Politics

KALASHO LEAVES DEMOCRATIC PARTY, LASHES OUT AT MEDIA

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Councilman Kalasho's Facebook followers have shrunk to just 21 people following his numerous ethical and legal controversies.

August 17, 2018 (El Cajon)—El Cajon Councilman Bessmon "Ben" Kalasho tried to reregister as a member of the Federalist Party earlier this week, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. However, the Federalist Party is not recognized in California, so Kalasho is now officially a “decline to state party affiliation” voter.

Originally the party of founding fathers Alexander Hamilton and John Adams, the Federalist Party advocated for a strong federal government but dissolved in the 1820s.  In 2016, a new Federalist Party formed with a polar opposite view, touting smaller government.

LEMON GROVE MAYOR VASQUEZ PAINTS OPTIMISTIC PICTURE IN STATE OF THE CITY ADDRESS

 

 

Despite positive changes, budget clouds loom as city draws on reserves for operating expenses

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

August 16, 2018 (Lemon Grove) -- Members of the Lemon Grove City Council and other city officials are grappling with concerns about a major budget deficit poised to sour the city’s future. The problem has led to media speculation that Lemon Grove might give up cityhood and become part of the County’s unincorporated area.

Yet, to a packed-to-the-rafters community room, recently-elected Mayor Raquel Vasquez painted a positive picture about the city’s many accomplishments in the past year and its challenges in the coming year. During her first State of the City address last week, the Mayor did raise the city’s financial dilemma, but not seeds for solutions over the long term.

DESPITE PLEDGE TO RUN, REBEKAH BASSON NOT ON LA MESA SCHOOLS BALLOT IN NOVEMBER

 

By Ken Stone

Originally published by Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego Online News Association

Photo by Ken Stone

August 14, 2018 (la Mesa) - A year ago this week, 25-year-old Rebekah Basson attended her first meeting as a newly appointed school board member in East County — based in part on her pledge to run for a full term in November 2018.

COUNCILMAN BEN KALASHO PLED GUILTY TO CRIMINAL WORKERS' COMP FRAUD IN 2015, REMAINS ON PROBATION

 

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

Photo: Bessmon "Ben" Kalasho, August 2015

August 9, 2018 (El Cajon)--An exclusive investigation by East County Magazine has uncovered a criminal case in which El Cajon Councilman Bessmon “Ben” Kalasho pled guilty to two counts of workers’ compensation fraud in October 2015 (court case #MD094871).

Kalasho was on probation for his crimes, both misdemeanors, when he ran for and won his seat on the City Council in 2016. He remains on probation until October 1, 2018.

Kalasho has pulled papers to run for El Cajon City Council again in November.   

JUDGE DEEMS ADMITTED: KALASHOS COMINGLED ASSETS OF CHAMBER, PAGEANT AND PERSONAL FUNDS, ALSO DEFAMED ATTORNEY LINA CHARRY

 

By Miriam Raftery and Paul Kruze

August 6, 2018 (El Cajon) – The legal spiderweb entangling El Cajon Councilman Bessmon "Ben" Kalasho and his wife, Jessica, has become even stickier. Superior Court Judge Timothy Taylor has issued an order granting a motion by plaintiff Lina Charry, deeming admitted the contents of requests for admissions to which the defendants repeatedly failed to respond.

FORMER PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA ENDORSES AMMAR CAMPA-NAJJAR IN 50TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT

 

East County News Service

August 5, 2018 (San Diego’s East County) – Ammar Campa-Najjar has picked up a high-level endorsement for his bid to unseat Congressman Duncan D. Hunter in the hotly contested 50th Congressional district race. Former President Barack Obama this week announced his endorsement of 81 candidates, including Campa-Najjar, boosting the local contender into the national spotlight.

U.S. PRESS FREEDOM TRACKER REPORTS ON KALASHO DOG ATTACK THREAT AGAINST ECM REPORTER

 

 

By Miriam Raftery, East County Magazine Editor

August 5, 2018 (El Cajon) - Councilman Ben Kalasho’s attacks on First Amendment freedom of the press has drawn national attention.  

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, which tracks attacks on journalists’ First Amendment rights in the United States, has published an article on our reporter Paul Kruze’s police complaint against El Cajon Councilman Ben Kalasho accusing Kalasho of threatening Kruze with atrained attack dog. 

WHO’S RUNNING FOR CITY COUNCIL AND MAYORAL SEATS IN EAST COUNTY?

 

By Miriam Raftery

August 1, 2018 (San Diego’s East County) – The filing deadline to run for local offices is August 10th.   We checked with El Cajon, La Mesa, Lemon Grove and Santee to find out which seats are on the ballot, and who has taken out papers declaring an intent to run for city council or mayor so far.  Below is the list of prospective candidates to date, though more candidates may file, and prospective candidates are not confirmed until they turn in signatures and meet verification requirements to qualify for the November ballot. 

If you are interested in running, you have until August 10 to pull papers and turn in the required signatures from registered voters in support of your candidacy. Since some city offices are closed on Friday the 10th, be sure to check with your local jurisdiction.

City Council and Mayoral races are officially nonpartisan; however, some officials tout their endorsements or affiliations with political parties. For those candidates, we have listed their affiliations.

POLL SHOWS CAMPA-NAJJAR AND REP. HUNTER IN CLOSE CONTENTION; DEMOCRAT BEATS HUNTER IN FUNDRAISING AND HIRES NATIONAL CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST JOE TRIPPI

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

August 1, 2018 (San Diego’s East County) — Republican Congressman Duncan D. Hunter may be facing the toughest challenge of his career. His Democratic opponent, Ammar Campa-Najjar, has raised over a million dollars, more than the $848,000 raised by Hunter as of  June 30th. 

Campa-Najjar has hired prominent national campaign strategist Joe Trippi, known for guiding upset wins even in conservative Congressional districts. Plus a new poll shows the two candidates in the 50th Congressional district in a dead heat among likely voters who reviewed ballot statements on both Campa-Najjar and Hunter.

CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE TO ATTEND MEET & GREET AUG. 25 HOSTED BY ALPINE RESIDENT

 

 

 

East County News Service

 

July 31, 2018 (Alpine) – Congressional candidate Ammar Campa-Najjar will be at a meet and greet open to the public at the Alpine Community Center on August 25th from 1 to 3 p.m. The event is hosted by Alpine resident Anne Craig-Tillmond. 

MIDWAY THROUGH FILING PERIOD, MOST EAST COUNTY OFFICES HAVE NOBODY RUNNING

 

By Miriam Raftery

July 26, 2018 (San Diego’s East County) – The filing period to run for local offices opened on July 16 and closes August 10.  But so far, no candidates have pulled papers to run, let along qualified, in most East County or other inland San Diego County races listed on the Registrar’s site for school boards, water boards, fire boards and community planning groups. In others, only incumbents have filed.

For instance, in the Grossmont Union High School District, heated controversies and lawsuits have erupted over alleged bond misappropriation, failure to build an Alpine High School, and efforts to shut down popular charter schools.  Yet so far, incumbents Jim Kelly, Robert Shield and Dr. Gary Woods have all pulled papers to seek reelection, but nobody has filed to run against them.

Note: City council and mayor candidates apply through cities and will not be listed until after the filing deadline has closed. ECM has requested info from East County cities on those races.

Below are other local races in East County, including names of any candidates who have pulled papers to run (though not yet qualified).

APPRENTICESHIP ACT INTRODUCED BY CONGRESSWOMAN DAVIS

 

East County News Service

July 24, 2018 (San Diego) -- Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-CA-53) and Congressman Brett Guthrie (R-KY-02), ranking member and chairman, respectively, of the House Education and the Workforce Committee’s Higher Education and Workforce Development Subcommittee and co-chairs of the Congressional Apprenticeship Caucus, today introduced the Accessing Professional Partnerships and Resources to Enable Necessary Training and Improve Career Education (APPRENTICE) Act.

“SAFEGUARD OUR SAN DIEGO COUNTRYSIDE” INITIATIVE PROPONENTS SUBMIT SIGNATURES, BUT MAY BE TOO LATE FOR NOVEMBER ELECTION

 

East County News Service

July 24, 2018 (San Diego) -- Proponents of the “Safeguard Our San Diego Countrysideballot initiative have submitted 105,000 signatures to the San Diego Registrar of Voters. But Registrar Michael Vu says it’s unlikely that the signatures can be verified before the August 11 deadline for Supervisors to vote to put the measure on the ballot. Supervisors' last meeting before then is August 8.

EAST COUNTY LEADERSHIP COUNCIL NONPROFIT LAUNCHES FROM EL CAJON DOWNTOWN LIBRARY

 

By Jonathan Goetz

July 23, 2018 (El Cajon) – George Gastil, a former Lemon Grove Councilman and history professor at Grossmont College and San Diego State Univesrity, opened the inaugural meeting of the East County Leadership Council (ECLC).  The newly formed 501c(3) nonprofit organization has a mission statement to promote “quality discussion of politics and public policy in the East County region of San Diego County.”

READER’S EDITORIAL: REVEALED—HERE’S WHAT RUSSIA `HAS’ ON TRUMP

 

By Ricken Patel, Avaaz

July 21, 2018 (San Diego) - It’s now shockingly clear that Donald Trump is Putin’s poodle.

But we need the world to understand why, before it’s too late…

Trump's businesses went bankrupt so many times in the 1990s that many legitimate banks wouldn’t lend to him anymore. He turned to Russian oligarchs -- Putin’s ruling clique -- to bankroll his projects, and launder their dirty money for them. This was, and continues to be, a huge part of his business. He’s a Russian money launderer.

11 INITIATIVES ARE CIRCULATING FOR STATEWIDE BALLOT, BUT COURT BLOCKS MEASURE TO SPLIT UP CALIFORNIA

 

Wacky or worthwhile petitions?  You decide

By Miriam Raftery

July 21, 2018 (Sacramento) – California’s Supreme Court has blocked a controversial initiative from appearing on the November ballot, pending the outcome of a lawsuit challenging its constitutionality. That measure sought to split California into three states. However, 11 other initiatives have been approved by the state’s Attorney General for circulation to collect signatures.   

Before you sign any petitions, read below for summaries, or click the link below this story for full details on these proposed initiatives ranging from practical to bizarre.

One proposed ballot initiative seeks to make California a separate nation. If passed, the Legislature would be required to declare independence from the United States, but there’s no Constitutional provision allowing a state to secede – and secession efforts by southern states are what led to the Civil War.  Any attempt to secede would likely require an amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which takes approval of both houses of Congress and ratification by two thirds of all the states.

Another initiative proposal would ban local governments or special districts from spending bond money on anything not in the bond measure. 

CA DEMOCRATIC PARTY BANS DONATIONS FROM PRIVATE PRISONS; DONATES FUNDS TO AID IMMIGRANTS AND REHABILITATION EFFORTS

 

East County News Service

July 21, 2018 (San Diego’s East County) - California Democratic Party Chair Eric C. Bauman announced today that the CDP will no longer be accepting contributions from companies or trade associations that operate private prisons, private detention centers or other incarceration services as for-profit businesses. 

DR. AKILAH WEBER ANNOUNCES RUN FOR LA MESA CITY COUNCIL

 

East County News Service

July 18, 2018 (La Mesa) – Dr. Akilah Weber, a physician who is the daughter of Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, has announced she is running for the La Mesa City Council.

If elected, she says her three top issue priorities will be public safety, health and wellness, and housing affordability.

SHOULD EL CAJON CENSURE COUNCILMAN KALASHO?

 

By Miriam Raftery

July 15, 2018 (El Cajon) – As the scandals involving Councilman Ben Kalasho mount, with 11 citizens calling for his resignation at the last City Council meeting, some community members are now asking why the City Council has not censured Kalasho, who has announced his intent to run for Mayor. 

TWITTER DROPS FAKE FOLLOWERS; KALASHO’S FOLLOWERS SHRINK BY OVER HALF

 

By Miriam Raftery

July 14, 2018 (El Cajon) – Yesterday, El Cajon Councilman Ben Kalasho posted on Twitter, “Just blocked over 3,000 `reporters and so-called journalists’ from my twitter. Only accepting real people. No snooping snakes. Honest reporters welcome.”

Fact check:  Kalasho’s announcement comes the same day that Twitter dropped tens of millions of fake followers in an effort to halt fraud on social media, the Atlantic Journal Constitution reports:  https://www.ajc.com/news/national/twitter-removes-fake-accounts-users-may-see-drop-followers/Qk4eCHLsFaiiMJBfwocZCN/.

COMMUNITY MEMBERS URGE KALASHO TO RESIGN OVER SEXUAL HARASSMENT FINDINGS AND ALLEGED THREATS

 

 

A group of people in a roomDescription generated with very high confidence

 

 

 

By Briana Ghaffery

View video of Council meeting: https://elcajonca.swagit.com/play/07112018-1233

 

July 11, 2018 (El Cajon) – Eleven speakers called on Councilman Ben Kalasho to resign during public comments at Tuesday’s El Cajon City Council meeting, where the audience included protesters who held signs reading “hands off our daughters” and “sex predator Kalasho belongs in jail” complete with a photoshopped picture of Kalasho as an inmate.

Kalasho has also announced his intention to run for Mayor, challenging incumbent Bill Wells.

JUDGE FINDS FACTS TRUE AND ADMISSIBLE IN CASE AGAINST KALASHOS: FAKED NUDE PHOTOS, SEXUAL HARASSMENT, DEFAMATION, AND OFFER TO TRADE SEX FOR PAGEANT CROWN

 

 

Judicial finding that Kalashos engaged in cyber-harassment, defamation and other intimidating actions comes within days of ECM reporter Paul Kruze filing a police complaint alleging that Councilman Kalasho threatened him with an attack dog and defamed him on social media.

Update: The judge's tentative ruling is now final and the link has been updated.

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Ben and Jessica Kalasho at  a Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce event, before the U.S. Patent and Trademark office forced them to change the name of the organization due to trademark infringement.

July 6, 2018 (El Cajon) – Superior Court Judge Timothy Taylor has issued a judgment granting a motion  filed by beauty pageant contestants and a taco shop owner against El Cajon Councilman Ben Kalasho and his wife, Jessica. The ruling allows documents and a supporting declaration  submitted by plaintiffs’ lawyers to be admitted as facts at trial and  most damning, orders evidence of the following admissions to be submitted  at trial as true facts--meaning the Kalashos cannot dispute the accuracy of these findings in court:

  • Kalasho, his wife their entities created fake nude photos of Miss Middle East pageant Queen Zhala Tawfiq and published them online “intending to cause and causing Ms. Tawfiq severe emotional distress.”
  • Kalasho propositioned pageant contestant Paris Kargar, offering sex in exchange to ensure she won the 2016 Miss Middle East pageant. He made statements indicating her declining this proposition cost her a fair shot at the title.
  • Kalasho whispered in Kargar’s ear, “You are so f*cking hot, I cannot take my eyes off you.” He also made comments about her breasts jiggling as she walked down the runway.
  • Kalasho conducted one-on-one recorded interviews with 2016 contestants including Tawfiq and Karger, but destroyed these videos after the lawsuit in which Kargar contends she was harassed during her interview.
  • Kalasho,his wife and his entities created multiple alias Facebook profiles used to make defamatory posts against Tres Taqueria, including fabricated poll results and false claims of food poisoning after the restaurant owner refused to post Kalasho campaign signs.

SENATOR HUESO NAMED TO CONFERENCE COMMITTEE ON WILDFIRE PREPAREDNESS AND RESPONSE

 

East County News Service

July 5, 2018 (San Diego) -- California Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) has announced the appointment of Senators who will serve on the Conference Committee on Wildfire Preparedness and Response. They include Senator Ben Hueso (D-San Diego), whose district includes the southern portion of East County.

FLOWERS, BUDGET AND TAX PROPOSALS TAKE ROOT AT LEMON GROVE COUNCIL MEETING

 

By Jonathan Goetz

Photo:  Lemon Grove Management Analyst Miranda Evans, smiling, received flowers for her self-taught videography in Lemon Grove's 40th birthday year of celebration and history minutes.

July 5, 2018 (Lemon Grove) -- It wasn’t all flowers Tuesday as the City Council discussed roads, sidewalks, a memorandum of understanding with firefighters and bringing various proposals before voters in order to raise revenue for the City of Lemon Grove, which is forecasting a budget deficit.

FEDERAL JUDGE RULES ASYLUM SEEKERS MUST HAVE HEARINGS AND CAN’T BE ARBITRARILY DETAINED

 

Despite having committed no crime, some asylum seekers have been kept in windowless cells for over a year, never allowed outside even a single day

By Miriam Raftery

July 2, 2018 (Washington D.C.) – People who ask for asylum when they arrive at the U.S. border after fleeing violence and persecution have committed no crime, unlike people who cross the border illegally. Yet the Trump administration has been imprisoning asylum seekers for over a year, even after they passed background checks, were found likely to receive asylum, and in some cases, even after a court granted them asylum but the administration was appealing the cases.

CONGRESSWOMAN SUSAN DAVIS JOINS DEMOCRATIC WOMEN IN PRESSING TRUMP ADMINISTRATION TO EXPLAIN “WHERE ARE THE GIRLS?”

 

East County News Service

June 28, 2018 (San Diego) – Earlier this month, members of Congress visited detention facilities holding boys separated from their immigrant parents at the border. But thus far, no members have been allowed to go inside facilities holding girls who were taken from their mothers or fathers, and no photos have been released showing girls inside the detention centers including one in Lemon Grove.  Now San Diego Congresswoman Susan Davis has signed a letter along with over 50 Democratic women members of Congress pressing the  Secretaries of Homeland Security (DHS) and Health and Human Services (HHS) to release details about immigrant children separated from their parents. 

JUSTICE KENNEDY TO RETIRE IN JULY: TRUMP NOMINATION EXPECTED TO SECURE CONSERVATIVE CONTROL OF SUPREME COURT

 

By Miriam Raftery

June 27, 2018 (Washington D.C.)-  Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy has announced he will retire on July 31st.   Kennedy has long been a swing vote on key issues including abortion, gay rights, and affirmative action, often siding with liberal justices in the key years.

Many key rulings have been decided by a single one-vote margin, so the 82-year-old justice’s retirement means President Donald Trump will have an opportunity to secure solid conservative control of the high court, potentially for decades to come.

SUPERVISORS APPROVE BUDGET INCREASE: PRIORITIES INCLUDE HOUSING, HOMELESSNESS AND MENTAL HEALTH FUNDING

 

By Miriam Raftery

June 27, 2018 (San Diego) – San Diego’s County Board of Supervisors has unanimously approved a budget of over $6 billion budget for the new fiscal year starting July 1st, an increase of 8.4 percent over last year.

TRUMP NOMINATES ROBERT BREWER TO BE U.S. ATTORNEY IN SAN DIEGO

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

June 21, 2018 (San Diego) – President Donald Trump has nominated Robert “Bob” Brewer to serve as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of California.  Brewer is a former assistant U.S. attorney and deputy district attorney who once ran for San Diego district attorney, but was defeated by incumbent Bonnie Dumanis. 

Brewer has prosecuted cases including espionage, bank robberies, smuggling, narcotics, murder for hire and civil rights violations.

He has spent most of his career, however, as a defense attorney representing clients such as Sempra Energy at a time when Sempra was facing bribery allegations in Mexico. In 2011, he was named San Diego’s criminal defense white collar lawyer of the year by Best Lawyers. He’s also been recognized in The Best Lawyers in America.

CALIFORNIA POLITICANS REACT TO TRUMP ORDER ON FAMILY SEPARATION; STATE FILES LAWSUIT

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

June 21, 2018 (San Diego) – East County legislators and California’s state attorney general are taking action in response to President Donald Trump’s executive order to end separation of immigrant children and parents. Some argue that the directive does not go far enough to protect children and babies, since they could still be detained with parents and since it’s unclear how or when youngsters already taken from parents will be reunited.

Trump's reversal came after audiotape of terrified, crying children at a detention facility was released by ProPublica and after a judge sharply criticized the Trump administration upon learning that records were not kept when some children were taken from their anguished parents, who have been unable to get any information on their children's whereabouts 

"I can’t understand this," the exasperated judge reportedly told the attorney. "If someone at the jail takes your wallet, they give you a receipt. They take your kids, and you get nothing? Not even a slip of paper?”

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