By Miriam Raftery
November 24, 2013 (Ocotilo) – ECM photographer Parke Ewing photographed a troubling series of images on November 22 showing a large raptor winging its way through Pattern Energy's Ocotillo Express Wind Facility, dangerously close to the blades.
The next day, photographer Jim Pelley found a dead raptor lying on the ground at the site, one leg sliced off, apparently a victim of the turbines. It is unclear whether it is the same raptor photographed on the wing by Ewing.
A news article just published in Rewire Magazine that the new, large wind turbines such as those at Ocotillo are likely responsible for 100,000 bird deaths a year in California. Moreover, California is the deadliest state in the nation when it comes to bird deaths from wind projects, including many that are protected under the Migratory Species Treaty or the Endangered Species Act.
Researchers, policymakers, advocates, and students depicted the state of San Diego’s boys and young men of color, sharing information on to improve their social and economic conditions
October 23, 2013 (San Diego) – Assemblymember Shirley N. Weber’s (D-79) Youth Advisory Council and the California Assembly’s Select Committee on the Status of Boys and Men of Color, chaired by Assemblymember Steven Bradford (D-62), held a joint informational briefing yesterday evening to discuss the status of boys and men of color in the San Diego area and to connect the work of the Select Committee to the local community.
“As one of the state’s fastest growing populations, we should be investing in our boys and men of color, not leaving them behind,” said Assemblymember Weber. “This is a rescue mission to save California.”
By Miriam Raftery
October 11, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – If you leave a loaded gun where a child can access it, you’ll be committing a crime in California. If you store a loaded gun where someone prohibited from owning a gun has access and injures someone, you'll be guilty of criminal storage. These are among nearly a dozen new gun laws signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown.
If you own a long gun, you’ll need to earn a safety certificate under a bill authored by Senator Marty Block (D-San Diego).
Pscyhotherapists will be required to report a serious threat of violence made by a patient against any specific victims to police within 24 hours. Police must notify the California Justice Department within a day after getting the report. The bill seeks to prevent a tragedy such as the Aurora, Colorado theater massacre; the shooter had threatened violence to his psychiatrist but doctor-patient confidentiality law prohibited the psychiatrist from notifying police. A patient who threatens a psychotherapist will be banned from owning a gun for five years (currently the limit is six months).
By Miriam Raftery
October 10, 2013 (Sacramento ) – Governor Jerry Brown has signed into law Assembly Bill 154, by Assemblywoman Toni Atkins ( D-San Diego). The measure allows nurse practitioners, certified nurse-midwives and physician assistants to perform certain first-trimester abortions.
Sweeping measure also applies to other laws that violate Constitution or state law
By Miriam Raftery
October 7, 2013 (Sacramento) – In a rare show of bipartisanship, Governor Brown has signed into a law a bill that passed the Legislature almost unanimously. The measure makes California the third state to nullify provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) allowing indefinite detention of citizens.
However California’s law goes farther, banning state cooperation with federal authorities on enforcement of any federal law that violates the U.S. Constitution, the California Constitution or California law. The bill also prohibits use of state funds for such purposes.
By Miriam Raftery
October 3, 2013 (Sacramento )— Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today signed AB 60, making California the tenth state in the U.S. to grant undocumented immigrants the right to obtain driver’s licenses.
Studies done by the DMV and AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that unlicensed drivers were more likely to be involved in fatal crashes than validly-licensed drivers. Advocates believe that AB 60 will help make the roads safer by broadening the state’s effort to ensure that all California drivers are properly trained, tested, licensed and insured.
By Miriam Raftery
September 30, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Spears and San Diego Police Officer Michael DeWitt risked their lives to save two deputies who were shot and wounded by a child molestation suspect in Lakeside last September. The deputies, Ali Perez and Craig Johnson, both survived thanks to their colleagues’ heroism.
On Thursday, Governor Jerry Brown and Attorney General Kamala Harris presented the Medal of Valor – California’s highest law enforcement award – to Deputy Spears and Officer DeWitt for their courage above and beyond the call of duty.
By Miriam Raftery
September 3, 2013 (San Diego) – Yesterday a local scanner tracking service reported several apparent shark sightings off Torrey Pines Beach. In the interest of keeping readers safe we posted the report promptly with no way to obtain confirmation on the holiday weekend.
ECM today has reached both state and city lifeguards who say they are unaware of any reports. It now appears our usually credible source was inaccurate and we regret the error.
We could not get verification prior to posting our initial report on Labor Day evening when we were simultaneously reporting on a live shooter on Mt Helix near my own home office, flash flooding in the backcountry, a wildfire in La Posta and additional weather-related incidents. This story was posted by a bleary-eyed editor in the early pre-dawn hours who got no sleep due to the shooting incident here including eight wakeup phone calls from emergency authorities that continued until 3:30 a.m.
For those interested in the history of shark attacks in our area and California overall, below are some fascinating facts.
July 24, 2013
A four-month-old child who travelled out of San Diego Lindbergh Field may have exposed fellow travelers to pertussis, a highly contagious respiratory illness which is also known as whooping cough, according to San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) officials.
The child, who was up-to-date with vaccinations for his age, travelled with a parent from San Diego to Norfolk, Virginia on Friday, July 19. The child was seen by medical staff at Rady Children’s Hospital shortly before leaving. Tests later confirmed the child had pertussis.
By Miriam Raftery
June 21, 2013 (Sacramento) – For the first time in recent years, the California Legislature approved a budget that is not only on time, but a week ahead of deadline. The budget, pushed through by the new Democratic supermajority of two-thirds in both houses, includes substantial increases in funding for education, healthcare, students, and the courts. The budget awaits the Governor's signature.
The budget projects $97.1 billion in general fund revenues. It includes $96.3 billion in spending for the 2013-14 fiscal year starting July 1 and maintains a $1.1 billion resere, also paying down debt accumulated during the recession.
By Miriam Raftery
June 9, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – As ECM reported on June 7, the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Stations (SONGS) will be shut down permanently. Reactions locally range from celebration among activists pushing for the closure to concerns over stored nuclear fuel, job losses, and a new bill that could ramp up pressure for approval of other energy projects including large-scale wind and solar projects in East County.
By Nadin Abbott
June 7, 2013 (San Onofre) – Southern California Edison (SCE) announced today that it will permanently decommission both reactors at its troubled Onofre nuclear generation plant. (SCE has made this decision due to the uncertainty brought by the increased requirements for safety from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).
“Looking ahead,” said Ron Litzinger, SCE’s President, “we think that our decision to retire the units will eliminate uncertainty and facilitate orderly planning for California’s energy future.”
The nuclear waste on-site will remain there in dry cask storage—encased in stainless steel and concrete—until national leaders come up with a permanent storage solution, Patch.com reported.
READER’S EDITORIAL: STOP POISONING OUR COMMUNITY! HERBICIDE SPRAYING IS WIND INDUSTRY’S TOXIC SECRET
“Pattern Energy is going to pollute what it couldn't destroy… Monsanto’s Roundup is an herbicde cousin to Agent Orange--the defoliant sprayed in Viet Nam that harmed a generation of veterans and their children… This herbicide—a neurotoxin--is going to get carried downwind. Did Pattern fail to notice that there is still a community with children here in spite of its industrialization of the area with 112 turbines and a substation?”
By Linda Ewing, Ocotillo resident
Photo: Sahara mustard, a “weed” the BLM wants to eradicate with toxic herbicides
May 14, 2013 (Ocotillo) -- Herbicide Mitigation? What is that? I heard these two disturbing words and felt panic.
I knew instinctively that it was going to have something to do with this Ocotillo Wind Energy Facility because nothing good has come from this controversial project since the day Pattern Energy uttered its first words of deception to the town of Ocotillo. Since the day the company first tried to convince us that its massive 438 foot-tall industrial-sized wind turbines were good for the economy. And yes, the very same day we realized that human lives were disposable and irrelevant in the statistical world of giant wind turbine developers.
By Miriam Raftery
White House releases list of cuts to California
“By God, across-the board cuts are the worst and most cowardly way to approach this situation.” –Senator John McCain (R-AZ)
"Are Republicans in Congress really willing to let these cuts fall on our kids’ schools ...slash military health care and the Border Patrol ...Are they seriously prepared to inflict more pain on the middle class because they refuse to ask anything more of those at the very top?" -- President Barack Obama
February 25, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – If Congress can’t agree by Friday, automatic sequestration cuts will take place in nearly all federal programs. Half will hit the military, the other half will slice domestic programs.
Both sides agreed in prior debt negotiations that the cuts were so severe that neither party would actually let them take place--and that the sequestration trigger would force Congress to come up with a more sensible plan before the March 1 deadline.
Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened. Sequestration appears likely to occur on Friday--and the impacts are apt to be felt by every American, from long waits at airports to cuts in programs impacting students, senior citizens, the military, national parks, the unemployed, health programs, and much more. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said cuts will even harm the readiness of U.S. troops in the military.
COURT HEARS ARGUMENTS IN DESERT PROTECTIVE COUNCIL’S CASE OVER WILDLIFE THREATS POSED BY OCOTILLO WIND PROJECT
UPDATE: February 28, 2013 -- Judge Curiel has denied the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff's have not yet announced whether they will file an appeal. View decision here.
“The codes are quite clear …You can’t take a Swainson’s hawk. Not even one…There is also no take for Peregrine falcons and owls. If turbine curtailment is good enough for golden eagles, it should be good enough for these species, too.” ----Laurens Silver, attorney for plaintiffs
“It is not the BLM’s role to enforce state law…All through downtown there are glass buildings that could cause a take.” – Marissa Piropato, attorney for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management
By Miriam Raftery
Maris Brancheau also contributed to this report
February 27, 2013 (San Diego) – Is the federal government turning a blind eye to violations of state laws intended to protect raptors (birds of prey) and other wildlife at the Ocotillo Express Wind Facility? That’s the contention of a lawsuit filed by the Desert Protective Council, an environmental group, and others against the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Pattern Energy and others.
By Greg Dunne
February 21, 2013 (Lake Jennings) -- Many birds call both California and Arizona their home. Although our state bird, the California Quail, crosses over into other states, it does not cross over to our neighbor to the east in Arizona. However, the Arizona state bird, the Cactus Wren also calls our East County its home.
The Cactus Wren can be found here occasionally in Southern California. This particular Cactus Wren I photographed at Lake Jennings. It was having a good time making itself known; its loud alarm call “tek-tek-tek-tek” as it gets louder and louder towards the end. It seems to me that wrens can throw their voices. This would make sense because wrens will try to distract you from their nest by making themselves heard as they move farther and farther from the nest.
CA NATIVE AMERICAN HERITAGE COMMISSION ISSUES REPORT BACKING VIEJAS AND QUECHAN CLAIMS OF OCOTOILLO WIND SITE HARM TO SACRED SITES
Commission urges CA Attorney General to file suit if mitigation requests not met
Update February 12, 2013: A hearing set for February 15 in San Diego has been postponed.
By Miriam Raftery
January 22, 2013 (Ocotillo ) – The California Native American Heritage Commission (CNAH) has issued a report in support of the Viejas Band of the Kumeyaay Indians and the Quechan Indian Nation claims that the Bureau of Land Management failed in its duty to protect cultural resources including human remains and sacred sites at the Ocotillo Express Wind Facility. The draf staff report details a disturbing pattern by the BLM, Pattern Energy and a project archaeology consultant of ignoring tribal concerns and failing in its duty to protect cultural resources.
The tribes petitioned the NAHC to investigate and conduct a public hearing to consider tribal requests to declare the entire 12,500 acre site a ‘sanctified cemetery’. Tribes also seek to have the project halted to assess damage and want agencies to consult with tribes to agree on mitigation measures to prevent further harm to a broader region. The case has broad national significance, with hundreds of millions of acres of public lands slated for renewable energy projects.
The NAHC has cancelled a Public Hearing that had been scheduled at the State of California Building on Front Street in Downtown San Diego for February 15, offering no explanation for the indefinite postponement.
January 6, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) -- Love to cook and want to earn some extra money?
The California Homemade Food Act, AB 1616, took effect January 1. It allows people to sell certain items cooked in their home kitchen, such as cookies, churros, dried fruits and pasta. Those who wish to sell homemade foods must take a class and obtain a permit from the Health Department, though no inspection of kitchens is required.
There are restrictions on the types of foods allowed and where you can sell them.Sale of baked goods with cream, custard or meat fillings are not allowed due to higher spoilage rates. You also can’t sell outside of your county, with certain exceptions. Sale at farmers markets is allowed, provided rules for individual farmers markets are met. You can also sell over the Internet, but only to buyers who live in California.
Save Your Receipts – You Might Owe Use Tax
November 27, 2012 (Sacramento) -- Many California consumers are already cashing in on early Black Friday and Cyber Monday specials offered online or via smart phone applications. Michelle Steel, Third District Member of the State Board of Equalization (BOE), reminds you to save your receipts because you may owe use tax for your pre- and post-holiday shopping sprees.
November 8, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – In startling contrast to numerous national polls that had predicted a near-tie in the presidential race, President Barack Obama won a sweeping victory. Obama captured 303 electoral votes, Romney 206, winning not only Democratic strongholds, but also nearly all swing states. According to CNN, the President also trounced Romney in the popular vote by more than a million vote margin.
Similarly, Democrats gained power in Sacramento and San Diego, taking control of the Council and Mayor’s office with wins looking increasingly likely to oust Congressman Bilbray and seat a Democrat on the all-Republican Board of Supervisors.
What lessons can be learned from the outcomes?
By Bill Weaver
November 7, 2012 (San Diego)—Governor Jerry Brown has announced victory for Proposition 30. The ballot measure will raise income taxes on the wealthiest citizens in the state and temporarily increase the state sales tax by a quarter of a cent to fund K-12 schools, community colleges and state universities. Prop 30 is expected to raise more than $6 billion in revenue. If it had not passed, schools and colleges would have suffered significant trigger cuts in state appropriations.
By Lori Abbott, California News Service
October 8, 2012 (Sacramento)-- California farmers trying to adapt to climate change are getting some support. Governor Jerry Brown has signed two bills that will help the state reach its greenhouse gas reduction goals. The bills create a public process for determining how cap-and-trade revenue will be spent, with some of the revenue going to sustainable agriculture activities.
Update, 6:20 p.m.: Smoke south of I-8 is from fire on the Mexican side of the border, per CalFire. A Border Patrol agent told ECM the fire was about two miles south of the international border.
Dave Runsten, policy director for the Community Alliance with Family Farmers, supports eliminating direct payments to farmers who may or may not plant crops. He adds that the bill shifts much of that money into federally subsidized crop insurance.
Legislature to weigh resolution calling for end to unlimited corporate political spending
March 17, 2012 (Sacramento) – On March 20, the California Assembly Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing and vote on Assembly Joint Resolution 22. The resolution calls for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that allowed corporations to spend unlimited sums to influence elections.
If the Legislature approves the measure, as expected, California would be among the first states to formally call for an amendment. The effort is part of a national movement taking place in more than 1,000 cities and towns across America.
Republicans draw fire for criticizing speech—before it was written or delivered
January 22, 2012 (Sacramento ) – Governor Jerry Brown laid out his vision for restoring California’s reputation as a leader in innovation, job creation and renewable energy in his State of the State speech last week.
“Wherever I look, I see difficult choices,” he said of the budget decisions to come. “But I also see a bright future up ahead and a California economy that’s on the mend.”
January 18, 2012 -- (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:
- California lawmakers take another crack at single payer healthcare bill (Sacramento Bee)
- Jerry Brown’s budget demands would strip demands, payments from local governments (Sacramento Bee)
- Education magazine gives California a “C” for its students (Sacramento Bee)
- California in eye of Internet piracy storm (San Francisco Chronicle)
- Can $20 a head “cash mobs” save local shops? (U-T San Diego)
- E. County leaders like their politics unbuttoned (U-T San Diego)
- Parents protest, but are told school attendance boundaries won’t change (La Mesa Patch)
- San Diego County Water Authority challenges rate (KPBS)
- Stuck in traffic, long awaited Park Place project awaits fifth study (La Mesa Patch)
- Chaldeans launch community newspaper (U-T San Diego)
- Chickens finally okayed in Santee (U-T San Diego)
- 5 involved in Sweetwater District probe plead not guilty (10 News)
- Sweetwater says workers stole from cafeterias (U-T San Diego)
- Campaign limits proposed for Southwestern and San Diego Schools (U-T San Diego)