Thursday, 01 December 2022

Opinion

My name is Forrest Garrett and you probably remember me from the radio show I did on KPFZ called "Shop Talk." We hope to be back on the air in April and I hope to hear from all my listeners once more.


With the go ahead and generosity of Lake County News I plan on doing a question and answer column on automotive, truck, motorcycle, and small engine and equipment service and repair, and the

vehicle service and repair business industry.


I will be able answer questions and assist you with those minor repairs to those major concerns right here on your very own Lake County News.


I will be starting out with a 10-part series on how to choose the best shop for your particular vehicle needs and repairs. While I will go through this 10-en part series one at time, please feel free to comment not only on its content but on any questions you may have and I will answer as quickly and accurately as possible.


I look forward in your questions and getting to know all of you better.


I am a master mechanic with many years of experience and multiple certifications in the various fields of vehicle service and repair. I know industry standards and practices and business protocol and procedure. I can assist you on making the right repairs for your vehicle the first time around or just give you those hard to find specs.


I can provide any individual that believes they have been scammed and/or cheated by any service and repair facility with a free consultation, expert advice and legal testimony if needed on your behalf with your current complaint. I will review your documents and work orders for evaluation and advise you on a step by step procedure that may aid you to a successful resolution and restitution. I am the consumer’s advocate for fair and legal treatment in the automotive, truck, motorcycle, small engine and equipment service and repair industry.


Every service and repair facility out there cheating, scamming and doing incompetent work gives every honest shop a black eye and stigmatizes the whole industry. With your help we will join forces to stop illegal and unethical business practices in this field and pressure them to conform to all current laws and regulations. Our goals must always be to strive for the highest standards and principles in the mechanical service and repair industry. Contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Please feel free to email me with any questions and I will answer them on the Web site. I will not use information that is incorrect or that can not be substantiated through public and reputable sources.


Forrest Garrett is owner/operator of Ironhorse Creations & Lakeport Garage, family-owned and operated since 1968.


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Print reporters love to repeat an old joke about television reporters: if they had been covering the Lincoln assassination, they would have asked "Aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you feel about the play?"


Tuesday's news coverage of the New Hampshire primaries seemed to be taking that hypothetical question as Journalism 101 instruction, as the press roared into reaction to Hillary Clinton's emotional moment on Monday.


Did she cry? Or did she just mist up a little? How did Barack Obama react, and how did the Clinton camp react to Obama's reaction? And what did Gloria Steinem have to say? And did other feminists agree with Gloria or not? Did John Edwards betray himself as a nonfeminist?


It was a slimy perfect example of pack journalism, as explained to us in 1973 by Timothy Crouse in "The Boys on the Bus," his book about life on the road covering the 1972 presidential campaigns.


There was actually other news on Tuesday. The United States Chamber of Commerce announced it plans an all-out attack on candidates professing populism. NBC said it would air a bare-bones version of the Golden Globes awards Sunday night because of the writers strike. The stock market tumbled when an AT&T executive talked about an economic slowdown.


And the endless wave of primary gossip and speculation rolled on, as if New Hampshire were the general election. As if we didn't still have South Carolina, Nevada and Michigan and the primaries in 24 Super Tuesday states on Feb. 5.


It's embarrassing to see the hysteria of the pack. Makes me wonder if they're now getting bonuses based on the number of words they file, or if they delude themselves that a majority of the voting public actually cares about the trivia they're reporting. It would be such a relief if some of them could bring themselves to ask the candidates for their reactions to the other news of the day.


Still, Tuesday's political news was not a total loss. The Miami Herald, often good for a laugh, dredged up an old story about election predictions by the Santería spirits. It involves a fable about a coconut and is pretty much incomprehensible, except for the last sentence: "Perhaps the deep message of the 'saints' is that it's still a horse race and too early to be collecting winnings."


Sophie Annan Jensen is a retired journalist. She lives in Lucerne.


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As the chief of police for the City of Clearlake I have been asked to write a letter regarding the impact drunk drivers have on local law enforcement.


I thought long and hard on what information should go into this letter. I finally decided talking about statistics was too impersonal for a crime that can have a devastating personal impact on the individuals involved, their friends and family.


Several years ago I was responsible for a stretch of highway that was located in the middle of nowhere, but was heavily traveled by people in our community to and from the coast.


On this particular evening there was a 19-year-old college student who was traveling from her parents' house back to the coast. Traveling on this same road was a 20-year-old man who had been at work all day and had stopped off at a friend's house for a couple beers.


As fate would have it these two lives crossed shortly after 9 p.m. in an event that would change their lives forever.


The young man was driving a pickup truck which crossed the center divider and hit this young lady head-on.


The young man was able to get out of his truck, but the young woman was pinned in her vehicle, which had caught on fire. Before emergency responders could put the fire out and remove her from the vehicle she had received third-degree burns over 95-percent of her body.


As a result of this encounter a young man – who by all accounts was a hardworking, good person – spent several years in prison for felony drunk driving.


When this young man talks how this incident affected his life, he does not talk about the time he spent in jail. He talks about having to live with the guilt of what he caused on a daily basis. He talks about what it was like to hear this young lady scream for help as her car burned and being helpless to do anything about it.


As for the young lady, she was transformed from a beautiful young college student who had her whole future in front of her to a person who faced years of surgery and skin grafts just to perform the daily routines we take for granted. Because of her injuries she would not be able to return to college, she could no longer bare children and the family she dreamed of appeared to be a distant reality.


When she talks about this incident she talks about her college dreams, her aspirations for a career and the fact she will never have children of her own. Her parents talk about the beautiful young woman she was becoming and the hopes and dreams they had for her. This incident impacted the friends and family on both sides as well as having a devastating impact on our community.


What I want people to think about is not the criminal consequences of drinking and driving but the emotional impact this one impulsive decision can have on the ones you love. All of our choices have consequences; make sure the choices you make are ones that you can live with.


Clearlake Chief of Police Allan McClain is a member of TEAM DUI, a group of local agencies and individuals who are battling underage drinking and drunk driving.


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During my years in Clearlake, I have driven the small stretch known as Dam Road Extension hundreds of times. It leads to Yuba College, Oak Hill Middle School, and Southlake Court.


Passing through there, I paid little or no attention to the small patch of undeveloped land that lay alongside me. A thin stretch of a few acres, it runs from Dam Road proper down to the parking lot at the Grange Hall and was covered with thick brush and some large native oaks.


So far as I know, the land had survived in its natural state since the beginning of time. Chances are, native peoples set up a fishing camp there on that plateau overlooking the lake before the first pioneers began moving in.


The blue oaks there appeared to have sprouted sometime in the very early 1900s. What is now Old Highway 53 was probably a dirt trail back then and the newer version of the highway would not come to exist for many years.


Even as Wal-Mart and other corporate merchants sprung up on all sides, and the lower corner of that wooded hill became the city’s busiest intersection, the tiny island of untouched land remained a refuge of habitat for quail, vultures, rabbits and the occasional deer or coyote that lost its way.


Bald eagles and red-tailed hawks could still perch atop the huge old oaks and scope out the hunting possibilities down in Anderson Marsh. For humans, it was a buffer between the highway and the less-traveled roads above.


So it was sad for me to see the bulldozers and chainsaws converge on that place and destroy every living thing growing there.


The manzanita and toyon brush went first, pushed into a lifeless and tangled pile and hauled off. Next came the huge oak trees, cut into chunks and unceremoniously removed. Finally the dozers made a final pass and scraped the land down to bare and barren red earth. When it was all done, a sign went up promising more fast food and opportunities for additional strip mall enterprise.


It is to be expected as our town grows that we will see patches of nature paved over. But there is a way to develop land without sterilizing it and starting from scratch.


A conscious developer could have left some native plants and ancient trees and planned a tasteful commercial plaza around them. A city government can place some common sense restrictions on the destruction of trees that are older and larger than any other living thing in this city.


It will be up to those of us who live and work and do business in this town to speak up about the kind of city we envision. The formation of the City of Clearlake Vision Task Force was a bold and positive step in this direction. But the task force is just a small group of dedicated citizens who can’t slow the onslaught of the Provensalias, super Wal-Marts, and Starbucks on their own.


The rest of us will have to pay close attention and make our feelings known as project after project gets proposed. Otherwise we will see Clearlake become just one more stretch of generic corporate strip malls instead of the unique and beautiful lakeside village we love.


Herb Gura works in Clearlake and lives in Clearlake Oaks. He also is a member of the Konocti Unified School District Board of Trustees.


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Now that Judge Burton R. Lifhand of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court of the Southern District of New York has approved Calpine's Sixth Amended Joint Plan of Reorganization, Calpine CEO Robert P. May should set his sights on fixing The Geysers' biggest embarrassment its security operation. Why? Because cosmetic security has no place in a post-9/11 world.


By all appearances, for far too many years, the security operation at The Geysers has been cosmetic by design. The security there has been set up not so much to protect Calpine employees, contractors, guests and property owners, but as an excuse for Calpine to have lower liability insurance rates.


Think about this fraud is defined to be "an intentional perversion of truth" or a "false misrepresentation of a matter of fact" which induces another person to "part with some valuable thing belonging to him or to surrender a legal right." If you walked into a convenience store and saw a video camera rotating back and forth with a flashing light, what would go through your mind? Would you not think the store owner was making an effort to protect his store and his customers?


But, suppose you asked the store owner about that camera and he told you the following: "The camera is a fake. I just set it up so that I could qualify for lower liability insurance rates." How would you feel as a customer?


Well, this is the problem with The Geysers' cosmetic security operation. I believe it to be fraudulent. That makes it illegal. That makes it a danger to everyone who comes and goes through the gates at The Geysers.


To add insult to injury, the cosmetic operation at The Geysers does not even rate very highly from the appearance standpoint. Just travel up Socrates Mine Road to the Post 3 entrance and you will see with your own eyes an embarrassing situation at the entrance gate. There is a gap between the gate bars so wide you could drive a truck through them without touching either bar. Why the gap? Could it be that neither Securitas nor Calpine think it mandates fixing?


What do you suppose a bankrupt company and world-famous security firm would see as important for providing security at The Geysers? How about having the Calpine maintenance crew come out to Post 3 to install a power line to move a bugger zapper that was working on the guard shack six feet away to a telephone pole? Why the move? Because the zapping of insects at night by the bug zapper makes noise. It irritates the guard on duty. It might even keep him awake.


Well, here's a news flash guards are supposed to be awake and alert at night. Having a bug zapper close by should be viewed as a good idea not a bad one. However, the wisdom at both Calpine and Securitas saw the situation quite differently. And, Calpine was more than willing to devote the time, effort and money to address the supposed problem. But, the gap at the Post 3 gate? Well, it's still there.


Did you know speeding up and down narrow roads in The Geysers was a problem? Well, it's not really a problem so far as most people who work there are concerned. Most of the people who come to work in The Geysers are not stupid. But, someone decided speeding was a problem in The Geysers so action had to be taken. Securitas supervisor John McMillen had his personal vehicle equipped with radar equipment. Think about this. One vehicle has been equipped with radar equipment to monitor traffic in the two-county area of The Geysers. This one vehicle is only going to used to monitor traffic when McMillen himself is traveling to and from The Geysers.


While the bug zapper and radar situation demonstrate a lack of common sense, the fact The Geysers does not have a comprehensive backup clearance operation put in place by Securitas is much more serious. When a Calpine contactor travels to The Geysers and is denied access for no other reason than his Calpine contact has taken the day off both the contractor and Calpine lose money. This happens quite often at The Geysers. Why? Because Securitas does not have a comprehensive backup procedure in place. It simply relies on Calpine to handle this matter. Consequently, if there is a clearance problem and Calpine cannot solve it, Securitas can blame Calpine.


But, it is really no coincidence that Securitas does not have a comprehensive backup procedure. It is actually part of their supervisor's design. He does not want his guards engaged in such work. It takes away from his scheduling and payroll processing for work done by Securitas both within and outside The Geysers. Put another way, it takes away from the supervisor's financial benefit of using his office in The Geysers to generate revenue for himself. Believe it or not, John McMillen has actually scheduled guards that work in The Geysers to work a special night shift of security at Clearlake's Wal-Mart.


Sadly, the cosmetic security operation at The Geysers is doing a lot more harm than good. Both Securitas and Calpine are behaving in a less-than-honorable manner. This is not in the best interest of the people who live, work or even visit The Geysers. The time has come to "clean house." Get rid of Securitas and bring in a professional operation that will provide REAL SECURITY. If Lake County's fastest-growing bedroom community, Hidden Valley Lake, can put forth a professional security operation that clears and tracks its entrants using real-time data, should the world's largest geothermal operation, The Geysers, do less?


Here is a list of what The Geysers should have:


1) Cell phone and VOIP (wireless Internet) services mandated.


2) All guard locations networked via The Internet.


3) Instantaneous traffic data feedback via computer.


4) A comprehensive security clearance back-up procedure.


5) Clearance authorization digitally done through a data bank utilizing driver license registration.


6) Traffic records saved on a database and available 24/7 at the click of a mouse.


This inept and embarrassing security operation at The Geysers has been brought to the attention of Calpine's Board of Directors more than once. Terry Brady, regional president for Securitas in Walnut Creek, wrote me a letter last year stating that a thorough investigation into my concerns has been done and he is now satisfied that everything is fine.


According to Brady, the matter is now closed. But, according to me, the matter is anything but closed. Following receipt of Brady's letter I met two security guards while shopping at Hardester's Market in Middletown who work at The Geysers. I inquired of them how things had now changed at The Geysers. Guess what? I was told that nothing had changed. Everything still works the same way it always had. Well, if nothing has changed, the problems are still there. Is Brady being misleading on purpose or is he being misled? Or, are the guards who actually work at The Geysers somehow clueless as to the Securitas improvements?


We all remember the Enron scandal. That tremendous fraud set into motion by a small band of Enron employees had devastating consequences not just for Enron itself, but for the power plant industry overall. Some might say it led to the recall of Gov. Gray Davis and the election of Arnold Schawarzenegger. Some might even say the Enron scandal contributed to the bankruptcy of Calpine, itself. Well, the Enron scandal did not have to happen. People got greedy. The truth did not matter. And, soon Enron was gone.


I believe Calpine deserves to make a comeback. But, that comeback is not going to be successful if there is a fraudulent security operation at The Geysers.


I call upon all concerned citizens of California to the write Judge Burton R. Lifhand of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court of the Sourthern District of New York, One Bowling Green, New York, NY 10004-1408 and demand that Calpine rid itself of Securitas and get a professional security firm to take its place.


The best alternative I am aware of is Wachenhut Corporation in Sacramento. This firm, based in Florida, has actually been honored with a Certificate of Conformance by the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security.


For the record, I am doing my part by notifying government officials and people in the news media as well as Judge Burton R. Lifhand. I welcome the support of Californians who believe as I do that cosmetic security has no place in a post 911 world. We deserve REAL SECURITY at every power plant facility in America. Since The Geysers does not have it, the time has come for change.


Lamar Morgan formerly worked in security at Calpine's operation at The Geysers. He lives in Middletown.


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Susanne La Faver, third from right, dined at the home of Pakistani friends in Lahore. Courtesy photo.



Benazir Bhutto set herself up for martyrdom when she returned to Pakistan from exile in Britain. Other than staying in Britain, the only way Bhutto could have stayed alive is if President Gen. Pervez Musharraf had successfully maintained his emergency rule or kept Bhutto under house arrest.


"Against my will, as a last resort, I had to impose the emergency in order to save Pakistan," Musharraf said. "A conspiracy threatened to destabilize the country.” I believed him.


Musharraf said he acted, in part, to ward off political chaos that would hobble Pakistan's efforts against Islamic extremism. He was correct on all accounts. But, the U.S. pressured Musharraf to reinstate constitutional rule and restore the judiciary.


The result is that now Benazir Bhutto is dead and U.S. leaders are setting her up as a martyr for democracy.


I don’t presume to know everything about Pakistan’s situation, but I’m very interested and deeply concerned. I have friends there.


I consulted in Lahore, Pakistan, for Levi Strauss & Co. (LS&Co.). In 1996, I was the lone Westerner on a team of Levi’s Asian employees building business relationships with fabric makers and clothing sewers. Team employees dubbed me “their Connie Chung.”


We worked together for 18 months, meeting first in San Francisco and Singapore, and then spending a week each in Indonesia, Hong Kong, Philippines, Korea, and Lahore, Pakistan. The manufacturers we met with in Lahore sewed Dockers knit shirts.


Business in Asia begins after people get to know one another. Personal relationships are primary. And, they last a lifetime.


My Muslim friend is Zahid, a former LS&Co. colleague who invited me to his home for dinner and to meet his wife, mother, children, and extended family. He has traveled to the U.S. several times to visit his American relatives in Texas.


My Christian friend, Akbar, was the butler in the hotel where I stayed. When he married, he sent me a photo of him and his new wife in their wedding finery. His family faces continual financial hardships because of their religion. His employment is sporadic. He writes, “Please pray to God for our Difficult time.”


Now, more than ever, I will keep these kind and good people, Muslims and Christians, in my thoughts and prayers in the days ahead.


The terrorist extremists are down out of the mountains in Pakistan.


Susanne La Faver lives in Hidden Valley Lake.

 

 

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Susanne La Faver, center, spent 18 months helping establish business relationships with Asian manufacturers for Levi Strauss & Co. The employee team, above, met in Seoul, Korea. Courtesy photo.

 

 

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