Politics

CONGRESS APPROVES $900 BILLION COVID-19 RELIEF PACKAGE: TRUMP SAYS HE WILL SIGN IT

 

Update December 21, 2020: The House and Senate have both approved the virus relief package, which is now on President Trump's desk.  If it is signed into law, stimulus checks could begin to be deposited in recipients' bank accounts starting in early January.

By Miriam Raftery

December 20, 2020 (Washington D.C.) – The four top leaders in the U.S. House and Senate have hammered out a $900 billion relief package, bringing welcome news just in the for the holidays to American households, businesses, schools and tribes impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Congressional leaders tied the relief measure to a bill to fund the government and prevent a shutdown, also passing stopgap measures to fund the government over the next several days. The measure is expected to be voted on and adopted Monday; the White House has indicated that President Donald Trump is prepared to sign the measure.

It’s the first relief measure since March, despite surging cases and overloaded hospitals, new business shutdowns, unemployment benefits and eviction moratoriums set to run out at year’s end. The bipartisan measure was crafted by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy.

WHAT’S IN THE BILL:


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CONGRESSWOMAN-ELECT SARA JACOBS TO SERVE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE

ReSara Jacobs during virtual meetingprinted from Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego Online News Association

Photo: Sara Jacobs during a recent virtual meeting, via her Twitter feed

December 20, 2020 (San Diego)- - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday nominated Congresswoman-Elect Sara Jacobs to the influential House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Jacobs, a Democrat who won election in November to succeed retiring Rep. Susan Davis in the 53rd District that includes much of East County, is the only freshman member of congress to be nominated to the committee, which is responsible for oversight and legislation relating to all aspects of U.S. foreign policy.

It’s the second committee placement for Jacobs, who was earlier nominated to the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee.


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REGISTRAR OF VOTERS CERTIFIES CHALLENGE TO FANITA RANCH

By Mike Allen
 
December 17, 2020 (Santee) -- The county Registrar of Voters certified that a challenge to the largest housing project in Santee’s history is successful, verifying that enough valid signatures needed to qualify for a public vote were collected.

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READER’S EDITORIAL: WILL DONALD TRUMP RUN FOR REELECTION IN 2024?

By Greg Dunne
 
Photo: Creative Commons by SA via Bing
 
December 11, 2020 (Alpine) --  Will Donald Trump run for re-election in 2020? He has so many “tremendous” reasons to run again in 2024. He needs to pardon himself, again, if this first pardon does not work. He needs to show the Country the 2020 election was rigged and that in 2024 he can beat Joe Biden in a “legitimate” election. He loves rallies and he can start them on January 21st, 2021, the day after the presidential inauguration. What is more, he does not have to burn any brain cells by coming up with a new campaign slogan, he will just use the same one “Make America Great Again” which was successful in his 2016 presidential campaign.
 
On the serious side, I think he will run because he has a competitive nature and he definitely does not like to lose. He will run again because he has got plenty of energy to do so (at 78 years of age in 2024 he will still be going strong). He will run again to avoid any financial troubles he would be facing if he is not running for a second term as President of the United Sates. He will run again because it is a fight to run for office and being of a competitive nature, he is good at a fight. He will run again because he will long to boast about “how nobody thought it could be done”; a lot like Muhammad Ali boasting about himself winning the heavy weight title again and again (but not nearly as well-spoken as Ali). 
 

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SENATOR JONES JOINS BI-PARTISAN GROUP DEFENDING RESTAURANT EMPLOYEES

11 Senators urge that Governor “immediately reclassify the restaurant industry as critical infrastructure before even more damage is done to our communities.

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Giardino Neighborhood Cucina in Lemon Grove, like many other restaurants, invested heavily in setting up outdoor dining, only to be closed down for all but takeout or delivery by the latest public health orders.

December 16, 2020 (Santee) – Senator Brian Jones (R-Santee) and ten other Senators sent a strongly worded letter to Governor Gavin Newsom on behalf of out of work restaurant employees and owners suffering during the state-ordered shutdown of indoor and outdoor dining throughout much of California.

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DUNCAN HUNTER ANGLING FOR PARDON? EXPERTS FORESEE TRUMP CLEMENCY

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

Photo:  Rep. Duncan D. Hunter walks from court hearing in December 2019. Photo by Ken Stone

December 16, 2020 (San Diego) - In 20 days, former Rep. Duncan D. Hunter is set to report to prison. But legal and political experts think it’s unlikely he’ll see the inside of Federal Correctional Institutional, La Tuna, near El Paso, Texas.


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NEWLY RE-ELECTED LEMON GROVE MAYOR RACQUEL VASQUEZ DELIVERS COVID19-DELAYED STATE OF THE CITY ADDRESS

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

(Photo of Mayor Racquel Vasquez courtesy of the City of Lemon Grove)

Dec. 15, 2020 (Lemon Grove) --“This year we lived our daily lives a little differently,” Lemon Grove Mayor Racquel Vasquez said during her 2020 State of the City address, which was originally slated for August but delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was recorded November 30th and posted on YouTube since bans on gatherings prohibit a live address.

“Every day I witness the kindness of our community members in wearing face mask coverings and performing well-being checks for our family, friends, and neighbors," Vasquez  said of the community’s response to the pandemic.


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SANTEE RECOUNT ENDS, HURST CONCEDES TO TROTTER

By Miriam Raftery; Michael Allen also contributed to this story

Photos by Erik Herrara

December 15, 2020 (Santee) – Yesterday’s recount in the Santee District 4 City Council race took place at the Registrar of Voters.  Each candidate picked up one additional vote from ballots that were not previously opened or counted, but it didn’t change the outcome. Dustin Trotter officially has 3,920 votes – a mere five vote margin over Samm Hurst, with 3,915.

The San Diego County Democratic Party agreed to terminate the recount after only minimal changes in the vote count once untallied ballots were examined. 

According to Assistant Registrar of Voters Cynthia Paes, a little over 1,000 ballots were recounted, out of around 8,000 cast in district 4.  The full-day recount involved about 25 staffers. Both sides challenged ballots; out of nine that were uncounted and unopened, and after adjudication by Registrar Michael Vu, three were opened and counted.  Besides one vote found for each candidate, a third untallied ballot was opened and found to have neither candidate marked in the Santee Council race.


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'THE WILL OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE': OFFICIAL ELECTORAL COLLEGE VOTE FINALIZES THAT BIDEN WON AND TRUMP LOST

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer

Originally published by Common Dreams under a Creative Commons license

December 14, 2020 (Washington, D.C.) - Members of the Electoral College convened in state capitals across the nation on Monday to cast their official votes for president, and despite a desperate and doomed attempt by President Donald Trump to put forth a slate of "alternative electors," the official tallies put Joe Biden that much closer to becoming the 46th president of the United States.


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SUPERVISORS DELAY DECISION ON RENEWABLE ENERGY OVERLAY OPTIONS UNTIL JAN. 27

East County News Service

 

December 13, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – San Diego County Supervisors have voted to delay until January 27, 2021 a decision on Renewable Energy Overlay Options originally slated for Dec. 9, 2020.  The options aim to streamline approval of industrial-scale wind and solar projects across much of East County’s rural, mountain and desert areas.


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CALIFORNIA PROPOSITIONS: FINAL 2020 RESULTS

By Pennell Paugh

December 13, 2020 (Sacramento) – California’s Secretary of State certified election returns on December 11 for the statewide ballot propositions. Below are the final results.


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WARNER SPRINGS SCHOOL BOARD RACE ENDS IN TIE, CAPPING OFF A WILD WEEK

By Miriam Raftery
 
Photo via CC by NC-ND:  a coin toss or other game of chance will determine the outcome in this race
 
Update December 16, 2020:  Gene Doxey won the coin toss -- and the seat on the Warner Sprngs Unified School District board.
 
December 9, 2020 (Warner Springs) – It’s been a wild week in Warner Springs.  First, an earthquake centered near the tiny mountain town jolted residents awake on Sunday morning. Then high winds prompted SDG&E to shut off power in the area for multiple days, forcing closure of schools in the Warner Springs Unified School District.
 
Now, an election for one of three seats on the school board has ended in a draw. Gene Doxey and Terry Cox each got 352 votes, tying for third place. There’s an important lesson to be learned for parents and students:  every vote counts!

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MARGARET HUNTER SEEKS TO DIVORCE EX-CONGRESSMAN HUSBAND DUNCAN D. HUNTER

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

Photo:  Duncan D. Hunter and his wife, Margaret, are seen in La Mesa at 2014 Polonia United event for Polish-Americans in the San Diego region. Margaret is the oldest daughter of Steve and Miroslawa Jankowski, who moved their two daughters to America in the late 1980s. Photo by Miriam Raftery

December 8, 2020 (San Diego) - The estranged wife of former Rep. Duncan D. Hunter is suing for divorce after 22 years of marriage — bringing an end to a family and legal drama that saw her cooperate with prosecutors in the East County Republican’s corruption scandal.


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LAWMAKERS WEIGH MORATORIUM EXTENSION AS EVICTION CLIFF LOOMS

By Matt Levin, CalMatters

CalMatters is an independent public interest journalism venture covering California state politics and government.

Photo:  CC-By-ND via Bing

December 8, 2020 (Sacramento) - With California’s eviction moratorium set to expire in less than 60 days and 2 million people at risk of losing their rental homes, a group of tenant-friendly lawmakers want to forestall evictions for another year. 


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SANTEE COUNCIL DISTRICT 4 GOES TO RECOUNT, ALSO SEEKS EXAMINATION OF UNCOUNTED BALLOTS

By Mike Allen

Photos: Samm Hurst and Dustin Trotter

December 8, 2020 (Santee) -- With only five votes separating winner Dustin Trotter and Samm Hurst in Santee’s City Council District 4 race, a recount of the nearly 8,000 votes cast has been requested.

The San Diego Democratic Party has requested the recount in a letter sent to Registrar of Voters Michael Vu yesterday, one day before the deadline. Hurst, a UCSD professor, is a registered Democrat.

Will Rodriguez Kennedy, party chair, signed the letter which states that given the closeness of the vote, “I believe a thorough recount could affect the outcome.”

He said the process should involve not only the nearly 8,000 ballots cast, but the ballots that were not counted, including unopened and rejected mail-in ballots, as well as provisional ballots.


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DECEASED CANDIDATE WINS RAMONA WATER DISTRICT ELECTION: BOARD TO DISCUSS HOW TO FILL VACANCY AT DEC. 8 MEETING

 

Update November 9, 2020:  The Ramona Water District Board voted last night to fill this vacancy by appointment.  Click here to learn more.

By Miriam Raftery

December 7, 2020 (Ramona) – Thomas Ace, 73, an incumbent on the Ramona Municipal Water District Board and former Lakeside Fire Protection District Chief, died October 24.  He still received the most votes in the November election for the water district’s Division 3 seat, with 1,766 votes to defeat Rex Schildhouse, who got 1,654 votes – a margin of just 112 votes, according to the election results certified Dec. 3 by the San Diego County Registrar of Voters.

The water district’s board of directors has the option to fill the vacancy by appointment, or call a special election. Options will be discussed at the next board meeting Dec.8 at 2 p.m., which will be held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the board agenda indicates.


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SENATOR JONES TO HOST VIRTUAL HOLIDAY OPEN HOUSE DEC. 9

East County News Service

December 7, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – State Senator Brian Jones will hold his annual holiday open house online this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“2020 has been a year of changes and challenges,” says Jones on the party invitaiton. “But in keeping with past traditions,my wife and I will still greet every attendee!” Each guest will have a 3-minute meeting slot assigned when you RSVP, as well as an opportunity to talk with staff on any ideas for legislation or if you need help with a state agency.


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JOEL ANDERSON DECLARES VICTORY IN TIGHT SUPERVISOR RACE AFTER TALLY IS CERTIFIED

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

Photo by Chris Stone: Republican Joel Anderson returns to office after stints in the state Legislature.

December 7, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- Joel Anderson declared victory over fellow Republican Steve Vaus on Thursday as the San Diego County Registrar of Voters certified results of their close county Board of Supervisors race.

“I am grateful to have earned the trust and support of the residents of East County to represent them on the county Board of Supervisors,” said District 2 winner Anderson. “I also want to recognize Supervisor Dianne Jacob, the longest-serving county supervisor, for 28 years of dedicated service to East County.”

Results stayed the same as recent days — with Anderson edging Poway Mayor Vaus by 282 votes of nearly 290,000 cast.


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HOT TOPICS IN LEMON GROVE

By Dr. Helen Horvath

 

November 28, 2020 (Lemon Grove) -- On November 17, the City of Lemon Grove held its bimonthly City Council meeting virtually through Zoom, addressing several hot topics including take-out alcohol sales, block grants, COVID-19, marijuana taxation and more.


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UP IN SMOKE? LEMON GROVE LEADERS WEIGH RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA APPROVAL AND TAXATION TO EASE FISCAL CRISIS

By Helen L. Horvath, PsyD

 

November 28, 2020 (Lemon Grove) – One of the hottest topics on the November 17th Lemon Grove City Council meeting held via Zoom was how to develop revenue streams to decrease Lemon Grove’s budget deficit. This need to increase the City’s financial strength has led to many hard choices and a community desire to find innovative methods to raise tax revenues. 


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REMAINING MEMBERS SELECTED FOR COUNTY REDISTRICTING COMMISSION

By Tracy DeFore, County of San Diego Communications Office

November 25, 2020 (San Diego) - All 14 of the required members for the County’s new Independent Redistricting Commission are now on board. The final six were selected on Friday.


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READER’S EDITORIAL: PARDON ME

By Dr. Juan Andrade, Jr.

 

Photo via the White House

November 25, 2020 (Washington D.C.) -- Well, it’s that time of year, “I beg your pardon.” Just not sure which turkey should be pardoning which. Of course, Trump will try to pardon both the Feathered One AND the self-anointed “Chosen One,” if he can. There is no consensus among constitutional experts as to whether Trump could actually pardon himself, so don’t be surprised if he does. After all, the question would obviously be decided by a trumped up Supreme Court, so what would he have to lose?


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TRUMP ADMINISTRATION AGREES TO BEGIN TRANSITION TO PRESIDENT-ELECT BIDEN'S TEAM

By Miriam Raftery

November 23, 2020 (Washington D.C.) – Today, President Donald Trump acknowledged that he has instructed his administration to begin the transition to President-Elect Joe Biden and his team.

The announcement came on Twitter, after Michigan and Georgia certified their electors and a judge dismissed Trump’s challenge in Pennsylvania.  Biden won the popular vote by more than 6 million votes and has 306 electoral votes; 270 are needed to win.

In a Tweet today, Trump stated that he was recommended that General Services Administration chief Emily Murphy “do what needs to be done with regard to initial protocols, and have told my team to do the same.”


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CONGRESS APPROVES BILL TO ALLOW FREE ACCESS TO NATIONAL PARKS FOR WOUNDED VETERANS

By Miriam Raftery

 

November 23, 2020 (Washington, D.C.) - The House of Representatives passed the Wounded Veterans Recreation Act to provide all veterans with a service-connected disability a National Parks and Federal Lands Pass free of charge. The bill already passed the Senate and after House approval, now heads to the President’s desk to await signature.


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SENATOR FEINSTEIN COSPONSORS RECOVERY ACTS FOR BUSINESSES AND THEATERS, BUT COMMITTEES STALL ACTION

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo by Ron Logan

November 22, 2020 (San Diego) – Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) is cosponsoring two measures aimed at helping struggling businesses as other benefits run out, as well as a measure specifically aimed at helping arts organizations such as theaters.

Senator Feinstein states, “More assistance is clearly needed.  Artistic and cultural institutions are struggling for their survival.”


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HOUSE PASSES REP. SUSAN DAVIS' LEGISLATION TO EXPAND APPRENTICESHIPS, INVEST IN WORKFORCE TRAINING

East County News Service

November 20, 2020 (Washington, D.C.) - The House of Representatives passed Congresswoman Susan Davis’s (CA-53) legislation to reauthorize the National Apprenticeship Act that would create nearly one million new Registered Apprenticeship, youth apprenticeship, and pre-apprenticeship positions over the next five years. The National Apprenticeship Act of 2020 invests nearly $3.5 billion over five years to scale-up apprenticeship opportunities, streamline access to apprenticeships for workers and employers, and expand apprenticeships into new in-demand industry sectors and occupations. Davis’s bill passed on bipartisan vote of 246 to 140.


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UNMASKED: DOCTORS’ ASSOCIATION EXECS JOINED NEWSOM AT LOBBYIST’S BIRTHDAY BASH

By Laurel Rosenhall, CalMatters

CALmatters is an independent public interest journalism venture covering California state politics and government.

Photo: The exclusive French Laundry restaurant in the Napa Valley, where California Gov. Gavin Newsom and representatives of the California Medical Association, the doctors' lobby, dined at a birthday party for lobbyist Jason Kinney — despite telling the public to avoid such gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic. Photo by K Tao via Flickr

November 18, 2020 (Napa Valley) - The dinner party Gov. Gavin Newsom apologized this week for attending — saying it was a mistake to dine with so many people amid the coronavirus pandemic — included two guests who lobby on behalf of California doctors, the very profession that has been imploring people to refrain from social activity that could hasten the virus’ spread. 


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INVESTIVATIVE REPORTER GREG PALAST SPEAKS OUT ON 2020 ELECTION INTEGRITY

November 18, 2020 (San Diego's East County) -- ECM held an interview via ZOOM yesterday with investigative reporter Greg Palast. 

The award-winning journalist and author shared results of his latest investigative results publicized by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). His investigation found massive numbers of disenfranchised minority voters in Georgia, who were falsely taken off voting rolls for having moved, but they never relocated. His findings have helped many of those voters reregister in time to have their votes counted.

Palast also talks about the Georgia recount, possible (though unlikely) scenarios for  Congress to determine who won the 2020 election should any states refuse to certify their electors, and the upcoming Georgia Senate runoff races that could determine the balance of power in the U.S. Senate.

Palast has East County roots; his late parents were long-time residents of La Mesa. 


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ANDERSON WIDENS LEAD, SANTEE COUNCIL RACE STILL CLOSE

By Miriam Raftery

November 16, 2020 (San Diego's East County) - With the latest update from the Registrar of Voters, former State Senator Joel Anderson has increased his lead over Poway Mayor Steve Vaus in the second supervisorial district to 259 votes, out of nearly 290,000 votes cast.  Anderson has 50.04% and Vaus 49.96%, a difference of less than one-tenth of one percent.  But with only 10,000 ballots remaining to be counted countywide, with perhaps only around 2,000 ballots per supervisorial district, hopes of Vaus to regain the lead are rapidly diminishing.

Both Anderson and Vaus are Republicans, though Anderson was endorsed by the County Republican Party. Vaus won endorsement of Dianne Jacob, who is retiring as Supervisor after over 25 years due to term limits. If Anderson's lead holds, he may well owe his election to party slate mailers backing his candidacy. Both candidates were well funded and blitzed votes with a barrage of mailers of their own, some touting their experience and issue positions, others focused on negative messaging regarding their opponents.

The open city council seat in Santee is even closer, with only five votes separating the two candidates. Dustin Trotter, a contractor, leads Samantha Hurst, a research and teacher, by 3,911 to 3,906 votes. Should the race end in a tie, state law would require that it be decided by random draw. 


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UPDATES ON CLOSE RACES

November 13, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- As of the Thursday night updates posted by the county Registrar of Voters, East County has several tight races.  The closest is in Santee, where city council candidates Dustin Trotter and Samantha Hurst are separated by just four votes, with Trotter taking the lead after the two were actually tied earlier in the week.

Hurst, a UCSD researcher and instructor, opposes the controversial Fanita Ranch development and supports racial tolerance.  Trotter is a building contractor who has drawn controversy over his involvement with Defend East County, a group recently banned from Facebook, and Working Class Patriot, a group that advocated for people to “pray for peace and prepare for war” on Election Day.


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