Saturday, 25 March 2023


The proposed budget released by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Jan. 10 is a blueprint for a poorer quality of life in California, including his recommendation that we close nearly 20 percent of the state’s parks.

The park closures are part of his proposal for a 10-percent, across-the-board cut to all state departments.

While this may sound good as a sound bite, a 10-percent cut can decimate a department that has been fiscally responsible – state parks, to be specific – while some bloated, wasteful departments and programs may actually feel less of a pinch. This is no way to lead the state and no way prioritize California’s needs.

Let’s take a closer look at the parks department’s budget to prove my point.

Over the past three decades, the department has streamlined significantly and reduced its costs. To save money, department officials began deferring maintenance operations back in 1980s. This is a fancy way of saying that they stopped fixing or repairing roofs, restrooms, parking lots, etc.

It wouldn’t have taken Nostradamus to predict that the state would begin to rack up a huge backlog of maintenance projects, the cost of which now stands at about $1.2 billion.

Next, during the budget crisis of the early 1990s, the state completely restructured the parks department, a move which resulted in the elimination of 572 staff positions and 30 percent of the supervisory and management positions.

At the beginning of the current decade, the parks department received 55 percent of its budget from the state’s general fund. That amount has now been reduced by 35 percent. Furthermore, in 2003 an additional 90 positions were cut from the department’s budget.

Californians love their parks, and because of this fees have been able to compensate for much of the cuts that the department has been subjected to over the last decade. While fees are one way to help offset general fund costs, there is a limit – at some point costs become too high for Californians, as well as tourists from other states and countries, to continue visiting the parks.

When fees become high enough, they limit park access to a dwindling number of people able to afford them, thus denying access to many working families or people on limited incomes.

The numbers make it clear that the parks department has been running on a shoestring budget for over a decade now. It is because of the creative state employees who staff these facilities and the dedicated volunteers who love these parks that the state has been able to maintain them as well as they have. The governor’s proposal to close 48 state parks – including Clear Lake State Park and Anderson Marsh State Historic Park locally – is a slap to the face of these exemplary Californians.

So will closing 48 state parks have a significant impact on the state’s budget deficit? Let’s see: The deficit is projected to be around $14 billion for the next year and a half – closing the parks, we’re told, will lead to “savings” of about $13 million. In addition, closing the 48 parks means that the state will lose almost $4 million in revenues for these sites – reducing the supposed net cost benefit by quite a bit.

It’s the governor’s responsibility to lead, and leadership includes prioritizing the state’s needs. A 10-percent, across-the-board cut is no way to do this.

Nor should the deficit burden be shouldered by the parks department, which has continually streamlined and reduced costs over the years. As we strive to reach agreement on a state budget, it is my hope that the governor will reconsider this strategy.

Patricia Wiggins (D-Santa Rosa) represents California’s large 2nd Senate District, which encompasses parts or all of six counties: Lake, Humboldt, Mendocino, Napa, Solano and Sonoma. Visit her Web site at


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.


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.


Dear Gov. Schwarzenegger,


I have reviewed your address to Californians and your proposals to balance the budget. It seems strange that when there is legislation already in place that the representative members in Sacramento cannot work within those laws, but leave it to you to propose drastic budget cuts.


My concern is whether or not you understand the consequences of your actions in proposing the closing of California State Parks.


Parks belong to the people. Parks are very much a part of our educational system. Parks are a resource for senior citizens. Parks are for family recreation. Parks are where people across the nation and those from foreign countries learn about our cultural history and our national resources. Parks impact health by giving people a safe place for exercise and spiritual rejuvenation. Parks have a crucial economic impact on the areas where they are located.


Through American Disabilities Act, California parks were required to add new trails, boardwalks and restroom facilities for people with disabilities and now you propose closing these very areas to them. This is absurd and hypocritical.


For example, consider the two state parks, Anderson Marsh Historic State Park (AMHSP) and Clear Lake State Park (CLSP), in the County of Lake where I live.


An abbreviated history of these two parks adds to the appreciation of them. In 1885, AMHSP was part of a large cattle ranch with some cultivate acreage. From that date, it passed through the Anderson family until 1964, when the surviving members of the Anderson family formed a Family Trust and sold the ranch to Ray Lyon. Mora Anderson, last surviving member of the original family, continued living in the ranch house per a life estate agreement until her death in 1966. In 1982, Lyon sold the ranch to the State of California. In 1985, the ranch lands were classified as Anderson Marsh State Historic Park. The ranch house is well maintained and is open for tours and special events. It exemplifies the remarkable early history of the area.


The recent history of Clear Lake State Park begins in 1944 with the desire of Fred and Nellie Dorn that the public should have a park on the shore of Clear Lake. That resulted in their gift of land to Lake County. Through several processes, the State of California accepted approximately 300 acres from the county and began development of CLSP in 1948. Today there are numerous trails, 147 campsites, a boat launch and a visitor center with a natural history museum, gift shop, auditorium and the administrative office for both parks. Many park users have been coming to CLSP, with their families, for over 30 years.


Both of these parks are used extensively by the Lake County school systems for environmental education for their students. Junior Ranger programs serve the summer visitors to the park as well as resident children. These are opportunities for learning that do not exist within the doors of the schools. Campfire programs by the Park Rangers educate and entertain all ages.


Both of these parks have non-profit Interpretive Associations whose members staff the ranch house and the natural history museum and gift shop, lead walks, and present specialized programs for children and adults. Without compensation, the associations and docents assist with student education and present nature related programs to civic groups throughout the year. These volunteers are not unique, as they join with 26,000 park volunteers within California.


Two major events take place each year. The Anderson Marsh Historic State Park Bluegrass Festival takes place in the fall. The Heron Festival - Wildflower Brunch takes place in April in Clear Lake State Park. It is co-sponsored by local Redbud Audubon Chapter and the Clear Lake State Park Interpretive Association (CLSPIA). Many other events are hosted throughout the year.


CLSPIA is currently raising funds to build an Education Pavilion in the Clear Lake State Park.


The Anderson Marsh Interpretive Association is drawing plans for a discovery facility at that location. These associations also fund the gift shops and additions to the visitor center museum.


You are probably already well aware that understaffed and underpaid Park Rangers are also law enforcement officers and faithfully provide safety for all who enter the parks?


Governor, I believe it would be very short sighted for California to close any of its state parks. You say we have 37 million people now in the state and estimate that in twenty years there will be 50 million. Please weigh carefully the educational, health and recreational value of our state parks. Rather than closing parks, parks should be given more funds so that they can meet the ever-growing population and needs of Californians. The cost of closure, repair and reopening would be enormous.


If California would stop rewarding illegals with housing, medical care, education and food, I truly believe that the State of California would find enough money to balance the budget. Please explain why taxes from legal hard-working citizens should go for services for illegals while such things as education and parks suffer severe budget cuts and closures.


From Federation for American Immigration Reform: Analysis of the latest Census data indicates that California’s illegal immigrant population is costing the state’s taxpayers more than $10.5 billion per year for education, medical care and incarceration. Even if the estimated tax contributions of illegal immigrant workers are subtracted, net outlays still amount to nearly $9 billion per year. The annual fiscal burden from those three areas of state expenditures amounts to about $1,183 per household headed by a native-born resident. A huge amount of money earned by illegal immigrants is being sent directly to their relatives in Mexico every month.


I respectfully request that you withdraw your proposal to close California State Parks.


Leona Butts is a member of the Clear Lake State Park Interpretive Association Board of Directors. She lives in Clearlake Oaks.



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.



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.



Upcoming Calendar

03.27.2023 5:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Courting The Muse~Mixed Media Art Class
03.30.2023 7:30 am - 8:30 am
Rotary Club of Middletown
Middletown Art Center
03.30.2023 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
Character Design~Art Class for Teens
04.01.2023 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
04.01.2023 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Lake County Spring Dance Festival
04.01.2023 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Lake County Spring Dance Festival
04.03.2023 5:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Courting The Muse~Mixed Media Art Class
04.06.2023 7:30 am - 8:30 am
Rotary Club of Middletown
Middletown Art Center
04.06.2023 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
Character Design~Art Class for Teens
04.08.2023 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile

Mini Calendar



Responsible local journalism on the shores of Clear Lake.





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