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Roundtable On Chargers Deal, Juveniles In Solitary Confinement, Route 94

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Roundtable: Stadium Deal, Solitary Confinement And SR 94
Roundtable On Chargers Deal, Juveniles In Solitary Confinement, Route 94
Stadium Deal, Juvenile Solitary Confinement, SR 94HOST:Mark SauerGUESTS:Dan McSwain, San Diego Union Tribune Kelly Davis, Freelance Crime and Justice Reporter Joshua Emerson Smith, San Diego CityBeat

we may be better off if the charges and leave it for LA. The impact of solitary confinement on juveniles can be grave but a bill to ban the practice of faces opposition from jailers and probation officers. A proposal to build an overpass over Route 94 draws fire from environmentalists and committee members. The KBPS roundtable starts now. Welcome to our discussion of the week's top stories. Joining me at the roundtable today our business: this Dan McSwain of the San Diego Union Tribune. It's good to have you back. Freelance criminal justice writer, Kelly Davis and reporter Joshua Emerson Smith San Diego city beat . San Diego leaders appear to work feverishly to keep the Chargers here. Mayor thinks it's a good deal for everyone. Here's what he set about it recently. While I can't control what's going on in a Los Angeles, our efforts is controlling our own destiny here. About a positive momentum continues to build. My commitment is we have a real plan at a real site and a financing mechanism that works for San Diegan's. Is this a good deal? I'm trying to look on the right side. The Chargers have left the negotiating table, not to return until they have fully pursued moving to Los Angeles. I started doing some research about what would be the economic upside if we didn't build a brand-new professional football stadium. It turns out the research is overwhelming. Football stadiums when it comes to dollars and cents, are bad investment of public dollars. They either have zero return or negative return. I wanted to ask, the plan calls for this venue to be 1.2 the plan calls for this venue to be $1.2 billion to build it here. How much of that is public money? How much is hidden money? The market is set by the Minnesota deal which was 50-50. My opinion is of the Chargers will not settle for anything less than 50% public participation. That gets you two 600 million at least. There's a careful study in 2002 by University of Michigan professor who found, when you look at the entire project, there's generally 25% additional hidden costs. Everything from lost tax revenues, debt service, policing over time, upkeep, maintenance. 25%, that gets the public cost to 900 million. What can we buy with that besides our share of a football stadium? All kinds of stuff. I use the example of the toll road purchased with 300 million. Those 125 S. County. Yes. This is relieving millions of trips a year from 805. And daily frustration for drivers. There's Senator Marty block pushes the idea of Chargers leave, in his view, the highest and best use for the site would be to find an expansion of our very own San Diego State University. As you noted, they can truly accept that had flat admissions for several years. In the long run, would be more educated people, more people starting businesses etc. Economic analysis is always about what they call opportunity cost. Instead of spending money this way, would be better or worse to spend it a different way? If the leaders came together and used an expansion to actually boost enrollment above the current plan, they could have huge economic events for the region that goes on for decades. What about jobs? Is that a big positive effect? Yes. Every economic study starts out with of course is going to be one tough construction jobs and stadium is open there be sales activity and that helps a lot of people. However, when you look at the public money invested in that direction and compared to what else you can do, most anything else you do generates more economic activity than a sports arena. They are not used often, most of the jobs are relatively low paid. The millionaire players live outside the community or they save a lot of their money and don't spend it here. There's a lot of good fundamental reasons why public policy and investing taxpayer dollars, sports arenas don't pencil out. I think of Detroit shrinking rapidly. They told new downtown homes the lions and tigers with public money. How important are those franchises to the people of Detroit compared with San Diego. How to value what it's like to be part of a big city team. Is it important to you? I lived in Boston. I caught the Red Sox fever. The Chargers, they can go. I don't think you have much of an impact. Is important to people? Yes. There's civic energy and pride. A lot of people in San Diego deal that you see that a lot with opinion polls of different things. For me personally, I never connected with the Chargers. I don't know if there is something to the specific sports teams, some Resnick, some don't. Polls showed not a lot of people would be too upset if the Chargers left. Union Tribune had a good scientific poll found that 72% of all San Diegan's are Chargers fans. However, a poll we did in January before the standoff in negotiations found that 30% or less would be willing to actually use taxpayer dollars toward a stadium. That's a big difference. Is interesting in your column, you try to quantify this. Can you put a value on that? I have written a lot about this since January with things moved quickly around this issue. In every case, I have said cities and the public do things that aren't economically valuable. They do all kinds of things for the intentional -- intentional emotional value. Like a park or library. On the other hand, there are economists that have tried to measure how people value intangibles to go they do that to surveys. It turns out with a variety of careful studies, professional sports stadiums, if you measure the value people which on their taxes increase, it adds up to about 20% of the total cost. We do value professional sports, but not enough to pay for them in most cases. I want to ask about the city leaders pressing ahead with environmental study of this site in Mission Valley. The cost of that is a little over 1 million. 2.1 million. Is backward to be a waste of money if the Chargers leave or cannot be used for developments from other things? The box the mayor has put himself in is this applies only to professional football stadium on that site. Critics, say the city is now embarking on exactly the mistake they made with the convention center expansion they ended up spending four years and $10 million for a pursuit that in his view was for this. One last note. I'm curious as being all this money, it seems the mirror has really go after anything as hard as he's gone after the Chargers. What does that say politically for him if they leave? My guess is his political advisers, they would love to see this kicked be on the June 2016 primary. Can they appear to be in the game without landing hard on either side until after the next election? That's what their job is. We will be watching all of that as we move forward. We'll shift gears. Placing his nurse and solitary confinement has been described as cruel and unusual punishment. It may surprise you to learn that juvenile offenders are punished with solitary confinement. A bill by state Senator Mark Leno would put a stop to this practice. Kelly, start by telling us how solitary confinement is a defined for juveniles under this bill? A quick shout out, I wrote this for the crime report. Under the bill, solitary confinement would be defined as any time a juvenile detainee is placed in a locked room with a minimal contact from staff or attorneys or nurses or doctors. If they are in there for longer than or hours. That's when it becomes solitary confinement. This bill would than the use of unitive solitary confinement. It would limit the time a juvenile can be in a locked room to maximum of four hours. You read about the lawsuits and San Francisco. Yes. You will find the probation department that run the county facilities, the prison guards union whose members run the state juvenile facilities, they really don't like -- the card room confinement. They call it a demonstrated segregation, timeout. When you bring up the term solitary confinement they cringe and say that's not what we are doing. With the lawsuit, the two public interest law firms that handled that found that kids were being locked in a room, 23 hours a day. I think one child was in there for 100 days straight said this is happening. In San Diego, you did a story recently, about the solitary confinement here in juvenile lockup. That started with an investigation into use of pepper spray what did you find? Yes. The youth Law Center had gotten some reports that there was excess of pepper spray use going on in San Diego County juvenile hall. They did their own investigation and found that pepper sprayed and solitary would go hand-in-hand. You have suicidal young girl, she was asked to strip and put on a safety smock. She refused because there is a male guard nearby. For her resistance, she was pepper sprayed and given 48 hours of locked room confinement. How are they can find specifically? I don't believe you're seeing the kind of Rikers Island dark cells. These are rooms, sometimes everything is removed. The youth will be allowed a book for Bible, a blanket. It all depends on the level of isolation they are placed under. It's not as inhumane as we may think or think of solitary confinement. It is harmful for a young person's mind because they need that interaction. The sponsor of this bill is a Democrat Mark Leno from San Francisco. I'm going to be this. Solitary confinement is an extraordinarily harmful disciplinary measure has no we built it of purpose what so ever. This type of isolation is widely contaminant, only exacerbates the trouble youth faced. We must provide them with treatment not prolonged isolation. That's the crux on the advocate side. Generally, what is the opposition to this? You touched on this earlier at the prison guards and probation officers -- what do they see is useful? They want to have this tool for children who are uncontrollable and unruly. The prison guards union say they are currently under consent decree for the state-run facilities because conditions there in the mid-to thousands were so awful and got a lot of really negative press coverage. Second they are saying we are making improvements, don't come at this other layer of regulation. The federal monitor, she found there were children who were still being locked up longer than -- they have to be out of there so for at least 44 hours a week. She found children that were getting that minimum out of cell time. They're saying don't give us another layer of regulations, we still need this tool. Is is something that surprises you, are you aware his or treated this way? Definitely aware of this. I also reported on this for years. You think the general public is aware? I don't know if they are. I think solitary confinement is a heavy issue. I interviewed people adults and juveniles who expressed it. No matter how hardened criminal they are, if there would never wish it on my worst enemy. The transparency about this practice, it's a problem in this issue as well. It's not tracked. I tried to get numbers from the probation department. They don't track it. That's what they told me. They should at least know who's getting locked up for how many hours and why. Once you have the data, you can understand the problem utter. What is the prison guards union most concerned about? Do they say it's going to be chaos if we don't have this tool? They want to have it for the worst of the worst. Experts say kids are the worst of the worst because nobody sat down to figure out the underlying problem. What is causing you to act out. It's difficult and will take more training. Other states have been able to eliminate solitary confinement without any additional poems go without guards getting hurt. You cite in your reporting, 2009 Justice Department study of detainees who committed suicide. Is a very strong link between solitary confinement and suicide I can't remember the exact number. I think about two thirds of youth who committed suicide in detention facilities were in solitary confinement. There's also a lingering affect. Those who experienced solitary confinement are more likely to commit suicide. The bill is moving onto the assembly operations committee. I don't there's a date set yet. That's the final step before full assembly vote. If it makes it to there, it is in good shape. It will be California 21st state to ban juvenile solitary confinement. I don't know if the governor has committed to signing it. Mark has a lot of clout and is well respected. We're going to move on. It's a plan to add an elevated rent for buses and carpooling around a congested stretch of state money to -- and four. This brings into sharp relief highly contentious debate. More cars or more public transit? Where is the stretch we're talking about and how congested is it? This is the 805 interstate, 805 south of Highway 94 going into downtown. They want to build a ramp coming off of 805 and onto any foregoing into downtown. The ramp will be for high occupancy vehicles. Buses, carpool lanes, potentially a toll road. That ramp will touch down somewhere on the 94 before it goes into downtown. When it touches down onto 94, with a proposed is building two more express lanes. One going into downtown and one coming out. That would be the project. Is going to release the bottleneck congestion there supposedly. We have a clip here from Gustavo larder -- of what why he thinks this needs to be done. The main goal is to provide more options for commuters by allowing carpools and transit to use these lanes. It also provides some badly these operational and safety benefits by improving the way 94 runs. It was an old freeway built in the late 50s. This is going to be hundreds of millions of dollars to do this. Where does that money come from? That's part of transit net. The sales tax. This is part of the regional transportation plan. That's the ever evolving large plan for the entire region that is actually being contested in the California Supreme Court right now not being environmental friendly enough. Not everybody is crazy about this. Let's hear from Monique Lopez of the environmental health coalition. As the plan stands, if banks of the question how will we achieve our climate action goals when you have freeway widening opening into the hearts of the city that doesn't allow for one single transit stop along the entire corridor taxes. This would fly over several communities. Yes. Nor this golden hills, South is Sherman Heights. The advocates have said you will widen the prerace which is going to increase pollution in the area from construction that also from injuries -- increased traffic from cars. If I want to go north using the bus, I have to go all the way downtown to catch that. It makes it infeasible for a lot of commuters. This really gets to the heart of the planning going forward. I would just go to have more cars or are we at some point going to transfer -- get less. You may look and say it's one small piece of a huge puzzle but really, this is a microcosm of what is being debated throughout the entire catchy. I we going to do projects that prioritize public transit or expand freeways. If you listen to Caltrans, they say what you create projects that provide alternatives for everyone. They basically say that's been their line the entire time. We want to widen freeways also do public trust petition at the same time. The advocates say that won't get us to our goals. For this particular project they say why don't we look at when these lanes touchdown, rather than building new lanes wide of a touchdown on existing lanes, we strive those lands, the congestion is not really that bad they argue if there is a little congestion, that might motivate some people to switch over to taking the bus rather than driving. The problem with transportation planning is it takes place over 10 years, now it's more like a 30 If you look at the catastrophe that is interested in North County, you see the shortcomings of public officials 20 or 30 years ago. In fact the Dominion was widening of air doing up there is not going to be finished for 30 years I wish by the congestion is projected to be even worse. Is an interesting problem. A GOP lanes -- HOV lanes and bus lands is the most extensive way -- buses are cheaper and open access lanes are cheaper In my view, Gary Gallegos is one of the smartest officials. They require these expensive investments without enough funding. He has been successful in turning them into rapid bus lands, carpool lanes and toll lanes. If you want to pay money, you have an open access freeway that will move vehicles. Does that work? Interstate 15 is being studied all over the world. It has time variable pricing and what's really congested the price goes up. The city of London is doing this because they have failed over decades. If it's really crowded it costs you more money. The edges to being -- the interesting thing is let's have a conversation about this. Let's get this in the Empire mental review docket. Let's study the alternatives and we can have a public debate about it. Then we can talk about it. Right now, they are not even in the environmental dockets. There's more pressure saying why don't we just study this? Where does the project stand now? We're waiting for the environmental review document which has been delayed multiple times. We will see when that comes out if it includes things like adding up a stop or reducing the size of the project. Will also see if this becomes a line in the sand and one of those emblematic projects that gets at this issue. That wraps up another week of stories, I like to thank my desk then McSwain of the San Diego Union Tribune. Prevents criminal justice writer and Joshua Emison Smith San Diego city beat. A reminder, all the stories of discussed today are available on our website KPBS.org. I am Mark Sauer, thanks for joining us today on the Roundtable.

Stadium: How bad a deal is it?

The city of San Diego could be considerably better off if the Chargers move to Los Angeles, according to San Diego Union-Tribune columnist Dan McSwain.

Under the city's plan, half the estimated $1.2 billion construction cost would come from the public. But McSwain notes there are other, long-term costs that are often ignored in the calculation, such as upkeep, and operating and tax subsidies. These would push the total to more like $900 million.

And these bills would be due at a time when San Diego’s infrastructure needs will reach $1.7 billion over the next five years.

Meanwhile, in the face of the team’s obvious disinterest in staying in Mission Valley, the city is going ahead with environmental studies and an October environmental impact report required for a proposed January 2016 public vote on the stadium. The budget for the EIR is $2.1 million. The city has already agreed to spend $250,000 on negotiators.

Juveniles in solitary confinement

It may surprise some to learn that jailed juveniles are kept in solitary confinement in the U.S. State Sen. Mark Leno’s (D-SF) bill banning that practice in California has passed the California Senate and awaits one more hearing in the Assembly.

Prison guards and probation officers oppose the ban, saying they believe isolation is a useful disciplinary tool. Advocates of the bill say solitary confinement is a source of trauma that can cripple a young person’s development and have serious mental health consequences.

Contra Costa County, near San Francisco, is one of several counties which allowed this punishment. It settled a lawsuit this May over claims that juveniles with psychiatric and developmental disabilities were isolated for as many as 23 hours a day.

In San Diego County, a 2013 investigation found that some juveniles were confined alone in their rooms for up to five days. Since data collection on this issue is not required by state or federal authorities, there is no telling how many young people are subjected to isolation.

A 2009 Justice Department study found that two-thirds of juveniles who committed suicide while incarcerated had a history of room confinement.

SR 94: Congestion and contention

State Route 94, running east from downtown to the desert, is well used. It was built in the 1950s. It's old and congested and long overdue for an upgrade, says Caltrans.

Transportation officials with Caltrans and the San Diego Association of Governments say the solution to the congestion in and out of downtown on the 94 is to build an overpass, or a flyover, for car pools and buses from Interstate 15 to Interstate 805.

Many who live in that area are transit users. They are unhappy that the first solution was to expand the freeway, and the project didn’t include a bus stop in any of the impacted communities. They and environmentalists advocate converting current freeway lanes on the 94 to managed lanes for transit and carpools.

Caltrans officials say the TransNet tax, which pays for transportation projects in the region, doesn’t allow that and that 75 percent of commuters are solo drivers anyway, so current lanes need to be preserved.

Councilmen David Alvarez and Todd Gloria have weighed in about the lack of transit and bus stops, and environmentalists have blasted this kind transportation planning as outdated.