Roundtable: DeMaio's Calendar, Convention Center Finances, Tuite's Case, "Conversion Therapy"
October 5, 2012 12:49 p.m.
Lorie Hearn, KPBS/I-Newsource
Liam Dillon, Voice of San Diego
Greg Moran, U-T San Diego
Kenny Goldberg, KPBS News
Related Story: Roundtable: DeMaio's Calendar, Convention Center Finances, Tuite's Case, "Conversion Therapy"
CAVANAUGH: I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. It's Friday, October 5th. We'll discuss San Diego's top stories of the week on the Roundtable. Today, we begin with a story generated by our own eye newssource investigation. Lorie Hearn, I-Newsource executive director.
HEARN: It's a pleasure.
CAVANAUGH: Remind us how this story began.
HEARN: Well, the investigation began in January after Doug Manchester ran a front page editorial promoting the paper's vision for a Chargers stadium on the 10th avenue marine terminal downtown. Our listens best known that terminal as a place where Dole brings in billions of bananas a year. The investigation involves scouring through all kinds of federal documents and requesting communications among Manchester, his CEO, John Lynch, and various public officials.
CAVANAUGH: And you found one of the e-mails that you uncovered in your requests for public documents were UT San Diego CEO John Lynch made an assertion about one mayoral candidate
HEARN: Yes you can he did. It showed that John Lynch told the port commissioner that the UT was making significant progress in building support for this plan among a number of people and agencies, including the county, the Navy, and a mayoral candidate.
CAVANAUGH: Now, you then asked the two candidates, Carl DeMaio and Bob Filner, if they were the one lynch was talking about.
HEARN: We interviewed both candidates. And both denied they were the one that lynch was referring to. Bob Filner says he's never talked to the UT about this plan. Carl DeMaio who was endorsed by the Union Tribune in the primary in a high-profile way, they did a wrap around the front page to endorse his candidacy, he said he'd been briefed on the plan but did not support it.
CAVANAUGH: And where did that take the investigation?
HEARN: Well, fast-forward to this week. And a source provided the investigations desk with 17 pages from Carl DeMaio's personal calendar. And that's distinct from his official calendar, the one that he posts online and has made an issue of the fact he wants to be transparent and puts that online. The personal calendar showed two meetings with Manchester, which he had not previously acknowledged, one in December, and the other in May.
CAVANAUGH: So what does Carl DeMaio say about the differences in the meetings listed in his private calendar as opposed to his public calendar?
HEARN: Well, the ones on his personal calendar, he said those meetings had to do with his mayoral campaign and did not have to do with city business, and that they didn't have to be disclosed legally in answer to our public records act request. We've talked to media lawyers about the issue of your official calendar or your official e-mail account versus your personal accounts, and the law is really unclear in this respect. There does appear to be a good argument, however, that personal schedules and communications should be made public if they actually deal with government business. We're not suggesting we want to write about somebody's doctors' appointments or their parent-teacher conferences. We're looking for evidence of public business being discussed outside of the public view.
CAVANAUGH: So this has brought up this whole topic of what public figures, politicians need to disclose in order to claim transparency in who they're meeting with and dealing with. Now, it has also provoked, I believe, the candidates, DeMaio and Filner, to challenge each other about such transparency; is that right?
HEARN: Yes, they have. Bob Filner has demanded that Carl DeMaio release all communications with Manchester and lynch. DeMaio has called for Bob Filner to release communications with labor leaders and developers and others that might somehow be involved in city business, eventually. As a Congressman, Bob Filner is exempt from the freedom of information act, by the way. That's the government access law. So whatever he gives up would have to be voluntarily. We've asked him for his calendar, he said he would provide us with his official calendar. We still don't have that from him. If that's the one that's online, it really is just kind of some public events, and I suspect it's not very thorough. Because next week, if you believe that calendar, he has not a single appointment or event. We've also requested a comment or response to Mr. DeMaio's demand for release of information, and we haven't gotten anything.
CAVANAUGH: The I-Newsource has been doing very detailed investigative reporting on these issues. But a casual listener or viewer to our TV show or reader of the web might seem -- it may be hard for them to connect the dots and figure out why this is important, where does it fit into the mayoral race, what's going on here? So why do you think the calendar issue is important in voters?
HEARN: Well, I like you hope the audience doesn't focus too much on whether there was one meeting or there were three meetings or whether one e-mail implied something. That's really not the point, and I think we can as we say get lost in the weeds on some of these details. What we're trying to do is peel back the layers on relationships and financial support between powerful business and public officials. We all want to trust that the public business is being conduct the in public. And to have that trust, the public needs to know about the closeness of relationships among those who can make decisions and exert influence over the future of this region.
CAVANAUGH: And so that's why it's important to find out if we can, and if those meetings really have to do with public business, who's meeting with whom.
HEARN: Precisely. You have to look at the big picture.
CAVANAUGH: Okay. All right. Let's go to the story that is on our front page on KPBS.org today, and that is about the votes Bob Filner has missed in Congress since he's been run think for mayor. What have you found out about that?
HEARN: Well, in fact, Bob Filner has missed more votes in Congress so far this year and last year than any of California's 53 congressional delegates.
CAVANAUGH: In fact a lot more, right?
HEARN: Yes, a lot more. He's missed this year 60%, almost, of the votes. 59%.
CAVANAUGH: And the closest runner up, he's missed over 300 vote, and the closest runner up is Darryl ice aright?
HEARN: Well, that's of our congressional delegation. I don't recall who the other Congress person in California might be. But in San Diego, Darryl Issa comes in second, but he's missed 10 compared to 350 plus.
CAVANAUGH: Now, is this typical though of Bob Filner's 20-year congressional career and the votes he's cast?
HEARN: No, in fairness to the Congressman, he has been in office about 20 years. And in the 18 years prior to this, according to our calculation, we did some calculations on total numbers of votes taken, and votes that he's not been present for, he's only missed in 18 years about 2% of the votes.
CAVANAUGH: I see. So this is an aberration.
HEARN: It is, yes.
CAVANAUGH: What does Bob Filner have to say about it?
HEARN: Well, he is unapologetic. He says he's monitoring the votes in Congress. But he really feels it's important to campaign for mayor, and that's what he's been doing.
CAVANAUGH: Okay. Tell us if you can, what comes next in your investigation?
HEARN: Well, we're continuing to connect the dots in this investigation. It's very important that we feel we are offering transparency to the public as much as possible. We have a number of leads we're continuing to follow. And I hope our listeners will continue to listen and go to KPBS.org and watch evening edition for the chapters as they unfold before the election.
CAVANAUGH: And you can find all of those stories, election 2012, on the KPBS website. Lori, thank you so much.
HEARN: Thank you, Maureen.
CAVANAUGH: My guests today are Liam Dillon, reporter with voice of San Diego. Good to see you.
DILLON: You too.
CAVANAUGH: Greg Moran is here with UT San Diego.
CAVANAUGH: And Kenny Goldberg with KPBS news.
GOLDBERG: Hi, Maureen.
CAVANAUGH: First off, the San Diego City Council wrapped up the last of its major approvals for the expansion of the Convention Center this week by giving the okay to the financing plan. But there are still big questions remaining about financing legalities and the extent of the city's obligations to the project. Liam Dillon has been following that story. Liam, what is the plan the City Council approved this week?
DILLON: Well, there were a series of approvals the City Council made. The two most important were the environmental review, and the overall structure for how this is going to be paid for. Three sources of money, a special tax on visitors that is projected to raise the most amount of money, second being a contribution from the port on which the Convention Center sits, third being money from the city's day to day budget, the budget that pays for fire, police, and services.
CAVANAUGH: How much is it supposed to cost?
DILLON: $520 million is sort of the structure itself. Upon but when you finance it and pay it back over 30 years, we're talking about more than $1 billion.
CAVANAUGH: Now, your reports make the point that the City Council keeps trying to cap the city's obligation to this project but keeps failing to do it. Can you explain to us why? I know it's complicated. I know it's economics, but -- if anybody can break it down for us, you can.
DILLON: Well, I think it's probably more fair to say the City Council keeps saying they're trying to cap what the city's risk is in this deal. So basically I mentioned that the city's day to day budget, what pays for fire, police, and everything else, is projected to contribute an amount of money each year to this deal. They say -- everyone says it's going to be $3.5 million a year, and that number is justified because increased business will lead to increased tax revenue for the city. But the big risk is that the bonds that are backed by the city's budget actually owe an amount that varies between $9 million and $13 million a year. So they say they're going to pay $3.5 million, but they're at risk for $13 million a year. So there's been efforts over the past year to cap that risk at $3.5 million. The City Council says they want it, but it's never capped, and the City Council keeps voting for the financial plan anyway.
CAVANAUGH: If the risk could run between $9 million to $13 million, where does the $3.5 million the City Council is always talking about the city is on the look for each year?
DILLON: Right. Well, there is a hope, and conservative projections that the special tax increased passed by the hotel industry, which visitors will be paying for, will raise enough money to cover whatever obligation there is aside from the $3.5 million. So they're saying we have conservative projections, the money should come in, and that's why we're only going to be limited to $3.5 million a year. However, that is not a formal obligation. The formal obligation is between $9 million and $13 million. So the risk is still there.
CAVANAUGH: Now the $9 million to $13 million is something that has to be paid.
CAVANAUGH: It's just got to come from somewhere?
CAVANAUGH: Now, the worst case scenario I suppose would be if the money that the hoteliers hope to raise from this extra tax increase, that it doesn't actually pan out the way they hope it will.
DILLON: That's correct. And in that case, although again they say they've put protections in to insulate the city's budget at the end of the day. But there's still that risk for the payment to come.
CAVANAUGH: S now, the idea of capping the amount that the city would be obligated to pay has to do with how much money people are going to be throwing into the pot, if they would be willing to step up and say, okay, come to us first, not the city.
DILLON: Sure. You could structure a financial plan in any way you want, right? It's just as the city, chief operation officer said to me this week, we have three partners in this deal, the city, the port, and the hotel industry. It's sort of weird that the hotel industry is a partner because although yes, they indeed voted to raise taxes on their guests, it's their guests who are going to be the ones paying this. So there's a decent argument that the stake they have in the deal is much less than, say, the port, which is paying money directly, and the city's budget, which is also paying money directly.
CAVANAUGH: So is that the problem in trying to actually get this capped? Those other entities would have to agree to a financing plan that would cap that amount of money that the city would have to pay from its general fund?
DILLON: The city is the one that ultimately makes the decision.
CAVANAUGH: Oh, okay.
DILLON: So sure, I think everyone wants buy-in from all the parties, but there's one agency that's formally approving this, and for the most part, that's the city. The other entities have already put their approvals in.
MORAN: Am I wrong in saying I detect a whiff of MP2 here? They're not putting as much money as they could be into this project? They're relying on some other forces to come to the rescue?
DILLON: I think that might be a little bit strong. There are protections in place to where you could see the city budget not having to make this balloon payment in addition to the 3.5 that they've already committed themselves to. At the same time, different than that, we know what the risk is. With the pension stuff, we didn't know that all this money was going to be owed. We know what the risk is. So that again is a better situation than what we would have had in the past. It doesn't alleviate the risk though.
CAVANAUGH: We can't skirt over, in talking about how the City Council has basically approved this financing plan for the Convention Center expansion, is that the main element, where most of the money is supposed to come from, this hoteliers' tax has not been found to be legally sound.
DILLON: Sure. And I think that's a great point. From just what the City Council did does certainly not obligate the city to do anything. A judge is in the process of examining this financing instructor which allowed the hotel industry to vote on this tax increase, not the public. Similarly, the California coastal commission which is a powerful regulatory body which looks at waterfront development also is in the process of evaluating the entire Convention Center expansion plan to make sure it meets its restrictions as far as public --
MORAN: And if they were to rule that's an improper vote, what's plan B?
DILLON: Someone asked the mayor that this week, literally what is plan B, and Jerry Sanders said there is no plan B. So it's this or bust. However both of the mayor's potential successors said they would take this to a public vote.
CAVANAUGH: If indeed, what are you hearing from the legal community, the city's legal community about what the chances are that this court is going to find that it's okay for the hoteliers to raise this tax without putting it to a vote of the general public?
DILLON: I think people sort of feel it's a 50-50 situation.
DILLON: Yeah. It's been done once in San Jose, previously. But there was no opposition to it. Here there is opposition to it. So you'll see a more robust argument for why this would not comply with state law. And so I think it's sort of a toss-up. It is worth noting though that the city financed the previous Convention Center expansion with a similar sort of out-there legal mechanism that the Courts did eventually approve. So there certainly is a chance that this could go on, for sure.
CAVANAUGH: Who is leading the fight against this way of financing the Convention Center?
DILLON: There are a few groups, the hotel workers' union is 1 group who has opposed this in the past and has filed. And also a group of open-government gad fly activists have challenged this as well.
CAVANAUGH: Now, you mentioned that both the mayoral candidates, Bob Filner and Carl DeMaio, said they would proceed with trying to expand the Convention Center Convention Center, trying to get financing by bringing it to a vote of the people if indeed this tax maneuver doesn't make it through its legal challenge. How would a delay like that affect this project?
DILLON: Well, it would be a tremendous delay, let alone -- I mean a tremendous problem. We always talk about Comi-Con they're the ones that sort of -- it's the face of this expansion, right? Everyone wants to expand the Convention Center so that Comi-Con remains here. They're on a relatively short-term contract, any delays could affect whether they would be here to stick around. And a public vote is something that is far from assured. In California if you try to increase taxes for a specific project, you need 2/3 of voters. 66% of voters to say yes. That's a huge hurdle for a tremendously large project! And the city voters twice in 2004 said no to raising this very tax. So trying to go and bring it back would be a very dicey proposition. The hurdles are so tremendously high.
CAVANAUGH: Greg, do you think that the reasons we need an expanded Convention Center have been sold sufficiently to the San Diego public? With the people that you speak with, the kind of people that you interview, is this something that people are looking forward to or is it looked at the a downtown kind of thing?
MORAN: I think there's a big element of that. And it depends on who you talk to and how you frame it. As Liam said really, the face of the Convention Center now is Comic-Con which is enormously popular. So I think if the question is broached or if the issue is framed in a way that says we can keep Comic-Con and attract these other thing, it's probably a more welcoming response from people. But I think there's a real strain from people that say this is another big project for the downtown interests. People go in their neighborhoods and they see because of the city's financial conditions a lot of their basic services in the neighborhoods have fallen behind or are deteriorating, and there's a pushback to that. And I think as Liam said, absolutely, it's 2/3, it's a big number. And they haven't gotten much attraction on it before. And I think that notion of this is some sort of a gift for a lot of money to empower districts downtown is a real strain on the electorate.
CAVANAUGH: And Kenny, I know this is off your normal health beat. But you've heard all about all this Convention Center, and you've been listening and following this story. Do you think that this has been -- we hear from the mayoral candidates that this is a job-generator, and we just heard from Liam that the amount of tax revenue that's going to come in from the increased number of tourists and so forth are going to help pay for it. It's going to be basically an economic engine for San Diego. Do you think that that concept has filtered down to the people that you speak with and interview as you go around San Diego?
GOLDBERG: Well, it hasn't been an issue on my beat at all. And I can't say I've heard that many people talk about it, frankly. The question I would have about it is the concept that San Diego is at risk of losing a whole lot of convention client fist they don't expand it.
DILLON: Yeah, there's multiple schools of thought on that. The backers of this say absolutely. There's sort of a Convention Center arms race, right? Convention Centers across the country are talking about fighting for some of these large, big-money medical kinds of conventions, lots of visitor spending, lots of boosts to restaurants and hotels. You see a competition over Comic-Con that's not made up. Other cities, Anaheim, Los Angeles, are trying to induce ways to steal that business. At the same time, there's a growing school of literature out there that says Convention Centers are going the way of the dinosaur. You have less people going to meetings, you have more ability to do meetings in a virtual telecommunication basis. You have a very large growing and supply fighting over a dwindling business. And so again, there are two schools of thought on that issue.
GOLDBERG: Is that to say that the Convention Center is losing booking or that they're not fully booked years ahead of time?
DILLON: Yeah, they argue they turn away millions of dollars of business every year because of the size of the facility. So for instance you cannot have the largest -- some of the larger conventions here because of the size of the facility, and those that can go to McCormick place in Chicago, much bigger, the Convention Centers in Orlando.
GOLDBERG: Las Vegas.
DILLON: Of course.
GOLDBERG: But on the other hand isn't San Diego a desirable place to have these meetings? I mean, you get groups coming in every year that book it all the time.
DILLON: Right. But part of the argument against the sort of Convention Center arms race issue in this dwindling supply is that very argument, San Diego is different. It's a desirable destination, everyone wants to come here and spend a week and hang out, no matter the time of the year. And the sun and the fun and the beach and everything. So this city being particularly -- tourism is one of the 3-legged stool of the San Diego economy. Tourism is certainly one of those three legs. So you do all that you can to bring tourism revenue and presence here because that helps hold up the economy.
CAVANAUGH: Liam, I guess I'm going to try to get to this again.
[ LAUGHTER ]
CAVANAUGH: I'm wondering, I think that the idea of this kind of financing plan that was okayed when it comes to the port kicking in some, you can understand that. You can understand the city kicking in some, and this questionable hotel tax. The way it was structured it seems almost to have done a run around the San Diego public. And I'm wondering, do you think this concept of the Convention Center has been sold to the public? We've heard what the candidates have said, we've heard what the mayor has said, but has it been said in a way that is convincing do you think to the general person that we need to spend all of this money coming off a really bad financial time to invest to expand the Convention Center?
DILLON: I'm going to try to take your question and tie that into some of the legal issues we were discussing. The question is who has to vote on this? In this case, the hoteliers are the ones who have -- 2/3 of hotelier, not the public, had to vote on this. As a result, the group that this needed to be sold to is not the public. It needed to be sold to the hoteliers. It was sold to the hoteliers. They had leverage when they voted, they did vote, over 90% of them said yes, and they got some things out of the city that they may not have gotten otherwise because they had that leverage. Some of the booking and control of the Convention Center operation itself went to the private convention and visitors' bureau which is controlled by hotel interests that may not have needed to have been done if the sell was to the public instead of the hotel owners. So if you know your audience, that's the group where the big sales job has had to take place.
CAVANAUGH: And that's where it's needed to have taken place
DILLON: Absolutely. Or else it wouldn't have happened. There is risk in terms of taxing their guests more, whether they would -- whether guests would come stay because you have a higher hotel room tax.
CAVANAUGH: Before we move onto our next topic, are I want to wrap this up to give us an idea of if indeed the Courts find that this hoteliers tax passes muster, when do city officials expect the Convention Center expansion to actually begin?
DILLON: The groundbreaking, they're hoping for 2014. But that relies on this legal issue being wrapped up relatively quickly, as well as the coastal commission being wrapped up relatively quickly. There's a chance that the legal situation could take years, literally years. So who knows? They're hoping for a 2017 opening, but that's a relatively aggressive timeframe.
CAVANAUGH: And is the 2017 the day we promised Comi-Con for an expanded Convention Center?
DILLON: I'm not sure. But I think their contract expires in 2015.
CAVANAUGH: Okay. Thank you all very much for that.
CAVANAUGH: My guests at the Roundtable are Liam Dillon with voice of San Diego, Greg Moran with UT San Diego, and Kenny Goldberg with KPBS news. And our listeners are invited to join the Roundtable. This week, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review the decision by a federal appeals court that throughout the manslaughter conviction of Richard Tuitt, that means the ruling stands, and prosecutors have to decide if they want to retry Tuitt for the killing of Stephanie Crowe or release him. This is just the latest twist in what has become an unbelievably complicated case. I'm going to ask you to do something that is perhaps impossible. Briefly remind us about the basics of this case. Bring us back to the tragic murder of 12-year-old Stephanie herself.
MORAN: Well, be that was in 1998. January 21st, she was found dead in her bedroom in her home in Escondido. She had been stabbed multiple times, and her parent, grandmother, and her brother slept through it. Shortly thereafter, the initial suspects and the arrest was her brother, Michael Crowe, and two of his friends. They were teenagers at the time, prosecuted, charged with her murder. The evidence against them really was only a series of very gruelling and ultimately coercive interrogations of them by the Escondido police department. On the eve of their trial, there was a Perry Mason-type moment in a way where the blood of Stephanie Crowe was found on clothing that had been worn by Richard Tuitt that evening. He had been detaineded the day after the murder by the Escondido police but not arrested. Soon after that, discovery of the charges against these three teenagers were dropped. The case went into this long period of reinvestigation, politicking, and so forth between various investigative agencies. Ultimately in 2004, after the case had been taken by the attorney general's office, instead of the District Attorney's Office, and investigated by the sheriff's department, instead of the Escondido police, Tuitt was charged with her murder. He went on trial, it was very lengthy, and ultimately was convicted of manslaughter. He was acquitted of the first two murder charges, sinced to 17 years in jail.
CAVANAUGH: Tell us about Richard Tuitt.
MORAN: Well, Tuitt was a fellow with a history of mental illness, and a history of violent crime. He had stabbed people before. He had used weapons. And was seen in the neighborhood that night by several residents there, yelling, pounding on doors, acting strangely. There had been several 911 calls saying there's this weird guy in the neighborhood. So he was detained and looked at by -- and kind of cursorily investigated by the Escondido police who were zeroed in on these two boys and was let go. But he was certainly known by the police at the time, not really connected to it in any way until more than a year later, just on the eve of trial when boom, the girl's blood appears on his sweatshirt.
CAVANAUGH: Now, he ultimately was tried for the killing of Stephanie Crowe, convicted of manslaughter, sentenced to 17 years on that conviction and has been -- his lawyers have been appealing that on what some might refer to as a technicality. But apparently the 9th circuit court of appeals thought was a rather important issue. Tell us about that.
MORAN: Right. The appeals thing has been almost the same way as the trial. He appealed his conviction to the Court of appeal, and the conviction was upheld. And the Supreme Court didn't take the case. He flipped over to the federal side, filed a habeas petition, lost there. And this event last year was really his last gasp. They raised the issues about what had hatched at his trial, jury misconduct, his lawyer wanted more time to prepare before the trial, the judge said no. All of those were found to be not enough to reverse it. There was this one issue where the very last witnesses in the trial were called to testify about what their interpretation of the crime scene was. One. The witnesses who was the prosecution witness had -- and this gets even more convoluted, but had written some letters disparaging the work and the character of the defense expert. Richard Tuitt's lawyer wanted to cross-examine that witness on those letter, and the judge said no. You can ask him other things but not about the letter. Flash forward seven years, and the appellate court said that was an error. The attorney should have been allowed to impeach and question the credibility and bias of this witness. It was so substantial, it affected the structure of the trial, and it affected Richard Tuitt's right to a fair trial. We've got to reverse the whole thing.
CAVANAUGH: Reverse the whole thing. The attorney general of California appealed this, asked the Supreme Court to review this appeals court decision, and that's what the news is this week.
MORAN: That's what happened this Monday. The Supreme Court -- I think to the surprise of certainly many people in the attorney general's office, but other people said no. They weren't going to do it. They were going to let this opinion, which really kind of took the last issue that he had, this was through all his appeal, his issues had been whittled down. Other courts looked at the this and said, yeah, the judge should have allowed him to question him on this, but there was a lot of other evidence that points to his guilt. So it's what they call a harmless error. The 9th circuit didn't find that.
GOLDBERG: What would be the point be as retrying this case at this point in time given the fact he's already served time?
MORAN: That's really I think right now the substantive question going forward. What is the attorney general going to do and what are you going to get out of it? The point would be, at that point, it's an unsolved crime or a crime without a conviction. And it is particularly, whatever you think, and there's still a lot of split opinion, did the boys do it, did Richard Crowe do it, this was a 12-year-old girl murdered in her bed, and we need to find someone accountable. So that would be the reason for going forward. But there are reasons against it. He cannot be retried on any murder accounts because he was acquitted, and double jeopardy would apply. So the most you could get was a manslaughter sentence. The maximum is 11 year, and you can add on some other things with weapons enhancements, and other things. He's been down now for a little more than 8 years, he's eligible for parole in 2017. So you're 14 years on from the murder, the case has been going on longer than Stephanie Crowe was actually alive, she was 12. So all of those things are going to weigh into it. But there's a lot that the attorney general has to weigh.
DILLON: Has the family weighed in on what they prefer? You can think they've got conflicting emotions, right? They would certainly want to have someone held responsible for their daughter's killing, but at the same time their son went through this horrible experience of being accused and then I believe eventually found factually innocent by the Court of this crime.
MORAN: Right. A little bit they have. I talked to the mother briefly on Monday, and she said they have been through the ringer on this. Not just with the criminal case, but with civil cases, everything else, and the suspicion in the community. They now live in Oregon. She said would you want to go through this again? She said absolutely. We'll do what we can. She said it kind of resignedly. They weren't surprised that they're in a situation who this fellow they believe and kind of know killed their daughter is now unconvicted. They said they're willing to do it again. And I believe that. The question here might be Michael Crowe. He would have to testify again if there were another trial. He would have to go and see those tapes for anybody who's seen the interrogations, they are as an appeals court said, they shock the conscience. They are pretty brutal. At point accident they're excruciatingly boring, at other points they're excruciating to watch. When he went through the trial eight years ago, it was difficult. He's eight years on now, has a family, a child. I don't mean to speak for him, I know he had great affection for his sister, but I would be interested to know what he thought.
GOLDBERG: What culpability does the Escondido police department have for this thing dragging on so long and being so convoluted and distorted and disrupted?
MORAN: I was talking to Liam a little bit about that before the show. It seems like if you get off on the wrong foot on any case, if it's goofy from the beginning, it never gets right. And it just spins out of control. There were a lot of mistakes made in that initial investigation. & when they get to the crime scene. They paid out $7 million to the family for false arrest. They didn't admit liability. But as they famously said in one movie, when they give you the money, you know you've won. But after that, it has been -- the attorney general did a very credible job of piecing the case back together and bringing it to trial and getting a conviction. It just seems that it's one of those cases that is just star-crossed. It just has some very odd mojo on it that never gets right.
CAVANAUGH: Two questions to close out on, No. 1, when are does the attorney general's office say they're going to make a decision on whether or not to retry Tuitt?
MORAN: Well, they have. The federal judge, this was all a federal appeal so it's in the federal courts. The federal judges has given them until November 7th to say if they're going to commence trial proceedings, which basically means we're going to go and retry or release him. So it's a binary choice. Go again or he walks out of prison. I'll guess they're going to go to trial just to buy more time. But then November 7th is the first significant deadline here.
CAVANAUGH: Do we have any idea where he would go considering his -- the mental problems that he manifested earlier on if he were released from prison?
MORAN: I don't know. I really don't know. He's not in a psychiatric facility. He's at a general population prison. I think he gets his gate money and a bus ticket, and away he goes.
CAVANAUGH: Okay. All right. Well, we'll have to move onto our next issue. Thank you for that.
CAVANAUGH: Moving onto the issue of free speech and gay conversion therapy. A San Diego pastor and therapist says a new California law banning the use of gay conversion therapy on underaged kids violates the first amendment. Of tell us about the legislation the governor signed last weekend regarding this. What is it?
GOLDBERG: It's a therapy that's been largely discounted by the medical community in which a therapist tries to coerce, if you will, a young person to change their sexuality. So it's used to convert people from homosexuality into heterosexuality.
CAVANAUGH: What does this new law do?
GOLDBERG: The new law bans these kinds of coercive therapies to kids under 18. So as of January 1st, they will no longer be allowed in California.
CAVANAUGH: Now, are there other laws that ban certain types of therapy or medical cures to the underaged?
GOLDBERG: Sure. I did a story earlier this summer, there's a new law that bans the use of lasers to treat allergies for adults and kids. States have the ability to ban certain treatments if they're medically unproven or if the medical community comes together and says they don't have into validity. On that basis, this law is no different than any other law.
CAVANAUGH: Now, the San Diego pastor that we are mentioning here is Donald Welch, and he has a congregation I believe in Rancho San Diego. What does his lawsuit claim this law prevents him from doing?
GOLDBERG: He claims the law is a violation of the therapist/client privilege, in other words it's intrusive to what they might be doing or saying to each other. He also says it's a violation of parental rights to have their kids go through treatments of the parents' choice. And he's joined in this lawsuit by this group called the Pacific Justice Institute which claims the law is unconstitutional on a number of different grounds.
CAVANAUGH: Unconstitutional for the first amendment grounds too. Greg?
MORAN: The medical organizations in the state, the psychiatric and other practitioner, did they line up in support or opposition of this bill?
GOLDBERG: Oh, total support of it. This coercive therapy has been rejected by all the major mental health organizations, and the AMA, you name it. They consider it -- first of all, the therapy is based on a false premise. And the premise is that homosexuality is a disease or a condition that has to be cured. The medical community rejects that out of hand. And as a matter of fact, the psychiatrists that came up with this therapy years ago have since renounced it and apologized to the gay and lesbian community for doing it in the first place. The whole thing is based on a premise that homosexual is a condition that has to be changed.
DILLON: I'm wondering how blurry the line is on this law. You mentioned as another example of a type of therapy that's been outlawed, lasers for allergies. Presumably you shoot a laser at someone or you don't, right? But I would imagine there's some sort of religious aspects of this potentially where it seems to be much less clear what would be considered something that would not be allowed under the law versus things that may just be part of other aspects of someone's life.
GOLDBERG: Yeah, that's a good question. It's religiously based. This is a pastor that's filed the lawsuit. And I think the people that are involved in it have some religious orientations because obviously homosexuality is against their religious principles or the like. When you ask that question, something I wonder is how are that they going to enforce this law? They Kent go to the doctor's office and monitor what they're saying. I'm not quite sure how they're going to ban this kind of therapy except to maybe not accept it on the coding requirements.
CAVANAUGH: Well, I think one of the things that has been said by governor Brown and others when he signed this bill that it's not simply that they are opposed to the idea of gay people being treated as if they have some sort of disease and being gay, but that this particular type of therapy has resulted in great harm to some young people.
GOLDBERG: That's right. The American psychiatric association says it's potentially harmful, very seriously harmful to kids. It could cause suicidal thoughts, depression, you name it. When you think about it, having a therapist try to reorientate you totally, if you will, and it's almost like deprogramming somebody or programming them.
MORAN: Brain washing or something.
GOLDBERG: Yeah, brainwashing. It's very psychologically damaging. It can be, to kids.
MORAN: Have other states taken the same step?
GOLDBERG: No, they haven't. We're the only state that's done it so far. So it's interesting what will happen from here.
CAVANAUGH: Liam, I want to take your point and ask you this question. You made the point that because there's a religious aspect to this --
DILLON: Potentially, sure.
CAVANAUGH: And of course the freedom of religion is protected under the first amendment, that indeed this challenge might have more of a legal leg, so to speak, than it might be if somebody wanted to have their child receive laser treatment for an allergy.
DILLON: I guess my point was more along the lines of it seems like you can tell if someone had laser therapy or not. It would seem to me to be less so, particularly wrapped up in a particularly religious connotation, whether someone receiving religious instruction would be subject to what this law bans. So it seems to be a much more blurry situation because known if there's any specific things that this therapy prescribes that might not be in any way similar what other religious tenants might preach.
MORAN: You could spin out a lot of scenarios, a therapist who's also a minister who does the sessions in the basement of the church. Is that something the state has any power to ban?
CAVANAUGH: But of course we're talking about underaged kids here. And there's no law restricting this kind of therapy if somebody wants to have it over the age ever 18.
GOLDBERG: Not at all. They can have at it!
CAVANAUGH: Okay, all right. Thank you very much.