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Local News August 6th, 2009
Jesus Lopez Espinzoa

Escondido Police Find Narcotics During Search

On Tuesday, July 28, 2009, members of the Escondido Police Department's Special Investigations Unit served a search warrant at an apartment in the 600 block of N. Quince St. During the search, detectives located approximately two ounces of methamphetamine, one ounce of cocaine, eight ounces of marijuana, drug paraphernalia, and approximately $1,100 in cash.

Detectives arrested Jesus Lopez Espinoza, 47, of Escondido for Possession of a dangerous drug, Possession of a dangerous drug for sale, Possession of a controlled substance, Possession of a controlled substance for sale, and Possession of marijuana for sale. Espinoza was ultimately booked into the Vista Detention Facility where an immigration hold was added. The street value of the seized narcotics is valued at approximately $5,200.

Antique Appraisal Fair

If you missed out when the Antique Roadshow came to San Diego, you have another opportunity to find out what your treasures are worth. On Saturday morning, August 8th, the Escondido History Center is hosting an Antique Appraisal Fair from 9am to 12noon. Appraisals will be conducted by Steven Rosefeld, GCA, and Shelley De Witt, ISA. Each item will be appraised for $5.00. No fine jewelry please.

A 9-year-old Child Killed In Auto Crash, Driver Arrested

A 9-year-old girl was killed and the driver of the car she was riding in was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving early Monday after a multi-vehicle crash on Interstate 5. The girl was riding in the right rear of a 2006 Lexus RX 330. The driver did not notice vehicles in front of him were slowing down, according to the California Highway Patrol. Accident reconstruction suggests the driver swerved to the right and collided with a Dodge Caliber, then lost control of the SUV and hit a Honda, then crashed into the rear of a big rig. The girl was taken by air to Rady Children's Hospital where she later died.

The driver, identified as 23-yearold Michael Wright Jr., of Commerce, suffered minor injuries and was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. At press time, the girl's identity has not been released.

Woman Found Slain in Carlsbad Duplex

Identified A 43 year-old woman, who worked as a certified shorthand reporter at the Vista courthouse, was found slain in her garage. She was identified as Jennifer Stark by the county Medical Examiner's Office. The mother of two was found dead with laceration wounds about 11:30 p.m. Friday by her son at her duplex on Camino del Parque near Paseo del Norte, the boy's father said. Jonathan Scott French, a 40-yearold man who neighbors told police had an on-and-off relationship with Stark, turned himself in at the Encinitas Sheriff's station about 4:30 a.m. Saturday. He was booked into the Vista jail on suspicion of murder and was being held without bail. French and Stark had lived together in Carlsbad in 2006, according to neighbors and public records.

Kern Battling Union War Chest of $40,000+

Oceanside City Councilman Jerry Kern is battling the purse and power of Oceanside employee unions who have collected $40,000 in a bid to remove him in a recall campaign. The Oceanside firefighters and police unions collected $46,625 in the first half of the year to gather the 11,389 signatures needed to trigger the election, while Kern collected $16,178, according to campaign documents filed with the Oceanside city clerk Friday.

The firefighters political action committee gave $20,000 to Citizens to Recall Kern for Fair and Balanced Government, which is sponsored by the firefighters committee. It also gave $5,000 to the Citizens for the Preservation of Parks and Beaches, which then gave that money to the Kern recall committee, as well. Citizens to Recall Kern and the firefighters union spent a combined $41,000 on signature gatherers, according to the documents. Kern said the fact that the unions spent $46,000 to date reveals the true intent of the recall drive is to give city unions control of the City Council.

“It's a contract year for them,” Kern said. “If they can get control of both sides of the negotiating table, they can dictate surrender terms.”

Councilmen Kern, Jack Feller and Rocky Chavez constitute a threemember majority on many critical city issues. They are largely probusiness and pro-development. Firefighters became angry when Kern and Chavez met with fire officials to discuss possibly privatizing the city's ambulance service, and say their votes undermine public safety.

Jim Sullivan, a spokesman for the Citizens to Recall Kern, said the committee owed a debt of gratitude to Kern for drawing the firefighters into the recall effort. “We would never have gotten (union) support had Kern not cried so loudly,” saying the drive was a unionbacked recall when it wasn't, Sullivan said. “They (firefighters) said it looked like they were going to be beaten on, (so) they ought to get involved,” he said.

The recall committee has targeted Kern to split up the three-mem-ber bloc, saying he is arrogant, doesn't represent the people and has backed development over community interests. Last year Oceanside firefighters and police officers unions spent nearly $200,000 to reelect Mayor Jim Wood and Councilwoman Esther Sanchez, and to try to topple Councilman Jack Feller. All were re-elected in November.

Civic Groups Lobby Council to Improved Grape Day Park

Give us more flowers and trees; a bigger playground; a gazebo; more lights and picnic tables; fitness trails; a water feature and a water-play area; expanded steps at the train depot to serve as a bandstand or stage; snack shop; and a dog park . . . so said various civic groups who are backing The Esconido History Center and Friends of Grape Day Park, when they applied to the Escondido City Council to help fund a variety of the improvements listed above. In addition, they said, they would be applying for grants to improve the park.

The 124-year-old, 10-acre Grape Day Park, has become a downtown historic landmark bordered by City Hall and the California Center for the Arts. Presently, it includes a fountain, a play structure colored and shaped like giant grapes and grapevines, and historical treasures that include an 1888 Santa Fe Depot, an 1890 Victorian house, an 1895 library where the Escondido History Center is located and a 1929 train car.

There is a documented perception on the part of area residents that the park is primarily a loitering place for homeless people and drug users. On special occasions, such as a 4th of July celebration, when there are plenty of police officers present for security, large crowds will utilize the park. But families typically do not utilize Grape Day Park for picnics, for relaxation, for strolling, or as a meeting place. Although city officials say crime at the park is low, residents are not convinced.

In a survey conducted over the past year by the Escondido History Center, 70 percent of the 423 people who responded said they are concerned about safety because of the homeless people at the park, day and night. Escondido police Lt. David Mankin, a member of the group Friends of Grape Day Park, said the park is safe.

To return the park to the hub it was when Escondido celebrated grape harvests there, the history center obtained a $25,000 grant from the San Diego Foundation. Part of the money was used to conduct the survey through community meetings. Of the 423 people who responded, 17 percent said they never use the park. Fifty percent said they use it one to four times a year, and 20 percent said five to 12 times a year. Thirteen percent said they go there 13 times or more a year. Residents want a bigger playground; fitness trails; more picnic tables and restrooms; a stage; a fun water feature, such as a mister or water-shooter; a gazebo; better lighting; art and fitness classes; concerts; and art and craft shows. The idea of bringing activity to the park excited the City Council, which endorsed the improvement plans last month. As for the most important element in the plan – money – the city cannot offer any help. It is struggling with a $6.7 million deficit in its $75.4 million general fund this fiscal year.

Open Carry Gun Law To Be Tested in Escondido

A constitutional question is to be tested within Escondido, according to members of escondido-open- While a date and time have not been selected, officials say that a letter will be sent to the Escondido Chief of Police outlining the plan and purpose of the event and requesting all officers be made aware of the event and the constitutional law that allows such an activity.

At the heart of the issue is the claim by the organization that: UNLOADED OPEN CARRY (UOC) (Firearm in belt holster, full magazine in holder on belt) by a law abiding individual is legal anywhere a firearm is not otherwise prohibited by law in California is permitted by law and residents should not be subject to undue police stop and search tactics. The organization recognizes that police officers have every right to expect weapons to ensure they are not loaded but once they have been proven to be unloaded and thus in conformance with the law, residents should be free to go their own way with no further interference by police.

The organization cites lengthy statutory law that provides for what is, and what is not allowed. One of the co-founders of Escondido Open Carry, Donna Woods present issues of interest to Women at their website:

Gerald T. Reaster, the other cofounder, told The Paper he had sent a letter to Chief Maher advising him that on September 1st, he and members of his organizations would be ‘openly carrying’ weapons at a high profile location in Escondido. He requested all officers be notified and briefed on the appropriate points of law. Reaster said his intent is to call the Escondido Police Deparment five minutes before he leaves his home and ask that the Watch Commander be advised as to the location of his open-carry activity.

He anticipates another three to six members of his organization will also participate. Similar demonstrations in other cities have gone smoothly, with no problems. Typically, a police officer will ask a participant if the weapon is loaded. When told it is not, the officer will typically ask if he may inspect it. The answer then is “are you asking or demanding.” For some fine legal technical point, the officer must answer that he is demanding. Theoretically, if he “asks” instead of “demands” the participant may legally decline. Once the weapon is inspected and deemed harmless, unless there is some other reason to detain the participatnt, the officer typically moves on to other duties.

Escondido police Lt. Craig Carter told The Paper they are well trained in this area of the law and they see no problem with the demonstration.

Downtown Business Association Block Party draws Local Business Owners

The Downtown Business Association held its 47th Annual Meeting, and first Business Block Party on Thursday of last week. This event is held in order to recognize local businesses for all their effort and community involvement. The following businesses were recognized at the Block Party:
• Longest Standing Business- Champions Family Restaurant
• Best New Business- Vinz Wine Bar & Tasting Room
• Business With The Most Positive Attitude- X’s & O’s Lingerie & Gift Boutique
• Business Of The Year- Bank of Escondido
• Outstanding Community Involvement- Stone Brewing Company
Top End Tees and Apparel
California Center for the Arts, Escondido
Mercedes- Benz of Escondido
Bernie Munn (Community Member)

A special “The Queen of Downtown” award, was presented to the Santrachs’ in honor of their mother, Dolly, for all of her heartfelt dedication she has contributed to Downtown Escondido.

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