November 14, 2010 --EAST COUNTY ROUNDUP highlights top news stories of interest to East County published in other media.
Most recent Roundup headlines include:
• Challenging Sempra resort got him terminated,ex-controller says
• California budget shifts mental health responsibility to schools (impacts special education kids)
• Ex-controller says Sempra paid bribes in Mexico
• Planners oppose parts of County update
• Lakeside man one of five state teachers of the year
• Water officials and their wasteful ways
• Some water officials get paid to go to festivals, movies
• Burrowing owls becoming more rare around County
CHALLENGING SEMPRA RESORT GOT HIM TERMINATED, EX-CONTROLLER SAYS
November 13, 2010 (San Diego Union-Tribune)-- — Here along jagged bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean, just south of the only liquefied natural gas plant on the west coast of North America, a luxury-appointed, mission-style resort has risen from the coastal scrubland.
Hidden behind miles of fencing and razor wire, Casa Azul is a little-known project of Sempra Energy, whose chief executive Donald Felsinger personally approved construction of the $17 million-plus private conference center, according to work orders obtained by The Watchdog.
CALIFORNIA BUDGET SHIFTS MENTAL HEALTH RESPONSIBILITY TO SCHOOLS
November 12, 2010 (Santee.Patch.com)--Gov. Schwarzenegger's veto of funding for mental health services for special education and emotionally disturbed students is continuing to draw backlash from parents and school districts throughout the state.
A specific veto item to the state's fiscal year 2011 budget remains a topic of concern for parents of special needs children and the school districts that educate them.
Funding for Assembly Bill 3632, which mandates the state fund county mental health departments in order to provide mental health services for special needs and severely emotionally disturbed students was blue-penciled by the governor on Oct. 8.
EX-CONTROLLER SAYS SEMPRA PAID BRIBES IN MEXICO
The company says accusations are false, and $8,200 payment was legitimate
November 12, 2010 (San Diego Union-Tribune)--A former executive in Baja California has sued for wrongful termination, claiming he was fired for raising too many questions about bribes and other business practices south of the border.
PLANNERS OPPOSE PARTS OF COUNTY UPDATE
Ramona Community Planning Group (RCPG) opposes specific components of the county’s General Plan Update.
November 11, 2010 (Ramona Sentinel)--In a letter to planning group Chair Chris Anderson and Secretary Kristi Mansolf, Devon Muto from the county’s Department of Planning and Land Use (DPLU) said the county supervisors wanted to obtain official positions from each community planning and sponsor group on such components as the Land Use Map, the Conservation Subdivision Program, minimum lot sizes in community plans, and any other issues of concern.
LAKESIDE MAN ONE OF FIVE STATE TEACHERS OF THE YEAR
November 12, 2010 (San Diego Union-Tribune--A second-generation PE teacher from Lakeside has been named one of five California Teachers of the Year today and will go on to compete for the national honor.
Darin Curtis, who teaches eighth-grade Physical Education at Tierra del Sol Middle School, was recognized as one of San Diego County’s Teachers of the Year last month. He said the achievement honors his late father, Ed Curtis, who taught PE at Tierra de Sol for 25 years.
WATER OFFICIALS AND THEIR WASTEFUL WAYS
November 9, 2010 (San Diego Union-Tribune) -- It’s an aggravating fact of life about California government: When small, obscure agencies are scrutinized, they are commonly found to act in wasteful ways. The Sunday U-T Watchdog story on stipends given to many members of local water boards was a classic example. At a time when water rates are constantly going up, these officials should be hypersensitive on spending questions. Instead, many seem indifferent.
The worst by far were Helix Water District board members, who collected an average of $17,480 in stipends in 2009. They are compensated $200 per meeting or per event they attend as district representatives, sometimes showing up five-strong at the same Chamber of Commerce breakfast.
SOME WATER OFFICIALS GET PAID TO GO TO FESTIVALS, MOVIES
November 6, 2010 (San Diego Union-Tribune)-- One local water board member billed his agency $150 for his attendance at a movie. Another charged $130 for doing a media interview. Three members of one board were paid $150 each to go to a holiday parade.
BURROWING OWLS BECOMING MORE RARE AROUND COUNTY
November 7, 2010 (San Diego Union-Tribune)--Burrowing owls in San Diego County — counted at 500 to 600 about 30 years ago — now number in the double digits at only a handful of sites.
Over the years, their continuing decline across California, the American West and Canada has been linked to the reduction of food sources, disappearance of habitat and deaths of burrowing mammals that historically have provided the owls shelter.