From the daily archives: Tuesday, June 15, 2010

As BP board members debate whether to move forward with a scheduled dividend payment, U.S. Congressman Bob Filner joined 31 other members of Congress to call on the oil company to instead direct those funds to an escrow account dedicated to cleaning up the Deepwater Horizon spill and compensating its victims.

“It is time for the folks at BP to put their money where their mouth is,” said Filner. “They continue to say they will pay any legitimate claims and now they need to give us some certainty of how that will happen.  Directing dividend payments to an escrow account is the type of assurance that we need from BP to make sure victims will be taken care of and the spill will be cleaned up.”

In a letter to BP CEO Tony Hayward, the House members urged BP to ensure it has the funds to pay the full costs of the devastating Gulf Oil spill by temporarily suspending its annual $10 billion dividend. Further, the group called on BP to establish an escrow account to cover cleanup and compensation costs – and to direct dividend payments to that account.

“Your company has affirmed its intention to pay the full costs of this devastating environmental and economic disaster,” Filner and his colleagues wrote. “As those costs continue to rise – to $37 billion, by one estimate – the American people require an assurance that your company will be able to honor all legitimate claims.”

These House members first wrote BP last week urging the company to suspend its dividend and public relations campaign until it fully remedies the Gulf catastrophe. Their latest letter builds on Senate Democrats’ proposal to create a $20 billion escrow account administered by independent trustees and available for compensation claims and cleanup efforts.

The letter, copied below, was signed by the following House members as of this morning, though the list continues to grow: Congress members Bob Filner, Peter Welch, Ed Markey, Lois Capps, Keith Ellison, John Olver, John Hall, Gabrielle Giffords, Rosa L. DeLauro, Ron Kind, Dennis Cardoza, Anna Eshoo, Mazie Hirono, Joe Courtney, Russ Carnahan, Jared Polis, Bill Owens, Dave Loebsack, Paul Tonko, Carolyn Maloney, Doris Matsui, Robert Brady, Bill Delahunt, Rush Holt, Timothy Walz, Pete Stark, Raul M. Grijalva, Betty Sutton, Steve Cohen, Maurice Hinchey, Michael Capuano and Michael Michaud.

Tony Hayward

Chief Executive Officer


1 St James’s Square



Dear Mr. Hayward,

As BP board members debate whether to issue a second quarter dividend payment, we renew our call to suspend the dividend and, further, we urge you to direct such funds to an escrow account dedicated to cleaning up the Deepwater Horizon spill and compensating its victims.

Your company has affirmed its intention to pay the full costs of this devastating environmental and economic disaster. As those costs continue to rise – to $37 billion, by one estimate – the American people require an assurance that your company will be able to honor all legitimate claims.

President Obama and 54 members of the U.S. Senate have called for the establishment of an independently administered $20 billion escrow account, which would be available to cover cleanup costs and economic damages. We join them in their request and further call on BP to divert future dividend payments to this account until such time that all cleanup and compensation costs are fully covered.


Bob Filner

Member of Congress


U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers stopped a drug smuggling attempt at the Douglas, Ariz., Port of Entry when a large mobile X-ray unit detected more than 300 pounds of marijuana concealed in concrete tables.

CBP officers discovered more than 300 pounds of marijuana embedded  inside concrete furniture.
CBP officers discovered more than 300 pounds of marijuana embedded inside concrete furniture.

CBP officers were screening commercial traffic coming from Mexico on Monday when they selected a commercial semi-trailer load of concrete furniture for inspection. The semi-trailer was driven by a 33-year-old man from Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico. Utilizing a large mobile high-tech x-ray unit, CBP officers were able to detect anomalies embedded deep in the concrete structures.

Further inspection by the officers revealed that concrete structures were filled with packages of marijuana. The total weight of marijuana was more than 300 pounds with an estimated street value of $2.8 million.

CBP officers seized the semi-trailer and the marijuana. The man was turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for further questioning.


U.S. Congressman Bob Filner, center, presented Imperial Valley College with a flag that flew over the U.S. Capitol and a certificate dedicating the flag to the school. Congressman Filner was joined by Imperial Valley College President Dr. Ed Gould, right, and Academic Senate President Kevin White, left, to raise the new U.S. flag over Imperial Valley College.


By Mario Conde

The County Board of Supervisors approved plans and specifications for the construction of the Imperial Center infrastructure project phase II.

The Imperial Regional Center will be constructed on a 78 – acre parcel, total 3,383,305 square feet, and is expected to provide approximately millions of square feet of commercial facilities. Two 4-story parking structure are 900,000 square feet with 3000 spaces. There will be a loading area in the back of the center. The County Board of Supervisors approved in December to grant TC Construction contract for the construction of the project. The Imperial Regional Center will provide a variety of mixed uses including commercial retail and service oriented uses as well as cultural lifestyle uses such as outdoor recreational park or plaza areas intended for public uses such as pedestrian walkways, waterways, and Green Roofs.

Jurg Heuberger, director of Planning & Development services said that the first phase of this project has been accomplished as they have installed sewer and infrastructure for the project. He said that phase II will commence in January and will consist of doing surface and curbs improvements. With this approval the County is meeting EDA procedures and requirements. The County also authorized expenditure of the EDA grant funds in the amount of not to exceed $1.3 million for the purpose of constructing this project.

In other items, the board approved a resolution authorizing submittal of grant application to the CalHome General Program in the amount of $1,000,000 to provide mortgage assistance for low or very low First Time Homebuyers and provide assistance for low or very low income homeowners for Owner-occupied Rehabilitation in the unincorporated areas of Imperial County. Also, the county approved the submittal of a grant to the U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration in the amount of $70,000 for Economic Development Assistance programs. The money would be used to expand the Gateway to the Americas and expansion of planning activities to promote economic development through the Imperial County. Additional activities include Economic Development and Redevelopment training classes and to attend Economic Development conferences.

The County of Imperial will submit an application for proposition 1B funding to have funding for emission reduction program that provides $1 billion for heavy duty diesel trucks by replacement, repower and retrofit to assist in the replacement of old trucks. The money is targeted to four trade corridors and Imperial County belongs to the San Diego corridor. The County could receive $3 million dollars with the potential of getting an additional $1.1 million during the next two years if the application is successful.


By Mario Conde
After serving God in every capacity by being a key part of the Catholic community since he was a child, Father Efrain Bautista celebrated his first Mass as a priest after being ordained last Friday at the San Diego Diocese.
A solemn Mass of thanksgiving was celebrated Saturday in Calexico for Father Efrain Bautista where more than 1,000 people attended to celebrate with  Father Efrain.
In attendance was Bishop of Oakland Rev. Salvatore J. Cordileone who was a priest  in Calexico for many years. Also, many of the priests that worked with Efrain at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Calexico came to the Mass.
Father Edmundo Zarate-Suarez spoke about Efrain and how when he was a kid he wanted to know Jesus, but his parents never allowed him to go to church. Father Edmundo said that he started going to a protestant church but his aunt brought him to the Catholic Church. Zarate-Suarez recalled how Efrain worked at the Church in very job  from being altar boy, catechism teacher, confirmation program coordinator to church council. Father Edmundo said Efrain knew from an early age the responsibility to serve God.
“For us the priests who have worked with him know that he is someone that we can depend on, he always got the job done. When he was in Rome he had more responsibility than his peers since he was the president of the student association at the North American College in Rome. The only one from the  San Diego Diocese that has been president is Efrain, someone from Calexico,” he said.
Zarate said that when he saw Efrain at his ordination, many memories passed by about his work at the church and said that it was a natural thing for him to become a priest.
“God always chooses and he chose you to be his priest.” Zarate told Efrain, “We all wish that you become a great priest, that you are filled with love to the Lord and the people you serve.”
Father Efrain Bautista was sent by San Diego Diocese Bishop Robert Brom to serve in Brawley at Sacred Heart Church as associate pastor for both catholic churches in Brawley.

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