EAST COUNTY ROUNDUP: TOP LOCAL AND STATE NEWS

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January 16, 2013--(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//REGIONAL

Read more for excerpts and links to full stories.

STATE 

Calif desert aquifers contain high chemical levels (Sacramento Bee)

January 9, 2013--More aquifers in the SouthernCalifornia desert contained high levels of arsenic, boron, fluoride and other naturally occurring elements compared with the rest of the state, a study released Wednesday found.

Federal scientists only looked at the presence of contaminants in raw, untreated groundwater and did not analyze tap water. Water agencies typically treat groundwater supplies to make drinking water and to comply with health standards.

California Poverty Rate Highest in Nation Based on New Census Department Figures(Huffington Post)

November 16, 2012--California has a poverty rate of 23.5 percent, the highest of any state in the country, according to figures released this week by the United States Census Bureau.

The only other geographic region with an equivalent poverty rate is the District of Columbia, with 23.2 percent. The second most poverty-stricken state was Florida, at 19.5 percent.

Judge continues to block part of Calif. Initiative on human trafficking  (Sacramento Bee)

January 11, 2013--A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction on Friday blocking part of a voter-approved ballot initiative related to human trafficking, ruling that the provision likely violates the free speech rights of sex offenders.

U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson's decision keeps in place an existing injunction against a section of Proposition 35 that requires registered sex offenders to give authorities a list of their Internet providers and screen names.

Calif. teachers fund moves to divest from firearms (Sacramento Bee)

January 16, 2013--The nation's largest teacher pension fund is taking the first step toward divesting from companies that manufacture guns and high-capacity magazines that are illegal in California.

The investment committee of the California State Teachers' Retirement System unanimously approved a motion by state Treasurer Bill Lockyer on Wednesday.

Pilfering plastic a booming industry in Calif. (Sacramento Bee)

January 13, 2013--A new breed of thieves is scoring big not with cash, jewels or cars, but empty milk crates.

Southern California is seeing a boom in the theft of crates, pallets, and other easy-to-steal hunks of plastic that are chopped up and sold torecycling centers for totals that investigators estimate at some $5 million annually, theOrange County Register (http://bit.ly/Sp4oIy) reported Sunday.

Can San Andreas Break At Once? Study Says Maybe (AP)

January 10, 2013--Certain earthquake fault segments long thought to be stable may rupture and cause a mega-quake, suggests a new study.

That's what happened during the 2011 magnitude-9 quake in Japan that triggered a tsunami and during the 1999 magnitude-7.6 Chi Chi quake in Taiwan. In both cases, scientists assumed that "creeping" sections of a fault would serve as a buffer and prevent the entire fault from unzipping. But a new study published online Wednesday in the journal Nature suggests this may not always be the case. 

LOCAL//REGIONAL

Gillespie Field Expansion Brings Promise And Controversy(KPBS)

January 14, 2013--It used to be a racetrack. Now, the ghosts of shouting fans and noisy stock cars going 100 mph in the straightaway haunt these 70 acres of flat, open field in El Cajon. What will become of the place that used to be the El Cajon Speedway? One person suggested we could build the new Chargers' stadium here.

Peter Drinkwater laughs when he hears that.

"Well… the FAA would have a lot to say about that!” he said, referring to the Federal Aviation Administration. “I don't think they would allow another 50-year interim use, like the racetrack, for a Chargers' stadium."

Filner’s agenda for change tempered by finances (U-T San Diego)

January 15, 2013--With the city facing a $40 million budget deficit, San Diego Mayor Bob Filner tempered expectations for his first year in office while simultaneously promising to bring about fundamental change to how City Hall operates and interacts with the public during his first State of the City address Tuesday.

Filner didn’t reveal many new details during the 37-minute speech, preferring instead to emphasize the pledges he made during the campaign, such as a renewed focus on neighborhood needs, the installation of solar panels on all city buildings and a more open government.

Murder rises second year in row U-T San Diego)

January 12, 2013--Murder is on the rise for the second straight year in San Diego County, a trend that has left law enforcement officials grappling to find solutions to everything from gang warfare and domestic violence to budget cuts that they say have reduced crime-fighting capabilities.

The county logged 110 murders in 2012, according to data compiled by U-T San Diego. That is a 34 percent increase over the previous year, and a 59 percent rise over 2010, when a decades-low tally of 69 slayings was recorded.

DA: La Mesa doctor is a fake (U-T San Diego)

January 9, 2013--A La Mesa man faces five felony charges, and the possibility of spending more than five years in prison, for allegedly practicing medicine without a license.

Prosecutors arraigned Keith Allen Barton, 50, of La Mesa Wednesday, saying that he “charged thousands of dollars for a phony cure” of HIV and cancer.

According to a statement by San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, Barton pleaded not guilty to three counts of treating patients without a medical license and charges of identity theft and grand theft.

Date set for power plant implosion (UT San Diego)

January 15, 2013--The Port of San Diego has finally set a date for the long-awaited implosion of the now-defunct South Bay Power Plant in Chula Vista.

The implosion, which will last an anticlimactic two minutes or fewer, is scheduled for 7 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 2, “weather and other conditions permitting,” according to a news release from the port. A final decision on whether to proceed will be made that morning, and it will only take place under certain conditions, including wind speeds of 15 mph or less, in order to ensure that water and air quality are protected.

Steps taken for possible restart at Cal nuke plant (Sacramento Bee)

January 15, 2013--After a year of gathering dust and negative headlines, the troubled San Onofre nuclear power plant shows stirrings toward a possible restart, though big barriers remain, officials said.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission senior inspector Greg Warnick said the agency is beginning to prepare a detailed plan of what would need to be done to bring San Onofre safely back to service.

Ground rules set for Somali terrorism trial (U-T San Diego)

January12, 2013--The San Diego trial of four Somali men charged with sending money and support to the terrorist group al-Shabaab is scheduled to begin in federal court this month.

A federal grand jury indicted the men in 2010 on charges of conspiracy, providing material support to terrorists, providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization and money laundering.

How Will Junior Seau's CTE Diagnosis Affect The Next Generation? (KPBS)

January 14, 2013--The National Football League is still reeling fromnews last week that San Diego Charger Junior Seau, who took is own life last May, suffered from chronic brain disease. Doctors say the disease, chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE, can cause a host of mental problems including memory loss, irritability and depression.

Dr. Alexander Khalessi, the director of neurovascular surgery at UC San Diego, told KPBS the only way to diagnose CTE is through an autopsy. He said it's caused by brain injury due to concussion, contact sports or blast trauma.

Local college students turning to ‘sugar daddies?’ (U-T San Diego)

January 14, 2013--Grants, scholarships and now — sugar daddies?

In the face of rising college costs and mounting student debt, more college students are joining an online dating site that bills itself as “the world’s largest Sugar Daddy website.” Student membership increased by more than 50 percent in 2012, Angela Jacob, a spokeswoman with the site said. That includes 57 female students from UC San Diego and 32 members from San Diego State University.

FBI Says Crime Rates Increased Across San Diego Area In First Half Of 2012 (KPBS)

January 14, 2013--Property crime rates went up in the half-dozen largest municipalities in the San Diego area over the first half of 2012, while violent offenses increased in all but two of them, the FBI reported today.

In the city of San Diego, the rate of violent crime -- murder, non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault -- rose by 9.5 percent between Jan. 1 and June 30 of last year, as compared with the comparable period in 2011. The uptick was largely due to the number of aggravated assaults (155), forcible rapes (42) and robberies (38), according to the FBI.

San Diego Lawsuit Says Blue Cross Illegally Targeting HIV/AIDS Patients (KPBS)

January 14, 2013--A class-action lawsuit filed in San Diego Superior Court alleges Blue Cross of California is illegally targeting HIV/AIDS patients and other seriously ill consumers with a new program that bars them from using local pharmacies to get their medications.

Under the new program, HIV/AIDS patients' insurance policies will no longer cover medications at local pharmacies, according to the suit filed Friday by Consumer Watchdog, a nonpartisan consumer advocacy organization with offices in Washington, D.C., and Santa Monica.

City Heights Stuck in the Middle of Filner-Gloria Spat (Voice of San Diego)

January 11, 2013--Tuesday's uncomfortable row between Mayor Bob Filner and Council President Todd Gloria over SANDAG committee assignments left observers reeling. The power tussle over who gets to hand down the recommendations and how turned into an early snapshot of what many are expecting to be a colorful and rowdy transition from Capitol Hill advocacy to city managing for Filner.

But aside from posturing, something else was at stake in the exchange: a seat on SANDAG's transportation committee. It's a position Gloria has held since 2010 and wants to fill again. It's also a position Filner promised to Council District 9.

San Diego Will Take A $40 Million Hit On Pension Costs (KPBS)

January 11, 2013--San Diego will have to fork over at least an additional $40 million to cover its pension costs next fiscal year. The San Diego City Employees Retirement System reports investment returns that fell well below projections account for a little more than $8 million of that. About $27 million is associated with the cost of implementing Proposition B, the voter-approved measure that switches most new city employees to a 401(k) retirement plan.

Council President Todd Gloria said the news was expected and that he tried to prepare people for it.

San Diego Ordinance Would Require Businesses To Increase Recycling (KPBS)

January 9, 2013--San Diego County businesses that produce more than four cubic yards of garbage per week would be required to recycle more of their waste under an ordinance tentatively approved today by the Board of Supervisors.

Under the current law, single-family homes, multifamily housing complexes and businesses larger than 20,000 square feet and located in unincorporated areas are required to recycle certain materials. In 2011, they helped divert 60 percent of solid waste from landfills, according to the county.

Shames sues UCAN for libel (U-T San Diego)

January 9, 2013--Michael Shames, who departed the Utility Consumers’ Action Network last year amid a federal investigation and internal charges of keeping secret bank accounts and accepting unauthorized bonuses, is now suing the nonprofit for libel.

Shames, who ran the ratepayer advocacy group for nearly three decades, filed the suit late last month against UCAN and its staff attorney, David Peffer.