El Cajon

KALASHO DEFIES EL CAJON CITY COUNCIL RULE ON WIRELESS DEVICES; COUNCIL UNANIMOUSLY APPROVES CRACKDOWN ON MARIJUANA

Story, videos and photos by Paul Kruze

October 12, 2017 (El Cajon) – An outburst and verbal kerfuffle between El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells and Councilman Ben Kalasho at the end of Tuesday’s El Cajon City Council meeting almost overshadowed an earlier unified 5-0 decision to ban outdoor growing  of marijuana by individuals and increase penalties for illegal commercial marijuana dispensaries and commercial growing facilities within the city limits of El Cajon.

A TALE OF TWO OKTOBERFESTS

 

By Miriam Raftery

 

October 7, 2017 (El Cajon) – Crowds flocked to Oktoberfests in El Cajon and La Mesa for bratwurst, beer, and festivities. The two community events differed sharply, with the German-American club’s event at its headquarters in El Cajon focused on authentic offerings such as a German band and Bavarian pastries, while La Mesa added some international elements and carnival attractions.

PADRE JOHNSON DONATES “GLOBAL FAMILY” PORTRAITS TO HERITAGE OF THE AMERICAS MUSEUM: SPECIAL PRESENTATION AND RECEPTION OCT. 6

 

By Miriam Raftery

September 18, 2017 (Rancho San Diego) – Heritage of the Americas Museum invites the public to a special presentation and reception, “Padre Johnson and his Gift of the Global Human Family” on Friday, October 6 from 3 to 5 p.m. 

COUNCILMAN FACES NEW TURMOIL: ATTORNEY GENERAL PROBES CHARITY; WASTE MANAGEMENT WITHDRAWS CORPORATE SUPPORT OF KALASHO’S CHAMBER

 

By Paul Kruze

September 8, 2017 (El Cajon) – With hurricanes in the headlines this week, El Cajon Councilman Ben Kalasho finds himself in the eye of a storm—or several--yet again.  California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has sent Kalasho a letter of inquiry probing the Miss Middle East Beauty Pageant USA” run by Kalasho.

SARAH RAMIREZ RETIRES AS EL CAJON’S DIRECTOR OF RECREATION

 

By Jonathan Goetz

Photos credited to Mary Ann Prall

August 27, 2017 (El Cajon) - Sarah Ramirez, Director of the El Cajon Recreation Department, retired earlier this month. She started with the department as an intern in 1980 and over her career, led efforts to transform recreational opportunities for residents and oversee major public events to “rebrand” El Cajon and revitalize downtown, according to a proclamation issued by the Mayor.

She was honored at this month’s El Cajon City Council Meeting, and as is her style, she shared credit with her staff and her family for what she called her “incredible journey.”

The new Director of Recreation in El Cajon is Frank Carson. According to his LinkedIn Profile, he has experience with 25 years in Parks & Recreation, with 20 years serving in a supervisory capacity, and is bilingual in English and Spanish. He worked as a Recreation Supervisor for the City of Chula Vista from 2003-2013 and as a Recreation Manager for the City of El Cajon since 2013.

The full text of the commendation for Ramirez and her speech is below:

TRUMP SHIFTS STANCE ON KKK AND NEO-NAZIS, HAS CANCELLED FUNDING TO COMBAT THEIR RECRUITING EFFORTS

 

 

Update August 17, 2017 -- President Trump has backed off his words from Monday  in an angry speech to reporters  yesteraday, where he claimed counterprotesters were "very violent" and that there were "good people" on both sides. His appeasement and excusing of those in a march with Nazi flags prominently displayed has appalled many, prompting resignation of numerous CEOs off his business advisory panel which Trump dissolved as more and more quit in protest over his racial views. Watch video on CNN.

By Miriam Raftery

Rally organizer tells HBO Vice reporter on video, "A lot more people are going to die."

August 15, 2017 (Washington D.C.) – President  Donald Trump on Monday issued a strong statement denouncing groups by name  that participated in the Charlottesville, Virginia gathering of radical racist hate organizations, at which a Nazi sympathizer plowed a vehicle into a crowd of protesters, killing a woman and injuring 19 others.

the president's announced came two days after the attack – and following a barrage of criticism including leaders in both parties who faulted Trump for not specifically denouncing white supremacism earlier.

"Racism is evil -- and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans," Trump said Monday."Those who spread violence in the name of bigotry strike at the very core of America," he added.  View the President’s full statement: http://www.10news.com/news/national/trump-expected-to-condemn-hate-group... .

SECOND PAGEANT CONTESTANT ALLEGES WRONGDOING, ACCUSES KALASHO OF OFFERING TO TRADE SEX FOR CROWN

 

By Miriam Raftery

 

August 4, 2017 (El Cajon) –The San Diego Reader reports that a second contestant in the 2016 Miss Middle East Pageant has filed a lawsuit against Ben Kalasho and the pageant that he runs.  Paris Kargar told the Reader that on the eve of the pageant, Kalasho, an El Cajon Councilman, pulled her aside and told her, “You stay here at the hotel tonight with me, and you win.”

EL CAJON POLICE SET UP FUND TO AID HOMELESS MOTHER OF SEVEN, WHO CAME TO AID OF UNCONSCIOUS OFFICER

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

July 20, 2017 (El Cajon) – The El Cajon Police Officers Association has set up a Go fund me page (https://www.gofundme.com/ieshafund ) for Iesha Booker, a homeless mother of seven who came to the aid of Officer Sioson after he was knocked unconscious by a suspect who continued to assault him, causing serious injuries.

The 34-year-old MTS bus driver, was at the KFC in El Cajon when the assault occurred.  “When everyone else at the KFC stood around shocked, Lesha quickly stepped in, using Officer Sioson’s police radio to transmit `Officer Down at the KFC!’   It was that transmission which allowed us to expedite help to Officer Sioson, quickly arrest the suspect,” says Travis Howard, president of the El Cajon Police Officers Association.

MAN ARRESTED FOR KIDNAPPING FORMER GIRLFRIEND IN EL CAJON

 

East County News Service

July 18, 2017 (El Cajon) – Mark David Dabrowski, a 55-year-old transient in El Cajon, has been arrested and charged with kidnapping and domestic violence.

Yesterday morning, a witness called El Cajon Police to report that Dabrowski had abducted his former girlfriend, who is also homeless, while she was sleeping on an elementary school campus.

TRANSIENT CHARGED WITH ATTEMPTED MURDER FOR ASSAULT OF EL CAJON POLICE OFFICER

 

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

 

July 18, 2017 (El Cajon) – A transient is under arrest for the attempted murder of an El Cajon Police officer that occurred yesterday shortly after 10 a.m. The suspect reportedly punched the officer repeatedly, continuing to assault him after he was unconscious.

 

Officers were dispatched to a Dollar Store, where a robbery had been reported.  Employees said the suspect had gone to a JFC restaurant nearby at 724 Fletcher Parkway. KFC had also called police to report the suspect stole soda from their fountain. There, the suspect,  Daniel Moses Cook, 42, violently assaulted the officer.

WOMAN FATALLY STRUCK BY TEEN DRIVER IN EL CAJON

 

East Couty News Service

June 27, 2017 (El Cajon ) – A woman in her 50s who was walking home from the grocery store crossed North Mollison Avenue near Main Street outside of a marked intersection last night at 8:45. She was struck by a black Acura sedan driven by a 19-year-old driver.  Paramedics transported the woman to a hospital, where she later died.

FOURTH OF JULY FESTIVITIES IN EAST COUNTY

 

 

Updated with more special Independence Day events.

East County News Service

June19, 2017 (San Diego’s East County) – Julian’s Fourth of July Parade, El Cajon’ Independence Day picnic with fireworks and the  Santee Salutes patriot celebration are cherished annual traditions in East County.  Below are details. If you know of an East County Fourth of July activity we’ve missed, please email editor@eastcountymagazine.rog and post details in our comments section below.

EAST COUNTY CHALDEAN CHAMBER LOSES TRADEMARK; DETROIT-BASED CHALDEAN CHAMBER OPENS OFFICES HERE

 

By Miriam Raftery

June 13, 2017 (El Cajon ) -- The U.S.  Patent and Trademark Office has issued an order cancelling Ben Kalasho’s trademark for the San Diego-East County Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce name.  The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board held that the trademark caused confusion with the Chaldean  American Chamber of Commerce based in Detroit, which has been using the name since 2001. 

The board held that the trademarks were similar and that the local group used the entirety of the Detroit group’s name in its branding.

Kalasho founded and served as President of the local Chamber before stepping down earlier this year to avoid conflcts of interest after his election to the El Cajon City Council.  Kalasho’s wife, Jessica, currently serves as President.

DETHRONED BEAUTY PAGEANT QUEEN FILES FRAUD AND DEFAMATION SUIT; COUNCILMAN KALASHO DENIES ALLEGATIONS

 

 

 

Kalasho provides documents to bolster his defense, though this isn't first time he has faced claims of fraud or ethics questions

By Miriam Raftery

Updated with comments from Tawfiq's attorney

June 7, 2017 (El Cajon) – A lawsuit has been filed against the Miss Middle East Beauty pageant  USA Inc. and Ben (Bessmon) Kalasho, organizer of the pageant and an El Cajon City Councilman.

The suit, filed by pageant winner Zhala Tawfiq and first reported by the Reader, claims the pageant is fraudulent, that prize money was not paid, and that after she objected to giving up passwords to her social media accounts, photos of her face photoshopped onto someone else’s nude body were posted on  an Instagram page named “Zhala_Tawfiq_Fanpage” with a  post reading, “Leaked images of Miss Middle East Beauty Queen.”  Soon after she was removed as pageant winner and the title was given to the runner-up.

Asked if he posted the photos, Kalasho told East County Magazine, “Absolutely not." He indicated Tawfiz was replaced due to not fulfilling terms of her contract.

READER’S EDITORIAL: A RENEWED, REFRESHED EL CAJON – HAPPENING NOW

 

By Councilman Steve Goble

May 27, 2017 (El Cajon) -- Renewal (noun). The act of making new again or state of being renewed.  It’s what is happening in El Cajon right now.

For the past few years, the City has been diligently working on creating a new atmosphere, a new vibe, a welcoming spirit for businesses, visitors, and our residents.

EL CAJON CRISIS HOUSE TO HOLD OPEN HOUSE FOR HOMELESS CITIZENS ON JUNE 2 AT ROCK CHURCH

Volunteers needed to assist at event to help the homeless

By Paul Kruze

May 26, 2017 (El Cajon) --As the sun sets in the west behind surrounding mountains, some 700 people get ready to bed down every night on the asphalt streets of El Cajon. The roof over their heads is the night sky glowing with pillars of street lights and neon signs. They end up living on the streets for a dozen of reasons, including, bad life decisions, abusive relationships, drugs and alcohol, mental illness, and unemployment.

But for four hours on Friday, June 2nd from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. things might look a little brighter.

EL CAJON APPROVES REDISTRICTING MAP; COUNCILMAN KALASHO THREATENS LAWSUIT

 

By Jonathan Goetz; Miriam Raftery also contributed to this article

May 26, 2017 (El Cajon) – Following a lively public hearing on drawing up city council district lines to comply with Voting Rights Act requirements aimed at increasing minority representation,  El Cajon’s City council voted 3-2 to adopt  Paul Circo’s map PCirco1 for council district elections. 

Councilman Ben Kalasho,  a Chaldean-American and the only minority on the Council,  earlier sent a letter threatening to sue his city if that map was approved and request public records to determine if gerrymandering laws or the Brown Act were violated. 

Mayor Bill Wells, Councilmen Gary Kendrick and Bob McClellan voted to approve the map drawn by Circo, a Republican who ran for Council in 2016.  Councilmembers Steve Goble and Kalasho voted against it.  The district election map  chosen squares Kalasho off against fellow Councilman Kendrick, who also lives in Fletcher Hills, on the opposite side of Parkway Plaza. It also pairs Councilmembers Steve Goble and Bob McClellan, leaving two other districts that will be open seats. The Mayor will continue to be elected at-large by all voters in the city.

The plan chosen creates three majority minority districts.  Two have 70% minorities and a third has 51% . The minority definition used is broad, including language minorities such as Arabic speakers as well as all classes protected under state and federal  Voting Rights Acts.

FIRST AMENDMENT WATCHDOG GROUP OBJECTS TO MAYORS PARTICIPATING IN PRAYER BREAKFAST WITH DAVID BARTON: TWO MAYORS CANCEL AFTER ECM REPORT

 

Part II of our special investigative report on the East County Mayors Prayer Breakfast speaker.

By Miriam Raftery

May 4, 2017 (El Cajon) – On Monday, an East County Magazine special report  revealed objections raised by some local residents to the controversial “Christian nation” advocate David Barton chosen to speak at the annual East County Mayors prayer luncheon this Thursday, May 4th at the Crystal Palace in El Cajon.  

Now the controversy has intensified, with a First Amendment watchdog group sending a letter to mayors of  El Cajon, La Mesa, Lemon Grove and Santee objecting to their participation and asking them to disassociate themselves from the event. The letter was signed by Andrew Seidel , staff attorney with the Freedom from Religion Foundation. At least two of those mayors have since cancelled their plans to attend the prayer luncheon.

 In addition,  local residents are asking why alternate versions of the flyer were circulated to religious and secular groups – the latter omitting all mention of Barton and presenting the event as "progressive" oriented.

HUNTER, DAVIS ANNOUNCE PLAN TO CUT TAXES AND BRING INNOVATIVE JOBS TO EL CAJON

 

By Star Wares

April 1, 2017 (El Cajon )—Congressional members Duncan Hunter and Susan Davis held a press conference today in El Cajon to unveil a new “replicator” technology to be headquartered near Gillespie Field.

“The era of high taxes is over,”  Rep. Hunter announced.  “What government needs, it can replicate. Now that  government only needs to fund payroll for vital services such as the military,  I will be introducing a bill to slash taxes by 50%.”

Rep. Davis explained, “Light years ahead of 3-D printer technology, the Vespuccia Replicator is capable of scanning, processing and instantaneously replicating objects ranging from bridge supports to tanks.”

KALASHO THREATENS LAWSUIT OVER EL CAJON’S PROPOSAL TO LIMIT NUMBER OF ITEMS A COUNCIL MEMBER CAN ADD TO AGENDA

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

View video:  This agenda item can be viewed from 1:06:16 through 1:57:45

March 17, 2017 (El Cajon) – El Cajon’s City Council spent a full hour Tuesday debating a proposal by Mayor Bill Wells that aims to save Council time and staff resources by limiting how many items a Council member could place on an agenda single-handedly to just one per quarter, a maximum of four a year.  To bring forth any additional item, a Council member would have to gain support of one additional member. 

But that raises potential Brown Act violations andconcerns over suppressing citizen’s representation, the American CIvil Liberties Union (ACLU) warns in a letter sent to the City's attorney, Mayor and  Council members..

Newly elected Councilman Ben Kalasho strenuously objected to the proposal, leading to a testy exchange in which he threatened to sue Wells and fellow Council members to protect what he views as his right to represent his constituents.  Several members of the public also spoke out,  all opposed to sttifling their representatives’ ability to put items of concern on the agenda.

SEWAGE SPILL NEAR LAKESIDE RESULTS IN WATER CONTACT CLOSURE FOR LOS COCHES CREEK

  

 

 

Source: County of San Diego

March 19, 2017 (San Diego's East County)--An estimated 900,000 gallon sewage spill was identified Friday, March 17th at Los Coches Creek near East Sierra Alta Way in unincorporated El Cajon, the County announced today. The sewage entered the creek after an underground sewer pipe became exposed and significantly damaged during the February 27th storms.

KALASHO HOSTS SECOND TOWN HALL TONIGHT, ACCUSES MAYOR OF SEEKING TO MUZZLE HIS VOICE

 

 

 

Councilman speaks out against Mayor Wells' proposal to prevent any councilmember from placing items on the agenda without support of another member

By Miriam Raftery

March 9, 2017 (El Cajon) – El Cajon Councilman Ben Kalasho will hold his second town hall meeting tonight from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the El Cajon Police community room, 200 Civic Center Way in El Cajon. 

In a video posted on his Facebook page,  Kalasho asks public support to block a measure introduced by Mayor Bill Wells that would prevent any individual councilmember from adding an item to the agenda without support of another member.  The only Democrat on the Council, Kalasho contends that the proposal is targeting him. That measure is expected to be on the agenda for the March 14th Council hearing at 3 p.m..

HEAR OUR INTERVIEW: ESTELA DE LOS RIOS SPEAKS OUT ON HOMELESSNESS IN SAN DIEGO REGION

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

Hear our interview, originally aired on KNSJ 89.1 FM radio in January,  by clicking the audio link, and scroll down for highlights of how Esetela de los Rios believes  our region’s homeless problems could and should be solved .

February 18, 2017 (San Diego)—Estela de los Rios with CSA, a fair housing and human rights organization in El Cajon since 1969, is calling for  a change in how the homeless are treated in the city of San Diego and across San Diego County.  San Diego now has the fourth highest number of homeless people in the nation according to the federal Housing and Urban Development (HUD) agency statistics.  Yet instead of providing meaningful help to homeless people, San Diego has often resorted to criminalizing homelessness—passing out citations for sleeping in public places and having police seize tents and sleeping bags even amid cold winter storms.

Homeless has affected every city in San Diego County,  including East County cities of El Cajon, La Mesa, Lemon Grove and Santee, as well as unincorporated areas of the County. As San Diego cracks down on homelessness, more homeless people have resorted to camping along river banks,  in parks and on the streets of communities in East County, where homelessness is a problem for every city.

Audio: 

REVITALIZING ECPAC: WILL THE FAT FINALLY LADY GET TO SING?

 

 

El Cajon City Council approves negotiations with major concert promoter Live Nation to manage shuttered East County Performing Arts Center.

By Paul Kruze

 

February 17, 2017 (El Cajon)—As the old saying goes, “It isn’t over ‘til the fat lady sings.”  Just a few years ago, the East County Performing Arts Center (ECPAC) faced possible demise.  It’s remained closed since December 2009.  But the curtain may soon rise again, bringing back stellar entertainment to our region.

LIVE NATION SEEKS TO MANAGE A RESTORED EAST COUNTY PERFORMING ARTS CENTER

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Dancers performed in front of ECPAC in its heydey.

February 9, 2017 (El Cajon) – The long-shuttered East County Performing Arts Center (ECPAC) may finally be reopened under management of Live Nation, which claims to be the global leader in live entertainment. According to the company’s website,  Live Nation operates in 7 nations, has produce shows in nearly 40 countries, and has a concert somewhere in the world every 20 minutes.

The El Cajon City Council will vote Tuesday, February 14th at its 3 p.m. meeting on authorizing the City manager to negotiate a draft management agreement with Live Nation .  View agenda and attachments. 

CHALDEAN CHRISTIAN REFUGEES COULD BENEFIT FROM TRUMP EXECUTIVE ORDER

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

File photo:  Prayer vigil for Iraqi Christians in El Cajon

January 28, 2017 (El Cajon) – President Donald Trump’s sweeping order restricting refugees from predominantly Muslim countries from entering the U.S. has been greeted with optimism by some in San Diego’s Chaldean Christian community, since Trump has stated on a Christian broadcasting station that he would give priority to persecuted Christians, after a tougher vetting process is implemented.

Mark Arabo, president of the Minority Humanitarian Foundation in San Diego, voices hope that the order could help save lives of Christians facing death at the hands of ISIS in the Middle East.  An estimated 400,000 Iraqi Christians have fled Iraq and another 80,000 have been killed or tortured, some by crucifixion and beheadings 

Some have suggested Trump's order could be unconstitutioal for discriminating against Muslims.

Arabo, while hopeful to get help for persecuted Christians,  also expressed a wish for the order to be expanded to protect other people persecuted by ISIS, regardless of their faiths.

ROAD HAZARDS ACROSS REGION, SNOW IN MOUNTAINS, FROST WARNING TONIGHT IN URBAN AREAS

 

East County Wildfire & Emergency Alerts

December 24, 2016 (San Diego's East County)--Heavy snow is blanketing Mt. Laguna, with several inches reported in Boulevard.  Snow could dip to 3,000 feet tonight, with frost possible even in urban and suburban areas such as El Cajon and La Mesa tonight and tomorrow, according to forecaster Alex Tardy with the National Weather Service.

The storm, combined with accidents, has resulted in numerous accidents and other road hazards across our region.

FREE CHRISTMAS TREE GIVEAWAY FOR EL CAJON RESIDENTS DEC. 23

 

Source: City of El Cajon

December 21, 2016 (El Cajon) --Newly elected El Cajon City Councilmember Steve Goble and the El Cajon Police Department are hosting a “Free Christmas Tree” giveaway this Friday, December 23rd.

These free Christmas trees will be given out from 7:00 a.m. until 12:00 noon at Cartwright Pest Control, located at 1376 Broadway in El Cajon.   There will be 150 trees, up to 8’ tall and some will include flocking.  The trees will be given out first come, first serve, while supplies last.

EL CAJON SETS DEC. 13 PUBLIC HEARING ON MARIJUANA GROWING BAN

 

 

East County News Service

December 1,  2016 (El Cajon) –El Cajon’s City Council will hold a public hearing on Tuesday,  December 13 at 3 p.m. in Council Chambers (200 Civic Center Way) to consider extending an ordinance banning outdoor marijuana growing for the next year.

Following passage of Proposition 64, the statewide ballot measure legalizing recreational marijuana including growing up to six plants per household,  El Cajon’s City Council on Nov. 15 passed an emergency ordinance banning outdoor growing of marijuana plants until Dec. 30 in all zones within the city.  The hearing on Dec. 31 would be on a proposal to extend that ban until  Nov.14, 2017.

Pages