DEMOCRATS AND REPUBLICANS HOLD NEW HAMPSHIRE DEBATES

EAST COUNTY ST. PATRICK’S HALF MARATHON AND FUN RUN MARCH 12 TO BENEFIT LOCAL CHARITIES

ON THE SILVER SCREEN: FOLLYWOOD (HAIL, CAESAR!)

FIRST “FLOWERS IN THE MOUNTAINS” GARDEN TOUR BLOOMS MAY 7

ZIKA VIRUS IN SALIVA, MAY BE SPREAD BY KISSING

PHOTO OF THE WEEK: PARADISE IN DESCANSO

CROCS AND KINGS

VALENTINE’S OPEN RANCH AT ALPACAS OF SAN DIEGO IN DESCANSO FEB. 13

LOVE IS IN THE AIR AT LA CASA DEL ZORRO RESORT

WINDWALKER NOMINATED FOR GRAMMY: HEAR OUR INTERVIEW

ECM WORLD WATCH: NATIONAL AND GLOBAL NEWS

GOING TO THE DOGS: LA MESA ALLOWS FIVE PER HOME

News

HELIX WATER WINS TRANSPARENCY AWARD FOR GOVERNANCE, DROPS MEMBERSHIP IN GOOD GOVERNANCE ORGANIZATION

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

December 10, 2015 (La Mesa) – Helix Water District has received the “District Transparency Certificate of Excellence” from the Special District Leadership Foundation (SDLF), a nonprofit that promotes special districts that excel in governance and management.

Ironically, however, just one week after that announcement, Helix board president DeAna Verbeke asked staff not to renew the district’s membership in the California Special Districts Association (CSDA), which supports the SDLF and its goals.  The CSDA promotes good governance and improved local services for independent special districts(such as water and fire boards) that deliver public services.

SNOWY, WINDY WEATHER TO SOCK REGION STARTING TONIGHT

By Miriam Raftery

December 10, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) – A low pressure trough moving south into our region is forecast to bring strong westerly winds, showers and mountain snow tonight through Friday, meteorologist Mark Moede with the National Weather Srevice in San Diego advises.

Wind gusts could reach 60 to 70 miles per hour, posing hazards to high profile vehicles in mountains and deserts, including on I-15, I-8, and I-10.  There is also a chance of thunderstorms, hail and brief, heavy downpours possible.

BIOMETRIC ENTRY/EXIT TESTING AT OTAY MESA BORDER CROSSING

 

Source: U.S.. Customs and Border Patrol

December 10, 2015 (Otay Mesa)--U.S. Customs and Border Protection will begin testing new biometric technology at the Otay Mesa pedestrian crossing this week to enhance identification of certain non-U.S. citizens entering and exiting the U.S. CBP uses biometrics in order to accurately verify who arrives in the United States and who leaves.

COVERT CANYON APPEAL FILED; OWNER MARC HALCON SPEAKS OUT AS CONTROVERSY HEATS UP

 

 

 

 

 

 

Planning Commission to hear appeal Friday;  ECM tours site; environmentalists threaten lawsuit

By Miriam Raftery

December 10,2015 (Alpine)—An appeal filed yesterday on behalf of three environmental groups and neighbors of Covert Canyon will be heard by the County Planning Commission tomorrow at 9 a.m.  If the appeal is denied,  a letter signed by appellants’ attorney Marco Gonzalez states, “the Environmental groups and Appellants intend to file suit and seek injunctive relief before the matter is heard by the Board of Supervisors.”  

In addition to Clark and Robin Williams, the closest neighbors, Gonzalez' letter states he is representing the Cleveland National Forest Foundation, Save Our Forests and Ranchlands, and Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation.

A staff report recommends denying the appeal and upholding the Planning Director’s decision to reclassify the use of the property as law enforcement. 

HEDBERG URGES STATE TO REVISE WATER CUTS MANDATE

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

December 10, 2015 (Sacramento) – Helix Water District board member Kathleen Hedberg spoke at a public workshop in Sacramento held by the State Water Resources Control Board on Monday.  Hedberg urged the Board to revise  current emergency regulations that mandate huge water cuts statewide and to take into consideration water districts where customers have already been conserving.

In an impassioned plea, she noted that Helix customers already cut use and have exceeded the mandate, but that this has forced many to allow trees and shrubs to die. She noted that the district has invested in increasing water supply and has adequate water to meet customer needs.

"My constituents and Helix Water District customers are outraged and frustrated that they have paid for water supply, storage and reliability projects and we are being told to cut back on water use even when we have enough water as we prepared for drought times and the future," Hedberg testified. Below are her full comments to the Board, along with her assessment of mixed reactions received from state regulators:

HOVERBOARDS ARE EXPLODING, CAUSING FIRES

 

By Miriam Raftery

December 8, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) – Hoverboards are hot gift items this season—in more ways than one. The National Association of Fire Marshals has issued a warning about fire dangers after numerous hoverboards, or electronic scooters without handles, burst into flames in the U.S. and abroad.

PRESIDENT CALLS ISLAMIC STATE “CULTURE OF DEATH”, ASKS CONGRESS TO AUTHORIZE MILITARY FORCE

 

December 6, 2015 (Washington D.C.)--In a speech today at the Oval Office, President Barack Obama denounced the San Bernardino massacre that killed 14 people and wounded 21 more as an "act of terrorism."  He denounced the “dark path of radicalization” that the husband and wife shooters to embrace a “perverted” form of Islam that calls for war on America and the west.”

 The President pledged to “destroy ISIL” and protect the homeland.  He also called on Congress to take several actions.

"If Congress believes, as I do, that we are at war with ISIL, it should go ahead and vote to authorize the continued use of military force against these terrorists," Obama said. "I think it's time for Congress to vote to demonstrate that the American people are united and committed to this fight.”

LA MESA COUNCIL TO WEIGH BAN ON POT SHOP DELIVERIES

 

By Miriam Raftery

December 6, 2015 (La Mesa) – La Mesa’s City Council will consider an ordinance Tuesday that would ban mobile dispensing and delivery of marijuana. Medical marijuana clinics are already illegal in the city and voters recently rejected a measure that would have allowed them, however a number of clinics have sprung up despite that ban, offering home delivery services.

The La Mesa Council meets at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, December 8th

PROPOSAL TO REJECT ECPAC BID, MOVE FORWARD ON ANIMAL SHELTER AMONG AGENDA ITEMS FOR EL CAJON COUNCIL

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: ECPAC lobby

December 6, 2015 (El Cajon ) – El Cajon’s Council has a number of important topics on its agenda for the Council meeting Tuesday at 3 p.m.

Several are on the consent calendar – including a proposal to reject the only bid received for construction renovations on the East County Performing Arts Center (ECPAC).  Although 30 prospective bidders obtained bid packages, only one bid was received.  That bid, from Kinsman Construction Inc. in San Diego, was for over $3.7 million – far above the $2.7 to $2.9 million that an engineer estimated the work should cost.

TERROR PROBE IN SAN BERNARDINO MASSACRE

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Syed Rizwan Farook

December 4, 2015 (San Bernardino)—Evidence emerging in the mass shooting at a San Bernardino social services center yesterday  points to terrorism as the apparent motive. 

Syed Rizwan Farook, an American Muslim born in Chicago, and his Pakistani bride, Tashfeen Malik, dropped their baby off with a grandparent before donning assault gear and opening fire using assault weapons at an office holiday party. The barrage left 14 people dead and 21 injured.  Both suspects were later killed in a firefight with law enforcement after fleeing the scene in an SUV.  Malik pledged allegiance to ISIS, the Islamic State, on Facebook the very day of the attack, the New York Times reports, citing an unnamed official.  It is not yet known if the attack was directed by ISIS or if the terrorists acted independently, inspired by ISIS.

Officials suspect Farook became radicalized by Islamic extremists. He had had been in touch with at least one individual monitored as a possible terror suspect, a senior federal government official reportedly told the Los Angeles Times, adding that there could be a “deeper terror matrix” behind yesterday’s massacre. Authorities have not ruled out a workplace violence motivation potentially in combination with terrorism.

COLLISION WITH DUMP TRUCK IN LAKESIDE LEAVES RAMONA MAN WITH LIFE-THREATENING INJURIES

East County News Service

December 3, 2015 (Lakeside) – A 22-year-old Ramona man was airlifted to Sharp Memorial  Hospital with major life threatening injuries after a two-vehicle collision today at 2:40 p.m.

The Ramona man turned onto northbound State Route 67 from Posthill Road but failed to see a 3-axle dump truck towing a trailer approaching from the left.  The Suzuki pulled out in front of the truck driver, who had little or no time to react, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Kevin Pearlstein.

EL NINO COMMUNITY PREPAREDNESS FORUM DEC. 9 IN EL CAJON

East County News Service

December 3, 2015 (El Cajon)--Join city leaders in El Cajon to learn about potential impacts from a severe El Nino winter and how to create a plan to be prepared.  The El Nino community preparedness forum will be held December 9 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Police Department’s community room, 100 Civic Center Way in El Cajon.

Learn what the city is doing to prepare and respond, as well as what you can do before, during and after a flood.

FIRE BOARD MEMBERS RAISE CONCERNS OVER AMBULANCE CONTRACT RESPONSE TIMES

 

 

 

By Mike Allen

December 1, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) -- By most accounts, the ambulance service contractor for East County’s unincorporated area, Mercy Medical Transportation, is doing a good job, exceeding the required minimum response time threshold of at least 30 minutes on 90 percent of its calls.

But some question that 30-minute standard, and why such an important contract involving about 850 square miles was enacted without first consulting the fire agencies that are the first responders to 911 emergency calls.

At a September meeting of the San Miguel Fire Protection District, Director Theresa McKenna noted that the minimum response times for most urban areas of the county is 12 minutes, but for Zone 2, which encompasses most of East County to the Imperial County line and includes much of Otay Mesa, it’s 30 minutes. View Zone 2 map of ambulance service here.

14 DEAD IN SAN BERNARDINO MASSACRE: MULTIPLE SHOOTERS, 2 SUSPECTS DEAD

 

 

San Diego social services centers closed through Friday as precaution after attacks

By Miriam Raftery

Updated December 3, 2015 with additional information on the shooters.

December 2, 2015 (San Bernadino) – Suspects armed with assault weapons, wearing body armor and masks opened fire inside the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, a a government facility that provides services to the developmentally disabled.

At least 14 people are dead and 17 more are wounded, National Public Radio reports. Some of the victims were attending a holiday party in the building. The suspects also planted three bombs strung together that a robot was deployed to destroy. 

Suspects fled the scene in a black SUV.  Later a police pursuit ended in a firefight and the fatal shooting of two suspects outside a residence in Redlands. One was a man identified as Sayed Rizwan Farook, 28, a U.S. citizen born in Chicago.  The other was his wife,Tashfeen Malik, 27, who was born in Pakistan and recently lived in Saudi Arabia.  A third individual attempted to flee and has been detained.

CHICAGO POLICE SUPERINTENDENT RESIGNS AMID CONTROVERSY OVER POLICE KILLING OF BLACK TEEN

 

By Devoreo Bell

December 2, 2015 (Chicago) - Last week, Black Lives Matter rallies across the nation, including in San Diego, called for justice for Laquan McDonald, a black Chicago teen shot in the back repeatedly by police.

SAN DIEGO HAS NATION'S 4TH HIGHEST HOMELESS POPULATION

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photos: U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

November 29, 2015 (San Diego) - The San Diego City and County region now has the fourth largest homeless population in the United States – and almost half (48%) are sleeping on the streets, or camping along riverbeds or other outdoor places with no shelter from the elements. Only New York City, Los Angeles, and Seattle have more homeless people than our county.

HEAR OUR INTERVIEW WITH SDSU PROFESSOR JEFFREY MCILLWAIN, AN EXPERT ON TERRORISM AND REFUGEE ISSUES

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

November 28, 2015 (San Diego) – In the wake of the Paris terror attacks and the Syrian refugee crisis, our East County Magazine show on KNSJ radio interviewed Jeffrey McIllwain, PhD, an SDSU professor with special expertise on national security, humanitarian and refugee issues who brings a thoughtful, multi-faceted approach to these complex issues.

Hear part 1 of our exclusive interview,  in which Dr. McIllwain discusses options for responding how to balance risk vs. humanitarian concerns in America’s response to terrorism and refugee concerns:  http://k003.kiwi6.com/hotlink/tkozi18tvp/Newsmaker-JeffreyMcIllwain-Pt1-TerrorismIsis_and_Refugees.mp3

Audio: 

CLIMATE SUMMIT BEGINS IN PARIS; CHINA JOINS EFFORTS TO SAVE PLANET

 

 “Tackling climate change is a shared mission for mankind.” – Chinese president Xi Jinping

“We are at the limits of suicide.” – Pope Francis

“Our nations share a sense of urgency about this challenge and a growing realization that it is within our power to do something about it.” – U.S. President Barack Obama

By Miriam Raftery

November 30, 2015 (Paris) –Around the world, an estimated million people took to the streets to call for action to save the planet as world leaders convene today in Paris for an international climate summit. But in Paris, where large public gatherings are banned due to a state of emergency declared after the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks, thousands of Parisians instead brought their shoes, lining them up along the march route in a silent yet powerful expression.

French President Francois Hollande said he cannot separate the “fight with terrorism from the fight against global warming,” adding that leaders must face both challenges to leave children “a world freed of terror” as well as one “protected from catastrophes.”

PASSENGER, NOT WEARING SEATBELT, FATALLY INJURED IN SANTEE

 

East County News Service

December 1, 2015 (Santee) –A 31-year-old El Cajon man was killed and two other people injured in a rollover accident on State Route 52 west of State Route 125 in Santee shortly before 5 a.m. this morning. The passenger who sustained fatal injuries was not wearing a seatbelt.

According to California Highway Patrol Officer Kevin Pearlstein, a 33-year-old man from Escondido was driving a 2004 GMC pickup westbound when the vehicle drafted into a dirt center divide. The driver over-corrected, causing the truck to travel down a hill on the right before overturning.

FROST ADVISORY

 

 

East County News Service

November 29, 2015 (San Diego's East County)--The National Weather Service has issued a frost advisory for chilly weather tonight and Monday night throughTuesday morning, with morning low temperatures in the 20s and 30s and frost likely across much of our inland region.

Be sure to cover any cold-sensitive plants and please bring your pets inside to keep them safe.

BRRR! FREEZE FORECAST FOR HOLIDAY WEEKEND

 

East County News Service

November 26, 2015 (San Diego's East County)--A lingering cold air mass, light winds and mostly clear skies will bring frost and freeze conditions for portions of local valleys and deserts from Friday night through Monday morning. The National Weather Service advises bringing pets in overnight to avoid harm and covering or bringing sensitive plants indoors.

Temperatures could dip into the 20s in desert areas and down to 31 degrees in inland valleys.  Below are forecast details:

 

FAMED TIGRESS NATASHA DIES AT ALPINE PRESERVE

 

By Miriam Raftery

November 26, 2015 (Alpine) – Lions, Tigers and Bears sanctuary in Alpine has announced the death of its beloved matriarch tiger, Natasha, who was 19 years old. 

“Natasha was the epitome of the old saying "that's one tough cookie", as she had more than her fair share of struggles over the course of her life, but always came out on top,” a post on the organization’s Facebook page states.

Natasha and her late mate, Raja, were the founding tigers of Lions Tigers & Bears over 13 years ago.

MILITARY DOGS GAIN PROTECTION, RIGHT TO COME HOME

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

November 25, 2016 (Washington D.C.) – The National Defense Authorization Act signed into law by President Barack Obama includes protection for military working dogs, which will now be guaranteed a return home and retirement in the U.S.

“Best of all, the people who know these dogs better than anyone — their handlers who served bravely alongside them on the hot desert sands of Iraq and Afghanistan and on bases around the world — will be given the first rights at adopting these canine heroes,” says Robin Ganzert,PhD, President of the Amreican Human Association, which pushed for the legislation.

“EMPTY CHAIR AT THE HOLIDAY TABLE” CAMPAIGN HIGHLIGHTS THOSE NOT WITH US DUE TO OVERDOSES, INCARCERATION AND DRUG VIOLENCE

East Count News Service

November 25, 2015 (San Diego)--Each holiday season, A New PATH (Parents for Addiction Treatment & Healing) and moms from around the country share their stories of loss while calling for an end to the war on drugs – which they believe has been disastrous for tens of millions of families. Many of the moms leading this campaign have been personally impacted by the war on drugs.

The holidays are a particularly painful time for families – whether they are separated because of a loved one’s incarceration, lost on the streets due to drug problems, in danger because of drug war violence, or have lost a loved one to accidental overdose.     

AVOID I-8 IN EL CAJON DUE TO POWER LINE REPAIRS TODAY

 

East County News Service

November 25, 2015 (El Cajon)-- This morning at approximately 1:20 a.m., a large cylinder was being towed eastbound I-8 around 2nd St.  The cylinder snagged on a power line causing several power poles to be snapped in half south of I-8.  Sometime this morning, the entire freeway will be shut down in both directions for approximately one hour to remove the old power lines. 

Later on today, the freeway will once again be shut down to install the new lines.  The second closure will be approximately 8 hours later.  Currently, there are several closures in place with alternate routes of travel. 

Here is a list:

HOTTEST OCTOBER ON RECORD

 

East County News Service

November 21, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) – Worldwide,  last month’s temperatures over land and oceans made this the hottest October in the past 136 years since data has been kept.  It was also the sixth straight month in which a global temperature record has been broken – and was the greatest departure from average temperature for any month since record keeping began in 1888.

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