<![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, 02 Oct 2014 08:27:19 -0700 Thu, 02 Oct 2014 08:27:19 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Text-to-911 Coming to California Under New Law]]> Thu, 02 Oct 2014 08:05:05 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/texting-sexting.jpg

The ability to text 911 in an emergency is on its way to California.

The state’s Office of Emergency Services is required to lay out a plan and timeline for a Next Generation 911 system under Senate Bill 1211, signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown Tuesday.

The Next Generation 911 includes the text-to-911 innovation, which officials say will be help hearing-impaired users or those who are afraid to talk in the midst of an emergency.

The Federal Communications Commission ordered all wireless carriers to enable their customers to text 911 by the end of 2014. The big four carriers — AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, and T-Mobile — agreed in May to support the emergency texts in all areas where they can be received at 911 call centers, known as "public safety answering points."

However, California’s dispatch centers have not purchased or installed the upgrades needed to receive those messages.

As directed by SB 1211, the Office of Emergency Services will develop target dates for testing, implementing and operating the Next Generation 911 system throughout California. The office must also calculate and report the estimated cost of such an endeavor.

When the system is incorporated, California will join 18 other states that have enabled text-to-911 in various counties.

Officials tested out the texting system earlier this year with the help of police departments in Downey, Arcadia and California State University Long Beach.

Even after text-to-911 is enabled, law enforcement agencies say they want residents to use it only in special circumstances. A phone call will still be the preferred method.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Climate Action Plan Calls for 50% Emissions Cut by 2035]]> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 18:27:31 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/solar+panels6.JPG

An updated Climate Action Plan released Tuesday aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions in San Diego by half and switch to all electricity use to renewable sources by 2035.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer, City Council President Todd Gloria and Council President Pro Tem Sherri Lightner announced the strategies from the Alvarado Water Treatment Plant and outlined steps to achieve the ambitious targets.

"This is a plan for creating economic opportunity for every San Diego family and community, and I truly believe that we have an opportunity to make San Diego one of the green energy and solar capitals of the world," said Faulconer.

The city’s goals are in line with state requirements to significantly reduce greenhouse gases by 2050.

According to Faulconer, the Climate Action Plan is designed to create new renewable energy jobs, improve public health and air quality, increase water quality and save taxpayer money by cutting water, energy and waste use.

The city leaders listed actions they could take to carry out the plan, pending city council approval:

  • Create a set of regulations and incentives to improve buildings’ energy and water efficiency
  • Cut vehicle travel and encourage alternative transit like biking, walking and public transportation
  • Retime stoplights across the city to better coordinate traffic
  • Install 20 roundabouts by 2035
  • Reach a 75 percent waste diversion rate to landfills by 2020 and a 90 percent rate by 2035, meaning trash should be reduced through recycling, reuse or composting
  • Build electric vehicle charging stations
  • Convert the city’s fleet to 50 percent electric vehicles by 2020 and 90 percent by 2035
  • Capture 98 percent of methane from wastewater treatment plants by 2035
  • Run 100 percent of city trash trucks on natural gas by 2035

“This plan demonstrates that San Diego is a progressive leader in addressing climate change, and that we value our people and our environment enough to take such decisive and strong action,” said Gloria.

This draft of the Climate Action Plan is open to public input. Once all feedback is accounted for, city staff will revise the outline, perform an environmental review and bring it in front of the city council in spring 2015.

]]>
<![CDATA[California Gun Restriction Bill Signed Into Law]]> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 13:53:40 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Gun-Control-generic.jpg

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- California will become the first state that allows family members to ask a judge to remove firearms from a relative who appears to pose a threat, under legislation Gov. Jerry Brown said Tuesday he had signed.

The bill was proposed by several Democrats and responds to a deadly rampage in May near the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Supporters had said such a measure could have prevented the attacks, winning out over critics who said it would erode gun rights.

Law enforcement authorities in Connecticut, Indiana and Texas can seek a judge's order allowing them to seize guns from people they deem to be a danger.

The new California law gives law enforcement the same option and extends it to family members.

It continues California's efforts to lead the nation in preventing firearm injury and death, said Amanda Wilcox, an advocate for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, whose daughter was a victim of gun violence.

The greatest effect might be in preventing suicides or intervening where there is a history of domestic violence, she said.

"It's hard to know how much it will be used or how much it will prevent," Wilcox said. "It only takes avoiding one loss for this to be worth it."

Lawmakers approved the bill by Democratic Assembly members Nancy Skinner of Berkeley and Das Williams of Santa Barbara amid pleas that they act after the May 23 attack in which six people were fatally stabbed or shot and 13 others wounded in the community of Isla Vista.

Relatives of the victims and other supporters of the bill said the parents of 22-year-old Elliot Rodger were thwarted in their attempts to seek help for their troubled son before the rampage.

Weeks earlier, his parents had his therapist contact Santa Barbara County mental health officials. Sheriff's deputies talked to Rodger but never entered his apartment or checked to see if he owned guns.

They decided he was not a threat to himself or others and took no further action.

Rodger later wrote that had deputies searched his room, they might have found guns that police said he used to shoot three people after stabbing to death three others. Rodger killed himself while being pursued by police.

Under the California bill, whoever seeks the restraining order would have to sign an affidavit under oath. If they lie, they could be charged with a misdemeanor.

A court hearing would be held within 14 days after the restraining order is granted to give the gun owner a chance to argue there is no danger.

Republican lawmakers and some Democrats voted against the measure, known as AB1014.

In Rodger's case, there is no evidence his parents or anyone treating him knew he had weapons. That prompted Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, to introduce a related bill that would require law enforcement agencies to develop policies that encourage officers to search the state's database of gun purchases as part of routine welfare checks. That bill, SB505, also was signed by the governor.

Brown's signing of the bills "helped to honor the life of my son, Christopher, and so many others killed by senseless gun violence," said Richard Martinez, father of Isla Vista shooting victim Christopher Ross Michaels-Martinez and an advocate for the group Everytown for Gun Safety.

"Nothing we can do will bring back Christopher, but I'm confident this new law will help save lives and prevent other families from experiencing this same kind of tragedy. States around the country should be exploring this life-saving measure," he said in a statement about the restraining order legislation.

Currently in California, authorities can seize legally purchased guns only from people convicted of a felony or a violent misdemeanor, those subject to a domestic violence restraining order, or those who are determined to be mentally unstable.

The National Rifle Association and other gun-rights groups opposed the restraining order legislation.

"Our concern is not so much what they intended to do; our concern is with the method they put in place to address people with mental or emotional issues," said Sam Paredes, executive director of Gun Owners of California. "We think this just misses the mark and may create a situation where law-abiding gun owners are put in jeopardy."



Photo Credit: NBC 7 San Diego]]>
<![CDATA[California: First State to Ban Plastic Bags]]> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 15:23:45 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/212*120/Plastic+Bag+Ban+Store+Counter+copy.jpg

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed the nation's first statewide ban on single-use plastic bags Tuesday.

The measure, first proposed by Democratic Sen. Alex Padilla of Los Angeles, would prohibit single-use plastic bags at grocery stores and large pharmacies in 2015 and at convenience stores in 2016.

It includes $2 million in loans to help manufacturers shift to producing reusable bags and lets grocers charge 10 cents each for paper and reusable bags.

The bill had sparked one of the most contentious debates in the last weeks of the legislative session, with aggressive lobbying by environmentalists and bag manufacturers.

Moments after Brown signed the measure, the American Progressive Bag Alliance called it a “back room deal between grocers and union bosses to scam California consumers out of billions of dollars without providing any public benefit – all under the guise of environmentalism.”

The group plans to launch a referendum effort for the November 2016 ballot to repeal the measure.

San Diegan Laura Quinn-Stalker had mixed feelings about the news.

“Although I reuse my plastic bags constantly and will miss that,” she posted to NBC 7’s Facebook page, “I think this is important to do.”

“Won't see a dime saved in my pocket. Now, I have to buy garbage bags,” Oxnard resident Wade Wilson posted.

For years, a statewide plastic bag ban has been an elusive goal for lawmakers trying to reduce the buildup of plastic waste in oceans and waterways that costs millions of dollars to cleanup.

About 100 local jurisdictions in California already have adopted similar bans, including Los Angeles and San Francisco.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Mandatory Cuts on Water Use Proposed]]> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 07:58:17 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Drought-generic-water-irrig.jpg

San Diego's voluntary water restrictions could soon become mandatory as temperatures again start to climb toward the triple digits.

Monday night, two city councilmembers said the city has to do more to conserve water or suffer the consequences.

"The state is looking to conserve 20 percent of our water. We're not really hitting the mark there,” said Councilman David Alvarez.

He said with a voluntary water use restrictions already in place, the city of San Diego is only conserving about 4 percent of water. It is the main reason why Alvarez and Councilman Ed Harris want to make the voluntary restriction into a mandatory one.

"It's really dry and we need the rain, so I understand that it's tough out there,” said homeowner Russell Berkley.

His family has already made changes by cutting down watering from ten minutes to six, explaining "during the summer you need at least six minutes or your grass turns brown and then it's not worth watering at all.”

The San Diego County Water Authority is already under a "Drought Alert" which mandates 20 percent conservation. Among the measures currently in place for businesses within the county area: offering table water to patrons only on request, offering hotel guests the option of not laundering towels and linens daily, watering only during the late evening or early morning hours and repairing all leaks within 72 hours.

Alvarez said they've been warned by the Metropolitan Water District, which supplies half of the city's water, that they might have to go to a rationing system if changes are not made soon.

Right now, the City of San Diego is at a Level 1 "Drought Watch," meaning residents are asked to water their yards before 10 a.m. or after 6 p.m., use automatic shut-off nozzles on hoses and not to wash sidewalks and driveways unless necessary.

Moving into a Level 2 "Drought Alert," residents would be forced to abide by Level 1 restrictions, could only irrigate three days a week and would have to stop fountains unless recycled water is used.

At Spot Free Rinse, a carwash in Pacific Beach, people are constantly using water. They understand the sacrifice.

“I think keeping my car clean is not a top priority. I think the situation we're in with drought and water shortage should come first,” said Victor Park

“Every little bit makes a difference. So it all adds up, We're ready, willing and able to do our own part,” said James Clarkston.

Alvarez said the last time San Diego had mandatory water use restrictions in place, residents saved 14 percent of their water.

This is just a recommendation, so it will go to the Environment Committee next week. If it passes there, the proposal will go to the city council.



Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Kamala Harris Says She's Not Interested in Eric Holder's Job]]> Thu, 25 Sep 2014 17:15:33 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/181*120/Kamala4.jpg

California Attorney General Kamala Harris waved off speculation Thursday that she might be next in line to replace U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who announced Thursday that he will resign after leading the Justice Department for nearly six years.

Harris issued a statement after her name surfaced on lists of possible replacements for Holder’s job, along with candidates such as Solicitor General Don Verrilli, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and Deputy U.S. Attorney General James Cole.

“I am honored to even be mentioned, but intend to continue my work for the people of California as Attorney General,” Harris, who is is on the Nov. 4 ballot running for a second term, said in a statement. “I am focused on key public safety issues including transnational gangs, truancy and recidivism.”

Patrick also downplayed his interest, saying the job is "not one for me right now."

President Barack Obama has not yet made a final decision about a replacement for Holder. Holder, the first African-American U.S. Attorney General, bade an emotional goodbye Thursday, thanking the president and his family for their support during his time in office.

Obama said Holder has agreed to stay on until his replacement is confirmed.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 7 San Diego



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[D52 Congressional Candidates Debate Immigration, ISIS]]> Tue, 23 Sep 2014 21:46:47 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Demaio-Peters-Congressional.jpg

A contentious and sometimes hostile debate between District 52 Congressional candidates Scott Peters and Carl DeMaio addressed America’s most pressing issues Tuesday night.

Voters were able to see what sets the two apart during NBC 7’s hour-long Conversation with the Candidates.

Incumbent Congressman Peters, a Democrat, and former San Diego City Councilman DeMaio, a Republican, are racing for California’s 52nd Congressional District, which stretches from Coronado to La Jolla and reaches inland to Scripps Ranch, Poway and up to Rancho Bernardo.

Registered voters in the district are split 34 percent Republican, 32 percent Democrat and 29 percent unaffiliated, which means it is anyone's race.

The first issue debated Thursday was ISIS. The U.S. began airstrikes against ISIS targets in Syria Monday, but some military experts say without ground troops, we will not see an end to the terrorist group.

Both candidates were asked at what point they would support U.S. boots on the ground to fight ISIS.

DeMaio said the crisis would have to pass two key tests: make sure it is an issue of national security and ensure there is a thoughtful, common sense strategy to win.

He believes ISIS has clearly established itself as a threat to national security, but as to the second point, he said, “I don’t believe the president has laid out an adequate strategy.”

DeMaio expects the U.S. will find that airstrikes are inadequate.

“If we have to build a case for an expansion, that has to be something that the American people will support,” DeMaio said, “and that’s where the administration and Congress should not treat this as a Democrat issue or a Republican issue. This would be an American issue.”

In response, Peters described ISIS as a tremendously dangerous force with better equipment, funding and tactics than Al Qaeda.

“And we know that around the world, not just in the Middle East, there are people in dark rooms and even caves planning to hurt our country and our families, and we have to go to those places and stop them,” he said.

He supports a multi-strategy plan laid out by the Obama administration and military commanders. The effort starts with airstrikes to degrade the enemy, the congressman said, and continues with developing a stable political system in Iraq.

Allies in the area and international governments equally interested in the region’s security must also take part in the fight, according to Peters.

“Part of it is the equipment and training of some Syrians who will be carefully vetted on the ground,” he said.

THE IMMIGRATION DEBATE

Next, the candidates took on the issue of immigration – a topic especially important to Mexico-bordering San Diego.

Peters and DeMaio were asked if they have any policy ideas or initiatives that would break the gridlock.

Peters countered the assumption that nothing gets done on the issue by saying the Senate passed on a bipartisan immigration bill last summer, though the House has yet to put it up for a vote.

In the measure, he claimed he supported its increased border security and tenants aimed at deficit reduction and economic growth.

According to Peters, the undocumented workers in the U.S. should pay a fine, start paying their taxes and earn a path to citizenship while staying here.

“In biotechnology, we’re sending people home who we educate to cure diseases and start jobs in other countries instead of keep them here,” said Peters.

DeMaio’s issue with the immigration bill is its complexity, thousands of pages filled with special interest agendas, he said.

What gets crowded out are the points everyone agrees on, like border security, he said.

By tightening up our borders, DeMaio claims we can prevent a system that allows people get to run to the front of the line while improving national security.

“But members of Congress constantly want to put poison pills in these bills that become thousands of pages long, and they sit there and they point fingers at each other,” said DeMaio.

ABOUT THE CANDIDATE: SCOTT PETERS

Scott Peters earned his undergraduate degree from Duke University and attended New York University School of Law. He was an environmental lawyer before going into politics.

The attorney-turned-politician served on the San Diego City Council from 2000 to 2008, becoming the first council president after the switch to a strong-mayor form of government.

Peters lost his bid for the city attorney's office in 2008, and he was termed out of office as a councilman the same year. In 2009, he became a commissioner of the San Diego Unified Port District.

In 2012, he successfully challenged then-Rep. Brian Bilbray for the 52nd Congressional District.

He lives with his wife in the La Jolla. They have a son and daughter.

ABOUT THE CANDIDATE: CARL DEMAIO

Carl DeMaio attended Georgetown University where he earned a degree in International Business and Politics.

Before running for office, DeMaio started The Performance Institute, a for-profit think-tank that provides training for government officials.

He later founded the American Strategic Management Institute, which offered financial and management training to corporations. Both companies he later sold.

DeMaio moved to San Diego in 2002 where he began speaking publicly and backing efforts aimed at city government reform.

In 2008, he ran and won a seat on the San Diego City Council representing District 5 as an openly-gay man and a self-described government watchdog, later backing Proposition B which put before voters a plan aimed at drastically re-tooling city worker's retirement benefits along with changing the cost to taxpayers.

After one council term, DeMaio ran for mayor, advancing to the run-off before losing to Bob Filner.

DeMaio's partner is Jonathan Hale, the owner of a San Diego based marketing firm targeting the LGBT community.



Photo Credit: NBC 7 ]]>
<![CDATA[DUI Charges Have No Impact On Job: Hueso]]> Fri, 19 Sep 2014 21:20:51 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/ben+hueso.JPG

California State Senator Ben Hueso (D-40th District) briefly addressed DUI charges against him Friday, saying they should not affect his ability to do his job.

Hueso, a Democrat from San Diego, was arrested Aug. 22 in Sacramento for allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol. He was recently offered a lesser “wet reckless” driving charge, which carries a lesser penalty.

Prosecutors say he was offered the lesser charge because of the difficulty in proving cases where defendants register only 0.08, which was Hueso’s blood alcohol content at the time of his arrest, according to CHP officers. There is the possibility of a “scientific error factor” in the tests used to prove people are legally drunk.

During a taping of NBC 7's "Politically Speaking" show Friday morning, Hueso made it clear he wasn't interested in discussing these recent misdemeanor charges, but when asked about them, he answered curtly and matter-of-factly.

When asked how the black mark on his record might impact his future ability to be an effective lawmaker, he said, “I don’t think it will impact it at all.”

When asked if he was worried his supporters would no longer back him, he said, “Not at all.”

Hueso did tell NBC7 off-camera that he thinks the media has been, in his words, "overzealous” and “very aggressive” reporting the story of his arrest. He did indicate he regretted the incident.

Appearing remorseful, he told an NBC7 reporter that he should hold himself to a higher standard.

Discussing another topic during the taping, Hueso talked about legislation he introduced for a massive $7.2 billion water bond package to be decided by voters in November. It's some of the first money for state-funded dams in nearly 30 years.

“It’s a very good, scientifically-based legislation that will really address a severe problem that we have in our state, and it was hard for people not to vote for that when it was put before them,” he said.

In the final hours before the legal deadline, legislators were scrambling with last minute compromises to attract enough Republican votes for the bipartisan deal.

“I think what we wanted to do was put the most prudent policy forward based on science: What does our state need?” Hueso said. “There’s been speculation that there were agreements between Republicans and Democrats. Really, it was a debate about people pushing the most important projects that are going to get our state through the most important years in the future.”

]]>
<![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
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![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
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![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
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![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
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![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]]>