Barack Obama

CONGRESS APPROVES KEYSTONE PIPELINE; DECISION NOW RESTS WITH OBAMA

June 3, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – The House and Senate have approved the controversial Keystone Pipeline, sending the measure to President Barack Obama’s desk.  The President faces mounting pressure from major campaign contributors urging him to veto the measure due to its negative environmental and climate change impacts; others urge support to create jobs.

Local representatives split down party line, with Republicans Duncan Hunter and Darrell Issa voting for the pipeline, while Democrats Susan Davis, Scott Peters and Juan Vargas voted against it.

The pipeline project sparked protests nationally and in San Diego (photo, left).


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STATE OF THE UNION 2013: HIGHLIGHTS OF THE PRESIDENT’S SPEECH

Update February 14, 2013:  Edited to add reactions to President's speech; scroll to bottom for links to local and national reactions and analysis

February 13, 2013 (Washington D.C.) – President Barack Obama last night delivered his State of the Union speech.  View video and read full text:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/state-of-the-union-2013 . For highlights of the speech, scroll down.

The President opened by citing progress made during his administration, then announced new goals ranging from raising the minimum wage to putting Americans back to work, from reining in college costs to reducing global warming.


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PRESIDENT ANNOUNCES COMPREHENSIVE PLAN TO REDUCE GUN VIOLENCE

Update: ECM has obtained the complete list of Executive Actions taken by the President from the White House press office. View them here.

By Miriam Raftery

January 17, 2013 (Washington D.C.) – Joined by families victimized by gun violence, President Barack Obama yesterday announced a comprehensive plan to reduce gun violence, including background check,s limits on ammunition purchases, improved mental healthcare, better resources for schools and law enforcement.

The President has the backing of most Americans, according to several new polls which found strong support for key elements of the proposal.


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PRESIDENT URGES CONGRESS TO RAISE DEBT CEILING

By Miriam Raftery

January 14, 2013 (Washington D.C. ) – In a press conference today President Barack Obama today urged Congress to raise the debt ceiling and made clear that his position is non-negotiable. (View video and read transcript.)

Republican House members have balked thus far. Speaker John Boehner said, "The American people do not support raising the debt ceiling without reducing government spending at the same time." (View full statement.)

The President called that position “irresponsible” and made clear that raising the debt ceiling does not increase spending, but instead authorizes the nation to pay its bills already incurred by Congress.  He likened House Republicans' stance to refusing to pay a restaurant bill after the food has been eaten, adding, “We are not a nation of deadbeats.”


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POLITICAL REFLECTIONS: REPUBLICANS WIN THE "FISCAL CLIFF" DEBATE

By Mark Gabrish Conlan

The views expressed in this column reflect the views of the columnist and do not necessarily reflect the views of East County Magazine.

January 10, 2013 (San Diego) -- The first part of the “fiscal cliff” debate is over — and the Republicans won. That’s not the impression you’ll get from the corporate media, either the “objective” mainstream or the Right-wing media party of talk radio and Fox News. The mainstream media are reporting the swift passage of a bill through both houses of Congress continuing the Bush-era tax cuts for all Americans making $400,000 per year ($450,000 per couple) as a triumph for President Obama and at least a partial fulfillment of his pledge in both Presidential campaigns for a (slight) tax increase on the wealthiest Americans. (Ironically, the $400,000 at which the restored tax rates kick in also happens to be the salary of the President.) But the bill is actually a slap-dash scheme thrown together at the last minute to keep taxes from returning to Clinton-era levels for all Americans — and it leaves the Republicans with yet another opportunity to hold the American economy hostage and demand draconian cuts to what’s left of the social safety net when Congress next has to raise the U.S. debt ceiling in two months.


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RENO DISPATCH: WOULD PRESIDENT OBAMA LIKE THE NEW FILM "PROMISED LAND?"

January 2, 2013 (San Diego) – I just watched the poignant new film Promised Land, which will be released nationally on Friday, and as I watched I couldn't help but wonder: Would President Obama like this movie? Is it something he would embrace, or dismiss?

As you may have read, Promised Land, which is written by and stars Matt Damon and John Krasinski, is a cautionary tale about hydraulic fracking, the relatively new and controversial process of injecting water, sand and a variety of chemicals, some of them toxic, deep into the ground to free natural gas trapped in rock.

http://therenodispatch.blogspot.com/2013/01/would-president-obama-like-n...


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POLITICAL REFLECTIONS: AFTER THE ELECTION...

By Mark Gabrish Conlan

November 20, 2012 (San Diego) – Is it really over? I’ve lived with the 2012 Presidential campaign for so long that it’s become a fixture of my life, sort of like a piece of ugly furniture you never sit on anymore but you can’t bear to get rid of.


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READER’S EDITORIAL: CHOOSING A PRESIDENT IN 2012 –STANDING WITH OBAMA TO PROTECT EQUAL ACCESS TO HUMAN NEEDS AND CIVIL RIGHTS

By Sylvia Hampton

November 1, 2012 (San Diego)--This election is a battle between two very different philosophies of government, especially as it relates to domestic affairs. One that embraces “united we stand” and a role of federal government that is being played out at this moment in the Northeast in the aftermath of hurricane Sandy. The Governors of thirteen states are desperate for the coordination skills of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the support of President Obama as they face this horrendous disaster.

This is the Democratic Party philosophy that government is necessary for the enforcement of laws, civil order and preserving equal access to basic human needs and civil rights.


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ROMNEY: DISASTER RELIEF FOR HURRICANE VICTIMS IS “IMMORAL"; CALLED FOR FEMA TO BE PRIVATIZED

Obama to Governors in path of Hurricane Sandy: "We will be there...making sure that we've got the best possible response."

By Miriam Raftery

October 28, 2012 (San Diego) – As Hurricane Sandy, one of the worst storms in memory, barrels toward the East Coast and wildfire season hits full stride here in San Diego's East County, voters should know that when asked about federal disaster relief at a debate among Republican primary presidential candidates, Mitt Romney called such spending “immoral.” 


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POLITICAL REFLECTIONS: THE MEDIA DEBATE

By Mark Gabrish Conlan

I’m writing this article — both a review of the latest Presidential debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney at Hofstra University in New York State October 16 and an overview of how all three of the debates so far have been covered by the media — starting 10 minutes after the October 16 debate ended. It’s important that you know that, and that you know my article about the first Obama/Romney debate 10 days earlier was likewise written just minutes after it was over, because I’ve wanted whatever I had to say about the debates to be uncontaminated. I’ve wanted to write about these events solely from the debates themselves as I watched them on TV and filtered them through my perceptions, unaffected by the media “groupthink” that surrounds these events and, quite frankly, colors how ordinary voters perceive them and use them to guide their decisions.


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PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES SHOW DIFFERENCES, SIMILARITIES IN FOREIGN POLICY DEBATE

By Miriam Raftery

View video of full third presidential debate

View text/transcript of third presidential debate

October 23, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) --In the third and final presidential debate last night, President Barack Obama and former Governor Mitt Romney shared their views on foreign policy issues including uprisings in the Mideast, political hot spots such as Iran and Syrian, relations with Israel, trade with China, and more.

On some issues, the candidates showed agreement, while on others they drew distinctions in their policy approaches.  Romney criticizsed some aspects of Obama’s record and praised others. Obama defended his record and faulted Romney for flip-flopping on numerous foreign policy issues.


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68 NOBEL PRIZE WINNERS URGE SUPPORT OF OBAMA, WARN ROMNEY WOULD UNDERMINE SCIENCE AND TAKE U.S. IN "DEVASTATING STEP BACKWARD"

October 22, 2012 (Washington D.C.) – In an open letter to the American people, 68 Nobel Prize winning scientists and physicians write:

“America’s economic future, the quality of our health, and the quality of our environment depend on our ability to continue America’s proud legacy of discovery and invention. As winners of the Nobel Prizes in science, we are proud of our contribution to the extraordinary advances American science has made in recent years. But we’re deeply concerned that without leadership and continued commitment to scientific research the next generation of Americans will not make and benefit from future discoveries.


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BIDEN, RYAN MATCH-UP PROVED A COMBATIVE VICE PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE

Video, full text, analysis, polls, and fact check links

By Miriam Raftery

October 14, 2012 (San Diego’s East County)—In a combative debate, Vice President Joe Biden and VP candidate Paul Ryan faced off at Kentucky Centre College last Thursday on both foreign and domestic policy issues.

Unlike President Barack Obama, who drew criticism  from supporters for being “too polite” in failing to counter attacks and even misleading statements by Mitt Romney in the presidential debate, a scrappy Biden defended the administration’s record with the aggressiveness of a prize fighter, calling out Ryan repeatedly on factual errors or exaggerations. Unflapped, Senator Ryan fired back some verbal barbs of his own as he made his case for a Romney-Ryan ticket and assailed the adminstration's record.


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POLITICAL REFLECTIONS: TWO CAGED TIGERS -- THE OBAMA/ROMNEY DEBATE

By Mark Gabrish Conlan

October 6, 2012 (San Diego)—The first general election Presidential debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney concluded on October 3, entering into history. It had become one of those events that seemed important because everybody — or at least all the political pundits — were saying it would be important. In an election in which the recent polls had shown Obama gaining slight but significant leads in many of the so-called “swing states,” the nine or so across the country where the balance between Democrats and Republicans is so delicate the election could go either way, the debates have been hailed as Romney’s last chance to turn things around.


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PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE: CANDIDATES SPAR ON DOMESTIC ISSUES

View video, full text of debate, ECM analysis and fact-check links

By Miriam Raftery

October 4, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – If you missed last night’s debate on domestic issues between President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney,  you can view the full video or read the complete transcript text here:   http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1012/81994.html

The candidates sparred on issues including the economy, jobs, healthcare, taxes, education, and the deficit. 

Post-debate fact-checking found major exaggerations  or distortions by both candidates.  (See  our story on fact-checking the presidential candidates here:  http://www.eastcountymagazine.org/node/11264

Scroll down for highlights of the debate, as well as controversy over the moderator and debate format. 


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FACT CHECK FINDINGS ON THE PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE

October 4, 2012 (San Diego's East County)--Nonpartisan and independent media fact checking reveals that both candidates in last night’s presidential debate on domestic issues told some whoppers or to be charitable, exaggerated and misstated facts.  Romney was inaccurate on the deficit, while Obama overstated impacts of Romney's tax cuts, among other notable examples. 

For details and fact-checking links, scroll down. 


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DENVER SET FOR FIRST PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE TONIGHT

Debate starts at 6 p.m. Pacific Standard Time



By Kathleen Ryan, Public News Service, CO



October 3, 2012 (Denver) -- All eyes will be on Denver tonight as the first presidential debate of the 2012 election season gets under way. The debate between President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney will focus on domestic issues.

Both candidates could be at risk here, says Ken Bickers, a political science professor at the University of Colorado-Boulder. The economic recovery on Obama's watch has been slow, he says, while Romney was caught on video saying 47 percent of Americans are dependent on government entitlements - comments many said made him seem out of touch with the average person.


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FUROR OVER ROMNEY’S “47%” COMMENTS: FACT-CHECKS REVEAL DISTORTIONS

By Miriam Raftery

September 19, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – Author H. Jackson Brown once observed that “Our character is what we do when we think no one is looking.” 

Now a video shot secretly during a fundraiser for Mitt Romney with wealthy donors is sparking controversy over his apparent insensitivity to nearly half of the American people. In the video, which Romney admits is authentic, the presidential candidate is seen insulting Americans who receive any form of public assistance—including recipients of Social Security and Medicare, as well as military veterans, students, the disabled and the poor.  He also slammed those who pay no taxes—from retirees to some of his own wealthy patrons.

His remarks have drawn sharp criticisms even from many conservative Republican commentators.


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POLITICAL REFLECTIONS: AFTER THE CONVENTIONS

By Mark Gabrish Conlan

September 17, 2012 (San Diego) – Well, now we know. The 2012 Presidential election won’t just be between incumbent Democrat Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney, but between two starkly different philosophies not only of politics, or how to revive the economy and preserve the capitalist system, but also of life itself and what it means to be human. It won’t be a serious debate over how much government the American people want, or how they propose to pay for it. Nor will it really be about the budget deficit or the national debt, however much Republicans — especially their vice-presidential candidate, Congressmember Paul Ryan —might claim the moral high ground on that issue even though their giveaway tax cuts to the ultra-rich will actually make the national debt bigger, not smaller.


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DEMOCRATS OPEN CAMPAIGN OFFICE IN EAST COUNTY

 
By Miriam Raftery
 
August 30, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – Congresswoman Susan Davis and Congressman/Mayoral candidate Bob Filner were among the many candidates on hand last weekend for the grand opening of a Democratic Party campaign headquarters at 7839 University Ave., Suite 106, La Mesa.
 
County Democratic Party Chairman Jess Durfee spoke of “fulfilling a promise” to help Democrats in East County.  While much of East County remains solidly “red”, redistricting has shifted many communities in East County into Democratic districts and voter registration is increasingly favoring Democrats in some areas that have long been considered Republican strongholds. 

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TRIBAL MEMBERS HOLD VIGIL AT OCOTILLO WIND SITE

Public asked to join with tribes on June 23



“The snake was moved but kept coming back, just like our people.  We will continue to keep coming back.” – Preston Arrowweed, Quechan elder. He believes unusual animal visitations at site are signs from Indian spirits, asking his people to help.

By Miriam Raftery

Jim Pelley, Denee ‘Estevane’ Woolley, and Susan Massey also contributed to this report

June 7, 2012 (Ocotillo)—Neither blistering heat nor blowing dust dissuaded Native Americans from at least four tribes from taking part in a five-day occupation in Ocotillo last week. 

They came to be with the spirits of their ancestors.  They also aim to show that desert devastation occurring with construction of the Ocotillo Express wind facility is wrong and must be stopped. 


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PAKISTANI “WOMEN FOR PEACE” BRING MESSAGE TO SAN DIEGO AND OUR NATION’S CAPITOL

 

By Mia Myklebust

Stop the drones.” – Mossaret Qadeem, Amn-o-nisa implores

May 30, 2012 (San Diego) -- Dressed in brightly colored robes and hijabs, the women of Amn-o-nisa make a powerful statement with their presence alone. These 11 Pakistani women have come to the United States for the second time to spread their message of peace and international cooperation.

The name Amn-o-nisa translates to “women for peace,” which is the message the group hoped to spread on their visit to the U.S. The group visited Washington D.C., San Diego and Los Angeles and met with political figures including Senators Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein.


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EDITORIAL: KEEPING FAITH WITH VIETNAM VETERANS

 

By President Barack Obama

May 28, 2012 (Washington D.C.) -- Today, all across America, we’re coming together to remember our men and women in uniform who gave  their lives so that we could live free.  In town squares and national cemeteries, in moments of quiet reflection and parades down city streets, we’ll pay tribute to all those who gave the last full measure of their devotion, from Lexington and Concord to Iraq and Afghanistan.

This Memorial Day also holds special significance because it marks the beginning of the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.


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JUDGE TO CONSIDER RESTRAINING ORDER TO HALT OCOTILLLO WIND FRIDAY IN SAN DIEGO FEDERAL COURT

By Miriam Raftery

May 16, 2012 (San Diego) – On Friday at 2 p.m., a federal judge will consider a temporary restraining order motion filed by the Quechan Indian tribe seeking to halt construction at the Ocotillo Express wind facility site on federal land.

Despite discovery of six more cremation sites with what are believed to be human remains (12 sites total) that federal law requires be preserved, Pattern Energy is moving forward with heavy equipment, destroying vast acreage in the fragile Yuha desert near Ocotillo.


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SUIT FILED TO HALT OCOTILLO WIND AS COALITION HOLDS PROTESTS IN SAN DIEGO AND EL CENTRO

 

“This is nothing more than a public land grab for private profit. The BLM is literally giving this away to corporations…This may be out in the desert today, but tomorrow it could be in your backyard…Already over a dozen projects are proposed in San Diego and Imperial County.” – Robert Scheid, Viejas media relations

May 16, 2012 (La Jolla) – At a press conference yesterday outside the gleaming corporate towers occupied by Pattern Energy in La Jolla, a coalition of environmental groups, Native American tribes and outraged citizens urged President Barack Obama to stop fast-tracking of massive energy projects on public lands and halt construction at the Ocotillo Express wind facility immediately.

Heavy equipment has begun grading the site, ripping massive ocotillo cacti out by the roots, burying burrowing owl nesting sites and breaking hearts of the many people who love this  desert land.

ECM contacted the White House to request an interview with President Obama. No response has been received.


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COALITION OF TRIBES, ENVIRONMENTAL LEADERS & LAWYERS CALL FOR HALT TO "FAST TRACKING" OF MASSIVE ENERGY PROJECTS ON FEDERAL PUBLIC LANDS

“We are the canaries in the coal mine. If this is not stopped here, destruction of millions of acres of public lands across the southwest will likely soon follow.” -- Terry Weiner, Desert Protective Council

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

May 11, 2012 (Ocotillo) -- Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today signed the Record of Decision, giving a go-ahead for the contentious Ocotillo Express wind project. 

The announcement came just hours after a coalition of environmental leaders, tribal representatives, off-road vehicle users, outdoor enthusiasts, residents and legal spokespersons called for a national moratorium on the "fast tracking" of massive energy projects on federal public lands.


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WIND STORM: POTENTIAL RISKS TO RESIDENTS FROM 20-SQUARE-MILE WIND PROJECT PROPOSED FOR OCOTILLO

 

Part III in our exclusive report on the proposed Ocotillo Express Wind project

By Miriam Raftery

March 27, 2012 (Ocotillo)-Ocotillo resident Jim Pelley dreads the prospect of the 456-tall wind turbines that may soon surround his home on three sides-some less than half mile away. 

Whirling blades, each weighing many tons, would be placed atop an active earthquake fault area capable of a 7.0 quake or more.  Fire danger, groundwater impacts, noise, electromagnetic sound waves and ground current are among the potential perils that he fears.

“Our quiet little town of Ocotillo with pristine views of the mountains will be destroyed forever. In return, we have to deal with the possibility of some serious adverse health effects and many other serious problems,” Pelley, an award-winning photojournalist and engineer, told ECM.   


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WIND STORM: WHISTLEBLOWER ALLEGES GAG ORDER PREVENTED STATE PARK EMPLOYEES FROM REVEALING HARM TO ANZA-BORREGO DESERT STATE PARK FROM PROPOSED OCOTILLO EXPRESS WIND PROJECT

Part II in ECM’s exclusive report on the Ocotillo Express Wind project, a joint investigation with ABC 10 News. (See the 10 News portion of this investigation, a report on environmental impacts of the project here:   10 News text: http://www.10news.com/news/30776233/detail.html; 10 News video: http://www.10news.com/video/30776306/index.html)

“To have the Governor’s office tell our park officials NOT to comment on Ocotillo,  OR ANY OTHER alternative energy projects adjacent to the Park, is a travesty, a violation of the trust between the citizens and the state.” – Mark Jorgensen, retired Superintendent, Anza Borrego Desert State Park in an e-mail to ECM

 “These allegations are not true.   No such directive came from the the Governor’s Office or the California Natural Resources Agency saying that State Parks could not comment on the Ocotillo Wind Express Project. “ -- Richard Stapler, Deputy Secretary for Communications, California Natural Resources Agency

By Miriam Raftery

March 27, 2012 (Anza-Borrego) – The former Superintendent of the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (ABDSP) has contacted East County Magazine to allege a cover-up by the State Parks Department and the Governor of serious impacts that the proposed Ocotillo Express wind project would have on our largest state park and its natural resources.  The proposed wind project shares a five-mile border with ABSP and if approved, would erect up to 155 wind turbines each 456 feet tall—some just yards from the park.


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WIND STORM : TRIBES IMPLORE PRESIDENT OBAMA TO STOP OCOTILLO EXPRESS WIND PROJECT, SAVE CULTURAL RESOURCE SITES

 

“We believe that DOI [Department of the Interior] is poised to violate the law and our rights to religious freedom and our cultural identities guaranteed by DOI’s own policies, the United States Constitution, and international declarations. We need your help.” --Chairman Anthony Pico, Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians, in a letter to President Barack Obama

Part I in an ECM special report series on potential impacts of the Ocotilllo Wind Express project

By Miriam Raftery

March 23, 2012 (Ocotillo) – For months, Ocotillo residents and conservationists have been waging a David and Goliath battle seeking to stop Pattern Energy’s proposed Ocotillo Wind Express project. Now Kumeyaay, Cocopah,Quechan and other Native American tribes have banded together to oppose the massive project-- joining residents, desert conservation groups and outdoor enthusiasts who seek to protect resources from destruction—including hundreds of cultural and archaeological sites. 

On March 28, the Imperial Valley Planning Commission will rule on whether to approve the controversial project, which would generate power for San Diego County.  At the federal level, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior  is expected to issue a final decision  by May 1.  A petition seeking to stop the project has been launched by Ocotillo residents:  http://www.change.org/petitions/say-no- ... y-project#.  


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LOCAL REACTIONS TO STATE OF UNON SPEECH: LEADERS IN BUSINESS, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SHARE THEIR VIEWS

By Miriam Raftery and Mia Myklebust

January 26, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) - President Barack Obama laid out some ambitious new legislative plans in Tuesday night’s State of the Union speech. Here’s a bipartisan sampling of reactions from local business and community leaders, as well as voters.

Scott Alevy, president and chief executive officer of the San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce, voiced support for some of the president's economic proposals, while voicing skepticism over other points in the speech. “Anything that brings jobs to Americans, be it jobs coming back from another company or creating jobs, is good,” said Alevy. “As a veteran myself, I love the idea of employing the veterans coming back with a Jobs Corps.”


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