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SAN DIEGO CONGRESSIONAL MEMBERS VOTE TO DEFEAT MEASURE THAT SOUGHT TO STOP NSA SPYING ON AMERICANS' PHONE AND INTERNET RECORDS

 

By Miriam Raftery

July 25, 2013 (San Diego) –An amendment that sought to ban the National Security Agency from collecting phone and Internet records on Americans who are not under investigation failed to win passage in the House of Representatives today.  The Amash amendment, a bipartisan proposal to a spending bill,  was narrowly defeated 205-217.

 All five members of the San Diego Congressional delegation voted to defeat the measure including Republicans Duncan Hunter and Darrell Issa as well as Democrats Juan Vargas, Susan Davis, and Scott Peters.

Supporters of the amendment argued that the NSA overstepped its authority by conducting warrantless spying on citizens--activities never authorized by Congress and that some contend violates the Constitution.

HUNTER CALLS FOR AUDIT OF FEDERAL AGENCIES ON PROCESS OF CLASSIFYING DOCUMENTS

 

July 24, 2013 (Washington D.C.) – Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-El Cajon) has raised concerns over how federal agencies determine what materials will be classified and who will have access.  In a newsletter to constituents, Hunter suggested that “classification inflation” has occurred.

“In the ongoing debate on the activities of the National Security Agency, the abundance of classified documentation is one issue among others that demands further scrutiny,” Hunter’s newsletter states. “An excess of classified information and documents have required that the federal government issue more security clearances, without always taking the depth or context of information into account.  In some cases, the classification system is used to withhold information from the public and sometimes even Members of Congress.”

SUIT FILED AGAINST MAYOR FILNER OVER SEXUAL HARASSMENT

 

By Nadin Abbott

Photos by Tom Abbott

July 23, 2013 (San Diego)—Two press conferences were held yesterday regarding the scandal in San Diego City Hall involving Mayor Bob Filner.

Prominent attorney Gloria Allred announced that she has filed a civil lawsuit against Mayor Filner on behalf of Irene McCormack-Jackson in Superior Court. McCormack-Jackson read a statement and her lawyer answered some questions from the media.

CONGRESSMAN JOHN LEWIS LAUNCHES CIVIL RIGHTS BOOK AT COMICON

 

Representatives John Lewis and Susan Davis talk with ECM on civil rights and voting rights

“Comics can change history.” – Andrew Aidyn, coauthor

By Nadin Abbott

Photos by Tom Abbott

July 21, 2013 (San Diego)—Congressman John Lewis (D-GA-5) came to San Diego Comicon International to launch his story from the Civil Rights movement. This graphic novel is the first in a trilogy put out by Top-Shelf called March. It will be released to the general public next month.http://www.topshelfcomix.com/catalog/march/760

“This is another way, another method of reaching people, telling the story, making it come alive,” the Congressman said, “especially for young people.”

SUPPORTERS SAY MAYOR BOB FILNER DESERVES DUE PROCESS

 

By Nadin Abbott

Photos Tom Abbott

July 18, 2013 (San Diego)—Supporters of San Diego Mayor Bob Filner held a rally today to urge that the Mayor be provided due process to allow claims of sexual harassment to be investigated before rushing to judgment.

David Vallalodid, a long-time activist, noted that allegations have “not been substantiated” and charges “have not been filed.”

HOW SHOULD FILNER CONTROVERSY BE HANDLED? REACTIONS MIXED AMONG SAN DIEGANS

 

By Miriam Raftery

San Diegans are speaking out on the anonymous sexual harassment allegations against Mayor Bob Filner--and their opinions are as diverse as the city's population. While some have called for the mayor's resignation or a recall election, others are urging him to stand his ground pending outcome of any investigaiton--and object to anonyous allegations being leveraged to try and force the mayor from office.

A rift has also occurred within the Democratic Party, with some prominent former supporters and multiple members of the City Council now calling for his resignation. But others say the Mayor is entitled to due process and that demands for his resignation are inappropriate absent proof of  illegal actions. In addition, the party is divided over who should replace Mayor Filner should he step down or be forced from office.

FILNER ANNOUNCES KEY APPOINTMENTS

 

July 16, 2013 (San Diego) – Mayor Bob Filner yesterday announced appointments intended to significantly strengthen City management.  Filner prefaced the announcement with a statement addressing recent calls for his resignation:

“I’m not going to resign, and here’s why,” said Filner.  “As your elected mayor, I fully expect to be accountable to the citizens of San Diego for all of my actions.  But as a citizen of this country, I also expect – and am entitled to – due process, and the opportunity to respond in a fair and impartial venue to specific allegations.  I do not believe I am guilty of sexual harassment, and I believe a full presentation of the facts will vindicate me,” said Filner.

MAYOR FILNER ASSERTS INNOCENCE IN SEXUAL HARASSMENT CLAIMS, CALLS FOR INDEPENDENT REVIEW

 

By Miriam Raftery

July 12, 2013 (San Diego) – Mayor Bob Filner today announced support for an  independent investigation into any complaints of sexual harassment by women on his staff and added that he believes the investigation will clear him of legal wrongdoing.

“While I stand by my comments and pledge of yesterday to make changes to improve the workplace environment in my office, I am confident that a fair and independent investigation will support my innocence with respect to any charges of sexual harassment,” Mayor Filner said in a statement issued today. 

The announcement comes one day after three of his long-time supporters called for his resignation, alleging to have credible evidence of sexual harassment complaints made by multiple women who worked for the Mayor. None of the women have been identified and details of the alleged harassment have not been disclosed.

SUPPORTERS CALL ON MAYOR FILNER TO RESIGN OVER ALLEGED SEXUAL HARASSMENT, BUT DECLINE TO DISCLOSE DETAILS

 

 

 

Photo: Filner and Frye earlier this year joined in presenting open government award to Terry Francke at Californians Aware, an organization Frye now heads after leaving the Filner administration.

 

By Nadin Abbott

Miriam Raftery also contributed to this story

July 11, 2013 (San Diego) – At a press conference today, three former supporters of Mayor Bob Filner called for his resignation, claiming to have credible evidence of sexual harassment involving multiple women.  They declined to provide any details on the alleged acts of harassment, nor have any of the women been publicly identified. However, Mayor Filner has acknowledged failing to respect women in his workplace and admitted to needing help.

Donna Frye, formerly Filner’s Director of Open Government as well as a past Council member and former mayoral candidate, joined with attorneys Cory Briggs and Marco Gonzalez in asking the Mayor to step down.   Hear audio of today's press conference from KNSJ 89.1 FM news:  https://soundcloud.com/mikehancock/frye

SANTEE COUNCIL CONSIDERS EMINENT DOMAIN OF NUMEROUS PROPERTIES FOR ROAD WIDENING PROJECT

 

By Miriam Raftery

July 6, 2013 (Santee)—At Wednesday’s meeting, the Santee City Council will hold a public hearing on a resolution to declare eminent domain in order to obtain easements and fee interests for dozens of properties on nine different streets, as part of the Prospect Avenue street widening project. 

Property owners have rejected fair market offers made via a letter, according to the agenda for Wednesday’s meeting.

LEMON GROVE CITY COUNCIL TABLES A RESOLUTION ON CITIZENS UNITED FOR LATER DATE

 

 

By Nadin Abbott

Photos by Tom Abbott

July 5, 2013 (Lemon Grove)—On July 2, the Lemon Grove City Council decided to table a motion to support a Constitutional Amendment that would overturn the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens v. Federal Elections Commission

The high court ruled in 2010 that corporations had a right to virtually unlimited campaign contributions.  Allowing companies to inject massive amounts of money into the political system has led to some of the most expensive elections in American history.

The effort was led by Councilmember George Gastil (photo). Before speakers from both Common Cause and Money out of Politics addressed the Council, Gastil went into some of the problems with the decision, which could ultimately impact municipalities such as Lemon Grove.

ASSEMBLYMAN JONES’ BILL TO CONFORM STATE AND FEDERAL “MADE IN AMERICA” LABELING STANDARDS IN CA KILLED IN COMMITTEE

By Miriam Raftery

July 1, 2013 (Sacramento) -- Legislation by Assemblyman Brian Jones (R-Santee) to modify “Made in America” labeling standards has  been killed the Senate Judiciary Committee today. Assembly Bill 890 would permit a product to qualify as “Made in America” if 90% of the components of the merchandise were made in the United States.  Current California law requires 100%.

LEMON GROVE COUNCIL TO WEIGH RESOLUTION CALLING FOR CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT TO OVERTURN CITIZENS UNITED DECISION

 

June 29, 2013 (Lemon Grove) – At the request of Council members George Gastil and Racquel Vasquez, Lemon Grove’s City Council on July 2 will consider a request from Money Out of Politics (MOP) to adopt a resolution to limit the influence of money in politics. Thirteen state legislatures and many cities, including San Diego and Los Angeles, have already adopted similar resolutions.

The resolution opposes the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case. The high court found limits on corporate campaign contributions to be illegal, finding that corporations have rights similar to citizens. 

The MOP resolution calls on Congress to begin the process of amending the U.S. Constitution t to make clear that corporations are not people and thus are not entitled to the rights and protections of citizens.

RESTORE THE FOURTH (AMENDMENT): RALLY AND MARCH TO SENATOR FEINSTEIN’S OFFICE JULY 4

 

 

“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.

SUPREME COURT STRIKES DOWN HEART OF VOTING RIGHTS ACT, SPARKING NATIONAL OUTCRY

 

 

"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)

CALIFORNIA BUDGET APPROVED ON SCHEDULE BY LEGISLATURE

 

 

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.

HOUSE BANS ABORTIONS AFTER 20 WEEKS

 

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.

CONGRESSWOMAN SUSAN DAVIS PUSHES TO END DISCRIMINATION AGAINST LGBT STUDENTS

 

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).

VACANCIES TO BE FILLED ON CAMPO PLANNING GROUP

 

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."

MAYOR FILNER APPOINTS NEIGHBORHOOD CHAMPIONS TO SD PLANNING COMMISSION

 

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.

HERO OR TRAITOR? PELOSI SPEAK OUT ON NSA WHISTLEBLOWER SNOWDEN

 

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.

HOW WILL THE STATE BUDGET IMPACT YOU? WHAT SHOUlD THE PRIORITIES BE? BUDGET WORKSHOP JUNE 8

 

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.

COUNTY LAND DEVELOPMENT PERFORMANCE REVIEW COMMITTEE HOLDS FIRST MEETING JUNE 20

 

 

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.

CONGRESS APPROVES KEYSTONE PIPELINE; DECISION NOW RESTS WITH OBAMA

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).

HEARING SET TUESDAY ON MILITARY JUSTICE IMPROVEMENT ACT

 

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.

LA MESA CITY COUNCIL APPROVES INCREASED SEWER SERVICE RATES

 

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.

REP. SUSAN DAVIS ANNOUNCES FUNDING TO HELP SAN DIEGO'S HOMELESS VETERANS

 

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.”

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