By Barbara Zaragoza
San Diego Business Journal reported last week that the Chula Vista City Council approved the transfer from ownership from Seven Mile Casino to Stones South Bay Corp.
The old casino opened in 1946 as the Village Club on Broadway. In 2014, the casino moved into a lush 14,000-square-foot space along Bay Boulevard. In that same year, the Village Club Card Room had been raided by the FBI.
By April 2016, the San Diego Reader reported that after a two-year FBI probe, Harvey Souza, the owner of Seven Mile Casino was one of 20 people under investigation. The article explained, “Several defendants allegedly operated unlicensed casinos out of Rancho Santa Fe mansions. Millions of dollars in proceeds from the gambling activity were laundered through the Palomar and Village Club card rooms, Las Vegas casinos, bank accounts, shell companies, and a bail-bonds business.”
Seven Mile Casino was closed by emergency order. La Prensa San Diego reported: “The casino, along with the Palomar Card Club in San Diego, was closed by an emergency order from the California Bureau of Gambling Control. The closure came on the day indictments were unsealed against 25 individuals connected to a wide-ranging money laundering investigation. Seven Mile Casino, and its owner, Harvey Souza, are accused of failing to maintain anti-money laundering programs.”
However, the casino reopened and very little was heard about the establishment in the press.
New problems have arisen this month. On April 10, a class-action lawsuit was electronically filed against South Bay Stone, VC Cardroom, Christopher Hart, David Jocis and Harvey Souza. Card-dealers who were employed at the casino are alleging: failure to provide rest periods, failure to provide meal periods, failure to convert gratuities under Labor Code section 350, failure to pay waiting time penalties, violation of California Labor Code and unfair business practices.
Nick Segura Stands Up To #45 At Conference
Nick Segura, who represents Trustee Area 4 on the Sweetwater School District Board, is a business manager for the San Diego Chapter of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. He recently attended the annual National Building Trade conference in Washington D.C. When President Donald Trump began to speak, he stood up and turned his back while holding up a #Resist sign.
According to the Chula Vista Star News, Seguar couldn’t sit silent about a president who doesn’t share his values. He said, “I can’t ignore the fact that this guy is a racist, misogynist and just a lot of hate on many things [that go] against my values.”
Chula Vista Elementary School Superintendent Warns Of Trump Vouchers
On April 18, the Superintendent Francisco Escobedo of the Chula Vista Elementary School District (CVESD) sent an email to parents and staff voicing concern over Trump’s proposal for a nationwide voucher program. (CVESD is the largest elementary school district in the state of California.)
Here are several paragraphs of the letter:
There is much to be proud about our public schools. Here is a partial list of our honors in the last year alone: one National Blue Ribbon School, two Golden Bell Awards from the California School Boards Association, three National Center for Urban School Transformation award-winning campuses, and four California Gold Ribbon Schools. Our District also received recognition for our world-class Dual Language Immersion programs; an ongoing renaissance of Visual and Performing Arts programs; and cutting-edge partnerships such as the Innovation Station, our collaboration with Qualcomm and the Chula Vista Library to engage students in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math.
Yet, our success could be undercut by the President’s federal budget proposal. The proposal would reduce funds that states and school districts use to recruit, train, and support teachers. After-school program funds are on the chopping block, as well. Such cuts are proposed even as the President would make it easier for public funds to flow to private schools via vouchers. The President has proposed to allocate $250 million for the nationwide voucher program.
Rather than sit idly and await the outcome of a lengthy federal budget fight, our District launched an enrollment, marketing, and branding campaign with two primary objectives: to boost enrollment at schools with excess capacity and to retain students at schools possibly impacted by changes in federal education policy. Our ongoing marketing campaign includes greater outreach regarding registration for Preschool, Transitional Kindergarten, and Kindergarten for the 2017-18 school year, which began on March 1. Thirteen of our schools with excess capacity will receive an additional marketing focus. Only a handful of our 45 schools, primarily in eastern Chula Vista, are not accepting students who do not reside in their respective neighborhood.
Public schools are an important hallmark of American greatness and ingenuity. California voters have twice voted down voucher ballot measures—and by large margins. Now, the feds want to undo what California voters already decided.
Otay Water Board Directors Censure Gastelum
The Otay Water District board of directors voted 4-1 to censure their fellow director, Hector Gastelum. However, they are unable to remove Gastelum because he was elected by voters. About 50 residents attended the board meeting and demanded that he resign. The fiesty meeting was reported by the San Diego Reader.
10 News also carried the story, explaining Gastelum will now be removed from all of the board’s committees and will only be allowed to attend the monthly board meetings.
This week, the San Diego Free Press received from a reader screenshots of more racist comments made by Hector Gastelum. This time he was commenting on Alfred Olango, the unarmed Ugandan refugee shot by police in El Cajon, which he grouped into a category of “animals.”
National City Council and Brown Act Violations
The Chula Vista Star News reported that “San Diegans for an Open Government” sent National City a cease and desist notice for violations of the Brown Act.
In February, three council members approved a substitute motion rather than a “Welcoming Cities” proclamation. The motion was made despite a packed city council meeting where residents expressed their desire for National City to be proclaimed a Welcoming City.
At a subsequent meeting, two council members wondered why a substitute motion that nobody had previously seen was so quickly approved by the board. Suggestions of Brown Act violations were made.
Now, Chris Shilling, a member of Chula Vista’s board of ethics and the nonprofit open government advocacy group, submitted a notice of intent to sue and demand for disclosure of public records.
Brooke Binkowski carried the Border Report this week at Voice of San Diego that included:
- The disappearance of Hugo Castro, an immigrant rights activist with Border Angels. (He was later found, but sustained severe injuries),
- The Easter binational mass held last Sunday at Friendship Park,
- The California Governor’s pardon of deported veteran Hector Barajas,
- and the Barrio Logan construction company that bid to build Trump’s new border wall.
Maya Srikrishnan also has the story on affordable housing through cross-border cooperation: Live Work Hub for Residents on Both Sides of the Border.
Otay Street Repairs: Weigh In
And for those who live in Otay or San Ysidro — make your voices heard!
The Otay Chamber of Commerce is also asking the community to provide street names and locations for potholes. They are working with Councilmember Alvarez to ensure Otay Mesa streets are repaired.
You can email Executive Director Alejandra Mier y Teran with your specific requests.