjust' their salaries in such a way as to reflect the incomes of their constituents. I noted that in the story the Grand Jury was instructed to make comarisons with the salaries of other elected officials in other counties. Nowhere did anybody suggest that supervisors lives ought to reflect the lives of those they serve.

It is comforting to think that the Supes will be able, possibly, to base their raises now on the income of the Supes in Los Angeles or San Francisco, where the average income is $40,000 but the median price for a house is $395,000.

In late February a truck turned over on Mount St. Helena. The truck was carrying 'green waste,' which was later described as branches and cuttings and stuff like that. It was being carried to a landfill in Calistoga, on the other side of the mountain from Lake County.

Why on earth anybody is still putting stuff like that in a landfill I cannot imagine. Most of the trees trimmed in the county get shredded up into mulch, a valuable resource. In other parts of the state the same materials get turned into 'biomass' and used as fuel for power plants. Yet here was somebody ferrying a big container of it over the twisty road that is the main entrance into Lake County from the south, preparing to dispose of it at the dump. Is the dump there so much cheaper that he can afford to waste gasoline, even at today's exorbitant prices?

Maybe he had been eating fish from the lake.

And then, our lovable Board of Supervisors gave in to the North Coast Winegrowers and came out in loud opposition to designating Lake County as a separate 'appelation' (or region) in the growing of wine grapes. One has to wonder about them at times. Lake County wines have been winning gold medals for a good while now. If the Supes want to increase county income, without bringing in more people and more ecologically unsound industry, then enhancing the reputation of locally produced wines would seem a pretty safe, pretty sure, bet.

Maybe some of the Supes are hoping to grow up to be insurance commissioners or public utilities commissioners.

In early March the Supes 'agreed' to seek proposals for a new study, likely to cost taxpayers $100,000, that would examine the compensation and classification of all county positions. It was in 1985 that the county last spent money on this kind of study; and, as we have noted in the above Grand Jury report, it didn't stop the Supes from giving themselves a raise then, and it certainly won't now. The plan envisions every employee being individually interviewed so that a job description can be written up.

Uh huh! By all means let us ask each person how valuable he or she is and what it is that she or he does. And probably, judging by the way local (and other) government works, how much he or she ought to be paid.

Further down the page we see that unemployment in the county in 2000 was 8%. Clearly the compilers of the statistics never go outdoors. And, after all, those statistics are based on just who is on the unemployment rolls: once your unemployment runs out, and you no longer collect your unemployment insurance, you are no longer a statistic, whether you have acquired a job or not.

Oh yeah! The same paper tells us that the health care system up here needs overhauling, just like everywhere else.

And Hey! Here's one I can quote, given all the context above:

"The Clearlake City Council on Thursday night authorized the allocation of up to $20,000 to the Clearlake Chamber of Commerce, bringing the City's total contribution to the Chamber for the current fiscal year to $60,000.

"Bernie Edwards, speaking on behalf of the Chamber, told the Council the money was needed to cover an estimated $23,500 shortfall in the Chamber's budget for the 2000-2001 fiscal year.

"Edwards, a former president of the Chamber, added that without the increased funding the Chamber would likely be unable to budget for the Chamber's participation in Summerfest and its presentation of a Fourth of July fireworks display.

"Though the request for additional funding was passed unanimously, only three council members voted on the matter. Council members Bob Mingori and Jo Bennett excused themselves from the item, citing conflict of interest.

"Mayor Bob Malley, despite being a member of the Chamber's Board of Directors, chose to participate.

"I've chosen not to step down tonight because I want to be involved in the decision," he said. "I do not believe in my own heart, and I have been advised, that it is not a conflict of interest."

I don't think that one needs any comment.

Toward the end of March the Supes took action against the owner of a trailor park because the water system supplying the people at the park was very substandard. It is underatandable that bad water needs to be dealt with; but in the end, if the water doesn't come up to standard, what will happen to the park, and hence the people who live there? Some sort of new system is needed, obviously. (Of course, it just might be that somebody wants to build expensive new housing on that land, but there I am being cynical again...) But one wonders whether or not it would be cheaper to install a new system for the park rather than going through the expensive business of court proceedings. A plumber in America may be expenensive, but a plumber is still a lot cheaper than a lawyer, and any court proceeding at all is going to involve a lot of lawyers, on both sides of the issue.

The slow, progressive solving of problems, will always be cheaper than the litigation to force the solutions.

As exemplified by a miniscule squib at the bottom of the page announcing that the tiny town of Finlay has just dedicated an oil recycling center. Now that's good news!

Of course, next to it I should note that although frequent radio ads tell us that just about everything can be recycled, when we get to the recycling center we discovoer that it can't. They won't take those damned plastic milk jugs, steel cans, or any number of other things. There may be recycling facilities that will take these things, but if so they are not publicized; or they are located so far away that the gasoline used to get stuff to them make the recycling prohibitive.

And in conclusion: a little bit of good news, I think.

The city of Clearlake has awarded the job of building a Senior Center, despite the fact that the job is going to cost a lot more than was expected when the project began. The bid comes in at $1,796,000. The city has already spent $400,000 on buying the land and preparing the site, and estimates that it will need a loan of $1.2 million to finish it off. I guess that means they were thinking of something around $300,000, but hell, you can't buy a cottage in Oakland for that these days!

The best news is that there are plans for using solar panels for the electricity, and possibly solar hot water from a well on the property. That just might make the Senior Center the only functional place in town by the time the prices on private industry electricity and gas have finished climbing.

The planning commission has also given the go-ahead for housing for 'agricultural workers,' by which it means families which already live in the area. Cesar Chavez would, I suspect, be very happy to hear that at least 40 farm worker families will have a decent place to live. It has sure taken long enough... But it is a beginning.

Now if they will put solar panels on the roof, maybe those folks will be able to afford to run a television and a microwave.

And that is the catch up for this column! It's not as exciting as the stuff below, however current it may be. But sometimes happiness resides in living where life is not so exciting.

To put it bluntly, folks, nothing much happened around here during the holidays. The papers told us that our election went smoothly. No need for a recount, and not a trace of chad, either pregnant or sterile. It is nice to know that things went ok up here, in contrast to what happened in Florida.

But what happened in Florida does bring to mind the differences between America and other countries. In other countries, when somebody finds a way to ignore votes or in other ways jimmy the election in his or her favor, why, the American press is all over her or him and that person is thereafter routinely referred to as a Dictator; though seldom in the country where the election took place. In that country, he or she is still called the President.

Mind you, I am not supporting either Gore or Bush in this matter. Gore wanted military votes discounted on the basis that they had not been cast according to the rules as the rules then stood. Bush demanded that unclearly cast votes be discounted because the rules, as they stood, did not make provision for those votes.

--But wait! If the issue was the rules as they stood, then Bush should have demanded, as did Gore, that the military votes be discounted beside the unclear Florida votes. Of course, the military votes were for Bush, and the Florida votes were, in the end, against him.

In fact, as we learned after it had been decided by the Courts and the Electoral College, Gore got a considerably larger vote than did Bush. The election was taken by legal action, not by democratic process.

So, shouldn't the press now refer to him as Dictator Bush? I mean, out of courtesy to all those other presidents around the world who have been tarred with that particular brush?

But enough of the outside world! There, at last, so worthy news in Lake County. A whole page of it, and it kind of sums up life in these glorius hills. After nearly two months, things are picking up!


Courts Busy at Year's End

Tony Reed

Record-Bee Staff

January 2, 2001

LAKE COUNTY -- At year's end, Lake County's courts remained busy with five major cases still to be decided in 2001.

  • Mathew Wells -- The sentencing of Wells, originally rescheduled due to the release of his attorney. Wells' new attorney, Doug Rhoades, has requested all information about the case for review and will decide in January whethr to continue the trial or opt for a new one. Wells faces charges surrounding a shootout with police at the Scott's Valley Fruit Exchange in August, 1999.
  • Robert 'Skip' Lombard --The proceedings against Lombard, 55, former principal at an Upper Lake continuation school, have been delayed until December, 2001, pending further psychiatric treatment. Colusa County Superior Court Judge William Abel ruled that sionce Lombard showed significant improvement through treatment, that he would be monitored until such tiome as he would be able to stand trial in court. Lombard is accused of armed robbery of a Williams gas station in June, 1999.
  • Anthony Sidbeck -- A motions hearing and trial is scheduled for Sidbeck, 21, accused of raping and murdereing his 4-year-old niece in Spring Valley in June. The district attorney's office will not be seeking the death penalty, after a psycholgist's report said that Sidbeck has the menatal capacity of someone under the age of 18. Deputy DA Jon Jopkins stated that his office will be seeking life impriisonment for Sidbeck, whose trial begins March 20.
  • Stanley Bennett Hines -- After numerous delays and changes of legal representation, Hines' trial is set for January 23, before Judge David Herrick. If Hines then wishes to be represented by yet another attorney, it will be up to Judge Herrick wehther or not to allow it. Hines has been represented by five attorneys and is accused of killing Michael Wayne Lowry in Novemebr, 1998, in Clearlake.
  • John Sloan -- Trial is set to begin in February for another 21-year-old, Johan Sloan, who is charged with the murders of Francisco Gonzalez Barba and Javier Duran Villela, on January 7. The distric attorney's office announced in September that it would not be seeking the death penalty for Sloan, but instead, a life sentance to prison without the possibility of parole.
Well, glory be, that certainly do bring things back to normal here in the country, now don't it?

Just a reminder, folks, that you can get all the news, and more elaborate versions of the stories quoted here, by ordering the Record-Bee. The address, or the phone number, or something, is further down the page.

Oh yeah, one final item. Blue Cross is splitting from our local hospitals, so now you are likely to have to travel all the way to Ukiah to get treatment if you are one of their customers.

Seems like we get ever further out in the country all the time.

Arrest Made; Home Shut Down

Tony Reed

Record-Bee Staff

November 14, 2000

NICE - After a month-long investigation by the Department of Social Services, Lake County Sheriff's deputies have arrested Betty Romans, at the Williams Family Care Home, in Nice, charging her with crimes against the elderly.

Officials also temporarily closed the care home and suspended its business license. On Monday, the resiidents and patients were moved to other facilities.

Romans is charged with grand theft, crimes against the elderly, inflicting pain or mental suffering upon the elderly....

When the family was destroyed in the interests of commerce, and replaced by that tedious perversion 'the nuclear family' it was necessary to replace the traditional family support for the old folks with something else. This is the replacement. In the words of the character in John Boorman's 'Zardoz,' "I have seen the future and it doesn't work."

July Convicts Wells


November 7, 2000

A Lake Copunty jury convicted Matthew Donald Wells, 29, of Lakeport, of one count of attempted manslaugher as well as three counts of assault with a firearm on a peace officer plus numerous weapons enhancements Thursday afternoon.

The verdict followed nine hours of deliberation in Superior Court Judge David Herrick's cpurrtroom. the convictions follow a month-long trial.

Wells is not eligible for probation and faces a sentence of up to 38 years, 4 months, in state prison. He will serve 85 percent of his sentence before becoming eligible for release on parole.

the convictions stem from a shootout initiated by Wells on August 3, 1999 at the Scots Valley Fruit Exchange, on Scotts Valley Road, west of Lakeport. Lake County sheriff's deputies Larry McKinley, Brian Vanderline, and Gary Hall responded to the Scotts Valley area due to numerous 911 calls concerning a man shooting a rifle from his vehicle.

When deputies arrive, they found no one at the Exchange. Wells then emerged from an orchard just to the east of the Fruit Exchange driving a small white Toyota with a Winchester rifle point out of the passenger window, towards the deputies.

Vanderline, hearing the car approcahing from behind, spun around and spotted the rifle pointi at him. Vanderline had no cover but crouched and managaed to fire at Wells twicie as Wells passed his position.

Deputy McKinley then testified at trial that the defendent fire at him as he passed McKinley's position. Both deputies returned fire.

Hall, who was parked 100 yars to the west of Vandereline and McKinley, saw the gun battle erupt. He was in the open as the defenant sped west on Scotts Valley Road towards him. Hall vaulted over the hood of his patrol car as the defendant fired his rifle at Hall. The bullet smashed into Hall's patrol car and exploded. Glass from the shattered rear window cascaded onto Hall's drug detection dog, Kylie, who was in the read compartment of Hall's car.

Officers from throughout the county responded to emergency calls from the on-scene deputies. California oHighway Patrol Officeir Greg Bailey was first on scene and witnessed the shot fired at Deputy Hall. Bailey pursued Wells untilthe defendant crashed into a pear orchard about a half-mile west of the Fruit Exchange. Bailey fired at Wells, keeping him pinned until other officers could arrive to osecure the area.

The defense claimed at trial that Wells was too intoxicated by alcohol and the drug Vicodin to have intended to shoot anyone and that he was fire fired upon by the deputies. The defence also presented evidence at trial of Wells' long-term allcoholism as well as his battle with depression and anager.

There is no byline to the above story, possibly because, in contravention of traditional news reporting techniques, it is pretty well-written and exciting to read. That's why I quoted the whole thing.

And here you thought life in the pear orchards was easy and bucholic!

In case you've been wondering: Johnson, if I read it correctly (it wasn't in the paper I got, so I saw it in passing on a news stand) got the death penalty. If you are new to this page, just work your way down till you find out the details of the murder. For the record, I don't approve of the death penalty because it is too easy to make mistakes, and too many have been made in the past. Once its been administered, there is no way for society to say 'I'm sorry.'

Well, I may make an exception in the case of people who write advertisements which include the words 'only' or 'just' as a prefix to a price.

Soda Bay Baths Closure Queried

Cynthia Parkhill

Record-Bee Staff

October 31, 2000

SODA BAY - Information presented during a public meeting on Wednesday challenges the Bureau of Land Management (BLM)'s right to close the Soda Bay mineral baths to public use.

During the meeting, between BLM and representatives and community residents, Steve Devoto of Lake County Title, stated that....

Well, the story is cut off about there, and I still can't find out any more details about the location. But I will keep looking! I didn't spend all that time working for a newspaper for nothing.

Carbon Dioxide Readings High at Baths

Jim Shock

Record Bee Staff

October 10th

Soda Bay -- The concentration of carbon dioxide at the Soda Bay baths is even deadlier than reported on Sept. 22.

Instead of the 25 percent overall readings, the latest tests show concentrations of more than 60 percent by volume even though the concrete block walls of the bath were removed sioncie the first tests.

The same scientist who conducted the earlier tests brought different equipment to the soaking site Wednesday and determined that the concentration was at least 60 percent by air volume, more than double the earlier readings.

"We hired the same person to conduct the carbond dioxide concentrations on Wednesday who conducted the tests on September 17 for Bill Kastner Sr. of Napa, the father of Stephen M. Kastner, 31, whose body was found in the enclosure July 29," explaineid Rich Burns off the Ukiah Bureau of....

Well, if you read last week's installment you now know why the carbon dioxide concentrations were news. This is still the only mention of the baths I can find anywhere. It's also the first time I have heard of anybody dying in a mineral bath since Agamemnon's wife did him in with a net and an axe. Remember, if you want all the news from the County, you can get it in the Record-Bee, which I am sure would like to have your subscription.

Bath's Carbon Dioxide Levels High

Jim Shock

Record-Bee Staff

September 26th

Soda Bay -- Carbon dioxide gas concentrations in the Soda Bay mineral bath were more than twice the amount to produce unconsciousnes within a few minutes.

This is the finding of Dr. Timothy J. Rohn, president of Industrial Hygiiene Services of Mountain View...

I just tried to look up the Soda Bay mineral baths in the phonebook because I didn't know there were any. I looked under 'baths' and I looked under 'spas' and I looked under 'resorts,' and a couple of other headings, like the possible name of the place: nothing. But that is not surprizing. I was using the 'Smart Yellow Pages,' which are so badly organized and so badly thought out that you have to be really smart to find anything in there.

There are lots of hot springs in this area. The county is pretty much on top of a lava dome, and you can see the evidence of the old volcanos everywhere. That is why we have the largest geothermal plant in the world. (Well, it used to be.) Most of the hot springs got ruined when they built the geos, I think, but there are some where the public can go to dip and get warm. It would be good to know the nature and location of the one above, even if you do lose consciousness and die from the experioence.

This isn't really a headline, but is ought to be news.

Voting Makes A Difference

That's' the message on the back of the little campaign postcard being handed out by Ms. Dauna Elledge-Burns, who is running for election to the MUSD School Board. She is a personable young woman who is being supported by an outgoing member of the Board who was once actually a teacher: a pretty rare thing!

I don't know if Ms. Elledge-Burns has ever taught any school. Some folks argue that isn't relevent to the election of a School Board Member. But it seems to me that if you have to supervise the work that teachers do, then you ought to be at least as well-educated as the teachers, otherwise you may not understand what they are doing.

Ms. Elledge-Burns' postcard features, on the front side, a picture of the Little Red School House in Cobb, which is listed officially as a California Point of Historical Interest. It is a black and white photo, apparently taken at a time when the schoolhouse was new. The schoolhouse appears white in the photo. The schoolhouse is old enough that Luther Burbank once spoke there before the children in attendance. It was built in 1899, the legend on the postcard tells us.

There is also a copyright notice on the picture in the name of Dauna Elledge-Burns. There is no date of copyright listed. This tells us two things about Ms. Elledge-Burns. First, that she does not know anything about copyright law, and second that she is claiming copyright in a photograph taken a hell of a long time before she was born.

On the campaign part of the card we are told: "With a proven record of over 9 years experience advocating on the behalf of children and over 11 years volunteering to make the public schools the best they can be, I will work hard for the MUSD School Board. A little later there is a star-bulleted statement as follows: "Advocating for High Standards, Integrity, and Accountability"

It's only a postcard, and I am sure it is only meant to give the candidate name recognition. But even small postcards convey information. Such as the information that she does not know enough about English grammar and usage to deal with 'Advocating" as anything but a currently popular buzzword in the elected educational official arsenal.

One may be advocating high standards, but one cannot very well advocate for anything. A good place to start convincing the voter of the efficacy of one's advocacy might very well be in the way one writes one's publicity releases.

Harsh, I know: but you gotta' start somewhere, and putting people in office at the top who have not fulfilled the criteria expected of those at the bottom just doesn't strike me as a way to "make the public schools the best they can be." The sad reality is that the public schools may very well be the best they can be now, with those who cannot attempting to impose standards they do not comprehend on those who are less competant than themselves.

--And if I have made spelling mistakes: thank a teacher!

Sorry, Ms. Elledge-Burns, but the teaching profession, and those to whose care it is entrusted, is one which must be held to an even higher standard than that which we expect of our police officers. No standard is too high when it comes to the minds and welfare of our children.

(And, she may very well turn out to be the best candidate!)

Jury Convicts Johnson

Jim Shock

Record-Bee Staff

Lakeport, September 26th

The jury convicted Jerrold E. Johnson, 38, Thursday on a charge of first-degree murder in the beating death of Ellen Salling, 76, of Kono Tayee in December 1998.

The jury also found that all special circumstances charged, including burglary in the first degree, robbery in the first degree, and carjacking in the first degree, were proven.

To the burglary, robbery and carjacking charges the jury found Johnson guilty in the first degree as charged including the commission fo these crimes against a victim over the age of 65, a special enhancement.

The next step in the case will be the penalty phase which is set to begin at 9 a.m. on Oct. 3.

The jury began deliberations at 10:15 a.m., broke for lunch from noon to 1:15 p.m. and returned to the court room at 3:15 p.m. with the verdicts.

The same jury panel will convene to deliberate and decide whether the sentence should be life without possibility of parole or the death penalty.

There was more, but that's grim enough. given the details, the only argument one could have would be a genenral argument against the death penalty; though given the nature of the crime, life in prison might eventually delivier that justice as well, and in a manner more fitting the crime


Prosecution Wins Johnson Ruling

Jim Hill

Record Bee Staff

Lakeport, September 19th

Superior Court Judge Robert Crone ruled, Thursday, that the testimony regarding the mysterious death of Margaret Mary Johnson, accused murderer Jerrold Johnson's step-grandmother, will be admissible in Johnson's trial for the murder of Ellen Salling.

Deputy District Attorney Steve Hedstrom sought the "uncharged misconduct" hearing to counter evidence that Johnson's attorneys are expected to introduce during their defense of Johnson.

Seems as if the defendent's lawyers are planning to introduce the testimony of a psychiatrist, so the prosection decided to get some legal gobbledygook of its own to introduce. Sounds like it might end up kind of fascinating. But it does sort of bother me that you can have a hearing on "uncharged misconduct," at all, and that it is something serious enough to introduce in a murder trial. I mean, if there are no charges there can't very well be a crime, now can there? And if there was no crime, then what kind of a hearing was it that can be introduced into evidence in a murder trial? Did a bunch of people sit around talking about whether or not there was enough evidence to press charges? Did they decide there were not? --I can see that sort of thing perhaps being introduced by the defense, but the prosection?

I fear me the law in America (the country with the most laws in the history of the world: we were once called 'the land of the free') becomes more and more a show of smoke and mirrors. --We can certainly tell that the law has become a show, just by turning on the television.


Group Studies Lake Weeds

Jim Shock

Record Bee Staff

Soda Bay -- September 12th, 2000

Home, resort owners and legislative representatives toured the bay Wednesday, judging the effectiveness of chemical and mechanical weed control for boat access to the open lake...

The tour ws prompted by the need to get information to state legislators prior to attempting to secure funding for weed suppression efforts in the coming years...

Part of the concern is a letter from the Robert W. Floerke, regional manager of the Department of Fish and Game, Yountville office...

"Physical, or chemical means to eliminate, prevent, or significantly alter any aquatic plant communicyt anywhere within Clear Lake constitutes a significant modification of the bed...

"...the periodic use of non-persistent chemical herbicides to manage fliamentous algae, or rooted aquatic plants in some areas of the lake owhich provide public access or recreation may be justified as long as chemical applications are prudently undertaken.

"However, the use of aquatic herbicies to control or eradicate near-shore emergent vegetation such as cattail or tule, or address purely aesthetic concerns at the expense of fisher habitat, is contrary to the iontent of FGC Section 5650, CEQA and department..."

More numbers

This is really an interesting subject, as it has been a long, long time since Clear Lake was even slightly clear. Evidence indicates it may well be the oldest lake in the world, because of its unique situation. The arrival of the White Man on its idylic shores was soon followed by mercury mining in the surrounding mountains, casting some doubt of the edibility of fish from the lake. (Yeah, everybody still eats 'em; but you should have seen it about twelve years ago when the lake was ringed around completely by the decaying corpses of large carp in the millions. What a sight! What a smell!)

Things keep getting added to the lake, you see. Mercury was only the first. Skidoos, I am told, add lots of oil and other petroleum polutants. An attractive plant that somebody brought in on the propellor of a speed boat has turned into a nightmare pest of a plant, tangling boats and possibly endangering swimmers in its Sargasso like tangles. And now, there are the herbicides, which will possibly make the lake better for people who have speedboats (with propellors possibly infested with things foreign to the lake) but which may cast grave doubts on the lake as a place to swim or fish: and it is reputed to be the bass fishing capital of North America.

The moral is this: when you tamper with the ecology, you are also tampering with the economy. I say that because warning people about little things like life, aquatic or human, has never seemed to impress folks out to make a buck.


Autopsy Not Yet Complete

Jim Hill

Record Bee Staff

Lakeport ---August 22, 2000

An autopsy on the body of Robert L. Bounty, 53, will not be completed until late today at the earliest, according to sheriff's department coroner's assistance Yvonne Cook.

Aside from preliminary examination findings, full results may not be ready for between four and eight weeks, as toxicology, chemistry and microscopic tissue studies have been ordered.

Bounty's body was found lying in the bed of an unnamed creek behinid his residence on Soda Bay Road, South Lakeporrt, shortly after noon Wednesday.

He was last seen alive August 11...

I think I mentioned somewhere that this county has the highest death rate, by county, in California, now didn't I? The problem is, nobody has been able to figure out why. People just seem to die up here, of a variety of unrelated causes, natural and unnatural. All ages, all occupations, all kinds of backgrounds. They just drop dead.


Man Drowns in Blue Lake

Jim Hill

Recorod Bee Staff

Blue Lakes -- August 15, 2000

A 43-year old Sunnyvale man apparently drowned in a freak rafting accident about 3 p.m., Thursday, at Upper Blue Lake.

He was identified by his companion Diane Lee Gaxiola, 55, also of Sunnyvale, who survived the mishap, as Tou "Tony" Kuita. He was a native of the Pacific Island of Tonga.

He is believed to have drowned in about 35 of water while about 25 yards from the lake's southwestern shore.

The spring-fed lakes extreme cold thermocline may have contributed to the accident, according to Nice firecheif Gary Saylor.

"My diver out there says the water is mighty cold down there, about 40 degrees."

According to Gaxiolla, the pair had been camping at Le Trianon. She said they were alone in the bright yellow vinyl raft enjoying the pleasure of an afternoon on the water when a west wind came up making it difficult to hand paddle 300 yards back to the resort.

"I jumped in the water to try and push us back," she said sadly. "And I asked him to join me, which he did. But almost immediately he was in trouble. He didn't panic, he didn't fight," she lamented. "I just don't understand it. He just started going down, with his hands over his head. I grabbed for him and brought him up by his fingertips once. Another time I had him by his hair," she said. "But he just kept going down and then sort of coming up, so I could get ahold of him. He's from Tonga. He had to know how to swim, but he didn't," she said softly. "I don't understand it."


The thing about Blue Lakes is that it has a spooky reputation. I hear references to some old Indian legends, and tales of the lakes being haunted. I went swimming there once and it was very clear water, but a couple of yards out from the shore it gets real deep and real dark. Some folks say the bottom has never been measured. That wouldn't surprize me. Scientists often have better things to do with their time than going around measuring the bottoms of lakes; unless, of course, somebody pays them to do it.

A while back they made that movie, The Abyss, and right after they made the movie, with real little submersibles, they brought one of them little machines up and sent it around the bottom of Clear Lake itself. Discovered all kinds of interesting stuff, much of which they haven't told us. But they did decide that it's probably the oldest lake on the planet, which may explain some of the spookie stuff. (Its volcanic, which we all knew, but just how many bubbles are still rising up down there was a surprise.)

My lady friend here tells me that at the end of one of the piers there is a four wheel drive truck under the water. Somebody made a PC fishing game and when you fish by the dock (in the game) you see that very truck down there under the water.

A great deal of the tourist money comes in because it is reputed to be the Bass Fishing Capital of the World. Some people by boats just to come up here and fish. Some people fish for fun but don't like the taste of fish so they just throw them back.

Some folks come up and don't make it back.


De-Stress Yourself: It's Easier Than You Think

I always like to credit a story to the human being who did the work of writing it. This one is only signed NAPS, which is one of those damned acronyms; probably stands for National Assembly for Perverse Stupidity, given the content.

August 8, 2000

Take it easy? Impossible. In recent studies, 48 percent of Americans wish they knew how to relax. Here are some simple tips to take the anxiety out of a busy day...

Snack! Nutritious snacks help keep blood sugar levels normal and brian chemistry in balance. Keep cracker, bagels, breadsticks, pretzels, tortillas, or dired fruit in your desk, car, or gym bag for a snack that's ready when you are.

Relax with a slice. Toast it, top it, or eat it plain. Bread is the ultimate comfort and provides essential nutrients like iron, niacin and folic acid.

There were a couple more suggestions in there, but those two were the ones I wanted you to notice. I watched a study on the television recently that made out a good case for why Americans have become the fattest people in the world. 40% obese, the study said, and the reason was pretty clear. The French, it noted, eat much richer stuff than we do, but they aren't all blimps. The difference between our eating habits is that they eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and we eat 24-7. We sit around in front of our computers, at work, with a pizza on the desk. We have those bagels and tortillas spilling out of our desk drawers and moldering in our glove compartments in the fear that there won't be any food within arms reach at some indeterminate moment. Snacks are a way of life. Not just cookies and milk during recess any more: cookies and milk next to the bed, on the assembly line, in the car, and in case you missed some of those excess calories, there are drive through places to increase the fat in your diet.

I begin to wonder if the illness of bolemia (you know about that from watching super models puke in the headlines) isn't from over-exposure to food commercials on TV. We got 40% overweight, and maybe 10% starving for fame.

Maybe those helpless mothers on TV wouldn't have to spend so much time coaxing their obnoxious twelve year olds to eat brand name dinners if the kids hadn't been stuffing Snickers down their gullets all day in class.


Lower Lake Fire Contained

Jim Shock

Lake County Record Bee

August 1, 2000

Lower Lake -- The "morgan Fire" was declared to be "100 percent contained" about 6 p.m. Thursday, ending 27 hours of tension for residents east of the town.

The wildland fire burned 3,200 acres.

As the fire was winding down Thursday only one "hot spot" was throwing periodic smoke into the air. The spot was reported to be in the vicinity of Cache Creek Dam, but at least a mile away from the precise location.

Personnel will be kept on scene through the weekend because of predicted light to moderate winds and higher temperatures each day.

If you've never encountered a wildfire, let me tell you, it is am impressive thing. A true forest fire is awsomely beautiful and terrible sight, and you don't want to be in the way of one. The first one I ever saw was a few months after I moved up here, and firefighters right then and there became my heros. Talking to one I discovered that they are there to protect life and property, and they don't specify what kind of life or what kind of property: they'll risk their lives for your pets just as quickly as they will risk them for your kids. Brave men and women who daily risk their lives, and nobody ever throws them a parade, or as far as I know a National Holiday.

The fire in the story didn't get much publicity, so when we drove down to the Wal-Mart we were surprized to see the sky all darkened by smoke; the wind was blowing away from the mountain here, but it had changed while we were inside shopping.

One thing you might not know about big fires is that they have the same kind of effect on the weather as a nuclear bomb. When the smoke blocks out the sun the temperature drops fast. Up the road you've got a raging inferno, but right under the smoke cloud you've got Nuclear Winter without the Nuclear (which I suspect is just as well). When big volcanos go off, the whole world gets blocked sunlight, the crops fail, and people go hungry (as well as wildlife).

Think about that the next time you have somebody in your car who wants to toss a cigarette out the window. Then just shoot the bastard.


Murder Suspect Arrested

From Staff Reports,

Lake County Record-Bee

July 25th, 2000

CLEARLAKE OAKS -- Charles Donald "Chuck" Cooper, 39, prime suspect in the murder of Werner Boehringer, was taken into custody Thursday by members of the Lake County Sheriff's Department.


Boehringer's body was found at his penthouse apartment at the Lake Marina Motel, 10215 Easy Highway 20, July 12. He had been beaten to death about July 6 or July 7.

Cooper, the night manager at the motel, called the sheriff's department July 12, after reportedly discovering some blood at the penthouse. Guests stated that Cooper was continuously at the motel during the 12 hours that the sheriff's investigators conducted an investigation of the crime scene.

Cooper then disappeared...

He left a pair of notes and a cordless telephone on the front door mat to his room at the motel. In one note he apparently wrote that he was borrowing one of the motel's four rental boats to seek some solitude ont he water of Clear Lake.

Whew! I was beginning to worry. For last week's headline there wasn't a single murder! But don't worry folks, this week we have two stories from the headlines for you. The second one, below, is about those poor, pitiful, and eternally underpaid bastions of Role Modelling in the community, the Teachers. Those folks to whom our children look up a prime examples of correct behavior.

Uh huh!

--And by the way, this was the headline. The murder was the second lead story.


Hunter Accused of Poaching

Jim Schock

Record-Bee Staff

July 25, 2000

KELSEYVILLE -- A deer hunter, armed with a bow and arrows, was arrested on six Fish and Game code violations and two penal code offenses after authorities spotted buzzards feeding on a carcass in a meadow near Highway 29.

Walter T. German, 48... was cited by Game Warden Lynette Reynolds...

German is a fifth-grade teacher at Gard Street School in Kelseyville.

The charges filed include failure to produce a license and tags, trespassing, failure to retain the deer head and produce it upon demand, waste of meat, unlawful taking of deer, possession of an untagged deer, using bait to draw game, cutting or destroying trees or scrubs, and littering.

Two fork-horned deer were found, each killed by arrows. One found covered with brush was missing the hams (upper length of the back legs) and the back straps (the meat that runs along-side the backbone). The remainer of this deer was left to rot.

The second deer was located at the edge of an open meadow and had not been butchered, according to authorites.

Both were found to have stomachs containing grain, indicating that a bait had been used to draw them near a shooting platform, which was located high in an oak tree.

Also seized as evidence was a sealable plastic bag containing human feces which Game Warden Jim Branston said is used to keep human scent from alerting game of human's presence and fleeing. The stool sample may be used to provide DNA evidence, according to the report.

German was booked into the Lake County jail July 14 on the charges and posted bail of $1,755 that same date. He returned home to find Reynolds and other authorities searching his home for more evidence...

The game warden reported that the stories told my German and his wife Kristi on July 11 did not match. After informing the two of their divergent accounts, Reynolds reported she said:

"It's up to you to decide if you are going to tell the truth or just leave it like this.

"Here you both are supposed to be upstanding members of the..."

I left in so many of the details so you would understand that this wasn't a case of some poor, underpaid teacher trying to feed his family. The bastard only took a little bit of the meat, from only one of the deer he shot. He was just killing for kicks. More than that, somebody posted teacher's salaries in the County a few years ago, and according to the post they range from $30,000 to $50,000, which is comparable to the salary of a cop. And expenses in the County are pretty cheap, by California standards: they have to be because there isn't much work. The teachers I know up here live, in comparison to my life-style, in something like luxury.

In case you are not a hunter, or do not number any amongst your acquaintances: what this man did was the very opposite of responsible hunting, and no hunter I have ever met would condone his actions. Conservation-minded hunters have raised more money and worked harder toward the preservation of declining species that any other group in the United States. --They have to, or there won't be excess population for them to hunt in the appropriate seasons.

And by the way, I am not a hunter; I just play one on television.


'Killer Burrito' and 'Buddy' take top worm race honors.

Cammarata's worm dies of steroid overdose during three-way grudge match.

Cynthia Parkhill,

Record-Bee Staff

July 11, 2000

CLEARLAKE -- "Killer Burrito," owned by Cabo's Mexican Restaurant, took first place in the International Worm Races' corporate competition Saturday.

In the individual worm-racing competition, 8-year-old Eddy Sears of Clearlake and his worm "Buddy" won $175 in cash and took home trophies in first, third and fourth places.....

This look pretty harmless as an event, though the 'grudge match' between the two Chambers of Commerce and the Police Department does leave one wondering about the public welfare now and again. --But then, the idea that worms are being given steroids in order to get an unfair edge comes in and sort of spoils it. A worm on steroids is a pretty scary thought; and just how do you test them for drugs? Do worms even urinate? I mean, if it was me getting tested they would tell me to whip it out and piss in a cup. But a worm can't very well whip it out, cause that's all there is of the worm. Who's gonna' hold him over the cup?

These deep philosophical concerns are what keeps this place what it is: and it ain't one of them high-toned places like Garrison Keiller talks about, neither!

Meth Lab Busted in Hotel

Tuesday, July 4, 2000

Lakeport -- Three county residents were arrested following a raid by the Lake County Narcotic Task Force Wednesday night at the Anchorage Inn, 950 North Main St.

According to a press release.... were arrested for felony drug manufacturing after agents located and seized an operating ephedrine reduction laboratory from Room 30 at the inn. Ephedrine is the primary chemical used to manufacture methamphetamine.


The press releasle states, a third suspect... arrived at the motel at 10:15p.m. At this time, agents attempted to contact ..., who was wanted for outstanding arrest warrants.

I didn't bother with the names of the suspects and all that. Seems to me that the salient points are (a) these folks were manufacting meth in a hotel room, (b) that the article tells us how to make the stuff, sort of, out of common ephedrine (I didn't know that, but now I know why I don't like that stuff in my cold medicine), and (c), that although the suspect arrived at the hotel the agents were only attempting to contact him. I mean, if the guy was standing there and the agents still couldn't get through to him, he must have been doing some pretty mean stuff!


Murder Trial

Tuesday. June 20, 2000

Excerpt from a story by Jim Hill, Record Bee staff

"LAKEPORT -- ^The Charles Craft murder trial moved Thursday afternoon from testimony about discovering the body of Gerald Hebert to law enforcement efforts to exhume the body and to collect evidence.

Hebert's body was found Sept. 6, 1996, on the recently acquired horse ranch by new owner...

...provided a graphic description of the six-foot-six inch by ten-foot-seven-inch hole in which Hebert's body was partially buried.

After the body was removed and the dirt in the hole was sifted it was found to be a nearly uniform 35-inches deep... "

The accused seems to have been the caretaker on the ranch. If that is the best he could do at burying a body, I shudder to think what he did when it came to mucking out the barn!



Four Year Old Murdered

Tuesday, June 13, 2000

Excerpt from story by Jim Hill, Record-Bee staff

"SPRING VALLEY - Anthony S. Sidbeck, 20, was booked into lake Couinty Jail Thursday afternoon charged with the murder of his 4-year-old niece. He is being held without bail.

The bloody, partially-clothed body of Alicia Clement, 4, of Santa Rosa, was reportedly found with the first light of dawn at 5:22 a.m. Thursday.

The grisly discovery was made only about 100 yards from her grandparents home in the ...."

Well, that's ugly enough. If you need to know more you can buy the newspaper. When people kill children, its a rotten, rotten world.


Back to Table of Contents.