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Roundtable: Freeway Guardrails, Housing-Eviction Details, Blue Angels Derailed

Evening Edition

Aired 4/12/13 on KPBS Midday Edition.

HOST

Mark Sauer

GUESTS

Mitch Blacher, 10 News

Megan Burks, KPBS News/Voice of San Diego

Tony Perry, Los Angeles Times

Transcript

Deadly Guardrails?An investigation into the design of freeway guardrails made by Dallas-based Trinity Industries — currently used all over San Diego County — found that they may actually cause grievous injuries to drivers and passengers, instead of protecting them.

Mitch Blacher, 10News investigative reporter, found these guardrails installed on I-15, I-805 and Hwy 78.

In 2005, Trinity changed the design of the head of its guardrail, shrinking it from five inches across to four. The redesign removed about 90 pounds from its weight.

A Trinity competitor has charged that during an accident, the smaller heads of Trinity’s new guardrails detach, causing the rails to pierce the autos, gravely injuring — even impaling — drivers and passengers.

Trinity maintains the guardrails are safe, the heads don’t detach and not notifying the Federal Highway Administration of the change in the size of the guardrail head for seven years was just an oversight.

Zero Tolerance = Homelessness — A federal zero-tolerance policy ousts an entire family from subsidized housing when one member or a guest commits a crime or uses drugs on the property.

Such draconian policies have fallen out of favor in some arenas, such as education and criminal justice. But this policy remains in effect for federally-subsidized housing, a holdover from the Clinton era "war on drugs."

A family like that of Cheryl Canson's, profiled in Megan Burks’ story on KPBS and Voice of San Diego, can appeal an eviction from the San Diego Housing Commission, but their chances for success are minimal.

If they accept the eviction without appeal, they are told they have a better chance of getting back on the list — a list with 8- to 10-year wait-times.

No Budget for Blue Angels — Federal across-the-board budget cuts are affecting civilians and military alike, and, in the case of the Miramar Air Show this fall, both at once.

The Navy has grounded the Blue Angels, a fan favorite at the annual event, until further notice, sending them back to Pensacola, Florida to train, although it's not clear for what.

The Air Force has done the same with its performance team, the Thunderbirds, and has begun the process of grounding one-third of the active-duty Combat Air Force in the U.S., Europe and the Pacific, also for budget reasons.

Even the sequestered federal budget, however, bows to current events. Tony Perry, who covers the military in San Diego County for the Los Angeles Times, notes that Camp Pendleton Marines, who may be deployed to the Korean peninsula, have been training in cold and mountainous areas similar to North Korea; a San Diego-based ship is currently hanging around the Korean coast; and a San Diego-based carrier group is ready to be dispatched to the same area if conditions get even more tense.

All of which are pretty expensive.

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