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Monthly Archives: January 2019

Parole has been recommended for one of the Charles Manson followers. A parole board at the women’s prison in Corona said for the third time, that Leslie Van Houten should be paroled after serving more than forty years behind bars. But there’s also a 150-day review process, and then it’s turned over to the Gov. Gavin Newsom. Previously former Gov. Jerry Brown blocked her release. Van Houten was one of Manson’s followers involved in the brutal murder of wealthy grocer Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary, in 1969 as well as the actress Sharon Tate and four others in Los Angeles. She was 19 years old at the time. Sharon Tate’s sister was at the hearing yesterday and says she hopes and prays the governor makes the right decision.

A lawyer for Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. says they’re looking to establish a trust fund to cover the lawsuits from wildfire victims. The comments at a hearing earlier today from the utility’s lawyer Stephen Karotkin adding that the fund could be financed in different ways and may expedite payments to families affected by wildfires. But experts say wildfire victims might get less money in bankruptcy court. The lawyer says they didn’t file for the bankruptcy to get out of taking responsibility for any wildfires in 2017 and 2018 and said the Chapter 11 was the only way they could stay solvent, address wildfire claims fairly and still stay in business, providing reliable electric and gas service.

Meanwhile fire victims in court telling the judge to remember those who died as the bankruptcy progresses thru court. A lawyer for fire victims also said there are still thousands living in trailers and there should be more of a sense of urgency surrounding the victims. The company went ahead with their chapter 11 filing on Tuesday listing nearly $51.7 billion in debts and $71.4 billion in assets. Something else that came out in court was that the utility company wants to pay as much as $130 million dollars in bonuses to 14,000 employees to reward them for good performance in 2018. The money not for top execs., the board or the former CEO who just recently resigned, so the judge approved it.

The statewide snowpack in the Sierra Nevada is being measured at exactly 100 percent of the historical average for this date. It’s more than a month ago, when the measurement of the snowpack showed it at 69 percent of the historical average. One year ago was only 18 percent of normal. The water that’s in the Sierra mountain range makes up about a third of the state’s water supply for cities and farms after melting in the spring and summer. It’s also helping the ski resort industry after five years of drought where residents had to dramatically curtail their water usage.

A judge overseeing the case against PG&E after the San Bruno explosion has found the utility company violated its probation. Judge William Alsup also berated them in open court after finding the company didn’t tell probation officials on their criminal case that a prosecutor’s office was investigating the utility possibly being responsible for a 2017 California wildfire. The judge saying there was a clear cut pattern PG&E started the fires and the utility wasn’t doing enough to stop them. He had previously said the company should inspect all power lines, remove trees and shut power on high wind days. PG&E responded that it would actually endanger lives and could cost too much. The judge also reminded the company it caused 18 fires in 2017 alone and at least a dozen of them could be referred for possible criminal prosecution. The company’s bankruptcy may not save them from criminal proceedings though.

The Governor’s Office of Emergency Services working with FEMA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), CalRecycle, and Butte County are working to take Camp Fire debris to local facilities. The announcement earlier today there’s no longer a reason for a temporary debris handling facility after analysis. So this means the Consolidated Debris Removal Program for the Camp Fire will not be using the Koppers industrial site which had been proposed in December. Any concrete from the fire will be processed and used for local projects or transferred outside the county for recycling. They may use outside facilities due to unanticipated volumes or other factors. But the state says its committed to working with local partners and the community while decisions are made.

More proactive work is wanted in wildlands ahead of the next fire season. California wildland managers looking to expedite the process for logging and prescribed burns. The goal is to cover a half million acres of land, not owned by the federal government, every year. There still may be roadblocks in the way of this sort of work though. There have to be reviews of projects in Calif to see if they’re harmful, but politicians of both parties say laws are sometimes getting in the way of necessary improvements. CalFire, the California Conservation Corps, and others who do management projects already have to first have an environmental review. The Cal Fire Director says it’s a more comprehensive approach.

The search is on for a new superintendent in the Konocti Unified School District. The current super, Donna Becnel is retiring the end of this school year. Lake Co News reports the district’s board of trustees is hiring an outside firm to help with the search, which could cost up to $12,000. There will be meetings with the board, community members and school employees for input on what everyone is hoping for in the next superintendent. Becnel is working with the recruitment firm too. They’re hoping to have a new superintendent chosen by May.

Five dams in the state are listed as needing removal. This from an advocacy group who want to preserve habitat for native salmon and steelhead and stem their extinction. Calif. Trout, a state nonprofit says 74 percent of California’s native salmon, steelhead and trout could be extinct in the next century. A new report outlines why the dams should be removed and which ones, including Scott Dam in Lake County, which forms Lake Pillsbury and part of the Potter Valley Project which PG&E had on the market, but just removed. The dam provides hydroelectricity, water storage and sends water into the Russian River too. They’ve also listed Cape Horn in Mendocino County.

A man from Newark has been arrested in Clearlake for the sexual assault of a child. Police say 31 year old David Johnson was arrested Saturday in Newark. He was in the Santa Rita Jail then taken to Lake County where he was being held yesterday on $1 million and he’s not due in court until Feb. 5th. Not a lot more information except that it involved a child under 10 years old.

Fire safety benefit zones are being created in the Rivieras area of Lake County. This means money will be raised from property owners in Clear Lake Riviera, Buckingham, Riviera West, and Riviera Heights to go to hazardous vegetation abatement and fire risk reduction. The property owners have to approve the move after the Lake County Board of Supervisors approval. There will be a simple majority of votes and a one-time assessment to create the safety zones. District 5 Supervisor Rob Brown says it could bring in about a half million dollars with the $100–$300 per-property fees to fund abatements. Property owners will get the ballots that have to be turned in by March 26th.

A group chat on the impacts of wildfires is being held at the Upper Lake Senior Support Center. The Lake Family Resource Center’s (Lake FRC) California HOPE project, and the Upper Lake Senior Support Center are hosting the Conversations for Community Resilience group chats the first and third Wednesdays of the month, so that would be next Wednesday, from 11 a.m. to noon. The talks are free and open to the public. The talks to share individual experiences along with resources, and learn how various community members handle disasters. It’s also to brainstorm what’s next and to learn self care approaches to support natural resilience. Services are provided thru a grant from Lake County Behavioral Health Services. For more information on Lake FRC California HOPE, visit or FRC: California Hope or call 707-349-5203.

The governor has outlined ideas to get more housing in the state, calling it California’s most important issue. Newsom says he’ll find ways to move fast on new housing, but with realistic regional goals. He says it might mean no transportation help from the state’s new gas tax increase for areas needing more housing and said he’s considering reducing giant “impact fees” from local governments for housing construction and find ways for more housing especially in Silicon Valley, where the local government has already pledged a half-billion dollars for new housing. He’s also considering punishment for cities who don’t comply, the attorney general already suing Huntington Beach for not complying.

The University of California President going against the Trump administration’s changes to the way campuses are supposed to respond to sexual harassment and assault allegations. President Janet Napolitano responding to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ recent redo of the federal Title 9 law which they say would discourage victims from reporting abuse, limit what a school can do to prevent sexual misconduct and pretty much let students get away with assault. This all outlined in a letter Napolitano and the UC Title IX Coordinator wrote in a 14 page document to the fed calling the new rules unworkable. 90,000 public comments have been logged against the new rules, including the Cal. State University Chancellor who called it draconian.

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. has filed for bankruptcy and will head back to court on another matter, related to their equipment failures and the possible connection to massive, deadly wildfires across the state. A judge in the case is set to hear arguments today after he told the utility company to trim all trees around power lines and examine all lines and shut down power in high wind conditions. The judge is overseeing the case of the criminal conviction against the utility after the San Bruno gas line explosion in 2010. The work the judge says would be like a probationary period for the company and to prevent more wildfires.

The Lakeport Fire District Chief says he’s out… Doug Hutchison has been offered the job as the chief of the Ukiah Valley Fire Authority and is leaving Lakeport next month. He said there were rumors for a while and even though the formal offer wasn’t done, he was leaving to actively pursue other options. He did say however that he wasn’t actively pursuing other positions, but said he has to do what’s best for his family. He’s been with the Lakeport dept. since 2014 after leaving a position in Washington State. The Lakeport Dept. has major changes over the last few years with only a couple full time firefighters on staff. In Ukiah, there’s been a temporary Fire Authority Administrator. The dept. shares joint powers authority with the City of Ukiah’s fire department.

A local kidney doctor in Lakeport, is accused of sex assault of a coworker. Mohamad Moutaz Almawaldi was in court but has not in jail after his lawyer asked for a continuance. Almawaldi has pleaded not guilty to charges from more than a year ago, accusing him of an assault from Aug. of 2017. A woman working in his Lakeport office saying he had tried to kiss her, forcefully and pulled at her shirt. He was arrested in the case in November of 2017 with bail set at $20,000 which he paid and got out of jail. He’s due back in court in March with a jury trial set for April.

Gray wolves will remain a protected species in California. A state court has ruled the animals will stay protected under the California Endangered Species Act, rejecting a challenge from the Pacific Legal Foundation for the California Cattlemen’s Association and California Farm Bureau Federation. Advocates say it’s the right move. Ranchers were challenging the endangered status saying wolves in the state were actually the wrong subspecies, arguing their listing was wrong, based on a solo wolf, saying they couldn’t be endangered in Calif. because they are plentiful in other places across the globe. The suit after a lone wolf, OR-7 crossed from Oregon into Calif., the first confirmed wild wolf here in 87 years, so the lawsuit said that one wolf was from a subspecies that never existed in California.

Could there be a warning ahead of an earthquake? That’s the plan from Gov. Newsom whose got an earthquake early warning system in his first budget. $16.3 million for the project which will feature a warning horn and a voice yelling that there’s an earthquake (“Earthquake! Earthquake!”). That actually happened after the 2014 Napa earthquake which was part of the “ShakeAlert” that was developed by scientists at Cal, Berkeley. It’s more like, it’s a happening now warning, more than ahead of the actual event says scientists. So there could be an alert ahead of any real feeling of shaking, but during the actual earthquake. It could go out to cellphones seconds before the real shaking, something scientists say could make a difference.

Nursing students in their second year get scholarships. Three nursing students at Mendocino College are getting $750 for continued education. Mendocino College has announced Regina Waddle, Rachel Farkas, and Kari Paoli, who are graduating this spring won the money. The trio are planning to stay and work in the county. The students have shown promise, according to the school. Farkas has had a perfect 4.0-grade point average throughout her educational program, Paoli working two jobs and has a twelve-year-old and Waddle has been praised by teachers and students alike. The money for the scholarships by several donors.

A walking tour of the Lake Area Planning Council shows some folks didn’t want to continue walking because there were no sidewalks or crosswalks… The Planning Council has been around since the 1970’s and is the official transportation planning agency for Lake County. Those on the panel include county supervisors, city council members from Lakeport and Clearlake, as well as citizens. Their Lake Walks survey happened last fall. The Record Bee reports there were more than 350 public comments on the survey which included a lack of “sidewalk connectivity” and being able to cross streets safely, along with broken continuity between residential areas and school, parks and transit.

A less than bustling recreational marijuana industry has some lawmakers and the state treasurer talking about temporarily cutting taxes to invigorate the market. The state made 100 million less than expected and the Treasurer said the state had to do better. She was there for the announcement of the bill saying the industry should be hauling in between $6 billion and $20 billion dollars. East Bay Assemblyman Rob Bonta introduced the bill for a three year tax break with three other lawmakers and the Treasurer’s support. The bill to lower the excise tax from 15 to 11 percent and no taxes for marijuana growers at all through 2022. Right now they’re taxed $148 a pound of cannabis flower.

A new study shows more drivers in Calif. were using their cell phones when driving, but still less than previous years. The California Office of Traffic Safety and California State University, Fresno report from August and September of last year shows less than five percent (4.52 percent) were seen picking up then using their phone as opposed to less than four percent (3.58 percent) in 2017. The study was from more than 200 locations across 17 counties statewide. The numbers from last year were still three percent less than 2016. Some of the highlights were drivers alone used their phones more, phones were used for functions over phone calls, like texting, email, GPS, using an app or social media and they were used less on highways.

More water’s coming out of Lake Oroville this year, but it’s still lower than usual. The Department of Water Resources reports allocations for State Water Project users were up 15 percent of contracted amounts, and that was up from the 10 percent announced in December. At last measure, the lake level was up 36 feet, but still nearly 200 feet from where it tops off, and more than 2 million feet short of capacity. But at last measure the snowpack in the mountains was above average. The snowpack that fills Oroville, Shasta and Trinity lakes was 115 percent of normal for this time of year.

A man the Butte County Sheriff’s Office says was shooting at his ex-wife in Red Bluff was then killed by deputies. The Chico Enterprise Record newspaper reports there was a chase by police after Richard Moulton pulled a gun out and pointed it at police so they shot him Monday. They say he first attacked his ex by biting and choking her and trying to gouge her eyes before shoving a handgun into her mouth, then shooting at her. She was uninjured. Then there was a “be on the lookout” alert for him. His pickup was spotted by a deputy who took chase. Nine deputies were involved and are now all off field duty. They’re asking anyone who may have seen anything to call.

It’s official, PG&E is moving forward with their Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing. The giant utility company is expected to file today ahead of being slapped with billions in lawsuits from wildfires in the state last year and in 2017. They listed more than $51 and a half billion dollar in debt and another $71 and a half billion in assets. The company posted on its website they weren’t closing down, and don’t expect any interruption of service. But it might mean higher bills for customers. The company has filed for bankruptcy court approval for a $5.5 billion funding package also known as debtor-in-possession financing. Banks provide the funding, then are first in line to get paid back by PG&E after the filing. One of the bigger investors in PG&E has voiced disappointment in the bankruptcy filing and is trying to get the board replaced.

A longtime turnaround specialist for large corporations is reportedly being named to help PG&E come out of its pending bankruptcy. James Mesterharm is reported to be in line to help with the bankruptcy. Mesterharm’s appointment was not made public and was reportedly still in the late stages of being finalized last night. So far the California Public Utilities Commission has given the green light to PG&E getting as much as $6 billion dollars to help it stay in business during the bankruptcy proceedings. Mesterharm works at a turnaround and consulting firm and has previously helped Eastman Kodak Co and has advised on others like mall owner General Growth Properties and Zenith Electronics.

Could there be a warning ahead of an earthquake? That’s the plan from Gov. Newsom whose got an earthquake early warning system in his first budget. $16.3 million for the project which will feature a warning horn and a voice yelling that there’s an earthquake (“Earthquake! Earthquake!”). That actually happened after the 2014 Napa earthquake which was part of the “ShakeAlert” that was developed by scientists at Cal, Berkeley. It’s more like, it’s a happening now warning, more than ahead of the actual event says scientists. So there could be an alert ahead of any real feeling of shaking, but during the actual earthquake. It could go out to cellphones seconds before the real shaking, something scientists say could make a difference.

A fisherman in Florida finds an old hand grenade while magnet fishing. It happened in Ocala and a fast food restaurant had to be closed because of it. The Taco Bell closed after the angler took the World War 2 era grenade with him to call police from the fast food joint. Police confirming on their Facebook page it indeed was a WWII hand grenade which a bomb squad removed without incident.

The amount of insurance claims for the November 2018 wildfires is almost 11 and a half billion dollars. This makes the series of fires the most expensive ever in Calif. The State Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara says more than $8 billion of the losses are from the Camp Fire which killed 86 people and destroying around 15,000 homes. The other three or so billion dollars from two Southern California wildfires. The commissioner says the total losses are just below the amount in the October 2017 wildfires throughout Northern California and others in Southern California that December. The commissioner says the losses could go up too. No word yet what caused the 2018 wildfires, but PG&E equipment is nearby where the Camp Fire in Paradise started.

Speaking of the Camp Fire, a woman in Oroville with a half dozen trailers on her property is being told they have to go. Butte County reportedly warning Jennifer Jones she’s violating an ordinance, but that she can keep two trailers on her property. She has about five acres, but the code enforcement manager says Jones is violating the county camping ordinance. She says she’s going to fight it so she can continue to allow the evacuees to stay on her property. She says nobody is paying to stay on her property and the code enforcement department says they’ll give Jones a lot of warning before she has to do anything.

First 5 Lake Commission has awarded local Children’s Champions for going above and beyond to help kids in the community. The nonprofit supporting kids in the first five years of their lives. The nonprofits Children’s Champions this year are Dr. Barbara Gardner, a local pediatrician working on early literacy and launching the Reach Out and Read program was the last named champion of 2018.

The full list of 2018 Children’s Champions is:

– Christopher Veach and Barbara Green, Lake County Libraries;
– Jeff Smith, former District 2 Supervisor;
– Kari Donley, Adventist Health Clear Lake;
– The QRIS Team at Lake County Office of Education (Angel Coppa, April Straight and Angela Cuellar-Marroquin);
– Ana Santana, Wendy Gattoni, and Tanya Biassoti, LCOE’s Healthy Start Program;
– Mary Prather, Easter Seals Bay Area;
– Brandy Perry, North Coast Opportunities Inc.;
– David and Denice Solgat, foster and adoptive parents;
– Sarah Fuchs and Pam Inman, Lower Lake High School;
– Jacqui Joyce, child care provider;
– Natalie Baker, community volunteer;
– Jordan O’Halloran, Lake Family Resource Center;
– Dr. Barbara Gardner, Adventist Health Ukiah Valley, Lakeport Office.

Community members are encouraged to nominate other Champions for Children in Lake County for this year at

A search conducted into the almost year long disappearance of a Covelo woman. The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office along with other agencies did a search and rescue this weekend for Khadijah Britton who vanished last February 7th. Witnesses and family members say her ex boyfriend Negie Fallis, who’s in jail, forced her into a car at gunpoint. Since that time, the Sheriff’s Office and others have been looking for Britton. This time the one-day search was on Round Valley tribal land, and a search of a pond with a blackwater team. But nothing was found. The whole thing yesterday after various tips from the public, but were reportedly more about rumors than anything concrete. The Sheriff’s Office says they’re making some progress, but it’s been frustrating.

The Potter Valley project is no longer for sale. Pacific Gas and Electric has reportedly decided not to relicense and sell the hydroelectric dam after all. The utility company says they’ve sent a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) with their official Notice of Withdrawal, but the company also said the Federal agency will initiate its so-called Orphan Project process so anyone interested could potentially license the project. The company also says if that’s not successful they assume FERC will order PG&E to surrender and decommission the project altogether.

The Hoopa Valley Tribe prevails in federal court, arguing dam owner PacifiCorp needs to use mandatory requirements to protect the Klamath River. PacifiCorp has to get a license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, but apparently they haven’t had a valid one since 2006. The tribe claimed PacifiCorp was enabled by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and the states of Oregon and California to use temporary operating licenses without dam modernization. The Fisheries Director for the Hoopa Valley Tribe says it’s a small victory in the larger fight for a healthy Klamath river.

You may see some smoke in the area south of Covelo and beyond, but no worries, it’s Cal Fire with a controlled burn to control vegetation overgrowth. The burn near Round Mountain will probably be visible from Highway 162 starting around 10 this morning. The Vegetation Management Program as weather permits to minimize air quality and other impacts. Cal Fire says the burn, which also may be seen out in Willits, is to reintroduce fire as a natural element of the ecosystem and improve wildlife habitat and reduce overall vegetation to hopefully stop catastrophic wildfires in the future.

Willits City Councilmembers getting a little more green in their pockets. At their meeting last week, council members voting to give themselves, and not the mayor, a $100 increase. They already get a monthly $100 stipend and the mayor gets $200. There’s a $300 limit for a city of Willits size. Fort Bragg and Lakeport pay council members $300 a month, and Ukiah is allowed nearly $500/month. They pay the maximum of $460. The money to offset travel expense like gas, food and parking.

More info on what that private equipment was that caught fire, causing the deadly Tubbs Fire almost a year and a half ago. State fire investigators announced last week a private electrical system was to blame for the fire, not PG&E equipment, which caused the utility’s stocks to spike a bit. But they’re still claiming they’re filing for bankruptcy protection. The 80 page report into the fire says it started at 1128 Bennett Lane in Calistoga where the caretaker says a wooden pole, distributing power had deteriorated because of woodpeckers. They were planning to replace it the following spring. PG&E was found responsible for 17 other fires that broke out in October of 2017 though, and they also are being investigated for the deadly Camp Fire in November of last year. A lawyer representing 400 people in the Tubbs fire zone says it’s not an accurate finding, and calls the findings suspicious, especially the timing around when PG&E announced it would fire for bankruptcy.

The interim Superintendent for Lakeport Unified Schools has put together his list of priorities. The Record Bee reports Patrick Iaccino saying his first priority will be to hire a new Chief Business Officer and there’s only one person he’s considering. Then a new superintendent and wants to use in-house expertise, not an executive firm and wants to put together a hiring committee and have public forums. And he wants to use the Consolidated Application to make sure they’re up to date on state and federal funding possibilities, like potential bonds. Then finally he wants to work on the fizzling enrollment numbers. There were also other items brought up at last week’s meeting like keeping teachers who are qualified with possible incentives. Also housing is still an issue, that could be one incentive. They’re also taking a look at salary and benefits.

The Lake County Board of Supervisors will take on the proposed reorganization of administration in the sheriff’s dept. This is a special meeting, since it’s happening on the 5th Tuesday of the month, which they usually take off, but they skipped last week due to the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday. On the agenda, the Sheriff Brian Martin will ask for a reorganization to help attract and retain staff, and to reorganize to meet demand in other ways.

At least one set of fire victims in Sonoma County say just because a Cal Fire report says PG&E is not responsible for the deadly Tubbs Fire, they’re still going to forge ahead with their lawsuit against the giant utility. The Press Democrat reports even though the report said a private electric pole was to blame for the fire and not PG&E equipment, one couple involved in the suit, Harvell’s is planning to move forward. They lost everything in the fire and filed suit against PG&E related to the Oct. 2017 fire a week after the fire. Apparently the report from Cal Fire is not admissible in court so it won’t affect the outcome of the case.

Some endangered eels in some European rivers are getting “hyperactive” and their survival threatened due to cocaine being flushed into Britain water ways. Research shows cocaine, amphetamines and ecstasy in lakes and rivers, including the Thames (Tems). The drugs pass thru sewage treatment plants and now biologists at the University of Naples Federico II showed European eels in water with a little cocaine in it get hyperactive. It also showed after 50 days of exposure, serious injury, including muscle breakdown and swelling, which didn’t heal after ten days in clear water.

Positive identification’s made on sixty-seven victims of the Camp Fire, and 19 more are on the way from the Butte County coroner. The Chico Enterprise Record newspaper is profiling every single one of them and now they’re asking for the public’s help to identify seven victims who the newspaper says the family has declined to talk about or, they cannot reach them. The paper goes on to say it’s almost impossible to find any neighbors or community members who knew them, because the neighborhoods are gone.

They are: Joyce N. Acheson, 78, of Paradise; Carol Ann Arrington, 88, of Paradise; Vincent Carota, 65, of Paradise; Jean Forsman, 83, of Magalia; James Kinner, 84, of Paradise; Warren Lessard, 68, of Magalia; and Donna Ware, 86, of Paradise. If you know them, please share your recollections via email at campfirelives. Please include your name and telephone number so a reporter can call.

Anyone with information is asked to email campfirelives. Please include your name and telephone number so a reporter can call.

A man from Lakeport’s been arrested after a tip reveals he was in possession of child pornography. 37 year old Justin Sylva brought in on a felony warrant Tuesday after a months long investigation. Lake Co News reports the Lakeport Police Chief says officers got info about Sylva in July. And they searched his home finding digital evidence and devices they think had kiddie porn on them. He then admitted some of it to deputies and the case was presented to the DA. Then another search warrant and more evidence found and forensic findings turned up more than 100 digital images of child exploitation. He’s charged with possession of matter depicting a person under 18 engaging in or simulating sexual conduct.

A man from San Jose’s been found guilty of killing a great white shark in Santa Cruz County. Court papers say Vinh Pham has been fined $5,000 and will be on conditional probation for two years. Plus he had to destroy the firearm used to kill the shark in June in Aptos. Wildlife officers investigated the case of the shark washing up last June on Beer Can Beach. A necropsy showed it was shot multiple times with a.22 caliber firearm. They got a tip too from someone on a commercial fishing boat crew who might have been responsible and found a vessel fishing after dark where the shark was discovered, arresting the man after violations that included possession of undersize halibut, no landing receipts, failure to weigh commercial catch and failure to turn in landing receipts.

A cell tower is another step closer to going up in Clear Lake Riviera after the Lake County Planning Commission votes unanimously for it. A group of residents don’t want the cell tower up and spoke against it at the commission meeting yesterday. Residents say the 85 foot high tower will take away their view and negatively affect the area around it. Some were concerned about radiation from the tower or how it would harm birds. Apparently the Planning commission is not allowed to take that into consideration due to federal law. Others were also concerned about the possibility for fire danger.

A major investor for PG&E says the entire board of directors should be tossed after several failures and disasters for years. Blue Mountain Capital Management officially filing for the board’s removal after the fatal explosion in San Bruno in 2010, doctoring gas pipeline records from 2012 through 2017, several major fires in the North Bay Wine Country and nearby regions in October 2017 and the fatal Camp Fire in Butte County last year. The company sent an open letter to other shareholders saying not only did the board fail the company and its shareholders, it failed its customers, employees and, the people of California.

The chancellor of the California State University system says there will be no tuition hikes this year. This comes after Governor Gavin Newsom added funding in the state budget for higher education. Chancellor Timothy White with the announcement to freeze tuition a second year for Calif. residents. He told the CSU board of trustees at a meeting in Long Beach that tuition was off the table. In the Governor’s first budget, he proposed an additional $300 million for the CSU’s 23 campuses, which is 8 percent more than this year. Students pay more than tuition though for things like health centers and student activities, but those fees will remain.

Coast Guard members across the country, including at Noyo River are going another week without pay as the government shutdown continues in its fifth week. So locals are reaching out to the Coast Guard to help. Some folks bringing food, Harvest Market has set up emergency accounts which are interest free and Fort Bragg Bakery has donated several dozen loaves of bread. There’s also the Mendocino Coast Children’s Fund which raised cash for fire victims the past two years. The fund has donated $18,000 already after starting a fundraiser January 11th.

Donations can be made directly on the Mendocino Coast Children’s Fund home page at – both credit cards and PayPal donations can be accepted. Checks can be mailed to MCCF, PO Box 1616, Mendocino, CA 95460. Please mark donations NOYO SOS.

After Cal Fire said PG&E wasn’t responsible for causing the fatal Tubbs fire in October 2017, the stock for the utility company jumped up. But they’re still apparently filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The utility company saying in paperwork there’s $30 billion in possible damages from active and potential lawsuits after the 2017 and 2018 California wildfires. Now the company says it’s more like $75 billion and $150 billion in liabilities. That after a judge recommended the company inspect its entire electrical grid and remove trees around them ahead of the 2019 fire season in Northern California.

After Cal Fire’s report that the deadly Tubbs Fire was not caused by PG&E equipment, it threw lawsuits against the giant utility company into doubt. The Press Democrat reports it could impact litigation filed by Santa Rosa and Sonoma County. But the paper reports local officials saying they need more time to review the 80-page Cal Fire report before they attend closed-door meetings regarding the lawsuits next week. Lake, Mendocino and Napa counties are also suing PG&E after the October 2017 firestorm. The Tubbs fire was the one fire of 18 fires that October that was still being investigated, 17 others have been blamed on PG&E equipment by Cal Fire. The Cal Fire report into the Tubbs Fire released yesterday blames private electrical equipment in Calistoga for the fire.

A rally be employees of the Mendocino Lake Community College District due to a stall in negotiations on a new contract. The rally at the Mendocino College Ukiah campus yesterday with employees chanting, “one-time bonuses just won’t do, support the staff support the school”. The negotiations reportedly continuing since last spring with the district and SEIU 2021 which represents permanent classified staff and temporary part-time staff. Union members voted against the last offer from the district.

A new contract’s been approved by the Ukiah City Council for Cold Creek Compost and Ukiah Waste Solutions. Now the composter is getting more money per load. The Public Works director requested a raise for the “tipping fee” charged to Ukiah Waste Solutions after new air quality standards were put in place, and for a new grinder that costs $900,000, new sorting equipment at nearly $500,000, plus they’re looking to hire three more employees at $35,000 a year each.

A 10 year old in Kentucky used Tom Brady’s inflate-gate scandal for his Science Fair project. Ace Davis of Lexington went viral online after creating his project to prove Brady was a cheater. He used science to show deflated footballs gave Brady a competitive advantage, using experiments he did with his family, finding the least inflated football traveled the farthest, which he says gave Brady a competitive advantage. He said he did the project because he likes Joe Montana and hates Tom Brady. In case you’re wondering, Ace has also predicted the Rams will win the super bowl.

The Tubbs fire cause finally revealed and it wasn’t PG&E equipment after all. Cal Fire completed its investigation of the October 2017 fire and say it was actually a private electrical system across from a home and not PG&E equipment which was suspected. The findings became public just a few hours ago. Investigators also said there was no violation of state law related to the cause of the fire. The fire that burned near Calistoga and moved across the Mayacamas Mountains into Santa Rosa killed 22 people, destroyed more than 5,600 structures and charred nearly 37,000 acres. At the time it was the most destructive fire in California history, but that was surpassed by the Camp fire last November in Butte County.

The next phase of the Camp Fire debris cleanup about to begin. The massive debris removal out of Butte County, the largest ever state-run debris removal program. They started Dec. 4th, picking up after 13,000 destroyed or damaged properties and so far they’ve hit about 90% of them. The fire started last November and burned 2 and a half weeks, blackening more than 153,300 acres. Phase 1 was to remove household waste like paint, cleaners, batteries and more. They should be done with Phase 1 at the end of the month, and Phase 2 will then start to take out fire-related debris for free for property owners.
The driver who police say was responsible for a hit and run that killed a teacher near Chico has been arrested. Pleasant Valley High School teacher Brett Silva was killed in the head on crash in 2017. The CHP reports Ramon Berrera, Jr. was to blame, saying he was trying to pass a truck on a highway and didn’t have enough room. He was arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter Wednesday in Arbuckle. This just a day after the Glenn County DA met with Silva family members telling them there was enough evidence to charge Berrera. The CHP also reporting Barrera’s blood tested positive for opiates, methamphetamine and marijuana.