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February 2009 Articles




EAST COUNTY ROUND-UP--FEBRUARY

East County Roundup highlights the best stories about East County issues found in other publications.

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CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR PROPOSES ONE-STOP PERMITTING FOR ELECTRICITY TRANSMISSION

New York Times (February 24, 2009) — California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) is proposing a single-stop permitting agency for electricity transmission and renewable energy projects.

The proposed state Energy Department would consolidate permitting efforts divided among at least nine agencies.

 

COUNTY FORECLOSURES SLOW AS LENDERS AWAIT HOMEOWNERS' AID

San Diego Union-Tribune (Feb. 23, 2009) — After surging in December, foreclosure activity in San Diego County fell by nearly 12 percent last month, as some lenders stopped repossessing dwellings in anticipation of President Obama's plan to help distressed homeowners.

"We are seeing some lenders in self-imposed foreclosure moratoriums," said Sean O'Toole, founder of the ForeclosureRadar research firm.

January was the first month to show a year-over-year decline in county foreclosures since March 2005. There were 1,107 foreclosures, a 15 percent drop from a year earlier, the MDA DataQuick research firm reported Monday.

 

KOPPA WILL NOT ALLOW HEDGE ON PROPERTY

Ramona Sentinel (February 20, 2009) — Saying he does not want a convicted sexually violent predator living on his property, Ramona resident Charles J. "Poppa" Koppa wrote "Return to Sender" and "Contract Void" on an envelope containing an uncashed check for $7,350 he had received from Liberty Healthcare Corporation. The check was to hold a vacant home he owns off Highway 67 off the market until a March 13 Superior  Court hearing on the state Department of Mental Health proposal to house convicted child molester Matthew Hedge there when Hedge is released from in-hospital treatment and placed in outpatient treatment.

 

BURNED UP: LAKESIDE PLANNERS, FIRE OFFICIALS AND RESIDENTS VENT ANGER OVER STATE'S APPROVAL OF POWERLINK WITH NO NOTICE TO THEIR COMMUNITY

By Miriam Raftery

Before and After images of El Monte Valley

February 18, 2009 (Lakeside) — Lakeside planners, fire
officials and residents expressed shock and outrage that the California Public
Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved construction of Sunrise Powerlink through
the El Monte Valley, a designated scenic area, without ever notifying officials
or the public in Lakeside.

Sempra Energy/SDG&E added Lakeside to its proposed Southern Route back
in March 2007, but local officials said they never had a chance to provide
input on an environmental impact report. Officials warned that adding
high-voltage power lines and 20-story towers would not only impede pristine
views of El Capitan Mountain,but also prevent firefighting planes from scooping
water from a reservoir to douse wildfires, putting San Diego at risk of another
catastrophic fire.

ECM SPECIAL REPORT: INVESTIGATOR-TURNED-WHISTLEBLOWER CLAIMS FAULTY POWER LINE INSTALLATIONS CAUSED 2003 CEDAR AND PARADISE FIRES AS WELL AS WILDFIRES IN 2007; SDG&E DISPUTES CLAIM

By Miriam Raftery

Clark testified at CPUC hearing that he believes a design flaw in SDG&E lines is responsible for several major fires, including the Witch, Paradise and Cedar fires.

February 24, 2009 (San Diego’s East County) — For $50,000, the cost of a single fire engine, SDG&E could fix an allegedly dangerous problem on power lines in San Diego County, according to electrical engineer and insurance investigator Ed Clark. Clark believes faulty installations caused the 2003 Witch and Paradise fires as well as devastating blazes in 2007. SDG&E disputes Clark’s claim and insists its lines are safe.

“This is the biggest corporate cover-up anyone has ever seen,” Clark told East County Magazine in an exclusive interview.

TWO ELECTRICAL EXPERTS CONFIRM CLARK’S CONTENTION THAT SDG&E INSTALLATIONS ARE DANGEROUS, CAN IGNITE FIRES; SDG&E INSISTS ITS LINES ARE SAFE

By Miriam Raftery

Power Lines
Clark contends that the installation shown here, with
two down guy wires connected by a single bolt, is dangerous. SDG&E
denies that contention.

February 24, 2009 (San Diego’s East County) — Ed Clark,
an electrical protection engineer-turned-whistleblower, contends that inappropriate
power line installations by SDG&E/Sempra Energy have caused multiple wildfires
in San Diego County – and that the utility’s refusal to replace or correct
the installations leaves our region at risk for more fires.

SDG&E disputes Clark’s claims and insists that its installations are legal
and safe. (See our story: Investigator claims fault utility line installations
caused 2003 Cedar and Paradise Fires as well as fires in 2007; SDG&E disputes
claim
). Now
East County Magazine has spoken with two additional electrical engineering
experts—and both confirm Clark’s contention that such installations are dangerous.

THRIVING IN HARD TIMES SERIES: El Cajon Mom Finds Her Calling, Builds Recession-Proof Business Selling Phone Services From Home

By Miriam Raftery

Just
a few months after starting a home-based business in fall 2008, Karie Schmidt
of El Cajon has a team of entrepreneurs working for her. She is earning a comfortable
income, has flexible hours to spend with her family, and enjoys perks such
as free phone service and free travel--including a trip to a pre-Kentucky Derby
race in Lexington. Her success in an era when many large companies are struggling
amid a difficult economy makes her  accomplishments even more remarkable. 

EDITORIAL: SDG&E'S SUNRISE POWERLINK PRESENTATION AND THE PROTESTORS NEXT DOOR, ER, TABLE

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By Charlene Ayers

February 26, 2009 (Lakeside)--Last night SDG&E had all of its easels up and tables placed so that folks could mozy around the large Lakeside community room and inform themselves about the Sunrise PowerLink. There were approximately 30 black pants and white shirted people there to help. As soon as a person stopped to read, they were surrounded by these cheerful minders, er, messengers. It was like entering Circuit City.

But even with all these smooooth operators inside, there was trouble brewing outside in the hall. It was "The Battle of the Tables."

GOV. SCHWARZENEGGER DECLARES STATE OF EMERGENCY OVER DROUGHT; URGES 20% WATER USE REDUCTION. STEEP PRICE INCREASES LOOM, LOCAL WATER OFFICIAL WARNS

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By Miriam Raftery

February 27, 2009 (San Diego's East County)--"This drought is having a devastating impact on our people, our communities, our economy and our environment, making today's action absolutely necessary," said Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who declared a state of emergency following three years of drought. The Governor's action aims to have water agencies reduce water usage by 20 percent.

WATER SAVING REBATES AND CONSERVATION TIPS TO WEATHER THE CRISIS

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By Miriam Raftery

February 27, 2009 (San Diego's East County)--Area residents must cut water consumption by at least 20% or face stiff financial penalties, local water authorities warn following a state declaration of emergency today due to the drought. Fortunately, there is help for consumers seeking ways to reduce their water usage.

"Sixty to 70 percent of water use in residential is out of doors," said Mark Robak, Otay Water District member.

A REAL FAMILY CIRCUS: EIGHT GENERATIONS UNDER THE BIG TOP

By Yuliana Cerda

Vittorio Arata,
Gabriella Quiroga (1),

Katya Quiroga,
Mariella
Quiroga
(Mark
Raftery)

February 21, 2009 (El Cajon) — Circus Vargas distinguishes
itself from the competition because the audience becomes part of the show.
Every child who attended a recent performance at Parkway Plaza was invited
to participate in the pre-show and taught to juggle scarves, spin hula hoops,
and balance peacock feathers.

Unlike some shows in sports arenas or other large buildings, this circus is
held under a big-top tent.

EL CAJON SEEKS YOUTH OF THE YEAR NOMINEES

youthpic.jpg

February 27, 2009 (El Cajon)--The City of El Cajon Teen Coalition presents a "Youth of the Year" Award to recognize those who go above and beyond in serving their community either through their leadership abilities and/or their quality or level of community service in El Cajon. Leadership can be defined as those individuals who consistently facilitate a team vision and help guide others toward success. Community service helps better the community through the value and impact of those served.

GOSPEL FESTIVAL FRIDAY FEB. 27 AT GROSSMONT COLLEGE

As part of its Black History Month celebration, Grossmont College will present
a free Gospel Festival, featuring five local gospel choirs and one dance troupe,
starting at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 27, in Room #220 on the college campus.
The public is invited to attend. Parking is free. Performing artists will include
the House of Metamorphosis Choir, Martin Luther King Jr.

ECUMENICAL GATHERING AT FRIENDSHIP PARK DISRUPTED BY TAUNTING; MINISTER TAKEN INTO CUSTODY

Story and photos by Gayle Early

Rev. John Fanestil apprehended by California Border Patrol agents in full riot gear.

February 21, 2009 (Imperial Beach) On Saturday, about 200 people and 40 civic organizations gathered to protest the Custom and Border Protection (CBP) closure of Friendship Park on Monument Mesa in Border Field State Park. The media also had a strong presence, with reporters coming from as far as Canada. The new border wall runs through the middle of the park, shutting off the section where family members and friends separated by a closed border could greet and touch each other though the fence.

DON QUIXOTE BATTLES WINDMILLS – AND SO DO THE FOLKS IN BOULEVARD

Crane
(photo courtesy of AWEA)

Part III of a three-part series:   HEALTH, SAFETY, AND ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS OF WIND FARMS 

February 22, 2009 (Boulevard) — Our country has jumped on a high-speed wind-energy bandwagon, as if the costs of developing and producing wind energy are as invisible as the wind itself. Are benefits commensurate with the costs? Can developers mitigate any risks and impacts? Our panoramic look at wind-farm issues continues, rendering potential fire risks, alleged health hazards, and environmental impacts of wind-development more visible, alongside wind energy’s better-known projected benefits.

EDITORIAL: WHY SDG&E PLAN TO SHUT OFF POWER MAY NOT PREVENT FIRES - AND WHAT SHOULD BE DONE INSTEAD

Fires--photos from LM 082_edited.jpg

By Ed Clark

February 25, 2009--I was reading the article on your site this morning, where SDG&E plans to turn off power to remote residences during high wind, low humidity days.

This is nothing more than part of their cover-up to prevent a system ground fault on a high windy days from arcing at down guy anchors and starting fires. What they don't get is that depending on where a ground fault occurs, it could still catch the grass on fire, if not corrected.

Additionally, SDG&E has several alternatives other than turning power off to customers who are in need.

FAMED STARGAZER & NIGHT SKY PHOTOGRAPHER DENNIS MAMMANA OF ANZA-BORREGO SHARES SECRETS OF SUCCESS-- AND ANNOUNCES UPCOMING TRIPS TO VIEW CELESTIAL WONDERS IN THE NIGHT SKY

By Miriam Raftery

Northern lights images from Anza Borrego desert

February 22, 2009 (Anza Borrego) — In celebration of the International Year of Astronomy, we thought it fitting to share with our readers the beauty and grandeur of the night sky as depicted by Dennis Mammana, world-famous night sky photographer and East County resident. His dazzling photos include rare shots of the Aurora Borealis (Northern lights) viewed from the Anza-Borrego desert, where he lives, as well as images of solar and lunar eclipses, comets, and other astronomical events taken around the globe. Also a prolific writer and instructor, Mammana teaches courses and hosts camp-outs locally, also leading astronomy and sky photography expeditions worldwide--such as an upcoming journey to China to view and photograph a total solar eclipse.

CONFRONTING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HEAD ON: LEARN THE WARNING SIGNS--AND WHERE TO GET HELP. POTRERO'S JAN HEDLUN, PANELIST AT FEB. 27 CONFERENCE IN SAN DIEGO, SHARES HER STORY

Author Jan Hedlun

Potrero resident Jan Hedlun shares her personal and deeply moving experiences
as a former victim of domestic abuse in hopes of helping others. Hedlun
will appear as a panelist at a Feb. 27 conference at Thomas Jefferson School
of Law titled "Confronting Domestic Violence Head-On." (Click
here for conferences details
). Domestic violence is the most common cause
of serious injury to women in the U.S. According to the American Psychiatric
Association, one in five women has been raped by an intimate partner. Even
more have suffered emotional abuse. Men can also be domestic abuse
victims, though such cases are less common. Below is Hedlun's story,
along with a list of warning signs for abuse--and where to get help.

PUBLIC FORUM ON ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN CONFLICT TO BE HELD MARCH 1 IN EL CAJON

peace, propaganda.jpg

A documentary film and a panel of experts to represent Palestinian and Israeli points of view, including Dr. Shlomo Dubnov and Dr. Nasser Barghouti.

February 24, 2009 (El Cajon) -- “The East County Democratic Club is sponsoring a public forum on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the El Cajon Library Community Room on Sunday, March 1. The event will screen the 80-minute documentary film "Peace, Propaganda & the Promised Land -- U.S. Media & the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict" at 2 p.m. The film describes stark differences in media coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and will help start a discussion about the current standoff. After the film, the event will include comments and moderated Q&A by a panel of experts.

POWERLINK MEETINGS PLANNED IN LAKESIDE, CAMPO, SCRIPPS RANCH, ALPINE & JACUMBA

San Diego Gas & Electric Co. will hold a series of open houses throughout the county to respond to residents' questions about the controversial Sunrise Powerlink project. In December, the California Public Utilities Commission approved a 123-mile route to run high-voltage power lines and 150-foot-tall towers through East County from Imperial Valley to San Diego. SDG&E maintains the line is necessary to meet future energy needs, but opponents contend the line will obstruct views, increase fire danger, and that better alternatives are available to meet our region's energy needs.

EDITORIAL: THE COMPANY FORMERLY KNOWN AS BLACKWATER

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By Raymond Lutz

February 23, 2009 (El Cajon)--Is a bad name the same as a bad reputation? Let's face it, the name Blackwater was a massive PR mistake from the get go. Not only a nickname for the Great Dismal Swamp in North Carolina, it also means water laced with human feces. The name translated to Spanish "agua negro" literally means sewage. But the name worked in one respect: It attracted disenchanted gun-slingers and neo-con opportunists like flies. CIA black-ops Cofer Black, Blackwater VP, felt right at home, as did Ken Starr, continuing his anti-Whitewater obsession by adopting the opposite -- Blackwater -- as a client.

HOLLINGSWORTH SEEKS REPEAL OF WATER RESTRICTIONS THAT PROTECT DELTA SMELT--BUT ACTION WOULD THREATEN MARINE LIFE INCLUDING KILLER WHALES, A NEW REPORT FINDS

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Story and photo by Miriam Raftery

February 24, 2009 (San Diego)--State Senator Dennis Hollingsworth, who represents East County, has joined 27 other Republicans in signing a letter to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, urging him to call upon the President and the Secretary of the Interior to convene the Endangered Species Committee, which the GOP has dubbed the "God Squad." The letter requests an appeal of water restrictions mandated by a federal court to protect the Delta smelt. But now a new federal study reveals that if Hollingsworth's plan is approved,lifting those restrictions would endanger killer whales as well as fish.

BUDGET PASSED - ”BUT CALIFORNIA'S FINANCIAL SITUATION REMAINS "PRECARIOUS"; STATE REPUBLICANS BLOCK REELECTION FUNDS FOR GOP MEMBERS WHO VOTED FOR TAX HIKES

money cut.jpg

By Miriam Raftery

February 23, 2009 (Sacramento)--Ending months of deadlock, the California Legislature has approved a compromise budget which Governor Schwarzenegger has signed. The budget includes $12.8 billion in tax increases and $15.1 billion in spending cuts, including deep cuts to education funding and social services. But the Los Angeles Times reported, “California remains in a precarious financial situation. If, by April, the state does not secure about $2 billion more in federal aid than it now expects to receive, deeper cuts will automatically kick in because of provisions in the budget.” Those cuts would include 4% reductions in welfare grants, 2.3% cuts to the blind and disabled, wage caps for in-home aides to the ill and reductions for colleges and universities.

EDITORIAL: CALL ME A SORE LOSER -- HOW YOU CAN HELP FIGHT POWERLINK

Fires--photos from LM 289_edited.jpg

By Denise Morse

As a Campo property owner and native San Diegan I just can't fathom how 120
miles of transmission lines with 150 ft. high steel towers buzzing and crackling their way into San Diego fits with "America's Finest City" image.

Call me a sore loser, but I just can't get past the fact that two Administrative Law Judges determined that the Sunrise Powerlink (SPL) project was unnecessary. Judge Steve Weissman and Judge Jean Vieth made their decision based on reviewing over 11,000 pages of Environmental Impact Report (EIR) documentation and numerous binders of data supplied by San Diego Gas & Electric.

WOW- IT'S A POW-WOW! SAT. FEB. 28 AT GROSSMONT COLLEGE

Sycuan08PowWow-Mark's shots 032.jpg

February 23, 2009 (El Cajon)--The 21st annual Grossmont College Pow-Wow, a celebration of American Indian culture, will be held on Saturday, Feb. 28, at the college's Student Center. Admission is free. The day-long event, which begins at noon with gourd dancing and giveaways, features American Indian dancers and drummers. Vendors will sell American Indian cuisine, clothing, art and jewelry. The Grand Entry, a procession of about 100 dancers, begins at 6 p.m.

BANK AMERICA OPENS BRANCH OFFICE IN RANCHO SAN DIEGO

Branch manager Mimi Esshaki cuts ribbon at new Bank America
in
Rancho San Diego

February 21, 2009 (Rancho San Diego) — Champagne, refreshments and visits
with firefighters welcomed visitors at the grand opening of Bank America's
new branch office at 2930 Jamacha Road in Rancho San Diego today.

MUSICAL OF MUSICALS (THE MUSICAL)

Musicals the Musical

Review By Kathy Carpenter

Now Playing: Feb. 20--27 at 8 p.m., Feb..28 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m,, and March 1 at 2p.m.
Experimental Theatre SDSU: Tickets $18-$20; ticket info:(619) 594-6884 or theatre.sdsu.edu

Musical of Musicals, with music by Eric Rockwell and lyrics by Joanne Bogart, is a delight for all fans of musical theatre.

This Musical, or I should say its five Musical vignettes, all share the same theme: You must pay the rent! But I can't pay the rent! Leary of how a basic plot like this could be entertaining, I was totally surprised.

ACADEMIC LEAGUE ALL-STAR MATCH SET FOR FEB. 25 AT GRANITE HILLS; EARLIER MATCHES TO BE TELEVISED ON ITV

February 22, 2009 (San Diego's East County)--The traditional Academic League All-Star match will be held on Wednesday, February 25th at 3:30 p.m. in the Granite Hills Library. The All-Star match will feature the best of ten high school teams versus the Grossmont Union High School District (GUHSD) Academic League 2009 Champions, Granite Hills High School.

The All-Star Team will be jointly coached by Cheri Gabler, Brooke Crocker and Betty Jensen. Dick Hoy, Ruth Weiss and Steve Haiman will serve as moderators.
The Academic League competitions are sponsored by

SD SCHOOL DISTRICT SUPERINTENDENT DR. TERRY GRIER SPEAKS AT FEBRUARY LUNCH WITH LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS

terry Grier.jpg

February 20, 2009 (San Diego)--San Diego Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Terry Grier will answer questions in an open discussion with the League of Women voters of San Diego (LWVSD) and with members of the community, during "Lunch With League," a give and take forum moderated by LWVSD member Dr. Richard Schere, psychologist.

SCHOOL BOARD GRILLS HELIX OFFICIALS, SEEKS DOCUMENTS IN SEXUAL ABUSE, MISCONDUCT CASES

By Miriam Raftery

February 16, 2009 (El Cajon)-- Grossmont Union High School
District (GUHSD) trustees voted unanimously to send a cure and correct letter
to Helix Charter High School administrators, asking for documentation thus
far withheld regarding handling of four cases of sexual abuse and misconduct. "To
have a cluster of four incidents in such a short period of time is a red flag,"
said Superintendent Robert Collins (photo, left), adding that the district
has a duty to restore confidence and protect safety of students. "We
are here to solve a problem, not to win out in the court of public opinion."

KIDS JOIN IN FUN AT CIRCUS VARGA--”SHOWING THROUGH MONDAY IN EL CAJON

Circus Vargas 2009 015_edited.jpg

February 21, 2009 (El Cajon) -- Ringmasters invited all children in the audience into the ring for free lessons in how to spin hula hoops, juggle scarves, and balance peacock feathers at Circus Vargas in El Cajon. Youngsters could also ride a Clydesdale horse during intermission, or pose for family photos with a giant snake. Performances run daily through Monday, Feb. 23, so there's still time to bring your kids for some family fun. Unlike shows in large arenas, this show is under an old-fashioned big-top tent--and there's not a bad seat in the house. Tickets start at $15 for children and $20 for adults. More info: http://www.eastcountymagazine.org/?q=node/522

View our videos!

Jump roping dog and clown: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5-j5o8Oa8vE
Acrobats on flying trapeze: http://www.youtube.com/my_videos_edit2
Grand finale: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bdy18BxLOMw

TV M*A*S*H DOCTOR OFFERS HEALING WORDS FOR HUMANITY IN NEW BOOK; VISIT TO BONITA LIBRARY DRAWS FULL HOUSE

By Miriam Raftery

Mike Farrell with officers of Eastlake-Bonita
Democratic Club.

February 17, 2009 (Bonita) — Mike Farrell and his co-stars
on the popular M*A*S*H TV show raised public awareness about the human costs
of war. But
what many fans don't realize is that in his private life, Farrell has much
in common with the character he portrayed, Dr. B.J. Hunnicutt. Traveling
to global hot spots from Central American jungles to war-torn African villages,
he has gained fame internationally as a humanitarian, working tireless to draw
attention to a wide range of human rights issues.

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