From the daily archives: Wednesday, July 13, 2011

San Diego, July 12, 2011 – The American Red Cross San Diego/Imperial Counties Chapter Annual Meeting is scheduled for Friday, July 15, 2011 at 3:00 p.m. at the Red Cross Headquarters located at 3950 Calle Fortunada, San Diego.  Tom Gehring, CEO & Executive Director of the San Diego County Medical Society (SDCMS) and the current Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Red Cross will thank exiting board members and welcome new members joining for the coming fiscal year. The public is invited and welcome to attend.


“I would like to thank the current and incoming board members of the San Diego/Imperial Counties Chapter of the American Red Cross as we work to accomplish our vision – to become the most trusted community service organization in San Diego in education, preparation and response to natural disasters and human emergencies.” says Gehring.

The American Red Cross San Diego/Imperial Counties Chapter 2011 – 2012 Board of Directors


Tom Gehring  – Chairman

CEO & Executive Director

San Diego County Medical Society


Andy Fichthorn

Former General Manager


Stan Hartman

1st Vice President

Alliant Insurance Services, Inc.

Bill Trumpfheller – Vice Chair


Nuffer, Smith, Tucker


RDML William French,

Commander, Navy Region Southwest

Col. Rick Huenefeld USMC (ret)

Community Planning & Liaison Officer

Marine Corps Recruitment Depot

Jaime Barton

Senior Business Agent

Cement Masons Local 500/Area 744

San Diego, CA


Col Jim Guerin, USMC (Ret)

Regional Family Emergency Response Coordinator

Fleet, Family and Child Programs

Joanna Y. Tsai



Gene Brister


KXO Radio


Randy C. Frisch

President and Publisher

San Diego Business Journal

Ken Wheatley

Senior Vice President

Sony Electronics, Inc.

Mary Ruth Carleton

Vice President and CEO

Campanile Foundation at SDSU

David Geier

Vice President, Electric Transmission & Distribution

SDG&E/Sempra Utilities


Raymond Loera

Imperial County Sheriff

Aimee Faucett

Deputy Chief of Staff/Director of Policy

Mayor Jerry Sanders

Laura J. Hart

Vice President, Business Operations

Qualcomm Incorporated



About the American Red Cross, San Diego/Imperial Counties Chapter

The American Red Cross is not a government agency and relies on the generosity of the American people to provide our programs and services. The San Diego/Imperial Counties Chapter is the most trusted community service organization in education, preparation and response to natural disasters and human emergencies. With the public’s ongoing support we provide lifesaving preparedness training; disaster relief services; 24-hour emergency services to deployed military personnel and their families; and nutritional counseling through our Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program. For more information about or to support the chapter please contact (858) 309-1200 or visit Please also connect with us on Facebook and YouTube.


Bipartisan Bill Would Remove Barriers Preventing Homeowners Who Are Making Their Payments From Refinancing at Historically Low Interest Rates


Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) held a press conference call to discuss her bill, the Helping Responsible Homeowners Act of 2011, which would remove barriers that have prevented millions of homeowners with non-delinquent, Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac-backed mortgages from refinancing at historically low interest rates. She also urged the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, to use its existing authority to eliminate these obstacles to refinancing.


Senator Boxer’s bill, S. 170, would allow an estimated two million homeowners to refinance at a significantly lower interest rate, which would save families thousands of dollars and boost the economy.


“The time to help struggling homeowners is now – while interest rates remain at near-historic lows,” Senator Boxer said. “This legislation would help millions of responsible homeowners who are making their payments, but are still struggling to make ends meet. By helping these homeowners refinance at lower rates, we will put thousands of dollars back in the pockets of families and strengthen our economy.”


Senator Boxer was joined on the call by Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, and Ronald Phipps, president of the National Association of Realtors, who spoke in strong support of the bill. The legislation has also been endorsed by the National Consumer Law Center, the National Association of Mortgage Brokers, the California Association of Realtors, the California Association of Mortgage Professionals, William Gross, managing director and co-CIO of PIMCO, and housing economist Thomas Lawler.


Boxer also announced on the call that Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA), who ran one of the nation’s largest independent residential real estate brokerage companies, has joined as a co-sponsor of the measure.


The bill aims to help borrowers who continue to make their mortgage payments on time, but whose homes have lost value during the real estate crisis.  Currently, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac offer refinancing programs to these homeowners. However, participation has been low, in part because homeowners must pay high, risk-based fees up front to refinance their loans – even though Fannie and Freddie already bear the risk if these homeowners were to default on their loans.

These additional fees can be as high as two percent of the loan amount, or an extra $4,000 on a $200,000 loan.  These fees can discourage borrowers from refinancing at a lower rate, making it more likely that they will eventually default.

Senator Boxer’s legislation would:

  • Eliminate risk-based fees on loans for which Fannie and Freddie already bear the risk;
  • Remove refinancing limits on underwater properties;
  • Make it easier for borrowers with second mortgages to participate in refinancing programs;
  • Require that borrowers are able to receive a fair interest rate, comparable to that received by any other borrower in good standing who has not suffered a drop in home value and has stayed current with their mortgage payments.

Interest rates for 30-year home mortgages remain near historically low levels – under five percent. Yet of the 27.5 million mortgages guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, over 8 million still carry an interest rate at or above 6 percent.

For the average homeowner – with a $150,000 loan – lowering the interest rate by 1 percent would save $1,100 a year. With up to two million additional borrowers refinancing, this would pump up to $2.2 billion annually into the economy.


The legislation is also expected to lead to up to 54,000 fewer defaults by homeowners and produce a net savings of up to $100 million for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.


By Mario Conde

Last Tuesday night, Oscar Rodriquez became permanent Calexico City Manager after the Council voted 5-0 to appoint him as manager.

Rodriquez took over as City Manager in February of this year after the resignation of Victor Carrillo. He came back to Calexico in 2010 as Economic Development Director and also served as Calexico Housing Authority Manager prior to returning to the City. The Council appointed Rodriquez as Interim City Manager and had to tackle the budget deficit and negotiate with labor unions. As interim manager, he also presented the re-organization of the City of Calexico by consolidating the existing eleven departments into five. Two weeks ago, Rodriquez presented a balanced budget for the first time in three years that erased a $5 million dollar deficit and put the city in black ink.

The council evaluated Rodriquez last Tuesday on closed session for one hour. Afterwards, City Attorney Jennifer Lyon announced that the Council voted 5-0 to make him the permanent City Manager. The audience burst into applause after Lyon’s announcement.

Councilman Bill Hodge said that appointing Oscar as the new City Manager is a step in the right direction since he has done a great job running the City so far.

Councilwoman Maritza Hurtado also congratulated the new City Manager and thanked him for his leadership in these hard economic times and said that she now sees Calexico moving up. Councilman John Moreno said that it was a no-brainer to appoint Oscar Rodriquez and said that his experience in governance will help him carry the job.

Mayor Pro Tem Daniel Romero said that Calexico is now on good hands since now one of her sons will be in charge of the City. Romero said that there still a lot of work to be done but said that there is a council that is united on tackling all of the challenges ahead. Mayor Luis Castro thanked Rodriquez for a job well done and looks forward to work with him and serve the citizens of Calexico like they deserve.

City Manager Oscar Rodriquez thanked the council for his support and trust in appointing him as Calexico City Manager. He recalled how he started his career here in Calexico in the 80’s after returning to the valley after he graduated from UC Berkeley. “Calexico is my home and to come back here after twelve years of working around the valley gives me a new perspective on how to be a good leader and serve the City better.” Rodriquez said.

The City Manager said that he left Calexico 12 years ago because he felt he wasn’t learning anything new but now that he has worked in all of the major cities in the valley he had develop relationships with agencies and groups that has given him a wealth of knowledge in the public administration. “I started my career here in Calexico and this is like coming full circle to return and give back to the City that has given me and my family a lot of good things.”


By Mario Conde

The Imperial County aspires to home base the Joint Strike Fighter at Naval Air Facility-El Centro.

Last Tuesday at the County Board of Supervisors meeting, Deputy CEO Andy Horne spoke the board about the possibility of having the county as the home base of the Joint Strike Fighter to the local Navy base. The F-35 Lightning II Program (also known as the Joint Strike Fighter Program) is the Department of Defense’s focal point for defining affordable next generation strike aircraft weapon systems for the Navy, Air Force, Marines, and our allies. The F-35 will bring cutting-edge technologies to the battles pace of the future.

The JSFs advanced airframe, autonomic logistics, avionics, propulsion systems, stealth, and firepower will ensure that the F-35 is the most affordable, lethal, supportable and survivable aircraft ever to be used by so many war fighters across the globe.

Involved in this project are Gaylla Finnell, Josue Mercado, and Cathy Kennerson who are working to bring this aircraft to the valley since the County has ideal flying weather, making NAF-El Centro a key local for training and has the ability to fly 360 days a year that enhances combat readiness and results in savings to the tax payer.

Horne told the board that NAF-El Centro is the perfect location for home basing the aircraft due to its strategic location. He mentioned that it’s the perfect location since it’s strategically located along the I-8 corridor connecting MCAS-Yuma and MCAS Miramar where the JSF F-35B Aricraft will be home based.

Another one of the advantages of having that aircraft here in the Valley is that the County’s vast unobstructed dessert terrain, unique climate limited non-military air traffic, and its own dedicated gunnery and bomb ranges make NAF-El Centro and ideal environment for aerial combat maneuvering, air-to-air gunnery, bombing practice and electronic warfare training, Horne said.

County CEO Ralph Cordova said that the project will be presented to the Board in the next couple of weeks.


By Mario Conde        

A Riverside County Supervisor has started a huge debate to see if Southern California should become the 51st State of the Union.

Under the proposal, Riverside, Imperial, San Diego, Orange, San Bernardino, Kings, Kern, Fresno, Tulare, Inyo, Madera, Mariposa and Mono counties would be asked to consider forming a 51st state, the State of South California. Boards of supervisors and city councils within those counties would be invited to meet and discuss the possible of secession from the State of California.

Stone, who represents the 3rd District of Riverside County, brought the issue to the County Board of Supervisors of secession last Tuesday for its deliberation but, instead, Stone opted to start a summit in the fall  and invite all the counties to see how to fix the State’s budgetary issues but the issues of splitting will continue to be on the table.  Supervisors argued that in this economic times it would be wrong to use County funds for a political reform action that could start a “Southern California” State.

Among the reasons Stone is pushing for this separation are: California’s taxes are among the highest in the nation yet the deteriorating services slip year after year while state officials prop up disastrous budget policies by draining resources needed to help local residents.

Political infighting has paralyzed California for more than decade, creating a state that is too large to govern.  And a huge portion of the state’s residents are on some form of public assistance and California has about 30 percent of the nation’s welfare load yet only 12 percent of the population.

Stone suggested the new state consider a part-time legislature, shifting governance more toward local control; also open for consideration would be doing away with term limits. Part-time legislators might receive only a $600 per month stipend and no other financial benefits except travel expenses to the new state capitol, he said.

The U.S. Constitution say that no new States shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.

Here in the Imperial County, County Board Chairman Jack Terrazas does not see this initiative a viable solution to the State’s problems and its only a waste of time.

“The way thing are right now at the State of California  and  even on the Federal level, our representatives cannot get together on a budget, they can’t get together on issues, there is no way there are going to get together for us to split up because they have to approve it. The state legislature and congress have to approve it. I don’t see how our legislators will approve separating the State when they cannot even agree on the budget.” Terrazas said. Supervisor District 1 John Renison echoed Terrazas’ comments and gave a slim chance for this idea to move forward and become a reality.

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