READER’S EDITORIAL: DON’T BE FOOLED

STORM DAMAGES FACILITIES AT LIONS, TIGERS AND BEARS IN ALPINE: SANCTUARY SEEKS FUNDS FOR CRITICAL REPAIRS

KAWASAKI DISEASE CASES INCREASING IN THE COUNTY

RANCHO SAN DIEGO SHERIFF CAPTAIN MARCO GARMO PLACED ON ADMINISTRATIVE LEAVE DURING ATF/FBI CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION

OUTAGES AND ROAD CLOSURES

FEDS RAID JEWELER LEO HAMEL’S HOME AND STORES IN GUN TRAFFICKING CASE

BOYS BASKETBALL: NORSEMEN ADVANCE TO CIF QUARTERFINALS AFTER TROUNCING SOUTHWEST EC 82-62

FIVE WAYS GAVIN NEWSOM MADE IT CLEAR HE'S NOT JERRY BROWN

SUPERVISORS VOTE TO SUE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION OVER DUMPING ASYLUM SEEKERS LOCALLY

BOARD VOTES TO REQUEST $125 MILLION TO HELP HOMELESS

PRESCRIBED FIRE BURNS PLANNED AT CUYAMACA RANCHO STATE PARK IN SAN DIEGO'S EAST COUNTY

DISABLED ACTIVISTS FILE CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT AGAINST SAN DIEGO AND SCOOTER COMPANIES

News

FACING FORECLOSURE? NEED INFO ON HOME LOANS? GET HELP AT FREE HOMEOWNER PRESERVATION SEMINAR APRIL 18 IN SAN DIEGO

By Miriam Raftery April 13, 2009 (San Diego)—At a time when many lenders have evicted families and aggressively foreclosed on, one lender has taken a different approach, setting up a series of events to help families find ways to avoid foreclosure. On April 18th, Project Homeowner, a program to advise California homeowners facing foreclosure on how to keep their homes, will be held on April 18th from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the San Diego Concourse, Golden Hall, 202 C Street in San Diego. The event is sponsored by JP Morgan Chase & Co.

EAST COUNTY ROUND-UP — MARCH PART TWO

East County Roundup highlights the best stories about East County
issues found in other publications.

East County Roundup LogoJAMUL’S
PLAN TO BUILD CASINO MAY NOT STAND TEST OF HISTORY

San Diego Union-Tribune (March 30, 2009)—

OVERVIEW

Background: The Jamul Indian Village partnered with Lakes
Entertainment to build a casino in East County that faced significant local
opposition.

What's changing: A U.S. Supreme Court ruling over tribal
land in Rhode Island raises legal questions about Jamul's casino plan.

The future: In addition to any impact the ruling may
have, Lakes Entertainment says the project will be delayed at least five years
because of financial concerns and a suit over access to the casino site.

 

COUNTY ADOPTS STRATEGY FOR MANAGING BRUSH:

Local environmentalists say approach
relies too much on controlled burns

North County Times (March 25, 2009)--The county on Wednesday adopted a strategy
for managing the dry brush that fueled two of the region's catastrophic wildfires,
but environmental regulations and a lack of funding could make it difficult
to implement key pieces.

The strategy, which emphasizes controlled burns as a way to clear vegetation,
was outlined in a staff report that was criticized by local environmentalists
as too narrow in its scope.

"If you don't look at the full equation, you may put vegetation treatment
where it's not needed," said Richard Halsey, director of the Chaparral
Field Institute in Escondido. "And, in fact, you may actually increase
fire hazards by converting some of this shrub land into (more fire-prone) weedy
grasslands."

 

THE END OF MOBILE COUNSELING

San Diego Reader (March 20, 2009)-- Today, March 20, marks the final day of
mobile counseling services for residents of the rural East County communities
affected by the Harris Fire. The October 2007 wildfire burned 90,440 acres
across Dulzura, Potrero, Tecate, and Jamul. In its wake, hundreds of homes
were damaged or destroyed, 55 people were injured, and 5 were killed. Numerous
recovery efforts were put in place after the fire, including a free door-to-door
counseling and community outreach service.

For the past four months, the nonprofit San Diego Foundation provided the
service, but because the grant money that funded the program has run out, the
program must end.

 

ESTRANGED BEDFELLOWS: KEHOE DEFENDS BLOCK, BUT SAYS SHE’S “DISAPPOINTED” WITH LACK OF VOTE FOR GAY MARRIAGE LEGISLATION

By E.A. Barrera

April 2, 2009 (San Diego)—Openly gay San Diego State Senator Christine Kehoe defended newly elected 78th District Assemblyman Marty Block, even as she scolded Block for his refusal to support a resolution calling on the California Supreme Court to overturn Proposition 8, the voter-approved measure which invalidated gay marriages in California.

CONGRESSMEN SPAR AT SAN DIEGO REGIONAL CHAMBER OF COMMERCE LUNCHEON

By Miriam Raftery April 3, 2009 (San Diego)—Democratic Congressman Bob Filner took some good-natured swings at fellow members of San Diego’s Congressional delegation at the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce luncheon on March 27th. “First let me take some cheap political shots,” quipped Filner, sporting boxing gloves. He noted that the Chamber of Commerce and other business interests asked members of Congress to support the President’s stimulus package aimed at boosting the economy and creating jobs.

RECORD NUMBER OF GUHSD SCHOOLS RECEIVE CALIFORNIA DISTINGUISHED SCHOOLS AWARD

Grossmont High School, Helix Charter High School and Grossmont Middle College High School Receive Prestigious Honor April 2, 2009 (El Cajon)—On April 1, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell announced that 125 California high schools were awarded the prestigious 2009 California Distinguished Schools Award. This marks the first year that a record three GUHSD schools have been recognized by the state for outstanding academic achievement.

EAST COUNTY CITIES VIE TO LURE SHOPPERS

By Miriam Raftery

April 1, 2009 (San Diego’s East County) – A sales tax hike that takes effect today in La Mesa and El Cajon, has sparked competition among East County cities and Chambers of Commerce vying for shoppers’ business. A statewide sales tax increase boosts sales tax county-wide to 8.75%. In El Cajon and La Mesa, voters approved additional tax increases to 9.75% and 9.5% respectively. But does shopping outside your own community make economic sense, if it means taking tax revenues away from your home town?

COURTS LIKELY TO OVERTURN SUNRISE POWERLINK APPROVAL, CONSUMER ATTORNEY PREDICTS TO CROWD OF 600 PROTESTORS IN ALPINE

By Miriam Raftery

Sign expresses residents' outrage over fire dangers posed by Powerlink

April 8, 2009 (Alpine)—A coalition of more than 600 people packed the community center in Alpine last night to protest Sunrise Powerlink, the high-voltage line that SDG&E plans to build through the heart of this mountain community. Attorney Michael Shames from the Utility Consumers Action Network told the crowd that despite approval by the California Public Utilities Commission in December, he believes that construction of Powerlink will ultimately be halted through legal action.

 

NEW ASSEMBLYMAN MARTY BLOCK INTRODUCES BILL TO CREATE NEW COLLEGE IN CHULA VISTA

Vittorio Arata,
Gabriella Quiroga (1),
Katya Quiroga,
Mariella Quiroga
(Mark Raftery)

April 1, 2009 (San Diego’s East County) — On his first day of work at the Capitol,  Assemblyman Marty Block introduced AB 24, a bill which would require that the California State University trustees conduct a feasibility study for locating the 24th Campus of the CSU System in Chula Vista.

LOCAL GROUPS FILE APPEAL, ASK BLM TO REVERSE POWERLINK APPROVAL

March 24, 2009 (Boulevard) — An appeal to the U.S. Department of the Interior over its Bureau of Land Management (BLM) approval of San Diego Gas & Electric’s Sunrise Powerlink transmission project was filed Monday by three local organizations in San Diego County. The appeal notice to the Interior Board of Land Appeals is the first step to a court appeal.

TOWN HALL MEETING ON SUNRISE POWERLINK SET FOR APRIL 6 IN ALPINE

March 28, 2009 (Alpine, CA) --The East County Community Action Coalition (ECCAC) has scheduled a Town Hall meeting on Monday, April 6, 2009, from 6-8pm at the Alpine Community Center. The meeting will be a chance for East County residents to get more information about the Sunrise Powerlink's Southern Route. The route affects communities and towns such as Alpine, Boulevard, Campo, Carveacre, Chocolate Canyon, El Monte Valley, Jacumba, Lakeside, and more. County Supervisor Dianne Jacob, a vocal opponent of the project for years, will be the keynote speaker.

BILBRAY COAUTHORS BILL TO EXEMPT SOLAR FARMS FROM ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW; FEINSTEIN SEEKS TO BLOCK DESERT SOLAR FARM DUE TO SEVERE ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE

By Miriam Raftery

March 23, 2009 (San Diego)--Congressman Brian Bilbray (R-San Diego) has coauthored H.R. 964, a measure that would exempt any solar energy project on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands from Environmental Impact Report requirements. Sempra Energy, Bilbray's third largest campaign contributor, seeks to import power from desert solar farms on BLM lands.

 

POWERLINK BATTLE MOVES TO FEDERAL FRONT AMID GROWING CONTROVERSIES OVER SDG&E

By Miriam Raftery March 19, 2009 (San Diego's East County)--The next phase in the battle over Sunrise Powerlink, which was approved in December by the California Public Utilities Commission, now moves to the federal level. In the past week, several key developments have occurred under the Obama administration that could impact whether or not Sempra's Powerlink Project will win final federal approvals needed for construction through the Cleveland National Forest and other federal lands.

SDSU WOMEN'S BASKETBALL TEAM ADVANCES TO NCAA POST-SEASON FOR 1ST TIME IN 12 YEARS

March 19, 2009 (San Diego)--San Diego State University's women's basketball team, the Aztecs, will play in the NCAA Basketball Championships for the first time since 1997 and the seventh time in the team's history. The team will face off against DePaul University's Blue Demons at 5 p.m. at Cox Arena on Saturday.

 

FILNER BLOCKS OBAMA PLAN TO CHARGE INSURERS FOR TREATMENT OF WOUNDED VETS

By Miriam Raftery March 18, 2009 (Washington D.C.)--East County Magazine contacted Congressman Bob Filner's office after receiving an e-mail from the American Legion which stated that President Obama intended to require private insurance carriers to reimburse the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for treatment of military veterans who suffered service-related injuries or disabilities. Filner (D-San Diego), is Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee.

TWO-ALARM FIRE AT PRECISION METAL IN EL CAJON

March 17, 2009 (El Cajon)--Just after 12:30 p.m. today El Cajon Fire crews responded to a structure fire reported at 850 West Bradley Avenue in El Cajon. Upon arrival,flames and heavy black smoke were seen coming from the roof area of the business, Precision Metal Products, and a second alarm was issued. It took about 30 firefighters 30 minutes to knock down the blaze. Quick action by fire crews contained the fire to a central area of the 92,000 square foot building, and an evacuation of nearby buildings was not required.

PARENTS OF MISSING ESCONDIDO TEEN ASK PUBLIC'S HELP, ORGANIZE SEARCHES: $60,000 REWARD OFFERED

March 14, 2009 (Escondido)--One month after the disappearance of Amber Leeanne Duboise, 14, Escondido police have received new tips and family members are organizing searches in the community. To volunteer, visit http://www.bringamberhome.com/. Donations are also requested to help with costs of the search, which has drawn national attention. You can download flyers to post or distribute here: http://eastcountymagazine.org/?q=bringamberhome.

SEMPRA/SDG&E LOBBYIST NOMINATED BY OBAMA AS DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF INTERIOR: VOTE SLATED THURSDAY, MARCH 12

By Miriam Raftery March 12, 2009 (San Diego’s East County) -- East County residents opposed to Sempra Energy’s Sunrise Powerlink project are mobilizing opposition to President Barack Obama’s nomination of David Hayes as deputy director of the U.S. Department of the Interior. Hayes served as Deputy Director of the department during the Clinton Administration, but later went to work for the lobbying firm Latham & Watkins representing Sempra Energy and SDG&E.

POWERLINK MEETING DRAWS PROTESTS IN ALPINE; PARENTS OPPOSE HIGH-VOLTAGE LINES NEAR ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

By Miriam Raftery

Megan Werland, right, worries about health effects of Powerlink on children including her 5-month old daughter, Eleanor

March 10, 2009 (Alpine) — Children and parents staged a protest rally outside the Alpine Community Center, where SDG&E held a public meeting on Sunrise Powerlink. Holding signs that read "Class 1 Fire Risk" and "Save the Cleveland National Forest", dozens of residents voiced opposition to 230-kv lines slated to run through the heart of this community. Approved by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) in December, Powerlink is slated to include a $92 million section of undergrounded lines along a two-mile stretch of Alpine Boulevard, where Alpine Elementary School is located.

WHERE'S THE PORK? NO MONEY FOR FIRE STATIONS OR FIRE PREVENTION IN SAN DIEGO'S PROPOSED STIMULUS PROJECTS

 

 

"The City and County never asked the fire departments. We are very disappointed," -- August Ghio, President, San Diego Fire Chiefs Association

 

By Miriam Raftery

 

March 5, 2009 (San Diego)--Why didn't a city and county that have suffered through the worst wildfires in California history request funds through the federal stimulus program for any fire protection projects?

EL CAJON FIRE DEPARTMENT RECEIVES FUNDING TO ENHANCE TRAINING

EL CAJON, Calif. (March 6, 2009)--CMR Risk & Insurance Services and Fireman's Fund Insurance Company are teaming up to award a $6,000 grant to the El Cajon Fire Department to help fund the city's firefighter training academy. The money will go toward instructor fees, purchasing materials, and buying necessary supplies. Each program at the academy teaches a specific function of firefighting, including Hazardous Materials First Responder, Low Angle Rescue, Confined Space Awareness, Fire Control 3, Auto Extrication, and Incident Command System.

OBAMA BUDGET INCLUDES BIG INCREASE IN FUNDS FOR VETERANS, FILNER SAYS

March 1, 2009 (Washington, D.C.) -- House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Bob Filner (D-CA) provided the following statement on President Obama’s Budget Outline for the Department of Veterans Affairs for Fiscal Year 2010. “I applaud President Obama’s budget request for the Department of Veterans Affairs. After sixteen years on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I am very encouraged that this outline is consistent with recommendations made by the veterans’ groups who co-author the Independent Budget. This has never happened in the IB’s 23-year history!

 

RESIDENTS STAGE PROTEST IN LAKESIDE OVER POWERLINK; SUPERIVSOR JACOB LEADS FIGHT TO HALT SEMPRA/SDG&E PROJECT

By Miriam Raftery

"This line is really about bringing fossil fuels up from the plant owned by SDG&E in Mexico," said Dianne Jacob, chair of the County Board of Supervisors. "We do not need this line to meet San Diego County's energy needs now or in the future...Follow the money to see who supports Sunrise Powerlink."

February 28, 2009 (Lakeside) — “We do not need this line to meet San Diego County’s energy needs now or in the future,” Dianne Jacob, chair of the County Board of Supervisors, told a crowd of 200 to 300 Lakeside residents at a February 25th community meeting on Sunrise Powerlink. She accused the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) of ignoring fire safety warnings raised in an Environmental Impact Report (EIR), which concluded that the line was rated “the highest fire risk possible” and that “fire risk could not be mitigated.” Jacob added, “Follow the money--Some public officials supported the line even before there was an EIR report. Their votes were bought, in my opinion.”

 

View Rob Constantine’s video of officials and Lakeside residents speaking. Also view the new "Save El Monte Valley from Sempra Powerlink Towers" (includes footage of valley during the Cedar Fire, now, and images with computer-generated towers) or visit www.saveelmontevalley.com. Video of Dianne Jacobs’ speech, compliments of Rob Constantine.

BURNED UP: LAKESIDE PLANNERS, FIRE OFFICIALS AND RESIDENTS VENT ANGER OVER STATE'S APPROVAL OF POWERLINK WITH NO NOTICE TO THEIR COMMUNITY

By Miriam Raftery

Before and After images of El Monte Valley

February 18, 2009 (Lakeside) — Lakeside planners, fire
officials and residents expressed shock and outrage that the California Public
Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved construction of Sunrise Powerlink through
the El Monte Valley, a designated scenic area, without ever notifying officials
or the public in Lakeside.

Sempra Energy/SDG&E added Lakeside to its proposed Southern Route back
in March 2007, but local officials said they never had a chance to provide
input on an environmental impact report. Officials warned that adding
high-voltage power lines and 20-story towers would not only impede pristine
views of El Capitan Mountain,but also prevent firefighting planes from scooping
water from a reservoir to douse wildfires, putting San Diego at risk of another
catastrophic fire.

ECM SPECIAL REPORT: INVESTIGATOR-TURNED-WHISTLEBLOWER CLAIMS FAULTY POWER LINE INSTALLATIONS CAUSED 2003 CEDAR AND PARADISE FIRES AS WELL AS WILDFIRES IN 2007; SDG&E DISPUTES CLAIM

By Miriam Raftery

Clark testified at CPUC hearing that he believes a design flaw in SDG&E lines is responsible for several major fires, including the Witch, Paradise and Cedar fires.

February 24, 2009 (San Diego’s East County) — For $50,000, the cost of a single fire engine, SDG&E could fix an allegedly dangerous problem on power lines in San Diego County, according to electrical engineer and insurance investigator Ed Clark. Clark believes faulty installations caused the 2003 Witch and Paradise fires as well as devastating blazes in 2007. SDG&E disputes Clark’s claim and insists its lines are safe.

“This is the biggest corporate cover-up anyone has ever seen,” Clark told East County Magazine in an exclusive interview.

TWO ELECTRICAL EXPERTS CONFIRM CLARK’S CONTENTION THAT SDG&E INSTALLATIONS ARE DANGEROUS, CAN IGNITE FIRES; SDG&E INSISTS ITS LINES ARE SAFE

By Miriam Raftery

Power Lines
Clark contends that the installation shown here, with
two down guy wires connected by a single bolt, is dangerous. SDG&E
denies that contention.

February 24, 2009 (San Diego’s East County) — Ed Clark,
an electrical protection engineer-turned-whistleblower, contends that inappropriate
power line installations by SDG&E/Sempra Energy have caused multiple wildfires
in San Diego County – and that the utility’s refusal to replace or correct
the installations leaves our region at risk for more fires.

SDG&E disputes Clark’s claims and insists that its installations are legal
and safe. (See our story: Investigator claims fault utility line installations
caused 2003 Cedar and Paradise Fires as well as fires in 2007; SDG&E disputes
claim
). Now
East County Magazine has spoken with two additional electrical engineering
experts—and both confirm Clark’s contention that such installations are dangerous.

CHALLENGES FACING U.S. IN AFGHANISTAN AND PAKISTAN: SDSU PROFESSOR DIPAK GUPTA TO SPEAK IN LA MESA MARCH 4

March 1, 2009 (La Mesa) — Dr. Dipak Gupta, distinguished professor in Political Science at SDSU will share his knowledge about challenges facing the U.S. in Afghanistan and Pakistan during a talk at the La Mesa Community Center on Wednesday, March 4th. Questions to be addressed include: Can we achieve a military victory in Afghanistan, or will we wind up like the Russians who spent 10 years and committed 160,000 troops in Afghanistan only to leave in defeat? What can be done to support the fragile new government in Pakistan, a country with nuclear weapons?

GOV. SCHWARZENEGGER DECLARES STATE OF EMERGENCY OVER DROUGHT; URGES 20% WATER USE REDUCTION. STEEP PRICE INCREASES LOOM, LOCAL WATER OFFICIAL WARNS

By Miriam Raftery

February 27, 2009 (San Diego's East County)--"This drought is having a devastating impact on our people, our communities, our economy and our environment, making today's action absolutely necessary," said Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who declared a state of emergency following three years of drought. The Governor's action aims to have water agencies reduce water usage by 20 percent.

WATER SAVING REBATES AND CONSERVATION TIPS TO WEATHER THE CRISIS

By Miriam Raftery

February 27, 2009 (San Diego's East County)--Area residents must cut water consumption by at least 20% or face stiff financial penalties, local water authorities warn following a state declaration of emergency today due to the drought. Fortunately, there is help for consumers seeking ways to reduce their water usage.

"Sixty to 70 percent of water use in residential is out of doors," said Mark Robak, Otay Water District member.

ECUMENICAL GATHERING AT FRIENDSHIP PARK DISRUPTED BY TAUNTING; MINISTER TAKEN INTO CUSTODY

Story and photos by Gayle Early

Rev. John Fanestil apprehended by California Border Patrol agents in full riot gear.

February 21, 2009 (Imperial Beach) On Saturday, about 200 people and 40 civic organizations gathered to protest the Custom and Border Protection (CBP) closure of Friendship Park on Monument Mesa in Border Field State Park. The media also had a strong presence, with reporters coming from as far as Canada. The new border wall runs through the middle of the park, shutting off the section where family members and friends separated by a closed border could greet and touch each other though the fence.

DON QUIXOTE BATTLES WINDMILLS – AND SO DO THE FOLKS IN BOULEVARD

Crane
(photo courtesy of AWEA)

Part III of a three-part series:   HEALTH, SAFETY, AND ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS OF WIND FARMS 

February 22, 2009 (Boulevard) — Our country has jumped on a high-speed wind-energy bandwagon, as if the costs of developing and producing wind energy are as invisible as the wind itself. Are benefits commensurate with the costs? Can developers mitigate any risks and impacts? Our panoramic look at wind-farm issues continues, rendering potential fire risks, alleged health hazards, and environmental impacts of wind-development more visible, alongside wind energy’s better-known projected benefits.

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