<![CDATA[NBC 7 San Diego - San Diego Politics and Political News]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/politics http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/KNSD+RSS+Feed+logo+blue.png NBC 7 San Diego http://www.nbcsandiego.com en-us Thu, 18 Sep 2014 07:07:25 -0700 Thu, 18 Sep 2014 07:07:25 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Signatures Submitted in Minimum Wage Referendum Petition Drive ]]> Tue, 16 Sep 2014 20:24:16 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/5PTpkgDEVINE091614_1200x675_330081859684.jpg

Opponents of San Diego’s minimum wage increase turned in more than 55,000 signatures Tuesday in their referendum petition drive.

The San Diego Small Business Coalition announced the end to their petition drive one day ahead of the deadline.

"I'm proud of the effort we put forward to empower San Diegans to have their voices heard and urge City Council to follow the voters' lead and rescind this policy," said Jerry Sanders, president of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Supporters of the referendum want San Diego voters to decide on San Diego’s minimum wage. The coalition need at least 34,000 valid signatures to qualify for the November 2016 ballot.

However, opponents also turned in 2,000 signatures from those who say they want their names removed from the petition, claiming the signature gatherers used unethical practices to get people to sign.

“Considering the expense and deceit that big business poured into this campaign, I am not surprised that this many signatures were collected,” City Council President Todd Gloria said.

But the City Attorney's office said any "withdrawal of signature" forms have to be handed in the day before the petition was turned in, so the only forms accepted will be those given to the City Attorney by Monday's end of business.

As for the referendum petition, the signatures will be sent to the Registrar of Voter's office for verification.

Gloria suggested the official counting of signatures should be closely monitored.

“It is imperative that an honest count occur and that the signatures gathered are scrutinized for validity,” he said.

Under the San Diego’s Earned Sick Leave-Minimum Wage Ordinance, the minimum wage in San Diego will rise to $9.75 on Jan. 1, 2015. Further wage hikes would be phased in to $11.50 an hour by 2017, followed by automatic inflation escalators.

Through the proposal, 279,000 will have the opportunity to earn up to five sick days per year.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer vetoed the measure on Aug. 8 but a 6-2 vote from the City Council was enough to override the veto.

Supporters of the petition drive want the state’s minimum wage increase to take affect before a city-only increase is approved.

The fear is that if the city’s minimum wage increases first, small businesses may be forced to move out of San Diego.

<![CDATA[Council Votes to Regulate Sale of E-Cigarettes]]> Tue, 16 Sep 2014 12:13:45 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/e-cigarette-close-up-1203_2.jpg

The San Diego City Council voted Tuesday to regulate the use and sale of electronic cigarettes.

The ordinance, proposed earlier this year by Councilmember Mark Kersey, suggested banning vaping or e-cigs in public places like parks, beaches, bars and restaurants.

The ordinance also calls for businesses selling e-cigarettes to have a tobacco retailer license.

On Tuesday, the council unanimously approved the measure.

The battery-operated devices use liquid nicotine, not tobacco, so users inhale a vapor instead of smoke. E-cigarette companies say they are safer than traditional cigarettes.

But in 2009, The Food and Drug Administration found the inhaled substances contain carcinogens.

Poway, Vista and Carlsbad have already enacted similar measures.

The ordinance next goes to the desk of Mayor Kevin Faulconer for his signature.


<![CDATA[Drivers to Steer Clear of Cyclists]]> Tue, 16 Sep 2014 08:00:46 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Cyclist-Bicyclist-Law-3-Fee.jpg NBC 7's Matt Rascon reports on the law that goes into effect Sept. 16, 2014 requiring drivers stay three feet from cyclists on the road.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Marti Emerald Confirms Breast Cancer Diagnosis]]> Fri, 12 Sep 2014 13:37:24 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Marti-Emerald-1.jpg

San Diego Councilwoman Marti Emerald, 54, has been diagnosed with breast cancer, she and her press secretary confirmed Friday.

Emerald, who represents Council District 9, confirmed she is battling breast cancer on a message posted to her Facebook page around noon. In her note, she says she was diagnosed this week and is now preparing for outpatient surgery.

“I got the news while in Washington, D.C., on a mission with the Chamber of Commerce to bring more federal resources to the people of San Diego. I was thinking water, energy, affordable housing and transportation. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine bringing back this intimate appreciation and new sense of advocacy for a disease that strikes women and men so randomly,” Emerald writes.

The councilwoman goes on to say her doctors have told her she has an “excellent prognosis for full recovery.”

“I am growing a new and deep appreciation for those who have walked this path before me,” Emerald writes, citing the names of close friends who have battled breast cancer.

She also thanks her fiancé and Rabbi for their support during this difficult time, according to her
Facebook post.

“I look forward to a full recovery and getting back to work and back to the business of serving our city. I also look forward to the opportunity to serve those also struggling with breast cancer and will use this Facebook site to guide you to resources that may help you or loved ones in your journey for a cure,” she adds.

Emerald, a former broadcast journalist of 30 years, joined the San Diego City Council in 2008. In addition to leading District 9, the College Area resident is currently serving her sixth year as the Chair of the Public Safety & Livable Neighborhoods Committee.

Photo Credit: Google Maps/ Facebook]]>
<![CDATA[Voters Want to Take Signatures Back]]> Tue, 09 Sep 2014 17:16:16 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Petition-Drive-Minimum-Wage.jpg

One lawmaker in favor of reforming the signature gathering process in California claims a thousand voters have filed forms to take back their signatures in the battle over San Diego’s minimum wage increase.

“In California they are not required to tell the truth,” said former Assemblywoman Lori Saldaña of the people working to gather signatures to put the recent minimum wage increase on the ballot.

She appeared alongside three people who wanted to share what happened to them when they were approached while shopping around San Diego County.

The San Diego City Council approved San Diego’s Earned Sick Leave-Minimum Wage Ordinance with a 6-2 vote. The ordinance will take effect as scheduled on January 1, 2015.

Opponents of the increase have launched the effort to gather 34,000 signatures to take the matter to the voters through a referendum.

Marilisa Navarro of Normal Heights said was approached by a signature gatherer while shopping inside a Target store about two weeks ago and believes he wasn’t telling the entire truth.

“He wasn’t honest about the fact that the minimum wage was already going to increase,” Navarro said of the man collecting signatures.

Anita Simons of San Diego told a similar story, saying she provided her signature after reading a document that supported the City Council’s vote.

“[The signature gatherer] never showed me the actual petition that he had,” Simons said. “He showed me, I guess, the actual ordinance.”

Simons and Navarro have filed forms to take back their signatures.

Saldaña presented a stack of forms that she said represented a thousand voters who are asking for their signatures to be removed from the petition drive.

People earn $6 to $8 per signature and that leads to irresponsible tactics, she said.

She cited Oregon’s practice of background checks and registry of signature gatherers and Colorado’s practice of requiring signature gatherers wear “paid” or “volunteer” and said she’d like to see California gain some oversight in the signature gathering process.

But Ann Kinner, a proponent of the referendum, told NBC 7 she does not think paying signature gatherers is a problem because they have been used widely in past elections.

"I don't think it's an issue one way or another," she said.

Kinner owns the small business Seabreeze Books and Charts in Point Loma and gathers signatures herself there.

"I'm not lying to anybody. I've got a sign here that says, 'Let the voters of San Diego decide the minimum wage issue,'" Kinner said.

She told NBC 7 people against the increase have been seeking her out, coming to her store to sign the petition. If they're being misled, Kinner said, they're spending a lot of gas money to find a petition.

But Del Mar Heights resident Eric Thies said he had a different experience. While he didn’t sign the petition, he said he was upset that the person who approached him was asking for his support by selling it as the exact opposite.

“We have a reasonable expectation that when someone approaches you to gather your signature, that they’re more or less telling you what they’re trying to do,” Thies said.

All three people agree it’s the voter’s responsibility to read the petition before signing it. However, they say they felt the issue was misrepresented.

According to Kinner, the Small Business Coalition worked to inform its petition gatherers about what they are asking from voters -- namely their support in getting the issue on the ballot.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Meet Chuck Todd of "Meet the Press"]]> Sat, 06 Sep 2014 06:22:40 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/090714_LSP_Chuck_Todd_1200x675_325741123764.jpg

Chuck Todd makes his debut as moderator of "Meet the Press" on Sunday, and has landed President Barack Obama as his first guest. On Friday, Todd took to Reddit to introduce himself.

The Miami native, who attended George Washington University, was previously NBC’s chief White House correspondent and political director. Despite his years in Washington, the sports lover remains committed to teams outside D.C.; he has been a fan of the Miami Hurricanes and the Green Bay Packers since birth.

Here, from his Reddit “Ask Me Anything,” are five things we learned about the famed political junkie.

When will he shave his facial hair?

Don’t hold your breath — even if, as suggested, it would improve his ratings. When he looks in the mirror, he sees his late father, he says. Shaving his beard would be like getting rid of that piece of his father that he carries with him

Who is one person, now dead, that he would have loved to have interviewed?

Richard Nixon, because it would have been a challenge

How does he see his role as a reporter and moderator?

His job is to push back against bloviation and talking points by being grounded in facts, and to get to the nut of the debate.

How does he feel about his name?

He hates having two one syllable names, and has given both of his children multiple-syllable first names. “I’ve been ‘ChuckTodd’ with every coach and teacher during my childhood,” he wrote on Reddit.

Does he ever get nervous interviewing high profile guests?

He's always a tad nervous. "Any moment can be a career ender," he wrote.

What did he think about the University of Louisville’s football win over Miami on Monday?

His late father-in-law was a star quarterback at Louisville, so criticism of Louisville is off-limits in his house. He’s not upset about Louisville, he says, but about the University of Miami being unprepared.
“It’s time for the ‘State of Miami’ to return, meaning that the best players in the best high school football factories in the country go to Miami,” he wrote.

<![CDATA[San Diegans React to Gubernatorial Debate]]> Fri, 05 Sep 2014 07:51:20 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Debate-Brown-Watch-Party.jpg NBC 7's Omari Fleming joined a Republican watch party for Thursday night's debate between Gov. Jerry Brown and his challenger Neel Kashkari.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[McDonnells Guilty on Most Charges]]> Fri, 05 Sep 2014 15:16:31 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/mcdonnell-guilty-AP977255973421.jpg

Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife have been found guilty of most of the public corruption charges they faced in a marathon trial centered on lavish gifts and loans from a wealthy businessman.

The former governor has been found guilty of 11 of the 13 charges against him. Former Virginia first lady Maureen McDonnell has been found guilty of nine of the 13 charges against her.

It was a bombshell ending to a trial that included the dissection of the former first couple's marriage, testimony that Bob had moved out and was living with a priest, and testimony that Maureen had begun frequently texting and emailing the businessman in the case, Jonnie Williams, who wanted help promoting his dietary supplement.

Three of the McDonnells' five children clutched each others' hands and prayed before the verdict was announced, breaking into sobs as their parents' guilty counts were read aloud.

The couple's son Bobby McDonnell looked at his father with tear-glazed eyes as the former governor's head collapsed into his hands.

Bob McDonnell is "broken" and "devastated," said defense attorney Henry Asbill, who added that he would appeal the verdict.

The government had accused the McDonnells of doing special favors for Williams, the former CEO of dietary supplement maker Star Scientific, Inc., in exchange for more than $177,000 in gifts and loans.

Courtroom observers said two jurors wiped their eyes as the verdicts were read.

As co-defendants, the former first couple was separated in the courtroom, with three lawyers sitting between them. Maureen McDonnell teared up, but appeared composed compared to the emotional reactions of her husband and children.

The McDonnells didn't look at each other as the verdict was read. They left the Richmond courthouse together but got into separate cars. It was a marked difference from the rest of the trial, which verged into soap opera territory as defense lawyers suggested that the McDonnells' marriage was so broken they could not have conspired to obtain gifts, trips and loans from Williams.

Throughout the trial, Bob McDonnell had appeared confident, telling reporters repeatedly that he was sure he would be exonerated and was putting his faith in God.

"All I can say is my trust remains in the Lord," he said in a brief statement as he left the courthouse Thursday with Maureen, before they got into separate cars.

McDonnell, who was once considered a rising GOP star and potential vice presidential pick for Mitt Romney in 2012, now faces, along with his wife, up to 30 years in federal prison when they're sentenced in January.

"This is a difficult and disappointing day for the Commonwealth and its citizens," said Dana Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. "Public service frequently requires sacrifice, and almost always requires financial sacrifice. When public officials turn to financial gain in exchange for official acts, we have no choice but to prosecute the case."

Bob McDonnell is the first former governor of Virginia to be convicted of a crime. The commonwealth had long had a reputation for clean politics, a reputation shattered in the five-week McDonnell trial.

Political analyst Bob Holsworth called it "a day of infamy in Virginia."

The Verdict, Count by Count

Bob and Maureen McDonnell were each charged with 13 counts in a 14-count indictment:

  • In the first count against them, the McDonnells were found guilty of conspiracy to commit honest-services wire fraud for accepting gifts and loans from Williams.

  • The next three charges, counts 2-4, involved accepting checks from Williams: On counts 2 and 3, the McDonnells were both found guilty of honest-services wire fraud for accepting a $15,000 check to pay a caterer for their daughter's wedding, and for accepting a $50,000 loan check for MoBo Real Estate, a company the former governor operated with his sister.

  • On count 4, Bob McDonnell was also found guilty of a count of honest-services wire fraud for a $20,000 wire transfer for MoBo. Maureen McDonnell was found not guilty on that charge.

  • On count 5, the McDonnells were found guilty of conspiracy to obtain property under color of official right for the gifts and loans they received.

  • The McDonnells also faced six charges of obtaining property under color of official right, counts 6-11: On counts 6-8, they were found guilty of three charges of obtaining property under color of official right for a $50,000 check to Maureen, for the $15,000 check to the wedding caterer, and for a $2,380 golf outing.

  • On count 9, Bob McDonnell was found guilty of obtaining property under color of official right for a $1,424 golf outing. Maureen McDonnell was found not guilty of that charge.

  • On count 10, both McDonnells were found guilty of obtaining property under color of official right for the $50,000 check to MoBo.

  • On count 11, Bob McDonnell was found guilty of obtaining property under color of official right for the $20,000 transfer to MoBo. Maureen McDonnell was found not guilty of that charge.

  • Only Bob McDonnell was charged with count 12. He was found not guilty of making false statements on a TowneBank loan application.

  • In count 13, both McDonnells were found not guilty of making false statements on a PenFed loan application.

  • Only Maureen McDonnell was charged with count 14. She was found guilty of obstruction of official proceeding for a handwritten note to Williams.

They will be sentenced Jan. 6, 2015.

Inside the Testimony

The trial centered on the testimony of the former governor and Williams, the prosecution's star witness. Maureen McDonnell did not take the stand.

Williams was granted immunity for his dealings with the McDonnells and possible securities fraud violations, which had been investigated by a separate grand jury. He testified that he spent lavishly on the McDonnells to secure their help promoting and obtaining state-backed research for Star Scientific's tobacco-derived anti-inflammatory supplement, Anatabloc. Williams intended to share the results of that research with doctors to gain their support of the product.

Prosecutors claimed the former first couple had an "unconscionable amount" of credit card debt and presented testimony that they were eager to accept gifts from Williams, including a $6,500 Rolex watch that Maureen gave Bob for Christmas, a vacation at Williams’ luxurious home on Smith Mountain Lake outside Roanoke, use of Williams' Ferrari and a shopping spree for designer clothes and accessories for Maureen.

Testimony showed Williams loaned $50,000 to Maureen McDonnell that she used to pay down credit debt in 2011. He also loaned $50,000 and $20,000 to MoBo Real Estate, a small company that Bob McDonnell and one of his sisters ran to operate two beach properties.

Prosecutors also said Williams paid $15,000 in catering expenses when one of the McDonnells' daughters got married. And they claimed Maureen had developed a close relationship with Williams, exchanging more than 1,200 texts and calls over a nearly two-year period, including 52 in one day.

In his defense, Bob McDonnell testified he did nothing more than extend routine political courtesies to Williams. Before the indictment, he had apologized for what he described as bad judgment and said he had repaid about $120,000 in gifts and loans, but denied breaking any laws.

A key part of the defense strategy was the claim that the McDonnells couldn't have conspired, because their marriage had deteriorated to the point that Bob McDonnell had moved out and was now living with a priest, who is a family friend. Maureen McDonnell's lawyers called Williams her "favorite playmate."

Both the prosecution and the defense called Maureen volatile and emotional. One prosecution witness called her a "nut bag." Bob McDonnell himself said his wife didn't take well to the role of first lady, calling her handling of behind-the-scenes matters "a disaster." Testimony revealed staff members at the governor's mansion had threatened to resign en masse.

Judge: 'Can't Take Another Second'

After lengthy days of intense testimony -- on day four, the judge in the case said he was stopping testimony because he "can't take another second" -- the jury faced the task of deciding the McDonnells' guilt or innocence.

Judge James R. Spencer issued lengthy instructions to the jury Tuesday morning, including the warning that the testimony of a witness who is granted immunity must be more closely examined than testimony of other witnesses.

The heightened scrutiny was required to determine whether the testimony of the immunized witness is "affected by self-interest," Spencer said.

To be found guilty, Spencer said, a defendant must understand the nature of the conspiracy and deliberately join it.

However, Spencer said a conspiracy does not have to achieve its goals, which could have undercut a defense claim that Williams never received anything of substance, including the research he took preliminary steps to seek.

He also said an agreement need not be stated explicitly by the conspirators and that it didn't matter whether the defendant would have done those favors absent a bribe.

Spencer also told jurors -- who heard from three character witnesses, two for Bob McDonnell and one for his wife -- that "evidence of good character alone may create a reasonable doubt as to a defendant's guilt."

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[2016 Presidential Contenders Flock to NH]]> Wed, 03 Sep 2014 09:26:49 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/rand-paul.jpg

It's still two months from the 2014 mid-term elections, and already numerous potential 2016 presidential candidates are flocking to New Hampshire.

Politico reported on Wednesday that GOP Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul will speak at a Generation Opportunity event on Sept. 11 and the NHGOP Unity Breakfast on Sept. 12. Both events will be held in Manchester.

This weekend brings two more Republican presidential hopefuls to the Granite State. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is scheduled to make appearances in Dover and Stratham on Saturday, and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz will be in Concord, Manchester and Nashua on Sunday.

It was also announced last week that Donald Trump will travel to New Hampshire on Nov. 12 to speak at the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communication's 12th annual First Amendment Awards.

Paul, Jindal, Cruz and Trump have all made previous trips to New Hampshire this year.

Vice President Joe Biden, a possible 2016 contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, was scheduled to speak at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard on Wednesday.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Former Staffers Blamed for Break-In at DeMaio Office: Source]]> Sun, 31 Aug 2014 09:32:14 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/demaio+campaign+office+vandalism.jpg

Two former staff members are being blamed for a May break-in at Republican congressional candidate Carl DeMaio’s San Diego campaign headquarters, a source close to the investigation told NBC 7.

Computer screens were smashed, cords and cables were cut, gas cards were stolen and water was poured over laptops, printers and copiers at the Miramar office on May 28, six days before the primary election.

The source says before the burglary and vandalism, two DeMaio staffers were terminated for taking proprietary information from the campaign.

Victims identified those staff members as potential suspects early in the police investigation, said SDPD’s Lt. Kevin Mayer, and the two have cooperated with detectives.

Mayer did confirm the burglary did occur, but at this point, officials have not developed enough probable cause to identify a suspect.

He expects the case will be turned over to the District Attorney’s office within the next couple of weeks, at which point they will decide whether to file charges and make an arrest.

"We were outraged by the damage done to the campaign during this break-in and hope the individual responsible is held fully accountable for their actions,” Dave McCulloch, a spokesperson for the DeMaio campaign, said in a statement Friday.

This November, DeMaio will try to unseat incumbent Scott Peters in California's 52nd congressional district during the general election.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA["Gun Violence Restraining Order" Bill Approved]]> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 11:17:03 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/UCSD-Vigil-Isla-Vista-05262.jpg

The California Senate has passed AB 1014, which would allow law enforcement or family members of a person who is displaying signs of violence to petition a court for a restraining order.

That order would allow law enforcement officials to take away the person’s guns temporarily. The bill comes as a response to the Isla Vista shooting spree that left six UC Santa Barbara students dead.

“It's just another tool in law enforcement's tool box to help mitigate or deal with situations that can potentially turn violence," said Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson.

Christianson is also the president of the California State Sheriff’s Association.

“It's no different from what we're doing with domestic violence restraining orders. It just expands our abilities to look for those danger signs,” he told NBC 7.

In February 2013, two deputies were shot during a SWAT standoff in Encinitas with a 22-year-old man.

His family says he struggled with anxiety and depression.

His mother filed for a restraining order just days before the shooting. During the standoff, the young man killed himself. His family told NBC 7 they tried their hardest to get him help.

Gun rights advocate and CEO of Ares Armor Dimitri Karras says although the bill was created with the best of intentions, he believes it’s unconstitutional.

“Having law enforcement show up and strip you of your rights simply because of an allegation is a huge violation of the second amendment,” he said. “It will be challenged, it will be struck down it is unconstitutional and that's going to be the end of it.”

The bill now heads back to the Assembly for further action.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[WATCH: Ben Hueso Released from Police Custody]]> Fri, 22 Aug 2014 13:00:25 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/ben-hueso-released-2.jpg State Sen. Ben Hueso was met by reporters and photographers after his release from police custody on Friday, August 22, 2014. ]]> <![CDATA[Perry in NH: Charges All Politics]]> Fri, 22 Aug 2014 20:03:05 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/edtAP259994489655.jpg

New Hampshire wasn't kind to Texas Governor Rick Perry back in 2012. He's hoping voters in the granite state will give him a fresh start as he considers another presidential bid in 2016.

On Friday, Governor Perry returned to New Hampshire for a series of GOP sponsored events.

He met with business leaders in Portsmouth and focused many of his remarks on border concerns and the growing threat of ISIS, even connecting the two by speculating members of ISIS could enter the U.S. through unsecured borders.

"ISIS has said we are coming to America and they are going to attack us, I take them at their word," said Gov. Rick Perry.

Governor Perry also addressed his recent indictment on coercion charges by a Texas grand jury. He called the charges politically motivated and said he will fight them with every fiber of his being.

He also acknowledged making mistakes in New Hampshire back in 2012, saying he didn't spend enough time in the state and wasn't as prepared as he would have liked.

Governor Perry will make several more stops in New Hampshire through Saturday.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Calif. Bill: Dogs Can Eat Out]]> Fri, 22 Aug 2014 18:18:58 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/051213+Cupcake+dog.jpg

Sit. Stay. Dine.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill Thursday allowing dogs to dine with owners if seated in an outdoor section of a restaurant.

"It will soon be legal to take your beagle with you to dinner," Mariko Yamada, the assembly member who championed the bill, said in a statement. "I wish everyone ‘bone-appétit’."

But those who aren’t as dog-friendly don’t have to worry – the law doesn’t force restaurant owners to allow dogs in establishments.

Owners have discretion on whether a dog is allowed to dine alfresco, according to the bill.

"Amidst all the horrific and depressing news around us, I hope this bill helps make people a little happier, and businesses who wish to accommodate diners with dogs safe from being unnecessarily cited," Yamada wrote on her Facebook page.

The restaurant also must have an outdoor entrance that doesn’t require the pet to walk through the restaurant to get to the outdoor area.

Dogs will have to be on a leash and well behaved, and they can’t sit on chairs or benches.

The bill also says that wait staff cannot have direct contact with a dog or pet them, and if they do, they must sanitize their hands.

Pets cannot be in the same area where food is being prepared.

Though the bill applies to restaurants statewide, cities can still pass local regulations that ban pooches from restaurant patios.

"We can't wait to legally come to dinner with our human friends," a Facebook group supporting AB 1965 wrote.

The law goes into effect Jan. 1.

Sutter Brown, the first dog of California and Gov. Brown’s pooch, was not available for comment.

<![CDATA[Family of Slain Rider: Change Lanes to Pass Cyclists]]> Thu, 21 Aug 2014 12:48:30 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/matthew-o%27neill-cyclist-082.jpg

A Chula Vista couple is trying to get the word out about a new law requiring California drivers to stay at least 3 feet away when passing bicyclists.

Michael and Cheri O’Neill’s passion for the change is outweighed only by grief after they lost their 33-year-old son Matthew O’Neill on August 8.

Matthew, an avid cyclist, was riding a quiet Central California road when he was hit by a teenage driver in a pickup truck hauling a horse trailer.

“There’s nothing that’s going to bring him back, but we know he is watching us and he knows that we are going to honor him in a very respectful way” said Cheri O’Neill.

The new law is intended to better protect cyclists from aggressive drivers. It states that if drivers cannot leave 3 feet of space, they must slow down and pass only when it would not endanger the cyclist's safety.

The O’Neill family hopes it will make a difference with fewer cycling fatalities, but they also believe it doesn’t go far enough.

“We’d like to see the law amended so they (drivers) can cross the divided highway when safe for passing a bicyclist” said Michael O’Neill.

Earlier versions of the bill that included that provision were vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2011 and 2012. He cited concerns that it may cause more crashes or make the state liable for collisions resulting from a driver crossing a yellow dividing line.

The family started a Facebook page called “Remember Matthew: Change Lanes To Pass A Cyclist”

A memorial service is planned at Chula Vista’s First United Methodist Church at 1200 East H Street on Saturday, August 30th.

The family is encouraging people to ride their bike to the service.

A demonstration with “share the road” signs and others like it will take place along East H Street immediately after the service.

Current law requires a driver to keep a safe distance when passing a bicyclist but does not specify distance.

The proposed law was sponsored by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, an avid cyclist who was injured in 2010 after a taxi driver abruptly pulled in front of him. It was signed into law in September 2013.

The new law goes into effect September 16.

A violation of the new 3-foot requirement would be punishable by fines starting at $35. If unsafe passing results in a crash that injures the cyclist, the driver could face a $220 fine.

Photo Credit: Courtesy O'Neill family]]>
<![CDATA[Former San Ysidro Supe Pleas Guilty]]> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 16:46:41 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Manuel-Paul-Deposition.jpg

The former superintendent of San Ysidro schools has entered a guilty plea in federal court to the misdemeanor charge of deprivation of benefits for political contributions. In other words, he admitted to extracting political contributions from a prospective contractor by threatening to withhold work.

Manuel Paul, 63, admitted in his plea agreement that he asked contractor Loreto Romero to make a $3,600 campaign contribution to three members of the San Ysidro board, who were running for re-election in the 2010 campaign cycle.

The maximum penalty for the federal charge is one year in prison and a $100,000 fine. The plea deal brings the two-year federal probe to an end.

NBC7 Investigates was first to report about a suspicious cash drop-off to Paul in the parking lot of a Chula Vista steakhouse made in 2010.

The former superintendent admitted in his plea agreement that he made it clear to Romero that the contractor's inclusion on a list of potential contractors for future building projects under the district's bond program was contingent on Romero making the payment.

FBI Special Agent in Charge, Daphne Hearn, said: "We demand the best from our public servants and expect them to deal honestly and fairly when conducting the public's business. Mr. Paul did not do that, and will now be held accountable for his actions."

Paul's criminal defense attorney said he had no information regarding whether Paul would be returning his severance package, as he promised to do in April 2013, when he said he would return $186,000 if he was convicted of any crime. Paul could not be reached for comment.

In the plea deal accepted in federal court this morning, Paul stated that he accepted $2,500 cash in a parking lot from Romero, and then took the money to a Tijuana print shop for campaign signs for then-school trustees Yolanda Hernandez, Jason Wells and Jean Romero. Two years later, he submitted receipts totalling $1,400 for the campaign signs.

In addition to Paul's plea agreement, the former educator who worked for the district for 38 years, agreed to pay a $5,000 fine to the state political watchdog agency for accepting a gift in excess of the annual gift limit from a single source.

Paul previously pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge in a separate prosecution by the San Diego County District Attorney's office, related to filing paperwork under the penalty of perjury that did not include all gifts he received from contractors.

The separate federal probe began in 2012 when Paul's cash demand came to light.

"Today’s guilty plea is a stark reminder that illegal money in our elections – regardless of the amount – is a threat to our democratic form of government and will be treated as such by our office. All citizens of our district have the right to elections free from dollars obtained through coercion,” said U.S. Attorney Laura E. Duffy in a press release today.

Partly in response to Paul's actions, a bill banning administrators from seeking campaign money for the elected officials they serve is set to be signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown.

“Top-level administrators who are involved in the making of contracts with district contractors, vendors and employee unions should not be raising campaign cash for the school and college board members, especially when those administrators are employed at the pleasure of those board members,” said the bill's author Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego. 

As a condition to the plea agreement, both the defendant and the prosecutors agreed to the recommended sentence of three-years probation and no fine, but a judge is under no obligation to adhere to that recommendation, according to the U.S. Attorney's office.

Paul is scheduled to appear for sentencing on Nov. 18.


<![CDATA[GOP Staffer in Chicken Suit Faces Charges After Clucking at NH Governor, Senator]]> Tue, 19 Aug 2014 08:25:01 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/zona+chicken+suit.jpg

A GOP state committee staff member has been charged with disorderly conduct after heckling New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen and Governor Maggie Hassan at this past Saturday's Old Home Day parade.

Michael Zona, of Manchester, was dressed in a chicken suit when he began to interfere with the parade, reports The Eagle-Tribune.

The 23-year-old allegedly ran out into the parade route toward Shaheen and Hassan, clucking at them.
"I believe Senator Jeanne Shaheen should be holding town halls and I have a First Amendment right to express that point of view. I wasn't bothering anyone. I wasn't disturbing anyone. In fact, I got a good deal of encouragement from people along the parade route," said Zona in response to the incident.
Zona was escorted from the parade after failing to comply with numerous requests to stop. 
“At one point, the governor had to take a few steps back toward her security staff,” Detective Christopher Olson told The Eagle-Tribune.
Julia McClain of the New Hampshire Democratic Party used the incident to blast the state Republicans, saying the party "wastes taxpayer resources and local law enforcement time with these juvenile antics when we should be discussing critical issues that matter--like raising the minimum wage, creating good paying jobs, and protecting social security and Medicare for our state's seniors."

Photo Credit: Twitter: John DiStaso]]>
<![CDATA[Minimum Wage Petition Drive Launched]]> Mon, 18 Aug 2014 19:56:39 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/minimum-wage-supporters.jpg

Get ready to have someone asking for your signature.

A petition drive to collect signatures and put San Diego’s minimum wage increase on the ballot will likely start up as soon as Wednesday.

The move comes after the City Council voted on Monday, as expected, to override Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s veto of San Diego’s Earned Sick Leave-Minimum Wage Ordinance.

The vote was 6-2, with San Diego City Councilmembers Scott Sherman and Mark Kersey voting against. Councilmember Lorie Zapf was not present.

The vote means the ordinance will take effect as scheduled on January 1, 2015.

But hold on. Now, the next phase of this battle begins.

Prior to the council vote, former mayor and Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jerry Sanders took a preemptive swing and said business leaders would begin their efforts to gain 34,000 signatures in the next 30 days to take the matter to the voters.

In anticipation of the petition, City Council President Todd Gloria immediately started up a “Don’t Sign It” campaign, urging voters to ignore signature gatherers.

“Please do not be fooled,” said Gloria at a news conference after the council vote.

"They are being paid by special interest to get rid and overturn the earned sick leave and minimum wage ordinance that the city council just earmarked.”

Sanders accused the group of intimidation and obstructing the democratic process.

“We’re disappointed that union bosses have announce a voter harassment campaign to obstruct voters from having a say,” said Sanders. “They’re literally obstructing the democratic process. It’s undemocratic to obstruct voters from signing a petition and sad they’re so brazen about their voter intimidation.”

At the council hearing, familiar arguments from both sides were, once again, voiced.

Councilmember Sherman, who cut a vacation short to be at the meeting, showed up in a red t-shirt and said the ordinance will increase business costs.

“This won’t raise people up. It will raise prices. It will cost jobs, but it won’t raise people up,” said Sherman.

Minimum wage worker Biviana Lagunas, broke down in tears after the vote.

“I want to thank you for giving us a chance. Thank you, thank you so much. Please do not sign away the ability to put food on the table,” said Lagunas.

<![CDATA[Small Biz Owners Make Last-Minute Plea]]> Mon, 18 Aug 2014 11:36:16 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/jerry-sanders-minimum-wage.jpg NBC 7's Matt Rascon reports on the meeting of small business owners before the City Council considers overriding a mayoral veto of the minimum wage increase.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Min Wage: Small Biz Pleads, Council Overrides Veto]]> Mon, 18 Aug 2014 12:29:28 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/jerry-sanders-minimum-wage.jpg

San Diego City Councilmembers voted Monday to override a mayoral veto on a minimum wage increase despite last-minute pleas from small business owners and other opponents.

Opponents of the ordinance argued higher minimum wages would lead to higher prices, less full-time employees and more lay-offs.

CEO of the San Diego County Chamber of Commerce Jerry Sanders said it's important for City Council members to protect San Diego jobs.

"We're not here today opposed to a wage increase, we're here today urging city leaders to allow the 25-percent increase the state just implemented last month to take effect rather than increasing it to 44-percent with automatic increases annually," said Sanders.

Less than two hours later, City Council members voted 6-2 pushing the minimum wage increase through despite the Aug. 8 veto by Mayor Kevin Faulconer.

Effective Jan. 1, the proposed ordinance will give approximately 172,000 San Diegans an increase to $9.75 per hour.

Through the proposal, 279,000 will have the opportunity to earn up to five sick days per year.

Already since the state's minimum wage hike some businesses have bumped up prices and stopped accepting coupons.

At the same time supporters of earned sick leave and higher minimum wages urged council members to override the veto.

They argue that nearly 200,000 San Diegans who are struggling to make ends meet would benefit from higher wages and even more from earned sick days.

Student Viviana Laguna works while going to college. She said her entire family gets paid minimum wage.

"We're not asking for riches," she said. "We're just asking for the basic things."

Councilmembers Scott Sherman (District 7) and Mark Kersey (District 5) voted against the measure.

The minimum wage will increase to $10.50 on January 1, 2016 and to $11.50 on January 1, 2017, with indexing to inflation starting in 2019.

Opponents of the minimum wage increase have said they will collect signatures this week to get a referendum on the ballot allowing the voters of San Diego decide.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[NYC Council Speaker Tweets About HPV Diagnosis, Urges Annual Check-Ups]]> Mon, 18 Aug 2014 10:34:22 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/MarkViverito.jpg

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito announced via Twitter Sunday that she had "high-risk HPV" in an effort to boost awareness about the most commonly sexually transmitted infection in the country and encourage women to have regular gynecological exams.

In a series of tweets, Mark-Viverito divulged that she learned Friday she had the infection, and that she hadn't been to a gynecologist in two years prior to her most recent visit.

"At recent #GYN visit alarmed to find out last one, 2yrs ago. Friday got call re: results. Told have "high risk HPV". #Biopsy needed #ASAP," she tweeted.

"Tuesday I'm there. To say I'm not wee bit worried = lie. "High risk HPV" can POTENTIALLY but NOT definitively lead to cervical #cancer."

Mark-Viverito, 45, tweeted that she is "an extremely private person," but that her position has given her a platform -- and a responsibility to use it.

"Our health should never be compromised," she tweeted. "Annual physicals have to be sacred. Yet our health care system doesn't lend itself to this for many."

Mayor de Blasio called Mark-Viverito's decision to share her experience "brave" and "exemplary."

About 79 million people in the United States have HPV, and another 14 million contract it each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Anyone can get it once they become sexually active, and nearly half of the new infections each year occur among people ages 15 to 24, according to the New York City Health Department.

Most people who get HPV have no symptoms of infection. Each year, about 12,000 women diagnosed with HPV nationwide develop cervical cancer, the most common cancer associated with the infection, and about 4,000 of them die from it.

To learn more about HPV treatment and prevention, including a vaccine, click here.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 7 San Diego

Photo Credit: McMullan/Sipa USA]]>
<![CDATA[Minimum Wage May End Up in Hands of Voters]]> Mon, 18 Aug 2014 09:07:26 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/%5BNECN%5DMinimum_Wage.jpg NBC 7's Matt Rason reports on how people with petitions are preparing to stand outside businesses and on street corners to gather signatures that would put the future of the minimum wage ordinance into the hands of San Diegans.]]> <![CDATA[Former Vt. U.S. Sen. Jeffords Dead at 80]]> Mon, 18 Aug 2014 14:57:40 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/James+Jeffords.jpg

Former Sen. Jim Jeffords, I-Vt., died Monday at Knollwood, a military retirement home in Washington, D.C., a former aide said. He was 80.

A navy veteran, Jeffords made a name in politics as a state senator and attorney general before he was elected to seven terms in the U.S. House, once splitting with his fellow Republicans in opposing a President Reagan tax cut plan. Vermonters voted him into the Senate in 1988, where he was a champion for environmental causes.

The moderate, even liberal, Republican shocked Washington in 2001 when he said the GOP had drifted too far to the right for him. He quit the party, became an independent, and caucused with democrats.

“I am confident it is the right decision,” Jeffords said upon making his famous “jump.” “I hope that the people of Vermont will understand it.”

Jeffords announced in 2005 he would not seek re-election the next year, citing declining health.

"I think we have to bring back people like Jim Jeffords, who say running for office is really a form of public service," former Vermont Governor Madeleine Kunin said Monday.

Kunin remembered Jeffords as a good-hearted guy who just wanted to do what he thought was right; not tow some party line. "The comparison is rather painful, where we now have a Congress that prides itself on doing nothing, where in those days, people really went there to get things done and to improve the lives of the public," Kunin said.

"He's going to be very sorely missed," said Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who was in the U.S. House when Jeffords was in the Senate. "He was a guy who, I think, much preferred to be around Vermonters here in Vermont than among the big shots in Washington. It wasn't who he was."

Tom Vogelmann, the University of Vermont's agriculture and life sciences dean, told New England Cable News he thinks of Jeffords as "one of the giants." The University of Vermont College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is housed in the building that bears Jeffords' name.

"He was a very strong supporter of education, a very strong supporter of environmental legislation, and that's the curriculum that's basically taught in this building," Vogelmann told NECN. "So we have thousands of young people who are training here and that's all adding to his legacy."

Reflections on the life and legacy of Jim Jeffords poured in Monday. Here are several of those:

President Barack Obama:

Michelle and I send our deepest sympathies to the family of Senator James M. Jeffords on his passing. Jim devoted his life to service - as a Naval officer, a local leader in his hometown of Shrewsbury, and eventually as a U.S. Senator representing his beloved Vermont. During his more than 30 years in Washington, Jim never lost the fiercely independent spirit that made Vermonters, and people across America, trust and respect him. Whatever the issue - whether it was protecting the environment, supporting Americans with disabilities, or whether to authorize the war in Iraq - Jim voted his principles, even if it sometimes meant taking a lonely or unpopular stance. Vermonters sent him to Washington to follow his conscience, and he did them proud.

Our prayers are with the Jeffords family, including his son Leonard and daughter Laura. And we're grateful to Jim for his legacy of service to Vermont and the United States of America.

Vice President Joe Biden:

Jim Jeffords was a personal friend, a great senator, and a good man. He was not only beloved by the people of Vermont, but by anyone who ever worked with him. For the nearly four decades I served in the United States Senate, nearly half were spent with Jim as a colleague. Jim knew that with a country as diverse as ours, there is a need for consensus to move the country forward. He was a man who dealt with his colleagues without pretext and with complete honesty. And he always knew what he was talking about—and his colleagues and constituents always knew where he stood on an issue. Jim was a reflection of Vermont—independent and non-ideological and always about solving problems. Jill and I are saddened by his passing and join his family, friends, and his former staff in remembering all that he stood for: basic fairness and principled independence.

Former President Bill Clinton:

Hillary and I are saddened by the passing of our friend Senator Jim Jeffords, who served the people of Vermont and the United States for more than 30 years. Jim was one of our strongest advocates for better health and education, a cleaner environment, and increased opportunities for people with disabilities. I will always be especially grateful for his support of the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Brady Bill, and our 1993 health care reform effort. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and his many friends across the country.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.:

He was a partner in our work for Vermont, and he was a friend. He was a Vermonter through and through, drawn to political life to make a difference for our state and nation. Part of his legacy will also stand as an enduring chapter of the Senate's history.

Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt.:

I know I share the view of all Vermonters today in expressing condolences to the family of Senator Jim Jeffords on his passing, and our gratitude to him for his life of service.

While Jim would certainly wave away the notion, he was indeed a legend in Vermont and the nation. With characteristic decency, humility and civility, and a dogged persistence, he made his mark in Congress. Millions of children with disabilities are better off today because he lead the charge for their equal access to education. Americans are breathing cleaner air and drinking cleaner water because of his fierce advocacy for the environment and clean energy. And budding artists across the nation receive the boost of his encouragement every year thanks to his legacy as the founder of the annual Congressional Arts Competition.

And, in 2001, the world saw what his fellow Vermonters already knew: Jim Jeffords, above all, had the courage of his convictions.

Jim and his wife, Liz Daley Jeffords, were mentors to me in my early days in the House of Representatives. I am deeply grateful to them both for their friendship, their support and their contributions to Vermont and our country.

Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vt.:

I join Vermonters and citizens nationwide today in celebrating the life of Jim Jeffords, a true gentleman and an independent-minded maverick in the best tradition of our state. Jim followed in the footsteps of Senators Bob Stafford and George Aiken, always putting the interests of Vermonters and the nation ahead of partisan politics. He followed his sense of right in all that he did, and was never afraid to seek compromise by reaching across the aisle for the good of our country. Jim’s contribution to Vermont spanned his service in the Vermont House, as Attorney General, and as Vermont’s Representative in the U.S. House, where he developed his passion for high quality public education that forged his policy work on behalf of our kids and continued throughout his career. The passing of Senator Jim Jeffords will be felt throughout Vermont and our country. We need more like Senator Jeffords. My heart goes out to his children and extended family.

Lt. Gov. Phil Scott, R-Vt.:

The story of Vermont politics cannot be told without Jim Jeffords. He served in the most honorable way a person can serve: Selflessly, and always with the best interests of others at heart. He did what he felt was right, not what he felt would make him popular. Whether it was during his time in the Vermont Senate, or as Attorney General, or in the United States House of Representatives, or in the United States Senate, Jim valued the voices of Vermonters and leaves a legacy we can all learn from: Respect over rhetoric, pragmatism over pandering, and love for Vermonters overall.

In our large, and largely faceless, system of government, he demonstrated the power that one person speaking for their constituents can have. His example of moderation and independence is what I’ve tried to model my own career off of. My sincere condolences go out to Laura, Leonard, and the entire Jeffords family.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA["Six Californias" Wouldn't Help Republicans: Study]]> Wed, 13 Aug 2014 10:16:34 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/193*120/0623-SixCalifornias1.jpg

Dividing blue California into six states wouldn't do much to improve the lots of Republicans hoping to gain more sway and political seats under a new proposal to split up the state, according to a new study,

Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper is the one pushing the idea that 38 million people is many for a single state. He's vying to get his "Six Californias" proposal on the 2016 ballot, where voters would decide whether to back his idea that splitting the state could be a solution to California's governing woes.

But even a state with a capital in San Diego or Fresno -- as "South California" and "Central California" might have, respectively -- would send mostly Democrats to Washington, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times about a study from a pair of UC Berkeley researchers. 

Of the six Californians, only "South California," which could include Orange County as well as San Diego and San Bernandino, would be "highly competitive" between the two parties. Central California would be a tossup -- as would "Jefferson," the land of Humboldt County marijuana growers as well as small-government activists.

The researchers, Jack Citrin and Ethan Rarick, based their guess on election returns from those areas.

All that said, the likelihood of Draper's measure passing is near-zero, the newspaper reported.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Florida Ad Tries to Connect Pot With Date Rape]]> Wed, 13 Aug 2014 05:56:27 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/potdaterapead.jpg

The campaign against medical marijuana in Florida is in high gear as it tries to link easier access to pot to date rape in a new online ad campaign.

The website, "Vote no on 2," claims that if the medical marijuana bill is passed, teenagers will have easier access to pot. A Twitter picture then asks if the new face of date rape will look like a marijuana cookie.

“These are products that are very dangerous,” said Javi Correoso of Vote No on 2. “They are a lot more powerful than smoking a joint and they can lead to various serious situations and circumstances.”

Correoso said that “potentially” includes date rape. But Dr. Jorge Bordenave of Larkin Community Hospital insisted that Correoso is wrong.

"Right now, as we know, you can get pot anywhere, on the corners, kids get pot,” said Dr. Bordenave, who supports legalizing medical marijuana. "There has been no incidents of date rape with the pot they are smoking currently. So what they are saying is trying to scare the people; trying to lie to the people."

Other organizations like United for Care said there are plenty of benefits for patients with cancers, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and other ailments. Dr. Bordenave also pointed out that other legal vices are doing major damage.

“We have more people dying of alcohol, tobacco smoke than marijuana,” Bordenave said. “I did research recently; out of the 25 FDA approved drugs most commonly sold in the United States, in one year there were 10,000 deaths. There were no deaths from marijuana.”

Still, opponents say that the medical marijuana oil recently approved by the legislature is enough and there should be no smoking of marijuana allowed, despite any medical benefits.

“What Amendment 2 is is an amendment that has so many loopholes that it allows for marijuana to be used for non-medical reasons such as pot cookies and pot smoking,” Correoso said.

Voters will have the final say in November when the state constitutional amendment is on the ballot.

Photo Credit: Vote No on 2]]>
<![CDATA[New Indictment Unsealed in Campaign Finance Scandal]]> Wed, 13 Aug 2014 06:06:35 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Azano-0609_2.jpg

Three men face new charges in a conspiracy to control the outcome of local elections in San Diego, federal prosecutors allege in a new indictment unsealed Tuesday.

Mexican millionaire Jose Susumo Azano Matsura, 48, Ravneet Singh, 41, of Washington, D.C., Singh’s business ElectionMall Inc. and San Diego lobbyist Marco Polo Cortes, 44, are named in the revised indictment.

Prosecutors list 20 instances in which campaign finance records were falsified to send money from Azano to three candidates in local elections.

The defendants are accused of hiding the source of campaign donations or concealing a donation altogether in records with the San Diego City Clerk, the Federal Election Commission, or the California Secretary of State.

Azano, referred to as "Mr. Lambo" in the indictment, is accused of making more than $600,000 in illegal contributions to former Mayor Bob Filner, failed mayoral candidate Bonnie Dumanis, and other candidates.

In the indictment, the candidates are identified only by the numbers "1, 2 and 3." A fourth unidentified candidate was unaware of the defendants' attempt to donate to his/her campaign, officials said.

It is illegal for a foreign national to donate to a U.S. political campaign.

Under the new indictment, federal prosecutors allege that defendants would survey candidates for various elective offices to determine which ones to support.

Once Azano met with the candidate privately, the group would allegedly come up with secret ways to fund the candidate’s campaign.

For the first time, prosecutors allege that Singh tried to bribe a federal official as recently as January.

The new documents show Azano has also been charged with illegally possessing a firearm, a black Sig Sauer P225 semi-automatic pistol.

He remains under house arrest at his Coronado mansion.

Attorney Michael Lipman, who represents Singh, said the government used at least one wiretap to build its case against Azano, Singh and the other defendants. Lipman said defense attorneys will challenge the legality of that wiretap.

The next hearing in the case was set for September 15.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Sunroad Hires Former Deputy City Attorney ]]> Tue, 12 Aug 2014 15:41:22 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/San-Diego-Skyline-Feb-2014.jpg

A former city employee who played a pivotal role in the lawsuit involving a controversial real estate development has accepted a position as vice president with the private company.

Former Deputy City Attorney Andrea Contreras left her job with the city this summer and went to work for Sunroad Enterprises.

Contreras previously defended the city, and by extension, Sunroad, in an ongoing lawsuit brought by San Diegans for Open Government that questions the legality of two nine-foot easements granted by the City Council in 2013 to Sunroad Enterprises.

"The lawsuit is a sham," wrote Contreras on behalf of the city, according to The Reader, in an August 2013 court document.

Court papers she wrote argue against San Diegans for Open Government’s position that the 18-feet of easements were illegally granted after Sunroad made $100,000 in donations in exchange for the land.

City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, Contreras’ then-boss, originally raised the alarm about the land giveaway, pointing out the land-grant could be viewed as a “quid-pro-quo” arrangement made at the behest former Mayor Bob Filner. Then, Goldsmith evidently changed his mind about the legality of giving away public park space to Sunroad because Contreras argued in subsequent court records that granting the easements was legal after all.

After the lawsuit was filed, the nonprofit organizations that received the donations returned the money.

"The project obviously is not a sale of City property," wrote Contreras, while she was still working for the city, in the August 2013 court document.

Contreras became Vice President of Sunroad Enterprises in June 2014, according to her LinkedIn profile.

Reached at her new office, she declined to comment on when she was offered her new position with Sunroad.

NBC7 Investigates asked the City Attorney’s office if there is a “revolving door” policy that prevents city employees from immediately going to work for a company for which they had the opportunity to influence city decisions.

A spokesman for the City Attorney’s office said there are rules in place preventing former city employees from lobbying current officials on behalf of their new employers within a certain time period after they leave the city.

“There are legal restrictions as discussed above, but we cannot ban employees from obtaining other employment,” City Attorney Spokesman Michael S. Giorgino said.

Contreras is not the first city “talent” snagged by Sunroad.

Former chief of staff to Mayor Dick Murphy, Tom Story, also left the city in 2005 to go work for Sunroad.

<![CDATA[CA Mulls Military Sex Assault Bill]]> Tue, 12 Aug 2014 10:18:55 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/us-marine-generic.jpg

California could soon be the first state in the nation to separate investigations and prosecutions from the chain of command in the state's military departments.

National Guard members in trouble for sexual assault could soon be investigated by local police or district attorney staffers under a proposed bill in the California legislature.

State Senator Alex Padilla authored a bill that he hopes will set the standard for the U.S. Armed Forces.

The bill would make it law that sex assaults involving California's Military Departments or CMDs be adjudicated by local, civilian authorities.

“If we can be example for other states to follow and for our nation to follow then California will be a leader when it comes protecting and respecting the men and women of the military," Padilla said Monday.

Part of Padilla's rationale-- the military's insular culture doesn't allow victims to be heard.

According to the Department of Defense, the number of reported sexual assaults in the military rose 50 percent last year over 2012.

Military criminal defense attorney and retired Marine Colonel Jane Siegel has been involved in a lot of sexual assault cases.

Seigel applauds the bill saying its good in theory but notes California has no jurisdiction over the U.S. Armed Forces.

“Right now it’s a paper tiger,” she said. “They're doing the right thing for the right reasons but it doesn’t have the legs.”

CMD's don't have dedicated judicial departments to adjudicate sexual assaults so policy dictates the cases get farmed out to local authorities. Padilla's bill would make it a law not just policy.

The bill could make it to the governor’s desk later this week.

Photo Credit: NBC10 Philadelphia]]>