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September 2008 Articles




SOUND OFF! Contact Your Elected Officials

Sound Off LogoCalls, e-mails and letters to your elected officials often do make a difference.  It’s important for public officials to know how the people feel about important issues and votes. It’s vital to let our elected members know that we are keeping an eye on how they vote – and will hold them accountable at election time if they ignore the will of the people!

Citizens "Take Action!" Guide

LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01Whose interests are your elected officials representing: the people--or the special interests?

Too many voters haven’t got a clue—so East County Magazine is shedding light into those smoke-hazed back-rooms in Washington D.C. and Sacramento, enabling you to keep up with what your elected officials are doing – and decide whether or not they deserve your vote next election. You can also share your views on key issues with the handy tools we’ve provided.  

Find out how they voted:  In our Capitoil Report: How They Voted reports,, we’ve chosen major bills listed by Vote-Smart.org, a nonpartisan organization, as well as key measures tracked by public interest groups.   Below are some of the most important recent bills—and how our representatives cast their votes.

For details and information on more bills, visit www.vote-smart.org.

Contact your elected officials, or to find out who represents you: visit our Sound Off! section in our “Citizens’ “Take Action” Center.

East County Magazine's Guide to Fresh, Local Foods

By Miriam Raftery

Growing concerns over food safety, environmental issues, health and desire to support our local economy have given rise to a new trend: consumers seeking out locally-grown and produced foods.

 

Sales of locally grown foods increased 25% in 2007 from $4 billion to $5 billion – and could hit $7 billion by 2011, according to a HealthFocus TrendScan report.  According to Packaged Facts, 69% of consumers surveyed agreed that local food is better for their personal health than food that has traveled across the country.  Buzzwords such as “food miles” the “slow food movement” and “locavore” (New Oxford American Dictionary’s 2007 word of the year) have entered the lingo.              

Budget Crisis Hits Home

State workers in East County struggle to cope with prospect of huge pay cuts, lay-offs; Judge orders Sept. 12 hearing on Governor’s wage-slashing orders

By Miriam Raftery
Photos by Aida Canonizado

November 4, 2008 (El Cajon)--Mildred Scarber, a state employee who works at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in El Cajon, was shocked to learn that Governor Schwarzenegger has ordered all state employees’ pay rates slashed to the federal minimum wage: just $6.55 an hour.

HEALTHCARE FOR ALL BILL PASSES- GOVERNOR THREATENS VETO

By Miriam Raftery

September 8, 2008 (SAN DIEGO) – A landmark bill to
provide guaranteed universal healthcare coverage for every man, woman and
child in California (including medical, dental, mental health and eye care
coverage) has been approved by the State Legislature.   Governor
Arnold Schwarzenegger has until September 30th to sign the measure, SB 840
by Senator Sheila Kuehl, into law.  But the landmark healthcare reform
measure is at risk of becoming a casualty of the state budget impasse; Governor
Schwarzenegger has threatened to veto all bills because the Legislature has
not yet approved a budget.

A PURR-FECT PLACE

At new Tiger Trails haven in Alpine, rescued tigers run, swim for first time

By Miriam Raftery

September 17, 2008 (ALPINE) – Q: What happens when you take four captive-bred tigers and turn them loose in a facility large enough for them to run freely for the first time?

A: A cat-aclysmic event complete with romping, frolicking and caterwauling, much to the delight of media members and donors invited to watch the grand opening of Tiger Trails in Alpine.  View our short video clip.

HEROES HELPING HEROES

By Miriam Raftery

What can be more heartwarming than a tale of heroes banding together to help
victims of two devastating tragedies—East County wildfires and the 9/11
terrorist attacks?

THE GREENING OF LA MESA - MAYOR ART MADRID SHARES HIS VISION

By Miriam Raftery

Mayor Madrid (R) with Shane Shaw of E-Village
Beneath solar panel display at “Sustain La Mesa” festival

Crowds flocked to view cooking demonstrations on solar ovens,
visit with solar energy experts, get tips on water-saving landscaping and more
at Sustain La Mesa, the City’s first annual Environmental Awareness Festival
on September 13th in Harry Griffith Park.

“It took me almost a year to get this event,” Mayor Art Madrid
told East County Magazine, then shared  his vision for a greener
La Mesa in the future. 

CANDIDATE FORUMS & BALLOT INITIATIVE PRESENTATIONS

Voter LogoThe
League of Women Voters of East San Diego County and the American Association
of University Women of La Mesa-El Cajon will sponsor a series of nonpartisan
public forums to educate voters about candidates plus the pros and cons of
initiatives on the November ballot.  Come meet the candidates, ask questions,
and learn more about the issues – free!

THE CITY OF LA MESA'S FIRST ANNUAL ENVIRONMENTAL AWARENESS FESTIVAL

THE CITY OF LA MESA’S FIRST ANNUAL ENVIRONMENTAL AWARENESS FESTIVAL

Green LogoLa
Mesa will conduct its First Annual Environmental Awareness “Sustain La
Mesa” Festival on: Saturday, September 13, 2008 from 10:00 a.m.
till 2:00 p.m. at Harry Griffen Park, 9550 Milden St.

FUN-FILLED FESTIVALS: SEPT. 12-30th

By Miriam Raftery

Fall is in the air – the perfect time for an end-of-summer celebration or a visit to East County’s back country towns in the early days of autumn.  Find details on these at many other events at our calendar, which covers all communities east of I-15.

Register to Vote!

Voter
registration drives are being held at several East County locations listed
below.   You must be registered by October 20th to vote
in the November 4th presidential election.

Editor's Message

Photo by Miriam RafteryDear Readers,
Back
in the Dark Ages before Internet and cell phones, chatting over the back fence
with neighbors was the cool way to get news  Think of
this site as your virtual back fence: a place to share your views with neighbors
all over East County!

Health Tips

HUMAN WEST NILE VIRUS CASES REACH FIVE TOTAL

SAN DIEGO August 18, 2008 -- Another
confirmed locally-acquired human case of West Nile virus (WNV) brings the year-to-date
total to five—including one patient in East County, according to the
County Health & Human Services Agency (HHSA).

A Firestorm of Controversy - Still No County Fire Department Five Years After Cedar Blaze

Ballot measure will ask voters to approve tax for fire services

By E.A. Barrera

"Given the existing high-risk conditions that are projected to continue into the future, destructive firestorms will certainly occur again. Yet, even armed with this knowledge and after the Cedar Fire wake-up call, the San Diego region is woefully unprepared." - San Diego County Grand Jury, May 29, 2008

September 1, 2009 (East County)--October will mark the first anniversary of the Witch Creek Fires and fifth anniversary of the deadlier Cedar Fire.  Four years have passed since voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition "C" which called for a Countywide Fire Department.  Yet the County of San Diego is still at the nascent stage of organizing collective fire departments of the region into one unified command structure.

DYING TO COME TO AMERICA - Immigrant Death Toll Soars; Water Stations Sabotaged

By Miriam Raftery

Border AngelsSeptember 1, 2008 (Holtville) “These people came here looking for opportunity. Not one of them expected to die,” said Enrique Morones, erecting a hand-made wooden cross at a gravesite marked only by a brick engraved with the name Jane Doe.

A few years ago, there were twenty bricks in this pauper’s graveyard at Holtville in Imperial County, final resting ground for immigrants who died crossing the U.S.-Mexican border in San Diego and Imperial Counties.  Now there are 656. 

September Festivals

By Miriam Raftery

Sept. 1, 2008 (East County)--We first planned to call this column Festival of the Month.  But after discovering how many great events communities and groups are hosting in San Diego’s eastern region we changed the column name to tell you about as many fun-filled festivals as possible. 

Tough Medicine, Part I

Grossmont Hospital Investigations Raise Oversight Concernts, Criticisms

By Sara McInerney, staff writer, and editor Miriam Raftery

September 14, 2008 (La Mesa)--Revelations of preventable patient deaths and alleged neglect at Sharp Grossmont Hospital have led some community leaders to demand increased oversight even as new complaints of patient care at Grossmont surface.

Grossmont is one of four hospitals in San Diego County assessed the maximum allowable fine by state health regulators for preventable errors that caused patient deaths, injuries, or were likely to cause serious harm.

Medicare and Medi-Cal are considering cutting their reimbursement for the hospital by October 15.  Federal, state and county regulators are currently investigating the hospital.   The hospital has submitted plans to correct deficiencies, including improving training and communications, and is awaiting a revisit by the California Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

Tough Medicine, Part II

Community Leaders Call for New Hospital in East County:
Long Waits in Grossmont ER, Patient Deaths Heighten Urgent Need

By Sara McInerney, Staff Writer

September 18, 2008 (La Mesa)--Government investigations into at least three preventable patient deaths at Sharp Grossmont Hospital have raised serious questions about the facility’s capacity to service the needs of East County’s growing population.

Closure of the El Cajon Valley Emergency (full service) Hospital and a Kaiser facility, both in El Cajon, have exacerbated pressures on Grossmont, East County’s only remaining hospital.  In addition, Grossmont ceased being a designated trauma center in the 1980s, leaving East County with no trauma center.  Designated trauma patients are now transported via helicopter or ambulance to Sharp Memorial Hospital in San Diego.

Democratic Candidates Urge Voters to Unite for Change at East County Rally

By Miriam Raftery

"I've been a Republican for 35 years and I became a Democrat in January," La
Mesa Councilmember David Allan told a crowd of approximately 350 people at
the East County Uniting for Change picnic on Sunday at Harry Griffith Park
in La Mesa.

Budget Crisis Hits Home

State workers in East County struggle to cope with prospect of huge pay cuts, lay-offs; Judge orders Sept. 12 hearing on Governor’s wage-slashing orders

By Miriam Raftery
Photos by Aida Canonizado

Mildred
Scarber, a state employee who works at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)
in El Cajon, was shocked to learn that Governor Schwarzenegger has ordered
all state employees’ pay rates slashed to the federal minimum wage: just
$6.55 an hour.

“This drops my pay by two-thirds,” said Scarber, a salaried employee
who has worked at the DMV for eleven years. “Previously our pay roughly
came to $18 an hour.”  In addition, the Governor has eliminated
all overtime – so Scarber also loses the $100 to $300 a month she typically
earned helping staff the ever-busy DMV office. 

Free Gas!

Grant Funds Fill Tanks for Needy Americans

By Miriam Raftery

Free Gas

Can’t afford to fill up the car?  

Here’s some news to be “tankful” for:  a new grant
fund has been established to give away free gasoline away to needy consumers.  

Vines and Steins - Gio Wine Bar

Editor's note:  Gio's has gone out of business, however a new restaurant has opened in its place. 

By Richard Noel

If you’re out and about in East County and in the mood for a great glass of wine in an elegant atmosphere, relax with the knowledge that this urge will not require you to drive into the urban core of San Diego and spend an exorbitant amount of time or money just to park your car.  That’s because GIO Restaurant in downtown La Mesa has opened the doors to its much-awaited wine bar. 

Taxing Issues

La Mesa Council candidates address budget gap, public safety and future
growth

By Miriam Raftery

La Mesa City Hall

State budget cuts have left La Mesa facing a potential budget shortfall
of several million dollars.  In exclusive interviews with East
County Magazine,
challenger Shannon O’Dunn as well
as incumbents David Allan and Ruth Sterling shared their views on  bridging
the budget gap as well as their visions for the long-term future of La Mesa.

City Attorney Mike Aguirre Takes Action on Wildfire, Water & Energy Issues

City Attorney Mike Aguirre

In an exclusive issue with East County Magazine, San Diego City Attorney
Mike Aguirre discusses lawsuits and other actions to protect our region from
wildfires, assure a reliable water supply, and compel San Diego Gas & Electric
Company (SDG&E) to meet legal requirements for renewable energy production. 

Q:  What compelled you to file a  lawsuit against
SDG&E over
the recent wildfires that devastated East County and San Diego? 

Green Houses - Jamul Home is Green and Fire-Safe

Eco-friendly EAST COUNTY homes

By Miriam Raftery

 

After twice having to evacuate during wildfires, Keith and Danya Jolley
decided to build a new, fire-safe and energy efficient “green” home
on their Jamul property.   The home was featured on last year’s
GreenBuilt Homes Tour. 

One year later, the Jolleys remain thrilled with their new home. “The
house turned out better than we imagined, and the savings have been a big
boost,” Danya Jolley told East County Magazine.  “Our
new house is roughly twice the size of our old house that was on the same
lot, same location, and so far our electric bills are about $70 a month cheaper.”  She
added, “We have not had to use our air conditioner at all this year.”  Indoor
temperatures have not exceeded 77 degrees, despite outdoor temperatures in
the mid-90s .

Sylvia's Soapbox - Duncan the great white Hunter

Wildebeest hunt bags a Congressman
By Sylvia Hampton

Sylvia's Soapbox

Our congressman Duncan Hunter (R-52nd district) is leaving his congressional
seat to his son. Sort of an inheritance or royalty passed on to the next generation
like in England. Since Duncan D. Hunter, the son, has the same name his election
should be like shooting fish in a barrel. But before Hunter senior leaves that
throne he hoped to squeeze in a great overseas exotic hunting trip paid for
by the taxpayers. To do that the trip needs to be official government business.
Like feeding the starving! That should do it! Oh, darn. Looks like that won’t
work out, thanks to those big blabber mouths at the Embassy in Chad. As they
say in the comic books, “Foiled again!”

Presidential Candidates Address La Raza in San Diego

By E. A. Barrera

NCLR photos
Photo by E.A. Barrera/Photo courtesy of NCLR

Obama Talks Health, Education, and Announces Plan to
Help Small Business

 

McCain Emphasizes Tax Issues, Trade with Latin America

Celebrating 100 Years: Cleveland National Forest Centennial

The Fiddlin' ForestersFiddlin' Foresters, Living History Week Cap Festivities in Local Mountain Parks

By Miriam Raftery


A century ago, President Theodore Roosevelt signed a declaration to create the Cleveland National Forest--a 460,000 acre preserve that is home to golden eagles, mountain lions and other wildlife species. To celebrate the centennial, the U.S. Forest Service is hosting several free special events in San Diego's East County mountain parks.

On September 6, the Fiddlin' Foresters will perform a concert from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Dos Picos County Park, 17953 Dos Picos Road, Ramona.

On September 20th and 21st, the Laguna Mountain Volunteer Association (LMVA) and Cleveland National Forest will host "Living History Weekend" at the LMVA visitors center on Laguna Mountain.

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