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Local News July 16th, 2009

$10 Million Bail set for “Hatchet Man”

The court agreed with prosecutors on the case involving Gamalier Reyes Rivera and set $10 million as the bail. Prosecutors argued Rivera was both a flight risk as well as a danger to the community. Rivera is a Border Patrol agent arrested in connection with last week’s horrible hatchet attack that almost killed one man in Escondido and left a woman with minor injuries.

Superior Court Judge Marshall Hockett set the bail during Rivera's arraignment at the Vista courthouse. Rivera pleaded not guilty to seven felony charges, including attempted murder, two counts of torture, two counts of aggravated mayhem, assault with a deadly weapon and burglary. He faces a maximum of life in prison if convicted.

The attack took place at 835 S. Upas St. on July 9. Rivera's estranged wife and the couple's 7-year-old daughter were inside the home but not injured during the assault, police have said. The two are staying with friends and family out of the area. The male victim, who sustained chop wounds to the neck and torso, remained in critical condition Monday at Palomar Medical Center in Escondido, said Escondido police Lt. Bob Benton.

The suspect and his wife were going through a second divorce proceeding, and a day before the attack a judge ordered $2,200 of Rivera's monthly wages garnished to pay child and spousal support. His monthly salary was $7,756. It is speculated that this garnishment may have been what set the suspect off.

County Worried About Human Trafficking

Two dozen Chinese nationals arrested in a prostitution sting and nine different locations in Vista should bring home to the public the apparent increase in human trafficking, according to county officials. They’ve been aware of it for some time, they say, but the general public is only now beginning to realize how extensive this practice is.

More and more trafficking in humans from Central America and Mexico is being found not only in San Diego but Los Angeles, San Francisco and most major cities throughout the US, according to Stephanie Voorkamp, the California director of Not For Sale, a nonprofit group working against the global slave trade.

“Human trafficking is everywhere, it's not only an international problem, but also something that happens in Vista, Oceanside and San Diego.”

About 200,000 people in the United States, and 26 million worldwide, are being held against their will, according to studies by the federal government and the United Nations. Roughly 17,500 more slaves are brought into this country each year, Voorkamp said.

The San Diego Union-Tribune recently reported that human trafficking is one of the fastest-growing criminal industries in the world along with drug and arms trafficking, according to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center in Washington, D.C. The center receives funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“The risk (of being caught) is low and the profit is high,” said Mark Lagon, executive director of the nonprofit Polaris Project, which helps victims of human trafficking. “Some are even Americans who are trafficking victims within the United States,” he said.

All 24 people arrested in the Vista prostitution sting in June were Chinese nationals. Federal authorities are investigating how these individuals – 22 women and two men – came to settle in Vista. Six of the people were booked for prostitution, while the rest were charged with illegal touching or violating municipal codes concerning public health, fire and safety concerns.

The raids resulted in the closure of Touch of Asian Day Spa, Seren Acu-Care, Melrose Spa, Vista Town Spa, Bright Acupuncture, JW Acupuncture, Li Jun Acupuncture I, Li Jun Acupuncture II and Vista Health Center.


A typical family event

At least one business, Melrose Spa, has reopened.

“Surf’s Up!” - City of San Marcos Offers Free Movies

The city of San Marcos will present a series of free movies throughout the summer at various locations. It’s all part of a special promotion co-sponsored by the city, by Think Blue, and the City of San Diego Storm Water Department. Patrons are invited to bring beach chairs or blankets for lawn seating or swimsuits to view the movie from the pool Pool viewers will have a $5 fee, all others are free.

This Saturday, July 18, pre-show activities start at 6 pm and the movie, “Surfs Up” starts at dusk. The event will be at Woodland Park, in San Marcos. For more information, call 760-744-9000.

Summer Art Camps to be held in San Marcos

A variety of week-long, half-day summer art camps will be held in San Marcos through Friday, Aug. 14. The camps will be offered by Abrakadoodle Art Education at the San Marcos Community Center, 3 Civic Center Drive. Camps for children aged three to five years will be held from 9:30 am to 12 pm, and camps for children aged six to nine will be held from 9 am to 12 pm.

This summer’s themes include Bugs and Butterflies (ages three to five) starting July 13; Underwater Adventure (ages six to nine) starting July 20; Dreams and Fairytales (ages three to five) starting August 3; and African Safari (ages six to nine) starting August 10.

Camp tuition for the week is $159 and includes all materials and a camp T-shirt.

Registration is available online or by calling (760) 744-9000.

Advanced Chiropractic of San Marcos Honored

Advanced Chiropractic Center has been selected for the 2009 Best of San Marcos Award in the Chiropractors category by the US Commerce Association.

Each year, the US Commerce Association (USCA) identifies companies that they believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and community.

Towing Company Contractors Afraid Escondido’s Plan to Impound Cars will Hurt their Pocketbooks

Tow truck companies that contract with the city of Escondido are scurrying to derail a proposal being studied by Escondido to store impounded vehicles instead of having them kept in private yards. They argue that there may be a financial incentive for the city to take such action, to the towing companies detriment.

A Police Department analysis concluded Escondido could reap a profit of $2.4 million a year by taking over impounds from private tow companies. City officials argue that $2.4 million would be a major savings against the budget crisis facing the city. The tow companies counter argue that the figure is inflated and does not consider high operating costs they incur.

The city, bowing to pressure from the tow companies, and seeking additional answer decided more time was needed to study the idea and extended the current contracts with four tow companies for 18 months. The extensions went into effect July 1, but the city can cancel them at any time.

According to the 2007 police evaluation, which was based on 6,500 cars, the $2.4 million is a realistic figure, however, officials readily concede that the figure may drop substantially, given the poor economy and lesser amount of drivers. They also acknowledge the need to find a lot large enough to handle impounds. There is also the qeustions of staffing, security and liability.

“In these tight economic times, the city has to consider all possible revenue sources,” John Houchin, a staff consultant and former Escondido police lieutenant said. “The city also has to carefully examine all of the issues associated with such an action; to make sure we are in compliance with all laws and that it's the right thing to do.”

Presently, Escondido receives nearly $1 million annually. That revenue is generated by the $100,000 annual franchise fee each of the city's four contracted tow companies pays and the $180 release fee paid by owners of impounded vehicles. The tow companies in Escondido make money on the initial towing fee of about $175 and storage fees that typically run about $35 a day. If the car has not been retrieved within 45 days, the tow yards are legally permitted to sell the car in a lien sale to recover costs.

City councilmember and announced candidate for Mayor to succeed retiring Mayor Lori Holt Pfeiler, Dick Daniels said he has an open mind to the issues but tends to be a bit skeptical toward the idea of the city taking over that type of business. “I just don’t think it’s the core type of responsibility we as a city have been, or should be, part of. But I’ll listen to what the towing companies and the city staff consultant have to say.” Councilmember Sam Abed also said he was reluctant to get involved in business that was competitive to private enterprise.

Brian Bilbray and Duncan D. Hunter’s Proposal for Predator Aircraft Shot Down in Flames

A $26 million earmark sought by U.S. Reps. Brian Bilbray and Duncan D. Hunter for two unmanned aircraft known as Predators was shot down by the House Armed Services Committee. The two North County Republican had sought the funding from within the 2010 Defense Authorization bill.

The San Diego company that manufactures the Predator, General Atomics, is a leading contributor to the Hunter and Bilbray campaigns. The bill passed the House on June 25 and is now working its way through the Senate. Hunter said he and Bilbray were unaware when they made the request that the Defense Department was going to ask for 50 Predator aircraft.

Bilbray, R-Solana Beach, made the request after a visit with commanders in Afghanistan earlier this year, said his spokesman, Fritz Chaleff. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said that getting 50 additional unmanned aircraft would represent a 62 percent increase in the number available for work in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Requesting a military appropriation through an earmark is nothing new. Such requests are subject to increasing scrutiny by watchdog groups and others, however, who contend that increased use of earmarks in recent years is an inappropriate way to fund the nation's needs.

A couple of Hunter's other defense-related earmarks did win approval in the House version of the bill ---- $3 million for a helicopter sensor system to deal with poor visibility and $1 million for a training device to teach troops the best way to apply tourniquets.

Chargers Express Bus Service Cancelled for Upcoming 2009 Season

North County Transit District (NCTD) will not operate the Chargers Express bus service to Qualcomm Stadium for the 2009 season. Because of the elimination of funding for public transportation by the State of California combined with the decline in revenues generated from sales tax, NCTD is facing deficits of $17-19 million by 2013. This has forced NCTD to examine all areas of its organization for potential cost savings and efficiencies.

In a letter to the Chargers NCTD has expressed a willingness to provide technical expertise to the Chargers if assistance is required related to the provision of transportation to Chargers home games, if requested by the Chargers. Last season, the service carried over 7,000 passengers to six Chargers home games. NCTD moves more than 12 million passengers annually by providing public transportation for North San Diego County.

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