EAST COUNTY ROUNDUP: TOP LOCAL AND STATE NEWS

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version Share this

December 19, 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:

LOCAL

STATE

Read more for excerpts and links to full stories.

LOCAL

Mayor Filner calls San Diego Summit in response to Sandy Hook shooting (San Diego Free Press)

December 19, 2012--Mayor Bob Filner, along with representatives from the San Diego Police Department and San Diego Unified, hosted a sit-down yesterday to talk about local responses and precautions in the wake of Friday’s school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.

The Mayor cited his own struggle over talking with his two grandchildren about the Sandy Hook tragedy as being a motivation for calling the meeting.  Police Chief William Landsdowne mentioned his opposition to legal assault weapons as the video tape from NBCNews7 rolled, quickly qualifying his statement as being a political matter not necessarily germane to the matters at hand.

Lemon Grove supports assault weapon ban (U-T San Diego)

December 18, 2012--The Lemon Grove City Council on Tuesday night spoke out on the issue of gun violence.

In the wake of Friday’s tragic events in Newtown, Conn., Lemon Grove Mayor Mary Sessom called a special meeting to address legislation proposed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein to reinstate the federal ban on assault weapons.

As Loans Come Due, District Asks Ramona Teachers to Sacrifice (Voice of San Diego)

December 18, 2012--Teachers at the Ramona Unified School District are being asked to take a salary decrease of almost 10 percent, in part to help the district pay for loans it took out to build new facilities.

As we outlined in this story last week, the small rural district took out millions of dollars in loans to build new schools and upgrade facilities. The officials who took out those loans hoped to pass a bond measure to pay off their debts. But the conservative community has repeatedly refused to pass a bond, and rejected the latest measure in November. Now the loans are coming due.

The $900 million question re: San Diego’s crumbling infrastructure (U-T San Diego)

December 15, 2012--Part of the price San Diegans paid for the fiscal irresponsibility of city leaders in years past was the inability of City Hall to finance the repair of streets, sidewalks, storm drains, fire houses, rec centers and other municipal infrastructure. The resulting backlog in such projects was estimated in February at nearly $900 million – $478 million for streets, $235 million for storm drains, and $185 million for buildings. Sadly, despite an improved financial standing today, the city still can’t keep pace with the deterioration. The infrastructure is crumbling faster than it can be fixed, and that staggering dollar figure continues to grow.

Grossmont Students Witness Courtroom Assault By Defendant on Attorney (La Mesa Patch)

December 13, 2012--A group of about 20 students from Grossmont High School witnessed the assault of a defense attorney by the man he was representing. The students were in the downtown courtroom as part of a class field trip.

The defendant allegedly attacked his attorney during a criminal trial in San Diego Superior Court, slashing him on the cheek with a razor he apparently had smuggled into the courtroom, authorities said.

Disgraced U.S. Rep Cunningham released to halfway house (U-T San Diego)

December 12, 2012-- Former Republican Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham, who has been in federal prison since admitting to taking bribes, has been transferred to a halfway house in New Orleans for the final few months of his prison term.

Cunningham, 71, was transferred from the federal prison in Tucson, Ariz., on Dec. 5, according to Edmond Ross, a spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.

UC San Diego Researchers Create A 'Designer' Cancer Drug With Algae (KPBS)

December 12, 2012--The potential of algae for use as a biofuel has been intriguing scientists for years. Now another use for these simple aquatic organisms is being developed and it could revolutionize the treatment of disease.

Biologists at UC San Diego are announcing today they have succeeded in genetically engineering algae so it produces a drug to treat cancer.

La Mesa party of the century will be pricey, exclusive affair on Jan. 12 (La Mesa Patch)

December 12, 2012--Ending a year of festivities, La Mesa’s Party of the Century will be a pricey affair at $100 a ticket. Some will pay $200 for a VIP reception.

The event—a month from today at the La Mesa Community Center—serves as a key fundraiser for the Centennial Legacy Project. But it won’t be a citywide celebration.

Think You Can Fix Local Government? Apply To Be Part of County Grand Jury (La Mesa Patch)

December 11, 2012--San Diego court officials are looking for dedicated citizens willing to spend a year studying local government and recommending fixes as part of the county's grand jury for 2013-14.

The 19-member civil grand jury, to be chosen in June, looks at the functioning of governmental agencies, often in response to allegations of wrongdoing, and serves in a "watchdog" capacity. They will work four days a week and meet at the Hall of Justice downtown.

Gun dealer near Murray Manor School: ‘My heart weighs very heavy’ for town (La Mesa Patch)

December 14, 2012--Like millions of Americans, the longtime friends who run a year-old business in the Lake Murray Shopping Center were shocked by news of 20 schoolchildren and six adults being shot to deathin Newtown, CT.

But their perspective is unique—as owners of a shop selling high-powered guns a block away from Murray Manor Elementary School.

Couple appeals $700 water bills, calls usage claim ‘physically impossible’  ( Ramona Patch) 

December 12, 2012--Rick and Debi Carter say the Ramona Municipal Water District mistakenly billed them twice for more than $700, but the water board said they’re responsible to pay their bills.

The Carters spoke to the board at its meeting Tuesday, asking for forgiveness of their August and October water bills.

Evaluating Homelessness, as Far as the Eye Can See and Count (Voice of San Diego)

December 13, 2012--Last year, the mayor of Santee, Randy Voepel, took issue with a 2011 count that said Santee had 58 homeless people living there.

He sent a letter to the group that coordinates a yearly count of the county’s homeless people, the Regional Task Force on the Homeless. The Santee Patch included a taste of the less-than-warm epistolary tone the mayor struck.

Who should pay for SDG&E wildfires? (U-T San Diego)

December 15, 2012--A key decision is now in front of the California Public Utilities Commission – whether to provide San Diego Gas & Electric Company an express lane to be reimbursed by ratepayers for future fires they start. Known as “WEBA,” the Wildfire Expense Balancing Account, this SDG&E application would establish a mechanism by which over 90 percent of uninsured costs arising from future wildfires started by the utility would be paid by customers. The battle over this ill-conceived plan has been going on for more than three years, pitting local groups and ratepayer advocates against the utility. At stake is not only the safety of backcountry San Diegans, but many hundreds of dollars from every SDG&E customer’s pocket.

After just a year, Gingham may be selling (La Mesa Today)

December 16, 2012--After just a year in business, it looks like Top Chef Brian Malarkey's foray into East County may be ending.

Regulars at Gingham Restaurant were being told to expect a sale, perhaps as early as this week, to the Cohn Restaurant Group, which operates a number of leading restaurants around San Diego including the Prado in Balboa Park and Island Prime on Harbor Island.

Gingham, which last week suffered a small, exterior fire, had reduced its hours in recently shifting to "winter hours" which eliminated a number of lunches. James Brennan, the partner of Chef Malarkey, in the Gingham location, told San Diego Magazine this week that he was in talks with the Cohn Group to sell the restaurant.

STATE

Federal appeals court OKs lower payments to Medi-Cal providers (Sacramento Bee)

December 13, 2012--The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled today that California can cut rates to doctors, pharmacists and other providers for serving Medi-Cal patients, overturning a lower court decision that blocked a state budget cut from last year.

A three-judge appeals court panel determined that U.S. Health and Human Services SecretaryKathleen Sebelius has authority to determine whether California and other states can cut Medicaid rates -- the federal program of which Medi-Cal is part -- and still comply with the program's rules. 

Doctors Livid About Medi-Cal Pay Cut  (KPBS)

 December 14, 2012--Doctors are shaking their heads about an appeals court decision that allows the state to cut the reimbursement rate for treating Medi-Cal patients. A three-judge panel of the 9th District Court of Appeals ruled California can cut the rate it pays physicians by 10 percent. Doctors say Governor Jerry Brown's decision to cut their pay will hurt access to care.

Surveys show less than half of all primary care doctors in California treat Medi-Cal patients, and less than one-third of specialists do. Physicians say that's because the reimbursement rate is one of the lowest in the nation.

San Diego desalinization impact on Calif.  (SFGate )

December 10,2012--San Diego's water utility voted last month to buy desalinated seawater in order to reduce its reliance on water imported from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. The state should consider whether its $14 billion twin-pipes project to move water around the delta still makes sense.

Is there enough demand for the water to justify the price and size of the twin peripheral pipes project? Or are new water technologies challenging the assumption that there is?

California health officials sound alarm over hookah smoking (Reuters)

December 13, 2012--California public health officials warned on Thursday of a sharp rise in tobacco smoking from hookahs, and a proliferation of cafes and lounges offering the Middle Eastern-style water pipes, which experts say can be at least as harmful as cigarettes.

Hookah smoking among Californians jumped more than 40 percent between 2005 and 2008, said Dr. Ron Chapman, the state director of public health, citing a 2011 state tobacco survey published in the American Journal of Public Health.

UC Suspends Use of Controversial New Logo (KPBS)

December 14, 2012--The University of California is bowing to heavy criticism and suspending the use of a new logo. As Ben Adler reports, the monogram’s modern design sparked complaints from students and alumni.

The UC President’s office insists the logo was never meant for broad external use, just within the university, to distinguish system-wide communications from those of individual campuses. And most of the criticism didn’t come until several months after the logo was first used.

The UC system’s modesty problem (U-T San Diego)

December 12, 2012--The growing controversy over the UC’s new logo follows recent comments from Gov. Jerry Brown that called for more “modesty” from the University of California.

Webster’s dictionary defines modesty as “that lowly temper that accompanies a moderate estimation of one’s own worth and importance.”

I doubt the governor was talking about UC students. They’ve already endured a tripling of tuition and cuts to Cal Grants, with another tuition hike being proposed for next year.

California wins a round in electricity battle with JPMorgan Chase (Sacramento Bee)

December 5, 2012--California won another battle today in its fight with investment bank JPMorgan Chase & Co. over wholesale electricity prices.

A federal agency dismissed JPMorgan's complaint that it was underpaid $3.7 million for electricity last spring by the California Independent System Operator, which runs the state's transmission grid.

California state employees involved in bribery, theft, auditor reports (Sacramento Bee)

December 12, 2012--A bribery scam executed by two California state workers cost the Franchise Tax Board and the secretary of state's office hundreds of thousands of dollars, one of nine instances of employee fraud, abuse or poor management exposed by whistle-blowers in a new state report.

Employees at the Los Angeles field offices of both agencies received thousands of dollars of payments between 2006 and 2008 from a private courier who in turn received hundreds of official letters for his clients without paying document fees of $15 to $20 per letter.

Calif. mall on lockdown after shots were fired U-T San Diego)

December 15, 2012--Police have arrested a man who fired about 50 shots in the parking lot of a Southern California shopping mall, forcing a lockdown of stores.

Newport Beach police spokeswoman Cathy Lowe says 42-year-old Marcos Gurrola fired shots into the air and onto the ground before he was arrested by police officers patrolling around the open-air Fashion Island mall.