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.
April 17, 2013 (San Diego) – Residents of the 79th Assembly District are invited to a community coffee with Assembly member Shirley Weber on Saturday, April 20 from 10-11:30 a.m. This event will be held at the Mission Valley Library, 2123 Fenton Parkway (off Friars Road) in San Diego.
Residents will have the opportunity to learn about current legislation that she is authoring in Sacramento, ask questions and share concerns they may haveYou are welcome to bring your family, friends and neighbors. This is a free and public event.
April 17, 2013 (San Diego)--Today, the City of San Diego published Mayor Filner's proposal for medical cannabis regulation in the City of San Diego. The proposal is based on the recommendations of the medical marijuana taskforce, organized by City Council President Todd Gloria in 2010.
HAVE A SAY IN 2013-14 CITY BUDGET DECISIONS THAT IMPACT YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD: WEBINARS, TEACH-INS AND OTHER EVENTS SET
Budget decisions made by the San Diego Mayor and City Council over the next two months will directly impact neighborhoods and quality of life throughout the year starting July 1.
Local residents can have a say in those decisions. Collaborating with more than 30 local organizations of the Community Budget Alliance, the nonprofit Center on Policy Initiatives is offering a series of free events on understanding the budget process and effectively advocating for the services and infrastructure every neighborhood needs.
By Nadin Abbott
Photos by Tom Abbott
April 9, 2013 (San Diego)—At the cusp of the U.S. Senate taking on immigration reform, the San Diego City Council today sent a bipartisan message to Washington. With a unanimous vote, the San Diego City Council passed a resolution asking for comprehensive, common sense, immigration reform. The partisan divide in Washington was not evident in San Diego, where Republicans joined their Democratic colleagues to stand united on this issue.
Council Member David Alvarez chaired the effort with Council Member Mark Kersey. Before the vote, Alvarez said, “The language is meant to send a message to Washington DC...This is a united message.” He noted that almost everybody is affected by this issue; immigration touches all of us.
Surplus expected to grow to $12.7 million under little oversight, legislators contend
April 9, 2013 (San Diego's East County)--Assemblyman Brian Jones (R-Santee), Senator Jean Fuller (R-Bakersfield), and 29 Republican legislators have requested the Joint Legislative Audit Committee approve an audit of the Dealers Record of Sale (DROS) Special Account of the General Fund. The DROS Account is funded by fees paid by individuals who purchase or register firearms in California. Generally, a DROS fee is paid by a buyer to a firearms dealer at the time of purchase. The dealer is required to remit the fee to the Department of Justice (DOJ) to cover the cost of performing a background check on the purchaser.
Story and photo by Miriam Raftery
April 7, 2013 (San Diego)—Donna Frye, appointed by Mayor Bob Filner to serve as Director of Open Government, has announced her resignation in order to accept the presidency of Californians Aware, a nonprofit organization advocating for open government.
Frye will serve as a volunteer in the position, losing a potential salary of $100,000 a year had she stayed with the City of San Diego. The resignation took effect immediately.
By Tom Myers, Alpine Community Planning Group Circulation Committee
Is your pavement all cracked up because of the Powerlink construction? Is the ride home rougher than it should be on your car suspension? We want to hear from YOU!
At the next meeting of the Alpine Community Planning Group Circulation Subcommittee we will discuss roads that were damaged by SDG&E heavy trucks and equipment but not yet resurfaced. You may recall that SDG&E representatives promised us at several ACPG meetings that they would restore any damage to Alpine area roadways caused by their operations. Now that their work is done, many of us have been waiting for the repairs.
April 3, 2013 (La Mesa) -- Cindy Marten, newly appointed Superintendent of San Diego Unified School District, will be the featured speaker at the La Mesa-Foothills Democratic Club April 3rd meeting. She will address challenges facing modern urban school districts like San Diego's. San Diego Unified is struggling with a large budget deficit and is planning to sell off $50 million worth of its properties to help achieve a balance. Over 60% of the new funds coming from Proposition 30's tax increase is already committed to pay for overdue raises and other staff expenses.
Rather than holding a nationwide search, the School Board selected Marten as the unanimous choice for Superintendent. This was a result of her accomplishments as principal of Central Elementary School in City Heights, where she oversaw a dramatic increase in test scores at Central Elementary, a school serving a community where nearly all families are low income and English-learners.
March 29, 2013 (Washington D.C.) – Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-San Diego) has introduced along with 63 bipartisan cosponsors H.R. 1130, the Iron Dome Support Act. Iron Dome is the defensive weapon system that is currently serving as a missile shield over Israel.
“This joint Israeli-U.S. project is already in the field, having successfully downed nearly 90% of incoming missiles during last year’s conflict in Gaza. Hundreds of innocent lives were spared as a result of Iron Dome and rocket fire from the Gaza strip did not escalate into a larger crisis," Davis states. “However, the coverage provided by the Iron Dome defense system is inadequate and regional security requires additional units to protect all of its civilian population.”
FEDERAL SEQUESTRATION CUTS HIT HARD IN LA MESA; CITY ELIMINATES MOST PUBLIC SERVICES FOR ELDERLY AND YOUNG PEOPLE
March 27, 2013 (La Mesa)—The federal government has slashed Community Development Block Grant funding for La Mesa from $800,000 a few years ago down to just $350,000 this year. As a result, the City Council voted 5-0 on Tuesday to completely eliminate funds for all public services funded by CDGB, except for fair housing. The cuts fall largely on programs that help the elderly, poor and disabled.
Funds will be axed for the Alzheimer’s Association, East County YMCA Summer Camp, Meals on Wheels of Greater San Diego, San Diego Youth Services, Elder help, Interfaith Shelter Network, Senior Community Centers, and more.
Mayor Art Madrid called the elimination of public services a “tough decision” necessitated by federal sequestration cuts. Sequestration mandates cuts across the board in nearly all federal agencies as a result of Congress failing to reach agreement on how to reduce federal debt and resolve the federal budget. Democrats sought a combination of revenue increases and budget cuts, while Republicans have blocked such proposals, holding out for cuts-only solutions.
March 18, 2013 (Sacramento)--Assemblyman Brian Jones, R-Santee has issued the following statement on the passage of HR 9, a resolution he co-authored that outlines the many characteristics of California’s historic vineyards and their vast contribution to the agricultural legacy of the state:
“Almost 250 years ago, Father Junipero Serra planted grapes at Mission San Diego, and since that time, historic vineyards have grown throughout the state – from northern California and the Central Coast to our own Ramona, Alpine and Riverside County’s Temecula Valley,” said Jones. “I am proud the 71st Assembly District is home to such beautiful and diverse grape growing areas – each of which has achieved worldwide recognition and contributes greatly to our local economy. I am very pleased the Assembly took the time to recognize the extraordinary contribution of our living historic vineyards to the agricultural and social heritage of the state as well as to the enjoyment of wine enthusiasts throughout California and the world.”
March 18, 2013 (Washington)--Two San Diego Congressional members, Democrats Susan Davis and Juan Vargas, joined 131 colleagues in introducing legislation to give minimum-wage workers a raise. Both are cosponsors the Fair Minimum Wage Act (H.R. 1010) to boost the minimum wage to $10.10 over three years, increase the minimum wage for workers who rely on tips, and tie future annual increases to the rate of inflation.
“Earning minimum wage salary should not mean living in poverty or struggling to pay the bills,” Davis said. “A minimum wage increase would enhance the economic security of our families by putting more money in the pockets of those who need it most. Let’s honor and respect our hard work minimum-wage earners by giving them a much-deserved raise.”
By Miriam Raftery
March 17, 2013 (San Diego) – This week, Mayor Bob Filner celebrated his 100th day in office as the 35th Mayor of San Diego by releasing a list of accomplishments in his first 30 days.
To the delight of some and the dismay of others, the new Mayor is shaking things up at City Hall and challenging the powers-that-be as he strives to fulfill his campaign promises for change.
SANTEE CITY COUNCIL DIRECTS STAFF TO DRAFT NEW MEASURES AIMED AT CURBING “AGGRESSIVE” ACTIONS BY HOMELESS
By Janis Mork
“I’m very close to the homeless. They’re people. Not all are troublemakers….. I know several who need help. We need to get tools together for a community committee, so we can get people off the streets and into homes.” – Clifva Budke, Medical Billing Enterprise
“I’ve stated many times that Santee is not a social services business. We’re in potholes, we’re in law enforcement, and we’re in fire fighters. .. I have a problem with the homeless industry.” – Mayor Randy Voepel
March 15, 2013 (Santee)- At Wednesday’s Santee City Council meeting, City Manager Keith Till brought up a report on strategies to reduce problems related to the transient [homeless] population, sparking a robust discussion on how best to address homelessness in Santee—and whether the solutions should be purely punitive, or include services to help those in need.
March 12, 2013 (Santee) – Santee’s City Council on Wednesday will weigh actions aimed at reducing activities by the homeless including panhandling, overtaking public parks, riverbed camping and “scavenging” (including taking items from recycling bins).
The City of Santee has no shelter for the homeless. The proposals to discourage homeless people from taking up residency in Santee public areas focuses not on providing services to help the homeless, however, but rather emphasizes punitive actions such as banning cigarettes in public parks and alcohol on weekdays, prohibiting single-sale sizes of alcoholic beverages at new businesses, and prohibiting aggressive conduct by panhandlers.