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Local News February 19th, 2009

Sacramento County Cuts Illegal Immigrant Health Care

Might San Diego County Do the Same?

With a $55 million budget deficit staring them in the face, the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors began slicing away health care programs last Wednesday. The largest item on the chopping block was the estimated $2.4 million annual cost of providing non-urgent health care to illegal immigrants.

"There are no good choices at this point. Everything (that is cut) is going to hurt someone," said Sacramento County 4th District Supervisor Roberta MacGlashan.

She is one of three supervisors who voted in favor of cutting health care for undocumented immigrants with two voted against.

"No one wants to make these cuts," MacGlashan said. "They're very painful."

She said the cut on health services for illegal immigrants will go into effect shortly. It will need to be supplemented by a program to identify who, among those entering public health care clinics, is a legal citizen eligible for services. That program is expected to cost $500,000 a year.

The ACLU opposes the measure, saying it is unconstitutional and a "bad policy."

"It's much more cost-effective to treat people when they're not in urgent situations," said ACLU spokesman Allen Asch. "It costs a lot more money if they get sicker and go to the emergency rooms."

Asch said the ACLU is pondering legal action against Sacramento County following Wednesday's budget cuts.

Two Arrested for Possession of Heroin

On Thursday, February 12, 2009, members of the Escondido Police Department's Special Investigations Unit, developed information regarding the whereabouts of a parolee at large, who was believed to be dealing heroin.

Detectives located Mario Martinez Lara, 51, of Escondido, in the 1300 block of South Escondido Blvd. and took him into custody. Upon his arrest, Lara was found to be in possession of .31 grams of black tar heroin. Lara was subsequently booked into the Vista Detention Facility on a Parole hold and for Possession of a Controlled Substance.

Also arrested was Raymond Andrew Navarette, 58, of Escondido, who was in the company of Lara. When contacted by police, Navarette attempted to conceal approximately six grams of black tar heroin from the detectives. Navarette was also booked into the Vista Detention Facility for possession of a controlled substance. The street value of the heroin is estimated at approximately six hundred dollars.

Mario Martinez Lara
Raymond Andrew Navarette


Tri-City and Palomar Pomerado To Join Forces?

PPH Board Chairman, Bruce Krider, confirmed to The Paper that he had initiated a letter to the Tri-City Board which may open discussions between the two districts. Krider said the letter was prompted after casual discussions over the years, often led by fellow board memer, Dr. Alan Larson, who has long advocated exploring a merger. While Krider doesn’t think a merger is practical, he did agree that it might make sense to at least open the door for discussions since the two districts had a number of areas where they both might, at a minimum, reduce some costs. Krider is awaiting a response from Tri-City. If their board is open to discussion, he sees a subcommittee from PPH and a similar subcommittee from Tri-City meeting to explore benefits, if any. If they agree, then it would be placed on the agenda for the full board(s) to discuss and/or take action.

“I really don’t see a merger being practical,” said Krider. “We might collaborate on some issues, but that’s a lot different than merging. You can cut costs a lot easier than merging. If, for example, you have a 5% return on revenue, then for every dollar you have to go out and generate $20 in new revenue. It’s a bit easier just to trim expenses and save the $1.00.”

"Anonymous Tip Line" Paying Big Benefits In 2008

Escondido Police Department's "Anonymous Tip Line" once again proves to be a valuable tool in fighting crime.

Recently, Escondido Police received an anonymous tip regarding possible drug dealing activity at 541 W. 15th Avenue, Green Crest Mobile Home Park. The anonymous caller described a Hispanic male in his 50's dealing drugs in the park. Detectives began working the case and noticed suspicious activity in the park centered around a subject that matched the tipster's provided information. Due to the anonymous tip information received, coupled with the work of narcotic detectives, Enrique Gonzalez Medina, 49, of Escondido, was arrested for possession of 29 separate bindles of methamphetamine and $865.00 in cash.

In another case in November of 2008, detectives received an anonymous tip of possible drug activity in the 600 block of West 10th Avenue. In that case, detectives were able to obtain a search warrant that led to the arrest of Luz Maria Prieto, 42, of Escondido for possession of a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance for sale.

Escondido Police Departments, "Anonymous Tip Line" has been in existence since 2001 and was formed on a recommendation from retired Homicide Lieutenant Ed Stevens, who was hired as a consultant, to the Escondido Police Department. The goal of the anonymous tip line was to help with an unsolved homicide. Escondido Police started tracking the tip line information in 2007. The following information covers statistics from 2007 and 2008:

Total tips for 2007 - (70)

(60) Drug related tips
(3) Burglary related tips
(1) Gang related tip
(6) Other related tips

Total tips for 2008 - (180)
(135) Drug related tips
(19) Burglary related tips
(3) Gang related tips
(23) Other related tips

The increase in tips has allowed detectives to gather intelligence from sources that might not otherwise have come forward.

Chief Maher stated, "These types of anonymous tips are extremely valuable when it comes to solving crime". I am glad to see the citizens of Escondido taking an active role in crime solving in their community".

Escondido Police Department remains an active participant in the San Diego "Crime Stoppers" program. Our local tip line number, (760) 743-TIPS (8477) and web based tip program, are just additional options that Escondido residence can use to communicate tips anonymously.

Escondido Police Department Discovers Meth Lab During Search Warrant

On Tuesday, February 10, 2009, members of the Escondido Police Department's Special Investigations Unit served a narcotics related search warrant in the 900 block of West 11th Avenue in the City of Escondido. Detectives uncovered a clandestine methamphetamine lab at the residence, along with numerous chemicals believed to be used to manufacture methamphetamine. Detectives also recovered a half of a gram of methamphetamine during the search.

Detectives called agents from the Narcotics Task Force (NTF) to assist with this operation. Once detectives were inside the house and garage they secured the area and called Escondido Fire Department and the San Diego City Hazmat Unit. After an assessment and partial cleanup, it was determined that the house and garage should not be inhabited. Fire units posted the house as unsafe and the property was sealed pending further cleanup.

As a result of the search, detectives arrested Brian Dabney Lewis, 28, of Escondido for H&S 11377(a), Possession of a controlled substance, H&S 11383(a), Possession of precursors of methamphetamine and H&S 11379.6, Manufacture of controlled substance. Lewis was later booked into the Vista Detention Facility on the above listed charges.

Anyone with information regarding this case is encouraged to call the Escondido Police Department with information.

Police Business Office To Close on Fridays

Beginning February 20, 2009, the Escondido Police Department will adjust the business hours for its Lobby and Reception Desk. The new schedule will provide full lobby counter service Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and now will be closed on Fridays for most services.This schedule modification will aid in trimming costs while balancing customer service requests and the delivery of essential services.

Routine service requests for copies of crime and traffic accident reports, signatures for verification of correction of traffic citations and unscheduled payments for fees, registrations and walk-in informational requests now will only be available Monday through Thursday. Fingerprint services will remain available to the public on Fridays, but only by calling 760-839-4431 ahead of time to schedule an appointment. Customers seeking vehicle impound releases on Fridays may do so between the hours of 11 a.m. and 12 noon and during the afternoon between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. by using the service phone located on the wall outside of the front lobby entrance. This phone connects directly to a communications operator who will contact the appropriate personnel. This phone will remain operational 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

This new schedule reflects peak counter visits with business demands and factors in the normal reduction of routine service requests on Fridays. The Escondido Police Department remains committed to provide professional service while taking steps to reduce costs to assist the community during this time of budgetary concern.

Conflict Over Escondido DBA Fees Prompts Petition

Almost 200 downtown merchants in Escondido have signed a petition calling for dissolution of the business improvement district that funds the Escondido DBA (Downtown Business Association). The DBA claims between 600 and 800 downtown merchants that are subject to the fees under the improvement district.

At issue is the question of recent fee hikes. Merchants signing the petition complain several merchants have had to close or relocate outside the downtown business district because the fees kicked in during a deep economic recession.

City council members acknowledge the tough economic times and are generally empathetic towards the downtown merchants. However, they point out, dissolving the business improvement district would effectively gut the DBA and there would be no one, nor no budget, to do the marketing necessary to build and establish the image of a pleasant downtown area in which to shop.

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