Wildfire Insurance, Teacher-Student Boundaries, Becoming A Drag Queen
KPBS Midday Edition / June 24, 2019
Governor Gavin Newsom is proposing creating a wildfire insurance fund up to $21 Billion for the state’s largest utilities. Also, San Diego County school districts that don’t have policies on teacher-student boundaries are paying out millions as a result of lawsuits from students claiming abuse, what’s it like to grow up with a parent who’s in and out of jail and prison? And how Franko Guillen, who is also known as Franceska, became a drag queen.
Speaker 1: 00:00 The devil is in the details. That's one. California lawmakers reaction to a sweeping proposal by Governor Gavin Newsom to change the state's wildfire liability policy. The governor put forward and outline last week for a state funding to help cover massive wildfire damages incurred by California's major utilities. To qualify the proposal requires the utilities including San Diego gas and electric to earn a yearly safety certification to be able to tap into the funds. But no actual legislation has been proposed yet. And lawmakers are reacting cautiously. Journey me is Merissa logos corresponded four Kq Edis, California politics and government desk. I'm Merissa welcome back to the program. Thanks for having me. Why is the governor making this proposal?
Speaker 2: 00:50 So, you know, he came into office with obviously this huge a thing hanging over his head, you know, just a few months. Um, before he came into office right after he was elected the Campfire Procott up in paradise, killing 85 people within a month of him, him entering office, PG and e filed for bankruptcy protection. And so I think that his administration has been grappling with really how to handle both the sort of short term questions about how these utilities pay you for that liability, how to make sure that they are stable enough financially, that Wall Street doesn't kind of completely, um, destabilize, stabilize their ability to do business. And then also the longterm challenges of trying to figure out how to avoid these fires in California as we move forward. And climate change potentially gets even worse.
Speaker 1: 01:38 Big is the fund the governor is proposing. And where will the money come from
Speaker 2: 01:42 if the utilities, the three big ones including Sdg, any, um, agreed to it, it would be a $21 billion fund. Uh, about half of that money, 10 and a half billion would come from rate payers in a bond. This would be an extension of the bonds that were actually first issued, um, in the early two thousands as a result of the electricity crisis then. So what they're saying is, look, right, payers won't actually feel this very much because it's just going to be a continuation of money that's already on our bills. The other half would come from the utilities and of course the government can't force them to put this money into this fund. So it would basically, they're kind of offering a carrot and a stick. They're saying, if you guys, you know, play ball and do the safety certification, um, and requirements that we want and you want to put money into this, then it will sort of serve as this backstop.
Speaker 2: 02:30 And so the 10 and a half billion would come from the three big utilities. Um, from what I understand PG and e would pay the most because they're the biggest and you know, again, it requires them all to want to do it. So I think there's a lot of questions over whether in San Diego, for example with SD genie rd investing a lot of money in safety improvements, um, and being such a smaller utility, I would assume they're going to want to see the other utilities pick up a bigger portion of the check and maybe have some different requirements around the safety stuff since they've already invested so much. Yeah. What would the utilities have to do to qualify to tap into this new state fund? So basically they would have, there's going to be a new division at the California Public Utilities Commission that is in charge of wildfire safety.
Speaker 2: 03:16 And every year the utilities would have to go to this division, um, with their wildfire plans that they're already required to create under previous legislation. And this division would essentially review those plans and approve them. And if they did that and they did this annually, they could be part of this plan. Um, and, and what's interesting about the fun, I think it's important, you know, $21 billion is obviously a lot of money, but it's not as much as the damages we've seen in recent years, unfortunately. But insurance works in interesting ways. And so if you have a pot of money that big, the utilities could actually take out reinsurance against it so it could actually be worth a lot more than that 21 billion. And that also means that if these utilities were to cause a fire and they were found to have, you know, acted responsibly, but something happened to anyway, um, they could essentially tap into that and then also their own reinsurance, um, and it would sort of, would sort of be this deductible so they probably wouldn't end up paying out nearly as much from their bottom line as they would under some other scenarios that have been floated and obviously as much as they are now, uh, with the current liability laws and the, and the damage that's been caused.
Speaker 2: 04:27 Now the governor says this plan will be given to legislators as a package of proposals. They haven't actually seen anything yet, but his timeline for approval is rather short, isn't it? Yeah. He wants this done by July 12th, which is, uh, a little less than three weeks from now. Um, they're saying that they'll come up with this language in the coming days. You know, I think it is important to note that some of these ideas like the liability fund had been floating around since at least last year. There's actually a couple pieces of legislation, um, that you know, written by lawmakers that would have tried to do something similar. Um, and those have had some hearings so they're not starting entirely from scratch, but it's definitely going to be a heavy lift. And I think, you know, the reason for that deadline is in large part because fire season is upon us and they want to get this done and they want to be able to send a message to Wall Street and the markets that they are taking this seriously and doing something to protect these utilities.
Speaker 2: 05:24 And before people get mad and say, well, who cares about the Italys? Um, it actually affects all of us as rate payers. The way that these companies work as investor on utilities is that they borrow money on the stock market through bonds to do infrastructure work. And if those bond ratings are in the toilet like they are now, it's way more expensive and those costs get passed off to us. So there's kind of a rate, pair argument within this short timeline as well. I've been speaking with Kq edis mode, Risa logos. Merissa thank you so much. Always a pleasure.
Speaker 3: 05:56 Uh.
Speaker 1: 00:00 School districts across San Diego County are coming under scrutiny. After settlements were reached in several lawsuits from students abused by educators. Now there's a push to put policies in place that lay out appropriate boundaries between teachers and their students. Kayla Jimenez reported on the story for the voice of San Diego and joins us with more. Kayla, welcome. Hi. So talk to us about the cases that bought to light the absence of these policies. So in our investigation at Voice of San Diego and to sexual misconduct by a predatory teachers and schools, there were a few settlements in different cases that we looked into where teachers were grooming students before abusing them and grooming look like things that could be excused as exemplary teaching. Things like sending text messages of encouragement and giving rides home to and from school or making friends with parents. But those seemingly friendly acts turn sexual. Eventually in this text messages turn into good night messages and the making friends with parents turned into having the parents allow them to drop them off to and from school where those conversations in the car, it's would become intimate and like friendly hug where you're introducing physical acts that aren't necessarily factual, become sexual.
Speaker 1: 01:24 And we thought that and a lot of these cases that we looked at, and those are the kind of teachers, student boundaries that are not in some of the policies that the school districts across thin ego have. And in these cases, attorneys are finding that the school districts didn't have those policies and thing that they failed to warn, train or educate these employees and parents and students about those risks and how those grooming instances can turn into sexual abuse. So it sounds like things were easily escalated to a level of being inappropriate. Um, where did these instances incidents happen? I looked into three cases. There was one at Crawford high with, um, Tony Sutton and she was a volleyball coach and a teacher there. And then marine guy goes, who was a teacher at imperial beach and ROTC substitute teacher and then Jason Mangan mega bill and he was a band director at Bonita Vista High.
Speaker 1: 02:23 In these cases you, you spoke about earlier, there were warning signs prior to the abuse that you mentioned. Uh, things just sort of escalated and in each one of these cases, right? So there were warning signs and they were pointed out to administrators that in each of the cases at one point or another, but those signs that became more of a gray area and the schools don't really have a policy on what is right and wrong. Yeah. So, I mean, how would having a policy that outlined appropriate teacher student boundaries possibly prevent future abuse? Well, I've talked to some experts on this and they have said that having a policy would first be telling educators what is okay to do with students and when it's not okay. And it provides some guidelines to for what is okay, whether you can text the student or whether you can take a student home from school or not.
Speaker 1: 03:13 So can you give me an example of, of what the policies would be [inaudible]. So I have taken a look at a few policies that have been implemented across California. Usually after these settlements come into play in these schools are paying these hefty amounts to those students. There's portions on what kind of elk electronic communications are okay over social media and texting. What kind of policies are okay taking rides home from and to and from school and what kind of communications coaches should have with their students and teachers should have with their students. Sure. So, so no hopping in into the inbox of a student's Facebook page or Instagram or Twitter or something like that. Right. These policies also make reporting warning signs. I'm a priority two, right? Yes. So under the mandated reporting law, teachers are supposed to report any suspected child abuse to authorities, but sometimes teachers aren't sure whether they fee a teacher take a student home from school.
Speaker 1: 04:11 If they are, you should report that, but these policies would make clear that those are things that you need to, the teachers need to be reporting. Is there concern that that these policies could stand in the way of what um, is in most cases a nurturing relationship between students and teachers who sometimes have to go the extra mile to teach and engage students? There could be, but I think overwhelmingly that we will be seen from these cases. Those nurturing relationships sometimes don't end well. Have you heard any concerns from teachers about having these policies? Not specifically, but I have heard a lot of feedback about when is just texting a student going to turn into this and are giving a ride home going to turn into sexual abuse. And I think one of the things that experts point out to me a lot where like the combination of those things and if someone sees some happening over and over again, then those are warning signs to report.
Speaker 1: 05:13 Yeah. Having a policy would protect school districts in cases of future lawsuits. Right, right. Especially in negligence of failing to warn or train. And I've talked to a few attorneys and they've told me that it's important to have those policies, but also for the school districts to implement those policies well and make sure that everyone in the school is notified of them because even if they have the policies but they aren't exactly implementing them or making sure they're taken seriously, that can be another. And the bigger picture here is that having these policies in place, we'll protect the students. Right. Right. Ultimately having these policies and telling teachers, so it's okay, we'll protect students in the long run. Right. And um, do any of the school districts in San Diego County have teacher student boundary policies? So I've noted Grossmont Union high school district does have one of those policies, but there's very few in the county and San Diego unified. And Sweetwater were those districts who did end up paying students who are harmed by, um, teachers last year. And those districts that don't have them yet, I've been speaking with Kayla Jimenez Education reporter with the Voice of San Diego. Kayla, thanks so much for joining us. Yeah, thank you.
Speaker 2: 06:25 Ah.
Speaker 1: 00:00 What's it like to have a parent in and out of jail and prison for your entire life? Melissa Duenas, who grew up in national city and went to school in Chula Vista, remembers that when her father was out, his imagination and sense of adventure filled her life with laughter and joy when he was locked up, the two of them kept in touch by constantly writing letters. Nothing brightened her day more than coming home to one of his immaculate Lee handwritten letters when she was a little girl, but as she got older, Melissa grew tired of her father's empty promises to change for the better, stay out of jail and stop using drugs. Now, a student at USC, she tells the story of how a daughter can grapple with love, pain, nostalgia, and trauma. Simultaneously. A note to listeners, all of the letters you'll hear will be read by voice actors and a warning. This story include some disturbing themes.
Speaker 2: 01:00 [inaudible]
Speaker 3: 01:00 the year is 1993 and me and my family, all right, Disneyland on his sticky summer day. I'm a giggly five year old. My mom's holding my sister a wide newborn, and then there's my brother. He's trying to play it. Cool because he's 13 what were their miss Lizzy? That's my dad. His name is Ben. He's our unofficial family cameramen in missy is my family nickname. I'm trying to get an autograph from one of the Disney characters
Speaker 2: 01:28 that, who's this guy? Oh, Jabbar Hobart.
Speaker 3: 01:35 My Dad is wearing his usual Dickies pants and a white sleeveless undershirt with all his prison tattoos and site. I'm sure he looked intimidating, but this is who he really was a wisecracking jokester did. I had a blind love.
Speaker 2: 01:49 I hope you not writing my daughter. I love, no. Yeah. Okay, thank you. I see what it says. Oh, okay. All right.
Speaker 4: 02:09 Ever since I was little, I remember my dad being locked up. He went in and out for different violations, like robbery, possession of a weapon, drugs. When he was away, I wrote him constantly.
Speaker 2: 02:28 My name to 99 do you like my card? I'm really supposed to be asleep right now because it's Sunday night, but I'm making this card fee. So do you feel different now that you're the big 39 I hope they were extra nice to you because it was ubd. Well Happy Birthday
Speaker 5: 02:53 March, 1999
Speaker 2: 02:56 I got your letters, my birthday card and pictures.
Speaker 5: 03:00 Thank you very much for taking the time to write me. It looks so beautiful in those pictures. It brought tears to my eyes. Just remembering those good times we had.
Speaker 3: 03:12 Okay, let's, let's, okay. And let's see in here. I didn't look in your thing. I don't know. That's my little sister Lely. She empties a Manila envelope of letters onto the couch and picks up an old piece of black construction paper. Oh it was father's day in school site. I made him a tie. I kind of get sad cause like everyone was like, I'm going to go home and give this to my dad and I would see the other kids giving the ties to their dad after school. And then I had to send mine in the mail. We continue sifting through the small pile looking at the faded yellow paper with my dad's immaculate handwriting envelopes with stamps of angels and ballerinas. Cartoon, Minnie mouse and Winnie the Pooh. Well, right now I've been going to this thing where I'm kind of angry at him. He, his whole life was just this like half evil, half good person and I feel like I want to cry, but I can't because I'm too prideful because I'm like, why am I going to cry over somebody who didn't cry over me? But do you know? Do you know that I know he cried over him because I see all these letters. I just feel like maybe it affected me that I felt like I wasn't worth it.
Speaker 6: 04:35 Yeah,
Speaker 4: 04:41 it's my first year of high school. I'm going to football games, hanging out with my friends, having crushes, doing well in school. On the outside I seemed fine, but inside
Speaker 7: 04:58 December, 2001 I don't even know you dad. It's hard for me to tell if you're on drugs are coming down from them or if this is actually my dad without drugs. I love you so much and no matter what, I'm going to love you, but it's hard for me to just watch you hurt yourself, your life, your health and your future.
Speaker 5: 05:21 December, 2001 I'm tired to live in like I've been living in. You're right. I do need to change. I really don't mean to hurt you or make you sad intentionally and I'm sorry that I have, I'm very sorry princess and I hope that you can forgive me. I do love you very much in the last thing I want to do is hurt you.
Speaker 4: 05:49 My Dad's habitual incarceration began when he was 13 he went to youth authority for robbing liquor stores at gunpoint. Why a is the juvenile version of prison?
Speaker 8: 06:01 Not right now. Mom, can you call it Burma so we don't get into that one.
Speaker 3: 06:06 That's my older brother. No, his name is also Ben. We sit in my mom's dining room exchanging silly glances and nervous laughter as I get ready to record our interview
Speaker 8: 06:16 and so once he went to [inaudible] he became corrupted, indoctrinated into the gang culture.
Speaker 3: 06:22 My brother grew up immersed in gang culture as well. His friends or cousins or neighbors, even the people at our church all had gang affiliations. At first my dad tried to keep him away from this lifestyle.
Speaker 8: 06:37 First of all, I was already going the wrong way at 13 you know, running with gangs, doing drugs, blah, blah blah. And then sold this gang program came around offering free boxing, you know, two kids at risk. But he forced me kind of almost to beat boxing. He was there, I boxing practice when we'll go out of town. He was there. He was almost like your regular dad.
Speaker 3: 06:59 When my brother was 22 their relationship changed. They started to roll the streets and even use drugs together
Speaker 8: 07:08 the first time. Was that weird? And I'm kind of giving you vague memories. I'm sure it kind of felt at least halfway funny like smoking no weed or drinking a beer, but like smoking crystal with your dad. He, that's weird. You know? So, yeah. But once we got off that first time or second time, I'm sure it wasn't, it was no being, you know, definitely wasn't weird.
Speaker 3: 07:26 But like, when was it clear that he had an addiction
Speaker 8: 07:29 for not having a job? You always had a place to stay, you know, cause he always did what he gotta do. But yeah, I don't remember who it was about I guess 44. And then he was a sleeping in a car with his new wife, Laura. But, uh, he say, you know, I'm tired of going to prison. I'm tired of going to prison. I hate prison. I hate the way it smells, hate the way it looks. I hate the people that are in there. I hate everything about it. But I just made the assumption that, uh, he would rather be homeless on the streets, dirty and stinky. Then in prison,
Speaker 4: 08:13 it's my last year of high school and I decided to go live with my grandmother. I need to get away from my family. My brothers, math paranoia's scares me and my mom won't stop nagging me about God.
Speaker 7: 08:26 September, 2004 sometimes I think I'm okay and I'm used to you not being around. And then there's times where I'll just start crying because he catches up to me. And it hits me that I do miss you very much. I just keep trying to hold it in and be strong. No matter how many times do you go to jail. It hurts me every time.
Speaker 8: 08:52 August, 2004 there's one time I remember
Speaker 5: 08:56 so clearly it was a time we went to Disney. Man, I can still remember you jump in saying, Look Daddy, look at me. I'm smiling as I write this down, but at the same time, my eyes are tearing up. I'm so tired, princess of wasting precious time away from you and places like this, but this is it. This is my last time. I'm not giving any more of my life to this system.
Speaker 3: 09:28 I visited my dad a few times when he was locked up and Donovan, it was close to where we lived in San Diego. Other times he was in prison up north, so it was too far for us to go.
Speaker 6: 09:40 Hm.
Speaker 3: 09:41 My mom says my dad never liked us visiting him anyways. He didn't want us to see him like that.
Speaker 9: 09:46 And if I tell you that I'm not, don't want to talk about it. Respect that. That's my mom. Keep Patricia in another way. We sit closely at a table, but her gaze is distant. Well, I might ask you why you don't want to talk about it and I might say, I just don't feel like it or that it's none of your business. What I'm asking you because it's affected everybody. You're asking me, you know, when did you know that your dad, you know, was you know, having a problem and things like that. It's like, you know, not only did your dad have problems, I had problems to my mom and dad had known each other since they were 16 both of them had been abused by their families and those kinds of things connected us and tied us together. And so he would come over sometimes hurt because he got beat up by his dad. If I remember, I remember a lot of rainy nights did he cook?
Speaker 9: 10:45 And so you always do that. I'd like to seven up, it'll beef jerky and so he would bring me a seven up in a beef jerky or we would just cruise around. I think sometimes it probably even had my pajamas on. And in what ways do you think that dad was a good husband, a good father, if at all? He was a good father because he likes spending time with his kids. He loved to go and hear about your report card if they're going to be in a play, if they're going to be in a choir, he wanted to be there. When it came to being a good husband, that was a lot more difficult for him.
Speaker 3: 11:19 When my parents were married, my dad physically abused my mom, some of which I witnessed. But mostly I remember crying in the closet with my sister. My parents divorced when I was 10 years old and I never questioned why.
Speaker 9: 11:35 You know, he would tell me that he didn't want to be that angry person. And so I think too, um, capture that angry person. He would use drugs to sedate itself. And maybe that's what he, the only thing he thought he could control his anger.
Speaker 3: 11:53 My Mom says Heroin Melad my dad out. But when he started using meth, he became even more violent. She decided to leave him after that. He continued to use both after they separated.
Speaker 9: 12:06 I know that he still loved his kids, but he just wasn't just something was missing. It almost seemed like his soul was completely, um, swallowed up by the drugs. I Dunno if he realized it too, but in a lot of his later years, pitchers, he was his filing anymore. You had a sad look on his face. How would you explain that? Like what is, what is that essence in him that was drowned? His gentle, quiet spirit that he had when he was sober and clean and, and after you guys were divorced, did you ever see that again? I think the last time I seen that was when he was in his casket.
Speaker 2: 13:06 [inaudible]
Speaker 10: 13:07 October, 2007. Missy, if I haven't already, I would like to say I'm sorry for hurting you in the past. I hope that one day you'll be able to find it in your heart to forgive me so that we'll be able to get back to a normal relationship with one another. Listen, Melissa, I'm your Daddy. I love you. Nothing will ever change that. It will be nice to hear from you, but if for some reason you don't have time to write back, I understand.
Speaker 2: 13:43 [inaudible]
Speaker 3: 13:44 he sent this letter to me for my 20th birthday, but I never did write him back. I didn't want to have anything to do with him. Two months later, he died. Only a day after he was released from prison. He had a heart attack from doing both meth and heroin. The people he was with dragged his dying body to nearby alley, left for dead like a stray dog. A man saw what happened and called an ambulance and at 9:55 PM alone in the hospital, my dad was pronounced dead. He was 47
Speaker 2: 14:35 [inaudible]
Speaker 3: 14:35 even though it's been almost 12 years since his death. Same old confusing mix of anger and sadness started to resurface. But in the process of doing this story, I discovered a message from my dad, a treasure in my archive of letters.
Speaker 5: 14:54 When I don't remember, September, 2004 after I started reading your letter, I started to cry. Even my celly tripped out on me. I told them that the only people in this world that can write a letter to me and touched me in such a special way that'll make me cry on my two daughters and my mother. Thank you for being new princess and that very sweet, special person that God bless you to be. I'm so proud and blessed to have you for my daughter. You write and express yourself very well and also speak well. Have you ever thought of being a writer of some sort of journalists or something?
Speaker 3: 15:31 I read this alone in my room laughing and crying all at once because my dad didn't just love me. He knew my path even before I did and yes, I'm still mad at him, but that's okay. I've accepted the fact that making peace with him, his life, his choices is a constant process. One name, he never fully understand. My Dad was in all good, but he wasn't all bad either and I still love him all the same. I'm gonna go back and say now where to find to see if I'm missing
Speaker 2: 16:17 [inaudible].
Speaker 3: 16:18 I'm Melissa Duenas.
Speaker 1: 16:24 Melissa Duenas produced that story as part of an advanced radio class at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and journalism. Mark Nieto compose the original music and the story first aired on the California report magazine.
Speaker 6: 16:39 Oh.