San Diego Addressing Concerns Over SDSU Stadium Plan, California Still Small Fish In Super Tuesday Pond, San Diego Porn Site Owner Faces New Charges And More
KPBS Midday Edition / November 18, 2019
San Diego State’s offer for the Mission Valley stadium is raising a few concerns from the Independent Budget Analyst and City Attorney’s Office. California moved its presidential primaries to March but it is still not getting the attention from candidates. Plus, the San Diego Humane Society is accused of releasing adoptable cats back to the streets. And, San Diego adult website operator is facing new charges of child trafficking amid the ongoing civil fraud trial against him. Finally, San Diego-based Sure Fire Soul Ensemble’s new album debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s contemporary jazz chart.
Speaker 1: 00:01 Concerned over SDS shoes offer for the mission Valley stadium side are up for discussion plus the democratic convention wraps in long beach. I'm Jade Hindman. This is KPBS mid day edition.
Speaker 1: 00:23 It's Monday, November 18th the San Diego city council. This afternoon we'll consider the terms of SDS shoes. Eddie six point $2 million offered by the mission Valley stadium site, the city attorney's office and independent budget analyst raised concerns about the offer last week, the university plans to build a satellite campus and college football stadium on the 135 acre site for more on this next step, KPBS reporter Andrew Bowen joins us. Andrew, welcome. Thank you Jane. Both the city attorney's office and the independent budget analyst raised concerns that SDSU is only offering to pay appreciation on a portion of the land. Why is appreciation a factor in this deal?
Speaker 2: 01:06 The city and SDSU have been negotiating over the sale of this property for almost a year now and in that amount of time the value of the land has actually gone up. This is a dynamic situation here and it's going to go up even more between now and when the deal ultimately closes. So SDSU initially offered to pay a price that was based on 20 $17 and that reflected an appraisal that was done and funded by both of the parties. The updated offer is based on an agreement to consider inflation and pay in the the dollars of the time when the deal closes. But here's the trick, the inflation of the value of the land is only going to apply to about a third of the land. And that's the land that's owned by the city's water utility fund. The rest is owned by the city's general fund. So SDSU is offer basically and calculates inflation on a smaller portion of the land and acts as if the greater portion of the land isn't appreciating in value. And the IBA and the city attorney's office recommend just asking for justification, why should it, why should they inflation only apply to a portion of the land?
Speaker 1: 02:10 And talk to us about why this is such an issue for the city attorney and IBA, his office.
Speaker 2: 02:15 So whatever SDSU pays, the city will ultimately be split into two different funds, uh, and the funds that correspond to the, the property that it owns. So the smaller portion of the, of the money would go into the water utility fund and that could pay for, you know, a replacement of the city's crumbling water mains. You know, we see failing water pipes throughout the city all the time so that, or it could help stabilize water rates. The larger portion of the fund would go to infrastructure throughout the city. So it could go to any number of projects, road repaving, uh, streetlights upgrades to city owned businesses like police stations or rec centers. And so if the general fund portion of the land is not indexed to inflation, then it basically just begs the question, um, why should the rest of the projects, the needs in the city kind of get shortchanged.
Speaker 2: 03:04 Another concern is that the offer requires the city to set aside 10 million from the general fund for infrastructure near the stadium property. What does SDSU want? That money set aside for a SDSU wants the city to fund the lion's share of a new bridge at Fenton Parkway on this is just West of the stadium property right by the mission Valley library on this bridge was long contemplated, uh, in city planning documents. And SDSU decided that because it's offsite, they're not actually obligated to pay for that construction of the bridge. Um, they all, the SDSU also wants the city to commit about one point $5 million to other infrastructure needs related to the project, but they don't really specify what those are. And why is this a problem? According to the city attorney and independent budget analyst? Well, the, the IBA in particular likes the city council to have as much freedom as possible on how to spend its money.
Speaker 2: 04:00 So let's say, you know, a few years from now, the mayor and city council decide that the greatest infrastructure needs in the city are in a different part of the city. They're not in mission Valley. In fact, take for example, the OB pier that was damaged by some uh, storm surge there a sidewalks in Southeast San Diego, bathrooms in Belvaux park. The city has nearly $2 billion billion with a B in unfunded infrastructure needs throughout the entire city. So there's no shortage of ideas on how to spend this money. And if the city promises to spend 10 million on infrastructure related to this new mission Valley development, then that really delimits the city's ability to spend it elsewhere. Even if they decide that those other needs in the rest of the city are more pressing than those in mission Valley. And remind us why the Fitton Parkway bridge is such an important part of this project.
Speaker 2: 04:49 SDSU with this redevelopment of this property is going to be adding a lot more activity to the area that's going to add more vehicles, more people coming in and out. And mission Valley, as everyone listening already knows, is notoriously clogged with traffic. So Ventin Parkway currently dead ends right at the trolley tracks and the San Diego river and the city wants this bridge so that it can connect that area, that intensity of use North of the river with the rest of mission Valley South of the river, the property, uh, however the stadium property is going to be developed over about 20 years. And so the bridge might not actually be really needed until let's say year 10 or year 15 when more and more people are moving into that property. So does the city, the, this is the question that the city attorney in the IBA are asking, does the city really want to set aside all of this money right now and limit that flexibility of where I could spend it elsewhere?
Speaker 2: 05:42 Both offices also raised concerns about the university's March 27th deadline to close escrow. Why does the university want to close by then and why does the city think it's problematic? SDSU wants to close sooner rather than later for several reasons. One, as we mentioned, the property value is actually going up with each passing day. And so the sooner they close, the lower the price they'll, they'll end up having to pay. Also, they really need to work on building this new stadium for the Aztecs. They aim to have the stadium finished for their football team by the 2022 football season. So every day really counts here. The city wants from the city's perspective, they want enough time to review all of the details in this purchase and sale agreement to make sure that it's thoroughly vetted. It's fully complying with measure G, which is really what started this whole thing. And um, you know, if they, if they're found to be violating the municipal code and the will of the voters, then that could potentially open, um, open things up for a lawsuit, which nobody wants. And of course this deal just has to be air tight and there are a lot of pitfalls. It's extraordinarily complex. So there's this risk that the urgency from the university's perspective could ultimately hurt the city's ability just to make sure that, that the taxpayers are getting the best deal they can.
Speaker 3: 06:59 I've been speaking with KPBS Metro reporter Andrew Bowen. Andrew. Thank you. My pleasure. Jane
Speaker 3: 07:09 California Democrats held their by annual convention over the weekend. 5,000 delegates gathered at the long beach convention center, front runners, Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren were no shows, but most of the other candidates made appearances for more on all of it. We're joined by capital public radio has been Adler been welcome. Good to be with you. We're so glad to have you. Hey, I understand this convention wasn't quite as rowdy as the spring convention held in San Francisco. Can you set the scene for us? Sure. So back in the spring, you had all of this anticipation. You had a, you know, for the first time all of these presidential candidates coming to California at the same time. Joe Biden didn't show back in the spring, but Elizabeth Warren did. And of course, all, all the other big names, Bernie Sanders people to judge. And Kamala Harris, who at the time was in a much stronger position in the race than, than she appears to be right now.
Speaker 3: 08:00 So you had the buzz, you had every, you know, every campaign did the, did the thing where they tried to get as many volunteers as they could to show their strength. Uh, you, you'd have different groups competing, trying to shout each other out or chance each other down. Uh, and you just didn't have that this time in addition to Biden who once again stayed away because his campaign I think, believes that the, the crowd of, of democratic activists is just not his thing. Uh, you know, it's, it's not necessarily, you know, he'd, he'd run the risk of getting a lot of booze and it wouldn't really be the reception, you know, there, there wouldn't be much upside to him going, uh, he held a campaign event Thursday in Los Angeles and then, uh, left the state as everyone else came in. And Elizabeth Warren didn't come either.
Speaker 3: 08:44 Uh, she was campaigning in, in Iowa. Uh, so, you know, you didn't have a couple of the front runners there. You did have Bernie Sanders and Buddha judge and Harrison and others. Uh, but it just, it was different. The, there was less excitement in the air. There was less tension, there was less, you know, the, that just that, that it's hard to describe. There's just a sense when you go to enough of these that I've learned over the years that there's an energy here. Uh, sometimes, and other times there isn't. And, and I did personally, uh, others may disagree, but personally I did not sense that energy. Interesting. And I want to talk about that more. I'm wondering what was the reaction from delegates to the absence of Biden and Warren? Well, certainly some, some disappointment more so. I think people were more disappointed in Warren even though she came last time.
Speaker 3: 09:32 And, and she has opened several offices in California and she's been actively trying to campaign here, not I, I think the two candidates who have held the most public events in California besides maybe Camilla Harris, because she's also, you know, the state, some state Senator, uh, would be Pete, Buddha, judge and, and Bernie Sanders. They've, they've both held a lot of different events throughout different parts of the, of the state, but, but other than that, you get candidates from time to time in the Bay area in Los Angeles. And, and you know, you tell me how often have you guys had a, uh, prominent presidential candidate in San Diego this year? So, uh, you know, I, it just folks were disappointed probably more so with Warren because this was her crowd. She got a what, probably the strongest reception of any candidate at the spring convention. And then she, she skipped this one.
Speaker 3: 10:15 So, uh, some disappointment on that as you might expect. Did the delegates make a presidential endorsement? No, there was not even an attempt to do so, uh, because the, the way it works, the president, the party's presidential endorsement comes through the delegates who are nominated in the primary, at the national convention next summer. So, uh, unlike the, the local races and even racist for governor in U S Senate, uh, when, when they are, you know, there are no governor and us Senate races in 2020. But you know, this time a couple of years ago there were endorsement battles. Uh, you know, this is different here because there was no vote for a presidential primary candidate, which is probably yet another reason that the vibe was the energy was reduced, that that campaigns really didn't seem to be investing as much energy in trying to get their supporters out to make a point.
Speaker 3: 11:01 What was really at stake there. There, there really wasn't much of anything. It was the second time this year that presidential candidates would be addressing many of the same people they addressed earlier in the year. Did the delegates, you talk to think moving the primary to super Tuesday is getting more attention from presidential candidates? So generally they're, they, they wish there would be more attention and we should say that that back in 2008, just for that election in California did vote on super Tuesday. Uh, but, uh, then, you know, it, it got moved back and back then, uh, actually the, the primaries were split. The state actually had two primaries last year, a presidential primary, uh, on super Tuesday, which I think would have been March. And then in June, uh, there was the, the regular primary for state legislative, congressional races, et cetera. That was done just because a legislative leader and assembly speaker at the time wanted to extend term limits and a had a ballot measure in March that would have grandfathered the men would have allowed them to run.
Speaker 3: 11:57 You continue to run in the primary in June. That was all a political contrivance. Uh, and after that, uh, with, you know, decent turnout in March, but no, no turnout whatsoever in June, uh, the California went back to doing all of its primaries in June. Now the entire primary is held in March. Uh, and, and yet I think, look, the biggest difference is, whereas before California was just the ATM candidates would come in, hold fundraisers and leave. Now you have candidates coming in, holding fundraisers, and many will occasionally do a public event while they're here, but usually not to the extent that they're doing in Iowa or New Hampshire, et cetera. Uh, and, and then they'll leave it with the exception of course being candidates like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren don't do fundraisers. Uh, uh, Sanders has been pretty active in holding campaign events here, and he definitely, you know, he has a fundraising base as a of his own grassroots fundraising base that, that, that helps him, uh, in, in doing these events. It's just, uh, you're, you're still not seeing California get the full Iowa treatment. There's still time. We're still a few months away from, from the primary, but at the same time, it's, you know, the, this is the first time that California's like this. And so folks I talk with pointed out it might take time for candidates and campaigns to learn, uh, to take California seriously.
Speaker 1: 13:13 It'll be interesting to see what the outcome is. You talked to a number of delegates to find out what issues are most important to them. What do they tell you?
Speaker 3: 13:20 Uh, the one that stood out to me that, that I got a few more answers on than maybe some of the others is one that is unique, not unique to California, but certainly California is, uh, is at the forefront of this issue. And that is housing affordability and homelessness. I'm sure it is a, an issue in, in many other parts of the United States of America, but California appears to be ground zero for the cost of living squeeze that, that many Californians throughout the state are feeling. Um, you know, a delegate told my colleague Scott rod in a, in a story that, that, uh, we've, we've made available to be run that, that, I mean this is a delegate from mammoth lakes. So, you know, rural Eastern side of the Sierra on the other side of Yosemite from, you know, the Western side, uh, that homelessness is a big issue for them. So I mean, you know, in rural areas, urban areas, that's something that is on a lot of delegates minds. And it's something they said that unlike healthcare environment, et cetera, candidates aren't talking about housing and homelessness and housing affordability nearly as much as some of those others. Other issues.
Speaker 1: 14:24 I've been speaking with Ben Adler from capital public radio. Ben, thanks so much for joining us. You're welcome.
Speaker 1: 14:39 The local humane society took over animal control responsibilities in several San Diego cities a year ago. In that time, they have quietly released more than 1200 stray cats back to streets. KPBS investigative reporter Claire Traeger sir explains why this program is controversial. Hannah Shah is setting a trap for a cat. She puts some wet cat food in the back of a small wire Creek. Okay, cool. So they get a little luxury buffet tonight. Cats peek through the trees as she weaves through a narrow walkway to lay the trap. She and two other women back away to wait. A few minutes later, a cat crawls in, triggers the door to swing shut here. Okay, here go right shot. Who calls herself? Kitten? Lady is the founder of the nonprofit orphan kitten club. She rescues kittens but also traps their parents. Usually feral cats who live outdoors and aren't socialized to humans.
Speaker 1: 15:41 He's not super friendly with me, but that's okay. I love you. Anyway, she takes the cats to a clinic to be spayed or neutered, then releases them back to where they came from, but it's controversial. Bird lovers, environmentalist, even some cat lovers say it is harmful to both the cats and the environment. Now, the San Diego humane society is taking the practice to a higher level. The organization took over animal control contracts for San Diego and other local cities a year ago. Since then, it is allowed more than 1200 cats to be released, including more than 700 in the city of San Diego. Gary Weitzman, the CEO of San Diego humane society says the number should be higher
Speaker 4: 16:28 just because we happen to be more wild than they are domestic should not mean that they need to be euthanized.
Speaker 1: 16:34 The city of Los Angeles tried this program called trap, neuter. Return in 2006 conservation groups sued the city for not considering the effect feral cats would have on the environment. Weitzman says he's not sure why you'd need an environmental impact report when you aren't actually adding new cats to the environment.
Speaker 4: 16:55 It sounded like we would be bringing them in from Portland, Oregon and then releasing them. You know here in Kensington or tournaments.
Speaker 1: 17:02 You though we need a big space to share. Elizabeth Tracy cuddles, a white cat named Doman who was rescued from Tijuana. Tracy and her co volunteer at Carrie Ross worked for the rescue organization, cat adoption service. They say it's cruel to force any cat to live outside.
Speaker 4: 17:24 We have Cody's Hawks, owls, foxes. Then you also have wild dogs and domesticated dogs that want to leave
Speaker 1: 17:30 and the advocates claim the humane society is not just releasing feral cats. They're sending socialized adoptable cats back to the streets.
Speaker 4: 17:41 They don't care if the cats friendly or not. They're going to put it back. Oh, that we don't do
Speaker 1: 17:45 again. Gary Weitzman, the CEO of the San Diego humane society. If they come in and they are actually friendly and adoptable cats, we will actually put them up for adoption. Whether than we releasing them to the outdoors. We do not want to do that. These are the cats. Most of them we're talking about that are the ones that you can't pet, that you can't touch, that are terrified, that are in traps, not in carriers, but multiple records from San Diego humane society show cats who were easy to handle or who were brought in using carriers were slated to be released back onto the streets and KPBS obtained an email from humane society staff that says they do release friendly cats. It says the reason is they return cats to areas where quote, the owners might not come to look for their cat at our shelter, but advocates, Carrie Ross and Elizabeth Tracy think there's a different reason they say the humane society is releasing cats to keep its euthanization rate down. They want to show how many cats went out the door. It's not necessarily how they went up to the door or where they went. It's just that they left the building. The humane society responded thing. It doesn't count. Cats who are released as adopted pets and cares about what's best for each animal. Not statistics. Tomorrow we'll talk more about what impact outdoor cats have on the environment. And now here's Maureen Cavanagh with more from Claire Traeger. Sir,
Speaker 1: 19:12 what's the criteria the humane society says it uses in determining if a cat is feral or friendly?
Speaker 5: 19:18 Well, I think it's a little bit unclear, which is, you know, maybe part of the problem when I talked with, uh, Gary Weitzman who is the CEO, he says basically if a cat, um, can't be handled at all, comes in in a trap, not a carrier, which means if it's in a carrier, obviously someone had to put it into the carrier. Um, whereas the trap is more a thing where you put food in and it walks in on its own. Then he says, those are the cats that will be released. Otherwise they're going to stay in the shelter and try and be adopted. But we have documentation that shows there were cats that came in and carriers that were friendly, um, that were able to be handled. Uh, and those cats were then released as well. And then we have this email from, uh, San Diego humane society staff member who says, yes, I'm some, some friendly cats are being released.
Speaker 1: 20:11 And there's this cryptic line in the email about why the humane society would release a socialized cat back into neighborhoods. Can you explain that for us?
Speaker 5: 20:20 Sure. So I think that what, what that person is saying is, um, that a cat that comes in from certain areas in the city or County, um, and that person didn't necessarily specify, but I think the implication is maybe more low income areas where people who live there wouldn't know to go into the shelter to look for a cat. Like, you know, if you lose your pet, you maybe go, you look online, you go visit the shelter, you say, do you have my pet? People wouldn't, wouldn't know to do that. And so it's better to put the cats back into the areas where they came from so that their owners could maybe find them. I'm not sure that the reasoning holds up on that, but that's, that was what that person was saying. That's how you're interpreting. Yes. Yeah.
Speaker 6: 21:06 Before the release policy went into effect, what happened to the cats who aren't socialized?
Speaker 5: 21:11 Right. So, so the San Diego humane society has been doing animal control for the city, um, for the past year and a quarter basically. And prior to that it was the County of San Diego and they had a different policy where cats were, um, brought into the shelter. They would try and be adopted. Um, if they were maybe not, their policy was always any adoptable animal, they won't euthanize. But if the cat was too, uh, unsocial not able to be around people, they might end up euthanizing them. Although they did work with some, I shouldn't say they were with some outside partners. Um, who, if, if a cat had already been through their program, a feral cat and they had already, uh, neutered or spayed that cat, uh, they would then give them back to those partners who would release them
Speaker 6: 22:01 to dr Gary Weissman's comment. Why would the humane society have to do an environmental impact report for releasing animals into the wild when they were taken from the wild?
Speaker 5: 22:11 Yeah, I mean he had a funny thing saying, well, it's not like we're bringing in new cats from Portland, Oregon and uh, sending them out on the streets here. I think that's what LA is, is working out now. I think that there is no question that cats do have an impact on the environment. And so the, you know, the issue is whether, uh, we should be removing them and removing that impact or kind of keeping it a status quo the way it is now. What happens to stray dogs when they're taken to the humane society? Yeah, so this comes up in the, in the second part of my story, I'm, someone actually makes that point. We don't just let stray dogs out on the street. Maybe we used to or in, in other countries there are more packs of stray dogs, uh, here, uh, the, the dogs go into the shelter and then it happens somewhat frequently. If they are too aggressive, um, to be adopted there, they're euthanized. And so you know, that brings up the issue of is is that what we should be doing or is it better to let the cats out out on the street? But people say, you know, we, we don't just let dogs run around the street so why should we let cats.
Speaker 6: 23:22 You mentioned that the neuter and release program have been tried in other areas of California probably around the country too. Is there any evidence that the program actually reduces the number of stray cats?
Speaker 5: 23:32 I think that it's very difficult to tell because it's hard to count cats. It's hard to herd cats is hard to count cats, so to get a definitive answer what you know, the population of cats, it's hard to say. There are these studies that it seems like are debated depending on what side of the issue you're on about whether if you remove a group, say there's a colony of feral cats and you just take them away. Some research says that a new colony will come in and take their place and so you aren't actually solving the problem by removing them. But that I have also talked talk with some researchers who debunked that study. They say that, that it doesn't really hold water. No. Cats had been killing birds for a Memorial. Right? Yeah. Why is this a particular problem now? Well, I think that this, uh, the neuter release programs are gaining popularity so people are paying more attention to them now.
Speaker 5: 24:31 There's also climate change issues and more worries about bird populations. I think there was a study that came out recently that, you know, we've lost, I think it was 3 billion birds in the last 50 years just in the United States. So people point to, to those issues to say, you know, we need to be doing more to protect birds and taking, you know, getting rid of cats is not going to solve that problem, but it's one thing that you could do. Now you have part two of this report. What will we learn in the next part? Right. So, um, we'll talk more about some of these environmental impacts of outdoor cats. You know, go into the issue of whether cash should ever be outside, even if it's an own cat. Should you let let your cat outside. Um, and I also went to a clinic where they are doing spaying and neutering of feral cats so you can hear about that too. Okay, terrific that I've been speaking with KPBS investigative reporter Claire triglyceride. Claire. Thank you. Thank you.
Speaker 1: 25:37 California's devastating wildfires have made it harder than ever for Californians living in fire prone regions to get insurance for their homes. Thousands of Californians are trying to cling to their old home insurance policies by taking expensive measures at the request of their insurers, including spending out of pocket to fireproof their properties. But what are they getting in return? KQ Eeds Mary Franklin Harven went to Nevada County near Lake Tahoe to find out Emma Titus is 90 years old. She's standing in her kitchen in sweat pants and a white sweatshirt. She's lived in this house for going on 40 years. In September, she got this letter from her insurer, the Hartford company saying she wouldn't be renewed this year. The reason for non-renewal is that your increased the hazard of the risk at the property location at her home is in the Sierra foothills community of grass Valley, which Cal fire lists as a very high fire hazard severity zone.
Speaker 1: 26:36 By failing to take the requested fire prevention measures before her insurance company sent letter, it dispatched an inspector who asked Titus and her daughter to do more to fireproof their property. But between the dried brush and old grapevine and fruit trees, there wasn't enough time to meet the three week deadline. Then the non renewal notice came at my age. It's very frustrating. Here I'm fighting for my homeowner's insurance Palm owner's insurance I've been with for 35 years. Never missed a payment, never, uh, had a claim and all of a sudden they can't insure me. Titus says she's already spent $3,000 clearing brush on her property this year. She mailed the Hartford photos and bank statements documenting her costs. If she did the clearing the Hartford asked for. She feels she's earned reconsideration, but she thinks insurance companies don't really care if her land is clear. They just want to get out of California. California has been declared a fire hazard state and that's the reason insurance companies assign risk scores to decide whether to renew policies. They're based on things like fire, fuel, topography, and access to water. Grass Valley and much of Nevada County is heavily wooded with homes perched at the end of windy, narrow roads, often far from fire departments and water sources. Here's Nevada County district supervisor, ed Scofield.
Speaker 7: 28:07 I know a property owners that have done major mitigations to even have a neurone fire systems on the ground that are simply denied.
Speaker 1: 28:19 Schofield says he hears from constituents who feel like they're being strung along by insurers that have no intention of renewing them. He says it's frustrating, but the fact is there's no state mandate requiring insurers to reward homeowners for mitigation efforts. Michael Soller from California's department of insurance says there should be,
Speaker 8: 28:39 you may participate in a Firewise program. You may do your own home mitigation. You may spend a lot of money as a community or as a homeowner and at the end of the day there's no guarantee that you will get insurance or that you'll be able to keep the insurance that you have and be renewed.
Speaker 1: 28:56 Solar says the department wants more transparency from insurance companies. Meanwhile, Emma Titus is still looking for insurance coverage. She can afford her policy expired last week. I'm Mary Franklin Harven in grass Valley
Speaker 8: 29:16 [inaudible],
Speaker 6: 29:16 a San Diego civil trial against the distributor of pornographic material as now expanded into a federal criminal sex trafficking case. The civil case revolves around San Diego based girls do porn website owners and 22 women who say they were duped into filming porn videos they were told would not be distributed online. Now the website operator has been charged in federal court with producing child porn and sex trafficking. Courthouse news reporter Bianca Bruno has been following the case and she joins me now. Hi Bianca. Hi. In regards to the civil trial, tell us how the girls do porn operation worked. I read that the women were flown into San Diego. So basically their niche was that the women were supposed to be amateurs. They were very young. They were between 18 to 22 years old. And so they were not supposed to be professional porn stars or porn actors. And they responded to modeling ads posted on Craigslist.
Speaker 6: 30:22 Some testified during the trial in state court the past couple months. They knew that the shoots would either be clothed or naked, some of them kind of had different circumstances, but they did not know originally that they were being recruited to shoot porn videos. Um, eventually that came out. However, they were told that the videos would be produced for DVDs sold overseas. Um, it was not for online porn. And so that's why they say they agreed to participate. And did the contracts, the women's sign ins, in fact, did they say the videos could be distributed online? The contracts did not specifically mention anything about online. The contracts were fairly vague. They were, uh, produced to women after some of them had been drinking and smoking marijuana. Um, and most of them testified they didn't really understand what it said. The girls do. Porn is involved with all these different sort of, um, what the plaintiffs have alleged are shell entities.
Speaker 6: 31:25 And so it may have mentioned one of those names which was like a vague media company name, but it did not mention online porn and it didn't even mention the name of the website. Um, they said that they didn't even find out about girls do porn until their video got posted online and their friends and family and let them know. And apparently in testimony in court, girls do porn was still recruiting and uploading videos during the civil trial. He has so Wolfe testified to that the actor that the male actor that the girls do porn website employees. Um, Andre Garcia that he was still recruiting on behalf of the company during the trial and later on a woman designated as Jane DOE a, she was an in addition to the 22 women, uh, in the lawsuit, she came forward and testified and said that she shot a video with company in August and found out it got posted online in September.
Speaker 6: 32:19 The trial started in August. So this was in the midst of of trial. What can you tell us about girls do porn owner Michael Prad, he is from New Zealand. He moved to the States, uh, shortly after he turned 18. And what's interesting is he came here specifically to work in the porn industry at that young age. And apparently because our laws regarding the creation of porn are less strict than in New Zealand according to the federal charges against the company that were filed, they're worth about 17 million I think. And so they're kind of a household name. They have sort of online community that verily very closely follows what they do. And you know, when the, the civil trial started this fall, he apparently went back to New Zealand and now he's considered a fugitive. Okay. So fast forward to last week when Pratt was indicted on child sex trafficking charges, what are the claims being made against him?
Speaker 6: 33:22 So that's in relation to an apparent, um, incident in 2012, which is a year before the women involved in the civil lawsuit started, uh, working, uh, with Pratt and his employees. And so this was before, you know, the, the case was filed in 2016 so it's, it's a fairly old charge. Um, but apparently he induced a 16 year old to fly to San Diego to shoot a porn video with him. It's not clear exactly if it is with girls to porn. Um, but it was with him and in the creation of his videos and if, if he's convicted, what kind of sentences Pratt facing in this criminal case, he could face life in prison. Originally they only filed human trafficking charges in relation to kind of inducing women to appear in the videos based on cores and enlies the child sex trafficking and porn charge was added last week.
Speaker 6: 34:21 And basically that is a charge that subject to the extradition treaty with the U S and New Zealand. It's believed he's there. And so the hope is that, you know, he'll come here and face charges in federal court, but as of today it's not clear where he is. Back to the civil case for just a moment, what are the women asking for? So they are asking for, you know, millions and damages. Um, a lot of them have testified to suffering from depression. A couple testified during the trial that they actually attempted suicide. Um, and basically they have these ongoing lingering, uh, issues in relation to basically being doxed online and you know, their lives being ruined from appearing in these videos. They also want the rights to their videos, so they want to be able to take them down. As of last week, some of the Jane Doe's videos were still posted on the girls do porn website.
Speaker 6: 35:21 And you know, the, the judges ordered that they be taken down. Um, but the logistics of that were a bit complicated because of the criminal case and the fact that the employees are now in federal custody. What happens next? And both or either of these cases. So in December there is another court hearing in the criminal case, in the civil case that's still ongoing. The trial is still ongoing. They may wrap up things next week and then judge Kevin emright who's in San Diego superior court, he'll be the one ultimately deciding, uh, what happens in terms of if the women are awarded damages and the rights to their videos. It's a what's called a bench trial, which basically means the judge decides there's no jury in this case. I've been speaking to courthouse news reporter Bianca Bruno. Bianca. Thank you. Thanks. The surefire soul ensemble is one of San Diego's funkiest bands.
Speaker 8: 36:25 [inaudible]
Speaker 4: 36:28 the surefire soul ensembles new album build bridges debuted number one on billboards, contemporary jazz chart for the week of October 12th. One of its founders, Tim Felton keyboard player is a former KPBS staffer. He's back here in the studio along with Jesse Odello, longtime band member to talk about making music and San Diego and hitting the billboard charts. And Tim, welcome to the program.
Speaker 6: 36:55 Yeah, thanks for having us back here. Jesse. Welcome. Thanks for coming in. So how did you find out that you guys had made the billboard charts and what was your reaction to him?
Speaker 3: 37:05 Well, they'll, the label owner, he hinted to the fact that it may be happening that we may have charted. And I was like, Oh, so, so then I Googled it. And of course, um, billboard makes you pay for a membership if you want to see the full chart. Um, so I, I, I, I saw that at Googled. So that means, you know, that meant that we had, we had charted, so then I paid for the monthly subscription to billboard and saw that we had hit a couple of different charts. Um, and the best, the best result was on the contemporary jazz album charts where we were number one for that week.
Speaker 6: 37:37 And Jesse, what does that mean? I mean D to hit number one on that,
Speaker 9: 37:41 that means that someone's listening basically. And the, you know, that our, that our music is actually getting out there. Sometimes you don't see the effects of your music until something like that
Speaker 8: 37:51 that happened. [inaudible]
Speaker 4: 38:04 now Tim, this new album is called build bridges. As I said. What's the meaning behind that? The
Speaker 9: 38:08 title? I was kind of thinking of the expression to build bridges, not walls. Um, so that could have been the title with like a parentheses around not Wallace and kind of relating to our current political climate and this monstrosity that we're, that we, that we seem to need to build on, on the Southern border border. And just like in general in life, you know, I think it's better to build bridges than walls in relationships even. I think, um, some of the styles that we use within the song are, are blended. Uh, you know, we're, we're trying to show that we, that we're not just, uh, limited to one style, but we like putting things together in the same way that we're trying to keep communities together that should be together.
Speaker 4: 38:54 I see. So musically you try to do build bridges as well. Exactly. Now there's a song on this album that may sound familiar to KPBS listeners. It's called Gloria's Anthem
Speaker 10: 39:15 [inaudible]. Kim, tell us about the song.
Speaker 9: 39:18 It was a demo that had, I had made probably eight or 10 years ago and I played it for former KPBS hosts, Dwayne Brown, and he really liked the music then. Then it became the theme for the show that Gloria Penner was hosting at the time, which I think was called weekend edition or I remember correctly, it was the TV show. So then they would use the music under the radio promos and then as the intro to the TV show as well. So then years later, I guess I sent it out to the band members and we've reworked it and so I thought, you know, leaving, you know if this blurry and since passed. So I thought, I literally believe in her name associated with the cool thing to do. That is a cool thing too.
Speaker 10: 40:07 [inaudible]
Speaker 4: 40:08 now Jesse, in 2015 the band released its first full self-titled debut album. How would you say your sound has changed since that time?
Speaker 9: 40:17 Um, I think we've gotten a little bit more experimental with our sound. Uh, we, um, always stay with our funk roots, but we definitely have a little bit more driving hard-hitting sound. Um, that we feel relates a little bit more to, to our audience.
Speaker 8: 40:43 [inaudible]
Speaker 11: 40:46 that track that shows that the most is step up. Um, it's, it's has a lot of variety and it's not, it's very much unlike other funk tracks that are on the rest of the album or really funk tracks that you might've heard in the, in the sixties and seventies. You know, it does, does combine a lot of different types of elements, even so much as having a mandolin. I don't know any tracks that have a little bit Amanda linen, you know, from that era.
Speaker 8: 41:30 [inaudible]
Speaker 9: 41:31 you know, on Tuesday nights you guys perform at Rosie O'Grady's
Speaker 4: 41:34 in normal Heights where you use an inhouse Hammond 1950s organ. In fact, you use an organ in many of these tracks. So what is it about the organ, that instrument that's so essential to the soul, the funk sound that you're after to? Well, it's just a huge sound. I mean it can be a huge sand or it can be a thin whispering sound. It's just like heavy
Speaker 11: 41:58 tronics old school, discreet point to point tubes, capacitors, resistors, you know, although amps are two vamps so when it breaks up it's got a great sound. Um, there's a long time association with um, African American church. So of course, you know, you can't deny like the gospel kind of roots that is associated with the instrument, you know, isn't Santana's music. So it's got rock and roll, Latin rock and funk. It's just long history with that instrument. We're going to be great description there too.
Speaker 4: 42:37 Yeah. The, the music industry just, it can be discouraging. I mean, what keeps a group like yours together year after year?
Speaker 11: 42:46 The one thing that we all have in common is that we love to come together to make music and in particular make music with each other. The fans. Anytime you come to a show, I get a lot of the same comments saying that, man, you guys look like you're having fun on stage. You're not just playing the music. You're literally interacting with each other on a whole other level. And what we get is it translates to the audience still, but we're all just having fun doing it. What's next for this year? Fire salt lamps. Soundbar more shows, you know, um, we've got a live album that'll be coming out sometime next year. I'll stay late. Uh, 2020. We recorded it back in may at animos 66, which is an excellent venue here in Balboa park. So weird. Um, the album turned out really great. We're really excited about that. And then we're working on our fourth studio album as well, writing some songs.
Speaker 4: 43:44 Well, Tim, I can't tell you how good it is to see you again. Thank you for coming in. Jesse, congratulations to you both. I've been speaking with Tim Felton and Jesse Odello, both of the surefire sell ensemble. Thanks a lot guys. Thank you Martin. Thank you.
Speaker 10: 44:16 [inaudible] [inaudible].