El Cajon City Council

EL CAJON COUNCIL MOVES TO END COMMISSIONS ON ARTS AND CULTURE, HUMAN RELATIONS AND VETERANS

 

Update Sept. 27, 2019 -- Estela de Los Rios,  a community leader who plans to run for El Cajon City Council, sent these comments objecting to the demise of the commissions.  "I believe it our right as citizens of El Cajon to have these board commissions and have them open until we seek people to serve on them. There has to be a better way to recruit. This is a prime example of the city council's actions that need to change for the best interest of our city. It makes no sense to have a Magnolia Performing Center but no Arts Commission?"

 

By Miriam Raftery

 

September 23, 2019 (El Cajon) – The agenda for tomorrow’s El Cajon City Council meeting includes second reading and adoption of a code amendment to eliminate three city entities  The Veterans’ Commission, the Commission on Arts and Culture, and the Human Relations Commission, which advises the council on diversity issues.

EL CAJON TO WEIGH VAPING RESTRICTIONS OCT. 8; FEDS ANNOUNCE BAN ON FLAVORED E-CIGARETTES

By Miriam Raftery
 
Photo: Young woman vaping, image via Pixabay
 
September 11, 2019 (El Cajon) – El Cajon’s city council will be considering a ban or other restrictions on sales of vaping products, such as banning flavored vapes, at its October 8th meeting at 3 p.m.  
 
Councilman Gary Kendrick, who asked that the issue be added to the agenda, told  ECM, “I may take some heat for this, but it’s the right thing to do.”

EL CAJON WEIGHS STIFFER PENALTIES FOR STORES SELLING TOBACCO TO KIDS

By Miriam Raftery
 
August 5, 2019 (El Cajon) – El Cajon’s City Council will consider tough new penalties for retailers caught selling tobacco to minors. A proposed new ordinance includes cracking down harder the very first time a retailer violates the law, since there have been 43 instances of first-time offenders selling tobacco to youths from 2017 to the present.

EL CAJON CITY COUNCIL APPOINTS CABRERA TO PLANNING COMMISSION

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

Photo, from left to right:  Mike Aquawi, Humbert Cabrera, Nathan Cornett, Robert Pennoyer, Amanda McGimpsey, Jaqueline Sona

 

July 15, 2019 (El Cajon) --The final chapter of the drama-filled Ben Kalasho novel was written on Tuesday when local businessman Humbert Cabrera was appointed to the El Cajon Planning Commission. The seat was recently vacated by the recent appointment of Phil Ortiz to the El Cajon City Council in May to replace Kalasho, who resigned in March after two stormy years on the Council.

EL CAJON ADOPTS CLIMATE CHANGE POLICY, DRAWS CRITCISM FROM CLIMATE ACTION GROUP

By Paul Kruze

July 15, 2019 (El Cajon) -- In a unanimous vote, the El Cajon City Council voted to approve a climate change policy developed in conjunction with community outreach sessions earlier this year. But some critics contend the plan does not go far enough to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

EL CAJON CITY COUNCIL UNVEILS REFURBISHED THEATER: MAGNOLIA PERFORMING ARTS CENTER TO OPEN THIS FALL

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

 

Photos by Paul Kruze and Miriam Raftery

 

July 2, 2019 (El Cajon) -- Eighteen months after approving a management deal with worldwide concert producer LiveNation, the El Cajon City Council unveiled the newly refurbished “Magnolia Performing Arts Center” (formerly called the “East County Performing Arts Center”) to Council members and the public in a tour held during a recess at last Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

EL CAJON REJECTS NEW TRANSPORTATION VISION PRESENTED BY SANDAG: MAYOR WELLS CALLS FOR COMPLETION OF HIGHWAY UPGRADES

By Miriam Raftery 

June 13, 2019 (El Cajon) -- At its June 11th meeting, the El Cajon City Council received a presentation from Hasan Ikhrata, Executive Director of the San Diego Regional Association of Governments (SANDAG) about the new vision being formulated by the regional planning agency. After Mr. Ikhrata presented SANDAG’s “Five Big Moves” presentation, the City Council unanimously voted to support Mayor Bill Wells, sending a letter to SANDAG spelling out El Cajon’s position on the TransNet future spending.  

APPLICATIONS SOUGHT FOR CITY OF EL CAJON PLANNING COMMISSION

Are you interested in shaping El Cajon’s future? The El Cajon City Council seeks interested applicants to fill a vacant seat on the City’s Planning Commission.

Source:  City of El Cajon

June 1, 2019 (El Cajon) - The El Cajon City Council is accepting applications for the Planning Commission to fill the vacancy left by the appointment of commissioner Phil Ortiz to the City Council. The planning commission has long been a stepping stone to higher office, with many past commissioners going on to win election or appointment to council or mayoral seats.  The filing period is open through June 27, 2019 at 4:30 p.m. 

BUSINESSMAN AND PLANNING COMMISSIONER PHIL ORTIZ APPOINTED TO FILL FORMER EL CAJON COUNCILMAN KALASHO’S SEAT

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

May 17, 2919 (El Cajon) --In a unanimous vote, the El Cajon City Council on Tuesday approved planning commissioner and businessman David “Phil” Ortiz to fill the seat formerly held by Ben Kalasho. Ortiz edged out three other finalists for the position: Richard Agundez, Anthony Sottile, and Humbert Cabrera.

Other applicants were Gladys “Jo” Alegria, Juan Barajas, Richard Campbell, Margaret Carlson, Estela De Los Rio, James Elia, Mark Jamil, former El Cajon Mayor Mark Lewis, Amanda McGimpsey, Juan Carlos, Mercado, Michelle Metschel, Abraham Muheize, Nancy Wilson, and Steven Woods. Community activist Stephanie Harper dropped out of the race at Tuesday’s meeting. See our prior coverage for highlights on all 22 candidates.

Owner and CEO of New Earth Energy Specialists Inc. and a pastor of Foothills Church, Ortiz is also an active community volunteer. He serves on the San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce board of directors and is founding member of the El Cajon Community Clean Up Group.  He has a B.A. degree in criminal justice administration from SDSU and a master’s in organizational management with emphasis in public administration.

According to his application with the city, his top priorities are public safety, including making retention of officers a priority, homelessness, including partnering with local organizations and having metrics to determine programs effectiveness, and having a balanced budget plus revitalization and incentivization to build on vacant lots.

Watch a streaming video of Tuesday’s evening's council session here and scroll down for details.

22 APPLICANTS SEEK TO FILL EL CAJON COUNCIL VACANCY: INTERVIEWS SET FOR MAY 14

By Miriam Raftery

May 2, 2019 (El Cajon) – The vacancy left on the El Cajon City Council by the resignation of Ben Kalasho has generated strong community interest.  Applications have been received from 22 residents, all seeking to fill the seat. They range from prominent individuals including a former mayor to community activists, members of the planning commission, and a retired police officer who received a Medal of Valor. They bring a diverse range of views and visions for  El Cajon as well.

The City Council will interview applicants at the May 14 meeting at 7 p.m.  Earlier, at the 3 p.m. meeting, Council members will discuss procedures for choosing the next Councilmember, who will fill the at-large seat held by Kalasho until the 2020 election.

The applicants are, in alphabetical order, are listed below along with highlights from their applications:

REALTORS TRADE GROUP HONORED FOR HELPING EAST COUNTY HOMELESS POPULATION

 

 

East County News Service

Photo:  (from left to right) Tracy Morgan Hollingworth, Joe Mackey, Robert Calloway, Kay LeMenager, Carol Lewis, Anna Marie Piconi Snyder.

April 26, 2019 (El Cajon) – The Pacific Southwest Association of Realtors (PSAR), a real estate trade group for San Diego-area realtors, recently presented a $5,000 check to the San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce Foundation to help pay for a website featuring resources to assist homeless people in the East County.

DEADLINE TO APPLY FOR EL CAJON COUNCIL VACANCY IS APRIL 26

 

 

East County News Service

April 24, 2019 (El Cajon) -- El Cajon’s City Council will be choosing a new Councilmember to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Ben Kalasho.

 

The Council will make its decision at its regularly scheduled May 14th meeting.

THE CITY OF EL CAJON ELIMINATES MEETING VIDEO STREAMING FAILURE WITH THE HELP OF SWAGIT

 

 

Swagit Productions, LLC provides EASETM hands-free Webcasting system for optimal meeting video delivery to the citizens of El Cajon

Source:  Swagit

April 18, 2019 (El Cajon) - The City of El Cajon provides their residents with an improved City Council meeting viewing experience via Swagit Productions and their EASE™ streaming solution. 

“The City of El Cajon had an existing video streaming product that was not meeting our needs,” said Sara Diaz, Director of Information Technology for El Cajon.  “The system had a high failure rate and our staff had to spend a lot of time on the phone with their support trying to get the system functional and videos uploaded from our personal copies. 

EL CAJON CITY COUNCIL APPROVES DOCKLESS VEHICLE REGULATIONS

 

Council also discussed revising code governing citizens’ conduct during public comments and reaffirmed fine against landlord over illegal dispensary

 

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

January 11, 2019 (El Cajon) -- El Cajon City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved new regulations regarding the increasingly popular use of dockless vehicles (scooters, bicycles, skateboards) on city streets and an “expanded Civic Center area” including City Hall, East County Regional Center, East County Performing Arts Center, Library, Community Center, and Fire Facility Headquarters Complex.

DEC. 11 EL CAJON COUNCIL AGENDA WILL INCLUDE CONCERNS OVER CHILDREN IN MIGRANT SHELTER

 

By Miriam Raftery

December 4, 2018 (El Cajon) – Following news reports that a shelter for immigrant children in El Cajon failed to report several runaway youths to state authorities, the El Cajon City Council will add a discussion of the problems to the Council’s agenda at its December 11th meeting.

The facility run by Southwest Key houses primarily unaccompanied minors but also some children separated from parents at the international border.

EL CAJON MAYOR WELLS AND COUNCILMAN KENDRICK THUMP CHALLENGERS

 

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

Photo by Jesse Kendrick: Mayor  Wells and Councilman Kendrick savor Election Night victories

November 7, 2018 (El Cajon)--El Cajon voters returned Mayor Bill Wells and Councilma/Mayor Pro Tem Gary Kendrick to their positions on the El Cajon City Council on Tuesday night with veritable knockout punches against their challengers.

With 86 percent of precincts reporting, incumbent Mayor Bill Wells maintained his lead all evening with 66% (7799 votes) while his challenger, East County businessman Joel A. Scalzitti garnered only 26% (3064 votes). Robert M. Weaver, Jr., in spite of dropping out of the race early and not mounting a campaign because of federal Hatch Act conflicts with his position with the federal government, garnered 8% of the vote with 905 votes.

With nearly 88% precincts reporting, Councilman Kendrick was successful in staving off a challenge from fellow Councilman Ben Kalasho by a landslide. Kendrick got a whopping 85% (3408 votes) with Kalasho only getting 15% (621 votes). 

PROMINENT DEMOCRATS SUPPORTING REPUBLICAN IN EL CAJON CITY COUNCIL RACE

 

East County News Service

October 29, 2018 (El Cajon) – Even Democrats are supporting the Republican in the El Cajon City Council race.

Republican Gary Kendrick, who has served on the city council since 2002, has gained the support of a number of prominent Democrats in his race against Ben Kalasho, a city councilman since 2016.

EL CAJON CITY COUNCIL SAYS “NO” TO KALASHO

 

Council votes against reimbursing Kalasho for settlement with activist Mark Lane

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

October 28, 2018 (El Cajon) -- El Cajon City Councilman Ben Kalasho did not get the answer he wanted to hear from his colleagues on Tuesday.

The El Cajon City Council voted 3-0 this week that it would not fork over $1,500 to reimburse Kalasho for his legal settlement with San Diego activist Mark Lane. El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells was not present due to illness, leaving the decision up to Mayor Pro Tem Gary Kendrick and Councilmembers Bob McLellan and Steve Goble. Kalasho was required to recuse himself.

KALASHO SERVED WITH FEDERAL LAWSUIT AT EL CAJON COUNCIL MEETING

 

Council grapples with rental bicycle problems, commends volunteer Kathy Pillman for founding group that has cleaned up 6 tons of trash

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

September 14, 2018 (El Cajon) – Citizens who attended Tuesday’s El Cajon City Council meeting once again saw a circus-like performance in which the public spoke out over the clownish antics of Councilmember Ben Kalasho.

KENDRICK-KALASHO RACE HEATS UP

 

 

Fact check: Kendrick mailer on Kalasho “fraud and sex scandals” is true.

Kalasho removes social media post accusing him of stalking opponent's home -- after being served with federal lawsuit for removing critical posts and violating First Amendment.

By Miriam Raftery

September 15, 2018 (El Cajon) – Redistricting has pitted Councilmembers Gary Kendrick and Ben Kalasho against each other in what’s shaping up to be one of the most contentious election battles in East County’s history.   

A mailer from Kendrick’s campaign warns voters, “Judge ruled against Ben Kalasho in fraud and sex scandals.”  No, that’s not fake news.  The flyer contains actual headlines and excerpts from East County Magazine and the San Diego Union-Tribune documenting the numerous legal findings, allegations and scandals involving Kalasho.

COUNCILMAN BEN KALASHO PLED GUILTY TO CRIMINAL WORKERS' COMP FRAUD IN 2015, REMAINS ON PROBATION

 

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

Photo: Bessmon "Ben" Kalasho, August 2015

August 9, 2018 (El Cajon)--An exclusive investigation by East County Magazine has uncovered a criminal case in which El Cajon Councilman Bessmon “Ben” Kalasho pled guilty to two counts of workers’ compensation fraud in October 2015 (court case #MD094871).  View full documents. 

Kalasho was on probation for his crimes, both misdemeanors, when he ran for and won his seat on the City Council in 2016. He remains on probation until October 1, 2018. He was also fined.  

His criminal record did not come to light during the campaign because he ran for office as Ben Kalasho without listing his real name, Bessmon Kalasho, with the San Diego County Registrar of Voters.

Kalasho has pulled papers to run for El Cajon City Council again in November.   

EAST COUNTY LEADERSHIP COUNCIL NONPROFIT LAUNCHES FROM EL CAJON DOWNTOWN LIBRARY

 

By Jonathan Goetz

July 23, 2018 (El Cajon) – George Gastil, a former Lemon Grove Councilman and history professor at Grossmont College and San Diego State Univesrity, opened the inaugural meeting of the East County Leadership Council (ECLC).  The newly formed 501c(3) nonprofit organization has a mission statement to promote “quality discussion of politics and public policy in the East County region of San Diego County.”

SHOULD EL CAJON CENSURE COUNCILMAN KALASHO?

 

By Miriam Raftery

July 15, 2018 (El Cajon) – As the scandals involving Councilman Ben Kalasho mount, with 11 citizens calling for his resignation at the last City Council meeting, some community members are now asking why the City Council has not censured Kalasho, who has announced his intent to run for Mayor. 

COMMUNITY MEMBERS URGE KALASHO TO RESIGN OVER SEXUAL HARASSMENT FINDINGS AND ALLEGED THREATS

 

 

A group of people in a roomDescription generated with very high confidence

 

 

 

By Briana Ghaffery

View video of Council meeting: https://elcajonca.swagit.com/play/07112018-1233

 

July 11, 2018 (El Cajon) – Eleven speakers called on Councilman Ben Kalasho to resign during public comments at Tuesday’s El Cajon City Council meeting, where the audience included protesters who held signs reading “hands off our daughters” and “sex predator Kalasho belongs in jail” complete with a photoshopped picture of Kalasho as an inmate.

Kalasho has also announced his intention to run for Mayor, challenging incumbent Bill Wells.

PEARL HARBOR SURVIVORS JOIN THOUSANDS TO HONOR VETERANS IN EL CAJON

 

By Jesse B. Kendrick

Photo: El Cajon Councilmember Bob McClellan and granddaughter Jessica (left) join Mayor Pro Tem Gary Kendrick (center) to honor Pearl Harbor survivor Stu Hedley, 96 (right).

July 3, 2018 (El Cajon) – Nearly 10,000 community members gathered this weekend for Celebrate America, the annual Independence Day event hosted by Shadow Mountain Community Church. The event featured indoor fireworks and a surprise appearance from military personnel who rappelled down ropes from the ceiling.

PUBLIC HEARING JUNE 12 ON UNDERGROUND UTILITY DISTRICT IN EL CAJON

 

East County News Service

Photo: Underground utility line installation in Alpine during construction of Sunrise Powerlink.

May 29, 2018 (El Cajon) - The El Cajon City Council will hold a public hearing on Tuesday, June 12th at 3 p.m. in Council Chamber, 200 Civic Center Way in El Cajon to consider an underground utility district on N. Magnolia Avenue from Fletcher Parkway to Vernon Way. This would allow overhead utility lines to be placed underground at a cost of $1.9 million, paid for out of San Diego Gas & Electric Funds allocated to the city for this purpose.

Councilman Gary Kendrick advised ECM that the action is sought to enable a hotel to be build on the site of the former El Cajon Police station, where overhead powerlines would currently prevent construction.

EL CAJON CITY COUNCIL GETS DOWN TO WORK; ACCEPTS MAJOR DONATION BY PETSMART FOR NEW ANIMAL SHELTER

 

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

April 7, 2018 (El Cajon) -- El Cajon City Council members temporarily set aside their differences and got down to work Tuesday in what some say was one of their most productive sessions in recent months.

APPLICANTS SOUGHT FOR CITY OF EL CAJON COMMISSIONS

 

Source: City of El Cajon

December 24, 2017 (El Cajon) -- The El Cajon City Council is now accepting applications for Personnel Commission, Planning Commission, and Veterans’ Commission. The filing period is December 13, 2017, through January 11, 2018, at 5:30 p.m.  Applicants will be interviewed and appointed on January 23, 2018, at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chamber, 200 Civic Center Way, El Cajon, CA 92020.

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