<![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, 31 Jul 2014 19:27:12 -0700 Thu, 31 Jul 2014 19:27:12 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[5 Things to Know About New House GOP Leader McCarthy]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 15:14:41 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/450883992.jpg

House Republicans are getting a new second-in-command this week, as Rep. Kevin McCarthy takes over for outgoing House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

The California native was selected for the position in June, after Cantor was handed a surprising defeat by a little-known GOP challenger in Virgnia's primary election.

The promotion puts the 49-year-old McCarthy, who has quickly risen through the leadership ranks during his four terms in Congress, next in line to potentially succeed House Speaker John Boehner.

Here are five things you may not know about the new majority leader:

He got his (lucky) start in sandwiches.

A young McCarthy used a $5,000 lottery prize to start his own business, opening a sandwich shop called Kevin O's Deli at age 19. The shop he has descibed as "Subway before there was Subway," offered "fresh Dutch Krunch white rolls every day," and sandwiches "hot upon request," according to The Orange County Register. McCarthy says he used the profits from later selling that deli to finance his college education. The experience of building a business before hitting 21, he says, helped shape his views on limited government regulations and taxes.

He sees (some of) himself in “House of Cards.”

When Netflix’s popular political drama debuted in 2013, a few things felt a little too familiar to McCarthy, who, like the show’s fictional lead, Rep. Francis Underwood, served as majority whip. That framed whip hanging in Underwood’s office? A spitting image of the one McCarthy received as a gift from Cantor. The scene where Underwood, played by Kevin Spacey, tells members “Vote your district, vote your conscience, don't surprise me"? Sounds strikingly like what McCarthy says he tells his own conference. The real-life whip believes those nods came out of a meet-and-greet he had with Spacey before the show started filming. He says the similarities between him and Underwood, a Democrat known for his duplicitous and Machiavellian ways, stop at those superficial references, though. "This one is made professionally about Washington, but it's not Washington," he said of the show during an appearance in Sacramento. "Don't believe what you see in there, but it's intriguing."

He co-starred with Arnold Schwarzenegger.

In the California state Capitol, that is. McCarthy, first elected to represent his home district in Kern County in the state Legislature in 2002, rose to leader of the Assembly’s Republican caucus during his first term. That put him at the bargaining table with then-Gov. Schwarzenegger, who entered office via a 2003 recall election, on state budget negotiations and other major issues facing the Golden State. McCarthy left California's Capitol for the halls of Congress after the 2006 election, when he won the House seat vacated by his own political mentor and former boss, former Republican Rep. Bill Thomas.

He’s an all-star Instagrammer.

McCarthy’s filter-laden Instagram account has attracted more than 12,000 followers to date. While cameos from the likes of Beyonce, Ringo Star and cute dogs don’t hurt, the GOP congressman also uses the social platform to post behind-the-scenes photos from his political and personal life (including frequent “Throwback Thursday” pictures). His social media savvy led BuzzFeed to name him the “best Republican congressman on Instagram” in 2013.

 


He splits with some GOP conservatives on immigration.

McCarthy hails from one of the nation's bluest states. But the California native hasn’t strayed much from the GOP line in his own time in office, voting with his party 96 percent of the time, according to one Washington Post analysis.  Still, he's split with the more conservative factions of his caucus on at least one key issue seen as a potential factor in Cantor’s primary defeat: immigration reform. Unlike his tea party-aligned colleagues, McCarthy has expressed support for creating a path to legal status for the country’s undocumented immigrants. His campaign for majority leader drew criticism from some conservative commentators, who blasted his backing of immigration reform, Sandy relief funding and a budget compromise. Despite some differences in ideology and style, McCarthy, a skilled networker and social butterfly, has made many friends in Washington, thanks in part to his success in raising cash and building a program to train and support up-and-coming candidates.
 

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Yee Pleads Not Guilty to RICO Count]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 13:43:35 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/07-31-2014-leland-yee.jpg

Suspended state Sen. Leland Yee pleaded not guilty on Thursday – as he did before to previous charges – to the latest racketeering charge, which alone carries a maximum 20-year sentence.

The senator, who is out on $500,000 bond, appeared to be in a good mood in the hallway of the U.S. District Court in San Francisco.

"I'll talk to my attorney and see where we go from there," Yee told reporters while leaving the courthouse in a charcoal gray suit.

His next court date is scheduled for Aug. 7.

Yee and more than two dozen others were swept up in a wide-reaching federal investigation in late March, first reported by NBC Bay Area, during an FBI raid on Yee’s office.

The San Francisco Democrat is accused of a string of illegal actions in exchange for campaign contributions, including conspiring to mastermind an international arms deal involving machine guns to an undercover FBI agent posing as a mob figure and, as alleged in the most recent indictment, offering his support on legislation for the NFL.

In April, Yee pleaded not guilty to the first set of charges. He is being represented by Curtis Briggs, who said in a previous interview that the government's case is very "weak" against Yee, who is still being paid his annual salary of $90,000.

But on Friday, federal prosecutors added the racketeering count, under the statute known as RICO, to a superseding grand jury indictment. A racketeering conviction carries a possible prison sentence of 20 years or more and huge fines.



That means Yee now faces three additional charges: one count of "conspiracy to conduct the affairs of an enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity" and two counts of conspiracy "to obtain property under the color of official right."

The revised indictment alleges that Yee tried to extort "individuals and professional sports teams related to the passage of legislation governing the ability of professional athletes to collect workers compensation for injuries in California."

In 2013, investigators allege that Yee told an undercover FBI agent posing as an Arizona businessman that he should contact an NFL team owner the agent claimed to know and the owner "should contact Yee with an offer to help Yee," because he would be a key vote on the workers compensation bill, according to the indictment.

The undercover agent allegedly asked Yee how much his vote would cost. "Oh no," Yee is accused of having replied. "We gotta drag it out, man. We gotta juice this thing."



The undercover agent offered Yee $60,000 for his vote, the indictment reports, but Yee, after voting for the bill in committee, did not receive a campaign contribution. Yee abstained when the full Senate approved the bill.

The documents do not implicate the NFL.

If convicted on all counts, Yee faces a maximum of 165 years in prison and $2.25 million in penalties.



The revised grand jury indictment now includes 228 charges against 29 defendants.

Two of those high profile defendants have already entered not guilty pleas. They include: Keith Jackson, a former Yee consultant and San Francisco school board president and Chinatown gang leader,  Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow.

Chow's attorney, Tony Serra, said outside U.S. District Court on Wednesday that the government's case is weak, and that the grand jury would indict a "ham sandwich."



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[CA Has 1st Openly Gay Governor - For Part of Day]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 14:39:14 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/toni+atkins+swearing+in.jpg

For eight or nine hours on Wednesday, California Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins will be acting as the state's top chief executive— the first openly gay governor in state history.

That's because this week, the three above her on the state org chart are not in town.

Gov. Jerry Brown is on a trade mission in Mexico this week. As the Washington Post noted, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom filled in for a bit, but is on the East Coast for a Special Olympics event. Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg then took over for a while, but he had plans to be in Chicago on Wednesday.

"I feel so grateful," Atkins said in an email on Wednesday forwarded by her spokesman. "I wish my parents could see this. Now I know that may sound hokey to many. But honestly, this is what is going through my mind. If Governor Brown wants a few more days away I'm here for him!"

Atkins spokesman Will Shuck confirmed Atkins will "hold the role of acting governor for approximately one business day, ending this evening on the return of governor." 

Atkins, D-San Diego, is the first openly lesbian leader of either California chamber, succeeding the first openly gay Assembly speaker, John Pérez, a Democrat from Los Angeles.

She shared on her Facebook page that filling in is nothing new: during her time on the San Diego city council, the now 51-year-old Atkins served as acting mayor after other city officials stepped down. She was the first lesbian to hold that position, too.

But Atkins was not focusing on making history due to her sexual orientation on Wednesday. She took the opportunity to highlight her roots -- growing up "in poverty in Virginia" -- and her journey to becoming acting governor for a day.

Atkins, who has focused on funding state universities and advocating for victims of violence and abuse during her time at the Capitol, had a full calendar ahead of her.

But the first act, she tweeted out, was to make sure the temporary first dogs of California - Haley and Joey -  got their morning walk. She shares her pooches with wife, Jennifer LeSar, in the South Park/Golden Hill community of San Diego.

 



Photo Credit: CA State Assembly]]>
<![CDATA[Noted GOP Crusader to Attend Burning Man]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 09:57:45 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/160*120/BM+People+2013-043.JPG

Grover Norquist is going to Burning Man.

The anti-tax, pro-Republican activist was invited, after all.

Aficionados of the annual free-for-all in the desert were agog this week after hearing the news that Norquist, a hero on the right and a demon to many on the left for his staunch stance against income taxes and the social programs they fund, would be attending Burning Man next month.

He actually had planned to attend in 2012, on Larry Harvey's invitation, but found -- to his chagrin -- that the Republican National Convention was the same day.

Norquist told reporters that he'd "go with the flow" upon arrival in Black Rock City. What that means exactly is unclear -- will he flog low taxes in geodesic domes, inform fairy-winged day-trippers of the meaning of job creation? 

Maybe he just wants to get away from it all.



Photo Credit: Josh Keppel]]>
<![CDATA[Minimum Wage Push Triggers Shove by Mayor, Business]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 06:51:10 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Minimumwagephoto-PIC_0.jpg

A minimum wage higher than the state’s was adopted by San Diego's City Council Monday-- setting the stage for more fighting at City Hall, possibly the ballot box and in the courts.

The council Democrats' 6-to-3 super-majority gave Monday’s "second reading" passage of the wage ordinance a political heat shield against the veto power that Mayor Kevin Faulconer quickly announced he'll invoke.

Business leaders are dead-set against the measure, and small-scale merchants who rely on minimum wage workforces warn that they'll soon wind up paying around $4,600 a year more per employee in payroll costs and taxes.

"I can't increase my costs like some businesses can,” said Ann Kinner, owner of Seabreeze Books and Charts in Point Loma’s Fleetridge district.

“The only thing I can do is cut the number of hours that I am paying someone to work in my store,” Kinner told reporters at a Monday news conference outside the offices of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Nonprofit charitable and community-service organizations also are up in arms.

"The bottom line is that this ordinance would negatively impact thousands of people,” said Mark Klaus, CEO of Home of Guiding Hands. “Thousands of children, adults, adolescents and their families."

Some 200,000 minimum wage earners in San Diego will be eligible for an increase over the state's new benchmark of $9 an hour to $9.75 on January 1st, with further hikes phased in to $11.50 an hour by 2017, followed by automatic inflation escalators.

Critics predict that the cumulative 43 percent rise in wages over two years will lead to higher consumer prices that could result in layoffs and work-shift reductions.

They also say one in six businesses in San Diego would be inclined to move elsewhere.

But supporters say those dire predictions were made in San Jose two years ago, when voters approved a $10 hourly minimum by a 60-to-40 percent majority -- and they didn't come true.

“The reality was that 9,000 new businesses were added one year after implementation, and 4,000 jobs were added in the low-wage sectors," said Robert Nothoff, research analyst at the Center on Policy Initiatives.

Nothoff figures the higher minimum wages will boost recipients’ spending power by a combined $260 million annually, smoothing out whatever economic disruptions businesses may experience.

“The cure to all of that,” he said in an interview Monday, “is making sure people can actually buy products at your shop and at your store."

Faulconer’s not buying that logic.

“This ordinance puts our job growth in jeopardy and will lead to higher prices and layoffs for San Diego families,” the mayor said in a statement issued by his director of media relations. “I will veto this ordinance because we should be looking for ways to create more jobs, not putting up roadblocks to opportunities.”

The fight doesn't figure to end with a council override of Faulconer's veto.

The Chamber of Commerce is already fundraising for a referendum campaign against the minimum wage measure, which includes “earned sick leave” provisions.

Said Chamber President/CEO Jerry Sanders, in a statement: “The City Council’s minimum wage increase is effectively a tax on every San Diego resident because the cost of this increased wage will be passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices in goods and services.”

There's a tight time window for a petition signature drive to qualify as a ballot-box challenge, but activists say it's "do-able" – and that legal challenges also are a possibility.



Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Escondido Denies Immigrant Children Housing Permit]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 12:51:21 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Immigration+children.jpg

The planning commission for the city of Escondido has denied a permit for a temporary shelter for undocumented immigrant children.

Impassioned pleas from Escondido residents filled City Hall late Tuesday as the city’s planning commission considered whether to reverse a recent vote denying a permit to the non-profit organization Southwest Key.

The proposed facility would offer housing for an influx of unaccompanied minors who have entered the U.S. from Central America. San Diego County has limited beds for immigrant children as they await legal proceedings to determine if they can seek asylum from the violence and poverty in their home countries.

Supporters of the shelter took to the podium to urge commissioners to allow it to go forward.

“This is a human issue,” said Effie Collins, who’s changed her own mind on immigration. “Not an issue between haves and have nots.”

"What’s happening to these kids has personal meaning for me,” said another woman. “Just before World War I, my Dutch grandmother was determined to get out of Europe with her son: my father."

One by one, people tried to persuade commissioners to allow the now-shuttered Palomar Continuing Care Center to be turned into a 96-bed shelter for undocumented immigrant children.

Despite a pre-meeting, pro-shelter march to City Hall, with protestors chanting at times "We're a community without borders," the planning commission voted not to allow the children's facility in Escondido.

Resident Jack Bennett was happy.

“They need to be with their parents,“ he said about the children the facility would house. “They need to be in their home country with their parents. That’s not being racist. “

Commissioners said they were denying the permit based on inappropriate and too intensive of land use, traffic, noise and safety.

The vote not to convert the facility doesn't just mean the immigrant minors won't be housed in Escondido. It also means the estimated $8.5 million and about 100 jobs the shelter was projected to bring into North County will not be coming.

The decision can be appealed within the next ten days. If it is, the city council will make the deciding vote.

Southwest Key already operates two other shelters in San Diego County.
 



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Worker to Mayor: Don't Take Minimum Wage Hike From Me]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 14:47:07 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/minimum-wage-rally-0722.jpg

Biviana Lagunas, a full-time San Diego State University student with a part-time job, is asking for the mayor's help.

“We're short every single month on the rent. That's why I have a job... to pay for my education,” she said.

A typical day for Lagunas starts at 5:30 a.m. and ends at midnight. She works seven hours, attends class for five hours and then goes home where she’ll work on homework until she goes to sleep.

She believes an increase in the city's minimum wage would really help her family. Describing how her mother struggles brings her to tears.

“I don’t think my mother working full time should live in poverty,” said Lagunas.

Lagunas was among dozens of San Diegans who were joined by interfaith leaders outside City Hall Tuesday. 

They carried roses and bread - symbolic gifts - to Mayor Kevin Faulconer's office to ask that he sign the minimum wage increase recently approved by the City Council.

Faulconer was unavailable so the delegation spoke to his chief of staff instead.

The City Council voted last week to increase the hourly minimum wage to $9.75 on January 1, 2015 and then to $10.50 in 2016 and $11.50 in 2017.

The ordinance requires a second reading before it is officially adopted. Faulconer, who opposes the measure, will then have 10 days to sign or veto the ordinance.

The delegation presented a check made out to the mayor, for $1560 per month with a message on the memo line, “Can you live on this?"

“Maybe if he pay everybody a livable wage, somebody can come live next to him,” Marcus Nichols said.

Nichols told NBC 7 he lives in his car right now despite holding down two jobs. He said he’s considering picking up a third job.

“If they really care about the citizens as he says he does, he would raise the minimum wage to a living standard,” Nichols said about Mayor Faulconer.

As the first person in her family to graduate high school, Lagunas said she’s attending SDSU to better herself and have a higher income earning potential.

“My mom has to go to work sick. My 18-year-old sister has to take care of my 4-year-old brother when he's sick because my mom can't miss a day of work,” she said. “I'm just asking Mayor Faulconer to not take this away from me and sign the ordinance.”

Peter Brownell, Ph.D. Research Director at the Center on Policy Initiatives said raising the minimum wage helps all workers, not just those in entry-level jobs.

The increase would put additional money into the pocket of low-wage earners will stimulate the economy and help parents of children living in poverty or with unmet needs, he said.

“What kind of San Diego do we want to see now and in the future?” Brownell asks.

The mayor and other critics of the ordinance have said a wage increase could cost jobs as businesses let workers go to make up for increased salaries.

Other small business owners say a minimum wage above the state minimum wage will pressure other businesses to give raises to their better-paid workers as well. So other workers will soon be expecting a bump in salaries, they said.

Opponents also warn of higher costs for consumers.



Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Prop 47 Aims for Softer Sentences, School Funding]]> Sat, 19 Jul 2014 08:35:10 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/226*120/prison.png

 A new proposition slated for California’s November ballot would make thousands of criminals eligible for re-sentencing in an effort to fund education.

Proposition 47 – also known as the “Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Initiative” – aims to reclassify current non-violent crimes like drug possession or petty theft from felonies to misdemeanors, unless the prisoner has prior convictions for violent and serious crimes.

Supporters say by reducing the convict’s sentence and therefore reducing the prison population, the state could save more than a billion dollars over five years.

An estimated $150 million to $250 million would go toward mental health programs and schools.

One supporter of Prop 47 is former San Diego Police Chief William Lansdowne.

Under his 11 year tenure, hundreds of such non-violent criminals were sentenced to terms at Donovan Correctional Facility.

But now, the retired top cop is taking a different stance on sentencing laws.

“I’ve got 49 years in this business, and it’s clear warehousing people doesn’t work,” said Lansdowne. “You’ll have to look at real crime prevention in long-term, and that’s treatment and prevention.”

But another big name in law enforcement – District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis – disagrees, noting that the illegal possession of date rape dugs will be reduced to a “slap on the wrist” and stealing any handgun worth less than $950 will no longer be a felony, according to DA spokesman Steve Walker.

“The San Diego District Attorney’s office opposes Prop 47 and is working with other prosecutors in the state to defeat this ill-conceived initiative,” said Walker.

There is also concern that judges will not be able to block the early release of inmates who have prior convictions for serious crimes.

The spokesperson for the San Diego Unified School District said they were not familiar enough with this issue to comment at this time.

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<![CDATA[Edibles Future in San Diego Unclear ]]> Thu, 17 Jul 2014 10:41:10 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Marijuana-generic-medical-l.jpg

Ocean Beach resident Larry Sweet is living with stage-4 liver cancer and has been managing his pain with a combination of smoking and eating medical marijuana.

He’s relieved a ban on edibles and hash oil did not make it through San Diego’s Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee Wednesday.

However he’s still concerned the idea will come up again.

“Quite frankly cannabis saved my life. I wouldn't have made it through the year without it,” Lee said.

Councilmember and committee chair, Mari Emerald, initially proposed the ban. She said it was a public safety issue.

“We have a void when it comes to regulation,” Emerald said. “Until they do, I want to make sure consumers in this community is protected.”

Emerald went on to express her concerns for particularly vulnerable patients taking edibles.

“These people are more susceptible to harm, food poisoning than the general population. They're going to get sicker. They're more at risk,” she said.

In November, an ordinance on medical marijuana dealing with permits and business taxes will go before the San Diego City Council.

NBC7 heard Marti Emerald could address the issue again then, that is if the state does not do something about regulation.



Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Marijuana Edibles, Hash Oil Ban Considered]]> Wed, 16 Jul 2014 19:32:13 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/marijuana+generic.jpg

A San Diego City Council committee is considering banning edible marijuana products like cookies and brownies as well as the by-products of the plant such as hash oil.

City Councilmember Marti Emerald wants to ban edibles and hashish oils from being sold out of medical marijuana dispensaries.

She told NBC 7 she’s concerned about the safety of hash oil and food products such as brownies and lollipops.

Until there is government oversight, Emerald said, the products should be pulled off dispensary shelves.

“I think we need to have a safety net for consumers,” Emerald said. “Especially the sick, vulnerable patients who go to these stores, who look for something to relieve symptoms.”

“Here we have a growing industry that is making a considerable profit off food products and various by products of marijuana, and no government entity is watching,” she added.

Emerald is concerned that marijuana brownies and cookies could cause salmonella poisoning, just for starters. She also worries that not enough is known about what is in the hash oil.

However, medical marijuana advocates argue that the edibles and hash oil are the very alternatives used by the sickest of patients who can't or don’t want to smoke it.

Medicinal marijuana advocate Cynara Velazquez believes an outright ban is not the answer.

“In the meantime who suffers?” Velazquez asked. “People with MS, children whose epilepsy is being controlled by this. I don’t think banning is the right thing to do for something that cannot cause death by overdose.”

Advocates said they are offering a version of regulations that local leaders can consider adopting until the state issues its own regulations. The issue was discussed Wednesday at a meeting of the Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee.

“Who is going to be hurt by this ban are the patients who don't smoke, who are really sick and don't use it as a recreational drug,” said one speaker at the meeting.

Meanwhile, another speaker agreed with Emerald, saying we would all be shocked if we saw how filthy some of the “pot shops” are

The ban did not make it out of committee, but an ordinance on medical marijuana dealing with permits and business taxes will go before the full San Diego City Council in November.

A spokesperson for Emerald said she could bring up the ban again at that time, if the state of California does not do something to address the lack of regulations before then.

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<![CDATA[New Plan for Horton Plaza Park Cost]]> Wed, 16 Jul 2014 08:45:38 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/horton+plaza+park+wall.jpg

The San Diego City Council voted Tuesday to unanimously approve a plan for more funding for the Horton Plaza Park.

First announced almost four years ago, the proposed expansion of historic Horton Plaza Park on the 300 block of Broadway, east of 3rd Avenue has stalled.

The project was supposed to cost $8 million but because of delays and higher construction costs, the price tag has increased to $18 million.

City Council President Todd Gloria says the state should pay because it got rid of redevelopment.

He says this was an enforceable contract between the city and the redevelopment agency so the state's on the hook for the additional costs.

Before Tuesday's vote, he talked about why this project is so important.

"We have a lot of small businesses around that proposed park that are suffering because of the lack of construction, the lack of completion of that project," Gloria said.

If the state Department of Finance approves the additional costs, the project could be done in a year, Gloria said.

It's been a year and a half since a couple of major retail and restaurant buildings were demolished to make way for what city officials said in 2010 would be a showcase.

In a best-case scenario, officials say the park could still open in November of next year.



Photo Credit: Gene Cubbison]]>
<![CDATA[Calif. Regulators Vote in Favor of Water Restrictions]]> Sat, 19 Jul 2014 09:44:29 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Garden+hose+1200.jpg

California is running dry.

And state regulators are moving to crack down on people's outdoor water use.

On Tuesday evening, members of the California Water Resources Control Board voted in favor of a set of restrictions that haven’t been imposed statewide in more than two decades. The restrictions take effect on Aug. 1.

Violators could face fines of $500 a day – a prospect that’s rubbing some people the wrong way.

So is the idea that a neighbor might rat you out for an unnoticed irrigation leak – as has begun happening statewide since the proposals were introduced last week.

"There's better ways to do it,” says Imperial Beach resident Amber Schad. “ They used to give you pieces of paper that you could fill out if you see your neighbor doing what they're not supposed to be doing, being a waster. You go put it on your door and it says, I see you, this is a neighborly way to say, let's stop doing what you're doing."

But others predict statewide enforcement, likely on a “complaints basis”, will be more proactive than suggestive.”

"Nowadays, neighbors don't care about each other,” Santee Resident Georgiana Bellows told NBC 7 in an interview Monday. “So you're going to have a lot of snitchers. You're going to have a lot of 'Well, I'm doing the right thing -- look at them, they just left their water on. Their kids are playing in the water on the lawn. Oh, no, they're in the sprinklers."

Lawn irrigation would be limited to no more than two days a week, except in local districts with time-of-day regulations and other “offsets," as most do in San Diego County.

No runoff would be allowed, or pavement-spraying.

Car-washers will need a shut-off hose to spruce up their rides.

Local water officials say most local districts' policies should present no conflicts with the state's new rules, and that residents in San Diego County have considerably reduced water use over the past two decades.

"The girls and I wash the car and we have a hose with a gun to it, to turn on and off,” says Solana Beach resident Christy Day. “They're six and 10 and I'm constantly reminding them, 'We've got to be careful, we can't spray each other, we can't play out here … because we've got to save the water'."

To homeowners who fear their lawns going brown -- and threats to their pools coming next -- environmental experts say, don't despair.

"There are many ways to adjust the landscape; California-native plants that can really use water wisely and still make you proud of your home,” advises public policy consultant Carl Nettleton. “Pools also, there are great ways to save water. If I understand it correctly, if you put a pool cover on your pool, you cut out 95 percent of the evaporation."

Meantime, there have been calls for moratoriums on construction permits.

But building industry executives say their new projects account for less than 1 percent of the residential housing supply here – and that the homes are the most state-of-the art in water efficiency.

"If every existing home was built to the standard that new construction has today, you would save 300 billion gallons each year,” says Matthew Adams, vice president of San Diego’s Building Industry Assn. “So we have to get into retrofitting. And we have to get in with more education for people who are here. And not look at new construction as a way to get us out of this."
 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA["6 Californias" Bid Aims for Ballot]]> Tue, 15 Jul 2014 16:06:11 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/california-state-flag.jpg

A campaign to put a measure that would turn California into six distinct states on the ballot has collected 1.3 million signatures, proponents said Tuesday — more than enough to put it on the 2016 ballot if they are all valid.

The news on the controversial idea came via media conference in Sacramento on Tuesday, and on the group's Twitter page. The signatures will need to be verified and certified by the secretary of state. Slightly more than 800,000 valid signatures are needed to place the measure on the ballot in two years.

Venture capitalist Tim Draper and his supporters shave been working hard to take this idea straight to California voters because the plan would require a constitutional amendment.

With California home to 38 million people and the nation's most populated state, Draper said the state has become ungovernable and can no longer meet the needs of its citizens.

Draper has invested $5 million into his efforts to get California split into six states. And while many people have signed on to the idea, most political experts think the chance of it actually becoming reality are unlikely. The latest Field Poll showed that 59 percent of those surveyed opposed the idea.

"I think it's crazy," Linda Parent of San Francisco said early Tuesday morning.

And speaking from Washington, D.C., U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Orange County) said she didn't like the idea either.

“I’ll be voting against that ballot iniative in California," she said. "One of the great things about having a state like ours, is it’s so diverse in people, different industries and economies. I think together we’re the sum of the parts is so more than breaking up the state.”

But John Lane, also of San Francisco, didn't completely write off the idea. "It's a complex issue but an interesting one."

NBC Bay Area political consultant Larry Gerston questions the many potential pitfalls of the plan. How would water be shared among the six new states? Would the state prisons be relocated? How would students who attend University of California schools pay tuition - would they pay out-of-state rates? And would Congress really approve a plan that gave the region 12 senators instead of the current two?

Still, Gerston added, the idea isn't dead on arrival either.

"You wonder if it might pass because so many people are so fed up with government," he told NBC Bay Area in a previous interview. "And even if it only qualifies for the ballot, it still speaks volumes."

Here is how the proposal would divide the state:

  • Northern, rural California would become the State of Jefferson
  • Area from Wine Country and Sacramento to Lake Tahoe would become North California
  • The State of Silicon Valley would run from San Francisco to Santa Clara County
  • Much of the state's Central Valley would become Central California
  • The Los Angeles County basin would be called West California
  • The area from San Diego to the desert in the east would become South California

 NBC Universal's Jennifer Vasquez contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: Getty]]>
<![CDATA[SD Council Votes to Increase Minimum Wage ]]> Tue, 15 Jul 2014 06:58:25 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/minimum-wage-sd-0714.jpg

The San Diego City Council approved a hike to the city's minimum wage and a chance to earn five sick days a year at a special Monday evening hearing.

After hearing comments from councilmembers and the public for two and a half hours, the council voted 6-3 along party lines on the measure that bumps the wage to $9.75 on Jan. 1, 2015, $10.50 in 2016 and $11.50 in 2017.

That phased-in minimum wage hike represents quite a comedown from an original proposal of $13.09 an hour, and its backers are pointing to the example of a local grocery chain that's already gone to $10 an hour, so far without price increases.

"We are family-owned, and if that means at the end of the day that there's a little bit less for the people who own Jimbo's, so be it,” said “Jimbo’s …Naturally” founder and owner Jim Someck. “But I've found in the past when we make changes like that, somehow the bottom line tends to continue to stay strong.

“Whether that's because we get more efficient, or because the volume of the company goes up -- sales increase, customers get treated better -- it just has a rippling effect. When we do something right, it takes care of itself."

In an interview Monday at Jimbo’s downtown location in the Westfield Horton Plaza mall, Someck said employees at his five locations in San Diego County average between $14 and $15 an hour and receive no tips.

He told NBC 7 that he'll look to keep ahead of not just the state's minimum wage, but whatever might be in effect citywide going forward.

Jimbo’s is giving its higher-paid workers commensurate raises too, in the belief that they help recruit and retain experienced workers – and is just good business.

"I don't think there's any reason to penalize people who have been here and gotten the experience,” Someck explained. “If we're raising the bottom-line people, then we can also take care of the people who have been here for a while."

But critics of the city measure say Jimbo's has a specialized employment structure with a clientele that can afford products at higher price points.

Moe Sadighian, who operates three cafes downtown, said minimums above the state's will pressure other businesses to give raises to their better-paid workers as well.

"Somebody who's making above the minimum wage is expecting the same amount of increment in their wage,” said Sadighian, whose partnership owns Mariscos El Pulpo, Funky Sanchez’s and The Reef in the Gaslamp Quarter.

According to Sadighian, friends with smaller restaurants fear they'll need to shorten work shifts, resort to layoffs and lose customers who balk at increases in menu prices that will have to be made.

“They have six to eight, nine to ten employees and they tell me if this happens, they're not going to make it,” Sadighian related. “No one's going to pay $4 for a taco when average taco is going for $2."

Sadighian believes there’s a chance employees actually will wind up making less following a minimum wage hike: "Let's be very frank about it. They live off their tips. Their tips is where they make the most money. So when (a minimum wage increase) happens, there's less customers. There's less tips."

The minimum wage measure is linked to a proposal calling for five days of "earned sick leave".

Opponents are expected to launch a ballot challenge.



Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Murrieta Mayor on Border Crisis: "We Tried to Help"]]> Sun, 13 Jul 2014 03:57:17 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/MurrietMayor_1200x675_302463555571.jpg

No more Central American immigrants will be transferred from Texas to San Diego, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials. But officials say those who protested the controversial plan shouldn't cry victory. 

CBP officials announced Friday that its officers have reduced the backlog of undocumented immigrants in southern Texas and can now process the remaining undocumented immigrants there.

Approximately 400 women and children were moved to Southern California this month to help with what’s been described by the Obama administration as a humanitarian crisis of unaccompanied minors in federal custody along the U.S. - Mexico border.

Three chartered plans brought the immigrants to Lindbergh Field. The original plans to then bus them to the CBP Murrieta station for processing were thwarted when an angry crowd blocked the buses and forced agents to send the women and children to facilities in San Diego County.

The protests in Murrieta had nothing to do with the decision, officials said.

Before the first flight arrived, Murrieta Mayor Alan Long criticized the plan and sided with those protesting the arrival of the immigrants to his city.

"The true solution to this would be a collaborative effort of a region standing up and sending a message to Washington, D.C. to put a stop to it so we stop having to manage their headache,” Long announced at a June 30 press conference.

A few days later, the mayor said the city's residents were feeling "dumped on."

On Friday, in an interview with NBC News, Long called for compassion.

He said he toured the Murrieta CBP facility and found it lacking in services to help those arriving in his city.

“These were jail cells,” said Long. “These poor children were transported all over sick. They were ill.”

He said his city offered to help the federal government by offering mobile healthcare.

“Contrary to what you saw on the video, Murrieta tried to step in and help make sure they were processed efficiently and given proper healthcare,” the mayor said.

While criticizing federal agents for “sending sick people all over the nation,” he also claimed both sides of the immigration debate want the same thing.

“We have to have laws that are efficient, but we have to show people compassion as well,” Long said.

San Diego immigration activist Enrique Morones called for an investigation into how Murrieta police handled the July 1 protest that turned immigrants away from the processing facility.

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<![CDATA[El Cajon Decides Fate of Half-Cent Sales Tax]]> Fri, 11 Jul 2014 08:08:40 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/236*120/shoes1112.jpg

In El Cajon, there will be no extension of a sales tax hike put in place by voters 10 years ago.

The sales tax in the city will drop by a half cent next year.

In 2004, voters approved Proposition O to raise money to build new public safety buildings or fix aging facilities.

Over the past decade, city officials say the additional sales tax raised more than $100 million and helped in the building of Fire Station #8 and other city improvements.

The city council agreed not to ask residents for an extension of the half cent tax increase, since those projects are near completion.

 

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<![CDATA[Restaurateurs Nervous Over Minimum Wage Hike]]> Tue, 08 Jul 2014 19:22:50 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/minimum+wage+worker+new+jersey.jpg

Entrepreneurs in San Diego's restaurant industry are still digesting last week's dollar-an-hour hike in the state's minimum wage, crossing their fingers that they won't eventually take a financial hit that’s too hard to absorb.

In 18 months, California's new $9-an-hour requirement will go to ten bucks an hour.

But here in San Diego, there could be a citywide minimum of $9.75 by next year, $10.50 by 2016, and $11.50 in 2017.

Those phased-in levels got preliminary approval from the City Council last month, and are expected to come back for review at a special evening meeting on July 14.

Minimum wage hikes are a sore subject for restaurateurs.

While lobbying in opposition within the political arena, they take pains not to alienate their employees in the media.

But many insist there's a risk to workers' hours -- and their jobs altogether -- if there's a need for higher prices that diners won't swallow.

And some will venture to go on the record in trying to make that case.

"Going out to eat is an entertainment. It's not a need, it's a want -- people can control their wants,” says Moe Sadighian, managing partner in an ownership group that operates three restaurants in downtown San Diego and another National City’s Bay Marina Drive.

"You're not going to go out to eat three times a week,” Sadighian told NBC 7 in an interview Tuesday at Goodie’s Bar & Grill, the National City establishment. “You're going to cut it down to one -- or none. So that's going to affect, more than anything, minimum-wage employees in restaurants and hotels."

Sadighian said his restaurant group – which also includes The Reef, El Pulpo and Funky Garcia in the Gaslamp Quarter – has a total workforce of120 employees who earn an average of $19 a hour that includes shared tips.

With smart planning ahead of last week's wage hike, the owners avoided layoffs by shortening some work shifts, and menu prices were kept 'status quo'.

But the momentum for more wage increases -- which add 35 to 40 cents per dollar in “behind-the-scenes” taxes and workers' comp costs -- is a real concern facing the group's downtown establishments.

Holding the 'price points' without having to shed jobs figures to be a challenge.

As Sadighian sees it: “Everything's going to go up. Gas is going to go up, groceries are going to go up. It's dominoes. So tell me, how is this going to get us out of poverty if everybody raises our prices?"

The partnership has three more restaurants in the planning stages, two in San Diego.

Sadighian says one of the latter has been put on a back burner until the local industry's economics get a lot clearer.

If the increases contemplated at San Diego City Hall go through, either by ordinance or at the ballot box, Sadighian fears a worst-case scenario.

"There are going to be layoffs, I can guarantee it,” he predicts. “The service in the industry is not going to be as good -- as in any industry -- because they're going to have less people working to do twice-as-hard jobs. And it's unfeasible.

“You're going to have to raise the prices. So with that and the Health Care Act and everything, it's bottlenecking."
 

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<![CDATA[Local Educator Joins Fight Against 'Re-Homing']]> Wed, 09 Jul 2014 03:56:51 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Jenee-Littrell-0708.jpg

A San Diego-based educator has joined the fight against child trafficking and a practice called “re-homing,” which involves the online advertising of adopted children without the oversight of child welfare agencies.

On Tuesday, Grossmont Unified High School District (GUHSD) assistant principal Jenee’ Littrell attended a subcommittee hearing on child trafficking and re-homing held by U.S. Senator Kay Hagan in Washington, D.C.

The hearing – titled “Falling Through the Cracks: The Challenges of Prevention and Identification in Child Trafficking and Private Re-homing” – examined how child victims of trafficking and re-homing may go unidentified, misidentified or unreported due to gaps in training and education of health care providers, school personnel and social workers.

It was the first-ever hearing held in the Senate on the issue of re-homing of adopted children. The practice first came to light last September after Reuters published the findings of a five-year investigation into the online advertising of adopted children.

Reuters investigative reporter Megan Twohey’s article and investigation uncovered this practice happening in a Yahoo chat forum, where parents were offloading adopted children they no longer wanted via online ads, often with no questions asked.

“Desperate parents use online bulletin boards to offer adoptees to strangers, often illegally and with no government oversight,” she reported.

Twohey reported how this happened to one adopted teenage girl from Haiti who was passed among four families over the course of two years through private re-homing. In her research, she found 5,000 Yahoo messages related to re-homing posted in on chat forum.

Locally, Littrell said the GUHSD is aware of this re-homing practice and devoted to preventing it from happening to students in San Diego.

Littrell said she’s made it her mission to fight child trafficking and helped create a program within her school district to help identify vulnerable students.

The program, she said, increases staff awareness at schools, educates students on dangers and creates a protocol when they identify a victim.

Littrell said part of why the program works is because of open communication between school personnel and law enforcement, probation and child welfare officials.

“Because we care so much about our students, we want to be on the forefront of keeping any of those issues from coming into our schools. However, if they do impact our students we want to have the partnerships there to protect those students and get those students served,” said Littrell.

In the end, she believes prevention is the key to curbing child trafficking.

“It’s time to really get to the parents and families and help young people understand what it looks like when someone is trying to get you to do something that you’re not comfortable with, whether it’s trafficking or doing something else,” Littrell explained. “We can do a lot to reinforce and educate our young people, which I think ultimately will make a huge impact on this issue.”

The subcommittee found that 300,000 children are being trafficked in the U.S. Those children are typically between 11 and 14 years old, with girls being especially vulnerable targets.

Many of these children are still attending school, so the challenge right now is to raise awareness and education among health care providers, social workers and educators so these children don’t go unidentified.

Twohey called Tuesday’s hearing the first step to determining whether the federal government can step in to help protect children from re-homing and trafficking.

“There’s been a lot of outrage and concern at the state, local and international levels,” she said.

Her investigation brought the issue of re-homing into the spotlight. Though Twohey said re-homing doesn’t seem to violate any federal laws, Congress is looking into it.
 



Photo Credit: NBC News]]>
<![CDATA[NBC 7, Local Media Urge DA to Release Letter]]> Mon, 07 Jul 2014 18:31:14 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Bonnie-Dumanis-0603.jpg

 Attorneys for NBC 7 San Diego and ten other local media outlets and journalism groups are urging District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis to release a copy of a recommendation letter she wrote for the son of an wealthy Mexican businessman accused of funneling illegal contributions to Dumanis’s failed 2012 campaign for mayor.

Last month, Dumanis denied a Public Records Act request filed by NBC San Diego, requesting a copy of the letter, which she wrote on District Attorney’s letterhead.

The DA wrote the recommendation letter for Edward Susumo Azano, who had applied to admission at the University of San Diego.

Federal prosecutors say Susumo Azano’s father, Jose Susumo Azano Matsura, violated federal election laws by donating hundreds of thousands of dollars to at least three local politicians, including Dumanis.

Dumanis has downplayed her relationship with the Azano family but refuses to answer any questions about why she wrote the recommendation letter for Azano’s son.

The text of the letter could reveal new information about that relationship.

Dumanis claims the letter is not a public record. Her denial of the NBC 7’s Public Record Act Request raises other alleged exemptions to the state’s public records law.

Attorneys for the media outlets rebutted those arguments in a letter sent Monday afternoon to Deputy District Attorney Brooke Tafreshi.

That letter asks Dumanis to voluntarily release a copy of the letter by 5 p.m. Tuesday.

If Dumanis does comply with the request, NBC 7 and the ten other media outlets intend to file a legal action against the district attorney in Superior Court.

 

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<![CDATA[Berkeley Set to Require Free Medical Pot for Poor]]> Fri, 04 Jul 2014 09:55:16 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/06-11-2014-medical-marijuana-generic.jpg

Medical marijuana dispensaries in Berkeley will likely soon be required to provide free pot to low-income members and homeless people, according to an ordinance approved by the city council on Tuesday.

The city is also looking to approve a fourth dispensary, raising the current limit of three locations.

The proposed ordinance, first reported by the East Bay Express, requires that Berkeley dispensaries give away two percent of the amount of cannabis they sell each year low-income people. And the pot can't be poor quality either. The proposed city ordinance reads (PDF) that the "medical cannabis provided under this section shall be the same quality on average" as marijuana "dispensed to other members."

“It’s sort of a cruel thing that when you are really ill and you do have a serious illness... it can be hard to work, it can be hard to maintain a job and when that happens, your finances suffer and then you can’t buy the medicine you need,” said Sean Luce with the Berkeley Patients Group.

In order to be eligible, a person must qualify for exemption from local taxes and fees, an income level that's set every year by the city council. That equates to $32,000 a year for one person and $46,000 a year for a family of four.

The ordinance is awaiting final approval, but could become law in August.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[New California Laws Take Effect]]> Tue, 01 Jul 2014 09:56:20 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/1086698841.jpg

A host of new laws took effect Tuesday. Here is a look at some of them.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[County Doubles Grant Fund For Supervisors]]> Thu, 26 Jun 2014 12:03:40 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Dianne-Jacob-Dave-Roberts.jpg

 A controversial program that allows each San Diego County supervisor to give grants to community groups has been doubled from $1 million per supervisor to $2 million.

The money comes from a special fund called the Neighborhood Reinvestment Program. It's intended for all types of "brick and mortar" improvements at hundreds of organizations, including schools, libraries, parks and nonprofits. 

For years, the program has been criticized as "pork" by some and championed as necessary community investment by others.

Supervisor Dave Roberts, who each year awards on average the highest number of grants, according to an inewsource analysis of the grant program, made the motion to double the program at Tuesday's board meeting. The move restores the funding to previous levels before it was cut it 2010.

"The economy is improving. We have lots of needs throughout the county, and I made the motion to restore the former funding level. However, I want to take a leadership role in making sure everybody believes this program is open, fair and transparent," Roberts said.

Roberts suggested making sure all the grant applicants are listed on the county's website and instituting rules about supervisors accepting gifts from the nonprofits to which they award grants.

In 2006, Supervisor Ron Roberts and former Supervisor Pam Slater-Price went on international junkets funded by organizations that received more than $718,000 from those officials’ discretionary budgets.

Margaret Dooley-Sammuli, Policy Director for the American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego, said those changes should have been put into place before the fund was doubled in size. 

"This fund has had a troubled past. It has, in the past, been used to benefit the individual supervisors politically," Dooley-Sammuli said.

The money goes to all types of organizations, like the Scripps Health Foundation, the Living Coast Discovery Center, the Natural History Museum and the Children's Museum.

NBC 7 got a close-up look Tuesday at the $500,000 Birdwing Open Air Classroom where children learn about bird species and other animals along the San Dieguito Lagoon. The Birdwing facility was paid for almost entirely by the county fund. 

San Dieguito River Joint Powers Authority Executive Director Dick Bobertz said the facility would not have been possible without the Neighborhood Reinvestment Program. 

"We have people who bring out hawks and live animals and snakes and so forth, and it's just a wonderful variety of educational materials that the kids get access to in the natural habitat, where they can see what's going on," Bobertz said.

Three years ago, Congress put a ban Congressional earmarks -- sometimes referred to as "pork-barrel spending" -- in which the House and Senate can add to bills to benefit people or charity organizations in their own districts. 

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<![CDATA[Local Book Signing for Hillary Rodham Clinton]]> Tue, 24 Jun 2014 15:08:38 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Hillary-Rodham-Clinton-book.jpg

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will be in San Diego Wednesday to sign copies of her newest book. 

Clinton’s book “Hard Choices” was released on June 17 and the former First Lady scheduled a book tour to promote sales. A local signing is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Wednesday at Warwicks in La Jolla.

The event is sold out.

Clinton is considered by many to be the leading Democratic contender for the upcoming 2016 presidential race if she chooses to run for president again.

Republicans have aggressively challenged her record at the State Department in anticipation of another campaign.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Gov. Jerry Brown Signs Budget in San Diego]]> Sat, 21 Jun 2014 03:57:30 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Governor+Jerry+Brown+54674.jpg

California Governor Jerry Brown made a trip to San Diego Friday to sign the one-time 2014-2015 state budget, completing his work at the City Administration Building downtown.

Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins and Senate President Pro-Tem Darrell Steinberg also attended the signing, as well as Assemblymember Nancy Skinner and Senator Mark Leno.

Brown’s budget is designed to pay down debt, bring stability to the teachers’ pension system, build a reliable “Rainy Day Fund” for the state of California and directs additional funding for local schools and health care.

“This on-time budget provides for today and saves for the future,” Brown said in a statement released by his office Friday. “We’re paying off the state’s credit card, saving for the next rainy day and fixing the broken teachers’ retirement system.”

For full details on the governor's budget, click here.

After the signing in San Diego, Brown will travel to Los Angeles to join members of the California Latino Legislative Caucus for a community celebration in recognition of legislation signed last year to help workers and immigrants in California. That event takes place at Los Angeles’ Pico House on Main Street.
 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[NBC's Chuck Todd: Why Cantor Lost]]> Tue, 10 Jun 2014 19:35:52 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000006784560_1200x675_278401091860.jpg NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd explains what led to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's stunning loss in the 7th District.]]> <![CDATA[$1.2B Budget Approved by San Diego City Council]]> Tue, 10 Jun 2014 09:58:35 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/San-Diego-Bay-Skyline-Garske.jpg

The San Diego City Council approved its 2015 budget that comes with a general fund of $1.2 billion.

The budget includes significant public safety funding, including additional police academy recruits, lifeguards and new police civilian positions.

It also includes limited funding for homelessness services, extended library hours and infrastructure repairs like street lights and sidewalks.

The budget was approved eight to one.

Councilman David Alvarez did not support the budget saying it does not serve all neighborhoods in San Diego, only some.
 

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<![CDATA[Neel Kashkari in San Diego]]> Tue, 10 Jun 2014 07:26:44 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Neel-Kashkari-San-Diego-060.jpg Neel Kashkari, GOP candidate for California governor, talked with NBC 7 on June 9, 2014 at a monthly meeting for the San Diego Republican Party. ]]> <![CDATA[‘Dream Act’ Students Mobilize; Critics See Downside]]> Fri, 06 Jun 2014 18:53:44 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Gene5p0606_1200x675_275252803933.jpg

This summer is shaping up as a trying time for many students living in the U.S. illegally.

They're hoping to keep from being deported.

Applying for work permits and college scholarships.

The way many are able to do it goes by the acronym DACA: "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals".

It’s a set of immigration guidelines under a 2012 Executive Order that gives qualified students – starting with having been brought here by undocumented parents before age 16 as of two years ago -- a head start on making a difference in society.

Here's what they say to critics of that approach.

"The idea is that the contributions should really be looked at, and not so much about what all the legalities are,” says Viviana Gonzalez, a graphics design major at San Diego State University who’s lived in the U.S. since she was 11 months old.

Even DACA-ineligible youth continue to contribute in a lot of ways,” Gonzalez told NBC 7 in an interview. "As a college student, I'm given so much more privilege and access to things that I never would have gotten. I know a lot of my friends who aren't able to qualify, for very minor things -- it is very much an exclusive process."

Gonzalez was among a delegation of so-called "Dream Act" college students from throughout the county who gathered Friday morning at San Diego City College to brief journalists on plans for events to help guide students eligible under DACA through the process.

Also on hand: Nestor Venegas, a Palomar College student who’s bound for UC San Diego as projected pre-med major.

Venegas works in a Vista community clinic, and spent time one summer laboring alongside his father in North County agricultural fields.

As he recalls: "I went back to the classroom feeling very grateful for the fact that I got to sit in an A/C classroom listening to professors talk and knowing that I am going to have a better future."

Now Venegas hopes others looking for a pathway to success will benefit from his insights and assistance.

"We see this in all the applicants,” he noted. “They're all very ambitious, and their goals and where they want to be are very high."

Other criteria under the Executive Order guidelines are that students must have lived here for at least five years, and not committed any serious crimes.

Once an applicant's DACA status is granted, it has to be renewed every two years.

More than 7,000 Dream Act students qualified for state scholarships last year, accounting for just over 4 percent of the aid awarded by the CalGrant program.

But immigration hard-liners say DACA sends a message that encourages more illegality, and point to a recent surge in undocumented minors crossing the border alone.

"It's just astounding -- the mockery that has become of our immigration policy,” says Peter Nunez, a former U.S. Attorney in San Diego and founding director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform.

"The Republican Party, the Democratic Party -- for different reasons, representing different special interests, different constituencies -- are all in this together,” Nunez said in an interview Friday. “They have mucked this up beyond recognition."

Nunez lamented that he and like-minded critics are relegated to “playing defense” against what they see as an avalanche of ill-considered “immigration reform” proposals now in play.

"The slope has gotten much slipperier and steeper, and I think Americans have to ask themselves whether it's reversible at this point,” he said. “ I mean, what President in the future is going to have the moxie -- however you want to describe it -- and say, 'Enough is enough'?"
 

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<![CDATA[California Primary Turnout: Worst Ever]]> Thu, 05 Jun 2014 09:33:25 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/06-04-2014-low-turnout.jpg

Prior to yesterday primary election, many predicted that Californians wouldn’t be breaking through doorways filled with excitement to vote. More to the point, many political experts, county registrars and policy analysts said a new record would be set – a record low in terms of voter turnout.

So, was voter turnout low and was a new records set?

Both questions can be answered by this one simple statement: The 2014 California Primary Election will go down as the worst ever in terms of voter turnout.

NBC Bay Area talked with the Secretary of State’s office who said that preliminary numbers showed a little over 18 percent of registered voters actually participated in Tuesday's primary.

This chart shows what turnout looked like in statewide primaries since 1990.

Compared to previous statewide primaries in California, the next lowest voter participation rate was 28% in 2008 election.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Carl DeMaio Happy with Primary Results]]> Wed, 04 Jun 2014 09:05:28 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Carl-DeMaio-0603.jpg Republican challenger Carl DeMaio told NBC 7 his team is excited to tackle the campaign for the November election after June primary results earned him the second spot on the ticket in the coveted 52nd Congressional District.]]> <![CDATA[U.S. Rep. Scott Peters Surprised by Results]]> Wed, 04 Jun 2014 08:57:02 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Scott-Peters-0603.jpg Watch this clip from the interview with U.S. Rep. Scott Peters D-52nd District on the evening of the June primary in California. ]]> <![CDATA[Peters, DeMaio Look to November in 52nd District Race]]> Wed, 04 Jun 2014 09:06:09 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Demaio-Peters-Congressional.jpg

U.S. Rep Scott Peters D-52nd District lost Tuesday night but not at the polls.

The congressman, who admitted he was surprised by the June primary results, told NBC 7 he had lost a bet with his campaign manager. He thought they would be down by 5 percent. She bet him they would be down by 4 percent.

“I’m happy to lose that bet,” Peters said laughing.

With Democrats not showing up at the polls, Peters earned 45 percent of the vote, a good 6 percent above his closest challenger Republican and former San Diego City Councilmember Carl DeMaio.

Peters’ lead suggests DeMaio has some work to do between now and November.

“It really must be a sign that people have noticed I’m taking a bipartisan approach for us to be up,” he said before midnight Tuesday.

With the 52nd District one of only 7 Congressional races considered a pure political tossup this year, the fight is sure to intensify with politcos around the country taking notice.

“I’m running against the traditional politician here. Somebody who talks a good game but hasn’t done anything to solve problems,” DeMaio told NBC 7.

“The best way to take the gloves off is to do what we’re doing, offering bold ideas, positive solutions, running on a record of getting results. That scares the Washington establishment more than anything,” he said.

Peters said they’ve conserved resources to focus on the November election.

He considers the upcoming election the chance for voters to say partisanship and hyper-extremism is not what Americans want out of Congress.



Photo Credit: NBC 7 ]]>
<![CDATA[DA Dumanis to Serve 4th Term]]> Wed, 04 Jun 2014 07:47:33 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Bonnie-Dumanis-0603_2.jpg

San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis will serve a fourth term after beating challengers Bob Brewer and Terri Wyatt in the June primary.

With all precincts reporting, the San Diego County Registrar's Office reports Dumanis held 55 percent of the votes and Brewer earned 34 percent of votes, while Wyatt had earned just over 10 percent.

While Dumanis may be celebrating a victory, her detractors are still demanding questions regarding a letter of recommendation she wrote for the son of a wealthy Mexican businessman who is now facing federal charges for conspiring to influence local elections.

Jose Azano is accused of making illegal contributions to Dumanis's mayoral campaign back in 2012.

This past January, Dumanis said she hardly knows him.

However, most recently, court documents showed Dumanis wrote a letter of recomendation for Azano's son when he applied to college.

NBC 7's Rory Devine tried several times on Tuesday to get Dumanis to talk about the issue.

At one point, Dumanis said "Nice try."

"I'm not ducking anything. I've never ducked anything. But I also respect the criminal justice process," Dumanis said.



Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>