By Miriam Raftery
November 10, 2013 (Pine Valley) -- Fall is a fabulous time to take a drive through East County's backcountry. The photos on this page were taken yesterday along Old Highway 80 from Guatay to Pine Valley, where trees wear coats of gold, rust and crimson on these late autumn days.
By Miriam Raftery
Cary Hyatt also contributed to this report
November 5, 2013 (San Diego) – Nearly 270,000 San Diegans, including 136,000 children and 15,000 senior citizens, had their food stamp benefits cut effective November 1st. Nationwide, around 48 million people rely on food stamps, or nearly 14% of all Americans.
November 7, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) –Meteor showers were reported across San Diego, Orange and Riverside County last night. The bright lights streaking across the skies were all part of the Taurid Meteor Shower, known for producing spectacular fireballs.
If you missed it, watch for the Leoinids meteor shower due up next, on November 16.
Meteor showers are caused by earth entering a zone where a comet (such as the image at left, photographed by Jim Morrison, San Diego Astronomy Association) passed through the earth-s orbit in the past. As the sun heats a comet up, it leaves a trail of dust and rocky debris ejected off.
November 6, 2013 (San Diego)--The popularity of electronic smoking devices is increasing and on Tuesday the Board of Supervisors directed staff to review the County’s smoking and tobacco use policy to determine how “e-cigarettes” fit into it.
County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) staff were asked to come back to the Board in 90 days with recommendations to address electronic vapor devices. The battery-operated devices vaporize liquid nicotine into an aerosol mist that can be inhaled or “vaped.”
By Nadin Abbott
October 31, 2013 (San Diego) With the mayoral race moving to high gear and early voting starting, ECM has compiled information on the leading candidates in the special election San Diego Mayor, filling the vacancy left by Bob Filner’s resignation. We include highlights of their announced agendas and endorsements.
By Janis Mork
October 24, 2013 (San Diego)- The Second Chance Program in Southeast San Diego deals with the hard-to-serve population, giving formerly incarcerated, former substance abusers, homeless vets, and at risk youth a ‘second chance’. They offer programs such as Strive, JOLT workforce, and recovery groups. Their mission is to empower people to change their lives.
Robert Coleman, executive director of Second Chance, was recently interviewed by ECM to share more details about this program.
October 26, 2013 (Santee) – If you bought a Fantasy 5 lottery ticket at the CVS Pharmacy in Santee, you may be the winner of a $379,925 prize. The store, located at the corner of Mission Gorge Road and Cuyamaca Street, sold a winning ticket that has not yet been claimed since Friday's drawing. The winning numbers are 5, 24, 30, 32 and 36.
Lottery officials have indicated that another local winning ticket was sold at a 7-Eleven store in Downtown San Diego, worth $186,723.
East County welcomes “You Missed”, a new comedy program starring Diane Jean, Al Gavi, Chris Clobber, Young Lucas, and Charlie the Yellow Bird.
“You Missed” is packed with humor, lots of strange stories from around the world, political perspectives from the right, left and people that just don’t give a damn.
“You Missed” is recording live at the Space Bar in La Mesa on Sunday Nights from 6-7PM. The show will air on KNSJ 89.1 Community Radio, Networking for social justice, Friday-Sunday at 4PM streaming worldwide on www.KNSJ.org. “You Missed” Pod Cast coming soon.
October 23, 2013 (San Diego) -- A limited quantity of San Diego State men's basketball single-game tickets will go on sale on Monday, Oct. 28, at 9 a.m. Tickets can be purchased at GoAztecs.com, by calling 619-283-7378 or by visiting the Aztec Ticket Office at Window E at Qualcomm Stadium.
There are no single-game tickets available for games against Arizona and UNLV, but fewer than 100 remain for the rest of the Aztecs' home slate, including dates against 2013 NCAA tournament teams Boise State, Colorado State and New Mexico. There are also less than 100 tickets left for SDSU contests vs. perennial powers Washington and Utah State.
Researchers, policymakers, advocates, and students depicted the state of San Diego’s boys and young men of color, sharing information on to improve their social and economic conditions
October 23, 2013 (San Diego) – Assemblymember Shirley N. Weber’s (D-79) Youth Advisory Council and the California Assembly’s Select Committee on the Status of Boys and Men of Color, chaired by Assemblymember Steven Bradford (D-62), held a joint informational briefing yesterday evening to discuss the status of boys and men of color in the San Diego area and to connect the work of the Select Committee to the local community.
“As one of the state’s fastest growing populations, we should be investing in our boys and men of color, not leaving them behind,” said Assemblymember Weber. “This is a rescue mission to save California.”
By Miriam Raftery
October 18, 2013– Former Congressional candidate Ray Lutz of El Cajon was arrested in November 2011 for attempting to register voters at the Civic Cente Plaza downtown. This week, Lutz announced he has entered into a settlement with the City in which his arrest record will be expunged and the City will agree not to arrest people in the future for peaceful political activity in public spaces of private property.
"Our goal was to send a clear message and require that the city admit they were wrong. This is about as close to an admission of guilt you can get from the city. We want to make sure this never happens again,” said Lutz.
October 16, 2013 (Chula Vista) -- The Chula Vista Police Department today asked public help to locate a missing / runaway teen. Venicia Ortiz, age 13, was last seen in the 4200 Block of National Avenue in San Diego on or around August 7, 2013.
According to police, she did not leave under duress. There has been no evidence to indicate foul play, however, the police are concerned about her well being. She is Hispanic, 5 feet 3 inches tall, weight 150 pounds, with brown eyes and long, black curly hair. She was last seen wearing a dark gray hooded sweatshirt and dark pants.
Download a flyer here.
ECM Special Report reveals rural fire stations shut down for weeks or seriously under-staffed in peak fire season
By Miriam Raftery
October 10,2013 (San Diego’s East County) – An ECM special investigation raises serious questions:
- Could a man who died at De Anza Resort in Jacumba Hot Springs have been saved if the two closest fire stations had not been closed, dramatically delaying emergency response time?
- Why was Boulevard’s fire station shut down for 28 days in August, 30 days in September, and at least the first seven days in October – during peak fire season?
- Why were both Boulevard and Jacumba Hot Springs fire stations unmanned on September 30, when a man found unconscious died after medical help took an hour or more to arrive, according to some accounts?
- Why haven’t funds promised by SDG&E to mitigate dangers from new energy projects been spent in the communities most at risk?
- Why, even when stations were open, were there only two-man crews which firefighting professionals say is inadequate for structure protection?
- How many other stations across East County may be similarly short-staffed or closed?
Our investigation raises some grave questions about public safety, but so far, officials have not provided any satisfactory answers.
October 9, 2013 (Julian) – As searchers comb Volcan Mountain for a missing airplane tonight, thunderstorms have knocked the University of California’s hpwren atop the mountain offline—perhaps permanently, ECM has learned.
“This site was badly hit by lightning,” the webcam website states. “The Volcan cameras may be outfor good, as we checked and they did not power back up after main power was restored. We can check them out further once we get them off the tower, but we have no hardware budget to repair or replace them any more.”
October 9, 2013 (Julian ) –Amid cold, stormy conditions, a ground search is being conducted by Sheriff’s Search and Rescue in the Julian area for a Piper Mooney plane. The small plane took off from Palm Springs for El Cajon’s Gillespie Field, but never arrived.
“They’re starting a ground search up in the Julian command area,” Lieutenant Dave Schaller with the Sheriff’s office told ECM tonight. “We’re unable to get ASTREA up in the air due to the weather.” Lighting has knocked the webcam atop Volcan Mountain offline and snow is forecast to dip down to around 5,500 feet tonight. Volcan Mountain is 5,350 feet.
By Miriam Raftery
October 6, 2013 (Descanso) –The aroma of burning wood filled the air as ranchers pulled their iron brands out of a flaming pit at the Buckel Ranch in Descanso. Old-timers said it was the only time ever that ranchers from all of East County’s historic ranches gathered in one place. The occasion? Tammy Cooker, owner of the Descanso Junction Restaurant, invited these seasoned cowhands to burn their brands into tabletops for her popular eatery now undergoing a remodel.
Cooker has earned the community’s loyalty, having opened her restaurant just before the Cedar Fire, then keeping it open to serve up firefighters, displaced residents and stranded motorists. Located in a century-old building, her restaurant closes down tomorrow and will hold a grand reopening celebration October 10-12. The revamped interior will celebrate our region’s historic roots.
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.
October 5, 2013 (San Diego) – A proposal by Supervisor Dianne Jacob to encourage beekeeping will be heard by the County Board of Supervisors on Wednesday, October 9. Find meeting details here.
European honey bees have an important role in the $5.1 billion agriculture industry in San Diego County. Currently, crops pollinated by bees account for approximately one-third of food eaten. There has been a sharp decline in the bee populations throughout California, prompting municipalities and beekeeping organizations to step-up efforts to promote safe beekeeping in both urban and rural areas.
Supervisors to hear proposal Tuesday urging fast transfer of planes for firefighting from Department of Defense to U.S. Forest Service
By Miriam Raftery
October 5, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – Shut-down of the federal government over the spending bill impasse has caused furlough of 2,000 California National Guard technicians who maintain helicopters and cargo planes that respond to major wildfires statewide. Major General David Baldwin has said that “lives are at stake” because of these “inane cuts and work stoppages,” the SF Gate reported.
“The federal government needs to grow up, settle its budget mess and remember one of its primary obligations – public safety,” Supervisor Dianne Jacob told East County Magazine. “Any furloughs or other cutbacks that undermine aerial firefighting would be a major concern, especially as our region approaches the most dangerous stretch of the wildfire season.”
On Tuesday, Supervisors will hear a proposal by Supervisors Jacob and Greg Cox asking the U.S. Department of Defense to transfer seven surplus C-27 aircraft to the U.S. Forest Service to bolster firefighting resources in San Diego County and other areas.
October 4, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – SDG&E has notified East County Magazine’s Viejas Alerts that proactive power outages are possible due to high fire danger conditions. A Red Flag Alert is in effect today through Sunday and a high wind watch has also been issued.
Make sure you have flashlights and portable radio with batteries to stay informed during a power outage. This is also a good time to sign up to follow ViejasAlerts at www.twitter.com so you can get text message alerts on your mobile phone. If you have internet access you can also check our website for reports on fires at www.eastcountymagazine.org .
“We expect the highest winds between 4 a.m. and noon Saturday,” Stephanie Donovan, spokesperson for SDG&E, informed ECM. Gusts of 50 to 70 miles an hour are expected in some places.
The utility has made outbound calls to 5600 customers warning of possible power shut-offs in the following areas: Descanso, Mt Laguna, Viejas, Barrett Lake, East Jamul, Potrero, East Ramona, San Diego Country Estates, some portions of Santa Ysabel and North Wynola and Wynola, Japatul, Boulevard, Valley Center and Lake Wohlford. Click "read more" and scroll down for details.
COURT DENIES GOVERNOR’S REQUEST FOR EXTENSION OVER PRISON OVERCROWDING, BARS STATE FROM SHIPPING INMATES TO PRIVATE OUT-OF-STATE PRISONS
By Miriam Raftery
Hear our radio interview with Sheriff Bill Gore on the impacts of this decision: http://k002.kiwi6.com/hotlink/xp8o8x2sl7/sheriff_gore-prisoners-final.mp3
October 1, 2013 (Sacramento) – A three-judge panel has denied Governor Jerry Brown’s request for a three-year postponement of a federal court order to release or transfer prisoners to ease overcrowding. Instead, the judges gave the Governor a mere 30-day extension and further prohibited California from shipping prisoners to out-of-state private prisons, though transfers to local county jails with space will be allowed.
In an interview with East County Magazine’s radio show on Friday, Sheriff Bill Gore said California has among the highest recidivism rates in the nation at 72%. The state is “just warehousing people” he said. Instead, he believes the state should have rehabilitation programs such as drug and alcohol rehab, literacy, anger management, education and job training to give prisoners a better “chance of succeeding when they get out” by getting employment and not committing new crimes. Such programs have been rolled out locally.
By Paul Kruze
October 3, 2013 (San Diego)--In an attempt to make heads or tails out of the fallout from the resignation of former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, the Green Experts Academy held a forum entitled “San Diego Civic Crisis: Where Does The Green Sector Go From Here?” at the Cricket Communications headquarters in Kearney Mesa on September 26th.
By Miriam Raftery
September 30, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Spears and San Diego Police Officer Michael DeWitt risked their lives to save two deputies who were shot and wounded by a child molestation suspect in Lakeside last September. The deputies, Ali Perez and Craig Johnson, both survived thanks to their colleagues’ heroism.
On Thursday, Governor Jerry Brown and Attorney General Kamala Harris presented the Medal of Valor – California’s highest law enforcement award – to Deputy Spears and Officer DeWitt for their courage above and beyond the call of duty.
September 27, 2013 (San Diego's East County)--The National Weather Service today issued a Red Flag Warning due to high winds, dry brush and increased fire danger in San Diego County. The Red Flag Warning will be in effect from 12 p.m. Friday, September 27 through 6 p.m. Saturday, September 28 for the following communities: Ramona, Valley Center, Fallbrook, Escondido, El Cajon, Alpine, Potrero, Campo, Santa Ysabel, Descanso, Julian, Ranchita, and Warner Springs.
“Firefighting agencies throughout the state will be on high alert this weekend,” said Cal Fire Captain Mike Mohler. “This is the first Red Flag Warning of what is shaping up to be one of the most challenging fire seasons in many years. High winds can turn a spark into a devastating wildfire in just minutes, so we’re calling on San Diegans to be extremely vigilant in the high fire-risk areas of the county.”
During the Red Flag Warning, Cal Fire urges all Californians to exercise extreme caution outdoors in order to prevent wildfires. A few helpful reminders and fire prevention tips include:
September 27, 2013 (San Diego) – A candlelight vigil and fundraiser to help victims of the terrorist attack on a shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya will be held tonight at 8 p.m. at Flavors of East Africa, a Kenyan restaurant at 2322 El Cajon Blvd. , San Diego 92104. Ten percent of all proceeds from food sold tonight will be donated to the Kenyan Red Cross.
Update September 27, 2013: Supervisor Jacob's office has contacted us to advise that she met with County Veterans Services this week to request more equitable staffing. Her staffer advised that Jacob plans to introduce a measure asking Supervisors to approve sending veterans' service representatives to county libraries throughout our region.
By Miriam Raftery
September 25, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – When Claudia Millerbragg, whose brother was killed in Viet Nam, decided to volunteer to help local veterans, she was shocked to discover that County Veterans Services sends representatives to a dozen different communities – but none to rural East County.
At a Homes for Our Troops event in March honoring combat vets who each lost both legs and now live in a rural area in El Cajon, Supervisor Dianne Jacob said that San Diego has the largest military installation in the world. “In East County we have the highest concentration of military and veterans in San Diego County,” she added.
If East County has the most veterans, why does our region have the fewest services for them -- and no services at all in the poorest rural areas with no public transportation?
“We supported the renewable energy plan but we wanted it done in the right. The stakeholders advisory group is biased and stacked. It’s all industry…” – Donna Tisdale, Chair, Boulevard Planning Group
By Alex Riggins
September 26, 2013 (San Diego) – The County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 on Wednesday to approve a work plan for a comprehensive renewable energy plan. The plan includes options for creating an alternative to SDG&E such as a publicly owned utility district, as well as plans for the type, scale and location of energy development. A cost analysis and comparison of various energy options was removed, however.
The work plan will analyze ways in which the county can move forward with renewable energy options. It was approved unanimously after the Board heard public comments and deliberated for nearly two hours on Wednesday morning. The plan drew support from the energy industry and concerns from rural residents.
ENVRIONMENTALISTS WEIGH CHALLENGE AFTER SAN DIEGO CITY COUNCIL APROVES CASTLEROCK PROJECT AND TRANSFER OF LAND TO SANTEE
By Nadin Abbott
September 17, 2013 (San Diego)—The San Diego City Council voted 7-0 to approve the controversial Castlerock housing project on the border of Santee and San Diego. The resolution proposed by Council Member Scott Sherman (District 7) and Council Member David Alvarez (District 8) reads in part, “approve the Staff’s recommendation (Annexation being the preferred scenario).”
It is clear that San Diego would prefer the project to go to Santee. One key reason is fire response, which San Diego Fire Department cannot do in a timely manner, due to the location of the nearest fire stations and how busy Santee roads can be at rush hour. With annexation, Santee will have jurisdiction to dispatch fire engines and other emergency services.
Environmental concerns, conflict of interests by Lightner raised
By Miriam Raftery
September 16, 2013 (San Diego) – San Diego’s City Council will hold a hearing today at 2 p.m. on the controversial Castlerock housing project. The project is proposed by Pardee Homes near the boundary between Santee and San Diego. The Planning Commission previously recommended annexing land for the project to Santee. Council has the option to approve, modify or disapprove the project and if approved, to determine whether or not it should be transferred to Santee’s jurisdiction.
Campaign contribution forms reveal that Council President Sherri Lightner accepted $4300 in donations from 12 Pardee Homes employees during her primary challenge. “If Pardee reimbursed its employees, the contributions would be illegal. Regardless of the contributions legality, we believe Pardree’s contributions are an inappropriate attempt to purchase your vote for a quadruple up-zone on Castlerock,” wrote Van Collingsworth, executive director of Preserve Wild Santee, in a letter to Lightner.
Comments submitted jointly by the Chaparral Institute and Preserve Wild Santee raised serious concerns over water supplies, traffic, environmental and public health impacts if the project is built near Mission Trails Regional Park.
September 14, 2013 (San Diego's East County) -- Looking for a job? Seeking business and economic updates on our region? Check out tapes of our recent "Job Talks" broadcasts from our East County Magazine radio show, now available to hear online.
Recent guests include Tom Lemon with the San Diego Building Trades Council, Johnny Simpson with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, East County Chamber leader Eric Lund, job hunting experts Reina Menasche and Antonio Villana, Cindy Gomper Graves with the South Coast Economic Development Council, and La Mesa Chamber of Commerce president Mary England. Click "read more" and scroll down for links.