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Up until now, Mark Arabo has focused his political energies on advocating for Christians in Iraq and leading the Neighborhood Market Association, a group that supports grocers and convenience store owners. Arabo notoriously helped get the mayor of El Cajon ousted after he made disparaging comments about Chaldean immigrants. We called him “The Voice of Refuge” for the work he did in advocating for the Iraqi Chaldean community in 2014.
But as Arabo’s interests bend ever closer to running for elected office, some of the shine he has worked hard to maintain is coming off. For the last piece of our three-part profile on Arabo, Liam Dillon looked into Arabo’s past and found a nest of concerns, such as Ethics Commission fines and questionable practices at some of the corner stores in the trade group he runs. And then there’s the ice cream incident. During Bob Filner’s mayoral campaign, the candidate’s office was full of ice cream goodies stacked inside big commercial freezers. “The ice cream was courtesy of Mark Arabo and the Neighborhood Market Association,” Dillon explains. “But this delicious gift never appeared on Filner’s campaign forms as required.”
Arabo denied donating the treats to Filner, saying instead that he gave the gift to the Democratic Party, which also denied knowing anything about the donation.
• A whole bunch of people, including Arabo, are interested in the City Council seat being vacated by Councilwoman Marti Emerald. (U-T)
El Cajon Mayor, Take Two
In part two of Dillon’s series, he spoke with current El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells, who tried to explain why he felt candidates supported by the Iraqi Christian community weren’t being elected in El Cajon. But Wells wasn’t completely satisfied with his own responses, so he called us back on Thursday to take another swing at explaining his thoughts. It’s not about ethnicity, Wells told Dillon. Politically active members of that community “tend to support alcohol interests,” Wells said. “I think people are concerned about their motivations and it gets wrapped up in this ethnicity thing because they all happen to be the same ethnicity.”
Our Solar Quest Answers Back
We’re diving in to the issue of solar power in San Diego and we recently asked a bunch of our readers about their solar usage. It turns out, a huge number of you reading this are doing so with assistance from solar panels: 35 percent of our respondents said they already have solar panels installed on their homes. A bunch more are thinking about it, but they still have nagging questions about whether solar is right for them. How long until I break even? And how long do solar panels last, anyways? Lisa Halverstadt dragged in some answers from the field.
On the break-even point, it really depends on your situation, Halverstadt notes. But experts told her some solar panels last up to 30 years, so you have a long while to try to break even on the deal.
The Learning Curve: Charter Schools Edition
Some people would prefer the students and resources that go to charter schools would just go to a normal public school. That’s the main argument: Charter schools, unaccountable and free to experiment, are sucking money out of the school system. That, and the teacher thing. “Because many charter school teachers aren’t unionized, their growing ranks pose a threat to the political power of teachers unions,” reports Mario Koran.
In Koran’s latest installment of The Learning Curve, he explains what the deal is with the charter school controversy, and how charter schools are kept accountable to standards by the districts that authorize them. “If there are any shenanigans at charter schools, it’s the authorizer’s job to investigate,” Koran writes.
Follow the Water: San Diego Explained
If you’ve been asked enough times by the drought police to stop watering your lawn, or to take shorter showers, you may be wondering: Where does all the water go? We San Diegans use a ton of water every year, but only a little bit of it flows down your bathtub drain. Ry Rivard joined NBC 7’s Catherine Garcia to go through all the categories of water usage in San Diego and break it down, bucket by bucket, in our most recent San Diego Explained.
Convention Center Leader: Please Stand Up?
Carl DeMaio wrote in to raise the alarm on a recent problem revealed at a May 7 City Council meeting. During the meeting, “the public learned the city had defaulted on its existing agreement to secure the only parcel of land left to allow for a contiguous expansion of the Convention Center,” DeMaio writes. Deciphering who was responsible for the decision, or where the breakdown occurred, is going to be tricky. But DeMaio thinks it’s important to pave the way for a convention expansion; much more important than, say, a new stadium. “With a $1 billion economic impact every year, the Convention Center generates more than $20 million a year for our city’s budget,” DeMaio writes.
• The County Board of Supervisors has claimed that any potential payouts resulting from accusations against Supervisor Dave Roberts won’t be paid from county funds. The U-T reports that it really isn’t that simple.
• A proposed law that would strengthen oversight over agencies like Civic San Diego cleared the California Assembly on Thursday, picking up support from San Diego’s Toni Atkins and Shirley Weber. (KPBS)
• Anthony’s Fish Grotto, long a fixture on the San Diego waterfront, may not have much time left at its current location on the harbor. (NBC 7)
• The city of San Diego wants to reduce emissions by promoting alternative transit options. But it’s unlikely to happen if SANDAG can’t get its transportation plan together. (KPBS)
• The granddaughter of San Diego’s very first chief of police is herself a detective in the organization her ancestors pioneered. (U-T)
• In 2014, San Diego ranked third for the most postal workers who were attacked by dogs. (U-T)
Don’t Bike to Work!
If you’re reading this in the wee hours of the Friday morning while you prepare to set out on “Bike to Work” day, you should go back to bed. Bike to Work Day 2015 was suddenly postponed on Thursday when it became clear San Diegans were going to be subjected to weather that wasn’t 70 degrees and sunny, the U-T reports. Yes, other cities’ Bike to Work events happen rain or shine, but we’re special here. Safety concerns have led organizers to push the official day to Friday, May 29. You will hopefully still be able to stop by over 100 “pit stops” on your ride to meet other riders and pick up cool T-shirts.