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Local News July 10th, 2008

Debra Rosen, CEO, and Escondido Downtown Business Association Sued

John Le Strada, owner of Remy's on Grand restaurant in Escondido has sued Debra Rosen individually, and the Downtown Business Association for which she serves as its chief executive officer, over an e-mail he claims damaged both his reputation and his business. The suit seeks unspecified damages for libel, emotional distress, misrepresentation and negligence.

The suit has been referred to association president David Barkin who, in turn, referred it to the DBA insurance company. A copy of the alleged e-mail is attached to the Superior Court lawsuit, which Escondido attorney Randall Sterling filed June 18 on behalf of Remy's. "Just a heads up, John LaStrada (sic) from Remy's is part of the coalition that is leading a nasty campaign against the DBA," the copy of the e-mail attached to the lawsuit says. "He has been asked to leave several businesses downtown because of his rudeness and intimidation tactics."

The restaurant is one of about 800 members of the DBA and has been serving continental cuisine at its east Grand Avenue location since 2005. Le Strada's suit accuses Rosen of writing and sending an e-mail on June 12 that warns 15 association directors that Le Strada was misrepresenting himself as an association employee, intimidating other business owners, and otherwise behaving badly.

The e-mail, a copy of which The Paper has, also says Le Strada contacted Tom Hogarty of the Chamber’s Economic Development Committee and Hogarty told Le Strada he could not attend a scheduled meeting as he was not a member of the Chamber. Rosen says in her email that she “was led to believe that John (Le Strada) wanted to attend to dispel any myths that I (Rosen) was telling about the new BID fee structure.”

LeStrada's lawsuit says it exposed him and his business to "public humiliation, shame, mortification and loss of reputation, including the eventual demise" of the restaurant.

Though the suit was filed and served on June 30th against Rosen individually and on behalf of the DBA as well, Barkin said that since Rosen was serving as the DBA’s CEO at the time that the DBA would defend the suit, via its insurance carrier.

Sterling, LeStrada’s attorney acknowledged the insurance company would be the logical referral but also suggested the probability that the insurance company would likely file for a reservation of rights . . . which means they would defend Rosen but if they later found that she was acting outside of her capacity as CEO that they would withdraw.

Sterling also said that 98.6% of lawsuits filed in San Diego County never go to trial but are usually resolved by motion, by dismissal, or by settlement. A response to the suit is due by no later than July 30th.

San Marcos Coronado Hills Residents To Pay $5 Million?

Discussions are under way about putting in a second route in and out of Coronado Hills. If the plans go forward the tab will be around $5 million and Coronado residents would have to pony up the funds. City officials are polling residents of the Coronado Hills neighborhood about their willingness to pay the money.

After a 100-acre fire last year threatened the somewhat isolated neighborhood, which includes about 112 homes, San Marcos city officials began plans for the second road to be used in an emergency.

About 330 residents who use Coronado Hills Drive to get in and out of the neighborhood have found that the road is steep, curvy, and long. If a fire hits, it’s the only way in and out. Traffic snarls are almost certain as residents try to flee and emergency vehicles try to get in. The city offered options to the residents in a mail survey conducted last month: work with the city in getting the road built, pursue the project on their own, or live without the road.

Carlsbad Council Filing Date Near

If you’re interested in becoming a member of the Carlsbad City Council you have one week to wait before you can file. Applications will be accepted on July 14. Two council seats, one held by Ann Kulchin, who is in her seventh four-year term and plans to run again, and the other by Julie Nygaard who was appointed in 2006 and who has confirmed she will not run for re-election, are open.

Three newcomers, Thomas K. Arnold, 49, a journalist, Keith Blackburn, 48, a Carlsbad Police sergeant, and Farrah Douglas, 58, owner of a printing business and an appointee to the city’s Planning Commission. Qualifications to serve on the council are: be a city resident, be at least 18 and be registered to vote.

Hopefuls have until at least Aug. 8 to file candidacy paperwork. However, that deadline is expected to be extended to Aug. 13 because Nygaard isn't expected to file, Wood said. Under election law, when an incumbent doesn't file, the deadline is extended several days. Successful candidates will receive a base salary of $1,329 a month as council members. They'll also collect $300 every time they serve as members of the city's Housing and Redevelopment Commission, and $100 every time they act as Carlsbad Municipal Water District Board members. They also collect an automobile allowance of $350 a month.

For application information, contact the City Clerk's office at (760) 434-2808.

New Contract for The Escondido Humane Society

At least on a three month interim basis the Escondido Humane Society will continue to provide animal control services to Escondido, San Marcos and Poway for the summer. Still up in the air is whether they will land an annual contract when the interim contract expires. At issue is cost.

As of July 1st, contracting cities will cover the cost of the entire stay of a stray animal at the shelter. Prior to this they only had to cover the cost for five days.

This means substantially larger costs to the cities. Escondido, for example, pays $176,987 during the interim agreement. If Escondido agrees to a full-year contract, which would include the animal’s entire stay, the cost could run to $708,000, a substantial increase over the $432,000 the city paid last year. Meanwhile, in San Marcos, the annual cost to the city could rise from the $301,914 it paid in the 2007-08 fiscal year to $400,019.

In an era of diminishing city revenues the cities have to weigh the options. To bite the bullet and pay the increased fees or to take over the service. Then the question is one of startup costs, personnel and their costs, training, all the logistics necessary to provide for proper and humane animal care.

Abigail Rowland of the Escondido Humane Society says the average stay for animals is 18 days for dogs and 43 days for cats. The Escondido Humane Society is a no-kill shelter. She also maintains the fees asked of the cities are strictly to cover their costs and not to make any surplus income.

More than two-thirds of the society's annual $2.1 million in expenditures stem from the animal control services it provides, Rowland said. Other services, including veterinary, kennel, medical, shelter costs, pet therapy and education, are covered with donations, she said.

Batman To Retire?

Summertime is known for its popcorn movies—blockbuster cinema full of explosions, action and larger-than life heroes. A couple hours in a darkened theater can have you at the edge of your seat and feeling like a kid again.

Now, take a closer look at some of the movie heroes flashing across the silver screen this summer. Could it be that your hero’s most challenging nemesis is deciding whether it’s time to retire?

Take this summer’s biggest action hero, Indiana Jones. Harrison Ford—still doing his own stunts—is 66 years old. Before he trots across the globe for another adventure, he may want to apply online for his retirement benefits at

Another box office champ returning this year is Batman. The Dark Knight first appeared in 1939—the same year as Superman—in Detective Comics. That makes both caped crusaders eligible for retirement benefits. Surely there must be computers in the Bat Cave and Fortress of Solitude with access to to file online for their benefits.

Other heroes on the screen this summer include The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man. Both are products of the 1960s, like the actors who portray them. They’ll have a while to wait. But it’s never too early to start planning for retirement by visiting:

Even though the ladies from Sex and the City may not be ready to retire just yet, they should be planning ahead by going to Social Security’s For Women page at

Oceanside Charter School Names New CEO

Sharon Stevens-Allen, the former exutive director, has been named the new CEO for Oceansides Charter School, filling the seat once held by City Councilman Rocky Chavez who stepped down last week as the head of the School of Business and Technology, to focus on his run for Mayor. Taking Stevens-Allens place will be Dan Bachman, a social studies teacher at the school.





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