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A good day for Jewish incumbents, but not for other Jewish candidates

June 9, 2010 Leave a comment

By Donald H. Harrison

Donald H. Harrison

SAN DIEGO – Jewish incumbents on San Diego County ballots won election or renomination to their seats in California’s primaries on Tuesday, but most Jewish candidates running for open seats fell short of the mark, or placed second for runoff spots. San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis won outright reelection in a nonpartisan race. U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, Congress Members Susan Davis and Bob Filner, and State Assembly member Marty Block all won renominations in their respective Democratic party primaries. Howard Katz, in an unopposed Democratic primary, won the right to oppose Republican Congressman Darrell Issa, setting up a contest between members of the Jewish and Lebanese-American communities.

Among Jewish hopefuls falling by the wayside were State Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner who lost in an expensive Republican primary contest for governor to Meg Whitman; Orly Taitz, who sought the Republican nomination for Secretary of State; Mike Schmier who placed way back in the GOP race for attorney general; and David Nussbaum who was well behind the pack in the nonpartisan contest for State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

That trend held up in local contests as well: In the 36th State Senate District, Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone came in second to Assemblyman Joel Anderson for the Republican nomination; in the 76th Assembly District, Naomi Bar Lev placed third for the Republican nomination, and in the 6th San Diego City Council District race, Howard Wayne placed behind Lorie Zapf. Because neither Wayne nor Zapf had a majority, they will have a runoff election in November to replace termed-out City Council Member Donna Frye.

In contests in which major Jewish figures played behind-the-scenes roles, there were mixed results. Former County Sheriff Bill Kolender saw his hand-picked successor, Bill Gore, win easy election as sheriff. On the other hand, San Diego City Council member Marti Emerald was unsuccessful in persuading the voters to block the proposal to make the “strong mayor” system of government permanent and to return instead to having a city manager serve as the chief executive of the municipality.

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Harrison is editor of San Diego Jewish World

San Diego County historic places: La Mesa’s Walkway of the Stars

June 3, 2010 Leave a comment


Entrance to La Mesa's Walkway of the STars

By Donald H. Harrison

Donald H. Harrison

LA MESA, California—Between La Mesa Boulevard in the heart of this city’s business district and the Allison Avenue Municipal Parking Lot which serves as a venue for Farmers Markets held on Friday afternoons is an innovative walkway in which murals celebrate volunteerism and stars on the sidewalk honor local volunteers. This small urban mini-park is called The Walkway of the Stars.

To make the large parking lot more accessible to the front of the stores on La Mesa Boulevard, the City of La Mesa decided to purchase an old dry cleaning establishment, demolish everything in it except its steel roof beams, and turn it into a walkway. Murals were painted on the sides of the buildings adjoining the walkway, creating a bright, festive portal to the municipal spirit La Mesa’s leadership would like to inspire.

A wall with the calligraphy of V. Bendik explains: “This pedestrian walkway has been transformed into a landmark initiative known as the Walkway of the Stars. The vibrant urban park was conceived and promoted by Councilwoman Ruth Sterling and approved by the City Council in 2002.

“The concept of the part is to honor La Mesa volunteers who accumulated 10,000 hours or more of volunteer service. These unique people are recognized for their extraordinary achievement by having their names engraved on an individual decorative stone star and placed in the walkway. A corresponding plaque of achievement is permanently displayed at City Hall in appreciation of the accumulated hours of community service amassed by these dedicated volunteers who make La Mesa a better place to live.

“The walls of the park feature murals depicting people in action as community volunteers. The people helping people theme is carried out by the portrayal of some of La Mesa’s greatest volunteer efforts. Keeping with the theme of volunteerism, the artists have pictorially honored La Mesa’s tradition by generously contributing their time and talent to illustrate this spirit of community service. We hope you will enjoy La Mesa’s walkway of the stars.”

One of the murals shows teenage volunteers painting over graffiti – an activity that normally occurs in other parts of the city. But every so often, said Don Feist , a retiree who likes to sit on a bench and watch his neighbors go by, the murals themselves are subjected to graffiti and have to be painted over.

He said such activity seems to occur more often in the summer months.

Another mural shows “Canine Corners,” an area where owners may unleash their dogs within the 53-acre Harry Griffen Park at 9550 Milden Street. The models for the mural were actual La Mesans and their family dogs. Artists Katy Strzelecki and Jane LaValle had a little fun with this mural: There’s a cat stretched out languorously above a community bulletin board—obviously not intimidated in the least by all those dogs. Additionally within the mural there is a bit of trompe l’oeil {fool-the-eye}: a utility box with a dog painted on it is distinguishable from the “real dogs” in the mural, only by close examination.

LaValle and Strzelecki also painted a scene of La Mesa’s annual Flag Day Parade, with horses, clowns and a Scottish-style young-women’s honor guard juxtaposed against a large American flag. Look under the bench in the foreground; the painting was done in such a manner that it appears a youngster is crannying there.

Other murals depict municipal buildings, Little League coaching, volunteer swim teachers at La Mesa Municipal Pool, and the retired senior volunteer patrol in which senior citizens do some patrolling and non-confrontational police work in the city.

Alice Larson was the first volunteer to be acknowledged with a star. According to the 2010 City of La Mesa’s website, she had “contributed over 13,000 hours of volunteer service to the City. Her spirit of ‘giving back’ to her community signifies what this walkway is about. In fact, Alice is still giving to the City by working at City Council meetings.”

The second ceremony honored two volunteers who worked with the police, Anthony Guggenheimer, who logged over 10,000 hours in the RSVP program, and Timothy S. Tarbuk, with over 12,500 hours in the Police Reserves.

There have been surprises along the Walkway of the Stars, Feist said. He was sitting on one on the benches on January 23, 2004 when a man ran past him, followed somewhat later by two law enforcement officers. They turned the corner into the parking lot and then there were the sounds of shots. Later identified as Jesus Melendrez, 22, the man had been chased to La Mesa in a car from Spring Valley, then abandoned the car, and ran through the passageway to the parking lot where he tried to hijack another car from a woman with a baby. The rightful owner and child got out and when the law enforcement officials surrounded the car, Melendrez refused to get out, instead pointing a gun at them. Officers fired, killing the man, in what District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis later ruled was a justifiable homicide.

Feist said he hasn’t seen such excitement since.

The pensioner sadly pointed to a sign on the wall forbidding the feeding of pigeons that occasionally come to visit, saying “They put that up there because of me.” Feist said he likes to carry birdseed in his pocket, and noted that back in the years when it was still easy for him to get to downtown San Diego, he used to be something of a sightseeing attraction himself with all the birds he cared for near Seaport Village.

 O’Dunn Fine Art Gallery previously was next door to the walkway, but recently moved to larger quarters across the street. meaning that there is art on both sides of the wall that divides them – temporarily at least. Shannon O’Dunn, formerly dean of communications and fine arts at Grossmont Community College, says she plans to move the gallery across La Mesa Boulevard to a larger space.

The gallery specializes in the works of early California artists, among them Langdon Smith (1870-1959); Frederick Lester Sexton (1888-1975); Joseph Meniscucci (1862-1926); Joane Cromwell (1895-1969) and Charles Ward (1850-1937). There also are such contemporary artists as Calvin Liang. Subjects of these artists have included scenes of Cathedral City, near Palm Springs, when it was just a Joshua tree and sand; Mount San Jacinto, an unnamed San Diego County river, a desert view and the La Jolla Cove.

O’Dunn, who ran unsuccessfully for the City Council in 2008, said the walkway has its advantages and drawbacks. “It’s a nice idea, and I think it is a very needed pedestrian access that they keep up pretty well,” she said.

The “downside of it, as in any public gathering place, you get all kinds of gatherings,” O’Dunn added. Once she saw police pulling cash and prescription drugs out of the bushes, where apparently some illegal pill pusher had stashed them. Additionally, “I have seen marijuana busts out there – have seen people having a little smoke.”

If one turns west from the walkway onto La Mesa Boulevard and walks toward the San Diego Trolley line on Spring Street, one will pass a star in the sidewalk near the corner of Palm. As part of another city program, “The Walk of Fame,” this star honors professional basketball star Bill Walton, who went to school in La Mesa.

Across the street at 8285 La Mesa Boulevard, one encounters the Maxwell House of Books, owned by Craig Maxwell, an unsucessful candidate for mayor in 2006.  Maxwell  suggests he must have inherited the bibliophile gene from his grandfather who founded Wahrenbrock’s in downtown San Diego, which Maxwell said was San Diego’s “biggest, oldest and best bookstore.” The grandfather sold the store in the 1960s to Chuck Valverde, but had other bookstores up and down the state.

As a result, said Maxell, “books were always my great passion and as a kid I loved going to his stores around the state, although I never worked in any of them. I worked on Adams Avenue,” where there are numerous used book stores, before starting his own company.

What so appealed to him about bookstores was “they were places where imagination could just go loose, go crazy,” Maxwell said. He relished being able to “go into a book store and see these titles up on the shelves that addressed so many topics and so many historic figures. You can open up any of them and enter a totally different world. You can lose yourself in that world.”

There’s always something for him to do if business gets slow, in other words.

He and his wife Lynn chose to locate on La Mesa Boulevard because they live in La Mesa and also because “it seemed to need a good book store.”

“What is Southern California known for?” he asked rhetorically. “Sprawl, tract home developments and very little downtown communities in Southern California. We have a uniquely traditional old town district here (that) fosters a sense of community.” Used book stores thrive best, he said, “in places that are magnets for cultural activities. I thought this was ideal; our book store completed this place.”

Maxwell House of Books has a specialization in “academic and scholarly topics,” though it has branched out from there. Having taken a degree in philosophy at the University of San Diego, Maxwell leans toward books in that field as well as in theology, biology, physics, astronomy, mathematics, general science, anthropology, archaeology, sociology, political science and literary criticism.

Although Internet booksellers offer his bookstore considerable competition, in the long run there’s something even more worrying facing him and fellow booksellers.

“Young people don’t read,” he said. “The Greatest Generation (that which fought in World War II) was the last generation of real readers. The Baby Boomers still read—they have a toehold in reading—but among their kids and kids of their kids it fell off awfully fast. They don’t read unless it is assigned — it is not a pasttime.”

Continue west along La Mesa Boulevard, and there still are two more eye-catching exhibits before one reaches Spring Street. At the AT&T building there are mural-sized photographs of early telephone workers. And at the opposite corner, there is a fine clock donated to the city by the Rotary Club.

One can’t help but wonder if it tells the hour of the day, or the historic era visitors have just stepped into?

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Harrison is editor of San Diego Jewish World.  An earlier version of this story appeared on examiner.com

Poizner announces arrests in alleged auto collision scams

April 22, 2010 1 comment

SAN DIEGO (Press Release)–Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner announced on Wednesday the arrests of eight suspects in connection with an auto fraud ring case.  The individuals arrested under Operation Hit and Run are suspected of faking traffic collisions and filing fraudulent personal injury claims with insurance companies. Since October 2009, 11 suspects were arrested in connection with this fraud ring.
“Criminals who involve themselves in elaborate and dangerous schemes to make an extra buck are endangering their own lives and the lives of other drivers,” said Commissioner Poizner. “I am pleased with the hard work of CDI investigators and fraud task force members who uncovered this fraud ring.”
 

On April 21, the San Diego Automobile Insurance Fraud Task Force arrested eight suspects. The arrests relate to a series of staged accidents where suspects faked traffic collisions, were transported to a local hospital for treatment and filed personal injury claims with the insurer. Based on arrest warrants obtained on October 29, 2009, the San Diego Automobile Insurance Fraud Task Force arrested a total of 11 defendants in relation to this investigation and charged 83 felony counts. 
The arrests are tied to five separate staged traffic collisions. The collisions all have a similar fact pattern of a vehicle being struck by an abandoned vehicle that was previously reported stolen. The suspects to be arrested are all connected by family relationships, police contacts, and connections to the primary suspect in this case, Jay Stoney Anderson.

In all five traffic collisions, there were identical motives and facts of loss. The collisions were allegedly staged and police were called to the scene. When the police arrived, the vehicle at fault was always determined to be abandoned at the scene and had previously been reported stolen by the registered owner. In each case, the suspects claimed to be injured and were transported via ambulance to a local emergency room for treatment. The suspects each filed personal injury claims with the insurer and failed to reimburse the hospital for the outstanding bill. The total loss in this case exceeds $200,000.

CDI launched an investigation when Liberty Mutual Insurance Company and Progressive Insurance Company notified the Department of possible fraud. The Special Investigation Units of these companies met with representatives of the San Diego Automobile Insurance Fraud Task Force to share information. The information provided later identified a criminal ring suspected of staging more than eleven collisions over a one-year period. Additional information in support of this investigation was provided by Special Investigation Units from Republic Western Insurance Company, AIG, 21st Century Insurance Company, GEICO Insurance, and Nationwide Mutual Insurance.

The comprehensive investigation revealed multiple alleged connections between the suspects and Jay Stoney Anderson and the abandoned vehicles. In two of the collisions charged, the suspects allegedly used a rented U-Haul that was later reported stolen and used to stage the traffic collisions.
 
Arrested on April 21 were: Tamar Bradley, Wade Bradley, Michael Jones, Jiaire Martin, Rodney Martin, Shareese Spence, George Thomas, and Frank Torbert III.

The office of San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis is prosecuting this case. All suspects are expected to be arraigned in San Diego Superior Court.

The San Diego Automobile Insurance Fraud Task Force is made up of members from the California Department of Insurance, San Diego District Attorney’s Office, California Highway Patrol-Border Division, and the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

Commissioner Poizner oversees sixteen CDI Enforcement Branch regional offices throughout the state. Nearly 2,800 insurance fraud-related arrests have been made by CDI since Commissioner Poizner took office in 2007 – more arrests than have been made during any other three year period, under any previous insurance commissioner.

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Preceding provided by Steve Poizner, now a Republican candidate for governor.  He and District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis both are members of the Jewish community.

Schmooze and News for all us Jews

March 26, 2010 Leave a comment

 By Donald H. Harrison

Donald H. Harrison

SAN DIEGO — Okoronkwo Umeham and his wife, Gail Feurzeig Umeham, have heard rumors that the Mexican government may apologize for his wrongful incarceration in a Tijuana Federal Detention Center earlier this month, but so far that is all that the reports have turned out to be – rumors.   To my way of thinking, far worse than the fact that the Nigerian-American was detained for carrying soup vegetables that Mexican Marines mistook for drugs, was his being chained hand and foot even as he was being taken back to the U.S. border to be set free.  Why should a man be humiliated with shackles and manacles when it already has been determined that he is innocent?   That’s the biggest outrage. 

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I’ve received a press release from District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis (who is Jewish) that she’s supporting  a member of her staff, Deputy District Attorney Richard Monroy, for the Superior Court judgeship from which Bob Coates is retiring.  With the flap about how Dumanis frequently has exercised the right of peremptory challenge to prevent certain out-of-favor judges from hearing criminal cases, it will be interesting to see how the public reacts to her own handpicked candidate for the bench.  If there is any backlash against Dumanis’ policies, the Monroy judgeship (assuming he draws an opponent) may be a test case.

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In the race for the 6th District seat of the San Diego City Council being vacated by Donna Frye, we were pleased to read that an old friend and a member of our community, Deputy State Attorney General Howard Wayne, has taken the lead in fundraising.  Given the crowded field, he will need television time to remind everyone of his records of accomplishments during the six years (maximum three terms) he served this area as a state assemblyman.

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My guess is that a lot of Jews who voted for Barack Obama for President will go over to the Republican side next election—assuming that the Republicans nominate someone who seems to be a reasonable choice.  John McCain, in my opinion, would have gotten more Jewish votes than he did, but for the fact that Sarah Palin seemed to so many of us to be an off-the-wall choice for vice president.  Now, with bad feeling between the leaders of Israel and the United States near an all-time high, many Jewish Democrats and independents will hope the GOP will find someone who is moderate on domestic issues and willing to stick by the Israelis even though the rest of the world is ganging up on them.

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Jennie Starr, who already has pioneered social gatherings for Hebrew speakers in the county, now is exploring the possibility of creating a public charter school in which the Hebrew language would be taught in secular fashion.  Starr indicates that one possible venue for such a school might be the Carmel Valley area, which can be reached by coastal communities by Interstate 5 and by inland communities by State Route 56.   Before such a school can be established, there are many hoops to jump through –not the least of which is showing that there is sufficient support in the community at large to make such a school viable.

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Navras Jaat Aafreedi, a gentleman in India whose articles about Jewish life there have been carried by this publication, tells us:  “As I attempt to craft a course on Jewish History and Culture – which would be the first university-level course of its kind in South Asia – I am also attempting to have a section of our library devoted to Jewish Studies.”  Anyone who wishes to help him should send books or DVDs by registered mail to him at the School of Social Sciences and Buddhist Studies at Gautam Buddha University, Greater Noida, Yamuna Expressway, Gautam Buddha Nagar – 201 308, Uttar Pradesh, India. 
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Bruce Kesler spotted the story in the San Francisco Chronicle about the new Assembly Speaker John Perez.  Growing up in a mixed Jewish and Latino area of Los Angeles, he learned to speak a bissel Yiddish. …  The Jerusalem Post reported that when Israel sent medical teams to Haiti following the massive earthquake earlier this year, it prompted some Jews to recall how Haiti had provided refuge to their families escaping from Hitler’s Germany and nazi-occupied Eastern Europe.    

Midge Costanza, former special assistant to President Carter and later a San Diego political figure, dies

March 23, 2010 1 comment

Midge Costanza

SAN DIEGO (Press Release) — Margaret “Midge” Costanza, 77, died in San Diego on Tuesday after a battle with cancer. Midge was a tireless advocate and impassioned champion for equality, justice and human rights. She was the first woman to hold the office of Assistant to the President of the United States, when President Jimmy Carter appointed her to the position of Assistant to the President for Public Liaison in 1977.

Midge Costanza was born November 28, 1932, in LeRoy, New York, to Philip Joseph Costanza and Concetta (Granata) Costanza. When she was five years old, Midge’s family moved to Rochester, New York where she attended Public School #33 and graduated from East High School in 1950. She received an honorary LLD from Framingham State College. For 26 years, Midge worked for John J. Petrossi, a Rochester construction and real estate developer. At the same time, she was active in the Democratic Party, ultimately serving as a member of the Democratic National Committee. Midge entered politics in 1959 as an Executive Committee Member of the 22nd Ward of Rochester. In 1964, she managed the senatorial campaign in Monroe County for Sen. Robert Kennedy.

In 1973, Midge was elected to the Rochester City Council, receiving the highest number of votes of any council member. She was the first woman elected to the Rochester City Council and was appointed Vice Mayor.

Midge first met Jimmy Carter in 1974 when he traveled to Rochester to help in her campaign for U.S. Congress. Although she narrowly lost that race, she made a great friend in Carter. When Carter announced his candidacy for president, Midge began her work as co-chairperson of his New York State campaign.

Midge’s straight-forwardness and quick wit made her a popular speaker, and Carter admired that skill. He asked her to second his nomination at the 1976 Democratic National Convention. Carter later appointed Midge to the post of Assistant to the President for Public Liaison. For the first 20 months of the Carter Administration, she received national media attention as Carter’s outspoken and committed “Window on America.”

“The White House should be the President’s window to the nation,” Midge said. “(It should be) a place where the people can voice what they want, what they feel and what they need.”

Midge served as a link between the President and a wide range of groups who previously had limited access to the White House, including women, youth, seniors, minorities, gays and lesbians, and the disabled. She was particularly active in fighting for women’s equality, advocating for many issues, including the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment, for the protection of women’s reproductive rights, and for the appointment of more women to high office.
After leaving the White House, Midge moved to California, where she remained active in political causes and spoke at events across the country. In Los Angeles, she worked on the television shows America and America Talks Back and she managed Shirley MacLaine’s “Higher Self” seminars.

Midge moved to San Diego in 1990, where she became an active and vital member of the community, working on the campaigns of Congresswoman Lynn Schenk, Sen. Barbara Boxer, and Kathleen Brown. She served on the Board of Directors of San Diego National Bank and co-taught classes at San Diego State University. From 2000 to 2003, she was Special Assistant to California Governor Gray Davis, serving as a liaison to the Governor for women’s groups and as a speaker for him throughout California.

In 2005, she joined the office of San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie M. Dumanis as a Public Affairs Officer. She was assigned to the Communications and Community Relations Division with an emphasis on the prevention of elder abuse. She organized the office’s Consumer Protection Days, Citizens Academies and Women’s Advisory Council.
Among her many honors, the City of San Diego named October 7, 2008 as “Midge Costanza Day.” She also received a 2008 “Women Who Mean Business” Award by the San Diego Business Journal, and was named “Outstanding Citizen of the Year 2009.”

In 2003, Midge formed the Midge Costanza Institute for the Study of Politics and Public Policy, affiliated with the Women’s Studies Department at San Diego State University. Through the Institute, Midge would speak frequently to young people about the importance of participation in government and politics. Midge trained candidates to run for political office regardless of party affiliation. The Institute will continue the work of organizing and digitizing her collection of historical archival documents to be used for her lifelong work of motivating young people in the political process.

Midge is survived by her brother, Anthony Costanza and wife Susan; niece Lauren Kent and husband Scott; niece Erin Costanza; nephew Donald Steiman and wife Diane; grand nieces Erica Steiman and Jessica Steiman; nephew Damien Costanza and wife Deana; niece Julie Bausch and husband Patrick; grand niece Leah Bausch and grand nephew Alexander Bausch; and a large local and national community of friends and collaborators.

A memorial service in San Diego will be held in April on a date that is yet to be determined. A private family service will be conducted in Rochester, New York.

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations be made to the Midge Costanza Institute for Politics and Public Policy. Checks can be made out to the “Midge Costanza Institute,” P.O. Box 15523, San Diego, CA 92175.

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Preceding was provided by District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis

Schmooze and News of San Diego area Jews

February 13, 2010 2 comments

By Donald H. Harrison

SAN DIEGO—Emails, phone calls and snail mail–an editor never knows what the day will bring.  Here’s the most recent sampling:

HISTORY — San Diego State University professor Lawrence Baron is being congratulated by his academic colleagues for having an article accepted for publication in the upcoming edition of the American Historical Review.  Baron’s article deals with the first wave of films dealing with the Holocaust such as The Search, Me and the Colonel, The Young Lions and The Diary of Anne Frank.  As seen by his book, Projecting the Holocaust into the Present, which prompted Yad Vashem Memorial Museum in Jerusalem to invite him  to Israel to lecture, Baron is becoming known as one of the world’s foremost authorities on films dealing with the Shoah.

ENTERTAINMENT–Gary Jacobs, former president of the United Jewish Federation and the Lawrence Family JCC, also is an owner of Lake Elsinore Storm, a Class-A minor league affiliate of the San Diego Padres.  He’s offering an opportunity that every vocalist may dream about: the opportunity to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” in a baseball game’s opening ceremonies. Auditions will be conducted at the park at Lake Elsinore (up the I-15 in neighboring Riverside County) from noon to 2 p.m., Saturday, March 13. Tracy Kessman at (951) 245-4487 has the details for all you budding singers over the age of 8…. Speaking of San Diego performers, Klezmer musician Yale Strom along with his wife Elizabeth Schwartz and colleague Mark Dresser will be appearing as the Hot P’Strom’i band at 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 27, at Studio Zero, 789 Orpheus Avenue, in Encinitas …

COMMUNITY SERVICE–KPBS and Union Bank will be honoring local Jewish “heroes” during the April-May period and you can nominate people you believe worthy of the honor by visiting the KPBS website at www.kpbs.org/heroes . Categories are for people making important contributions in the fields of the arts, business, community activism, education and or social services.  … Bonnie Diamond of Carlsbad and Leigh Johnson of Solana Beach are the co-chairs this year of Options, the Feb. 24 fundraising event sponsored by the Women’s Division of United Jewish Federation. The speaker will be Judea Pearl, whose son, Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, was murdered by Islamist extremists.

POLITICS — The Voice of San Diego is reporting that District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis may be planning peremptory challenges against Superior Court Judge Laura Parsky, whose court is in Chula Vista.  Given that Dumanis is a Republican, this may prove to be a politically risky move.  Parsky’s father is Gerald Parsky, who is a major fundraiser for national and statewide Republican candidates. … Pro-Israel activist Dan Brodsky is emailing materials supporting Greg Stephens in the Republican primary for the 36th state Senate seat, which includes much of San Diego’s East County. Stephens is likely to cause controversy with one of his proposals: to activate the California National Guard to defend California’s border with Mexico against immigrants entering the U.S. illegally. … Former San Diego Mayor John Butler died on Tuesday, February 9, at the age of 94.  Anyone who reads Gail Umeham’s column in this publication compiling San Diego history knows that Butler was a good friend to the Jewish community, having served during his 19551-1955 term of office as a member of the Christian Committee for the United Jewish Fund, a speaker at the annual meeting of the Jewish Community Center, and at the Lasker Lodge of the B’nai B’rith. 

MIDDLE EAST ECHOES—Congressman Bob Filner (Democrat-San Diego) is among five members of Congress who left February 12 on a J Street sponsored tour of Israel.  According to a news release from the organization Filner, Mary Jo Kilroy of Ohio, Donald Payne of New Jersey, Lois Capps of California and Bill Delahunt of New Jersey will meet with Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian government officials as well as civil society officials to discuss the state of the peace process.    Jeremy Ben-Ami, executive director of the J Street Education Fund, said “We’re excited to start bringing members of Congress to the Middle East as part of our overall effort to promote strong U.S. leadership to achieve a two-state solution and regional, comprehensive peace.  Our hope is that this and future delegations will help to open up and deepen the conversation in Congress about American policy in the Middle East and, in particular, to convey to their colleagues the urgency of the situation and the need for strong American leadership toward achieving a two-state solution.” …..  We see it on San Diego Jewish World frequently with many articles about Israel drawing responses from pro-Palestinian forces within our community.  Visiting Israeli Prof. Chanan Naveh will be lecturing on Palestinian-Israeli Web Wars at 10:30 a.m., Wednesday, Feb. 17, at the Coronado Library, 640 Orange Avenue. The program is under the auspices of the Agency for Jewish Education…
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Have items for this occasional column?  Please contact Don Harrison at sdheritage@cox.net

San Diegan sentenced for pointing laser at aircraft

February 8, 2010 Leave a comment

SAN DIEGO (Press Release)– District Attorney Bonnie M. Dumanis announced Monday that a San Diego man has been sentenced to eight months in state prison for pointing a laser at a San Diego Police Department helicopter known as ABLE (Airborne Law Enforcement).

Timothy Allen, 39, pleaded guilty to the charge in January and was sentenced in San Diego County Superior Court Monday afternoon. “Laser strikes may seem harmless, but pilots take them very seriously,” said DA Dumanis. “I hope this case will educate the public about the law and the very real dangers associated with this kind of activity.”

In November of 2009, SDPD’s helicopter, ABLE 3, suffered a series of bright green laser strikes coming from a residence in southeast San Diego. The ABLE pilots tried repeatedly to pinpoint the source of the laser, but were unable to. During the same time period, the control tower at Lindbergh Field confirmed several commercial jets also reported green laser strikes in their cockpits while approaching San Diego International Airport to land. On November 26, 2009 ABLE pilots returned to the area where they once again experienced laser strikes and were successful in determining the source of the laser.

Allen was arrested and subsequently charged with two counts of Discharging a Laser at an Occupied Aircraft in violation of Penal Code section 247.5, a felony. The defendant pleaded guilty to one of the counts on Jan. 12. Allen was also sentenced to an additional two years, eight months in prison for two other unrelated cases involving receiving stolen property, possession of a deadly weapon and vehicle theft.

Laser strikes have become an increasing problem for pilots. Depending on the strength of the laser and the altitude of the aircraft, even low-power lasers can distract and even temporarily blind pilots who are flying at low levels or attempting to land. The glare from a laser can make it impossible for a pilot landing an airplane to see the runway. Pointing a laser at an aircraft carries a penalty of up to three years in state prison. In an effort to educate the public, the International Laser Display Association has sponsored a website that describes the risks in more detail and shows a video of a real life laser strike on an aircraft.

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Preceding provided by District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis