April 2020 Articles

SDG&E POWER SHUTOFF IN DESCANSO DURING COVID-19 CRISIS LEAVES RESIDENTS STUCK HOME IN THE COLD

By Miriam Raftery

Photo by Jill Sawyer

April 14, 2020 (Descanso) – SDG&E has shut-off power to 22 households in Descanso for 10 hours today in order to replace wood poles with steel for wildfire prevention. The action has sparked anger among residents under county orders to stay home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with some left in the cold despite medical conditions, working and teaching children at home There are no shelters or any public space open, with temperatures forecast to dip to a chilly 42 degrees by this evening.

After ECM’s editor called SDG&E last night to advise the utility of  concerns raised by many residents online, the utility discovered it had mistakenly called many households who were not slated to have power shut down.  “They were all called shortly before 10 p.m. apologizing for this evening’s call, advising it was made by mistake,” SDG&E media spokesperson Zoraya Griffin informed ECM.

For those without power, however, the outage puts safety of medically vulnerable and elderly residents at risk, also causing major inconveniences for those working or teaching children at home.


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REP. SUSAN DAVIS ANNOUNCES $137 MILLION IN EMERGENCY COVID-19 FUNDING AWARDED TO LOCAL COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES

At least $71 million will be distributed to displaced students   

Source: Congresswoman Susan Davis

April 14, 2020 (San Diego) -- Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-CA-53), Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development, announced that colleges and universities in San Diego County will receive more than $137 million in emergency funding as a result of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which Congress passed on March 27. At least $71 million of the funding each institution receives will be distributed to students in the form of emergency cash assistance grants to help pay for housing, food, and other basic essentials.


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ACLU DISMISSES LAWSUIT AFTER ICE RELEASES 4 IMMIGRANT DETAINEES VULNERABLE TO COVID-19

Otay Mesa ICE facility has at least 16 COVID-19 cases, highest of any  U.S. detention site

Story and photo by Miriam Raftery, East County Magazine

April 13, 2020 (San Diego) – After the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed lawsuits in 13 states demanding release of detained immigrants at high risk due to COVID-19, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) sent a letter to Congress on April 7 announcing it had identified 600 medically vulnerable detainees and to date, had released 160 of them.

Today, local ACLU representatives asked the court to dismiss a suit filed earlier this month on behalf of four medically vulnerable people detained at the ICE Otay Mesa Detention Center and Imperial Regional Detention Facility, after ICE released all four  plaintiffs.

“Our clients, Yusuf Ozdemir and Jane Doe, were released Thursday night; and Miguel Angel Benitez and Issis Yoselin Zelaya Sagastume were released Friday night,” states a press release issued today by  the ACLU Foundation of San Diego & Imperial Counties, ACLU Foundation Immigrants' Rights Project, ACLU Foundation National Prison Project and ACLU Foundation Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender & HIV Project.


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LAID-OFF HEALTHCARE WORKERS PROTEST AT POWAY’S PALOMAR HEALTH, DESIGNATED FEMA FIELD HOSPITAL FOR COVID-19

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson 

Photos courtesy of the California Nurses Association

April 13, 2020 (Poway) – Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Poway’s Palomar Health laid off 221 healthcare employees.  Today, around 45 registered nurses, technicians and other healthcare workers held a protest outside Palomar Medical Center in Poway.  

“Number one-we want safe staffing, number two-proper PPE (personal protective equipment), and three-rescind the layoffs,” Lori Isham, a five-year employee who participated in the protest, told ECM.  


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GOV. NEWSOM ANNOUNCES $42 MILLION TO PROTECT FOSTER YOUTHS IMPACTED BY COVID-19

Rev. Shane Harris, local advocate for foster children, calls on Governor to extend foster care 180 days for youths aging out of the system

By Miriam Raftery

 

File photos:  Gov. Gavin Newsom and Rev. Shane Harris



April 13, 2020 (San Diego) – Today, Governor Gavin Newsom announced a $42 million investment to protect foster youths and foster families impacted by COVID-19over the next three months, including $40.6 million in state general fund money and $1.4 million in federal funds.

 

The Governor is making more than $27 million available to help families stay together, nearly $7 million to support social workers and $3 million to support Family Resource Centers, among other expenditures.


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SAN DIEGO RIVER CRESTS AT 12.5 FEET AS RAINS DOUSE REGION

By Miriam Raftery 

April 13, 2020 (San Diego) — The storm surge has led to the San Diego River cresting at 12.5 feet in Fashion Valley – the ninth highest level on record in more than a century.


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HOW EAST COUNTY REALTORS GROUP IS COMMUNICATING WITH ITS MEMBERS DURING COVID-19

East County News Service

April 13, 2020 (El Cajon) – The Pacific Southwest Association of Realtors (PSAR), one of San Diego’s largest real estate trade associations for San Diego-area realtors with an office in El Cajon, is making efforts to keep its members informed during the coronavirus crisis.


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PHOTO OF THE WEEK: YELLOW ROSE

East County News Service
 
April 12, 2020 (El Cajon) -- Robert Gehr sent in this photo of one of many beautiful roses in bloom right now which surround the white Gazebo at Judson Park at the corner of Magnolia & Park Ave., near downtown El Cajon.

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SAN DIEGO COUNTY LOCKDOWN 'FLATTENING THE CURVE' BUT OFFICIALS URGE PATIENCE

 
By Chris Jennewein, Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego Online News Association
 
Photo (pay special attention to new cases in orange) Prepared by County of San Diego, Emergency Operations Center, 4/12/2020. Data are preliminary and subject to change
 
April 12, 2020 (San Diego) -- San Diego County health officials on Saturday reported progress in flattening the curve of new coronavirus cases but urged residents not to get impatient to return to normal life.
 
Supervisor Nathan Fletcher reported 68 more cases for a total of 1,761 and one more death — a man in his early 80s — for a total of 45.
 
If the number of coronavirus cases in the county continued to increase at Saturday’s rate of just under 4%, they would double after 18 days.
 

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SAN DIEGO COURT RULES CHURCH CANNOT HOLD IN-PERSON EASTER SERVICES

By Miriam Raftery

April 10, 2020 (San Diego) – A local church hoping to hold in-person Easter services this Sunday has been denied an exemption to San Diego County’s COVID-19 stay-home order. 

Abiding Place Ministries had sought a restraining order to prevent the county from enforcing its public heath directive, arguing that the order violated members’ constitutional right to religious freedom.

But U.S. District Judge Cynthia A. Bashant ruled that the county has the authority to “reasonably restrict” such rights during a public health emergency. She quoted the U.S. Supreme Court in the Prince v. Massachusetts case, which states, “The right to practice religion freely does not include the right to expose the community to communicable disease…”


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FEDERAL COURT DENIES CAJON VALLEY REQUEST TO DISMISS BARTO LAWSUIT

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor 

April 10, 2020 (El Cajon) -- The Cajon Valley Union School District was handed a major defeat on Monday when the United States Southern California District Court refused to dismiss a federal civil rights lawsuit against the district.


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FLASH FLOOD WARNING FOR CENTRAL SAN DIEGO COUNTY UNTIL 11:30 AM

 

April 10, 2020 (San Diego) -- The National Weather Service in San Diego has issued a Flash Flood Warning for Central San Diego County until 1130 AM PDT. Flash flooding is already occurring in a few locations. Additional rainfall of 0.2 to 0.5 inch per hour is expected for the next several hours. Below are details:

HAZARD...Flash flooding caused by heavy rain.

SOURCE...Radar indicated.

IMPACT...Flooding of small creeks and streams, urban areas, highways, streets and underpasses as well as other drainage and low lying areas.

Some locations that will experience flooding include San Diego, Oceanside, Carlsbad, El Cajon, Vista, Encinitas, La Mesa, Poway, Ramona, Del Mar and Alpine.


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WATER QUALITY PROBLEMS PERSIST IN LAKE MORENA, MONTHS AFTER DON’T DRINK ORDER ISSUED

By Miriam Raftery

April 9, 2020 (Lake Morena, CA ) – Last September, the County issued a do-not-drink order for 123 customers of the Lake Morena Views Mutual Water Co. due to high nitrate levels.  Nearly seven months later, high nitrate levels in the district's well water persist, forcing many rural residents to rely on bottled water for drinking and cooking.

Solving the problem will take more money than the small rural district can afford. As a result, the state is mandating that to receive funding help, the district must be combined with the neighboring Oak Shores Municipal Water District which serves Lake Morena Village – even though customers in that district previously voted against consolidation.

According to the State of California, infants under six months old and pregnant women should not drink water with high nitrate levels. Infants who drink nitrate-contaminated water or formula made with the water can develop blue baby syndrome, which causes blue skin and if left untreated, death.  High nitrates can also affect oxygen-carrying ability of the blood in pregnant women. Wellman Simmonds, president of Lake Morena Views Mutual Water Co., says that the warning also includes “elderly and those who are sick to not utilize the water for cooking or drinking.”

Boiling, freezing, filtering or letting tap water stand will not reduce nitrate levels—and boiling may actually increase nitrate concentrations.


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READER'S EDITORIAL: SHARING HOPE

By Dadla Ponizil
 
April 9, 2020 (San Diego) -- As we grind through the difficult days of the pandemic, I'd like to share some hope.  My daughter, the fashion designer, is making protective masks--dyed with turmeric and beet juice, and they are lovely.
 
In every city around the nation, feats of valor, creativity and grace are being accomplished every day. We will win this battle. This gives me hope: the power of our teamwork and solidarity. 

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SANTEE EXTENDS EVICTION BAN TO COMMERCIAL TENANTS

By Mike Allen

Photo, from top left: Rob McNelis, Laura Koval, Stephen Houlahan, John Minto, Ronn Hall, and Bill Maertz, Santee Community Services director.

April 9, 2020 (Santee) -- Santee’s City Council amended a law it passed earlier this month banning evictions of residential tenants hurting from effects of the coronavirus. The amended version now includes commercial tenants.


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READER’S EDITORIAL TERRA-GEN’S CONTROVERSIAL CAMPO WIND TURBINE PROJECT APPROVED BY DEPT OF INTERIOR OVER STRONG OBJECTIONS OF IMPACTED TRIBAL MEMBERS

Decision bypasses Campo’s tribal regulations and land use planning protections: Legal challenges are in the works

By Donna Tisdale, President of Backcountry Against Dumps

April 9, 2020 (Campo and Boulevard, California)-- Against strong opposition, including many tribal members, the Department of Interior just approved the Record of Decision (ROD) for Terra-Gen’s controversial Campo Wind project with 60-586 ft tall 4.2 megawatt (MW) turbines on Campo Tribal lands in rural San Diego County.

These turbines are taller than the tallest skyscraper in San Diego and twice as powerful as existing Kumeyaay Wind and Tule Wind turbines that already generate nuisance level adverse impacts for neighbors! To add insult to injury, the ROD was signed by the Assistant Secretary, which means we lose the right to appeal that approval.

Legal challenges are in the works.

Campo Wind is opposed by neighbors as well as by a qualified number of voting Campo Tribal members, but Campo leaders have ignored two valid tribal petitions: 1) to terminate Campo Wind ; 2) to remove their leadership for failing to hold the vote to terminate[1]. Turbines are planned far too close to homes and offices and can restrict the number and placement of new homes for current and future residents.

Campo’s elections are set for April 17th, with strong hope that leaders will be voted in who will act to better protect their people and resources, and to stop Campo Wind dead in its tracks.


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COUNTY BANS ALL GATHERINGS; DEATH TOLL RISES TO 36 LOCALLY

By Miriam Raftery

April 9, 2020 (San Diego) – San Diego County officials yesterday expanded a prior health order to prohibit gatherings of any type, effective today. That means gatherings of 10 people or less are no longer allowed in San Diego County, unless they live in same household.

San Diego County health officials  also urged local residents to avoid experimental treatments for COVID-19, stressing that there is no known cure yet for the illness.

In a briefing on Tuesday, two county medical officials specifically warned against hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial medication touted multiple times in recent days by President Trump. “We are not recommending this medication,” said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s chief health officer. 


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SANDERS SUSPENDS CANDIDACY FOR PRESIDENT, LEAVING BIDEN AS PRESUMPTIVE NOMINEE

By Miriam Raftery

Photo by Miriam Raftery: Sanders in San Diego in 2016

April 9, 2020 (San Diego) – Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders yesterday announced that he has suspended his candidacy for the presidency, leaving former Vice President Joe Biden as the presumptive Democratic nominee.

Sanders reportedly spoke with Biden earlier in the day and congratulated him, pledging to work with Biden in the November general election against Republican President Donald Trump.

Biden, long positioned as a moderate, issued a message to Sanders’ supporters stating, “I see you, I hear you, and I understand the urgency of what it is we have to get done in this country,” adding, “I hope you will join us. You are more than welcome. You’re needed.”


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COLLEGE DISTRICT HELPS COMMUNITY DURING COVID-19 CRISIS

Source:  Re:  Fresh

April 9, 2020 (El Cajon) - Loaning ventilators, aiding stranded cruise ship passengers, and stitching home-made face masks are ways that Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District employees are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.


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SDG&E OFFERS BILL DISCOUNT PROGRAMS TO HELP CUSTOMERS IN NEED

Company Encourages Customers Impacted by COVID-19 to Take Advantage of 30% Bill Savings and Other Available Assistance

 April 8, 2020 (San Diego)  – With the coronavirus pandemic causing financial hardships for many individuals and families in the region, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) is encouraging those in need to apply online for bill discount programs, which can save them 30% or more off their monthly utility bill.

SDG&E offers bill discount programs to support customers year-round. Many people who previously could not take advantage of these income-based programs may now be able to do so due to lost wages. Those who recently lost their job, even if they are receiving unemployment benefits, may also be eligible for CARE and FERA.


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LEMON GROVE CITY COUNCIL OFFERS COVID-19 INFO FOR RESIDENTS AND PASSES CLIMATE ACTION PLAN WITH AMENDMENTS FORTHCOMING

By Jake Zawlacki

Audio Recording Link: https://www.lemongrove.ca.gov/city-hall/city-council/city-council-meeting-audio-recordings

April 8, 2020 (Lemon  Grove) -- In a 3-2 split, the Lemon Grove City Council voted Tuesday to approve the city’s Climate Action Plan, a plan to take advantage of $2.5 million in grant funds  from SANDAG to decrease greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 through local projects.

In accordance with Gov. Newsom’s Executive Orders in a response to mitigating the transmission of COVID-19, the meeting commenced online via Zoom.


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POSTAL WORKER DIES AFTER MEDICAL ISSUE, CRASH IN SPRING VALLEY

East County News Service
Photo: Postal Truck in Motion CC via Bing
 
April 8, 2020 (Spring Valley) – A U.S. Postal Service driver suffered a medical issue while driving a mail van on Jamacha Blvd. west of La Presa Avenue yesterday at 11:10 a.m.  The incapacitated driver, 50, veered off the roadway and struck a parked vehicle, then hit the front of a liquor store.
 
The postal worker was transported by ambulance to Grossmont Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, Officer Jeff Christy with the California Highway Patrol reports The driver’s name has not been released pending notification of family.
 

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FAMOUS MUSICIANS SHARE EASTER AND PASSOVER CONCERTS ONLINE

By Miriam Raftery

April 8, 2020 (San Diego) -- “The world might be dark at the moment, but several performers with disabilities are bringing light and joy to millions around the world,” says Jennifer Lazlo Mizrahi with RespectAbility, an organization advocating for people with disabilities.

Now two of the world’s most famous musicians, violinist Itzhak Perlman and opera singer Andrea Bocelli, who each triumphed over their own disabilities, will be offering free concerts online to ceelbrate Passover and Easter.


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REP. SUSAN DAVIS CO-SPONSORS THE ALL DEPENDENT CHILDREN COUNT ACT TO COVER DEPENDENTS UP TO AGE 24

East County News Service

April 8, 2020 (Washington, D.C.) - Congresswoman Susan Davis (CA-53) cosponsored the All Dependent Children Count Act (H.R. 6420) to expand the definition of a dependent for relief under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The bill would add children younger than 19, students 24 and younger, and eliminate the age limit for dependents who are disabled. 


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YES, YOU CAN EXERCISE YOUR HORSE DURING STAY-HOME ORDER

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Creative Commons via Bing

April 8, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – After a rural resident told us his horse has been stabled since mid-March to prevent violating COVID-19 stay-home orders for non-essential needs, ECM reached out to San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) Chairman Steve Vaus. Vaus, a horse owner and also mayor of Poway, provided clarification that horseback riding is legal – provided social distancing is maintained.

“Horseback activity would fall under the agricultural exemption,” Vaus stated, but added that riders should not ride in groups with anyone other than their household members.  Don’t congregate before or after rides with friends at parking lots or elsewhere. “Take a ride and go home,” he advised.


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CLEARING BRUSH, WEED ABATEMENT AND REMOVING DEAD TREES ARE ESSENTIAL SERVICES

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Man clearning dry weeds; Creative Commons image by SA-NC

April 8, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – If you need brush cleared or weed abatement to prevent fires, those are essential services that are allowed to continue despite COVID-19 stay-home orders in the state and county.  Removing or pruning dead or dying trees to prevent them from falling is also an essential service. Gardening for purposes not related to safety or sanitation, however, are not allowed.

East County Magazine received clarification from state and federal agencies to confirm these facts, after a worker hired to clear weeds in the Mt. Helix area told our editor that he was stopped by law enforcement and told to go home, or face a $1,000 fine and arrest. A property owner in a rural area also advised ECM of a weed abatement worker ordered home by a law enforcement officer.

Property owners are required by law to maintain defensible space around their homes.  Brush clearing and weed abatement are especially important now, since Cal Fire and the U.S. Forest Service have both suspended controlled burns in order to avoid aggravating lung conditions in residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The California Department of Public Health’s office of public affairs sent the following response to our inquiry regarding brush clearing, weed abatement, removal of dead trees and pruning for safety’s sake:


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SOME INSURERS OFFER REBATES AS PEOPLE DRIVE LESS DURING PANDEMIC

By Suzanne Potter, Public News Service

Photo:  Creative Commons via Bing

April 8, 2020 (Sacramento) - Two car-insurance giants, Allstate and American Family Insurance, have just announced they'll refund $800 million to the drivers they insure.

The companies say the rebates are possible because people are driving so much less during the COVID-19 crisis and, thus, collision claims have fallen off dramatically. Other companies say they may follow suit.


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POWAY CITY COUNCIL APPROVES COMMERCIAL EVICTION MORATORIUM, OPEN SPACE ACQUSITION, AND LOANS FOR SMALL BUSINESSES

By Miriam Raftery

April 8, 2020 (Poway) – “We looked different, but got things done as usual,” Poway Mayor Steve Vaus posted on Facebook, with a masked photo, following last night’s city council meeting. The Council met in Council chambers, but without an audience. To comply with social distancing requirements, the public could watch live online, call in or send comments in ahead of time.

By a unanimous vote, the Council approved a moratorium on commercial evictions due to COVID-19 impacts until May 31, provided the commercial tenant notifies the landlord promptly. The documentation may be as simple as a statement signed under penalty of perjury stating that the tenant has suffered financial hardship due to the COVID-19 emergency. Tenants would still owe the rent after May 31, unless they negotiate long-term repayment or other arrangements with their landlord.


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A SCOURGE REVISITED: 1952 POLIO EPIDEMIC IN THE GROVE AND A GREAT ARTIST

The Way We Were: A look back at Lemon Grove 68 years ago. History is repeating itself as it often does.

 

By Helen Ofield (photo, left), Board member and Historian, Lemon Grove Historical Society

 

April 7, 2020 (Lemon Grove) –  First, a Couple of Songs

 

The hills are alive with the sound of spraying

the germs that will live for a thousand years;

The hills fill our lungs with corona virus and

We yearn to spray every germ that we fear(s).

 

Our hearts want to beat like the wings of a bat,

But we don’t want to eat every dog, pig or cat;

Our hearts beat and sigh like a virus that flies

And lands on a door handle and a door mat;

 

We go to the hills whenever we’re sneezing;

We know we will hear what we’ve heard before,

Folks trying to escape from the sound of spraying

As we promise ourselves we will sing once more!


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ECM WORLD WATCH: NATIONAL AND GLOBAL NEWS

April 7, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) - East County Magazine's World Watch helps you be an informed citizen on important issues globally and nationally. As part of our commitment to reflect all voices and views, we include links to a variety of news sources representing a broad spectrum of political, religious, and social views. Top world and U.S. headlines include:

U.S.

WORLD

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


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