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Local News April 8th, 2010

Escondido Police Serve Search Warrant and Arrest Two Felons

On Wednesday, March 31, 2010, at approximately 12:33 am, members of the Escondido Police Department’s Special Investigations Unit, Special Enforcement Team, Crimes of Property Unit and Tactical Operation Unit, served an arrest warrant at 1933 Arbor Glen. Earlier that evening, Detectives located two wanted felons at that location.

Detectives surrounded the house and attempted to call the suspects out. However, Christopher Dirk Tracy, 31, and Ashley Elizabeth McCarthy, 26, both from Escondido, refused to exit the house. Based on Tracy’s criminal history which included a propensity to run from police and the fact he is a suspect in an assault with a deadly weapon against a police officer, the Escondido Police Department’s Tactical Operations Unit was activated to serve the arrest warrants. Both Tracy and McCarthy subsequently refused to communicate with police personnel or exit the house. Accordingly, at approximately 2:10 am, Tactical Unit team members entered the house to locate and arrest both suspects. Both suspects were taken into custody by Escondido Tactical Unit officers approximately 30 minutes later after being located hiding in the trunk of a vehicle parked in the garage.

Tracy was arrested and charged with Assault with a Deadly Weapon on a Police Officer, Auto Theft, Possession of Stolen Property, Vehicle Theft with Priors, Receiving Stolen Property and Committing a Felony While on Bail.

McCarthy was arrested and charged with burglary, Receiving Stolen Property and False ID to a Police Officer. Tracy and McCarthy were transported to Vista Detention Facility and booked on the listed charges.

Escondido Police Officer Who Fired Fatal Shots Identified

The Escondido Police Officer, who was involved in the March 30, 2010, shooting, has been identified as Officer Brandon Byler. Officer Byler is a five year veteran of the department and is currently assigned to the patrol division. Officer Byler continues to be on paid administrative leave, which is standard protocol for all officers involved in shooting incidents.

Escondido Police Serve Search Warrant, Arrest Two

On Thursday, April 1, 2010, members of the Escondido Police Department’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) and the Special Enforcement Team (SET) concluded a lengthy narcotics investigation. As a result of this investigation, detectives served a search warrant at a home in the 600 block of Las Flores Dr. in the City of San Marcos. During the search, detectives located approximately three quarters of a pound of methamphetamine, drug paraphernalia, and $1,353 in cash.
Detectives arrested Julio Cesar Rosales, 34, of San Marcos for Health and Safety (HS) 11378 – possession of a controlled substance for sale, HS 11379 – Transportation of a controlled substance, and HS 11377 (a) – Possession of a controlled substance. Also arrested was Leodegario Rosales, 62, of San Marcos for HS 11377 (a) – Possession of a controlled substance, and HS 11364 – Possession of drug paraphernalia.

Both men were booked into the Vista Detention Facility where an immigration hold was placed on Julio Rosales.

The estimated value of the seized narcotics is approximately $14,000.

Escondido Councilmember Seeks Attorney General Opinion on DUI Traffic Stops

Olga Diaz, the most recently elected councilmember in Escondido, and an Opponent of the city’s DUI checkpoint procedures, has written to the state Attorney General for a formal opinion on whether the checkpoints comply with the law.

The U.S. Supreme Court has said in several cases that it would uphold properly administered checkpoints.

All other Escondido councilmembers appear to support the city’s DUI checkpoints.

Is has largely been Latino activists who have been most critical of the checkpoints, saying more from their community are ensnared in the traffic citations. Supporters argue it is not an ethnic approach but simply public safety . . . that anyone who is DUI should be taken off the streets and anyone who is driving without a license or registration should aso be dealt with in compliance with the law. Those who are unlicensed and
uninsured should be taken off the road, those who drive under the influence should also be removed from the roadways.

The Escondido Police Department has ramped up the number of driver's license and sobriety checkpoints in its effort to curb hit-and-run accidents and keep unlicensed drivers off the city's streets.

From 2006 to 2008, the department said it conducted 70 checkpoints ---- 39 driver's license checkpoints and 31 sobriety checkpoints.

The ACLU and El Grupo sent a letter to the city that said the driver's license checkpoints were illegal under state law.

Escondido's City Attorney Jeffrey Epp and police Chief Jim Maher maintain the checkpoints are legal. Epp said he disagreed with the ACLU interpretation of the law. Epp said the law was intended to "prohibit officers from randomly pulling vehicles over on routine patrol to demand a driver's license."

"The city will modify its so-called driver's license checkpoints to include a request for vehicle registration and vehicle insurance along with the driver's license," Epp wrote.

Vista City Council Discusses $10.2 Million Budget Deficit

Like so many other California cities, Vista has felt the budget crunch hit home and hard. The Vista City Council members considered employee pay cuts and additional work furloughs, charging fees for using city sports fields, and a number of other measures to close a nearly $10.2 million budget deficit, in a meeting held Tuesday morning.

Of nearly $8 million in identified cuts they were backing off on projects such as the widening of West Vista Way, street rehabilitation, the Buena Vista Creekwalk and landscaping along Highway 78. The remaining $2.3 million difference might be met by looking at canceling special events such as the city's annual Easter egg hunt and Fourth of July celebrations, or drastically pulling back on hefty subsidies for the city's popular Wave Waterpark as well as pulling city funding for the Moonlight Amphitheater and downtown Avo Playhouse.

Current projections show Vista pulling in about $56.9 million in the next fiscal year that begins July 1. This represents an almost $7.3 million shortfall from the $64.2 million in revenue the city had projected. As also happened in Escondido, the budget shortfall stems from a decline in sales and property taxes and an increase in costs such as workers compensation rates, retirement rates and health insurance premiums.

Since 2007-08, sales tax revenues in Vista have decreased about 18.5 percent and property taxes have decreased about 8 percent.

While the city has more than $6 million in reserve funds, the city refuses to use that money to balance the budget.

Rising Costs for Police HQ Plays Havoc With Tax Relief Plan

City officials are saying they need extra money for advanced technology and other items they think is necessary. There had been a plan to lower the local property tax surcharges that have been used to fund construction of the the city's new police and fire headquarters. City officials let up a howl, however, saying they need the funds.

A number of critics contend that the city could have avoided some or all of the extra costs, which have increased the price tag of the 115,000-square-foot building from $50.6 million to $59.5 million. That’s a big difference, they say. $9.5 million more than what had been planned. Critics say contractor errors and flawed architectural plans account for much of the increase.

But city officials argue that the feds have increased the requirements for public saftey buildings after the 9/11 terrorist attack.

Approximately $7.5 million in interest has been earned since the city sold bonds in 2006 to pay for the project. Those bond sales were okayed by the taxpayers via Proposition P, an $84 million measure city voters approved in 2004 to pay for the headquarters and four new fire stations.

Joyce Masterson, the city's project manager for the headquarters, said a number of new factors, including a dramatic rise in costs for construction materials and the need for better technology, added to the need for more money.

City Council members Olga Diaz and Sam Abed have aggressively questioned some of the change orders, with Diaz suggesting last month that contractors "felt they had free rein on the city's checkbook."

Abed has said he would support lawsuits against contractors if they were necessary to cover some of the extra costs.

Jim Crone, a local developer said the project should have cost less than $40 million because it is essentially an office building. He also said the city was foolish to pay a construction management firm nearly $8 million to oversee the project.

Area Students Advance in Nation’s Leading Public Health Competition for High School Students

Five Regional Finalists will compete for college scholarships of up to $50,000 in Washington, D.C., April 23-26, 2010. In total, 60 Semifinalists and 60 Regional Finalists were announced today.

Ten Southern California high school students today advanced in the prestigious Young Epidemiology Scholars (YES) Competition (www.collegeboard.com/yes), the nation’s leading public health competition for high school students. Five students named Semifinalists will each receive a $1,000 scholarship, completing their participation in the competition.

All 60 Regional Finalists are awarded at least $2,000 each. The top 12 YES Scholars advance to compete as National Finalists for scholarships ranging from $15,000 to $50,000. This year’s 12 National Finalists will be announced Monday, April 26.

From The Paper’s distribution area, finalists included:

Anisha Mudaliar, Carlsbad, Pacific Ridge School, Carlsbad, CA: “An Epidemiological Analysis of Youth-Onset Diabetes Mellitus in India.”
Ganesh Rajasekar, Rancho Bernando High School, San Diego, CA: “Caffeine Awareness and Consumption in High School Students.”

“With the nation facing a potentially catastrophic shortage of public health professionals, it is critical that we cultivate the next generation of public health talent,” said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A., President and CEO, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “These students’ outstanding work demonstrates that the future of epidemiology holds great promise.”

Said Gaston Caperton, President of the College Board. “These students are addressing national and global health issues that are shaping the world around us. We look forward to seeing the outcomes of their hard work."

• • • • •

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