"Politics in Paradise" showcases hot issues--and partisan divide in East County
Story and photos by Sharon Penny
Hear an audio report by Janis Russell: http://kiwi6.com/file/t3ud7qryhp
Photo, left to right: CA Senator Joel Anderson, County Treasurer Dan McAllister, Supervisor Dianne Jacob, Assemblyman Brian Jones, Lemon Grove Mayor Mary Sessom, and Congressman Duncan Hunter
August 8, 2014 (El Cajon)--Six East County politicians participated in a lively question and answer session under the stars at Cuyamaca College's Water Conservation Garden during a mild summer evening on August 7.
The location for the annual event hosted by the joint Chambers ofCommerce in East County was apropos because the state’s water issue was a hot topic discussed by local leaders. The site exemplified ways that constituents could help with the current drought. Other issues debated at the event were welfare, immigration, the local craft beer industry, using public pension funds to invest in affordable housing, providing incentives to private developers, Proposition 13, high-speed rail, and even Shamu.
We're catching up on our archiving, after getting through the primary elections and moving our office/studio. Our May podcasts are now online, including many candidates who will be on the November ballot, as well as interviews on issues ranging from firefighting job opportunities to legal tips for surviving disasters.
To listen to our May radio shows online now, plus see a complete list of interviewees and other content on each show in May, click here.
Source: Helix Water District
August 7, 2014 (La Mesa)--Helix Water District’s board of directors voted yesterday to put Drought Level 2 into effect in response to the State Water Resources Control Board’s passage of mandatory water conservation measures to deal with the current drought.
Since February, the district had been in Drought Level 1, which called for numerous voluntary actions to eliminate water waste. Drought Level 2 makes them mandatory. Residents and businesses are required to take the following conservation steps:
Church launches drive to save lives, help children fleeing violence
"Jesus himself was a refugee, who with his family fled to a foreign as an infant." --Rev. Kaji Dousa
Hear our interview with Doug Brunson from UCCLM: http://www.kiwi6.com/file/gvviv3lgb6
View or sign a petition to help the children: http://tableucc.com/witness/sign-the-petition-central-american-refugee-crisis/
By Miriam Raftery
August 7, 2014 (La Mesa)—United Church of Christ in La Mesa has stepped forward to help children from Central America who have sought refuge in the United States, fleeing violence, drug trafficking and threats of death. The public is invited to a Border Children panel discussion on Sunday, August 17 at 3 p.m. at the church, located at 5940 Kelton Avenue, La Mesa.
“We need to welcome the strangers. We need to help those in need,” Doug Brunson with UCCLM told East County Magazine in a recent radio interview, quoting Jesus. “This is a crisis…something that needs to be addressed now,” he said of the 50,000 children.
County News Service
August 7, 2014 (San Diego) -- San Diego County’s Board of Supervisors unanimously directed County staff Wednesday to start working on a program to promote agriculture. Ultimately, the program could open up nearly one-third of the unincorporated county to wineries.
The proposed Agriculture Promotion Program would also streamline County planning and land use regulations to expand and promote other agricultural pursuits. Those include microbreweries, “agritourism,” cheese-making, beekeeping and onsite retail horticultural sales.
DEADLINE FRIDAY TO FILE AND RUN FOR MOST LOCAL OFFICES: GUHSD LACKS FULL SLATE OF CHALLENGERS FOR SCHOOL BOARD POSITIONS
Hear our interview with GUHSD member Priscilla Schreiber and Nick Marinovich, who says he was pressured to resign off the district's Citizens Bond Oversight Committee, on why they want to see new candidates step forward to run for the board: http://kiwi6.com/file/1fth2nlrky
By Miriam Raftery
August 7, 2014 (San Diego's East County) -- Tomorrow, August 8 at 5 p.m. is the deadline to file for running for most local offices in East County--though if an incumbent opts not to file for reelection, that deadline can be extended for several more days.
Some local districts don't have enough people running to fill the seats--including the Grossmont Union High School District, where at last check only two challengers have filed for three seats, despite controversy including a Grand Jury admonishment. One of those challengers, Dr. Gary Woods, opposes a high school for Alpine and was previously voted out; his election would solidify the anti-Alpine high school majority on the board. (Note: incumbent Dick Hoy has said he won't seek reelection, thus this filing deadline will likely be extended.)
Alpine's Community Planning Group has just 5 candidates so for to fill 7 seats.
These are just two examples of a race where the balance of power could shift--or not--depending on which candidates if any step forward to run.
Local seats on the November ballot include school boards, planning groups, water boards, fire boards, mayor and city councils across East County. Currently a numberof these positions have no candidates filed to run, or only one candidate, leaving voters without a choice.
Hear our audio promo in our new studio: http://kiwi6.com/file/pk5dpheb7i
August 1, 2014 (El Cajon) – As the newest tenants in the El Cajon Medical Center, the East County Magazine & Media Center will provide media coverage and community radio broadcast demonstrations during the East County Wellness Center’s grand opening event on August 5th. We invite our readers to stop by and join in the celebrations!
The wellness center offers zumba, yoga and pilates classes as well as massage services. The grand opening festivities begin at 5:30 p.m. with a ribbon cutting by the San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce at 6 p.m. All event guests can enjoy a Wellness seminar, free chair massages, beverages and hors d’oeuvres, prize drawings and more. The East County Wellness and Yoga Center is located at 1625 East Main Street, Suite 205 in El Cajon, CA 92012.
East County Magazine & Media Center now offers audio services and more for local community members in our new recording studio. Stop by our suite 204 for a tour, radio broadcast demonstration, and drawing for prizes( including a free ad on East County Magazine (averaging 150,000 visits each month) and a complimentary 15-minute recording session/podcast for your organization.)
By Miriam Raftery
August 2, 2014 (Washington D.C.) – It's rare for Congress to agree on anything given the partisan divide in Washington. But House Resolution 683, authored by Congressman Juan Vargas (D-San Diego) , passed the House of Representatives unanimously yesterday. The measure expresses the urgent need to protect religious minorities in Iraq from persecution at the hands of the Sunni Islamist insurgent and terrorist group, the Islamic State in Iraq and Levand (ISIL). The measure was coauthored by three other San Diego representatives (Republican Duncan Hunter as well as Democrats Susan Davis and Scott Peters)
“I am pleased the House of Representatives is shedding light on this important topic and supporting our nation’s need to be vocal in the face of the horrific crimes taking place against Iraqi civilians,” said Rep. Vargas. “This resolution expresses the urgent need to protect religious minorities who are fleeing persecution in Iraq’s ISIL-held territories. Religious freedom is the cornerstone of any free society and we must do everything in our power to provide immediate protection and humanitarian assistance to individuals facing horrific crimes because of their religious beliefs.”
Mark Arabo, a national spokesman for Iraqi Christians and president of the Neighborhood Market Association locally, heralded passage of the resolution as “a historic day that will go into the annals of Iraqi Christian history.”
By Miriam Raftery
July 30, 2014 (El Cajon) – Outliers Collective (www.outco.com), the only legal, licensed medical marijuana dispensary in East County’s unincorporated areas, will open this Saturday, August 2 near Gillespie Field. A grand opening party is set from 1 to 4 p.m. at the collective dispensary, located at 8157 Wing Avenue in unincorporated El Cajon.
The grand opening will feature raffles, prize giveaways, meet and greet with model “Queen Esther”, poster signings, a food truck, 619 clothing and more.
August 1, 2014 (El Cajon) – Tomorrow, nearly 12,000 people worldwide will be staging protests over the violence against Christians in Iraq and Syria. In San Diego's East County, Ben and Jessica Kalasho have organized a local protest at 6 p.m. in Prescott Promenade Park on Main Street in downtown El Cajon.
ISIS terrorsts have sprayed the red letter for "Nazarene" shown at left on Christian homes, where residents face a choice of converting to Islam or death. Many have fled, seeking safe refuge.
A Facebook page for the local event lists 156 participants so far. “Join us to stand in solidarity with our Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac brothers and sisters around the world to protest the violence against the Christians in Iraq and Syria,” Kalasho writes. Guests can RSVP at the Facebook page here locally: https://www.facebook.com/events/813180182039823/permalink/815478478476660/
In other cities visit https://www.facebook.com/events/653888978028664/ or scroll down for a list of events listed as of now:
A quarter of all rural stations were closed –at the same time—during April
An East County Magazine special investigative report
By Miriam Raftery
July 31, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – The County Fire Authority has touted its successes in preventing the May wildfires in North County from destroying thousands of homes despite a County disaster declaration. A lot has improved since 2003 and 2007 firestorms. But if fires were to start in East County, a more troubling result could occur—and an ECM investigation raises serious doubts over inadequate volunteer staffing to respond even to routine house fires and medical calls in some rural communities.
Last October, our investigative report revealed that Boulevard’s fire station was closed for two months during fire season and Jacumba’s station also had some dark days- -including one when a resident died of a medical emergency after a delay in emergency services arriving. The County responded by funding emergency staffing and according to Supervisor Jacob’s staff, these two stations remained open every day for at least several months thereafter, an ECM records check in late April revealed.
But on July 9, Craig Williams, an information technology provider for the Campo Fire Department, advised ECM that “without any notification to the community leaders two days ago” Cal Fire “moved the overtime, off-budget, paid Cal Fire firefighters out of Boulevard to Jacumba Hot Springs. Now Boulevard is stuck with Fire Authority `volunteers’ only, just like Campo.’”
Worse, a new investigation by ECM reveals that this is the tip of an iceberg.
Update July 30, 2014: By a 5-0 vote, Supervisors adopted the feral pig eradication plan to trap and shoot wild pigs across our region.
By Miriam Raftery
Photo courtesy U.S. Forest Service
July 29, 2014 (San Diego’s East County)--They wallow in waterways and root up sensitive habitat. They breed prolifically—and they eat almost anything—from acorns to small animals—even goats with horns! Those portly porkers – feral pigs in East County’s backcountry—can weigh up to 250 pounds. The largest wild pig caught anywhere--a gargantuan specimen dubbed "Hogzilla," tipped the scales at over 800 pounds.
Feral pigs are descendants of domestic pigs run wild and European boars brought over by Spaniards in the 1700s. Locally, San Diego's pig population has been around since only around 2006. We don't know how they got here. One rumor is that hunters released a few pigs as game animals. Another theory is that the pigs migrated in from elsewhere in California or Mexico. However they came, they've found fertile ground locally, where the number of wild pigs is now estimated at over a thousand.
Hunting wild pigs is legal in California on private property and tribal lands – though not in our region's parks, preserves, or wilderness areas. But bringing home the bacon isn’t as easy as it sounds.
July 30, 2014 (San Diego's East County)--East County Roundup highlights top stories of interest to East County and San Diego’s inland regions, published in other media. This week’s top “Roundup” headlines include:
- Open spaces program to help Lemon Grove design its own public art (EC Californian)
- Home appreciation pace continues its dive (UT San Diego)
- Skydiver falls to his death in Otay Lakes (KUSI)
- Microsoft cutting 378 jobs in San Diego (UT San Diego)
- San Diego recovers poorly (SD Reader)
- Report: Increased Meth Use By Minors Booked Into Juvenile Hall (KPBS)
- In Mexico, a new Jerry Brown comes around to free trade (Sacramento Bee)
- Suspended California lawmaker Leland Yee faces new conspiracy charges (Reuters)
- Lawmakers scrap controversial section of energy bill (Mission Times Courier)
- Brown: California Willing To Shelter More Migrants (KPBS)
For excerpts and links to full stories, click “read more” and scroll down.
July 18, 2014 (El Cajon) – East County is home to an estimated 40,000 Iraqi Chaldean Christians as well as many Assyrians and Syriacs.
Local Iraqis including the Chaldean-American Chamber of Commerce, churches and other groups, ask the community to join them in a rally today, July 18 at El Cajon City Hall , 200 Civic Center Way, to urge protection and humanitarian help for those now fleeing Iraq, where a terrorist group has declared an Islamic caliph and is slaughtering Christians and other minorities.
A petition has also been launched calling on U.S. representatives to consider creating a safe haven for Assyrians and other minorities in the Nineveh Plains.
Grossmont CBOC Member Nick Marinovich Resigns After Pressure From Asking Tough Questions
By Sharon Penny
July 13, 2014 (San Diego’s East County)--The Grossmont Union High School District’s (GUHSD) Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee (CBOC) serves on behalf of San Diego County taxpayers to “independently review the planning and execution of the Proposition H and Proposition U bond programs to validate to the public and the Governing Board that bond funds are spent within the intent of the bond measure.” East County Magazine has raised questions over problems with the CBOC’s watchdog role in a radio interview a few months ago.
Since his appointment to CBOC in June 2013, Nick Marinovich has a history of questioning the GUHSD Board about what many view as its inadequate responses for plans for an Alpine High School (funded by Proposition U) and for not properly addressing the Grand Jury’s report criticizing the Boardm as ECM has reported.
Effective June 19, Marinovich “resigned” from the CBOC. GUHSD Board member Priscilla Schreiber has told East County Magazine that she believes Marinovich was ”indirectly forced” to resign due to his probing questions and failure of the board to respond to his follow-up efforts.
East County News Service
Photos by Helga Weis, shot at Golfcrest and Navajo
July 13, 2014 (San Diego) – A brush fire has charred nearly 100 acres, forcing closure of Mission Trails Regional Park. The blaze is now 70% contained, however the park will remain closed Monday, San Diego Fire & Rescue Lee Swanson told ECM news partner 10 News.
Fortunately there were few hikers in the park due to the hot weather and all were able to get out safely. One firefighter suffered a heat-related injury, however.
San Diego has sixth highest rate of valley fever in California; concerns voiced that Imperial County cases may be under-reported
By Janice Arenofsky
July 13, 2014 (San Diego)--More than 160 scientists, researchers and regional activists met in Phoenix on April 5th to learn about and exchange views on the human and economic costs of Coccidioidomycosis (valley fever). Due to recent national and local media coverage of the valley fever epidemic across the Southwest and formation of a Cocci Congressional Task Force headed by two U.S. House Republicans from California and Arizona-- Kevin McCarthy and David Schweikert--the 58th Annual Meeting of the Cocci Study Group brought together a historic number of attendees.
Keynote speaker Steven Holland, MD, deputy director for intramural clinical research at the National Institutes of Health, spoke about human DNA mutations that leave a percentage of people especially vulnerable to valley fever, mycobacterial disease and Job’s Syndrome (immune-mediated disease). Holland concluded that in certain extreme cases of cocci, bone marrow transplants should be considered. He anticipates receiving more referrals of seriously ill cocci patients from Arizona and California physicians.
Memorial fund to be established to benefit hospice care; services pending
By Miriam Raftery
July 12, 2014 (La Mesa) – Grossmont Hospital is mourning the loss of its chief executive officer, Michele Tarbet, who passed away yesterday morning at her home surrounded by her family members, under the care of Grossmont’s hospice care.
An announcement issued jointly by Sharp Healthcare and Sharp Grossmont Hospital yesterday, voiced “a heavy heart and great sadness” at the news. “Michele’s passing was peaceful and she left this world with dignity and grace,” he stated. “We will miss her immensely. Fortunately for us, Michele has left an indelible mark on Sharp HealthCare, Grossmont Hospital, the East County, and the countless individuals she worked with and knew.”
July 11, 2014 (El Cajon) – East County Magazine’s new wine columnist and viticulture expert Don Rutkoff will conduct a two-week summer wine tasting class in the conservancy garden at Cuyamaca College from 6-8 p.m. on July 16 and 23.
“White and rose wines are very popular during the summer and come from all over the world. Local wineries are making excellent wines in these categories,” the course description states. Over two evenings, this class explores a short introduction of the grapes and winemaking methods, followed by several flights of 3-5 wines per flight, and discussion of food pairing.
Photos by Maria Teresa Fernandez and Miriam Raftery
July 10, 2014 (San Diego) – Border Angels, a nonprofit San Diego organization, has received over 10 tons of donated clothing, toys, diapers and food for the Central American refugee families coming to our region. Now the group has launched a teddy bear drive to “share the love with our refugee children,” said Enrique Morones, founder of Border Angels. Donated items can be dropped off at the Border Angels office at 2258 Island Avenue in San Diego. The group also seeks an East County drop-off location.
This is not the group’s first effort to help people in need locally. Border Angels successfully raised donations to help wildfire survivors in our region, as well as to help victims of the Easter Sunday earthquake just over our border several years ago.
The wave of Central American immigrants fleeing violence and risk of death in their homelands have been the subject of controversy. Anti-immigration protesters blocked several busloads of the refugees in Murrietta, chanting racial slurs. Five of the protesters were arrested after some tackled law enforcement officers. Now, as people across the nation and around the world have seen video of the controntation, many have stepped forward to help the immigrant children and their families.
By Miriam Raftery
July 6, 2014 (San Diego's East County) -- Below are some of the newsworthy items on this week's agendas for boards, commissions and councils in East County. Taxes, electronic cigarettes and land use issues are among the hot topics to be discussed in these public meetings. You can find full agendas and meeting details at the websites for each local governing body.
URGENT POLL: ASK KNSJ TO AIR LIVE WILDFIRE ALERTS & WILDFIRE REPORTING: HONOR PROMISES MADE TO DONORS & HELP SAVE LIVES
A year ago when KNSJ radio launched, the station promised to air our live wildfire and emergency alerts. Saturday is their anniversary party - please send a message TODAY asking them to honor this promise!
In the July 2013 Chariot Fire the station did go live and I reported on the fire on Mt. Laguna. For a few weeks, KNSJ aired our alerts with a delay of an hour or so, promising to improve technology to get real live alerts. Later KNSJ stopped airing wildfire alerts at all. I’ve pleaded with KNSJ to air Viejas Wildfire Alerts as promised, which we offer them free, to save lives and keep you safe. In the backcountry when power lines burn and some have no cell service, battery-powered radio is often the only way to get news during fires.
KNSJ’s CEO says having the federal emergency broadcast system in place is enough, but it’s not. It wasn’t activated during recent fires in East County. KNSJ's CEO and Board refuse to even guarantee a start date for alerts or an exact dollar figure that would guarantee these would air. They ask for more money, without delivering on promises made to donors who already gave to support getting alerts on the air. KNSJ also has zero live broadcasting, even for breaking news during fires.
TAKE OUR POLL AND SEND A MESSAGE TO KNSJ: Should the FCC ask KNSJ to keep its promise and air live Viejas Wildfire & Emergency Alerts & have live news broadcasts during wildfires?
East County News Service
July 4, 2014 (San Diego) – Three children suffered moderate to major injuries in a rollover crash at 1:09 p.m. today on I-15 north of State Route 52.
The driver told the California Highway Patrol (CHP) he was traveling at 65-70 miles per hour in the number one lane when he felt the right rear of his Toyota vehicle sink. The Toyota collided with the center divide and rolled onto its roof.
July 3, 2014 (San Diego's East County)--East County Roundup highlights top stories of interest to East County and San Diego’s inland regions, published in other media. This week’s top “Roundup” headlines include:
- San Diego County property value is up 6% (Santee Patch)
- La Mesa: Legion Post Out of Park Station Project (La Mesa Today)
- Maybe Potrero residents sensed something (SD Reader)
- Protesters force buses carrying undocumented immigrants to Murrieta to turn around (10 News)
- Filings show November slate growing (La Mesa Today)
- Yes, full transit can work. Just look at Lemon Grove (Voice of San Diego)
- Central American children find help in SD (UT San Diego)
- Crimestoppers offers reward to locate Ramona fugitive (Ramona Sentinel)
- California Voters To Weigh Reducing Some Felonies To Misdemeanors (KPBS)
- Immigrants arrive in El Centro (Desert Sun)
- Butts fire grows, threatens nearly 400 homes in Napa (Sacramento Bee)
- Yosemite’s anniversary: For Indians, there’s little to celebrate (Sacramento Bee)
For excerpts and links to full stories, click “read more” and scroll down.
July 1, 2014 (San Diego's East County)--This week, the extremist group ISIS declared an Islamic caliphate stretching from Syria across Iraq following weeks of mounting violence. On June 25, prior to the declaration, we aired a second interview with San Diego Chaldean-American leader Mark Arabo following his meetings with the State Department, members of Congress and high-level U.S. officials. We discussed international efforts to bring peace to the region, form a more inclusive government and protect Iraqi Christians.
Hear our interview here: http://kiwi6.com/file/jj6adf49ou
(Note: We apologize for being late posting podcasts from last week, due to our editor's daughter having surgery. She is recovering fine, and thanks to those who sent good wishes.)
East County News Service
July 2, 2014 (San Diego)--MyLife, a social media website, recently did an analysis of data to determine the most patriotic cities in the U.S. The results are in -- just in time for the 4th of July -- and San Diego is ranked number one.
MyLife’s analysis included four sets of data:
Read our prior story about the debut of Sycuan's documentary
Hear our exclusive interview with Sycuan Chairman Daniel Tucker during the debut: click here.
June 30, 2014 (El Cajon) – Sycuan’s “Our People. Our Culture. Our History” film has been honored with a 2014 EMMY® Award, Pacific Southwest region, for outstanding achievement in television. The acclaimed documentary has also received a prestigious Gold CINDY® Award in the Regional Broadcast category and a Special Achievement Award for Direction and Production Design.
The 48-minute program tells the story of Sycuan and the Kumeyaay Nation through the words of its people - Tribal elders, Council leaders, family members and the next generation. Augmented by incisive observations from Native American historians and a range of subject matter experts, this documentary follows the incredible 12,500 year journey of a People who has survived against overwhelming odds to become a sovereign, prosperous nation who continues to honor its past while building its future and positively impacting their community.
July 1, 2014 (San Diego) – The San Diego Area Middle Eastern Dance Association will present Sameda Faire 2014, a day long festival of dance on Sunday, July 20 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Scottish Rite Event Center.
July 1, 2014 (La Mesa)--The Mission Times Courier, Mission Valley News and La Mesa Courier are joining the San Diego Community News Network (SDCNN) and its group of award-winning community newspapers, strengthening SDCNN’s community news voice in San Diego.
SDCNN’s purchase of the trio of newspapers from Jim Madaffer’s Mission Publishing Group takes effect July 1. The acquisition also includes Mission Publishing Group’s online news site, ScoopSanDiego.com, a press release issued yesterday by Mission Publishing announced.
By Nadin Abbott and Miriam Raftery
June 27, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – San Diego Supervisors heard heated testimony on Wednesday regarding plans to change densities for lands on private property within the Cleveland National Forest boundaries. The Forest Conservation Initiative (FCI) passed by voters in 1993, which limited development on these lands to one home for each 40 acres, expired in 2010. The County has rejected calls to enact the FCI protections into law. Instead, Supervisors directed staff to create an Environmental Impact Report based on staff recommendations that would increase densities in some areas and reduce them in others.
The hot potato is Alpine, where the Alpine Planning Group’s majority called on Supervisors to allow increased densities and development that could double the size of their rural town. That has drawn opposition from environmentalists, board member Lou Russo, the Cleveland National Forest Foundation and the U.S. Forest Service itself, which raised concerns over fire dangers and preservation of federally protected wild lands adjacent to proposed development.