Helix Water to reduce future rates
Helix Water District will use $2.8 million received from the San Diego County Water Authority as part of a legal settlement with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California to reduce future water rates for the district’s customers.
The Water Authority announced a plan on February 25 to distribute $44.4 million to its 24 member agencies after receiving a check for that amount from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California to pay legal damages and interest resulting from a decade-long rate case. The Water Authority sued Metropolitan for overcharges on imported water, and then sent a portion of the damages received to member agencies based on each agency’s overpayments from 2011 to 2014.
“This issue directly impacted Helix and our customers,” said Helix General Manager Carlos Lugo. “Our board is really pleased that the Water Authority recovered the overcharges and is returning the money so that we can return it to our customers, by reducing future rate adjustments.”
The Helix board voted on March 3, after a year of financial analysis and cost-cutting measures, to move ahead with an April 28 public hearing on water rate adjustments over the next two years.
To minimize the proposed rate increases, the district will use $5 million from its rate stabilization fund, defer $3 million in planned pre-payments to the California Public Employees Retirement System and defer $2 million in planned investment in the district’s infrastructure.
“We’re doing everything we can to keep rates low and help our customers,” said Helix Board President Joel Scalzitti. “Putting $2.8 million back into our depleted rate stabilization fund will certainly help.”
In 2020, the Helix board approved a zero rate increase and froze late payment fees and shutoffs for nonpayment in the wake of widespread job losses. On February 24, the board approved the Helix Helps Customer Assistance Program, which will start on April 5 and offer a one-time credit of up to $300 for Helix single-family residential customers who are behind on their water bills and can document that they have been financially impacted by the pandemic.
LMPD seeks information on suspicious death
On Feb. 27, at about 9:10 p.m., La Mesa Police Officers responded to a radio call of an adult male, later identified as Jok Joseph Jok, lying on the eastern edge of the roadway on Bancroft Drive, just south of Golondrina Drive. Jok was unresponsive and had injuries to his head and shoulder. Jok later succumbed to his injuries.
The manner and means of his death is currently under investigation. Video surveillance shows vehicles in the area at the time of the incident.
The La Mesa Police Department is actively looking for witnesses or any other information regarding this incident. The La Mesa Police Department has identified a possible vehicle of interest. The vehicle is a white 2009-2014 Ford F150. The vehicle is an extended cab, with a silver metal tool box, and possibly missing a front bumper.
The La Mesa Police Department’s Traffic Division is seeking the public’s assistance in determining the circumstances of the death of Jok Joseph Jok. If anyone has information, they are asked to contact the La Mesa Police Department at 619-667-7532 or firstname.lastname@example.org. They may also call Crime Stoppers’ anonymous toll-free tip line 888-580-TIPS (or visit www.sdcrimestoppers.com). They can remain anonymous, and be eligible for a Crime Stoppers reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest in this case.
Community colleges encourage student vaccinations to reopen campuses
The leaders of the 10 community colleges in San Diego and Imperial counties issued a statement March 12 urging their employees and students to get a vaccination protecting them against COVID-19 as soon as they are eligible.
The colleges, which serve more than 200,000 students in the two-county area, have been offering mostly online learning for the 2020-21 academic year because of the pandemic. Only a limited number of classes and labs that train essential workers have been offered at the college campuses.
“Widespread vaccinations will allow our colleges to start reopening our campuses this fall and to continue to offer the top-quality education that our students want and deserve,” says the statement, which was endorsed by leaders for the Grossmont-Cuyamaca, Imperial, MiraCosta, Palomar, San Diego and Southwestern college districts.
San Diego County opened vaccinations to educators, which includes employees at community college districts, beginning Feb. 27. Educators in Imperial County were eligible for vaccinations on Feb. 22.
The statement notes that the Centers for Disease Control has found that the vaccines are safe and the most effective way to limit the spread of the coronavirus. The three vaccines now available met the Food and Drug Administration’s rigorous scientific standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality, and are undergoing an intensive safety monitoring.
“We are eager to begin safely returning to our campuses this fall so that we can welcome back our students and offer them a full range of in-person services,” said Lynn Neault, chancellor of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District and president of the San Diego & Imperial Counties Community College Association (SDICCCA).
The full statement can be found on the SDICCCA website. SDICCCA is a consortium between six community college districts in San Diego and Imperial counties.
La Mesa resident recognized as ‘Top Lawyer’
Sullivan Hill is pleased to announce that Timothy Earl has been recognized by San Diego Magazine as a 2021 Top Lawyer in San Diego in the field of insurance.
A resident of La Mesa, shareholder Earl is the chair of Sullivan Hill’s Construction and Insurance practice group and practices primarily in the areas of construction litigation, insurance coverage, and business litigation. His insurance coverage practice involves representation of policyholders and insurance companies in a variety of insurance coverage disputes primarily involving property damage or bodily injury arising out of construction defect and asbestos claims. He also represents policyholders and insurers in breach contract, declaratory relief, bad faith, unlawful business practices and Insurance Code Section 11580 claims.
The Top Lawyer list is published annually by San Diego Magazine. The 2021 Top Lawyers list reflects those local attorneys who have been recognized by Martindale-Hubbell as 2021 AV Preeminent Peer Review Rated attorneys. Martindale-Hubbell is the preeminent objective attorney rating service.
For decades Sullivan Hill has provided full service representation to clients in a variety of industries with an emphasis in insolvency, construction disputes, insurance coverage, real estate, business disputes, civil litigation, and transactional work. The firm has offices in San Diego and Las Vegas. More information can be found at sullivanhill.com.
Police Chief recruitment update
The City of La Mesa has hired executive recruiting firm Teri Black & Company (TBC) to conduct a nationwide search for its next Police Chief. TBC was selected following the issuance of a Request for Qualifications and evaluation process by the City. TBC has successfully recruited 10 police chiefs for California cities over the past 24 months.
TBC gathered feedback from the La Mesa community on its ideal qualities for the next Police Chief. Feedback included input from the City Council, the Citizen Public Safety Oversight Task Force, City staff, the Police Department, and focus groups with community leaders. A community meeting was held on Dec. 7, 2020 and an online community survey was also conducted.
The application period was open from January 13 through February 15, 2021 and 25 applications were received. The applications are currently being screened using criteria developed through previously gathered stakeholder input.
The next step will be to interview the most highly qualified candidates. Two interview panels will be utilized for these interviews: a community stakeholder panel and a professional panel. The stakeholder panel will include representatives from: the La Mesa Community Police Oversight Board, the La Mesa Citizen Task Force on Homelessness, the local School District, the La Mesa Police Officer’s Association, and the faith based community. The professional panel will include executives working in local government in the San Diego region.
The top candidates will move on to the final interviews to be conducted with La Mesa staff. All interviews are expected to be completed by the end of March with a hire to be announced in April. For additional information on the recruitment process please click the following link: cityoflamesa.us/1647/Police-Chief-Recruitment.