Politics

WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT NEWSOM'S BUDGET BLUEPRINT

By Alexei Koseff, CalMatters

CalMatters is a public interest journalism venture committed to explaining how California’s state Capitol works and why it matters

Photo:  Gov. Gavin Newsom holds a nearly three-hour press conference to unveil his budget proposal for 2022-23 in Sacramento on Jan. 10, 2022. Photo by Miguel Gutierrez Jr., CalMatters

January 15, 2022 (Sacramento) - It’s been a tumultuous few years in California, with record wildfire seasons, a worsening drought and a wave of smash-and-grab retail theft amid a coronavirus pandemic that just won’t seem to end.


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LA MESA REPLACES ITS SANDAG REPRESENTATIVE AND EXTENDS VIRTUAL MEETINGS; LOTHIAN DEFIES MASK MANDATE

Updated January 17 with comments from Councilmember Lothian and clarification that the Council has been meeting virtually since the pandemic began and voted to extend virtual meetings.

By Eugenie Budnik

January 14, 2022 (La Mesa) - The La Mesa City Council held its first meeting of the new year on Tuesday. Mayor Mark Arapostathis opened with his State of the City speech, calling the city “strong.” 

Later the Council addressed some contentious issues, including replacing its SANDAG representative and extending virtual meetings amid the latest COVID surge.  With Council and staff in chambers, newly elected Councilmember Laura Lothian openly defied the state’s mask mandate.


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770 NEW LAWS IN CALIFORNIA: THESE MAY IMPACT YOU

 

By Henri Migala

January 12, 2022 (Sacramento) -- With the new year comes not only resolutions to be made (and probably broken), but also new laws enacted (that can’t be broken, lest you incur penalties).  Last year, 770 bills were signed into law. Some went into effect on January 1st, and some will go into effect later.

Among the changes are a hike in minimum wage, increased accountability for police officers, and laws to ease the housing crunch. Some new laws are quirky: you can now legally eat roadkill and obtain restraining orders online, but you can be prosecuted for stealthily removing a condom. Students can sleep later in non-rural areas. All Californians are required to recycle organic waste and abide by new gun laws; registered voters will receive ballots by mail.

Here is an overview of these and other significant new laws that may impact you. Click the bill number to read the full legislation.


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FIRE DAMAGES HOME OF NATHAN FLETCHER AND LORENA GONZALEZ

By Miriam Raftery

Photo via ECM news partner 10 News

January 12, 2022 (San Diego) – An early morning fire at 4 a.m. damaged the City Heights residence of Nathan Fletcher, Chairman of the County Board of Supervisors, and his wife, former Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez.

Gonzalez tweeted, “Our entire family is safe. No one is injured. That’s all that matters.”

Fletcher tweeted gratitude for the swift response by San Diego Fire and Police Department. He indicated the family was awakened by smoke alarms to find the front of their home engulfed in flames. They were able to evacuate safely out a separate door.


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SUPERVISORS VOTE 3-2 TO RESTRICT “GHOST GUNS” AND REQUIRE SAFE STORAGE OF FIREARMS

By Miriam Raftery

Photo via County of San Diego

January 11, 2022 (San Diego) -- San Diego County Supervisors today voted 3-2 to enact a new ordinance to set standards for safe storage of firearms and to put restrictions on “ghost guns” in unincorporated areas.

Do-it-yourself ghost guns are homemade and untraceable, due to a lack of serial numbers. Thus they can evade federal and state requirements, such as background checks required to purchase firearms.

Sheriff’s deputies confiscated 212 ghost guns last year – nearly six times more than the 36 ghost guns seized in 2019, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.


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SENATORS JONES INTRODUCES SAFE ACT TO BLOCK SEXUALLY VIOLENT PREDATORS FROM BEING DUMPED IN UNSUSPECTING COMMUNITIES

East County News Service 

“The SAFE Act will bring transparency to the secretive ‘Hide the Predator’ game the Department of State Hospitals has played when releasing SVPs into communities” –Senator Brian Jones

January 11, 2022 (San Diego’s East County) -- State Senator Brian W. Jones (R-Santee), Senator Ben Hueso (D-San Diego) and Assemblyman Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove) have introduced the “Sexually Violent Predator Accountability, Fairness, and Enforcement Act” (SAFE Act).  The measure aims to prevent the state from continuing to try to secretly dump Sexually Violent Predators (SVPs) in East and North San Diego County, as well as other unsuspecting communities throughout the state.


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EL CAJON TO HOST FOURTH REDISTRICTING HEARING JANUARY 22 TO CONSIDER DRAFT MAPS; DEADLINE TO SUBMIT MAPS IS JANUARY 14

Source: City of El Cajon

Photo: El Cajon, CC by SA

January 10, 2022 (El Cajon) -- The El Cajon City Council is hosting its fourth Redistricting Hearing on Saturday,  January 22 at 10:30 a.m. at El Cajon Valley High School, located at 1035 East Madison Avenue, in El Cajon. Redistricting is the process of adjusting City Council voting districts, following the US Census, to ensure that each district has roughly the same number of residents.


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ROCHA TO RUN AGAINST BRIAN JONES FOR STATE SENATE, DROPS BID FOR CONGRESS DUE TO REDISTRICTING

By Miriam Raftery

January 9, 2022 (San Diego’s East County) – Combat veteran Joseph C. Rocha this week announced plans to challenge State Senator Brian Jones, a Republican in the newly redrawn District 40 which includes Rocha’s home in Escondido.


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ASSEMBLYMEMBER LORENA GONZALEZ RESIGNS TO TAKE TOP JOB AT LABOR FEDERATION

East County News Service; Times of San Diego contributed to this report

Photo by Miriam Raftery

January 6, 2022 (San Diego) – Staunch labor advocate Lorena Gonzalez on Monday announced her resignation from the California state Assembly to accept a job as leader of the  California Labor Federation.  Her resignation took effect yesterday; her new position begins in July.


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ANNIVERSARY OF JANUARY 6 CAPITOL ATTACK BRINGS REFLECTIONS, INVESTIGATIONS, AND CALLS FOR ACCOUNTABILITY

 By Miriam Raftery and Rebeca Jefferis Williamson

Images: Public Domain

Jan. 5, 2022 (Washington, D.C.)  --  January 6, 2021 will be commemorated in the nation’s history books  as the date when thousands stormed the U.S. Capitol while the US Senate was preparing to certify the electoral count from the November 3, 2020, election. Five people died during the violent insurrection and 140 police officers were injured, ABC News reported

In a speech today, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland stated, “The actions we have taken thus far will not be our last.” He added, “"Those involved must be held accountable, and there is no higher priority for us at the Department of Justice."

"The Justice Department remains committed to holding all January 6 perpetrators --at any level--accountable under law, whether they were present that day, or were otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy. We will follow the facts wherever they lead."




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ISSA AND JACOBS ANNOUNCE THEY WILL SEEK REELECTION FOR CONGRESS AFTER NEW DISTRICT BOUNDARIES APPROVED

By Miriam Raftery

Image:  final Congressional districts in San Diego County. Courtesy Citizens Redistricting Commission

December 21, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) – Yesterday, California’s independent citizen redistricting commission unanimously approved the state’s new Congressional district maps, which will be certified December 27.  Today, two of East County’s Congressional members, Democrat Sara Jacobs and Republican Darrell Issa, announced plans to seek reelection in their new and solidly safe districts.


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EL CAJON COUNCIL APPROVES HIRING MORE POLICE, OPPOSES MILEAGE TAX AND SUPPORTS HOME KITCHENS

By Elijah McKee

December 21, 2021 (El Cajon) — The El Cajon City Council tackled several County-level issues at its recent meeting on December 14.  

First, City Manager Graham Mitchell spoke about a rare opportunity to temporarily over-staff the police department with 10 new officers drawn laterally from other nearby agencies, in an effort to save the city money over the next three years. 

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, as many as 160 San Diego police officers may be facing termination in light of the city’s vaccine mandate. Meanwhile, El Cajon does not currently have such a mandate.


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IN STATE OF CITY ADDRESS, MAYOR WELLS HIGHLIGHTS PRIORITIES

By Miriam Raftery

December 20, 2021 (El Cajon)  In his State of the City address on December 14, El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells declared the City is in “excellent condition” despite challenges posed by the pandemic and more.


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EL CAJON CITY COUNCIL TABLES DISCUSSIONS ON SAFE PARKING PROGRAM AND RV REZONING AMIDST GROWING HOMELESS COMMUNITY

 

By Elijah McKee

 

Photo, left: Rebecca Branstetter, East County Homeless Task Force, testifies to El Cajon City Council

 

December 18, 2021 (El Cajon) — The El Cajon City Council addressed several agenda items at its last meeting that had potential to either help or hurt those in the homeless community who rely on cars or RVs. 

 

According to the East County Homeless Task Force (ECHTF), the Cajon Valley Union and Grossmont Union High School Districts serve a known homeless population of over 550 families, at least 30 of which are unsheltered and sometimes living in vehicles. 

 

However, after lengthy discussion, the two pressing items — a Safe Parking Program proposal and a zoning code update on RVs — were pushed off to a future meeting so that City staff could look at them in greater detail. Many who spoke at the meeting hoped to see clear actionable steps and less policy mazes on these issues, but the City Council sought to strike a balance. 


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COUNTY REDISTRICTING MAP APPROVED BRINGS CHANGES TO EAST COUNTY REPRESENTATION

 

For an analysis of the new state legislative districts, see https://sdrostra.com/new-congressional-and-state-legislative-districts-a....

By Miriam Raftery

December 17, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) – Effective immediately, some East County residents now have a different County Supervisor.  On December 15, the San Diego County Redistricting Commission presented its final redistricting maps to the County Clerk, outlining supervisorial district boundaries for the next ten years.

The biggest change impacting East County is shifting several communities out of District 2, represented by Joel Anderson, into district 4, represented by Nathan Fletcher, the current chair of the County Board of Supervisors. Areas shifted into Fletcher’s district include La Mesa, Lemon Grove, Rancho San Diego, Mount Helix, and parts of Spring Valley. Fletcher’s new district  also includes unincorporated areas of the city of San Diego, while he loses coastal areas including La Jolla.

The commission made one last-minute change to keep the city of El Cajon in District 2, after earlier proposing to move it into District 4. However some Chaldeans have objected to splitting their community between Districts 2 and 4, threatening legal action.


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LEMON GROVE SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS DENIED OFF-SITE ALCOHOL PERMIT DURING TENSE COUNCIL HEARING

 

By Elijah McKee

 

December 14, 2021 (Lemon Grove) — “We are a mom and pop store,” said Alisha Hormiz, as she stood at the podium facing the Lemon Grove City Council. “We want to earn your trust, and to work with you every step of the way,” she pleaded. “So please give us a chance.”

 

Alisha and her spouse, Peter Hormiz, have run the Discount Market convenience store on the corner of Broadway and Main Street for the past 21 years. Recently, they requested City permission to sell ten percent of their inventory as alcohol, both to help them financially and to listen to their customers’ wishes. The Planning Commission denied their request for the Conditional Use Permit (CUP) they needed — an appeal to the City Council was now their final option to try to win their permit. 

Audio: 


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REGISTRAR HOLDING MEETINGS FOR INPUT ON COUNTY'S ELECTION ADMINISTRATION PLAN

By Tracy DeFore, County of San Diego Communications Office

Photo:  A staff member with the Registrar of Voters demonstrates how to vote on a ballot marking device.

December 8, 2021 (San Diego) - The Registrar of Voters office is holding a series of consultation meetings inviting the public to have a say in creating the County’s new Election Administration Plan.

The meetings begin Thursday and continue through January. The plan describes how the Registrar’s office will administer elections under the Voter’s Choice Act. The public can give input on where to locate vote centers and ballot drop boxes. Attendees can also give feedback on voter education and outreach plans.

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MAYOR WELLS INVITES COMMUNITY MEMBERS TO STATE OF THE CITY ADDRESS DEC. 14

East County News Service

December 7, 2021 (El Cajon) - Community members are invited to join Mayor Bill Wells and members of the City Council at the State of the City event, to be held on Tuesday, December 14th, at 6:30 p.m. at the Ronald Reagan Community Center in El Cajon.  “I am very excited about this year’s event,” expressed Mayor Bill Wells.  “In addition to sharing many of the City’s exciting achievements over the past year and a look ahead to next year, we will be honoring four outstanding individuals of our community with awards,” he continued. 

After the Mayor’s address, guests are encouraged to stay for a reception with light refreshments. The Ronald Reagan Community Center is located at 195 East Douglas Avenue. For additional information, please call (619) 441-1716.


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SANDAG BOARD LEADERS TO ASK STAFF TO FIND ALTERNATIVE FUNDING SOURCES FOR TRANSPORTATION PLAN WITHOUT MILEAGE TAX

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: cc via Bing

December 3, 2021 (San Diego) – On December 10, the San Diego Regional Association of Governments (SANDAG) board will consider the proposed Regional Transportation Plan.  But a per-mile tax proposed to fund the plan’s ambitious goals has run into strong opposition from residents and political leaders in East County, as ECM previously reported. Although SANDAG’s board voted in favor of the tax in late October, today SANDAG’s top leaders--San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria, Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear and National City Mayor Alejandra Sotelo-Solis--announced that they will ask SANDAG staff to provide funding alternatives for the county’s Regional Transportation Plan that do not rely on a county-imposed road usage charge. 


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FEDERAL APPEALS COURT UPHOLDS CALIFORNIA BAN ON GUN MAGAZINES WITH OVER 10 ROUNDS

By Miriam Raftery

November 30, 2021 (San Diego) – The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals today upheld California’s ban on large-capacity gun ammunition magazines, overturning a lower court ruling. Gun rights advocates had taken aim at a 2016 law and a similar ballot initiative passed overwhelmingly by the state’s voters in an effort to reduce mass casualties from assault-style weapons.


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ISSA CO-LED GYNECOLOGICAL CANCER BILL PASSES HOUSE; 'JOHANNA'S LAW' TO RENEW CRITICAL WOMEN'S HEALTH EFFORT

Source:  Congressman Darryl Issa

November 30, 2021 (Washington, D.C.) - The House of Representatives today passed legislation co-led by Congressman Darrell Issa (CA-50) to reauthorize Johanna’s Law, which supports federal campaigns to raise awareness about gynecologic cancers among patients and health care providers. In committee and on the floor of the House, the legislation was approved with unanimous bipartisan support.

 


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MAYOR VASQUEZ, IN LEMON GROVE’S STATE OF CITY ADDRESS, HIGHLIGHTS EFFORTS TO ADDRESS HUNGER, HOMELESSNESS AND PANDEMIC

By Miriam Raftery

November 27, 2021 (Lemon Grove) -- The City of Lemon Grove 2021 State of the City Address has now been released on several public digital platforms.  The address, delivered virtually by Mayor Racquel Vasquez, focused on the City’s successes in 2020 including compassionate responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, goals for the future, and a positive year-end budget.


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CONGRESSWOMAN SARA JACOBS CELEBRATES THANKSGIVING WITH SERVICEMEMBERS AND VETERANS IN SOUTH KOREA



Photo: Jacobs serves Thanksgiving lunch at Camp Humphreys

 

East County News Service

November 27, 2021 (San Diego) -- Congresswoman Sara Jacobs (D-CA-53) served Thanksgiving lunch to servicemembers at Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, as part of an official congressional delegation trip to Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, organized by House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Mark Takano.


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COLLEGE DISTRICT RETAINS TRUSTEE BOUNDARIES

Source:  Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District

November 23, 2021 (El Cajon) - The Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District’s trustee area boundaries will remain unchanged, after a thorough review of 2020 Census population and demographic data.


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BUILD BACK BETTER ACT PASSES HOUSE, ADVANCES TO SENATE

By Miriam Raftery

Photo via C-Span:  House Democrats cheer passage of Build Back Better Act

November 20, 2021 (San Diego) – On the heels of a major infrastructure bill signed into law by President Joe Biden, on Friday, the House of Representatives passed the Build Back Better Act on a party-line 220-213 vote, which now advances to the Senate.  The landmark measure would expand the nation’s social safety net for the middle class and poor including increased childcare, Medicare benefits, college aid, housing support, invest in shifting the nation to renewable energy and more.


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BIDEN SIGNS INFRASTRUCTURE BILL: CONGRESSWOMAN JACOBS AND STAFF ANSWER QUESTIONS FROM ECM ON LOCAL INFRASTRUCTURE PRIORITIES

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left: Congresswoman Sara Jacobs and colleagues with President Joe Biden at infrastructure bill signing

November 19, 2021(San Diego’s East County) –  Could funds from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act just signed into law by President Joe Biden be used to fund sorely needed projects to benefit East County, from wildfire prevention to reducing freeway gridlock, taking communities off-grid, and improving dam safety?  East County Magazine reached out to Congresswoman Sara Jacobs, who attended the bill signing at the White House. She issued a statement on some local priorities and had her staff respond on other potential projects including:

  • Reducing gridlock on State Route 52 in Santee
  • Repairing dams at El Capitan and Lake Hodges reservoirs
  • Increasing mass transit for our region
  • Cleaning up a toxic underground plume near Gillespie Field and an elementary school in El Cajon
  • Taking communities such as  Descanso, that have suffered through many power outages, off-grid to produce their own clean energy for reliable electricity;
  • Replacing lead water pipes

“We have big infrastructure needs in San Diego, from broadband to transportation to wildfire prevention, but the good news is that this bill provides new funding to meet these needs. Now it’s time to make sure that San Diego gets our share of the funding and I look forward to working with our state and local partners to get that done,” Jacob says.


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SUPERVISOR ANDERSON TAKES ACTION TO EXPAND ACCESS AT LOCAL LAKES

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

View our interview by clicking the image at left.

November 18, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) – San Diego County Supervisors on Wednesday voted unanimously to approve Supervisor Joel Anderson’s proposal aimed at expanding access to local lakes where hours have been cut back during the pandemic.

The measure directs the County’s Department of Parks and Recreation to start discussions with outside agencies managing East County lakes and reservoirs, with a goal to keep reservoirs open for recreational activities.

"These are great, COVID-approved recreational activities for families," Anderson said of hiking, fishing, boating and other lake-related opportunities. In an interview with East County Magazine also aired on KNSJ radio, he added, "I wanted to fulfill my campaign promise in the first year."


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TWO SAN DIEGO CONGRESSIONAL REPRESENTATIVES CALL ON DEPT. OF JUSTICE TO INVESTIGATE BORDER PATROL “SHADOW UNITS”

By Miriam Raftery

November 17, 2021 (San Diego) – San Diego Congressional members Juan Vargas and Sara Jacobs, along with Congressman Juan Castro of Texas, have sent a letter urging the U.S. Department of Justice to investigation allegations of critical incident teams or “shadow units” within the U.S. Border Patrol.


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9/11 FROM DUST TO DECEIT, FROM BUSH TO BUTCHERY

 

UNANSWERED QUESTIONS: What the September Eleventh Families Asked and the 9/11 Commission Ignored, by Ray McGinnis (NorthernStar Publications, Vancouver, BC, Canada, 2021, 421 pages).

Book Review by Dennis Moore

November 14, 2021 (San Diego) - Having been a juror in the “San Diego Citizens Grand Jury – Presenting the Evidence of the Crimes of 9/11” on April 14th, 2007 at San Diego State University, this book by Ray McGinnis resonates with me on so many levels.

Unanswered Questions is a brutally persuasive book for  those who want answers to the real origins of the Afghanistan war. Ray McGinnis’ book digs deeper and hammers harder for the unvarnished truths, Ex-President Bush, currently on a good-guy speaking tour speaks without remorse or responsibility for the unmitigated catastrophe he set in motion 20 years ago, according to many. President Bush famously said, in another of his statements that everyone seemed to relish; “Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.” But he rejected an offer by the Taliban to hand over bin Laden in exchange for the U.S. to stop bombing their country.


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FREE SPEECH ADVOCATES THREATEN LEGAL ACTION OVER SUPERVISORS’ NEW RULES LIMITING PUBLIC COMMENTS AND INPUT

By Miriam Raftery

Photo:  attorney Cory Briggs contends the county’s limits on public comments violate civil rights, free speech rights and open meeting requirements

November 14, 2021 (San Diego) – Last week, San Diego County Supervisors enacted changes limited public input in an effort to address racist and threatening comments made at a recent public meeting. But the new policy goes farther, also eliminating the public’s ability to ask that consent calendar items be fully discussed, severely restricting speaking times and prohibiting group presentations on some topics.


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