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LOCAL GOVERNMENT REPORT

 

By Miriam Raftery

November 2, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – Here’s a heads up for some key items coming up soon on the agendas in Lemon Grove, El Cajon, and at the San Diego Supervisors.

Lemon Grove’s City Council meets on Tuesday, November 5.  This week, the agenda includes proposed locations for a dog park, an expert panel on community gardens, and a report on economic development challenges and opportunities in Lemon Grove.

HAUNTINGS IN EL CAJON? PARANORMAL PROJECT TEAMS UP TO INVESTIGATE

 

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

Ghost hunting --just in time for Halloween!  The El Cajon Paranormal Project, spearheaded by Kitty Davis and Jennifer Kacizak, is tracking down some spirited tales at a reportedly haunted neighborhood in El  Cajon. 

“We’re the real thing.” said Davis.  The project was formed about a year ago and currently is focusing on a two square mile radius in El Cajon with borders set at Graves Avenue, Madison Avenue, and Ballantyne Street.

ARABO CALLS FOR DISTRICT ELECTIONS IN EL CAJON

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

October 26, 2013 (El Cajon ) –Following the resignation of  El Cajon Mayor Mark Lewis for racial remarks, Chaldean community leader Mark Paul Arabo, head of the Neighborhood Markets Association, is calling on Council members to denounce statements by Lewis and further, to implement district elections at the next city council meeting.

Currently, all El Cajon residents vote for all council candidates, with the top vote getters overall winning seats. Under Arabo’s proposal, the city would be divided into districts each electing its own representative-a move that could result in one or more districts with a majority of Iraqi Chaldeans or other minority populations. 

In a press statement, Arabo voiced relief at Lewis’ resignation but added, “We will not stop here.”

EL CAJON'S MAYOR LEWIS RESIGNS

 

October 25, 2013 (El Cajon) – El Cajon Mayor Mark Lewis has resigned, effective immediately.  In his resignation letter, the Mayor  cited health reasons, including cancer, a dislocated shoulder and a minor stroke in 2010. “Unfortunately at times, this has caused me some difficulties in clearly communication my thoughts, including during the recent interviews  that have caused understandable concern,” he wrote, adding that he is stepping down to avoid further concerns by citizens and to “allow our City Council and community o move forward in their work to make this City the finest place it can be.”

He added, “I deeply love our town and have given a major portion of my adult life to its wellbeing and, so, this is a bittersweet moment for me."

MAYOR LEWIS IN CONTROVERSY OVER COMMENTS ON CHALDEANS

 

Full tape of interview  reveals comments praising Chaldeans in addition to remarks deemed culturally insensitive by cricis

By Miriam Raftery

October 24, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – At Tuesday’s El Cajon City Council meeting, a crowd of Irarqi Chaldean community members denounced  remarks made by Mayor Mark Lewis in an interview with Progressive Magazine for an article published in May.  Critics denounce the remarks as insensitive and reinforcing racial stereotypes. 

Supporters say the comments were taken out of context.  An audiotape of the full one-hour interview posted by RawStory in fact reveals many positive statements made by the Mayor about Chaldeans, as well as the remarks that stirred controversy.  Some backers of the Mayor have suggested a financial motive behind the criticism emerging months after the story first ran, noting that a leading critic represents Chaldean store owners chafing under a newly enacted city policy restricting alcohol sales.

SAVE ROCKINGHORSE RANCH: THERAPY PROGRAM NEEDS HELP TO STAY IN EL CAJON

By Janis Mork

October 23, 2013 (El Cajon)- Rocking Horse Ranch has been in business since 2006, and  now its operators are asking for help to help save the property. The ranch pairs up troubled horses with abused and neglected children, and in time, both child and horse learn to heal.

ECM recently sat down with founder and executive director, Kathy Plaisted to learn more.

She told us that the ranch is special because “it is such a unique environment.. .We bring horses that come from troubled backgrounds and pair them up with people who have suffered as well.. We’re volunteer driven and serve over 500 people each month. We rehabilitate [the horses], work with kids, adopt the horses to forever homes, and bring in another one.”

EL CAJON APPROVES HOTEL AGREEMENT

 

By Miriam Raftery

October 22, 2013 (El Cajon ) – By a unanimous vote, El Cajon’s City Council today voted to enter into an exclusive negotiation agreement with Excel Hotel Group to develop a Marriott Courtyard hotel at the northeast corner of Magnolia Avenue and Rea Street in the Civic Center block. 

The proposal hinges on the state selling and to the city of El Cajon at the corner of Magnolia and Rea.  The City would then sell the land to Marriott for a dollar and give up a portion of the transient occupancy tax (TOT) for a few years.  At the end of ten years, the city expects to receive enough revenue from property taxes and TOT to repay the city the cost of the land.

“It sweetens the pot for them to spend several million dollars,” Councilman Gary Kendrick told East County Magazine.  He calls the deal a “win-win” for all parties.

ATTEMPTED KIDNAPPING AND RAPE FOILED AT GROSSMONT COLLEGE

October 22, 2013 (El Cajon) – A passerby who witnessed a woman being abducted at knifepoint in the Grossmont College parking lot today scared off the assailant by honking his horn. Sheriff’s deputies located and arrested the suspect, Anthony Washington.

“Washington later confessed he was going to rape the student and do whatever he had to in order to get his way,” said Sergeant Vic Perry.

EAST COUNTY ARTIST WINS PRIZE

 

Photo: Dog Dreaming, by Marc Kitaen

October 22, 2013 (El Cajon) – East County artist Marc Kitaen, El Cajon, won third place in the 10 annual Digital Art Show of St. Mark's United Methodist Church.

The show, which has the theme "Visions of Peace," includes 28 works by 12 San Diego County artists. It will run October 13 to November 10 in the church sanctuary, 3502 Clairemont Drive. The juror was Professor Craig Carlson, SDSU.

The other winners are: first place, Michael Sussna, La Jolla; second place Rachelle Farber, Carlsbad; and Honorable Mention T. Antoinette Fassel, University City, and John Valois, Mission Hills.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT REPORT: SUPERVISORS WEIGH INCREASING OUTREACH TO RURAL VETERANS AFTER ECM INVESTIGATION

Highlights of El Cajon, La Mesa, Santee and San Diego agenda items for this week

Update October 24, 2013:  Supervisors unanimously approved the feasibility study on bringing veterans' services to libraries countywide.

By Miriam Raftery

County Supervisors and local city councils have several significant measures on their agendad impacting East County this week.

On Tuesday at 10 a.m., Supervisors will hear a proposal by Supervisor Dianne Jacob to extend the county’s outreach to veterans. This proposal is being introduced in response to an East County Magazine investigation that found a lack of County veterans’ services in rural East County. 

Supervisor Jacob’s proposal asks the County’s Chief Executive Office to report back in 120 days on the feasibility of using county libraries for veterans services, which would add 34 additional locations for  County Veterans Services representatives to meet with veterans.

MINOR DECOYS DEPLOYED IN "SHOULDER TAP" OPERATION AT LOCAL ALCOHOL RETAILERS

 

October 20, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – On October 17, a shoulder-tap operation was conducted by the Sheriff’s Department and other agencies to see if retail outlets are illegally selling alcohol to minors in Santee, Alpine, Lakeside, Spring Valley, Lemon Grove, and unincorporated El Cajon.

Deputies from the San Diego County Sheriff's Department, Agents from Alcohol Beverage Control, and three minor decoys conducted a "Minor Decoy" and "Shoulder Tap" Operation at various locations in the East County. The operation involved minors who tested "on-sale" and "off-sale" establishments. The minor decoys tested retailers and servers at a number of locations in an attempt to purchase alcoholic beverages inside their establishments. Three employees sold alcohol to the decoys.

NEW DOCUMENTARY ABOUT LESTER BANGS SET TO SCREEN AT GROSSMONT COLLEGE OCT. 22

 

October 17, 2013 (El Cajon) -- A Box Full of Rocks: The El Cajon Years of Lester Bangs is a new documentary film about legendary music journalist and former San Diegan Lester Bangs. Grossmont College's Creative Writing Program will sponsor a special screening of the film at its annual Lester Bangs Memorial Reading, on Tuesday October 22, 2013 in Room 220 (Building 26).  This event will be free and open to the public.

CONGRESSWOMAN DAVIS TO HOLD NEIGHBORHOOD DAY AT GROSSMONT COLLEGE OCT. 21

 

October 17, 2013 (El Cajon)--Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-San Diego) will host a Neighborhood Day in East County.  Residents are encouraged to come share their ideas, ask a question, and get an update about what's happening in Congress at her signature town hall style event.

Davis’s Neighborhood Day will be held in the Griffin Center on the Grossmont College campus in El Cajon on Monday, October 21, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.

PANELISTS URGE PREPARATION, SPEAK OF EARTHQUAKE TYPES AND DAMAGE

story courtesy Grossmont College

October 17, 2013 (El Cajon) -- With a statewide earthquake drill known as the "Great California Shakeout" planned for 10:17 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 17, panelists in Grossmont College's Griffin Center told students last week, where to expect earthquakes to repeatedly happen, how to best be prepared for them, and what it is like to experience their devastation.  Many of these tips are included in the story below.

The panel was a precursor to the Oct. 17 drill in which students, faculty and staff will be advised that in the event that they are inside a building during a real earthquake, they should drop to the floor, get under and hold onto a desk or a table, and cover their heads to prevent materials shaken loose from falling on them.  The Oct. 17 drill will last approximately two minutes after which normal classroom activities will resume.

EXPLOSIONS IN EL CAJON

By Miriam Raftery

October 15, 2013 (El Cajon) – The Sheriff’s Bomb Arson squad has been dispatched to 1518 Sams Hill Road in unincorporated El Cajon following a report at 7:13 p.m. of explosions and a smell of sulfur.

“The reporting party heard loud booms coming from the roof of an apartment complex,” Lieutenant Jason Vickery told East County Magazine.

EL CAJON COUNCIL POSTPONES ECPAC NAME CHANGE

  

Kaboom! and New City Seal/Logo/Motto in works

By Janis Mork

October 11, 2013 (El Cajon)- At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Mayor Mark Lewis made a request to rename East County Performing Arts Center (ECPAC) to El Cajon Performing Arts Center. Lewis insisted, “Now is the time to name it, because we’re in El Cajon..”

At the suggestion of Mayor Pro Tem Bill Wells, however, Council opted to delay a decision until mid-2014, when a manager for ECPAC is expected to be in place.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT REPORT: HOT ISSUES ON THIS WEEK’S AGENDAS IMPACTING EAST COUNTY

 

See what’s on the agendas for city councils in  El Cajon, La Mesa, Lemon Grove, Santee, and the San Diego Supervisors this week

By Miriam Raftery

October 7, 2013 (San Diego’s East County)  - Chickens, term limits, renaming a theater, the Castlerock housing project, a regional water plan and a proposal to boost beekeeping in the backcountry are among the hot items impacting East County that will be heard this week.

EL CAJON INVITES YOU TO FIRE EXPO OCTOBER 12

El Cajon's Fire Safety Expo Is October 12        

October 6, 2013 (El Cajon) -- It’s all about safety at the annual El Cajon Fire Safety Expo on Saturday, October 12, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at 100 E. Lexington Avenue. This event celebrates Fire Prevention Week and brings to the community a wide variety of safety and health information.

Meet firefighters and police officers from the City of El Cajon and see Police & Fire K-9 demonstrations.   Kiwanis Club of East San Diego County will be giving away free kids safety helmets (while supplies last), and Home Depot is back with their children’s safety workshop. See over 40 exhibits addressing important issues such as fire safety, disaster preparedness from the Office of Emergency Services and Heartland Fire & Rescue.

EL CAJON CITY COUNCIL UNANIMOUSLY APPROVES ZERO FEE FOR MERCHANTS UNDER NEW ALCOHOL SALES ORDINANCE

 

 

Members also vote to shut down red light cameras

By Janis Mork

September 29, 2013 (El Cajon) - At Tuesday’s El Cajon City Council meeting, Council unanimously voted to not set a fee on sale of alcohol. The councilmembers also voted 4-1 to permanently remove  the red light cameras, with Mayor Mark Lewis voting against the measure.

First was a resolution on the annual alcohol sales regulatory fee under the new Deemed Approved Alcohol ordinance, which restricts sale of single-serve alcohol containers and cracks down on stores selling to minors or people with a series of alcohol-related arrests.

It’s important we have a zero fee,” said Councilman Gary Kendrick. ”Then it has no effect on businesses that operate legally.”

EL CAJON'S "AMERICA ON MAIN STREET" PLANS BEGIN

 

September 26, 2013 (El Cajon) – The City of El Cajon will be hosting a community meeting for El Cajon’s America on Main Street, a new City special event.  This community meeting will be held on Monday, September 30, at 5:30 p.m. at the Ronald Reagan Community Center, located at 195 East Douglas Avenue

El Cajon’s America On Main Street will be on Saturday, June 14, 2014, which is also recognized as National Flag Day. The event will include American and ethnic foods, live entertainment on two stages, displays and more.  For more information please call (619) 441-1754 or visit us online at www.cityofelcajon.us.

CITY OF EL CAJON INVITES YOUR INPUT ON COMMUNITY SURVEY

 

September 26, 2013 (El Cajon) – The City of El Cajon receives approximately $1 million in federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Funds and $420,000 in HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME) Funds each year for housing and community development projects.  The City invites the public to have input in how the City programs this money over the next five years.

IT'S OFFICIAL: NO MORE RED LIGHT CAMERAS IN EL CAJON

 

By Miriam Raftery

September 25, 2013 (El Cajon) --  El Cajon's City Council has given a green light to getting rid of red light cameras, voting on Tuesday to shut them down permanently.

Back in February, El Cajon’s Council voted to temporarily halt using the city’s 10 Redflex red light cameras while a six month study was conducted to see if there was any impact on safety. The cameras have been covered up since February 27.

REOPENED DELAYED AT EAST COUNTY PERFORMING ARTS CENTER UNTIL END OF 2014

 

By Paul Kruze

It has been said that the opera isn’t over until the fat lady sings.  Those who had hoped El Cajon’s East County Performing Arts Center would be open by December may have a bit more waiting to do until the proverbial fat lady sings.

While El Cajon City Councilman Gary Kendrick had set a target date of December 1, 2013 for the much anticipated reopening of the theater which has been shuttered for nearly three years, it may be at least another year until the curtain opens and the stage lights come on.

FAMILY OF 6 DISPLACED BY FIRE

 

September 19, 2013 (El Cajon ) – Four children and two adults are staying with family members temporarily after an attic fire damaged their two-story home at 930 Prescott Avenue in El Cajon this afternoon. 

Quick action by fire crews from Heartland Fire & Rescue in El Cajon and La Mesa, along with firefighters from Cal Fire, kept the fire from reaching neighboring homes.  Heartland Fire reports the fire was knocked down in less than 20 minutes.   The damage was mostly to the attic and roof area.

BUS TOUR OF EAST COUNTY'S ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES ON SEPTEMBER 25

 

September 15, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – The East County Economic Development Council (ECEDC) will host a bus tour of East County to learn about business opportunities, existing and future plans in the cities of El Cajon, La Mesa, Lemon Grove, Santee, and the communities of Alpine, Lakeside, Rancho San Diego, and Spring Valley. The tour will be held on Wednesday, September 25.  Those interested in attending must register by Friday, September 20. 

HEARTLAND SWIM ANNOUNCES FALL SPECIAL PROGRAM

 

Introductory club training for swimmers ages 6 to 18  

September 12, 2013 (El Cajon) – East County parents who have been looking for an inexpensive and fun way to involve their children in year-round club swimming now have that opportunity. Heartland Swim Association, East County's premier swim club, is offering a Fall Special Program at special introductory pricing.

Registration is $275 for swimmers between the ages of 6 to 18 and covers practices four to five days a week through December 15.   There is also a $60 fee for membership in USA Swimming.

CHEERS! GERMAN AMERICAN SOCIETIES’ OKTOBERFEST IN EL CAJON SEPT. 25-27 AND OCT. 4-6

 

The German American Societies of San Diego, Inc., will host its traditional Oktoberfest on Friday, Saturday and Sunday during the last weekend in September and the first weekend in October. The event will be held at 1017 South Mollison in El Cajon.

The  Guggenbach-Buam, band joins the festivities from Baden-Württemberg, Germany. Hear a song by the band here. Visitors are also invited to savor authentic German food, such as bratwurst, ox-on-the-spit, potato salad, potato pancakes, sauerkraut, red cabbage and a variety of German pastries, along with a selection of German beers and liquors.

ALL FORE R.E.C. GOLF TOURNAMENT AT SYCUAN SEPTEMBER 20

 

September 10, 2013 (El Cajon) – The 15th Annual All Fore R.E.C Golf Tournament, Dinner & Auction is September 20 at the Sycuan Golf Resort, 3007 Dehesa Rd., El Cajon.  The Shotgun Start is at 12 p.m.  This event is presented by the City of El Cajon Recreation Department and Crest Kiwanis Club to support recreational activities for East County youth.

4TH ANNUAL CHALDEAN FESTIVAL IN EL CAJON SEPT. 14 & 15

September 10, 2013 (El Cajon) – The 4th Annual Chaldean Festival well be held at Centennial Plaza in El Cajon on September 14 & 15 from 5 – 10 p.m.  This free event features music, dance, food, games and vendor booths.  There will also be a raffle for a Sports Car. 

All are welcome to this event sponsored by the Chaldean American Institute and St. Michael’s Aid Society.

BURGLARY SUSPECT IN GRANITE HILLS ARRESTED

 

September 10, 2013 (El Cajon) – On September 8 at 3:13 p.m., Lemon Grove Sheriff’s deputies received a call of a residential burglary in progress at a home in the 1800 block of Granite Hills Dr., in unincorporated El Cajon. The homeowner reported that an unknown male suspect jumped out of a window to his home and fled in a black Ford Taurus northbound on Granite Hills Drive.

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