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MEASURE TO PROTECT TEMPORARY WORKERS PASSES SENATE, MOVES TO GOVERNOR'S DESK

 

By Miriam Raftery

August 30, 2014 (Sacramento) – Just in time for Labor Day, a bill to protect temporary workers, AB 1897, has passed the Legislature and is now on the Governor’s Desk.

Increasingly companies are relying on long-term use of temporary workers even for strenuous and dangerous jobs, and some have reportedly been cheated out of wages.A report by ProPublica found that in California, temporary workers face a 50 percent higher risk of being injured on the job than permanent employees. Subcontracted workers have no guarantee of future work and risk punishment for speaking out or reporting hazardous conditions--problems this measure aims to correct.

The bill has support of labor groups and opposition from large employers.

WILL HUESO'S ARREST END HIS POLITICAL CAREER? NOT NECESSARILY, BASED ON POLITICIANS BUSTED ON PAST DUI CHARGES

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

August 23, 2014 (San Diego)--As we reported Friday, State Senator Ben Hueso, a Democrat whose 40th district includes the southern portions of San Diego and East County as well as Imperial and Riverside counties, was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol in Sacramento.  The Senator has issued an apology and will appear in court this week.

Adding to Hueso’s woes, the Sacramento Bee has posted a photo showing Hueso partying with the Latino Caucus, shirt tail untucked, shortly before his arrest. It was tweeted by fellow legislator Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), who later deleted the image. A reporter at the Sacramento Bee also reportedly received an audio file purporting to be loud singing on a capitol balcony during the evening revelry.

Will Senator Hueso’s arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol spell the end of his political future? Not necessarily, based on an examination of records of prior legislators faced with similar charges.

CA BILLS WOULD BRING LEGAL HELP TO IMMIGRANT AND REFUGEE CHILDREN

 

By Miriam Raftery

August 21, 2014 (Sacramento)—Over 50,000 unaccompanied minors fleeing Central America have streamed across U.S. borders, seeking help to escape desperate situations. Now some California lawmakers want to assure that kids facing a humanitarian crisis will receive full legal hearings to determine if they may be eligible for asylum, refugee status, or deportation. A new bill would provide $3 million to nonprofit groups to expand legal services for the children.

After visiting a detention center recently, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) told reporters, “I think we all came away with a feeling that these kids really needed our support, that it was about their safety, their due process, the ability to look beyond bigger political considerations and deal with a humanitarian crisis.”

COUNTY SETS SIGHTS ON WILD PIG POPULATION IN EAST COUNTY

 

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.

EAST COUNTY ROUNDUP: LOCAL AND STATEWIDE NEWS

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:

LOCAL

STATE

For excerpts and links to full stories, click “read more” and scroll down.

EAST COUNTY ROUNDUP: LOCAL AND STATEWIDE NEWS

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:

LOCAL/REGIONAL

STATE

For excerpts and links to full stories, click “read more” and scroll down.

BORREGO SPRINGS, RUNNING OUT OF WATER, HOSTS PUBILC OUTREACH MEETING JUNE 12

 

By Miriam Raftery

June 8, 2014 (Borrego Springs)—For decades, Borrego Springs has been draining down its aquifer at an increasingly rapid pace.  If action is not taken soon, a new report warns, the community could face dire consequences.

The Borrego Water Coalition invites the public to a public outreach meeting on Thursday, June 12 from 4:30 to 7 p.m at the Borrego High School Library, 2281 Diegueno Road in Borrego Springs.

EAST COUNTY ROUNDUP: LOCAL AND STATEWIDE NEWS

May 22, 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:

LOCAL

STATE

For excerpts and links to full stories, scroll down.

FIRES CAUSE MAJOR DAMAGES ACROSS NORTH COUNTY

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Facebook/Camp Pendleton Scout

May 15, 2014 (San Diego) 1 a.m. – Wildfires have scorched 9,196 acres, the County Emergency Services Department has announced. Alert San Diego has sent 121,878  notices to residents to evacuate or prepare to evacuate.

Several major fires continue to burn in north San Diego County tonight and several structures have been lost.  Below are updates on each of these incidents.

GOVERNOR DECLARES STATE OF EMERGENCY FOR SAN DIEGO COUNTY

 

Source: San Diego County News Service

May 14, 2014 (San Diego)-- Governor Jerry Brown has proclaimed a State of Emergency this evening after the County of San Diego proclaimed a local emergency earlier in the day and requested the state declaration. The local and state proclamations mean the County can more easily access state and federal resources as needed to help in fighting the fires.

The state proclamation notes that a Federal Management Assistance Grant has been requested and approved by FEMA for the Poinsettia Fire in Carlsbad. Under the federal Fire Management Assistance Grant Program, the federal government shares the costs of local fires.

Full text of the Governor’s press release and proclamation are below.

TSIMBOUKAKIS VIES FOR SENATOR ANDERSON’S SEAT: TAKES STAND AGAINST INDUSTRIAL-SCALE ENERGY PROJECTS IN EAST COUNTY

 

 

By Jessica Richmond

Listen to our radio interview with Fotios “Frank” Tsimboukakis here:  http://kiwi6.com/file/t5e89mc5cl

April 12, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) - The race for California’s 38th State Senate district seat has been heating up since the arrival of Fotios “Frank” Tsimboukakis.  He has made it a point to challenge incumbent Joel Anderson on many key issues—including taking a stand against environmentally harmful energy projects in East County. Tsimboukakis has testified in public hearings against industrial solar and wind projects, as well as the Quail Brush gas-fired power plant, while Anderson has been largely silent on these controversial plans, critics have pointed out.

Tsimboukakis has also proposed plans to make college tuition free, cut wasteful spending, and convene public hearings on funding firefighting, with an eye toward possibly repealing or amending state fire fees.  He has also pledged to hold regular town hall meetings in the district to hear from voters, faulting Anderson for not hosting town halls for constituents to share their views.

CALIFORNIANS AT RISK OF QUAKES CAUSED BY FRACKING WASTEWATER DISPOSAL

 

By Miriam Raftery

March 16, 2014 (California)--A new report reveals that the risk of earthquakes in California is being dramatically increased by oil companies injecting billions of gallons of wastewater from fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, into disposal wells near active faults near major cities.  “Millions of Californians live in areas at risk for induced earthquakes,” the report concludes.

The report, titled “On Shaky Ground,” was prepared by Earthworks, the Center for Biological Diversity, and Clean Water Action.   It found that 54% of our state’s 1,553 injection wells are within 10 miles of a recently active fault, 23% are within five miles and 6% are within just one mile. 

Numerous earthquakes across the country have been linked to fracking by scientists, including temblors as high as 5.7 on the Richter scale, the report details. Fracking quakes are common in areas such as Oklahoma and Texas, producing quakes higher than ever seen in some places.

READERS VOICE RAGE OVER CONTROLLED BURN IN CUYAMACA RANCHO STATE PARK

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

February 26, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – Readers across East County have sent photos and video of a large controlled burn yesterday in Rancho Cuyamaca State Park, voicing outrage over the burning of habitat including mature trees, given than 99% of the pine trees in the park burned during the 2003 Cedar Fire.

Questions have also been raised over why the burn was allowed in windy conditions, why a helicopters was dispatched to use water from Lake Cuyamaca on a controlled burn, and why more notice was not provided to the public and the press that a major controlled burn was underway by State Parks in conjunction with Cal Fire.

STATE REPORT: ONLY A HANDFUL OF GOLDEN EAGLE NEST SITES REMAIN IN SAN DIEGO COUNTY

 

 

Disturbing data suggests Golden Eagles appear on verge of extinction in our region

By Miriam Raftery

February 15, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) –A state inventory of California’ rarest animals, birds and plants reveals that Golden Eagle populations have suffered a precipitous decline statewide, including here in San Diego County.  Statewide, only 141 element occurrences (eagle nests and foraging habitat) are listed in all of California. Locally, the inventory lists just 14 “occurrences” countywide—with only one nest remaining in East County.

“So much for Bittner’s estimates,” wildlife biologist Jim Wiegand with Save the Eagles International told ECM.  David Bittner is the so-called eagle expert hired by major energy companies to justify wind projects locally. Bittner was convicted in federal court and sentenced in August to charges of failing to file data reports with the federal government and illegal taking of an eagle.

Wiegand has previously estimated local nesting sites at 10--a fraction of Bittner's recent estimates.

REPORT FAULTS CALTRANS FOR FAILING TO FOCUS ON SUSTAINABILITY

 

By Miriam Raftery

February 2, 2014 (Sacramento)—The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is “significantly out of step with best practices in the transportation field and with the state of California’s policy expectations,” concludes an assessment review conducted by the State Smart Transportation Initiative (SSTI).   

A key criticism was the agency’s focus on a “move cars faster” culture and a draft five-year strategic plan at Caltrans that completely ignores sustainability and state legislative goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

QUECHAN NATION MOURNS ANCESTORS IN OCOTILLO

 

By Miriam Raftery

January 28, 2014 (Ocotillo) – Tribal members from the Quechan nation traveled by caravan to Ocotillo on January 17 and 18 to mourn the desecration of their ancestors’ burial grounds by the Ocotillo Express Wind Farm. Tribal members met at the Ocotillo Community Center and staged a run carrying a banner reading "We want respect for our ancestors' remains" to the wind site, where they held an all-night mourning ceremony for their ancestors.

Pattern Energy's industrial wind facility was built  atop lands known as “Valley of the Dead” by Native American tribes for over 10,000 years. The Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians also objected to the desecration of ancestral remains and persuaded the California Native American Heritage Commission (NAHC) that the state should take action on their behalf, but those efforts were thwarted by California Attorney General Kamala Harris.

DROUGHT DECLARATION EXPECTED FOR CALIFORNIA

 

By Mark Gavit

As dry winter conditions continue, Gov. Jerry Brown can be expecting the California Department of Water Resources to present him with an emergency drought declaration draft.

Director of the DWR, Mark Cowin, told the California Board of Food and Agriculture that his agency is in the midst of deciding wether or not to present the governor with a drought declaration. Nancy Foley, spokeswoman for the DWR agency said that the declaration may appear "within a couple weeks."

'TIS THE SEASON TO VISIT ANZA BORREGO DESERT STATE PARK

By Miriam Raftery

January 9, 2014 (Anza Borrego) -- Late winter and early spring are the prime seasons to visit Anza-Borrego Desert State park, when the weather is mild enough for savoing outdoor hikes through rugged and  beautiful terrain.  There are also many activities coming up from hikes to cultural events -- and several organizations offering activities besides the Park itself.  

Winter is a good time to try and spot elusive and endangered Peninsular Bighorn Sheep and other wildlife.  Soon, spring blooms will cover the desert floor and mountain passes, adding brilliant splashes of color to the landscape.

NEW CALIFORNIA LAWS IN 2014

 

By Miriam Raftery

January 1, 2013 (Sacramento)--A flurry of new laws are slated to take effect in California in the New Year.  Here are a few of the new laws that could affect you, your family, or your business:

HELP FOR TAXPAYERS FALLING BEHIND ON STATEMENTS

State Board of Equalization Now Accepts Online Requests for Payment Plans

Sacramento – The California State Board of Equalization’s (BOE) newest convenient website service allows qualifying tax or fee payers to request a payment plan online. Payment plans allow tax or fee payers to pay down a past due balance over time, helping them avoid additional penalties and interest.

DEADLY FLIGHT IN OCOTILLO HIGHLIGHTS DANGERS TO BIRDS OF PREY FROM WIND TURBINES

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

SAN DIEGO’S BOYS AND MEN OF COLOR: ASSEMBLYMEMBER SHIRLEY WEBER COHOSTS BRIEFING

 

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.”

NEW CALIFORNIA GUN LAWS SIGNED, OTHERS VETOED

 

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). 

NEW STATE LAW EXPANDS ABORTION ACCESS

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.

NEW STATE LAW BANS CALIFORNIA FROM COOPERATING WITH FEDS ON INDEFINITE DETENTION

 

 

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.

GOVERNOR SIGNS BILL GRANTING DRIVER’S LICENSES TO UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS

 

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.

2 LOCAL OFFICERS RECEIVE MEDAL OF VALOR FROM GOVERNOR FOR SAVING LIVES IN LAKESIDE SHOOTING

 

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.

LIFEGUARD SERVICES SAY REPORTED SHARK SIGHTINGS NOT CONFIRMED

 

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. 

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