Politics

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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SHERIFF REVERSES COURSE, HALTS EVICTIONS AMID PANDEMIC

Action brings relief for renters, but fears for landlords facing mortgage payments

By Miriam Raftery

May 7, 2020 (San Diego) – San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore announced today that he is temporarily halting enforcement of evictions.    

Earlier this week, the Sheriff began issuing eviction notices to around 160 tenant for evictions already in progress before the COVID-19 shut-down orders. But after reportedly receiving political pressure from the Governor’s office and at least one Supervisor, the Sheriff reversed course.


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EAST COUNTY LEADERS TO HOST TOWN HALL TODAY 4 PM ON REOPENING BUSINESSES AND RECREATION AREAS

By Miriam Raftery

May 6, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – Supervisor Dianne Jacob will host a virtual town hall today at 4 p.m. along with El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells and Poway Mayor Steve Vaus on COVID-19 and the county’s latest measures to reopen businesses and recreation areas. Questions can be submitted in advance to Dianne.jacob@sdcounty.ca.gov.

To attend, click on your web browser or mobile device at https://bit.ly/May6TownHall or listen by phone by calling 415-466-7000. Enter the PIIN: 8155997 followed by #.   For American Sign Language access go to https://bit.ly/2z9FVL.  For those accessing with ASL who want to submit questions, go to https://gvpdkasj.bjn.pt .

Yesterday, Supervisors voted unanimously to adopt a framework to reopen businesses in a safe manner, with Supervisor Jacob sending a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom ask for the county to have “total local control” over reopening decision.  It is unclear whether the Governor will grant such broad discretion. The County has provided a  template for businesses preparing to reopen to review, but it may be updated depending on direction from the state.


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LA MESA CITY COUNCIL HEARS BUDGET UPDATE; PROPOSAL BY ALESSIO FOR FUNDS TO HELP SMALL BUSINESSES WILL BE HEARD MAY 12

By Iris Neal

May 4, 2020 (La Mesa) – A general fund financial forecastpresented to the La Mesa City Council on May 28 revealed significant anticipated impacts on city revenues due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Council also heard concerns raised by Councilmember Kristine Alessio over financial hardships faced by small businesses, but voiced skepticism over her suggestion for city funding to help businesses survive the shutdown and postponed consideration of the proposal until Tuesday, May 12. 


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GOVERNOR HEEDS LOCAL LEADERS’ REQUESTS, CLOSES ONLY ORANGE COUNTY BEACHES

By Miriam Raftery
 
Photos by Rebecca Jefferis Williamson at Pacific Beach
 
April 30, 2020 (San Diego) – After crowds packed Newport Beach in violation of social distancing mandates amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Gavin Newsom today ordered Orange County beaches to shut down. But he backed off a broader order that Reuters News Service reported was under consideration, which could have closed all beaches statewide.

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SANTEE GETS STIMULUS FUNDS FROM CARES, CITY EYES LOOSENING OF CURRENT RESTRICTIONS

By Mike Allen

Photo: Clockwise L-R: John Minto, Laura Koval, Ronn Hall, Rob McNelis, Stephen Houlahan, and City Clerk Annette Ortiz

April 24, 2020 (Santee) -- Santee is getting $162,000 as part of the federal government’s $2 trillion stimulus package approved last month to help offset the devastation wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The aid comes from the $150 billion portion of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act aimed at helping the states, counties and cities in responding to the coronavirus. This is the same law that included one-time payments to most tax-paying Americans of $1,200 among a wide variety of economic relief programs intended to mitigate the upheaval caused by the pandemic.


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HUNDREDS AT DOWNTOWN 'FREEDOM RALLY' HONK, CHEER FOR STATE TO 'OPEN UP'

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

April 18, 2020 (San Diego) - Aaron Ruis of El Cajon manages an assisted-living facility for disabled adults, but Saturday in downtown San Diego he was managing crowd chants at a “freedom rally” to open the state’s economy.


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EL CAJON CITY COUNCIL APPROVES MAJOR RESPONSE TO COVID-19: $1 MILLION TO AID RESIDENTS, HOMELESS, AND BUSINESSES

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

Video Coverage

City of El Cajon press release on COVID-19 actions

 

April 17, 2020 (El Cajon) -- The El Cajon City Council unanimously voted on Tuesday to set forth a major million-dollar effort to support local residents, businesses, and the homeless during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic crisis, extending after the state declares the emergency over.

The City Council approved a dozen programs to help the community including:

  • Providing residents assistance with utility bills and rent
  • Delaying sewer bills through June and eliminating any late sewer fees in 2020
  • Assisting seniors to access groceries
  • Promoting and financially supporting existing food distribution throughout the community
  • Setting up a business resource website and reaching out to businesses
  • Waiving late business license renewal penalties
  • No longer enforcing banner and temporary use regulations at business sites
  • Providing additional homeless shelter opportunities, providing transportation to the homeless to access regional resources
  • Providing free on-line recreation classes, discounted structured recreation classes after the emergency declaration has been terminated.

In addition, the City Council adopted a resolution strongly recommending that owners of rental properties in the City to refrain from raising rent for a 60-day period beginning Apr. 15.


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LA MESA CITY COUNCIL TAKES ACTION IN RESPONSE TO CORONAVIRUS, SHUTS DOWN GATED PARKS

By Iris Neal

April 17, 2020 (La Mesa) -- Discussions of park closures and easing of parking restrictions were on the agenda at the La Mesa City Council’s meeting on Tuesday, April 14.

To maintain social distance, the city planned to stream its first ‘live’ meeting in more than a month on its website and via a Facebook Live feed, as well as simultaneously broadcast on government access channels. Sadly, things didn’t go as expected due to technical difficulties, but officials conducted business anyway.


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VAUS LAUNCHES ANGELS WILL HELP: SITE ENABLES VOLUNTEERS TO HELP NEIGHBORS

By Miriam Raftery

 

April 16, 2020 (Poway) – “The question I’ve gotten most often during this pandemic is `How can I help?’” says Steve Vaus, Poway Mayor and candidate for County Supervisor. “My answer is typically `Be there for your neighbors.’“  To facilitate this, Vaus has launched a website, AngelsWillHelp.com to help facilitate neighbors helping neighbors.


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SENATOR BRIAN JONES NAMED TO SPECIAL SENATE COMMITTEE ON COVID-19 RESPONSE

East County News Service
 
April 15, 2020 (Sacramento) -- State Senator Brian Jones (R-Santee) has been named to the Senate Special Committee on Pandemic Emergency Response.  Jones and ten other Senators were appointed to the committee earlier today by Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins (D-San Diego).
 
“I am ready to serve on this committee to review how we responded as a state to the COVID-19 pandemic and, more importantly, work to better prepare ourselves for any similar emergency we may face in the future,” stated Jones. He adds, “We’ve lost over 750 Californians, another 23,000 have been diagnosed with Coronavirus, thousands of businesses have been decimated, and hundreds of thousands of Californians have lost their jobs." Jones continued,

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GOV NEWSOM LISTS 6 STEPS NECESSARY BEFORE ENDING STAY AT HOME ORDERS

By Chris JenneweinTimes of San Diego, a member of the San Diego Online News Association
Photo: East County Magazine news partner 10News 
 
April 14, 2020 (Sacramento) -- Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday California is “bending the curve” of the coronavirus pandemic and outlined six indicators to be met before stay-at-home orders can be eased.
 
Newsom offered no specifics on when any of the orders will be lifted or softened, only saying the six indicators provide a framework for how the decision will be made.
 
“I know you want a timeline but we can’t get ahead of ourselves,” Newsom said in a live-streamed press conference. “Let’s not make a mistake by pulling the plug too early.”
 
The six indicators Newsom cited were:
 

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