El Cajon City Council

COUNCILMAN BEN KALASHO PLED GUILTY TO CRIMINAL WORKERS' COMP FRAUD IN 2015, REMAINS ON PROBATION

 

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

Photo: Bessmon "Ben" Kalasho, August 2015

August 9, 2018 (El Cajon)--An exclusive investigation by East County Magazine has uncovered a criminal case in which El Cajon Councilman Bessmon “Ben” Kalasho pled guilty to two counts of workers’ compensation fraud in October 2015 (court case #MD094871).

Kalasho was on probation for his crimes, both misdemeanors, when he ran for and won his seat on the City Council in 2016. He remains on probation until October 1, 2018.

Kalasho has pulled papers to run for El Cajon City Council again in November.   

EAST COUNTY LEADERSHIP COUNCIL NONPROFIT LAUNCHES FROM EL CAJON DOWNTOWN LIBRARY

 

By Jonathan Goetz

July 23, 2018 (El Cajon) – George Gastil, a former Lemon Grove Councilman and history professor at Grossmont College and San Diego State Univesrity, opened the inaugural meeting of the East County Leadership Council (ECLC).  The newly formed 501c(3) nonprofit organization has a mission statement to promote “quality discussion of politics and public policy in the East County region of San Diego County.”

SHOULD EL CAJON CENSURE COUNCILMAN KALASHO?

 

By Miriam Raftery

July 15, 2018 (El Cajon) – As the scandals involving Councilman Ben Kalasho mount, with 11 citizens calling for his resignation at the last City Council meeting, some community members are now asking why the City Council has not censured Kalasho, who has announced his intent to run for Mayor. 

COMMUNITY MEMBERS URGE KALASHO TO RESIGN OVER SEXUAL HARASSMENT FINDINGS AND ALLEGED THREATS

 

 

A group of people in a roomDescription generated with very high confidence

 

 

 

By Briana Ghaffery

View video of Council meeting: https://elcajonca.swagit.com/play/07112018-1233

 

July 11, 2018 (El Cajon) – Eleven speakers called on Councilman Ben Kalasho to resign during public comments at Tuesday’s El Cajon City Council meeting, where the audience included protesters who held signs reading “hands off our daughters” and “sex predator Kalasho belongs in jail” complete with a photoshopped picture of Kalasho as an inmate.

Kalasho has also announced his intention to run for Mayor, challenging incumbent Bill Wells.

PEARL HARBOR SURVIVORS JOIN THOUSANDS TO HONOR VETERANS IN EL CAJON

 

By Jesse B. Kendrick

Photo: El Cajon Councilmember Bob McClellan and granddaughter Jessica (left) join Mayor Pro Tem Gary Kendrick (center) to honor Pearl Harbor survivor Stu Hedley, 96 (right).

July 3, 2018 (El Cajon) – Nearly 10,000 community members gathered this weekend for Celebrate America, the annual Independence Day event hosted by Shadow Mountain Community Church. The event featured indoor fireworks and a surprise appearance from military personnel who rappelled down ropes from the ceiling.

PUBLIC HEARING JUNE 12 ON UNDERGROUND UTILITY DISTRICT IN EL CAJON

 

East County News Service

Photo: Underground utility line installation in Alpine during construction of Sunrise Powerlink.

May 29, 2018 (El Cajon) - The El Cajon City Council will hold a public hearing on Tuesday, June 12th at 3 p.m. in Council Chamber, 200 Civic Center Way in El Cajon to consider an underground utility district on N. Magnolia Avenue from Fletcher Parkway to Vernon Way. This would allow overhead utility lines to be placed underground at a cost of $1.9 million, paid for out of San Diego Gas & Electric Funds allocated to the city for this purpose.

Councilman Gary Kendrick advised ECM that the action is sought to enable a hotel to be build on the site of the former El Cajon Police station, where overhead powerlines would currently prevent construction.

EL CAJON CITY COUNCIL GETS DOWN TO WORK; ACCEPTS MAJOR DONATION BY PETSMART FOR NEW ANIMAL SHELTER

 

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

April 7, 2018 (El Cajon) -- El Cajon City Council members temporarily set aside their differences and got down to work Tuesday in what some say was one of their most productive sessions in recent months.

APPLICANTS SOUGHT FOR CITY OF EL CAJON COMMISSIONS

 

Source: City of El Cajon

December 24, 2017 (El Cajon) -- The El Cajon City Council is now accepting applications for Personnel Commission, Planning Commission, and Veterans’ Commission. The filing period is December 13, 2017, through January 11, 2018, at 5:30 p.m.  Applicants will be interviewed and appointed on January 23, 2018, at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chamber, 200 Civic Center Way, El Cajon, CA 92020.

EL CAJON COUNCIL IN HOT SEAT WITH HOMELESS FEEDING BAN

 

 

By Paul Kruze

View video of public comment on homeless feeding ban: https://youtu.be/_jJg7WDx_vw

November 28, 2017 (El Cajon) – Members of the El Cajon City Council and Mayor Bill Wells faced vocal opposition Tuesday over the Council’s recently passed temporary ordinance that makes it illegal to feed homeless individuals in City of El Cajon parks.

KALASHO OBJECTS TO CITIZEN CALLING FOR HIS RESIGNATION; EL CAJON COUNCIL BANS FEEDING OF HOMELESS IN PARKS OVER HEPATITS CONCERNS

 

By Paul Kruze

November 1, 2017 (El Cajon) -- El Cajon’s City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to ban feeding of the homeless in public places due to hepatitis concerns, fill a vacancy on its veterans’ commission, and approve a residential housing development. But the most contentious moments came during an impassioned plea from a citizen calling for Councilmember Ben Kalasho to resign, over objections of Kalasho, who sought to silence the resident from speaking out.

EL CAJON TO HOLD REVOTE ON TRASH SERVICE LIENS DUE TO KALASHO CONFLICT OF INTEREST

 

By Miriam Raftery

October 8, 2017 (San Diego) – The City of El Cajon will be reholding public hearings on filing liens against city residents over unpaid bills for trash removal services provided by Waste Management. That decision comes after Councilman Ben Kalasho voted in favor of filing the liens after Waste Management paid $2500 in membership fees to a chamber of commerce that he founded and which his wife headed up since his election to the City Council. 

EL CAJON CITY COUNCIL WANTS YOUR IDEAS FOR A BETTER COMMUNITY: OCT. 10 WORKSHOP

 

East County News Service

 

October 6, 2017 (El Cajon) — El Cajon’s City Council seeks community input at a workshop set for Tuesday, October 10 at 7 p.m. City Council Chambers, 200 Civic Center Way. Residents, community groups and businesses are invited to attend the public forum to offer their ideas for making a better El Cajon.

EL CAJON CITY COUNCIL FACES RESIDENT CONCERNS OVER CITY-FINANCED SOLTERRA APARTMENT COMPLEX

 

By Paul Kruze   

September 22, 2017 (El Cajon) -- The El Cajon City Council faced some new concerns at its Tuesday, Sept. 12 meeting when attention was directed to Solterra, an apartment project built by a partnership of both Affirmed Housing and the City of El Cajon some five years ago. The complex, located at 131-155 Chambers Street near W. Main Street, is a 49-unit, senior affordable community offering one-and-two bedroom apartments to seniors ages 55 and up who earn 30-60% of area media income (AMI).

FIRST AMENDMENT LAWYERS CRITICIZE COUNCILMAN KALASHO FOR LAWSUIT THREATS AND INSULTS MADE TO UNION-TRIBUNE REPORTER

 

By Miriam Raftery

“His behavior is extraordinarily irresponsible. A public official should not be in the business of threatening groundless litigation over acts that are things that reporters do every day.”  -- David Snyder, executive director, First Amendment Coalition

September 19, 2017 (San Diego) – El Cajon Councilman Ben Kalasho sent emails to San Diego Union-Tribune reporter Jeff McDonald repeatedly calling the award-winning journalist a “troll” and threatening legal action after McDonald asked tough questions about Kalasho’s business dealings and apparent conflicts of interests.

EL CAJON PROVIDING COMPREHENSIVE LEADERSHIP ON HOMELESSNESS

 

By Jonathan Goetz

Photo, left: Eric Lund, CEO, San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce and Chair of the East County Regional Task Force on the Homeless

August 27, 2017 (El Cajon) - The El Cajon City Council approved four budget items earlier this month regarding homelessness, as well as approving a partnership agreement with the El Cajon Collaborative. Council unanimously approved $2,000 for anti-panhandling signs, $3,550 for a mobile app to help the homeless find service providers, $10,000 for a homeless reunification program to reunite 20 homeless people in El Cajon, and $125 for a brick at the El Cajon collaborative.

EL CAJON COUNCILMAN KALASHO FILES DISCRIMINATION CLAIM WITH STATE OF CALIFORNIA

 

By Paul Kruze

August 19, 2017 (El Cajon) -- Yet more eyes are going to be fixed on embattled El Cajon Councilman Ben Kalasho with news that he has filed a discrimination complaint with the State of California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. The action follows last Tuesday’s 4-1 vote affirming that the only electronic device permitted to be used by Council members at the dais during City Council meetings are city-provided Apple iPad tablets.

The iPads provided to members of the City Council will be configured to only allow access to City of El Cajon official websites and access to the city’s financial budget documents and municipal codes, but other Internet sites will be blocked.  Note-taking software will be downloaded onto the iPads and an attached keyboard will be provided.

KALASHO THREATENS DISCRIMINATION COMPLAINT AS COUNCIL LIMITS ELECTRONIC DEVICES

 

By Jonathan Goetz

Photo: Ben Kalasho, August 8, 2017 (El Cajon)

August 11, 2017 (El Cajon) - Councilman Ben Kalasho threatened to file an employment discrimination complaint Tuesday as the Council discussed a resolution to limit Council members’ use of electronic devices during City Council meetings.    

IESHA BOOKER, HOMELESS MTS DRIVER WHO CAME TO AID OF FALLEN OFFICER, GIVEN COMMENDATION BY EL CAJON COUNCIL

 

Photo: Iesha Booker and Mayor Bill Wells (Credit: Mary Ann Prall)

East County News Service

August 10, 2017 (El Cajon) -- On Tuesday, Iesha Booker, an MTS worker who aided a fallen police officer, was given a commendation at the El Cajon City Council meeting in front of a packed Council chamber and half a dozen news crews.   After a suspect beat the officer unconscious at a KFC restaurant, Booker used the officer’s radio to summon help, as ECM reported.

EL CAJON “WITHIN WEEKS OF SEEING SOMETHING SIGNIFICANT HAPPENING” WITH THE EAST COUNTY PERFORMING ARTS CENTER

 

By Jonathan Goetz

Photo, left:  Robert Clark

July 22, 2017 (El Cajon) - Last week’s City Council meetings saw a new City Clerk, discussion of the East County Performing Arts Center (ECPAC), approval of a disposition and development agreement for the old police station on Highway 67 and approval of an adult daycare.

EL CAJON CITY COUNCIL UNANIMOUSLY APPROVES HOMELESS AID PROJECT; KALASHO AGAIN SPARKS CONTROVERSY OVER DISPUTED COMMENTS TO LOCAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT GROUP

 

By Paul Kruze

July 7, 2017 (El Cajon) -- In a unanimous 4-0 vote (with Councilmember Bob McClellan absent), the El Cajon City Council has approved a major measure to address homelessness in El Cajon as part of an initiative developed by the East County Homeless Task Force (ECHTF.org). The measure includes an expenditure of $168,000 by the city.

EL CAJON CITY COUNCIL APPROVES AID FOR EMERGENCY SHELTER AND CONSIDERS PROPOSALS TO HELP HOMELESS; RESIDENTS EXPRESS CONCERN ABOUT COUNCILMEMBER’S BEHAVIOR

 

By Paul Kruze

June 15, 2017 (El Cajon) -- Aiding El Cajon’s homeless population, disruption of a neighborhood by occupants of a house allegedly inhabited by drug users, and licensing of a new adult daycare center near El Cajon’s city center were the main topics discussed by the El Cajon City Council at its bi-monthly hearings on June 13th.  In addition, a budget workshop was held earlier  to consider El Cajon’s fiscal 2017-2018 preliminary annual budget.  Councilmember’s Ben Kalasho’s concept to draw down El Cajon’s sales tax to 7.75% drew strong broad opposition, with critics arguing it would devastate law enforcement and fire protection in the city.

EL CAJON COUNCIL MOVES TOWARD MORE HELP FOR HOMELESS, APPROVES PUBLIC HEARINGS ON ADDING AGENDA ITEMS AND CELEBRATES SUCCESS OF AMERICA ON MAIN STREET

 

By Jonathan Goetz

Miriam Raftery also contributed to this report

May 30, 2017 (El Cajon) – El Cajon’s City Council had a packed agenda Wednesday at its 3 p.m. meeting, taking actions including:

  • Voting 5-0 to put an item on an upcoming agenda to have staff prepare a report on feasibility of hiring a Crisis House “homeless navigator” expert to match unique needs of homeless people with private and public programs to help house the homeless;  
  • Voting 4-1 to hold two town hall meetings annually to allow residents to propose agenda items and for Council to set agenda priorities;
  • Heard a report from the County Water Authority claiming Metropolitan Water has been squandering funds and overcharging ratepayers;
  • Honoring participants and supporters of America on Main Street;
  • Presented awards to local youths and Friends of East County Arts contest winners
  • Praised a resident for using a drone to get evidence of an illegal marijuana dispensary.

DEADLINE TO SUBMIT DISTRICT BOUNDARY MAPS IN EL CAJON IS MARCH 27

 

Source:  City of El Cajon

March 23, 2017 (El Cajon) -- With the passage of Measure S, the City of El Cajon is in the implementation phase of establishing City Council districts.  The mapping criteria was approved by the City Council on February 14, 2017, and four community workshops were held in February and March. 

EL CAJON HONORS SUNSHINE HORTON FOR “GENEROUS SPIRIT” AS CIVIC VOLUNTEER

 

By Miriam Raftery

March 17, 2017 (El Cajon) — El Cajon’s City Council declared Tuesday, March 14th as Sunshine Horton Day to honor the city’s Goodwill Promoter. 

Horton, who was previously named El Cajon Citizen of the Year in 2012,  has been improving the lives of East County residents for nearly 40 years.  “We appreciate all she has done to make El Cajon a better place for all,” Mayor Wells stated in the proclamation.

KALASHO SAYS EL CAJON MAYOR’S PROPOSAL TO BAN COUNCIL MEMBERS' USE OF ELECTRONIC DEVICES IS ILLEGAL

 

By Miriam Raftery

March 17, 2017 (El Cajon) – El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells has proposed banning City Council members from using iPads, cell phones or other electronic devices during Council hearings.

They Mayor says his goal in introducing item 6.3 on the agenda during the March 14th public hearing was to assure that members are giving public hearings their full attention and not engaging in outside communications, assuring transparency.  But Councilman Kalasho claims the move is unconstitutional and targets him.  Members of the public who spoke sided with Kalasho in a testy exchange that can be viewed on video (starting at approximately 52 minutes, 44 seconds):  https://elcajonca.iqm2.com/Citizens/SplitView.aspx?Mode=Video&MeetingID=1049&Format=Agenda

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..

CREMATORIUM OWNER APPEALS TO EL CAJON CITY COUNCIL

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo:  Emissions from a crematorium shut down in 2011 in unincorporated El Cajon for what a county inspector called “horrific” violations

March 2, 2017 (El Cajon) – On March 14 at 7 p.m., the El Cajon City Council will hear an appeal filed by Robert Zakar of East County Mortuary, whose proposed crematorium and funeral parlor at 1150-1168 North Marshall Street was rejected by the city’s planning commission. The hearing will be held in City Council Chambers at 200 Civic Center Way in El Cajon.

EL CAJON COUNCIL HEARS PROPOSAL FOR ELVES, REPORT ON HOMELESSNESS

 

By Jonathan Goetz

Photo:  El Cajon Councilman Ben Kalasho faces resistance on new group to bring holiday cheer to seniors

March 1, 2017 (El Cajon) - Freshman El Cajon Councilman Ben Kalasho was impressed by the Santee Santas, and wants to bring the idea to El Cajon. Kalasho envisions an organization, El Cajon Elves that would bring carols, socks and slippers to elders around the holidays.

But groups that already serve seniors, including the AARP and the Salvation Army, turned up to oppose the City of El Cajon from releasing $5,000 in seed money to the El Cajon Elves, and requested that the funds instead be given to one of the existing organizations already serving senior citizens. No one testifed in support of the city providing seed money to start a new nonprofit.

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