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Roundtable: Issa v. Applegate; Unproven Stem Cell Treatments; Barrio Logan & The Downtown Stadium

Roundtable: Issa v. Applegate; Unproven Stem Cell Treatments; Barrio Logan & The Downtown Stadium
Issa v. Applegate; Stem Cell Treatment; Barrio Logan v. Measure CHOST:Mark SauerGUESTS:Chris Jennewein, editor and publisher, David Wagner, science & technology reporter, KPBS News Logan Jenkins, columnist, The San Diego Union-Tribune

Issa contest may actually be a race

Congressman Darrell Issa, R-Vista, has glided smoothly to victory in his district for the past 8 elections, winning by some 30 percentage points each time.


He may not have such easy sailing this November.

If he does win, his margin of victory will undoubtedly be smaller. In fact, the race is close enough that there is some speculation he could actually lose.

Issa finished the June primary ahead of Douglas Applegate, a retired Marine colonel, Democrat, and political newcomer, by just 5.3 percentage points, a remarkable result given that Applegate spent very little money in the primary.

At the end of June, Applegate had spent less than $50,000 on his campaign, while Issa had shelled out $700,000.

They still are neck-and-neck, and the campaign has turned a bit nasty. Reports recently surfaced that Applegate was accused of harassing, stalking and threatening his then-wife more than 10 years ago. He said the accusations were "desperate." His former wife said they were "uninformed," and she supported her ex-husband's bid for Congress.


Analysts have cited Issa's support for Donald Trump, his absence from his district, and the district’s changing demographics as reasons voters have turned away from him. Issa has begun to appear in Southern California more often recently. He has joined forces with Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove) to protest the storage of nuclear fuel at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.

LA Times: Why Democrats think this retired U.S. Marines colonel could unseat longtime San Diego County Rep. Darrell Issa

Costly, unproven stem-cell treatment

Stemedica, a San Diego-based company engaged in stem cell research, is connected with the treatment of famous former athletes John Brodie, Bart Starr and Gordie Howe, who all suffered debilitating strokes.

Reporter David Wagner told the story of Jim Gass, a man partially paralyzed by a stroke who sought stem cell treatments in a number of countries. Gass had heard about John Brodie's recovery, which a Stemedica executive once described as "miraculous," so he decided to reach out to Stemedica. Based on its referral, he received expensive treatments in Tijuana.

But Gass's paralysis got worse, and he developed a tumor in his spine his doctors link with "stem cell tourism."

Stem cell experts are skeptical that the types of treatments Gass received would help replace a stroke patient's damaged brain cells. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the value of stem cells for most conditions is currently unproven.

Stemedica is sponsoring a number of stem cell trials overseen by reputable institutions in the U.S., including one at UC San Diego that launched over five years ago. But the company could not provide published results from any of its human trials.

Wagner further found that the academic credentials of Stemedica's top executives could not always be verified. And three of the people listed as top executives on Stemedica websites were previously linked with a bottled water company that claimed to produce water that could hydrate cells faster than regular water, a claim refuted in court.

KPBS News: Patients Turn To San Diego Stem Cell Companies for Costly, Unproven Treatments

KPBS News: A Closer Look At a San Diego Stem Cell Company's Leadership

Barrio Logan and the stadium

If Measure C, the Chargers proposal for a stadium downtown in the East Village, passes in November, the residents of Barrio Logan next door worry the whole area will become gentrified and their homes unaffordable.

Barrio Logan is represented by San Diego City Councilman David Alvarez. He believes Measure C spells disaster for his community, which already seems to be going upscale with newer apartments, art venues, restaurants and breweries.

If Measure C fails, Alvarez says a stadium could still be built in East Village, but only if affordable housing is part of the plan.

Alvarez has instead endorsed Measure D, the so-called “Citizen’s Plan," because it was created by community leaders and would force the Chargers to pay their own way.

SDUT: Barrio's skin in the NFL Game

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