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Local News October 23rd, 2008

The Paper to CoSponsor Financial Seminar to Deal with Stock Market

The Paper is sponsoring a question and answer forum with our featured “In The Money” columnists Jerod Fenton, CFP® and John E. Richardson, Jr., CPA, CFP®.

The event is scheduled for October 28th from 6:00 PM until 8:00 PM. Dessert, coffee and soft drinks will be provided.

Seating is limited. To register for the forum please call (760) 705-3521.

Political Flap Over Use of Fire Engines for Street Fair

Shoppers attending last Sunday’s Street Fair seemed surprised to see fire engines with boom extensions bedecked with signs promoting the candidacy of Sam Abed and Olga Diaz., as well as Escondido firefighters, in uniform, including fireman helmets.

It is absolutely against city rules and regulations to utilize city equipment for poltiical purposes, and use of official uniforms is strictly forbidden for political purposes.
Upon inquiry, however, it was learned that the fire engine(s) were owned by a private party and were not, in fact, city equipment. However, several of the firefighters were wearing fire helmets which, though obsolete, still clearly was identified with the city of Escondido.

Clay Phillips, Escondido’s City Manager, confirmed that the firefighters “had been spoken to,” and are now aware that the use of uniforms and headgear was inappropriate. The fire engines, since ther were owned by a private party the city had no control over. The perception of inappropriateness was still a concern, however, said city officials.

One truck had a sign promoting Abed/Diaz, another had one with candidate Ed Gallo’s name with a diagonal red mark against it. Many political observers expressed surprise that the Firefighter’s Association endorsed Abed and Diaz, but chose to attack Gallo, when Abed and Gallo often vote together and are generally seen as a team, whereas Abed and Diaz are often poles apart politically.

Gallo said he was not surprised by their position.

Witt Lincoln Mercury Closes Its Doors

The slumping economy has taken another victim as Witt Lincoln Mercury has closed its doors, moving its operations down to Mission Valley in San Diego. The company plans to transfer most, if not all, of its employees to the San Diego locations. Officials are looking for ways to continue providing service to North County residents who have either purchased their cars from Witt, or who simply prefer their service personnel. It is unclear yet whether they’ll provide the services in Mission Valley or provide for a mobile mechanical service to come to North County residents.

More than 70 dealerships have closed in California this year and over 700 are expected to close nationwide. Closer to home, one other dealership has closed in Poway and several others are believed to be in dire straits financially. In Escondido, car dealers openly admit that business is down to a point that more of their number may have to face closing their doors. The sales tax revenue paid to the city of Escondido, based on car sales, proves their point. Sales tax revenues from the second quarter dropped from $5.76 million last year to $5.35 million this year, a 7.1 percent drop.

Soon, Car-Max, a national used-car chain, will move into quarters adjacent to Lowes Home Improvement store on West Mission Avenue. A number of local dealers are not happy about that as they feel it will simply cut into the available sales locally but city officials say the dealership is so popular they are likely to draw new customers into the city.

Battle Lines Forming on Propositions

Political groups, both pro and con, are active in getting out the word to the voters whom they hope to persuade to vote for their cause in several upcoming Propositions. Chiefly attracting attention are Proposition A, Proposition O (San Marcos) and Proposition T (Escondido).

Prop A seeks voter approval for a parcel tax of $52 (to start) for the first year. Funds derived from this tax, estimated to be $50 million the first year, would be used to form and fund a regional fire agency.

Critics say the proposition is not necessary because funds from Proposition 172, which was passed in 1993, have been available all these years but have been hoarded by the County Board of Supervisors. The County was chosen by the state to act as the conduit for Prop 172 funds, which were to have helped fund police and fire . . . but which were diverted to the Sheriff’s Department, the District Attorney’s Office, and Probation. No funds were set aside for fire protection, as was promised prior to the election. County Supervisor Diane Jacobs has publicly acknowledged that Prop 172 was “a sham,” but refuses to vote to release funds for fire safety; Supervisor Bill Horn acknowledges Prop 172 was “pitched” as legislation that included the relief sought for fire safety but, “we’re not giving up our allocation. Period.” Former State Senator Steve Peace: “It (Prop 172) was supposed to be for police and fire.” So, critics appear to say . . . “we trusted the legislators in 1993 when they promised fire protection. They broke faith and kept the money. Why should we vote them more money?”

At several recent Republican gatherings in North County, polls were taken on a number of issues on the upcoming ballot, Proposition A being just one of them. Almost unanimously, the vote was to vote “No” on A, for the reasons cited above by critics.

In San Marcos, Proposition O is getting a lot of attention. Officially known as "San Marcos Growth Management and Neighborhood Protection Act,” it has brought political forces out en masse, most of which are in opposition to the measure. Opponents are far outspending proponents. Prop O is said by critics to be simply a slow growth initiative . . . zoning via the ballot box instead of by duly appointed planning commissioners and duly elected councilmembers.

All area newspapers have opposed the measure, including the North County Times, The San Diego Union-Tribune, and The Paper.

The other proposition that is drawing attention is Proposition T, put forward by the Escondido Union High School District. Proposition T is a $98 million bond measure for voters in the Escondido Union High School District. It promises extensive renovations and upgrades to all three comprehensive high schools, much of it geared toward enhancing career and technical training in a region with a 15.5 percent four-year dropout rate.

While proponents include the Escondido Chamber of Commerce and other high profile organizations, there are a considerable number of equally powerful opponents. The gist of the critics complaints are (a) this is the wrong time to be passing another bond, given the state of the economy, and (b) extending a bond by another 33-34 years is merely another clever device for passing a tax measure and drawing money from the taxpayer and not providing for the probable future cost of money and/or the increased delayed interest costs the taxpayers would have to pay on the funds, which the district itself acknowledges to be in the area of $149 million.

A sampling taken at several Republican meetings over the past two weeks indicates a “No” vote looms for Prop T.

Overall, it appears the electorate is “bonded out.” They are tired of being asked to fund yet another project, no matter how worthy. It appears that November 4th is likely to disappoint a lot of backers of Proposition/Bond backers.

Alleged Oceanside Cop Killer Said to have Confessed

A witness and associated gang members told police that Penifoti “P. J.” Taeotui had pulled the trigger on the rifle that killed Oceanside police office Dan Besant on December 20, 2006. Further, the witness said, Taeotui had confessed to him the day after the fatal shooting that he was the one who shot the officer.

The witness was granted immunity in return for his testimony but is likely to come under fierce cross examination by defense attorneys. If convicted, Taeotui faces life without parole for his role in the slaying.

Oceanside Cops Issue 43 citations related to Immigration Protest

Protesters on both sides of the Immigration Issue kept Oceanside police officers busy writing citations last Saturday. The opposing factions gathered outside a Spanish-speaking church, the Ebeneser Church, where the Mexican Consulate was issuing matricula consular cards, which are ID cards.

A total of 43 citations were issued, nine vehicles were impounded and one juvenile was arrested. Most of the tickets were for unlawful use of a horn, unsafe turns and pedestrians in the street. About 40 members of the anti-illegal immigration San Diego Minutemen protested the consulate's event, which drew 400 to 500 people to the church on Canyon Drive.

Police said one juvenile was arrested on suspicion of misdemeanor battery for shoving a protestor. Police impounded at least three vehicles because of unlicensed drivers, and others because they were parked in a nearby shopping center without permission, she said.

Consulate spokesman Alberto Diaz said the consulate issued about 350 passports and identification cards throughout the day.

Mexican consulates issue the identification cards to immigrants in the United States. Many banks and businesses accept the photo IDs which frustrates anti-illegal immigration activists who say the cards encourage illegal immigrants to stay in the United States.

Several prominent political figures attended the event to show their support for the event. This included Oceanside City Councilman Jack Feller and Vista Unified school board trustee Jim Gibson briefly attended

• • • • •

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