Mueller Speaks, Nurse Suicides, Opportunity Zones
KPBS Midday Edition / May 29, 2019
Former special counsel Robert Mueller said his office’s probe did not exonerate President Trump. Also, authorities killed a mountain lion suspected of attacking a boy in Los Peñasquitos Canyon, how an anonymous screening and referral tool links nurses to suicide prevention treatment, City Heights is slated for “opportunity zone” development and “The Gods of Comedy” premieres at The Old Globe.
Speaker 1: 00:00 Special counsel. Robert Mueller announced his resignation this morning after two years of silence following the release of the report on his investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible obstruction of justice by President Donald Trump. It's what he's not saying that's gotten many members of Congress debating what their next action should be.
Speaker 2: 00:19 If we had had con confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so. We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime.
Speaker 1: 00:31 Joining me to discuss Muller statement this morning is Carol Lam, a former us attorney for the southern district of California. Carol, thanks for joining us. Thank you for having me. Did you learn anything from Robert Mueller statement today that you hadn't already gleaned from the release report? I'd say that what I learned was more a confirmation of what I thought that is, that Robert Mueller was feeling that he needed to make it clear that they were not exonerating. The president that is a special council's office did not exonerate the president, uh, which is really what Bill Barr said when he was sort of interpreting the report for the nation for Congress and, uh, perhaps for the president. And I think that it seems to have bothered Robert Muller and that's why he decided to give this statement to the press. And Mueller has pretty much said that he will not speak about this investigation anymore. Here's Mueller during this morning's press conference.
Speaker 2: 01:20 I would not provide information beyond that, which is already public in any appearance before Congress.
Speaker 1: 01:26 How does that impact efforts to get him to testify publicly? Well, I think it indicates what he's going to say to Congress, whether that's ultimately what ends up happening, that he's really not going to testify. I think it is still open to debate. I think what he's saying is that with respect to the content of the report, he's just not going to go into any more detail. That's not a big surprise to me. I think one area that remains open really has to do more with, uh, what went on at the Department of Justice with respect to bill bars decisions as to how to interpret mothers report. That's one area where, um, I'm curious if direct questions were posed to Robert Mueller, whether he would find a reason to say he's not going to answer that those questions. I don't really see how he can do that. And today, Muller reiterated, Justice Department policy does not allow for a sitting president to be indicted.
Speaker 1: 02:18 Uh, so if it falls to Congress to pick up where the Mueller investigation left off, where does Congress go from here? Congress has really in the same place it was yesterday, which is they have to decide whether based on the information that they've seen now in the malar report, they think that there is enough both legally and frankly politically to move ahead with impeachment. I don't think this really moves the needle a lot there except to confirm that Robert Mueller did not exonerate the president on obstruction of justice. And that may give a little bit more confidence to Congress in terms of moving forward. It does clarify the grounds on which Robert Mueller's team did not bring an of the president. And what he's saying is it was not for factual matters. It was really for policy and legal matters related to the Department of Justice has policy not to indict a sitting president and congressman Juan Vargas who represents part of San Diego County and all of Imperial County tweeted this, uh, this morning quote, no person, not even the president of the United States is above the law.
Speaker 1: 03:21 It is up to Congress to hold Donald Trump accountable. End Quote. Um, how has the evidence needed to proceed with impeachment different from the evidence that would be needed to charge someone with a crime, let's say? Well, the phrase high crimes and misdemeanors, which is really supposed to be the basis of impeachment is something that unfortunately is not very well defined. Misdemeanors is not used in the sense that we use it in criminal law, which is a crime that usually has a penalty of a year in custody or below high crimes. And misdemeanors really talk more about whether somebody has done acts that are not within the realm of what a president or, or a person in that in the office at issue should be doing. High crimes and misdemeanors really is saying that the person has done x making him or her somewhat unfit for the office in which they're in.
Speaker 1: 04:10 So it's not well defined. Certainly if a person has done something that seems like a crime that points in the direction of impeachment, but even there, but Congress has in the past in voting on articles of impeachment set a fairly high bar and San Diego counties, only Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter provided the following statement, quote, the cases closed. Let's move on and quote. And what kind of pressure is on Republicans, you think in Congress to act in response to Muller statement that his team did not quote, make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime? Well, Bob Muller's statement this morning has made it a little bit more difficult, I think, to just say, let's not look any more there. Let's just move on. And that is perhaps why Duncan hunter came out and said what, what he did in an effort to really move the train in a different direction.
Speaker 1: 05:05 What's interesting to me, frankly, is that Bob Mueller had this press conference to begin with. It's a fairly unusual thing to do. I think there was probably some negotiation and a, a joint decision made between the Attorney General and Bob Muller that he would do this press conference on the very last day that he is going to be an employee of the Department of Justice and therefore it would be subject to both the obligations and the protections of being a department of Justice employee. He didn't have to do this. It's I think rather unexpected that he did do it. I was surprised this morning when I woke up and saw that he was going to be giving this statement and he wanted to clear the record. I think this is going to make it a little bit more difficult to just move on. Carol, why do you think today's presser makes it more difficult to move on to have come out today as he did with this press conference and say, okay, everything's been misinterpreted. Let me try to clear it up in my mind, he did clear it up to a lot of people. He probably didn't, and that's why it's not going to be easy to move on because as hard as he tries, this just opens more questions. He's clearly saying Congress, you should probably look at impeachment. I've been speaking with Carol Lam, former US attorney for the southern district of California. Carol, thank you. Thank you very much.
Speaker 1: 00:00 A trail in Rancho Penasquitos Canyon remains closed today until state officials deem the area's safe. A four year old boy is recovering from being attacked by a mountain lion while hiking the trail with his family. On Monday. Yesterday, officers from the state fish and wildlife department killed a mountain lion they encountered in the area and they're now working to determine if it's the animal that attacked the boy, the attack. Renewed questions about how safe San Diego's hiking trails and canyons are joining me as Captain Patrick, fois spokesman for the California Department of fish and wildlife captain for welcome to the program. Thank you, Marie. How will you determine if this was in fact the lion that attack the boy?
Speaker 2: 00:42 We have the, uh, some evidence in hand right now. It's actually in Sacramento in our lab, in our folks had come in early today to get started on it. The evidence that the officer's collected in the field on Monday. Uh, we're in the, in the form of the, the sub samples from the carcass itself, the lion carcass, but also the, the boys clothing. And we actually went to the hospital and collected bandages from the boy that were applied immediately after the attack. And what we're hoping to do is use DNA evidence in DNA analysis to match the two. So we look for skin, literally skin samples from the claws of the mountain line itself. And we also look for a Mountain Lion Dna from the saliva. The epithelial cells are called from the inside of the mouth of the animal as it bit onto the boy. And we tried to bandit, uh, collect the bandages from those bite wounds and compare the two and see if we can match them up.
Speaker 1: 01:42 What made officials think this was the right mountain lion?
Speaker 2: 01:46 Well, they had a report of an amount line attack and they called nine one one. The fire department responded right away and of course begin first aid treatment for the little boy and got him transported to the hospital. Our folks arrived not that long after and went out to the area where the attack had been reported and immediately noticed mountain lion tracks. That was a clear indication that there's a really good chance that this was a legitimate attack. We have a lot of, um, illegitimate attacks, uh, reported to us over the years. So this one looked like it was legitimate. Uh, at about not long after a mountain lion actually approached the wildlife officers who were there conducting the investigation and it exhibited no fear of people and it walked right to them. So they put two and two together and they thought there's a really good chance that this is the offending mountain line. They made the decision to kill it right there to prevent that animal from attacking another little boy and also to collect the forensic evidence necessary to match the two, which is what we're trying to do today.
Speaker 1: 02:53 Some people are asking, why kill? Why not capture and relocate that animal?
Speaker 2: 02:57 Well, I think the more important question because I had been asked that question several times, but, um, I think, uh, in these kinds of situations, people tend to overlook what happened to this little boy. And they, um, you know more, it's, it's people who are sometimes we're concerned about the fate of the mountain lion is the fate of this little boy. Um, he, if you can put your yourself in the mind of a person as an adult, even who is attacked by an animal that is trying to kill in each you, I mean, that's a, you get a pretty visceral response and then extrapolate that to a four year old who was arguably, um, well unquestionably the most terrifying moment of his life. Um, he was viciously attacked, um, pretty severely injured on, on some severe scalp wounds. And ultimately, uh, I believe he's going to be discharged from the hospital today.
Speaker 2: 03:47 So we're hoping that's going to be the case. Um, the point with the lion, um, two things we had to, we had to kill that lion to, in the interest of public safety so that it wouldn't go out and attack and potentially kill another little boy or, or anybody. Uh, and we also had to look to collect the forensic evidence that could present itself in the form of the clause in the skin cells that we were looking for. The, the question about relocation actually comes up. Um, but I think a lot of people don't really understand that to relocate an animal that has caused this type of trauma, you've got to find a place to put it. And I think a lot of people will say, well let's just put it in the middle of nowhere. But you know, I tend to ask them, okay, what name of county your name name is spot.
Speaker 2: 04:34 Cause there's 39 million people that live in California. There's nowhere that is a place you could put a mountain lion that as attack somebody, especially a mountain lion that is known to range, you know, a hundred or more square miles and have it be a safe place that it wouldn't ever bother anybody again. So that just, that place doesn't exist in California in order or anywhere else in the United States. So that's, that's not an option either. Um, our primary interest right now is to try to take a, you know, horrible situation, uh, get some education about their, how to, how to best live with mountain lions. And then also we're doing our best to try to match that lion with the victim to make sure we got the right one.
Speaker 1: 05:16 The news of this attack, you know, right in Rancho Penasquitos of course, which is in the city of San Diego. It spooked a lot of people. What level of concern would you advise people to have when they go hiking?
Speaker 2: 05:28 Yeah, it's something that we, uh, the, this, this family cup, there was a couple of mixed families there. There's six adults and five kids. Um, they were doing exactly what we recommend people do. Uh, on any weekend day or any day you're out of school in the summertime on vacation or whatever, they, they brought their kids out to a natural area. They let them stretch their legs. They get them away from the computer screens. These are families who are doing everything right. They didn't do anything wrong to attract this lion. Um, I, I don't really change my recommendation for that from that perspective because the probability of being attacked by a lion is so remote. I'm, the last one was in 2014 what was kind of similar circumstances. But, um, if you, if you just look at the millions and millions of people who are recreating in the wild on, you know, every year in California, the probability of being attacked by that line, that's still very, very low.
Speaker 2: 06:22 The much higher probability is being attacked by a domestic dog or even a person. Unfortunately. So we end in terms of mountain lines, we just recommend that people just take precautions to, um, they, they stayed together. I'm reasonably close by and let the kids know, you know, you don't want them let them stray too far ahead of you, but keep them within the group and to understand what to do if a mount lion does actually confront you or the group. So, uh, some of those recommendations are just standing talls shouting aggressively, raising your hands above your head or if you have small children, pick them up. Um, and if, if attacked, certainly fight back.
Speaker 1: 07:00 Okay. Then, well, I've been speaking with Captain Patrick for, he's a spokesman for the California Department of fish and wildlife, and thank you very much. Thank you, Marina. I appreciate the time.
Speaker 3: 07:10 [inaudible].
Speaker 1: 00:00 Many people who work in the medical field experienced secondary trauma. There are long hours, there are irregular shifts, and when a patient doesn't survive or suffers a great loss, it can all take a toll. Uc San Diego researchers are discovering now that suicide rates among nurses may be higher than the general population. Shannon firth, a Washington correspondent with medpage today reports the problem has been overlooked with little data about suicide among nurses. Researchers are now working to change that. Here's my interview with Shannon Firth. Well, Shannon, I want to thank you for coming here today. Thank you for having me, ted. So you write about a southern California nurse who died by suicide and the reaction to her death by her emergency room colleagues really gives insight into how that industry deals with this. Can you talk about that for a bit?
Speaker 2: 00:52 Sure. So I wrote about a nurse named Dana who is this vibrant, energetic, caring, smart, funny nurse who took her own life last year. And when that happened, a lot of her nurse colleagues and even her family were really shocked by this. Even though they're medical professionals and they're trained to recognize the signs of depression and suicide, they really never saw this coming. Um, and the reaction to, uh, to her death among the leadership at the hospital where she worked was also kind of a second below for some of the nurses at that hospital. They felt like it wasn't, they weren't given the time to grieve that they need it. There was a crisis debriefing, um, for people who had worked directly on Dana because Dana was brought to the same hospital where she worked and there was a sort of memorial for her. Uh, they put up a memorial box in the nurses lounge, but on the whole, the message from leadership was, Shh, don't talk about this. We don't want to hear you talking about this at the hospital. Um, here's a number to call if you need to talk to someone, but we need this. Kept quiet.
Speaker 1: 02:08 And you know, the issue of depression has a real stigma in the medical community. How does that impact who gets treatment?
Speaker 2: 02:15 Stigma in general, in society around mental health is very strong. Even now, even with the celebrities and the pop stars coming out and talking about their mental health issues within Madison, stigma is extremely strong. Um, even though medical professionals, we'll see a patient and give caring to be caring towards that patient among themselves, it's not uncommon for them to talk about, you know, the crazy in bed three or if there's an overdose, you know, they might joke, well that person didn't do a very good job, did they? And, um, I think that kind of language and that behavior, uh, is observed and absorbed by those people who may be struggling themselves and they do not want to be lumped into that category of patient.
Speaker 1: 03:03 [inaudible] you spoke to a researcher at Uc San Diego who is frustrated, really frustrated with the fact that there is no tracking on this. What is she doing to fix that?
Speaker 2: 03:14 Sorry. Yes. I spoke with duty Davidson, who is a nurse scientists and she talked to me a little bit about this, this problem, this lack of data. When there were a few suicides at Uc San Diego, she wanted to know how common the problem was and was frustrated by not having any data. So she started looking in San Diego County and then did see that there was a higher suicide rate among nurses than the general female population. And you have to look at females versus males because males are three to four times as likely to complete suicide. Since nursing is a female dominant profession, you want to measure apples to apples. So she looked at the San Diego County data and then from there she said, okay, we see something but it's only a small sample size. So she wanted the national data. So she looked to the CDCs own dataset for violent death and she tried to parse that data.
Speaker 2: 04:11 And now the CDC Dataset, the NVD Rs, it's the national violent death reporting system that has data. At the time she was looking at had data for about 18 states. So she got a sense of what was happening there. And she saw again a signal that there is a higher rate of suicide among nurses and she could only get limited data because that gender breakdown pieces and always available. So what we have right now are those studies and then studies outside of the u s so Denmark, Canada, Australia, um, in those countries that have done studies and in all of the published studies that we've seen, the suicide rates among nurses are higher. So that's what's known.
Speaker 1: 04:54 And she's now piloting a program at Uc San Diego to identify nurses who are at risk and connect them to the treatment. How does that program work?
Speaker 2: 05:03 The program is called the Healer Education Assessment and referral program. The program started at Uc San Diego in 2009 and it was dedicated to doctors and medical students. Now after, um, they started to see this problem was relevant to nurses as well. In 2016 they expanded it. So the way the program works, that sort of technology meets human touch. Um, there's two parts. There's the outreach component and there's the online survey tool. And the survey tool though it is just a simple questionnaire with a blank box where people can convey their thoughts and questions. It's actually at serves as a lot more than that because on the other end of that questionnaire, when you complete it, there was a human, a counselor who's looking at those questions and looking at that person's response. And so after each person completes the survey, it gets routed through a backend algorithm sent to this counselor who reviews the results and looks at the person's questions and comments, and then sends a personalized response to that person that may say, oh, it looks like you're very depressed, or oh, it looks like you may have an addiction.
Speaker 2: 06:19 You may have an issue with drugs or alcohol, or it seems as though you may be having suicidal thoughts here, and I'd like to know if you have supports, and also do you have a plan and will you reach out to me? Can we stay connected? And then that counselor will give that person options. One reason why they think it's been so effective is because it's anonymous. So the tool is an encrypted software program that's licensed by the American Foundation for suicide prevention that allows someone to give their thoughts, their feelings, their questions without ever saying their name. So even though they put their email address in there, it's encrypted and then get a response without anyone ever knowing who they are. Right. You know, I'm curious to know what had the early results of this pilot program then over about 10 years with the medical staff in total, there's been about 400 people who've been brought into counseling and treatment and that since 2009 and since 2016 when I was brought on, when nurses were included in the whole hospital, staff was included.
Speaker 2: 07:29 Um, they've seen 40 nurses brought into counseling and treatment in two years. And that might sound like a small number, but a lot of the people who respond to the survey, they are highly at risk. A lot of those people are tier one and tier two response rates. So that means that they're either severely depressed or they may even be actively suicidal and a percentage of them have attempted suicide before. So what I'm hearing as that the people who are most in need of help or really being serviced by this tool. So what are some of your biggest takeaways from this reporting? One of my biggest takeaways here has been that the stigma in health care among healthcare providers is incredibly dangerous. Life threatening. If people are afraid to ask for help, if they're afraid to seek care, they may die rather than be hospitalized, rather than seek treatment, rather than have it known among their colleagues that they have an issue, they may take their own life. It's all very eye opening. Shannon firth, a Washington correspondent with Med page today. Thank you so much for joining us. Thank you Jay.
Speaker 1: 00:00 The federal government has launched an opportunity zone program. It's designed to give tax breaks to investors who want to build in economically distressed areas. San Diego has 35 census tracks designated as opportunity zones. KPBS reporter Priya Sridhar says that includes city heights.
Speaker 2: 00:19 This is city heights. It was designated and opportunities zone by the US Department of Treasury because of its poverty business activity and geographic diversity opportunities. Own Investors get a tax discount after five or seven years and ultimately pay no taxes on capital gains after 10 years.
Speaker 3: 00:39 Really simple example, you have $1 million that you've made in the stock market. You take that $1 million and you rolled into one of these funds rather than paying taxes next year, you don't pay taxes until 2027
Speaker 2: 00:50 Steve Glickman is a former Obama administration, economic adviser and architect of the opportunities zone program.
Speaker 3: 00:58 In the meantime, you can take that million dollars and invest in something new like in an affordable housing project and whatever profits you make on that project, as long as you've held your, your investment for 10 years or more now tax free.
Speaker 2: 01:09 But the policy is purposely written broadly. There is no restriction on what investors can develop and that's something critics of the program say worry them.
Speaker 3: 01:18 An accepted definition of gentrification is outside capital and um, um, more affluent people moving in from outside of the area into an area.
Speaker 2: 01:27 Eric Tilke Meyer from the city Heights Development Corporation says he worries longtime city heights. Residents will get priced out of their neighborhood.
Speaker 3: 01:36 You know, you'll look at the legislation as designed to bring outside capital into um, under invested communities. So it's a perfect recipe for gentrification and displacement.
Speaker 2: 01:45 A recent study by Zillow economic research says home sales in areas that received opportunities. Zone designations increased 20% year over year compared to single digit growth in areas that met opportunities, zone qualifications, but didn't receive the designation. The gentrification concern is on the city of San Diego's radar to Louie. So Heda is with the Economic Development Department of the city of San Diego.
Speaker 4: 02:12 Gentrification is a real issue. Um, and then also this placement and sometimes both of them go hand in hand. We have to think about those issues. Um, say the set up policies that incentivizes and promotes the ones that are doing the potential positive outcomes such as increasing jobs, um, creating affordable housing and the housing. Yeah.
Speaker 2: 02:34 The city currently has no way of tracking opportunity investors and online portal. We'll show investors federal and state incentives to help them invest in economically distressed communities in a positive way. Sasha feather Lucas says, opportunities. Zones can be transformative, but the investments must be handled carefully.
Speaker 3: 02:54 It also has the ability to be done wrong and when a paper goes into economically distressed areas, there's a process to it and you have to really involve the community and give, uh, in order for the community to be supportive. And a lot of these areas aren't ready to be built.
Speaker 2: 03:15 He's the cofounder of cold place accompany that activates under utilized real estate and opportunities zones. Right now they're converting a 7,000 square foot lot in city heights. This property is zoned for ten one bedroom, 600 square foot apartments. But because the cost to build is so high, he says he'd have to rent the units for $1,800 a month.
Speaker 3: 03:38 And so if I were to build those units, yeah, I don't, I don't know who would live there, uh, who can afford to live in them based on the cost of living.
Speaker 2: 03:47 Glickman the author of the Opportunity Zone Program says rising housing prices is a tradeoff for investment cities might never have had otherwise.
Speaker 3: 03:57 For most places, their biggest trigger for displacement is too little investment, not too much. It's the fact that people have to leave to find jobs and to build businesses and to, you know, find a kind of a vibrant place to live in.
Speaker 2: 04:11 Well, it might be too early to tell. Most stakeholders and community leaders are hoping the program will help stimulate the economy of distressed neighborhoods in San Diego like city heights. Joining me is KPBS reporter Prius Razor. I'm Priya. Welcome. Thank you. There are no guidelines about what kind of opportunity zone investments are good for the area. That's right. We'll actually, previous administrations had apparently tried to implement programs very similar to opportunities zones, but the difference with those programs, according to Steve Glickman who is the architect of this program, is that they did try to create several restrictions or requirements about what investors could develop in these communities and those programs actually failed. And so he on purpose actually made this program very broad, but that's something that uh, many of the people in city heights as you heard in the story and uh, including Eric [inaudible] Meyer, um, is worried that that's going to cause gentrification, which is gonna Cause displacement of the people who are actually living in city heights.
Speaker 2: 05:12 If there aren't actual restrictions on what they can develop in. Could the city of San Diego set up some of its own guidelines for opportunities zones that are within the city limits or isn't that possible with a federal program? So we don't really know just yet. This program was implemented in 2017 so it's still a relatively new program. The only numbers that we have right now that the city got where that 300 opera opportunities owned funds had been opened up with the IRS and nationally. So we don't even know how many of those are here in San Diego, if any are actually here in San Diego at all. Uh, but there are people in city heights who actually are working right now to put together a proposal that they're going to present to city council that will create some further restrictions on what kind of uh, developments those investors can develop in their neighborhoods. So we'll have to kind of watch and see if city council is receptive to that kind of proposal.
Speaker 1: 06:08 What kinds of opportunities on investments and development woods, city heights officials like to see come into the area.
Speaker 2: 06:14 So it's pretty interesting. I got a chance to talk to Sasha Fava, Lucas who you also heard from in the story. He's the Co founder of that organization place, which has been investing in sort of these opportunities zone like areas across San Diego for several years. And he does a lot of research looking into what people within a certain zip code are googling and what they're looking for. And he actually gave me a chart, which I have right here, which actually says exactly what he thinks the people in city heights are looking for. And it seems like the, at the top of the list, our direct selling establishment, east shopping and mail order houses, home furnishing stores, shoe stores, office supplies store. So very interesting at the bottom of the list now our bars, liquor stores, um, vending machine operators. And then he even has more data that shows what city heights residents think they have too much of which are apparently gasoline stations of restaurants and eating places. So it seems like people here are really looking for a very specific kind of retailer in their community.
Speaker 1: 07:16 Does city heights have a community plan that's designates where they'd like to see new housing units or new businesses crop up?
Speaker 2: 07:24 Yeah. So it seems like previously there had been a lot of focus on the El Cahone boulevard and you know, we've heard of the business association there. And so a lot of people in city heights feel really proud of the way the El Cajon boulevard has developed and it's really flourished. So now they're really looking at the area between freeway eight oh five and 15 down university and they're hoping that the, what they want to see for that area is a mixed use area. So both housing and businesses, they think this is a great area to focus on because it's a major transit area. Obviously being between those two freeways and also the University Avenue Transit Center, they also would love to see more development on the Fairmont avenue corridor. You know, they said that there are a lot of these wide sidewalks and tree lined streets in city heights, just not enough businesses along those streets to kind of compliment that,
Speaker 1: 08:14 you know, because city heights is one of the really shrinking number of neighborhoods with affordable housing, it's already seen some gentrification. People from other areas are coming in to snap up some of the houses. Is that already raising home prices in the area?
Speaker 2: 08:30 Yeah. So one of the most recent reports from Zillow that I was able to find said that the home prices in the nine two one zero five zip code, which is the city heights sip code, we're actually appreciating at the second highest rate in San Diego. Um, so they are growing. They were expected to grow between 2017 and 2018 by 6.5%. So as I mentioned in the story, there was that Zillow study that looked at opportunities and year over year home sales and saw that the ones that got the opportunity zone designation, the home sales there were rising 20%, whereas the communities that met all the opportunities own requirements but didn't actually receive the designation. Uh, those home sales year over year, we're only increasing at 8%. So as of right now it seems like city heights is falling into that category, but it'll be interesting to see if the home prices skyrocket now that they have officially gotten this designation.
Speaker 1: 09:22 Let me ask you about this development. You mentioned in the story code place. Uh, they're converting a lot in city heights, but what it's zoned for will be too expensive for the people in the neighborhood. What do they plan to do to get around that?
Speaker 2: 09:35 Yeah, that's something interesting that I hadn't really given too much thought to. So, uh, I actually found out just recently that they're going to sell that property that I talked about in the story because they don't want to turn it into housing. They really want to focus on small businesses and they really want it to be an organic process. They've invested a lot in barrio Logan and they did the same thing there. Uh, so essentially what they want to do is find people within the community who are looking to create small businesses and get them into sort of a, a space where they can develop their clientele and then move them into storefronts. And you know, Sasha said something very interesting to me. He said, there isn't really a housing shortage in his opinion, there's an affordable housing shortage. And so what he really wants to see in city heights is businesses develop, developing that are organic and from the community that are able to give good paying jobs to the people of city heights so they can then afford to stay in city heights once that housing is developed and they don't have to, uh, you know, import people from other parts of San Diego to live in the new housing that's likely going to be developed in the coming years.
Speaker 1: 10:37 I've been speaking with KPBS reported Prius ether. Thank you so much. Thanks.
Speaker 2: 10:42 [inaudible].
Speaker 1: 00:00 This is KPBS mid day edition. I'm worrying Cavanagh and I'm jade Hindman play right. Ken Ludwig has delighted Old Globe audiences with Robin Hood and Baskerville. Now he premiers the gods of comedy KPBS arts reporter Beth Ahca. Mondo speaks with actors. Brad, Oscar and Jesse. Ken Is Aro about the challenges of playing Greek gods.
Speaker 2: 00:20 Brad, you are starring in the globe, play gods of comedy. Give people a little idea of
Speaker 3: 00:25 what this play is about. This play is about what happens today when two of the gods of comedy come down to help out a, uh, a young student in need. And a, and Ken's inspiration was what would that be if, if, if God's actually came down in today's society and what kind of comic hilarity would ensue. So yeah, the play is basically, um, about what happens. We try to help out this poor girl who has misplaced a very important book, perhaps a very historic, a find of a, of a, of a play by your remedies. And so who do you play?
Speaker 2: 00:59 Yes, I play failure. She is the news of comedy and I do look at poetry. The A, the end professors, she cries out and saved me gods of ancient Greece. And then because she has a little little a charm with her, the guides of comedy appear. Um, so I, I play failure and um, Brad is dying and Isis and we are maybe not who her first pick would be. Um, but uh, as Brad says, many high jinks ensue, Ken Ludwig is a very inventive playwright. He did Robin Hood here and also Baskerville and there always seems to be kind of this clever staging and clever use of space. What kind of defines God's of comedy? Kind of, what is he playing with in this one?
Speaker 3: 01:44 You know, we don't have a lot of playwrights anymore who write for the stage in this way. This sort of classic romantic comedy, classic farce, you know, those kinds of plays that populated the theater for a very long time. The professional theater in New York, not so much anymore, but still thankfully regionally in places where people do want to go and just have a good time and be entertained in that sort of old fashioned kind of way. That is, um, probably more necessary now than ever to be able to go and escape and laugh and not have to deal with, uh, what's, what's going on in your daily life or the world. I mean, that's what theater should be, but this is a kind of theater that is true escapism in that way. Yeah.
Speaker 2: 02:24 Well it's so much fun about God's is either, is there, there's, there's these big magical elements, right there is, um, you know, snow falls from the ceiling and through the window confetti flies and doors fall off their hinges. Um, and then what Ken does also so brilliantly is, um, shows us what can be so magical about live performance and theater, which I ain't on parts of the play when we say we snap our fingers and we say that we're invisible and all of the actors on stage sort of go along with it and the audience goes along for the ride too. Um, so there's sort of these big giant spectacle elements and then also the smaller magic of just pure theater at pure theater magic, which is so much fun for us. And I think for the audience too. So what are the particular challenges of playing gods?
Speaker 2: 03:15 I think what's so much fun about playing gods, the Greek gods in particular are always portrayed as these are very human beings. They are huge and magic and, and, and they, you know, they live up on Mount Olympus on and are larger than life in so many ways, but in so many other ways, they're just like us. They're flawed, they're deeply, deeply human. They get emotionally attached to people and other gods and, and so it's been fun to kind of play with, with having these, the allowance to be larger than you are, but also be very fun and an n and human with your portrayal.
Speaker 3: 03:52 I mean it's so great to play a character that is pretty much going to only be defined by your imagination and, or you know, the work you do in the room with the director and the writer or whatever. And so because these characters represent certain ideals, all of the gods have there sort of a area of expertise, if you will. And because ours are so joyous and positive and all about comedy and living and wine and, and all of that stuff. Exactly. So, uh, as an actor then to create this character, uh, knowing that you have all of that to sort of pull from all of that that we have inside of ourselves. And so I think that for Jesse and I in rehearsal, you know, it was always about just bringing as much of yourself to the table as much of our comic ideas aren't Joie de vivre are, you know, the idea of what makes something larger than life because they do need to be, they are very human in many ways, which is great because I think there's, that's where the emotional part of the play lies.
Speaker 3: 04:48 That we are just as human and just as vested in what is happening in the story and trying to get this right and not screw up and make Zeus proud of us. That is part of our trajectory and that's very human. That's a very human emotion. But then, yeah, we also get to snap our fingers and be invisible. We also get to conjure up these crazy things or uh, uh, behave in certain ways that are a, yeah, a little wild and crazy and also rooted in a lot of great comedy. You know, Ken is a very smart man, so we look at the history of comedy, whatever that means. Going back to if we're talking about Lucille ball or a great stage comedians or whatever it might be, uh, to be able to have that fabulous Pu pu platter to pull from, you know, it was great. One of the things that's so fun about it
Speaker 2: 05:31 lays is they're very articulate and witty and, and have great dialogue, but there's also a lot of physical comedy and use of the, the space. What are the challenges or the rewards or what's fun about combining physical and verbal comedy together? Well, was so exciting was I sort of, you know, went back and watched a lot of old Marx brothers movies and, and you know, as he, as Brad's at Lucille ball and just submit the Great Dick Van Dyke, this great physical and incredible comedians. Danny Kaye, yeah. Watched all of these, these movies and old TV shows, TV shows for inspiration for that. Um, being able to be a, you know, as physical as you can be onstage yet as I am. So by the end of act one, I'm always so out of breath from running around. Um, if you got a real workout in, it's very, uh, it's very physical.
Speaker 3: 06:25 Well, there's nothing better than stage farce, good stage farce because again, it's an experience we all share together. So the audience is fully aware of that. The actors up there are indeed really running around and really doing what we're seeing. It's not a TV show or film where it's been cut to look any way we want it to look. We are up, they're actually physically going through the motions. Uh, the idea that you can create a situation, again, ideally based in some kind of truth, people just running around slamming doors isn't funny. People running around slamming doors because they're trying to escape or find someone or whatever. It might be that ideally it's fueled by something. And that's funny. It's great. It's a joy as an actor and especially when the, you know, the audience is taking the ride with you and you know, and of course to us that means hearing laughter, hearing that response. But when we're all in that together and that exchange of energy is going, there's just nothing like it. It's like being on a rollercoaster. It's thrilling
Speaker 2: 07:18 now because we can't show anybody a scene from this. Um, I'm wondering if each of you has kind of align or something that you feel really sums up or defines your character that you could just say so that people can get a sense of humor
Speaker 3: 07:31 you are, or what do we say that sums it up. What exactly? We are the gods of comedy. Tada. We always present ourselves with a big Tada. So I guess that says a lot into, yeah.
Speaker 2: 07:42 Well the one of one of your lines. Yes. At the end when I s I say, well, so what are you saying right here? Yeah. Yeah.
Speaker 3: 07:50 When I say life should be an adventure and if it isn't, go back and fix it.
Speaker 1: 07:54 That was Brad, Oscar and Jesse Canizaro talking about their roles and the gloves, the gods of comedy, which runs through June 16th.