Wednesday, 29 March 2023


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.


Last May, Elizabeth Hill, the nonpartisan legislative analyst, warned that the state budget proposed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger earlier that month (a revised version of the plan he first laid out in January) relied on “overly optimistic” assumptions about revenue.

In particular, Hill forecast a decline in property taxes – due to the extended housing crisis – along with an expected shortage of money for the remainder of the current state fiscal year (which began July 1, 2007) and the next.

By late summer, the Schwarzenegger administration began work on the 2008-09 budget, projecting an “operating deficit” – the difference between spending commitments and expected revenues – of $6.1 billion.

In November Hill, citing a California economy now struggling to cope with the full effect of the housing crisis, upped the ante, saying that deficit would likely reach almost $10 billion over the next year and a half.

And then, in early December, word leaked out that the administration expected the gap to be in the range of $14 billion or more.

Is the state’s financial situation unraveling that quickly – and if so, why?

Economists say we have been hit by a double whammy thanks to the housing crisis – a reversal of the appreciation rates which pushed California home prices up more quickly than those in other states, and record foreclosures of homes purchased through sub-prime or other shaky loans offered to people no longer able to make their mortgage payments.

We should have a clearer picture of what that really means when the governor submits a new budget proposal to the Legislature on Jan. 10.

In the meantime, Schwarzenegger has announced he would declare a “fiscal emergency” next month, a move that may enable the administration and the Legislature to address the budget deficit more quickly than usual.

The governor has also instructed state agencies to propose 10-percent, across-the-board spending cuts.

While I appreciate the sentiment, $14 billion is more than 12 percent of the state’s general fund budget. In addition, a majority of state spending is mandated by voter-approved initiatives or federal laws over which we have little or no control.

Some Republican lawmakers say we may need to cut from programs and services taking up the lion’s share of state spending – K-12 education and higher education, health and human services, transportation and public safety.

We cannot cut our way out of a $14 billion deficit: reductions of that magnitude would have a devastating impact on kids, the elderly and the disabled – something most of us would oppose.

We need to increase revenues, too, because we’re not just talking about the cost of programs and services here. The deficit includes repayment of bond debts – debts which have increased significantly in recent years.

In 2003, former Gov. Gray Davis, also facing a significant budget gap, restored vehicle license fees to where they were under his predecessor, Pete Wilson.

Critics attacked Davis for increasing the “car tax,” and those attacks no doubt contributed to his defeat in the recall election later that year.

In his first action as the new governor, Schwarzenegger fulfilled a campaign promise to roll the vehicle license fee back again – politically popular but not the wisest policy decision. By rolling back the fees, he helped drill a $6 billion hole in the state budget.

I bring this up not to assign blame, but to highlight the fact that the budget deficit has many contributing causes – and there is no easy fix.

The legislative analyst has suggested we eliminate some recently-established state programs, abolish tax breaks, raise taxes and reduce benefits for people who rely on government programs.

I am not ready to endorse any particular strategy just yet, but I think it is imperative that we keep all of the options on the table and that we prioritize to protect the most vulnerable among us.

That includes thinking long and hard as we also pursue health care reform.

On Dec. 17, the Assembly approved a bill (the product of negotiations between Schwarzenegger and Speaker Fabian Nunez) to cover more Californians with health insurance.

I want health care reform, too, but I support Senate Leader Don Perata’s decision to delay Senate action on the plan until January – and until the legislative analyst has had a chance to estimate whether implementation of the Schwarzenegger-Nunez bill might further strain the state budget.

“It would be imprudent and impolitic,” Perata said, “to support an expansion of health care coverage without knowing how we’re going to pay for vital health programs the state now provides for poor children, their families and the aged, blind and disabled.”

I agree.

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

The California Highway Patrol and Team DUI have joined forces to spread the word about the choices we make regarding the decision to drink and drive.

We enter the holidays with plans of get-togethers with family and friends, company parties and year-end celebrations. There will be an increase in traffic with old man winter knocking at our door. Based on past performance and statistics, the anticipated driving under the influence fatality rate is expected to run in the 40-percent range.

What, do you ask, can a person do to reduce that statistic? There are several things that can be done.

The designated driver approach is one in which someone in the group is in charge of the transportation. Treat him/her good by supplying the designated driver with all the soda or other nonalcoholic beverages they desire.

Call for a taxi or friend to pick you up or just plan on spending the night at the place you are drinking at.

And, by all means, don’t get into the vehicle if you know that the driver has been drinking.

Our holiday exhortations not to drink and drive are repeated annually, even though they may seem monotonous and ritualistic. This plea will be made anew every holiday period because the decisions reached by each individual driver counts for so much.

The highway is a community in itself, particularly in California, where our major roads are constantly occupied, where activity never ceases, and where unwise and thoughtless behavior results in undesirable consequences.

Sometimes the consequence of driving after drinking is drowsiness, because alcohol is a depressant. That form of sleepiness is not so easily overcome, except for the obvious don’t even start out or let the sober designated driver take over the vehicle.

This is not meant to be a gloomy message, but we all see enough suffering every holiday season that need not happen if we all do our part.

Please think about judgment and choices this season as your life may depend on it.

Also, let us remind everyone to activate your headlights during inclement weather for everyone’s safety.

Wishing everyone a safe and happy holiday season and see you in the New Year.

Lance Mino and Adam Garcia are California Highway Patrol officers. Team DUI is a group of local agencies – including the CHP – and individuals dedicated to fighting drunk driving and underage drinking in Lake County.


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.



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.




The holiday season is upon us. With the festivities of the season comes accountability that is often not thought about. The accountability comes when you step into a motor vehicle. When you are the driver of a motor vehicle, you hold your passenger's life in your hands along with the life of passengers in other vehicles.

In the matter of a few seconds, a thoughtless, negligent choice of a DUI driver can forever change the lives of families and friends as they are left with the devastation of a deadly vehicle tragedy. The lives of many are shattered forever, as there is no way to pick up the pieces to one’s life once you have lost a loved one due to a negligent act of a thoughtless DUI driver. If you care enough about your passengers and other innocent people, then it is your responsibility to keep them safe.

Think of what your life would be like once you have received a telephone call informing you that your loved one was killed in a devastating DUI tragedy. That call could be about your spouse, close relative, best friend or your precious child. Think how grieving parents must feel as they say goodbye while watching their child’s casket being lowered into the ground. The intensity of that pain is next to none.

The thoughtless, negligent act of an irresponsible DUI driver can rip the heart out of a family and friends forever. They will never be whole again. No longer will the voice of a loved one be heard. No longer will a smile be seen. No longer will a loved one share in a life with their family or friends that they were meant to. The emptiness that a family feels is like a bottomless hole. All of this devastation is because someone carelessly chose to drink and drive without regard for another human being.

An irresponsible DUI driver, no matter what age, who continues to operate a motor vehicle without regard for the safety of their passengers or other innocent people, is inexcusable. There is no excuse that can condone the death of an innocent person due to a deadly DUI tragedy because a driver was selfish in their choice of actions.

Life is the most precious gift that we will ever have. Each time you get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, remember you hold life in your hands. To protect a life, you must be accountable for a life. When you drink and drive you are capable of murdering. You are capable of destroying a family forever. If you see yourself in this description either now or previously, it is not too late to hold yourself accountable and strive to change.

This holiday season, tragically, there are families that will no longer be able to share their special times together because of harmful choices that were made by an irresponsible DUI driver.

Don’t be the one to rip a family apart because you were the cause of a DUI collision or tragedy. Take responsibility for your actions now, before it is too late. Once you have caused a deadly DUI tragedy, there is no turning back. You will be forced to live with the consequences and your guilt for the rest of your life while an innocent family will be forced to live with devastation and emptiness for the rest of their lives.

We each have the power to allow everyone to have a safe and happy holiday as we all can make a responsible choice not to drink and drive.


Judy Thein served as Clearlake's mayor in 2007 and is a member of Team DUI, a group of local individuals and agencies working to stop underage drinking and drinking and driving. Thein’s daughter, Kellie, was tragically killed two years ago because a DUI driver made an irresponsible choice to drink and drive.


The devastating consequences to Clear Lake and other Northern California waterways threatened by an invasion of the alien quagga mussel has been widely publicized in Lake County throughout 2007. Now it seems that others in the region are are beginning to share our concerns.

On Dec. 8 the Executive Committee of the 11,000-member Sierra Club Redwood Chapter proposed that mussel containment become a top priority for the California Sierra Club, as advocated by Sierra Club Lake Group Chair Victoria Brandon and Chapter Delegate Paul Marchand.

At the Water Managers Forum held in Lakeport on Nov. 30, Cobb area district water manager Robert Stark called an infestation of these mussels in California waterways "the catastrophe that hasn't happened yet": it would devastate their ecological balance and dramatically impair their recreational value, while imposing a grievous financial burden upon water companies and other organizations that rely on surface water sources to meet community and agricultural needs.

Of European origin, quagga mussels entered the Great Lakes in ballast water in the 1980s, and have subsequently become widespread in the eastern United States, where they clog intake pipes, destroy motors, turn mooring lines into razor blades, and monopolize so many nutrients that fish and other forms of aquatic life starve. Direct repair and maintenance costs top $100 million annually. No practical method of eradication has yet been discovered.

They were found in Lake Mead in January 2007, and subsequently in other parts of the Colorado River drainage and several unconnected reservoirs in San Diego County, with recreational boaters believed to be the primary transport agent.

In October, legislation sponsored by Yolo Assemblymember Lois Wolk (AB 1683), provided the Department of Fish and Game with the authority to inspect, decontaminate, and if necessary to quarantine boats, other vehicles (eg trailers and seaplanes), and marinas, and to delegate these sweeping powers to other agencies but without the budgetary increases needed for effective implementation.

The Redwood Chapter wants the Club to urge California government to take decisive action to keep the mussel invasion from spreading throughout the state. Specific recommendations include: exercise by the Department of Fish and Game of its AB 1683 powers to quarantine mussel-infested waters or to impose mandatory decontamination on boats and other vehicles leaving those waters, with whatever funding increases are necessary to enable the effective performance of this mandate; inspection of boats and boat trailers for mussels at the state border, with mandatory decontamination if necessary; joint action with Nevada, other affected states, and federal agencies to establish containment methods; and design and implementation of a comprehensive campaign of public information.

The Chapter expects to present a resolution including these recommendations to the Regional Conservation Committee of the California Sierra Club on Jan. 20, 2008.

Victoria Brandon is chair of the Sierra Club Lake Group.



Upcoming Calendar

03.29.2023 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm
Virtual town hall
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

Mini Calendar



Responsible local journalism on the shores of Clear Lake.





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