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North of the Fence: Hector Gastelum Still In The News, Still Won’t Resign

Chula Vista City Council Chambers (Photo by Barbara Zaragoza)

On Tuesday, the Chula Vista City Council faced numerous public comments asking for Hector Gastelum’s resignation and for an investigation of the Otay Water Board.

Fayaz Nawabi, a leader in the movement for Gastelum to resign, explained he is a proud refugee of Afghanistan. His family was welcomed to the United States during the Ronald Reagan administration. Now he is concerned because a public official like Gastelum — Director of the Otay Water District 4 — tweeted numerous racist comments from his personal account calling Muslims “subhuman” and “scum.”

Nawabi told council members Gastelum is unfit to hold public office, in particular because his area of public service includes approximately 200 people who attend the Islamic Center of Eastlake. Because of Gastelum’s obviously racist statements, Nawabi additionally wondered what was going on behind closed doors at the Otay Water Board, calling for a full investigation. This was especially important, he said, given the recent reports of lead in the water in Chula Vista.

During the Mayor Mary Salas’ comments, she requested that the issue of Hector Gastelum be an agenda item at the next council meeting. In addition, Salas formally requested that the Otay Water District remove Gastelum as their representative on the Chula Vista Redevelopment Oversight Board.

Salas then asked to revive a Human Relations Commission saying, “It could be a positive forum for community members who have concerns about their safety.”

Councilmember Patricia Aguilar wanted to be informed at the next council meeting about what agreements and relationships the city has with the Otay Water District.

Councilmember Steve Padilla twice expressed his condemnation of Hector Gastelum, asking for his formal resignation. When Mayor Salas asked if others wanted to speak on consent to the item, both Mike Diaz and John McCann remained quiet. Because the council had a majority without them, the item will be on the agenda at the next council meeting on April 25 at 5 p.m.

During John McCann’s comments, he condemned Gastelum’s tweets and said he is against hatred of people based on their religion or race. He explained that he served in Iraq and helped protect the Sunnis, Shi’a, Kurds and Chaldeans. He was able to personally make friendships with many. Unfortunately, when ISIS took over, he has lost contact with him and prays everyday for their safety.

Otay Water District

National City

  • For months, Beacon Classical Academy — a K-8 charter school of 188 students in National City — has been under scrutiny by the NC School Board Trustees for numerous violations. This week, the process to revote the school’s charter status began. Superintendent Brady read a list of problems, including low test scores and safety concerns. (San Diego Union Tribune)

Chula Vista

  • Both National City and Chula Vista have a large number of well-preserved historic homes. The first home designated “historic” is now up for sale. Once owned by the first Chula Vista City Council member in 1911, the current owner is the former Chula Vista Councilwoman Pamela Bensoussan. She’s selling the home for about $1 million and moving closer to family in Houston. (San Diego Union Tribune)
  • A Chula Vista man was awarded $15,000 as part of the $25 million Trump University settlement. 75-year-old Sonny Low spent $27,500 on his credit cards to take real estate courses at the unaccredited college. (Chula Vista Star News)

Imperial Beach

Drumroll please … the big news this week: Imperial Beach’s public library re-opens tomorrow, Saturday April 15, at 11:30 a.m. (810 Imperial Beach Blvd.). Join IB Mayor Serge Dedina and Supervisor Greg Cox for the ribbon cutting ceremony. There will also be a kids playing area and commemorative library souvenirs.

From the press release: “The 14,800-square-foot facility will feature a greatly expanded materials collection, a large children’s and family area, a teen space with dedicated study rooms, a large community room for events and meetings, a Friends of the Library bookstore, wireless Internet, a computer lab, automated checkout and more.

  • Also, if you plan to have a little R&R this weekend, check out Villa Nueva Bakery for breakfast or lunch and then head on over to iconic Bibbey’s.

The Border Causes Ecological Damage

The Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental group that protects endangered species, and Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Arizona), sued the Trump administration saying the border wall violates laws that protect endangered species and public lands. (Washington Examiner)

Wait a minute. Is history repeating itself?

In 2005 Congress passed the READ ID Act, which stipulated a double fence along the entire United States-Mexico border. Section 102 of the act gave the Department of Homeland Security the right to waive any law that would impede the rapid construction of the walls. Wall construction during 2008-2009 created massive ecological damage, not to mention destroyed unexcavated Kumeyaay artifacts. During that time, Homeland Security overrode the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the Coastal Zone Management Act.

And yet, as I have covered repeatedly, the sewage coming from Tijuana is allowed to flow to the tune of 260 million gallons from January to April with no resolution in sight.

In Other Border News:

  • Prototypes of the border wall will be built in Otay Mesa. The government anticipates spending between $200,000-$500,000 for each. (Times of  San Diego)
  • A professional Tijuana soccer player was arrested at the border, accused of trying to smuggle methamphetamine into the United States. (Los Angeles Times)
  • A Navy SEAL jogging along the international boundary filed a lawsuit after he was arrested on suspicion of assaulting a federal officer. The former SEAL alleged excessive use of force and false imprisonment, among other claims. In return, the U.S. Border Patrol has filed a counterclaim seeking damages for his pain and suffering stemming from the incident. (Times of San Diego)
  • Jeff Sessions visited the border in Nogales, Arizona. Doug Porter at the San Diego Free Press gave the details.
  • The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s internal watchdog said they had more than 1,000 complaints of sexual assault or sexual abuse while in detention. (NBC 7 San Diego)

And finally:

Ever wondered what “refried beans” really are? This week, Snopes breaks down the myths.

One Response to North of the Fence: Hector Gastelum Still In The News, Still Won’t Resign

  1. Iraq War Veteran April 19, 2017 at 7:35 PM #

    Of course John McCann would not speak on consent to the item. Gastelum was John’s Aide. Also typical of John to use his military background to hide his association with a racist. I would like to challenge John to provide more information about his “friend” in Iraq. From my multiple tours in Iraq U.S. bases separated American troops and Iraqi nationals. John McCann claim to have made friends with Iraqi’s is hard to believe. Also, as a military officer I hope John McCann notified his security officer about his relationship with an Iraqi national. All security clearances require personnel to disclose their interaction and relationships with foreign nationals.

Copyright Barbara Zaragoza. All rights reserved.

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