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Roundtable: Health Care in California, Poway Says No, Charter Schools On The Rise

Roundtable: Health Care In California
Roundtable: Health Care in California, Poway Says No, Charter Schools On The Rise
Poway Says No, Obamacare In Trouble, Charter SchoolsHOST:Mark SauerGUESTS:Maya Srikrishnan, Reporter, Voice of San Diego Kenny Goldberg, Health Reporter, KPBS News Mario Koran, Education Reporter, Voice of San Diego

The city of Poway said no to an affordable housing development for veterans. Republicans vowed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. How will California be affected? Donald Trump's education nominee is a big fan of charter schools. How will the advocacy play in San Diego? I'm Mark Sauer. The KPBS Roundtable starts now. Welcome to our discussion of the week's top stories. I'm Mark Sauer you -- joining me is a reporter Maya Srikishnan . Kenny Goldberg health reporter for KPBS news. Mario Koran also a reporter. San Diego is desperate for affordable housing. There are tuning up with acres -- 2 1/2 acres for low-cost homes. It sounds like a step forward, not so fast. Who will build these homes and who are they targeted for? Habitat for Humanity was partnering with the city of Poway to build on this piece of city-owned property to build 22 for-sale homes for veterans. A pretty straightforward project and then the debate took off. Where will these homes going to go? As I mentioned there was a dedicated plot. Yes. There was a 2.5 acre plot of land at the corner of Twin Peaks in Poway. It was property that was legally bound to be used for a heart -- affordable housing. The city of Poway entered into an agreement with Habitat for Humanity. Is this upscale neighborhood or how would you characterize it? Poway is a pretty affluent city. The houses, where they going to be monstrosities? Or were they going to be fairly downscaled? They weren't going to be downscaled, they would be duplexes, slightly more dense. Several public hearings on this before the final vote, what were those hearings like? They were intense. Starting in July there were several. Every hearing there were dozens of neighbors who showed up to speak out. What were some of the main objections? Density in traffic were two huge issues. Another was neighbors being concerned about crime, funding of the project in the density of the project and the people who would be living there. It veered off into other descriptions after a community meeting in July in the pros of. We had resident who sent an email. We citizens oh our military men and women in respect for their service, wheel than the G.I. Bill, assistance for education. We do not owe them a house in Poway. It veered into an argument like that, at least among some. A lot of the people who showed up to speak in support where veterans who were on the interest list. They were people who were hoping to own those homes. A lot of the arguments they were using where that neighbors were complaining about traffic and density and they were saying we served in a war to protect the country why we having to fight a battle over these things in our own country to find affordable housing. The residence did not appreciate the fact that they were being shamed. What kind of legal obligation does Poway have? The state requires that each jurisdiction allows for affordable housing. They need to zone for it. Usually higher density properties they don't actually enforce of housing is built, as of now. They do have an obligation in some way but if they don't build that there's not so much that happens. You have covered this issue and other communities. How would you compare what you saw in Poway in comparison to other places? One of the things I have noticed in covering the County, and affluent communities often along the coast there are more oppositions to new housings at all income levels particularly low income levels. In other communities, like National City, that's denser there is less opposition there. I think we saw with the election, it had a lot of opposition in Encinitas. And affluent communities we see this over and over. They don't want their communities change even if that means people don't get housing. They are concerned about property values. If I have to resell the concern is people may not find it. We are going to be [ Indiscernible ]. They would fit into the community? Yes. It would be slightly more dense but a lot of people have an idea of low income housing is being the projects in Chicago from decades ago and that's not the case anymore. There are other affordable housing apartments in Poway and I don't think anyone knows that they are subsidized homes. They are nice apartment buildings. There's no reason to think that these would be. There was the idea of crime spiking and didn't law enforcement weigh-in? They did. That was a concern that came up and law enforcement in general crime in Poway is very low. Poway actually has police who specialize and focus just on the affordable housing and subsidized projects in Poway. They said in general crime is low. This project, because it would be for sale and the people living there would all the homes, they were not renters. There was less of a reason to think that crime would go up. The Mayor -- we had a". Yes it was 3-2 against. Mayor Steve Vaus voted against it, not because of his intent. He had two main reasons that he voted against. One was funding, the city in addition to the land they were donating was going to give $800,000 in funding to help habitat. The project was a bit of a Tibet -- Tibet of Mayor felt the commitment that Habitat for Humanity wasn't enough. What happens now? Any chance that low income housing will get built their tax I'm not going to imagine they will come forward soon. There is another project that's working in a different part of Poway, that could have a better shot in the Mayor has said he is talking with another developer about the veterans logic and a different part of Poway. Kenny? What extent was the opposition based on that it would be affordable housing and how much of the opposition was based on the fact that it would've been veterans? I don't think opposition had anything to do with veterans. It was because it was low income and even at the first meeting you could see that a lot of residents weren't aware it was going to be for veterans. That was a reason why they came [ Indiscernible ] It's not my backyard, it sounds great but not down the street from me. Yes. There are people who don't think there should be subsidized housing in general. It's probably a mix of those two things. Definitely, not my backyard played a huge role. You will keep reporting on it as it is a problem in other communities. It has been the Republican mantra get rid of Obamacare. That's proving easier said than done in the early days of the new Congress. Most -- no state has bought into Affordable Care Act as much as California and no stable suffer more if Obamacare is repealed. Kenny, start with that., To hit with California take if California repeals Obamacare? A $20 billion year hit in federal funds. $50 billion goes to expanding Medi-Cal for the poor and 5 billion and $5 billion goats towards giving people subsidies to afford a plan to cover California. Define that and remind us who gets Medi-Cal and what is it. Medi-Cal is for low income Californians, they can earn up to 138% of the federal poverty level and since it was expanded in 2014 under Obamacare, there have been 3.7 million additional Californians that have qualified and enrolled in Medi-Cal. In and covered California, it's the healthcare exchange where people can buy and shop for health plans. The marketplace set up under the law. Yes. For those without employer-based coverage. It's hugely popular. As I said, the notes from your story about one third of the population is getting some sort of Medi-Cal or subsidy. 13 million Californians on Medi-Cal that's more than one third of the population in California. We have by far the biggest Medicaid program in the country. If they repeal Obamacare in these federal subsidies to pay for it. The program will go belly up. This sounded terrific as a campaign slogan and of course the house under Republican leadership multiple times, 60 sometimes, sent those of knowing the president would be tell them if they got to the Senate. It was great theater but now they are in control of all three branches of government and we really are looking at doing this. Even some Republicans are dragging their feet saying, we may be buying a chaotic situation that we will own. They have denounced it from day one. Republicans didn't participate in the making of Obamacare at all. None of them voted for it and they have been opposed to it. There's ideological opposition to it. One thing people are talking about is the fact that if they repeal Obamacare, $346 billion in tax hikes to the rich will evaporate. That's one of the ways Obamacare was funded. It was used to subsidize people on Medi-Cal. Right. To expand marketplace programs. People making over $200,000 a year in the US would get a $346 billion tax credit for 10 years. That's a lot of money. If they repeal Obamacare that goes away and that begs the question, how are they going to replace Obamacare? Where with the funny be? Will will they get it? Republicans don't like raising taxes if they eliminate that funding source I don't know where they will get the money. We have a couple of bites from both sides of the aisle, they have been vague about how they will repeal and replace the affordable care act. Here is speaker of the house Paul Ryan and how he put it this week. We have a plan to replace it. We have plenty of ideas and you will see, as the weeks and months unfold what we're talking about replacing it. How we can get better choices with lower prices are not having a cost take over healthcare. There were ideas but no plan. Here Senate Minority Leader Democrats Chuck Schumer of New York talking about how the Democrats hit. We have a great deal of optimism that the good things that have happened in ACA are going to state. Our Republican colleagues don't quite know what to do, their like the dog got the bus. They can repeal but they have nothing to put in its place and that means so many good things go away. He is standing next to a big sign that said make America sick again. This will be another political fight and they want -- they being the Republicans -- repealing this would have resident Trump sign it and then what happens, they are delaying for several years perhaps the impact of repealing it. It's political show and what happens to the insurance monies? That's a very good question. I'm sure Republicans say that they have an idea like Paul Ryan said. I haven't seen any ideas. They've had since 2009 to put forth specific ideas. They say, on certain websites and in certain proposals in campaign speeches, there have been bits of ideas. Fundamentally, their approaches let the market correct this around a situation with Obamacare and if we subject health insurance to the free market it will correct itself. There's been no indication that works anywhere. I think they're sticking by that. There has been a number of polls and opinions on this. One was done by the Kaiser family foundation in early December, it should only 20% of the public Ashley supports a full repeal of the law. A wonder if the GOP's rhetoric matches up with people who are out there in the trenches actually living it. No. It doesn't match it at all. I did a story this week on the fact that in California anyway, it's not going to be people in Democratic strongholds of the state that are going to be displaced if Obamacare is repealed. It's people all over the state in heavily Republican districts. Is there anything that the state is doing? I think they are considering ideas. The fact of the matter is, if Obamacare is repealed $20 billion, the state doesn't have the resources to make it up. They will have to increase taxes to make up the revenue. There is no way the state could sustain the Medi-Cal program in its expanded form, if the federal money goes out, let alone provide tax credits to people to buy a plan. We would go from a situation where as we said, number of people now have insurance under the ACA who would go back to being presumably just uninsured. Showing up in emergency rooms with catastrophic bills in their personal lives. What Obamacare has done in California, it's got the uninsured rate an app. That's across all of the groups and all those that are eligible. The other thing Obamacare has done nationwide, it's try to get a foothold in this concept of prevention. Through Obamacare you get free blood pressure screenings, colonoscopies, Pap smears, mammograms preventative tools that can prevent people from getting really sick. These, at no cost to the ensure ends -- insurance holder. I do want to get to a specific proposal put forth by Paul Ryan which would be grants or a block grant to states such as California. What our analysts saying about those situations? It's all rhetoric I think. Until there is nuts and bolts put into these plans when they put meat on the bones, it sounds beautiful. But, they aren't even say what it is. I think it's all conjecture and just rigmarole. We will cover this in much detail going forward I'm sure. Among the billionaires named to Donald Trump's cabinet is Betsy DeVos a Christian conservative and Republican mega-donor for Michigan who is been a tireless backrub education vouchers and diverting public funding to privately run charter schools. Mario, start with Betsy DeVos what we know about her and how does she see education? What would she like to see go -- do? In this case you introduce your pretty well. She is a wealthy, Republican donor who sees education -- her vision is one of privatized market-based approach. Get away from the broad-based public school system that we've had for centuries. Correct. Teachers unions and many other groups are an enemy to public education. Is somebody who wants to privatize the system she supported school vouchers for it must be 30 years now, which would provide when vouchers are issued you can use that to attend parochial and private school. What is a charter school for those who may not be familiar with the concept? A charter school is a public school, a lot of times that is missed. Publicly funded. It's independently run but publicly funded. In San Diego County it's run by a Board of Directors picked oversight from school districts. When they want to open they have to petition the school district and usually it's the school district in California that have to look at their plan and say, we see what you want to do and we see your measures of progress and you can open and stay open for number of years. Who can attend and how do you get in? Charter schools are open to any student. As opposed to a neighborhood school -- It's geographically designed. Any student from any ZIP Code can get it. It's a marketplace idea you are alluding to. Give us a sense of the scope how many students attend charter schools right now? Rack in San Diego unified it has grown by 20% of students attend charter schools. That would be 26,000. It's not insignificant. You have reported the debate over public versus charter schools even though it is the form a public school is coming to a head and the NAACP has called for more a -- moratorium. What's the crux of the debate? The crux of the NAACP argument is that charter schools in general create a two-tier public education system which was never the intention. Which would be fundamentally unconstitutional. They pushed back and said let's hold up on the charter school expansion until we can figure out some other things. Now, there are all sorts of way it is coming to a head. Now we are talking about that, through Betsy DeVos and school choice in general. This is an issue that's playing out across the country, not just with charter schools but school vouchers or just school choice in general. The marketplace is getting more involved as it were in education than simply the government run schools as the GOP tends to characterize it. You talked about Gompers preparatory. It's typical, a lot of charm -- charter schools are making advancements. It has transformed is a charter school compared to public. When it was converted around 2005 to a charter school and since then the enrollment has grown and they have made improvements. When you go to Gompers, the first thing you notice, the first thing I noticed, there is a palpable type of school spirit. The students talking to certain way. There are words that take on a greater meeting. You don't just walk in, it is the gates of wisdom. There is a pride in going there. A certain standard. And by all appearances the students seem to buy into it and eat it up. I was there on the first day of school and they had the school song and everyone was singing. I could imagine a similar situation at a traditional public school. Are perhaps an inner-city school. The school itself, numbers is night and day -- Gompers is night and day. I wasn't around then but we can talk to people that were there and it sounds like a campus that was plagued by violence. The director talks about how he would on his first day of school, some student asked him why he was wearing a suit it's only going to get torn when you have to break up a fight. Fights were prevalent. It's a different atmosphere now. And now we go back to the scores are prevalent. Let's talk about Lincoln high which is not a charter school. Out of the test scores compare? Discourse from Gompers to Lincoln are actually comparable in some ways. Gompers is a bit high your in English and Lincoln is higher in math. There does seem to be a reputation about Gompers that if you go there you will get to college and have a successful career after high school. In some ways, it's this promise and the school spirit that parents buy into, even more than the test scores that we would think would be the driving factor in school choice. Kenny? What would prevent public schools from doing whatever Gompers has done to try to create a better learning atmosphere for the kids and a more success oriented system? Yes. That's the million-dollar question. Charter schools credit a lot of their success to the fact that they can pick their own teachers and they have the freedom to hire and fire is proposed to traditional. And motivated students that can come there. If you talk to some of these charter school leaders, you can do exactly everything that we have done at El Faro in a traditional public school. There are differences, there are structural differences that would make it difficult for example, public schools would have to agree to collective bargaining agreements where a charter school would have to do that. There is a thought, it's possible if you were to approach it -- A few seconds left. The new education secretary Betsy DeVos we expect to show push giving vouchers and expanding charter schools nationwide. That's the idea. That was the first question I asked. In California there isn't a lot she could do to voucher -- something we covered. And other parts of the country she may have more success? We will see what happens. We are out of time that does wrap up another week of stories at the KPBS Roundtable. I would like to think my guests Maya Srikishnan , Voice of San Diego, Kenny Goldberger and a reminder all the stories are available on our website I'm Mark Sauer. Thank you for joining us on The Roundtable.

Will California Health Care Suffer Under Trump?


Californians are big users of the Affordable Care Act.

About 17 million in the Golden State benefit from Obamacare, either through Medi-cal or tax subsidies. The percentage of California adults without health care insurance dropped from 24 percent in 2013 to 12 percent in 2015.

It seems that just about every Republican holding – or about to hold - federal office, perhaps including Tom Price, the nominee for Health and Human Services, has vowed to repeal and replace Obamacare.

So far, no replacement plan has been put forward. House Speaker Paul Ryan says there are lots of ideas, though.

Related: Consumer Advocates: Obamacare Repeal Would Be Disastrous For California


Poway To Vets: Get Lost

In a November meeting, after months of public hearings, the Poway City Council voted 3-2 to reject a small housing development.

This event might have gone unnoticed by the press, except for the nature of the project. It was a Habitat for Humanity development of 22 affordable, for-sale houses, primarily for veterans.

It was slated to be built on two-and-a-half acres that the city is legally obligated to use for affordable housing.

The objections of Poway citizens who showed up at community meetings over the summer were many - including increased traffic, increased density, decreased street parking and most significantly, the belief that low-income housing means an increase in crime.

Affordable housing is a tough sell in affluent communities. Former Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, an advocate for veterans, and Poway Mayor Steve Vaus, who voted no for financial reasons, exchanged angry tweets over the issue.

Related: 'We Do Not Owe Them a House in Poway

Charter Schools Charting Upward?

There may be a debate over whether charter schools (independently run, publicly funded, open borders) are good for education, but not as far as Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of Education is concerned.

Betsy DeVos is not only a fierce advocate of school choice and charter schools in particular, but she is an advocate for their operation without much oversight or regulation.

Since charter schools first arrived in San Diego in 1994, the city has seen a steady growth in numbers, as well as in the number of students who want to enroll.

Some charters in the San Diego Unified School District, like O'Farrell Charter School and Gompers Preparatory Academy, are outperforming public schools.

The argument against charter schools is highlighted by the NAACP’s recent call for a moratorium on charters because they believe a dual school system is unconstitutional. There is, however, big pushback from communities of color, who believe urban charter schools are outperforming public schools.

Some urban charters, in fact, have become the classic neighborhood school.

Related: In Southeastern San Diego, Charters Are The New Neighborhood Schools