In Border News This Week:
- President Trump said California is “out of control” over sanctuary cities and threatened to cut federal funds. (Times of San Diego)
- On Monday, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and Tijuana Mayor Juan Manuel Gastelum held a press conference meant to address the binational economy. KPBS reported on how the meeting went.
- NBC7 News reported that more families are being detained at the U.S.-Mexico border. (NBC 7)
- Assembly member Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher joins two others to introduce legislation that will welcome refugees to the Golden State. (Times of San Diego)
- Turns out, California farmers in the Central Valley, who voted for Trump, use approximately 70% of farm laborers who are undocumented. Now they worry that if the President tries to get rid of their workers, their business will be crippled. (New York Times)
San Ysidro School District Still Has No Solar Panels
“… nine years and $16 million later, not a single solar panel has been installed.” Christine Huard at the San Diego Union Tribune reports this week.
Already back in April 2016, the U-T reported that the project was running behind schedule. A presentation by Manazana Energy had the owner quoted as saying, “November-December 2015: Ribbon Cutting. System Testing and Commissioning. Handover of System.”
In that very same article, the U-T wrote:
“We’re in April and nothing has been done,” said Rose Estevez, who has three children enrolled in San Ysidro schools. “It does concern me and a lot of other parents. We don’t know where this money went. We don’t know why the solar panels are not up yet.”
Some parents are also concerned about the use of bond money to pay for solar panels when they believe some promises of the bond program have not been kept.
Solar companies doing business in San Diego County said the $24 million cost for a system designed to produce approximately 3.6 million kilowatt hours a year appears high.
Several firms declined to be identified publicly because they did not want to appear critical of a competitor. But Andy Anderson, a partner in Palomar Solar of Escondido, said he calculated that the job should have cost less than what San Ysidro is paying.
“If we were working on a project like this, the range of the contract would probably be between $7 million and $10 million,” he said. “Obviously we would have to get the bid package to see everything that’s included, but the number would be somewhere in there.”
Curiously, immediately after this Monday’s U-T article was published, La Prensa San Diego posted an article on Monday about the San Ysidro Superintendent and his girlfriend. (The article was updated on February 9th.)
Both Manzana Energy and La Prensa San Diego are owned by Art Castañares.
Castañeras became the publisher of the paper in September 2015 and since then La Prensa San Diego has published many articles about the San Ysidro School District — in spite of the fact that the publisher has a contract to install solar panels for that same district. This week’s La Prensa article maintains the SY Superintendent hired his girlfriend to a district position. When another employee, Enrique Gonzalez, complained, he was soon terminated. Gonzalez then became the COO of La Prensa San Diego. The SY Superintendent denies the allegations.
On Thursday, Feb. 9, a San Ysidro School Board meeting was held. Christine Huard from the Union Tribune tweeted that trustee Antonio Martinez had proposed the creation of a citizens oversight committee. She explained: “Panel will act as a watchdog on Proposition C bond fund spending, which is paying for the solar project.”
Also in San Ysidro:
- Contaminants were found in the water that flows from aged faucets at three San Ysidro school campuses: La Mirada Elementary, Smythe Elementary and San Ysidro Middle School. Bottled water is being displensed until the old fixtures are replaced. (San Diego Union Tribune)
- Southbound freeways going to San Ysidro Port of Entry were closed on Sunday due to protests against the rise in gas prices. (Times of San Diego)
National City & Imperial Beach
Doug Porter at the San Diego Free Press reported on Tuesday’s National City Council meeting, where residents came to support strengthening the Welcoming City Resolution. In an unexpected twist, instead of facing anti-immigrant groups, it was the National City Mayor who presented a “substitute” resolution that got rid of the words “welcoming,” “immigrant,” and “refugee.” An entire paragraph was scrubbed about not letting city police be used by ICE and US Border Patrol.
According to reports, Councilmember Soleto-Solis left the chamber in tears. Councilmember Mona Rios sounded off in a Facebook post the next day, saying: “RON MORRISON, JERRY CANO AND ALBERT MENDIVIL FAILED US!!!”
You’ll remember that Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina was in favor of a Welcoming Cities Proclamation already back in August. After approving it, residents of Imperial Beach created a “Recall Mayor Serge Dedina” Facebook page. YouTube videos also accused city council members of ‘welcoming ISIS’ and at a September 21, 2016 meeting protesters booed the mayor’s father as he spoke about being a refugee from Nazi Germany. The Mayor had to retract the declaration.
- Also in Imperial Beach — residents complain of a traffic nightmare at the median on Coronado Avenue. (San Diego Reader)
- The IB City Council enacted an emergency ordinance to temporarily suspend commercial non-medical marijuana activities. (San Diego Union Tribune)
- The IB City Council also created a task force that will consider the issue of pay increases. Currently, IB councilmembers get $300 per month — an amount last considered in 1987. Mayor Serge Dedina makes $800 a month. (San Diego Union Tribune)
- And National City’s homicide rate remains steady. In the last 5 years, the city has had 12 homicides, with three related to domestic violence. (Chula Vista Star News)
Chula Vista School District’s Cryptic Email
The Superintendent Francisco Escobedo sent out a cryptic email to parents of the Chula Vista Elementary School District on Feb. 8. It stated: “Earlier this week, the District received an email with comments intended to intimidate or disrupt operations of our schools. Law enforcement determined the message to be a hoax from a non-credible source. The District was advised by our law enforcement partners not to provide specifics of this hoax or prank, as that only encourages more of the same. The intent of our message was to remind our school community to remain vigilant and report any suspicious behavior to school administrators or law enforcement.”
Also in Chula Vista:
- The Sweetwater Union High School District received $8.2 million as part of a legal settlement in the pay-to-play scandal nearly four years ago. (Chula Vista Star News)
- A fatal hit-and-run happened in Chula Vsita. (Times of San Diego)
- The South American palm weevil is wreaking havoc on palm trees in San Ysidro, Chula Vista and Bonita. (San Diego Reader)
- The community based Crossroads II reported: Chula Vista’s Otay Ranch Town Center lost two of its prime stores: REI (Recreational Equipment Inc.), which closed on January 19th after 10 years in operation and Anthropologie, a subsidiary of Philadelphia-based Urban Outfitters, (which still has locations in operation in Mission Valley, University Towne Center and Carlsbad). According to operators, the 850,000-square-foot mall is more than 90 percent occupied.