EAST COUNTY ROUNDUP: TOP LOCAL AND STATE NEWS

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February 14, 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:

LOCAL/REGIONAL

STATE

Read more for excerpts and links to full stories.

LOCAL/REGIONAL

Ramona solar farm wins approval (UT San Diego)

February 6, 2013 --County supervisors Wednesday approved a 43-acre solar energy installation on a Ramona pig farm, rejecting opposition from neighbors who say it will be an eyesore near the heart of town.

Supervisor Dianne Jacob cast the lone vote against it, saying the location at 1650 Warnock Drive was the wrong spot and that no one in town supports it.

RCPG Chair says County getting mixed signals from Ramona residents on housing projects (Ramona Patch)

February 8, 2013--Jim Piva said Supervisor Dianne Jacob brought up a good point in regards to the lack of opposition for Montecito Ranch compared to the enormous amount of resistance from much smaller project Cumming Ranch.

The County Board of Supervisors approved of the 125-home Cumming Ranch Project last week in a unanimous vote—a project that was also unanimously approved by the Ramona Community Planning Group.

Ruling puts SD pension overhaul in doubt  (U-T San Diego)

February 12, 2013--Former San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders violated state labor law by taking a proposed pension overhaul directly to voters rather than first negotiating the plan with employee unions, according a ruling by an administrative law judge with the Public Employment Relations Board.

The long-awaited decision puts the future of Proposition B in doubt. The ballot initiative, which city voters overwhelmingly approved in June, replaced guaranteed pensions with 401(k)-style plans for most new city hires.

Local DMV Staffers Were Bribed $100,000 for Driver’s Licenses, Feds Say (La Mesa Patch)

February 11, 2013--El Cajon and Rancho San Diego DMV offices were involved “in the production of fraudulent driver licenses for applicants who had failed—or not taken—the required driver license tests,” FBI says.

More than $100,000 in bribes were paid to DMV employees at the El Cajon and Rancho San Diego offices as part of a scheme to win fraudulent driver’s licenses, authorities said Monday.

San Diego Hospice faces critical moment (U-T San Diego)

February 10, 2013--When it filed for bankruptcy reorganization last week, San Diego Hospice didn’t have the optimistic outlook often associated with such filings.

Rather than promise it would streamline its operations, restructure its finances and emerge stronger than before, it left that possibility very much in doubt.

“It is unclear if we will have a viable organization moving forward,” said Kathleen Pacurar, the nonprofit’s chief executive officer.

Boxer Wants Probe Into Equipment Problems At Troubled San Onofre Nuclear Plant (KPBS)

February 6, 2013--California Sen. Barbara Boxer is pressing federal regulators to open a probe into equipment problems at the shuttered San Onofre nuclear power plant.

Her letter Wednesday to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission comes as Southern California Edison is pushing a plan to restart one of the reactors.

A statement says the Democrat wants the NRC to investigate what she calls new information that shows Edison and the company that built the plant's ailing steam generators were aware of design problems before the equipment was installed.

Helix Star RB Michael Adkins Will Play Football for the Colorado Buffaloes (La Mesa Patch)

February 6, 2013--Saying he wants to help turn around a program that finished with only one win a year ago, Helix star running back Michael Adkins announced his college choice Wednesday at the San Diego Hall of Champions, during a National Signing Day event.

The senior, with a 4.5 GPA, will be running with “Ralphie” for the next few years as a member of the University of Colorado Buffaloes.

Adkins, who helped Helix win a CIF Section Champion in 2011, said that Colorado’s new coach, Mike McIntyre, was instrumental in bringing him to Boulder. When “Coach Mac” decided to leave San Jose State, where he had been recruiting Adkins, the running back decided to follow him.

Santee Farmer’s Market to move west (Santee Patch)

February 8, 2013--Next Wednesday's Santee Farmers' Market will be the last time they set up at the usual location on Mission Gorge Road- starting February 20 the local farmers' market will be held in the Pathways Church parking lot at the corner of Mast and Carlton Hills Boulevards.

The market will be open the same day and time as always, 3-7 p.m. every Wednesday, rain or shine.

According to Market Manager Andrea Hankins, the move is necessary because the owner of the property on Mission Gorge Road that the market currently uses, the Santee School District, has leased the land. She said the market wouldn't have been forced out until the end of 2013, but she would rather get it going in a new location during the spring.

Council acting on well at Town Center despite other claims to water  (Santee Patch)

February 4, 2013--The Santee City Council voted at the last meeting to begin obtaining proposals for a project to construct a water well that would help save on costs of irrigating Town Center Park. The council gave the go-ahead while acknowledging that the City of San Diego and Padre Dam Municipal Water District both sent letters to the City of Santee that claim rights to the water in the Santee-El Monte Basin that the well would tap.

"The City of San Diego has long established Pueblo water rights within the San Diego River System, including rights to both surface and groundwater,"

San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith wrote in a letter.

STATE

Christopher Dorner's charred body is positively identified  (Los Angeles Times)

February 14, 2013--San Bernardino County sheriff’s officials have positively identified the charred remains found in a mountain cabin Tuesday as being the body of Christopher Dorner.

Officials said they made the identification using dental records during the autopsy.

The announcement brings a formal end to the epic manhunt for Dorner, who was accused of killing four people, including two law enforcement officers. He was killed at the end of a hours-long standoff in a cabin near Big Bear on Tuesday afternoon.

Controller: California is $4.3 billion ahead of forecast in January (Sacramento Bee)

February 11, 2013--California received $4.3 billion more in January than Gov. Jerry Brown predicted, state Controller John Chiang said in a new cash update this afternoon.

In an analysis, Chiang said "gains in jobs, incomes, and stock prices have underpinned the rise," while also alluding to higher tax rates on the wealthy that voters approved at Brown's urging in November.

Governor Brown, Republicans float proposals to change fire fees (Sacramento Bee)

February 5, 2013--Gov. Jerry Brown wants to expand how the state can spend new fire fee proceeds, while Republican legislators want to kill the charge entirely.

In a series of new proposals, GOP lawmakers and the Democratic governor are jockeying over ways to change the controversial $150 annual fee on 825,000 properties mostly located in rural areas. State leaders approved the "fire prevention fee" in 2011 as a way to raise money for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, and Brown said at the time that residential growth on the forest edges had led to higher state fire costs.

California Seeks To Adopt Nation's Toughest Gun Laws (KPBS)

February 7, 2013--Weeks after New York enacted the nation's toughest gun laws, California lawmakers want the state to do even more in response to recent mass shootings, particularly the Newtown, Conn., school massacre.

Democrats, who control the state Legislature, revealed 10 bills Thursday that they said would make California the most restrictive state for possessing firearms. They were joined at a Capitol news conference by the mayors of Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Environmental groups, unions team up to resist CEQA push (Sacramento Bee)

February 7, 2013--The battle lines are being drawn in the upcoming legislative fight over California's environmental review laws.

More than a dozen environmental, labor and social justice groups announced Wednesday that they are joining forces to oppose an expected push to overhaul the California Environmental Quality Act.

Members pledged to fight "radical reforms that would limit public input into land use planning, threaten public health, and weaken environmental protections."

Many in Calif. Rely On Contaminated Water Sources (KPBS)

February 7, 2013--More than half of California's population relies on a drinking water supply contaminated by arsenic, nitrates and other contaminants, though most communities blend or treat their water to make it safe, according to a new report by the State Water Resources Control Board released earlier this week.

The report, ordered by the state Legislature, shows that from 2002 to 2010, 680 out of a little more than 3,000 community water systems in the state relied on one or more contaminated groundwater wells. Those contaminated wells served 21 million people.

Delta Smelt Deaths Means Less Water for Central and Southern California (KPBS)

February 12, 2013--Too many fish deaths in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta are forcing the California Department of Water Resources to reduce the amount of water pumped to the Central Valley and southern California.

The number of protected Delta Smelt killed this year is nearing the annual limit set by the Endangered Species Act. Pumping stations have killed 232 smelt. Rules allow only 305 over the entire year.