Monday, 27 June 2022

Opinion

During this election, I have refrained from reacting to inaccurate statements regarding the operations of the assessor-recorder.

I am compelled to address some key misconceptions about the office that have become unclear in this process. Please see below:

• Communication with title companies and Realtors: The Realtors and my office have established a liaison to improve communication. This has been in place for some time. My current liaison is Yvette Sloan. I have sent out different communications throughout the years. I recently sent a “white paper” to Yvette Sloan and Kim Hansen to be included in a weekly newsletter on March 19 regarding hours and title company appointments. We communicate frequently when needed with the title companies and the Realtors through the liaison or directly, regarding operational changes.

• Public records request made by Mary Benson to the Clerk to the Board and responded on April 18 by email: This request was made to the Clerk to the Board and the request questions were submitted as follows:

— Any progress reports submitted to the Lake County Board of Supervisors reporting changes in the pending number of property tax appeals, the number of months of delays currently in mailing out recorded documents, staffing vacancies.

— Any progress reports submitted to the Lake County Board of Supervisors reporting the extent of the current backlog in reassessments, if any, due to changes in property value due to market changes.

— Any progress reports submitted to the Lake County Board of Supervisors reporting the extent of the current backlog in reassessments, if any, due to property improvements.

My response and the clerk to the board’s response was the same based on the questions presented.

No response was provided because the Board of Supervisors, during my tenure, has not made any of these requests for this information. Department heads do not go before the board unless requested of the board or have business to conduct with the board, such as a contract.

In response to the 2014 Report to the California State Board of Equalization, or BOE. I submitted a final report to the Board of Equalization, on behalf of Doug Wacker, who was the prior assessor-recorder. The report relates to an audit performed by the BOE, during Doug Wacker’s tenure. Audits are performed periodically at random by the BOE. Doug did not respond to the report before leaving office. The report was then left for me to either respond on behalf of the office or not respond at all. I chose to respond on behalf of the office. The next audit from the BOE will occur, based on being chosen at random, and additional follow ups will occur at that time.

After responding to the public records request, I sent an email to all five Board of Supervisors members and the County Administrative Office on April 21 as a courtesy, providing an update on all 11 items relating to the audit. All 11 have been completed with the exception of one item, relating to performing audits, which will be completed this year.

• The assessor does not have the power to randomly reassess properties. The assessor will always be governed by the Revenue and Taxation Code of the state of California. The office is audited by the state to verify the rules were performed correctly.

• Office hours: The Assessor-Recorder’s Office is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

• Vital records (birth, death and marriage certificates): Requesting a copy of a vital record in person takes approximately 15 minutes. If you send the request through the mail, the turnaround time is one to three days at time of receipt.

• Sending out original documents: After we record a document, the document is indexed, verified and a control process must be applied to ensure the original document is within the recorders database. If the process is not followed, an original document might not be found in the database when needed at a future date (Example: Searching for a copy of your deed 10 years after recorded). Our turnaround time is consistent with recorders’ offices across the state. We currently have no backlog in returning original documents.

• Appraisers must issue an opinion of value: When an appraiser performs an appraisal, the appraiser working the property issues an opinion of value. The opinion of value is not a simple average. The appraiser is responsible for the opinion of value including calculations and/or documentation to defend the opinion under their license.

• E-recording: This process has been started and is near complete. As soon as the new recording system is approved, an e-recording module will be purchased. Contract for new recording system is in process now.

• Systems: Megabyte is the premiere property tax software package throughout California, with 36 out of 58 counties using this system. Megabyte is shared by the assessor, auditor-controller and the treasurer-tax collector. Attempting to change the system will be detrimental to closing the tax roll, especially without a deep understanding of the Revenue and Taxation code.

I hope this eliminates confusion about some key operations of the office.

Richard Ford is running for a third term as assessor-recorder of Lake County, California. He lives in Lakeport.

On June 7, Lake County voters will be electing a district attorney for the next four years. There are two candidates on the ballot: incumbent District Attorney Susan Krones running for reelection, and Anthony Farrington running to replace Susan Krones.

As a longtime criminal prosecutor in Lake County I would like to share information and concerns I hope the voters will consider.

I have worked for the Lake County District Attorney’s Office for the last 27 years as a criminal prosecutor, and as the chief deputy district attorney for the last 16 years. I have supervised our prosecutors and been heavily involved in the day to day operations and management of the office. I have worked for five different district attorneys during my career and experienced the good and the not so good.

I have seen and experienced both the positive effects a good experienced district attorney can have on the office and the community, and the negative effects an inexperienced district attorney can have on our office and our community.

Susan has definitely been one of the good ones and deserves to be elected for another term. Anthony Farrington has done nothing to deserve the job, nor does he even come close to having the experience or skills necessary to do a good job.

Susan served in the military as an Army captain for six years. Susan has worked for the District Attorney’s Office for 29 years, has prosecuted over 100 jury trials herself, and has been involved in the prosecution of thousands of other criminal cases. She has supervised prosecutors and managed the District Attorney’s Office.

Susan has spent half of her life serving the citizens of Lake County, preventing people from becoming victims of crime and punishing criminals who cause people to become victims of crime. She has spent most of her life supporting our law enforcement officers who have also dedicated their careers to protecting our community.

Anthony Farrington has done none of these things. When Farrington graduated from law school he had the opportunity to work for the Lake County District Attorney’s Office if he wanted to. I had mentioned to him some years ago that he should consider working for our office. He had no desire to do so. He never applied for a job as a prosecutor. He instead chose to go into private practice where he could be his own boss and make more money. There is nothing wrong with that. Many attorneys make that decision with their careers.

But there is something very wrong with not having any desire to get any experience whatsoever as a prosecutor, not having any training, having no desire to be a prosecutor or be involved in law enforcement, but wanting to be the boss of the District Attorney’s Office.

There is something wrong with not wanting to put in the time to get the years of training and experience to do the job and actually earn the job, but wanting voters to give him the job without having to actually put in any effort to earn it.

Do you really think all of a sudden Farrington wants to be district attorney because he now cares about protecting our community from criminals? The only reason he wants to be district attorney now is because he was a politician for years, and he wants to be district attorney solely for political reasons. He wants it as a feather in his cap so he can use it as a steppingstone to run for judge or some other position some day.

Electing someone as district attorney just because they have a license to practice as an attorney would be like electing someone as sheriff to run the sheriff’s department because they know how to shoot a gun. Or hiring someone as a fire chief because they know how to squirt water out of a hose. It makes no sense whatsoever.

The voters have to ask themselves if they want a district attorney who actually cares about law enforcement and protecting the community and has proven it, or do they want a district attorney who is just a politician.

Do you want someone like Susan who has literally worked in excess of 50,000 hours as a prosecutor protecting our community, and received hundreds of hours training as a criminal prosecutor, or someone like Farrington who literally has not spent one minute working as a prosecutor and has no training as a criminal prosecutor?

One of the worst things that could happen to our county and the criminal justice system is to have a politician running the District Attorney’s Office for political reasons. That has happened in other counties, and it has been a disaster for communities and the criminal justice system in those counties.

During the campaign I have heard Farrington state several times he has experience as a “prosecutor.” That is not true, and is just a campaign statement probably intended to mislead voters and make himself look like he has experience he does not have.

He claims to have “prosecution” experience from representing domestic violence victims as a civil attorney in “civil cases,” by helping them obtain restraining orders. That is not “prosecution” experience and does not make him in any way a “prosecutor.”

Farrington also claims a 100% “conviction” rate in those cases. You don’t get “convictions” in a civil case. Only criminal cases.

In my 31-year career as an attorney, I have never heard any civil attorneys refer to themselves as a “prosecutor” or claim they were “prosecuting" cases, or claim they got a “conviction” in a civil case, until Farrington started making those claims a couple months ago to get votes. His claims are inaccurate and misleading.

Susan Krones is a real prosecutor, having actually prosecuted hundreds of domestic violence offenders in criminal cases, obtaining hundreds of convictions, and sending spousal abusers to jail and state prison. Farrington has never “prosecuted” a domestic violence offender, or obtained a “conviction” in a civil case or criminal case, or sent one person to jail or prison.

Farrington also claims to have done over 100 trials. But those trials were civil bench trials before a judge only. Very seldom do civil trials take place before a jury. Most are nothing more than simple hearings that last an hour or two.

Criminal trials take place before a jury where 12 people have to be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt, and last usually three or more days, and sometimes for several months. Civil trial experience is not the same as criminal trial experience. Susan has actually done over 100 criminal jury trials, including murder trials that have lasted for weeks, not hours.

Farrington also misled voters, either intentionally or unintentionally, in his recent campaign flier where he claims Lake County has one of the highest crime rates in California and Lakeport has surpassed the city of Clearlake in property theft crimes. Farrington cites “Crimegrades.Org” to support his claim.

I review the law enforcement crime reports in the District Attorney’s Office on a daily basis and found his claim hard to believe. So I looked at Crimegrades.Org. It took me less than a minute of reading to figure out that it is a bogus clickbait website.

The statistics they cite make no sense. For example, it shows the Cow Mountain area between Lakeport and Ukiah, where few people live and we see almost no crime, to have a higher crime grade than the populated areas in the county.

There is also the fact that every couple paragraphs in the report is an ad you can click on to buy a home security system. Clearly this is an inaccurate or fraudulent clickbait advertising website used to scare readers into buying a home security system. Yet Farrington cites that in his flier as factual information to attempt to get voters to believe Susan Krones (and the other law enforcement agencies) is doing a poor job.

If Farrington intentionally cited that website to mislead voters and get votes, then he should not be district attorney. If he was unable to or failed to realize it was a bogus website with clearly inaccurate information, then he should not be district attorney.

Farrington’s campaign for district attorney has exposed his complete lack of knowledge and experience as a prosecutor, and proven he does not know how the criminal justice system operates, and is incapable of running the District Attorney’s Office.

Among other things, Farrington has said if elected he wants to start paying prosecutors more money, or bonuses, to get convictions and increase the conviction rate. First of all, he could not do that without authorization by the Board of Supervisors. The district attorney has no authority to give bonuses or raises to employees on their own. And Farrington obviously makes that claim now in an effort to get votes.

When he was a supervisor for the county making budget decisions, the prosecutors and other county employees went many years without raises.

Secondly, Farrington’s proposal is extremely unethical, and probably illegal. Paying prosecutors extra to get convictions would create a huge conflict of interest, and would be absolutely unethical. Prosecutors are supposed to be fair and use their best judgment in determining whether someone should be convicted of a crime, or what kind of crime. Prosecutors should NOT be considering whether it would be financially beneficial and profitable to themselves to get a conviction.

Farrington’s proposal would be no different from telling deputy sheriffs they will make more money if they put enough information and evidence in their reports to make better cases and get convictions. Any new prosecutor in our office knows that Farrington’s proposal would be highly unethical. If Farrington fails to see the conflict of interest and huge ethical problems in such a proposal, then he has absolutely no business being district attorney.

Farrington has also proposed cleaning up some of the lower class motels in the county by kicking out criminals living there or prosecuting owners for renting rooms to criminals. It sounds like a great idea, until you consider things Farrington is apparently unaware of.

For one thing, you cannot prosecute a motel owner for renting to someone with a criminal history. And motel owners cannot legally run background checks on someone who wants to rent a room in order to determine if someone is a criminal. So his proposal makes no sense and appears to be another of his election time slogans or sound bites.

Secondly, if you could actually prevent motel owners from renting to criminals, or you could condemn and close those motels, then does that help our community? No.

Those same criminals would still be somewhere in Lake County. Those same criminals would still be out using drugs just as often and committing just as many crimes, if not more crimes, in order to survive. The only difference is that now they would be homeless.

They would be living on the streets, exacerbating the homeless problem Lake County and all of California already has. Instead of being in a motel with garbage cans, they would be camping along creeks, the lake, and in our parks, and throwing their garbage and drug needles in our waterways or on the streets. Instead of being in a motel room with a toilet they would be defecating in our parks, sidewalks and parking lots.

The only real solution to keeping criminals out of motel rooms is to prosecute these criminals, and get them into jail or prison, or into mental health treatment and drug counseling when we can. Susan has been prosecuting these criminals for years. She is also involved with mental health diversion and drug diversion counseling and treatment programs in an effort to reform criminals and reduce criminal activity.

Susan is a big advocate and supporter for Lake County’s Veterans Court Program that provides needed assistance, counseling and support for veterans with criminal charges, to help get them off the streets and out of our criminal justice system permanently.

Recently, ex-District Attorney Don Anderson wrote a letter supporting his close friend Anthony Farrington for district attorney. I wish I could spend several pages responding to all the incorrect claims in that letter, but it would take too long. The ex-district attorney was elected with no experience as a prosecutor. That was not good for our office, even though he at least had prior law enforcement experience. Things did not go nearly as well as he claims.

I will just say that there were some improper or unethical things that occurred under his leadership that no longer exist with Susan as district attorney. Fortunately for our employees and our community, Susan has restored the integrity to the top leadership position that was missing, and that is so important and necessary to being a good district attorney.

In addition, as a result of what I and numerous other people saw as poor management at the top level during the ex-district attorney’s tenure, there were two lawsuits filed against the county. Unfortunately, our office is still dealing with some of the negative consequences left over from the prior leadership.

The ex-district attorney’s claim about the abandoned perjury unit are without merit. We still prosecute perjury cases, the only real difference is that we do not have a single person prosecuting perjury cases, they are prosecuted by more than one prosecutor.

And the truth is that the perjury unit was a pet project of the ex-district attorney to prosecute perjury in civil cases. Most of the prosecutors in the office, including me, thought it was a poor use of our limited resources at the time that should have been devoted to more serious crimes.

Under Susan’s leadership we still prosecute some perjury cases, but our limited resources are now being used more to prosecute murder cases, shootings, sexual assault cases, felons in possession of firearms, etc.

The ex-district attorney’s claim that his aggressive way of pursuing human trafficking of women is now gone is incorrect. We still prosecute human trafficking cases, but we don’t really see that much of it in Lake County.

Under Susan’s leadership our office, as well as the sheriff’s office, are now a part of a five county human trafficking coalition, “The Northern California Coalition to Safeguard Communities.”

The coalition now allows us to work together with other counties to find, investigate, and prosecute human trafficking. A big emphasis of the project is human trafficking in marijuana grows. The coalition has special funding and training and will be a big improvement over what we had under the previous leadership.

There are other claims made by the ex-district attorney in his letter that are unfounded, including that the conviction rate has gone down. I have no personal grudge against him. But, I worked for him for eight years as chief deputy district attorney, and in my opinion anyone he would support for district attorney would not be good for the District Attorney’s Office or Lake County.

If a person has never worked for a district attorney’s office, never prosecuted a criminal case, never supervised prosecutors, never supervised criminal investigators, doesn’t have any idea what prosecutors do on a daily basis, and doesn’t know what you can do ethically or legally in the office, then how can they competently run the District Attorney’s Office?

The answer is, they can’t.

Farrington has come up with nice little election season slogans like “Take back our neighborhoods” and “Fund the police.” These are things Susan has worked thousands of hours on and actually been doing for almost three decades, and things Farrington has only been giving campaign season lip service to for the last three or four months.

As the saying goes, Susan has been walking the walk, and Farrington has just been talking the talk.

Farrington has been a politician for many years who is well spoken and sounds good at speeches and candidate nights, and knows what to say to get votes, even if much of what he says is not true.

If you do vote for Farrington, it will be a vote to replace an experienced, hard working, honest, ethical, conservative career criminal prosecutor, law enforcement supporter and crime victim advocate with a politician with no experience as a prosecutor or in law enforcement.

Richard F. Hinchcliff is a Lake County native who has served with the Lake County District Attorney’s Office for 27 years, with 16 of those years in the role of chief deputy district attorney. He was named the 2020 Wildlife Prosecutor of the year by the California Fish and Game Commission. He lives in Lakeport, California.

Lake County's County Administrative Officer Carol Huchingson is unexpectedly retiring.

“I have now made the difficult decision to retire, as of the end of April," Huchingson said in an article published on Friday, March 18, in Lake County News.

Huchingson did not specifically explain why she is retiring.

Huchingson’s gal pal, Carmel Angelo, the chief executive officer of Mendocino County for the past 12 years, announced her own retirement in January. Her last day was March 19.

It is interesting to note it had been six months since Huchingson pushed through her two waves of county raises, including very big raises for herself. The raises included up to $5 million approved in October 2020 — in which Huchingson received a 30% raise — and another $16 million in September, when Huchingson's raises totaled 54.5%, plus a 2.5% longevity increase.

Mendocino County observers will note that at the March 15 meeting of the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors, Agenda Item 5b, "Approval of Employment Agreement Between the County of Mendocino and Mendocino County Interim Chief Executive Officer Darcie Antle," Ms. Antle's own salary was raised to $200,000, with compensation including benefits totaling $338,000.

But why?

The counties of Lake and Mendocino are the two poorest counties among California's 58 counties. In fact, our poverty statistics can be compared to those in Appalachia or the deep South.

Here in the counties of Lake and Mendocino, one half of our residents are eligible for food stamps and one third are eligible for Medi-Cal.

The raises are inexplicable, unjustified and shocking.

Yet, Carol Huchingson and Carmel Angelo will have comfortable retirements. Very comfortable.

Also, we learned at the March 15 meeting of the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors that, instead of having a big financial surplus, as we were led to believe by Ms. Angelo, the county is actually running a $12.1 million projected deficit.

Also, our county's cannabis program is running $3 million in the red.

Where are our leaders? And why don't more of us speak out?

When I objected to the board's proclamation for Ms. Angelo at the March 15 meeting — a proclamation that said nary a word about how Ms. Angelo made Mendocino County better, but instead focused on how well Ms. Angelo networked and managed her career — I was accused by Board Chair Ted Williams of making "unfounded personal attacks.”

It's interesting to note only political bigshots and county executive management spoke at the presentation of Ms. Angelo's proclamation. It was an orgy of mutual backslapping and self-congratulation.

No SEIU union reps spoke at the presentation. Nor reps from any of the county's other unions and collective bargaining units.

Not one member of the county's rank and file spoke. The people who do the real work.

No department heads spoke.

None of the county's constitutionally elected officers spoke. Not the sheriff. Nor the district attorney. Nor the treasurer-tax collector. Nor the auditor-controller. Nor the assessor-county clerk.

Not even our county's contractors spoke, including Redwood Community Services. They get tens of millions of dollars every year as the sole provider in no-bid contracts.

They were all notable by their absence.

I ask again: Where are our leaders? And why don't more of us speak out?

John Sakowicz lives in Ukiah, Calif.

Superintendent Dr. Becky Salato. Courtesy photo.

I’ve heard a lot about “getting back to normal,” but unless you have a time machine, there is no returning to a pre-pandemic world. The best we can do is to strive for a new normal.

As an educator, I have seen the incredible resilience of students. I know that eventually the challenges of the pandemic will recede into memory, but first, students need to readjust — and to heal.

During the pandemic, many students faced hardships of all kinds, from the frightening uncertainty of parents losing their jobs to the heartbreak of losing a loved one. Still others watched their parents or other significant adults in their lives spiral into unhealthy coping mechanisms and become unable to provide the kind of secure, loving environment they needed to thrive.

Even for students who dealt with relatively minor issues, there were still plenty of unwelcome changes. Many were isolated from each other and lost the social skills to interact easily, and some were asked to give up their free time to care for younger siblings.

Prior to the pandemic, students were accustomed to being told when to work, when to take a break, when to eat, and so on. Structure was the norm. But when the pandemic shut everything down, families learned how to be home together in a different way and students enjoyed the freedom of setting their own schedules, and they appreciated not having to ask anyone for permission to use the bathroom.

Given all of this, is it any wonder that students are having trouble reengaging in school?

The idea that students would simply pick up where they left off after the pandemic is a little crazy. Of course, students need to be back in school and parents need to return to work, but if you’ve noticed, many companies have allowed a hybrid work environment or a phased return to the office. Employers realize their people need time to adjust. Yet for students, it’s been a different story.

Based on student behaviors during the last few months, it’s pretty clear that students would have benefited from a more gradual return to school. Since their return, many students have acted in anti-social ways, from violent and disrespectful to apathetic, including a total lack of engagement or interaction. Heck, we can hardly field a whole baseball team and the band is half the size it used to be.

The question is, what can we do?

At Konocti Unified, we know students do best when their schools, families, and communities work together toward a common goal. Right now, we have students with significant academic gaps, social anxiety, a troubling lack of motivation, and many other challenges. I’m talking about suicidal kindergartners and fourth graders who are self-medicating with vape pens in the bathroom. These are serious problems we cannot ignore.

We need to come together as a community to provide students (and others) with the resources and skills they need to re-center and make up for lost time. We also need to create a healthy environment in which to do so. To that end, there are some exciting things happening.

Konocti Unified has applied for a Community Schools Partnership grant funding to create wellness centers at some of our schools, in partnership with Adventist Health and HealthyStart via the Lake County Office of Education. We are also working with the Blue Zones Project, an initiative to make it easier for people to make healthy choices all over Lake County. Imagine if convenience stores had fresh fruit readily available instead of just candy and chips, for example.

Also, one of our school board members, Zabdy Neria, who works for Lake County Behavioral Health Services recently sent an email encouraging people to join a grassroots letter-writing campaign to advocate for the use of Mental Health Services Act funds to create more community resources for children in Clearlake.

More good news is that we are building a wonderfully capable team of administrators here at Konocti Unified.

Tim Gill, a well-respected administrator who has served Lake County students for more than 20 years, just joined us as our director of curriculum and instruction. As such, he’ll be working on the district LCAP (our planning and budgeting process), the AVID program (a systemwide approach to college and career readiness that we plan to implement at all grade levels), standardized testing, and professional learning for our employees.

Right now, he is in the process of developing and leading the LCAP process, which includes engaging the community to help us make sure we’re focusing our energy and resources in the right areas.

We invite Konocti Unified families and supporters to join us in thinking through how we can help our students thrive. Engagement meetings are ongoing: several schools have held staff and school site council meetings and we participated in a Judge’s Breakfast last month. If you’d like to get involved, we welcome your ideas! Please contact your local school or call the district office for dates and locations of upcoming meetings.

We are also about to launch a communication survey so our families can let us know how they want to receive information and share their recommendations.

I am confident that if we all come together, we can improve the situation, but it will take all of us.

Schools have become the de facto provider of so many services, and we are not always well designed or appropriately funded to do so. Our students need parents, teachers, counselors, coaches, advisers, youth pastors, and mentors to engage with them. And we may just find that when we step out of our comfort zone to help others, it is healing for us, too. Let’s all heal together.

Becky Salato is the Konocti Unified School District superintendent.

Superintendent Dr. David S. McQueen. Courtesy photo.

KELSEYVILLE, Calif. — In 2016, local voters approved Measure U, a $24 million bond measure that allowed us to invest in our school facilities.

Thanks to sensible planning from our school board and careful execution from our staff and community partners, we’ve been able to complete projects at every single school, even in the midst of a pandemic, and these projects are making a real difference for our students.

In addition to Measure U funding, we received modernization funds and those have allowed us to take on even more projects. Here’s what we’re up to.

KELSEYVILLE HIGH SCHOOL

At KHS, we installed air conditioning in the gym, replaced decades-old portable classrooms with new modular buildings, and built a state-of-the-art shop building where students can gain practical skills in woodworking, ag, metals, and mechanics.

This summer, we plan to repair and refinish the KHS wood gym floor and add exterior storm drainage, as well as adding a shade structure behind the shop building. And next year, we’ll break ground on our final Measure U project: a major renovation of our track and field facility, which will include improving the football field and grandstands, renovating the bathrooms, and providing better accessibility with improved lighting and walkways.

MOUNTAIN VISTA MIDDLE SCHOOL

At MVMS, we added new shade structures over ADA-compliant walkways to keep kids cool in the summer and protect them from rain in the winter. Then we poured concrete foundations and relocated some of our modular classrooms to create a more open and attractive campus layout.

After that, we gutted those old modulars and the accompanying bathrooms and completely renovated them, rebuilding them from the ground up, both inside and out. Our next project is to replace the MVMS gym floor and upgrade drainage around the campus.

KELSEYVILLE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

At KES, we built a multi-use roomm that serves as a cafeteria and gymnasium. It includes a basketball court with an LED scoreboard, shot clock, bleacher seating and a concession stand, and because the court meets high school standards, MVMS and KHS can use the gym for practices and games.

We also laid new asphalt in the playground and the renovated bathrooms — and when I say renovated, I mean we took them down to the studs and replaced the flooring, the lighting, and every fixture. Right now, we’re in the process of installing new playground equipment, and then we’ll convert the old cafeteria into two classrooms and a large extra room.

RIVIERA ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

At RES, our newest school, we redid our parking lot to improve safety and enhance the flow of traffic. We separated bus traffic from parent drop-off/pick-up, replaced gravel with asphalt, and ensured ADA compliance. We also installed a new septic system—always a good plan before there’s a problem.

THANK YOU

All these projects have been done on time, and many of them under budget. To all of you who voted in favor of this bond measure, thank you. Kelseyville is an awesome community where we come together to help each other. I’m grateful to live and work here.

I also want to thank our maintenance staff, the contractors, the architects, and our project manager. Another big thanks to our students and staff who have been so patient while all the construction was underway.

And finally, big thanks to all the community businesses and organizations who continue to support us through donations and other partnerships, including the Lake County Wine Alliance who donated $15,000 to support fine arts education and $2,500 to the Future Farmers of America out of proceeds from their 2021 Lake County Wine Auction.

Every donation makes a difference and we appreciate your support as we help students discover their passions and grow their skills.

Dr. David S. McQueen is superintendent of Kelseyville Unified School District.

I’m running for Congress as an independent in District 4 because business as usual politics are destroying us all and our planet, both parties are complicit, and we need to step up and change our leadership.

Every aspect of our system seems to be breaking down, and we need people to step up to change it.

We have been experiencing the worst economic inequality in almost 100 years. A handful of people own more wealth than half of the country combined. Poverty and homelessness have become widespread. Millions of people have been deprived of healthcare to enrich a for-profit healthcare system that ranks, globally, below dozens of universal healthcare systems that are not-for-proft. And that was BEFORE the pandemic.

When the pandemic hit, we were told to stay home and not to work. Many businesses closed. Some of us got a few small checks that added up to one tenth of what most of us needed to pay the rent for the last year. A lot of independent contractors and small business owners couldn't file for unemployment and didn't get a lot of help.

Meanwhile, every other developed country covered all or most of their worker's paychecks, which protected small businesses, jobs and families. Our Congress did not. They gave us crumbs while filming videos of expensive freezers filled with luxury ice cream and took vacations when no one else was allowed to.

Now our economic crisis is even worse. The stock market may be fine, but a lot of the rest of us are struggling. It turns out $250 per child per month didn't end childhood poverty. With the eviction moratorium long expired, people have been getting evicted because Congress took away their income and failed to help them survive. Those properties have been bought up by Blackrock and various shell corporations owned by multi-millionaires.

College education should be tuition free and student loans forgiven. Student loans hurt our children just when they are beginning to develop their lives and hurt our economy. Money in our children's pockets as they begin their lives will enable them to have greater success and will inject more money into our economy, rather than the pockets of bankers who will hoard that wealth.

We need to invest in tomorrow's doctors and engineers to ensure that the finest minds get to where we need them to be, instead of falling through cracks. We will pay for this with a 1% tax on Wall Street trading.

Tax rates on the most wealthy were between 70% and 95% from World War II until Ronald Reagan slashed that rate. Corporate tax rates, similarly, have been between 31% and 52% through the Clinton Administration. We need a 70% rate on the top tier and a 35% corporate rate.

But it's not good enough to increase these rates. We also have to tax money in tax havens, including Delaware, which has more corporations than people because of its tax rates. And we have to end the carried interest tax loophole and raise capital gains tax. It didn't increase investment in anything but stock buy-backs.

We do these things, in part, in order to provide tax relief to middle class families who need it. Placing an unfair tax burden on the middle class is class warfare.

Any immigrant who has been living in the United States for three years should be granted citizenship, not used as a political football while “a path to citizenship” is used like a carrot to get votes. If you live here, you're an American.

And if we're so concerned about immigrants from the south (a.k.a. refugees fleeing the violence of fascist dictatorships the United States supports) then how about if we help countries like El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala develop their economy instead of trying to extract their wealth while underpaying their workers?

People don't pick up their families and move to foreign countries with different languages just because they heard it might be a little nicer. These are people who need our help, not to be locked in for-profit immigration prisons where they can be exploited as cheap labor anyway.

Do our “leaders” truly want to repair America's international reputation? They sure have a funny way of showing it, backing fascists, terrorists and extremists all over the world.

Why are we participating in genocide in Yemen? Or seizing money from Afghanis, after bombing them for 20 years? Why is the US occupying a third of Syria when we are not wanted? Or Iraq? Why do we have sanctions on free food programs in Cuba and Venezuela? Why did we destroy Libya and then leave it alone to fester in slave markets and violence? Our government cares about human rights? Really? I don't think so. They care about money.

We should be scaling back our military, if we're concerned about climate change. We have over 800 military bases all over the world, compared with Russia which has 18 and China which has just one.

The US military is the No. 1 polluter in the world, according to a Brown University study. So why are there US bases all over Africa and South America and Asia? To enforce cheap prices? American corporations couldn't get low enough prices, so the military was sent in? Or in some countries they are deployed in an effort to overthrow certain governments and force Americanism on other countries. What could be more authoritarian? Is that why you or your children served? I think not.

I’m not a lawyer or an executive. I’m a pissed-off voter, just like you. And I’m stepping up to do something about it. It’s time to dump the corporate employees in our government and elect everyday people, with common sense.

Our current Congressperson is coasting along, not challenging the establishment, just voting the party line. But the party line is corporate-owned and never going to favor YOU.

After decades upon decades of death and destruction for profit, it’s time to do something different. Let’s build a better world where we strive for the greater good, not the lesser evil.

Jason Kishineff lives in American Canyon, Calif.

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