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December 12, 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:



Read more for excerpts and links to full stories.


Arson frightens Rancho San Diego family (U-T San Diego)

December 8, 2012--An arsonist set a Rancho San Diego home garage door on fire early Friday, leaving the residents distraught and wondering why they were targeted.

“We love everybody here, everybody loves us, we’re very peaceful,” Usama Georges, 52, owner of the home on Royal Saint James Drive off Hilton Head Road, said Saturday.

“If we had a wooden garage door instead of a steel one, the whole house would be gone. This isn’t just arson, I feel it is attempted murder. I'm very upset. My wife is very scared.”

The fall of the Union-Tribune (Media Matters)

December 6, 2012--It's been just about a year since developer and financier Douglas Manchester bought the San Diego Union-Tribune, the largest newspaper in the city. For some staffers and media observers, it's been the worst year in the paper's eight-decade history.

Manchester, a major Republican Party contributor, and U-T CEO John Lynch have overhauled the once-respected daily into what many consider a front for Manchester's "cheerleading" for business interests and right-wing politics.

Tree-trimming, electric contactors pay $370 million for 2007 wildfires U-T San Diego)

December 3,2012--An electrical contractor and a tree-trimming company have agreed to pay $370 million in settlement agreements for their roles in two devastating 2007 wildfires in San Diego County.

The payments to San Diego Gas & Electric take a bite out wildfire costs that have exceeded insurance by $326 million at last estimate. State utility regulators are nearing a decision that could influence who ultimately gets billed for most of that -- utility customers or investors in San Diego Gas & Electric.

APNewsBreak: Dispute over records at [San Onofre] nuclear plant  (U-T San Diego)

December 7,2012--A federal board Friday ordered the operator of a shuttered nuclear power plant in California to turn over dozens of pages of documents that were withheld when the company submitted a plan to restart one of its damaged twin reactors.

The records at issue were prepared by industry experts who have helped Southern California Edison investigate why the San Onofre plant's nearly new steam generators caused excessive wear to hundreds of tubes that carry radioactive water.

Prop R leaves Ramona schools with no plan B (U-T San Diego)

December 10, 2012--It's nearly impossible to pass a bond measure in the Ramona Unified School District. The small rural district has tried and failed five times now, and it remains the only unified district in San Diego County that's never passed a bond.

Ramona Unified floated a bond in 1974. It failed. The district tried again in 1997, then again in 2002. This year, it tried once more to persuade voters to invest in local schools. In November, Proposition R, which would have raised $66 million, came in about 4 percent short of the 55 percent vote needed.

Congressman Darrell Issa’s home burglarized (KUSI)

December 7, 2012--An investigation was under way Friday into the theft of tens of thousands of dollars worth of jewelry from the Vista home of Republican Congressman Darrell Issa.

The burglary at the home in Vista's upscale Shadowridge neighborhood occurred in the early evening hours of Nov. 29, according to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department, which put the loss at around $100,000. More than 50 items -- watches, rings, earrings, bracelets -- were stolen, U-T San Diego reported.

Natural medical school is latest development in growing trend (U-T San Diego)

December 9, 2012--Whether it’s using St. John’s Wort to fight minor depression or acupuncture to help manage a migraine, experts say San Diego is fertile ground for natural medicine.

In recent years, some of the region’s largest and most traditional health care systems have begun to integrate holistic and homeopathic treatments that use everything from herbs to meditation to fix what ails their patients.

Lemon Grove city hours revamped (U-T San Diego)

December 4, 2012--The City Council voted 4-0 Tuesday to extend Lemon Grove City Hall’s hours Monday through Thursday and close on Fridays.

City Hall, which has been closed every other Friday in 2012, will now be closed every Friday. City employees will work an extra hour in the morning and an extra half-hour in the evening Monday through Thursday. City Hall will be open from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

El Cajon Boulevard changes precursor to revitalization regionwide (U-T San Diego)

December 7, 2012--El Cajon Boulevard, San Diego's main east-west corridor in the pre-freeway days, is about to resume its leading role in regional development -- and may become a model for other major corridors around the county.

That was one of the messages from a breakfast forum held Thursday by the Citizens Coordinate for Century 3 good-planning group.

La Mesa man’s 459 pound tuna biggest of all time? (U-T San Diego)

December 8, 2012--Angler John Petruescu of La Mesa caught a tuna Monday aboard the sport boat Excel out of San Diego that has been estimated by a formula at 459 pounds. At that weight, or anything over 427.9 pounds, it will be the biggest tuna ever landed on rod and reel.

But it won’t be submitted as a world record to the International Game Fish Association because a deckhand on the Excel took Petruescu’s rod and helped him get around the boat’s anchor two times, according to Excel Capt. Justin Fleck in an interview with Phil Friedman on his radio show on Thursday. Petruescu fought the giant for 1 hour and 50 minutes, according to Fleck.

Planning group listens to residents, votes against evacuation lighting (Ramona Patch)

December 11, 2012--After hearing the pleas of residents for no lighting along the proposed evacuation route, the Ramona Community Planning Group voted unanimously against the item at last week's monthly meeting at the library.

Lighting was offered up by San Diego Gas and Electric as a free service along the route, which would carry traffic from state Route 67 along an unpaved road for about a half-mile across property just north of the Ramona Airport owned by the Ramona Municipal Water District. The route dumps onto Highland Valley Road, which runs west into Rancho Bernardo (see attached map).


New UC logo a no go with students and alumni (Los Angeles Times)

December 10,  2012--University of California officials said they were trying to project a "forward-looking spirit" when they replaced the university system's ornate, tradition-clad logo with a sleek, modern one.

What they got was an online revolt complete with mocking memes, Twitter insults and a petition to restore the old logo. Students and alumni have taken to Facebook and Photoshop to express their displeasure, showing the new symbol ready to be flushed down a toilet and as a permanently stalled computer operating system. One critic suggested the controversial image be tattooed on its creators' foreheads as punishment.

Renewed call for probe of Wildlife Services (Sacramento Bee)

December 9, 2012--Two U.S. congressmen are once again calling for a probe of a little-known federal agency called Wildlife Services, citing photos of animal abuse posted on the Internet by an agency employee.

"We are gravely concerned that (the) photographs … do not represent an isolated occurrence, but may reflect a deep-rooted problem within the Wildlife Services program," wrote Reps. John Campbell, an Irvine Republican, and Peter DeFazio, an Oregon Democrat, in a Nov. 30 letter requesting a U.S. Office of Inspector General investigation.

Senator Gaines introduces bill to repeal fire tax (Lakeside News)

December 12, 2012--Sacramento, CA…As his first order of business after being sworn into office yesterday, Senator Ted Gaines (R–Rocklin) introduced legislation that would repeal the fire tax. “This $150 fire tax is illegal and unfair – plain and simple,” said Gaines. “Many rural property owners already pay local fire agencies for protection so it is clearly double-taxation and it is being dumped on the backs of rural Californians when the state has 10-percent unemployment and families are struggling just to make ends meet.”