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LA MESA -- More than 50,000 young children have sought refugee status this year. Some are fleeing gang violence and drug trafficking, others are escaping grinding poverty or trying to reunite with family already in the United States. Many have paid large sums to smugglers and made dangerous journeys atop trains to get here, only to be placed in overcrowded, often unhealthy holding facilities while awaiting determination of their status by understaffed courts. Some have also endured the verbal abuse of militant protesters seeking to banish them back to the horrors from which they fled.
Inspired by The Rev. Kaji Douŝa’s sermon (photo right) on Sunday, July 13, 2014, members of the United Church of Christ of La Mesa gathered to discuss the child immigration crisis and how we, as a justice-oriented church, should respond. Following the guidance of Jesus in Matthew 25 (“...to the extent that you did not do it to the least of these, you did not do it to Me.”), we searched for ways that we could help to resolve the crisis and add a progressive Christian voice to the debate.
A letter-writing campaign, directed toward our congresspersons and enthusiastically endorsed by the congregation, started us off. We eagerly anticipate their responses. Our next step was to request a meeting with Representative Susan Davis, a valued opportunity to further express our concerns.
An ad hoc committee, consisting of Becky Motlagh, Dick and Karen…Continue
LA MESA -- The overnight shift for the La Mesa Police Department was busy early Saturday morning with two late night burglary reports that had helicopters flying and police cruisers streaming across two La Mesa neighborhoods.
Just after midnight the police helicopter was soaring over the McRae Avenue and Melody Lane, a residential area just off Lake Murray Boulevard where there was a report of a burglar. The suspects at first eluded police.
Police said they had received a 911 call from the area of 5400 McRae Avenue. The victim reported waking up to see two unknown male suspects in his residence that had just fled out a backdoor. The loss was prescription medication, a Glock 23 .40 caliber handgun, cash, credit cards, and an iPhone. Officers searched the area with assistance from the Sheriff's helicopter and canine units but did not locate the suspects.
Using the Find-My-iPhone application, officers were able to track the phone to an address in Chula Vista. At approximately 1:45 a.m. officers notified Chula Vista police they were en route to the address and received notification from Chula Vista police a short time later regarding a call they received stating that two suspicious males left that area in a dark colored late model BMW. La Mesa police officers then saw the iPhone was moving again, back toward La Mesa.
Following the track to the area of Eastridge Drive and Seattle Drive in the City of La Mesa, officers set a perimeter and confirmed there was a dark blue late model BMW parked on Seattle Drive. As officers closed in, the vehicle drove off while blacked out. Officers initiated a felony stop at Murray Hill Drive and Yale Avenue with…Continue
See slideshow of more art below.
The La Mesa Arts Alliance has taken a page from that book.
With the cooperation of the Grossmont Center, the Alliance has launched a pop-up art gallery in what had been a temporarily vacant space at the mall.
The gallery, which is up and running, has given a variety of local artists a high-traffic place to display and sell their art and has added a touch of local flare to the retail mix at the mall.
On Friday, the space was being managed by long-time Arts Alliance member Patty O'Reilly (above), who was welcoming browsers and explaining the origins of this gallery. "The mall management gave us the opportunity and we thought it was great idea,'' she said. "Local artists in our local mall!''
Some of the art and artists -- like Billy Martinez' distinct portraiture -- will be familiar to regular visitors to other local art spaces. Others seem to be getting a first high-profile shot at showing off their talents, from watercolor to a stunning collection of ceramics that claimed the front window.
The Alliance plans to host a number of special events in the space while it is open through the end of August.
For the entire month of August (opening reception on August 2nd) artworks created by people of all ages living with epilepsy…Continue
LA MESA -- Ari Bejar, the proprietor at Cosmos Coffee Cafe in the Village, enjoys a steady stream of customers every day.
At some point in the last week, a couple of his clients handed his baristas $20 bills, ordered a cup of coffee and took $17 and change away with them.
When the daily receipts made it to Union Bank, however, the bills were rejected as fakes.
Upon closer inspection, the paper was a little bit too rigid and the printing techniques weren't quite perfect. But the bills did have the ghosted watermarks and, in the rush of a busy morning, probably would have gotten by most people at a register.
"They are pretty good,'' Bejar (in photo above) said. "I might have taken one of them myself. Not sure yet.''
Bejar was holding the bills for the U.S. Secret Service, which investigates counterfeiting episodes. He was also holding quick seminars with his employees, using the bills to train them on how to identify the bad bills.
"I got stuck with a bad $50 a while ago and that's why we won't take any more than a $20 now,'' Bejar said.
With advances in printing technology, counterfeiters have been in a sort of arms race with the U.S. Treasury which has been redesigning the real bills with increasingly complex methods to make them harder to counterfeit.
Still, as Bejar found this week, sometime the counterfeiters still win. And Bejar, and all merchants hit by these sophisticated thieves, lose -- both the sale proceeds and the change returned…Continue
To see the video above on YouTube CLICK HERE.
A Local Hero Returns To Show Thanks
See video slideshow below.
LA MESA -- On a warm La Mesa evening they gathered -- the men and women of business, of education, of finance and politics.
And literally above all, a man of sports.
This was not a gathering of tension or difference. It was a celebration of a community gathering to revel a bit in a moment of unity, of single purpose.
The schools gave the land. The city a building. Ron and Mary Alice Brady gave a portion of their fortune. And Bill Walton, called the greatest college basketball player in history, gave back in his special way to the community that had spawned him more than six decades ago.
"I'm Bill Walton,'' he said simply, smiling broadly. "I'm from La Mesa. I went to Helix High. I am in the Boys and Girls Club Hall of Fame. And I am the luckiest man in the world.''
Walton was the keynote speaker of an event to honor the Bradys for their $3-million donation to a Boys and Girls Club project that is in the process of transforming this corner of the west side of La Mesa.
The $9-million dollar fundraising campaign is nearly past the $5-million mark and Walton was also here this day, his wife and mother in his entourage, to kick off the Friends of Bill Walton Fundraising Campaign within the overall Boys and Girls Club effort here.
Many friends and teammates from Walton's days at Helix High School came to visit and he thanked them, often rattling off not just their names but the names of…Continue
Missing Man Found Safe
72-year-old Robert Silva was reported missing in Casa de Oro just before 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, July 24th when he walked away from his home in the 9900 block of San Juan Street in Casa de Oro near Spring Valley. Family members say Silva suffers from Dementia and does not know how to return home, but knows how to use public transportation. Silva also told family members he will be visiting relatives in City Heights.
Later in the afternoon, sheriff's deputies reported Silva had been found safe in City Heights. Sheriff's Search and Rescue (SAR) volunteers found Silva around 3:15 p.m today (July 24th) near 44th Street and University Avenue. The Sheriff's Department thanked everyone, especially the SAR volunteers, for their help in locating Silva.
The Sheriff's Search and Rescue is an all-volunteer unit. Together they perform wilderness and urban rescues, as well as search for missing and at-risk persons. Teams are available 24 hours per day to respond to local, state and federal agency requests. To learn how you can become a volunteer, visit: http://goo.gl/UgZaf.
What’s Going On In La Mesa Politics?
This will be an eventful year. A small band of political activists is drafting a surprising coda to the city’s centennial. Their mischief pushes the notion of voter sovereignty into the balance for the first time in the city’s history.
After nearly 25 years of failed experiments elsewhere, the flawed and still unproven notion of term limits is making an appearance on the November ballot in La Mesa. The initiative to add a term limits ordinance to city law follows a pattern well-established elsewhere: a few determined activists, clever language, an imaginary peril and deep pockets.
To see how that pattern plays in La Mesa, we can follow the money.
According to the initial Form 460 disclosure documents required by law, almost 97% percent ($9,748) of the financial contributions to the local term limits committee came from a single, sitting council member and her family.
The signature gathering work was performed under contract by a professional political firm in La Jolla. The firm paid $1.25 to $1.50 for each signature, for a total of $8308 of the Committee’s initial budget. The activists’ claim that this was a “grassroots” effort is pure fiction.
Can you recall even a mention of term limits for La Mesa until this paid-in-full campaign started flogging the notion? The “people” did not clamor to have this regulation imposed on them and for good reason – they still cherish the right to freely vote their choices.
The reality is that term limits are political junk food – they look OK, but are toxic to the body politic in the long run. Why? Because they do swift and enduring damage to our citizens’ most sacred right: the ability to exercise an unrestricted vote.
The case for term limits relies on bunk…Continue
Police Get Funding Help In Alcohol Fight
LA MESA -- The La Mesa Police Department has been awarded a $21,668 grant from the California Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) to battle alcohol-related crime. This is important to the city of La Mesa in order to increase protection for youth and to keep our community safe.
The grant is one of 47 awarded in California to local law enforcement agencies through ABC’s Grant Assistance Program (GAP). The grants strengthen local law enforcement efforts by combining the efforts of local police officers and ABC agents. ABC agents have expertise in alcoholic beverage laws and can help communities reduce alcohol-related problems.
“The program improves the quality of life in neighborhoods,” said ABC Director Timothy Gorsuch. “We’ve seen a real difference in the communities where the grant program resources have been invested.”
The GAP Program was created in 1995 to strengthen partnerships between ABC and local law enforcement agencies. The program is designed to put bad operators out of business, keep alcohol away from minors and bring penalties such as fines, suspensions or revocations against businesses that violate laws.
The funds will be used to reduce the number of alcoholic beverage sales to minors and obviously intoxicated patrons, the illegal solicitations of alcohol and other criminal activities such as the sale and possession of illegal drugs.
The GAP Program has distributed over $30 million to local law enforcement to combat alcohol-related crime. ABC is a Department of the Business, Consumer Services and Housing…Continue
Gunmen Rob Party Bus Owner At Mall
LA MESA -- Police are looking for five men who robbed a party-bus owner at gun point near Grossmont Center Tuesday night.
Police said that about 10:19 p.m. they received a 911 call from the owner of a party bus that was picking up passengers at the mall at 5500 Grossmont Center Drive. While the bus was being loaded, the owner of the bus was walking to his personal vehicle when he was confronted by five men; one of the males brandished a black semi-auto pistol. The suspects demanded the victim’s personal property. The suspects fled in a white 4-door Chevy sedan westbound on Grossmont Center Drive. Officers searched the area but were unable to locate the suspects.
The suspects were described as:
Suspect #1: Black male in his 20s approximately 5’ 09” wearing a grey hooded sweatshirt, white t-shirt, black pants and a black do-rag. This subject was armed with a black semi-auto handgun.
Suspect #2: Black male 19 to 20 years old, black pony tail wearing a green flannel shirt.
The remaining three suspects were described as black males, between 5’8” to 5’11” between the ages of 18-20.
The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information is encouraged to call the La Mesa Police Department.
You may also call Crime Stoppers’ anonymous toll-free tip line (888) 580-TIPS (or www.sdcrimestoppers.com). You can remain anonymous, and be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000 for information in this case.
LA MESA -- Local government, as a sport, would be baseball. It's a long season and not every game can be exciting.
Tuesday evening, the La Mesa city council moved through a routine agenda that was more about the details of governing than resolution of any great new policy issues.
Among the issues handled:
-- City Manager Dave Witt announced that night-time construction would be discontinued on the downtown Village streetscape because of noise complaints from nearby residents. That work will be moved to daytime hours and won't delay the project, he said.
-- The council voted 5-0 to ask the Parking Commission for a report on the impact of turning off the downtown parking meters during the reconstruction of the Village streetscape. The issue will return at a later council meeting.
-- After a short series of public speakers (see photo above) the council repeated an earlier 4-1 vote in favor of treating e-cigarettes like their tobacco cousins and applying the same limitations for public and indoor use. Council member Kristine Alessio again voted no, this time simply citing George Orwell's 1984 rather than repeating her indoor smoking to demonstrate her point.
-- The council also began the process of repealing a local ordinance that limited the movements of convicted sex offenders. A recent state appeals court ruling had rendered the ordinance unconstitutional in its current form.
-- Mayor Art Madrid informed the council that private donations to the city would fund the purchase of a public clock which staff will work to locate in the appropriate place.
-- Council member Ernie Ewin demonstrated the city's new public accounting system that…