FIVE CANDIDATES VIE FOR THREE SEATS ON LEMON GROVE SCHOOL BOARD

LEMON GROVE SCHOOL BOARD ELECTION: PART TWO

ECM TO HOST EL CAJON CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATE FORUMS

FAST-MOVING FIRES THREATEN NORTHERN CALIFORNIA COMMUNITIES

RED FLAG WARNNG: HIGH FIRE DANGER TODAY

CREST ELEMENTARY SCHOOL’S NEW OUTDOOR EDUCATION PROGRAM SHINES IN THE ERA OF COVID

SDG&E NOTIFIES APPROXIMATELY 700 BACKCOUNTRY RESIDENTS TO PREPARE FOR POTENTIAL PUBLIC SAFETY POWER SHUTOFFS DUE TO SANTA ANA WINDS AND FIRE WEATHER WATCH

VIEW VIDEO OF OUR SUPERVISORS CANDIDATE FORUM

PHOTOS OF THE WEEK: DINNG AL FRESCO AT GIARDINO’S IN LEMON GROVE

FIRM INVESTIGATING LA MESA CIVIL UNREST HOSTS COMMUNITY LISTENING SESSION OCT. 6

RACIST HATE GRAFFITI DEFACES CHALDEAN AND SYRIAC CATHOLIC CHURCHES IN EL CAJON

CAR THIEF SUSPECT ARRESTED IN JULIAN AFTER HIGH-SPEED CHASE AND FOOT PURSUIT

News

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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NEAR-DROWNING INCIDENTS INCREASE IN CHILDREN DURING PANDEMIC

By Jose A. Alvarez, County of San Diego Communications Office

August 28, 2020 (San Diego) - An increasing number of San Diego children have had to be rescued from private pools after nearly drowning, the County Health and Human Services Agency announced.


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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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FEDERAL JUDGE SIDES WITH TRUMP FOR NOW IN TRIBAL SUIT OVER BORDER WALL

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

Photo:  A section of new, steel bollard-style replacement wall goes up near Calexico. CBP photo by Mani Albrecht

August 28, 2020 (Campo) - A federal judge handed the Trump administration a victory Thursday by refusing to halt construction of a section of border wall near Campo.


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CAPTAIN MATT NICHOLASS NAMED INTERIM ACTING CHIEF OF LA MESA POLICE: CITY LAUNCHES NATIONWIDE SEARCH FOR ITS NEXT CHIEF

East County News Service

Photo: Captain Matt Nicholass, tomorrow's Interim Chief of Police (left), and soon to be former Chief of Police Walt Vasquez (right). Chopper the Biker Dog, law enforcement mascott wishes Chief Vasquez "all the very best on his retirement during his 'final walk-out."  Photo courtesy of Facebook, Chopper the Biker Dog

August 27, 2020 (La Mesa) - The City of La Mesa plans to hire an executive recruiting firm to conduct a nationwide search for its next Chief of Police, according to a  new release earlier today from the City of La Mesa.

There will be a community input component to the selection process. The process is expected to take several months to complete. Once the recruiting firm is hired additional details will be released.

Captain Matt Nicholass will assume the role of Acting Chief of Police tomorrow, August 28, 2020.


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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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HEALTH AND SCIENCE HIGHLIGHTS


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FIND YOUR NAME ON THE $450K COUNTY REFUND LIST

East County News Service

August 27, 2020 (San Diego) - Many people could use extra cash during the coronavirus pandemic. That’s why the San Diego County Treasurer-Tax Collector’s Office is doing all it can to reunite $450,324 in county refunds with its rightful owners. See if your name is on the list at sdttc.com.   The deadline to claim this money is Oct. 26.


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'THIS CHANGE IN POLICY WILL KILL': SCIENTISTS, MEDICAL EXPERTS WARN OF DANGEROUS LOOSENING IN CDC'S COVID GUIDELINES

"This is a stunning betrayal of public health that will spread the pandemic and lead to more unnecessary deaths." 

By Lisa Newcomb, staff writer, Common Dreams, reprinted under a Creative Commons license

Photo:  Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), testifies during a U.S. Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on the plan to research, manufacture and distribute a coronavirus vaccine, known as Operation Warp Speed, July 2, 2020 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Saul Loeb-Pool/Getty Images)

August 26, 2020 (Washington, D.C.) - As the number of Covid-19 cases in the United States nears six million, and with more than 176,000 Americans dead from the virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has quietly altered its coronavirus guidelines, worrying public health experts and raising suspicions among healthcare advocates that the moves are politically motivated.


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SDG&E SUPPORTS TEACHERS WITH MATCHING FUNDS FOR DISTANCE LEARNING AND STEM PROJECTS; APPLICATIONS NOW BEING ACCEPTED

This is the 3rd year that SDG&E is supporting educators  through DonorsChoose

East County News Service

August 26, 2020 (San Diego) – Through a partnership with DonorsChoose, a crowdfunding platform, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) has set aside $250,000 of shareholder funding to match donations that help support local teachers with distance learning and with STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) projects.    

Eligible teachers can visit the DonorsChoose website to apply. The DonorsChoose match program will run from today until funds are exhausted or December 31, 2020. 


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HIGH PRICES, LOW INVENTORY PUT SQUEEZE ON LOW-INCOME AND FIRST-TIME HOMEBUYERS AMID PANDEMIC

 

By Helen Horvath

 

August 22, 2020 (San Diego) - You might think that amid the pandemic’s economic uncertainties, when many people are unemployed or living on reduced revenues, people would be hesitant to invest in buying a home. Yet real estate experts interviewed by ECM report the opposite – a frenzy of competitive bidding pushing up prices of local homes for sale. While a shortage of inventory is benefitting home sellers, the pandemic pandemonium in San Diego County’s real estate market poses daunting challenges for first-time homebuyers and those with low or moderate incomes.  


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GIVE TO SUPPORT LOCAL JOURNALISM

During the protests and riots that rocked  La Mesa recently, East County Magazine was the only media outlet with a team of reporters, photographers and videographers on the ground all night to bring you this crucial coverage. Our courageous reporters endured pepper spray and tear gas, threats and intimidation to bring you in-depth, independent coverage of this story and others across our region. In La Mesa, we also covered the aftermath -- interviewing the Mayor and Chief of police, as well as views of protesters, counterprotesters, residents, merchants, and the many who came out to clean up and rebuild La Mesa.

But what if we weren't here? Local news matters--and it's in danger.

Due to the pandemic, the Local Media Association reports some newspapers have lost 90% or more of their ad revenues.  Nonprofit outlets including ours have lost revenues from hosting events, that are not allowed here due to COVID-19. Gannett, the biggest newspaper owner in the U.S., lost 94% of its value since last year.  McClatchy, another large news publisher, filed for bankruptcy. Penny Abernathy, Knight hair of journalism and digital media economics at te University of North Carolina, predicts COVID-19 will be an "extinction level event" for many local media outlets, large and small.

The good news is that readership is up 23% at news sites nationwide since mid-March -- and here at East County Magazine, our readership has doubled to 12 mllion hits a month.  During quarantine, people are rediscovering and appreciating the importance of local news coverage, whether it's reporting on emergencies such as wildfires or shining a light on actions of local governing boards at a time when the public is not allowed in many public meetings. We're also investing in bringing events online -- so you can hear directly from newsmakers and candidates in all parties running for local offices.

But we need your support to continue to be here to reflect your interests--the public interest, not special interests. With normal revenue sources gone due to the pandemic yet demand for local news higher than ever before, will you please make a donation to support our community reporting?


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ALL SCHOOLS CAN REOPEN SEPT. 1, COUNTY ANNOUNCES, PROVIDED SAFETY PLANS ARE APPROVED

By Miriam Raftery

August 25, 2020 (San Diego) – All local schools can reopen for in-person instruction starting September 1st, San Diego County public health officials announced today.  The decision does not require schools to reopen, however. Each district will determine whether it wishes to resume in-classroom instruction, continue with online learning, or a combination of both.

The action, announced in a telebriefing with school administrators, comes after the county was removed from the state’s monitoring list on Tuesday, setting in motion a 14-day timeframe after which the state will allow in-class education to reopen.


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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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VICTIM IDENTIFIED, SUSPECT CAPTURED IN MAIN STREET KILLING

By Miriam Raftery

Photo,left by Della Elliott:  A shrine to commemorate 21-year-old shooting victim Fabian Cerda has been created by community members at the site where he was fatally shot. 

May 24, 2020 (El Cajon) – El Cajon Police today announced the arrest of George Louis Garcia, 42, following a tense standoff in La Mesa with police from multiple law enforcement agencies. Garcia is charged in the shooting death of Fabian Esteban Cerda, 21, on August 18 in El Cajon.

According to Lt. K. MacArthur with El Cajon Police, Cerda became involved in an argument with Garcia, the former boyfriend of Cerda’s mother around 1:30 a.m. on August 18 in front of 1548 East Main Street in El Cajon. “He was shot several times and later died as a result of the shooting,” Lt. MacArthur says. The victim succumbed to his injuries in an ambulance en route to a hospital.  


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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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OVER A MILLION ACRES BURNING ACROSS CALIFORNIA: PRESIDENT AUTHORIZES DISASTER AID

By Miriam Raftery

Photo by Cal Fire via Instagram

August 23, 2020 (San Diego) – More than 14,000 firefighters are battling wildfires that have charred nearly 1.3 million acres across California.  Since August 15, there have been over 615 new wildfires sparked by nearly 12,000 lightning strikes, including fires that are now among the largest in the state’s history.  Governor Gavin Newsom has requested help from firefighters as far away as Australia and Canada.

Today, President Donald Trump announced that federal disaster assistance will be provided through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for  Lake,  Napa, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma and Yolo counties. The aid includes grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.    Federal funding is also available to the state, tribal, eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency protective measures in those counties.

 In addition, federal funding is available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.


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LA MESA RESPONDS TO HOMELESSNESS

City Council approves Citizen Task Force recommendations
 
By Bonnie Baranoff, Chair, La Mesa Citizen Task Force on Homelessness
 
August 23, 2020 (La Mesa) - Homelessness in La Mesa isn’t new, nor is our community’s concern about or exasperation with it.  
 
In February 2019, a motivated City Council responded to local homeless advocate concerns by approving the formation of an Ad Hoc Citizen Committee consisting of five-seven residents.  In March 2019, the City Council selected seven community members with a variety of knowledge of and experience with the issue. On July 17, 2019, we came together for the first meeting of the Citizen Task Force on Homelessness.  

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SDG&E PLANNED OUTAGES IN TRIPLE-DIGIT HEAT AND STORMS MAY ENDANGER SAFETY OF RESIDENTS

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: New power poles in Pine Valley are made of steel, not wood, for fire safety, as part of the upgrades that SDG&E has been installing across inland San Diego County.

Updated August 23, 2020 9:40 a.m. with responses from SDG&E.

August 22, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – Amid a record-breaking heat wave with monsoonal thunderstorms, flash floods and lightning-sparked fires forecast as potential added hazards, SDG&E has announced plans to shut off power for hours during the heat of the day on Sunday and Monday across much of San Diego County.  

The outages are to upgrade wood poles to steel, among other equipment upgrades or maintenance planned.

The NWS has warned that the intense heat  this week can be life-threatening for those without air conditioning, yet the power outage will leave any residents who lack generators without access to safe, cool spaces amid the COVID-19 pandemic when many public, air-conditioned places are shut down.

Rural residents with electric well pumps will also be left without water for people or livestock to drink, as well as for fighting fires, as many rural residents equipped with tanks and hoses have done in past brush fires, unless they have invested in generators. Downed communications including internet and in some areas, phone service also leave residents unable to receive emergency alerts despite a high potential for emergencies during the extreme weather conditions.


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NEIGHBOR SAVES ELDERLY WOMAN FROM FIRE IN LAKESIDE

By Miriam Raftery

August 22,2020 (Lakeside) – A 76-year-old woman suffered minor burns and smoke inhalation from a fire at her home at 11414 Pinehurst Drive in Lakeside this morning.

According to Sgt. Greg Hampson with the Sheriff’s department, the victim “was assisted out of the house by a male neighbor.”  She was transported to UCSD Medical Center.

Firefighters and deputies from the Lakeside substation responded to the scene at 10:31 a.m.  The fire was quickly extinguished and no other structures were threatened.


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ALL SAN DIEGO COUNTY GOODWILL INDUSTRIES® RETAIL LOCATIONS HAVE REOPENED

East County News Service

Photo: Luis Ortega

August 22, 2020 (San Diego) – As Goodwill San Diego retail stores and donation centers reopen, program participants continue to be brought back to work. On March 15, 2020, the organization was asked to close due to the coronavirus pandemic. Prior to the shutdown, the nonprofit employed 1,400 community members.  Today, Goodwill San Diego employs 894 people in San Diego County, 47.2% of whom are persons with a disability or other barriers to employment.

"There is a lot of opportunity for you at Goodwill based on your skillset,” shared Luis Ortega. Luis graduated from high school and got his first job at Goodwill San Diego. “I really enjoy hanging and tagging clothing for now. I like seeing how our donors help those in need with their donations.”


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WILD WEATHER CONTINUES: THUNDERSTORMS, FLASH FLOODS AND HIGH HEAT

By Miriam Raftery

August 22, 2020 (San Diego’s East County)  -- The monsoon season is here – with mountain thunderstorms expected each afternoon through Monday with brief heavy rain, small hail, lightning and strong erratic winds.  There is also a potential for flash flooding today and tomorrow across our inland region, as this map shows.

While thousands of lightning strikes across northern and central California have caused major wildfires,  Southern California has also had numerous lightning strikes, as the Earth Network image sent by the National Weather Service shows for Friday, Aug. 21:


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FEMA ANNOUNCES LOST WAGES GRANT FOR CALIFORNIANS IMPACTED BY COVID-19 – AT HALF THE RATE AS EARLIER UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF

By Miriam Raftery

August 21, 2020 (Washington D.C.) – Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Pete Gaynor has approved California for a FEMA grant under the Lost Wages Assistance program. FEMA’s grant funding will allow California to provide an extra $300 per week -- on top of its regular unemployment benefit -- to those unemployed due to COVID-19.  

 

But that’s only half the amount that workers were receiving before federal supplemental unemployment benefits expired July 31. 


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FLASH FLOOD WARNING: DANGEROUS THUNDERSTORMS THIS AFTERNOON

August 21, 2020 (San Diego's East County) -- The National Weather Service has detected dangerous thunderstorms across portions of East County. A flash flood warning is in effect now through late this afternoon for areas in and around Pine Valley, Boulevard, Mount Laguna and Cuyamaca.

Move to high ground immediately if you are in these areas.


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FIRES RAGE ACROSS NORTHERN CALIFORNIA

By Miriam Raftery

Photo:  Bureau of Land Management image of smoke frm the CZU Lightning Complex Fire threatening Davenport, CA



August 21, 2020  -- Nearly 12,000 firefighters are battling nearly two dozen major fires and complexes across California, Cal Fire reports. Since the lightning siege started on Saturday, August 15, 2020 there have been nearly 12,000 lightning strikes. During this time-period, there have been more than 560 new wildfires, which have burned over 771,00 acres, burned over 660 structures and killed at least five people in northern California, including a former Channel 10 helicopter pilot.

Flames also devastated a historic redwood tree grove in Northern California.  “We are devastated to report that Big Basin State Park, as we have known it, loved it, and cherished it for generations, is gone,” the Sempivirens Fund, which supports the park, posted on Facebook yesterday. “ Early reports are that the wildfire has consumed much of the park’s historic facilities. We do not yet know the fate of the park’s grandest old trees.”

U.C. Santa Cruz has evacuated the campus after flames burned to within a mile of the university.


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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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HEAT WAVE SMASHES RECORDS

By Miriam Raftery
 
August 20, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – Triple digit temperatures are forecast yet again tomorrow across portions of San Diego’s inland region.  This week’s scorching heat wave has shattered some all-time records. On August 17, a temperature of 106 degrees Fahrenheit in Campo broke the old record of 103 set in 2001.  

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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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