“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures...” U.S. Bill of Rights, Amendment IV
June 28, 2013 (San Diego)—A new nonpartisan movement called “Restore the Fourth” has been formed to seek restoration of Constitutional rights to privacy under the Fourth Amendment. The effort is prompted by revelations that the federal government has secretly accessed phone and Internet records for millions of American citizens.
On July 4, Restore the Fourth is organizing protests in cities across America. Restore the Fourth invites the public to join a rally and march to Senator Dianne Feinstein’s office. Marchers will meet at 11 a.m. at the Balboa Park fountain near the Reuben H. Space Theater.
"Discrimination at the ballot box is intolerable, and we must ensure that minorities don’t have their votes purged, packed, gerrymandered, and redistricted away.” -- Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, commenting on the decision
By Miriam Raftery
June 25, 2013 (Washington D.C.) – By a 5-4 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court has struck down a requirement for states and communities with a history of discrimination against minority voters to obtain federal approval before changing their voting laws. The Court did not find the Voting Rights requirement of preapproval itself unconstitutional, but ruled that Congress must act to assess which areas still have evidence of discrimination.
The action in the Shelby v. Holder case has triggered outraged reactions from civil rights leaders across the nation.
“Communities of color, and young, women, elderly, and disables voters are at risk,” the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) warns. The NAACP has launched a petition asking Congress to act to protect voting rights . (Petition: http://www.naacp.org/page/s/vra-no-voting-rights?subsource=strucklb)
By Miriam Raftery
June 21, 2013 (Sacramento) – For the first time in recent years, the California Legislature approved a budget that is not only on time, but a week ahead of deadline. The budget, pushed through by the new Democratic supermajority of two-thirds in both houses, includes substantial increases in funding for education, healthcare, students, and the courts. The budget awaits the Governor's signature.
The budget projects $97.1 billion in general fund revenues. It includes $96.3 billion in spending for the 2013-14 fiscal year starting July 1 and maintains a $1.1 billion resere, also paying down debt accumulated during the recession.
By Meg Jensen
June 20, 2013 (San Diego’s East County ) – Fueling criticisms of a Republican “war on women,” the GOP-controlled House of Representatives has passed H.R. 1797, a bill that would outlaw abortions after 20 weeks in all 50 states.
Nationwide, only 1.1% of abortions occur after 21 weeks; 98.9% are done before 21 weeks. Supporters of the bill contend that it would prevent fetuses from feeling pain. Opponents voice concerns over the bill taking away the option for parents to terminate a pregnancy when tests available only in the later stages of pregnancy show severe fetal abnormalities.
FARM BILL DEFEATED IN HOUSE: ACTION HAS RAMIFACTION FOR FARMERS, CONSUMERS, AND FOOD STAMP RECIPIENTS
By Miriam Raftery
June 20, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – In a surprise action today, the farm bill was voted down by a 195 to 234 margin in the U.S. House of Representatives. Currently a 2008 farm bill is in effect, but it expires September 30. Without action to pass a farm bill this year, the 1949 version of the farm bill will be back in place—a move that is expected lead to steep price increases on milk and other agricultural products.
House Democrats overwhelmingly opposed the Farm Bill due to $20 billion in cuts to the food stamp program, which was denounced as cruel at a time when more Americans than ever before are facing food security issues. Only 24 Democrats in the House voted for the measure. They were joined by 62 Republicans who also voted against it though for different reasons; Republicans contended the $940 billion bill was too costly.
San Diego’s Congressional delegation split down party lines, with Republicans Duncan Hunter and Darrell Issa voting for the bill, while Democrats Susan Davis, Juan Vargas, and Scott Peters voted no.
June 18, 2013 (San Diego)--Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-San Diego) pushed for language to be included in education legislation to end discrimination against LGBT students. As Republicans prepare a bill for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Democrats on the House Education and the Workforce Committee are preparing their version.
In a letter to the Ranking Democrat on the committee, Rep. George Miller (D-CA), Davis urged that the Student Non-Discrimination Act be added to the Democratic alternative bill. The SNDA would put in place legal protections against discrimination of LGBT students. Davis is a cosponsor of the Student Non-Discrimination Act (H.R. 1652), which was introduced by Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO).
June 17, 2013 (Campo)--Applications are currently being accepted to fill three vacant seats on the Campo Lake Morena Community Planning Group. Two are for four-year terms that started in January 2013. The third is for a seat that has 18 months left to run.
Applicants must reside and be registered to vote in the Campo Planning Group area. Please respond promptly, as candidates will be voted on at the group's June 24 meeting.
ASSEMBLYMAN JONES ISSUES STATEMENT SUPPORTING “OPEN RIDING” IN OCOTILLO WELLS STATE VEHICULAR RECREATION AREA
By Miriam Raftery
June 16, 2013 (Ocotillo Wells)-- Assemblyman Brian Jones (R-Santee) has sent a letter to the State Parks Department encouraging open riding in Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area (SVRA) in response to legal action filed by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) and the Desert Protective Council (DPC). Plaintiffs contend that riding off trails has caused extensive environmental damage in the park, which has over 1,200 historic and archaeological sites, as ECM previously reported.
“Many of my constituents enjoy recreating in the Ocotillo Wells SVRA, which is why this lawsuit is very troubling," said Jones. "This area has been used for OHV recreation for over 50 years and has always been designated as an open riding area, meaning that users in the park are not required to stay on designated trails."
June 18, 2013 (San Diego)--Mayor Bob Filner appointed Theresa Quiroz and Anthony Wagner, two long-time neighborhood champions, to the City’s Planning Commission last week.
“I want to thank Theresa and Anthony for their commitment to our community and believe they will provide a strong voice for our neighborhoods in this new role” Mayor Filner said. “Their experience in community groups, knowledge of land use issues, and belief in healthy and vibrant neighborhoods will make them great additions to the Planning Commission.”
The appointments were approved unanimously by the San Diego City Council.
Hear audiotape of Pelosi remarks on leaks
By Nadin Abbott
June 13, 2013 (Chula Vista)— During a visit to Southwestern College in the San Diego area on Monday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi fielded questions from local media on Edward Snowden. Snowden has fled the country over fears of possible espionage charges for leaking classified documents revealing that the National Security Administration (NSA) has been accessing phone records for millions of Americans.
The former House Speaker called for a balance between “liberty and security” in a press conference following a forum celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act.
June 8, 2013 (San Diego) –Each year, legislators are tasked with the difficult job of balancing our state budget. This includes determining how much money will be available for public services, such as education, public safety, health care, and how much we pay in taxes.
Assemblywoman Shirley Weber will host an interactive town hall to discuss your priorities for California's budget, as well as the impact of the state budget on San Diego county residents. The town hall will be held on Saturday, June 8, 2013 from 12-2 p.m.
By Miriam Raftery
June 6, 2013 (San Diego)--In August 2012, as part of its Red Tape Reduction Task Force efforts, San Diego’s Supervisors established a Land Development Performance Review Committee to “improve the land-use processes for the County's unincorporated areas.”
On April 24 the Board unanimously appointed seven new members. They are to work with county staff on developing ways to measure land-use performance “to show that permitting-process improvements are occurring — making the system faster and less expensive without compromising quality,” according to a county newsletter.
The first meeting will be June 20 at 10 a.m.
BILL WOULD TAKE AWAY VOTERS’ RIGHT TO DECIDE WHETHER TO ISSUE BONDS TO PAY FOR INFRASTRUCTURE INCLUDING ENERGY PROJECTS IN EAST COUNTY
“SB 33 is being used by wealthy absentee landowners, foreign corporations, and investor-owned San Diego Gas & Electric to industrialize over 10,000 acres of our predominantly low-income and highly fire-prone rural community of Boulevard.” -- Donna Tisdale, chair of the Boulevard Planning Group
By Miriam Raftery
June 3, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – SB 33, a bill that could force voters to pay for big energy projects through bond measures even if the majority of voters don't approve such projects, is moving forward in the state legislature. The bill has passed the State Senate and is set for hearing June 12 in the Assembly Local Government Committee. It could have a big impact in East County communities such as Boulevard, where big energy companies have engaged in a stealth campaign to stick voters with the bill for projects they don't want.
June 3, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – The House and Senate have approved the controversial Keystone Pipeline, sending the measure to President Barack Obama’s desk. The President faces mounting pressure from major campaign contributors urging him to veto the measure due to its negative environmental and climate change impacts; others urge support to create jobs.
Local representatives split down party line, with Republicans Duncan Hunter and Darrell Issa voting for the pipeline, while Democrats Susan Davis, Scott Peters and Juan Vargas voted against it.
The pipeline project sparked protests nationally and in San Diego (photo, left).
Senator Boxer seeks “citizen cosponsors” for landmark legislation to protect sexual assault victims
June 1, 2013 (Washington D.C.) – The House Armed Services Committee on Tuesday is expected to hear the Military Justice Improvement Act, a bill sponsored by 17 members of Congress including Senator Barbara Boxer (D-California), who is asking the public to support the measure by becoming citizen cosponsors here.
The number of sexual assaults in the U.S. military rose by 35% from 2010 to 2012, according to a Defense Department report which found 26,000 members of the military had been victims of sexual assault – 70 assaults a day. Yet only 10% were even reported, and far fewer were prosecuted.
Demands for reform have been fueled by two assaults in May in which military sex prevention officers were themselves charged with sexual abuse and other cases in which general overturned guilty verdicts in sexual assault cases.
By Janis Mork and Jake Christie
May 30, 2013 (La Mesa)- La Mesa’s City Council unanimously approved increasing sewer service rates at its May 14 meeting. For the average family, the rate will rise by 7% in each of the next two years. Ironically, citizens' successful effort at conserving water has reduced city revenues--and was among the factors cited by Council to justify the rate hike, which drew strong objections from some residents present.
May 30, 2013 (Washington D.C.) – Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-San Diego) announced $1.8 million for San Diego to help homeless veterans as part of the Department of Housing and Urban Development Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Program (HUD-VASH).
“This increase in housing vouchers will help veterans get off the streets and into a place of their own,” said Davis. “We know that San Diego has a high concentration of homeless veterans. It’s very difficult, knowing the sacrifices these men and women have made on our behalf, to see them living on the street. Hopefully, through programs such as HUD-VASH we can help turn these lives around.”
MONSANTO SLIPS LANGUAGE INTO FEDERAL FARM BILL TO BAN STATES FROM REQUIRING LABELING OF GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOODS
Rally today in San Diego and nationwide seeks to stop “Monsanto Protection Act 2.0”
By Miriam Raftery
May 25, 2013 (San Diego)—Food safety activists will hold a “March Against Monsanto” today at 11 a.m. in San Diego. (Details on their Facebook page.) Among other things, protesters oppose stealth language slipped into the 2013 Farm Bill approved by the House Agricutlrual Committee. The language revokes rights of states to pass laws requiring labeling of foods with genetically labeled ingredients.
“Monsanto is trying to manipulate Congress to pass a Far Bill that will wipe out citizens’ rights to state laws intended to protect their health and safety,” the Organic Consumers Association said, International Business Times reported.
LA MESA COUNCIL APPROVES COMMUNITY MEETINGS ON BUDGET, POSTPONES ACTION ON GRAYWATER HARVESTING AND DOG PARK
By Janis Mork
May 16, 2013 (La Mesa) – Graywater harvesting, a possible new dog park, and a community dialogue to discuss fiscal issues were among the agenda items weighed by La Mesa City Council at its May 14 meeting.
Mayor Art Madrid wanted to develop a Graywater and rainwater harvesting ordinance for residential use in La Mesa.
By Miriam Raftery
May 5, 2013 (San Diego) – Nathan Fletcher, former Assemblyman and Mayoral candidate, made headlines last year when he left the Republican Party to become an independent. Yesterday, Fletcher announced on his Facebook page that he has joined the Democratic Party.
“For me, the last couple years have been quite a journey—going to war, serving in the State Assembly, campaigning for Mayor and now teaching and working in the private sector,” Fletcher wrote. Fletcher added that he has had time to “eflect on my values and principles and where they fit best. My votes and positions, candidates I endorsed and voted for had been in line with the Democratic Party.”
By Miriam Raftery
May 4, 2013 (Sacramento) – The State Senate Public Safety on Thursday voted 5-2 to defeat SB 779, a measure authored by Senator Joel Anderson (R-Alpine) and sponsored by the California District Attorneys Association. The bill sought to speed up executions in California through several means, including bringing back the gas chamber. The bill sparked strong outcry from human rights activists who denounced the method as inhumane.
California voters narrowly defeated a bill in November that would have outlawed the death penalty. The punishment remains on the books, but due to two judicial rulings finding prior methods inhumane, the state has been left unable to carry out executions since 2006, despite death penalty verdicts.
By Meg Jensen
May 2, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – Rep. Duncan D. Hunter (R-El Cajon) triggered a harsh response from Army Chief of Staff General Raymond Odierno during a House Armed Services Committee meeting on April 25.
The terse exchange occurred after Hunter criticized an Army intelligence program (Distributed Common Ground System) and repeatedly refused to allow either Odierno or Army Secretary John McHugh to respond in their own defense. Hunter prepared to leave the hearing, but stayed briefly after the Chairman insisted that General Odierno be allowed to speak.
“I object to this. I’m tired of somebody telling me I don’t care about our soldiers and we don’t respond,” the General said. “Everybody on my staff cares about it and they do all they can to help.” He then defended the DCGS and suggested Hunter was not familiar enough with the system.
By Nadin Abbott
April 26, 2013 (Alpine)—A meeting of the Alpine Planning Group this week grew heated as Lou Russo, a long time member of the group, raised conflict of interest complaints stemming from the San Diego Powerlink against fellow members. Russo also sought to have two subcommittee members removed over failing a fire inspection at their propertly.
Mike Milligan stated that he would “tender my resignation” if the attacks continue over Powerlink, adding, “It’s stupidity beyond belief.”
He added, “It is totally unprofessional and Mr Russo should tender his resignation.”
By Miriam Raftery
April 30, 2013 (Sacramento) – The Assembly Natural Resources Committee in Sacramento yesterday voted 5 to 3 to temporarily halt fracking until further health assessments can be done. Three moratorium bills passed, including AB 1301 to stop fracking unless it can be proven safe.
Two similar bills, AB 1323 and AB 649 call for creating an advisory committee to review health, environmental, economic and other effects. They would recommend regulatory changes. Those bills would require state officials to decide by January 2019 if fracking should occur in California.
April 27, 2013 (Sacramento) – Legislation by Assemblyman Brian Jones (R-Santee) to require photo identification prior to casting a ballot was killed by Assembly Democrats today in the Assembly Committee on Elections and Redistricting.
“I am passionate about this issue because the integrity of the ballot must be safeguarded so that the voices of lawful voters are not diluted or disenfranchised due to fraud and illegal conduct; this is equally as important to the credibility of elections,” said Jones. “The right to vote is a fundamental responsibility given to us by the founders of this country.”
But a Voting Rights Institute report titled “The Real Cost of Photo ID" concludes that “the problem of voter impersonation, which is the only type of fraud photo ID could conceivably address, is less likely to occur than a person being struck by lightning.” Moreover, the report found that in states that have enacted Voter ID requirements, the costs have been high. In California, the report estimates the cost of implementing Voter ID requirements during the first year would range from $37.86 million to $113.58 million.
April 25, 2013 (San Diego's East County) -- In an effort to help restore integrity to our federal elections, Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-CA) re-introduced legislation that would prohibit top state election officials from participating in federal campaigns.
The Federal Election Integrity Act would prohibit a chief election official of a state from serving on federal campaign committees or engaging in other political activity on behalf of federal candidates in any election over which the official has supervisory authority.
“Imagine if someone could be both the coach and the referee in a game,” said Davis. “That would certainly not be fair. So why would we then allow one person to both officiate an election and chair a candidate’s federal campaign committee? Someone who has a vested interest in a federal campaign should not also be able to oversee an election in which that candidate runs. Congress needs to take this long-overdue step to restore the faith of the American people in the election system.”
April 24, 2013 (Washington D.C.)--Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-CA) cosponsored legislation to block the doubling of interest rates on Stafford student loans set to kick in July of this year. The Student Loan Relief Act (H.R. 1595) would continue the current 3.4% rate through 2015.
“We need to ensure that access to higher education stays within the reach of middle class and lower-income families,” said Davis, a senior member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee. “If we want our children - and America, for that matter - to be competitive in the global economy, access to an affordable college education will be key.”
April 20, 2013 (San Diego’s East County ) – Senator Joel Anderson has called for a change in leadership at Caltrans, citing an independent state auditor’s report that suggests a “pattern of abuse, theft and mismanagement” under the leadership of Acting Director Malcolm Dougherty.
The study, the latest in a string of critical reports on Caltrans, found that employees falsified safety reports on bridges, jeopardizing lives, as well as stealing property. Salaries on Dougherty’s watch also rose to over $100,000 for the department’s 20,000 employees while road conditions deteriorated, Anderson charged, contending that the agency has become a “laughingstock.”
April 18, 2013 (San Diego) -- Mayor Bob Filner received a big thank you on Friday from a wounded Army veteran in desperate need of mobility. The Mayor secured a handcycle for Todd Fahn, who suffered severe injuries to his back from an explosion while serving in Iraq.
Fahn brought his son, Bentley, to meet the Mayor. Fahn says his new handcycle will allow him the mobility he needs to get around quickly, especially as the father of a toddler.
“I had come to a place of extreme frustration and the system was not working. I reached out to Mayor Bob Filner because of his many years of commitment to helping veterans in need and he delivered,” said Fahn. “Because of him, I have a device that helps me get around quickly and efficiently.”
April 18, 2013 (El Cajon) – Have you paid $150 for the state fire fee? Have questions? You’re invited to join Assemblyman Brian Jones and Cal Fire at a town hall meeting on Thursday, April 25 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. The event will be at the P2K range at 2082 Willow Glen Drive in EL Cajon.
To reserve a seat, call (619)441-2322.