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.
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.)
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
May 19, 2009 (El Cajon)--At 7:33 p.m. tonight El Cajon Firefighters responded to reports of a fire in the kitchen area of the Bank of America branch, located at 512 Fletcher Parkway. Upon arrival fire crews found smoke coming from the rear of the building where they made entry. Quick action by firefighters had the fire knocked down in 15 minutes. The bank will remain closed until repairs can be made.
May 13, 2009 (San Diego’s East County)—Senate Republicans blocked the nomination by President Barack Obama of David Hayes to serve as deputy secretary of the Interior Department. Hayes, who held the same position in the Clinton administration, has drawn opposition from some community leaders and environmentalists locally due to his recent role as lobbyist for Sempra Energy. Sempra’s Sunrise Powerlink Project must be approved by the Interior Department for federal lands in San Diego’s East County in order for the project to be constructed.
WIFE OF EAST COUNTY MAGAZINE'S BUSINESS MANAGER WILL BE MISSED
May 11, 2009 (Santee)—Suzanne (“Suzy”) Marie Di Mascio, a leading voice in San Diego’s healthcare community and wife of East County Magazine’s business manager Leon Thompson, passed away on May 7, 2009 at San Diego Hospice following a long battle against cancer. Her efforts helped improve access to healthcare services for thousands of people in San Diego County.
May 8, 2009 San Diego, CA – Lestat’s West, the showroom next to the eclectic San Diego coffee house in Normal Heights, will screen “Running Dry”, a powerful documentary on the growing global water crisis on Tuesday, May 12 at 7:00 pm. “Running Dry” is a comprehensive public information/education project, established to raise awareness about the worsening global humanitarian water crisis. The project’s centerpieces are two explosive and in-depth documentaries, “Running Dry” and “The American Southwest: Are We Running Dry?”
The East County Community Action Coalition (ECCAC) is sponsoring a fundraiser on Saturday, May 30, 2009 from 11-4 pm at Hazy Meadow Ranch in Lakeside, CA. This is an all-county event that will feature live music, raffle, opportunity drawing, carnvial games, pony rides, and more. The organization seeks public help to fund legal action to "sunset" Sunrise Powerlink.
May 11, 2009 (Sacramento)--Gerry Giguere and his wife Kit live on a fixed income and don’t want to lose their home over a new septic regulation.
“This is big-government insanity,” said Gerry Giguere, whose home in rural east county requires a septic system and well.
California will soon impose a new fee of up to $650 for all septic tank owners. The fees would pay for mandatory inspections of all septic tanks and could force many to pay for costly upgrades, angering rural property owners who rely on septic systems.
May 9, 2009 (La Mesa)—“There is an alarming increase in hate crimes in the United States,” James McElroy, chairman of the board for the Southern Law & Poverty Center (SLPC), told members and guests at the La Mesa –Foothills Democratic Club on May 6th. “We try to shine a little light on it. Hate is like a fungus under a rock. Shine a light and you can eradicate it.”
May 2, 2009 (El Cajon)—Speaking at an East County Chamber of Commerce breakfast at Grossmont College yesterday, Supervisor Dianne Jacob took a cue from President Barack Obama and offered her own “100 days” post-election report. But she noted one key difference, “I did not take over any banks,” she quipped, then offered her own “to do” list. Mayors of several East County cities also offered their perspectives.
May 4, 2009 (San Diego)—San Diego County now has 24 confirmed cases of H1N1 influenza (the World Health Organization’s new name for swine flu). New cases include a 20-year-old SDSU student and a child at the Polinsky Center for foster children.
May 3, 2009 (San Diego)—Health authorities have traced origins of the H1N1 swine flu outbreak to a 10-year old son of a military family in San Diego, UPI reports today. The Centers for Disease Control conducted tests on samples from the boy, revealing the never-before-seen strain of flu virus on April 15, though his brother had symptoms two weeks earlier. Today, the County Health & Human Services Agency confirms four new cases of the flu, bringing the total of cases locally to 15, with several more suspected.
April 29, 2009 (San Diego)—San Diego and Iimperial Counties both declared local health emergencies today. The declarations are routine steps in preparations for addressing an outbreak of swine flu. There are eight confirmed cases in San Diego County and 5 confirmed cases in Imperial County. The three newest cases in San Diego County include a three-year-old boy and his father, as well as a 23-year-old man. An additional seven cases of suspected swine flu are currently being tested, East County Magazine has learned.
WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION DECLARES PHASE 5 EPIDEMIC
April 29, 2009 (San Diego)—Eight cases of people infected with swine influenza have been confirmed in San Diego County, confirms Tom Christensen, Health & Human Services media spokesman. Details on new cases will be released later today. Several other local cases are suspected, including an SDSU student. President Barack Obama today said that schools with an infected student should close down, raising the possibility that SDSU could shut down shortly before final exams scheduled May 4-8.
April 27, 2009 (San Diego’s East County)—California’s Republican legislators joined in a “tea party” tax protest in Sacramento earlier this month. In response, Democratic leaders staged a “reality check” to unveil a 150-foot long scroll listing $26 billion in budget cuts made since 2003--warning that more severe cuts to schools and other essential programs would be required without the revenue increases in the 2009-2010 budget.
Both sides bolstered their arguments with videos--posted here.
Update April 28: Despite strong public protest, Helix Water District approved eliminating agricultural meters for 900 customers and accepted other staff recommendations. Watch for details soon.
By Miriam Raftery April 26, 2009 (La Mesa)—Deluged by hundreds of calls from residents irate about steep rate increases for heavy water use, and by many seeking irrigation meters to qualify for cheaper water rates, Helix Water District’s Board of Directors will convene a special meeting at 2 p.m. Monday, April 27th.
April 26, 2009 (Washington D.C.)—The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared a public emergency today in the United States due to the outbreak of a new strain of swine flu in five states (California, Ohio, New York, Kansas and Texas).