June 2020 Articles

PROTEST AFTERMATH: SANTEE COUNCIL SAYS IT HAS TO DO BETTER JOB

By Mike Allen

June 14, 2020 (Santee) -- Santee’s City Council looked at itself in the mirror after a fortnight of national protests and rioting following the death of George Floyd, and found the reflection wasn’t all that great.

Stunned by an outbreak on several nights of blatant racist taunts and violence, allegedly by outsiders, the leaders of the predominantly white city said they need to conduct some serious soul-searching about their attitudes regarding race.

“Maybe this city has buried its head in the sand for too long,” said Mayor John Minto during the Council meeting held virtually on Zoom. “If the perception that (racism) is here, then it’s here.”

Councilman Rob McNelis, who has often publicly denied allegations of racism in the city, said he took full responsibility for being among those who did indeed ‘bury his head,’ unwilling to look at how many people of color say they are treated.

AS WEATHER HEATS UP, COUNTY OPENS COOL ZONES -- AND OFFERS FREE FANS FOR THOSE HOMEBOUND WITHOUT AIR CONDITIONING

By Miriam Raftery

Photo courtesy of County News Service

June 13, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – As summer approaches and temperatures heat up, the County will open several “Cool Zones” starting this week.  The Cool Zones will be open from Monday through Friday between 12 noon and 5 p.m.at the following inland locations:

LA MESA GIRDS FOR “UNITY PROTEST AND RIDE” SUNDAY, JUNE 14

By Miriam Raftery

June 13, 2020 (La Mesa) – La Mesa Police Department has sent an alert out to inform the public of a protest planned tomorrow at 1 p.m. at the La Mesa Police Department.  The LMPD advisory indicates the protest is expected to be peaceful and that protesters free speech rights will be respected, but that mutual aid from law enforcement agencies across the county are prepared to respond to protect La Mesa if that situation changes.

According to a flyer posted on social media sites, the “Unity Protest” will welcome motorcyclists from clubs across the region in a “Unity Ride” starting in San Diego and ending at the LMPD station, where two weeks ago a protest against police violence that began peacefully ended in assaults tageting police and a barrage of nonlethal weapons fired at protesters, followed by a rampage of looting, vandalism, and the burning of buildings and vehicles.

REMAINING RESERVOIRS IN EAST COUNTY REOPEN

By Miriam Raftery
 
Photo: El Capitan Reservoir in Lakeside is now back open to the public
 
June 13, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – After pressure from local elected officials and candidates, the city of San Diego has backed off his plan to keep six reservoirs in our inland region closed for the rest of this year. Three of the reservoirs in question have reopened within the past week and the remaining three will open in early July
 

NONPROFIT MAIN STREET RELIEF REACHES 100 VOLUNTEERS HELPING SMALL BUSINESSES

Source: Main Street Relief

June 13, 2020 ISan Diego) – More than 100 people from across the country have joined nonprofit Main Street Relief’s volunteer network and its mission of helping small businesses respond to and recover from COVID-19. Volunteers have helped small business owners with federal funding programs, rent renegotiations and deferrals, strategic and financial planning, creative new revenue streams, and more. 

FACE COVERINGS, PHYSICAL DISTANCE NEEDED TO PREVENT SURGE OF COVID-19, SAY COUNTY OF SAN DIEGO HEALTH OFFICIALS

Research has shown that when face coverings are used properly, they reduce transmission of the novel coronavirus. Maintaining physical distance from other people does too.

The latest is a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study of sailors at the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt which showed that sailors who used a face covering and practiced social distancing had a lower infection rate.

“We now have more scientific evidence that face coverings prevent the spread of COVID-19,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “When people are in public the risk of exposure is higher so they should wear a face covering, especially when they’re within six feet from others.”

MOVIE THEATERS AND MORE CAN REOPEN

Image Credit: Shutterstock

June 13, 2020 (San Diego) – The latest easing of COVID-19 restrictions are rolling out. Since yesterday, June 12th, indoor movie theaters can reopen and film production of TVs and movies can resume. Also allowed to reopen, with limitations, are gyms, bars and wineries, swimming pools, hotels and other rental properties for travelers, and major tourist attractions such as zoos, aquariums, galleries and museums.

DIGNITY AND POWER NOW LAUNCHES EMERGENCY RESPONSE FUND TO HELP CALIFORNIA COMMUNITIES WITH SUPPLIES DURING PANDEMIC

East County News Service

Dignity & Power Now

June 13, 2020 (San Diego) -- Dignity & Power Now, has announced the establishment of its Emergency Fund to aid in connecting community members to essential supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The rapid response fund will be implemented in three phases to respond to the ongoing concerns of community members who are experiencing loss, hardship, and health concerns as a result of the coronavirus.

First Phase: The first phase provides essential needs such as diapers, baby wipes, and formula to families with children. This phase includes size collection and drop-offs to residential addresses.

PEDESTRIAN KILLED IN LEMON GROVE

East County News Service

June 12, 2020 (Lemon Grove) – A 65-year-old man was struck by a vehicle last night at 7:02 p.m. at the intersection of Broadway and Vista Avenue in Lemon Grove. He was transported via ambulance to Scripps Mercy hospital, but died there of his injuries, says Sgt. Aaron Montan with the San Diego Sheriff.

Neither drugs nor alcohol are believed to be factors in the collision, which is being investigated by the Lemon Grove Traffic Division of the Sheriff’s department.

Anyone with information about this case can call the Lemon Grove Station at 619-337-2000.

EAST COUNTY FIRE INVESTIGATION

CORRECTION: Previous versions mistakenly refered to Lakeside. It should have read El Cajon. Read update here.

East County News Service

June 12, 2020 (El Cajon) – The San Diego County Sheriff’s Bomb/Arson detectives are investigating the cause of a fire yesterday in El Cajon, says Sergeant David Chamoo.

Deputies from the Lakeside substation responded at 2:44 p.m. to the 1600 block of Via Elisa Drive for a structure fire that threatened adjacent structures due to strong winds. The officers made evacuation notifications to nearby residences until the fire was extinguished.

VIDEO OF THE WEEK: DANCING COWBOYS AT TEXAS ROADHOUSE WELCOME BACK CUSTOMERS


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Miriam Raftery 

June 12, 2020 (El Cajon) - Texas Roadhouse restaurant in El Cajon is back open after the COVID-19 shutdown and already drawing a wait list.  Arrive before five for some great dinner specials.  I got a tender BBQ pulled pork dinner with all the fixings for just $10.99, chilling out with an Armadillo Punch.

As an added bonus, enjoy some dancing cowboys and cowgirls -- actually the wait staff, kicking up their heels with some Western-style line dancing. Yeehaw!

COVID-19 SURVIVOR WILL RODRIGUEZ-KENNEDY, COUNTY DEMOCRATIC PARTY CHAIR, SPEAKS OUT

By Helen Horvath

 

Photo by Miriam Raftery: Will Rodriguez-Kennedy at an election night party March 3

 

June 12, 2020 (San Diego) -- One of the 21 COVID-19 patients treated at the VA Hospital in San Diego was Will Rodriguez-Kennedy, Chair of the San Diego Democratic Party.  He was the first COVID-19 patient treated at the VA Hospital in San Diego. In an exclusive interview with ECM, he discussed COVID-19 and the impact the novel coronavirus has had upon his life.  

LA MESA BUSINESSES FILE DAMAGE CLAIMS AFTER RIOT; ATTORNEY HAS TIPS ON LOSS CLAIMS DUE TO RIOTING OR PANDEMIC

GoFundMe Site raises over $200,000 to help local businesses

By Mike Allen

Photos by Henri Magala

June 12, 2020 (La Mesa) -- Steve Clay first got wind that his family’s package mail business, The Postal Annex, was being looted from an app he has on his phone.

ILLEGAL BONFIRES HEIGHTEN RISKS AS FIRE SEASON ARRIVES: CAL FIRE HALTS BURN PERMITS

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

Photo by Paul Kruze, left:  Bonfire in Rancho San Diego ignited nearby foliage, prompting fire crews to respond.

June 12, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – Cal Fire has banned burn permits effective immediately, as temperatures rise across our inland region. The no-burn proclamation will remain in effect indefinitely.

Two recent illegal bonfires in a single night swiftly burned out of control recently, prompting responses by firefighters witnessed by this ECM journalist. Those incidents highlight the dangers of open burning, as temperatures rise and brush dries out across our inland region with summer drawing near.

MORE ARRESTS MADE FOR CRIMES DURING RIOTS IN LA MESA

 

Scroll down for images of more crimes commited during the May 31 La Mesa riot, including arsonists not yet apprehended

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left: This image of looters circulated widely on social media.

June 12, 2020 (La Mesa) – La Mesa Police yesterday announced new arrests related to the May 30 riot in La Mesa, the latest for looting stores at Grossmont Center and the La Mesa Springs shopping center. Though the riots occurred in the aftermath of a Black Lives Matter protest over police use of force, those arrested so far include white, Hispanic and black suspects.

LA MESA COUNCIL VOTES FOR INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION OF PROTEST AND RIOT RESPONSES; HEARS HEATED COMMENTS FROM PUBLIC

By Briana Gomez

Photo by Paul Kruze: Officers guarding City Hall, where the City Clerk's office was set afire during the riot  on May 30

The City of La Mesa held a heated livestream city council meeting Tuesday with council members socially distanced via zoom,  the first public meeting since the May 30 riots that followed protests for black lives.

The Council unanimously voted to have an outside investigator review police, fire department and other city agencies’ actions during the protest and rioting that ended with multiple businesses looted, vehicles burned, two banks and a historic building burned down.  

Council members reviewed their agenda before public comments, most of which criticized the La Mesa Police Department for its recent treatment of the black community, perceived mismanagement of what began as a peaceful protest, and for not preventing the city from burning down during riots that ensued.

ADVANCING HEALTHY COMMUNITIES: ABC, ALCOHOL AND PANDEMIC

By David R. Shorey, East County Program Manager, Institute for Public Strategies

June 11, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- When alcoholic beverage delivery and curbside pick-up became an option in the East County and the rest of California during the COVID-19 pandemic’s stay-at-home order, it provided licensed on alcohol businesses affected by the order an expanded source of revenue. But whatever benefits the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control’s (ABC) relaxation of liquor laws had financially for business owners, it negatively impacted alcohol harm prevention efforts to keep alcohol out of the hands of minors and those prone to binge drinking.

LA MESA POLICE SHOT LESLIE FURCRON FOR CRYING "MURDERERS," LAWYER SAYS

By Ken and Chris Stone, Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego News Association

Photo:  Leslie Furcron, a 59-year-old grandmother who was injured during a protest in front of the La Mesa Police Department, thanked her hospital caregivers but said she is still very weak and will need nursing care. Photo by Chris Stone

June 11, 2020 (La Mesa) - Leslie Furcron spoke for three minutes outside La Mesa City Hall on Wednesday — her first public remarks since being shot in the face during a La Mesa police station protest. But her lawyer said she was wounded for being heard saying “Murderers.”

HEALTHCARE IN A COVID-19 WORLD: ACCESS FOR LOCAL VETERANS

In an exclusive interview, the Director of San Diego’s VA Healthcare System shares insights and challenges

 

By Helen Horvath, Army veteran

 

June 11, 2020 (San Diego) – The COVID-19 pandemic has opened up a wide variety of complex systemic blind spots in our healthcare system, including care for military veterans. This has been the result of how the various private sector and government agencies initially responded to the pandemic. 

WATER CONSERVATION GARDEN REOPENS IN MID-JUNE: BUTTERFLY RELEASES PLANNED

East County News Service
 
June 11, 2020 (El Cajon) -- As of June 15, The Water Conservation Garden reopens for members and reopens to the public on June 16, but with a small admission fee for non-members. All visitors in June will receive free ice cream and popsicles, as well as having the opportunity to visit the Dorcas E. Utter Memorial Butterfly Pavilion to view butterflies throughout June. Butterfly release dates are planned June 15, 19 and 27.

CAJON VALLEY SCHOOL DISTRICT STUMBLES IN PR SNAFUS OVER RACIAL SLUR, SECRET MEETING AT CLOSED HOTEL, AND PLANS TO KEEP SCHOOLS CLOSED THIS FALL DESPITE MANY OBJECTIONS

Board to decide future use of distance learning technology at 1 p.m. today; Superintendent apologizes over staff comments

Story and photos by Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

June 11, 2020 (El Cajon) -- The Cajon Valley Union School District’s carefully controlled public relations moat has been seriously breached over the past week with embarrassing social media comments, news of secret district meetings, and documents accidentally shared by a district employee, as reported by San Diego television and newspaper media outlets.  

One report was about a CVUSD school district employee and the revelation of a document of a secret meeting held over the weekend involving Dr. David Miyashiro and four district Trustees (except not Jill Barto) at the shuttered Marriott Coronado Resort and Spa.

The district also had two protests by parents yesterday outside district headquarters, one over racism concerns raised by staff comments, the other objecting to a district plan to continue distance learning instead of in-person classes this fall -- a vote delayed until an emergency session convening this afternoon after parents raised vigorous objections.

BRUSH FIRE IN JAMUL

 

East County Wildfire & Emergency Alerts

Photos via Dan Rigger and Matthew and Shawna Schick

View videos of the Skyline Fire by Preston Brown: 

https://vimeo.com/428408454

https://vimeo.com/428417617

Update 2 p.m.:  The fire is now 100 acres and 5% contained, per Cal Fire.

Update 2:45 p.m.:  Per CalFire, evacuation orders have broadened to the area along Skyline Truck Tr. from the 15000 block to Twisted Oak Rd. Also included is the area on Wisecarver Truck Trail. A temporary evacuation point will be Regal Edwards movie theater in Rancho San DIego at 2951 Jamacha Rd., El Cajon. 

Update 6:40 p.m.: Forward spread has been stopped. The fire is 100 acres and 10% contained.  No structures or livestock were lost and there were no injuries.

June 11, 2020 (Jamul) -- Cal Fire is at the scene of a vegetation fire in the 17000 block of Skyline Truck Trail in the Lawson Valley area of Jamul.  As of 12:45 p.m. the fire is 20 acres and spreading at a moderate rate, per Cal Fire/County Fire Authority.  

Evacuation orders have been issued between the 15600 block of Skyline Truck Trail and 17700 block of Skyline Truck Trail due to the #SkylineFire, ECM news partner NBC 7 reports.

Skyline Truck Trail is closed from  Lawson Valley Rdo to Honey Springs Road in Lyons Valley. 

PHOTOS OF THE WEEK: CONGRATULATIONS, CLASS OF 2020!

By Miriam Raftery

June 11, 2020 (Santee) – Rebecca Jefferis Williamson snapped these photos of the marquee at the Santee Drive-In Theater this week, where some local schools  held drive-up graduation ceremonies to maintain social distancing due to COVID-19.

Our hats are off to the class of 2020 for earning your diplomas despite the global pandemic, an economic depression, and civil unrest that has rocked our region and nation. We wish you a better and brighter future—and hope many of you will work for change to make our world a better, safer and more peaceful place for us all.

READER’S EDITORIAL: SMALLPOX SURVIVOR RECALLS THE SCOURGE

As COVID-19 quarantines cause disruptions worldwide, a survivor of a prior pandemic speaks out

By  Roger Coppock

Photo: A case of smallpox in 1886; public domain image via Wikipedia

June 10, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- It fell off me in the shower this morning.  I felt the brief pinch and saw it before it went down the drain.  The little piece of thin  plastic suture used to hold together a former pustule on my skin, hiding it. It has been more than a decade since I saw the last of its kind.  This may, finally, be the last of them all.

As a preschooler, I followed my late father to a research station in New Mexico along the border.  My father was an experimental psychologist who was trying to measure learning in bats.  It was a great adventure, until I caught one of the last cases of Smallpox in North America.

RENOVATING LIVES DURING COVID19

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

June 10,  2020 (San Diego’s East County) The coronavirus pandemic has exacted a huge economic toll globally and locally.  With an estimated 32 million on unemployment the likelihood of economic changes to all of our lives, is of concern. 

(Courtesy photo of Greg May)

Mortgages might not be paid on time, obtaining future employment may be down the road, this may necessitate the likelihood of having to sell your home. 

“If you lost your job during the pandemic, your future might be uncertain,” said the owner of Renovating Lives’ Greg May. 

Renovating Lives operates in three stages: 1. Evaluation of your home, 2. Renovation, and 3. Sale. May, an Alpine resident who has offices in El Cajon and Arizona, works with homeowners to renovate their properties readying them for sale. 

“I see people panic that they cannot sell their home during a pandemic,” he said. 

But May’s own business experience provides perspective to those that are panicked.

“During this pandemic, we have five houses in escrow,” said May. “Two in Santee, one in El Cajon, one in Escondido, and one in Fallbrook. We have several other projects as well.”

CITY UNDER SIEGE: LA MESA RELEASES TIMELINE AND NARRATIVE ON NIGHT OF RIOT, VIOLENCE AND ARSON

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left by Henri Migala:  Officers outside LMPD station vandalized with graffiti by late afternoon, shortly before rioting began.

June 10, 2020 (La Mesa) – The city of La Mesa has released a timeline and incident narrative of the protest and subsequent riot in La Mesa May 30-31, which reveal chilling details of an increasingly violent siege waged against police and sheriff officers as well as City Hall and businesses across the city.  Despite reinforcements pre-staged, rioting swiftly grew out of control, starting from early reports of violence starting at 4 p.m. that later escalated into hurling of bottle bombs (Molotov cocktails) at police, breaking windows on police vehicles with officers inside and attacking an armored bearcat.  Looting commenced in multiple locatoins, rocks and bottles were hurled at officers, as rioters throughout the long night and early morning hours of mayhem ignited multiple vehicles, burned down two banks and a historic building,and ignited nuermous other locations.

Police defended themselves with non-lethal weapons including tear gas, pepperballs and beanbags, striking at least two people in the head. Multiple officers were also reported injured. It remains to be seen whether the looting and burning were done by protesters or outside groups that took advantage of what began as a peaceful protest and march against police violence earlier in the day, or perhaps a combination of both.

CALIFORNIA COAST CREDIT UNION DONATES $5,000 TO LA MESA BUSINESS RECOVERY EFFORTS

Source:  Cal Coast Credit Union

June 10, 2020 (La Mesa) -- California Coast Credit Union is donating $5,000 to the La Mesa Business Disaster Recovery Fund, helping drive total donations to the cause to more than $140,000. 

 

DEBATE RAGES ONLINE OVER YELLOW-VESTED LA MESA CIVIL DEFENSE GROUP

 

By Ken Stone, Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego Online News Association

June 10, 2020 (La Mesa) - Friday afternoon, several dozen people met at a boarded-up corner on La Mesa Boulevard to discuss how they might help a fledgling La Mesa CIvil Defense group. 

MAN CHARGED WITH HAVING MOLOTOV COCKTAIL EXPLOSIVES DURING RIOT IN LA MESA

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left: Zachary Karas, arrested for possession of incendiary devices

Photo, right by Paul Kruze: Vons truck burning approximately one block from where Karas was arrested

June 9, 2020 (La Mesa) – The U.S. Attorneys Office has charged Zachary Alexander Karas, 28, of San Diego for possessing incendiary devices including Molotov cocktail explosive devices and fireworks In La Mesa during riots that began the night of May 30th.  Throughout that night and early in the building, multiple buildings and vehicles were set afire.

According to the complaint filed by U.S Assistant Attorney Andrew Haden, Karas and his girlfriend, Kali Braj Jonkuet, were sitting on the pavent at the corner of Allison Ave. and Spring St. in front of the trolley tracks. Officers ordered the crowd to disperse for an unlawful assembly and arrested Karas after he failed to leave. After his arrest, officers discovered that Karas possessed Molotov cocktails --two glass bottles with wicks that contained gasoline. Molotov cocktails are also known as bottle bombs or poor man’s grenades. Karas also had fireworks in his possession.

A special agent with the ATF inspected the Molotov cocktails and found them to be functioning incendiary devices.

$10,000 REWARD OFFERED FOR INFO ON THEFTS FROM GUN SHOP DURING RIOTS IN LA MESA

By Miriam Raftery
 
June 9, 2020 (La Mesa) – A $10,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest of a man who broke into Alex Imports Shop at 7389 University Ave. in La Mesa and stole nine long guns on May 30 around 11 p.m. The burglary occurred during the rioting and looting following protests last Saturday night over racial injustice and police brutality.

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