September 2020 Articles

HIGHLIGHTS AND VIDEOS OF ALL SIX LA MESA CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES

 

 

Updated with highlights from all three participating candidates' statements during the forum, plus links to interviews with three other candidates who were not available for the forum.

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: left to right: Allan Durden, Colin Parent, Mark Papenfuss, Kristine Alessio, Jack Shu, Laura Lothian

October 11, 2020 (La Mesa) -- At East County Magazine's virtual forum for La Mesa City Council candidates last month, candidates offered their ideas for addressing the compelling issues facing the city including police/racial justice/public safety issues in the wake of protests and a riot, downtown redevelopment, housing, homelessness, budget priorities, COVID-19 relief and more.

Three of the six candidates running participated in the forum: Councilman Colin Parent, as well as challengers Allan Durden and Jack Shu.

To view video of candidate forum, click here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tH6GkbU9ayo&t=3085s

To read highlights of the forum, and more information on all candidates, scroll down.

Three other candidates were unable to participate in the forum due to schedule conflicts, but provided separate video interviews via Zoom, which are posted below, along with highlights of their statements:


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SEVEN EAST COUNTY MAGAZINE JOURNALISTS AND PHOTOGRAPHERS WIN PRESS CLUB AWARDS

East County News Service

October 4, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – San Diego Press Club has released its list of winners in the 47th annual Excellence in Journalism Awards. Seven of East County Magazine’s journalists and photographers made the list for the 2020 awards:  Editor Miriam Raftery and photojournalists Rebecca Jefferis Williamson, Paul Kruze, Henri Migala, Emmet Pierce, Jake Rose and Kendra Sitton.


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ECM PADRES REPORT: PADRES LOSE GAME ONE OF WILD CARD TO CARDINALS

By Liz Alper

 

Photo via @padres on Twitter

 

September 30, 2020 (San Diego) - The Padres started their first playoff run since 2006 with a best-of-three wild card series against the Cardinals.  Kwang-hyn Kim started for St, Louis against Chris Paddack.


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PADRE DAM MUNICIPAL WATER DISTRICT ELECTIONS

 
 
 
By Mike Allen
 
Photos, top left to bottom right:  Division II candidates Augie Scalzitti, James Sly and Suzanne Till; Division IV candidate Augie Caires
 
 
September 30, 2020 (Santee) - The 2020 election will have two seats on the Padre Dam Municipal Water District’s five-member board of directors up for a vote, but only one is being contested.
 
The Division II seat that has been held by Augie Scalzitti for four terms dating back to 2000 has two other contenders: James Sly and Suzanne Till. In Division IV, Director Augie Caires is unopposed. 
 
Scroll down for our interviews with all four candidates.

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HEALTHY VEGETARIAN RECIPES TO SAVOR

East County News Service

September 30, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- The Daring Kitchen has shared these tasty and nutritious vegetarian recipes for our readers to savor for rainbow veggie skewers, lettuce wraps, and stuffed banana peppers.


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OUTDOOR PUBLIC PLAYGROUNDS AND RECREATIONAL FACILITIES CAN REOPEN

By Miriam Raftery

September 30, 2020 (San Diego) – Yesterday, the State of California’s Department of Public Health approved reopening public outdoor playgrounds and other outdoor public recreational facilities, with new health and safety rules due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

East County's public officials reacted promptly to the news.

  • San Diego Supervisor Dianne Jacob called the announcement “Awesome news for families,” adding that starting today, around 100 county play areas will be reopened.
  • Poway Mayor Steve Vaus  posted a photo on Facebook yesterday of a reopened park in his city, stating, “Loved pulling down the caution tape and barricades.”
  • Santee announced on Facebook that all of its playgrounds were opened at 5 p.m. yesterday.
  • La Mesa is in process of reopening its parks, the city clerk’s office confirmed,  following inspections being done over the next day or two. 
  • El Cajon Councilman Gary Kendrick advised ECM that El Cajon is also in the process of reopening playgrounds this week. 
  • Lemon Grove’s staff was not immediately available for comment.

The new state guidelines, which do not apply to any indoor facilities nor to for-profit facilities, can be viewed in full here:  https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/Outdoor%20Playgrounds%20and%20other%20Outdoor%20Recreational%20Facilities.aspx

Below are highlights:


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TRUMP’S TAX RECORDS SHOW PRESIDENT MIRED IN DEBT, BEHOLDEN TO FOREIGN INTERESTS AND AVOIDED PAYING TAXES FOR YEARS DUE TO BUSINESS LOSSES

By Miriam Raftery

September 29, 2020  (New York) – The New York Times has published an explosive exposé on President Donald Trump’s finances after obtaining 15 years of tax records through 2017, which he refused to make public.  Among the top revelations:


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LA MESA POLICE RELEASE NUMEROUS PHOTOS OF SUSPECTS WHO LOOTED PIERRE’S JEWELERS ON MAY 30-31

25 arrests made so far, including 4 La Mesa residents
 
East County News Service
 
September 29, 2020 (La Mesa) -- As a result of the civil unrest event that occurred in La Mesa on May 30th – May 31st, 2020, over 50 crimes, including arson, vandalism, burglary, and theft, were reported by victims and documented by the La Mesa Police Department. Although the exact amount of damage is still being calculated, it can be reported that these crimes resulted in millions of dollars of losses to victims in the local area.

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LEMON GROVE SCHOOL BOARD ELECTION: PART TWO

By Robin N. Kendall

Photo, left to right:  Blanca Brown, Yajaira Preciado and Cheryl Robertson.

September 29, 2020 (Lemon Grove) -- Voters in Lemon Grove will fill two full-term seats on the school board from a slate of three candidates. (In a previous story, we reported on the two candidates for the short-term seat.) The three candidates for the full-term seat are Blanca Brown, Yajaira Preciado and Cheryl Robertson. 

In spite of being one of San Diego’s smallest school districts with 4,000 students in grades preschool though middle school, Lemon Grove is a microcosm of what’s happening in schools and homes during the pandemic. Children are trying to study at home with parents instead of qualified teachers, joblessness has taken its toll, and the fight for racial injustice has taken to the streets.

Read on to learn what these three candidates say from the town that claims to have the “best climate on earth” and has a history of combating racial injustice in education. 


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FIVE CANDIDATES VIE FOR THREE SEATS ON LEMON GROVE SCHOOL BOARD

Part 1 in a 2-part series

By Robin N. Kendall

September 20, 2020 (Lemon Grove) -- Voters have many choices this year to fill three open seats on the five-person Lemon Grove School Board. In November of last year, the district was faced with a vacancy when former school board member Katie Dexter resigned. April Leon was appointed to fill the seat until this election, when voters could choose who would serve the remaining two years. Now Leon, the appointed incumbent, is seeking to be elected. Greg Shibley is running against her.

East County Magazine emailed a set of questions to each of the candidates for school board. Below are the responses from April Leon and Greg Shibley, candidates for the short-term seat. In the next story, part 2, we report on the candidates for the full-term seat.


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ECM TO HOST EL CAJON CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATE FORUMS

 

Video of district 2 forum is now posted.  Click here to view video. 

Video of the district 4 forum is now posted. Click here to view video.

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, top row:  District 2 candidates Humbert Cabrera, Stephanie Harper, Juan Carlos "Charlie" Mercado, Michelle Metschel and Martin Van Dinteren

Second row: District 4 candidates Estela de los Rios, Phil Ortiz, and Dunia Shaba

 

September 19, 2020 (El Cajon) - East County Magazine will host two forums for El Cajon City Council candidates:

District Four:  Monday Sept. 28 at 7 p.m.

District Two: Wednesday, Sept. 30 at 7 p.m.

The forums will be on Zoom and livestreamed on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/EastCountyMagazine.  Video will also be posted later on our website for those unable to watch live.  

 

The public can send questions to editor@eastcountymagazine.org up until noon the day of the forum.

 

Ten candidates are on the ballot in the highly competitive District 2 and 4 races.  (In District 3, Councilman Steve Goble is running unopposed.)

All candidates in District 2 and 4 have been invited. Eight have agreed to participate. In District Two, participants will include Humbert Cabrera, Stephanie Harper, Juan Carlos Mercado, Michelle Metschel and Martin Van Dinteren.  In District Four, participants confirmed are Estela De Los Rios, Councilman Phil Ortiz, and Dania Shaba. The fouth candidate, Billy Thigpen, advised ECM that he is suspending his candicacy and endorsing De Los Rios.

Below is information on all candidates running in Districts 2 and 4. Click each name to view the statement of qualifications submitted to the city of El Cajon.


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EL CAJON’S CLIFF ALBERT SHARING BROADCASTING WRITING TIPS AT SAN DIEGO PRESS CLUB WEBINAR

East County News Service

September 28, 2020 (El Cajon) – El Cajon resident Cliff Albert, news director at KOGO-AM Newsradio 600 and one of San Diego’s leading radio news personalities for the past 35 years, will share his favorite broadcast writing tips at the San Diego Press Club’s next “Write Better Right Now,” a one-hour webinar from 6 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, September 30. 


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FAST-MOVING FIRES THREATEN NORTHERN CALIFORNIA COMMUNITIES

Source: Cal Fire

Photo: Zogg Fire, Shasta County Sheriff

September 28, 2020 (San Diego) -- Critical fire weather continues to fan multiple fast-moving major wildfires, as Red Flag Warnings remain in place over much of Northern California. Today, there are 27 major wildfires with over 18,000 firefighters on the front lines. During the windy conditions experienced yesterday, the Glass Fire in Napa County erupted, as well as the Zogg Fire in Shasta County, both growing rapidly and forcing evacuations.

Since the beginning of the year, there have been over 8,100 wildfires that have burned well over 3.7 million acres in California. Since August 15, when California’s fire activity elevated, there have been 26 fatalities and over 7,000 structures destroyed.


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RED FLAG WARNNG: HIGH FIRE DANGER TODAY

 

Source: San Diego County Office of Emergency Services

September 28, 2020 (San Diego's East County) -- The National Weather Service in San Diego has issued a Red Flag Warning, which is in effect from 5:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Monday, 9/28 for the inland valleys and mountains of San Diego County. The Red Flag Warning has been issued due to strong gusty winds and low humidity.

Areas will see winds from 15 to 25 mph with gusts up to 40 mph. Higher gusts are possible in the windiest locations. More forecast information and updates are available from the National Weather Service.

Any fires that develop may spread rapidly with extreme fire behavior, threatening life and property. Be prepared to evacuate if needed, the County warns in an alert to all area residents.


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

By Kendra Sitton

September 27, 2020 (Crest) -- Crest Elementary School has been shrinking for years, with less and less students enrolled every single year since 2003. Today, however, they have a list of over 90 families wishing to enroll in the school, some from outside the Cajon Valley Union School District. The difference between 2020 and the last 17 years is one program that makes outdoor learning a key part of education at the school.

The school in a rural area east of El Cajon held its first Crest Outdoor Immersion program over 10 days this summer. School officials plan to bring the program into a year-round setting in a two-year pilot program where students spend three days in the classroom each week and two days exploring the outdoors. The classrooms will have multiple grades in them.

At the first in-person Cajon Valley Union School District meeting since the pandemic began, the support for the program from students, parents, teachers and members of the board was evident as supporters wearing blue shirts filled the board room with chairs spaced apart.


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

September 27, 2020 (San Diego) – Due to elevated fire weather conditions and forecasted Santa Ana winds, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) has notified certain backcountry residents that it may have to turn off power in order to reduce wildfire risk in the coming days. Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) are approved by state regulators as an important safety tool to mitigate fire risk during dangerous weather conditions.

The National Weather Service has issued a Fire Weather Watch for Monday for inland San Diego County mountains and foothills. Weak to moderate strength Santa Ana winds are expected to arrive today, peak Monday morning in strength and become weak to moderate by the end of the day. In preparation, SDG&E has activated its Emergency Operations Center to monitor conditions 24/7 and has organized personnel and pre-staged materials and equipment for response.


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VIEW VIDEO OF OUR SUPERVISORS CANDIDATE FORUM

 

September 27, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – On September 21, East County Magazine hosted a candidate forum for San Diego County's District 2 Supervisor race. Poway Mayor Steve Vaus and former State Senator Joel Anderson shared their views on hot issues including COVID-19, housing, homelessness, racial justice/public safety, wildfire preparedness and more.

Video is now posted. You can view the fll forum video by clicking the image at left, or click here: https://youtu.be/o4KtvVquSV4

The forum, held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was moderated by ECM editor Miriam Raftery and supported by a Facebook Journalism Project grant. Scroll down for details on the candidates. 


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

 

By Miriam Raftery

September 27, 2020 (La Mesa) – La Mesa residents are invited to participate in community listening session on Tuesday, October 6 at 7 p.m.  Hillard Heintze, the firm hired to conduct an independent investigation into the civil unrest and rioting that occurred on May 30 wants to hear your feedback and recommendations.

The meeting will be held online via Zoom due to COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings. Click here to register. If you have any questions, email Robert Boehmer at robert.boehmer@hillardheintze.com.


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



 

By Miriam Raftery

September 27, 2020 – Giardino’s Neighborhood Cucina in Lemon Grove has set up a large outdoor dining pavilion where you can dine al fresco in the COVID era. (There are also indoor tables available, if you prefer).  Doing our part to help support local restauranteurs in these challenging times, our family recently savored the flavors there.

We started with a cheese and meat charcuterie board I enjoyed a house specialty Anchovie Parpardelle, a wide pasta noodle dish served with anchovies, capers, olives, roasted tomatoes and bread crumbs, which was delicious.


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

A Catholic church nearby was also targeted with graffiti early Saturday

By Miriam Raftery

September 27, 2020 (El Cajon) – Yesterday, St. Peter Chaldean Catholic Diocese in El Cajon posted this message, along with disturbing video:  “This morning our beloved Cathedral was defaced with pentagrams, upside down crosses, white power, swastikas, BLM, etc. It reminds us to pray for my brethren in Iraq that are facing persecution. Pray for the criminals who did this.”

The odd combination of hate symbols fueled speculation over who was responsible.  Some community members theorized that a group might have sought to discredit another group, since it seemed unlikely that a support of Black Lives Matter or Joe Biden would spray paint racist symbols such as swastikas and the words “white power,” nor would a neo-Nazi or white supremacist want to promote BLM or Biden.  The pentagram, a symbol associated with satanic cults, is not affiliated with either either the far right nor leftist groups named.


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COVID TESTING OF TEACHERS, STAFF HOTLY DEBATED AS CALIFORNIA SCHOOLS REOPEN

By Barbara Feder Ostrov, CalMatters

CalMatters is an independent public interest journalism venture covering California state politics and government.

Photo:  parents and students mill around the McGaugh Elementary School parking lot during morning and afternoon changeover on Sept. 17. Los Alamitos Unified School District has reopened its elementary schools for hybrid in-person instruction with students attending either morning or afternoon sessions in the classroom in addition to distance learning. Photo by Tash Kimmell for CalMatters

September 26, 2020 (San Diego) - As schools throughout California tiptoe toward reopening, decisions about whether to routinely test teachers, staff and even students for the COVID-19 virus are proving controversial – and potentially costly. 


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CAL STATE CHOOSES FIRST MEXICAN AMERICAN CHANCELLOR

By Mikhail Zinshetyn and Felicia Mello, CalMatters

CalMatters is an independent public interest journalism venture covering California state politics and government.

Photo:  Dr. Joseph Castro, President of Fresno State University, has been named successor to Timothy White. Photo courtesy of Fresno State University

September 26, 2020 (San Diego) - The next head of the California State University system — with 480,000 students, the largest public four-year university in the U.S. — will be the first California native and the first Mexican American chancellor to oversee it. 


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

Residents praise “heroic” actions of Deputy Jared Anderson

By Miriam Raftery

September 26, 2020 (Julian) – Ernest Bartocci, 45, was arrested last night after leading law enforcement officers on a high-speed chase followed by a foot pursuit through a residential area of Julian, where “assistance from residents played an essential role in locating Bartocci,” says Sergeant William Uelen with the San Diego Sheriff’s department.

Bartocci is accused of stealing a Honda Pilot in Borrego Springs near Palm Canyon Drive and Christmas Circle around 4:45 p.m.. A be-on-the-lookout alert was sent out to local law enforcement units.


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VIEJAS CASINO & RESORT DONATES 100,000 MASKS TO LOCAL SCHOOLS

Viejas Donates 100,000 masks to local schools

Source: Newswire.com

September 26, 2020 (Alpine) -- Viejas Casino & Resort recently donated 100,000 face masks to the Alpine Union School District. The donation, conceived by the Viejas Tribal Council, is focused on protecting the community and its children. Viejas has a long-standing tradition of community and isupporting local schools.

“It’s important to the Viejas Tribal membership and also to the Viejas Casino & Resort team that we understand and appreciate the importance of safety in the COVID-19 environment that we’re in,” Viejas Tribal Vice Chairman Victor Woods stated. “Safety and well-being of the students in class are of paramount importance to us.”

Alpine Union School District Superintendent Dr. Rich Newman expressed, “The impact that these face masks will have on our school district is huge. This is a year’s worth of supply for our students, staff, and our family members that are in need. It also is a huge cost savings to us and, as always, Viejas has been a fantastic partner with us through the years. This is one more example of how they step up for the community and support virtually every need that we have.”


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GROSSMONT COLLEGE PRESIDENT RETIRES

Source: Grossmont College

September 26, 2020 (El Cajon) -- Grossmont College President Nabil Abu-Ghazaleh, who since 2015 has led the academic and physical transformation of the El Cajon community college, has announced his retirement.  A replacement has not yet been named.

“I am leaving my post after 31 years of service in the California Community Colleges to spend more quality time with my wife,” Abu-Ghazaleh said in an announcement to campus. “As we have spent more time together working from home in the past six months, we have revisited forgotten plans. Long before I left the classroom in 1999 to become an administrator, we envisioned living simply and retiring early to travel and pursue a more active lifestyle.”

According to a notice posted on the campus website, thanks to his long-standing commitment to equity for students, Abu-Ghazaleh leaves the college much changed from his start there five-and-a-half years ago.


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ECM WORLD WATCH: NATIONAL AND GLOBAL NEWS

September 26, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) - East County Magazine's World Watch helps you be an informed citizen on important issues globally and nationally. As part of our commitment to reflect all voices and views, we include links to a variety of news sources representing a broad spectrum of political, religious, and social views. Top world and U.S. headlines include:

U.S.

WORLD

For excerpts and links to full stories, click “read more” and scroll down.


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EAST COUNTY ROUNDUP: LOCAL AND STATEWIDE NEWS

September 26, 2020 (San Diego) -- East County Roundup highlights top stories of interest to East County and San Diego's inland regions, published in other media.  This week's round-up stories include: 

LOCAL

STATE

For excerpts and links to full stories, click “read more” and scroll down.


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ECM PADRES REPORT: PADRES SPLIT DOUBLEHEADER WITH GIANTS

By Liz Alper

 

Photo via @padres on Twitter

 

September 25, 2020 (San Francisco) - The playoff-bound Padres began the last series of the regular season with a doubleheader against the Giants.


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SUSPECTS ARRESTED FOR SERIES OF ARMED ROBBERIES IN EL CAJON ARE TIED TO OTHER CRIMES

By Miriam  Raftery
 
September 25, 2020 (El Cajon) – Three suspects are in custody for allegedly robbing people at gunpoint at bank ATMs and at a self-serve car wash in El Cajon. They are suspected of other robberies across the San Diego region.
 
All three crimes occurred on September 18 between 2 and 2:30 a.m. and were reported by the victims, who called 911.
 
El Cajon Police robbery detectives investigated, working with detectives from the San Diego Sheriff’s Office, San Diego Police Department, National City Police Department, and The Chula Vista Police Department.  
 
Detectives identified the suspect and learned he had not acted alone. Two additional suspects were identified.  Detectives also discovered the suspects had committed at least eight robberies in San Diego County in the last week, says Lt. K MacArthur with El Cajon Police.

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EL CAJON HOSTS COMMUNITY MEETING TO PLAN FOR HOUSING, ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE AND SAFETY IN GENERAL PLAN AMENDMENT

By Miriam Raftery

September 25, 2020 (El Cajon) – The city of El Cajon is embarking on updates to the Housing and Safety Elements of the General Plan and developing a new Environmental Justice Element. Residents are invited to join in a virtual community meeting on September 29 at 7:00 p.m. to discuss housing needs and the future of housing and community issues.


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