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San Diego Scene 1.2011

The iconic neon Kensington sign is back on the street — or rather, above the street — Adams Avenue. It’s actually a replica of the original sign that was first suspended above the thoroughfare in 1954 by the Kensington Park Business Association. The Kensington-Talmadge Community Association renovated the sign in early 1990, only to see it become unhinged shortly thereafter from high winds. It was put back up in August of that year. The sign was taken down in October 2008 for maintenance and, after a prolonged discussion, the community association decided to purchase — at a cost of $80,000— a replica of the original. The county contributed $40,000 to that cost from the Neighborhood Reinvestment Program on the recommendation of Supervisor Ron Roberts, and the Kensington-Talmadge Community Association secured the rest in a fundraising campaign involving donations from more than 300 individuals, families, businesses and organizations. The new sign was installed in November. Harold Koenig, president of the Kensington-Talmadge Community Association, says the organization pays for sign upkeep from membership dues. The monthly electrical bill runs around $30.
“The original sign swung in the wind, but this one won’t,” says Koenig. “The cables are under very high tension. It’s quite an engineering feat.” Louise Guarnotta, the association’s membership chair, says money to purchase the original sign — $1,300 — was raised by the Kensington Park Business Association from a Christmas party.

Freshman Assemblywoman Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) has been named Majority Whip of the state Assembly by Speaker John Pérez (D-Los Angeles). It’s a key position in the Democratic Caucus leadership. Atkins, a former member of the San Diego City Council, was elected to the 76th Assembly District seat in the November election. The district includes the central and northern San Diego communities of Clairemont, Bay Park, Pacific Beach, Ocean Beach, Point Loma, Tierrasanta, Serra Mesa, Hillcrest, University Heights, North Park, South Park, Linda Vista, Mission Valley, City Heights, Old Town, Normal Heights, Mission Hills and Downtown San Diego. “Assemblymember Atkins prioritizes working families,” said Pérez. “She has been a fierce advocate for jobs, and I look forward to working with her to get California back to work.” Atkins also was appointed vice chair of the Housing and Community Development Committee; and a member of the Health, Government Organization, Veterans Affairs, and Judiciary Committees.

How will the new Central Library impact Downtown? Mel Katz, chairman of the San Diego Public Library Foundation, will supply an answer at a Jan. 4 “Sound Bites” program at the Downtown Information Center in Horton Plaza. The Centre City Development Corp. invites attendees to bring a lunch to the program. It will go from noon to 1 p.m.


Kris Michell, chief of staff for Mayor Jerry Sanders, has been named president of the Downtown San Diego Partnership and will assume the post on Feb. 14. Michell, who has been chief of staff since 2005, succeeds Shirley Horton, who resigned in August. She will remain with the mayor’s office through Jan. 14. “Kris Michell is a dynamic leader and a respected professional,” said Partnership Chairman Scott Maloni.  “Kris has a long history of building diverse coalitions across the region to benefit major programs and projects. Her experience will help strategically position the Partnership as the leading advocate for Downtown. Enhancing downtown benefits the entire region.” Before joining the Sanders administration, Michell served as vice president of the Sickels Group. She previously served as vice president at Marsh Risk and Insurance Services. She also played a role in the successful development of Petco Park and surrounding redevelopment as vice president of governmental relations for the San Diego Padres.
Prior to her work for the Padres, Michell served in the administration of Mayor Susan Golding as director of community outreach, director of special projects and chief of staff. She also worked as community affairs director for the Building Industry Association. She’s a native San Diegan and earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from San Diego State University.


San Diego-based Bumble Bee Foods, which employs 1,700 employees in eight locations in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico — including 130 in San Diego — has been acquired by London-based Lion Capital LLP, a private equity firm, for $980 million. Bumble Bee, the leading producer of seafood in North America, was sold by its owner, Centre Partners Management LLC. Chris Lischewski, president and CEO of Bumble Bee, said the global headquarters will remain in San Diego. In the U.S., Bumble Bee has the No. 1 position in the premium albacore category, the No. 2 position in the overall tuna segment and is the No. 1 provider of canned salmon and specialty canned seafood. In Canada, Clover Leaf is the overall leader across the canned seafood category. The company produces and markets shelf-stable tuna, salmon, sardines, clams and other specialty seafood products under the Bumble Bee, Clover Leaf, Brunswick, Snow’s, Beach Cliff, King Oscar and Sweet Sue brands.


Three San Diego-area lawyers have been elevated to Superior Court judgeships by Gov. Schwarzenegger — Sharon B. Majors-Lewis of Chula Vista and Michael S. Groch and Steven E. Stone of San Diego. Majors-Lewis, 62, has served as the judicial appointments secretary for the governor’s office since 2007. She worked for the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office as a chief deputy district attorney from 2005 to 2007 and as a deputy district attorney from 1987 to 2005. She was an appellate attorney for Appellate Defenders Inc. and was a sole practitioner from 1986 to 1987. She earned a Juris Doctorate degree from National University School of Law.
Groch, 44, has been a deputy district attorney in San Diego since 1993. Prior to that, he served as a deputy district attorney for the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office from 1992 to 1993. He earned his law degree from  California Western School of Law.
Stone, 39, has been an assistant U.S. attorney since 2002. He served as an associate for Pillsbury, Winthrop from 2000 to 2002, Parker, Milliken, Clark, O’Hara and Samuelian from 1999 to 2000 and Sonnenschein, Nath and Rosenthal from 1996 to 1999. Stone earned a law degree from the University of Southern California School of Law.

Robert S. Gerber, partner in the Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton law firm, has been presented the firm’s 2010 Pro Bono Attorney of the Year Award and also was named Sheppard Mullin’s Pro Bono Attorney of the Decade. Gerber has been chair of the pro bono committee from 2001 through 2010. The honors recognize the community service work done by the firm’s attorneys and Gerber, who is based in the San Diego/Del Mar office. Gerber has handled dozens of pro bono cases in cooperation with a variety of San Diego and Los Angeles-based pro bono referral agencies, including landlord/tenant, breach of contract, family law, free speech, administrative law proceedings, arbitrations, mediations, trials and appeals. Sheppard Mullin experienced a 400 percent increase in its attorneys’ donation of indigent pro bono hours during Gerber’s tenure as pro bono chair, the firm said.

Wayne Darbeau had been serving as the interim president and CEO of the Port of San Diego since the resignation of Charles Wurster in September, but now he’s got the job permanently. “We considered a nationwide search for this position, but we realized that the person who has the best qualities to move this organization forward was right here,” said Robert “Dukie” Valderrama, chairman of the Board of Port Commissioners. Darbeau was the port’s vice president of administration before his elevation to the interim post. He has been with the organization since 1998 and has held leadership positions including senior director, director and administrator. Darbeau earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Massachusetts, a master’s degree in international relations from the University of San Diego and an MBA in business from the University of Redlands.

Construction has officially begun on the new $394 million Naval Hospital at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. The hospital will be built on a 70-acre site near the south entrance gate of the base, just north of Oceanside. A joint venture design-build team of Clark Construction Group, McCarthy Building Cos. Inc. and architectural firm HKS Inc. was selected for the construction. Between 700 and 1,000 construction workers are expected to work on the project. Clark and McCarthy expect more than 65 percent participation by small businesses. The new hospital, financed by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, will be a 500,000-square-foot, multi-level building that will accommodate inpatient medical facilities with 54 patient rooms and up to 60 beds, ancillary departments, emergency care, primary care, specialty care clinics and support spaces for non-ambulatory patients who require stays longer than 24 hours. Construction will include a central utilities plant, a 1,500-space, multi-level parking structure and surface parking areas. 
HKS Architects Inc. of Los Angeles is the project architect and HDR Inc. of San Diego is the master architect.

Artisan Design Group (ADG) will be honored with five design awards from the National Association of Homebuilders in January at the International Builders Show in Orlando, Fla. ADG will receive an award the “Best Design Center/Urban Studio” category for its own Downtown San Diego showroom at Ash Street and Pacific Highway. ADG’s model home projects will be honored for “Best Merchandising of a Model over $1 Million” and “Best Interior Merchandising of Model Under $300,000.” It received accolades for the Sapphire Tower, Penthouse B model, which it created for Urban Housing Partners and Centurion Partners in Downtown San Diego. The 2,823-square-foot, move-in ready penthouse model was ordered after ADG’s original penthouse model was sold fully furnished for $2.2 million – the highest sale in the 92101 area in 2010. In the Best Model Under $300,000 category, ADG will be honored for three model homes it created for Holmes Homes in the master-planned community of Daybreak in the Salt Lake Valley of Utah.

The annual SDSU Writers’ Conference will be held Jan. 28-30 at the Doubletree Hotel in Mission Valley. The conference, hosted by SDSU’s College of Extended Studies, is among the largest of its kind on the West Coast. It includes one-on-one consultations and hands-on editing assistance. Participants will learn ways to sharpen their writing skills and make connections with editors and agents of fiction, nonfiction, and screenwriting while learning how to publish in the traditional manner or on the Internet. Consultation appointments and advance reading appointments are also offered for $40 apiece with some restrictions. Cost is $365 before Jan. 3 or $399 after that date and does not include consultation appointment or advance reading appointment fees. Times are Jan. 28 from 6-7:30 p.m., Jan. 29 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Jan. 30 from 9 a.m.-3:20 p.m.

The second San Diego Social Media Symposium presented by Nuffer, Smith, Tucker and SDSU’s Digital & Social Media Collaborative will be held Jan. 28 at SDSU’s Parma Payne Goodall Alumni Center. The event will provide an opportunity to discuss where social media is today and its future. Peter Shankman, the founder of Help A Report Out, will deliver the symposium’s keynote address. The symposium also will feature four panels and a working lunch at which attendees will be able to discuss a wide range of social media topics. Panelists include representatives from the San Diego Chargers, San Diego Zoo, Sharp HealthCare, Pechanga, Life Technologies, San Diego Symphony and the San Diego MOMfia. Panel topics include: How to Identify and Energize Your Most Loyal Fans Beyond Listening; Using Social Media to Make Real Changes to Your Business; Social Media Case Studies: What Worked, What Didn’t; What’s Next in Social Media — From New Technologies to New Trends. Attendees who register by Dec. 31, 2010, will receive the early bird discount of $99 per person. Starting Jan. 1, ticket prices will be $129 per person. PR Newswire and WestGlen are sponsoring the event. For more, visit

Mainly Mozart’s Fiesta Italiana, a celebration of Mozart’s travels through Italy, will be held Jan. 16 at the Westgate Hotel in Downtown San Diego from 3 to 7 p.m. It is the organization’s largest single fundraising event of the year. Proceeds will be used for the Mainly Mozart Festival and the organization’s educational outreach programs. Tickets are $225 per person and can be purchased by calling Mainly Mozart at (619) 239-0100 or by visiting

Professionals who serve in the estate planning area are invited to get an “image upgrade” offered Jan. 20 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Country Club of Rancho Bernardo at 12280 Greens East Road in Rancho Bernardo. Attendees will be assisted in updating their biographies and professional photographers will shoot photos. The completed biographies and photos can be used to enhance business relationships via social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Meetup, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube along with blogs, Websites and more traditional printed marketing materials. The sponsors are trustee executor Marguerite Lorenz and the Rancho Bernardo/North County Estate Planning Group, Southwest Riverside Estate Planning Group and Del Mar Estate Planning Group. General admission is $99. To register, visit

San Diego author Jennifer Coburn will host a “Publish Your Book” workshop Jan. 11 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in the Benjamin Branch Library at 5188 Zion Ave. (at Waring Road) in Allied Gardens. Coburn will share practical steps to getting published, including how to get an agent and how to shop your manuscript, and will describe the publishing process and post-publication promotion. Coburn has published four novels and contributed to four literary anthologies. Her first book, “The Wife of Reilly,” is in development for a feature film. The workshop is free.

A crowd of thousands is expected at the 13th annual Sheila R. Hardin San Diego Multicultural Festival Jan. 15 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. along the Martin Luther King Jr. Promenade in Downtown San Diego. The Promenade is between Fourth Avenue and Market Street on Harbor Drive, across from the San Diego Convention Center. Featured will be music and dance performances, storytelling and children’s activities and a wide range of food and retail vendors. The event was renamed for Sheila R. Hardin, a long-time community relations manager for Centre City Development Corp. and the driving force behind the festival. Hardin died in April. This year’s event will also incorporate a variety of cultural and learning institutions as part of the Downtown Education Fair, which allows attendees to find out more about learning opportunities throughout Downtown. A free drawing for prizes including Amtrak Surfliner passes, restaurant and local business gift cards is part of the fun, too. Sponsors of the festival include CCDC, SDG&E, the county of San Diego, Westfield Horton Plaza, Union Bank of California, Procurement Concepts Inc., San Diego Community College District, Amtrak, Ampco System Parking and media partners KUSI Television, radio stations Magic 92.5 and Z90.3 and San Diego CityBeat.

Kyocera’s manufacturing facility in Tijuana has produced its 1 millionth solar module, an achievement celebrated by more than 400 of its employees during a company program last month. Company officials said the millionth module testifies to Kyocera’s early involvement in solar manufacturing. It was in December 2004 —nearly 30 years after manufacturing its first solar modules in Japan — that the company started module production in Tijuana. Kyocera expanded that facility with a second plant in 2009, increasing the capacity in Tijuana to 240 megawatts per year. In June 2010, the company began its first U.S. production of solar modules, with an initial capacity target of 30MW per year in San Diego.
Solar energy is now one of Kyocera’s fastest-growing businesses globally, with the company targeting global production capacity of 1,000 megawatts annually (equal to one gigawatt) by March 31, 2013. In addition to the operations in San Diego and Tijuana, Kyocera currently has solar module manufacturing facilities in Japan, China and the Czech Republic. The one-gigawatt capacity will allow the company to supply 3.5-kilowatt solar-electric systems for about 285,000 homes each year.
More than 20 Kyocera facilities worldwide already incorporate their own on-site solar electric generating systems, including a 214-kilowatt Solar Grove parking lot in San Diego and a 100-kilowatt rooftop system in Tijuana. “Our Mexico facility’s one-millionth module will go on display to symbolize how far we’ve come locally in just six years,” said Steve Hill, president of Kyocera Solar Inc. Kyocera established U.S. operations in 1969. Kyocera Group companies currently employ about 4,000 people in the United States.

Anthony R. Pico, who served as tribal chairman of the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians for more than two decades, has returned as chairman of the Alpine tribe. He and six others were elected to the Tribal Council in voting in December. Also elected were Robert “Cita” Welch Jr., vice chairman; Anita Uqualla, secretary; Sam Q. Brown, treasurer; and council members Greybuck Espinoza, Victor Woods and Bear Cuero. They will take office Jan. 3 and will serve two-year terms.
Under Pico’s previous leadership, the Viejas Band achieved national and state recognition for its economic and social progress. He was a driving force and spokesman in the landmark California ballot initiatives in 1998-2000 that brought economic growth to many of the 107 federally recognized tribes in the state and San Diego County. Pico served as co-chair of the Proposition 1A initiative to amend the California Constitution, enabling tribes to engage in gaming on tribal land. Viejas was a leader in promoting inter-tribal business ventures, most notably the establishment of Four Fires and Three Fires LLC, tribal coalitions in the development of Marriott Residence Inns in Washington, D.C. and Sacramento. Pico is a director of Borrego Springs Bank, one of the first American Indian-owned banks in the United States. He was named the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) Man of the Year in 1997 and received the organization’s 2007 John Kieffer Award demonstrating a lifetime of achievement and commitment to Indian gaming.  Pico is also a recipient of the 2008 Award for Public Service from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars of the Smithsonian Institution. He served as a U.S. Army paratrooper in Vietnam.

The Coronado Historical Association will participate in a national celebration of the Centennial of Naval Aviation with the unveiling of a themed museum exhibit — “Wings of Gold: Coronado and Naval Aviation” — on Feb. 4. Wings of Gold will be showcased in one of the main galleries of the museum and will feature rare photographs and documents such as an early pilot license signed by Orville Wright. An original pilot’s uniform, the helmet of one of the first female naval aviators and a national insignia that flew on aircraft from 1919-1940 are other items that will be on view. Also on display will be a scale model of the original seaplane designed and built by pioneer aviator and inventor Glenn Curtiss and flown off the shores of Coronado. He built the model to successfully defend his design in a patent lawsuit. It includes Curtiss’ handwritten notes and a wooden case he built to carry the model into the courtroom. It was in 1911 that the Navy asked Curtiss to train one its officers to fly. Curtiss chose a sandy, scrub-covered island in San Diego Bay as the location and Coronado became the birthplace of naval aviation. Wings of Gold has been funded in part by the community enhancement program of the county Board of Supervisors. The exhibit opens in conjunction with the national Centennial of Naval Aviation celebration that will kick off at NAS North Island on Feb. 12. It will be displayed through September. Admission is free.

The future of the e-Book versus the traditional printed page, along with the many e-Reader products on the market, will be explored at the next SD/PEN meeting at the Joyce Beers Community Center, 4065 Vermont St., in the Uptown Shopping Center in Hillcrest, on Jan. 20 at 6:30 p.m. Copy editor, publisher, and avid reader Stephanie Glidden, an SD/PEN member, will share her experience of transitioning from the hardcopy world of books and newspapers to her new passion for the Kindle, Amazon’s wireless reading device. A representative from Barnes & Noble will join Glidden to discuss the features and benefits of their e-Book reader, Nook. A Borders representative will introduce the features of their flagship e-Reader, Kobo, and present other e-Reader products by Sony and Cruz that Borders carries. Meetings of the San Diego Professional Editors Network (SD/PEN) are free to members and $10 for nonmembers. For more, visit

Yolanda Walther-Meade and her daughter, Yolanda S. Walther Meade, have been named Dos Aguilas (Two Eagles) honorees for 2010 by the San Diego Natural History Museum for their contributions to cross-border cooperation and environmental understanding. They will receive the award at a gala from 6 to midnight on Feb. 5 at the museum, which celebrates the years of binational reseach and education collaboration that has occurred between the Southern California and Baja California regions.
Yolanda Walther-Meade is a volunteer in San Diego and Tijuana and co-founder and board member of Fundacion Internacional de la Communidad, the first community foundation in Baja California. She has served the Natural History Museum in many capacities in the last decade and has been involved with the University of San Diego in various volunteer positions for over 25 years, including 20 years as a trustee.
Yolanda Selene Walther-Meade, a consultant specializing in Latino public relations and marketing, social media/branding, event production and hosting, is also a founding board member of Fundacion Internacional de la Comunidad and the Boys and Girls Club of Mexico. She has been acclaimed as “Voice of the Border” for her interpretation for the presidents of Mexico and Spain, Nobel Laureates and Pulitzer Prize awardees. Yolanda is host and special events producer of the San Diego Latino Film Festival.

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We Want Your Opinions on San Diego’s Big Issues In the coming months, Probosky Research (one of California’s leading opinion research firms) will continue its partnership with SD METRO to survey San Diego residents about topics of interest to our readers. We’d like to throw open the door for suggestions for topics. What do you want to know? What do you think you know, but aren’t sure? What are you certain you know, but want to prove it beyond doubt? Ideally, we’d like to see questions that have to do with public policy.

Some areas may include Mayor Filner’s first 100 days job performance, should the city be responsible for economic growth and the creation of new jobs, how important are infrastructure improvements to our daily lives (streets and bridges, etc.), how important is water independence, how satisfied are residents with public transit or how do city residents value Balboa Park and other open spaces? Do you believe the City Council should revive the Plaza de Panama plan for Balboa Park?

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