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Local News May 31st, 2007

Palomar Pomerado Wants To Delay Projects

North County was abuzz with discussion as it became known that Michael Covert, CEO of the Palomar Pomerado Health District, had recommended to its board of directors that the Palomar Medical Center in Escondido be delayed in its renovation as well as some elements of a large expansion project.

While it is only a proposal at this stage and Palomar Pomerado Health District Board Members have neither approved or disapproved of the plan, the mere proposal was enough to set off a series of “I told you so” comments . . . and a flurry of calls and emails.

Several members at a recent community meeting of area business and political leaders even posed the question of what can be done to reverse the bond issue, Proposition BB. The answer appears to be . . . not much. Either a lawsuit against the district or another bond issue asking voters to reverse the earlier bond issue would be needed. Both would be expensive and is doubtful either would be successful. Escondido City Attorney Jeff Epp said, “I would hazard a guess that such an action would make an awful lot of trial attorneys very happy.” The inference being that only the attorneys would come out ahead.


Above, an artists rendering of what the new Palomar Medical Center will look like
at the ERTC (Escondido Research and Development Center).
This view is the south view of the facility.

The problem revolves around the increasing costs of construction. What was once a $753 million project has escalated to $988 million. Latest projections suggest a cost of $1.15 billion to complete the project. The district can come up with around $988 million, which would include the $496 million authorized by voters under Proposition BB. Covert assured the board the district would not seek another bond measure. All informed sources suggested that’s a good idea because it would not be supported by elected officials, the electorate, nor the media.

Escondido Councilmember Ed Gallo expressed frustration, saying, “If you commit do doing something, you’d better do it. We need to review the MOU’s (Memoranda of Understanding) and make sure the District complies with their promises.”

Councilmember Sam Abed said, “They have a problem with the funding because they have over-designed . . . I want PPH to fulfill their obligation and commitment to honor the MOU they have with the city and the development agreement.

Proposition BB has been passed by the voters; everyone wants a state of the art facility. I support having a modern and expanded hospital; however, that is what we expect from the money authorized by the proposition.
I have a concern about the Hospital Oversight Committee. How could they have allowed the process to move forward with $400,000 additional cost? That cost is not all related to increase in construction cost. They have over-designed, in my judgment. We want this project to go forward but we want it to stay within budget. Remember, we received $13 million as part of the development agreement. We receive $600,000 a year interest as a result of that funding.

As a taxpayer, I'm concerned about the delay. I want the project completed . . . but the price tag of 1.5 billion is excessive.”

Councilmember Dick Daniels: “We need to review the Memoranda of Understanding and discuss it calmly and rationally with the District. We agreed to the MOU in good faith and I believe they did as well. We’ll work it out, somehow.”

Mayor Lori Holt Pfeiler: We instructed City Manager Clay Phillips to contact the District and arrange for a meeting so we can discuss the issues and timeline. We will certainly address the MOU(Memorandum of Understanding) and seek to have them comply with those terms to the extent that they are able to control the issues and timeline. We have the expectation that the Administrative Offices will be moved to Escondido and we want to see the new hospital built as soon as possible.

Councilmember Marie Waldron: As of press time, Councilmember Waldron had not returned our phone calls.

A clearly frustrated Andy Hoang, spokesperson for the Palomar Pomerado Hospital District said:

For the Escondido city council members to make such statements is simply irresponsible. Until they learn about the details, they shouldn’t be saying such things. But to make inaccurate statements is irresponsible. Not only irresponsible, but slanderous. It’s a narrow-minded type view of this dynamic project. We need a unified voice. We have a great relationship with the city of Poway officials . . it would be nice to have a similar relationship here.

We are complying with the MOU as stated; we’ve bought two new buildings and are purchasing another building across from the present Palomar Medical Center location; we’re doing everything we committed to. The market conditions, as surveyed and reported from independent study groups, are the same nationwide and are principally related to labor, market conditions and materials. The Escondido City Council has only to look at their Public Safety Building complex and they will see the exact same issues involved. We are not delaying the ERTC project. It is moving forward, as scheduled. We are looking for a developer to build the central plant at the ERTC campus which would then be leased back to the District. This alone could possibly save us as much as $43 million. We welcome the chance to sit down with the city officials and explain to them, point by point, the escalation of costs.

Debate Ensues Over Vista Charter School Issue

The Vista Unified school board last week narrowly agreed, by a 3-2 vote, to continue discussions as to whether a construction-themed charter school could open on the former Lincoln Middle School campus. Board members Carol Herrera and David Hubbard opposed the idea.
Hubbard suggested that opening North County Trade Tech High at Lincoln could decrease enrollment at Vista Magnet Middle School, which is scheduled to open in fall on the campus, as well. He said he had been assured by Trade Tech High officials that the school wouldn't ask for a site from the district.

Gunpowder Blast Victim Identified

A 21-year-old Oceanside man, Nedrick Aaron Walker, was identified as the man who died after a homemade explosive device blew up

He was trying to make a cannon, police said. He and a couple of friends were experimenting when Walker lit the device and the flames came out the back end instead of the front, which had been aimed at a tree. Walker suffered fatal head injuries in the explosion.

Escondido Man Dies of Gunshot Wounds

Pedro David Gutierrez, 23, of Escondido, died as a result of gunshot wounds outside a house on Grand Avenue, the county Medical Examiner's Office said.

Escondido police Lt. Craig Carter said a 911 caller reported the shooting and police found Gutierrez lying in the front yard of the home near Rose Street. It is unknown at this time whether the shooting was related to gang activity but police and its gang units are investigating.

Gems n’ Loans A Class Act

gems-shopThis business of ours, publishing a weekly newspaper, almost every week delivers something new, exciting and interesting to us.

Just about the time we think we know it all, we learn something new . . . and we become fascinated.

Case in point: What mental image do you conjure up when I mention the word “pawnshop?” A guy named Sam, chewing on an old cigar, a green cashiers eye-shade pulled down over his forehead . . . and a curt, sometimes rude, manner?

That may have been true at one time but the times . . . they have changed.

Just as an experiment . . . do what I did and go into any one of three Gem n’ Loans stores. They have a location in Escondido, Vista and Oceanside.

First thing you notice . . . it’s a nice, clean, brightly lit place with an attractive display of merchandise throughout the store.

Sam and his old cigar is gone. In his place you’ll find well dressed, well groomed and well mannered personnel. In Escondido you’re just likely to meet Norton Kaiserman, the store manager. He speaks five languages. Five. English, Spanish, French, Portugese and Italian. And he’s well groomed, well dressed and well mannered.

Looking around at the merchandise you’ll find items for as little as $2 (a compact disc) to $20,000 diamonds. If you want to buy . . . you’re in a bargain hunter’s paradise. Prices on whatever merchandise you’re interested in often run around 40% less than what you’d pay in retail stores.

How do pawnbrokers work? It’s fairly simple.

A loan is taken out against a valuable item which is later redeemed by the client who pays back the borrowed money plus interest. The loans are usuall for a set period of four months after which they have an additional 10 day notice to redeem. If not redeemed the article is then sold.

Gems n’ Loans can provide similar sums of money to a small bank loan. But unlike a bank loan, there is little paperwork and no credit checks are required as Gems n’ Loans uses the valuable as security for the loan. The high price of gold has also sent the street value of jewelry soaring. Gold is simply worth more now than it has been in the past.

More and more business and professional people are coming to Gems n’ Loans today; it’s an upscale pawn broker and they serve a need for quick cash needed for a short term.

Gems n’ Loans clearly provides a need for the market place. They started in Oceanside in 1993 with their store at 3753 Mission Avenue at El Camino Real. That store is managed by Irene Longoria. They later expanded to Vista, at 925 S. Santa Fe, near Escondido Avenue, where John Martin is the manager, and now, Escondido, at 327 W. Mission near Mission and Centre City Parkway, where you’ll meet the manager, Norton Kaiserman.

What makes Gems n’ Loans different from other pawn brokers? “From the beginning,” says H. Mack Hembree, the founder and owner, “we determined that we would focus on putting our clients at ease . . . to see to it they received courteous and prompt service. We’ve flourished because we pay sharp attention to customer service.”

Interest rates are regulated by the state and can average around 23 percent. As a matter of principle, Hembree does not deal in weapons. The securities he makes loans on are top grade . . . “we’re not interested in ‘junk;’ we want quality merchandise. We loan a bit more on it because it’s quality.”

Indeed, a look around any of the Gems n’ Loans stores will show a dazzling display of Rolex watches, pearls, gold necklaces, diamond rings . . all in brightly lit showcases and a spotlessly clean store. You’ll also find a wide variety of musical instruments, sporting goods, dolls, many collectibles.

A little known fact is Christopher Columbus funded his voyage to the New World by pawning Queen Isabella’s jewels.


Norton Kaiserman
Store Manager





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