Journalism won’t die if you donate. Support Voice of San Diego today!

After a raucous event earlier this year, Rep. Darrell Issa was again met with opposition at a town hall meeting on June 3, this time in his stronghold of Orange County.

The Union-Tribune’s Joshua Stewart described the scene as full of “boos, picketing, some yelling and tough questions from constituents at a San Juan Capistrano high school (plus a 20-foot-tall inflatable chicken bearing a resemblance to President Donald Trump in the parking lot).”

Stewart reports that questions about Russia brought the room down twice. Issa also fielded questions about health care, nuclear waste at San Onofre, a potential toll road and air traffic patterns at John Wayne Airport.

That’s a bit of a change-up from Issa’s last town hall in Oceanside, where the only local issue that came up was nuclear waste – when Issa himself brought up the topic.

Saturday’s meeting was preceded by allegations that Issa was packing the audience with supporters, when he sent out postcards to residents in San Juan Capistrano, with a code to register for the town hall early.

The day before, Issa also held a short-notice meeting with constituents outside his office in Vista.

NBC7 reports the biggest issue at that event was President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate agreement, but people also asked about Republicans unifying behind Trump, Trump’s competency and Jared Kushner’s contacts with Russians.

ACLU: Vista’s Protest Restrictions Are Unconstitutional

The American Civil Liberties Union has stepped into a fight between the city of Vista and protesters outside Issa’s office, saying the city’s requirements for a permit to demonstrate violate the protesters’ free speech rights.

Ellen Montanari has been holding protests outside Issa’s office every week for months. When she went to renew her permit in April to hold the event throughout the summer, the city granted the permit for only one month, with a list of conditions about where and how Montanari could protest.

David Loy, legal director for the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties, says the city’s requirements are unconstitutional.

“The First Amendment means that the government can’t tell the people where and how to protest in a public forum, unless it passes a strict test. The city failed that test,” he wrote in a letter to Vista City Attorney Darold Pieper.

Loy outlined five specific concerns in a letter to Pieper, who responded this week.

“These permits outline safeguards placed in order to protect the welfare of those who may be affected by pedestrian and/or vehicle traffic, disabled access needs, etc,” Pieper said in a statement released by the city. “The permit in question was, the city believed, negotiated cooperatively with the protest organizer. The city will take the suggestions made in the letter received from the ACLU under consideration.”

Grand Jury Says Coaster Machines Not Up to the Task

The San Diego County Grand Jury says that ticket machines at Coaster and Sprinter stations are broken a lot more than North County Transit District and the agency’s maintenance contractor acknowledge.

In a report released last week, the Grand Jury found that not only was the contractor not reporting broken machines to NCTD, it wasn’t fixing them quickly, either. The result is that customers were unable to pay for tickets, and were frustrated with the service. One grand juror even missed his or her train.

The machines are supposed to accept cash and cards, but one of the problems, the report notes, is that NCTD considers the machine operable even if it only accepts one type of payment.

Compounding the problem, the machines don’t tell customers when a payment method is unavailable, and aren’t able to self-report issues to NCTD. Instead, NCTD relies on customers to report issues with the machines.

The Grand Jury noted that doesn’t happen very often, because riders literally have a train to catch.

The report also noted how difficult the 22-year old machines are to use, even when they’re working.

“However, if the customer inserts the card either too fast or too slow, does not insert it all the way into the slot, or inserts it at an improper angle, the card will fail to read,” the report says. “The Grand Jury learned that credit/debit cards must be inserted to the stop and then removed at a moderate speed to get the desired result.”

NCTD recently launched apps allowing people to buy tickets on their phones, but when I rode the Coaster on June 2, the first night of the Del Mar Fair, riders who planned on buying their ticket through the apps for Android and iPhone said neither were working.

There are two official apps available in app stores when searching for “NCTD”: COASTER Mobile Tickets, and the more recently launched Compass Cloud SDMTS & NCTD.

It’s unclear whether both apps are supported, but the agency’s website now directs people to Compass Cloud. The option to purchase online was removed from the agency’s website in January.

A spokeswoman for NCTD said the agency is still preparing a response to the Grand Jury report.

NCTD also appears to be fielding a number of complaints over the new track, and third platform at the Oceanside Transit Center.

Also in the News

The Oceanside Unified School District is also switching to by-district elections. (OUSD)

Del Mar has resumed progress on the streetscape plan to improve a downtown section of Camino Del Mar for bikes and pedestrians. The plan was put on hold last year, because things were moving “too fast.” (Del Mar, The Coast News)

Plans to build sand dunes along Coast Highway in Encinitas are headed to the Coastal Commission. (Union-Tribune)

A Carlsbad pastor pleaded not guilty to multiple counts of molesting a child. (Union-Tribune)

 Route 78 will be closed for 10 days between Ramona and Escondido so work crews can stabilize a hill. (Union-Tribune)

 A San Marcos company admitted to dumping waste from portable toilets into the city’s drains. (Union-Tribune)

LA Weekly highlighted several North County restaurants on this list of the best seaside eateries between San Diego and L.A. (LA Weekly)

Ruarri Serpa is a freelance writer in Oceanside. Email him at and find him on Twitter at @RuarriS.

Ruarri Serpa

Ruarri Serpa is a freelance writer in Oceanside. Email him at and find him on Twitter at @RuarriS.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.