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    A $500 million dollar project to ensure East County communities have enough water for the future is currently undergoing a financial review, which could determine if the East County Advanced Water Purification Program moves forward.

    The program would convert wastewater that goes down drains and toilets into purified drinking water.

    The goal is to supply about 30 percent of the drinking water in East County by 2025, at a cost comparable to imported water.

    The public is also being invited to comment on the environmental impact report for the project, which would build a full-scale water purification facility at the Padre Dam Municipal Water District in Santee.

    Padre Dam Municipal Water District currently purchases all of its water from the San Diego County Water Authority.

    The endeavor is a partnership with the Helix Water District, the City of El Cajon, and the County of San Diego.

    "We have very little control of the water that comes from the water authority," said Mark Niemiec, engineering manager for Padre Dam Municipal Water District. "It comes from hundreds of miles away. And there are other effects like drought that we have very little control over. Here, we have a resource we have a little more control over and feel more reliable with respect to the resource that it's going to produce, which is the purified water." 

    The project calls for a new water recycling facility and a new advanced water purification plant to be built at the Padre Dam Municipal Water District site, in place of two ponds now used for seasonal storage.

    The wastewater would be recycled and purified at the facilities before it is sent to Lake Jennings, which is operated by the Helix Water District.

    "The purified water mixes in Lake Jennings and provides time and dilution before its treated again and distributed to the public," explained Brian Olney, Director of Water Quality and System Operations at the Helix Water District.

    "Lake Jennings acts as the safety barrier for the water project," added Olney. "So if there's a failure at the wastewater treatment facility or pure water plant, there's a time delay in catching any errors."

    The City of El Cajon would send about 95% of its wastewater to the new facilities in Santee. The County of San Diego would direct wastewater from Lakeside, Winter Gardens and Alpine to those facilities. 

    The four program partners are working out a joint powers agreement, which is tied to the financial plan. An independent consultant is currently reviewing that plan.

    Olney said the partners should know by March 2019 if the project is financially feasible.

    If the numbers work out, elected leaders in all four entities would need to approve the project.

    Then, if the necessary permits are approved and regulations are met, construction on the facilities could begin in 2021, with the purified drinking water going to customers by 2025.

    "The goal of the project is to go decades, 30 40, 50 years," said Kyle Swanson, director of operations for the project. "Ideally, it's cost competitive and it'll continue to run."

    The public comment period for the project's environmental review is open until October 15.

    On Tuesday, October 2nd, project partners are holding a meeting to answer questions from the public between 6 p.m. - 8 p.m. at the Padre Dam Municipal Water District office on 9300 Fanita Parkway in Santee.

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    Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, who upended his GOP colleagues' plans Friday to move quickly to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court by saying he wants an FBI investigation into sexual misconduct allegations, will be in Boston Monday for the Forbes 30 Under 30 Summit.

    Flake is scheduled to talk about the future of the Republican party along with Ohio Gov. John Kasich at the event at City Hall Plaza.

    A rally is planned ahead of his appearance to urge him to vote against confirming Kavanaugh.

    Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, along with advocacy groups and survivors of sexual assault, will be in attendance.

    Mayor Walsh tweeted Sunday, “This moment in time will mark how we, as a country, respond to the call for action from women & individuals who have bravely spoken out about sexual assault. Join us in standing up for survivors because they are powerful, they give voice to others & they should not be dismissed.”

    The event was originally scheduled to be held at the Colonial Emerson Theatre, but Emerson College pushed to have the event canceled over "safety reasons."

    Flake was a central figure in advancing Kavanaugh's nomination from the Senate Judiciary Committee with his tie-breaking vote. Flake said he'd vote to advance the bill to the floor, but asked for a one-week investigation into the sexual assault allegations lodged by Christine Blasey Ford against Kavanaugh.

    On "60 Minutes" Sunday night, Flake talked about his impressions of Kavanaugh’s testimony, saying, "It was anger...but if I were unjustly accused, that's how I would feel as well. As it went on, I think his interaction with some of the members was a little too sharp, but the statement at the beginning I thought was pretty raw, but in keeping with someone who had been unjustly accused."

    The rally at City Hall Plaza gets underway at 10, while the panel with Flake starts at 11:30.

    Flake is also scheduled to speak Monday night at Saint Anselm College's Institute of Politics in Manchester, New Hampshire. He is scheduled to give a speech titled "After the Deluge: A Rejection of Destructive Politics and a Return to Principle" at 6 p.m.

    Granite State Progress and several other groups are planning a rally outside the Institute of Politics at 5 p.m.

    This will be Flake's second appearance in New Hampshire this year. He has said a bid for president in 2020 is unlikely, but hasn't ruled one out altogether.

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    National Coffee Day has brewed its energy throughout several Bay Area cities where lucky coffee lovers can get a free cup Saturday.

    Participating locations include Dunkin’ Donuts, Barnes & Noble, Krispy Kreme and Peet’s Coffee. Though no one can ever complain about free coffee, it's reported that Californians aren't afraid to spend a pretty penny on the pick-me-up drink.

    According to a study conducted by food-ordering site ezCater, California companies spend the most money on coffee compared to other states.

    In data analyzed from over 60,000 restaurants and caterers throughout the U.S., it was found that people in San Bernardino spend 58 percent more on coffee than in any other city in the country.

    The Southern California city took the No. 1 spot in five out of eight categories used in the study.

    San Francisco ranked No. 2 on the list at 50 percent, and San Jose came in at No. 3 with 42 percent on the average money spent on coffee.

    File image.File image.

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    California Gov. Jerry Brown has vetoed a bill that would have allowed bars in some cities to serve alcohol until 4 a.m.

    Los Angeles, Oakland and San Francisco were among the nine cities included in the proposed legislation that would have established a pilot program for allowing bars to extend their hours past 2 a.m. West Hollywood and Long Beach would also have been included in the program.

    "I believe we have enough mischief from midnight to 2 without adding two more hours of mayhem," Brown said in a statement.

    He added that the California Highway Patrol believes the increased drinking hours would lead to more drunk driving.

    State Senator Scott Weiner, who introduced the legislation, said the bill would "have a profound positive impact on a local economy, generating direct tax revenues, and growing public funds through revitalized business districts, and increased tourism."

    Photo Credit: FILE - Getty Images

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    President Donald Trump said he was supportive of FBI agents questioning who they have to in the agency’s expanded background check on allegations of sexual misconduct by Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

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    A few days after Hurricane Maria made landfall, a group of people stranded in Punta Santiago, a Puerto Rican neighborhood in the eastern coastal town of Humacao, wrote a giant sign in chalk: "S.O.S Necesitamos Agua/Comida" (S.O.S we need water/food). The picture captured from above went viral.

    In an effort to promote progress and tourism in August, the residents Punta Santiago wrote a new sign on the street where they once pleaded for aid, "Bienvenidos" (welcome).

    It was only a year ago that Maria devastated Puerto Rico, becoming the worst disaster ever recorded on the island. Recovery after the deadly storm has been slow for many, but those in the tourism industry say that Puerto Ricans have worked with great resilience along with first responders to make the island inviting again to travelers.

    “We are open and ready,” said Clarissa Jiménez, the president and CEO of the Puerto Rico Hotel and Tourism Association. In response to what Jiménez described as “a monster” that destroyed the entire island, she said "the best way to help Puerto Rico fully recover is by visiting it."

    Before Maria, tourism had grown to an estimated 8.4 percent of GDP in 2017 and was projected to rise to 10.7 percent by 2027, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council. Hurricane Maria battered the industry: hotels and restaurants were destroyed and entire areas cut off from the rest of the island due to impassable roads. Despite the damage, tourism now represents 10 percent of GDP and still employs over 70,000 people of the more than 3 million who live there.

    "We really rolled up our sleeves," said Jiménez, "but we were fortunate to get help from all over."

    She said tourism is back after beginning to restabilize in the early this year. 

     "Our [golf] greens are greener than ever and our beautiful beaches are as perfect as they were before the hurricane,” Jiménez said.

    Pamela Martínez, 30, has visited the island from Mexico several times before Maria and returned in July. She noticed a big difference from past trips in Isla Verde, the beachfront area on the border of San Juan where she was staying.

    "None of the places I visited were closed," said Martínez, "but I did see a lot of the vegetation destroyed and the street lights were not working. Also power was off for long hours."

    Kenneth Rivera-Robles, president of the Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce, said that the government hired the nonprofit marketing group Discover Puerto Rico to change the perception people have of Puerto Rico in the wake of the storm.

    "People tend to think we are not ready when in fact if you visit the island today you will get the whole experience," Rivera-Robles said. "Tourism is vital to our economy."

    Jennifer Rosa, vice president for communications for Discover Puerto Rico, explained how the welcome sign in Costa Santiago was a turning point to show recovery efforts. Discover Puerto Rico invited people to use the hashtag #covertheprogress on social media to show the changes. "The future of too many people relies on tourism," she said.

    Leah Chandler, chief of marketing office for Discover Puerto Rico, added that “it’s time to change the narrative.”

    In an alliance with Google, they have created a photo archive of what different attractions looked like after Maria in comparison to now.

    “All of the attractions are open and running perfectly. These are all pictures taken after Maria,” Chandler said.

    Puerto Rican tourism promoters have made clear, however, that there are still places, including Puerto Rico's mountainous interior, where infrastructure is still weak and more needs to be done.

    Tourist-friendly areas that were struggling to recover in the aftermath of Maria, such as Rincón and the island of Culebra, are open to visitors and will benefit from people's visits.

    Tourism experts agree that the best way to fix ongoing challenges is by getting people to bring their business.

    For all the misery that Maria wrought, it also did bring some new attention to the island.

    “Before people couldn't even find Puerto Rico on a map,” Jiménez said. “Now they know where it is, who we are and our relationship with the U.S."

    Photo Credit: Discover Puerto Rico

    Discover Puerto Rico announced a new initiative to underscore the progress Puerto Rico's tourism has made since Hurricane Maria. As part of this initiative, local members of Humacao, one of the Island's hardest hit communities that became well known for the S.O.S image that went viral in the immediate aftermath of the storm, are encouraging travelers to be a part of Puerto Rico's comeback story.Discover Puerto Rico announced a new initiative to underscore the progress Puerto Rico's tourism has made since Hurricane Maria. As part of this initiative, local members of Humacao, one of the Island's hardest hit communities that became well known for the S.O.S image that went viral in the immediate aftermath of the storm, are encouraging travelers to be a part of Puerto Rico's comeback story.

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     Steve Chavez shared this video of lightening strikes over a mountain range east of Temecula on Sunday, Oct. 30, 2018. Two storms were expected to move across Southern California at the start of this week, bringing the potential for thunderstorms and flash flooding. 

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    A person was killed Monday in the crash of a Beech Bonanza aircraft near Brackett Field Airport in La Verne, the second fatal airplane crash near that airfield in two days.

    County firefighters were sent to the 1600 block of McKinley Avenue to assist the La Verne Fire Department at the scene of the crash shortly before noon. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the airplane with one person aboard was on approach to the airport when it crashed.

    The coroner's office was sending personnel to the scene. About 6 p.m. Sunday, one person was killed and a second person was injured when a Cessna plane missed the runway as the pilot was practicing approaches to Brackett Field and crashed into a nearby plant nursery, according to the FAA.

    The names of the man who died and the woman who was injured in Sunday's crash were withheld, pending notification of relatives. The condition of the woman was unavailable. The crashes will both be investigated by La Verne police, the National Transportation Safety Board and the FAA.

    Firefighters sift through debris from a plane that crashed in a field in LaVerne on Monday, Oct. 1, 2018.Firefighters sift through debris from a plane that crashed in a field in LaVerne on Monday, Oct. 1, 2018.

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    A former Scripps researcher was awarded a Nobel Prize in medicine Monday for his work on fighting off cancerous cells with the body’s own immune system.

    James P. Allison, now a professor at the University of Texas, works with the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy.

    Allison studied a known protein and, from it, developed a new treatment method to attack tumors.

    The institute that selects the Nobel Prize winners called his work "a landmark in our fight against cancer."

    In 1974, Allison began his work as a postdoctoral fellow at the Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation in La Jolla.

    After three years in San Diego, Allison worked in Northern California, New York, and Maryland, before continuing his work in Texas.

    "I'm honored and humbled to receive this prestigious recognition," Allison said. "A driving motivation for scientists is simply to push the frontiers of knowledge."

    Allison shared the prize with Tasuku Honjo of Kyoto University in Japan. Their work, although independent, both discovered ways to stop the “brakes” on the immune system to fight off cancerous cells.

    They spilt the $1,000,000 prize.

    Photo Credit: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images
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    More than 80 people were arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents during a two-week sweep in San Diego meant to target threats to national security and public safety, the agency said Monday. 

    The operation concluded Friday with 84 individuals in custody, ICE said. It was not clear where the raids, conducted by Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officers, took place. 

    More than a quarter of those arrested had criminal convictions against them, ICE said. The agency said some were convicted on sex crimes or weapons and assault charges but did not specify how many of the 25 arrested criminal convicts fell into those categories. 

    About 46 people were arrested for staying in the United States after being issued a final order of removal or re-entering the United States after being deported, according to the information provided by ICE.

    While the raids focus on national security and public safety threats, ICE does not exempt any immigrants living in the country illegally when conducting raids, they said.

    According to the information provided by ICE, more than a dozen people were neither convicted criminals, previously deported or scheduled for deportation. 

    ICE said California laws that limit local law enforcement interaction with immigration officers has forced them to conduct sweeps like this, which they say put their officers and the public at risk. 

    "We will continue our efforts targeting public safety threats linked to immigration violators, while seeking to ultimately deport at-large criminal targets and other immigration fugitives who pose a threat to our communities," said Greg Archambeault, ICE ERO Director of Field Operations in San Diego.

    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    FILE (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)FILE (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

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    Another woman accusing a San Diego County sheriff's deputy of sexual assault took the stand at his preliminary hearing Monday to detail an alleged encounter in 2017. 

    The woman's accusations lead to three of five new charges against Fischer, including one charge of oral copulation by force and one charge of burglary, all of which he pleaded not guilty to on August 20. 

    In addition to the five new counts, Fischer is facing another 15 that he pleaded not guilty to involving 13 other women.

    In court, the 51-year-old woman who runs an assisted living facility said she had met Deputy Fischer several times because the nature of her job led her to call for law enforcement aid frequently.

    The woman, identified in court as Tatjana T., fought back tears as she described Deputy Fischer kissing her all over her body in her apartment on one of those encounters. 

    She started her testimony by sharing the first time she met Deputy Fischer on New Year's Eve 2016 when he and another deputy responded to a situation at her facility.

    The deputies left, but Fischer returned and asked for several hugs, she said.

    In days that followed, Fischer stopped by the facility, that Tatjana T. also lived at, multiple times even though no 911 call was made. 

    Then, Fischer began stopping at her garage, which she uses as an office and asking to meet with her privately. She described this happened at least five times. 

    A prosecutor told the judge that vehicle tracking software put the defendant's vehicle at the victim's address five times and that no service call was made.

    One of those encounters was in late March 2017 or early April 2017 when she saw a light flash through her window and heard Deputy Fischer's voice. 

    She thought something was wrong so she opened the garage and he walked into her apartment, Tatjana T. said.

    Fighting back tears, she described Deputy Fischer kissing and groping her and then forcing her to perform oral sex on him. 

    When asked by a prosecutor if she wanted that to happen, she responded, "No." 

    Tatjana T. said a few minutes later he stopped, said he’s married and has a child and left. 

    She described the fear that prevented her from coming forward against Fischer. 

    "Scared to share. Scared to tell anybody. Scared nobody would believe me. Scared to lose my clients. I think I was a good example, feeling guilty, any emotion possible," Tatjana T. said

    Deputy Fischer has denied all allegations against him, including the one presented by Tatjana T. in court on Monday. 

     To see a full timeline of the criminal case against Fischer, click here.

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    The Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego will hold eight listening sessions throughout the county to hear from its community about the church’s sexual abuse problems.

    “The Pennsylvania grand jury report demands action and also points the way toward reform in the life of our Church,” Bishop Robert McElroy said in a letter handed out at local masses.

    The listening sessions are intended to hear how people want to strengthen accountability and review of sexual misconduct allegations in the church, according to the diocese.

    “For me as a bishop there is an additional level of shame,” McElroy said, “Because in many instances, this abuse was magnified by the leadership of the Church that placed fear of scandal and the culture of clericalism ahead of the protection of young people.”

    The bishop said he already started a dialogue with local leadership about the sexual abuse claims and potential reform measures.

    Now he wants to call on the “people in the pews” to tell their story and voice their hopes for the church’s future.

    The listening sessions are as follows:


    • Oct. 1, 7:00 p.m., Our Mother of Confidence Parish Hall at 3131 Governor Dr, San Diego
    • Oct. 3, 7:00 p.m., St. Joseph Cathedral Auditorium at 1535 Third Ave, San Diego
    • Oct. 4, 7:00 p.m., Our Lady of Grace Parish Center at 2766 Navajo Rd, El Cajon
    • Oct. 5, 7:00 p.m., St. Charles Borremeo Parish Hall at 2802 Cadiz St, San Diego
    • Oct. 6, 9:00 a.m., St. Mary Parish Center at 795 S La Brucherie Rd, El Centro
    • Oct. 17, 7:00 p.m., Church of the Nativity Parish Hall at 6309 El Apajo, Rancho Santa Fe
    • Oct. 18, 7:00 p.m., St. Gabriel Parish Hall at 13734 Twin Peaks Rd, Poway
    • Nov. 5, 10:00 a.m., University of San Diego, Joan Kroc Institute at 5998 Alcalá Park, San Diego


    To read the bishop’s full letter, see the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego’s website.

    Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

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    Palomar Health in North County cut the ribbon on a new 3D mammogram machine Monday. It will help doctors detect breast cancer with more accuracy than ever before. 

    The new 3D breast imaging machine is predicted to be up to 65 percent more accurate at detecting more invasive breast cancers, doctors said. 

    Three new machines are at the Jean McLaughlin Women's Center at Palomar Medical Center in Poway. 

    “Because we can go through all the layers of the breast tissues, we really get a good look," said Dr. Michele McGahan, a radiologist with Palomar Health. "We’re able to identify more cancers, more abnormalities and more of the invasive types of breast cancers.” 

    It also reduces patient callbacks due to inconclusive images and is less painful than older 2D imaging machines. 

    "The actual equipment itself is more comfortable for women," added Dr. McGahan. "And the 3D technology is faster so we're taking images at a more rapid speed." 

    Two mammogram machines, as well as a new biopsy machine, cost Palomar Health $1.1 million, with most of the money coming from private donations.

    One in eight women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. It is recommended that women start to have annual mammograms at age 40.

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    The 2018 National Blue Ribbons Schools were announced Monday with two San Diego schools acing the test.

    Carmel Valley Middle School and San Diego Jewish Academy Lower School were recognized by the Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos.

    Both schools were in the exemplary high performing schools category.

    The National Blue Ribbons Schools program seeks out “schools demonstrating that all students can achieve to high levels,” according to its website.

    Only 349 schools were awarded, with Texas and Illinois having the most per state at 24, according to the program.

    California saw 12 of its schools on the list. San Diego, Fremont, and Saratoga were all honored with two schools.

    Carmel Valley Middle School has 1,157 students, and San Diego Jewish Academy Lower School has 167 students, said the Department of Education.

    Last year, only one San Diego school was awarded: Pacific Rim Elementary in Carlsbad.

    A majority of the 2018 schools were elementary and most were Title I, the program said. More than 85-percent of schools were public.

    Oklahoma didn’t participate. Oregon and Vermont haven’t participated in 15 years, according to the Department of Education.

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    Fixed-route bus and rail services will be free on Tuesday, said San Diego Metropolitan System and North County Transit District.

    Free Ride Day is being held in conjunction with SANDAG iCommute efforts to promote National Rideshare Week to educate people about the sustainable transportation choices available in the San Diego Region.

    “We are hosting Free Ride Day to encourage San Diego residents to shake up their routine and choose transit,” said Paul Jablonski, MTS Chief Executive Officer. 

    Free Ride Day will be valid on all MTS and NCTD fixed-routes services including buses, the Trolley, SPRINTER and COASTER. NCTD LIFT and Amtrak R2R trains will not be participating.

    Passengers will not need a Compass Card.

    MTS and NCTD services will operate on a normal weekday schedule.

    Those who plan to choose transit on Free Ride Day can RSVP through the MTS Facebook page event, or online at the Free Ride Day webpage to get reminders and tips.

    SANDAG, MTS, and NCTD have partnered to celebrate National Rideshare Week.

    From Monday, October 1 through Friday, October 5 transportation organizations here and around the country will promote commuting alternatives.

    “Choosing transit is absolutely critical for this region as we all strive to meet our climate action goals,” said Georgette Gomez, MTS Board Chair. “We need to do everything we can to get people to use alternative modes of transportation. Our environment depends on it.”

    Free Ride Day is part of an overall campaign to show people how transit can fit into many lifestyles.

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    Cliff collapses in Del Mar are happening more and more frequently. One that happened over the weekend is the second in just two weeks and neighbors say it’s urgent to move the train tracks.

    “It's really unfortunate, it's just more evidence we need to get these trains off the bluffs,” says Del Mar resident Frank Altobello.

    Last weekend’s collapse on 9th Street was just two blocks away from the larger one on 11th Street.

    Neighbor Debbie Hecht calls the situation “alarming.” “When you think about in the 1940s, a train derailed and killed people you know and I see this like imminent.

    A freight train derailed as it was traveling north through Del Mar on New Year’s Eve 194o following heavy rains. Three railroad workers were killed. There were no passengers on the train.

    “Think of those trains going by 20 to 30 times a day. It's disconcerting,” Altobello says.

    The North County Transit District says it is working with SANDAG on a project to move the tracks underground, but that would cost billions of dollars and the project remains unfunded.

    “Well, if there's an accident and lives are lost, my sense is the funding will be found,” Altobello adds grimly.

    The NCTD says it also plans to put up fencing to improve safety near the tracks. They say the fencing would lessen foot traffic and help stabilize the bluff.

    In a statement, they said in part: "The safety of our customers, operators and the public is our top priority. The ongoing work to ensure these bluffs are stabilized for future years ranks very high on our state of good repair needs."

    But neighbors say they don't want a fence and doubt it will stop the bluffs from collapsing.

    Neighbor Frank Stonebanks is one of those not convinced. “It's going to take a lot of money probably two to three billion dollars and some strong leadership, but fencing off two miles of track and handing out tickets doesn't cut it."

    The NCTD say it does special inspections of the rail line any time there is a significant bluff collapse and lifeguards have placed more signs in the area warning people to stay away from the latest collapse area.

    “When [collapses] come in increasing frequency and increasing size I think even someone who is not an expert in that area could sort of conclude that that is becoming more and more of a problem and fencing off the train track isn’t going to solve the problem,” Stonebanks adds.

    Photo Credit: NBC 7

    The latest bluff collapse from this weekend.The latest bluff collapse from this weekend.

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    A new California law requires police to release body camera footage within 45 days when it involves a death or an officer firing a gun.

    Advocates for transparency in the case of the death of Earl McNeil, who died after 16 days in National City Police Custody, are relived.

    The body camera footage was more than four months old when it was finally released two weeks ago.

    “We would have seen exactly what happened,” said civil rights activist and spokesman for the McNeil family, Mark Lane, who has been pushing to have the tape released for months. “It’s a good day. It’s a huge step in the right direction.”

    Lane said even after police released the footage they blurred more than an hour of the video. “So, an hour and 14 minutes of that two hours and 20 minutes was blurred out so we still don’t know what happened,” he said.

    The Police Officer’s Research Association of California officially opposed the law, arguing releasing videos can jeopardize witnesses, invites the media to interfere with investigations and contradicts with itself. Lane agrees with the last part.

    “There’s still a little bit of an issue with part of the language in there where it says ‘unless it interferes with an active investigation,’ which is the excuse that all the police departments use now not to release,” Lane said.

    The president of the San Diego Police Officer’s Association said he doesn’t like the law but they’ll learn to adapt.

    “I hope that the relationships improve,” Lane said. “I hope that the policing improves.”

    Lane said he is still fighting on the McNeil family’s behalf to have the blurred portion of the video released. He added, “There are some issues, otherwise this bill wouldn’t have been necessary.”

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    In the days leading up to a public allegation that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh exposed himself to a college classmate, the judge and his team were communicating behind the scenes with friends to refute the claim, according to text messages obtained by NBC News.

    Kerry Berchem, who was at Yale with both Kavanaugh and his accuser, Deborah Ramirez, has tried to get those messages to the FBI for its newly reopened investigation into the matter but says she has yet to be contacted by the bureau.

    The texts between Berchem and Karen Yarasavage, both friends of Kavanaugh, suggest that the nominee was personally talking with former classmates about Ramirez’s story in advance of The New Yorker article that made her allegation public. 

    Photo Credit: AP

    President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, answers a question about guns from Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., during a third round of questioning on the third day of his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing, Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018, on Capitol Hill in Washington, to replace retired Justice Anthony Kennedy.President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, answers a question about guns from Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., during a third round of questioning on the third day of his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing, Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018, on Capitol Hill in Washington, to replace retired Justice Anthony Kennedy.

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    During the primary, Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, beat Republican John Cox by just two points and with the election for governor just a month away, Cox is doing all he can to close the gap.

    Cox, who lives in San Diego, knows that if he is going to have a shot at beating Newsom he will have to win San Diego County.

    On Monday, Cox was in San Diego as part of his statewide bus tour “Help is on the Way.”

    He stopped by Father Joe’s Villages to tour resources for homeless in the city, and he spent more than an hour learning about their tent shelter and different healthcare and job training programs.

    Cox’s campaign acknowledges Newsom had a 25-point lead back in July, but they believe they’ve significantly closed the gap since then.

    Cox has been touting his construction experience as an asset in a state in need of affordable housing. “We can build a lot of housing,” he told voters. “We need to do it in an affordable way though. We need to cut these taxes, streamline approvals and the litigation, the lawsuit assaults and get the timeframe down so we can really build affordable housing.”

    Newsom’s campaign was in LA Monday. They did not say whether they plan to visit San Diego between now and the election, but he was in the city several times over the summer.

    Photo Credit: NBC 7

    John Cox (right) pulls up at Father Joe's Villages Monday.John Cox (right) pulls up at Father Joe's Villages Monday.

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    San Diego County Sheriff’s Department (SDSO) deputies on Saturday cited an Encinitas resident and former lifeguard for disrupting efforts to rescue a shark-bite victim.

    Deputies said David Steel, 57, was flying his drone into an area reserved for a medical response helicopter.

    The Sheriff’s Department said the helicopter pilot was forced to circle the landing area and delay picking up Keane Webre-Hayes, who suffered a life-threatening shark bite while diving for lobster off the Encinitas coast. 

    “Several deputies saw a drone being operated in the landing zone area designated for (the helicopter),” an SDSO spokesperson told NBC 7 News. “The drone was a safety hazard, so the Fire Department Battalion Chief had to radio the helicopter to abort their landing.”

    A deputy found Steel and ordered him to immediately land the unmanned aircraft. Steel complied with the command, but the deputy gave him a misdemeanor citation for violating a state law that prohibits people from flying a drone at the scene of an emergency operation.

    Steel denied that his drone was anywhere near the helicopter landing area when emergency crews spotted his craft.

    “It was not in the way,” Steel told NBC 7. “In a thousand years, I would never do anything to hamper a rescue.”

    Steel said he was flying his Mavic drone over the ocean in the area of the shark attack, in hopes of spotting a shark. He acknowledged he may have flown the drone near the helicopter landing area when he guided it back to the ground, on orders from law enforcement.

    “In hindsight, it was very poor judgment (on my part),” said Steele, who noted that he “fully complied” with the deputy’s order to immediately land his drone.

    The incident highlights the challenges law enforcement faces in trying to control wayward drones that, in its view, threaten public safety.

    Congress is on track to approve a new regulation that would allow the Homeland Security and Justice departments to destroy drones they consider to be security threats. 

    “The threats posed by malicious unmanned aircraft are too great to ignore,” said U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), chairman of the Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. “It is not enough to just tell drone operators not to fly in certain high-risk areas; we must give federal law enforcement the authority to act if necessary.”

    The National Football League (NFL) endorsed the new regulation, saying there were “about a dozen incidents” last season, in which privately-owned drones caused safety or security problems.

    The NFL’s Senior Vice-President of Security also referenced to the Senate’s Homeland Security Committee May 2017 incident where a drone “flew through Petco Park in San Diego and then crashed during the seventh inning of a game between the San Diego Padres and the Arizona Diamondbacks.” 

    The NFL asked the Senate committee to consider giving state and local law enforcement similar authority to disable or destroy rogue drones.

    In San Diego County, at least one law enforcement agency already has that technology. The Oceanside Police department has a device that can scramble radio transmission between the drone operator and the drone, and force the drone to return to its operator.

    But NBC 7 Investigates found Oceanside police can’t use their “DroneKiller,” because the technology that powers the device has not been approved for use by federal regulators. To read more about that, click here.

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