Friday, 19 July 2024


Our recent household water usage was higher than usual, so my husband queried experts at the water district. “Are you eating your water bill?” they asked. Now that’s something we hadn’t heard before. It means water usage usually increases when summer gardens are growing. We felt reassured.

Later, relaxing in the shade of a fruitless mulberry tree, we surveyed our Hidden Valley Lake backyard. The fruit trees generously feed us cherries, apples, and figs. We eat grapes from grapevines growing along the back fence. Our persimmons will ripen soon.

From two raised-bed gardens, we eat zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, kale, artichokes, eggplant, strawberries, basil, parsley, garlic chives, oregano and lemon thyme. And, we’re harvesting giant sunflower and pumpkin seeds to roast.

Around a tiny lawn in our unfenced front yard, sage, rosemary and lavender plants flourish underneath three flowering fruit trees.

This is the first summer we’ve swapped vegetables over the fence with our neighbor, another gardener. Also new this year is the enjoyment my husband gets from lovingly preparing cardboard “gift baskets” for friends filled with vegetables and fruit from our yard.

Especially satisfying is consuming our own delicious food. We augment our fresh food supply by shopping at Kelseyville’s farmers’ market, an occasional trip to Hardester’s grocery store, and with home-grown beef from my dad in Natomas, near Sacramento.

Author Barbara Kingsolver’s book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, was my birthday gift from my son and daughter-in-law. Living in San Francisco, they live vicariously hearing our “crop reports” during weekly phone conversations.

Kingsolver’s book makes a passionate case for putting the kitchen back at the center of family life and diversified farms at the center of the American diet. My husband and I bless our rural life in which we can raise our own food and consume what is raised by us or people we know.

We realize the growing season is finite. Our water use will soon lessen. Meanwhile, we give thanks for the water and the harvest it provides.

Susanne La Faver lives in Hidden Valley Lake with husband, Lyle.


On Sept. 10 I could think of no other woman whose global influence has impacted so many lives as Anita Roddick.

Dame Anita Roddick lived in Britain, but dedicated her soul to the world. I never had the pleasure of meeting Dame Anita. But, I know that her bravery, business acumen and concern for all people touched my life.

She leaves us, her husband, and two daughters with a legacy to be admired, respected, and looked to for inspiration and guidance.

Dame Anita’s illustrious and socially conscious life included an education in teaching (Bath College of Higher Education), work for the United Nations, ownership of The Body Shop until 2006, and an exemplary record of achievement in humanitarianism.

Her life achievements include numerous awards in the areas of business ethics, business leadership, environment, Officer of the British Empire and an award for “Chief Wiper-Away of Ogoni Tears,” from the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People, Nigeria in 1999.

The connection that I share with Anita is multifold. In the 1990s my father, Dr. Carl Jensen, announced that Anita wanted to fund Sonoma State University’s Project Censored. At the time, Project Censored had published yearly books announcing the 10 most censored stories on a shoestring budget.

Anita’s gracious offer of funding helped Project Censored continue to bring significant stories to the public forum in a substantial way. Upon learning about the Body Shop through Dr. Jensen, I sought out her wares at The Body Shop. I was, as an environmentally conscious person, pleasantly surprised by the company’s product line.

True to her personal philosophy of healthy living, Anita’s company provided products that passed all environmental and animal protection activist concerns. Not only that, but Dame Anita sought the release of Nigeria’s social and environmental activist, Ken Saro Wiwa.

As an Environmental Studies and Planning Major at Sonoma State University I was touched by Anita’s call to save Nigeria’s forests, protect the Ogoni people, and release Ken Saro Wiwa from Nigeria’s prison.

The message I learned from her brave activism, care for people and the environment represents, absolutely, the ethos of love. Anita’s documented care for all transcended every act of humanitarianism I have witnessed in my life to date. This is a woman we all should have known, for she was humorous, loving, and gave to so many with all of her heart.

May we all be blessed with having known of Anita’s great work in our world.

Pia Jensen grew up in Santa Rosa and is former vice-mayor of Cotati. She visits Lake County on occasion to see family. She lives in Florida.


Though it hasn’t yet hit the streets and shopping malls, a prominent Republican lawyer in Sacramento recently submitted to the Attorney General a potentially explosive initiative that could guarantee Republican control of the White House for the next generation.

The measure, benignly entitled the “Presidential Election Reform Act,” would radically change the way California counts its electoral votes in presidential elections.

In order to get elected President, you need 270 electoral votes. With 55, California has far more than any other state in the nation. To put it in perspective, California alone has more electoral votes than most of the rest of the western states combined – Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington.

Instead of the “winner take all” method that currently awards all 55 California electors to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes, this Republican proposal would give just two electoral votes to the top vote-getter. The other 53 electors would be given to the winning candidate in each of California’s 53 congressional districts.

What would be the result of this modest-sounding change? Well, in the 2004 election, George Bush was the top vote-getter in 22 Congressional districts in California. That means he would have gotten more electoral votes in California than John Kerry got for winning Illinois or Pennsylvania.

In other words, it’s a clever partisan maneuver designed to appear like “reform,” while ensuring the election of Republican presidential candidates.

The Republicans even think they’ve figured out how to make this little stink-bomb smell good. They argue it will force presidential candidates to campaign in California because they can’t take the state – which has reliably voted for the Democrat in the last four presidential elections – for granted.

That sounds good – and it’s the same logic that led the Legislature to move up the date of the presidential primary to February 8 next year. But it’s a smokescreen.

The fact is, people have been unhappy with the electoral college for a long time. Since 1889 there have been nearly 600 proposed constitutional amendments on the subject of the electoral college introduced in Congress – more than on any other subject.

Following Richard Nixon’s narrow, 500,000-vote win in 1968, a proposed constitutional amendment calling for direct popular elections passed the House, but failed in the Senate.

More recently, there was a lot of talk about reforming the electoral college after the highly controversial 2000 presidential election, when George Bush became the first president in 112 years to lose the popular vote, but win in the electoral college.

But if the goal is to get the candidates to campaign in California, the simplest way to accomplish it is to eliminate the electoral college altogether. Since California has more voters than any state, candidates will have to campaign here.

Direct popular elections would give California voters a lot more say in choosing our president. After all, under the electoral college system, a California voter has significantly less electoral clout than a voter in less populous states. California has more than 650,000 people for every electoral vote. In Wyoming, though, there is one electoral vote per 168,000 people.

If the goal is to get rid of the “winner take all” system used in California, let’s get rid of it

everywhere. That’s the only fair way to do it.

But the hidden agenda of the proponents of the Presidential Election Reform Act isn’t fairness. It’s not even to increase California’s clout in the presidential election process.

Their goal is to ensure partisan Republican control of the White House. It may even be to continue the ill-conceived and disastrously managed war in Iraq.

So beware the next time you see one of those friendly paid signature gatherers on the street. Read the fine print. Ask questions. Then keep on walking. The best way to stop the Republicans’ latest cynical ploy is to keep it from getting on the ballot.

Mike Thompson represents California’s 1st Congressional District.


How important is it to remember 9/11/01? Is it just history or does it affect us even to this day? I believe, these are questions we all must ask ourselves. For those who have difficulty finding the answers to these questions, consider how much has happened since that day and in the name of that day. You may find, that horrific day didn’t just end at the death of 2,973 U.S. citizens, as tragic as that may be.

Since then, the toxic dust which New Yorkers were told was “safe and acceptable” by Former Mayor Giulani, has resulted in several deaths and serious lung problems including cancer. In fact, a federal judge ruled that former EPA director Christine Todd Whitman had misled residents and rescuers when she pronounced that the air quality in lower Manhattan met safety standards and necessitated neither a surgical mask nor a respirator. She claims under oath that she did this under the urgency of our federal government to get Wall Street and the economy up and running again and because Giuliani did not want New York to be seen as unsafe by a bunch of people wearing masks or hazmat suits.

In other words, our government was more concerned about money than about additional lives. Because of this, people like Felix Hernandez, Tim Keller, Deborah Reeve, James Zadroga, James Godbee, Felicia Dunn-Jones and their families have become additional victims of 9/11.

Since then, we have gone to war in Iraq, very simply based on the “threat” of another 9/11 terror attack. In fact, we have now lost more of our citizens to the war in Iraq than in the original 9/11 attack. Kind of defeats the purpose given, if you think about it.

So, let’s think about it. Let’s think about how 9/11 has changed the lives of U.S. citizens, the law and our government. Let’s think about how living in terror actually defeats the purpose of freedom and gives our enemies the upper hand. Let’s consider how we now have the Patriot Act in place has changed and will continue to change how we live. The Patriot Act now forces us (lawful U.S. citizens) to allow:

  • Physical searches and spying on U.S. citizens without a warrant and the right to do so without notifying the suspected party.

  • Monitoring of both the telephone and internet communications without giving notice or seeking a warrant.

  • Arrests solely on the basis of “suspicion” alone, without warrant and without a formal charge.

  • Detaining suspicious persons indefinitely and without notice neither publicly nor privately.

  • Deportation of legal immigrants for minor violations.

  • Carrying out selective prosecutions and racial profiling unchecked.

  • Detaining, deporting, and denying fundamental due process rights to lawful immigrants, including the right to legal counsel and public hearings.

  • Wire-tapping client confidential communications.

I think the answer is obvious. 9/11/01 is not history, as it is still shaping our lives. I believe it is worth not just remembering but worth thinking about.

This article is dedicated to ALL of the people who lost their lives, livelihoods and loves on 9/11/01.

Please visit :

Lakeport resident Andrea Anderson's mother worked at the World Trade Center, and left the building 20 minutes before the first plane hit, losing many coworkers and friends.


Ever since I first came to Lake County, almost 37 years ago, I have heard discussions on how to bring businesses to Lake County that will provide decent jobs for the next generations so they don’t have to relocate to more urbanized areas. Many of the better professional jobs in government and service are being snapped up, in a highly competitive job market, by people moving away from those same urban areas looking to escape and raise their children in a safer environment.

The age-old model revolved primarily around manufacturing and service oriented opportunities. Manufacturing of products has always been a tough sell here due to the isolated nature of the County and transportation costs and issues. The perception of isolation may be a greater hindrance than the reality but certainly gas prices haven’t helped. The size and weight of product also bears on this issue. There have been examples of successful manufacturing in Lake County, but not many.

One of the other issues we face is demographic in nature. We have a large percentage of elderly in our workforce not capable of enduring the rigors of manufacturing or service-related jobs. Also, as a former employer, I can testify to the difficulty of getting employees that are dependable and motivated.

While it is true that our wages fall to the low side, and some of our employers would be better suited to the 18th century sweat shop age, we still have a sizable number of work age people with dependency problems and a general inability to show up on time or at all and give a good day’s work.

The whys on that I’ll leave to the sociologists. The point is, we suffer from having a reputation as a county that does not have a highly dependable, well-trained work force. That hurts when it comes to attracting manufacturing or large service employers. And the reasons many of them may consider us our low wage scale is not something we’d like to emphasize as we try to raise wages and benefits for Lake County employees.

We know that small businesses form the nucleus of Lake County prosperity, along with tourism of course, but where the potential for economic growth really lies is at the heart of the discussion. I thought some County labor statistics might spark the conversation.

Manufacturing in Lake County accounts for only 2 percent of our workforce. Government provides the most substantial opportunities, accounting for 30 percent, however the turnover is less as these represent a significant number of the cush jobs here, offering retirement, benefits, holidays, relatively high salaries, etc.

The tourist industry is definitely large, representing 11 percent, but wreaks havoc on families due to pressures to work weekends, holidays and non-traditional shifts. With these kinds of schedules it’s difficult for families to schedule events where they can be together.

Education and health jobs represent a large percentage of our workforce at 14 percent. These jobs also represent some of the better long-term opportunities and we are certain to see an increase in these areas locally as our population ages and grows.

Trade, transportation and utilities account for 19% of our business this includes agriculture and retail of course.

Construction and Information both account for less than one percent of our workforce. The latter is an area where significant growth could occur if we commit to creating a reliable and advanced infrastructure.

Lake County comes in at providing almost $8,000 less per year per capita income for its citizens than the California average. This is one of the statistics that has to change if we want our kids to remain here. More than 1,000 of our workers commute to Mendocino County to work and a total of 22 percent of our available workforce commutes to other counties for employment. Even more interesting, six percent of our workforce comes into Lake County from other counties to work!

One of the more alarming statistics is the projections for growth that may lie ahead. When my family first came to Lake County there were less than 40,000 residents. By 2020, that is expected to double to 80,000. Expectations run at about 1,000 new residents per year to increase the load on our schools and services, transportation and roads, health and government services, and of course our workforce.

Unless Lake County sets benchmarks for controlling this influx, these immigrating citizens many with high levels of education and transferable skills seeking to escape metropolis will suck up the better jobs or, at the very least, increase the highly competitive circumstances we already have. Do we want to have 110,000 residents by 2050?

Just as a side anecdote for one receptionist position at a local doctor’s office, more than 150 applications were accepted. One of the local casinos had more than 300 applicants nationwide for a general manager position. One of the Geysers postings looking for eight to 16 positions had well over 300 applicants. County positions routinely have 60 or more initial applicants. So our workforce is struggling to find jobs with benefits and commensurate salaries.

A living wage enough to support a worker with rent, fuel, food and basics, is now defined at $15 per hour. Lake County citizens know from experience that the number of local jobs that pay that wage are few and far between. That’s why there are so many families working two or three jobs to make ends meet, and so many falling behind or living under poverty standards without benefits or retirement. To compound that problem, more employers are hiring workers at less than full-time so they can avoid costs of benefits.

Ultimately we still suffer from that traditional early industrial viewpoint of “us versus them” when it comes to employee-employer relationships. We need a thorough education program for our businesses and our workforce to encourage a different perspective. We need more, not less, commitment from both groups to understanding each others needs and problems.

For employers, it shouldn’t be how much can we get for the least cost from our employees it should be what can we do to enhance our employees lives and families, reward them for enthusiastic participation, increase their motivation and help them realize that their quality of work affects us all.

Similarly, employees need to realize that employers need dependable, sober and motivated workers not looking for an easy buck. In a small community, which we still are, we are all interdependent, and the more we look after each other even in business the more attractive staying here will be for our youth.

So what kind of future do we want to encourage here? Information and green technology holds significant promise, with above-average earnings and tremendous growth potential if we have the technological communications infrastructure to support it.

Agriculture still has significant promise if we capture the higher net profit organics market and encourage our local citizens to support that economy by buying locally grown produce and products if only because they’re better for our children’s health. But where will these farm workers come from? There aren’t a lot of Lake County citizens prepared to do this kind of work who aren’t doing it already. Farming isn’t easy but if the wage were high enough it certainly would be an area for expansion for business and workforce especially small farm co-ops. Lake County citizens would have to buy into supporting them but if the products were good, I think that would happen.

Manufacturing growth shouldn’t be excluded from our plan just be well-planned and prepared for. The manufacturing of green products and materials could hold significant promise because green business owners often are as influenced by environment and atmosphere as much as bottom line.

Just as Silicon Valley became a center for computer technologies, Lake and Mendocino counties could host an international green business revolution. Someone needs to be doing the work of developing the contact lists and liaison activities that are required for this type of marketing and outreach to encourage new green businesses to consider Lake County as their primary location. Once again, for this to happen our communications infrastructure must be as technologically advanced as possible.

Bottom line is that Lake County has tremendous potential. We have some problems both with the habits, training and motivation of our workforce and with the attitudes and practices of some of our employers. If we don’t want new citizens coming in to take the cream of the jobs away from our kids workforce development and business relations needs to rise to the top of our priorities.

There’s a lot that needs to be done and the agencies given this responsibility from state and federal programs are so hamstrung by paperwork and lack of funding that many of them are competing to offer identical redundant services. A comprehensive and easily accessed pool of Lake County residents looking for work is non-existent. Employers need to take the initiative to educate themselves as to the most effective ways to motivate and re-energize their workers.

A little profit sacrificed today to improve relations, hold better employees and improve benefits and conditions could make the difference in their bottom line tomorrow.

I look forward to the conversation.

James BlueWolf in an artist and author. He lives in Nice.



I am writing to express the gratitude of a grieving family. We are from all over these great United States, but we are grounded in California. Our grandmother raised four generations right in Clearlake. The branches of our tree may stretch for miles and miles, but our roots have always been right off Highway 29 – For as long as I can remember, anyway.

And so it goes, people leave and start families, visit less and less, letters are a rarity and holiday cards become the common means of communication. That does not mean, in any way, that the bond is broken or even cracked. It does not make relationships less valuable. It does, however, make the guilt and regret more profound when you lose a leaf from your tree. Especially when your loss comes too soon and so unexpectedly.

Leah Leister was my cousin. I have beautiful memories of my childhood visits with her, where my sisters and parents would pack into a car and drive eight straight hours for a week of catching up. I love all of my family, but Leah and I were bound by a sisterhood. Too young to join the rest of the commotion, and not really caring that we were missing it. We had so much else to do than talk about uncle so-and-so or great aunt what’s-her-name.

As we got older, we settled for letters and visits that came only every few years, but we always kept in touch. We always knew what the other was doing. Always. She was so full of dreams. She always talked of bigger and better things. She was so ready to begin her life. When her son was born, I only heard a stronger motivation for a change.

And then she was murdered.

I was able to attend one court proceeding. I drove from Oregon and sat in the courtroom next to Amy, Leah’s mother. I held her hand when Leah’s attacker looked Amy in the eyes and laughed and mouthed the words “you’re next.” I was with her when an officer of the court told us there was nothing that could be done to stop the accused from threatening her. There are laws, however, that protect the accused from being threatened by victims.

It was then that I first tried to block out Leah from my mind. I didn’t really believe there would be any justice and it hurt so bad to see my family tormented. Not just Amy, but everyone. I can’t even comprehend what her son lives with. Or her grandma, my Aunt Joy. How does a person make sense of that? I’d rather not deal with something so painful and since I live so far away, I could do that. I’m sorry to say that is exactly what I did.

I hear things from time to time through the grapevine. I begin to grieve and again just file it away. Too hard to deal with.

Then I hear from my mother that it’s over. He’s guilty. He’s going away for life – no parole for him. Ever. That is it. I can’t bury it any longer and I grieve. I’m still grieving. I think I always will.

So, I read an article by Elizabeth Larson that tells of Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff’s tireless effort. I think of the detectives that won't let Leah’s case go. I think of the jurors who hugged my family when it was finally over. I think of it every day. I will not ever be given the words to tell those people what that means to my family. All of us. Not just those in Lake County, but every one of us. I was not able to be there for Aunt Joy or Amy or William, but this community was. You didn’t know then and I don’t think you ever will really know what that means to me and her extended family.

I realize murder happens every day. Death is a part of life. My family isn’t the only one that grieves. Yet this community has made me feel as though they were personally taking care of my family for me – a and those who could not be there. How do you thank someone properly for that?

Thank you to the district attorney. Thank you to the detectives and police who did their part. Thank you to the group of peers that made up the jury that did the right thing.

In the end my cousin has been honored. She may never be able to live out all her dreams, but her dreams will never be forgotten.

Leah Leister was my cousin. I miss her and I love her.

Candie Johnston lives in Madras, Ore. Johnston's cousin, 26-year-old Leah Leister, was murdered in her Clearlake apartment in March 2002. More than five years later, on June 27, 2007, Edward James Munoz was convicted of Leister's murder. He is facing life in prison without the possibility of parole. Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff prosecuted the case, persevering in the case's prosecution despite a hung jury in a previous trial in late 2006.



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