EAST COUNTY ROUNDUP: TOP LOCAL AND STATE NEWS

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November 20, 2012  --  (San Diego’s East County)--East County Roundup highlights top stories of interest to East County and San Diego’s inland regions, published in other media. This week’s top “Roundup” headlines include:

STATE

LOCAL

Read more for excerpts and links to full stories.

STATE

California’s deficit shrinks to $1.9 billion (San Francisco Chronicle)

November 14, 2012 -- California appears finally to be waking up from its long budget nightmare.

After years of double-digit deficits, the state will face just a $1.9 billion budget gap next year, according to the Legislative Analyst's Office. Projections for future years show billions of dollars in surpluses.

California job growth drops jobless rate to 10.1% (Sacramento Bee)

November 17, 2012 -- The contrast is striking: California's broad-based economic recovery has driven unemployment to its lowest level in nearly four years, but Sacramento is losing another blue-collar industrial mainstay.

State officials reported Friday that California unemployment dropped to 10.1 percent in October amid a fresh surge in job growth in multiple sectors of the economy. The state's top economist said the state is creating jobs at a pace not seen since early 2001.

Proposed wind farm near Joshua Tree National Monument cancelled (Rewire)

November 19, 2012 -- A proposed wind turbine installation that would have covered more than 63,000 acres of the California desert on the eastern edge of Joshua Tree National Park has been canceled by the Bureau of Land Management, ReWire has learned. The project, which would have spanned the Cadiz and Palen valleys in the eastern desert, was canceled during its initial meteorological testing phase due to non-compliance with BLM reporting requirements.

California moves full speed ahead with health care exchange  (Sacramento Bee)

November 18, 2012 -- Since the waning days of former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's administration, California has pushed to become the earliest adopter of President Barack Obama's health care plan.

But it wasn't until Obama's re-election this month that state officials were fully confident their plans would take flight.

Study: California refineries operated during periods blamed for gas spikes (McClatchy News)

 November 14, 2012 -- West Coast gasoline price spikes in May and October were widely blamed on refinery outages, but new research to be released at a California hearing Thursday shows that refiners continued to produce gasoline in periods when the public was told the contrary.

The information, shared exclusively with McClatchy, comes from Oregon-based McCullough Research, which combed through thousands of pages of environmental documents to conclude that refineries were in fact operating during supposed outages and maintenance shutdowns.

New CSU Chancellor requests 10% pay cut (Sacramento Bee)

November 14, 2012 -- Timothy P. White, California State University's incoming chancellor, has requested a 10 percent pay cut, saying in a letter to trustees, that he hopes the move will send a signal that "public higher education matters to all of us, and that we each must play a part in the rebuilding."

CSU's board of trustees met today in Long Beach to approve White's compensation package. He was in line to receive the same pay as outgoing Chancellor Charles Reed: a $421,500 salary plus a $30,000 supplement from CSU foundations. After rounding the pay cut White requested to his base salary, he will be paid $380,000 plus the $30,000 supplement.

Jerry Brown tells University of California to ‘get more grounded’ (Sacramento Bee)

November 14, 2012 -- Gov. Jerry Brown prodded University of California regents today to pursue online course offerings to reduce costs, saying the state's premier university system must "get more grounded" in its approach to education.

The Democratic governor's remarks came at a meeting of the UC's governing board, which postponed a vote on fee increases at Brown's request.

Brown had said in his campaign to raise taxes that his initiative, Proposition 30, would avert tuition increases this year. The measure's passage, however, does not prevent universities from raising other fees.

Cailfornia’s new parks director vows ‘absolute integrity’ (Sacramento Bee)

November 17, 2012 -- California's new state parks director was sworn in Friday amid hopeful applause and assurances of fiscal integrity.

Anthony L. Jackson, 63, a retired Marine Corps major general, takes over amid turmoil in the department after officials were discovered to have hidden $54 million in two special funds – even as the state moved to close 70 parks to achieve $22 million in savings. Former Director Ruth Coleman resigned and others were fired or reassigned. Two investigations are ongoing.

LOCAL

El Cajon city councilman’s home is target of pre-election day shooting (East County Californian)

November 14, 2012 -- On Nov. 2nd, Councilman Bill Well’s home in El Cajon was the target of a shooting by an unknown shooter. A shot was fired through an upstairs window that penetrated the screen and shattered the glass door of the bathroom shower. Wells and his family were absent from the home at the time of the shooting.

According to Wells, around 6:00 p.m. that evening, he received a phone call from his houseguest saying that she heard glass shattering from the upstairs room. Upon returning home, Wells examined the scene and noticed a hole through the window screen where a trajectory had entered causing the damage.

San Diego County Sheriff refuses to release drone documents (MuckRock News)

November 15, 2012 -- As part of MuckRock and Electronic Frontier Foundation’s ongoing Drone Census, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department received the same Freedom of Information request sent to agencies across the country.

Like many agencies, the Sheriff’s office responded that they had no documents relating to drones. But in this case, MuckRock discovered there were responsive documents — which were only released by a different city.

These documents detailing San Diego’s drone interest were received from the Seattle Police Department, which, while detailing its own aerial drone program, showed clear evidence of drone interest from the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.

Lawsuit could threaten San Diego water supplies (U-T San Diego)

November 14, 2012 --  A Sacramento Superior Court judge heard final arguments Wednesday in a complex lawsuit with far-reaching consequences for future water supplies and rates in San Diego County.

Imperial County supervisors and the Imperial County Air Pollution District claim that Southern California water brokers skirted environmental laws in a frantic push to secure a hard-fought and costly deal to reduce the state’s dependency on an over-tapped Colorado River.

Foreclosure registry measure passes in San Diego (U-T San Diego)

November 13, 2012 -- Banks will now have to register San Diego city homes in the foreclosure process into a tracking database starting early next year.

The new requirement, approved by the City Council on Tuesday on a 5-3 vote, is meant to help city code enforcement officers track and address potential problem properties, which could trigger crime, safety issues and drops in property values. Council members Kevin Faulconer, Carl DeMaio and Lorie Zapf opposed the measure.

An evening of pot and pot shots (La Mesa Today)

 November 13, 2012 -- Tuesday afternoon's gathering of the La Mesa City Council was, from a purely news perspective, a pretty light gruel.

Local proponents of medical marijuana came in with enough signatures to force a referendum in 2014 and featured a talk by local canabis supporter Vey Linville (see photo above), speaking with the aid of oxygen, adding that "I drink canabis medicine so I can breathe.''

What followed was a long, drawn out discussion that led to the legal inevitability -- that there will be a public vote on the issue in 2014.

Pot dispensaries headed for La Mesa ballot (U-T San Diego)

November 13, 2012 --  More than 5,000 registered voters in La Mesa signed a petition to put the opening of medical marijuana dispensaries on the 2014 election ballot, and the La Mesa City Council agreed at Tuesday night’s council meeting to do just that.

The petition asks for an amendment to the city’s Municipal Code allowing the “compassionate use dispensaries” in specific zones in the city, to be regulated by the Community Development Department.

City Council OKs 5-Story Apartment Complex at Town Center RiverView  (Santee Patch)

November 15, 2012 -- City Council unanimously approved construction of the largest structures in Santee at Wednesday's meeting- two four-story and one five-story building that will make up the 172-unit "Parc One" apartment complex at the RiverView development site in Town Center.

Grading will begin on the $38 million project in March of next year, with construction starting in June, according to Joe Werner, CEO of JMR Real Estate Group, the company constructing the apartments. "Parc One" is scheduled to be completed 14 months after construction begins, late summer of 2014.

Hospice threatened by Medicare audit (U-T San Diego)

November 12, 2012 -- San Diego Hospice, which handles end-of-life care for 4,000 patients a year, temporarily stopped accepting new patients over the weekend as it copes with financial problems brought to light by a federal Medicare audit.

The temporary suspension, which lasted from Friday to Monday, is but one piece of a larger set of problems at San Diego County’s largest hospice program. Those issues could force San Diego Hospice to return millions of dollars to Medicare, Chief Executive Kathleen Pacurar said.

Dueling groups rally for Israelis, Palestinians (U-T San Diego)

November 18, 2012 -- As Israeli and Palestinian forces exchange airstrikes and rocket fire 7,000 miles away, groups on both sides of the divide exchanged messages and criticism during dueling demonstrations Sunday afternoon in San Diego.

On one side there was Rachel Baranes, whose cousin was killed in a Hamas rocket attack in Southern Israel on Thursday. She, and a crowd of crowd of about 1,000 people, including several local politicians, rallied in support of Israel’s right to defend itself from rocket attacks in the escalating conflict between Israel and Hamas forces in the Gaza Strip.

Where did Obama, Romney do best in the county? (U-T San Diego, interactive precinct map)

November 13, 2012 -- A map of the election night returns for the presidential race in San Diego shows President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney battled most evenly for precincts in the northern portions of the county.

The map shows where each candidate garnered the largest percentages of the vote, and the most varied patchwork of red and blue is in North County.

Former Rep. Hunter supports work ethic of BP agent who killed woman (10 News)

November 14, 2012 -- Team 10 discovered a powerful former congressman recommended a man for a job as a federal Border Patrol agent, despite the man's former law enforcement supervisors describing him as someone "who cannot be trusted with a badge or a gun." The retired politician also knew about the man's work history in law enforcement as a sheriff's deputy.



Former Congressman Duncan Hunter invited Team 10 into his home, and said Justin Tackett did a great job for him and his office. Tackett worked for Hunter before he went to work for the federal government. Hunter hired Tackett as a community liaison for his office as historic wildfires raged across San Diego County in 2003.

Lakeside youth goes from a coma onto the stage (UT-San Diego)

November 14, 2012 -- The show is called “Big River,” but it could as well be “Miracle on Espola Road.” The lead role of Huck Finn in a musical at the Poway Center for the Performing Arts Saturday and Sunday will be played by a Lakeside youth who, 17 months ago, was in a coma.

Few would have predicted that Grossmont College freshman Harold Wise, who nearly died from a severe brain injury, would be memorizing a script and performing on stage with a youth theater group after his head banged against the pavement during a party scuffle.