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APPLICATIONS ACCEPTED THROUGH DECEMBER 4 FOR EL CAJON COUNCIL OPENING

 

December 2, 2013 (El Cajon)--The City of El Cajon is accepting applications to fill a vacancy on the El Cajon City Council.   The deadline to apply is Wednesday, December 4 at 5:30 p.m. and applications are available at the city’s website. 

To be eligible, you must be a resident and a registered voter when you apply and throughout your term of office.  The seat is open to fill the vacancy left when Councilman Bill Wells was appointed Mayor, after former Mayor Mark Lewis resigned.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT REPORT: FEES PROPOSED TO COVER FULL COSTS OF COUNTY FIRE AUTHORITY

 

Hot items also on the agendas in Boulevard, Lakeside and Lemon Grove this week

By Miriam Raftery

December 1, 2013 (San Diego's East County)--San Diego Supervisors meet on Tuesday and Wednesday, December 3 and 4 at 9 a.m. The hottest item is a public hearing Tuesday on a county proposal to levy fees to recover the actual cost of services provided by the San Diego County Fire Authority including fire plan reviews, inspections and other technical work.  In the past, such services have been provided to individuals and businesses without full cost recovery. 

The Agenda does not state how much the proposed fees would be or how much revenue the county expects to raise.  But coming on the heels of a statewide fire fee that is going up at year’s end,  the proposal is likely to fuel controversy among taxpayers. The item is first on Tuesday’s agenda.  

View December 3 agenda.  View December 4 agenda.

SAN DIEGO MAYORAL CANDIDATES AGREE TO SIX DEBATES AHEAD OF FEBRUARY ELECTION

 

November 28, 2013 (San Diego) – Mayoral candidates and San Diego City Councilmembers David Alvarez and Kevin Faulconer announced a scheduling agreement for debates in the special runoff election campaign.

The agreement came after more than 30 debates and forums were scheduled in the eight-week primary election ending November 19, 2013. The top two finishers said they’ve agreed to participate in six debates to be held after the New Year.

SENATE ENDS FILIBUSTER ON MOST NOMINEES

By Miriam Raftery

November 25, 2013 (Washington D.C.) --Senate Democrats have deployed what some call the “nuclear” option:  ending the filibuster on most judicial and cabinet appointees.  The move eliminates the ability of the minority party to block an up or down vote on nominations.

The action came after Republicans  used the filibuster process to block not just controversial nominees, but virtually all of them. President Obama has had 72 of his judicial nominees blocked.  That’s by the most for any president.  By contrast, presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford and Bush senior each had zero nominees blocked by filibusters.  Carter and Reagan had just two each.  Clinton had 9 of his nominees blocked and the second President Bush had 7 of his nominees filibustered.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT REPORT: WHAT'S ON THE AGENDA THIS WEEK IN BOULEVARD AND LA MESA

By Miriam Raftery

November 24, 2013 (San Diego's East County) -- This week, the hottest meeting in town will be the Boulevard Planning Group, which has a busy agendawith many major items slated for its meeting on Thursday, December 5 at 7 p.m. in the Boulevard Fire Training/Community Room, 39919 Ribbon Wood Road in Boulevard.  View full agenda.

Planners will hold a question and answer session on a new Boulevard Fire Station – and consider whether a moratorium should be requested for new large-scale commercial projects until Boulevard Fire Stations are verifiably staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The agenda also includes major energy projects and some controversial water issues.

FAULCONER ON TOP IN MAYORAL RACE; ALVAREZ EDGES AHEAD OF FLETCHER

 

Update November 20, 2013:  With 100% of precincts counted but over 34,000 mail-in ballots remaining to be counted, the tally stands at Faulconer 43.58%, Alvarez 25.59%, Fletcher 24.3%, Aguirre 4.44%. Of seven lesser known candidates in the race, none attained more than a half percent. A run-off election will be held early next year between the top two.

By Miriam Raftery

November 19, 2013 (San Diego) – The San Diego Mayoral race appears destined for a run-off election, since no candidate has captured more than 50% of the votes needed to win outright. 

With 86.9% of precincts counted, Kevin Faulconer, the only Republican in the race, leads with 43.84%. 

Of three prominent Democrats in the race, former Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher had the early lead, up by 2% for most of the evening thanks to absentee ballots. But late tonight, as working class districts polling results came in, Councilman David Alvarez, the Democratic Party's endorsed candidate, has movedahead slightly of Fletcher slightly with 25.19% of the vote to Fletcher's 24.39%.

REGISTRAR PREDICTS 40-45% TURNOUT IN TODAY'S MAYORAL SPECIAL ELECTION

 

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

November 19, 2013 (San Diego) – As San Diegans head to the polls today to vote in a special election to fill the mayoral vacancy, Registrar of Voters Michael Vu says an expected turnout of 40 to 45 percent is anticipated, or roughly equivalent to the last citywide mayoral election in July 2005, which had a 44.33% turnout rate.

If one candidate wins over 50 percent of the vote today, that candidate will be the new mayor.  If no candidate achieves a majority, then there will be a run-off election among the top two vote-getters.  To view our nonpartisan guide for voters in the San Diego mayoral election, click here. For more interesting facts about today's election, click "read more" and scroll down.

BEWARE OF CALLS URGING VOTERS TO GO TO POLLS ON WRONG DATE FOR MAYORAL ELECTION

 

By Miriam Raftery

November 18, 2013 (San Diego ) – East County Magazine photographer Tom Abbott has informed ECM that he received an automated phone call this morning urging him to exercise his right to vote – on November 20, one day AFTER the San Diego mayoral election.

Abbott said he tried to dial *69 to redial the number and learn where it came from, but before he could do so, another call came in. 

There is no evidence--yet--to reveal which candidate or independent expenditure group is behind the deceptive (and illegal) call.  Both Abbott and his wife are registered independents, so the motive apparently isn't partisan. But one is a union member and other is a naturalized citizen of Latino descent, raising the possibility that union members or minorities could be targets of an organized effort to suppress the vote.

SENATOR ANDERSON HOSTS HOLIDAY OPEN HOUSE NOV. 21

 

November 18, 2013 (El Cajon) – Senator Joel Anderson cordially invites the public to a “Holiday Open House” at Toyota of El Cajon, 965 Arnele Avenue, on Thursday, November 21, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.  The holiday season is a time to reflect on the accomplishments of the past year. This open house will provide you with the opportunity to receive a 2013 legislative update and to submit your ideas to improve the state government.

For more information or to RSVP, please visit www.senate.ca.gov/anderson or email senator.anderson@senate.ca.gov. You may also call the El Cajon District Office at (619) 596-3136.

WELLS APPOINTED MAYOR IN EL CAJON, OPENING COUNCIL VACANCY

 

By Miriam Raftery

November 13, 2013 (El Cajon )--El Cajon’s City Council voted unanimously yesetrday to appoint Councilman Bill Wells to fill the vacancy left by Mayor Mark Lewis’s resignation.  Council also voted to have an application and list of qualifications drawn up within a week for residents interested in seeking appointment to fill the vacancy on the City Council  left by Wells’ ascension to mayor.

A crowd filled the Council Chambers, with many community members came to voice their views on how the city should fill its leadership positions.

THREE MAYORAL CANDIDATES CLASH IN KNSJ DEBATE

 

Faulconer, Alvarez surprisingly similar on issues; Aguirre drops bombs

By Mark Gabrish Conlan • for East County Magazine, www.eastcountymagazine.org

 

November 13, 2013 (San Diego)--Three of the four so-called “major” candidates for mayor of San Diego in the November 19 special election — Republican Kevin Faulconer and Democrats David Alvarez and Mike Aguirre — debated November 11 at California Western School of Law in an event co-sponsored by the school and KNSJ 89.1 FM Descanso, San Diego County’s new community radio station. The fourth “major” candidate, Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democrat Nathan Fletcher, did not appear.

Surprisingly, given how most of the local media outlets have scripted their coverage of the race — Faulconer the center-Right Republican, Alvarez the progressive Democrat and Fletcher the man in the middle — Faulconer and Alvarez, colleagues on the current San Diego City Council, agreed on as many issues as they disagreed. It was Aguirre, running a distant fourth in most polls, who challenged the other two candidates and confronted many issues that both Faulconer and Alvarez did their best to duck.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT REPORT

November 12, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – El Cajon, La Mesa and Santee City Councils meet this week to discuss matters ranging from the future of Oktoberfest to choosing a new mayor.  Below are highlights from the agendas for each community.

EAST COUNTY DEMOCRATIC CLUB ENDORSES TWO CANDIDATES TO REPLACE MAYOR LEWIS

 

November 9, 2013 (El Cajon) – Following Mayor Mark Lewis’ resignation, the East County Democratic Club’s president has sent an open letter to council members and residents urging that the vacancy be filled by appointing one of two  minority candidates. The Club cites the region’s changing demographics and lists support for Ben Kalasho, an Iraqi Chaldean who narrowly lost a council race in 2012, and Vickie Butcher, an African-American who has served on the City’s planning commission and is active in local charities. 

Presently,Councilman Bill Wells, a Republican, is serving as interim mayor.  If Council should decide to appoint Wells as Mayor, members would then also have a vacancy to fill on the City Council.

COUNCILMEMBERS ISSUE RESPONSE TO MAYOR LEWIS RESIGNATION

 

By Miriam Raftery

November 6, 2013 (El Cajon)-- El Cajon City Councilmembers Bob McClellan and Tony Ambrose have released an official response to the resignation of former Mayor Mark Lewis on October 24, 2013. Both voiced pride in the community’s diversity , acknowledged that the Mayor’s remarks on minorities were “inappropriate and wrong,” then called for unity in El Cajon.  For the full text of their letter, click here.

In addition, Councilmember Gary Kendrick issued his own letter praising Mayor Lewis on his accomplishments including balanced budgets, economic stability and economic development.   While he joined with  Ambrose and McClellan in making clear that he did not agree with or support Lewis’ controversial comments, he stated, “Mark will always be my friend...”  To read Kendrick’s letter, click here

Kendrick told ECM,” The Mayor Lewis that I knew would never have made those statements before his stroke.”

TERM LIMITS INITIATIVE FILED

 

November 5, 2013 (La Mesa) – The La Mesa Term Limits Committee filed the paperwork today to get voter approval for an ordinance that will limit city officials to twelve consecutive years in office. The group needs to collect 3,306 valid signatures in 180 days to place the measure on the November 2014 ballot.

Vice Mayor Kristine Alessio recently tried to get the City Council to put the ordinance on the ballot, but only Councilmember Ruth Sterling supported her motion. Alessio said, "If the Council won't do its job, the people will get it done. That's the essence of our democracy."

BILINGUAL POLL WORKERS NEEDED

 

November 2, 2013 (San Diego) – If you speak Chinese or Vietnamese, the Registrar of Voters needs your help at local poll sites on Nov. 19 for the San Diego City mayor’s race on November 19.

Registrar Michael Vu says there is an urgent need for more bilingual volunteers to help citizens who are not yet proficient in English to vote at the polls.

Chinese and Vietnamese new poll worker orientation training classes are offered. Bilingual poll worker volunteers can earn a stipend of  $90 to $110. All poll worker volunteers must be U.S. citizens, registered to vote in California, and able to read and write the English language.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT REPORT

 

By Miriam Raftery

November 2, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – Here’s a heads up for some key items coming up soon on the agendas in Lemon Grove, El Cajon, and at the San Diego Supervisors.

Lemon Grove’s City Council meets on Tuesday, November 5.  This week, the agenda includes proposed locations for a dog park, an expert panel on community gardens, and a report on economic development challenges and opportunities in Lemon Grove.

HUESO, GONZALEZ AMONG 8 RECALL TARGETS BY GUN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS

Updated November 5, 2013

By Nadin Abbott

November 2, 2013 (San Diego) Colorado has seen successful efforts to recall legislators who voted to regulate guns. Now an organizer of the Colorado effort has announced intent to launch recall efforts against eight California Democrats.

Free California founder Jennifer Kerns announced this recall effort in the Capitol on October 24. Among the legislators targeted are Senator Ben Hueso, who represents sections of the East County, and Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzales from San Diego. 

The group says it is targeting California legislators who actively supported 12 gun-control bills, including SB374, which would have added all semi-automatic rifles with detachable magazines to the state's list of banned assault weapons, and AB711, which will ban lead ammunition in hunting by 2019.

ECM’S NONPARTISAN GUIDE TO SAN DIEGO MAYORAL CANDIDATES

 

 

By Nadin Abbott

October 31, 2013 (San Diego) With the mayoral race moving to high gear and early voting starting, ECM has compiled information on the leading candidates in the special election San Diego Mayor, filling the vacancy left by Bob Filner’s resignation. We include highlights of their announced agendas and endorsements.

ARABO CALLS FOR DISTRICT ELECTIONS IN EL CAJON

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

October 26, 2013 (El Cajon ) –Following the resignation of  El Cajon Mayor Mark Lewis for racial remarks, Chaldean community leader Mark Paul Arabo, head of the Neighborhood Markets Association, is calling on Council members to denounce statements by Lewis and further, to implement district elections at the next city council meeting.

Currently, all El Cajon residents vote for all council candidates, with the top vote getters overall winning seats. Under Arabo’s proposal, the city would be divided into districts each electing its own representative-a move that could result in one or more districts with a majority of Iraqi Chaldeans or other minority populations. 

In a press statement, Arabo voiced relief at Lewis’ resignation but added, “We will not stop here.”

EL CAJON'S MAYOR LEWIS RESIGNS

 

October 25, 2013 (El Cajon) – El Cajon Mayor Mark Lewis has resigned, effective immediately.  In his resignation letter, the Mayor  cited health reasons, including cancer, a dislocated shoulder and a minor stroke in 2010. “Unfortunately at times, this has caused me some difficulties in clearly communication my thoughts, including during the recent interviews  that have caused understandable concern,” he wrote, adding that he is stepping down to avoid further concerns by citizens and to “allow our City Council and community o move forward in their work to make this City the finest place it can be.”

He added, “I deeply love our town and have given a major portion of my adult life to its wellbeing and, so, this is a bittersweet moment for me."

COUNCIL POSTPONES ACTION ON TERM LIMITS AFTER VIGOROUS DEBATE

By Alex Riggins

October 23, 2013 (La Mesa) -- The La Mesa City Council voted 3-2 on Tuesday night to once again delay a vote that could put term limits for the mayor and the city council on ballots next year.

After nearly an hour of discussion by the council and public comments, Councilmember Ernie Ewin motioned for the matter to be delayed once again so that he and the council could have more time to decide if they will put the matter on the ballot themselves.

“I want this to be vetted, and to give us all a chance to come back and really think about this,” Ewin said as he motioned for the delay.

MAYOR LEWIS IN CONTROVERSY OVER COMMENTS ON CHALDEANS

 

Full tape of interview  reveals comments praising Chaldeans in addition to remarks deemed culturally insensitive by cricis

By Miriam Raftery

October 24, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – At Tuesday’s El Cajon City Council meeting, a crowd of Irarqi Chaldean community members denounced  remarks made by Mayor Mark Lewis in an interview with Progressive Magazine for an article published in May.  Critics denounce the remarks as insensitive and reinforcing racial stereotypes. 

Supporters say the comments were taken out of context.  An audiotape of the full one-hour interview posted by RawStory in fact reveals many positive statements made by the Mayor about Chaldeans, as well as the remarks that stirred controversy.  Some backers of the Mayor have suggested a financial motive behind the criticism emerging months after the story first ran, noting that a leading critic represents Chaldean store owners chafing under a newly enacted city policy restricting alcohol sales.

EL CAJON APPROVES HOTEL AGREEMENT

 

By Miriam Raftery

October 22, 2013 (El Cajon ) – By a unanimous vote, El Cajon’s City Council today voted to enter into an exclusive negotiation agreement with Excel Hotel Group to develop a Marriott Courtyard hotel at the northeast corner of Magnolia Avenue and Rea Street in the Civic Center block. 

The proposal hinges on the state selling and to the city of El Cajon at the corner of Magnolia and Rea.  The City would then sell the land to Marriott for a dollar and give up a portion of the transient occupancy tax (TOT) for a few years.  At the end of ten years, the city expects to receive enough revenue from property taxes and TOT to repay the city the cost of the land.

“It sweetens the pot for them to spend several million dollars,” Councilman Gary Kendrick told East County Magazine.  He calls the deal a “win-win” for all parties.

EARLY VOTING BEGINS FOR NEW SAN DIEGO MAYOR

 

October 22, 2013 (San Diego) – Voters in the City of San Diego began casting their ballots for a new mayor Monday.

The Special Municipal Election will fill the vacancy left after Bob Filner resigned.

The Registrar of Voters (ROV) office opened its doors for the first ballots at 8 a.m. Monday morning and will be open for voting from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday until Election Day, Nov. 19, when the hours will change to 7 a.m. through 8 p.m. As expected for a first day, the turnout has been light.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT REPORT: SUPERVISORS WEIGH INCREASING OUTREACH TO RURAL VETERANS AFTER ECM INVESTIGATION

Highlights of El Cajon, La Mesa, Santee and San Diego agenda items for this week

Update October 24, 2013:  Supervisors unanimously approved the feasibility study on bringing veterans' services to libraries countywide.

By Miriam Raftery

County Supervisors and local city councils have several significant measures on their agendad impacting East County this week.

On Tuesday at 10 a.m., Supervisors will hear a proposal by Supervisor Dianne Jacob to extend the county’s outreach to veterans. This proposal is being introduced in response to an East County Magazine investigation that found a lack of County veterans’ services in rural East County. 

Supervisor Jacob’s proposal asks the County’s Chief Executive Office to report back in 120 days on the feasibility of using county libraries for veterans services, which would add 34 additional locations for  County Veterans Services representatives to meet with veterans.

SANTEE COUNCIL VOTES TO APPROVE ANNEXATION OF CASTLEROCK

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By Miriam Raftery

October 17, 2013 (Santee) – Santee’s City Council has voted to allow annexation of the controversial Castlerock Development project, meaning the land will be transferred from San Diego to Santee.  Pardee Homes plans to build 283 single family homes, 147 multi-family dwellings and a public park at the project. 

The Council has fought to oppose Castlerock on the boundary of Santee and San Diego, but the City of San Diego approved it.  Unable to block the project, Santee’s Council decided to allow annexation so that developer fees and property taxes from the new homes will be paid to Santee. In turn, Santee will provide services as fire protection.

CONGRESSWOMAN DAVIS TO HOLD NEIGHBORHOOD DAY AT GROSSMONT COLLEGE OCT. 21

 

October 17, 2013 (El Cajon)--Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-San Diego) will host a Neighborhood Day in East County.  Residents are encouraged to come share their ideas, ask a question, and get an update about what's happening in Congress at her signature town hall style event.

Davis’s Neighborhood Day will be held in the Griffin Center on the Grossmont College campus in El Cajon on Monday, October 21, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.

CONGRESS VOTES TO END SHUTDOWN

 

Update October 17, 2013:  President Obama signed the measure into law last night, ending the shutdown.

By Nadin Abbott

October 16, 2013 (San Diego)--Tonight both the House and the Senate voted to end the government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling—just in time to prevent the U.S. from defaulting on our national debt by tomorrow’s deadline. The measure will fund the Government until January 15 and raise the ceiling until February 17. Moreover, a conference committee between the House and the Senate to discuss the budget has finally been appointed.

Among San Diego’s Congressional delegation, only Republican Duncan Hunter was unwilling to prevent a default on America’s debts, casting a “no” vote.  Republican Darrell Issa joined with Democrats Susan Davis, Juan Vargas and Scott Peters to vote in favor of the continuing resolution to find the government and end the shutdown. Overall in the House, 285 voted yes and 144 voted no. 

The vote in the Senate was overwhelming, with 81 of 100 Senators voting for the bill, including most Republicans.  California Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein both voted yes.

D-DAY: WILL THE U.S. DEFAULT ON DEBT?

 

By Miriam Raftery and Nadin Abbott

October 16, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – If Congress and the President don’t pass a spending bill and raise the debt ceiling, tomorrow the United States will default on its debts for the first time in our nation’s history. 

The heads of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce representing businesses, the AFL-CIO representing labor unions, and the nonprofit United Way have all urged Congress to end the shutdown and avoid a default. 

If the nation defaults on its debts, economists warn this could trigger a stock market crash, soaring interest rates, and a global recession.  The U.S. would be unable to borrow money and would be able to spend only cash on hand creating an uncertain future for all who rely on federal money, including Social Security and Medicare recipients.  Foreign creditors could seek to cash out their U.S. bond holdings, leaving the government unable to pay its debts.    Standard and Poors has downgraded the U.S. credit rating in reaction to the stalemate in Washington, CCN.

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