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Local News January 18th, 2007

Escondido Asks For More Authority on Illegal Immigration and Rejects Plan For Shelter Again

Councilmember Marie Waldron introduced a resolution that asked the federal government to provide more power to local governments to deal with illegal immigration.

The resolution passed, 3-2, Waldron, Gallo and Abed voting aye, Pfeiler and Daniels voting no.

By an identical vote and by the same councilmembers, the council turned down for a second time a plan for a homeless shelter to be operated by the Salvation Army.

Several councilmembers expressed anger at the unfair names they’ve been called because they were protecting the city and following their conscience on voting to deter an invasion of homeless. “We are sick and tired of making this city a sanctuary for homeless and illegal aliens,” said Councilmember Sam Abed.

The council did approve the concept of creating a regional task force to address the issue of the homeless. Escondido will contact each North County city to seek their support for such a regional plan.

Escondido Considers Day-Laborer Law

Examining a number of ways to cut into Escondido’s large illegal immigration population, Escondido city council members have indicated an interest in looking at a day-laborer law similar to that imposed by the city of Vista which regulates the manner and means of hiring.

The council has clearly signaled their intentions to clamp down tightly on illegal immigration to Escondido and this is only one of several programs they are examining.

There are some concerns that the shutting down of the easy hiring of illegal immigrant day-laborers in Vista may simply cause them to wander over to Escondido. A similar law would preclude that from happening, some councilmembers believe.

The day-laborer law basically requires that anyone who hires day laborers to register with the city, display a certificate in their car window and give written terms of employment to workers. There is a legal challenge to that ordinance pending in federal court. Escondido councilmembers await the results of that court action before pursuing the matter further.

Identities of Illegal Immigrants in Jail Now Easier to Establish

Those who are strongly against illegal immigration were happy to learn recently that San Diego County Jail personnel are now much more efficient in determining which of its inmates are illegal immigrants, thanks to the increased use of a computer system known as the Jail Information Management System, or, JIMS.

By using this advanced system the monthly count of illegal immigrants detected has increased steadily. In July 204, in August 281, in September, 374, October 416, November 845.

With approximately 100,000 men and women passing through San Diego County jail facilities, with the increased computer capacity, and now with the ICE (Immigration and Customes Enforcement) agents taking a more frequent and active visitation to jails and questioning the inmates, more potential deportees are identified.

The hope is that this number will continue to increase and make a serious dent in the number of illegal immigrants and their impact on criminal activity in San Diego County.

Political Unknown Appointed to San Marcos Council

Local political observers were scratching their heads, wondering what happened at last week’s council meeting when the San Marcos City Council appointed Rebecca Jones, a political newcomer and relative unknown to serve the unexpired term of newly elected Mayor Jim Desmond. She was one of six applicants and appeared to have the least experience of all candidates.
Mayor Desmond spoke on her behalf, urging the council to appoint her over all other applicants, several of whom had experience serving on the planning commission. Jones is a former real estate agent and her only governmental experience has been serving on a panel looking at development along San Marcos Creek.

Councilmember Mike Preston voted against her appontment. Councilmember Hal Martin and Mayor Jim Desmond supported her and that decided the issue as newly elected Councilmember Chris Orlando had recused himself from the vote since Jones’ husband had contributed $150 to his campaign.

Dean Nelson, chairman of the Planning Commission and first runner-up in the recent election, said he was disappointed at the decision but also said he’d be running in the 2008 elections.

City Officials, County Wide, Violating Public Records Act

To the surprise of almost no one in the media, a recent audit conducted by a coalition of media members documented that cities in San Diego county are not complying with the Public Records Act.

Police departments especially were in violation, the report shows. Police departments routinely have broken the law by not promptly providing public records that were sought.

The general public has a fundamental right to examine public records under California law, said Terry Francke, general counsel for Californians Aware in Sacramento. It was his organization that prepared and supervised the study. Participating media supplied reporters and/or other personnel who would approach public agencies and request information without identifying themselves as members of the media.

Some agencies not only refused to provide public records but also illegally asked to see identification and to inquire as to the employer of the petitioner. Both are strictly against the law.

The exercise targeted 216 law enforcement agencies of all sizes in 34 counties, including San Diego and Riverside.

Escondido’s police department received a failing grade and Escondido’s Mayor, Lori Holt Pfeiler, said that was unacceptable. Steps would be taken to increase training and direction given to be in compliance with the Public Records Act.
Other Mayors from Oceanside and Carlsbad offered similar comments.

Winter Shelter for Escondido Comes to Pass

Thanks to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger declaring a state of emergency because of expected extreme low temperatures, the door was opened for Escondido Mayor Lori Holt Pfeiler to ask the armory to accommodate the homeless last weekend.

Just last Wednesday the Escondido City Council told the Salvation Army they could not operate a weather-actuated winter shelter for the homeless, however, a way was found to shelter these people at the National Guard Armory on Park Place.

The armory shelter is being operated by the Salvation Army and Interfaith Community Services. Palomar Pomerado Health also will have staff members there to offer free flu shots and tuberculosis testing. Mel Takahara of the Salvation Army said 50 cots were provided for those seeking to get out of the cold.

A council majority of Sam Abed, Ed Gallo and Marie Waldron said Escondido already has too many homeless people and that a shelter would only attract more to the city. They also argued that the city already does more than most of the county's other cities for the needy, noting that it has 777 permanent beds for people such as domestic-violence victims, drug addicts and veterans.

San Marcos High Tech High School Coming

The price tag is $16 million but plans are moving forward for the building of a new High Tech High School in San Marcos.

To be built on a five acre site near Discovery Street and San Marcos Boulevard, the school is programmed to serve 500 students, but will begin with 150. Officials had first sought to build the school in Escondido but after two years of fruitless negotiations, turned their attention to San Marcos.

The end of February is the target date for completing all of the necessary permits and closing escrow on the purchase from a private party, according to officials.

Angel Delivers for Habitat for Humanity

Officials from Habitat for Humanity were reported to be jubilant over the news that Thrivent Financial for Lutherans has come forward to sponsor the building of one additional home this year in Escondido.

The additional home is part of the Thrivent Builds with Habitat for Humanity alliance that has brought together thousands of volunteers and financial support from Thrivent Financial. Nationally, Thrivent has committed $24.5 million to build 355 additional homes in 43 states with families in need in 2007.

Area Lutherans and Thrivent members are encouraged to volunteer in the building of the homes. Questions may be answered by Thrivent Builds at 858.484.3131.

Escondido Chief of Police Implements New Gang Member Screening Program

Newly appointed Escondido Chief of Police Jim Maher has arranged for a federal agent to screen Escondido gang members with criminal history. The screening has thus far identified over 30 that may qualify for deportation, according to Chief Maher.

Maher said he and his department was developing a comprehensive policy that will include ways to deal with people in this country illegally who are involved in criminal activity such as drugs and gangs. He sees focusing on criminal activity committed by illegal immigrants as a more efficient way of addressing the illegal immigrant issue. Ideally, the illegal immigrant criminals would be deported. The plan will be submitted to the Escondido City Council later this month. The council has already established a strong desire to trim illegal immigrant activity way back. As Maher sees it, the new policy would not apply to people who are here illegally but aren’t committing crimes. He and his department do not believe they have the resources or training to focus on simply enforcing federal law.

"I want to emphasize that none of these policies will change anything that we do with people living in the community who aren't committing any crimes," the police chief said. "We see that as a federal issue."

 

 

 

 


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