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Roundtable: The Pope Makes News, A Cop Sues SDPD, An Iconic Building Is In Trouble

The Pope took a swing at the Zika virus and Donald Trump in unexpected ways. A former San Diego Police officer says the department treats residents north of Interstate 8 differently. The Balboa Park Conservancy has some explaining to do.

Aired 2/19/16 on KPBS Midday Edition.

HOST:

Kenny Goldberg

GUESTS:

Gina Diamante, Fronteras editor, KPBS News

Greg Moran, Watchdog reporter, San Diego Union-Tribune

Lisa Halverstadt, reporter, Voice of San Diego

Transcript

The Pope, contraception and Donald Trump

The visit of Pope Francis this week to Mexico produced waves of emotion in the throngs who turned out to see him in Juárez and in the state of Chiapas.

He spoke against the inhumanity, violence and intimidation that are part of life for Mexico's poor, while offering a message of hope.

Talking with reporters Wednesday on his way home, the Pope suggested that women threatened with the Zika virus could use artificial contraception to prevent pregnancy. Abortion, however, was a nonstarter under any circumstances.

And there was something else. He suggested that anyone who wants to build walls to keep people out is "not a Christian.”

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who has used harsh campaign rhetoric against immigrants and has promised to make Mexico pay for a wall along the U.S. border, called the Pope "a disgrace."

Favoritism at SDPD?

Matthew Francois, a former officer in the San Diego Police Department, has filed a lawsuit claiming discrimination and retaliation by the department.

Francois, who is black, said in his training year he was told by supervisors to treat citizens who live north of Interstate 8 differently than those who live to the south, and when he complained, he was fired.

His suit alleges that on his first day of training in the Northeastern Division, he pulled over a white motorist and ran a records check. He said he was told it was a waste of time and resources and to only check on “people who looked like criminals.”

He complained to another black police officer, Sgt. Art Scott. He said he was subsequently told to back off issuing tickets for stop sign violations and that citizens in the Northeastern Division deserved to be treated better than those south of I-8. Francois was fired two days before his probationary period ended.

Attorney Dan Gilleon is representing both Francois and Scott, who has filed his own lawsuit.

Balboa Botanical Building Blight

Established in 2010 to be the chief fundraising agency for Balboa Park, the Balboa Park Conservancy is struggling.

The Botanical Building in Balboa Park, pictured here, is the Conservancy's first fundraising project.

Its first project was to fund the restoration of the park’s iconic, but shabby, Botanical Building. The Conservancy announced it would raise $3 million for the project, which would be finished by the centennial of the 1915 Panama-California Exhibition in 2015.

So far, they’ve raised $457,000. Leaders say the struggle to get the centennial celebration going, a reliance on volunteer fundraisers and an inadequate pitch didn’t help.

The Conservancy now has a director, Thomas Herrera-Mishler, and the restoration project has an architect, San Diego-based RTN Architects. They project a 2018 finish to the reconstruction, which now includes an archway and landscaping.

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