PHOTOS OF THE WEEK: WHO’S THERE?

DISPENSARY APPLICANT FILES LAWSUIT AGAINST COUNCILMAN ARAMBULA AND CITY OF LEMON GROVE OVER ASSAULT

HEAR OUR INTERVIEW: LARRY WILSKE, RETIRED NAVY SEAL RUNNING FOR ASSEMBLY

HEAR OUR INTERVIEW: FINANCIAL TIPS FROM JONATHAN ZIDE, CABRILLO CREDIT UNION VICE PRESIDENT

READER’S EDITORIAL: A PLEA TO GOVERNOR BROWN – PROTECT US FROM THE WILDFIRES THAT THREATEN US MOST. IT’S NOT ABOUT THE FORESTS.

HOMELESS COUNT FINDS 6 PERCENT DROP REGIONWIDE

DESTINATION EAST COUNTY: TOP FESTIVALS AND EVENTS MAY 19-JUNE 29

ECM WORLD WATCH: NATIONAL AND GLOBAL NEWS

DAY TRIPPING IN ANZA-BORREGO DESERT STATE PARK

SUPREME COURT DENIES APPEAL BY BLACKWATER GUARDS CONVICTED OF MASSACRE IN IRAQ

COUNTY PLANNING DIRECTOR SEEKS TO “BUNDLE” MULTIPLE BIG DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS TO BYPASS STATE LAW LIMITING GENERAL PLAN AMENDMENTS

CAL FIRE ISSUES NO-BURN PROCLAMATION EFFECTIVE MAY 14

News

LANDMARK CLIMATE CHANGE BILL PASSES HOUSE BY SLIM MARGIN WITH HELP FROM 2 LOCAL DEMOCRATS; SD REPUBLICANS VOTE NO

By Miriam Raftery

 

June 27, 2009 (Washington D.C.) – By a scant seven votes (219-212), the U.S. House of Representatives last night passed the landmark American Clean Energy and Security Act. The bill has been hailed by the Environmental Defense Action Fund as “the most important environmental and energy legislation in our nation’s history.”

 

SANTEE LEADERS VOTE TO FILE NEW LAWSUIT AFTER SUPERVISORS VOTE TO EXPAND LAS COLINAS PRISON

June 26, 2009 (Santee, California) – On Wednesday, June 24, 2009, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors approved a plan to replace and expand the Las Colinas Detention Facility from 15 acres to 45 acres and certified the final environmental impact report (EIR) for the facility. The vote was 4-1 with Supervisor Dianne Jacob opposing the expansion. On Wednesday night, Santee's City Council voted in closed session to file a new lawsuit challenging the County's environmental impact report.

HUNDREDS PROTEST BUDGET CUTS IMPACT ON POOR, SICK & DISABLED AT GOVERNOR’S SAN DIEGO OFFICE

 

By Miriam Raftery

 

June 23, 2009 (San Diego)-- An estimated 200 to 300 people turned out to protest state budget cuts in San Diego, outside Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s office downtown. Some carried coffins and a skeleton sign—grim symbols of the consequences they believe will result from severe cuts to health and social services programs.

 

SUPERVISORS URGE CPUC TO PULL PLUG ON SDG&E PLAN TO SHUT OFF POWER DURING HIGH FIRE RISK DAYS

""There is no evidence that the shut-off plan will prevent fires. But...in a matter of hours, we will be left without electricity and our customers will be left without water...SDG&E will create actual emergencies," - Jennifer Healy, Padre Dam Municipal Water District

 

By Miriam Raftery

ECU Intern Kyle Sezian also contributed to this story

June 23, 2009 (San Diego)—“The risks to life and property are higher with the power shut off than without it,” Supervisor Dianne Jacob said at a hearing today on whether or not SDG&E should be allowed to shut off power to up to 60,000 area residents during dry, windy, fire-prone conditions. By a 4-0 vote, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors passed a motion asking the California Public Utilities Commission to reject SDG&E’s proposal.

SDG&E claims shutting off power during hot, dry, windy days is necessary to prevent firestorms. The utility faces litigation and has admitted in CPUC documents that its lines have been implicated in 167 fires over the past five and a half years.

 

RALLY & MARCH TUESDAY JUNE 23 TO STOP STATE BUDGET CUTS: SIT-IN PLANNED AT GOVERNOR’S OFFICE IN SAN DIEGO

June 20, 2009 (San Diego)--People United Against Cuts is a local coalition formed to oppose the Governor’s recent “All Cuts” budget. A press released issued by the group states, “The Governor’s proposed budget will have a catastrophic impact on children, seniors, people with disabilities, low income families, college students and HIV/AIDS patients. On June 23, 2009, we will hold a rally, march, and press conference in front of the Governor’s San Diego office to voice our opposition to these draconian budget cuts!” Participants are asked to arrive at 11:45. Rally will begin at 12 p.m.

HELIX WATER DISTRICT TO IMPOSE LEVEL 2 WATER RESTRICTIONS JULY 1: OUTDOOR WATERING RESTRICTED TO 3 DAYS A WEEK--EXCEPT FOR HOUSEHOLDS WITH WATER-EFFICIENT IRRIGATION SYSTEMS

By Kate Breece
HWD Public Affairs

Editor’s Note: Due to a family emergency I was unable to cover this important hearing. Thanks to Kate Breece at Helix Water District for providing this summary of the Board’s decision.

La Mesa, CA – Thursday, June 18, 2009 – Due to water the allocation cutback of 8% from the San Diego County Water Authority, and the continuing regional water shortage, Helix Water District Board of Directors approved raising the Water Shortage to Level 2 and implementing mandatory watering restrictions as of July 1, 2009.

BUDGET AXE FALLS ON POWAY DAYS PARADE—UNLESS CITIZENS CAN SAVE IT

By Miriam Raftery

June 18, 2009 (Poway)—Poway Councilmembers voted Tuesday to stave off cuts in public safety services and avoid lay-offs, but opted to cancel the Poway Days Parade and reduce park hours to make ends meet amid state budget cuts. The parade has been a 44-year tradition in the community.

SUPERVIORS TO HOLD HEARINGS WED. JUNE 24 ON EXPANSION OF LAS COLINAS PRISON IN SANTEE

June 18, 2009 (Santee, California) – On Wednesday, June 24, 2009, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors will consider whether to approve the revised draft environmental impact report (EIR) for the expansion of Las Colinas Detention Facility in Santee. Santee Mayor Randy Voepel opposes the expansion, arguing that it is unnecessary and that the jail sits on land that is commercially more valuable for other uses.

 

PUBLIC HELP SOUGHT TO SAVE MOTHER GOOSE PARADE

June 16, 2009 (El Cajon)--The Mother Goose Parade is a long-standing holiday tradition in East County--and the largest parade of its kind west of the Mississippi River. Floats, giant balloons, marching bands, equestrian entries and Santa Claus have long been part of the festivities. But this year, without public support the 63rd Annual Mother Goose Parade may not happen on November 22, 2009, if additional funding is not acquired.

HOW PREPARED IS EAST COUNTY FOR THE NEXT WILDFIRE? BUDGET CUTS BURN SOME LOCAL AGENCIES

 

”It’s outrageous and it’s irresponsible. That’s cold, that’s hard, that’s the truth. There are many other areas where life is not at stake.” –Leonard Villareal, San Miguel Fire District spokesman, on state budget cuts' impact on fire protection.

 

An East County Magazine special report

 

By Miriam Raftery

 

LOCAL LEADERS SHARE REACTIONS TO PREJEAN LOSING MISS CALIFORNIA CROWN

June 11, 2009 (San Diego’s East County) – Carrie Prejean, a senior at San Diego Christian College in El Cajon, has been dethroned as Miss California USA. Her turbulent reign, which weathered revelations of topless photos and a controversy over her statements opposing gay marriage, came to an end over the beauty queen’s alleged refusal to honor commitments for public appearances on behalf of the pageant. Her saga sparked controversy both locally and nationally.

EQUALITY TORCH RELAY SPARKS ARREST IN LEMON GROVE; GAY RIGHTS ADVOCATES CARRY TORCH TO RALLIES AT 4 EAST COUNTY CITY HALLS

June 9, 2009 (San Diego’s East County)—A protester was arrested in Lemon Grove Saturday for assaulting San Diego Pride director Ron DeHarte during an equality relay for gay rights. (View a video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E91X_cD-tqk&feature=related). Overall, however, the relay through four East County cities was peaceful, organizer Eve Parker reported. “We had such a wonderful and supportive day in East County,” she added.

WANTED: $12,116 BY JUNE 17th TO SAVE LAKE MURRAY FOURTH OF JULY FIREWORKS SHOW

June 4, 2009 (San Diego’s East County)--“If I knew, I would have given,” some Lake Murray area residents lamented after the fireworks show was cancelled in 2004 due to a funding shortage. This year, organizers are asking the public’s help to save the Lake Murray Music Fest and Fireworks. The committee must raise an additional $12,116 by June 17th for the show to go on.

HELIX WATER UNVEILS A NEW RATE HIKE PLAN, MOVES CLOSER TO MANDATORY WATER RESTRICTIONS

By Miriam Raftery

June 4, 2009 (La Mesa)—Deluged by protests from ratepayers, the Helix Water District Board unveiled a new rate hike plan at its meeting yesterday. The new proposal differs dramatically from earlier plans, which had proposed hikes of up to 90% on some residential users. The new proposal would assess a 24% rate increase on all residential users, regardless of lot size or family size. (The full revised water rate proposal may be viewed in the Board packet here: http://www.hwd.com/board/pack060309.pdf.)

SEMPRA ENERGY UTILITIES EARNS TOP RANK IN NATIONAL CUSTOMER SATISFACTION SURVEY--BUT SOME LOCAL RATEPAYERS EXPRESS SHOCK AND DISSATISFACTION

May 28, 2009 (San Diego) – Sempra Energy’s California utilities, Southern California Gas Co. (The Gas Company) and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), rank No. 1 in customer satisfaction among the largest U.S. investor-owned energy utilities, according to a recent survey by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI).

EAST COUNTY COMMUNITY LEADERS REACT TO CA SUPREME COURT UPHOLDING PROP 8; NEW LAWSUIT FILED IN FEDERAL COURT BY LAWYERS IN BUSH V. GORE SEEKS TO REINSTATE GAY MARRIAGE

By Miriam Raftery May 27, 2009 (San Diego’s East County) – The California Supreme Court ruled this week to uphold Proposition 8 banning gay marriage, though the court also held that gay marriages that occurred before Prop 8’s passage will remain valid. (View the high court opinion here: www.courtinfo.ca.gov/courts/supreme/). In East County and across the state, leaders on both sides of the controversial issue weighed in with their views.

HAYES CONFIRMED AS DEPUTY SECRETARY OF INTERIOR AFTER GOP SENATORS LIFT BLOCK ON NOMINATION; POWERLINK BATTLE NOW ELEVATED TO NATIONAL LEVEL WITH EX-SEMPRA LOBBYIST OVERSEEING KEY DECISIONS

By Miriam Raftery

May 27, 2009 (Washington D.C.) –David J. Hayes, a former lobbyist for Sempra Energy/SDG&E, has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate as deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior. His nomination proceeded after an earlier block by Republican Senators from Alaska over oil and gas leases was lifted. Both California Senators, Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein, voted in favor of Hayes’ nomination.

EQUALITY TORCH RELAY SET IN EAST COUNTY JUNE 6

May 27, 2009 (San Diego’s East County)—“This is a time where we need equality,” says Eve Parker, lead organizer of the East County Equality Torch Relay slated for June 6th in Santee, El Cajon, La Mesa and Lemon Grove. The relay is part of a county-wide event for supporters of equal rights for gay and lesbian people. “I am actually a heterosexual, but I felt so strongly that I believe it is important that I stand up and take the lead,” said Parker.

HELIX WATER DISTRICT CANCELS MAY 27 HEARING, AGREES TO REVAMP RATE HIKE PROPOSAL

 

By Dennis Moore

 

May 24, 2009 (La Mesa) –Following a joint investigation by East County Magazine and Channel 10 news into allegations that Helix Water Board violated open government laws, the Board has voted to cancel a May 27 hearing and revise its rate hike proposal.

 

FIRE DESTROYS TRAILER HOME IN EL CAJON

May 27, 2009 (El Cajon)-- El Cajon Fire crews responded to a trailer home fire at the Horseshoe Trailer Park, located at 150 South Anza, Space 1B early this morning. As crews arrived, they found a 30-foot trailer home fully involved. Firefighters had the fire knocked down in less than 10 minutes. Their quick action kept the fire from spreading to other nearby trailers, and the fire was contained to the one trailer and an attached patio area. An elderly man was at home inside the trailer when the fire started, he was able to escape unharmed.

BATTLES LOOM AS TO WHEN GAYS WILL SERVE OPENLY IN MILITARY; LOCAL LEADERS AIR THEIR VIEWS

By E.A. Barrera

 

"The Navy knew that they had a large gay population. During one particular ‘Naval Investigative Services’ witch-hunt in 1976, one of my commanders commented that if they uncovered and removed all the people in the Navy who were gay, the Navy wouldn’t be able to function. But the climate was severe and it was one of the reasons I finally decided I’d had enough." --Robert Pedrick, Captain (Retired); US Navy, 1961-1985

 

CONGRESS FILNER TO HOST WEDNESDAY TOWN HALL AT SDSU ON NEW POST-9/11 GI BILL, EDUCATION BENEFITS FOR VETS

May 26, 2009 (San Diego)--Tomorrow, Congressman Bob Filner is hosting a Veterans Town Hall at San Diego State University (SDSU) to publicly discuss the impact of the new Post-9/11 GI Bill on our veterans. Congress passed legislation to significantly expand the educational benefits for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The Department of Veterans Affairs recently began accepting applications for these benefits.

CITIZENS GROUP SEEKS TO BLOCK SDG&E PLAN TO CUT ALL TREES WITHIN 25 FEET OF POWER LINES

By Miriam Raftery

May 24, 2009 (Ramona)—San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) wants to expand its right to trim or remove trees within 18 inches of power lines dramatically – increasing that range to 25 feet on either side of power lines. On Friday, the Mussey Grade Road Alliance, a citizens’ watchdog group, has filed an opening brief with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) opposing SDG&E’s plan.

HELIX WATER DISTRICT RESIDENTS EXPRESS IRE OVER PROPOSED RATE INEQUITIES, ALLEGE DECEPTIVE NOTICES AT GROSSMONT-MT. HELIX ASSOCIATION (GMIA) PUBLIC FORUM

GMIA spokesman Mark Schuppert, with Helix Water Board Directors Kathleen Coates Hedberg and De Ana R. Verbeke

by Gayle Early

May 20, 2009 (Mt. Helix)—Residents poured into Fuerte Elementary School’s auditorium Thursday evening, May 15th to get a status update on Helix Water District’s (HWD) rate-increase proposals and express outrage over what they contend is an unfair tier-pricing system. GMIA, representing the large unincorporated area of East County around La Mesa, offered eight recommendations to residents as well as to the water district for ways it can make the system fairer.

WATER BOARD STIRS FLOOD OF CONTROVERSY: ALLEGED VIOLATIONS, SECRECY FUEL THREATS OF LEGAL ACTION; SPECIAL MEETING SET MAY 22 TO ADDRESS LEGAL CHALLENGES

Kristin Kjaero

 

A special joint investigative report by East County Magazine and Channel 10 News

10news.com story

By Miriam Raftery

May 19, 2009 (La Mesa)—A water board controversy has sparked public outcry in East County. No, we’re not talking about a torture tactic—though many ratepayers fear pain from steep rate hikes in the Helix Water District. The local “water board” controversy centers around allegations that the Helix Water Board voted on hefty rate-hikes and eliminating irrigation meters for homeowners without adequate public input, possibly violating state law.

 

Two cure and correct letters (PDF 160 kb) sent to the district allege that the board failed to provide adequate notice of hearings, did not follow proper meeting procedures, appointed an ad-hoc committee after adjourning a public meeting and then reconvened to take action after some citizens had left. The Board has called a special meeting for Friday, May 22 at 10 a.m. specifically to address the legal issues raised.

EXCERPTS FROM LETTERS SENT TO HELIX WATER DISTRICT IN OPPOSITION TO THE RATE HIKES

 

By Miriam Raftery

 

May 19, 2009 (San Diego's East County)--Helix Water Board’s management withheld 68 letters sent by ratepayer from at least one Board member until after a vote was taken on rate hikes at the April 27 meeting. Below are excerpts from those letters. All opposed the rate hikes; many accused the board of unfairly targeting homeowners over businesses, particularly owners of large properties even if they have already reduced water consumption sharply.

Pages