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Local News August 28th, 2008

56 Year Old Arrested for Selling Heroin and Crystal Meth

On Tuesday, August 19, 2008, members of the Escondido Police Department's Special Investigations Unit arrested Nina Freije, 56, of Escondido (above) on multiple counts for possession of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance for sale and transportation of a controlled substance. 11379 (Transportation of a controlled substance).

The arrest of Freije was the culmination of a multi-day investigation that subsequently led to the seizure of over nine grams of crystal methamphetamine, and seven syringes that were loaded with heroin.

Undercover ABC Operation Yields Two Arrests

On Thursday, August 21, 2008, the Escondido Police Department's Special Investigations Unit (SIU) in conjunction with the State of California Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC), conducted a minor decoy operation of several ABC licensed establishments in the City of Escondido.

A total of 14 establishments were checked during this operation. During each compliance check, a decoy was sent inside the business and attempted to purchase alcohol. A total of two locations sold alcohol to the decoy:

• Al's Short Stop, 908 Del Dios Rd., Escondido
Karla Jeanette Raya, 27, of Escondido Ca.

• Mariscos El Zurdo, 250 Woodward Ave., Escondido
Elizabeth Gomez Hernandez, 25, Escondido Ca.

In each case, the SIU/ABC team cited the employee that sold alcohol to the decoy. Additionally, the two businesses face possible administrative actions by ABC.

The SIU/ABC team checked numerous other locations throughout the city. These types of checks are conducted on a regular basis to ensure ABC licensed establishments are operating in compliance with their regulatory conditions and all ABC laws. These types of checks, as well as other types of ABC operations, will be conducted throughout the year with funding from a recent ABC grant awarded to the Escondido Police Department.

Escondido City Council Candidates Forum

The Escondido Republican Club (TERC) will be holding an Escondido City Council Candidate Forum for their regularly scheduled luncheon meeting on Monday, September 15, 2008.

A buffet lunch will be served at noon followed by the one-hour Candidate Forum that will begin at 12:30 PM. This is a great opportunity to learn about the candidates and find out where they stand on important issues. All six candidates have been invited to participate.

The meeting will be held at the Cocina del Charro Restaurant, 525 N. Quince, Escondido, CA.

Check-in begins at 11:30 AM.

Please call Sharon Wood at (760) 741-5060 to make your reservation. The cost is $10 payable at the door. For more information about TERC, visit:

Oceanside’s Mira Costa College To Lose Accreditation?

While officials at Mira Costa College pooh-pooh the idea that the school might lose its accreditation, there are those who are genuinely concerned that such a catastrophic event might happen.

A great many parents have called the school asking abour recent accreditation problems that hover over the community college that serves coastal North County.

What makes parents and interested observers nervous is a combination of factors. First, in January the state Accrediting Commission for Community Colleges and Junior Colleges put MiraCosta on "warning" status and stated that it must address three "areas of concern" by improving board collegiality, better measuring student progress and improving relations with the faculty senate.

Mira Costa has been beset with problems between board members and its administration, is embroiled in litigation as a result of that, has differences between them and faculty, as well as students.

In June the commission opted to keep MiraCosta on warning status, giving the college until March 1 to prove it has addressed the concerns.

The letter notes that the commission "must take action to terminate accreditation" if problems are not corrected by the deadline.

A loss of accreditation would spell disaster for MiraCosta. Credit courses taken there would not transfer to other schools, and may not be taken seriously by employers.

On top of this, a recent list of recommendations by the San Diego Grand Jury that reviewed Mira Costa has all but been ignored by its administration and governing board. So much so that recently, it was reported by the San Diego Union Tribune that MiraCosta College trustees are considering telling the county grand jury that they don't need to implement most of the recommendations the jury made in its effort to make community colleges act more ethically.

In May, the jury wrapped up a year of study by issuing a list of recommendations for the five community college districts in the county, including limiting trustee terms in office and creating a countywide committee on ethics.

None of the districts liked the suggestions. Many district officials doubt the grand jury's jurisdiction and said spending $500,000 for an ethics committee would be a waste of public money that should go toward student education.

The report cited what the jury believed were general problems in all college districts except for Palomar in San Marcos. Only Grossmont-Cuyamaca, Southwestern and MiraCosta colleges were named in the report.

MiraCosta was cited for its handling of the $1.6 million settlement that trustees gave former college President Victoria Muñoz Richart.

Carlsbad lawyer Leon Page has sued the district and Richart, saying her settlement constitutes an illegal gift of public funds.

MiraCosta's draft answer says recommendations will not be implemented because they “are not warranted or reasonable.”

"We have had to talk to them and explain that we are fully accredited, and that we are working to take care of the (accreditation commission's) concerns," Bonnie Hall, marketing and communications officer, said.

Despite phone calls to the contrary, the accreditation mess does not appear to have affected MiraCosta's enrollment. The community college posted a record spring 2008 enrollment of 11,150 and had registered 10,179 for the fall semester by Wednesday, topping the school's opening-day enrollment of 9,849 in fall 2007.

But the specter of accreditation loss continues to hang over MiraCosta as three incumbent trustees run for re-election Nov. 4. For the first time in recent memory, all three incumbents face challengers, and all three of those challengers cite concerns over the possible loss of accreditation as one of the main factors that pushed them to file nomination papers.

Area Code 760 May Still Have Life

In an unusual move, the California Public Utilities Commission has agreed to reconsider its four-month-old decision to create a 442 area code for North County.

The commission said late last week it will reopen the administrative hearing process that culminated in its April 24 decision to split San Diego's northern tier from the 760 area code.

Whether the commission will overturn its ruling is another question altogether. But the move was hailed as a victory for a grass-roots organizer's online campaign to challenge a decision that was a done deal.

But the commission also called for an expedited process so the five commissioners can consider “the full range of options” at their Oct. 16 meeting.

A new 442 area code is needed because population growth and the proliferation of wireless phones and devices has nearly exhausted the 7.9 million numbers created when the 760 area code was established in 1997.

Assemblyman Martin Garrick, R-Carlsbad, and the chambers of commerce of Carlsbad, Encinitas, Escondido, San Marcos, Oceanside and Vista also responded. The chambers of commerce hired a legal team headed by San Francisco lawyer Suzanne Toller, who formally requested the commission to modify its decision and to halt the implementation of the 442 area code.

Her ruling sets two hearings: Sept. 3 at Victorville City Hall; and Sept. 4 at Carlsbad City Hall. Both will begin at 4 p.m.

A proposed decision would then be mailed by Sept. 16 for consideration at the commission's Oct. 16 meeting.

Vacancy on Escondido Historic Preservation Commission

The Escondido City Council is seeking applicants for the Historic Preservation Commission, due to a recent vacancy. The term of office will expire on March 31, 2010.

An application and a resume are required. Contact the City Clerk's office at 839-4617 for further information and for an application. They will also ask for a resume.

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