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Roundtable: Alpine Teachers Strike; More SDPD Troubles; Local Vets Get Help

February 21, 2014 1:50 p.m.


Mark Sauer


Kyla Calvert, KPBS News

Sandhya Dirks, KPBS News

Tony Perry, LA Times

Related Story: Roundtable: Alpine Teachers Strike; More SDPD Troubles; Local Vets Get Help


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.

MARK SAUER: I'm your host Mark Sauer, and KPBS roundtable starts now. Joining me at the KPBS roundtable today are Tony Perry, Kyla Calvert, and Sandhya Dirks. It does not happen often but a teachers union went on strike your this week that this happened in the district of Alpine affecting about 1700 student. Unlike most strikes, these teachers aren't asking for a big pay raise.

KYLA CALVERT: No, they are just asking for a smaller pay cut.

MARK SAUER: Give us the details of what is on the table and what it they have rejected.

KYLA CALVERT: The district and T-shirt teachers had been initiating for years and reached an impasse at the end of the last summer and had a state pathfinder committed basically the district is saying they have to put teachers salaries by 7/2% to The health benefit conservation at $8000 and that was the last best offer and that is been composed of the teachers now as of the end of January, when the state factfinder came in he said that you could afford a 4.73 pay cut, less of a cut at a $12,000 benefit contribution, but you would have to prepare for the possibility that he would have to lay off ten teacher in the coming school year in 2014.

MARK SAUER: How many teachers overall?

KYLA CALVERT: Ninety-one teachers in the district, and it's a very small district and part of the reason that they are in this financial bind is because they have been losing students for years, the superintendent Tom Pellegrino told me yesterday that is about 23% of their students only that they have lost since 2004, and then this year they had a big 8% drop that they were not expecting, he was saying to me that they just can't put teachers may also the parent table, parents are leaving the district and the idea that they would make their classes bigger to make to accommodate a smaller teaching staff would only make the problem worse, teachers want to see the factfinder's recommendations put in place.

MARK SAUER: And the teachers did reject that best final offer, we want to hear what the Alpine teacher's union president said at the same.


NEW SPEAKER: It was a 2% and a 4.73, we have taken these cuts for five years now, we have given and given an taken thirty-four low days, we would just like the district to be responsible in their spending and priorities.


MARK SAUER: All right, they are standing pretty firm on that, we had a little bit of news this morning here, they have been on strike for the second day here.

KYLA CALVERT: I was told that the superintendent was not available because he was negotiating with teachers at about 11 o'clock this morning, this strike may not last long.

SANDHYA DIRKS: I want to ask why this was significant, there has not been a teachers strike in a long time.

KYLA CALVERT: Last time San Diego County had a teacher strike was in 1996, the teachers were out of the classroom for about five days.

SANDHYA DIRKS: So this is a rare event.


MARK SAUER: But, as you say that district has struggled with a confluence of things, even though we will have more money coming in from the state, tell us where that is coming from.

KYLA CALVERT: As I think most of us will remember it 2012 voters passed proposition thirty for tax increases for seven years that raised revenues for the state and therefore the requirement for spending on schools about 40% of the states present revenues have to go to public education, so we have more money coming in for schools and the way that the state is putting up money for schools now is undergoing a really big change, and instead of tying it to specific programs and having a smaller portion of the money tied to just stood. Basically, the district is getting money based on their number of students that they have been getting increases for students who are living English as a second language or are part of foster care or low income homes, not many students that fall into those categories that fall into the additional spending and I was also seeing a news item from Coronado where their calling the new system to cut in cuts to their funding, districts like San Diego unified would say that this is great and we're finally getting some of the support that we need, and some other districts aren't at the more beneficial end of the spectrum seeing the same way.

Where are the parents on this? Are they pro-school board or pro teachers?

KYLA CALVERT: I think there are teachers on both sides, parents and me I mean, Alpine is not a super liberal community, there are people who say that teachers are sort of a disgrace and should not be doing this, and there are parents who say our teachers work really hard and there are excellent teachers and have gone through too many cuts to support them. I did a story year or two years ago about the district but it was actually losing a bunch of students to do a live version bank which programs and Lakeside schools, April leaving for when you have small schools you can offer the same programs when you can offer what you have a bigger student body read more money to support programming, in California you can apply to take your kids out of the district and I think that people are making a decision.

TONY PERRY: Parents are voting on their fear.

MARK SAUER: We have heard the sour side of this and they are talking for the first time about really making to pay a significant contribution to healthcare.

KYLA CALVERT: That's right, up until now teacher is the packages have been covered by the district, the average contribution that the district is making about for those health benefits is thirteen $500 for $2500 per teacher, there's some teachers telling me that they have their spouse and children, plan, and those health packages have been costing the district $19-$20,000 a year, and by capping it at $8000, although the offer that was less of a table before they does this contract was I think it $1500, that would cover the teacher themselves plus the first part of the first dependent cost of being on health care program, and the superintendent pointed out that there are a lot of private sector employees who would really making any country for their own personal health benefits.

MARK SAUER: It's in the click is going to change and take a pay cut and that is the way it. Love like other.

KYLA CALVERT: And the superintendent made the point that it's been the way of life and they have had the cuts already, they beginning $8000 towards health benefits package.

SANDHYA DIRKS: Can this tell us anything else about other places, Coronado, is this going to come up as the funding models shift?

MARK SAUER: Or that a unique situation out there?

KYLA CALVERT: I think it's fairly unique because they have had this big in the moment to decline, the funding formula isn't going to leave when it is fully implemented, it's ugly to leave any districts leaving receiving less money than they had received.

SANDHYA DIRKS: So this is an outlier geographically and in terms of this strike.

KYLA CALVERT: We see a lot of strikes in the said receipt of school district right now, they're really being taken over by the state that there a lot of definitions thereby, and as we say, will be back negotiating so we may have a settlement.

MARK SAUER: We will shift gears now, we have another week and another sexual misconduct allegation against the San Diego police officer, last week for the Hayes was charged and on Wednesday he resigned for the fourth of the same day another officer was reported as being investigated, there no charges filed in his latest case but the complaint comes from the woman who you say the officer groped her well-being transporter, is that right?

SANDHYA DIRKS: And is a little bit more of the same but it's a little bit hard to parse what is happening, I think Moore is the slurry of more than one, that you have these repeated claims of inappropriate and possibly criminal things happening and sexually inappropriate behavior, by a San Diego police officer, and it stretches back to the continuation of the story that really began acting 2011. What you're seeing our promises made to end this behavior, is that actually happening? We see something that really constitutes a pattern of behavior? He says it's very much precisely because they made changes back when it first became apparent, that they are catching these guys now, that is one way to look at it another way to look at it is it's not just the sexual harassment things that we're hearing of the preleased apartment, there's also been a lot of talk about a lack of looking at racial profiling in a lack of regulating the police officers so that racial profiling might have been increasing in San Diego, what you're seeing is a kind of question about who is policing the police court if there is no one, if there is a void in watching those who watch us? What does that mean and how we fix it?

MARK SAUER: We have the police chief who spoke at Midday Edition this week, let's hear what he had to say.


WILLIAM LANSDOWNE: Would be the scope to take a look at how we hire officers and the treating that we give to them, the process of taking complaints and working with the community and the best to get of process and how that takes place.


MARK SAUER: The outside auditor that we talked about this week, what we know about that situation?

SANDHYA DIRKS: We know that the one that plans that would like to see is actually up federal program called cops and it's run in Las Vegas and in Philadelphia, it's a program that the city would not have to pay for in a sense, basically you get the government to come in and do an audit and give advice about their past practices, there have been some questions about sort of an outside monitor to stay for a couple of years, that happened in Oakland and other major cities to have problems with the police force, but to thank them said that why spend the billions of dollars that you need to do that when you can have this cops program come in for free.

KYLA CALVERT: Do we know what came of all the sexy accusations from 2011 and what came of this complaint line that they set up for people to call it?

SANDHYA DIRKS: Ms. does story said that it resulted in them catching these lack bad apples, but look deeper to the culture revealed and there have been talks talk of in the sex crimes unit being incredibly sexist and really inappropriate posters on the walls and making fun of Rohypnol the date the range of drug and showing women flashing parts of their bodies in the sex crimes unit, that was found in 2011 in the new have some other things and he was close to someone that headed up the sex crimes unit who was moved out of sex crimes, but kind of promoting he is now the head of the credible the criminal criminal intelligence unit and you have some shifting around of people but it is unclear whether or not the actual action whether this is actually suspect systemic.

MARK SAUER: Back onto the point, we have another clip from chief.


WILLIAM LANSDOWNE: I think the public misses that it's the San Diego police department to put officer available us in the level of revelers in prison, they were looking at this appropriate taking the appropriate action action.


TONY PERRY: As bad as the Arrevalos case use very egregious and costing us a lot of money and the other two cases cases are about to be litigated fully, isn't it hard to make a generalization about a be department that is as big and dynamic is this? On the move all of time we have simply officers and it's very hard to generalize, I thought it was interesting that Todd Gloria who works for the chief everyday until March 3, he cannot the other day and said that the chief has his support and he believes the audit.

SANDHYA DIRKS: He said he was just bad apples, and both Lansdowne and Gloria are saying that this is just individuals in this is not part of some systemic culture.

TONY PERRY: Individual guys before I think about the LAPD and the only other sheriffs coming which Oakland and you would not mention any of those departments in the same breath as San Diego Police Department.

MARK SAUER: They have had their troubles before they have these troubles at all of these issues are being looked at journalistically in San Diego and I think it's really premature to conclude that there is a systemic trouble.

SANDHYA DIRKS: Yes, but the thing is there are sociologists who argue that there is no such thing as a bad apple, if you have a bad apples to have a bad girl they are carrying the apples and, we can look at Hayes who his father along with the deputy chief, we have a revelers who is protected by the guru in the field, there's one thing that we can say is these guys have been these bad things, but we can assist them and there's always something slightly systemic and you can't pull it apart, is it the question is is it something that can be fixed by having an audit and getting better practices in place ordinance of the deeper?

TONY PERRY: Now being pushed by journalistic concerns, two officers must be with a woman being escorted to an arrest, it had been one in most places, but I think comparing San Diego to Oakland is a real far-fetched idea.

MARK SAUER: That's part of that idea about two officers to that Avenue cost and response times? Common sense of value that you have two officers and the patrol and to cars before. More cars per capita than any other big city in America.

SANDHYA DIRKS: Another problem that we had this retention problem that we don't have the money to pay our officers well enough and we lose them to other departments maybe we lose more horrified officers that we listen to get more money going somewhere else, we also have this issue really have one company car I'm not comparing San Diego to Oakland, I'm just saying that when you're looking at a system there are things deeper there, but with a different issues and the question is with the idea of the lack of regulation and racial profiling, and sort of what happened in 2011 bubbling up again now, these issues being addressed internally or is it time for us to go outside and have someone police the police?

TONY PERRY: Calling for the money did not hunker down as some chiefs and other departments might have, he medially called and went public and did the press conferences himself, saying that he would bring in someone to look over our shoulders as if we're doing is wrong.

MARK SAUER: And Faulconer did give one same as well. Statement as well.

TONY PERRY: He did not say anything very clearly. He did not say the chief has my full confidence as Todd Gloria said in the press get a shot at him.

MARK SAUER: That will fight him where is the new mayor takes over on March 3, will take a ship to get, a shift again, veterans in Iraq return and come back homeless, and the new aspire center opened in old town and nobody think it will be a panacea for the married prior to problems facing the veterans, serious question of about opening this unique facility designed to assist veterans of these two wars, there struck by a sad note in your story where we hope we get these folks back and living in communities as veterans, they fought to put tact and defend here, tell us about the center and how many veterans are from these two wars.

TONY PERRY: The Veterans Affairs and that healthcare system San Diego is the deficit of the Center for veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. A lot of programs for them brought there, the Navy has programs, the VA has programs and a number of nonprofits have programs, this is going to be unique in that it is exclusively for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, for other centers being this is the only one that is exclusively for those veterans to get them off of the streets for those who are in danger of going on the streets, that is it nipping it in the bud.

MARK SAUER: What is the scope of that? Give us an idea of how many veterans.

TONY PERRY: This is difficult this to tell, a couple of hundred check audio and that may be addressed, I did of Ruby on the tiny that and deal with this thing up $30 million expensive to cut this three-story building and reconfigure it for a residential center, they will get all of their help there and lived there and there will be supervised there, there will be security and there's been concern from a charter school across the street, we sort of that that concerned with increased security and we will see, the two challenges are how to measure this, that is the quote you're talking about and we will measure it as are they moving from here back to living as you say or as the official said in the committees they fought, to protect. The second thing is, veterans with that paper, that is the say something that in honor of other than an honorable discharge, they will say Honorable discharge only, guys will come out with other than honorable.

SANDHYA DIRKS: That leads you to be kicked out of the Army, there are interesting things in reporting this, the reason that you did this is the reason that you're being with dishonorably discharged.

TONY PERRY: I think this is where I study to consent there looking case-by-case that for people that are coming with bad paper, that is the tallest hill with anybody who is dealt with military bureaucracy knows that getting them to admit that a designation is incorrect.

MARK SAUER: The theory with the new center is to keep these beds from Iraq and Afghanistan together, we're not part of Vietnam that there are other vets, tell us about the idea of this.

TONY PERRY: Still have similar ages and backgrounds, men and women, but for many women, they will be of the age where there young and married with kids, as opposed to Vietnam veterans is there a bunch for homeless, they will have different issues, it's appearing, I've also seen it work the other way where mixing the Vietnam veterans and younger veterans works. You get to a mentor situate mentor situation and will see the work.

SANDHYA DIRKS: A six-month transitional sort of setup is that right?

TONY PERRY: Yes it is fluctuating somewhere between sixty and 120 days, the hope is to get them out with the VA program and just put them out, and that the move on to a better skip circumstance.

SANDHYA DIRKS: Here's my question, the unique paradigm for addressing homelessness among veterans is housing first model that is been tried by cities like Salt Lake City and Phoenix where they basically say, we have ended on the surface homelessness among veterans and is not as just in these cities, lot of money is being typed this housing first model, this is not a housing first model, is there any concern that is not embracing a new paradigm?

TONY PERRY: There is a lot of concern about whether they can measure whether or not this will be successful and if American taxpayers getting paid for their buck, you have to sociologist together and three opinions of his homelessness the symptom or cost? Is it a reflection or is it the reason that they are having problems, we will see. You'RE homeless because your PTSD or alcoholism or a busted marriage? Or do you have those things because your homeless. Again, there are a lot of different opinions and we will see that year or two or maybe even longer, we read a paper paper that was done for when journals, in December, it said that PTSD and TBI are less significant factors in homelessness than you might think. That a lack of employment and substance abuse are larger problems, that is the kind of study that we really are going to see out of this program if it is run.

SANDHYA DIRKS: Had them curious because housing seems to be put on the back burner as a solution in some people are saying it's not the answer anymore. And it's expensive this is very expensive. The question is are we investing in a model that may be outdated?

TONY PERRY: I don't think so, but who knows? It's experiment and five centers are being opened nationwide in their hundreds and took hundred and seventy-eight Center for disability one that is exclusive for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.

MARK SAUER: Basically these programs are 2 to 4 months? What are they doing specifically in that timeframe?

TONY PERRY: Substance abuse counseling, vocational rehab, sections living together, on the the services they may have already started in one of the VA centers or La Jolla, they will continue it, I don't think they're going to take people write off the street and throw the back of the van and take them over, they are looking for people who have already begun the sort of self-help process.

SANDHYA DIRKS: They have a unit set up for after they are done with the program, is there a formal housing available to them?

TONY PERRY: There are housing units available throughout the VA system and throughout the private system, even some through the Navy medicine, there are not out of there are out there been a lot of them, and we have a shortage of them in the San Diego, we can go direct from this into the kind of choice, it's still going to be a tall hill that has to be kind in this program and by veterans

MARK SAUER: What are we going to learn from our January's this does not this year, the status of difficulty with these folks?

TONY PERRY: Very difficult, we will learn if there are more veterans and as you say it's a snapshot, it will tell us something, it will tell us everything, to welcome to the difficulty of assessing the size of this problem and finding a solution and then gauging how well it worked or didn't work, if you think fighting the war was difficult fighting the war on the home front is going to be with us much longer and equally difficult.

MARK SAUER: I am sure we will be doing more of these stories. That wraps up another week of stories at the Roundtable, I would like to thank my guests Kyla Calvert, Sandhya Dirks, Tony Perry and all of the stories we discussed are available on the website. Thank you for joining us today on the Roundtable.