MTS approves $448 million budget that funds current service but halts expansion

The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System’s Board of Directors has approved a $448.2 million budget for the upcoming fiscal year, fully funding current service levels on trolley lines and more than 100 bus routes but putting planned expansions on hold. The fiscal 2025 budget also accounts for MTS security improvements added earlier in the year, including the addition of transit officers. “I am pleased we adopted a budget that fully maintains current service levels, keeps our fares affordable and provides a critical service enabling residents to access healthcare, jobs, education and more,” Stephen Whitburn, MTS board chair and a San Diego city council member, said in a statement Thursday. “I’d like to thank staff and my colleagues on the board for working together to balance this year’s budget and anticipate fiscal challenges the agency could face in the future.” The budget approved does not include planned trolley and bus service increases which depend on $284 million in state grant funding — frozen by Sacramento as California continues to balance its budget. “If the funds are released, MTS is ready to advance the service enhancements as

Battle of the experts: Trump legal backers facing off against government over special counsel’s ‘legitimacy’

FORT PIERCE —  Proceedings before U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon in the U.S. government’s classified documents case against former President Donald Trump Friday morning sounded more like a law school colloquium than a defense-prosecution hearing on a motion to dismiss. Emil Bove, a former prosecutor in the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York, carried the arguments for the defense, emphasizing that there is no statue that allowed Special Counsel Jack Smith to be appointed to investigate the reports from the National Archives that Trump had potentially classified papers at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach. The discussion on Friday veered from the question of who acts as Smith’s boss to decades-old precedents involving previous special prosecutors. At one point, Bove claimed that the Justice Department could in essence create a “shadow government” through appointment of special counsels. Smith’s team has maintained that Attorney General Merrick Garland, as head of the U.S. Justice Department, was empowered to appoint Smith and to delegate prosecutorial decisions to him. Besides prosecutors working for the government and attorneys arguing for Trump and co-defendants Waltine Nauta and Carlos

Victim identified in Oak Park stabbing as investigation continues

SAN DIEGO (FOX 5/KUSI) — The identity of a man who was fatally stabbed in Oak Park Monday has been released by authorities. According to the San Diego Police Department, 50-year-old Son Dinh succumbed to his injuries at a local hospital following an altercation in the 2500 block of Euclid Avenue. When officers arrived on the scene shortly after midnight, they found a Dinh with at least one stab wound to his upper body. Police said they also encountered a woman who appeared to be trying to help the victim. Supreme Court upholds gun control law intended to protect domestic violence victims Homicide Detectives were called to the scene to investigate due to the unusual circumstances surrounding the deadly incident. At this stage in their investigation, authorities have determined that there was some type of argument between Dinh and the woman prior to the stabbing. According to police, it’s still unclear at this time what exact events occurred. The woman’s identity is known but is being withheld at this time. Detectives are still examining physical evidence from the scene. They are also trying to locate and interview

The Supreme Court upholds a gun control law intended to protect domestic violence victims

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Friday upheld a federal gun control law that is intended to protect victims of domestic violence. In their first Second Amendment case since they expanded gun rights in 2022, the justices ruled 8-1 in favor of a 1994 ban on firearms for people under restraining orders to stay away from their spouses or partners. The justices reversed a ruling from the federal appeals court in New Orleans that had struck down the law. Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the court, said the law uses “common sense” and applies only “after a judge determines that an individual poses a credible threat” of physical violence. Justice Clarence Thomas, the author of the major 2022 Bruen ruling in a New York case, dissented. President Joe Biden, who has been critical of previous high-court rulings on guns, abortion and other hot-button issues, praised the outcome. “No one who has been abused should have to worry about their abuser getting a gun,” Biden said in a statement. “As a result of today’s ruling, survivors of domestic violence and their families will still

Are flamingos pink when they hatch? SeaWorld welcomes eight chicks

SAN DIEGO (FOX 5/KUSI) — SeaWorld San Diego announced this week that the park has welcomed eight baby flamingos. They can be seen while visiting the flamingo exhibit area. In celebration of the new additions, flamingo-themed food and drinks will be available June 21 through June 23. This includes flamingo-themed cupcakes at various restaurants, as well as the new Flamingo Fizz cocktail at Underwater Cantina. Plus, parkgoers who wears pink will receive a 10% discount at Manta Gifts. ‘The best kept secret’: Lao Food Festival returns to San Diego Egg hatching explained To prepare for the arrival of their offspring, flamingo pairs create a mud mound that’s used as a nest, park officials explained. From there, the mother most often lays a single egg. The next few weeks, or roughly 28 days, the flamingo parents will carefully sit on their nest to keep the egg warm. This process is known as the incubation period. Flamingos on their dirt mound nests. (Credit: SeaWorld San Diego) When the baby flamingos break out of their shells, it may come as a surprise to some that they aren’t actually pink

Why California tax limit got booted from ballot

Associate Justices Martin Jenkins (left) and Leondra Kruger (right) address attorney Margaret Prinzing, representing Gov. Gavin Newsom and the Legislature, at the Supreme Court of California in San Francisco, on May 8, 2024. Photo by Jeff Chiu, AP Photo, Pool A political bombshell exploded in California at 10 a.m Thursday: The state’s highest court removed an anti-tax measure from the Nov. 5 ballot, siding with Gov. Gavin Newsom and Democratic legislative leaders and angering business and taxpayer groups, writes CalMatters Capitol reporter Alexei Koseff. The blocked initiative — known as the Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act and led by the California Business Roundtable — would have made it more difficult to raise taxes, requiring the Legislature to seek approval from voters for any new or higher state tax. It would have also raised the voting threshold for local, voter-initiated special taxes from a simple majority to two-thirds. Opponents argued that the measure not only attempted to illegally revise the state constitution, but, if adopted, would radically change how California government works. The court unanimously agreed. Justice Goodwin Liu, writing on behalf of the court:

‘It’s frustrating’: Why a gay California senator is annoyed by his own LGBTQ health info bill

Sen. Scott Wiener is irked that he had to introduce a bill that would require health officials to ask LGBTQ people for demographic info on state health forms. He says they should have been doing it anyway. State Sen. Scott Wiener has introduced 52 bills this session, but he’s annoyed that he had to author one in particular. “I’m gonna be honest that it’s frustrating that I had to bring this bill,” he told the Assembly Public Health Committee this week. “I should not have had to bring it.” The legislation that irks the San Francisco Democrat is his Senate Bill 957, which would force California’s health officials to do what Wiener says they should have been doing anyway: provide a place on health care forms for people who identify as LGBTQ to voluntarily note their gender identity and sexual orientation. For years, other Californians have been asked to voluntarily declare their race, age and whether they’re a man or a woman on various health care forms, providing researchers with important demographic data that helps inform treatments and responses to public health crises, Wiener said.

Wildfire season off to an early start in California

SAN DIEGO (FOX 5/KUSI) — Wildland fires have burned 90,000 acres in California so far this year, and fire officials say they are prepared and fully staffed as summer continues to unfold.  In San Diego County there have been 36 wildland fires since January, according to Cal Fire. That’s more than the county saw this time last year.  “We are seeing a lot of activity,” said Fire Capt. Mike Cornette with Cal Fire. On Father’s Day alone crews tackled three fires.  Brush fire erupts near homes in Tierrasanta “I think this fire season will be more active,” added Cornette. As the temperatures continue to get warmer throughout the summer, the grass and vegetation gets drier, creating a perfect fuel source for fires.  “The grass creates a receptive fuel bed and that means any time a spark or ember gets into it, it can sustain fire,” said Cornette. The Post Fire in Los Angeles County was more than 15,000 acres large and 50% contained as of Thursday. Meanwhile, the Sites Fire in Northern California was at 19,000 acres charred.  “95% of fires are human caused and

Michael Smolens: Biden gives some love to immigrant ‘Dreamers’

For years, many young immigrants have been walking on eggshells as the program giving them temporary legal status has been threatened with termination. Ending DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, could mean the loss of a job and livelihood and possible deportation for hundreds of thousands of people — with negative economic consequences for the nation. Keep in mind, this is the only country a lot of them have ever really known, given they were brought into the United States illegally when they were children and have lived here for decades. DACA participants, often referred to as “Dreamers,” are — on average — now in their mid-30s, with some in their early 40s. On Tuesday, President Joe Biden may have given many DACA recipients a greater sense of certainty with a directive that allows them to quickly gain employer-sponsored work visas. That would enable them to apply for green cards. Importantly, this would give those Dreamers permanent legal status to live and work in the United States so they would no longer have to rely on DACA, a program created in 2012 under President Barack

Federal judge to consider a partial end to special court oversight of child migrants

LOS ANGELES (AP) — For 27 years, federal courts have held special oversight over custody conditions for child migrants. The Biden administration wants a judge to partially lift those powers. U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee will consider the request at a hearing in Los Angeles on Friday, barely a week before new safeguards take effect that the administration says meet, and in some ways exceed, standards set forth in a landmark settlement named for Jenny Flores, a child immigrant from El Salvador. The administration wants to terminate the Flores agreement at the U.S. Health and Human Services Department, which takes custody of unaccompanied children within 72 hours of arrest by the Border Patrol. It would remain in effect at the Border Patrol and its parent agency, the Department of Homeland Security. Flores is a policy cornerstone, forcing the U.S. to quickly release children in custody to family in the country and setting standards at licensed shelters, including for food, drinking water, adult supervision, emergency medical services, toilets, sinks, temperature control and ventilation. It grew out of widespread allegations of mistreatment in the 1980s. Court oversight

Pop star Sabrina Carpenter to perform in San Diego

SAN DIEGO (FOX 5/KUSI) — Up and coming singer Sabrina Carpenter is coming to San Diego as part of her Short N’ Sweet Tour. The artist will perform on Sunday, Nov. 10, at Pechanga Arena, the venue announced on its website. Carpenter’s songs like “Espresso” and “Please, Please, Please” have taken over the radio airwaves and social media platforms this year. Attempted kidnapping suspect arrested; second attempt at Mission Valley mall reported Carpenter, who is also an actress and film and television producer, has landed parts on Law and Order: Special Victim’s Unit, The Goodwin Games and Girl Meets World. She made noise in the music industry with her 2021 song “Skin,” which generated hundreds of millions of streams and became her first Billboard Hot 100 hit. Tickets for the concert will become available on Friday, June 28. Her album Short n’ Sweet is set to be released in August.

New details emerge in ‘premeditated and unprovoked’ stabbing of pregnant woman

A man accused of repeatedly stabbing a pregnant woman at a drive-thru ATM in Mira Mesa in what a prosecutor described as a “premeditated and unprovoked attack” pleaded not guilty Thursday to several charges, including attempted murder. Cole Klemke, 27, is accused of attacking the victim — who was four months pregnant — around 10 a.m. Saturday near the Target store on Mira Mesa Boulevard. Deputy District Attorney Spencer Sharpe alleged Klemke watched the 25-year-old victim for about a minute from across the parking lot as she pulled up to the ATM and exited her vehicle. After she withdrew cash, the prosecutor said Klemke walked up to her, stabbed her in the face, slit her throat, pushed her to the ground and continued stabbing her. Sharpe said the victim fought Klemke off, and he fled the scene. Surveillance footage captured the entire encounter, the prosecutor said. Police said the attack happened without any words exchanged between the victim and her assailant before she was attacked. Sharpe declined to discuss the victim’s condition as of Thursday but said she’s been released from a hospital. Klemke was

Attempted kidnapping suspect arrested; second attempt at Mission Valley mall reported

SAN DIEGO (FOX 5/KUSI) — A 42-year-old man suspected of attempting to kidnap a child in the Mission Valley mall area was arrested Thursday, the same day a second attempt was reported, authorities said. Rene Lujan, of San Diego, was arrested on suspicion of Tuesday’s attempted kidnapping, Lt. Daniel Meyer with the San Diego Police Department said during a press conference on Thursday. The first attempt happened around 1:30 p.m. Tuesday near Buffalo Wild Wings in Mission Valley when a woman was walking next to her daughter, who was pushing her younger sibling in a stroller, and a man started following the family, police said. The man then grabbed the six-year-old and attempted to walk away with the girl, police said. The victim was able to scream and cry, prompting the suspect to release the girl and take off westbound through the mall and into a vehicle, according to police. Woman killed in five-vehicle crash on I-15; two suspected of DUI Police were able to get a description of the suspect vehicle as a black 2013 Chevy Volt with a license plate number of “7VBS762.”

Brush fire erupts near homes in Tierrasanta

SAN DIEGO (FOX 5/KUSI) — A brush fire broke out on Thursday near homes in the Tierrasanta neighborhood. The blaze started around 5 p.m. in the 6100 block of Calle Mariselda near Antigua Blvd., according to the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department’s log. Woman killed in five-vehicle crash on I-15; two suspected of DUI SkyFOX/KUSI In the Sky was over the fire, where a plume of white smoke could be seen in the brush and near several homes. Fire crews, including those on the ground and in the air, were able to put out the fire. There were no reports of any injuries or evacuations. Firefighters will remain on scene to make sure no hot spots are reignited.

La Mesa getting gateway sign: ‘It’s like a big community quilt’

LA MESA, Calif. (FOX 5) — La Mesa will soon be among the local cities with a special gateway sign. “Something that’s going to be there forever, where people can come and say, ‘oh, look, that was my tile I painted when I was five.’ It’s going to be a part of history,” Misty Thompson with La Mesa Park & Recreation said to FOX 5. The history is still in the making, but come this fall or early next year, the East County city will finally get its own downtown district sign. Woman killed in five-vehicle crash on I-15; two suspected of DUI The sign cost about $400,000, and the artwork was funded by tiles — 1,512, to be exact. It was a way to get the community involved through the arts, and an opportunity to leave their mark on history. “Once it was all funded and all the tiles were purchased, they went and painted. So everybody has a four-by-four tile that they came out and painted. So it’s like a big community quilt. It’s just an awesome piece of artwork,” Thompson added. The

Driver sentenced to 15 years for Oceanside DUI crash that killed three

A man who drove while intoxicated and plowed a pickup truck into a family’s car at an Oceanside intersection, killing three of six family members inside, was sentenced Thursday to 15 years in state prison. Mason Robert Fish, 25, pleaded guilty to charges of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated in connection with the Feb. 5, 2019, crash that killed 74-year-old Rufina Arango Rodriguez and her daughters, 40-year-old Petra Arango and 56-year-old Eloina Arango. The three other family members injured in the crash included Petra Arango’s then-13-year-old daughter. Fish, who was 19 at the time, pleaded guilty to all counts and allegations filed against him in Vista Superior Court just as his trial was set to get under way earlier this year. According to Deputy District Attorney David Uyar, cocaine, Xanax and Delta-9-THC were among the substances found in Fish’s system following the crash. Fish was driving along South Coast Highway just before 1 p.m. when he ran a red light at Oceanside Boulevard and crashed into the driver’s side of the victims’ 2003 Mazda sedan, according to police. The broadside impact ejected Petra Arango and

MTS rejects proposed crackdown on fare jumpers costing trolley system $1M a month

Local leaders clashed Thursday over how to close a loophole that San Diego Trolley officials say is costing them about $1 million a month by discouraging riders from paying fares. A proposed crackdown on fare jumpers who use the loophole was rejected Thursday by the board of the Metropolitan Transit System, which operates the trolley system and a large fleet of public buses. Several board members praised the proposed crackdown as a commonsense solution that would be especially crucial with MTS facing projected annual budget deficits of roughly $80 million per year. But other members, particularly those representing low-income areas, called the proposal overly punitive and suggested alternative options should be explored. The dispute comes at a time when local officials are trying to strengthen the transit system and boost ridership as the region becomes more densely populated. The loophole is the unintended consequence of MTS switching to a new fare payment system in fall 2021, just over a year after the agency had created a fare-jumping forgiveness program in June 2020. The fare-jumping forgiveness program allows riders who get caught by transit police when

San Diego PhD student accused of killing infant, abusing twin brother in Pittsburgh

A 29-year-old San Diego woman is accused of killing a 6-week-old baby and abusing his twin brother while she was visiting the children’s parents in Pennsylvania last weekend. Investigators allege Nicole Virzi, a doctoral candidate at San Diego State University and UC San Diego, was babysitting Leon Katz when he suffered multiple skull fractures at his parents’ apartment in Pittsburgh Saturday night. Virzi, who was in town for the weekend, is also accused of abusing Leon’s twin brother after scratches and bruises were found on his face, belly and genitals earlier that same day. Virzi was arrested on suspicion of murder, child endangerment and aggravated assault. She pleaded not guilty on Monday and remained in custody in Allegheny County Jail as of Wednesday. Defense attorney David Shrager said Leon fell out of a bouncing high chair while Virzi was out of the room and that his client denies any wrongdoing. “We are at the beginning of our investigation, but it’s important to note that my client has no criminal history whatsoever,” Shrager told the Union-Tribune. “She is a Ph.D. student and was a longtime friend

Police seek man who tried to carry off 6-year-old girl in Mission Valley mall

San Diego police are looking for a man they say tried to kidnap a 6-year-old girl in the Mission Valley mall, snatching her up and starting to walk off then releasing her when she screamed. The girl was next to her mother and was pushing her younger sibling in a stroller on the east end of the mall about 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Lt. Daniel Meyer said. They walked past a man, who then turned around and began to follow the family. He suddenly grabbed and lifted the girl, then walked a few feet in the opposite direction. The child screamed. He let her go and fled, headed west through the mall. Meyer described the suspect as a Latino man who appeared to be about 40 years old, about 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighing about 160 pounds. He had collar-length black hair, with a beard and glasses. At the time of the incident, he was wearing a bright baby blue shirt, gray pants, and white tennis shoes. Police asked that anyone with information about the man or the incident call the department’s Eastern Division at (858)

Supreme Court rules in government’s favor in San Diego ‘blind mule’ drug courier case

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a split opinion Thursday in a case originating out of San Diego, ruling that expert witnesses can continue to tell jurors that most drug couriers caught at the U.S.-Mexico border know they’re transporting drugs, even when the defendants argue they were unwitting “blind mules.” The case, Delilah Guadalupe Diaz v. United States of America, centered around a specific rule of evidence in federal law dealing with a defendant’s mental state and knowledge of a crime, and the opinions of experts testifying about a defendant’s criminal intent. The ruling has major implications for the San Diego region, where federal prosecutors charge hundreds of people each year with illegally importing drugs across the border, but could also have wider implications for defendants in other kinds of cases when there are questions of criminal intent. In essence, the court ruled that an expert can testify about the criminal intent or mental state of most defendants charged with a particular crime, and that such testimony is not too general — the jury can still decide if a specific defendant is like most other defendants or

1 dead, 1 seriously hurt in multi-vehicle crash on I-15 in Bonsall

One person died and a second suffered serious injuries in a multi-vehicle crash involving two suspected drunken drivers in the Bonsall area late Wednesday, the California Highway Patrol said. The crash occurred around 11:40 p.m. on south Interstate 15, just south of Old Highway 395, said CHP Officer Hunter Gerber. The chain-reaction crash began when a 26-year-old Chula Vista man in a Chevrolet Colorado pickup ran into the back of a Nissan Titan truck. That collision left the Chevrolet disabled on the freeway, where it was hit by the driver of a Volkswagen Tigua. That car was then hit by a Toyota Camry, and a fifth vehicle, a Kia Soul, sideswiped the front left of the Chevrolet. When first responders got to the scene, they found that a passenger in the Toyota Camry was killed in the crash, a 32-year-old woman from Compton. The driver of the Toyota, a 32-year-old woman from Perris, suffered major life-threatening injuries and was transported to a hospital. CHP officers arrested two drivers on suspicion of DUI — the driver of the Chevrolet pickup who was involved in the initial