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Sep 30th
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Council discusses invocation policy and Proposition 47; reestablishes Parks and Recreation Commission

CLEARLAKE, Calif. – Policy was established Thursday for participating in the opportunity to deliver an invocation at the beginning of regular meetings of the Clearlake City Council.

The council voted unanimously last month to pursue the policy, which was presented during its Thursday meeting.

The new policy, which was amended to emphasize the use of the word “invocation” over the word “prayer,” is not intended to proselytize or advance any faith, or show any purposeful preference of one religious view to the exclusion of others.

Area religious leaders should expect a letter from City Clerk Melissa Swanson informing them of the opportunity for participation, which is voluntary and without monetary compensation.

Invocations are to be of a positive nature and will be limited to three minutes at the beginning of each city council meeting.

Eligible members of the local clergy/religious community may sign up for as many as three speaking events per calendar year.

Speakers will be scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis, and will be allowed to deliver more than three invocations annually if a schedule date is unfilled after equal opportunity is given to all who seek participation.

If a speaker is not present, the council will entertain a moment of silence to begin its meeting.

All inquiries for participation should be directed to the city clerk, who will manage the schedule.

Also on Thursday, the council declined to take any position on Proposition 47.

If passed, Proposition 47 would reduce the classification of most nonserious and nonviolent property and drug crimes unless unless the defendant has prior convictions for felonies including murder, rape, certain sex offenses or certain gun crimes, according to a Ballotpedia analysis.

It also would permit resentencing for anyone currently serving a prison sentence for any of the offenses that the initiative reduces to misdemeanors.

Clearlake Police Chief Craig Clausen, who presented the item and was seeking the council's opposition to the proposition, said about 10,000 inmates would be eligible for resentencing.

The measure would require misdemeanor instead of felony sentencing for certain crimes in which the monetary value does not exceed $950, including shoplifting, grand theft, receiving stolen property, forgery, fraud and writing a bad check. Personal use of most recreational drugs would be included in those reduced sentencing requirements.

Clausen said the proposition is ill-conceived.

“The entire law enforcement community opposes Proposition 47,” he said. “In fact, the California Police Chiefs Association (in support of which he said he was requesting the opposition) is part of an all-encompassing coalition that also includes the California District Attorneys Association, California State Sheriffs Association, California Peace Officers Association, California Narcotics Officers Association and California Fraternal Order of Police.”

Clausen said Proposition 47 also is being actively opposed by victim's rights groups, most notably by Crime Victim Alliance Action, Crime Victims United of California and the California Coalition of Against Sexual Assault.

Councilwoman Joyce Overton cited a lack of literature concerning the actual proposal included in Clausen's report while Councilwoman Jeri Spittler said the presentation was biased.

“I am not really for telling anybody how to vote,” Overton said. “This doesn't directly affect (the council). I, personally, would like to stay neutral.”

Councilman Joey Luiz also said he would like to refrain from telling people how they should vote.

Mayor Denise Loustalot offered the same stance after recognizing passage of the measure could create financial strain on local law enforcement agencies.

The council also reestablished the City of Clearlake Parks and Recreation Committee on Thursday.

The Clearlake Planning Commission is to serve as the committee and meetings will coincide with its schedule.

The committee's duties include:

– Making recommendations to the council on rules, regulations and polices related to conduct in public parks and beaches; in public recreation and activity centers; and to use of public property within the city including, but not limited to special events, use of public buildings and related fees.
– Hearing and acting upon appeal of staff's determination on special event permits.
– Preparing an inventory of parks and park facilities.
– Identifying and making recommendations to the council on revenue sources to fund activities and capital projects such as park maintenance and development, property acquisition or new and/or expansion of parks, development and updating of a park master plan, recreation programs, various planning and feasibility studies.
– Any other related projects as assigned by the council.

In its final action of the evening, Loustalot took on Vice Mayor Gina Fortino Dickson's remaining term on the Area Planning Council.

Fortino Dickson has taken a new teaching job at Lower Lake High School and will be unable to attend the meetings.

Email Denise Rockenstein at [email protected] .


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