Politics

SANTEE COUNCIL APPROVES FANITA RANCH BEFORE VOTERS CAN WEIGH IN ON NOVEMBER BALLOT

By Mike Allen
 
September 24, 2020 (Sante) -- By a 4-1 majority, the Santee City Council approved the controversial Fanita Ranch development that will add nearly 3,000 homes and about 8,000 residents to a city that has been fighting over the project for most of its 40-year history.

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TWO NEW LAWS AID MOMS IN CALIFORNIA

By Miriam Raftery

Photo credit:  CC by SA

September 24, 2020 (Sacramento) – Two new laws have been signed into law by California Governor Newsom that expand maternity care options and protection for paid family leave. 


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ECM TO HOST SUPERVISOR CANDIDATES FORUM MONDAY, SEPT. 21 ON ZOOM; SEND US YOUR QUESTIONS

By Miriam Raftery

September 18, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – With Supervisor Dianne Jacob retiring due to term limits after 25 years, the race to fill her seat is one of the most important elections in years for voters in the 2nd district including East County. Two candidates, Poway Mayor Steve Vaus and former State Senator Joel Anderson are in the November runoff.  


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U.S SUPREME COURT JUSTICE RUTH BADER GINSBURG, 'ADVOCATE FOR EQUALITY AND REASON,' DEAD AT 87

On her deathbed, she told her granddaughter: "My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed."

Photo credit:  Supreme Court

September 20, 2020 (San Diego) - Sparking a swift flood of condolences along with fear for what the future holds, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died in her home Friday evening, surrounded by family, due to "complications of metastatic pancreas cancer" at the age of 87.


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FANITA RANCH VOTE, HELP FOR HOMELESS TOP AGENDAS IN SANTEE AND LA MESA THIS WEEK

By Miriam Raftery

September 20, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – Will Santee Councilmembers keep campaign promises made to voters when the controversial Fanita Ranch development comes up for a vote this week?  

What actions will La Mesa’s City Council take to address housing and homelessness?

These are the hottest issues on agendas in East County this week. Scroll down for details


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ATTORNEY GENERAL: TRUMP SENT FALSE INFORMATION ABOUT CALIFORNIA MAIL-IN BALLOTS TO VOTERS

By Miriam Raftery
 
September 17, 2020 (Sacramento) – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra warns that voters in California have been sent a mailer by the Trump administration stating that mail-in ballots must “be requested” and that voters must “add postage to the return envelope if needed.” Both statements are false.
 
“Both statements could lead to voter confusion. In California, mail-in ballots will be sent automatically to registered voters starting October 5th — and postage is not needed to return your ballot in our state,” Attorney General Becerra says.

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SAN MIGUEL FIRE DISTRICT SEEKS CANDIDATE TO FILL VACANCY ON BOARD

East County News Service
 
September 17, 2020 (Spring Valley) -- The San Miguel Consolidated Fire Protection District’s Board of Directors is accepting resumes through October 6 to fill a vacant seat in Division 6.  (see map)

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SANTEE MAYORAL CANDIDATES AND A COUNCIL CONTENDER AGREE CITY FACES RACIAL CRISIS, BUT CLASH OVER DEVELOPMENT ISSUES

View full video of ECM’s Santee Mayoral and City Council candidates forum

By Mike Allen

Photo: Santee Mayor John Minto and his opponent, Councilman Stephen Houlahan, City Council candidates Samm Hurst and Dustin Trotter

Both candidates for Santee mayor and one candidate for District 4 have varying opinions on issues but to one question about the biggest crisis besides traffic facing the city, the three agreed it’s racial intolerance. But the three voiced divergent views on housing and development issues, including controversies involving Fanita Ranch.

The candidates responded to questions at a forum held Sept. 10 via Zoom hosted by East County Magazine. Mayor John Minto and Councilman Stephen Houlahan, who is vying to become Santee’s mayor, along with City Council candidate Samm Hurst appeared at the hour and a half forum moderated by ECM Editor Miriam Raftery.

Dustin Trotter, a construction contractor running against Hurst, declined to appear, saying he had a prior scheduled meeting. He also did not respond to a request for a one-on-one interview via Zoom with ECM’s editor, but has responded to questions from ECM reporter Mike Allen, which will be published soon along with in-depth interviews with all Santee candidates.


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LEMON GROVE CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES TO PARTICIPATE IN FORUM SEPT. 16

 

View video of our Lemon Grove City Council candidates forum:  Click here

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Lemon Grove candidates David Arambula, George Gastil, Liana Lebaron, and Teresa Rosiak

 

August 29, 2020 (Lemon Grove) – All four Lemon Grove City Council candidates have agreed to participate in a candidate forum hosted by East County Magazine on Wednesday, September 16 at 7 p.m. This is your opportunity to learn more about the candidates looking to represent you, as well as to ask questions on issues of importance community.

The forum will be held on Zoom due to COVID-19 and will be livestreamed at https://www.facebook.com/EastCountyMagazine.  Video will also be posted later at www.EastCountyMagazine.org and audio will be aired on KNSJ radio. You can send in questions before noon on the 16h to editor@eatcountymagazine.org. ECM editor Miriam Raftery will moderate the forum, which is made possible through a Facebook Journalism Project grant.

The four candidates are:


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LEMON GROVE DRIVE THRU 2020 CENSUS EVENT SEPT. 18

East County News Service

September 16, 2020 (Lemon Grove) - The city of Lemon Grove and U.S. Census Bureau will be present to help you complete the 2020 census survey, answer any questions you have about the census, and will be giving away census swag to those that complete the survey at the Lemon Grove Recreation Center.

The Lemon Grove drive-through census event wil take place this Friday, September 18 from 1-4 p.m.


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LEMON GROVE MAYORAL CANDIDATES SET TO DEBATE MONDAY, SEPT. 14

 

View a videotape of the forum now posted :

Youtube:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wVtSH4cwfEQ

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EastCountyMagazine/videos/10219161150363190

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left to right:  Councilman Jerry Jones, Kamaal Martin, Mayor Racquel Vasquez, Chris williams

September 5, 2020 (Lemon Grove)—On Monday, September 14 at 7 p.m., all four candidates running for the Lemon Grove City Council have agreed to participate in a candidate forum.  The forum will be virtual via Zoom. You can watch it live via livestreaming at https://www.facebook.com/EastCountyMagazine, and send in questions to editor@eastcountymagazine.org now through up to 2 p.m. the date of the forum. 

For those unable to watch live, a video will also be posted later on our news site at www.EastCountyMagazine.org and audio will be aired on KNSJ 89.1 FM radio at a date to be announced.

(Lemon Grove's City Council candidates will be in a separate forum on Sept. 16 at 7 p.m.)

East County Magazine thanks the #FacebookJournalismProject for a grant to help support our virtual candidate forums during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The four mayoral candidates are Mayor Raquel Vasquez, Councilman Jerry Jones, financial professional Kamaal Martin, and businessman Chris Williams. Below are more details on each candidate and links to their websites, as well as highlights of key issues.


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VIEW INTERVIEWS WITH LA MESA COUNCIL CANDIDATES KRISTINE ALESSIO AND LAURA LOTHIAN

By Miriam Raftery

September 10, 2020 (La Mesa) – ECM held ZOOM virtual interviews with La Mesa City Councilwoman Kristine Alessio and realtor Laura Lothian, who were unable to attend our candidate forum last week. The candidates discussed the major issues facing La Mesa including the city’s response to protests, housing and homeless, downtown redevelopment, help for local businesses, racial justice and policing and more. 


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SANTEE COUNCIL GRANTS LANTERN CREST 50 NEW UNITS, DEFERRAL ON IMPACT FEES; APPROVES CHANGE ORDER FOR TV STATION

By Mike Allen
 
Photo:  50 unit addition to Lantern Crest Senior Living.
 
September 10, 2020 (Santee) -- The Santee City Council unanimously approved a 50-unit addition to the Lantern Crest Senior Living nursing home that included granting the developer a zoning change as well as deferring the payment of about $1 million in impact fees.

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2020 LA MESA CITY COUNCIL VIRTUAL CANDIDATE FORUM SEPT. 23 HOSTED BY METHODIST CHURCH

East County News Service

 
September 9, 2020 (La Mesa) - Six candidates. Two seats. Find out where La Mesa’s City Council candidates stand on important issues.

 

La Mesa First United Methodist Church will host a Virtual La Mesa City Council Candidate Forum on Wednesday, September 23, 2020, at 6:45 p.m. The forum will be held via Zoom and moderated by Pastor Christian DeMent.


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HOW ARE CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATES RESPONDING TO THOSE IN NEED DURING VALLEY FIRE IN EAST COUNTY?

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Ammar Campa-Najjar watches as Valley Fire encroaches on his community

September 6, 2020 (San Diego’s East County)7:30 p.m. – As the Valley Fire chars a devastating swath across the 50th Congressional district, scorching over 5,500 acres and forcing evacuations in many communities, the two candidates vying to represent the district have responded differently – one doing little to assist those in need, the other retweeting dozens of messages and rolling up his sleeves to help others – even after evacuating his own family.

Darrell Issa, who lives in North County outside of the district he hopes to represent, retweeted just three messages about the fire—the last over 12 hours ago. The messages included an early evacuation order 23 hours ago, but no updates when several broad, new evacuation orders were issued. He retweeted one of several road closure announcements, as well as a notice on how to get help evacuating large animals.

Ammar Campa-Najjar, by contrast, took actions personally to help others, organizing relief efforts and posting several dozen social media updates on the fire-- despite being left without power and evacuating his own family from the fire threatening his Jamul home.

The two are  vying to fill the seat vacated by Duncan Hunter, who has been sentenced to prison for diverting $250,000 in campaign finance donations to personal use, but has not yet begun his sentence due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


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SANTEE COUNCIL AND MAYORAL CANDIDATES FORUM SET FOR SEPT. 10

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left to right: Mayor John Minto and challenger Stephen Houlahan; City Council candidates Samm Hurst and Dustin Trotter

September 5, 2020 (Santee) – East County Magazine will host a forum on Thursday, Sept. 10 at 7 p.m. for candidates running for Santee Mayoral and City Council races. To date, Mayor John Minto and mayoral challenger Stephen Houlahan have both agreed to participate.  In the race for an open City Council seat, Samm Hurst has confirmed she will participate; Dustin Trotter said he had a scheduling conflict for the forum. All candidates in both races have also now done separate interviews with ECM reporter Mike Allen, which will be posted soon.

The forum will be virtual on Zoom. You can watch the livestream at https://www.Facebook.com/eastcountymagazine and send questions to editor@eastcountymagazine.org. A videotape of the forum will be posted later on www.EastCountyMagazine.org and the forum will also be broadcast at a later date on KNSJ radio.

East County Magazine thanks the #FacebookJournalismProject for a grant to help support our virtual candidate forums during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Below are details on the candidates (listed in alphabetical order for each seat) and key issues:


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BIDEN AND TRUMP VISIT KENOSHA AFTER SHOOTINGS PROMPT NEW WAVE OF PROTESTS

By Miriam Raftery
All photos by Les Brown
Photo (left): Jacob Blake Sr., August 29
 
September 3, 2020 (Kenosha, WI) – Both President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden made visits this week to Kenosha, Wisconsin, where yet another controversial police shooting of a Black man and later, the shooting deaths of two protesters by an armed white teenager now facing first degree homicide, have fueled further civil unrest.
 
On August 23, 29-year-old Jacob Blake was shot seven times in the back by a police officer. The shooting, which occurred in front of Blake’s young children, has left him paralyzed. According to the police officers’ union, officers were called out due to a domestic violence dispute involving Blake, who resisted arrest and was shot at point-blank range as he pulled open the door to enter a vehicle. Although police have said they believed Blake had a knife in the vehicle, Blake’s family says he was unarmed.

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HOMEFED YANKS FANITA RANCH PLAN BEFORE COUNCIL VOTE

 

By Mike Allen

 

Cancelling Magnolia extension, as proposed, would remove key evacuation route for wildfires, critic says

August 30, 2020 (Santee) -- Fanita Ranch, the 3,000 unit residential project planned for Santee’s northwest quadrant, is being delayed by developer HomeFed Corp. to make some significant changes, including removing an extension of a key arterial serving the project.

In a letter posted on the Fanita Ranch Facebook page last week, Jeff O’Connor, the company’s vice president, said HomeFed requested the delay “to remove the extension of Magnolia Avenue from the project in order to direct those funds towards the improvements to SR-52.”


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LA MESA CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES TO APPEAR IN VIRTUAL CANDIDATE FORUM THURSDAY, SEPT. 3

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: La Mesa City Council candidates Allan Durden, Colin Parent, Mark Papenfuss, Kristine Alessio, Jack Shu, and Laura Lothian.  Four of the six candidates have agreed to participate.

August 29, 2020 (La Mesa) – Six candidates are vying for two seats on the La Mesa City Council. East County Magazine invited all candidates to participate in a candidate forum this Thursday, September 3 at 7 p.m. Have a question for the candidates?  You can send it to editor@eastcountymagazine.org by 12 noon on Thursday.

Four of the six candidates have confirmed they will participate.  Shown in the photo above, they are Allan Durden, Mark Papenfuss, Councilman Colin Parent, and Jack Shu.  Councilmember Kristine Alessio and Laura Lothian are not available but agreed to do an interview with ECM via Zoom, which we will post when completed.

The forum, held virtually via Zoom due to COVID-19,  will be live-streamed on Facebook here:  https://www.facebook.com/EastCountyMagazine   Video will also be recorded and posted at www.EastCountyMagazine.org after the forum. We thank the #FacebookJournalismProject for supporting our virtual candidate forums during the pandemic.

Below is information on all candidates running, listed in alphabetical order:


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GIVE INPUT ON FIXING UP THE NEIGHBORHOOD

By Tracy DeFore, County of San Diego Communications Office

Photo:  Don Dussault Park in Fallbrook

August 29, 2020 (San Diego) - The County is asking residents and nonprofits working in the unincorporated areas for ideas on how to improve their communities. Three forums are planned Aug. 31, Sept. 1 and 2.

Those ideas may qualify for Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds. The federal entitlement grant program provides annual grants to states, cities and counties. Applications for County CDBG funds are being accepted now through Dec. 1.


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DISABILITY AND SOCIAL SECURITY PAYMENTS TO END IN 2021 AND 2023 DUE TO TRUMP PAYROLL TAX CUTS, AGENCY’S CHIEF ACTUARY WARNS

It’s bad enough that seniors and people with disabilities are bearing the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic. Using it as a subterfuge to undermine their financial security is unconscionable and unacceptable.” -- National Education Action

By Miriam Raftery

August 29, 2020 (Washington D.C.) – Disability payments will end next year and Social Security payments to the elderly will stop in 2023 under President Trump’s executive order to cut payroll taxes, which took effect Friday, unless alternative funding is provided, Market Watch reports. That dire warning was issued August 24 by the program’s Chief Actuary, Stephen Goss, in a letter to key Senators.

Effective Aug. 28, Trump’s executive order temporarily suspends the 6.2% payroll tax collections from employers for employees under $104,000, which is used to fund Social Security and disability payments. (Employers until now have matched a 6.2% deduction paid by workers.)

Trump wants to make that permanent if reelected. On Aug. 8, Trump stated, “If I’m victorious on Nov. 3, I plan to forgive these taxes and make permanent cuts to the payroll tax.” He made clear, “In other words, I’ll extend it beyond the end of the year and terminate the tax.”


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TRUMP ACCEPTS REPUBLICAN NOMINATION AT CONVENTION IN SHARP CONTRAST TO DNC EVENT

Fact-checkers assess candidates' statements, find Trump had most misleading statements

By Miriam Raftery

View video of President Trump's hour-and-a-half long acceptance speech or scroll down for highlights and analysis.

August 28, 2020 (Washington D.C.) – President Donald Trump made his case for reelection during his acceptance speech to the Republican National Convention last night.  The President delivered his formal acceptance from the south lawn of the White House, but earlier in the week surprised delegates with a live appearance at the convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Trump touted his record, stating, he was “ proud of the extraordinary progress we have made together over the last four years; and brimming with confidence in the bright future we will build for America over the NEXT four years.” The President also sharply criticized Democrats in general and rival Joe Biden in particular and sought to position his party as the party of law and order.


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JOE BIDEN ACCEPTS DEMOCRATIC NOMINATION, PROMISES TO BRING AMERICA TOGETHER

 

By Miriam Raftery

August 23, 2020  -- In the first Democratic National Convention held remotely due to the coronavirus, former Vice President Joe Biden accepted the nomination in a powerful speech in which he promised to unite and heal America.  

He also pledged to provide leadership to address ”four historic crises” facing our nation:  the worst pandemic in over 100 years: the worst economic crisis since the Great Depressing, the strongest calls for racial justice since the ‘60s, and the  accelerating threat of climate change.

“If you entrust me with the presidency, I will draw om the best of us not the worst. I will be an ally of the light, not the darkness.  It’s time for us, we the people, to come together,” said Biden, speaking from Deleware, his home state.


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MAYOR WELLS URGES CITY TO DEFY STATE AND COUNTY COVID-19 LAWS AND REGULATIONS

 

By Miriam Raftery

Updated with comments from Gloria Chadwick and Randy Lenac, members of the Grossmont Healthcare District board

August 27, 2020 (El Cajon) – El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells today announced on Facebook that he is convening a special meeting of the city council tomorrow at 3 p.m. to “discuss instructing our police to not enforce Covid-19 laws and or regulations… The state of California and the County of San Diego, of course, may continue to levy fines and criminal charges for violations, but I am proposing that the El Cajon police department not waste their valuable time enforcing mask, non-essential business and social distancing laws.”


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STATE SENATOR BRIAN JONES TESTS POSITIVE FOR COVID-19, PROMPTING SENATE ADJOURNMENT

By Miriam Raftery

Photo via Facebook: Senator Brian Jones wearing a mask while speaking on the Senate Floor earlier this month

August 26, 2020 (San Diego’s East County)—State Senator Brian Jones (R-Santee) has tested positive for COVID-19. The finding prompted a temporary adjournment of the State Senate just days before the Aug. 31 end of the legislative session, putting the fate of some pending bills in question.

The announcement, made on Senator Jones’ social media sites today, states that he received the news after returning to Sacramento for the end of the legislative session.  The statements indicate he will be taking additional tests to rule out the possibility of a false-positive result.  “In the meantime, he’ll be following CDC and CDPH protocols for those receiving a positive test result,” his Facebook page states.  Those protocols recommend isolating at home while awaiting test results.

The statement does not indicate when or why the Senator was tested, or whether he has had any symptoms. Jones has been wearing a mask when speaking on the Senate floor, including as recently as Monday.


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MARGARET HUNTER ESCAPES PRISON TERM; PROSECUTORS DEFEND LIGHT SENTENCE

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

Photo:  Margaret Hunter, wife of former Congressman Duncan D. Hunter, walks past the federal courthouse on Broadway with her attorney Logan Smith after her sentencing on corruption charges. Photo by Chris Stone

August 24, 2020 (San Diego) - Former Rep. Duncan D. Hunter is going to prison. His wife and co-conspirator will not.

Thanks to her “extraordinary” cooperation with federal prosecutors, Margaret Hunter will serve just eight months of “punitive home detention” starting immediately.* Her estranged husband will begin 11 months behind bars in January.


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CORY BRIGGS PREVAILS IN TWO LAWSUITS AGAINST MARA ELLIOTT OVER BALLOT STATEMENTS IN CITY ATTORNEY RACE

 



By Miriam Raftery

August 27, 2020 (San Diego) – In the hotly contested San Diego City Attorney race, attorney Cory Briggs has won two lawsuits against incumbent Mara Elliott., Elliott has been ordered to correct her ballot statement which asserted that she was endorsed by the San Diego Union Tribune. In a separate case, a judge ruled that Briggs can use the ballot designation “taxpayer advocate.”


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COUNCIL CANDIDATE JACK SHU SHARES HIS VISION AND PRIORITIES FOR LA MESA

 

View video 

Hear audio aired on KNSJ radio

By Miriam Raftery

August 21, 2020 (La Mesa) – In an exclusive video interview, Jack Shu shares his visions for the future of La Mesa.  Shu has been an active advocate in La Mesa and countywide for over three decades on social justice issues, human rights, homelessness, and protect the environment.

A California State Parks Superintendent for 29 years, he also served as a peace officer within state parks. As past president of Cleveland National Forest Foundation, he worked at a state and countywide level to protect open spaces, reduce pollution and build healthier communities. In La Mesa, he helped establish the Citizens Public Safety Oversight Task Force on police issues, as well as a Citizens Task for on Homelessness. He’s served on the city’s wellness committee, on the board of Heartland Human Relations, and as a cultural diversity consultant.

In our interview, Shu laid out his vision for a more "vibrant" and inclusive La Mesa in all areas of the city.  "Let's aim higher. Let's do better," he said. 

Shu shared his thoughts on the key issues in  La Mesa including housing and homelessness, revitalizing neighborhoods across La Mesa and downtown, police and racial equity issues, public safety, and budget priorities.

Audio: 


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LA MESA APPROVES CARES AID FOR RENTERS AND BUSINESSES, HELP FOR HOMELESS AND A REPORT ON CIVIL UNREST RESPONSE

By Briana Gomez

File photo:  Mike and Linda McWilliams have laid off two-thirds of the staff at their San Pasqual Winery tasting room in the La Mesa Village, according to testimony to the City Council on August 11.

August 20, 2020 (La Mesa) - The La Mesa City Council met on August 11 via teleconference,  on hour after a trying virtual town hall the previous Thursday where notification of  Police Chief Walt Vasquez’s resignation was announced publicly.  The Council approved CARES Act funding to help local renters and businesses. Other highlights included approval to hire a consultant to prepare a report on the May 30-31 protest and riot, as well as moving forward on action to help the homeless.


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NO PRISON TIME FOR MARGARET HUNTER, GOVERNMENT URGES AHEAD OF SENTENCING

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

Photo:  former Rep. 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. Photo by Miriam Raftery

August 18, 2020 (San Diego) - Margaret Hunter faced as much as 37 months in prison for taking part in her ex-congressman husband’s spending crimes, the government said Monday, but it urged leniency in a sentencing memo to a federal judge.


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Local news in the public interest is more important now than ever, during the COVID-19 crisis. Our reporters, as essential workers, are dedicated to keeping you informed, even though we’ve had to cancel fundraising events. Please give the gift of community journalism by donating at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate.

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