From the daily archives: Tuesday, April 6, 2010

HEBER — A group of eighth graders at Heber Elementary School District recently had a unique learning experience — they had a chance to speak to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger live via videoconference.

Joined by only one other class of eighth graders from Humboldt County — connected through the California K-12 High-Speed Network which the Imperial County Office of Education administers — the students had a chance to listen to the governor talk about his experience as an immigrant to the United States from his native Austria. Then, students had a chance to ask the governor questions.

The 30-minute session ended with the governor taking students on a virtual tour of his Sacramento office.

“It was totally interactive,” said Alan Phillips, assistant director of conferencing services for ICOE.

Not only did the Heber students have a chance to talk with the governor via videoconference, they — along with the students from the Humboldt school district — were the first to participate in a program initiated by the governor’s office to use videoconferencing as a way for the governor to interact with students.

“Not many students will have this kind of opportunity. It is special for local students to have the chance be the pioneers of this inaugural event,” Phillips said.

Because ICOE administers the California K-12 High-Speed Network, which provides statewide videoconferencing support as well as access to online educational resources to school districts statewide, ICOE was called upon by the governor’s office and the State Parks Department to help organize the videoconferencing event.

Phillips explained the opportunity to have local students meet with the governor through videoconferencing happened rather quickly.

On March 17, representatives from the State Parks Department and the governor’s office met with ICOE to discuss the concept of the event, which had originated from Gov. Schwarzenegger as a way to reach out to students statewide, Phillips said.

“The State Parks Department was involved because it already is a leader in utilizing videoconferencing services as an educational tool,” said Joe von Herrmann, who administers a program called Parks Online Resources For Teachers and Students (PORTS) for State Parks. PORTS is a program that provides virtual field trips to the state’s parks for students statewide.

As part of the PORTS program, State Parks also administers another academic resource, Your Voice In Government, which has allowed state legislators to talk with students in their districts via videoconferencing.

Herrmann said working with ICOE and with the Humboldt County school district also was a natural fit as those agencies are leaders in the use of technology as a delivery tool for educational resources.

 
 
Calexico Port of Entry is now open.
Vehicles and Pedestrians can cross at the downown port of entry in Calexico, CA

Calexico Chamber of Commerce

1100 Imperial Avenue

P.O. Box 948

Calexico, CA  92231

Phone: 760-357-1166

Fax: 760-357-9043

 

Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today discussed a report prepared by agents in the California Department of Justice, Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement showing that in the last month of his life, former child actor Corey Haim visited seven different doctors and seven different pharmacies to obtain at least 553 doses of prescription drugs, including dangerous narcotics.

The report confirms that from February 2, 2010 to March 5, 2010 – five days before he died – Haim obtained more than 195 tablets of Valium, 194 tablets of Soma, 149 tablets of Vicodin and 15 tablets of Xanax.

“In a period of 32 days, Corey Haim obtained at least 553 doses of potentially dangerous prescription drugs,” Brown said. “He died five days later. It’s important for people to understand that legal, prescribed drugs can be just as dangerous as street drugs, and doctor shopping can be deadly.”

Brown has been at the forefront of efforts to crack down on prescription-drug abuse and those criminals who profit from it.

In the report, Haim’s primary physician confirmed that Haim was addicted to pain medication. The investigation also uncovered that Haim used at least one alias to obtain pain medication. Although he was being treated by his primary physician, Haim continued to obtain prescription drugs from emergency rooms and urgent care facilities.

Witnesses confirmed that Haim had abused prescription drugs since the age of 15, attempting rehabilitation several times. In the months before he died, Haim was preparing to do a media special on how easy it was for him to obtain pain medications.

Haim’s doctors told agents that Haim was very convincing in his justifications for needing prescription pain medications. Haim told doctors he had shoulder pain acquired while he was filming a movie in Canada. He also claimed he was not seeing any other doctors and discussed his future plans to have surgery. Some of those doctors said they felt “duped” and “conned” when they found out from Haim’s primary physician that he was a drug seeker.

Haim visited multiple pharmacies to fill his prescriptions, investigators found, and either requested additional medication or asked for refills before the due date.

The report concluded that Haim’s behavior was consistent with “doctor shopping,” in which a patient requests care from multiple physicians, often to feed the patient’s addiction to prescription drugs. Patients prescribed a drug necessary for treatment of a legitimate medical condition will seek out other physicians to obtain more of the same medication, often by faking or exaggerating the extent of the true condition. It is common for patients to use aliases in order to evade detection.

Haim’s name surfaced in connection with an illegal prescription-drug ring operating in Southern California. The ring operates by ordering prescription-drug pads from authorized vendors and using identities stolen from doctors. The pads are then either sold on the street to prescription-drug addicts or to individuals who are paid to fill the prescription and then sell the drugs on the underground market.

The investigation has thus far linked 4,500 to 5,000 fraudulent prescriptions to the fraud ring and has led to one arrest.

The San Diego Regional Pharmaceutical Narcotic Enforcement Team (RxNET) is conducting the investigation. RxNET is a cooperative effort of the California Department of Justice, Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement, Department of Health Care Services, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. RxNET also works in conjunction with other state, federal and local law enforcement agencies.

Prescription-drug abuse is a growing problem. Brown’s office has investigated and filed charges in more than 200 cases-both against physicians who have abused their trust and against patients who go from doctor to doctor in search of drugs.

In addition to costing the state millions of dollars each year, prescription-drug abuse can have serious public safety consequences: many of the top abusers hold down regular jobs including driving trucks, operating transit vehicles and working in medical facilities.

California is at the forefront of technology that makes it more difficult for criminals to operate prescription-drug rings. Brown’s office has introduced significant technology upgrades to the state’s prescription-monitoring program, known as CURES, by creating an accessible, online database. The database is a critical tool in assisting law enforcement investigations into these types of crimes.

For more information on the California Department of Justice, Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement and California’s prescription-drug monitoring system visit: http://ag.ca.gov/bne/CURES.php

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Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today proclaimed a state of emergency in Imperial County due to a 7.2 magnitude earthquake, centered in Baja California, Mexico, which occurred yesterday, impacting the Southern California region by disrupting telephone communications, buckling roads, breaking water mains and damaging critical water storage facilities.

The text of the proclamation is below:

A PROCLAMATION OF A STATE OF EMERGENCY

WHEREAS on April 4, 2010, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake, centered in Baja California, Mexico, caused severe damage in the southern California region; and

WHEREAS earthquake aftershocks continue to occur in the region; and

WHEREAS the earthquake has disrupted telephone communications, buckled roads, broken water mains, and damaged critical water storage facilities; and

WHEREAS the earthquake has caused structural damage to public and private buildings, and required the evacuation of residents; and

WHEREAS on April 5, 2010, Imperial County declared a local emergency and requested that I declare a state of emergency; and

WHEREAS the circumstances of this earthquake by reason of its magnitude, are or are likely to be beyond the control of the services, personnel, equipment and facilities of any single county, city and county, or city and require the combined forces of a mutual aid region or regions to combat; and

WHEREAS under the provisions of section 8558(b) of the California Government Code, I find that conditions of extreme peril to the safety of persons and property exist in Imperial County due to the earthquake.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, Governor of the State of California, in accordance with the authority vested in me by the state Constitution and statutes, including the California Emergency Services Act, and in particular, section 8625 of the California Government Code, HEREBY PROCLAIM A STATE OF EMERGENCY to exist within Imperial County.

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that all agencies of the state government utilize and employ state personnel, equipment and facilities for the performance of any and all activities consistent with the direction of the California Emergency Management Agency (Cal EMA) and the State Emergency Plan, and that Cal EMA provide local government assistance under the authority of the California Disaster Assistance Act.

I FURTHER DIRECT that as soon as hereafter possible, this proclamation be filed in the Office of the Secretary of State and that widespread publicity and notice be given of this proclamation.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Great Seal of the State of California to be affixed this 5th day of April 2010.

 
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