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Jewish political roundup: Emerald votes for sales tax ballot measure; Block to open reelection headquarters

August 4, 2010 Leave a comment

SAN DIEGO  (SDJW)– Marti Emerald has voted with the San Diego City Council’s majority to place a ½ cent sales tax increase on the city ballot—an increase, which boost the levy from 8.75 percent to 9.25 percent.

After doing so, the 7th District Councilwoman issued a statement, explaining her siding with the majority in the 6-2 Council vote:

““We’re asking the voters of San Diego to tell us if they are willing to pay a little extra to restore core services,” she said.  “That includes public safety, libraries and plugging pot holes.”

She noted that the “Reform Before Revenue measure” calls for a host of pension and financial reforms which must be met before the temporary 5-year half-cent sales tax would be levied.

“Not one penny would be collected until pensions are reduced and managed competition is enacted as part of a comprehensive package of reforms,” she said.  “I take very seriously my constituents’ message that we need reform before revenue.”
By working together, the City Council and Mayor have enacted budget cuts totaling $335 million annually, she added.

Meanwhile, another public officeholder from San Diego’s Jewish community – state Assemblyman Marty Block—announced his campaign headquarters for reelection will be opened at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at 3717 Camino Del Rio South.

Block said that among expected attendees at the ceremony are Emerald;  Sweetwater Union High School District Trustee Arlie Ricasa;  and Lorena Gonzalez, San Diego & Imperials Counties  Labor Council Secretary-Treasurer

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Preceding compiled from news releases from Councilmember Emerald and Assembly member Block

Filner, Emerald endorse Lutz for Congress

July 30, 2010 Leave a comment

SAN DIEGO (SDJW)–Two Jewish public officeholders—Congressman Bob Filner and San Diego City Councilwoman Marti Emerald – have endorsed fellow Democrat Ray Lutz, 52, in his effort to unseat incumbent Republican Congressman Duncan D. Hunter.

The endorsements of these and other prominent Democrats were announced in connection with a fundraiser for Lutz in the Gaslamp Quarter.

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Preceding based on materials provided by Ray Lutz

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

Emerald seeks repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ law governing Armed Service participation

May 22, 2010 Leave a comment

SAN DIEGO (Press Release)–With Congress poised to take pivotal votes this weekend on Defense funding bills, City Councilmember Marti Emerald is urging repeal of the military’s policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, which bans openly gay and lesbian Americans from serving in the Armed Forces. This policy has resulted in the discharge of hundreds of men and women, already in the military, and has long been opposed by civil rights groups.

The U.S. House and Senate versions of the National Defense Authorization Act do not currently repeal “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”. Councilmember Emerald wants both bills amended.

“It’s time to end this discriminatory law and let all Americans serve this country and achieve their great potential”, said Emerald. The San Diego City Council and other elected officials in California have condemned this law, calling it inequitable and counterproductive.

The National Defense Authorization Act has been approved by the House Armed Services Committee, but does not include language repealing “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.” Councilmember Emerald has written to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) asking her to amend the bill when it reaches the House floor for consideration. A vote could come as early as this weekend.

The Senate Armed Services Committee is expected to take up its version of the Defense Authorization bill next week. Councilmember Emerald has written letters to key Committee members who are still reportedly undecided, urging them to reject “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”: Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Indiana; Sen. Robert Byrd, D-West Virginia; Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida.

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Preceding provided by San Diego City Council member Marti Emerald

Emerald’s campaign violations ruled inadvertent; nevertheless she’s fined $3,000

April 29, 2010 Leave a comment

SAN DIEGO (Press Release)–San Diego City Councilmember Marti Emerald said Thursday she is  pleased with the unanimous decision by the San Diego Ethics Commission clearing her on charges that she deliberately violated the city’s Ethics code.  She described as fair a $3,000 fine for what were described as inadvertent violations.

The Ethics Commission staff accused Councilmember Emerald of deliberately concealing two campaign debts after her November 2008 election win. The bills totaled $50,000.

“This was the whole reason for our Ethics Commission hearing,” said Emerald. “We reported to the Ethics Commission more than a year ago that we made two accounting errors and worked with staff to correct them. But the staff later claimed the mistakes were deliberate and refused to negotiate with us. We had no choice but to take our case directly to the Commission for an Administrative hearing.”

After two days and 10 hours of testimony, the five Ethics Commissioners agreed with Councilmember Emerald. During televised deliberations, seen live on City-TV, all five Commissioners spoke directly to the issue of concealment, with each one stating that there was no evidence of intent to conceal. Instead, the Commissioners concluded the violations were inadvertent errors. The Commissioners also said the Emerald Campaign Committee cooperated fully with the investigation.

“I’m just glad this matter is resolved,” Emerald said.

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Preceding provided by City Councilmember Marti Emerald

San Diego’s historic places: Mission Trails Regional Park offers insights into Kumeyaay

April 11, 2010 Leave a comment

By Donald H. Harrison

Donald H. Harrison

SAN DIEGO—There are some 40 miles of trails in Mission Trails Regional Park along the San Diego River and surrounding grasslands and mountains. Hikers can view Kumeyaay and Spanish archaeological sites, possibly encounter some endangered animals and some dangerous ones, and be introduced to plants with characteristics so interesting they almost have personalities.

The Kumeyaay Indians were indigenous to the San Diego area, establishing migratory routines here long before Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo claimed California for Spain in 1542. Not unlike modern retirees who spend their winters in warmer climates, the Kumeyaay in winter made their way from the mountains to the coastline, where temperatures were warmer.

The Kumeyaay followed the San Diego River back and forth between their summer and winter homes, setting up temporary campgrounds along the course of the river. At least two grinding rock areas are popular sites testifying to long-time use of the area by the Kumeyaay. At these locations, the Kumeyaay pounded acorns into a powder. Constant repetition of the process over centuries caused bowl-like depressions into the rock surface.

After Father Junipero Serra settled the region in 1769, the Kumeyaay were gathered to Mission San Diego, where they performed labor for the Franciscan padres and were given such names as “Mission Indians” and “Dieguenos.” One great task they performed circa 1813 was the construction of a cement, rock and adobe dam across the San Diego River and the laying of a gravity- flow flume that carried the fresh water to Mission San Diego nearly six miles away. The first dam on the West Coast of the United States, Old Mission Dam is a national historic landmark, well worth exploring.

Ewa'a on patio of Mission Trails Regional Park visitors center

To enhance understanding of the Kumeyaay way of life, Mission Trails Regional Park personnel have constructed and placed in different areas three ewaas—as the Kumeyaay’s temporary thatched lodgings supported by sycamore poles were called. With a small hole on top to let out the smoke, an ewaa provided a place to cook and sleep in relative privacy from animals attracted to Mission Trails Regional Park’s riparian environment.

At the visitor’s center, there are examples of Kumeyaay baskets woven so tightly from local plants that they can carry water. And, there is a re-creation of a Kumeyaay sundial. Chief Ranger Tracey Walker says there are more than two dozen known Kumeyaay archaeological sites in the regional park. To protect these sites against vandalism or trophy hunting, their exact locations are kept secret.

The migratory Kumeyaay were hunters and gatherers, taking fish from the river, eating small game and pounding acorns into a powder from which they leached the tannin and then made into an oatmeal-like staple.

Among the birds of this area are two that are now endangered – the Least Bell’s Vireo and the California Gnatcatcher. The latter makes a mewing sound that might make you think that there is a kitten nearby. A bird of “concern,” though not formally endangered, is the Golden Eagle, according to Walker. They and other predators such as hawks and ravens may be spotted on rock cliffs overlooking areas that became part of the regional park complex after they were quarried.

The antics of the ravens can sometimes provide hikers with considerable entertainment. People who like to watch air shows will appreciate how ravens sometimes will perform “barrel rolls” and other aerobatic stunts, including dropping a stone or a nut from a high precipice and then zooming downward to catch it before it hits the ground.

Among predatory mammals in the area are coyotes, bobcats and an occasional mountain lion, one of which was spotted recently on the hunt not too far from the visitor’s center, causing enough concern that City Councilwoman Marti Emerald, whose district includes the park, cautioned people to avoid hiking alone and to wave their arms and make themselves look bigger in the event a mountain lion ever crossed their trail. Mountain lions typically would rather run than fight.

Mountain lions are territorial, with usually no more than one breeding pair occupying areas of 100 square miles or more—areas, in other words, that are far larger than Mission Trails Regional Park. Walker compared the chances of running into a mountain lion to that of seeing large sharks in the ocean. “Are they there? Yes. Is it likely you’ll see them? No.” To reduce the chances of danger even more, don’t walk alone in the park between the hours of 5 and 8, either in the morning or the afternoon/ evening, Walker suggested. “That’s when mountain lions go ‘shopping.’”

Coyotes and rattlesnakes likewise are dangerous animals, both of which would rather avoid humans. Walker advises people to hike on established paths and not go foraging into the brush, where animals may harm them or where they inadvertently may harm some of the sensitive plant species.

Near the visitor’s center’s amphitheatre is a demonstration path where you can see identified some of the plant species found throughout the park. Among them is the Toyon, also known as the Hollywood, which according to one widespread myth was the inspiration for the name of the famous movie town. The plant also is known as the Holly Berry, which sounds a lot like the name of a popular actress.

The California Wild Rose in summer blooms with pink petals and a yellow center. The Great Marsh Evening Primrose waits until dark to pop open its flowers, closing them up in the morning. The Lemonadeberry, just as its name suggests, can produce a “soothing drink” by soaking its sour berries.

Some plants provide wondrous examples of adaptation. The seeds of the Chamise, for example, are most likely to germinate after a fire. Seeds of the Mission Manzanita, on the other hand, do best after making a trip through a coyote’s digestive system. Ugh.

One endangered species is the Arroyo Willow, which has seeds so small it takes three million of them to weigh one pound, according to a brochure put out by the park staff. Another curiosity is the Flannel Bush, named for the flannel like fuzz on its flowers. Note to historians and to Republicans: the man who discovered this species was the great California “pathfinder” John C. Fremont who was the brand-new Republican party’s first nominee for President in 1856 and also was one of California’s first U.S. senators.

As trails wend their way through the park, one good way for hikers to keep their sense of direction is to look at the mountain sides. Those that are facing north generally have more vegetation than those that face south owing to differential sunlight.

Oh, and when you see plants in the summer that are dried and barren of leaves, don’t make the mistake of assuming that they’re dead. According to park brochures, it is more likely that they are simply dormant, having shed their leaves in an effort to conserve water.

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Harrison is editor of San Diego Jewish World

Emerald criticizes article impugning San Diego’s credit rating, votes for bond measure

March 23, 2010 Leave a comment

SAN DIEGO (Press Release)–San Diego City Councilmember Marti Emerald highlighted false allegations about San Diego’s creditworthiness. After reading an article in a national publication which stated municipal bonds issued by the City of San Diego may not be a good investment, Councilmember Emerald brought the publication and the article to the attention of the full City Council on Tuesday preceding a bond approval vote. “I want to get this on the record,” said Emerald.

During Tuesday’s Council session, The City Attorney’s office stated there is no truth to the allegation in the article, this is a misstatement, and the City is not considering bankruptcy. In addition, the City Attorney said, “This is exactly the type of due diligence by Councilmembers contemplated by… and incorporated into the City’s disclosure regime.”

The article appeared in the latest edition of a newsletter calledThe Bottom Line, saying the City of San Diego, as well as the City of Harrisburg, PA, and the New York City Area Transit Authority, is mulling over Chapter 9 bankruptcy. Marilyn Cohen, CEO of Envision Capital Management, Inc., says she got her information from Bond Buyer Today.

Jay Goldstone, the City’s Chief Operating Officer told Emerald’s office, “We are going to try to get this statement retracted. In any event, the City is not contemplating or exploring the idea of bankruptcy and has NO intention of doing so.”

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Preceding provided by San Diego City Councilmember Marti Emerald