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A new labor law regarding independent contractors has been blocked in court. The new law started New Year’s Day and puts up obstacles for companies who classify workers as independent contractors instead of employees who can get certain benefits like workers compensation. But the judge granted the California Trucking Association a preliminary injunction after already putting a restraining order in place. The judge ruled the state had encroached on Congress’ territory. There are other groups fighting the new law too, like freelance writers and photographers, who also filed suit. The law was apparently intended to come down on ride-share companies like Uber, Lyft and food delivery companies like DoorDash and Postmates, who are all also challenging the law.

There’s a new chief in town. In Fort Bragg a veteran officer, Lt. John Naulty has been named the interim police chief. Naulty starts his new job February 3rd after Chief Fabian Lizarraga announced his retirement last month. Naulty has worked in Fort Bragg and Brentwood, but mostly here in Fort Bragg. He retired in March of 2014 after Mendocino County Sheriff’s Lt. Ricky Del Fiorentino was shot and killed. Naulty was responsible for killing the gunman in a shootout. Naulty got commendations for his heroic actions in the incident.

A Fort Bragg Lifeguard has been honored by the new Sheriff in Mendocino County. The Medal of Valor awarded to Lifeguard Ean Miller. At his ceremony was his Chief, other first responders were on hand too. Miller’s been a State Parks lifeguard the last three years. His United States Lifesaving Association Medal of Valor was for a couple of rescues, but they were both in the same three week period in 2018. One of those in dark, stormy waters off Westport’s rocky cliffs, the other in the razor-edged coves and sea caves of Mendocino Bay. He calls them just rescues.

Fees going up in Ukiah as the City Council gives the go-ahead for higher fees for building permits and other services. There was one dissenting vote, Steve Scalmanini who said he likes allowing the public to participate in the process and would also support any appeals from the public, so they don’t have to pay anything, calling the whole thing an insult. Staff says it’s the first time fees were raised since 2003. Staff notes that even though charges were almost tripling in some cases, they still will not get all of their money back for staff time. There was public comment before the vote, with some residents objecting on fees for permits for solar panels on homes.

PG&E is being told by the bankruptcy judge in its case to hire more tree trimmers so fees for customers can go down. The Judge William Alsup told the company he wants to see more proactive measures taken. The statements after the company admitted about 22,000 trees in its service territory might still be creating fire hazards and that could be why they had to have public safety power shutoffs. PG&E also has not ruled out doing it again while working on upgrades of their aging electrical grid. The judge says he thinks the trees not being trimmed is the reason the company has to conduct intentional power downs.

Police in Lakeport looking for help from the public to get find a missing man. Police say 55 year old Walter Stuart, Jr. has not been since he visited family December 19th in Solano County. Police are working with the Fairfield Police Department to find the man who they say was in contact with family as Christmas got closer, but they haven’t heard from him since. Police say they had reports he might have returned to Lake County, including in Clearlake and Lakeport. He’s described as being a white man with brown hair and blue eyes, 6 feet tall, 160 pounds.

The Board of Trustees for the Yuba Community College District have chosen new officers. The President was re-elected, trustee, Richard Teagarden will be the leader for 2020. He represents Trustee Area 1 including part of Yuba County and includes Marysville Joint Unified School District. He was the superintendent of Yuba County’s Office of Education and the principal and teacher in the Marysville Joint Unified School District. They also re-elected David Wheeler as the vice president of the Board.

A man accused of arson has been found competent to stand trial. Matthew Miravalle in court for his Review of Doctors’ Report hearing. It comes after his lawyer said she didn’t think he was mentally competent to stand trial last year. The court ordered the proceedings to be suspended until Miravalle could be examined. Two doctors evaluated the man from Clearlake Oaks accused of starting three wildfires. The doctors found him to be competent so the criminal proceedings against him can start. His preliminary hearing is set for February 13th. The fires last fall in Clearlake Oaks. He admitted he started them and was reportedly seen in the area of the most recent fire.

A man from Santa Rosa busted in Lake County on a weapons charge has pleaded no contest. The nolo charge admitted by John Brott who was charged with being a prohibited person from carrying a firearm. Other charges against him were dismissed and his case has been referred to the probation department for a sentencing recommendation. He was stopped while driving a car not registered to him and during a search of the vehicle, a loaded .45 caliber semi-automatic handgun was found next to the driver seat. A jury trial was set for earlier this month and canceled. He’s set for sentencing January 27th.

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