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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 Brady's 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 their wives, children and grandchildren too. It was Walton's way of showing, not just telling, how connected he remains to the La Mesa community.
Walton pointed to…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…
LA MESA -- On a typical night in La Mesa, when the residents above Lake Murray have turned in, when the comfortable residents in the hills above the Village have gone off to sleep and only the regulars are left in downtown bars, the police cruisers are often called to West La Mesa.
The modest homes, apartments and the neighborhood taverns crowded in off El Cajon Boulevard and University Avenue can be a source of constant calls for police help. Family disputes, thefts, car break-ins, a concentration of robberies. It isn't quite an urban jungle, police will say, but it shows all the signs of families struggling, children with more time on their hands and less attention than stressed parents can give.
But now for the good news. Smack dab in the middle of all this need, a La Mesa miracle of sorts is taking shape this summer. As if directed by some higher power, a La Mesa philanthropist, an NBA star, a school district with ambition and a long-standing civic arts group have coalesced around this piece of La Mesa and are plotting moves that could literally transform this section of the city.
Millions of dollars are being raised and architects are working on plans. A new curriculum is being pioneered to reinvigorate the local school and may result in bringing more of the middle class back. A public-private partnership is forming into an effort that may literally make this corner of town into a national model.
This effort will certainly get national attention this week.…Continue
Council May Consider A Parking Meter Vacation
LA MESA -- The La Mesa City Council will consider the impact of turning off the parking meters for the duration of the downtown streetscape project currently underway in La Mesa Village.
In the agenda for Tuesday's regular council meeting, council members Ernie Ewin and Kristine Alessio ask council approval for the City's Parking Commission to study the impact of letting parking be free throughout the extensive reconstruction effort.
The street redesign and renovation project is expected to last well into next year as sidewalks, streets and sides streets along La Mesa Boulevard between Fourth and Acacia get a complete face-lift.
The $5-million project has been much anticipated in a downtown that, while quaint, suffered from years of aging. However, local merchants have been concerned that the months of construction will inhibit business and reduce their revenues.
City officials have attempted to plan the project with night work and a schedule that will reduce the length of time crews are in front of any one establishment, but clearly the project will make it a bit of an adventure to get to La Mesa Boulevard shops as sidewalks, curbs, trees and streets are completely replaced. Eliminating the parking charges might make braving the construction zone a bit easier on customers.
The council meets at 6 p.m. Tuesday at its City Hall chambers on Allison Avenue. CLICK HERE for the complete…Continue
Lenac Will Fill Healthcare Board Vacancy
LA MESA -- Randy Lenac has been appointed to the Grossmont Healthcare District (GHD) board of directors. He was selected by the GHD board from among a field of eight East County residents who applied to fill a seat vacated by Dr. Michael Long, who resigned in June. Long was up for reelection this year and Lenac will serve the remainder of Long's term.
Lenac (pronounced LEN-ack), 61, with executive management experience in administration, finance and program development and strategy, served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1975 to 2002, retiring as a lieutenant colonel. He has lived in Campo since 2002.
During his military career, he served as director of personnel overseeing about 100,000 troops stationed oversees during the 1990-1991 Gulf War, known as “Operation Desert Shield.” He also assisting in drafting war plans that were implemented with t
he 2003 Iraq War, also referred to as “Operation Iraqi Freedom.”
After retiring from active military service, Lenac worked as executive director of the Southern Indian Health Council in Alpine.
Since 2011, he has served as a board member of the Grossmont Hospital Corporation (GHC), a non-profit entity that oversees the management and operation of Grosssmont Hospital under a lease with Sharp HealthCare. He was appointed earlier this year to serve as GHC board treasurer and chair of the Finance Committee.
He is a member of the East County Economic Development Council, San Diego County Taxpayers Association and the Lincoln Club of San Diego County.
He also currently serves as board secretary of Mountain Health & Community Services, a primary health provider to residents of rural East County communities.
An active cattle rancher and owner since 1998 of the 200-acre Big Springs Ranch in Campo, Lenac also is a member of…Continue
LA MESA -- So before the election cycle gets into full swing, I would like to share something I am working on. I’m writing a new book and what follows is the introduction to it. My reason for sharing this is that I know that our highest selves are all pretty much the same: we love people who love us, and grieve when we lose people and animals. We love our little town of La Mesa. We feel empathy for people who suffer something we too have suffered. It's how we're wired despite what it might seem like in the heat of election craziness.
My hope for myself this election season is that even when someone I disagree with really, really vexes me I will be able to step back, take the time to reflect on how much greater are our shared ideals than are our disagreements. It’s easy to make things personal, and that’s okay when they are. But when it’s “just” politics or policy, I, for one, am going to be watchful that I keep everything in perspective.
Please feel free to comment if you have any best pet moments. I’m heading off to meet a new rescue in a couple of days. His name is Bear. Life without a dog is just not quite the same. I have a new red collar in my car in case Bear wants to come home with me.
Introduction to STAY: What Dogs Do ©Chris Shea, 2014
When my beloved Newfoundland Ben died on the 2nd of June, 2014, I was stunned by the power of grief that came over me. After he left, I lay my entire weight on his black furry body, warm in the June sun out in the cool green grass of the park outside my house. Within seconds of his last breath, a neighbor’s bell on the balcony rang out like a school…Continue