Isaac responds

Yesterday I posted a little story about Isaac Cubillos, the former Daily Californian clerk who is now editor of the East County Californian.

Isaac responds:

Hello Howard,

It’s good to hear from you and I hope all is well with you and Billie…. please give her my best. I think of you guys often, you are special people that touched my life very deeply.

I found your site by accident a few months ago and now read the it periodically.


For a couple of months, I was coming across stories of interest for East County which I was sending to Jay Harn, the publisher and editor of the East County California. I’ve known Jay for about five years and never really had a chance to write for him until recently. I learned that the news editor was leaving to become a teacher. So, I applied for the position and was hired on a “let’s see if it works out” basis. As it turns out Jay left a week later while I was still in training. It left the new owners of nine-months without someone to oversee the news side of the house. The swift “promotion” to editor came before I could even get my feet wet as news editor.

The community (East County) still remembers the old daily and I still hear from residents say they miss and loved that old paper. You, Billie, Vince, and the others in the ’80s and ’90s created that tone and admiration from the readership. It’s a very big, big shoe to fill for all of us here at the weekly.

In the two editorial meetings we’ve held, I’ve shared with the crew old copies of the daily which I still have and the significant role your generation of reporters, stringers and photographers played in the community.

We will work very hard to bring back some small piece of that legacy.

I was very privileged and humbled to have known and learned from all of you.


I read the piece you wrote on your site about me and want to correct some errors and misinformation that still lingers which you’ve picked up. There are something things I don’t remember before ’93. It’s like I suffered a small stroke back then. Some things I do recall however.

I remember reading Jo Moreland’s piece about the arrest where she quoted some investigator saying that they found me through reading the paper. I’ve covered enough criminal cases to learn, some cops don’t always tell the truth or, at times, stretch it to fit their case. The chief investigator on my case, (not quoted by Moreland) a guy named Madden, who said he was the brother to Coach John Madden, was well aware of where I was, where I lived and worked (he came by several times in his little white government car.) For a while, I kept his card he gave me almost six months before. This info was available to Jo as public record, if she wanted to get the facts correct.

As for the reason why I was clerking…. The case was a big deal (and public) at least six months before I became a temp. I was expecting, as I were my attorneys, to get a day and time to turn myself in. Months went by and nothing. I got tired of sitting at home waiting so I took the temp job, knowing it would be temporary. I remember Vince wanting to buy my temp contract out and cautioned him that I was only going to be there only a brief time. I said the same to Paul Zindell who was taking some of my hours each day to work on building and maintaining spreadsheets for him on the business side of the building.

I did not work on a prison paper. There are no prison papers in California prisons anymore. This dis-information was fabricated by some East County people angered by some of my stories published in La Prensa. Unfortunately, it was reported in the UT, which of course, never bothered to check the facts since they were using their “reliable sources.”

There is no “studying” that goes on in prison, unless your getting a GED which instruction is sporadic at best. Oh yes, there are other kinds of studying going on behind the walls, but journalism certainly isn’t one of them. Prison, is where you experience two deaths, one of the spirit and the other civic. It is also a place where one can have an epiphany and rebirth can occur.

Two months after release, I started writing for La Prensa San Diego, an English-language newspaper located in Hillcrest.

At the same time, I was a volunteer at the Sacramento-based nonprofit legal defense group Prisoners’ Rights Union. It was founded by a priest-turned-lawyer and his parishioners in the ’60s. I later became and officer of the nonprofit. I was ad hoc consultant for the Friends Committee on Legislation, analyzing prison bills, and helping to rewrite some suggested bills for a legislator here in San Diego. When the PRU’s legal issues editor left. I helped put three issues together for them.

I left La Prensa in 1997, when the publisher wanted me to put some erroneous figures in a story about the Grossmont College budget. I told him I wouldn’t do so, and walked out and never returned. I have great admiration for his work as one of the old Chicano Movement “veteranos”, but, I would not compromise my work since I know I am one of the most scrutinized reporters in town, specifically because of my past.

I learned a lot from that old man, and love him dearly for the education in street journalism he taught me. “Take off those blue eyes and see through the brown ones God gave you goddammit.” Today, the rift between us is too great to cross, I’m sad to say, over that one issue of wanting me to lie in a story.

Over the years as you say, I’ve won a few awards, including one in 1999 by Hispanic Business magazine, naming me one of the top “100 Most Influential” Hispanics in the U.S. This was for creating the first Hispanic English DAILY news Web site beginning in 1994.

I didn’t know that you and Steve Saint put together the original Web site. I will make a point of asking how to get that piece of history on the web page. I’m not sure yet who handles that since it’s done elsewhere. Of course, there is lot that I don’t know after I left the DC.

Speaking of history, I read your piece about the systematic dismantling of the daily by the owners. I asked what ever happened to the bound copies of the daily paper and the microfiche. It appears that in the final dismantling of the paper, the books and hard copies were tossed, fortunately the microfiche was donated to El Cajon Library.

Again, my very best to you and Billie.


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