El Cajon

JUST DUCKY: FIREFIGHTERS RESCUE SIX DUCKLINGS FROM STORM DRAIN

By Miriam Raftery
 
June 8, 2019 (El Cajon) -- Six ducklings trapped in a storm drain in El Cajon are lucky ducks -- rescued by Heartland firefighters with help from animal rescue personnel.
 
Firefighters responded to a call at 1:20 p.m. Saturday reporting the situation.  The firefighters found the ducklings under a storm grate in the 200 block of Fletcher Parkway, with no mother duck around. 

GAS LEAK NEAR PARKWAY PLAZA FORCED EVACUATIONS, TROLLEY CLOSURE IN EL CAJON

Leak is now controlled; trolley service has resumed and streets have reopened

 

By Miriam Raftery

 

Photo courtesy ECM news partner 10 News

 

June 7, 2019 (El Cajon) – A 2-inch diameter gas line ruptured by construction crews at North Marshal Ave. and Petree Street shortly after noon today prompted evacuations of the Rock Church and multiple businesses including The Lexus car dealership and Black Bear Diner. 10 News reports diners were given just five minutes to flee.

WONDERFUL ADVICE FROM GRANDSON'S PEERS

By Donald H. Harrison, Editor, San Diego Jewish World, a member of the San Diego Online News Association

Photo:  Shor Mason graduated from three schools this semester.

June 7, 2019 (El Cajon) -  Thanks to my grandson Shor Masori graduating from three different schools this semester, I recently had the opportunity to listen to several remarkable young women who respectively were speakers at the ceremonies at Community Jewish High School,  Grossmont Middle College High School, and Grossmont College.

GRANT TO BRING CAJON VALLEY’S “WORLD OF WORK” PROGRAM TO LA MESA-SPRING VALLEY, GROSSMONT HIGH AND VISTA SCHOOL DISTRICTS

By Miriam Raftery

June 6, 2019 (San Diego’s East County) – A $1.2 million grant awarded by the national nonprofit American Student Assistance (ASA) will fund participation in the World of Work (WoW) program for over 33,000 students at 38 local schools in the La Mesa-Spring Valley (LMSV), Vista Unified and Grossmont Union High School (GUHSD) districts.

The program was developed by the Cajon Valley Union School District (CVUSD) in partnership with the University of San Diego to provide  K-12 students to explore career options and identify their individuals strengths and interests. The program has rolled out in 27 schools in the past two years, been written up in national publications such as Forbes business magazine, and most recently drew attention in meetings with U.S. Department of Education representatives (photo left) and a presentation at the Brookings Institute.

CAJON VALLEY AGREES TO COMPLY WITH BROWN ACT ON MEETING RECORDINGS, BUT DRAGS FEET ON OTHER RECORDS REQUESTS

By Miriam Raftery

Listen to audios of CVUSD meetings from Dec.-March (scroll down)

Photos: unobtrusive recording device on tripod used by ECM reporter at two recent meetings does not obstruct views or traffic.

June 6, 2019 (El Cajon) – It took cease and desist letters sent by two attorneys to the Cajon Valley Union School District for ECM to obtain recordings of public meetings previously denied, along with assurances that our reporters will not be threatened for recording school board meetings ourselves. But other important records requests remain pending beyond the time frames mandated by state law.  

More than five months after our initial Public Records Act request for tapes of public meetings, the Cajon Valley Union School District has turned over all but one recording from December 2018 through March 2019.  Miraculously, those include a Dec. 11, 2018 recording that the district previously informed ECM had been destroyed. The one missing audio file, for March 12, 2019, was not available to a technical difficulty, the district claims in a letter sent to Californians Aware attorney Terry Francke.  

The records were provided to Francke after the attorney notified the district that its refusal to provide copies of recordings violated the Ralph M. Brown Act (California’s public records act) to ECM reporter Paul Kruze and to board member Jill Barto.  The district’s purported destruction of the December recording after 30 days despite a records request made just one day after the meeting, as claimed by executive assistant Naomie Rodriguez, was also illegal, Francke informed the district.

The district sent its recordings only to Francke, with a short window to download copies, but never did provide copies directly to either Kruze or Barto, both have confirmed. Barto says the district has refused to provide CDs for any meeting prior to May, and that they told her they won’t provide CDs unless a request is made within 30 days of a meeting – backtracking off their vote in  late March to retain recordings for a year and make them available on CD, as ECM reported.

Audio: 

MORTARBOARDS WITH A SPECIAL TOUCH ARE FEATHERS IN THE CAPS FOR MANY GROSSMONT COLLEGE GRADS

Source:  Grossmont-Cuyamaca College District

June 3, 2019 (El Cajon) -  Commencement is a day of celebration, but for some, the pomp and circumstance is more than they can afford.

For the past 15 years, longtime Grossmont College staffer Juliette Harrington has quietly paid for the caps and gowns of dozens of graduates who might otherwise not been able to participate in commencement. This year, Harrington, a Health Services specialist, wanted to help more students and thanks to a $500 grant from student government and a vendor who provided a sizable discount, 105 students received caps they can treasure as keepsakes and six will be provided loaned gowns, all for free, for the ceremony taking place at 5 p.m. Wednesday at the Grossmont College Main Quad.

READER'S EDITORIAL: SANDAG MISUSE OF OUR TAXES

By James Rue, El Cajon

June 2, 2019 (San Diego’s East County) – Hello, SANDAG.  I'm in fear of misuse of our tax dollars by SANDAG, and I would like my opinion heard.

For more than 30 years I commuted to/from downtown San Diego. I drove, I carpooled, and commuted using public transportation (bus & trolley).

And your system still stinks. Originally, I'm from one of those very large cities where public transportation was accessible on every corner, and the fare was reasonable.  San Diego, and metro area is NOT accessible.  I remember leaving home two and half hours to three hours early to get to work, using public transportation and always getting home several hours late. When I carpooled I left about an hour earlier and if I drove myself and left 30 minutes earlier I could be at work in less than 25 minutes.  I have some suggestions for you to consider.

MOTORCYCLIST DIES AFTER COLLISION WITH TEEN DRIVER ON OLDE HIGHWAY 80

By Miriam Raftery
 
June 2, 2019 (San Diego’s East County) – A 19-year-old Jamul woman driving a Hyundai Accent made a U-turn on Olde Highway 80 west of Bond Avenue in unincorporated El Cajon yesterday at 5:25 p.m., crossing directly into the path of a motorcycle.  The driver of the motorcycle, a 27-year-old Santee man on a black SSR Razkull 125, was ejected following the collision and sustained blunt force trauma.

APPLICATIONS SOUGHT FOR CITY OF EL CAJON PLANNING COMMISSION

Are you interested in shaping El Cajon’s future? The El Cajon City Council seeks interested applicants to fill a vacant seat on the City’s Planning Commission.

Source:  City of El Cajon

June 1, 2019 (El Cajon) - The El Cajon City Council is accepting applications for the Planning Commission to fill the vacancy left by the appointment of commissioner Phil Ortiz to the City Council. The planning commission has long been a stepping stone to higher office, with many past commissioners going on to win election or appointment to council or mayoral seats.  The filing period is open through June 27, 2019 at 4:30 p.m. 

PHOTO OF THE WEEK: SOMETHING TO CROW ABOUT

 

 

East County News Service

June 1, 2019 (El Cajon) – Robert Gehr snapped this photo of a crow in El Cajon. “It was keeping an eye on me as I photographed the antics of it, being a bit playful,” he writes.

Crows are highly intelligent, capable of recognizing individual human faces and have even been trained to talk.

ANOTHER RECORD YEAR AT GROSSMONT AND CUYAMACA COLLEGES: MEET SOME INSPIRING GRADUATES

 

Meet some amazing stand-out students

Source:  Grossmont-Cuyamaca College

June 1, 2019 (El Cajon) - Almost 2,700 graduates from Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges will be receiving 5,652 degrees and certificates at this year’s commencements, setting a new record as the largest graduating class from the two East County colleges.

EL CAJON EXPANDS NUMBER OF PETS ALLOWED

By Miriam Raftery

Photo:  CC by SA

May 30, 2019 (El Cajon) – You might say that El Cajon is going to the dogs – and cats. The City Council has voted unanimously to allow pet owners to have up to four dogs, or four cats.  Owners can also have a combination of cats and dogs, up to a maximum of four.

Formerly, the city allowed no more than two dogs or cats per household, though exceptions were made for puppies and kittens not yet old enough for adoption.

EAST COUNTY SUPERINTENDENTS AMONG 11 INDICTED IN CHARTER SCHOOL FRAUD SCHEME

By Miriam Raftery

May 30, 2019 (San Diego’s East County) – San Diego District Attorney Summer Stephan yesterday announced indictments against 11 individuals in a statewide charter school scheme that stole over $50 million in public funds.  Those indicted include Nancy Hauer, superintendent of the Dehesa Elementary School District in El Cajon, and Steve Van Zant, former superintendent of the Mountain Empire Unified School District that services Descanso, Pine Valley, Potrero and Campo.

The ringleaders, Sean McManus and Jason Schrock, CEO and president of A3 Education, sought out small school district with limited oversight experience and proposed that they authorize online charter schools to earn oversight fees paid for through public funds, according to the 253-page indictment handed down by a grand jury investigation May 17th after a year-long investigation that involved interviewing over 70 witnesses.

29% OF CAJON VALLEY SCHOOLS ARE FLAGGED BY STATE AS NEEDING SUPPORT; SUPERINTENDANT SAYS STATE’S DASHBOARD MEASURES “WRONG METRICS”

For second year in a row, CVUSD schools are flagged by state for troublesome school performance issues.   

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

May 24, 2019 (El Cajon) -- Listening to Cajon Valley Union School District (CVUSD) Superintendent  David Miyashiro’s “State of the Schools” address on Jan. 15, one might think that all of the district’s education programs are successful and that its student body is thriving. However, a report released in early December by the California Department of Education’s California Classroom Dashboard indicates that despite innovative career path programs, students at 8 of 27 district schools are not measuring up when it comes to college readiness.

EAST COUNTY DINING CLUB INVITES YOU TO BUCKBOARDS BARBECUE AND BREW IN EL CAJON MAY 29

 

Update: We've added lots of great prizes! See list below.

You're invited to the East County Dining Club's next dining adventure at Buckboard’s Barbecue & Brew in El Cajon (975 Greenfield Drive) on Wednesday, May 29 at 6 p.m.  Everyone is welcome!

Buckboard’s is brand new to El Cajon, but they’ve been serving up amazing BBQ for 30 years in San Diego before moving to East County. The chef formerly worked as a top chef at Saddle Peak Lodge in Calabasas, a Michelin-caliber restaurant. If you love barbecue, you’ll want to try out Buckboard’s! 

Buckboard’s is famous for their Santa Maria-style slow-cooked barbecue, with meat that is brined and marinated for five days before being cooked over the open flames. 

They also have a full range of craft beers as well as some good wines. 

RSVPs are required so the restaurant can be prepared with a feast for our hungry members and guests!

RSVP: editor@eastcountymagazine.org or call 619 698 7617.

 

EL CAJON FIRE WAS CAUSED BY HASH LAB EXPLOSION

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

 

May 17, 2019 (El Cajon) – Last night’s major fire at 920 El Cajon Blvd. in El Cajon was caused by an explosion at an illegal hash oil extraction lab which caused burn injuries to one victim. The explosion occurred less than two weeks after a hash oil lab exploded in Mira Mesa, seriously injuring three people.

FORMER TEACHER AT CHRISTIAN HIGH SCHOOL IN EL CAJON ARRESTED FOR RAPES

 
 
East County News Service
 
May 17, 2019 (El Cajon) – The Sheriff’s Department arrested Dustin Sniff, a.k.a. Dustin Stevens, a former teacher at Christian High School in El Cajon, on May 15. He is charged with rape and sexual assault of a minor. Six victims ranged from 16 to 22 years of age, including two of his students.

ATTORNEY CORY BRIGGS REPRESENTS EAST COUNTY MAGAZINE IN ACTION AGAINST CAJON VALLEY SCHOOL BOARD

“Based on your agency’s history of deleting audio recordings of board meetings, it has become necessary for reporters to record the meetings because your agency cannot be trusted to carry out this basic governance function.Now that all board members are on notice of the fact that the public must perform this function, any member’s participation in a meeting at which the public has been thwarted in its efforts to make a recording will subject the member to criminal prosecution.” – Attorney Cory Briggs, in a letter to the CVUSD.

By Miriam Raftery

Photo:  ECM's recording device, a cell-phone sized recorder on a small tripod next to the front left seat, is clearly not obstructive or disruptive at the May 7 board workshop.

May 17, 2019 (El Cajon) – “Despite lawfully occupying open seats in the front  row, reporters have been threatened with arrest, removal, or both if they did not move to the back of the room,” states a letter sent by Attorney Cory Briggs of Briggs Law Corporation to Cajon Valley Union School District yesterday on behalf of East County Magazine. His letter makes clear that such conduct is “flatly illegal.”

On May 7, Ryan Love, safety and security officer for the district, ordered ECM contributing editor Paul Kruze and editor Miriam Raftery to move to the back, where we explained that audio recordings would not turn out due to noise from an air conditioner and the audience. We refused to comply with this illegal request. 

On May 14, Love again demanded that Kruze move from the front row to the back, and Kruze again refused. Kruze says he was told that an El Cajon Police officer would be called to arrest him.

BUSINESSMAN AND PLANNING COMMISSIONER PHIL ORTIZ APPOINTED TO FILL FORMER EL CAJON COUNCILMAN KALASHO’S SEAT

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

May 17, 2919 (El Cajon) --In a unanimous vote, the El Cajon City Council on Tuesday approved planning commissioner and businessman David “Phil” Ortiz to fill the seat formerly held by Ben Kalasho. Ortiz edged out three other finalists for the position: Richard Agundez, Anthony Sottile, and Humbert Cabrera.

Other applicants were Gladys “Jo” Alegria, Juan Barajas, Richard Campbell, Margaret Carlson, Estela De Los Rio, James Elia, Mark Jamil, former El Cajon Mayor Mark Lewis, Amanda McGimpsey, Juan Carlos, Mercado, Michelle Metschel, Abraham Muheize, Nancy Wilson, and Steven Woods. Community activist Stephanie Harper dropped out of the race at Tuesday’s meeting. See our prior coverage for highlights on all 22 candidates.

Owner and CEO of New Earth Energy Specialists Inc. and a pastor of Foothills Church, Ortiz is also an active community volunteer. He serves on the San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce board of directors and is founding member of the El Cajon Community Clean Up Group.  He has a B.A. degree in criminal justice administration from SDSU and a master’s in organizational management with emphasis in public administration.

According to his application with the city, his top priorities are public safety, including making retention of officers a priority, homelessness, including partnering with local organizations and having metrics to determine programs effectiveness, and having a balanced budget plus revitalization and incentivization to build on vacant lots.

Watch a streaming video of Tuesday’s evening's council session here and scroll down for details.

AUTO DEALERSHIP FIRE DOUSED IN EL CAJON; BURN VICTIM TRANSPORTED TO UCSD MEDICAL CENTER



Updated at 11:02 with information on burn victim and estimated damge.

May 16, 2019 (El Cajon) -- A major fire has caused an estimated $100,000 of damage to a  structure at the New 2 You Autos used vehicle dealership at 930 El Cajon Blvd. near Washington in El Cajon tonight.  The fire is now extinguished.

The fire was reported at 9:13 p.m. by a caller from a nearby Walmart who was involved in the fire. He has been transported to the UCSD Medical Center burn unit.

Division Chief Mike Chasin told the press that this is the second fire at a car dealership recently, following a fire at a Mercedes Benz dealership last week.

Chemicals were found at the scene tonight and an arson investigation will be done, Chief Chasen confirms.. ECM reporter Paul Kruze reports at least eight fire engines were present to battle the blaze. A Hazmat unit arrived at 10:45 p.m. 

CAJON VALLEY BOARD ATTACKS MEDIA, DECLINES TO RECONSIDER OTERO CONSTRUCTION CONTRACT DESPITE CONFLICT OF INTEREST QUESTIONS

By Miriam Raftery and Paul Kruze

May 15, 2019 (El Cajon) – The Cajon Valley Union School District stepped up its war on the media during its May 7th board workshop.  A guard demanded that East County Magazine editor Miriam Raftery and contributing editor Paul Kruze move from the front row to the back, in a clear effort to prevent the investigative journalists from recording an audible copy of the meeting. Both refused, citing First Amendment freedom of the press and the district’s continued non-compliance with California public records act requests to receive audios of past meetings.

 At a subsequent meeting May 14, the guard repeated this demand for Kruze to move out of a front row seat, even threatening to the El Cajon Police for “disruption” if he would not comply. Kruze’s recording device is inobtrusive, about the size of a cell phone. There is nothing inherently disruptive about a journalist quietly recording a meeting, which is a right guaranteed to any citizen by the California Ralph M. Brown Act, the state’s public records act.

These intimidation tactics come after the board admitted destroying recordings of public meetings despite our requests for the recordings.  After receiving a cease and desist letter from an attorney at CalAware, the board on March 29 responded with a letter agreeing to comply with the law, as we reported, but has not done so. The board also voted to retain recordings for a year and make copies available on request. But the  district’s lawyer claims our more records request, along with other emails sent to multiple  people at the district, all went to a spam folder.

Audio: 

Board Workshop Public Comments
Board Workshop complete

REVIEW OF “FAILURE: A LOVE STORY" - A CELEBRATION OF LIFE AT GROSSMONT COLLEGE THROUGH MAY 27

 

 

By Kathy Carpenter

Reviewer for sdtheatrereviews.com

May 12, 2019 (La Mesa) - "It is February 1928. And it is the last year of each of the Fail Sisters' lives." Grossmont College Presents "Failure: A Love Story," directed by Brian Rickel. In the opening scene for the first time on stage, this production announces the death of the three sisters. One by a blunt object, one by disappearance and one by consumption.

ALS FIESTA, A FUNDRAISING DINNER AT SYCUAN CASINO MAY 23, HONORS LEGENDARY NBA COACH DON CASEY OF LA MESA

 

 

East County News Service

May 13, 2019 (El Cajon) – The ALS Association Greater San Diego Chapter will present its 2019 ALS Fiesta, the chapter’s annual major fundraising dinner at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 23 at Sycuan Casino, 5469 Casino Way, El Cajon.  Sycuan Casino is the event’s presenting sponsor.

EL CAJON’S FREE MOVIES IN THE PARK LINEUP ANNOUNCED FOR SUMMER

 

 

East County News Service

May 8, 2019 (El Cajon) — El Cajon’s popular movies in the park are coming back due to popular demand.  You can enjoy nine summer movies from June through August (free!) at parks across the city. Below is the schedule of movie showings:

EAST COUNTY PREP BASEBALL: INGRASSIA’S BONUS BALL DOUBLE GIVES VALHALLA THIRD CONSECUTIVE LEAGUE CROWN

 

 

By Adam Paul, ecpreps.com

Photos by Don De Mars

May 7, 2019 (El Cajon) - With the game in extra innings and tied at 0-0 in the bottom of the eighth inning, Joseph Ingrassia (left, 1-2, RBI, 2B) came up and smashed a double to score the game-winning run for the Norsemen on Monday afternoon.

SUPERINTENDENT MIYASHIRO BLASTS STORY ON OTERO CONTRACTING CONTROVERSY, DECLINES TO TAKE ANY ACTION TO ADDRESS DISCLOSURE OR CONFLICT OF INTEREST ISSUES

 

 

By Miriam Raftery, Editor, East County Magazine

 

May 6, 2019 (El Cajon) – Cajon Valley Union School District Superintendent David Miyashiro, Ed.D., sent a blistering editorial in an e-mail to East County Magazine, board members and others blasting our article on board President Tamara Otero’s failure to disclose that her son owned a company that received a $665,000 contract.   He did not list any actions planned to address Otero’s lack of disclosure and transparency.

DRIVE-BY SHOOTING INJURES VICTIM IN EAST COUNTY; AUTHORITIES SEEK WHITE SUV

 
 
By Miriam Raftery
 
May 6, 2019 (El Cajon) – The driver of a white Ford Explorer or Expedition SUV fired a shotgun into a vehicle on Los Coches Road in unincorporated El Cajon near the I-8 freeway shortly before midnight last night.  Shotgun pellets struck a rear passenger in the face and head.

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