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    Schoolyard Dash highlights All-Schools Fair
    Jan 28, 2015 | 2559 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    Participants start the 1-mile kids run as part of the Friends of Pacific Beach Schools Schoolyard Dash at DeAnza Cove, Mission Bay on Sunday.
    Participants start the 1-mile kids run as part of the Friends of Pacific Beach Schools Schoolyard Dash at DeAnza Cove, Mission Bay on Sunday.
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    The Mission Bay Cluster held its All-Schools Fair and Schoolyard Dash 5K on Sunday, Jan. 25, at De Anza Cove at Mission Bay. The Schoolyard Dash 5K Run kicked off the morning full of fun activities with information booths, student bands and presentations from the schools. The second annual event drew more than 450 participants and raised funds for Friends of Pacific Beach Secondary Schools, which supports programs at Pacific Beach Middle School and Mission Bay High School. "We began this event so that the entire community could join in, interact and have fun together,” said Kim Schoettle. “We had been holding auctions for many years prior to this event and decided that we needed to begin something new and different to energize our volunteers and bring the community together. “This year we added the Mission Bay Cluster schools to the event so it involved thousands of students and their families." Schoolyard Dash 5K place-winners in all age groups include: Elementary School boys: Harold Gildehaus, Jacob Adler, Henry Gildehaus. Elementary School girls: Alexa Gibson, Lauren Pelot, Sydney Piquilloud. Middle School boys: Nicholas David Arch, Miguel Ayala Ochoa, Ian Briski. Middle School girls: Cecilia Almazon, Mariana Merlos, Songa Cayetano. High School men’s: Jason Watts, Chris Varela, Tosh Knight. High School women’s: Arianna Linley, Priscilla Tamborini, Katie Baker. Adult men: Andrew Bruck, Brian Wigley, Ernie Remillard. Adult Women: Margaret Ditchburn, Michelle Mead, Alice Kim. All results are available online at www.schoolyarddash.org. The All-Schools Fair presented all of the public schools in the Mission Bay Cluster. Barnard Asian Language Academy, Pacific Beach Elementary, Crown Point Junior Music Academy, Kate Sessions Elementary, Pacific Beach Middle School, and Mission Bay High School. Sponsors included Schoettle Financial, Ocean Park Inn, Brown & Winters, Nightingale Music, The Patio Restaurant, Broken Yolk, Bird Rock Coffee, High Performance Movement, YMCA, and Movin Shoes. Woodstock's Pizza held a pre-race carbo-load dinner and auction the night before with 25 percent of sales going back to the schools.
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    PB street musician to celebrate his 1,001st performance in Gangsta style
    by DAVE SCHWAB
    Jan 28, 2015 | 296 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    Taco and his new buddy Gangsta go for a ride.
    Taco and his new buddy Gangsta go for a ride.
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    Street musician Sam Schildkraut and his sidekick, Yorkie-Chihuahua (YoWaWa) mix Gangsta, will celebrate their 1,001st performance outside Skechers shoes at 4475 Mission Blvd. from 9 to 11 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 9. “We’ll both be dressed in our tuxes,” said Schildkraut of the special occasion. It’s been a year since the unlikely pair was first featured in the Beach & Bay Press. Both remain active, vital and increasingly familiar in their adopted beach community. Sam has gained notoriety for playing his sax while accompanied by Gangsta. And Gangsta is making friends, like his new buddy “Taco,” whom he hangs out with now whenever Taco’s owner Doug DePrima drops by. DePrima said Taco and Gangsta are “homies.” “They go wild for each other,” DePrima said, adding the two pet owners and their charges met at McDonald’s and have been friends ever since. DePrima gives kudos to Schildkraut for spending time with and promoting his “sidekick.” “Sam takes Gangsta to L.A. to take pictures with movie stars; he’s very busy with him,” DePrima said. DePrima hopes some of Gangsta’s “street cred” will rub off on Taco. In fact, some of it already has. “Taco does a dance on his hind legs that makes people laugh. That would make me rich if I were able to get him to do it on command,” said DePrima. “He’s the kind of dog who walks down the boardwalk and people just crack a smile when they see him.” A transplant from New York, Schildkraut came to San Diego to pursue his dream of becoming an actor. He’d always wanted a dog. He found one in Gangsta, a “furry frankfurter” he encountered while in a San Bernardino hotel parking lot and ultimately adopted after finding out he was a stray. Though strangers in a strange land, the man and his “son,” as Schildkraut refers to Gangsta, have found their niche in PB performing nightly outside the corner shoe store. It’s an experience that’s schooled Schildkraut on the human condition. The saxophone player said he’s witnessed the good, the bad and the ugly in people standing on the corner of Garnet Avenue and Mission Boulevard. “People will tip you or chat with you even if they can’t tip — that’s all good,” Schildkraut said. “But then I’ve had people, men and women, who’ve shoved me or wanted to throw their weight around or looked down at me.” Earning his living as a street musician has not dissuaded Schildkraut from his ultimate goals, which not only includes personal improvement and success but gaining notoriety for Gangsta as well. Schildkraut wants to pen a book about Gangsta, in a format yet to be determined, with the title “Gangsta: A three-pound puppy lost in the ‘hood.” With a Gangsta tome in the works, Schildkraut is forging ahead with his Gangsta “calendars,” which feature the mutt mugging with more than 100 famous folks, including the likes of astronaut Buzz Aldrin as well as actors like Sylvester Stallone, Cheech Marin and Barbara Eden of “I Dream of Jeannie” fame. Schildkraut is also looking forward to celebrating his 1,001st night as a street saxophone player. “If people have ever appreciated my work, hopefully they’ll come by and say hi,” he said.
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    Volunteers count the homeless in Pacific Beach
    by THOMAS MELVILLE
    Jan 28, 2015 | 658 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    In Mission Beach, a makeshift shelter is spotted near the Green Flash sculpture.
    In Mission Beach, a makeshift shelter is spotted near the Green Flash sculpture.
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    Cold, dark, and early. On Thomas Avenue, the lights are glowing at Pacific Beach United Methodist Church and nearly 40 people, bundled up in sweatshirts, hats and scarves, are huddled around Imelda McClendon in the community room. McClendon, the senior project analyst with the Regional Task Force on the Homeless, gives out last minute instructions and maps to the volunteers. It’s 3:30 a.m. and, everyone is a little bleary eyed, but eager to get moving. “Make sure to mark on the map where you see a person, but do not approach them,” she says. “We’re looking for unsheltered homeless this morning.” On Friday, Jan. 23, the Regional Task Force on the Homeless collaborated with local community groups throughout San Diego County to conduct the annual Point-in-Time Homeless Count, known as WeAllCount. According to McClendon, the count enables the region to better understand the scope, impact and potential solutions to homelessness, and empowers the community to qualify for funding that is essential to addressing the issue. At about 3:45 a.m., the volunteers pair up, take their maps, and head out to count the homeless. Marina Baroff, 60, who lives in La Jolla, and Courtney Hammett, 27, from Ocean Beach, receive the boardwalk route, which starts at Pacific Beach Drive, heads south to Belmont Park and then back north up the bay walk. Baroff, who is a retired health care executive, and Hammett, who is a social worker, are concerned about the homelessness issue and volunteered to help try and make a difference. “I was surprised to see so many homeless when I moved here from Chicago five years ago,” Hammett said. “It’s an issue I want to know more about and learn what can be done to help.” In the first 15 minutes down the boardwalk, the duo identifies two homeless people on the beach and one riding a skateboard. In Mission Beach, a makeshift shelter is spotted near the Green Flash sculpture. But on the walk north the pair does not see any homeless. “I’m surprised we didn’t see more, but maybe that’s a good thing,” Baroff said. “It’s pretty cold so hopefully they have found some shelter.” In the coastal communities there are no permanent homeless shelters, but during the winter churches and other non-profit organizations open temporary shelters. “We don’t have the numbers of homeless that they have downtown,” said McClendon, who has run the WeAllCount in PB for four years. “The homeless know where to find places and makeshift shelters to be able to sleep through the night. But we do the best we can to count them.” At about 5 a.m. volunteers started arriving back at the church to give McClendon their maps and count totals. Over the weekend, the Regional Task Force on the Homeless also conducted interviews with unsheltered homeless to find out more information on their various situations. That data will be compiled into a report and used to help secure federal funding for more services and programs to assist the homeless. According to the Regional Task Force on the Homeless’ 2014 San Diego Regional Homeless Profile Summary, at a single point in time in January 2014, about 8,500 men, women, and children were homeless in the County of San Diego. A little less than half of them (47 percent) slept in a place not meant for human habitation on that night. The report estimated that 85 percent (1,698 out of 2,007) of persons in homeless families were in a SD Regional Homeless Shelter program during last year’s count, while only 37 percent (2,796 out of 6,472) of homeless adult individuals were sheltered on that night. The 2014 report concluded that veterans made up 17 percent of all homeless adults (sheltered and unsheltered); and that approximately 26 percent of San Diego’s homeless adults suffer from some form of severe mental illness, while 19 percent are considered chronic substance abusers. After volunteering for her first homeless count, Hammett said she could empathize with people who have fallen on hard times and have found themselves out in the cold. “It also makes me appreciate how things have gone for me and how thankful I am of everything I have in my life,” she said.
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    SeaWorld argue virtues, demerits on planned expansion of orca habitat
    by DAVE SCHWAB
    Jan 16, 2015 | 27523 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    The new orca enclosure at SeaWorld will be expanded by 350 feet across.
    The new orca enclosure at SeaWorld will be expanded by 350 feet across.
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    Is SeaWorld’s plan to nearly double the size of its killer whale enclosure a step forward or a token response to negative feedback from the documentary “Blackfish,” which called the marine park’s business practices into question? That debate was rejoined Jan. 6, when SeaWorld representatives and animal-rights activists from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) renewed their debate over the marine park’s “Blue World Project” at a meeting of the Mission Bay Park Committee in Mission Beach. Announced last year, the project is a master-planned expansion of the park’s killer whale environment. “We’re going to replace the existing pool in the same place, making it 50 feet deep and 350 feet across,” said SeaWorld spokesman Jerry Howes about the park’s expansion plans to reconfigure the orca habitat by 2018. Details on the project, an informational item only before the park committee, will be presented to the California Coastal Commission for review later this year. Animal-rights activists view SeaWorld’s expansion plans as a negative. “This is clearly a drop in the bucket, a desperate maneuver by SeaWorld to turn back the hands of time when people are learning about the suffering that these orcas go through in captivity,” argued PETA campaigner and spokesman Matt Bruce during broadcast interviews prior to the committee hearing. “It is fluff for visitors and does nothing for the orcas who are still confined to small, barren concrete tanks that they have to swim in in circles with chemically treated water. Even if you make the prison bigger, it’s still a prison.” A handful of PETA protestors stood outside and inside the Santa Clara Recreation Center, where the park committee meeting was held, holding signs protesting orcas being held in captivity, which activists contend is a “failed business model.” “We’re kind of changing our business model right now, building twice as big a habitat for the killer whales, making sure they continue to stay happy, breed and their numbers grow,” answered Mike Scarpuzzi, SeaWorld’s vice president of zoological operations, who defended SeaWorld’s expansion plans as “the best thing for the animals.” Scarpuzzi characterized PETA opposition as “radicals with an extreme point of view that we don’t accept.” Asked about the timing of the orca habitat expansion, coming in the wake of public blowback from “Blackfish” and declining profits from SeaWorld’s three U.S. marine parks, Scarpuzzi said it was “more coincidental than anything. “I’ve been here almost 40 years, and there’s always ebbs and flows in any business,” he said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that SeaWorld is going to be strong and we’re going to continue.” Scarpuzzi added this is the fourth planned expansion of SeaWorld’s orca habitat. He pointed out development of large-scale projects like Blue Ocean “take time,” adding that “we’ve been talking about this expansion for many years.” PETA has challenged the ethics of keeping killer whales captive and profiting from their alleged commercial exploitation in public shows, brought to a flashpoint by the critical documentary “Blackfish.” Bruce noted killer whales dive up to 1,000 feet deep in the wild and swim up to 100 miles a day. “They would have to swim 1,500 laps in their expanded tanks to approximate what they would swim in the wild,” Bruce said. “So this isn’t anything to do with making lives better for these animals.” Scarpuzzi added SeaWorld is now into its fourth generation of orcas bred in captivity in the park, noting the most recent baby was born just 32 days ago. “Killer whales don’t breed if they’re unhappy,” Scarpuzzi contended. “These animals were born and raised here, and now they have their families here.” Asked his impression of “Blackfish,” Scarpuzzi described it as “one truth… Yes, somebody died, but all the rest… is a lot misrepresentations and, frankly, a lot of lies.” Scarpuzzi said the marine park’s main concern is “about our animals and giving them the best environment we possibly can.” Bruce attacked the Blue World Project labeling it as “unnatural” and not in the best interest of killer whales. “If SeaWorld is really interested in changing their image and doing the right thing by these animals, they would release them to seaside sanctuaries, where they can feel the ocean surround them and where they can hear the cries of distant relatives and maybe one day swim free with them,” Bruce said. Asked about SeaWorld’s characterization of them as “radical,” Bruce replied, “There’s nothing radical about caring for these animals, wanting them to be left in the wild to live their lives as nature intended. What is radical is capturing these animals in the wild, artificially inseminating them and forcing them to live in small tanks that are the human equivalent of a bathtub, then forcing them to do tricks for crowds of screaming people.”
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    Guilty plea entered in CHP vehicle theft
    Jan 16, 2015 | 665 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    A handcuffed Casaundra Rose Lane drove off in a CHP vehicle like this one.
    A handcuffed Casaundra Rose Lane drove off in a CHP vehicle like this one.
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    A female prisoner who drove off in a California Highway Patrol vehicle in Mission Bay while handcuffed pleaded guilty Jan. 6 to theft of an emergency services vehicle. Casaundra Rose Lane, 27, also pleaded guilty to felony evasion of police with reckless driving during the Nov. 6 incident, which ended after she collided with three cars at Friars Road and Qualcomm Way in Mission Valley. Lane also pleaded guilty to two counts of assault with a deadly weapon—the CHP vehicle she drove off in. She slipped her handcuffed hands in front of her and slid from the back into the front seat. The seats did not have bars between them. Lane agreed to accept a prison sentence of four years and eight months, said Deputy District Attorney Michael Runyon. Sentencing was set for Feb. 24 before San Diego Superior Court Judge Robert O’Neill. “It’s really a bad idea to steal a patrol vehicle,” said Runyon to reporters afterwards. “Theft of a police car is certainly unusual.” The theft drew a heavy law enforcement presence, as there was a rifle inside the car. Although Lane was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, that count was dismissed Jan.. 6. Runyon said Lane didn’t gain access to the rifle. The incident started after Lane was arrested for auto theft when a CHP officer found that a stolen vehicle had collided with street signs in Mission Bay. Lane was placed in the back seat of the vehicle, and after the officer stepped away, she drove off. The officer fired shots as she drove off. Runyon said Lane drove more than 70 miles an hour, while still handcuffed, on Interstate 5 to state Route 163 and to Interstate 8 until she struck three vehicles in Mission Valley. The car was disabled, and Lane was arrested. One man in a car Lane struck was injured. Lane remains in the Las Colinas Women’s Detention Facility on $255,000 bail. She has a previous conviction for felony possession of heroin. – Neal Putnam
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