EAST COUNTY ROUNDUP: TOP LOCAL AND STATE NEWS

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December 26, 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

East County redevelopment funding announced (U-T San Diego)

December 19, 2012--LA MESA

Requested: $1,085,321

Approved: $335,321

San Diego’s Biggest Park Gets Even Bigger (KPBS)

December 21, 2012--Mission Trails Park is what San Diego used to be. Its 5,800 acres of mountains and river valley let people imagine a countryside that is untouched by modern life. And now, Mission Trails will add another piece of wilderness in the city, as one of biggest urban parks in the United States will get even bigger.

"It's been really untouched for a long, long time. And it's a really nice section of open space out here," said Matt Sanford, senior park ranger for Mission Trails Regional Park.

San Diego Kaiser Hospital Fined For Removing Wrong Kidney (KPBS)

December 20, 2012--A San Diego hospital was among 10 medical centers across the state that were assessed administrative penalties today for actions that caused, or could have caused serious injury or death to patients. According to state Department of Public Health officials, Kaiser Foundation Hospital failed to follow surgical policies and procedures in 2010, leading to a surgeon removing the wrong kidney from an 85-year-old man.

El Cajon PIO stayed at hotel with Hanson-Cox (U-T San Diego)

December 19, 2012--El Cajon’s city information officer, Monica Zech, went along for a two-night, $9,000 hotel stay with former Councilwoman Jillian Hanson-Cox, sentenced this month to 30 months in prison for embezzlement from the manufacturer that employed her.

Hanson-Cox paid for the stay with the proceeds of her theft, according to court documents.

San Diego Boy Scout Council Wins Lease Discrimination Lawsuit, Leases to Continue at Balboa Park and Fiesta Island (Mission Times Courier)

December 20, 2012--A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals today said the City of San Diego can continue leasing the Boy Scouts of America lower-than-normal rents in Balboa Park even though the BSA bars atheists and gays.

The Desert Pacific Council, a nonprofit corporation chartered by the Boy Scouts of America, leases land — at a cost of $1 a year — from the City of San Diego for a camp and an aquatic center.

City wins tentative ruling in pension case (U-T San Diego)

December 20, 2012-- A judge Thursday issued a tentative ruling blocking a state law mandating most new San Diego city workers get Social Security benefits rather than leaving that up to bargaining units to negotiate under the city’s new retirement plan.

The ruling by San Diego County Superior Court Judge Joan M. Lewis suggests she’ll approve a preliminary injunction sought by City Attorney Jan Goldsmith.

A roadmap to SANDAG’s transportation plans (Voice of San Diego)

December 20, 2012--If there's one thing proponents and opponents of the San Diego Association of Governments'40-year transportation blueprint agree on, it’s the idea that transit needs to be understood from the broadest possible perspective.

But from that wide-view lens a 40-year, $200 billion plan feels more like a theoretical exercise, not a reinvention of the way we move about the region.

STATE

Feds reject Calif. request for education waiver (Sacramento Bee)

December 21, 2012--California's top education official says the federal government has rejected the state's request for a waiver from parts of the U.S. Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said in a letter sent Friday to local superintendents that a formal denial has not been issued, but education officials told him the request would be rejected.

Second audit of State Parks finds more mystery money (Sacramento Bee)

December 21, 2012--Another new audit of the California Department of Parks and Recreation found yet more mystery money -- this time $3.9 million in a fund for donations which had no assigned purpose.

The audit by the state Department of Finance, released Friday, found the money in the State Park Contingency Fund, created to collect private donations to the state parks system. Each donation is supposed to have a project number assigned to it to ensure it is spent for the purpose intended by the donor.

2,600 Medi-Cal cards sent to wrong families (Sacramento Bee)

December 22, 2012--California health officials say they sent more than 2,600 Medi-Cal benefit ID cards to the wrong families but there's little chance of the mistake leading to fraud or identity theft.

The Department of Health Care Services says the cards, which included names and birthdates, were for children in the Healthy Families insurance program who will be switched to Medi-Cal next month.

Lawmakers target key environmental law for overhaul (U-T San Diego)

December 23, 2012--Signed by Republican Gov. Ronald Reagan and strengthened by a series of court rulings and legislation, California’s bedrock environmental law in recent years has been slowly chiseled in response to the bleak economy and flurries of litigation that have compounded costs for developers and public agencies.

But this could be a watershed moment for the California Environmental Quality Act as powerful Democrats and their staunch allies return to the Capitol in January to explore legislation that could remove some of the law’s formidable legal barriers to projects while still making sure environmental safeguards do not crumble.

Pot farm boom slams Northern Calif. environment (Sacramento Bee)

December 24, 2012--From water-siphoning to pesticide-spraying to just plain littering, a flowering of pot farms driven by the rise of medical marijuana is battering Northern California's wilderness areas, natural resources and endangered species.

The Los Angeles Times reported Sunday that in one remote, 37-square mile forest patch, scientists found 567 outdoor farms and greenhouses.

Most used water - totaling about 18 million gallons per year - diverted from an Eel River tributary, spawning ground for the endangered coho salmon.

California farmers, residents to get more water (Sacramento Bee)

December 21, 2012--California residents and farmers can expect to receive more of the water they requested for next year, thanks to early storms that replenished reservoirs and built up the snowpack.

The state Department of Water Resources said Friday that State Water Project contractors will get 40 percent of their requested deliveries for 2013. That's up from the 30 percent announced at the end of November.

The contractors supply water to more than 25 million residents and nearly a million acres of farmland.