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Roundtable: Filner v. Hoteliers; UT-TV Examined; CPR Ethics; Drone Medal Controversy

March 8, 2013 2:22 p.m.


Scott Lewis, CEO, Voice of San Diego

Sara Libby, managing Editor, Voice of San Diego

Maureen Cavanaugh, host, KPBS Midday Edition

Rick Rogers,

Related Story: Roundtable: Filner v. Hoteliers; UT-TV Examined; CPR Ethics; Drone Medal Controversy


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

SAUER: The mayor tangles anew with hotel owners and wants to greatly expand commerce at the board of San Diego. I'm Mark Sauer. Good afternoon. It's Friday, March 8th. Thanks for being with us. Joining me on the Roundtable today Scott Lewis, CEO of Voice of San Diego.

LEWIS: Hello.

SAUER: Sara Libby, managing editor of Voice of San Diego.

LIBBY: Hello.

SAUER: Maureen Cavanaugh, host of KPBS Midday Edition. Good to see you not in your usual seat!

CAVANAUGH: Good to see you, Mark.

SAUER: And military blogger, Rick Rogers.

ROGERS: Good to see you, Mark.

SAUER: Well, he promised to shake things up at City Hall, and mayor Bob Filner is certainly doing that. Part of a deal that raised eyebrows before he was elected last fall involved the city hoteliers taking over control of sales and marketing efforts from the Convention Center Corporation. This issue has several moving parts, Scott. Give us an overview of the negotiations regarding how the expansion of the downtown Convention Center was going to be financed.

LEWIS: Well, this is one of the most extensive projects we'll have built in decades in San Diego. It is primarily financed by an increase in the hotel room taxes. You pay 10.5% in your stay in a hotel room in San Diego and an additional 2% on top of that toward what's called a tourism marketing district. That's a separate issue that's a bill controversy. On top of that, they want to add a 3%, 2%, or 1% onto your hotel room bill depending on where you're staying. If it's chosen to the Convention Center, it'd be more. If you want to add to the tourism -- or the transient occupancy tax.

SAUER: The tax on tourists.

LEWIS: If you want to add to that, it traditionally needs a vote of the people. In 2004, they tried twice to raise taxes on hotel rooms with money that would go to firefighters and other things and they failed. So to do with without a vote of the people, they came up with a really weird concept.

SAUER: “They” meaning the City Council.

LEWIS: And the hotel owners, it's modeled off of Mello-Roos. So they're going to raise their collective property taxes of hotels and then pass it on based not on the property but on the revenue of the hotel, which they'll then transfer over to the user of the hotel services. So unlike the -- they just say it's a property tax that they can raise on themselves. But since it's the actual consumer who's paying it, there's a challenge out there that says this is not legal, you cannot raise this without the vote. So there's a lawsuit and there's going to be a hearing on it and a tentative ruling next week.

SAUER: And that comes up on Monday?

LEWIS: Yes, the tentative ruling comes up Monday, and then there'll be a final hearing. This is the biggest step along the way of a gigantic construction project. In order for the hoteliers -- you wanted to ask about the negotiations, in order for the hoteliers to agree to do this, the city wanted to do this deal, the hoteliers would not agree unless the city transferred marketing of the Convention Center out of the Convention Center corporation which is a nonprofit thing the city set up, and into the tourism authority, which is formally known as the ConViz. So it's that switch that Filner has said that he does not like. It's because a lot of labor unions are uncomfortable with that because they're worried that some of the operations of the Convention Center will get outsourced to private hotels that don't have the same labor.

SAUER: So the mayor has called the expansion a budget deficit giveaway. What's he mean? That's what he was talking about, switching the sales and marketing of the tourist marketing center over to the tourism authority. And he calmed down on that as did a lot of progressives in town when their concerns about the legality of this tax were alleviated magically when project labor agreement, an agreement for how the center would be built with union labor, labor that they're more comfortable with --

SAUER: Less expensive labor.

LEWIS: No, more in some ways. When that agreement was passed, labor and a lot of progressives dropped their concerns about the legality of the tax itself.

SAUER: And if you really want to bore into this, that gets complicated with the state law regarding these agreements.

LEWIS: Right. But the city is so uncomfortable with this tax that they basically sued themselves and said we want to make sure this is validated so we're not halfway through construction and somebody throws this out.

SAUER: Maureen, earlier this week on Monday, you interviewed Mayor Filner. Who did he have to say about the tourism marketing district?

CAVANAUGH: I think it's fair to say all of this is incredibly complicated and it's all linked together. He was addressing most specifically on our program the -- his objection to the tourism marketing district's contract, that 40-year contract that the City Council also has as part of this deal, that the tourism marketing district wanted in order to be giving so much money over to the Convention Center expansion. So it's all sort of under one umbrella. And now mayor Filner is in and he's saying I don't like any of this, actually. And I want to get in there and I want to see what I can do to change these things. One of the problems is, when it comes to the tourism marketing district agreement, the agreement that Scott was talking about, all these things, moving the marketing of the convention bureau to ConViz, all of these things have been settled legally. They've been signed, sealed, and delivered. And so to have mayor Filner now come in and say that he wants to change these agreement, the internal parts of these agreement, it's a little bit of a problem. And that's why he's had a problem with the city attorney about this.

SAUER: Yeah, what do you think his real motives are here? Do you take him at his word that he's just concerned about how this went down?

LEWIS: The sales and marketing issue, that's still something that labor and progressives in town would like to reconsider. The Convention Center corporation has been pretty well respected. And their CEO quit after this happened last year.

SAUER: Tell us again just basically, what do they do?

LEWIS: The Convention Center Corporation manages the Convention Center, and then it used to market and sell. So for instance if you're the radiologists of New Hampshire, and you're --

SAUER: Looking for a place for a convention.

LEWIS: They would contact you and get it booked. Now it's the ConViz, now known as the tourist authority that's going to do that job. And they're worried they're losing their jobs if Filner is successful. The question is what power does he have? Can he just send this mean letter and the board of the Convention Center will redo what it did last year? I think this particular deal was done, but the legality of these two taxes has not been settled at all. And that's what we're going to be watching the month of March. It's going to be a huge issue if you've been in San Diego. It means something for your wallet.

SAUER: And the game could change based on what happens there in court, right?

LEWIS: I think the entire establishment, San Diego business and the economic development folks, and labor will be watching next week because this huge project is in the balance.

SAUER: It's been just one interesting thing after another.

LEWIS: This all comes though not from the mayor as much as it comes from the fact that you need 2/3 vote of the people to get taxes passed. And to avoid that, they come up -- even these anti-tax right-wingers come up with these crazy roundabout ways to raise taxes without taking it to the vote of the people. It's not a self-assessment any more than the other line items on the hotel bill is. And if you want to assess self, you can just contribute to a fund. You want the government to impose that tax on all the hotels in the district.

SAUER: Right. And you mentioned earlier, it's a 40-year deal.

LEWIS: Well, that's the TMD.

SAUER: Right. The TMD itself then. That hamstrings going forward any council or mayor because you raised it up to what? 13%? If you're going to be competitive with other convention city, that's it, you maxed out what you can tax folks.

LEWIS: 40 years for any deal is ridiculous.

SAUER: Who knows what the future brings?

LEWIS: And they're going to say, well, all these things -- the reason they wanted to do it is because they did the first one for only five year, and now they don't want to have to deal with all this crap! They want a constant stream of gravy and let it be!

SAUER: Let's give the listeners a break from that headache.

LEWIS: I think they're enlightened and excited!

SAUER: The mayor talked about adding 6,000 high-paying jobs along the waterfront, this maritime commerce. Tell us what he unveiled.

LEWIS: Well, he has this vision for the port being a jobs factory that has a lot of problems with it. For instance Barrio Logan is becoming more of a residential place. And it abuts the port. So he wants to develop more job, do more importing and exporting. But part of what he wants to do also is build a new freeway! So you don't have to go through Barrio Logan for this sort of thing! These are pretty gigantic plans, and they come at a time when the idea of importing and exporting out of west coast ports like San Diego is going to be questionable anyway with the Panama canal getting wider and west coast courts like long beach and L.A. worried about their future, let alone the little ones like San Diego. So the idea the port can bring in 6,000 more jobs I think is a stretch. But on the other hand, he's made it very clear this was his main economic idea when he was running. And it's the one that he's going to keep working on.

SAUER: And he also talked about this marine highway.


SAUER: He was going over it with you too, wasn't he?

CAVANAUGH: Actually we did not talk about that. But from what I understand, the mayor is referencing I-5 as being sort of the lifestream of San Diego. And on land, he wants to make an M-5 sort of freeway, this mythical idea of a marine freeway to bring in more business to San Diego port; isn't that right?

LEWIS: Yeah! And again, there's a lot of infrastructure issues at the port. But it's not like a big freeway will just unleash all this activity too. It's just that market itself is a pie that in fact is shrinking on the west coast. So I hope he has more insightful ideas than I have.

SAUER: He was talking about commuter boat, and racing up those, and Del Mar folks on the train. We tried that, did not we? Didn't we have the hydra foils? Am I dating myself?

CAVANAUGH: May I ask Scott, when the mayor unveiled this big port plan, and as you say, this was a major part of his campaign, there didn't seem to be an awful lot of concrete ideas there. There were junkets to the east and -- did you find anything in the plan that was, like, I will propose this, we will do that?

LEWIS: We did a lot of research on it, and look, let's be frank. He -- when he ran for mayor, he tapped into a lot of the same sort of ideas he'd had a decade earlier when he was a part of San Diego politics. Maybe even earlier than that. We looked up stories in 1999 when he was considering running for mayor, and he was talking about the port. This was just part of his portfolio. And I joked with him right before he got installed in office, and he said, yeah, we already did everything with the port I realized. He's trying to figure out where he can still make an impact with this stuff.

SAUER: I'm Mark Sauer, my guests on the Roundtable today are Scott Lewis and Sara Libby of voice of San Diego. KPBS Midday Edition host, Maureen Cavanaugh, and military blogger Rick Rogers. UT San Diego, known as the San Diego Union Tribune back when Rick and I worked there under previous owners remains the biggest news organization in town when developer Doug Manchester and his partner John Lynch bought it, they promised to shake things up. Sara, last week, it was startling to see a stand-alone full-color section whose sole content was a story promoting U-T San Diego! Specifically the U-T's relatively new adventure in television, U-T TV. It had all the markings of a special advertising section, but it wasn't identified as such.

LIBBY: It sort of had two different ways you could look at it. It had the guise of this objective, third party newspaper story. And yet like you said, it was very much the U-T covering the U-T. It appeared to be kind of a mixed bag as far as editorial effort and promoting themselves.

SAUER: So unsuspecting readers pick this up and see, wow, a big splash, big display. What ethical issue does this raise between the blurred line between advertising and news?

LEWIS: We do a lot of self-promotion. I think there's nothing wrong with self-promotion. What was odd was that it was a third voice, a third person take. I write about how great we are all the time, and I think you have to do that. Every journalist who wants to make it has to be their own marketer. But there was all this objective-style news voice.

SAUER: Like the idea behind the story was let's assign this out to a free-lancer and let them take their shots and see where the chips fall. Well, you took a good look at that. And the headline on your piece was “I Watched U-T TV So You Don't Have To.” This was a critique.

LIBBY: It was. It ended up being a pretty strong critique. Although I invite people to by all means check it out for themselves. You don't have to, but you're welcome to.

SAUER: Where is it? Where am I going to find that? It's not that easy.

LIBBY: It's not. I believe it's -- I found out at home, I have AT&T Uverse and was able to find it quickly.

SAUER: But an expanded cable package? Upstairs we don't really get it in the newsroom.

CAVANAUGH: I think it is, 114.

SAUER: But you can't just have basic cable.

ROGERS: No, but you can get it on the Internet.

SAUER: Oh, that's true.

LIBBY: And they provide a live stream of their programming as well as individual clips that you can go back and look up if you want to review a specific segment. So I sort of did a combination of going through my DVR at home and taping show after show as well as pouring through older clips online. I put together a pretty comprehensive although not scientific at all look, and based my thoughts on that. And got, you know, a pretty disturbing picture, especially in terms of the way they treat women, both the women hosts, and just sort of the concept of women out there in the world as they're covering news.

SAUER: It was one viewer's hard look at this. What did you find? The main focus was the treatment of women and women cohosts.

LIBBY: To their credit, they do employ a good deal of women hosts. And you don't see that at every station. I talked a little bit about a recent report from the women's media center on the status of women in the media. And that paints a very stark picture as far as women hosts, women news director, women sports columnists, and just the percentages are really disappointing. So they do have a good deal of women hosts. But when it comes to how they're treated on the show, it's certainly not an equal presentation. At least from what I saw. The women hosts are often put in positions like being naked on a massage table while their male cohost is fully clothed and conducting interviews like a respectable news host. And just scenarios like that I thought really caught my eye.

SAUER: There has been some -- we talked about market, and it's in these days. But there has been some criticism of ads they did, an ad they had done earlier that ran inside the local news section. And this section had an ad on the backpage, and it seemed to me again just a glance at that, it was quite deliberate in terms of dog whistle sexism, and what one of the commentators in the study you were talking to referred to it.

CAVANAUGH: Well, one of the things that stuck out in your article for me was there are lots of ways that women can be exploited in the media. But it brought it together for me how old fashioned this programming is, as at the same time it's being promoted as a very new idea, very new way to get media out to San Diegans. This new platform that the U-T is using. And there seems to be a disconnect there.

LIBBY: I think you're absolutely right. I think sort of the idea is very fresh and innovative, and there's a lot of possibility there. And the execution is where they tend to fall back on a lot of old media stereotypes. It's not just overt displays of sexism. Roger Hedgecock is one of their hires, and he very much represents an old-school establishment, white man perspective. And you see a lot of the guests brought in from the U-T itself, the reporters who are there to comment on news items throughout the day. A lot of those tend to be -- they're older, white male staffers, and that again just sort of represents this old-school paradigm that exists in a lot of traditional print media and doesn't really reflect a new, fresh attitude.

LEWIS: Step back and think about this from the future of media perspective. It's quite interesting, the investment they're making in what is essentially a 24 hour cable news station about San Diego. And I think more people around the country would be interested in the fact that this is happening at this point. This is not necessarily unheard of a decade ago, but for now, this an unprecedented, very unique investment. What's not unique and innovative is this point. There's plenty of cable TV and premium cable that does pretty harsh things toward the image of women, right? But this is supposed to be this new, interesting thing. And I think what Sara really crystalized for me was yeah, this is not doing anything new on the content side. And they could take that step. They've done this amazing investment in new media or in a kind of version of online cable thing, but they kept it sort of old world.

SAUER: So not pioneering. Maybe more of a throwback. I should say we are converged here, they claim we're pioneers. We're the only folks in town really doing radio television and the web on all stories every day. But you made the point the content is enormous, hours and hours and hours that they have to fill.

ROGERS: I think the story by Sara made them straighten up and fly right for a little bit. When I took a look, six months ago or shortly after the U-T TV started, I tuned in. And for me, it was frankly unwatchable. It was beyond terrible. And I rolled my eyes and after about five minutes, I had better things to do. But coming on the show, I took another look at it, and they didn't have that overt sexism, some of the people I saw for example -- I believe Taylor Baldwin, and she seemed pretty reasonable. She seemed pretty good. I was watching the show this morning and it seemed pretty good. So to me it went from unwatchable to better, so far as the quality of the content. I thought that it improved.

SAUER: All right. We've got a caller who wants to pick up on the same theme. Theresa from San Diego. Go ahead.

THERESA: I just wanted to say I'm so sorry for the current version of the U-T, and I so miss any of our older versions. It's become a mouthpiece for Mr. Manchester. He very much looks like this is a carnival and he's the barker. It takes me ten minutes to read it because there's so much I can skip because it's just such a joke.

SAUER: Let me ask you, have you had a chance at all to look at U-T TV?

THERESA: I would not. If his paper doesn't appeal to me, I don't know why his TV would. And in terms of the apparent portrayal of women on there, well, they're cheerleaders! You know?

SAUER: Okay. All right. Thanks for that comment very much. Sara, what audience do you think U-T TV is trying to reach? Are they trying to reach their newspaper audience or is it expanded to some other segments?

LIBBY: I noticed that they seem to have populated their TV programming with a lot of talk radio personalities or old talk radio personalities. And the content --

SAUER: Roger Hedgecock.

LIBBY: And Scott Kaplan and Chris Cantore have radio backgrounds. And in watching it, it really felt like some of the talk radio programs where the content it just be appalling toward the treatment of women, and their goal is probably to be more edgy than it is to be insightful. And it really felt like they were trying to reach a talk radio audience almost.

SAUER: Right. And there's a sports aspect to it too. Do you think the approach or the structure somewhat is sports talk radio brought to TV?

LIBBY: A little bit. Especially obviously their sports segments.

SAUER: And sports is a big draw to the paper.

LIBBY: Absolutely. To their credit, they have some women cohosts who do a great job talking about sports, although sometimes they're not necessarily given equal billing by their cohosts.

SAUER: And not everything was critical you had some positives. You talked about a sensitive treatment of a cancer subject, right?

LIBBY: Sure. The Scott and Amber Show, they had a special education teacher from the Monarch School who talked about her cervical cancer struggle, and I thought that was handled really well. And other causes like breast cancer. So to be sure, it's not all offensive content. They do promote some great causes.

SAUER: And you've got some pretty good response on your own website to this story. Give us an overview of that. Some people went after you a little bit, and some people agreed.

LIBBY: Yes, that's kind of par for the course when you put out your opinions on anything.

SAUER: Sure.

LIBBY: There are some people who have a knee jerk reaction that you hate all white people, which is hard to believe since I'm quite white myself.

LIBBY: About we always have a robust discussion in those comments. And mostly the response I've gotten so far has been overwhelmingly positive, and people are happy to finally have a conversation about something they maybe didn't watch all that closely.

LEWIS: That's a good point. You brought up Chris Cantore. I know Chris, and he's a great guy. And the question is like what Sara helps do in some ways is push us to think about a culture when things that we're saying that we think are fun or interesting or whatever might not come across as well. And it's made me think, and I think it needs to make a lot of us think. What are even the most benign things that we're saying doing to put people in their place and hold them back? It's not that it's offensive. It's that it frames the world in a way that I think causes people to struggle that shouldn't have to. And I like that Sara provoked this. I haven't seen a woman yet get upset with what you've said. Maybe I'm missing one.

SAUER: Welcome back to the Roundtable. My guests today are Scott Lewis and Sara Libby of voice of San Diego. Maureen Cavanaugh, host of KPBS Midday Edition. And military blogger Rick Rogers. Story of an elderly woman in Bakersfield who who was reported to have a heart attack took some interesting turns this week. Tell us what we thought we knew about the story early on.

CAVANAUGH: The first thing most people heard about the story was the harrowing 911 tape that was released on Monday. This incident actually happened last Tuesday, February 26. Eighty seven year-old Lorraine Bayless collapsed in the dining room of the Glenwood Gardens senior living facility. And a staff member called 911, and then this seven minute exchange started that most of us have heard excerpts from. The dispatcher is on the line and hearing from this care iver at Glenwood Gardens that she's not going to be doing anything for this woman who has collapsed but she wants paramedics to come. She says things if your boss is telling you you can't do it, but as a human being, is there anybody that's willing to help this lady and not let her die? And the person on the other end the staff member says not at this time, we are not going to be performing CPR. Finally the dispatcher says I understand if your facility is not willing to do it, but can't we find somebody? Is there a gardener? Any staff?

SAUER: Real desperation there.

CAVANAUGH: Can we flag a stranger down! It goes on and on! She's pleading with this woman to perform CPR. So that's what we all heard on Monday and Tuesday as this story developed. It has taken some very, very major shifts as it's developed through the week. We've heard things about the family not really -- being supportive of Glenwood Gardens and saying this is what Lorraine Bayless wanted. We've heard it wasn't a heart attack after all, it was a stroke.

SAUER: So CPR wouldn't have helped her.

CAVANAUGH: Exactly. So there's even questions about why it took paramedics more than seven minutes to get to the senior living facility. It has morphed down the road. But that 911 call is sticking in a lot of people's minds.

SAUER: Right. Because even though as you said the story and some of the details changed, it did raise some pretty interesting questions. And you explored those earlier in a segment on Midday. You discussed the issue with a doctor and an attorney. What did they have to say about when it's okay and when it's not to reform CPR?

CAVANAUGH: Well, we speak with Neil Farber who UC San Diego. And he said that CPR is one of those things that lay people can perform. There's no reason for someone who knows how to give CPR not to unless the person requests that it not be done. Later he did say that most people who do receive CPR out of a hospital facility do not survive. So you have that sort of mixed message there. We also spoke with an attorney for the California advocates for nursing home reform. He said legally, he didn't think it was likely that there would be any legal repercussions if someone to do this. But again, a little bit of a mixed message. If he said whatever care was provided was incompetently done and made the situation worse, there is potential liability there. Although in this 911 call, the dispatcher said very clearly that if anything happened, the emergency medical system will take liability for this call.

SAUER: Okay. I should say there was some news this morning, authorities in Bakersfield decided not to press any charges in this particular case. We have a caller who'd like to join us. Sirril, go ahead with the panel.

SIRRIL: I've had some experience in assisting older individuals in developing their end of life legal documents. And even when a family has gone through the process on behalf of their older mother or father of coming to terms with their end of life documentation, it's really important that the receiving agency, the placement agencies are really comfortable with what the family's wishes are so that you don't have this kind of -- you don't have this kind of incident that could occur again.

SAUER: Right, right thank you very much.

SIRRIL: It's just really, really important that the family is real clear in what they want.

SAUER: Thanks very much. Maureen, what did you learn?

CAVANAUGH: Again to this specific incidence with Mrs. Bayless, it's a little bit confusing because her family is very supportive of the fact that the Glenwood gardens did not make any attempt to resuscitate her. They say she did not want life-saving efforts, extraordinary efforts being made on her behalf. That they're fine with this. Yet on the other hand, paramedics who attended Mrs. Bayless made sure to look for a do not resuscitate order and she did not have one. So as the family apparently knew her wishes, but she did not make her wishes known in any legal document that's surfaced so far.

SAUER: That brings us to this POLST form here. What did we learn about that?

CAVANAUGH: Several things from this episode, I think. One of them is that on the show doctor Farber was saying advanced directives are sometimes -- he said often overlooked. But if you have one of these orders, a POLST document, physician orders for life-sustaining treatment, it takes you down the line of all the things that you do or do not want done to you. And apparently it is much more -- it's not as likely to be overlooked as some of the other documents that you can post. We did hear from the attorney that I spoke with that a lot of these facilities, a lot of the independent living facilities, that Mrs. Bayless was in, they're not regulated to any large extent. There is really no medical staff on. They're just basically cafeteria worker, people who will perhaps guide you down the hall, but no medical assistance whatsoever. So that's something I don't know that people are completely aware of if they have their parents or relatives in an independent senior living facility, basically no regulation, and no medical staff.

SAUER: Yeah. If nothing else, this story this week seemed to certainly bring that into focus. We have another caller. Greg, go ahead.

GREG: Good afternoon. I was just wondering, was this woman in a vegetative state? Or was her -- I do not resuscitate order in place? Say a person entering the assisted living facility got a piece of fish or steak caught in their throat. Is there an obligation to do a Heimlich maneuver or some kind of assistance?

SAUER: All right, thanks for your call.

CAVANAUGH: Well, again, Mrs. Bayless was ambulatory and eating dinner before she had this stroke that incapacitated her. And she was in this independent living facility, not in a vegetative state. There is one wrinkle that came up in this that goes to the listener's question. I asked our attorney do other California facilities have no CPR policies that you know of? Because we went back and forth as to whether Glenwood actually had this policy in place. They said yes, they said no. Anyway, what this attorney with his nursing home reform group says, yes. There are places even at a higher level of care, assisted living level of care, where there are policies to call 911 or to call a private ambulance service but not to provide any direct intervention.

ROGERS: A friend of mine has been admitted there, and it's very important that you ask questions ahead of time. For example, are the people on staff trained to perform CPR, and will you do CPR if something happens? This is something you have to know and get ahead of time. If you don't, it's going to cause these kind of problems. But it strikes me so far as Glenwood is concerned, they made the decision not to resuscitate. They didn't know if she had a stroke or heart attack or anything. The decision was theirs. And there's also no indication that the person that was on the phone with the dispatcher knew that she had a do not resuscitate thing. It just seemed to be a blanket policy from the care facility.

CAVANAUGH: Yeah, it did seem to indicate that as far as the facility was concerned the proper way to handle a situation like this would be to provide no direct intervention but to call 911, which is just what the staff member did.

LEWIS: I think that's what was so interesting about the story. It was at that moment, that weird non-explanation of why an intervention wasn't going to happen that caused this whole story to occur. It's, like, if they were more --

ROGERS: She seemed strangely calm.

LEWIS: Yeah!

ROGERS: Like how? You know? Some kind of a computer voice, that -- oh, we cannot do that at this time.

SAUER: And that begs the question, if you're going to call 911, why not do what you can at the scene?

LEWIS: That's what was missing. It was this order following that may have had reason behind it but that didn't have compassion or confidence.

SAUER: Now, Maureen, the California Nurses Association calls the senior care industry "the Wild West of healthcare." What do they mean by that?

CAVANAUGH: Well, the senior living facilities, there is virtually no oversight. The attorney said even at the assisted living level of care where there's a whole lot of healthcare that goes on, the facilities sometimes are not licensed or regulated to provide any kind of healthcare. It's one of the things that this organization has been trying to draw attention to for years. Apparently it takes something like this to get people to focus on it. There needs to be regulation, he is saying, at a regulatory level so this whole wild west as the nurses association described it of assisted living facilities, independent living facilities, and nursing homes gets more regulation. And the medical doctor that we spoke to said what he'd like to see is more medical people on staff at all of these facilities because sometimes he said it takes as little as providing CPR or giving somebody an aspirin to prevent a heart attack. But if your facility says there is no intervention, that you will not intervene in any way, then you husband those opportunities to take those actions that could save a life.

SAUER: And it seems so many of us -- we get an elderly parent, and it's our first experience, we don't know what to ask. Rick it sounds like you got into that situation with your friend.

ROGERS: One of the things that really struck me, and he is in an extremely high-end facility, thousands and thousands of dollars a month. And even there, I was kind of struck about the lack of oversight that there was. I know that there's been some small-time diseases, a couple times they had to close the place down so people couldn't go in and out. And I called the county one time and said is this really normal? How often does something like this happen? And she said, the person I talked to from the San Diego County said, well, we don't follow it that closely, but we don't think it happens that much. And these are the types of viruses that lay old people to rest.

SAUER: A little disturbing that they're not more on top of what often happens there.

ROGERS: I think just like so many other parts of government, they have infinite demand, and finite resources.

SAUER: Our next story is about sky pilots. Welcome back to the Roundtable. Rick Rogers, these pilots we're referring to are not actually in the sky. They're on the ground, piloting unmanned drone aircraft. The Pentagon now wants to give these pilots a medal. What's stirring up the controversy?

ROGERS: Back on February13, former defense secretary Leon Panetta unveiled what is going to be the Distinguished Warfare Medal, and this is supposed to go to cyber warriors and drone drivers. And I don't think that upset people too much because we all can agree that life is changing, combat is changing, drones, you hear about drones all the time. They use them for surveillance; they've also been instrumental in Afghanistan so far as hunting down the Taliban. And I think we can also say that our computer systems are more important to us than they've ever been. We've been hearing over the last couple weeks the number of times that China supposedly hacked into our computer systems. Not only our military commuter systems but our commercial systems costing billions of dollars. But what Panetta did that really set the veteran community off was to make that distinguished warfare medal, put it above the Bronze Star and also the Purple Heart.

SAUER: Tell us about those medals.

ROGERS: The Bronze Star is it a decoration that is earned in a combat theatre. There's two types. The Purple Heart, that's probably the most widely known decoration there is. That's for being wounded or even killed in combat. So the Distinguished Warfare Medal can be earned by cyber warriors as they call them, or drone drivers, many, many miles, sometimes thousands of miles away from the combat zone.

SAUER: Not getting shot at.

ROGERS: As someone said, oh, drat, my drone just got shut down. Let's go grab a beer. Right? A lot of the drone drivers are in Vegas, in a base, and other places far, far from the fray. So Panetta suggested that this medal be ranked above these combat medals. And it just unleashed vitriol the likes I have never seen. People are just so incensed.

SAUER: Let's invite listeners at that point. If you've got a comment, ask a question about this particular topic, 1-888-895-5727. So the furor really ramped up after this came out.

ROGERS: Absolutely. In short order, a petition came up on the white house website to have people sign it. If you get 100,000, supposedly the white house at that point will respond to your complaint. In the interests of full disclosure, I signed the petition. I was number 914 , I believe.

SAUER: And you're a veteran.

ROGERS: And I'm a veteran, that's right. I checked this morning, and they had 17,378 petitions. They needed 100,000 by March 16. I don't think it's going to happen. But it doesn't mean that this medal isn't going to get changed, isn't going to be changed to a position whether the Bronze Star. There are a couple of bills in Congress, one of them cosponsored by our own Duncan hunter.

SAUER: Let me ask a two-step question. What about the other members, the nonveteran members of our congressional delegation here in San Diego? Susan Davis, a Democrat, Darrell Issa?

ROGERS: Susan Davis did. She wrote a letter along with another Congressman that asked that this be demoted, are that the distinguished warfare medal be demoted to a level below that of the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star.

SAUER: Again, she's a Democrat. So that cuts across.

ROGERS: This issue does cut across all barriers.

LEWIS: Have they explained to explain?

ROGERS: Let me read to you what Panetta said. "Highest decorations are obviously for those who display gallantry and valor when their lives are on the lineup. But we also should have the ability to honor the extraordinary actions that make true differences in combat operations. The contributions they make does contribute to the success of combat operations particularly when they remove the enemy from the field of combat. Even if those actions aren't physically -- even if they're removed from the fight."

SAUER: So he's trying to justify it. Maureen?

CAVANAUGH: I'm not joining in this vitriol, but I am honestly curious. We award the other medals for valor and for people who have been wounded in battle.

SAUER: Risked their lives.

CAVANAUGH: What would be the criteria for someone operating a drone miles from the theatre of battle to get a medal like this? What would they have to do?

ROGERS: Well, from reading the criteria of the award, what they have to do is to -- let me see here. This achievement must have taken place after September 11, may not include acts of valor. It's essentially --

SAUER: Highly skilled at what they're doing.

CAVANAUGH: Basically doing their job, right?

SAUER: Yeah, yeah.

ROGERS: Their actions contributed strongly to the attainment of whatever the mission is.

LEWIS: Well, I mean, they're like a pilot. If you think about it, a pilot in a sense has to rely on a computer. And a pilot in piloting a fighter jet is relying on a computer. What this is, is just more reliance on computers to the point that the pilot doesn't have to be in the cockpit.

SAUER: Except pilots can get shot down, captured, and killed.

LEWIS: Right. So they're risking more. But I think the point is, if they do something that does step out of this -- the norm of doing their job, that does do something extraordinary, maybe it should be recognized. Now, more than these other ones? That's the question.

ROGERS: That's the whole issue. I have not talked to anyone nor have I read anything anywhere that suggests that the distinguished warfare medal should not be authorized or should not be given. It all has to do with how powerful is it, where does it go in the hierarchy of medals?

SAUER: We've got a caller. Mike from La Jolla. Go ahead.

MIKE: Hi, yes. I have two quick points. One is that I don't believe politicians should second-guess the Defense Department when it comes to selecting new medals or deciding who to give honors. I believe the Defense Department if anything is certainly entitled and qualified to make those decisions. And my second point is that in 25 years, probably there won't be anymore piloted aircraft. And all medals will have to be considered for people that are running these remotely piloted aircraft.

SAUER: Okay, thanks very much for that call. I appreciate it. Rick?

ROGERS: Well, certainly the character of combat is changing. I don't know though that this medal necessarily -- it acknowledges that fact. But it doesn't -- I don't think it has -- it can acknowledge the fact, but it doesn't have to degrade these other medals.

SAUER: Yeah, it's whether it's on a par or not. Let's get back to Darrell Issa. He had a USA Today op-ed. What did he say?

ROGERS: Was it Issa?

SAUER: I'm sorry, I meant Duncan Hunter.

ROGERS: Well, he said what has been common wisdom on the subject from the beginning. That's that no one sees any reason why there shouldn't be a distinguished warfare medal and why drone drivers and cyber warriors should not be recognized. However he does not believe that it should be recognized over and above those who fight and spill blood on the battlefield.

SAUER: All right, we're going to have to leave it there.