HUNTER TO RESIGN AFTER HOLIDAYS: MAY FORFEIT CONGRESSIONAL PENSION

POWAY BOIL-WATER ORDER LIFTED: PUBLIC URGED TO DINE AT POWAY RESTAURANTS TO HELP WORKERS HURT BY SHUTDOWN

MERCY AMBULANCE SKIDS OFF ROAD, LEAVING JULIAN WITHOUT MEDICAL RESPONSE FOR HOURS AS TOURISTS AND RESIDENTS EXPERIENCE “SNOWMAGEDDON”

YOU'RE INVITED TO OUR FEASTING & MERRYMAKING HOLIDAY PARTY DEC. 15!

SEN. ATKINS SAYS NEW TRUMP RULE COULD CUT FOOD STAMPS FOR 700,000 CALIFORNIANS

HOUSE ETHICS COMMITTEE STRIPS HUNTER OF VOTING IN BIPARTISAN ACTION AFTER GUILTY PLEA

PRESCRIBED FIRE BURNS PLANNED AT CUYAMACA RANCHO STATE PARK IN SAN DIEGO COUNTY

MASKED SUSPECTS WANTED AFTER ATTACKING RESIDENT DURING HOT PROWL BURGLARY IN UNINCORPORATED EL CAJON

RAMONA HOLIDAY WINE TRAIL EACH WEEKEND BEFORE CHRISTMAS INCLUDES HOLIDAY SHOPPING, MUSIC, AND WINE TASTING

ECM WORLD WATCH: NATIONAL AND GLOBAL NEWS

KAISER HEALTHCARE STRIKE TO START DEC. 16

GOLDEN SPIKE CEREMONY CROWNS RAILWAY’S CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION IN CAMPO

News

HUNTER TO RESIGN AFTER HOLIDAYS: MAY FORFEIT CONGRESSIONAL PENSION

By Miriam Raftery

December 6, 2019 (San Diego) – Congressman Duncan D. Hunter today issued a statement which reads,"Shortly after the holidays I will resign from Congress.  I has been an honor to serve the people of California's 50th District, and I greatly appreciate the trust they have put in me over these last 11 years." 

The announcement comes after Hunter pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to misuse campaign funds for personal use. His sentencing is scheduled in March. He could face up to five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine, the amount that he and his wife were accused of taking from the campaign coffers.

But prison and a hefty fine may not be the only penalties for his actions.

POWAY BOIL-WATER ORDER LIFTED: PUBLIC URGED TO DINE AT POWAY RESTAURANTS TO HELP WORKERS HURT BY SHUTDOWN

By Miriam Raftery

December 6, 2019 (Poway) – A boil-water order has been lifted in Poway, where residents can now drink tap water after first flushing out plumbing lines, replacing filters and throwing away ice. State testing found the water safe to drink, nearly a week after stormwater runoff contaminated a clearwell reservoir.

Hardest hit are restaurants forced to shut down, and their employees. The North San Diego Business Chamber is asking the community to dine in Poway Dec. 9-15, adding, “As the holidays approach, we ask that you dine at these businesses and support their employees, so they too can have a holiday season without any added stress.” Find a list of Poway restaurants at the bottom of this article.

YOU'RE INVITED TO OUR FEASTING & MERRYMAKING HOLIDAY PARTY DEC. 15!

You’re invited to feast and make merry at our annual VIP holiday party!  RSVP today to reserve space for this popular event.

When: Sunday, Dec. 15 from 3p.m. to 7 p.m.

Where: Our editor’s Mt. Helix home at 4438 Hideaway Place, La Mesa, CA 91941

Live music by Paul Nichols at 4 pm; caroling sing-along after dinner

Holiday feast: bring a dish to share!  Wassail bowl, Wine from the award-winning Vineyard Grant James

Raffle: prizes include $100 activity gift certificates to Fort Cross Ole Timey adventures, guest passes to any Oasis Camel Dairy special event, wine lovers gifts, jewelry, holiday accessories, Smart and Final gift certificates,restaurant gift certificates, and more.

Cost:  $15 with RSVP in advance, $20 at the door

Prepay online at www.EastCountyMedia.org/donate

MERCY AMBULANCE SKIDS OFF ROAD, LEAVING JULIAN WITHOUT MEDICAL RESPONSE FOR HOURS AS TOURISTS AND RESIDENTS EXPERIENCE “SNOWMAGEDDON”



Accident occurs soon after County Fire Authority/Cal Fire hauled away four-wheel-drive ambulances and fire engines formerly run by Julian’s volunteer fire department

County, Cal Fire and Mercy Medical Transportation fail to answer questions or provide solutions to prevent future fiascos

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

December 6, 2019 (Julian) -- As San Diegans rushed up to the mountain community of Julian last Saturday to play in the snow, a Mercy Medical Transportation, Inc. two-wheel drive ambulance under contract to the San Diego County Fire Authority and Cal Fire missed a curve on State Highway 78, landed off the side of the road and got stuck in snow for hours.

The incident occurred at 8:15 a.m. near Jess Martin Park. According to sources familiar with the situation, the two-man crew had been dispatched all the way from Valley Center, since Julian no longer has a locally stationed ambulance. The crew was reportedly unhurt and had been on the way to Julian Fire Station No. 56. It wasn’t until around 1 p.m. that a tow truck arrived to extricate the ambulance. It is unclear why neither Mercy or Cal Fire could provide a winch to free the vehicle sooner.

SEN. ATKINS SAYS NEW TRUMP RULE COULD CUT FOOD STAMPS FOR 700,000 CALIFORNIANS

By Chris Jennewein

Reprinted with permission by Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego Online News Association

Photo:  An applicant signs up for food stamps, known as CalFresh in California, at a low-income health clinic in Contra Costa County. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters

December 5, 2019 (San Diego) - Senate President Toni G. Atkins warned Wednesday that a tightening of work rules by the Trump administration could end food assistance for 700,000 people in California.

HOUSE ETHICS COMMITTEE STRIPS HUNTER OF VOTING IN BIPARTISAN ACTION AFTER GUILTY PLEA

By Miriam Raftery

December 5, 2019 (San Diego) – In a bipartisan action, today leaders of the House Ethics Committee sent Congressman Duncan D. Hunter a letter notifying him that he should no longer cast any votes in the House, due to his guilty plea on conspiracy to misuse campaign funds for personal expenditures.

While the order is not mandatory, the letter threatens disciplinary action if he fails to comply, which could include expulsion from the House. The letter was signed by Ethics Chairman Ted Deutch of Florida, a Democrat, and ranking member Kenny Marchant, a Republican.

Hunter has previously been stripped by Republicans in the House of serving on any committees. His 50th Congresional district is thus left without representation on all voting matters, though his staff can continue to provide constituent services. 

He could resume voting if reelected, but if he chooses to run for reelection in 2020, he could be in prison and unable to serve. Hunter is slated for sentencing in March and could face up to five years in prison plus a quarter of a million dollar fine – the same amount he was accused of embezzling from his campaign.

BORDER PATROL AGENTS FIND AND RESCUE DESERTED MIGRANT WITH HELP FROM VOLUNTEERS

Source: Border Patrol 

December 5, 2019 (Dulzura) -- On Thanksgiving Day, a 34-year-old Mexican national with life threatening injuries was left behind by a criminal organization that tried smuggling him into the country.  

MASKED SUSPECTS WANTED AFTER ATTACKING RESIDENT DURING HOT PROWL BURGLARY IN UNINCORPORATED EL CAJON

By Miriam Raftery
 
December 5, 2019 (El Cajon) – Three masked men forced their way into a home in the 1400 block of 5 D Drive in unincorporated El Cajon shortly before 9 p.m. last night.  The homeowner told police that her adult son heard a knock at the front door and opened it to find the three intruders, all armed. One of the intruders struck the son in the head, injuring him.

GOLDEN SPIKE CEREMONY CROWNS RAILWAY’S CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION IN CAMPO

Video of golden spike driven in by actor Jake Schaible portraying John D. Spreckels at centennial  https://youtu.be/n2MQr565uq4 

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson and Miriam Raftery

December 4, 2019 (Campo) – Four days after Armistice Day in 1919 ended World War I, John D. Spreckels drove in a golden spike to complete the San Diego & Arizona Railway in Carrizo Gorge.  That historic event was recreated on November 16, 2019 at the centennial of the historic occasion celebrated at the Campo Railroad Park & Museum.

Spreckels originally “missed the spike, they reset it, he bent it, and then nailed it,” said Allen Semelsberger, Pacific Southwest Railway Museum’s archivist in a previously published report. True to historical detail, actor Jake Schaible portrayed Spreckels at the centennial, swinging and missing a replica of the spike before ultimately driving it in before a large crowd, including members of the Spreckels family in the front row. 

REP. HUNTER TELLS KUSI HE WILL PLEAD GUILTY

 East County News Service

Photo by Ken Stone, Times of San Diego

December 2, 2019 (San Diego) – In an interview on KUSI television today,  Congressman Duncan D. Hunter (R-Alpine) announced that he plans to plead guilty in federal court tomorrow to one count of misuse of campaign funds. 

A change of hearing notice filed by his attorney, Devin Burstein, confirms the plea change, stating, “Change of Plea Hearing set for 12/3/2019 10:00 AM in Courtroom 3C before Judge Thomas J. Whelan. (Change in type of hearing only)," Times of San Diego reports.

STORM WEDNESDAY TO BRING HEAVY RAINS AND LIGHTNING: FLOODING AND WATERSPOUTS POSSIBLE

Waterspouts possible in coastal areas

East County News Service

Photo: Creative Commons via N.A.

December 3, 2019 (San Diego’s East County) – Thunderstorms Wednesday is expected to bring moderate to heavy rainfall and lightning strikes to our region. Bursts of moderate to heavy rain will raise the threat for street flooding in areas with poor drainage or low lying areas prone to flooding. Rain falling on snow covered or frozen ground could also lead to enhanced runoff and localized flooding in the mountains.

Waterspouts are possible over coastal waters and the National Weather Service’s Skywarn activation may be requested on Wednesday. Surf could reach nine feet along San Diego’s coastline.

COTTONWOOD SAND MINE PROJECT WILL HAVE A SECOND DEBRIEFING TONIGHT WITH VALLE DE ORO COMMUNITY PLANNING GROUP

By Ana Nita

December 3, 2019 (San Diego’s East County) -- Valle de Oro Community Planning Group will have a second public meeting tonight to receive community input about the proposal to turn Cottonwood Golf Course into a sand mine for the next decade. The golf course is located on Willow Glen Drive in a residential area in the Rancho San Diego area of El Cajon and on federally protected land that’s part of the South County Multiple Species Conservation program. 

The public meeting tonight is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Otay Water District Headquarters, 2554 Sweetwater Springs Blvd., Spring Valley.

HUNTER PLEADS GUILTY TO CONSPIRACY TO MISUSE CAMPAIGN FUNDS FOR PERSONAL USE; TELLS MEDIA HE WILL RESIGN FROM CONGRESS

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Congressman Duncan D. Hunter and his wife, Margaret

December 3, 2019 (San Diego) -- Congressman Duncan D. Hunter pleaded guilty today in federal court to one count of conspiracy to misuse campaign funds for personal use.  His admission of guilt  comes after months of claiming he was innocent and a target of a political witch hunt. 

The Republican Congressman from Alpine could face up to five years in prison and a quarter of a million dollar fine – ironically, the same amount that he and his wife were accused of embezzling from their campaign and spending on a lavish personal lifestyle.  He is slated for sentencing on March 17th and could received a lesser sentence, such as a shorter prison term, probation or community service.  His wife, Margaret, earlier pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and will be sentenced in April.

Hunter, a former Marine combat veteran, could have faced decades in prison if found guilty in a trial on 60 federal charges that included wire fraud and falsifying campaign reports to hide theft of funds spent on family vacations overseas, overnight trysts with five mistresses, oral surgery bills and airfare for a pet rabbit, among other illegal uses of campaign donors’ money.

KAMALA HARRIS ENDS PRESIDENTIAL BID, BUT VOWS TO HELP DEFEAT TRUMP

By Chris Jennewein, Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego Online News Association

Photo: Senator Kamala Harris. Courtesy of the campaign

December 3, 2019 (San Diego) -- Sen. Kamala Harris announced Tuesday that she is ending her campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The junior Senator and former Attorney General of California was one of the first to announce a candidacy, but has been lagging in the polls and fundraising in recent months.

WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE GOING TO SNOW

By Yvette Urrea Moe, County of San Diego Communications Office
Photo: Mount Laguna (Miriam Raftery)
 
December 3, 2019 (San Diego) - The following are tips and considerations for you if you plan to drive up to the snow:
  • Be prepared for significant traffic delays in both directions due to both road conditions and the sheer volume of motorists. Prior snowfalls have left drivers in up to five-hour waits on the roads.
  • You should have a full tank of gas. Don’t count on filling up along the way.

COUNTY SETS DEFINITIVE DATE TO BREAK GROUND FOR LONG AWAITED LAKESIDE EQUESTRIAN PARK

By Ana Nita

December 3, 2019 (Lakeside) -- County representatives met with the East County Equestrian Foundation last month to announce that construction for the park will finally start in March of 2020. The initial plan prognosticated a groundbreaking ceremony for late 2018 or early 2019, but as the locals said, better late than never. 

The next stage is organizing a bid for construction that is estimated to take 18 months. The county predicts the equestrian park would attract as many as 300 attendees for large events that “are anticipated to take place a few times each year,” per the County’s website for this project. 

EL CAPITAN HIGH SCHOOL CELEBRATES OPENING OF EVENTS CENTER

East County News Service

Photo courtesy GUHSD

December 2, 2019 (Lakeside) -- Grossmont Union High School District celebrated the grand opening of the El Capitan High School’s new Event Center (@ECHSVaqueros) in November. The new 15,886 SF multi-purpose facility at the Lakeside campus will support the instrumental, choral and dramatic arts programs.

POWAY ISOLATES WATER PROBLEM, AWAITS STATE APPROVAL TO LIFT BOIL WATER ADVISORY

 

Mayor Vaus responds to Anderson smear effort over water quality question

By Miriam Raftery

Photo via City of Poway on Twitter: City provides bottled water for residents

December 2, 2019 (Poway) – One day after the city of Poway issued a boil-water advisory for tap water due to stormwater runoff contamination, the city issued a statement late yesterday indicating city tests have found chlorine residulals meet standards, “but that “The city is not able to rescind the precautionary boil-water advisory until the state is satisfied with testing results.”

In an interview this morning with East County Magazine, Poway Mayor Steve Vaus revealed, “We have isolated the source of the rain water. We have repaired it.” Though still awaiting test results from the state expected soon, Mayor Vaus says the water has been safe throughout the incident. 

“I’m drinking it now. I’m giving it to my pets,” he told ECM.

FBI AND PROSECUTORS IN SAN DIEGO OFFER $5 MILLION REWARD TO FIND “HIGHEST RANKING” AMERICAN FIGHTING WITH FOREIGN TERRORISTS

VIEW FBI VIDEO:  https://youtu.be/NJMZ1D0R98E 

East County News Service

December 3, 2019 (San Diego) --  The San Diego FBI and federal prosecutors yesterday announced a $5 million reward for information leading to the arrest  or conviction of Jehad Serwan Mostafa, 37, in any country. Mostafa is a U.S. citizen who grew up in San Diego. He reportedly joined the al-Shabaab terrorist organization and has been named by the FBI as “the “highest ranking American fighting overseas.”

An indictment unsealed in federal court this week reveals that Mostafa is charged with providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization, as well as conspiracy to provide material to terrorists and to a foreign terrorist group. Mostafa was charged in 2009 on similar counts. Now authorities believe he continued providing support to terrorists until at least February 2017. 

CAJON VALLEY PROVIDES BACKGROUND ON DRIVER TRAINING IN RESPONSE TO RECORDS REQUEST AFTER INJURY ACCIDENT

By Miriam Raftery
 
December 1, 2019 (El Cajon) – Cajon Valley Union School District has provided information on training and qualifications of its drivers, in response to a California Public Records Act request submitted by ECM after an October 4, 2019 injury accident at which the district’s driver was found at fault.
 
According to the California Highway Patrol, a district employee made an “unsafe turning movement” and lost control of the district pickup truck he was driving, which was towing a trailer.  The vehicle veered into the path of a sedan on Avocado Blvd. near Mt. Helix, causing a head-on collision that caused serious injury to both drivers, also causing minor injuries to an infant. The vehicles also careened into the front yard of a home. Alcohol was not a factor, according to CHP officer Jeff Christy.

CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS HOLDS FOREIGN SUBCOMMITTEE FIELD HEARING AFTER AFRICAN MIGRANT DIES IN OTAY DETENTION CENTER

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

Dec. 1,  2019 (San Ysidro) “How is it that some of the poorest nations around the world can take in people in crisis?” questioned Rep. Karen Bass (D-37th) at a House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee Field Hearing held at the San Ysidro Public Library on Nov. 22. 

 

“What can we learn from these countries? How do international organizations like the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Organization for Migration and others monitor and advise on the surge in migrants, refugees and asylum seekers? What are the international protocols, norms, standards, and practices that should be followed?” she continued. “Basically, I want to know, what can we learn from other countries around the world. But mostly, I want to understand where the United States is with regard to these practices, norms and standards.”

OH BABY! SOUTHERN WHITE RHINO CALF BORN AT SAN DIEGO ZOO SAFARI PARK THROUGH ARTIFICIAL INSEMINATION

Source: San Diego Zoo Safari Park

December 1, 2019 (San Pasqual) -- San Diego Zoo Global announced the successful birth of a female southern white rhino calf on November 21 at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park—the conservation organization’s second rhino born after hormone-induced ovulation and artificial insemination. This calf’s birth also is a milestone, since she is the 100th southern white rhino born at the Safari Park.

Artificial insemination of southern white rhinos has rarely been successful in the past; this is only the second successful artificial insemination birth of a southern white rhino in North America. The first was Edward, born to mom Victoria, at the Safari Park’s Nikita Kahn Rhino Rescue Center on July 28.

COUNTY POSTPONES WORKSHOP IN STREAMLINING BUILDING PERMIT PROCESS TO DEC. 13

Environmental leader criticizes streamlining effort as “abuse of authority.”
 
By Miriam Raftery
 
November 30, 2019 (San Diego) – The County Planning Commission will hold a workshop to discuss ways to streamline its discretionary permitting process on Friday, Dec. 13 at 9 a.m. at the County Operations Center conference hearing room, 5520 Overland Rd., San Diego, 92123
 
The hearing was originally slated for Nov. 22 but postponed due to lack of a quorum. The new agenda can be found at the County Planning Commission webpage.

POWAY WARNS RESIDENTS NOT TO DRINK TAP WATER WITHOUT BOILING, DUE TO POSSIBLE CONTAMINATION: COUNTY SHUTS DOWN POWAY RESTAURANTS

East County News Service

November 30, 2019 (Poway) -- As a precautionary measure, residents in the City of Poway should boil their tap water before drinking or using the water for cooking until further notice, or use bottled water.  Restaurants and other food preparation facilities in Poway have been ordered by the County to temporarily close until the problem is resolved.

Due to the recent storm event, it is believed that the potable drinking water system has possibly been compromised.  Crews are working around the clock to restore normal water service.

MOTORCYCLIST ARRESTED FOR FLEEING SCENE OF OCT. 31 FATALITY CRASH IN LA MESA

By Miriam Raftery
Photo: Therese Clouthier, via a GoFundMe page set up to help her daughter
 
November 30, 2019 (La Mesa) – A motorcyclist who fled the scene of a fatal crash that killed Theresa Clouthier, one of his passengers, in  La Mesa on October 31st has been arrested. Chad Paul Tucker, 44, was taken into custody on November 26 on charges of manslaughter with gross negligence and felony hit and run.  

EARTHQUAKE EARLY WARNING APP NOW AVAILABLE

By Miriam Raftery

November 30, 2019 (San Diego) – An earthquake early warning is now available to the pubic in California through the Berkeley Seismology Lab.  MyShake collects motion data from your phone’s sensors and uses a patented neural network to determine whether that motion fits the model of an earthquake.

Through MyShake, you can have earthquake information at your fingertips, see damage reports shared by citizen scientists like you, and help build a global seismic network.  Click here to download theMyShake  app from Apple or the Google Play store.  

VALLEY CENTER FIRE-HARDENING OF LINES PROPOSED BY SDG&E: PROTESTS MUST BE RECEIVED BY DEC. 3

By Miriam Raftery

View proposal: click here

November 30, 2019 (Valley  Center) – SDG&E has submitted a notice of construction for a fire-hardening project in Valley Center. The public has until December 3 to submit any protest letters for the project, which is slated to begin construction on January 30, 2020.

The project would remove about 7 miles of an exiting powerline alignment (tie-in 6926) from the Rincon Substation to Valley Center Substation and leave existing distribution circuits in place.  About 6 miles of the tie-line would be installed underground in road right-of-way from Valley Center Substation to a cable pole on Pauma Heights Road. From there, another 3 miles of overhead line would be installed in a double-circuit overhead configuration on an existing powerline alignment from the Pauma Heights Road pole to the Rincon substation.

HEAR OUR INTERVIEW: WILDLIFE BIOLOGIST RENEE OWENS ON EFFORTS TO SAVE MOUNTAIN LIONS

 

Hear our interview: Click this audio link.

By Miriam Raftery

November 30, 2019 (San Diego’s East County) – Efforts are underway to declare mountain lions endangered species in portions of Southern California. “Their habitat is being fragmented,” wildlife biologist Renee Owens with Wild Zone Conservation told ECM in an interview on our radio show that originally aired on KNSJ 89.1 FM in October. 

In California, the number one cause of mortality for mountain lions is being struck by vehicles while crossing roadways.  In addition, some 200 depradation permits are issued each year in California allowing the killing of mountain lions, usually because they are preying on livestock. “Nationwide, we know that over 3,000 mountain lions a year are reported to have died,” Owens says.

The Mountain Lion Foundation and the Center for Biological Diversity have petitioned the state to list mountain lions as protected because some isolated populations are “literally in danger of extinction.”  Owens says experts suspect this is also happening in San Diego, where recent numbers show the lions are “actually in decline," according to Owens.

Scroll down for highlights from the interview, or listen to the full interview on the audio link.

Audio: 

Audio file: Interview with Renee Owens on Mountain Lions

DR. HELEN L. HORVATH, 50TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT CANDIDATE, HOLDS A TOWN HALL AND FOOD DRIVE IN ALPINE DEC. 13

East County News Service

November 30, 2019 (Alpine) --  Dr. Helen Horvath, candidate for the 50th Congressional District, will hold a candidate forum and community food drive at the Alpine Library Community Room in Alpine on Dec. 13 from 5-7 p.m.

Topics will include:

  • Integrative Community Services
  • Women’s healthcare
  • Veterans’ initiatives
  • Small business concerns and development
  • Senior Care (Medicare, social security, and related topics)
  • Balanced budget efforts
  • Immigration and border security
  • Other community topics as they are requested

Residents are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items for redistribution in our community.  Click this link for more information about the food drive. Food is only accepted on the day of the Town Hall Meeting. The food drive is part of a two-month “hand-up” campaign starting Dec. 1 that Horvath has launched, asking constituents to bring non-perishable foods to her community coffees and town halls.

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