Politics

REP. DAVIS INCLUDES LANGUAGE IN NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT TO END MILITARY HUNGER

By Debbie L. Sklar, Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego News Association

Photo:  Rep. Susan Davis celebrates her victory at Golden Hall on Nov. 6. Photo by Chris Stone

July 2, 2020 (Washington, D.C.) - The House Armed Services Committee passed new legislation by San Diego Rep. Susan Davis on Wednesday to end military hunger.


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AMID PANDEMIC, EL CAJON ENDS LEASE WITH CRISIS HOUSE, PUTTING SERVICES FOR HOMELESS PEOPLE AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE VICTIMS AT RISK

By Miriam Raftery

“It’s very likely that we won’t be able to provide the same level of service that we do today….The County has no walk-in services for the homeless, and pretty soon that’s going to be the way it will be in El Cajon.” – Mary Case, Executive Director at Crisis House (photo, left)

June 25, 2020 (El Cajon) – El Cajon’s City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to approve an early lease termination agreement to oust Crisis House from city-owned property at 1034 Magnolia Ave. For the past 26 years, the city has leased the property to Crisis House for a dollar a year, recognizing the value to the community of the services provided by Crisis House, which has a mission to “break the cycle of poverty, domestic violence and homelessness and strengthen families and individuals so that they can thrive and transform their lives.”

The city wants Crisis House gone from is current location near the new Hampton Inn hotel.  So the Council-approved measure offers Crisis House $700,000 if it vacates the property by September 30th. That amount diminishes to just $350,000 by year’s end and $150,000 by March 31, or zero if Crisis house remains until the lease expires on June 30, 2021.

But Mary Case, Executive Director of Crisis House, says that’s not enough time to find an affordable space, adding that the action will almost certainly mean major cuts in services.


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PANDEMIC INFECTS SANTEE’S BUDGET, CAUSES $1 MILLION HIT TO SALES TAXES

By Mike Allen
 
June 28, 2020 (Santee) -- The city of Santee will sustain an estimated loss of $1 million in sales taxes in the coming fiscal year starting July 1, as a result of so many stores being closed or only partially open due to the global Covid-19 pandemic.

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EL CAJON VOTES TO INCREASE FUNDS FOR POLICE DEPARTMENT

By Miriam Raftery

June 25, 2020 (El Cajon) – El Cajon City Council members received hundreds of comments sent via email on the city’s proposed budget, nearly all weighing in on police funding following a nationwide wave of protests over police violence and racial injustice issues.   

Many of the commenters argued for “defunding” or shifting some funds away from police into investments in the community or alternatives to handle mentally ill and homeless people, though many others voiced support for El Cajon Police and supported raising the department’s budget.

The Council unanimously voted for a $120,000 increase for the police.

“The motivation is to keep all the citizens safe,” Councilman Gary Kendrick told ECM.


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SANTEE ADOPTS RESOLUTION DENOUNCING RACISM, CONSIDERS INCLUSIONARY HOUSING LAW

 

By Mike Allen

June 25, 2020 (Santee) -- Santee’s leaders decided they needed to make a public denunciation of racism, hate speech, and intolerance in response to a flurry of recent ugly incidents in their predominantly white city.

At the June 24 City Council meeting, Mayor John Minto said the unanimously passed resolution condemning racism will be a guiding principle as the city confronts its past.

“We acknowledge that we’ve had problems but we’re not going to allow those problems to stop us from moving forward and doing better,” Minto said.


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JONES' MEASURE REDUCING LICENSING BURDENS ON CALIFORNIANS PASSED BY SENATE

East County News Service

 

June 25, 2020 (Sacramento) -- A measure by State Senator Brian Jones (R-Santee) to reduce the licensing burden on working Californians was unanimously approved by the Senate yesterday.


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EL CAJON EASES REQUIREMENTS FOR SIDEWALK CAFES AMID COVID RESTRICTIONS

By Miriam Raftery

June 25, 2020 (El Cajon) – Owners of reopened restaurant are struggling to generate profits while complying with social distancing requirements of six feet between tables due to COVID-19. Now the El Cajon City Council has unanimously voted to make it easier for eateries to expand outdoors.

The Council approved a second reading on June 23 of an emergency ordinance passed unanimously June 9. It allows restaurants to skip cumbersome conditional-use permit requirements for sidewalk dining. The new ordinance will remain in effect through the end of this year, but an extension or option to make it permanent may be considered later on.

Previously, a conditional use permit, or CUP, required extra fees and delays due to an environmental review, followed by approval of both the Planning Commission and the City Council.


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COUNTY TO CONTINUE VIRTUAL BOARD OF SUPERVISORS MEETINGS

By Michelle Mowad, County of San Diego Communications Office

Photo: County News Center

June 22, 2020 (San Diego) -- Due to the restrictions on gatherings in response to COVID-19, in-person participation at the County Board of Supervisors meetings on Tuesday, June 23 and Wednesday, June 24 will not be permitted. The public can watch the meetings live online or on television. They can submit eComments or request to speak via teleconference.

{Click "Read more" to see the convenient ways to tune in. Whether it's online, TV or phone, and/or more information on how to submit public comment.}


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COMPETING RALLIES IN SAN DIEGO: TRUMP BOAT PARADE AND BLACK LIVES MATTER MARCH

By Henri Migala

 

June 20, 2020 (San Diego) -- Reflecting the sentiments of the entire country, San Diego hosted competing rallies on Saturday, June 13: a pro-Trump boat parade on San Diego Bay, and a Black Lives Matter rally at the embarcadero.


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LA MESA TASK FORCE ADOPTS AGGRESSIVE SCHEDULE IN HOPES OF GETTING POLICE OVERSIGHT BOARD ON BALLOT

By Kendra Sitton

Photo: Jack Shu has proposed a ballot measure to create a police oversight commission for La Mesa.

June 17, 2020 (La Mesa) -- In a meeting Wednesday, June 17, the Citizen Oversight Task Force set a plan in motion that could culminate in a November ballot initiative to bring a strong police oversight commission to La Mesa.

After missing several meetings due to the coronavirus, the group resumed meeting in the wake of mass protests and riots over the La Mesa Police Department’s mistreatment of the Black community.


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CITY OF LA MESA HIRES NEW ASSISTANT CITY MANAGER CARLO TOMAINO

East County News Service
Photo: Tomaino, Carlo - Assistant City Manager
Source: City of La Mesa, California
 
June 16, 2020 (La Mesa) -- After an extensive, national recruitment process, Carlo Tomaino has been chosen for the Assistant City Manager position for the City of La Mesa,. Mr. Tomaino comes to La Mesa after thirteen years at the City of Lake Forest, California where he was the Economic Development/Housing Manager for the past three years. Mr. Tomaino was responsible for Lake Forest’s economic development programs, including business attraction and retention strategies, marketing outreach, and communication. He coordinated the economic development function with city departments and outside agencies.

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LA MESA SETTLED SUIT WITH HELIX HIGH STUDENT IN OFFICER USE OF FORCE INCIDENT

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Student walk-out at Helix Charter High School in January 2018 

June 15, 2020 (La Mesa) – The San Diego Union-Tribune reported Friday that the City of La Mesa quietly signed an agreement back on Sept 5, 2019 to settle a lawsuit filed by a Helix Charter High School student over a use-of-force incident shown on a video that went viral.  


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COVID-19 BECOMES KEY ISSUE IN EAST COUNTY ELECTIONS

Candidates for Congress, county supervisor, cite voter concern  

By Emmet Pierce

Photos,  top left to lower right:  Darrell Issa, Ammar Campa-Najjar, Georgette Gomez, Sara Jacobs, Joel Anderson and Steve Vaus

 

June 12, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- As East County residents struggle to recover from the health and economic impacts of COVID-19, the pandemic is becoming a key issue in the November election.

ECM spoke with candidates for our region’s top tier races, where three open seats will mean new leadership for the first time in decades in two of our region’s Congressional districts as well as East County’s county supervisorial district.


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

By Mike Allen

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

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

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

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


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

By Briana Gomez

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

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

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

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


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EXCLUSIVE: ECM INTERVIEWS LA MESA MAYOR AND POLICE CHIEF ON PROTEST PREPARATIONS AND RIOT RESPONSES

 

By Miriam Raftery

Videography by Paul Kruze

June 10, 2020 (La Mesa) – Hours after the city of La Mesa released a timeline and incident narrative on the May 30-31 protest over police violence and the riot that ensued, ECM editor Miriam Raftery and contributing editor Paul Kruze conducted exclusive interviews with Mayor Mark Arapostathis and La Mesa Police Chief Walt Vasquez yesterday at the La Mesa community center, seeking answers to questions on protest preparations and riot responses.


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

By Miriam Raftery

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

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

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


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LA MESA DELAYS TIMELINE ON WEEKEND PROTESTS, VANDALISM TILL NEXT WEEK

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

Photo:  La Mesa Mayor Mark Arapostathis said Wednesday: “We were totally overwhelmed by the situation. We were not prepared for a peaceful protest to erupt into the level of civil unrest we witnessed as the evening fell.” Photo by Chris Stone

June 6, 2020 (La Mesa) - Contrary to a recent pledge, La Mesa said Friday that a timeline of events related to last weekend’s protests and vandalism won’t be released until early next week.


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LA MESA LEADERS ADDRESS UNREST, PROMISE REVIEW, END OF POLICE CHOKEHOLD AT PRESS CONFERENCE

Lack of answers stokes activists’ anger after violent arrest, injured woman at protest

By Kendra Sitton

Photo,left by Kendra Sitton: La Mesa Police Chief Walt Vasquez

June 5, 1010 (La Mesa) – At a press conference held Wednesday, La Mesa Mayor Mark Arapostathis, Chief of Police Walt Vasquez and other officials provided more information on the protests and riots that engulfed the city last Saturday. Officials also revealed more details about two recent controversial police incidents in La Mesa, although not enough to satisfy the citizens involved and their families.


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TRUMP TELLS "WEAK" GOVERNORS TO "DOMINATE" PROTESTERS

By Joe Gandelman, The Moderate Voice, a member of the San Diego Online News Association

June 1, 2020 (San Diego) - After a weekend when more demonstrations and looting spread in aftermath of the death of Floyd George, CBS News reports that in a teleconference with governors Donald Trump called governors “weak,” said they need to “dominate” protesters.


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SANTEE EXTENDS PANDEMIC RENT RELIEF TO JUNE, REVIEWS PLANS FOR COUNCIL CHAMBER RENOVATION

By Mike Allen

May 29, 2020 (Santee) -- Santee’s City Council voted unanimously May 27 to extend a moratorium on evictions of both residential and commercial tenants impacted by the coronavirus to the end of June.

The Council enacted an urgency ordinance installing a moratorium on evictions April 8 that was set to expire May 31. The city took the action despite the fact that the state of California already has executive orders in place barring evictions of tenants who can show they have been negatively impacted by the lockdown of all non-essential businesses starting March 19.

Councilwoman Laura Koval said given the fact that so many residents are unemployed, and have yet to receive their first check from the state, it’s necessary that the city provide them with some safety net.


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FLAGS FLY AT HALF-STAFF THROUGH MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND TO HONOR CORONAVIRUS VICTIMS AND MILITARY KILLED SERVING U.S.

By Miriam Raftery

May 23, 2020 (San Diego) – This Memorial Day weekend, the number of Americans killed by COVID-19 is expected to top 100,000--more than the total of lives lost in the Vietnam and Korean wars combined.  President Donald Trump has ordered flags flown at half staff from Friday through Sunday at all federal buildings and national monuments “in memory of the Americans we have lost to the coronavirus,” he announced on Twitter. Then on Monday, flags will again be lowered to half-staff to honor military members killed in service to the U.S.


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LEMON GROVE OFFICIALS TURN TO DIGITAL BILLBOARD TO IMPROVE REVENUE STREAM

By Emmet Pierce

Photo: Conceptual concept of the billboard, courtesy of Lemon Grove

May 23, 2020 (Lemon Grove) -- Fiscally distressed Lemon Grove is counting on the placement of a digital billboard near Highway 94 to create a new stream of municipal revenue.


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SENATE PUBLIC SAFETY COMMITTEE KILLS JONES' PORCH PIRACY SOLUTION

"During the COVID-19 crisis, vulnerable individuals unable to leave their home rely on package delivery for essential items such as medication and food"
 
East County News Service
 
Photo:  Creative Commons by SA-NC
 
May 20, 2020 (Sacramento) - Today, the Senate Public Safety Committee voted down State Senator Brian Jones' (R-Santee) Senate Bill 979, a measure to increase the penalties on persons who steal packages from the porch or entryway of someone's home.

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SANTEE COUNCIL RESPONDS TO RACIST MASK INCIDENTS, SIGNALS CHALLENGE TO TERM LIMIT MEASURE

 

By Mike Allen

Video by Ana Nita: discussion on racial incidents

May 16, 2020 (Santee) -- In the wake of two nationally-publicized racial incidents inside local grocery stores earlier this month, the Santee City Council voted on May 13 to confront the issue by expanding a community police board that will develop strategies for addressing intolerance. The incidents involved shoppers who wore masks with hate symbols during a county health order mandating masks in stores to prevent spread of COVID-19.

Mayor John Minto, who publicly denounced the incidents soon after they occurred, said he spent many hours talking with residents about what happened, and is convinced the city cannot ignore or simply shrug it off.

“We have to understand why and where it’s happening,” Minto said. “We’re going to triage it, find out where most of the worst symptoms are, and bring people together.”


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SUPERVISORS TO VOTE ON ACCELERATED REOPENING PLAN AFTER GOV. NEWSOM ANNOUNCES NEW GUIDELINES

By Miriam Raftery

May 19, 2020 (San Diego) – Today, San Diego County’s Board of Supervisors will vote on a plan to allow reopening of the local economy at an accelerated pace in conformance with new state rules, the county has announced. The action follows Governor Gavin Newsom’s announcement yesterday of new state guidelines that will allow the vast majority of California counties to move quickly through phase two.

You can watch the meeting online or join via phone to view the discussion on reopening, which is item 5 on the agenda.

If the state approves San Diego’s plans, among the first businesses to benefit could be retailers allowed to have customers inside stores. Dining in at restaurants could also resume in the near future. Both would require social distancing, masks, health and sanitation plans submitted by each business. In addition, Governor Newsom has indicated that hair salons, church gatherings and professional sports without spectators could start up again as early as June.

The Governor estimates that 53 of 58 counties could meet the new criteria, aimed at allowing those areas with lower levels of COVID-19 and that meet certain requirements to reopen sooner than those with high levels.  Requirements include:


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SHAPE SAN DIEGO COUNTY'S FUTURE - SERVE ON REDISTRICTING COMMISSION

Prominent East County Democrat calls for appointments to commission to be delayed until new Superrvisors take office

By Miriam Raftery

Photo:  Black Mountain area in San Diego. Courtesy: Shutterstock

May 18, 2020 (San Diego) - The opportunity only comes once every 10 years – a chance to redraw the boundaries of the County’s five supervisorial districts.

The County is taking applications now for people who can serve on its Independent Redistricting Commission. Members will redraw the district lines to reflect the new numbers in the federal census.

District lines can shape a community’s ability to elect the representative of their choice--and how redistricting commissioners are chosen will impact electoral decisions for the next decade. 

 


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LA MESA APPROVES REOPENING SOME PARKS, WAIVING BUSINESS LICENSE FEES, AND RELIEF WITH CARES ACT FUNDS

By Jake Zawlacki

May 17, 2020 (La Mesa) -- On May 12th, the La Mesa City Council unanimously approved three considerations brought to the Council to aid businesses impacted by COVID-19, reopen some parks, and allocate federal CARES Act funds to help the homeless and others.


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IN TOWNHALL, LOCAL LEADERS ANSWER QUESTIONS OVER COVID-19 AND REOPENING LOCAL VENUES

By Miriam Raftery

May 12, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – Supervisor Dianne Jacob hosted a virtual town hall last Thursday along with El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells and Poway Mayor Steve Vaus. They provided updates on the COVID-19 pandemic locally, addressed ideas for  more businesses, churches and other paces to reopen, and fielded questions submitted by constituents.


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EL CAJON AND SANTEE MAYORS DISCUSSES LONG TERM SOCIAL COSTS AND IMPACTS OF COVID-19 IN GOP ONLINE TOWN HALL

Pandemic’s impacts on Live Nation, operator of The Magnolia performing arts center, also discussed

 

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

 

El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells Video

 

Santee Mayor John Minto Video

 

May 8, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- “When people are bored and feel trapped, they often resort to using drugs and alcohol. We’re going to see a huge increase in drug and alcohol abuse that’s going to have a corresponding effect on domestic violence and other problems like that,” said El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells (R) as a part of an hour-long question and answer webcast presented and moderated by San Diego County Republican Central Committee Chairman Tony Krvaric last Tuesday. 


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