PHOTO OF THE WEEK: PARADISE IN DESCANSO

CROCS AND KINGS

VALENTINE’S OPEN RANCH AT ALPACAS OF SAN DIEGO IN DESCANSO FEB. 13

LOVE IS IN THE AIR AT LA CASA DEL ZORRO RESORT

WINDWALKER NOMINATED FOR GRAMMY: HEAR OUR INTERVIEW

ECM WORLD WATCH: NATIONAL AND GLOBAL NEWS

GOING TO THE DOGS: LA MESA ALLOWS FIVE PER HOME

DESTINATION EAST COUNTY: TOP FESTIVALS AND EVENTS FEB. 6-21

WINERY ORDINANCE AND HOSKINGS RANCH TO BE HEARD FEB. 5 BY PLANNING COMMISSION

CRIMINAL AND CIVIL CHARGES FILED AGAINST SEMPRA’S SOCALGAS OVER SAN ALISO GAS LEAK

WHO DECLARES ZIKA EMERGENCY AS DISEASE SPREADS WORLDWIDE; ZIKA TRANSMITTED BY SEXUAL CONTACT IN U.S.

CRUZ WINS IOWA REPUBLICAN CAUCUS; DEMOCRATS CLINTON AND SANDERS IN VIRTUAL TIE

News

2012 WAS HOTTEST YEAR ON RECORD FOR THE U.S. -- PLUS SECOND MOST EXTREME ON RECORD

By Miriam Raftery

January 8, 2013 (Washington D.C.) – If the weather seemed hotter last year than in the past, your memory is correct.

In its State of the Climate Report, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center reveals today that 2012 averaged the hottest temperatures ever recorded for the lower 48 states in the U.S.  Nationwide, the average temperature for 2012 was 55.3 degrees Fahrenheit—a full 3.2 degrees higher than the 20th Century average and one degree hotter than the previous hottest year on record (1998).

It was also a historic year for extreme weather that included severe drought, larger wildfires, hurricanes and storms--the second worst year on record.

View report:   http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/   and  scroll down for highlights. 

CLEANUP UP GRAFFITI ALONG TROLLEY TRACKS HITS SNAGS IN EL CAJON

By Miriam Raftery

January 8, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – A reader asked ECM to look into why graffiti along trolley lines in El Cajon have not yet been cleaned up despite complaints spanning a year.  “Several citizens have been more than frustrated,” wrote Maryann Ostermeyer, who said that to date, neither the city nor Metropolitan Transit Service (MTS) has taken responsibility for cleanup.

“It has taken a long time, but it is due solely to MTS regs about who and how people work within their ROW (right-of-way),” City Manager Douglas Wililford wrote in an e-mail to Councilman Gary Kendrick in response to ECM’s inquiry. “We have been diligent about this and will continue to be," he wrote, then cited progress in efforts to work with MTS.

INJURED OFFICER'S FAMILY ASKS PUBLIC TO REFRAIN FROM DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE

By Miriam Raftery (photo courtesy of SDPD)

January 7, 2013 (Santee) – San Diego Police Officer Travis Betley has undergone several surgeries since his patrol car was struck December 30 by a pickup truck on Highway 125 in Santee. The driver has been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol.

“The surgeries have been successful and he is beginning physical therapy,” a statement issued by his family states, adding that Officer Betley has a long road to recovery.  “He has a positive attitude and is ready to face the challenges ahead,” the family adds.  “Travis is a strong young man and is determined to return to the field as quickly as possible...While focusing on the future and Travis’ recovery, the family would like to encourage all to be a good friend, neighbor and family member and remind everyone of the dangers of driving while under the influence."

SNOW LEVEL DROPPING TO 3500 FEET TONIGHT

Photo by Julie Salmon

January 5, 2013 (San  Diego’s East County) – Rain is forecast for our region tonight and early in the morning, with snow in East County’s mountain areas.  Snow levels are forecast to drop down to 3500 feet tonight—reaching communities along I-8 such as Descanso and Pine Valley.  Two to four inches of snow are forecast at higher elevations.

High winds are also expected in mountains and deserts, with gusts up to 45 mph.  Thunderstorms and hail are also possible. CHP reports that chains are required at South Grade Road and Highway 76, on Palomar Mountain, and at the junction of S6 and S7.

WOMAN BURNED WHILE LIGHTING FIREPLACE TELLS HOW TO AVOID THIS TYPE OF ACCIDENT

January 5, 2013 (Santee) -- An 18-year-old Santee woman says she is lucky to be alive after a gas fireplace she was trying to light exploded into flames, burning her face, hair and arm.  Schannon Burr, who is now recuperatoring at home, spoke with ECM 10 News to share details of how the accident happened, plus get tips on how to avoid having a similar situation occur in your home.  For details see: http://www.10news.com/news/santee-woman-burned-while-lighting-familys-ga...

EL CAJON COUNCIL AGENDA TUESDAY INCLUDES RESOLUTION TO CONDEMN ACTIONS OF JILLIAN HANSON-COX & PROPOSAL TO BUY SURPLUS PROPERTY FROM CAL-TRANS

By Miriam Raftery

January 4, 2013 (El Cajon) – At its meeting on Tuesday, January 8 at 3 p.m., El Cajon’s City Council will consider a resolution to condemn the actions of Jillian Hanson-Cox in embezzling at least $3.5 million from her former employer, Century Design.

In addition, Council will consider a proposal to buy surplus property from Cal-Trans for $299,500 and weigh a recommendation to pay $662,000 in a promissory note to act as the successor agency to the former El Cajon Redevelopment Agency. 

Council’s agenda will also include an ordinance to provide more flexibility for signage downtown and an ordinance to revise the zoning code. In addition, Council will hear an appeal of a planning commission decision to deny a permit for alcohol sales to the Magnolia Family Market at 112 East Madison Avenue.

EAST COUNTY RADIO STATION KNSJ NEARS GOAL TO LAUNCH: DONOR PLEDGES $9,000 IN MATCHING FUNDS FOR TRANSMITTER

Community must match donations by Jan. 31 to reach $18,000 total

Activist Ball January 19 aims to raise remaining funds; donors also welcome -- East County Magazine Radio show can launch once station is on the air

January 3, 2013 (San Diego’s East County ) – KNSJ Radio (89.1 FM), Network for Social Justice, moves closer to going live on the airways across East County and much of San Diego with nonprofit community radio.   The station already has FCC approval for a station to broadcast out of Descanso.  Now, an angel donor has come forward to pledge $9,000--half of the $18,000 still needed to build a transmitter---under condition that the community match that with $9,000 by the end of January.

On January 19 at 7 p.m., the Activist Ball in the World Beat Center at Balboa Park will be held to raise money for the station’s transmitter.  Join ECM's VIP table for $20; RSVP to editor@eastcountymagazine.org. Individual tickets cost $19 in advance or $25 at the door and include appetizers, a drink, live music and dancing. Additional food available for purchase. There will also be a silent auction and prize drawings.  For general reservations call 619-283-1100 or visit http://knsj.org/

MOST IMPORTANT EAST COUNTY ISSUES IN 2012

 

By Miriam Raftery

January 1, 2013 (San Diego’s East County)- Last week we posted our most-read stories of the year—those that drew the most readers, and newsmakers of the year.   Now we present the year’s top stories/issues of most significance to our region--issues with major impact, as well as milestones for our communitie, in the view of our editorial staff. Some are individual articles, others ran a series.

In case you missed these, be sure to scroll down and click the "read more" button to see the stories we think everyone should read--including some hot topics that will continue to be debated in 2013 as major decisions impacting East County remain on the horizon.

HUNDREDS OF NEW LAWS TAKE EFFECT TODAY IN CALIFORNIA

Impacts will affect drivers, gun owners, renters, homeowners, immigrants, employers, and many more

January 1, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – Starting today, your boss can’t ask for your Facebook password or username, thanks to AB 1944. Neither can universities, due to SB 1349.

Duke Cunningham won’t be able to run for office again under AB 2410, which bans those convicted of a felony involving bribes, embezzlement of public funds, perjury or offense of the public trust from becoming a candidate for any elective office in California.

These are just some of the new laws that take effect January 1, 2013.  Scroll down to read more--and how these legislative changes may impact you, your family, your workplace or your school.

ISSA IN STORM OF CONTROVERSY FOR BACKING HOUSE LEADERSHIP'S BLOCKING OF HURRICANE SANDY RELIEF BILL

January 3, 2013 (San Diego)-- Hurricane Sandy slammed into the East Coast 66 days ago, but the House Republican leadership has thus far refused to bring up a measure to provide relief to survivors. Among the staunchest defenders of that decision is San Diego Republican Congressman Darrell Issa. In a Fox News interview, Issa claimed the measure was loaded with pork. But now Issa has drawn scathing criticism from fellow Republican Congressmen Peter King and Michael Grimms of New York, areas hit hard by the storm.

King said, "Darrell Issa is 1,000 percent wrong. There is absolutely no pork in the bill." He noted that less than one percent of the Senate bill formerly included funds for Alaska, which were removed from the House version.  King added, “I wish Darrell Issa had learned that and looked into that before he went public and said that my constituents should not get their homes rebuilt, should not have the waste management plants rebuilt, that Governor Christie should not be given the opportunity to rebuild New Jersey and Governor Cuomo in New York."

QUAIL BRUSH DEVELOPER SELLS TO THE CARLYLE GROUP

Gas-powered plant is pitched to provide backup for non-windy days at Ocotillo wind project—also owned by Carlyle

By Miriam Raftery

January 2, 2013 (San Diego’s East County ) –Cogentrix has sold a majority of its North American assets, including Quail Brush GENCO (applicant for the Quail Brush power plant near Mission Trails) to subsidiaries of Carlyle Entities, managed by the Carlyle Group.   View letter to  California Energy Commission with details.   

Cogentrix had argued that the Quail Brush gas-fired “peaker” power plant was necessary to meet energy needs when there is now enough wind or sunshine for large-scale wind and solar projects.

Carlyle's 2009 Annual Report confirms that Carlyle also founded Pattern Energy, developer of the Ocotillo Express Wind project, a site that has drawn criticism for minimal wind resources.  But now, if Quail Brush is built, Carlyle stands to profit whether the wind blows or not.

AAA WARNS MOTORISTS AGAINST USE OF E-15 FUEL WHICH CAN VOID AUTO WARRANTIES

Automobile Association of America calls on government to halt sale

By Miriam Raftery

January 2, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – The American Automobile Association (AAA) has issued a press release urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to suspend sale of E15 fuel (a blend of 15% ethanol from corn and 85% gasoline).  AAA warns that 13 major automobile manufacturers say that use of E15 fuel could void warranty claims. 

E15 fuel is not currently sold in California, however it is allowed in approximately 30 states and is currently available for sale in several.  The EPA authorized its sale in June 2012 over objections of the auto industry.

POWER OUTAGES IN AREA

January 1, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) –Some area residents started their New Year in the dark due to power outages.  An outage that began at 1 a.m. is due to be restored at noon today in the Blossom Valley and Lakeside areas, where a vehicle caused a short in the electrical system that left 432 customers without power, SDG&E reports.

In Lemon Grove and Spring Valley, a vehicle also caused an outage to 28 customers at 11:18 p.m. last night that is due to be restored at 9 a.m. today, according to SDG&E’s website.

WIND PRODUCTION TAX CREDIT EXTENSION ADDED TO “FISCAL CLIFF” DEAL: CONGRESS TO VOTE SOON

 

UPDATE:  The President has signed into law a fiscal cliff deal that includes extension of the wind production tax credits, and also makes it easier for wind develpers to get them.  Projects now only need to break ground to qualify, not meet construction milestones.

December 31, 2012 (San Diego's East County) – ECM sources in Washington have informed us that language to extend $12 billion in wind production tax credits through 2013 have been added to a tentative deal reached to avert the “fiscal cliff.”  Senate leaders and  President Barack Obama have agreed on the deal, which the Senate is expected to vote on tonight. The House, however, has adjourned and will likely vote tomorrow or the next day.

Extension of the wind tax credits could have major ramifications for San Diego’s East County, where  Iberdrola’s Tule Wind has been approved but not yet built. Other wind projects are also proposed in our region. The wind industry has indicated that without a tax credit extension, many planned wind projects may not be built.

A national effort has been launched by wind power opponents asking citizens to urge Congressional members to oppose any deal that includes a wind tax credit extension. Local residents are among those contacting their Senators and House representatives to urge that wind production tax credit extensions not be granted.

FISCAL CLIFF DEAL APPROVED BY CONGRESS

Update 11:15 p.m. - The Senate has approved the deal 89-8.  The House vote, up next, will not occur tonight.

Update January 2, 2013:  The House approved the Senate version Jan. 1 with no changes.  The President later signed the measure into law.

December 31, 2012 (San Diego's East County) -- It's now past midnight in Washington D.C., where Senate leaders in both parties and President Obama have reached a tentative agreement on a deal to avert the worst of the "fiscal cliff" impacts.  Though no vote was taken prior to the midnight year-end deadline, because tomorrow is a federal holiday, the worst of the impacts can yet be avoided if Congress takes action soon.  However the measure is expected to face opposition in the House, which Republicans control.

 

PASSAGES: JOHN MARTES, CO-PRESIDENT, EAST COUNTY DEMOCRATIC CLUB

Update: A memorial service is scheduled for January 5 in El Cajon. Details below.

December 27, 2012 (El Cajon) -- East County Democratic Club co-president John Martes passed after a year-long battle with lung cancer last night at his home in El Cajon. His wife of 40 years, Gloria Martes, and two daughters, Natalie and Leslie, were at his side.

 An accountant/controller at John A. Martes and Associates educated at the University of San Diego, Martes twice ran for the Cajon Valley School District Board and was also a candidate for the El Cajon City Council. 

FISCAL CLIFF LOOMS AS YEAR END DEADLINE DRAWS NEAR

How will failure of Congress to halt fiscal cliff impact you?

By Miriam Raftery

December 30, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – If Congress fails to agree by the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, automatic spending cuts of 8-9% across the board will take place as required through sequestration in both domestic programs and Defense.  That could cut the deficit by half, but theCongressional Budget office warns this could trigger recession as steep  tax hikes take effect along with spending cuts. It’s not just the rich who will feel the pinch—in fact middle class and low income earners would face severe economic impacts.

San Diego's biotech industry, military and Border Patrol offices are all bracing for potential painful cuts.

The deficit currently stands at $1.1 trillion, the lowest since 2008 but still a daunting figure that both sides seek to reduce, but with vastly different approaches.

BELLUS ACADEMY PARTNERS WITH CW FOR “AMERICA’S NEXT TOP MODEL”: CASTING JAN. 5 FOR REALITY TV SHOW

December 30, 2012 (San Diego)--Bellus Academy is adding “national television show partner” to its long list of accomplishments, innovations and top-tier resources. On Saturday, Jan. 5, the beauty and wellness school will partner with The CW Television Network to host an open casting call for supermodel Tyra Banks’ reality competition, “America’s Next Top Model (ANTM).”

POLICE OFFICER SERIOUSLY INJURED IN SANTEE CRASH WITH ALCOHOL-IMPAIRED DRIVER

By Miriam Raftery

December 30, 2012 (Santee) – A San Diego Police officer sustained serious injuries when a pickup truck traveling at a high speed collided with a patrol car. The crash occurred at 2:28 a.m. at the intersection of Mission Gorge Road and State Route 125.  The driver of the truck, who was also injured has been charged with suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol.

The pickup truck was driving northbound on State Route 25 when it collided with the patrol car, knocking both vehicles off the road and onto the shoulder on northbound Mission Gorge Road. 

“Fire Department personnel used rescue equipment to cut and pry the car open to extricate the officer,” said Sgt. D. Hale with the San Diego Sheriff.

SAN DIEGAN FILES SUIT OVER SMART METER HEALTH ISSUES

December 29, 2012 (San Diego)—A federal lawsuit has been filed by Celeste Deborah Cooney, who alleges that radiation from a bank of smart meters left her unable to reside in her home. Defendants in the suit include the SDG&E,  the State of California, Attorney General Kamala Harris, California Public Utilities chairman Mi chael Peevey, and Itron Inc., manufacturer of smart meters used in San Diego.

Cooney, a former bank vice president in Massachusetts, moved to San Diego to pursue a new career as a musician.  She performed at prominent locations including the Queen Mary and the Ritz Carlton.  But in April 2011, she developed a ringing in her ears, a “shock to her heart”, numbness, chest pain, heart palpitations and sleep problems that she attributes to a bank of smart meters at an apartment complex near her home in La Jolla.

EAST COUNTY RESIDENT APPOINTED BY GOVERNOR EDMUND G. BROWN TO THE CA BOARD OF CHIROPRACTIC EXAMINERS

December 29, 2012 (Sacramento)--On December 21, 2012, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. announced the appointment of Frank Ruffino to the California Board of Chiropractic Examiners.

Ruffino, 49, of El Cajon, is the Community Partnership Manager at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility. Also, Ruffino serves as the Vice President for Governmental Affairs for the Association of California State Supervisors, and is a member of the California State Employees Association Board of Directors.

WRONG-WAY DRUNK DRIVER KILLS MOTORIST IN SANTEE

Photo courtesy of ECM news partner 10 News

December 29, 2012 (Santee)—Jayme Midland, 25, was killed when the Volkswagen Beetle he was driving on State Route 52 was struck head-on by a Chevy pickup truck driving on the wrong side of the highway. 

The woman driving the truck suffered moderate injuries.  After treatment at Sharp Memorial hospital, she was arrested for gross vehiclular manslaughter while intoxicated. She has been booked into the Las Colinas Detention Facility, according to the California Highway Patrol.

 Midland,  a resident of Clairemont, was declared dead at the scene. The accident occurred shortly before 1 a.m. on eastbound 52, just east of Mast Boulevard in Santee.

PLANE CRASH KILLS 3 IN POWAY

Photo courtesy ECM news partner 10  News

Update 12/30/12:  The Medical Examiner has released the names of the victims, all from Phoenix. They are William Arthur Stern Jr.,, 65, his wife, Jennifer Jane Stern, 53, and their daughter, Katelyn Jane Stern, 19,

December 29, 2012 (Lakeside) –All three occupants are dead following  a l plane that crashed this morning west of State Route 67 off Slaughterhouse Canyon Road in Poway, IPN reports.

According to ECM news partner 10 News, the home-built plane was a Lancair IV-P model that is no longer in production.  The plane had taken off from Montgomery Field in San Diego en route to Phoenix, Arizona, when it went down in the Sycamore Canyon Open Space Preserve.

LET IT SNOW! STORM TO BLANKET MOUNTAINS DOWN TO 4,000 FEET

December 29, 2012 (San Diego’s East County ) -  A storm moving through our region today and tomorrow is expected to bring rain and in mountain areas, snow.  By tomorrow, snow is forecast to drop down to 4,000 feet—low enough to include Julian and  Lake Cuyamaca—popular destinations for families seeking to frolic in the snow.

Gusty winds are also forecast in mountains and on desert slopes late Sunday. The storm system is expected to move east and out of our county on Monday,  so if you’re planning a trip to the mountains it’s best to wait until after the weekend.

WHAT YOU’RE READING: EAST COUNTY MAGAZINE’S MOST READ STORIES IN 2012

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

December 28, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – Thanks to technology, we can track exactly how many people click open each story on our site. This year’s results are surprising and bemusing, revealing a lot about our readers.

Some results were predictable; you showed strong interest in big energy projects and local politics. But we’re baffled as to how an article on a drum therapy class in El Cajon attracted 36,000 reads worldwide, or why a political sex scandal drew far more readers than coverage of the presidential election. We learned that our readers care about wildlife, hiking, and our environment. Many of you want to preserve social safety nets and civil liberties. Plus a whole lot of you wanted to find the best holiday party in East County!

Here are this year’s most read stories—and some lessons that we've learned:

BRIDGE JUMPERS SHUT DOWN MAJOR FREEWAYS

Update: Both 163 and 805 are now reopened, though traffic on 163 remains slow as of 5:55 p.m.

December 28, 2012 (San Diego) -- For the second time today, a suicidal person threatening to jump off a bridge has caused major traffic delays.  Late this afternoon, State Route 163 has been shut down in both directions at the Laurel Street Bridge in Balboa Park.  The I-5 connector to 163 is also closed due to the jumper.

Earlier today, a man threatening to jump off a bridge forced shut-down of I-805 at State Route 54. That individual has been taken into custody and 805 is now reopened. 

If you or someone you know is suffering from suicidal thoughts, please contact these resources: 

County Suicide Prevention Resources
County Suicide Prevention Hotline:

1-800-479-3339

DRIVER KILLED WHEN VEHICLE PLUMMETS OFF BRIDGE ONTO HIGHWAY 94

December 28, 2012 (San Diego) – Jesus H. Rodriguez, 24, or Otay Mesa died at the scene of an accident at 3:17 a.m.  Rodriguez was driving west on the State Route 94 connector bridge to southbound I-15 when he lost control and went off the bridge, landing on State Route 94 beneath.  Rodriguez, who was not wearing a seat belt, was ejected from the vehicle.

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