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Racial Taunts At Lincoln High Football Game In OC, Lorena Gonzalez Legislative Wins, Climate Change Effect On Local Oyster Hatchery And More

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Students at Lincoln High School said they were subjected to racial taunts at a recent football game at San Clemente High in Orange County. Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez had several legislative successes this year, including two controversial bills restricting vaccination exemptions and regulating the gig economy. And on today’s #CoveringClimateNow, a Carlsbad oyster farm is dealing with the effects of ocean acidification. Also, a ballot measure promised billions to fix potholes, sidewalks and street lights but it’s trending tens of millions short of projects — what went wrong? Plus, an American music legend, Johnny Mathis, is coming to San Diego this weekend.

Show transcript

Speaker 1: 00:00 Last Friday evening, the football teams of Lincoln High School in San Diego and San Clemente high school played a game at San Clemente. Cheerleaders from Lincoln say they were taunted with racial slurs, including the inward one, said she was told to go back to Africa this fall as an event at Poway high school last week. We're at a blackout themed event. Things turned racist when a couple of students wore masks and President Obama and a gorilla president of the San Diego chapter of the NAACP Clovis honoree joins me now. Clovis, thank you so much for joining us.

Speaker 2: 00:33 Thank you for having my guests come in.

Speaker 1: 00:34 I know the NAACP has responded to this. What are you asking San Clemente Highschool to do now?

Speaker 2: 00:41 Well, the depends on the outcomes of the investigation. Uh, to some extent we have also, I want to make sure that we have let you know that we have been in contact with the Orange County NAACP and they're also investigating this incident from their end. Primarily we would like to say, well, you know, it's interesting that I saw Aaron Meek, uh, at the, um, press conference asked for an apology and folks as well, isn't it? If someone asks, is an apology really important? And the apology, whether you did something wrong or not, an apology indicates that you're a human being, that you sense the harm that was done to somebody else and you want to help us ways that harm you don't have to admit guilt to do that. So I don't think there's anything wrong with the, uh, principal, uh, apologizing to start with. But more importantly, we want to make sure that this doesn't happen again.

Speaker 2: 01:21 So we want to see that the community is made conscious and sensitive to these issues so that they can make the kinds of adjustments they need to make and that we want to see if anything, um, really in inappropriate was done. Uh, if there are sheriff's officers who did not respond when they were alerted, if there are other people who were responsible on the campus who did not take action, uh, there, there are to be consequences. There will be a, there are CIF regulations that may have been violated, school regulations that may have been violated, not to mention the state and national constitution, uh, when we have institutions that are allowing this kind of behavior to take place in not correcting it

Speaker 1: 01:51 because I wanted to ask more about that. And you know, he's spokesman for Capistrano unified said, uh, the school is looking at all of the cameras to see if there were specific instances in the stands or anything else and that they had six Orange County sheriff's deputies present private security, lots of parents and staff members present. So to your knowledge, what did all of those people do when the racist taunts were being made?

Speaker 2: 02:14 Well, we have the statements from the students to statements from the adults that were there. And we have statements from, uh, apparently white members of the Sanclemente group that were posted on social media that also apologize for incidences that they indicated they were aware of. So it's not, and first of all, I want to, I want folks to understand that if African American children tell you something happened, do not discount it. Uh, what I've seen in the news on occasion is if these things are true, we have these allegations. Uh, we don't know. These children told us they had these experiences and if your children came home and told you that they had been called the inward, you would take it seriously. You would not try to discount them. So we, but in addition, we have other corroborating information that's coming through social media from folks who were there indicating that they were aware of these incidences. What did they do? What did they apparently from the information we have thus far, no one did anything of I at least no one from San Clemente did anything of substance to assuage the problems. Many as you saw in the, in the press conference and from many others testimonies that the African American students, uh, the Latino students, the, the people who were the adults who were with them did take incredibly brave and appropriate action to minimize the problems that were going on at that, at that time. And make sure that the children were safe.

Speaker 1: 03:20 It's reporting the Lincoln high cheerleaders who are just 14 and 15 year old girls heard these taunts the most. Can you talk about how the trauma of racism impacts children and adolescents?

Speaker 2: 03:30 We know that after 400 years of of experience here in the United States of America, that trauma, we have seen studies that show that trauma affects the DNA. We know that, uh, my parents who were born in apartheid, even though I was born in 1960 at the end of a part that I taught me, things that they learned because of the environment they grew up in that may have not seemed to have been as applicable in the 1960s and seventies like they were in the forties and 50s but we had to know and understand those things from their perspective. And I shared with my children things that they, they've never experienced, but I did. So we know that the trauma gets handed down generation after generation and we know that trauma can have an impact on educational attainment, trauma and can have an impact on the capacity to deal with relationships. Trauma. Trauma is, is a very powerful and impactful. Um, um, um, situation here in the United States of America in America has been traumatic from day one.

Speaker 1: 04:17 And as we mentioned, there was also a recent incident at Poway high school during a football game. How common are these incidents?

Speaker 2: 04:25 Well, you know, it's, it's interesting we asked the question, how often do, uh, police officers shoot unarmed African American men and women running away from them? And folks used to disbelieve that these things were happening as well. We know that people would not be facing the consequences until we started seeing them actually show up on social media, sometimes in live action walking, watching black men die on camera after being shot by a police officer for no good reason. And then the police officers don't face consequences. So they were probably happening. And we found out from testimony from students, African American students who go to San, uh, um, faculty at the high school that this is not uncommon. This is United States of Americans 2019. Now in 2015 we might've thought something different was going on, but with the election of Donald Trump and the rhetoric that we see coming out of the White House, it's no surprise that we're seeing more of this come to the forefront, but has been going on for 400 years. Has it been going on a up behind the cameras and away from a discipline, uh, of folks knowing that it's going on? Of course.

Speaker 1: 05:18 And a lot of people find it shocking that this kind of thing is still happening in 2019. What do you say to them?

Speaker 2: 05:23 I say 60 some odd million people voted for Donald Donald Trump. So I don't know why you're shocked that almost half an almost not quite half of the electorate elected someone who's clearly made public statements, clearly made racist statements, uh, clearly made xenophobic and homophobic statements that, that why anyone would be surprised at the, in this day and age, if you are surprised, is because you have not been, you either have not been paying attention or you've been paying attention and putting your head in the sand.

Speaker 1: 05:47 I've been speaking with Clovis, Monterrey, president of the San Diego branch of the NAACP. Thank you very much for joining us. Thank you for having us.

Speaker 1: 00:00 San Diego Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzales is wrapping up another busy legislative session. No fewer than 14 of the bills she's authored are currently waiting for the governor's signature. Her wide focus in Sacramento ranges from making diapers sales tax free to extending the statute of limitations on child sex abuse charges, but the highest profile bills she's been involved with this year. Ab five which would transform the GIG economy. And SB two 76 which tightens vaccine exemptions have gotten a lot of pushback. Joining me as assemblywoman Lorena Gonzales of San Diego's 80th district and welcome to the program. Thank you. Thank you for having me. Can you give us a quick rundown of how ab five changes the employment rules for Gig Workers? So it's interesting because ab five is really caudifying a supreme court decision that was made about a year and a half ago, eight last April. And in that decision, the supreme court basically said it was called the dynamex decision.

Speaker 1: 00:58 They said we've had enough of these lawsuits. It's clear that the test that was being used under a standard called Barrello was tough. It was tougher employers to understand. It was tough for workers to understand. It was like an 11 part test where people had to weigh the different factors to determine if they were an independent contractor or employee. And what they said is enough with that, we're going to make it very clear, we have a simple three-part tests that basically says, if you're under the control of of an accompany, you're doing the work of that company, then you're, you're an employee. And so we took that ruling and realized it wasn't great for people to have to litigate their way into the rights. And so we codified it into law and uh, with a number of exceptions using the factors that the court itself used in dynamex.

Speaker 1: 01:47 And we ended up with a bill and hopefully a build, it'll get signed quickly that basically says, if you're doing the work of the company, then you're an employee and need to classify it as such. Now as you mentioned, there were a lot of carve-outs for different professions in this bill. What are some of them? I wouldn't call them carve-outs. They're m clarification's if you will. So we found a lot of things in the current wage, in order codes that were already exempted and it really does, uh, apply to a broad range of things. But there are some similarities. There are professions that there's a high barrier to entry, uh, professions where individuals set their own rates and because of that high barrier to entry because of education and licenses, uh, they have individual bargaining power. They make over twice the minimum wage. So it seems like doctors and lawyers, architects, accountants, uh, real estate agents, things that uh, traditionally these individuals have operated at times as small businesses and they can continue to do so under this bill.

Speaker 1: 02:43 Now, some of the biggest gig economy companies, Uber and Lyft say ab five doesn't apply to them because drivers are not their core business. Okay. They say they are really technology platforms for several different types of digital marketplaces. What do you say to, well this is their latest argument. First they said they were going to do an initiative. They put $90 million into a bank account threatening initiative and then they came back and said, this just doesn't apply to us. I think that's silly. I think anyone who's ever used Uber and Lyft knows that they're in the business of connecting passengers with drivers to be driven somewhere. So just because it is performed over technology doesn't mean that they're somehow exempt from the law. And it, I think it's illegal strategy for them, which is fine, but that's one of the reasons we ensured that there's not only the right for an individual to protect their rights under the Labor Commissioner under, uh, the ability to go to court. But also we put in there the right of city attorneys to file for injunctive relief. If these companies continue to misclassify workers

Speaker 2: 03:48 and there is still a move to get enough signatures to put the issue on the ballot, isn't there?

Speaker 1: 03:53 I don't think they've actually filed an initiative yet. They definitely, I know Uber and Lyft and door dash each put $30 million into a bank account, threatening one. And we haven't seen that effort start yet. Of course it could any day. And it's interesting because these are billion dollar companies where their CEOs and CFOs are making, you know, 45 million, $47 million a year, plus all the stock options when they went public. Uh, at least Uber and Lyft, a ton of the top management became billionaires and yet they can put away $90 million and yet they cannot pay their workers minimum wage. There's something wrong here and I think we're going to call them on that.

Speaker 2: 04:34 But there are a number, a significant number of drivers of Uber and Lyft and members of the Gig economy who aren't happy about the lack of freedom that they see this bill putting on them.

Speaker 1: 04:45 Well, I think a lot of that was a misinformation by the companies, uh, who put it out to their drivers that they wouldn't have flexibility anymore. And what's important to note is that in California labor law, there's nothing that prevents a company from allowing for the same kind of flexibility that they enjoy now. And so that would be up to the company. Nothing about Ab five requires shift work full time work. Um, you can be a part time worker and work one hour for the year. So I think the company has tried to scare a drivers into thinking that it will substantially change. And yet when you talk to drivers, I, and I have yet to speak to any driver who's who, um, this isn't true for they know they're being underpaid, they know there's problems and that it's inconsistent that uh, their rights under the app are, are very, um, non-existent and they're frustrated by that. So I think Uber and Lyft did a good job of scaring their workers into this flexibility argument, but it's just not something that's based in law.

Speaker 2: 05:40 Okay. So a B five, the bill that you've authored is waiting for the governor's signature. Another bill you coauthored SB two 76 has already been signed and them exit harder for students to get medical exemptions for vaccinations. That's provoked the strongest protests has

Speaker 1: 05:58 seen for a long time. Why do you think SB two 76 was needed? Well, we saw it throughout the state that there were a handful of doctors who were providing hundreds upon hundreds of medical exemptions. So it's not so much, uh, if, if any individual pediatrician actually sees a child is their pediatrician knows there's a medical reason to not have, um, a vaccination, which is really rare. It's a rare occurrence. And they ride medical exemption. That's, that's allowed. What we're trying to get at is these doctors that were basically selling medical exemptions when we turned up the law a few years ago. So for example, in, in San Diego there was one doctor voice of San Diego covered this really well. There was one doctor in south park who wrote over a third of all the medical exemptions, hundreds of them that San Diego unified received. No. Last week a protester, one of the anti-vaccine build protesters threw a cup of what's believed to be blood at state senators on the Senate floor.

Speaker 1: 06:55 Did you expect the intensity of these protests against this vaccine bill? Well, you know, it's been growing, unfortunately. You know, anytime you talk about people's children, of course, I mean, I'm a mom. I know how serious that gets, but it's been fueled on by, um, really violent means and violent rhetoric on the Internet. And I just wasn't even unfortunately surprised by what happened because the level of discourse had, had really gone down to that. You know, there's a small vocal group of individuals in California who do not believe scientists. They don't believe doctors that vaccines are good. And it, it's a level of distrust of government, of basic science, and it's scary. But as a result, they've really devolved into some lines of protest that I think, uh, even those of us who I, I believe strongly in, in civil disobedience and in protest that come from the labor movement, I participate in a lot of those things myself. But when you start getting violent, when you shove senators, when you issue, uh, you know, the dozens of death threats that I received that my daughter received, that, uh, that other members of the Assembly and Senate received. And then it just gets to a point where somebody feels the need to throw blood on senators. It's, it's disappointing. Uh, but I think we could have probably foreseen it coming. I've been speaking with state assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, thank you so much for your time. Thanks for having me.

Speaker 1: 00:00 And we continue covering climate. Now on mid day edition this week, KPBS is joining hundreds of news organizations from across the globe to bring home the realities of a warming planet. Making a living from the ocean in southern California is never easy, but the planets changing climate is creating additional hurdles. KPBS reporter Eric Anderson has a look at a Carlsbad shellfish business that puts a premium on resiliency.

Speaker 2: 00:28 Andrew Chang stands on a small floating pier in a San Diego Lagoon. We want to take a closer look. Chiang works at the Carlsbad Aqua farm. The small hatchery has been selling oysters and mussels to restaurants and other businesses for 50 years. Chang is standing on a Flexi. It's a floating system that pulls water and nutrients up through silos that are full of fledgling shellfish. Determined term would be seed oyster seed and they're anywhere from one to three centimeters. When these oysters get big enough, they'll be placed in square plastic trays stacked 10 high. Though stags are underwater in the Agua heading on to Laguna and Carlsbad production manager, Matt Stinky pulls about next to a barrel shaped buoy above one of those underwater stacks. Now these stacks of oysters are out a hundred to 150 pounds. Stinky says the oysters will live here filtering water until they're fully grown. The last doc is a few days of renting in a nearby building and then their pack for market. But this seed to lagoon to purification bins to market cycle was interrupted by a changing climate. In 2007. The planet's oceans were absorbing larger amounts of carbon, turning the colder waters of the Pacific northwest, increasingly acidic. Unfortunately for oyster growers, that's where all of their seed stock was grown,

Speaker 3: 01:56 where an ocean acidification hit the Pacific northwest. Um, they were reporting a 90 to 95% failure in their normal production. And you ended up with a lot of farmers who had open space to grow things and they were unable to buy seed.

Speaker 2: 02:10 The industry adapted and here in Carlsbad they now grow some of their own seed. But Stinky says the real threat isn't going away.

Speaker 3: 02:18 That's possible that in 10 or 15 years, um, we start seeing more severe failures of, of crop possibly on our waters or in the rest of the industry.

Speaker 2: 02:28 And the change is already happening. The ocean is warming as it absorbs carbon dioxide. Scripps Institution of Oceanography Researcher Dan K and says the warm ocean waters are less likely to mix with nutrient rich water at deeper levels. In essence, the warming water is choking off the food supply. Okay. And says that's not all the warmer the oceans get. Uh, the less oxygen it can, uh, accommodate and, uh, low oxygen is, is not good in general for ecosystems as the ocean draws in more carbon from the atmosphere k and says it's also changing the chemistry of the water. Over the last several decades, the acidity in the ocean has increased by about 30%. And um, that makes it more difficult for cal carious shelled and skeletal parts of the, the kind of baseline for the food chain to develop. Though the changes and their impacts will be gradual. Carlsbad aquafarms CEO Thomas Grim is already working to prepare.

Speaker 2: 03:38 The alarm for me is that it's changing faster than some aspects of nature can keep up. Grim wants to keep his business from being overwhelmed by changes in the ocean ecosystem. Part of that solution is under the buoys that are just over his shoulder in the southern edge of the lagoon. Those are our research floats. There's both ball floats and barrel floats, but underneath them are families of oysters in different configurations. Some are very small groupings in specialized cages from Australia and they use to grow out selectively bred oysters from a research project at USC. Grim says oysters have survived other ecological upheavals and he says finding and breeding those resilient species is important. He says that changing ocean will change the business so you have to be ahead of what's going on and then have enough resilience stock that is adapted to these, to the changing chemistry. And while this business is fine now there is concerned about the future and that future is dealing with climate change. Eric Anderson, KPBS news,

Speaker 4: 04:46 joining me with more on the impact of climate change. On the ocean is Andrew Dickson, a professor of marine chemistry at Scripps Institution of Oceanography and a leading expert on ocean acidification and Andrew, welcome to the program. Thank you very much. It's good to meet you. Now, what exactly is the impact of higher acidity on ocean species and I mean does it kill marine life? How does it change their environment? Essentially you're making the ocean a little bit more acidic and you're changing the composition of the ocean in the various will be referred to as carbonate species are changing their concentrations and different organisms respond differently to the various changes thus far with the changes that have occurred. It's not clear that it's killing organisms as you put it, but experiments in the lab show that at higher and higher levels, it clearly affects organisms in a variety of ways, some of which are obviously expected that shells for calcifying organisms grow more slowly or very poorly. Another interesting one. There was a discussion in Sweden where they grew shrimp and then they had a chef cook the shrimp and give it to pass us by in comparison with shrimp that had not been raised under acidic conditions and ask which one they preferred the taste, what did they say? And overwhelmingly if they preferred the not acidified conditions as improved taste.

Speaker 1: 06:13 So there's something different going on. Okay.

Speaker 4: 06:15 I think different than the organisms are growing differently, but we know this when we grow wines grow grapes for wine, it matters where the grapes were grown, what the conditions they're living under affects things like the taste.

Speaker 1: 06:29 Now, recent research that you took part in found the west coast is almost like a bellwether for a changing ocean chemistry. Why are we facing these big changes? First,

Speaker 4: 06:40 the picture that people have of what's changing is that as we're burning fossil fuels, that's coal and oil and natural gas. We're putting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and quite a lot of this is ending up dissolving in the ocean and changing its composition. But that is happening gradually as we burn more and more along the west coast. There are a variety of other natural conditions. In addition to that, that essentially provide the same thing that more carbon dioxide is added to the ocean locally, either from upwelling of deep water along the coast. You know that it's often quite cold for swimming, and when that's happening, it's big as colder, deeper water is being mixed up into the surface region and there's more carbon dioxide in such water. In other places, it's more restricted areas where agricultural runoff has caused organisms to grow and decompose locally. Again, putting carbon dioxide into the water and these things together, added to the extra CO2 from the atmosphere means that the west coast kind of leads in how its effects are. The so-called bellwether.

Speaker 1: 07:50 Yeah. You know, we're also seeing a, as you're mentioning here, lower oxygen levels in the ocean off our coast. How does that affect marine life? We've heard of these so called dead zones.

Speaker 4: 08:00 Lower oxygen is exactly that, that there's a region where there's somewhat less oxygen, which means that all organisms that need oxygen for their metabolic processes find it harder. It's like if you go to altitude, if I'm go hiking in Colorado, I find it hard cause there's less oxygen in each breath I take, but I'm still alive and happy to go back to the hotel and have dinner afterwards. Then as that oxygen level gets lower and lower and lower organisms really start to have a problem. And there's a particular level at which you know a lot of marine organisms basically tried to flee the zone if they can or ultimately die because there's not enough oxygen and there's a variety of things that control the oxygen. One is as sea water warms up, less gas is able to dissolve in it and oxygen in the water is largely oxygen from the atmosphere dissolving in the surface ocean or maybe some oxygen produced in the surface ocean by phytoplankton growing and photosynthesizing producing oxygen. But the amount of oxygen that stays there is a little less when the water is warmer. And so we're getting less and less oxygen because of warm water.

Speaker 1: 09:13 Is there anything that we can do to mitigate these changes in the ocean?

Speaker 4: 09:18 I feel it's hard to come up with something that's an easy silver bullet. I mean there, there are a variety of things. One, you say, okay, I'm interested in the health of such and such a species. What can I do to do that? And you can say, okay, I can have areas where they're protected from everything else, like marine protected areas where there's no fishing there. And so it's a refugee for the species. Does that protect them against ocean certification? Not really, but if they're eating well and don't have other problems, it's not such a bad one. It's really the problem is not just ocean acidification but ocean acidification, increasing temperature, increasing fishing existing and over use and any other pollutions that are often in place close to shoreline. And so in many cases changing any one of these effects locally and help the Puget sound region particularly are looking to restrict the amount of fertilizer runoff from agriculture into the sound which they hope will cut down phytoplankton blooming in the sound and therefore this CO2 in the deep water which gets mixed up when they have a high wind,

Speaker 1: 10:26 so there are pockets of

Speaker 4: 10:28 rockets of sort of relief that you can actively do more generally you could say, well, don't burn anything ever again for energy, but that would significantly change everybody's way of life to the extent that although it's a, it's a good goal and areas of the world are moving far. Some areas are moving faster than others, that there's clear hesitancy because you don't fix it for yourself. You're fixing it for the world as a whole and if everybody else isn't playing the same game, you feel a little more concerned and tendency to be a little more selfish about it.

Speaker 1: 11:05 I've been speaking with Andrew Dixon, he's a professor of marine chemistry at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Thank you very much. Thank you very much. And you can follow the climate conversation at Hashtag covering climate now

Speaker 5: 11:22 [inaudible].

Speaker 1: 00:00 So three years ago, voters approved a ballot measure to fix San Diego's roads, sidewalks and buildings, politicians backing the measure set. It would pay for up to $4 billion in improvements over 25 years, but I knew source investigative reporter Mary Plumber has found funding for the measure is falling far short of that. On a recent weekday morning at the Rancho Pennys Ketos library staff are busy checking in books and loading items into cards. The library opened in 1992 and like many structures around the city, it needs maintenance. Branch manager, Adrian Peterson says there's paint work that needs to get done, exterior panels that need replacing and the parking lot needs to be repaved. It's one of the largest libraries in the system. It's also one of the most popular and it's been well used and well loved and it's getting time where it needs some TLC. The library falls within councilman mark, Chrissy's district, Chrissy's here at the library to talk about rebuild San Diego. That's the name of the ballot measure he championed back in 2016 to help improve the city's crumbling infrastructure. Rebuild. San Diego was not a tax increase. Instead it was supposed to use revenues from things like property and sales, tax growth and pension savings to fund it needed repairs. Courtesy points above to the library ceiling. A tile is missing in a brown water ring, surrounds a dark hole

Speaker 2: 01:22 I think from inside here. Uh, you didn't, you could see stuff like this. This is more likely a roof problem where you had a water leak

Speaker 1: 01:29 under the ballot measure. The library is set to get $250,000 to pay for improvements. Repairs like these are among a nearly $2 billion infrastructure backlog citywide. A massive problem that's been growing in recent years. Rebuild San Diego was supposed to help but documents I news source reviewed show projections are far short of what Kersey and other backers, including mayor Kevin Faulconer and former mayor Jerry Sanders pitch to voters. So far, just $59 million in funding has been spent or budgeted. That's tens of millions of dollars below numbers provided in the voters guide at the time. Kersey acknowledged funding is down, but he still views the ballot measure as a success.

Speaker 2: 02:12 It's just putting a dent in the overall billion dollar plus problem. Uh, but it is real money. The

Speaker 1: 02:17 shortfalls come from the way the ballot measure was structured so far. No money has been available from sales tax revenues or pension savings. Some of course these critics say the plan was troubled from the get go. We are not going to generate three to $4 billion of revenue through this measure. Even though that was the promise. That's Cura Green executive director at the center on policy initiatives in San Diego. The nonprofit oppose the ballot measure. It's just clear that that is not going to happen and that it was based on mythical. Thinking about some of these sources of revenue along with the money shortage, there are timeline problems. By summer 2022 city finance officials estimate rebuild San Diego will run out of money. That's because the one piece of funding tied to property tax growth that's produced any money will sunset put simply the 25 year vision put forward by Kersey and others may have just a five year run.

Speaker 1: 03:12 Scott Barnett is president of San Diego taxpayer's advocate. He also opposed the ballot measure. Burnett says the numbers coming out now should concern voters. In his view, a tax increases the only real solution to San Diego's infrastructure problems. He says the money produced so far from the ballot measure is just budget dust, not enough to fully help the city. I mean ultimately it takes political leadership and there has not been as for what happens next, Kersey says it's too soon to say he hopes future mayors and city councils will be willing to find the money in the budget to fix the city's roads, sidewalks and buildings. And he says a followup ballot measure could be one approach. Kersey is considering a run for mayor in 2020 at the same time, voters will likely face yet another ballot measure to expand the convention center like rebuild San Diego. It promises new money for infrastructure improvements.

Speaker 1: 04:06 And joining me now is Mary plummer investigative reporter with our news partner I new source. Mary, welcome to the program. Thank you so much for having me. Politicians promised up to 4 billion for infrastructure fixes. Your finding show just $59 million has been spent or budgeted. Talk with us more about what exactly went wrong with this ballot measure. Rebuild San Diego was structured a to use existing city money for infrastructure improvements. It was not a tax increase. Uh, so essentially the funding methods that were built into the ballot measure have not delivered in the way that politicians hoped. Uh, it's a pretty complicated funding structure. The one bucket of money tied to property taxes that had delivered money so far will sunset by fiscal 2023 so that money will zero out. And then the other two pods depend on sales tax revenue and pension savings, which so far have not materialized at the levels needed to contribute funding for our pears.

Speaker 1: 05:02 So, uh, you know, given those realities, the city's finance department is projecting that money for rebuild San Diego, uh, will run out entirely. You mentioned sales tax revenue for the city of San Diego has been down and it's one of the reasons the ballot measure has missed its projections. How surprising is this? Uh, in my reporting, I took a look at a longer view of sales tax revenue in San Diego. And you know, when you look further back, what you see is that sales tax revenues dropped significantly during the great recession. They have recovered since then, but they dipped slightly since 2016. That's the year that rebuild San Diego went before voters. And it's that downward tick that has prevented sales tax revenue from Gore, uh, from going toward the ballot measure. Okay. So let's talk about what rebuild San Diego has accomplished so far. Is there a project list and where can San Diego residents go to track repairs in their neighborhoods?

Speaker 1: 05:57 Yes. So the project list, uh, was an interesting piece of this. A $59 million has so far been spent or budgeted under the ballot measure of that more than $25 million has gone toward road repairs, more than 9 million towards sidewalk improvements. Other work includes things like a security lighting at parks and bridge repairs. So certainly work has been done but on a much smaller scale than politicians like city councilman Mark Kersey who led the campaign pitch to voters. I, we did request a full project list from the mayor's office and we have published that list on our website. I knew I knew source.org this was not previously available to the public. You can have there to check out whether any work has been done in your neighborhood. And Mayor Kevin Faulkner has been very vocal about his desire to improve San Diego's infrastructure. How does rebuild San Diego fit into his administration's overall strategy?

Speaker 1: 06:50 That's true. You know, I should mention that rebuild San Diego essentially formalizes a practice that was in place prior to the ballot measure. Uh, the mayor had already dedicated funds toward infrastructure projects in a similar way. When voters approved rebuild, it required that practice, uh, to become part of the city's charter. But in the, in the bigger picture here, you know, rebuild San Diego is really just a tiny portion of the city's overall spending on infrastructure. Uh, to give you a sense, you know, San Diego has a capital improvement program. Essentially it's the master plan for construction projects across the city. Uh, this fiscal year funds from the ballot measure make up about three and a half percent of the city's nearly $711 million capital improvement program. So, you know, there's a whole lot more money that's spent citywide and a ballot measure to expand. The convention center is expected to go before voters during the March, 2020 elections.

Speaker 1: 07:44 If approved, that ballot measure would send some money towards street repairs. Is that likely to help? Uh, you know, it really depends on who you ask. Certainly it will devote some money toward repairs, but the money won't be available until fiscal year 2025. So a few years out and early projections reviewed by city officials show that the convention center ballot measure will likely devote under $10 million a year in the first few years towards street repairs. Um, you know, that's a very small amount, given that San Diego's current infrastructure backlog is estimated at nearly $2 billion. I've been speaking with Mary plummer, investigative reporter, with our media partner. I new source. Mary. Thanks. Thank you.

Speaker 3: 08:26 [inaudible].

Speaker 1: 00:00 There are only a handful of genuine American music legends who are still performing for audiences across the nation. And one of them is coming to San Diego this weekend. Singer Johnny Mathis brings his voice of Romance tour to Copley Symphony Hall. Mr. Mathis, who will be 84 at the end of this month, is marking his 63rd year as a recording artist. His hits create a dreamy soundtrack in American pop music and he's still making audiences

Speaker 2: 00:27 swoon. Oh my

Speaker 3: 00:33 [inaudible]

Speaker 4: 00:34 and a thousand mile in me again.

Speaker 3: 00:39 [inaudible]

Speaker 4: 00:40 or it might be the sound.

Speaker 2: 00:43 Hello.

Speaker 4: 00:49 Hi. I get missed the moment. [inaudible]

Speaker 1: 00:54 joining me is Johnny Mathis and Johnny, welcome to the program.

Speaker 5: 00:58 Well, bless your heart. Thank you so much.

Speaker 1: 01:00 Now your songs are such a part of so many people's Romances. I just wonder what kind of Fan Mail you get. What do people tell you your songs mean to them?

Speaker 5: 01:11 All the above. Yeah, it's, it's a wonderful, very gratifying feeling, I think because my dad signed, uh, my dad, my mom had seven kids. Uh, so my dad also was the first person that I listened to and I kind of emulated him. Uh, his whole style of singing was very relaxed and not too much pressure. Uh, and, uh, I think I kind of, uh, adapted that to, to my own kind of way of singing. Um, and it's, uh, it's been very gratifying for me. It's, it's, I was very lucky at a very young age. My Dad suggested voice lessons and we found a wonderful woman who, uh, taught me the fundamentals at an early age before my voice changed. And, uh, uh, I'm still able to, uh, sing anything that I want to and it, uh, very gratifying. And, uh, uh, I've, I've been very fortunate. I still sing and I still enjoy it.

Speaker 1: 02:16 Yeah. Huh. Do people tell you that they've fallen in love with, to your songs?

Speaker 5: 02:20 Oh yeah. I mean, that's so personal and you, you kind of take it to heart and just let it go at that.

Speaker 1: 02:31 How have you chosen your signature songs through the years? Like chances are, and it's not for me to say, what do you look for in a song?

Speaker 5: 02:39 I'm melody. Uh, that's the most important thing for me.

Speaker 2: 02:48 [inaudible]

Speaker 4: 02:49 silly question. The moment you called and to view those. Are you saying that,

Speaker 6: 03:02 uh, where do you,

Speaker 4: 03:08 she lost me.

Speaker 5: 03:10 Oh, a little words are important too. Everybody seems to listen to my voice and it just mentioned about how pretty it sounds. So I figured I'd better find a good melody.

Speaker 1: 03:24 Now your latest release, Johnny Mathis sings the new great American Song Book includes new songs like Pharell Williams.

Speaker 2: 03:31 Happy. [inaudible] happy bye. See you. [inaudible]

Speaker 1: 04:03 do you feel comfortable with today's music?

Speaker 5: 04:06 Well, uh, it's Kinda difficult to find, uh, music that, that I kind of adhere to, but I have, I have extraordinary library of, of, of recordings over the years that I've collected.

Speaker 4: 04:23 It's not for me to say

Speaker 2: 04:27 [inaudible] you

Speaker 6: 04:31 [inaudible]

Speaker 2: 04:35 [inaudible]

Speaker 4: 04:36 it's not for me.

Speaker 6: 04:40 You, hello?

Speaker 2: 04:47 [inaudible]

Speaker 5: 04:48 oh, and I listened to a lot of those. It gives me a confidence to know that somebody is listening to these particular songs, even though, um, they were written, you know, many, many years ago. Most of the young people nowadays, uh, are interested in the, uh, people of their age singing songs of their age. Um, I haven't found anything, I don't think as far as my own thinking gets concerned, um, to rival the songs that I grew up singing with. And that's sort of what I do. And some of the young people say, oh, that's a great song. I've never heard that song before. Of course not. You aren't born then.

Speaker 1: 05:34 Yeah. Tell me, after more than 60 years in show business, what do you get out of performing?

Speaker 5: 05:40 Oh, you, you get out of this wonderful visceral of a feeling of, of emotion. Uh, and it's a, it's kind of like having a, um, no, a captive audience at that you can express yourself too. And uh, it's a, it's a wonderful feeling to be able to do it. Uh, I'm very lucky, as I mentioned that before, that I still have the, uh, the capability vocally to, to sing anything that I really can imagine. And it's for all different occasions, uh, and it's, uh, uh, I have no idea why it happened or how it happened. It's just that all of the necessary things, uh, vocally from the time I was a little kid, uh, went into place. And, uh, I owe a lot of it, of course, to my dad and all these wonderful voice teachers that I had over the use.

Speaker 1: 06:43 Well, as I said, you'll be bringing the voice of Romance tour to San Diego this Sunday. You'll be performing at the Jacobs Music Center, Copley Symphony Hall on Sunday evening. Johnny Mathis, thank you so much for speaking with us.

Speaker 7: 06:56 Oh, bless your heart. Thank you so much. Nice to talk to you. [inaudible] we stuck beneath and [inaudible] moments some days soon. [inaudible] [inaudible] tomorrow was another day. The morning found me miles away with still a million things to say, hey, [inaudible] wouldn't twilight then was a sky Oba. Rick calling one [inaudible] [inaudible].

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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.