Roundtable: San Onofre; SD Schools' CFO; Path To Citizenship; Plaza de Panama; Meatball The Bear
February 8, 2013 1:29 p.m.
Will Carless, Voice of San Diego
Katie Orr, KPBS News
Tony Perry, Los Angeles Times
John Rosman, Fronteras Desk
Alison St John, KPBS News
Related Story: Roundtable: San Onofre; SD Schools' CFO; Path To Citizenship; Plaza de Panama; Meatball The Bear
MARK SAUER: A newly unearthed report states problems with steam generators at the San Onofre this is The Roundtable on KPBS. Hi, Mark Sauer, good afternoon. It's Friday, February 8th, thanks for being with us, joining me are Alison St John, North County Bureau Chief and reporter Will Carless, Katie Orr, and John Rosman and Tony Perry for the "Los Angeles Times". If you have a question join our toll free No. 1 888 895 5727. In the years since the San Onofre was shutdown we have seen news about what led to revolutions about leaks. But the question is who knew what it when did they know it? Allison tell us what Barbara Boxer is reporting.
ST JOHN: Barbara is calling this an alarming report, and it's interesting because information seems to be leaking out to use the term that's relevant for this story, they're keeping the pot boiling on this steam generator issue because this morning we learned that not only as Barbara Boxer covered this report, we don't know where she got this, they had been trying to get the NRC to release it and they haven't, but according to the report they knew about the problems before the generators were installed. I think one of the questions was the reason they did not do the fix is because they wanted to avoid a more thorough review. The information that we're getting today is that Congressman Markey suggests that the report says there was an antivibration bar team in place two years before the leak happened, that they made recommendations for fixes and then according to the report the only specific reason cited in the report for not doing the fixes was because they were concerned about the fact that it might trigger a
MARK SAUER: Let's back up a second. We talked about the report and it shows that they knew beforehand, what was Southern California Edison, the utility that owns 80% of that plant, San Diego Gas And Electricity owns 20%, what was their response?
ST JOHN: They put out a report saying they took it very seriously and then they came back and said it's simply not accurate to know that they were aware of the problems, Mitsubishi warranted them to be free from defects after installation, Edison said they would not install something like that –
MARK SAUER: Markey is saying that's wrong?
ST JOHN: That's right, Markey is saying, well, you can say that but this suggests there was a team in place making suggestions and the company decided not to go with the fixes.
MARK SAUER: Do we have the full report or are they playing two card no peeky?
ST JOHN: That's an interesting, question, the NRC said it has had this report for months and when the friends of the earth were doing their best to get these documents released, and they said they couldn't release them because they're proprietary, and I spoke to Victor Drexel, the president of the NRC who said it's not their practice to release the document. Then the question arises, why isn't Boxer and Markey
MARK SAUER: I think everyone would like a copy.
ST JOHN: We have asked and they have said no, they can't.
PERRY: In all of this dispute it seems that there are a lot of advocates on either side, there is the company and the green folks, they have certain views about nuclear power. Do we have known partisans who have looked at this non governmental, nonpartisans to tell us how bad things are or are we hyped um over nothing?
ST JOHN: It's layer after layer, the public is distressed that the NRC seems to be siding with the companies. However, the NRC is saying we have not made a decision yet, we are an independent agency, we are taking all the information into account. So some are hoping that the new head, Allison McFarland will bring a new favor to this and ink it's the most important thing that Boxer and Markey have weighed in because it's politics that will force more information out into the open.
PERRY: What happens if those Dolly Parton's never get back online?
ORR: It's been off line for a year now, have we had any impact? Do we need the power plant?
ST JOHN: We asked the ISO, they're the folks in California that are responsible for keeping the lights on should we be worried and the answer they gave us was we have sleepless nights so you don't have to.
MARK SAUER: Our guests today are the The Roundtable are John Rosman, Katie Orr, Tony Perry and Will Carless, Voice of San Diego, and Alison St John, what is the NRC's response so far?
ST JOHN: We have received the letter and we will respond in the normal course of business and that phrase is interesting because they had a meeting the day after the letter came they had a meeting with Allison McFarland about the question whether to restart and did the subject come up? No. So in the normal course of busy asked the NRC will it come up at next Tuesday's hearing and he says no, it will not. Depends on whether the public brings it up, whether it's on the agenda or not.
MARK SAUER: You're covering that hearing, would you expect folks to say, let's talk about this?
ST JOHN: I have calls out to find out what their plans are but I would assume they're planning to bring it up but whether they will be allowed to, I don't know. They're saying they will review the available information. From their perspective it's like we knew this already and we're moving ahead and taking it all into account and we will decide in May whether to restart the plan.
MARK SAUER: What are the implications of this? As lay people we talked about this as you were doing the stories this week. Is it a criminal thing? A CEO or someone could go to jail over this in terms of knowing ahead of time?
ST JOHN: I think like Tony says we have to get more of the documents because you know how it is, it's possible to quote documents out of context, if you have a position, the fact that senator Boxer is concerned about the 8 million people who live within 50 miles of the plant in her district is an indication that there is something going on here.
PERRY: How about a congressional hearing where they go after them like tigers?
ST JOHN: From my perspective I do feel like it's go got to be somebody at the level of Boxer to put the pressure on. What I don't understand is why she is not at liberty to release these documents. Everybody tells me that they have been forced to sign nondisclosure agreements so that the culture at the NRC is clamping down.
CARLESS: Let's be clear, they can give us these documents if they want to, so it's a question of whether they want to, right, and that's what I'm interested in why aren't they releasing this? If this is such an issue of public interest, let us see it.
MARK SAUER: John?
ROSMAN: Is this different from the culture?
ST JOHN: Plants have problems with generators, absolutely.
MARK SAUER: Although this was a
ST JOHN: They haven't had problems over the last five or six years
MARK SAUER: Until now.
ST JOHN: Right but this is one the whole industry is interested in and people like "friends of the earth" are saying well you may say these are proprietary but everybody probably knows what the problems were they just don't want the public to know.
MARK SAUER: That's a concern and you have senator Boxer and Markey release that these this week and they don't make themselves available. We invited senator Markey to come on this show, you release the stuff and back away?
ST JOHN: You hope that your senator will be willing to come in and take a stand behind something that very much affects everybody in her district.
MARK SAUER: Alison, remind us about the hearing, the time and the date if people wish to attend?
ST JOHN: It's not a hearing, it's a "meeting" but the public will have a chance to ask questions and it is next Tuesday night at 6:00, up the road in let me find the information, you can find it on the NRC web site, Dana Point.
MARK SAUER: And we have it on KPBS.org. My guests are Will Carless, Katie Orr, Tony Perry, John Rosman, and Alison St John. We're going to shift to the second story now, Will, your interview with Stan Dobbs new chief financial officer of San Diego City Schools, give us a snapshot of Dobbs.
CARLESS: Dobbs is the new CFO after the school board superintendent left and I went in to have an interview thinking it was going to be a wonky conversation about the Governor's budget plans and I ended up talking with him for about two years and I didn't realize how extraordinary what he said was until I got back to the office and started transcribing it. But he made comments about the district having hundreds of excess employees and the amount that the teachers make and we ended up fact checking those statements and a few turned out to be false.
MARK SAUER: You didn't correct him about his comment where teachers were making $92,000 and classroom sizes it's no problem
CARLESS: That's right.
MARK SAUER: Why didn't you bring those points out when you were
CARLESS: It's a valid point, it's tricky, normally what you do a Q and A, you go in armed with the best information that you have and sometimes they steam role roller over you and what's the journal list's responsibility? Should you question them or hold off until it's been fact checked. We decided to run with the Q and A and then fact check. In retrospect what we should have done is hold them until they were fact checked and run them concurrently or at least put in an editor's note saying we don't think this is would it. I didn't think the $92,000 was right, I said, look, that's want what most teachers make and he insisted that it was. We will be more careful in the future. I think it was an interesting interview that got people talking.
PERRY: He may have blown that figure but I was right that 92% of the budget goes for personnel so you have 8% to deal with.
CARLESS: That's right.
PERRY: And 92 is a check of a lot higher than other school districts.
CARLESS: That's right and I haven't looked into that point but he has been the CFO for two different school districts.
PERRY: For short periods of time, right.
CARLESS: And who knows if his numbers are right, correct, but he said it was more like eighth 5% in those districts and I've heard it hovers around 90%, this is a staff intensive industry, and not just that Tony but the points he made about transparency, about making sure that people have access to the budget and everything else, the guy made a lot of smart, intelligent comments going forward. I think it's a shame that he is going to be branded for the mistakes he made not for the good points he made.
ST JOHN: And he's going to have to watch his step because Alan Berson came in thinking he could fix it and he came up against the labor unions and they're responsible for making the schools work so you have to respect the organization and it seems like he's setting off on a wrong foot.
CARLESS: That's right and he was all about work with the unions, said he had a great relationship with the union, they threw a party for me when I left and I say like, well, dude, you're not starting off
ORR: He could have a party for many reasons.
MARK SAUER: What about the implications that the board is owned and operate operated by the labor unions. Is it true?
CARLESS: Well, it's certainly true that the labor unions have a huge amount of power in getting people elected. The latest election that we had, if you look at the election of Monte foster versus bill Ponder, both strong candidates, one was backed by the union and one wasn't, and the union backed person barely campaigned and he cruised to victory.
ORR: It's interesting because I read your piece and, you know, comparing him Mayor Filner, they say they're going to get in there and clean things up and when they get into office they realize there is a way things work and it's not as easy to get in there and "clean house."
MARK SAUER: And there is always a concern about getting "fragged" where you get shot by your own folks.
PERRY: And his comment about the 92% he said no company could run like this and I said yo, not a company. It is not a company, my) that was John) are we going back to
ST JOHN: Except that he said you know what? I have to sell the bonds that the board has passed and I am liable to the investors and this is where school districts which are public agencies are beginning to the more bonds the more they are indebted to the investors With the more they have to be held accountable.
CARLESS: That's right, it's not just bonds, but it's also the fact that these guys issue tax revenue anticipation notes, TRANS, which is basically where they get their cash from to pay the budget. The state doesn't give them their money on time they have to go out and get $200 million to keep operations going and all of those things are attached to standard and Poors, and he said let's come up with a long term solution and
PERRY: What about his point that the problem is that this district and others shovel so much money into salary and benefits for its labor union employees it has very little left so it has to then go out and get these expensive bonds to run. If they weren't shoveling all that money the allegation is they would have more money to buy books and stuff.
CARLESS: The bigger issue is are teachers paid too much, do they get higher compensation than others, and the thing is clearly there isn't enough money left over at the current level we pay them to do everything else. There is not enough money to maintain schools which is why we have to sell bonds at expensive prices to do that. We have to make the decision either we pay teachers less and give them less compensation to have money to do everything else or
MARK SAUER: This is the classic San Diego city government, whereas Carl DeMayo, and we have a labor union and a cheap electorate.
CARLESS: But the school board is elected by the public, if they're that outraged, they can show up and vote.
MARK SAUER: But as you point out, they're not.
CARLESS: They're not and maybe it's a communication problem where they don't realize the people on the school board are important, you might want to pay attention but I don't think it's reached the level of outrage where the public is going to show up in large numbers examinee electricity fiscal conservatives or whoever to the school board to stop that from happening and until they do it's going to carry on.
ST JOHN: I was trying to think about the relationship between the school district and the city and the city has been through big struggles with the labor units and one of the reasons they had leverage was the city could threaten you're going to be privatized, and you can't do that to teachers
ORR: We will see when they start negotiating with the labor unions. Filner has a tight relationship with the unions and it will be interesting to see what benefits he gives them and then he has to get those approved by the city council and whether or not the counsel goes along with what he gives them.
MARK SAUER: And you did a follow up with this because the superintendent came back after reading the interview.
CARLESS: Right, the superintendent said look I apologize for various misstatements that were made, talking about the factual inaccuracy, and everything else, it wasn't a mea culpa for everything that he said but walking back on specific things. What I think is interesting about the political dynamics of this is why do they hire this guy? Did Bill hire this guy Dobbs and that's not to cast aspersions on the guy's revenue because he's clearly a smart guy but politically is Bill, the superintendent, afraid to tackle these issues?
ROSMAN: Yeah, is he going to say the things that Bill can't?
CARLESS: I don't know, it was political naivety combined with not really understanding how things work here. That's what's extraordinary, I think the last line of that article is like, you know, you've got to think outside the box when you're thinking about long term solutions and it's like, how did we get to the point we're thinking about long term solutions and that's thinking out of the box?
PERRY: Is this effective change that he's implementing by challenging labor unions?
MARK SAUER: We may find out as this plays out. We're going to have to leave it there, thanks so much for that discussion. Coming up, the plan to revamp Balboa Park's Plaza de Panama is dead, or is it? You're listening The Roundtable on KPBS.
MARK SAUER: We're back on the round table my guests are John Rosman, Tony Perry, and will Carlos, from voice of San Diego" let's move to the dispute over the plan to get vehicles out of Plaza de Panama, in Balboa, Katie, tell us about it.
ORR: The Plaza de Panama, it's been over a year or so that they have been working on this and Dr. Irwin Jacobs, a supporter of KPBS and voice of San Diego offered up millions of dollars that he was going to contributor he raise to build a bypass road around the south portion of the Museum Of Man, and they were going to build a parking structure behind the Spreckles organ pavilion.
MARK SAUER: And he spent money.
ORR: He spent millions of dollars to get an EIR, environmental impact report and there was a segment that hated this plan, which would require the bypass going into the archery range and they sued
MARK SAUER: We should say the plan was signed off on.
ORR: Jerry Sanders was a huge backer and Sheri Lightener did not like the fact that you would have to pay to park in the parking structure.
MARK SAUER: A different issue?
ORR: Right but they weren't a fan of that either so they sued and the judge issued a tentative ruling and he reinforced earlier this week saying that the plan was not legal was it violated the city's municipal code and it hinged on three words, reasonable, beneficial use. Basically you cannot touch anything historic in San Diego according to the municipal code unless it has no reasonable beneficial in its current form so the city said no this is not reasonable because this plaza is filled with cars and park and go we can't use this. Soho said this is a reasonable use for the Plaza de Panama and since it required taking a section off the historic bridge that's why it applied. Soho said you may not like the parking lot here but it doesn't mean it's reasonable use.
CARLESS: How much did the city attorneys mess up on this?
ORR: If they had anticipated this they could have amended the code to give this project an exception
MARK SAUER: Take the legs out of it.
ORR: Right and Jacobs said on KPBS that he was disappointed they miss that had because the judge ruled that all the environmental things they had gone through fine, because Soho filed several complaints and some of those were that they violated the California Environmental Quality Act and the judge said no, they were fine but they messed up on "reasonable use" and Jan Goldsmith asked the judge to take a loose interpretation, he said that Soho was being too rigid and now Jacobs said "I'm done"
CARLESS: That's what I found the most extraordinary about this, normally when something hits this hurdle, everyone stands up and says, we're going to the fight and Jacobs said "I'm done."
ORR: And I think it was this project that they said at the city council they were saying what if you don't get the money and he said don't worry about it, we're going to get the money.
ROSMAN: Certainly this was a concern of Dr. Jacobs, but do you sense there is a public yearning to take the cars out of that park? I never thought that the cars coming across the bridge, creeping along and probably going down the road there and to the bigger lot, I never thought that this mars this jewel called Balboa Park.
ORR: Well, Soho said they are not against getting the cars out of the Plaza de Panama, everyone wants to seem to want cars out of there, if you bike or run through there it can be dangerous, there are cars circling, the bridge is hard to navigate, so everyone wanted the cars out of the parking lot. How you get there is the point of contention, and Jacobs said he will fund this plan, he said he will fund any alternative that meets his standards that he has in mind but he says none of the alternatives do that.
MARK SAUER: Let's talk about the alternatives. Where is the plan B and C?
ORR: There are a number of alternatives, in the Environmental Impact Report they considered nine, Mayor Filner said we could build a parking garage on Inspiration Point, that's across Park Boulevard, we can take people in by tram and he's fond of saying
CARLESS: He's fond of saying "we can just do this!"
ORR: And that is the point, where is the money coming from?
ROSMAN: During the campaign Filner seemed to be annoyed at the idea that Jacobs used his fortune to influence public policy. He seemed to be saying "Yo, if we want to do this the public ought to pay for it" is that still his position
ORR: He's softened it.
ROSMAN: Because it's hard to tell.
ORR: He has softened it. Once you look at the finances, of course he said he hopes they can come to mediation, whereby everyone is happy with the plan but they still get the money.
ST JOHN: Can I ask, I don't remember it at the beginning how much money there was in the plan or did it come fully formed?
ORR: I believe this plan is the plan that they sort of wanted. This is the they being Mayor Sanders, Irwin Jacobs, I think they had over 100 public meetings but opponents will say they were kind of for show, this is the one they wanted and this is the one they were going to go forward with. On the other hand they will say no this is truly the best plan but there is tension there.
CARLESS: Filner is a stumbling block if they want to take this back to the council, if they want to get a waiver then the question is will Bob veto it or sign off?
ORR: I would think he said it's a bad plan, he never liked the plan, infamously he came to the planning meeting with a woman dressed like Kate Sessions, and he said –
CARLESS: Wouldn't be the first time he back tracked.
ORR: He has back tracked on that.
PERRY: What is symbolic about this making it a more walkable, green friendly place, I feel like it's caught up in policy but what type of impact does it have on the people who want to make the city more walkable?
ORR: It would make Balboa Park more walkable, it wouldn't make it easier to walk to Balboa Park, I think the bigger thing is the Centennial Celebration, they wanted it to be all new for that, and that has funding issues, but everyone wanted to get something done in time for that so this is why you get the sense that they may not appeal because it's going to take so much time. They have to start construction at some point if they want to get it done and it doesn't look like it's going to happen by then.
CARLESS: Construction projects hardly ever go over time!
ORR: Always smooth sailing!
ST JOHN: There are things on the web site saying don't give up, here is another plan, let's share the bridge but I don't get how that solves the problem.
ORR: The one plan would have traffic going one way into the park and then they would go through one corner of the Plaza de Panama so you would have that thorough fare, and some said it would cause a traffic nightmare on the west side of the park. So there were all sorts of plans but the bottom line is where is the money.
MARK SAUER: We're going to have to cross laurel street bridge my guests today are indicate, John, Tony Perry of the Los Angeles times and will Carlos of voice of San Diego. We are going to turn now to the immigration reform debate, both the Senate and President Obama's proposal agree citizen is now in the back of the line but it turns out there isn't one line, John, tell us the process for immigrants to obtain citizenship currently.
ROSMAN: Right and it's complicated. It starts off simple and then it just gets really into the weeds so I'm going to be a little more broad with it but as you know, you can get a green card in a couple of different ways, through the employer, right, and family based Visa with a wife in Canada that needed to come over. So the way to get green cards in this country is through family based Visas, and there are different preference lines. My wife example there is unlimited Visas, that makes sense, you want to streamline that process, people bringing wives over, and after that there is a cap on certain Visas or more distant relationships, my brother, who lives in Mexico, or my son who is older than 21 who lives in Mexico and these are family preference lines that are kind of divided by country. So Mexico gets a certain so they're divided by country based on demand. So from there, let's use an airport analogy, that's what I used in my story. We have different types of waiting lines and for a certain waiting line the lines are really, really long. So when you fall to a certain preference line for a certain country in a certain category you're going to be waiting longer than other people. So when the President and the Senate uses this example "back of the line, it makes a really cloudy metaphor that makes no sense.
ORR: So if you are an engineer from India and you want to work at Qualcomm your wait might be significantly shorter than a man from Mexico who wants to come in to the United States –
MARK SAUER: To the 3 first cousin once removed
ROSMAN: Exactly those are two separate things, so I focused on one line within the family based preference Visa line and that is for someone over the age of 21 who is the son or daughter of a U.S. citizen. If you look at the Visa bulletin, you get a time card when you enter the line and you can judge it against the bulletin it's 20 years. That's how long it will take you to get a Visa card. If you talk to an immigration lawyer, they say that's not true it's more like over 100 years. So that's a large discrepancy, 20 years versus 100 years, and how she comes up with that number is you can't take this Visa bulletin at face value. So if it says July 1993 for this category, that isn't 20 years because if you go back over 10 years in this family category line it hasn't moved, it's actually gone backwards 18 months in 10 years so we can't take this as face value and say 20 years we have to look over time to see the change.
MARK SAUER: Why not come in as a tourist, live in an ethnic enclave, up near Fremont or why not do that?
ROSMAN: That's what many do –
MARK SAUER: So play by the rules and your screwed, and cheat and you're –
CARLESS: Is it takes 100 years or even 20 years to get in why is anyone going to play by it?
MARK SAUER: Let's bring it around to the millions of people here already where are the lines for them?
ROSMAN: It's so complicated and I think I think it's only going to get more complex as we talk about immigration reform but the person I talked to who has been in this line for 18 years now, he's gone through this process of getting his number called where, you know, his time has come up and in between the time of getting his number called and applying for a Visa for the final interview the numbers have gone back in time and he's not eligible.
PERRY: Where is he living now?
ROSMAN: He lives with his parents.
PERRY: Why bother?
ROSMAN: For him this wait is worth it because it's a sense of identity that he doesn't have right now. He went to college here, he's been living in the United States and he wants a voice and wants to be part of the system. He's optimistic but my take is, there is a sense of feeling cheated, you know, you wait your time, you're doing your time and you can't become a citizen.
PERRY: It's an insane policy. I inquired recently how about the translators who risk their lives in helping Americans in Afghanistan or Iraq and the answer is "not going to happen" there is just no line that it's going to happen unless you happen to be married to one and that's outrage I couldn't say.
CARLESS: And you have people like my brother who is English who moved over here
MARK SAUER: I never would have guessed that!
CARLESS: I was born in the States, he wasn't, he has a British passport and he had a green card within a few years, why? Because he's British?
MARK SAUER: We love that accent, that's why.
ROSMAN: And I think that's a great point it's the fact that there are far more many Mexicans trying to immigrate in the U.S. and the reason the wait time is so long is because they're benefitting the most, they're getting the most legal Visas. So it's a process. The reason that these numbers are crowd and had it's going back in time in some cases is because of benefitting and because the demand is so high.
ORR: I think you raised a point earlier, it's not about the logistics of getting a green card or Visa, it's about your identity. It's wrapped up in so much stuff. These kids that were brought over here as babies and they're not citizens and then they send them back to their "home country" they don't have any idea what that country is about.
MARK SAUER: Parachuting in from
ORR: Right it's complicated, multifaceted, and it's not as easy as "go stand in line with the rest of them".
MARK SAUER: We hear the political moons are lining up and we are finally going to have everybody talking about it but what about when it gets to the nitty gritty.
ROSMAN: And they bring up 86, which is
ST JOHN: I feel like this is a nation of immigrants, why shouldn't it happen again?
CARLESS: High five!
MARK SAUER: We have heard from the foreign contingent.
ROSMAN: The positive thing is that the president acknowledges there is an issue with the backlog system. How that's going to play out, who knows?
ORR: If they have anything on their side it's the fact that the Hispanic population is becoming a bigger political force in the country and we have seen the Republicans backtrack on this firm stand against immigration reform and acknowledging that they have to do something because of
MARK SAUER: They're going to lose –
ORR: Because of the sheer number of people.
ROSMAN: The lynch pin is this is all contingent upon the secure border and it's a fair compromise, everyone wants a secure border and we can't have legal immigration reform unless the border is secure.
CARLESS: This shouldn't a polarizing issue, when things are inefficient and working badly you should be concerned about that, whatever side of the aisle you stand or sit on it's not a political issue, it's a system that's broken, it isn't working, we need two fix it, right?
MARK SAUER: It's the law and order issue, what about "illegal" don't you understand? Weapon don't hear much about that.
ROSMAN: That's the general agreement, it's a huge step acknowledging it's a broken system but what do you do when you live in a small border town and you see undocumented immigrants coming to your town and you feel like your job is threatened and juror
PERRY: We live in San Diego county and this is what the sociologists call an issue and there is a cost to illegal immigration and the concern is San Diego county is going to get run over once again by a bill like 86 that doesn't secure the border but seems to encourage
MARK SAUER: We're not going to be able to delve into that, thank you for that discussion. Coming up a haven in the rolling hills of East County for a bear who is smarter than average. You're listening The Roundtable on KPBS.
MARK SAUER: Welcome back to the The Roundtable I'm Mark Sauer. My guests are Katie Orr, John Rosman and Alison St John from KPBS, Tony Perry and Will Carless. We hear about devastating wild fires in California, less is hear about proximity to wildlife and that conflict was in the news when a black bear started to roam through neighborhoods in suburban Los Angeles. Tony, tell us about "Meat Ball!"
PERRY: Among journalist professions is the opportunity to meet celebrities, I now have met one, a rather strong cage between the two of us, I met Meat Ball, who disturbed the folks up there largely when he started roam and go eating out of their garbage cans, and he was terrorizing garbage cans and he is now in residence at a sanctuary owned by Bobbi Brighton and she has 17 species and she has Meat Ball, the thought was he was going to be there temporary until he could get air lifted to Colorado and there was a rule in Colorado no wild caught bears in our sanctuaries, so looks like he is an Alpinean for the rest of his life, Bobbi is raising funds for a campaign and Meat Ball is helping.
MARK SAUER: I've been out there, it's quite the facility. Explain what here doing.
PERRY: Bobbi says her mission is clear, she doesn't buy, sell, trade, breed animals, all she does is take animals, find animals that are in dreadful, confining circumstances, rescue them and give them a decent life for the rest of their life. You're right she started out there with two animals, 10 years ago that were living in a dreadful enclosure in Texas with a comment floor, she arrived with them and now it's really very nice. True, it isn't as if they were living in the wild but her point is that there are too many folks out there keeping exotic animals that don't have the capacity, couple of years ago somebody 500 pound tiger in Harlem.
MARK SAUER: Tell us about that, are these people are big egos or
PERRY: In Ohio there was little or no regulation and then there was that whacked out incident in 2011 where a fellow who was keeping dozens of these exotics and officials had to come out and take down the animals, after he committed suicide. And they are doing regulation there now. In other places, Texas, Florida, also issue it's all what you like, you want to keep a tiger in your backyard, you can. There is federal legislation, the circuses don't like the Feds getting involved, they have bottled the bill up in the past.
ROSMAN: At the risk of sounding like a buzz kill, Meat Ball the bear is cute but with climate change happening, something experts are warning about is more wildlife are going to be introduced into suburban areas because they're hungrier and are we prepared for things like
PERRY: No and they tracked Meat Ball and they tried leading him into woods and he went right back to Glendale and started causing problems again and we hear about other incidents
MARK SAUER: One in East County this week
PERRY: Yeah, it's all cute at the beginning and it gets scary. We haven't had a dreadful incident, we did a couple of years, a mountain lion, but it was a wild animal and someone went into his area up at the park. The answer is no, like a lot of oncoming problems we're not prepared for this at all.
CARLESS: Tony, county public meet Meat Ball?
PERRY: Yes, they can.
MARK SAUER: She has a B and B out there.
PERRY: Go out and you can meet all kinds of animals. Go to the web site, various programs.
CARLESS: I know what I'm going to do. I'm going to take my daughter.
PERRY: He's helped with the fund raising because there is no government money, $30,000 a month to maintain these animals.
ST JOHN: This reminds me of "Life of Pi." How does they get the money?
PERRY: You and me, corporate sponsors and people who help with the structure of the enclosures at a cut rate. It's a continual hustle for money. They are a nonprofit, those folks know exactly what that is, in fact, everybody here is working for a nonprofit and
MARK SAUER: And she is constantly in arrears so they are holding events out there and inviting folks to come out.
ORR: Not that we would have a similar thing in San Diego but in Florida there are so many pythons, they're sponsoring a hunt. You get $1500 for bagging the biggest python.
PERRY: And alligators on the golf course, which I'm not a fan of. At Torrey Pines there was an incident out there when we were playing a few years ago
CARLESS: It wasn't a drunk in public incident?
MARK SAUER: I'm going to thank John Rosman, Katie Orr and Alison St John and Will Carless and Tony Perry. Stay tuned to KPBS for this and more information and tune into KPBS Evening Edition. I'm Mark Sauer, thanks for listening, have a great weekend.