CVUSD ASST. SUPERINDTENDENT PAINTS POSITIVE FINANCIAL FORECAST FOR DISTRICT AND OTHER LOCAL SCHOOLS, BASED ON GOVERNOR’S REVISED BUDGET

LA MESA COUNCIL APPROVES 3-YEAR OKTOBERFEST CONTRACT AND INCREASED EDCO FEES

COUNTY TO USE WIRELESS ALERT TO TEST EARTHQUAKE WARNING

STATE ENDANGERED SPECIES PROTECTION SOUGHT FOR MOUNTAIN LIONS IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, CENTRAL COAST

PROSECUTION DETAIL FIVE 'ROMANCES' BY REP. DUNCAN HUNTER USING CAMPAIGN CASH

REP. DUNCAN HUNTER: EMAIL PROVES WHY FEDERAL PROSECUTION IS POLITICAL

GROSSMONT CENTER TO HOST FARMER’S MARKET ON WEDNESDAYS STARTING JULY 24, AS LA MESA WEIGHS NEW PROPOSALS FOR FARMER’S MARKET

INDEPENDENT VOTERS RISK BEING IRRELEVANT IN CALIFORNIA PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY

CALIFORNIA GAS TAX RISES TO HIGHEST IN NATION

PADRE DAM BOARD APPROVES INTERIM FUNDING AGREEMENT FOR REGIONAL WATER PURIFICATION PROJECT

RENTS RISING ACROSS SAN DIEGO AND EAST COUNTY

DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE DEBATES SET FOR JUNE 26 AND 27

News

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.

POWERLINK MEETINGS PLANNED IN LAKESIDE, CAMPO, SCRIPPS RANCH, ALPINE & JACUMBA

San Diego Gas & Electric Co. will hold a series of open houses throughout the county to respond to residents' questions about the controversial Sunrise Powerlink project. In December, the California Public Utilities Commission approved a 123-mile route to run high-voltage power lines and 150-foot-tall towers through East County from Imperial Valley to San Diego. SDG&E maintains the line is necessary to meet future energy needs, but opponents contend the line will obstruct views, increase fire danger, and that better alternatives are available to meet our region's energy needs.

SCHOOL BOARD GRILLS HELIX OFFICIALS, SEEKS DOCUMENTS IN SEXUAL ABUSE, MISCONDUCT CASES

By Miriam Raftery

February 16, 2009 (El Cajon)-- Grossmont Union High School
District (GUHSD) trustees voted unanimously to send a cure and correct letter
to Helix Charter High School administrators, asking for documentation thus
far withheld regarding handling of four cases of sexual abuse and misconduct. "To
have a cluster of four incidents in such a short period of time is a red flag,"
said Superintendent Robert Collins (photo, left), adding that the district
has a duty to restore confidence and protect safety of students. "We
are here to solve a problem, not to win out in the court of public opinion."

TV M*A*S*H DOCTOR OFFERS HEALING WORDS FOR HUMANITY IN NEW BOOK; VISIT TO BONITA LIBRARY DRAWS FULL HOUSE

By Miriam Raftery

Mike Farrell with officers of Eastlake-Bonita
Democratic Club.

February 17, 2009 (Bonita) — Mike Farrell and his co-stars
on the popular M*A*S*H TV show raised public awareness about the human costs
of war. But
what many fans don't realize is that in his private life, Farrell has much
in common with the character he portrayed, Dr. B.J. Hunnicutt. Traveling
to global hot spots from Central American jungles to war-torn African villages,
he has gained fame internationally as a humanitarian, working tireless to draw
attention to a wide range of human rights issues.

STOP-PAYMENTS TO FOSTER FAMILIES RAISES CONCERNS FOR CHILDREN

By Miriam Raftery

February 16, 2009 (San Diego) — A letter sent by the County of San Diego last week to foster parents warned that the State of California planned to halt payments to counties for foster parent services immediately. While County officials joined with 23 other counties to file a lawsuit against the state, the prospect of losing funding to care for needy children has sparked concern among local foster parents.

”My wife and I have 12 foster girls under our supervision and the letters from the County were horrible,” Herb Cawthorne, head of community relations for Viejas Enterprises, told East County Magazine. “These children are already without the normal family relationships - fathers gone, mothers in rehab or jail or incapable of good parenting, brother and sisters scattered across the county and, wham, this letter comes saying that they may not be able to stay in the places where they have become accustomed.”

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

PART II in a three-part series:  WHY BOULEVARD?

By Gayle Early

Pristine vale in McCain Valley slated for transmission lines, including Sunrise PowerLink. (photo by Gayle Early)

February 16, 2009 (Boulevard) — Iberdrola Renewables and other parties have had their fingers in the wind, testing for the past three years and more.

“If you link the windy areas in San Diego County to the transmission, it restricts you to very few areas. McCain Valley—and a small area around Julian—is one of the few areas in San Diego County that has wind anywhere near transmission,” said Andy Linehan, Permitting/Environmental Director of Iberdrola.

The quality of wind here might be questionable. Alan Ridley, Professor at Cuyamaca College and enthusiastic expert on renewable wind energy said, “I remember 10, 15 years ago a former Sempra employee told me they just can’t do wind energy in East County, because it’s the wrong kind of wind. I had a lawyer tell me that ‘Kumeyaay Wind project is good, but it’s not great.’

STATE OF THE COUNTY ADDRESS: "OMINOUS DAYS BEFORE US," JACOB WARNS

County to Sue State Over Funding Cuts

By Miriam Raftery

Supervisor Dianne Jacob

February 12, 2009 (El Cajon) — Dianne Jacob, Chairwoman
of the County Board of Supervisors, presented a bleak outlook in a State of the County
address
presented
last night at Cuyamaca College. As a result of falling revenues
and state budget cuts, lay-offs and deep cuts in County services will be necessary,
she warned. “Apparently, state legislators see nothing wrong with collecting
their paychecks, while aid checks to more than 63,000 `at risk’ San Diego children
hang in the balance,” said Jacob, who revealed that the state plans to delay
some $100 million in aid payments to foster families, disadvantaged children
and their parents.

EL CAJON MOURNS PASSING OF WAYNE STALKER, LONG-TIME EMPLOYEE AND ARTIST

The El Cajon Police Department and the City are saddened by the death of retired Animal Control Officer Wayne Stalker. Wayne passed away on Wednesday, February 4 after a long courageous battle against cancer.

Wayne joined the El Cajon Police Department as a Volunteer Police Reserve Officer on September 9, 1981, and then held various positions at the police department, eventually becoming an Animal Control Officer on July 1, 1995. He retired from the City on December 28, 2007. Not only was Wayne a dedicated officer, but he was also a very talented artist.

LAKESIDE HEARING FEB 18 ON SUNRISE POWERLINK PATH THROUGH EL MONTE VALLEY

San Diego Gas & Electric will be at the Lakeside Community Planning Group (LCGP) Mtg on February 18 at 7 PM at the Lakeside Community Center at 9841 Vine Street, Lakeside, CA to discuss the Sunrise Powerlink high-voltage power lines proposed for the El Monte Valley.

A map and view of the proposed powerline path, which would include three sides of the valley, is at: http://www.flickr.com/gp/34534939@N07/oku65G.

DON QUIXOTE FIGHTS THE WINDMILLS—AND SO DO THE FOLKS IN BOULEVARD

by Gayle Early

(photo by Miriam Raftery)

February 10, 2009 (Campo)--Editor’s Note: Should wind turbines hundreds of feet tall –higher than the existing Kumeyaay wind farm turbines—be allowed in the rural McCain Valley/Boulevard region in East County? Does the nation’s critical need for “green” energy outweigh the concerns of residents seeking to preserve the rural character of their backcountry communities? With new industrial-scale wind farms proposed across America, East County Magazine’s Gayle Early set out on a quest to explore these issues in depth for our three-part series on wind energy.

PART I: BACKCOUNTRY RESIDENTS BATTLE SPANISH WIND GIANT

As they were talking, they saw thirty or forty of the windmills found in that countryside, and as soon as Don Quixote caught sight of them, he said to his squire:

“Good fortune is guiding our affairs better than we could have desired, for there you see, friend Sancho Panza, thirty or more enormous giants with whom I intend to do battle and whose lives I intend to take, and with the spoils we shall begin to grow rich, for this is righteous warfare, and it is a great service to God to remove so evil a breed from the face of the earth.”

FEB. 25 HEARING ON WIND TURBINES & WIND TESTING

February 2009 (San Diego)--The County Board of Supervisors will deliberate February 25 whether to ease permitting requirements for installing industrial-scale meteorological testing units (MET towers) on private and county properties. The county is also debating the turbine ordinance to allow for more options, such as industrial-scale turbines on private property or more than one turbine per lot, including the smaller scale turbines.

LA MESA SAVES FLAG DAY PARADE: DONATIONS ROLL IN FROM RESIDENTS, BUSIENSSES AND CIVIC LEADERS

February 9, 2009 (Mesa) “ Thanks to the generosity of La Mesa citizens, business leaders and elected officials who donated out of their own pockets, La Mesa’s annual flag day parade has been saved from the budget chopping block. The 14th annual event will take place on Saturday,

“We met the goal and then some,” an e-mail signed by Council members Ernest Ewin and David Allan stated. “Thank you, Shannon O’Dunn for your leadership in this effort.” O’Dunn (photo), a La Mesa resident, ran for La Mesa Council in the last election.

SEX EDUCATION? HELIX DEFENDS ITS ACTIONS, DISPUTES REPORT RELEASED BY DISTRICT THAT CRITICIZED HELIX ADMINISTRATOR'S RESPONSE TO SEXUAL ABUSE, MISCONDUCT;

BOARD TO CONSIDER CHARTER SCHOOL CURE CORRECT ORDERS AT FEB. 12 MEETING

February 6, 2009 (La Mesa) Did administrators at Helix Charter High School respond appropriately to four incidents of sexual abuse and misconduct involving teachers and students and has enough been done to prevent similar problems in the future? The Grossmont Union-High School Governing Board will consider these questions and review conflicting findings from two reports in closed session followed by open public testimony at the February 12 GUHSD Board meeting.

FILNER REINTRODUCES FAIR TAXES FOR SENIORS ACT

February 1, 2009 (San Diego) — Congressman Bob Filner has reintroduced the
Fair Taxes for Seniors Act, H.R. 674, which will provide a one-time increase
in the capital gains tax exemption on the sale of a home for citizens who are
50 years of age or more.

"The Fair Taxes for Seniors Act would give many seniors the additional money
they need for nursing home care, medical costs, and other retirement expenses,"
stated Filner, a Democrat whose district includes southern portions of East
County as well as San Diego's South Bay area. "As a result, family members
and, in many cases, the government will be relieved of the burden of caring
for these individuals as they grow older."

STATE DEPARTMENT CANCELS BLACKWATER'S CONTRACT IN IRAQ: EAST COUNTY LEADERS, BLACKWATER WEST VP SHARE REACTIONS

Jan Hedlun, right, at victory celebration last year after
Blackwater dropped plans to build a training base in Potrero.

February 1, 2009 (San Diego's East County) —--"Blackwater has been fired
by the State Department from its job protecting U.S. diplomats in Iraq," ABC
News has reported. The U.S. State Department has announced
it will not renew a $1.2 billion contract for Blackwater's Iraqi operations
after Iraq refused to license the U.S. firm. Iraqi officials cited "lingering
outrage" over September 2007 shootings by Blackwater guards that killed 17
civilians in Iraq's Nisour Square. In East County, leaders who
fought to keep Blackwater from opening a training camp in Potrero greeted the
news with cautious optimism, while Blackwater Vice President Brian Bonfiglio
defended the company's record.

"Huzzah!!!!!! Miracles do happen!" Jan Hedlun, Potrero Planning Group
member who led her town's battle to oust Blackwater, stated in an e-mail to
East County Magazine. But she added, "Although we know this is not the demise
of Blackwater, persay, or companies like them, it is gratifying to know that
their mask has been lifted and they have been seen for what they are. And
though they continue to try to fly under the radar of public scrutiny and the
transparency promised is still not forthcoming, now we are aware of the danger
inherent in our ignorance." Hedlun cited a quote by James Thurber: "Let
us not look back in anger or forward in fear, but around in awareness."

AL NASSER TO SPEAK IN LA MESA WEDNESDAY ON IRAQ WAR ISSUES

Dr. Farouk Al Nasser, an Iraq native and U.S. citizen, will speak on conditions in Iraq at the La Mesa Community Center on Wednesday, June 3rd. “Dr. Nasser will help us understand the situation on the ground in Iraq; he is in contact with his extended family of more than 400 living in Iraq,” said Linda Armacost, president of the La Mesa-Foothills Democratic Club, host of the meeting, which is open to people in all political parties. Nasser will provide information and perspectives on the Iraq War not found in the mainstream U.S. media, she added.

SDG&E THREATENS TO SUE WILDFIRE VICTIMS

By Miriam Raftery

February 2, 2009 (San Diego's East County)--San Diego Gas & Electric Company has notified attorneys representing fire victims that the utility company plans to sue victims of the 2007 wildfires. The announcement has sparked an angry response from some elected officials and residents in burned-out areas of East County.

FACE OFF: SHOULD CONGRESS SUPPORT PRESIDENT OBAMA'S ECONOMIC STIMULUS PROPOSAL?

Dual views on hot topics

The
President's proposed economic stimulus plan has split Congress down party
lines, with Democrats overwhelmingly in favor and House Republicans unanimously
opposed. San Diego's Democratic Congressman Bob Filner and San Diego County
Republican Party Chairman Tony Krvaric face off with drastically divergent
views on the stimulus proposal. Texts below were submitted to ECM as press
releases issues by these political leaders' offices.

FLAG DAY PARADE IN JEOPARDY: LA MESA SEEKS SPONSORS, DONORS TO SAVE ANNUAL EVENT

January 31, 2009 (La Mesa) -- Faced with a budget gap, La Mesa's City Council has voted not to provide financial support for the City's Flag Day Parade this year. To save the popular community event, some councilmembers and community leaders have launched a one-week fundraising drive in hopes of saving the community's parade.

BURLINGTON COAT FACTORY ROBBED AT GUNPOINT

January 29, 2009 (La Mesa) — At 7:39 PM, La Mesa Police
responded to a report of an armed robbery from the Burlington Coat Factory
located at 7938 El Cajon Boulevard.  Several La Mesa Police officers and the Sheriff's helicopter
ASTREA responded to the scene, but the suspect had fled prior to their arrival.  The
suspect entered the open business, brandished a handgun to a clerk and ordered
them to give him the money.  The suspect fled with an undisclosed amount
of money.  No employees or customers were injured.

FRIENDSHIP PARK

Despite Border Patrol Ban, Communion Celebrations Continue at Historic Border Park--”For Now

(Karl W. Hoffman)

Editor's Note: Impacts of the border wall are important nationally and internationally, as well as for people in San Diego County. Each Sunday afternoon, Friends of Friendship Park gather at the historic venue to celebrate communion through the U.S.-Mexico border fence. Rev. John Fanestil, a pastor in the United Methodist Church and Executive Director of Foundation for Change, sent this poignant report to East County Magazine on closure of Friendship Park to the public.

ASSEMBLYMAN ANDERSON URGES LEGISLATURE TO SUPPORT ISRAEL IN GAZA CONFLICT

ASSEMBLYMAN ANDERSON URGES LEGISLATURE TO SUPPORT ISRAEL

By Miriam Raftery

January 27, 2009 (Sacramento)-- Assemblyman Joel Anderson (R-El Cajon), has introduced Assembly Concurrent resolution (ACR) 10, California's Resolution to Stand with Israel. The move has drawn praise from backers of Israel and criticism from supporters of the Palestinians.

"It's vital that we stand shoulder to shoulder with Israel as they defend themselves from terrorists," said Anderson, who introduced the measure on January 13th.

LAKESIDE POLICE SEEK MAN IN SILVER CAR WHO TRIED TO  LURE 15-YEAR-OLD GIRL INTO VEHICLE

Mitsubishi Eclipse with spoiler, vehicle possibly driven
by suspect.

January
15, 2009 (Lakeside) —
Lakeside deputies responded to a radio
call of a possible kidnapping at 10133 Maine Avenue in Lakeside shortly before
7 a.m.  Upon
arrival, deputies contacted the victim, a 15-year-old ninth grade female who
attends El Capitan High School. The victim reported an unknown male had followed
her as she walked to school from the intersection of Channel Road and Industry
Way (near Highway 67). The male suspect made several attempts to lure the female
into his vehicle by offering her a ride, and eventually stopped his vehicle
on Mapleview Street just west of Highway 67. As the victim attempted to walk
past the vehicle, the suspect got out of his vehicle and walked toward the
victim. The suspect placed his hand on the victim's shoulder and she fled the
scene to the 7-11 store at 10133 Main Avenue where she called the Sheriff's
Department.

MARCH 17 HEARING SET IN SAN DIEGO ON SDG&E PLAN TO SHUT OFF POWER ON DRY, WINDY DAYS

By Miriam Raftery

January 23, 2009 (San Diego) -- An administrative law judge has issued orders requiring the California Public Utilities commission to hold three public hearings on SDG&E's proposed shut-off of power to back country communities during high-wind events with low humidity.

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