Ben Kalasho

LEGAL FILINGS TIE KALASHO TO FAKE SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS USED TO SMEAR TACO SHOP, OFFER DETAILS ON “FAKE” NUDE BEAUTY QUEEN PHOTOS

 

Kalasho claims he’s being framed by beauty queens and taco shop owner suing him;

Kalasho’s wife admitted visiting friend In Cerritos, when the allegedly fake nude beauty queen photos were posted online from her friend’s home

By Miriam Raftery

November 6, 2017 (El Cajon) – Today, plaintiffs suing El Cajon Councilman Bessmon “Ben” Kalasho filed an anti-SLAPP motion asking that Kalasho’s countersuit against two beauty pageant contestants and a taco shop be dismissed as retaliatory and violating their First Amendment rights to speak to the press about their case.   

California’s anti-SLAPP statute prohibits public officials from filing what are known as SLAPP suits to retaliate against members of the public for exercising their free speech and right to petition the government for redress of grievances.  Kalasho’s countersuit took issue with plaintiffs talking to the media, specifically the Reader, about their case.

READER’S EDITORIAL: BEN KALASHO SHOULD NOT BE A SPOKESMAN FOR CHALDEANS

 

By John Birds

November 3, 2017 (El Cajon) -- I am speaking on behalf of thousands of Chaldean's in and around the San Diego community that all agree that Ben Kalasho DOES NOT and SHOULD NOT be allowed, by any media outlet, to speak on behalf of the Chaldean community. We do not like the type of person, who he is or the values that he holds.

KALASHO THREATENS EAST COUNTY MAGAZINE—AND LOSES NONPROFIT STATUS OF HIS BEAUTY PAGEANT

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

November 1, 2017 (El Cajon) – El Cajon Councilman Bessmon "Ben" Kalasho has escalated his war on media outlets that have published factual investigative reports on his business, political, legal and ethical controversies.

After first threatening litigation against the San Diego Union-Tribune and ridiculing its reporters, Kalasho has now threatened to sue East County Magazine (ECM), though he has not disputed the accuracy of any specific points in our reports. He has also made provably false, defamatory and malicious statements about our media outlet and reporters, as we have documented clearly in this article.

Ironically, amid his baseless efforts to smear our reputable nonprofit, his own nonprofit beauty pageant has had its nonprofit status revoked by the State of California, the Attorney General confirmed to ECM.

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.

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.

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. 

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.

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.

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 COUNTERSUES BEAUTY CONTESTANTS FOR DEFAMATION

 

By Miriam Raftery

August 12, 2017 (San Diego) – El Cajon Councilman Ben Kalasho is counter-suing two contestants in the Miss Middle East Beauty Pageant that he founded, alleging that his reputation has been harmed by their claims that include fraud and sexual harassment.

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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..

EL CAJON RESIDENTS SOUND OFF TO KALASHO: BIGGEST ISSUES ARE HOMELESSNESS AND GILLESPIE FIELD

 

By Mike Allen

February 10, 2017 (El Cajon) -- The homeless issue in El Cajon is apparently reaching the boiling point, judging from a Feb. 9 town hall meeting hosted by newly-elected City Councilman Ben Kalasho.

TOWN HALL MEETING WITH EL CAJON’S NEW COUNCILMAN BEN KALASHO FEB. 9

 

East County News Service

January 31, 2017 (El Cajon) -- Ben Kalasho is the newest elected Councilman representing El Cajon residents. He will host a town hall meeting on Thursday, February 9 from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. to hear the concerns and questions from his community & neighbors.   The meeting will be held at the El Cajon Police Station community room, 100 Civic Way in El Cajon.

EL CAJON VETERANS COMMISSIONER SAYS IRAQI COUNCILMAN SHOULD “GO BACK HOME”

 

Glover insists comment not meant as racist

By Jonathan Goetz

January 26, 2017 (El Cajon) – In the same week that President Donald Trump announced an executive order to block new immigrants from Iraq, El Cajon Veterans Commissioner George Glover stated, “Why doesn’t Ben Kalasho go back home to where he came from?”

STEVE GOBLE AND BEN KALASHO TO JOIN EL CAJON CITY COUNCIL DEC. 13

 

 

By Jonathan Goetz

Photos:  Ben Kalasho,  Steve Goble and Bob McClellan

December 6, 2016 (El Cajon) -- Challengers Steve Goble and Ben Kalasho have won seats on the El Cajon City Council, and will be joining Bob McClellan, who won reelection. The swearing-in ceremony will be held on December 13th at Council Chambers.

CLOSE COUNCIL RACE IN EL CAJON; VOTERS APPROVE REDISTRICTING

 

By Miriam Raftery

November 9, 2016  (El Cajon) – With 43.6% of precincts counted,  a 10-candidate race for El Cajon City Council is still too close to call. There are three seats up—and currently, two challengers have edged ahead of incumbent Star Bales.

However voters handily approved Measure S, the redistricting proposal to establish district elections.  Measure S  has nearly 69% of the vote with 43.6% of precincts counted.

HEAR OUR INTERVIEW: BEN KALASHO SPEAKS OUT ON CHALDEANS' CONCERNS IN THE ELECTION

 

 

March 16, 2016 (San Diego's East County) -- Ben Kalasho, president of the Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce, sat down with the East County Magazine Radio Show on KNSJ 89.1 FM to discuss concerns of the Chaldean community in the presidential primary election. In our interview, which originally aired on KNSJ last week, Kalasho speaks about the issues that matter most to the Iraqi Chaldean and Middle Eastern communities from an international and domestic standpoint.

He also discussed the new Mega TV news network that he helped launch, which debuted earlier this month. In addition, he shared his thoughts on the Grossmot Union High School District's redistricting proposal that divides the Chaldean voting block--and what steps he thinks should be done at the state level to assure fairness in elections for Chaldean Americans.

To hear our interview, click the link above.

Audio: 

HEAR OUR RADIO INTERVIEWS: OPPONENTS OF GUHSD REDISTRICTING PLANS SPEAK OUT

 

East County News Service

March 16, 2016 (San Diego's East County) --  The Grossmont Union High School District Board majority's proposed redistricting plan is among the most controversial actions taken by a board long mired in contention over a variety of issues -- many of which stand to be influenced by the outcome of redistricting.  East County Magazine's radio show on KNSJ sat down with several individuals who have voiced strong opposition to the plan approved by the board and now awaiting action by the County Department of Education's Committee on School District Organization.

Click the link above this story to listen online now to a podcast of  our interviews and comments from trustee Priscilla Schreiber, Diego Valley Charter Net principal Craig Beswick, former Citizens Bond Oversight Committee member Nick Marinovich, and Chaldean Chamber President Ben Kalasho on this important issue (originally aired on KNSJ 89.1 FM radio).

The County's committee plans five upcoming hearings to get public comment on the proposed redistricting plan, as well as the GUHSD's request to waive a public vote. The five hearings are set for March 17 in La Mesa, March 28 in El Cajon,  April 4 in Alpine,  April 5 in Jamul, and April 11 in Lakeside.  The public can testify at the meetings and also submit written comments up until April 7. 

Audio: 

BREAKING UP IS HARD TO DO: GROSSMONT VOTES FOR TRUSTEE DISTRICTS, BYPASSING PUBLIC VOTE

 

By Miriam Raftery

Controversial plan outrages Alpine voters, Chaldeans and other district residents

Photo: Priscilla Schreiber will be forced off the board in November if the county approves the GUHSD's redistricting proposal.

February 25, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) – Grossmont Union High School District voted 4-1 to ditch district-wide elections and break up the district into five areas that will each elect its own trustee. (View map)  The board also voted to ask the San Diego County Committee on School Board Reorganization to waive a requirement that would ordinarily allow the public to vote on redistricting.

CHALDEAN CHAMBER PRESIDENT THREATENS LAWSUIT IF “GERRYMANDERING” SPLITS CHALDEAN VOTERS IN GUHSD

 

 

District board expected to vote on redistricting plan today at 4 p.m.

"...Our Chamber will not accept any gerrymandering or divisive planning for political purposes and would be readily committed to engage either legally or politically to ensure a fair and equitable approach for the betterment of our community.” -- Ben Kalasho, Chaldean American Chamber president

By Miriam Raftery

February 25, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) – Ben Kalasho, president of the Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce in East County, has issued a press release calling on the Grossmont Union-High School District board to be “transparent and pragmatic” in its decision on how to transition from at-large to district elections. A vote on which map to approve is expected at today’s GUHSD board meeting at 4 p.m. at the East County Regional Education Center, 924 East Main St. in El Cajon.

LEGISLATIVE CANDIDATES BRIAN JONES AND RANDY VOEPEL SPEAK OUT AT 2ND CHALDEAN CHAMBER'S "MEET YOUR CANDIDATE" EVENT

 

By Janis Russell

August 17, 2015 (La Mesa)- The San Diego East County Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce hosted its second Meet Your Candidates event at Sammy’s Woodfire Pizza in La Mesa on August 5. The speakers were Assemblyman Brian Jones, who is running for Senator Joel Anderson’s seat, and 71st state Assembly district candidate Randy Voepel, who has been Mayor  and served on Santee’s city council since 2000. Voepel is running against Mike Harrison, who currently serves on Duncan D. Hunter, and Tony Teora, an engineer. (Harrison spoke at a prior Chamber event and Teora is invited for the future.)

EAST COUNTY MAGAZINE WINS 3 AWARDS FROM SOCIETY OF PROFESSIONAL JOURNALISTS

 

 

East County News Service

July 31, 2015 (San Diego) – East County Magazine picked up three more awards from the Society for Professional Journalists San Diego pro chapter last night during the annual awards banquet at the Bali Hai restaurant.   Two of the awards honor coverage on our East County Magazine Show on KNSJ Radio while the third is for an investigative report at our online news site (www.EastCountyMagazine.org), bringing our total awards to 83 since our founding in 2008.

Last night’s honors, all second place awards presented to Miriam Raftery (photo, left), include our radio interview series with local Chaldeans’ efforts to halt genocide in Iraq, a radio interview with a Kurdish woman about her family’s ordeal fleeing ISIS, and an online investigative report on a San Diego company’s failure to disclose negative impacts of a proposed energy project.

You can read and hear our award-winning entries here:

SOCIALITES FASHION EVENT REVS UP CROWD AT NEW MERCEDES BENZ DEALER IN EL CAJON

 

East County News Service

March 3, 2015 (El Cajon) - Over 200 guests turned out for the first annual Socialites Fashion Event hosted in partnership with the Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce and  Mercedes Benz of El Cajon on February 27th.

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