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Local News January 12, 2006


San Marcos City Manger to Receive a Raise

San Marcos City Manger to Receive a Raise


Rick Gittings, long time city manager for San Marcos, will soon have a fatter pay packet due to a pay raise from his former annual salary of $193,000 to $206,000.  This would make him the second highest paid city manager in North County, Clay Phillips, Escondido’s city manager being the highest paid at $206,500.


Gittings has served San Marcos as city manager since 1983 and generally draws high marks from all council members as well as city staff and local political observers.


CSUSM to host Debate


The California State San Marcos Alumni Association will host a debate between candidates for the 50th District Congressional seat which was recently vacated by disgraced Randy “Duke” Cunningham.


The debate is scheduled for March 23rd in the university’s Clark Fieldhouse, moderated by Kent Davy, editor of the North County Times.  The debate will run from 7 to 9pm.


For additional information, contact Charles Guthrie, executive director, CSUSM Alumni Association at 750.4405.


Disgraced Congressman 'Wore a Wire'


From TIME Online Edition -


Sources say that Duke Cunningham wore a wire after agreeing to cooperate with a graft probe.


Washington's power players have always bragged about being well-wired, but for disgraced former congressman Duke Cunningham, "wired" wasn't just a figure of speech. In a week when legislators are focused on the question of who else might be brought down by ex-lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s cooperation with prosecutors as he seeks lenient sentencing over his two federal guilty pleas this week, sources report that in a separate investigation, ex-Rep. Cunningham wore a wire to help investigators gather evidence against others just before copping his own plea.


Sources familiar with the situation say Cunningham, a California Republican who pleaded guilty Nov. 28 to taking $2.4 million in bribes — including a yacht, a Rolls Royce and a 19th Century Louis-Philippe commode — from a defense contractor, wore a wire at some point during the short interval between the moment he began cooperating with the feds and the announcement of his guilty plea on Nov. 28.


The identity of those with whom the San Diego congressman met while wearing the wire remains unclear, and is the source of furious — and nervous — speculation by congressional Republicans. A Cunningham lawyer, K. Lee Blalack, initially refused to confirm or deny the story, and wouldn't say whether Cunningham will implicate any other members of Congress. Yesterday, however, he issued a statement denying his client ‘wore a wire.’


The FBI is believed to be continuing its probe of defense contractors involved in the Cunningham case. An FBI spokesman declined comment. Asked whether Cunningham, an ace Navy fighter pilot decorated for his service in Vietnam, had worn a wire, the spokesman said the response from a higher-up was, "Like I'd tell you."


SDG&E Expresses Concerns about PPH Plans


SDG&E officials have expressed concerns about the compatibility of the PPH facility as proposed within the ERTC and its close proximity to the SDG&E power plant.  An existing environmental review apparently does not allay the concerns about rescue helicopters access over electrical wires and exhaust fumes from the plant’s operation.  These concerns have been expressed to both the Escondido City Council as well as the hospital district itself.

Other concerns include the use of the 300,000 square-feet of office space PPH wants privately developed alongside the new medical center in the Escondido Research and Development Center (ERDC). 


Controversial Attorney Sues Julian Merchants; They Countersue


The controversial disabled attorney from San Diego who has raised the hackles of Julian businesses by threatening lawsuites if they didn’t conform to existing disability laws, and the affected merchants, have sued each other in Federal Court in San Diego.


Attorney Theodore Pinnock, who has Cerebral Palsy and uses a wheelchair, alleges in a lawsuit that eight businesses violated federal law by failing to provide equal access to the disabled.  Meanwhile, dozens of businesses who claim to have received threatening letters from Pinnock trying to “shake us down for money,” have filed countersuits.


Pinnock claims 67 Julian businesses are not in compliance with disability laws and they had the option of either immediately remodeling to bring their businesses into compliance or to pay him a fee of $2500 as damages.  His lawsuit seeks a court order requiring eight specified businesses to remove barriers to access for the disabled and for an unspecified amount of money damages.


Julianians Against Shakedown Tactics, a group made up of about 38 businesses, filed a  lawsuit Dec. 27 against Pinnock and two groups with which he is affiliated. Following this suit Pinnock and one of his groups, Mantic Ashanti's Cause, countersued eight Julian businesses and their owners, all of whom are part of the business group that is suing Pinnock. He also sued the owners of the property where the businesses are located.


Pinnock said 18 of those businesses have agreed to settlements, agreeing to fix the access problems and paying less than he had requested from them.


Pinnock alleges in his lawsuit that he went to Julian on Nov. 11 and 12 but was not able to visit any of the businesses named in the lawsuit because "they are not accessible."


Pinnock's lawsuit alleges that lawsuits like his are necessary to get businesses to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act. The law went into effect in 1992 and is meant to prevent discrimination against people with disabilities.


The affected businesses counter both privately and in their lawsuit that Pinnock is an attorney who will do anything to generate income . . . and is not interested in reaching a settlement.  They question both his tactics and his motivation.  They claim Pinnock sends letters with threats and short deadllines in which to comply and threatens escalating costs if they don’t comply now.


For his part, an unrepentant Pinnock seems to be enjoying his day in the sun.  It had drawn him a great deal of publicity and he seems to revel in it, even the negative kind.  He has said he’s “happy” to see the lawsuit against him as because it is "making me into a celebrity" and that his client base is increasing. Local legal observers are watching closely.





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