Roundtable: Sara Kruzan Update; Surviving School Shootings; DIY Drones; Filner & Marijuana
January 11, 2013 1:45 p.m.
Amita Sharma, KPBS News
Tony Perry, L.A. Times
John Rosman, KPBS Fronteras Desk
Dave Maass, San Diego CityBeat
Related Story: Roundtable: Sara Kruzan Update; Surviving School Shootings; DIY Drones; Filner & Marijuana
SAUER: It's Friday, January 11th. Good afternoon, and thanks for joining us. My guests today are Amita Sharma, investigative reporter for KPBS news. Hi.
SAUER: John Rossman, reporter for Fronteras desk. Good to see you.
ROSSMAN: How's it going?
SAUER: Tony Perry, San Diego bureau chief for the LA Times.
PERRY: Good to be here .
SAUER: And Dave Maas, reporter with San Diego City beat.
SAUER: We'd love to have you join our conversation today. 1-888-895-5727. Sara Kruzan's days behind bars may soon come to an end. She spent part of her life in San Diego, sentenced without parole for killing her abusive pimp when she was a teenager. But the legal system today views sex trafficking and violence that can erupt in such cases far differently. Amita, give us an overview of this case which you're covered extensively.
SHARMA: Well, Sara Kruzan was convicted in 1995 at the age of 16 of killing her pimp, Howard, who had abused her for several years. And abuse has been a major theme in Sara's life, at least up until that point. When she was 5, her mother used to beat her frequently, and she'd put her in situations where mom's boyfriends would molest her. She was removed from the home for a period of time because of the emotional and sexual abuse. When she's 11 years old, she meets this guy, Gigi Howard. He molests her. When she's 13, he rapes her and forces her into prostitution. When she was 16, she says her boyfriend's relative, a known criminal, forced her, threatened her if she didn't, forced her to kill her pimp. So she goes to a hotel room where she meets her pimp with the idea that she was going to rob him and kill him. He starts to get intimate with her, she pulls out a gun, and she kills him. She goes on trial in Riverside.
SAUER: And what were the charges at that time?
SHARMA: Murder. First degree murder.
SAUER: First degree, premeditated, she planned this out, and this was a setup killing. Okay. And tell us about her trial. How did that defense go?
SHARMA: It went well for the prosecution, it did not go well for the defense. The defense never introduced her abusive background, never introduced the fact that she was forced into prostitution. And the only witness who was put on the stand was Sara herself. Where she was cross-examined by, according to her appeals attorney, a very skilled prosecutor. The prosecution put on seven witnesses. She was ultimately convicted and sentenced to life without parole, even though at the time the law allowed for her to be given the chance of parole, but it appears that neither probation nor the defense nor the prosecution nor the judge was aware of that part of the law that would have allowed parole.
SAUER: And some of the players in this case are on the bench now, right?
SHARMA: That's right. Her defense attorney now is on the bench. And the judge who sentenced her at the time is on the bench. And I think the prosecutor who prosecuted the case is also on the bench.
SAUER: Okay. Now we'll get to some of the more detail about the defense of what might have happened had that case fast-forwarded to today. Let's wrap up this thread now. What's the situation now?
SHARMA: There was a hearing today this morning in Riverside. It was not an open hearing. The Riverside County District Attorney's Office met with the appeals attorneys and a judge in the judge's chambers and we're assuming that they talked about a tentative settlement that's been reached between prosecutors and her attorneys. And I spoke with her attorney today. I asked him if the tentative settlement involves a new trial because that was something that the attorneys were seeking. If she wasn't going to be released from prison, perhaps she could be given a new trial. And he said no, it doesn't involve a new trial. We will know more hopefully next Friday. There is another hearing scheduled. She is expected to be video conferenced in. And we will find out the terms of this tentative settlement.
SAUER: So reading the tea leaves, nothing definitive now, but it may be this settlement in these many years of her in prison, and with some sort of reduced charge or agreement.
SHARMA: It's a strong possibility.
SAUER: All right. Very good. Let's talk a little bit about sex trafficking, which is really what compelled you to get involved with this case there is a San Diego tie.
SHARMA: There was a San Diego tie. I had done a series on sex trafficking, and some of the people I spoken with on this case mentioned this case. I think it shows the changes that we've seen as a society in our attitudes toward prostitution, especially prostitution of very, very young girls. You and I had had a conversation earlier and we discussed what this case, had it occurred today, what it might have looked like. And it's hard to tell whether she would have been charged with first degree murder at the time. But we do know that the awareness of sex trafficking has broadened quite a bit. In November, Californians overwhelmingly passed proposition 35, which takes a more sympathetic attitude toward sex trafficking victims. Now a person cannot be criminalized for sexual conduct like prostitution if they were forced into it. And that conduct cannot be used to discredit them in court proceedings. It increases the sentences for pimp, and it fines pimps something like $1.5 million if convicted and sentenced, and 70% of that money has to be spent on sex trafficking victims.
SAUER: I'd like to invite our listeners, if you have a comment or an opinion on this case. There were a lot of folks behind this movement to get Sara Kruzan released. What was so compelling for those folks?
SHARMA: Well, I think the circumstances surrounding the trial, the events leading up to it, and her childhood. A lot of people saw potential that was cut short. She was student body president, on the honor roll.
SAUER: Despite the abuses.
SHARMA: Despite her abusive background. And I think they just saw the trial as a real outrage, as an injustice, as an absurdity in the system. And it became -- it's become a real rallying point for people who advocate on behalf of sex trafficking victims.
SAUER: Tony, once the system gets a conviction, once somebody is behind bar, we've seen it in a number of cases in San Diego. It's just tough to turn that train around.
PERRY: The system does not want to admit mistakes. And my question is, what are her legal grounds? Inadequate council? Violations of rights from the bench? Or is the argument the bastard deserved it
SHARMA: Well, the defense is more on that latter point. But the defense never introduced the fact that she was abused. But they never introduced the fact that her pimp abused her quite regularly. I mean, he beat her. And so they said that the notion, her background of intimate partner battering was never introduced at trial, and that was grounds for a new trial because they thought that was evidence that would be pertinent to a jury.
PERRY: So incompetent council? And what's the track record of that? Can you get a murder conviction overturned because you had a bum attorney?
SHARMA: Well, there have been cases where inadequate council has led to removal.
PERRY: And she's been behind bars half her life. What's it going to be like if a bargain is cut that has her walking free?
SHARMA: She's been extremely active while in prison. She lives in the honor dorm. She's had a variety of jobs, a dental assistant, a librarian, she's been a mentor to other inmates. She's taken vocational classes, she's earned her high school diploma, she's in college classes right now. From what I've read, and I have seen interviews of her, she seems like she's a woman with a great deal of curiosity.
PERRY: Anybody stick up for the victim?
SHARMA: That's an interesting question. The pimp's mother, Howard's mother, has said that she doesn't blame Sara for killing her son.
SAUER: That's telling. John?
ROSSMAN: You mentioned this case was a rallying point for abuse and sex trafficking. What about life sentences for youth? In your story, you had an interesting story about her, after being sentenced, looking up the word morals.
SHARMA: When the judge sentenced her to life in prison without the possibility of parole said she had no morals and no scruples. Or maybe no moral scruples. And so what does it say about the sentencing of juveniles to -- that's been a huge, huge issue in our society where we have children who are at least prosecuted as adults in murders. And the issue that is extremely important to remember in this case is the fact that at the time in 1995, which was not that long ago, there was a law on the book that would have allowed her to at least get the opportunity of parole.
MAAS: Is it the fast-track way to go about this to go to the governor and say hey, can you sign a piece of paper?
SHARMA: Well, that's a good question, Dave. Right before Arnold Schwarzenegger left office, he did reduce -- he commuted her sentence from life without the possibility of parole to the possibility of parole. But he didn't go beyond that.
MAAS: But governor brown?
SHARMA: Well, he was the attorney general when this case actually went up to the California Supreme Court for review. And the attorney general's office was asked to weigh in on whether it viewed Sara Kruzan as a victim of domestic violence or intimate partner battery. And the attorney general's office hemmed and lawed, and when Kamala Harris took over --
SAUER: The current attorney general.
SHARMA: Yes, the current attorney general, she initially this year released an opinion that it was at best a business relationship between pimp at prostitute. And the attorney general's office were you that position, and after lots of back and forth, the state Supreme Court sent the case back to the District Attorney's Office.
PERRY: Is there a Riversideness to this?
SHARMA: Yes. You're from Riverside, I'm from Riverside.
[ LAUGHTER ]
PERRY: We both practiced journalism there. God bless it, it does tend to be the land that time forgot. Lives
SHARMA: You're talking about my hometown.
[ LAUGHTER ]
PERRY: I spent several lovely years there myself. Upon
SHARMA: But you didn't grow up there like I did.
PERRY: Is there a Riversideness in terms of the quality of defense? The quality of public defenders? The tendency of judges?
SHARMA: If you talk to people who work for the innocence project, they will say that Riverside, the District Attorney's Office, the judicial community there is rough going.
SHARMA: It's hard to get them to reopen cases. And this -- I should say that this is the second time that this case has gone back to the District Attorney's Office.
SAUER: So very reluctant to keep it open?
SHARMA: Very, very reluctant. But I think this is where community activism may have played a role.
SHARMA: When it got punted back to the District Attorney's Office in the fall, you had a protest, a sizeable protest outside the District Attorney's Office, and there have been celebrity types who have gotten behind this case. And there's a lot of scrutiny of it.
PERRY: Any racial, ethnic, social class?
SHARMA: If you ask the child trafficking victim advocate, they'll say she was a black girl from the hood who nobody cared about.
SAUER: All right. We're going to move on.
SAUER: The horror of Sandy Hook, the shooting last month that left 20 children and 6 adults dead continues to define our national debate. Even as Joe Biden yesterday was promising to deliver his gun control recommendations to President Obama by Tuesday, news broke of yet another shooting, this time in California. A student opened fire with a shotgun, wounded two opportunities in kern county in Taft. The lead of your story described a gunman stomping a campus dormtory, firing rounds and screaming I'm going to kill somebody. Tell us about this event.
PERRY: Well, this is what they call active shooter response training. You want a chilly phrase that talking about modern life, active shooter response training fits the bill. This is a company out of Texas. They were hired by San Diego state university to provide training both for San Diego state personnel and also others throughout Southern California. And what -- and it's two days, and it's got a lot of lectures and a lot of talk. On the final day, they do reen actments, scenario, and in this case, dormtory residents, assistants, graduate, whatever, played the role of students. And they were in a dorm when some "shooters" with air pistols came storming in, talking tough and homicidal, and the question was how well do you respond? And do you remember what you've been taught? How to blockade a door, how to get low so that you're not a target? How to go out a window, and how if you have to, to fight back? The folks from San Diego state did pretty well. They really learned well. Apparently at other places where the same firm has run this scenario, everybody got killed because they forgot what to do.
SAUER: Now, is it realistic?
PERRY: It is. Those air pistols are pretty dramatic. These guys are offduty cops, and they know how to use the voice in a commanding, threatening, terrifying way, and they did. And people knew how to blockade a door. Nobody jumped out a window, but they knew how to do it. How to break a window. I talked to a San Diego state police department. Of he said, you know, most places tell you, oh, it can't happen here. San Diego state, we don't have that luxury. It happened here. 1996, a graduate student killed three of his professors in the engineering department. It's real.
SAUER: And not just at San Diego state, San Diego in general, campuses, school campuses.
PERRY: Name it. We have had them. We had 1 of the first of the big ones. Brenda Spencer, 1979. And the two in 2009 out in east county, two dead and 18 wounded. So we have had them. We have had more, I don't know why, are than Orange County and L.A. County. Just the bad luck of the draw. But we have had them. You cannot say it can't happen here because it has happened. I'm driving to this event to write my daily newspaper story, and I get an e-mail from the masters of the metro desk in LA, can you check out the lockdown underway at an Oceanside school? This is how frequent it is. And how is that for a phrase? Lockdown. We used to use that in relationship to prison riots.
SHARMA: Prisons. Right.
PERRY: Now an elementary school locked down. And it's usually not even news!
SAUER: Right, not unless something happens.
ROSSMAN: So how does this play out in elementary schools? When kids are preparing, I mean, the lockdown procedures in schools, for example I remember kind of growing up, and we would have procedures if an earthquake hit or if a fire hit, and those stand out in my mind. I can't imagine --
SAUER: A bomb when I was a kid.
PERRY: Well, it's different of course. But the adults there all have the training in many districts on locking doors, barricading doors, getting the kids all huddled up or lying flat so that you are not a target, out a window if you can. Much the same. The kids aren't going to fight back at an elementary school level, but they have this similar kind of training.
SHARMA: Is that not traumatic for kids to undergo a drill like?
PERRY: It's got to be!
SAUER: It's interesting you bring that. A couple of interesting letters in the Times today respond to be Tony's story. "The photograph should give us all pause. Is this what we've become?" Another reader "what madness is this? Like a twilight zone story. A handful of people threaten us and our children with death just because of the 2nd amendment."
PERRY: S part of the national debate, and you can be afraid or prepared. And the idea is better to be prepared even if it does shake you a bit. We'll see. Is it overdone? Statistically there are fewer shooting incidents now than this were a period ago. So we should be careful on that. But there are big ones and horrific ones. And we've got history here in San Diego County.
ROSSMAN: Were you scared during the atom bomb preparedness when you were a kid in school?
SHARMA: They both remember it.
PERRY: Absolutely. It was the 1950s. We thought the Russians were about to get us. And if they didn't, juvenile delinquents would. And yes, it was terrifying! You're a 6-year-old, and the idea that someone will drop a bomb on you, and there'll be a big flash, and your eyeballs will burn out, it was bleepin' scary!
SAUER: So the national debate, one. The suggestions from the folks on the NRA side of the discussion was to arm more people, get more good guys with guns. You saw that training the other day. Do we need more guns in that situation?
PERRY: Well, you're not going to have them because the university has pretty strict rule, no weapons on campus, including for military veterans of which there are a lot at San Diego state. Guys who are trained with them and respect weapons. However, rules are rules, and nobody is going to be packing heat in the dorms. So who knows what the ultimate is? I guess a cop in front of every dorm would be nice, but not real practical. In San Diego unified, when a kid starts talking wacky, they intervene! They go to the home, the cops, the counselor, and in rare occasions, they put them on a 72 hour mental health hold at a local psyche facility. So don't wait until people are popping caps at your elementary school or your high school because there are signs. We find that these young men, and it is young men who do this, often give up signs, and people either dismiss them or don't want to be a fink or whatever it is. Tell somebody!
SAUER: We have had some that have been thwarted recently.
MAAS: During the training sessions, did people discuss the policies that are in place, what should be and shouldn't be banned? Did that come up?
PERRY: Not really. This was more practical sort was things. What do you do when he is stalking your campus? San Diego state sends out immediate warning cellphone texts, social media, of course not everyone -- there are still people who aren't plugged in. So they don't get out totally, but it was more practical.
MAAS: Just in case something happened in here, we're in a small room with a bookshelf. In front of the door?
PERRY: Absolutely. I'd put it against the door.
SHARMA: We'd hide under the table.
PERRY: Or lie flat. You make yourself less of a target. People tend to stay upright so their legs can work for them. But basically, get flat. And if he does get in, you know, go for his throat. Because they do have statistics again, these grizzly statistics, that there are two people killed every four minutes when one of these things goes down.
SAUER: A caller would like to join us. Cara from Poway.
NEW SPEAKER: My daughter is in 1st grade, and yesterday the Poway sheriff's department was looking for someone with a helicopter. I heard them because I was home. I didn't even think about the school. But the school principle decided to lock down the school. And she didn't even mention it till dinner time. And my husband mentioned it because he got a call from the district alerting us that was happening, and she said the teacher locked the door, and they went over to their -- in front of the teacher's desk which is away from the window which is where they do their morning announcements anyway, and they read a book and did some stuff. She wasn't worried at all. But it was a really great tool as a parent to bring that up and talk about it, how important it is to listen to the adults. And she wasn't frightened. I've really been pleased with the information they have been given. They even talked about 911. And I didn't bring it up at home, but I was glad it was being talked about.
SAUER: Well, thanks for that call.
PERRY: Look at the Carlsbad shooting. Crazy man jumps the fence, starts blasting away, shouting crazy stuff all over the place. And the kids were terrified, but the adults as far as we know, the teachers and the staff reacted very well.
SAUER: And the one yesterday in kern county was defused by a teacher.
PERRY: The fellow started to run and some construction workers tackled him and dispensed some street justice, I think. But the faculty did well, earned their pay that day. Get the kids, get them out of the way, call the cops, etc.
MAAS: I think there's kind of -- with your point where being proactive and identifying someone who might be a potential threat, that kind of creates a big gray area, right? The difference between someone who's an alienated child versus a potential murderous person. And someone who's very quiet and can be kind of crazy, that being be a young Charles Bukowski. That might not be a young murderer.
SAUER: Anne wants to join us. Go ahead.
NEW SPEAKER: Hi, this is Anne. When I'm not hearing in the gun debate is the discussion about gun owner responsibility. These shooters always seem to be taking somebody else's guns, especially parents'. And yet we don't hear parents or gun owners in general being held responsible for the violent acts. They didn't keep their guns locked up or keep them locked up in a way that the shooter couldn't get to them.
PERRY: Sure. Andy Williams killed two, wounded a bunch at Santana high, 2001. Those were family weapons that he got out of the cabinet. It happens.
SHARMA: Even in the case of Connecticut, you have a woman who struggled to get her son, the killer, help, and yet she was a gun enthusiast.
SAUER: Right. We're going to have to leave it there.
SAUER: The word drone evokes images of far-off aerial warfare or surveillance. But a pair of entrepreneurs here have different ideas they believe could revolutionize our daily lives. Tell us about Chris Anderson and the young Tijuana engineer he's teaming up with.
ROSSMAN: Chris was a former editor and chief of Wired magazine for 12 years. During that time, he became fascinated with drones. It started off with just he bought one of those Lego mind storms with his kids and it just completely fell apart, and he felt like a failure. And he thought if he could get this unmanned Lego vehicle to fly, maybe his kids would be interested. And he just from there really got into drones. And he started this blog in 2007 about the emerging drone infrastructure, what the possibilities of it were. And he started researching and sharing his idea of just -- because he wanted to learn and see what else was out there.
SAUER: Let's define drone.
ROSSMAN: A drone is an unmanned aerial vehicle.
SAUER: And stop right there. Vehicle. Is it an aircraft or a vessel? How can a vehicle fly? That bugs me.
ROSSMAN: Well, yeah! Or the company also sells mini-helicopters, right? So it's aerial though.
ROSSMAN: Some people think about this as something that's like a remote control plane. What's the big deal? But really it's something that if you talk to -- the definition is kind of gray, but it's really something that can fly on its own. So you can tell it to go from point A to point B on your computer, and the plane will go there. And so that's the drone. And so that was kind of the idea, and Chris Anderson was fascinated with making something autonomous. Around the same time, there was a young engineer in Tijuana. He was living in Riverside, and recently moved up there, but he was playing with a toy helicopter, and he wanted to control it with the sensors in his Nintendo Wii. So he was just scouring Google how to do this. And he stumbled across this blog, and they formed the relationship from there.
SAUER: So drone, we're basically thinking about military, a lot of controversy over the death swooping in from the sky. But he's got other ideas and applications here.
ROSSMAN: Right. I think it's really important because it's a military technology right now, just like the computer was a military technology or airplanes were. But if we think about a drone, like I said, it's something that goes from point A to point B. So what they have right now are these little copters that you can put in your computer and tell it fly 400 feet up and over and come back. That's like the beginning, like the wright brothers with that big floppy plain, and the slow motion, and it's black and white. That's the phase we're at right now. If you imagine what that is, it's a flying robot. And you're telling it to do something. And it's obeying a basic command.
SAUER: Certainly the possibilities open up. Getting back to the early aviation, weren't they in fact invented here?
PERRY: Claude Ryan, early 1950s was one of the pioneers. Of course everything goes back to daVinci. He invented everything. But Ryan's innovations are sort of the ur-drone that drummond is now exploiting. But what can this thing potentially do for me? I admit I'm still annoyed I haven't gotten my jetpack.
[ LAUGHTER ]
PERRY: I drink Tang, but that jetpack that I was promised
[ LAUGHTER ]
PERRY: I could send it over Black's Beach, take some pictures?
[ LAUGHTER ]
SAUER: Spy on your neighbors? And who's going to be the air traffic controller?
ROSSMAN: That's a whole different conversation. What it can do right now, it can fly. And so you can, for young cinematographers, it's really cool because you can get these swooping aerial shots. Let's say you're a dad, and you want to film a soccer game from an interesting angle. Right now, this is the beginning stages.
SHARMA: But how do they envision it in the future? Ten years down the road, how might this be used?
ROSSMAN: Right. That's the cool thing about this company. The two started a company, 3-year robotics. Their idea is having a really basic drone and creating these computer boards that allow to put this board inside of a remote control plane or anything remote control, and allow it to be autonomous. And they're introducing it to the consumer market. So they want the consumers like the early apart to redefine what it can mean. We can only really think about potentially what it could become. But potentially, this could be something where there's a fire, and you fly in, you see kind of where the fire is, and you can put it out. You can do a food drop with it. It can be something where you attach something to your belt buckle, and you're out wind surfing, and it follows you 30 feet up in the air and it's recording what you're doing. If it's just going from point A to point B right now, you could say that it could turn into a flying skateboard, right? You just need to build that foundation.
SHARMA: But there could be potentially negative uses as well. Thought as we used drones to find out whether Osama Bin Laden was living in Pakistan, you could have cheating spouses, you know, or someone suspecting a spouse of cheating use a drone to --
SAUER: Find out and then drop the bomb!
[ LAUGHTER ]
SAUER: Ian from Solana beach, go ahead.
NEW SPEAKER: Hi, guys. I just wanted to point out that I'm a radio control aircraft enthusiast. And a few things that may be of interest. First of all, a radio control aircraft made by hobbyists flew across the Atlantic, unattended or anything, it started at Nova Scotia, and I believe it landed on an island. On another topic, your panel has asked about uses on model airplanes besides military. How about scouting volcanos? Who wants to fly a helicopter into a volcano?
SAUER: All right.
NEW SPEAKER: Or forest fires or anything where people may be at risk.
SAUER: All right. Thanks so much. I appreciate the call. What do you think about going over a volcano and getting into --
PERRY: I'd much rather send a drone than go myself.
ROSSMAN: Not with your jetpack?
[ LAUGHTER ]
PERRY: But yeah, we scoff, heap says. But who knows? These folks, these dreamers, God bless them, do they have the money to pursue this?
SAUER: Right. Is this a lucrative thing?
ROSSMAN: Yes! They kind of teamed together, and they started this company. So from DIY drone, they saw a need where these hobbyists, like the caller, they started garnering attention and speed, and they saw that they could sell their own parts and kind of eventually banded up think being they could sell their own drones. Now it's a multimillion dollar company. And they have two manufacturing facilities, one in San Diego, and another in Tijuana.
SHARMA: So people are buying them.
ROSSMAN: Oh, yeah. A lot of people are buying them.
SAUER: Getting into our discussion then, what are these folks -- are they just flying around?
ROSSMAN: Yeah, the potential really hasn't been realized where it is doing food drops. But I think there's a lot of interesting uses where one on the Internet, you can find a video of someone attaching a paintball gun to a drone.
PERRY: Oh, good.
ROSSMAN: And flying it and shooting a paintball gun. So I asked Chris Anderson about this, are and obviously surveillance concerns.
SAUER: And the ominous aspects from our previous discussion. Of
ROSSMAN: Right. And what is his responsibility in this? And he just said the possibility of this technology is really great. But in order for it to stay great, we can't limit its potential. We can just leave it in the hands of our consumers and just hope that they're going to do well. At the end of the day, if you want to hurt someone with a pair of scissors, you can.
SAUER: Well, that's true. But this has a PR image to overcome, does it not? Because of a lot of the press with the aerial warfaire and all.
ROSSMAN: I asked him about that, and they could have used a different word. They could have not said drone. But Chris said he wants to reappropriate that image, take it back from the military, introduce it to the consumer market and make us rethink in ten years, we'll think of drones as something completely different.
MAAS: Is the drone becoming the technological craft beer of San Diego? We've got general atomics, this is sort of the craft drone project, I'd imagine.
ROSSMAN: It is. And Vice Magazine recently did an interesting documentary about drones, and they used San Diego as one of the locations, and they called it the drone zone. One company was 3D robotics, another was Dayton, and they introduce drones for the military. They're not armed but they're surveillance, right? And the difference between those two, they can fly straight, they don't give an image, but it's a lot easier to use. They cost $60,000. These ones cost anywhere from $420 to $777.
SAUER: A huge difference. Thank you so much. &%F0
SAUER: Colorful doesn't quite cut it when describing the style and actions of San Diego mayor, Bob Filner. On Tuesday, he gave us quite a show, butting heads with a fellow Democrat at City Council, and then taking command at an evening rally of medical marijuana advocates. The mayor had a nasty dance in council chambers in the afternoon with Todd Gloria. Tell us what that was about.
MAAS: There was an argument about who can appoint who to SANDAG and how that's supposed to work out. And all rules of order thrown out the window as they're yelling and going in backrooms. It was pretty hectic. And everybody and tweeting and talking about all this conflict. Then he goes to this medical marijuana thing a few hours later at the La Jolla Brewhouse. And whatever fireworks went off there, it was like a U2 concert.
SAUER: Your story here "he couldn't have been more incendiary if he'd come equipped with a flame flower and squished two and fro, while crying out toke deep, my friends!" It was like that, huh?
MAAS: The medical marijuana community -- I was watching this on the live video feed. They had like three cameras going. Of and I know what the people come the community are hoping he'll say. And it was almost like every single point, he went further than they wanted! He was making promises faster than they could actually process it. And they were, like, you know, getting ready to get angry and ask for something, then they'd have to think, oh, he just promised to fix that two minutes ago!
SAUER: Well has gone on four years, we haven't had a workable dispensary. We had the task force and went round and round of the the advocates shot down the final ordinance. In a few weeks, we're going to have everything working!
MAAS: Well, maybe. Bob Filner came in there and said he was going to work on three things. And one of them was he was going to get an ordinance back up. He said perhaps in the next few weeks. I don't know if that's feasible or not, but if he thinks he can pass an ordinance on anything in a couple of week, go for it! The second thing is he said he was going to have Jan Goldsmith, are the city attorney stop going after dispensaries. Goldsmith not in a prosecutorial way has gone and shut down dispensaries. I think more than 100 of these. And the third is he would start using whatever juice he has left in Washington to talk to Obama.
SAUER: Tell him to back off. But No. 2 he's already pulled off! With the help of Jan!
MAAS: It was really interesting because he really antagonized Jan Goldsmith quite a bit during this. He was --
SAUER: He didn't get the name-calling, but he tip toed up to that.
SHARMA: Well, he call him a little man!
MAAS: He referred to him as a little guy. But the other guy that he was going to intimidate Jan with is apparently some sort of giant of a man of like 7 feet. So that was the joke that didn't carry over.
PERRY: Bob is going to be interesting to cover. I mean, he is as someone once said, a bull who brings his own China shop whenever he goes. But in term was marijuana, there is someone, and she has a real name, and she's already said some things not all together praise worthy of Mr. Filner, and that's the United States attorney Laura Duffy. And she is really in charge. And there's nothing he can do to influence her when she goes after you, we're talking criminality, and asset forfeit tour, and she's not going to slack off on this.
MAAS: Yeah, and that's interesting. He already has gone head to head with the U.S. attorney, both on this issue by writing her letters asking her to stop, but also on the political campaign trial, some dust-ups over a forum she moderated, and whether she went e-mails supporting his opponent. She has done a few prosecutions but for the most part, her actions have been civil-related. She has sent threatening letters to the dispensaries saying you need to shut down or we're going to throw you out. And she's been working a lot of this based on intelligence she's received from the city and through law enforcement coordinated through the San Diego regional narcotics task force, which is the DEA, SPD, and sheriff's department.
PERRY: You can get a phone book and find where these dispensaries are.
SAUER: Marcy, go ahead. You're with the panel.
NEW SPEAKER: Hi. I'm pretty sad that so many people including the mayor are believing that these pot shops were serving seriously ill people when reality they were mainly making huge profits just selling to recreational users. The bottom line is that the prop 215 allows these doctors' recommendations for any position, even something the patient says they have like insomnia or anxiety. The bottom line is that this is backdoor legalization. I have two teenagers. The teenagers are all getting their marijuana from people who buy a lot of medical marijuana and sell it or give it to the kids.
SAUER: That's a valid point. Thank you.
MAAS: And that might also be where kids are getting their Vicodin and their other stuff also through legal means.
PERRY: They're getting it from mom and dad's medicine cabinet. The thing with Filner, and as Goldsmith said, he's going through a period of adjustment.
PERRY: And indeed he was 20 years in Washington. He was there where there was little coverage of him, and in recent years, no coverage once the Union Tribune pulled the plug on their Washington bureau. So he's not had the day to day coverage of the hounds of the press that we have here. And also videos streaming. So this is new where his every word --
SAUER: That's a very good point. And the caller brought up a vexing problem here, having firsthand knowledge of this. Of he's going to butt heads with the police department because they did do a lot of police work on the ground with the dispensaries. And you talk to the cops and they say a few of them have worked the line to be on the up and up but so many were what Marcy was saying.
MAAS: If you spend time in a lot of these dispensaries, you do see a lot of young 20-something men going in there. But I'm not one to judge what somebody's condition is based on what they look like. Of there's a lot of young men suffering from PTSD that I'm not going to say, hey, you look like you're 20, you shouldn't be doing this.
SAUER: And some other states, Connecticut, where they're putting them in more pharmacy-like situations and a more medicine-type atmosphere.
SHARMA: If I could bring up one point, we brought up Laura Duffy as having the final say. But there's another guy in Washington who's weighed in on this, are and that's President Obama. When Oregon, Washington, and Colorado have passed laws allowing for recreational use of marijuana, he was asked if his justice department would go after them, and he has said he's got bigger fish to fry! So the question is why is this happening here? Why are they going after dispensaries?
SAUER: I think it's just Washington and Colorado but your point is well taken.
MAAS: It took a while for them to do it here. Local law enforcement were are irritated that it was allowed to build up to a point where there were hundred was places. But the idea that this is all just recreational users, if you go, I'm only surprised the number of women between the ages of 50 and 60 that I see in dispensaries. That seems to me in my observation the largest percentage I see after the young men. So I think there is a genuine issue that Bob Filner is trying to address.
PERRY: Did stories on this in the '90s. And prop 215 was the big discussion, and you talked to a lot of wheel chair user, folks who said this was the only thing helping them to a degree. And I think the California voters who passed this overwhelmingly had compassion for that. The trouble is in trying implement it. That's always been the problem. If the mayor has an answer to that, good luck. Because they had a good faith panel down who worked for a long time, medical doctors and pastors and neighborhood folks and lawyers.
PERRY: But even as he tried to play the side of the street with the cannabis activists, then within a few hours oh, when I come back with my ordinance, not going to be near schools, not going to be near playgrounds, not going to be near anything where it could degrade the quality of life of the neighborhoods that he is the champion thereof. So are we talking university avenue? An industrial park? He's going to find himself between two different constituencies.
SAUER: Right. And the county supervisors who took this battle to the Supreme Court and lost, they zoned it to the point where it's not going to be near X, Y, Z, and they wound up with one warehouse in El Cajon.
MAAS: I remember watching this very careful during the election. When the dispensaries were open, every single one had a Filner sign in the window.
SAUER: Well, DeMaio, he just flat out said for a long time, I'll give them credit for being consistent, this is not medicine. I don't believe in it, period.
MAAS: No, DeMaio was pro marijuana is medicine in the general election. Of
[ LAUGHTER ]
SHARMA: We're sort of beyond that debate now. California voters have weighed in and they say that they don't have a problem with this.
SAUER: That's true! They don't have a problem. It's just the devil in the details.
PERRY: The theory is fine. The practicality is really difficult because you end up with 14 and 15 and 17 and 18 year-olds who do not have PTSD from combat, and they're smoking weed, and where did they get it, and you find out they got it from people who supposedly were only going to sell to grandma with her terminal illness or the guy with the degenerative disk pain, etc.
SAUER: Somebody with MS, exactly.
MAAS: On the issue of neighborhoods, right now, the system is delivery. So it is coming into your neighborhood. It is somebody driving it into your neighborhood.
MAAS: As opposed to having some place central that police know where it is.
MAAS: Where to watch for. Know where to make sure kids aren't hanging out.
SAUER: Well, we're going to have to snuff out our discussion of that, I'm afraid.
MAAS: You were holding that in.
[ LAUGHTER ]