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San Diego’s Freeways, Courthouse Evidence, Cinco de Mayo

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The San Diego County Board of Supervisors wants the county’s planned freeway projects to move ahead unchanged. Also, the San Diego Superior Court stores about 30,000 exhibits and two-fifths of them are from murder and San Diego celebrates Cinco de Mayo.

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Speaker 1: 00:00 The San Diego County Board of supervisors once the county's planned freeway projects to move ahead unchanged this week, the board voted three to two to oppose efforts to revise the plans in favor of a New Vision for public transit in San Diego. The supervisors took the vote even before the new head of Sandag presented his proposal to abandon 15 transit projects funded by the transnet tax. Joining me by Skype is voice of San Diego reporter Andrew Keats and Andrew, welcome to the show. Thanks for having me. The new director of the San Diego Association of governments, a sonic Grotta says San Diego needs a new transportation plan, which does not include these 15 road projects. Apparently the supervisors do not agree. What was that vote like on Tuesday?

Speaker 2: 00:50 Well, it was pretty interesting and I think it was clarifying in terms of what's being debated here because if you keep in mind the county board of supervisors has four Republicans and one Democrat, but this was not a vote on party lines. It was instead of vote between urban areas and rural areas is the way I would describe it. And so a while it was relatively contentious. Uh, the way it broke down was Greg Cox, who represents the south bay and Nathan Fletcher, who's district predominantly covers the city of San Diego, voted to support Asana crowd has vision. Whereas the three supervisors who represent East County and inland North County and coastal North County, the areas that are a little bit less urban and therefore more reliant on highways voted to oppose this vision.

Speaker 1: 01:35 Here's a, a supervisor Dianne Jacob discussing why she voted no.

Speaker 3: 01:39 There's not going to be any mass transit available to people that live in these areas, whether it's Julian, we're Alona, lakeside, Alpine, how Potrero Campo Boulevard, any of these areas,

Speaker 1: 01:56 what projects is he karata asking the Sandag board to abandon

Speaker 2: 02:02 the project that is most at issue here is a expansion of the 78 freeway in north county. That is the one that I think is generating the most frustration, but there's also this 67 in north county and north and east county 52 as well. And so it's really these freeway projects and some connectors and a interchanges that would alleviate congestion on the freeways. Some of these projects are Hov lanes on these freeways, but yeah, there they are freeway projects that predominantly would serve the north county and east county areas. I should add though, and this is something that didn't come up as clearly as it should have in my opinion during the supervisor's meeting is transnet doesn't have enough money to build all of these projects in the first place. The reason this discussion is happening at all is because that sales tax measure, which was approved in 2000 began being collected in 2008 and is going to last for 40 years does not have enough money to build everything that voters were promised back in 2004 that's the fundamental problem.

Speaker 2: 03:11 So when the supervisors say what they should do is keep all their promises. It's sort of speaking directly past the question because the question is what do we do now that we don't have enough money to keep all of these promises? Someone somewhere is losing out on something. So to simply reiterate that you'd like everything to be built that you thought was going to be built. A really ignores the question and voice of San Diego was pivotal in investigating the lack of funds coming in from that transnet the sales tax. So there's not enough money to complete all of these projects anyway. What does he want to spend the remaining transnet funds on? The big requests he's making is to spend $300 million of the remaining funds to begin environmental and engineering planning and preliminary work on a set of transit projects. That would be part of his New Vision for regional transit system.

Speaker 2: 04:10 So it's, you know, part of the unsexy work of infrastructure planning is you have to spend money on these sorts of early phase planning projects that get the projects in the position so that when there is enough money to pay for them, either because it's gas tax money or because the federal government passes an infrastructure program, you need to have them shovel ready. And so he's trying to spend $300 million to get a bunch of different transit projects to be shovel ready so that the region could be in a position to compete for that money when it becomes available, if it becomes available. What does this vote by the county board of supervisors? You really mean it, isn't it largely symbolic? Yeah, I would say it's completely symbolic actually. Uh, the two of the people who put this motion on the county board's agenda in the first place, our Kristin gas bar and Jim Desmond supervisors, both of them are already on sandbags board and on Sandag sport they can vote however they please.

Speaker 2: 05:07 So they were already going to get two votes to do just this. The county, you know, really all they voted to do was to send a letter formalizing their concerns and their opposition to this new direction. But as far as the SANDAG board's voting procedures are concerned, Gas Barn Desmond, we're already going to be able to vote however they wanted. And we already knew how they were going to vote in any way. So this really wasn't a symbolic display. And when does the Sandag vote happen? Sana crowded told me last week that it would happen within the next couple months. So they're really two votes coming here and they might have slightly different politics. The first vote is this vote to formally declare transnet essentially broke and to reappropriate $300 million for this planning project. That requires the vote of two thirds of Sandag board, you know, that's a tall climb it, we'll see how they, how they get there.

Speaker 2: 06:02 And then in about a year and a half or so, the next shoe will drop. We're actually, I think might even be two years from now, which is a final vote on this New Vision, this new idea of having high frequency transit connecting the entire region. That would be an easier lift. He doesn't need all two thirds of the board to approve that. So theoretically somebody could that one way on one thing and another way on the other, but he's got a much lower threshold to reach on that, that second vote that's not coming up for quite awhile. I've been speaking with a voice of San Diego reporter Andrew Keatts. Andrew, thanks. Thank you, Maureen.

Speaker 4: 06:39 [inaudible].

Speaker 1: 00:00 Last week we told you about the city of San Diego's archives where documents are stored dating back to the 18 hundreds today we bring you a tour of a different kind of storage place where thousands and thousands of pieces of evidence are stored from all the county's criminal cases. KPBS investigative reporter Claire. Chegg is her, has the story as you enter the San Diego superior courts, evidence storage vaults, the sound that greets you is rushing water like a spa or are relaxing fountain, except this water runs through a pipe overhead labeled sanitary waste.

Speaker 2: 00:39 It's funny too, you have to work under Rhode Island. Bill next has run evidence

Speaker 1: 00:43 storage for 30 years. He's worked down in the basement of the old court house and now the new one cataloguing and storing every piece of evidence that's used in the court

Speaker 2: 00:53 above. Okay. Well when new exhibits or brought in, they're brought into this open area here. Nick's points to a counter stacked with Manila envelopes. This is what a new case on look like if it's just paper. Next is the librarian sort of, he has a card catalog system that tells you where exactly each piece of evidence is and who's looked at it and that's very important. If something goes missing, he'll know who to blame. So basically the envelope is the, is the brain of the case basically. So the exhibit list is in there. Any paper documents is usually stored in there and they're filed here. But in other ways nicks is nothing like a librarian. This is all hand guns here. The smaller boxes we keep, and again they're separated by case number. All the red dots that you see, those are all murder cases.

Speaker 2: 01:41 For one thing. A lot of what he's storing our guns and then like sometimes we'll get items like this where it's stored in plexiglass. Nick's pulls out a giant assault rifle in a plexiglass case that's almost as tall as he is. He also points out other murder weapons, miscellaneous weapons. These are just items that for one reason or another were used to harm somebody. He items include a few shovels, rakes, a mop and some hockey sticks. When I first started working here, I was 20 years old and I'll be honest with Ya, I was a little, it messes with your mortality a little bit cause you see so much death around you, pictures of it and it's like wow, you know, it'll, it can, but then it wears off and you really don't see it after a while. I hate to admit it, but Nick's also has a few ghost stories from the old courthouse on Broadway.

Speaker 2: 02:32 Yeah. It was a little spooky over there. We had what was called a d vault over there and uh, we started nothing but murder death penalty's over there. That's it. That's all it was there. And there was a lot of ugly things in there and I had a cart. If fact it's in there, a green cart that is very heavy. I had it resting inside and it rolled on its own out that door over that threshold and enter this room and there's no way he did that without a show up. There's just no way it could happen. The evidence next

Speaker 1: 03:00 keeps is from a murder case back in the 1970s

Speaker 2: 03:03 the person absconded and they're still, there's a warrant out for him. So it and whenever there's a warrant out, no matter what, we can't get rid of the case.

Speaker 1: 03:10 And that's another way. Nix is not like a library and his purpose is not to hold on to all evidence forever, just as long as it might be needed in court. We're responsible for

Speaker 3: 03:21 painting and managing the exhibits all the way through the appellate process.

Speaker 1: 03:28 Michael Rati is the executive officer for the San Diego Superior Court.

Speaker 3: 03:32 I think there's always a concern that years and years later, somebody may be exonerated if they were wrongly convicted. And of course the evidence could be important in that. And so again, we wait until a case was fully completed and then we even wait longer than that and we don't do it the exact minute that we can get rid of things.

Speaker 1: 03:51 Death penalty cases are kept until the person is executed or dies naturally. Murder cases are also kept a long time because there can be lengthy appeals. San Diego, Superior Court stores. About 30,000 exhibits and two fifths of them are from murder cases. They also notify all parties in the case before anything is destroyed in case they want to reclaim evidence or ask that it be kept longer. But this can create a demand on space in the storage vaults.

Speaker 3: 04:20 You've got to keep some things going out the back door because you have constantly have things coming in the front door

Speaker 1: 04:26 to help free up space. They've been able to get rid of many of the giant foam boards people used to hold up in court, storing the images electronically instead. And a lot of evidence is now stored as photographs on DVDs. But the evidence room supervisor, Nick says that wasn't true in the past. He's stored some very large items.

Speaker 2: 04:48 We had a, uh, two bank robbers that we had. They admitted all of their tools as evidence. They were huge drills and saws, uh, that their purpose was to, to be magnetized to the face of the door and um, for reuse. And they were ungodly heavy. We had buckets of ship chain all with this one case. It was incredible. We've had a mock room that was made up of board, but it was when it was put together, it was a huge room. Um, car fenders, car doors, uh, armchairs full size television sets, big screens. There really was no, there was no, they could bring anything. Well, it, we were lucky we didn't get anything bigger cause they, they would have

Speaker 1: 05:39 the last part of the evidence storage process is destruction or reuse.

Speaker 2: 05:45 The sheriff's office would get, um, narc or a handguns. The DEA gets our narcotics and our ammunition and scales

Speaker 1: 05:54 taken as evidence in drug cases used to be sold at auctions.

Speaker 2: 05:58 The bad people were buying them back. So now we, we stockpiled and then we, we donate them to local schools. Really much better purpose. I think key PBS news.

Speaker 1: 00:00 It's great when Cinco de Mayo falls on a weekend and we'll tell you about the celebrations happening around San Diego. Late night hosts Seth Meyers brings his comedy act to town and Humphreys concerts by the bay are starting up again. KPBS arts calendar editor Nina Guerin joins me with the weekend preview and Hello Amina. Hello. Now, every year you come in and explain that Cinco de Mayo isn't actually Mexican Independence Day. Do you think we need to go over that again?

Speaker 2: 00:29 I think people know by now, but really quick. I'll just say that Mexican Independence Day is September 16th. Think good at mio celebrates the battle of Pueblo and it's celebrated, um, because it was about resisting the French invasion and it kind of created a unified Mexican identity.

Speaker 1: 00:47 Okay. So not Mexican Independence Day, but just Cinco de Mayo. We also know that the biggest celebration here is an old town. What happens there?

Speaker 2: 00:57 They have the biggest party in San Diego. It's kind of what you think of when you think of a Cinco de Mayo Party. It starts today and it goes through Sunday and they have live music. Um, mariachis bands. They also have ballet folklorico. This celebration also has a looter liberty wrestling ring and a low rider car show.

Speaker 1: 01:17 I hear Bell Boa Park as just started a Cinco de Mayo celebration of its own. And there's also a newer one in Chula Vista.

Speaker 2: 01:25 Yeah. So there's some new ones popping up. Balboa Park. This is the second annual event. It happens on the Plaza de Panama and Spreckels Organ Pavilion. And it's going to be the same with, you know, dancing from local schools. Mariachis this one has a kind of a traditional Mexican dress showcase and it will feature the Sdsu as texts drum line. And then the one in Chula Vista happens Sunday and again the Mariachis and dancing. And this also focuses on vendors from the South Bay community. What if you want to skip the celebration and just basically want to go at and have some Tacos and Margaritas? Yeah, so most Mexican places are going to have specials. I would say the ones to check out our Casa, the Pico in Lamesa, Gasa Guadalajara, an old town and Costar as having like a kind of a event where you buy a ticket and you go in and you have Tequila and mezcal and Taco tastings

Speaker 1: 02:19 because I know you love Mariachi music. Let's play a national favorite. This is Sunday la Negra

Speaker 2: 02:25 bye. Mariachi Vargas,

Speaker 3: 02:35 [inaudible] [inaudible]

Speaker 1: 02:47 where'd the tails and other Cinco de Mayo event. So you can check out the KPBS events calendar now Humphreys concerts by the bay is a favorite summer venue that's just getting its season underway for, who've never been.

Speaker 2: 02:59 Can you tell us about this venue? It's an outdoor venue on shelter island and it's beautiful. You sit and you see the bay and the palm trees and the sunset and that's exactly the image you think of when you think of south southern California summer. Um, it does have a few drawbacks. There's a lot of talking at Humphreys, especially if you sip a close to the water and they're not really the most comfortable seats, but you know, it is still worth it if you like the performer. And what's this about kayakers? I don't know if you've noticed, if you've ever gone, but are always a collection of people on kayaks and rafts, right by the concert. If a show is sold out or you're not 100% sure you want to spend the money, you can actually get a kayak or a raft or a paddle boat and paddle it over there from point Loma, it takes about 10 to 15 minutes.

Speaker 2: 03:47 You can't really see that bands, but you can hear it just fine. Now I remember when Humphreys was mostly smooth jazz and soft rock. Is it still like that? Yes. When there's still a lot of classics like a Dave because Kenny g, um, boss Gags, but there's a lot of kind of eighties and Indie rock coming. I feel like you have to age into the Humphrey stomach graphic and people who are in the eighties and nineties music or just starting to starting to get it. So what are some of the highlights for this summer? Alanis Morissette is going to be there with an acoustic set on June 21 my childhood hero, Howard Jones is playing July 12th, uh, for three ego, ego, DLR playing to like 24th. Do you know what's really popular is the stray cats 40th anniversary tour, one of the shows us sold out, but there's still one available on September 1st and you wanted to bring up a concert happening on Sunday. The violent femmes and x. Let's hear a song by x. This is hungry wolf

Speaker 3: 04:48 [inaudible]

Speaker 2: 05:09 Humphreys concerts by the bay has performances happening through me. So fine details on the Humphreys website. Comedian Seth Meyers is coming to San Diego. Tell us a bit about him. People may recognize him from Saturday night live where he was a cast member and head writer and hosted weekend update. Now, um, he is the host of late night with Seth Meyers. His jokes are very smart and topical. He doesn't really do lazy jokes and he's very focused on politics. Let's you're a sample of his political comedy from late night with Seth Meyers. Oprah Winfrey said in a recent interview that she calls Democratic presidential hopeful p Buddha judge, quote, Buddha, beep boop, boop, which is also what Trump calls his sons.

Speaker 3: 05:55 Which one?

Speaker 1: 06:01 Seth Meyers happens tonight at the Bell Boa Theater. For more weekend events, be sure to check and Nina Garren KPBS arts editor. Thank you. Thanks. Have a good weekend.

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KPBS Midday Edition

KPBS Midday Edition is a daily talk show hosted by Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon, keeping San Diegans in the know on everything from politics to the arts.