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MORNING GLORY BRUNCH PROVES A HOPPING SUCCESS AT ST. MADELEINE SOPHIE’S CENTER

 

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

April 19, 2014 (El Cajon ) – More than $45,000 was raised at this year’s Morning Glory Brunch, held on  April 12 at St. Madeleine Sophie’s Center in El Cajon to benefit the center’s innovative programs helping the developmentally disabled. 

A highlight of the occasion included the ever-popular frog race, which had more than 500 entries this year vying for prizes. St. Madeleine’s swim team helped the plastic frog “contestants” along, kicking and splashing at the edge of the pool, while a “frog princess” at the opposite end declared the official winners. 

View a video of the frog race: http://youtu.be/o6kFCc-V2Uk

Click "read more" and scroll down for more photos and details from this event.

TSIMBOUKAKIS VIES FOR SENATOR ANDERSON’S SEAT: TAKES STAND AGAINST INDUSTRIAL-SCALE ENERGY PROJECTS IN EAST COUNTY

 

 

By Jessica Richmond

Listen to our radio interview with Fotios “Frank” Tsimboukakis here:  http://kiwi6.com/file/t5e89mc5cl

April 12, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) - The race for California’s 38th State Senate district seat has been heating up since the arrival of Fotios “Frank” Tsimboukakis.  He has made it a point to challenge incumbent Joel Anderson on many key issues—including taking a stand against environmentally harmful energy projects in East County. Tsimboukakis has testified in public hearings against industrial solar and wind projects, as well as the Quail Brush gas-fired power plant, while Anderson has been largely silent on these controversial plans, critics have pointed out.

Tsimboukakis has also proposed plans to make college tuition free, cut wasteful spending, and convene public hearings on funding firefighting, with an eye toward possibly repealing or amending state fire fees.  He has also pledged to hold regular town hall meetings in the district to hear from voters, faulting Anderson for not hosting town halls for constituents to share their views.

BINGO HALL OPENS AT VIEJAS OUTLETS IN ALPINE

 

Believed to be the first bingo hall located in a shopping center in California

 

April 5, 2014 (Alpine)--What is believed to be California’s first-ever bingo hall to be located in a shopping center opened to the public today at Viejas Outlets, following a sneak preview and ribbon cutting yesterday. To celebrate the opening of the new Viejas Bingo at Viejas Outlets, there will be more than $45,000 awarded in April and a chance to win one of two new FIAT 500s.

A BETTER OPTION TO INDUSTRIAL ENERGY PROJECTS IN OUR REGION IS PROPOSED

 

By Miriam Raftery

April 5, 2014 (San Diego) –“The San Diego County Planning Commissioners and Board of Supervisors have an obligation to look out for the greater good of the people of San Diego,” Timothy D. Schoechle, PhD, an international consultant on smart grid expert technology, engineering expert, and author of the report Getting Smarter About the Smart Grid wrote in his comments to the County’s planning director opposing Soitec’s plan to industrialize rural East County with massive solar modules that other experts have said could destroy the entire ecosystem of the region.

Instead, Dr. Schoechle lays out a detailed case for a saner, safer alternative—and why current government policies are polar opposites of what’s needed to protect the public against rapacious energy corporations.

BISHOP TERRY ANGEL MASON SPEAKS OUT ON UGANDA LAW IMPOSING LIFE IN PRISON FOR GAY PEOPLE

 

U.S. evangelicals, including a Southern California pastor, have been linked to passage of repressive bill

Hear our radio interview with Bishop Terry Angel Mason on KNSJ 89.1 FM Descanso today at 5 p.m. along with the full East County Magazine Show, or listen to a podcast of his interview here:  http://k007.kiwi6.com/hotlink/5nscnmv12w/AngelMason-Uganda.mp3

By Miriam Raftery

April 2, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – Bishop Terry Angel Mason wants to bring his fiancé and their two adopted, orphaned children to America from Uganda. But his family is now in hiding –because of a new law in Uganda that  criminalizes homosexuality and imposes a life in prison sentence on gay people, as well as anyone falsely accused of being gay.

The law further requires that doctors, pastors, journalists and others  inform authorities about the identities of gays and prohibits all discussion of gay rights issues.  The law is fueling hate crimes, including beatings and burnings of gay people.  Nor is Uganda alone; other African nations have also passed restrictive laws penalizing gay people, creating a climate of fear.

SETTLEMENT REACHED OVER SAN ONOFRE: RATEPAYERS TO RECEIVE REFUNDS IF CPUC APPROVES DEAL

 

By Miriam Raftery

March 27, 2014 (San Diego)—After the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Stations (SONGS) were shut down in 2012 due to faulty steam generators, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) and Southern California Edison (SCE) continued to charge ratepayers for the costs associated with replacing those generators.  Edison later announced permanent decommissioning of the nuclear facility in June 2013 due to serious safety problems.

Ratepayers will be receiving refunds from SDG&E and Edison for those charges, if a joint settlement agreement announced today is approved by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).  The settlement was reached SCE, the CPUC Office of Ratepayer Advocates, and The Utility Reform Network (TURN).

WIND TURBINE AT IBERDROLA WIND FARM CATCHES FIRE

 

Part III in our "Wind Fire" series

Will Iberdrola use fire-prone Gamesa turbines in East County?

By Miriam Raftery

March 20, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – Iberdrola wants to build an industrial wind facility in McCain Valley. The company has claimed that the odds of one of its turbine catching fire are infinitesimal.  But on March 15, a wind turbine at Iberdrola’s Locust Ridge wind facility in Mahonay City, Pennsylvania caught fire, sending flames arcing out until ultimately the fire burned itself out, as shown on video. This is the latest in a long string of fires involving Gamesa turbines including some at Iberdrola facilities.

What would happen if this occurred in McCain Valley, amid fire-prone brush in a hard-to-access area where campgrounds are located at the end of a canyon with only one access road, set to be lined by wind turbines?  And why aren't Supervisors taking steps to protect public safety by barring fire-prone wind turbine products in our region?

EAST COUNTY ROUNDUP: LOCAL AND STATEWIDE NEWS

 

March 20, 2014 (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:

LOCAL

STATE

For excerpts and links to full stories, click “read more” and scroll down.

SAN DIEGO TO HOLD HEARING MARCH 24 ON RAISING MINIMUM WAGE AND OFFERING EARNED SICK DAYS

 

By Miriam Raftery

March 19, 2014 (San Diego) – Should workers have the right to earned sick days? Should the minimum wage be raised in San Diego?  A City Council committee will hold a hearing on these issues on Monday, March 24 at 9:30 a.m. at City Hall.

A new organization, Raise Up San Diego (www.raiseupsandiego.org) will hold a rally outside Council Chambers at 202 C Street in support of these proposals.

EXPERTS VOICE ALARM OVER SURVIVAL OF LOCAL BIGHORN SHEEP

 

By Miriam Raftery

March 17, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – Could big energy projects proposed in East County lead to the decimation of federally endangered Peninsular Bighorn Sheep? 

From 1972 to the present, the Carrizo Gorge band of these bighorns has plummeted from about 120 sheep to less than 40.  “Off-road vehicles, trespassing cattle, poaching in the 1960s and ‘70s, drought, disease and Mountain Lion predation have worked together to push this population o the edge. We hope we can save this group before it is too late,” Mark Jorgensen, advisor to the Bighorn Institute and former Superintendent of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park wrote in the Desert News.

In his comments submitted on  four solar projects proposed by Soitec in Boulevard, Jorgensen writes that “Construction of yet another group of solar projects will further impede the free movement of wildlife by reducing habitat connectivity and ruining wildlife corridors.”  He further notes that Soitec’s sites are very near lands purchased and set aside specifically to protect species  the endangered bighorn, golden eagles and other species in peril.

BACKCOUNTRY GROUP FILES COMPLAINT WITH CPUC AGAINST SDG&E OVER WATER CONCERNS

 

 

Flawed Water Supply Plan for Electric Substations Results in Request to Revoke Planned Projects

By Sharon Penny; photo by Wayne Brammer

March 16, 2014 (San Diego’s East County)--During one of the worst droughts in San Diego County history, a backcountry group has filed a complaint against San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E) regarding its flawed water supply plan for construction of its ECO Substation (photo, left), Boulevard Substation, and 14 miles of new 138KV line.

Backcountry Against Dumps (BAD), a nonprofit organization dedicated to defending groundwater-dependent communities from environmentally unsafe facilities and projects, is seeking an order against SDG&E, contending that the company violated a mitigation measure (MM HYD-3) that would directly impact eastern San Diego’s already strained water supplies.  The complaint was filed with the California Public Utilities Commission (CUPC) and asks the CPUC to rescind SDG&E’s water supply plan and permit to construction the ECO substation project, among other actions.

DROWSY DRIVER AWARENESS DAY IS APRIL 6: DROWSINESS CAN IMPAIR DRIVING AS MUCH AS ALCOHOL DOES

 

By Miriam Raftery

March 16, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – “My wife, Robyn, died when she fell asleep while driving on April 6, 1999 in Texas,” retired California Highway Patrol Officer Phil Konstantin recalls. “She was driving back to San Diego from Florida, where she had just picked up a car from her mother.” 

Since then, Konstantin has championed the cause of warning others about the dangers of driving drowsy.  In 2005, the California Legislature proclaimed April 6th—the date Robyn Konstantin died –as Drowsy Driver Awareness Day. 

On Monday, March 17, Konstantin will be a guest on the East County Magazine Radio Show. Tune in at 5 p.m. on KNSJ 89.1 FM.

“I have always found it to be ironic that one of my duties  as  a California  Highway Patrol officer was to inform the public of the  dangers of driving  while drowsy. Yet, this is how my own wife died,” Konstantin says. “She was  an  excellent  driver. This just proves it can happen to anyone.” Ironically, she   drove past a freeway  rest area just moments before her crash, he added. You can learn more at his website: http://drowsydriverawarenessday.com and by scrolling down in this article.

HELP IMPROVE OUR WATER QUALITY: SUBMIT YOUR WATER PROJECT IDEAS BY MARCH 28

 

Public Service Announcement: San Diego County

March 13, 2014 (San Diego)--The County of San Diego needs your help in identifying potential storm water quality improvement projects.  Recently adopted regulations require that the County identify and pursue a variety of on-the-ground projects to improve regional storm water quality.  The first step in this process is to assess and locate potential projects that could be implemented.  

Project types that may be considered include, but are not necessarily limited to, the following categories:

  • Stream or riparian area rehabilitation
  • Retrofitting existing infrastructure (Green Streets, Low Impact Development, Treatment);
  • Regional BMP’s (best management practices for stormwater treatment basins);
  • Groundwater recharge projects (infiltration basins);
  • Water supply augmentation projects (large cisterns); and
  • Land purchases to preserve floodplain functions.

Project suggestions will be accepted until March 28, 2014.  Scroll down for details.

CRIMEAN EXPERT SPEAKS WITH ECM

By Miriam Raftery

San Diego State University Professor Emeritus Phil Pryde, editor/author of Environmental Resources and Constraints in the Former Soviet Republics, shared insights into the unfolding crises in the Crimea and Ukraine.  What are the implications of the upheaval and impending eleciton for the region and the world?  

ECM editor Miriam Raftery and intern Jessica Redmond interviewed Professor Pryde for KNSJ radio.  Listen to the interview here.  

RUSSIAN AGGRESSION, UKRAINIAN SOVEREIGNTY, OR CRIMEAN SELF-DETERMINATION?

 

San Diego Ukranians Speak Out

“My 17 year old friend was shot by snipers for delivering vegetables to protestors in independence square.”—Vera Skop, San Diego

By Jessica Richmond

March 14, 2014 (San Diego)-- Since the February 28th takeover of the Crimean region in the Ukraine by unmarked Russian troops, Ukrainians have been asking, “Are we safe from Russian expansionism?” In San Diego, with a population of approximately 15,000 Ukrainians, this has become a sensitive topic. Sources from Ukraine confirm that family members at home and abroad are equally worried about the escalating encroachment of Russia on the sovereign Ukrainian territory of Crimea.

GRAND JURY: SAN DIEGO SHOULD AMEND CHARTER, MAKE IT EASIER TO REMOVE PUBLIC OFFICIALS

 

By Miriam Raftery

March 13, 2014 (San Diego) – Mayor Bob Filner was the latest of several San Diego mayors who resigned under public pressure. Filner pled guilty to a felony count and two misdemeanors following a long string of complaints by women alleging sexual harassment. But there was no legal requirement for a disgraced or disabled mayor to leave office, under San Diego’s Charter. In fact, the charter allows removal of a Mayor or other city official only through death, resignation or recall.

 Now the San Diego County Grand Jury wants to see that changed. Today, the Grand Jury issued a report recommending that the City Council identify additional reasons for removing a public official and place a proposal to amend the City  Charter on the ballot for voters to decide in a future election.

LAKESIDE MAN ARRESTED IN FBI SWAT STANDOFF

 

File photo: SWAT team

March 9, 2014 (San Diego) – FBI hostage negotiators are accustomed to tense situations –but normally not at their own home base.  But after a man climbed a steel corrugated security gate and made his way onto the top of a building in the FBI headquarters at 10385 Vista Sorrento Parkway in San Diego, a stand-off ensued that ended this evening with the arrest of Lakeside resident William Durant, 36.

MARDI GRAS PARTY MARCH 12: OVER $6,000 IN PRIZES

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 28, 2014 (Santee) – Are you ready for a rollicking evening of New Orleans-style festivities including the award-winning Bayou Brothers band, Cajun/Creole dinner feast, masks and beads for all guests, prizes drawings and silent auction with thousands of dollars in prizes?   Then you won’t want to miss our East County Mardi Gras party March 12 from 6-10 p.m. at Pinnacle Peak restaurant, 7927 Mission Gorge Road in Santee!   

Hear our radio interview with the Bayou Brothers (and some lively music) here: http://kiwi6.com/file/lk1mwrss4u

SOITEC FAILS TO DISCLOSE TRUTH ABOUT SOLAR PROJECT IMPACTS, HIRES FORMER SD PLANNER WHO WORKED ON SOITEC PROJECTS

 

 

Why doesn’t San Diego County end revolving door situation?

Photo: Soitec's Newberry Springs project, which promised minimal enviornmental impacts, graded all vegetation on the site.

By Miriam Raftery

Updated March 5, 2014 with clarifications from Soitec

March 1, 2014 (San Diego’s East County)—Developers frequently put “spin” on project descriptions to emphasize benefits rather than negative impacts.  But certain statements by Soitec representatives regarding its proposed solar projects in Boulevard and a recent project in the desert fall into the “Pinnochio” category. In fact Soitec representatives misrepresented glare issues and the amount of land that is disturbed by their projects.

During a Soitec community meeting at the Manzanita Diner last month, ECM’s editor asked Soitec media and communications advisor Karen Hutchens specifically about a moratorium on solar projects approved by San Bernadino County Supervisors amid concerns about glare in Newberry Springs, where Soitec built a project very similar to its proposed Boulevard sites.  Hutchens responded, “That had nothing to do with our project. The moratorium was passed before our project was even built.”

But Robert Berkman, head of a citizens group in Newberry Springs called CEQA-NOW, told ECM that statement was a bald-faced lie.  “The moratorium came out because of the Soitec project—after it was built,” he said, adding that citizens invited Supervisors to visit the site.  Supervisors said, “’`Good grief, what has happened here? ‘ “ Berkman stated. “The moratorium occurred because we were able to bring them out and say `This is an example of solar done wrong.’” 

Soitec's Hutchens concedes that she erred in her statement on the timing of the moratorium, and agrees it was imposed after Soitec's project was built, but says Soitec's project was not the reason for the moratorium. ECM is seeking clarification from San Bernardino County's Land Services Department.

That's not the only disputed statement by Soitec.

TWO LAWSUITS OVER LOCAL WIND ENERGY ISSUES HEAD TO COURT

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

February 28, 2014 (San Diego) – Opponents of  the Tule Wind project in McCain Valley will have their day in court on Monday, March 3 in San Diego’s U.S. District Court.  Then on April 25, a separate suit against the County over its wind energy ordinance and general plan amendment will also be heard.

The suits were filed by the Protect Our Communities Foundation and Donna Tisdale. Tisdale informed ECM that it's important to have many East County residents attend these trials.

SDG&E PREPARES FOR HEAVY RAINFALL, OFFERS SAFETY TIPS FOR STORMY WEATHER

 

 

Photo, left: 2013 storm in East County's Boulevard community

February 27, 2014 (San Diego)-- As San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) crews prepare for periods of heavy rain, gusty winds and scattered lightning to continue, the utility is reminding customers to be on alert and prepare for unplanned power outages.   

“As the region prepares for much-needed rainfall, SDG&E crews are ready to respond to any impacts the weather may have on our electrical system,” said David L. Geier, vice president of electric operations for SDG&E. “We’re committed to providing reliable electricity service to our customers but sometimes unexpected power outages may occur, especially during storms and high winds.”

The utility reminds customers to follow the following storm safety tips:

NEW SAN DIEGO POLICE CHIEF NAMED

 

Photo courtesy ECM news partner 10 News

February 27, 2014 (San Diego) – San Diego Police Department will soon be headed up by its first female Chief.  Assistant Chief Shelley Zimmerman will replace retiring Chief William Lansdowne, who steps down March 3.  Lansdowne leaves office following a series of scandals including allegations of sexual misconduct by officers, so the choice of a woman to head up the department can be viewed as sending a strong signal that the city is serious about cleaning up the department's tarnished image.

Zimmerman has the support of Mayor-Elect Kevin Faulconer as well as the San Diego Police Officers Association.

SAN DIEGO POLICE CHIEF STEPS DOWN

 

 

By Nadin Abbott

February 26, 2014 (San Diego) Chief William Lansdowne has announced he will step down as the San Diego Police Chief effective on March 3. This comes amid a series of scandals involving the police force.

HEAVY RAINS, FLASH FLOODS AND POSSIBLE TORNADOS FORECAST

 

By Miriam Raftery

Updated February 27, 2014 (San Diego) – A powerful storm is set to sweep into the region Thursday through Sunday, bringing some of the most severe weather seen in decades, weather experts predict.

The National Weather Service has issued a high wind warning and a flash flood watch from late Thursday through Saturday night.  Thunderstorms may bring waterspouts or even tornadoes, most likely in coastal areas.

 Sustained winds of 25 to 35 miles per hour with gusts of 60 miles per hour or higher are forecast for mountain and desert areas in East County.   Blowing sand and dust may reduce visibility.

READERS VOICE RAGE OVER CONTROLLED BURN IN CUYAMACA RANCHO STATE PARK

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

February 26, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – Readers across East County have sent photos and video of a large controlled burn yesterday in Rancho Cuyamaca State Park, voicing outrage over the burning of habitat including mature trees, given than 99% of the pine trees in the park burned during the 2003 Cedar Fire.

Questions have also been raised over why the burn was allowed in windy conditions, why a helicopters was dispatched to use water from Lake Cuyamaca on a controlled burn, and why more notice was not provided to the public and the press that a major controlled burn was underway by State Parks in conjunction with Cal Fire.

BUREAU OF INDIAN AFFAIRS ENDS EIR ON SHU’LUUK WIND, BUT APPROVES EWIIAAPAAYP TRIBE'S LEASE FOR TULE WIND

 

By Miriam Raftery

February 24, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) -- It’s official:  The Bureau of Indian Affairs has formally terminated the final Environmental Impact Statement for Shu’luuk Wind on the Campo Indian reservation in East County. The move comes after the Campo tribe’s General Council down the project and cancelled the tribe’s contract with Invenergy.

The BIA alo approved the Ewiiaapaayp Band of Kumeyaay Indian’s plan to lease Cuyapaipe Reservation lands  for a portion of Iberdrola’s massive Tule Wind project.  The Bureau of Land Management and County of San Diego previously approved portions of the project on federal and county lands.

STATE REPORT: ONLY A HANDFUL OF GOLDEN EAGLE NEST SITES REMAIN IN SAN DIEGO COUNTY

 

 

Disturbing data suggests Golden Eagles appear on verge of extinction in our region

By Miriam Raftery

February 15, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) –A state inventory of California’ rarest animals, birds and plants reveals that Golden Eagle populations have suffered a precipitous decline statewide, including here in San Diego County.  Statewide, only 141 element occurrences (eagle nests and foraging habitat) are listed in all of California. Locally, the inventory lists just 14 “occurrences” countywide—with only one nest remaining in East County.

“So much for Bittner’s estimates,” wildlife biologist Jim Wiegand with Save the Eagles International told ECM.  David Bittner is the so-called eagle expert hired by major energy companies to justify wind projects locally. Bittner was convicted in federal court and sentenced in August to charges of failing to file data reports with the federal government and illegal taking of an eagle.

Wiegand has previously estimated local nesting sites at 10--a fraction of Bittner's recent estimates.

MAJOR ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS OPPOSE SOITEC SOLAR PROJECTS, WARN OF PERMANENT ECOLOGICAL HARM

 

Anza Borrego Foundation calls for halt to fast-tracking of all major energy projects;

Cleveland National Forest Foundation says EIR violates CEQA, fails to examine less harmful alternatives such as rooftop solar

By Miriam Raftery

February 15, 2014 (San Diego’s East County)—The Anza Borrego Foundation (ABF) and a law firm representing  the Cleveland National Forest Foundation (CNFF) have submitted comments warning of dire consequences from Soitec Solar’s proposed massive solar projects in the  Boulevard community.  Both urge the County to put the brakes on the proposed projects, which they warn would cause irreparable harm to wildlife and ecosystems not only in rural Boulevard, but in Anza Borrego State Park and Cleveland National Forest.

PHOTOS OF THE WEEK: SDG&E’S NEW “ECO” SUBSTATION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 15, 2014 (Jacumba)—Wayne Brammer sent in these photos of SDG&E’s new Eco Substation in Jacumba. The project is (so-named for hooking up to industrial-scale renewable energy projects. But to most backcountry residents, the project is an ecological disaster that destroyed the landscape and used three times more water (90 million gallons total) than SDG&E estimated.

“This thing is a monster and they’re wasting water all over the place, not just here but all the way to Boulevard,” writes Bramley, referencing other energy projects in the pipeline.  “We really do need to separate from the city and have our own county,” he concluded, linking back to a reader’s editorial on this issue.

READER’S EDITORIAL: A BACKCOUNTRY REBELLION IS BREWING

 

Photo: Proposed Chaparral County, shown in green

By Libby Belle

Why rural East County communities should secede from San Diego County

February 14, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – In more ways than I can count, San Diego Supervisors have shown disdain for the people of East County, the environment, and the character of our communities.  Supervisor Dianne Jacob is a notable exception, fighting to protect us from fire hazards and destructive energy projects. But time and time again, she’s outvoted by four Supervisors who don’t live in East County, and don’t care if they destroy what makes our region special.

So why should we continue to give them our tax dollars?

Let me list just a few of the ways that the County has abdicated its responsibilities to East County residents:

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