WAS IT FRAUD? EXPERTS RAISE SERIOUS QUESTIONS AFTER LOW FIRST-YEAR ENERGY PRODUCTION AT OCOTILLO WIND PROJECT
Elected officials suppressed key report, failed to halt project or recover taxpayer dollars
“It was heartbreaking to see this project desecrate such a historically and culturally significant landscape, and it’s even worse when you find out that it was built on false claims by the developer, and with the assistance of the BLM. "-- Anthony Pico, Chairman, Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians
An East County Magazine special investigation
By Miriam Raftery
April 30, 2014 (Ocotillo) – An international wind energy expert has concluded that Pattern Energy appears to have defrauded the federal government in order to obtain lucrative tax subsidies for a wind energy development in southern California that has failed to live up to the developer’s claims.
“I believe we have a clear case for the False Claims Act,” Nicolas Boccard told East County Magazine, after reviewing full first-year wind production data for the Ocotillo Wind Energy Facility on U..S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) public land. The project produced only about half of the energy that Pattern claimed it would produce—far below levels deemed viable for a wind project, a second expert confirms.
These dismal results are no surprise to Boccard, who predicted in a report written before construction of the project was completed that Ocotillo lacks sufficient wind speeds to sustain a viable wind energy project.
So were Pattern's lofty wind speed claims nothing more than spin?
By Miriam Raftery
April 9, 2014 (Washington D.C.) – As a slap in the face to women on Equal Pay Day today, Senate Republicans blocked passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act for women – for the third time. The measure failed due to lack of a single Republican vote. The bill had aimed to provide more effective remedies for women who are paid less than men for the same work.
California's Senators, Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, both Democrats, support the bill. On the House side, San Diego Democratic Congresswoman Susan Davis is pushing for passage of a similar measure, H.R. 377. San Diego Democratic Congressman Scott Peters is a cosponsor of the bill, which local Democratic Congressman Juan Vargas also supports.
East County Republican Congressman Duncan D. Hunter has previously voted no on a similar paycheck fairness measure for women, along with San Diego Republican Darrell Issa.
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.
October 5, 2013 (San Diego) –San Diego Congressman Issa (R-49) got a scolding from a federal judge after he asked to have a lawsuit that he filed be heard despite a federal shutdown.
Judge Amy Berman Jackson denied Issa’s request, noting that “while the vast majority of litigants who now must endure a delay in the progress of their matters do so due to circumstances beyond their control, that cannot be said of the House of Representatives, which has played a role in the shutdown.” Issa voted for a controversial spending bill passed by House Republicans that sought to defund the Affordable Care Act, prompting the shutdown after the Democrat-controlled Senate refused to approve the measure.
Shut down to cost San Diego region $7 million each week
October 5, 2013 (Washington D.C.) -- By a unanimous vote, the House of Representatives approved back pay to all furloughed federal workers for the full duration of the federal shutdown. The Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act (H.R. 3223), was approved by the House of Representatives 407-0 during a rare Saturday session.
4 of 5 local Congressional members not sure yet how they will vote; both CA Senators support military intervention
By Miriam Raftery
September 4, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – Three days ago, NBC news reported that San Diego’s Congressional delegation had “mostly positive” reactions to news that President Obama had decided to ask Congresss for approval before waging a military air strike on Syria. But a poll by CNN of Congressional members found San Diego’s representatives remain mostly undecided on whether to vote for war or not. Both California Senators, however, support the President’s call for military action.
Overall, the CNN poll found the majority in both houses of Congress have not yet committed how they will vote. In the Senate, 24 Senators say that they will support the war declaration, 16 will oppose it, and 58 remain undecided. In the House, 27 support going to war, 91 oppose, 254 are undecided, and the positions of 61 others are unknown.
This is a rare issue in which the vote does not split down party lines. Both parties are split, with many members on each side of the weighty issue appearing ready to vote their consciences or the will of their constituents, not a party preference.
August 15, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – Members of the national, California, and San Diego Leagues of Conservation Voters will deliver a climate change denier award to Rep. Darrell Issa in recognition of his extreme anti-science views, which put him at odds with 97 percent of scientists and a majority of the American people. The event is part of a “Day of Action” held nationally in coordination with Organizing for Action to hold climate change deniers accountable.
HOUSE VOTES TO ELIMINATE ALL FOOD STAMP BENEFITS; SENATE SEEKS COMPROMISE AS FARM BILL HANGS IN THE BALANCE
By Miriam Raftery
August 4, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – By a bare majority, the Republican-controlled House of representatives passed the Farm Bill after stripping out all funding for food stamps to feed the poor, but approved lavish subsidies for agribusiness. After the Senate passed a less extreme version, a conference committee is now seeking a compromise. But thus far, the Republican leadership has shown no concern for the potential to leave millions of Americans facing starvation.
Among San Diego’s five Congressional representatives, only Republican Darrell Issa voted for the measure. Republican Duncan Hunter did not vote, but previously voted for earlier deep cuts in Food Stamps and against restoring benefits. Democrats Susan Davis, Scott Peters and Juan Vargas voted against stripping Food Stamps from the Farm Bill.
Issa’s 49th district includes 7,691 households receiving food stamps (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP). Of those, 44.2% have incomes below the poverty level and 79.5% have children; 20.2% have at least one senior citizen.
Update July 15: The property owner has granted a brief stay to allow Coyote Canyon Caballos d'Anza more time to relocate the herd. The nonprofit group asks public help to contact federal and county elected officials and the Bureau of Land Management to urge that relocation on public lands in San Diego be approved and expedited. Actions that could be taken include the county adding these wild horses to its protected species list and the BLM approving the horses for relocation to the Beauty Mountain area in northeast San Diego County.
By Miriam Raftery
July 14, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – Plans to restore San Diego’s heritage herd of wild horses to public lands is in peril. An eviction notice has been served on the nonprofit organization that recently found and brought back the last descendants of San Diego’s original wild horses. Unless the property owner backs down, the horses will be evicted on Monday, July 15.
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).
Rural areas could have major impacts, loss of service;
Postal Rep says San Diego Congressman blocks reforms
By Nadin Abbott
March 25, 2013 (San Diego)—Over 600 people from as far away as Brawley and Los Angeles turned out at Sunday’s “Delivering for America” rally to protest impending slashing of postal services that could leave some rural residents with no mail delivery.
“Rural customers will probably feel the worst of it,” George Elias, Executive Vice President, Branch 70 of the Letter Carriers Union told ECM, referring to the upcoming elimination of Saturday mail service. Moreover, Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe wants to stop door-to-door delivery and close some rural Post Offices, he said.
THE COALITION FOR CHANGE (C4C) FIGHTS FOR CHANGE FOR FEDERAL GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES: LAUNCHES “UNLEASH NO FEAR” CAMPAIGN
Article by Dennis Moore
“If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle.” --Frederick Douglass
March 6, 2013 (San Diego)--Thousands of federal employees in the San Diego area are soon to be impacted by sequestration, automatic budget cuts mandated by the federal government. These cuts may have a larger impact on San Diego County than anywhere else in the U.S., since our region is home to wide-ranging naval operations, a bustling border and vibrant biotech and drone sectors. About $37 billion flows into the County each year, including billions of dollars for defense contracts and millions more for research efforts.
The Coalition For Change, Inc. (C4C) is a Washington, DC based organization that promotes equality as well as exposes retaliation and racism in the federal government. “Civil servants (i.e., agents, air marshals, food inspectors, investigators, corrections officers, firefighters) function as America’s first line of defense against domestic threats. Therefore, we must protect our federal workforce against managerial abuse and reprisal in order to better protect our citizens.” That is what Tanya Ward Jordan, the founder of C4C, believes and espouses in her daily activities and advocacy on behalf of this organization. Now C4C is ramping up to strengthen its fight for federal workers.
San Diego Republicans drop opposition, vote to pass measure
By Miriam Raftery
March 1, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – Two Republican Congressmen from San Diego, Duncan Hunter and Darrell Issa, previously voted against renewal and expansion of the Violence Against Women Act to include protections for Native American, gay and immigrant women.
But this week, both shifted their stance and joined with Democrats to pass the measure 286 to 138. Local Democratic House representatives Susan Davis, Scott Peters and Juan Vargas also voted in favor. (View roll call) The bill has also been approved by the Senate, where California Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein supported it, and is expected to be signed into law by the President.
The law had expired, leaving all battered women without the protections afforded by the Violence Against Women Act, due to the House blocking the measure for over a year. But after mounting public pressure by women’s groups, Native American rights advocates, immigrant and gay rights organizations and others, 87 House Republicans joined with all 199 Democrats to pass the reauthorization bill, expanding rights to include all women.
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."
By Miriam Raftery
January 2, 2013 (San Diego’s East County ) – By a 257-167 vote late last night, the House of Representatives approved without changes a “fiscal cliff” deal previously passed by the Senate 89-8.
The stock market reaction to ending the uncertainty was positive, rising 235 points or 1.9% on January 1 for a second-straight day of triple digit gains. It’s a deal that reflects compromise on both sides, averting a potential crisis short-term, but deferring major decisions on spending cuts and raising the nation's debt ceiling down the road.
The decision divided the Republican leadership, as well as the local Congressional delegation. Lame-duck Republican Congressman Brian Bilbray joined with Democrat Susan Davis in voting for the measure, while Republicans Duncan Hunter and Darrell Issa voted against it. (Bob Filner resigned his seat Dec. 3 to assume his new responsibilities as Mayor, leaving his seat vacant until Juan Vargas is sworn in later this month.)
December 12, 2012 -- (San Diego’s East County)--East County Roundup highlights top stories of interest to East County and San Diego’s inland regions, published in other media. This week’s top “Roundup” headlines include:
- Arson frightens Rancho San Diego family (U-T San Diego)
- The fall of the Union-Tribune (Media Matters)
- Tree-trimming, electric contactors pay $370 million for 2007 wildfires U-T San Diego)
- APNewsBreak: Dispute over records at [San Onofre] nuclear plant (U-T San Diego)
- Prop R leaves Ramona schools with no plan B (U-T San Diego)
- Congressman Darrell Issa’s home burglarized (KUSI)
- Natural medical school is latest development in growing trend (U-T San Diego)
- Lemon Grove city hours revamped (U-T San Diego)
- El Cajon Boulevard changes precursor to revitalization regionwide (U-T San Diego)
- La Mesa man’s 459 pound tuna biggest of all time? (U-T San Diego)
- Planning group listens to residents, votes against evacuation lighting (Ramona Patch)
- New UC logo a no go with students and alumni (Los Angeles Times)
- Renewed call for probe of Wildlife Services (Sacramento Bee)
- Senator Gaines introduces bill to repeal fire tax (Lakeside News)
Read more for excerpts and links to full stories.
LOCAL REPUBLICANS VOTED FOR RYAN-BILBRAY BUDGET THAT DRASTICALLY REDUCED DISASTER RELIEF AND PREPAREDNESS
November 2, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – San Diego’s local Republican Congressmen Brian Bilbray, Duncan Hunter and Darrell Issa voted for the Paul Ryan budget which would have deeply reduced emergency response and preparedness to disasters such as Hurricane Sandy and local wildfires. An analysis from Third Way says that the Ryan-Bilbray budget “would set the clock back on disaster preparation to the days before Hurricane Katrina.”
Mitt Romney, in a primary debate, called disaster relief “immoral” and said he would privatize FEMA. Following Hurricane Sandy, he has sought to blur his stance, though his running mate’s budget would also have radically cut federal aid and hampered states’ abilities to respond when disasters strike.
By Janis Mork
October 18, 2012 (San Diego)- Democrat Jerry Tetalman is running against Republican Congressman Darrell Issa in the 49th District this November. Issa is among the wealthiest members of Congress and has long been viewed as invincible in a largely Republican district—though Citizens for Responsible Ethics in Washington (CREW) have documented numerous controversies and most recently, filed ethics and a Department of Justice complaint against Issa.
Tetalman supports a future of peace and prosperity based on building a world ruled by democratic law rather than force, and a sustainable economy in harmony with the environment.
September 13, 2012 (Washington, D.C.) — Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) named Rep. Darrell Issa (R-San Diego) as a Dishonorable Mention in its Most Corrupt Members of Congress report, an annual, bipartisan look at Washington’s worst. According to CREW, Rep. Issa illegally disclosed information from a sealed wiretap, then hid behind his constitutional protections as a member of Congress to avoid the consequences, earning him a spot in CREW’s latest report.
HUNTER, BILBRAY AND ISSA VOTE TO WEAKEN PROTECTIONS FOR NATIVE AMERICAN WOMEN & OTHER MINORITIES VICTIMIZED BY DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
By Miriam Raftery
May 18, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) sharply criticized HR 4970, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a narrow 222-205 vote. The House version of the Violence Against Women Act contained amendments that weaken protections for domestic violence victims on tribal lands, as well as for immigrant and gay women.
It's a shame that this so-called violence against women bill could actually cause violence to women," said Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-San Diego), who voted against the measure. "This bill is outright dangerous."
But San Diego’s three Republican Congressmen—Duncan Hunter, Brian Bilbray and Darrell Issa—all voted for the House measure.
HOUSE REPUBLICANS PASS BUDGET TO SLASH TAXES FOR WEALTHY, RAISES MEDICARE COSTS FOR SENIORS AND STUDENT LOAN INTEREST RATES
By Miriam Raftery
April 1, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – House Republicans this week passed a budget that would give massive tax breaks to the wealthy and to corporations, while weakening programs that benefit students, the middle class and senior citizens, including Medicare.
March 6, 2012 (San Diego)--Women from all over San Diego County will rally in front of the US Federal Courthouse, 940 Front Street in San Diego on Thursday, March 8 from 12-1 p.m. to support women's rights to contraception on International Women's Day.
By Bonnie Burns Price; research assistance by Olive Ball
“Are Republicans engaged in a war on women, with women’s rights, needs, and hopes just the collateral damage of their war?” -- Bonnie Burns Price
February 23, 2012 (San Diego’s East County)--The 2012 Republican presidential contest is one of the most intriguing events on the national political stage. Many debates have allowed the nation to consider candidate positions on subjects as diverse as the Great Recession, the war in Afghanistan, a nuclear Iran, sustainability of Social Security and Medicare, tax fairness, contraception and abortion.
SHOULD YOUR EMPLOYER DECIDE WHAT HEALTHCARE YOU RECEIVE? AMENDMENT TARGETING WOMEN’S HEALTH WOULD IMPACT MEN , TOO
Proposed “Blunt Amendment” would let employers deny coverage for blood transfusions, birth control, AIDS or cancer treatments, and more
Rep. Issa (R-San Diego) draws heat for restricting testimony to men only at hearing on women’s health
By Miriam Raftery
February 21, 2012 (Washington D.C.) – Disguised as an amendment to limit options for women’s health, the “Blunt Amendment” (S. 1467) introduced byU.S. Senator Roy Blunt and supported by conservatives in Congress goes much farther.
It would allow employers to design their own healthcare plans under the Affordable Care Act and to exclude any “specific items or services” that are “contrary to the religious beliefs or moral convictions of the sponsor, issuer, or other entity offering the plan.”
2 LOCAL CONGRESSIONAL MEMBERS COAUTHOR BILL TO REQUIRE DISCLOSURE OF CORPORATE CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS
Local Republican Congressmen vote to deny emergency care to save mothers’ lives
By Shannon Michael
October 15, 2011 (San Diego’s East County) – The Republican-controlled House this week passed a restrictive measure that would let hospitals refuse to provide an abortion even if urgently needed to save a woman’s life.
“The misnamed Protect Life Act is about allowing women to die if they need an emergency abortion,” said Meghan Rhoad at Human Rights Watch. “It is a vicious attack on women’s rights and on the most basic right to life.”
Local Republicans Duncan Hunter, Brian Bilbray, and Darrell Issa voted for the bill, H.R. 358, while San Diegio Democrats Bob Filner and Susan Davis voted against it.
3 local Congressional members vote to cut funds for disaster relief
Update: A stopgap measure has been approved to fund FEMA partially through Tuesday, but at lower levels than the agency says is needed.
September 23, 2011 (Washington D.C.) – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will run out of funds early next week, leaving victims of recent tornadoes, hurricanes and wildfires without help unless Congress takes action. Republicans in the House refused to approve a stop-gap spending bill passed by the Senate and instead, voted on their own bill with sharply reduced funds for the cash-strapped emergency response agency.
San Diego Republicans Duncan Hunter, Brian Bilbray and Darrell Issa all voted for the measure, which failed by a narrow margin. If no measure is passed by both houses soon, the government faces a potential shut-down and disasater victims may be left to fend for themselves.
CONGRESSWOMAN SUSAN DAVIS SPEAKS OUT AGAINST ENERGY BILL THAT SHE SAYS WOULD HURT SAN DIEGO’S CLEANTECH INNOVATION
by Shannon Michael
July 21, 2011 (Washington D.C.) – Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-San Diego) has issued a press release blasting an energy spending bill that seeks to gut funding for clean energy, including biomass and solar programs. The bill would hit San Diego hard, since it has a large concentration of clean technology companies, Davis indicated.
“San Diego has 767 clean technology companies and has become an innovation hub, especially in solar power, energy storage, and advanced biofuels,” said Davis. “If we’re going to remain competitive in the global economy, we must invest in clean energy innovation.” According to the San Diego Association of Governments, the algae energy section alone provides the region with 410 direct jobs and $108 million in economic activity each year.
Poll shows strong public support for plan; Rep. Hunter visits Afghanistan to meet with military officers
By Miriam Raftery
June 29, 2011 (San Diego) – A Gallup Poll shows 72% of Americans support President Barack Obama’s plan announced last week to withdraw thousands of U.S. troops from Afghanistan this year. Just 23% opposed the troop drawdown plan, and some want to see an even faster troop withdrawal.
Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-El Cajon), a veteran of the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars and member of the House Armed Services Committee, visited Afghanistan this week and met with General David Petraeus. He has voiced support for troop withdrawals, citing erosion of public support. But he called for a shift in focus toward counter-terrorism utilizing special operations forces, intelligence gathering capability and air assets.
Measure drew bipartisan support in Congress, though local representatives split votes down party lines
June 7, 2011 (Washington D.C.)—By a 268-145 vote, the House of Representatives rebuked President Barack Obama for not seeking Congressional authorization for military conflict in Libya. House Resolution 292, authored by Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) asked the President to provide Congress with justification for U.S. involvement in NATO-led military strikes.