EAST COUNTY ROUNDUP: TOP LOCAL AND STATE NEWS

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February 28, 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

STATE

Read more for excerpts and links to full stories.

LOCAL

All 12 major donors to Prop U school board campaign won contracts (Patch.com)

February 22, 2013--Each of the 12 companies that donated more than $5,000 to the Grossmont Union High School District (GUHSD) Proposition U school bond campaign were given a contract to work on the bond project, according to a recent report byVoice of San Diego and NBC 7 San Diego.

The report documents 17 school districts in the county, including the Santee School District, which awarded contracts to three of four large donors to the 2006 Proposition R school bond campaign.

Collier Park Master Plan Threatens La Mesa’s Historic Spring House (La Mesa Patch)

February 26, 2013--I am writing to those interested in the preservation of the heritage of La Mesa – and its current and future civic health.

The City of La Mesa Development Department has recently released a Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for the Collier Park Master Plan.

The Plan is now in the period in which public comment is accepted as part of the project's requirement to comply with the guidelines and processes of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

SD Unified names new superintendent (10 News)

February 28, 2013--Cindy Marten was unanimously named on Wednesday as superintendent of the San Diego Unified School District after serving the past decade as principal of Central Elementary School.

Martin will succeed Bill Kowba, who told the district's Board of Education Tuesday he would retire June 30 when his three-year contract ends.

Security breach: Are you safe on SD trains and trolleys? (KPBS)

February 12, 2013--Allen Witt's handcuffs, pepper spray, and .45 caliber Springfield fit snugly along the officer's thick, black belt. His large frame, cropped grey hair and dark sunglasses cut an imposing figure against a sandy California dusk.

He pointed north. A surfer in a wetsuit and long hair had just skipped across the double railroad tracks -- a few hundred feet from the ocean in the sleepy community of Cardiff-by-the-Sea.

License plate recognition has its eyes on you (CityBeat)

February 20, 2013--Where’s your car? Well, dude, it’s in a huge Orwellian police database.

That might seem like the plot of a bad movie, but since around 2010, police agencies in San Diego County have quietly used a network of sophisticated devices called license-plate readers (LPR) to monitor and record the movements of thousands of everyday drivers. Even as you read this, police cars equipped with LPR are patrolling the streets, automatically scanning and photographing every license plate in sight, tagging each with a GPS coordinate and filing the information away. For years.

Filner, Goldsmith clash over hotel tax funds (SD Transcript)

The long-brewing tensions at City Hall broke wide open Wednesday as San Diego Mayor Bob Filner interrupted a press conference of City Attorney Jan Goldsmith to accuse him of “unethical and unprofessional conduct” for opining to reporters about legal affairs before first talking to the mayor or City CouncilFebruary 20, 2013--

Team 10 Troubleshooter investigates criminals who cut off GPS monitoring devices (10 News)

An increasing number of violent criminals and sex offenders who are supposed to be watched by the state are cutting off their GPS ankle bracelets.

Police and lawmakers tell Team 10 this is an unintended consequence of "realignment" -- California's answer to reducing the number of inmates in prison.

STATE

Californians get big part of $46 billion mortgage settlement (Sacramento Bee)

February 25, 2013--After suffering some of the biggest losses from the housing crash, Californians are getting the lion's share of a $46 billion nationwide settlement from top mortgage lenders.

Troubled California homeowners should get nearly $20.6 billion from the year-old national settlement, according to a report released Thursday.

California's share represents about $2 billion more than originally expected, said Katherine Porter, a law professor who is overseeing the statewide distribution of benefits for Attorney General Kamala Harris.

"Amazon tax" payoff starts to arrive in some U.S. states (Reuters)

February 20, 2013-- Sales tax from Internet commerce, a prize pursued for years by U.S. state governments, is starting to arrive in California and a few other states, providing millions of dollars in new revenue, though not as much as a benchmark study once forecast.

After fighting hard to get e-tailers such as Amazon.com Inc to start charging sales tax, and eventually passing a law requiring collection, the California Board of Equalization reported last week it took in $96.4 million in September-December 2012, its first full quarter of collections.

Bluefin tuna caught off California still radioactive two years after Fukushima (Huffington Post)

February 22, 2013--Bluefin tuna just can't catch a break. Weeks after it was reported that overfishing had reduced the Pacific population of the fish, which is popular in sushi bars, by over 96 percent, researchers have found trace levels of radiation still lingering in their flesh almost two years after the catastrophe at the nuclear plant in Fukushima, Japan. And the 50 tuna they studied were all caught off the coast of California, 6,000 miles east of Japan, where they were born.

The tuna that registered the highest levels of radioactivity were those that migrated to California in 2011, soon after the accident, but those that migrated in 2012 also demonstrated above-normal levels of radiation. Monte Burke at Forbes writes that the results of the study suggest "there is still a high level of radiation in the waters near the Fukushima plant most likely because, as marine chemist, Ken Buessler, asserts, the plant is still leaking radiation into the ocean nearly two years later."

Jerry Brown fast tracks review of Riverside solar energy project (Sacramento Bee)

February 25, 2013--In an effort to insulate a massive solar power project in Riverside from extended environmental review, Gov. Jerry Brown announced today that he has certified the facility as a special "leadership project," the second such certification he has granted under a 2011 law.

The designation is intended to expedite rulings on environmental litigation brought against McCoy Solar Project, fast-tracking any court challenges brought under the California Environmental Quality Act. The identification of such "leadership" projects is one of several ways in which Brown has sought since taking office to relax the use of CEQA on certain projects.