Politics

THE NUTS AND BOLTS OF STARTING A HOME KITCHEN (MEHKO)

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

Jan. 30, 2022 (East County) The County of San Diego’s Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on Jan. 26 to adopt a local ordinance to allow, on a temporary two-year basis, Micro-Enterprise Home Kitchen Operations (MEHKO) in the County. 

Apartments, leased spaces, and houses will all be considered private homes. The County cautions future home cooks to check their lease and see if a MEHKO is allowed. Multiple people are not allowed to each operate a MEHKO, or cottage food operation (CFO), in one residence.


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IMMIGRANT RIGHTS GROUP PRAISES CONGRESSIONAL ACTION TO INVESTIGATE BORDER PATROL “COVER-UP UNITS”

East County News Service

January 29, 2022  (San Diego) – This week, 10 House and Senate committee chairs sent a letter to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) requesting an investigation into the involvement of U.S. Customs and Border Patrol’s Critical Incident Teams (CITs) along the southern border region. 


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FORMER EMPLOYEE AT COUNTY ASSESSOR’S OFFICE CHARGED WITH FELONY CONFLICT OF INTEREST

By Miriam Raftery

January 28, 2022 (San Diego) – The former chief deputy for information systems in the San Diego County Assessor/Recorder/ Clerk’s office has been charged with steering county contracts to his wife’s company from 2017-2020.


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CONGRESSWOMAN SARA JACOBS TRAVELS TO UKRAINE WITH CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION AMID FEARS OF RUSSIAN INVASION

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Map of Ukraine, cc by NC via Bing

January 25, 2022 (San Diego) – Fears that Russia aims to invade the Ukraine have grown in recent weeks, after Russia sent an estimated 100,000 troops to the Ukrainian border, staged military exercises and demanded that NATO deny admission to the former Soviet-bloc nation. The U.S. has sent arms to the Ukraine and has warned Russian President Vladimir Putin of severe sanctions if he orders an attack on the Ukraine, which U.S. President Joe Biden says would be “the largest invasion since World War II. It would change the world.”


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WANT TO HELP PRESERVE DEMOCRACY? SIGN UP AS A POLL WORKER

By Suzanne Potter, California News Service

Photo: CC by SA-NC via Bing

January 25, 2022 (San Diego) -- Today is National Poll Worker Recruitment Day, and counties across California and nationwide are looking to hire.

Between the pandemic and the retirement of thousands of older people who have served as poll workers, the situation is grim for ensuring there will be enough people for midterm elections.


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ANDERSON URGES SUPERVISORS TO PREPARE FOR UPCOMING PUBLIC SAFETY OFFICER SHORTAGES

Action is needed to address public safety, Anderson says

East County News Service

January 22, 2022 (San Diego) -- At the January 25 Board of Supervisors meeting, Supervisor Joel Anderson will present a letter to the board urging the County to be prepared to face anticipated upcoming public safety personnel shortages throughout the region as vaccine mandates, retirements, recruitment and retention issues impact staffing levels.


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LEMON GROVE APPROVES MTS CONTRACT, SEWER REPAIRS AND SEAT DESIGNATIONS

By Elijah McKee

January 21, 2022 (Lemon Grove) — The Lemon Grove City Council moved forward with several key agenda items on Tuesday at their first meeting of the new year.


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LA MESA CITY COUNCIL ADOPTS NEW PUBLIC COMMENT POLICY

New policy & procedures aim to preserve remote access to meetings

Source:  City of La Mesa

January 21, 2022 (La Mesa) – In an ongoing commitment to transparency and accountability in local government, La Mesa City Council adopted a new public comment policy for City Council, Boards, and Commissions meetings. Currently, these meetings are held virtually, but the new policy preserves remote access to these meetings when in-person sessions return.


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EL CAJON MAYOR AND TWO COUNCILMEMBERS DEFY MASK MANDATE AS COUNCIL HEARS REPORTS ON RELIEF FUNDS, DOWNTOWN UPGRADES, NEW VETERANS MEMORIAL AND MORE

By Henri Migala

January 19, 2022 (El Cajon) -- Despite a statewide mask mandate that was declared on December 15 and extended until February 15, Mayor Bill Wells as well as Councilmembers Michelle Metschel and Phil Ortiz, did not wear their masks at the January 11, City Council meeting. Councilmember Steve Goble removed his mask when he made comments.


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SHERIFF GORE TO STEP DOWN FEBRUARY 3

By Miriam Raftery

January 19, 2022 (San Diego) – Sheriff Bill Gore today announced that he will retire effective February 3 after 51 years in law enforcement, nearly a year before his term of office would have ended in January 2023. Gore was appointed Sheriff in 2009 to fill a vacancy left by the retirement of Bill Kolender, later winning elections three times.


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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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