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Trump’s Phone Call With Ukraine President, Cracking Down On Street Vendors And San Diego Airport Goes Carbon Neutral

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As the crescendo for impeachment intensifies amid the release of a memorandum of President Donald Trump’s call with Ukraine’s president, a former federal prosecutor who’s been involved in impeachment proceedings weighs in. Street vendors are seemingly all over San Diego but city leaders are thinking about cracking down on where they can operate. And San Diego International is now the second major airport in the nation certified as carbon neutral.

Show transcript

Speaker 1: 00:00 This is KPBS midday edition. I'm worrying Kavanaugh. The formal impeachment inquiry launched by the house of representatives into president Trump's conduct is by any measure historic. Only two presidents have been impeached. Neither one was removed from office, but not only presidents can be impeached. The constitution says all civil officers of the United States can face impeachment for high crimes and misdemeanors. My next guest, Pamela Naughton is one of the rare federal prosecutors who have taken part in an impeachment proceeding. She served as associate special counsel in the impeachment of chief judge Walter Nixon in 1989 Pamela Naughton is now a partner with DLA Piper global law firm and Pamela, welcome to the program.

Speaker 2: 00:46 Thank you very much. Marine.

Speaker 1: 00:47 Can I ask your reaction? Not in a partisan way, but as a former prosecutor to the speaker's decision to launch impeachment hearings?

Speaker 2: 00:55 Yes. It was not a necessary step. I think people need to understand that the committee itself was on its way to conducting an impeachment inquiry, but it was a significant step, I think politically in terms of gathering momentum from the caucus, uh, to move forward and to also coordinate the six committees that had been looking at these issues

Speaker 1: 01:20 is impeachment in general. Would you say more political than legal?

Speaker 2: 01:23 Yes, it's totally a political question. The us Supreme court decided that actually in our case, Nixon V U S in which a judge Nixon attempted to challenge his removal from office by saying the Senate did not conduct a proper trial and the us Supreme court ruled that that was not a, just a shareable question that they did not have jurisdiction over impeachment. So it is a completely political question and the eyes of the Supreme court.

Speaker 1: 01:53 Well, what does an impeachment inquiry consist of? How is an inquiry like that conducted?

Speaker 2: 02:00 Everyone is different. There are no standard rules. Typically they have started in the judiciary committee. Typically the chairman would assign it to a subcommittee and then a subcommittee does the investigation reports to the full committee. Full committee votes on the articles and then sent to the house floor.

Speaker 1: 02:19 Everyone always questions what the term high crimes and misdemeanors actually means. Now you were assistant special counsel in the judge Nixon impeachment. What kinds of evidence did you feel Rose to that standard?

Speaker 2: 02:32 Our case was actually very unique in that there was a judge who had actually been convicted of a criminal offense of perjury in the grand jury and was serving a five year sentence in prison. So there was really no question that he had committed a crime. But in the 19 prior impeachments that have been conducted in our country, that's of both presidents and judges, nearly none of them had been convicted, actually convicted of a crime. I think judge Clayborne had been and judge Nixon. It's been rare that someone's actually been committed to crime, high crimes and misdemeanors. The term misdemeanor doesn't mean jaywalking or like a minor offense. It means misdemeanor. It means failure to act appropriately in your office. It was a substitute word for maladministration. So judges have been impeached for things like mental illness, drunkenness, going way beyond their authorized bounds and ordering litigants to do certain things. It's not essential, nor is it necessary for anyone to prove that the office holder has committed any kind of crime under the, uh, penal code

Speaker 1: 03:49 is the impeachment process for let's say, a judge different from the process of impeaching a president,

Speaker 2: 03:55 not necessarily. Again, each impeachment has its own set of rules and will be conducted the way that house of Congress wants to conduct it. That goes for the trial in the Senate and it also goes for the proceedings in the house of representatives. Uh, it's not even essential that the DJ judiciary committee report out the articles of impeachment, but that's been the tradition

Speaker 1: 04:20 in the case of the Trump impeachment inquiry. Is it your sense that the house will be investigating more than the phone call made to Ukraine's president?

Speaker 2: 04:30 Yes, absolutely. And you see that because a speaker Pelosi assigned the investigation to all six of the, uh, of the committees that are currently looking at it. In other words, there is way more than just the phone call in terms of the complaint filed about the whistleblower, but the complaint file by the whistleblower may raise a number of questions that have to do with foreign relations, intelligence and other issues. If for instance, it may have been unlawful to have impounded the funds in the first place by OMB, there's no apparent authority for OMB to have a pounded the fund, so they need to look at all of those things.

Speaker 1: 05:10 No. You know, as a person who's been so deeply involved in the PR in this process, what are you looking for? What kind of information do you think will be revealed?

Speaker 2: 05:20 Oh, I'm looking for a lot of things. For one thing, there are conversations with Vladimir Putin right after the call was the Lensky. I would like to know what that call was about. It wasn't about forest fires only and that would be one of the areas of inquiry I would have because of course it was in Putin's interest not to have that military aid sent to the Ukraine. I would be looking at the actual timeline of when those funds were impounded by OMB and what authority OMB had to do that in what direction O and B was taking and from home and for what I would also be looking at, um, according to reports today and the, the memorandum transcript that was made public today, that attorney general bar was involved, uh, along with Rudy Giuliani and in trying to get the Ukraine to, uh, somehow to, to do this investigation of, uh, Biden and his son. That involvement by the attorney general and the department of justice should also be looked at by the judiciary committee.

Speaker 1: 06:31 What do you expect to be the timeframe for this process?

Speaker 2: 06:34 If it's just based on the Ukraine situation, I would expect that they could do that in a fairly short period of time, particularly if they forgo some recesses and have hold some hearings very fairly quickly. Chairman Schiff indicated that they would be ready to proceed very quickly along those lines. If they did all the investigations and intelligence committee on this issue and then sent it over to the full judiciary committee, that full judiciary committee would not have to hold hearings. They could just vote on it and then send the articles to the floor. But I think one of the other articles they are thinking of doing is making it an a pitchable fence simply to fail to respond to congressional subpoenas, failed to produce documents as all part of an obstruction of a congressional investigation. If that's an article of impeachment as well. That may take a little bit more time, uh, in terms of marshaling that evidence,

Speaker 1: 07:37 what would a Senate trial be like? What would have to happen for the president to actually be removed from office?

Speaker 2: 07:43 Well, a trial would have to be held. Uh, this, the senators comprised the jury. The president would essentially be a defendant in the trial, would get his own counsel and get time to present his own evidence. Um, hearsay's allowable generally in an impeachment hearing. Each impeachment has its own set of rules, but typically impeachments, I mean, excuse me, hearsay, it would be allowed. It's not like a court trial where rules of evidence apply. Uh, then closing arguments are delivered and then the Senate vote and if the Senate votes by two thirds to remove the president from office, he is thereby removed at the conclusion of the vote. And the vice president is sworn in as president,

Speaker 1: 08:31 I've been speaking with former federal prosecutor of Pamela Naughton, now a partner with DLA Piper global law firm. Pamela, thank you so much.

Speaker 2: 08:39 You're very welcome. Right.

Speaker 3: 08:43 [inaudible]

Speaker 1: 08:47 you may have noticed more street vendors around San Diego this year. That's because there are currently no local restrictions on them. But reporter Prius Schriefer reports that San Diego is now considering cracking down

Speaker 4: 09:01 due to Louie Sierra and his friends have been selling jewelry and artwork on the pathway in front of ocean beach for years.

Speaker 5: 09:09 People come here to vacate, to have fun, to escape. And um, there's a lot of tourism here. People just really love when when things are handmade, but most of the time he's been selling his natural stone jewelry. He's technically been committing a misdemeanor to way of life, so whether it's illegal or not, if I can do it with an a means where I'm going to still be able to feed myself and those around me at night. It has to be done. Now with state law

Speaker 4: 09:40 went into effect. January 1st has decriminalized street fending. The idea is to foster entrepreneurship. For now, cities across California are scrambling to create some regulations that will conform to the new state law. Robert VACCA is the deputy chief operating officer with the city of San Diego. He says, cities have to manage issues from vendors who may dump trash or block access to bathrooms or bus stop.

Speaker 5: 10:07 So in high traffic areas you're going to be limited as to what you can do for vending. In the lower traffic areas, there's a lesser restrictions.

Speaker 4: 10:16 He says vendors will be more restricted on crowded sidewalks like in the Gaslamp district or the boardwalks in mission beach and LA Hoya vendors who break rules. Now we'll receive tickets ranging from 100 to $500 instead of criminal charges.

Speaker 5: 10:33 It's all about a balance. Um, you have to balance the health and safety of the whole versus the opportunities for the individuals. Uh, and I think that's what we're trying to do.

Speaker 4: 10:42 For instance, vac, he says, instead of requiring aspiring business owners to pay for high insurance starting out, the city is decreasing their liability by limiting where they can operate. Sarah Burns heads up the business improvement district for Pacific beach. She says her organization, along with most of the merchant associations across San Diego, are supporting the proposed regulations.

Speaker 1: 11:06 I mean, I think of course you want to be cautious if you own a coffee shop and now someone's allowed to open a coffee shop right outside your door. Um, of course there's going to be concern and questions with that.

Speaker 4: 11:14 But the new law says any city regulations can't be to stifle competition. They can only focus on public health and safety.

Speaker 1: 11:23 We didn't start on the sidewalk, but we started at, you know, like I said, farmer's market street fairs.

Speaker 4: 11:28 Bernard LeBel is the owner of California sock company.

Speaker 1: 11:30 We fit 500 styles in 10 feet by 10 feet.

Speaker 4: 11:33 He started out as a street vendor in San Diego at farmer's markets and has now moved on to own two stores in Pacific beach and at the fashion Valley mall. While he has personally seen the business benefits of starting small, he also thinks that vendors should have the same rules as brick and mortar store owners.

Speaker 1: 11:50 I would like everybody to have and have to pay the same taxation

Speaker 6: 11:54 as everybody else. Same permits, same permitting process, same taxation, a brick and mortar versus street vendor.

Speaker 4: 12:00 The new regulations will require street vendors to get a $30 permit once a year. They will also have to remain within a certain distance of various intersections and loading zones, comply with hours of operations in parks and pushcarts can't be larger than six by four feet. Food vendors would also have to get a County health permit. But many street vendors like Ryan Gilmore say they haven't really been part of the discussion about new regulations and they're not even sure where to find the information on the rules. They would have to follow.

Speaker 5: 12:31 There's really no current, um, public information for street vendors. You know, the only way you're going to know is if they come up to you and start to tell you to take your stuff down.

Speaker 4: 12:43 The proposed regulations are set to be heard by city council in October. Many vendors think they shouldn't be heavily restricted. Being out here is what brings people to OB. It's not just the beach, it's an atmosphere. It's a people. It's a way of life. Lucky for Luis, he can keep that way of life because OB is not on the list of places for vendor crackdowns.

Speaker 1: 13:07 Joining me is KPBS reporter, Priya [inaudible] and prio welcome. Thanks. Now where are the other neighborhoods around this city that are not part of the proposed street vendor crackdown?

Speaker 7: 13:18 So I think it's actually easier to talk about it in the context of where they are cracking down because most of the city actually will not be subject to these rules because really what they're trying to do is create safety. So they're focusing on heavily trafficked sidewalks. So as I mentioned in the story, mission beach and LA Jolla shores boardwalks um, they won't be allowed there. They're going to be prohibited within 500 feet of the convention center during conventions. I'm also at sunset cliffs, natural park and places like that. So essentially wherever you would think in San Diego where there's lots of tourists or people walking around, they're not going to be allowed there. But the rest of San Diego is fair game. But you might want to ask yourself, if you're a street vendor, why you would go hang around in a neighborhood where there's not a lot of people walking around.

Speaker 1: 14:03 Right. Yeah. I was actually surprised to hear that the state decriminalized street vending. What led to that?

Speaker 7: 14:10 Right. So this was kind of interesting and I guess it stemmed from, um, a lot of incidents in Los Angeles where, um, street vendors were getting criminal misdemeanors for, uh, vending and, and a lot of immigrant advocacy groups were saying that these were unfairly targeting immigrant aspiring business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs and minorities. Because for a lot of people, this was a more manageable way of starting a small business. So essentially a, the state of California decided, you know what, maybe there's something to that and we shouldn't be issuing a criminal charges to these people who are just trying to make a living and perhaps live the American dream. So instead they've switched over to now administrative citations. So it's kind of like getting a parking ticket or something like that.

Speaker 1: 14:55 So right now, street vendors in San Diego cannot be charged wherever they are, is that right? But they can't get ticketed.

Speaker 7: 15:01 So actually right now they can't even get ticketed because this new state law went into effect on January 1st. So right now they can't be ticketed. But that's exactly what this proposal is aiming to do, is to create those regulations. And there it's going to be heard before city council in October. And then if it does pass, then yes you could get tickets anywhere from a hundred to $500. But it's also one of those things where a lot of people might ask, how the heck is this going to be in forest? Because does the city even have resources to be going after street vendors? And essentially what they said was that they're going to be getting complaints from people or perhaps business owners in the area if they feel as though there are a lot of street vendors who are impeding in their neighborhood. And then if they feel as though they're getting multiple complaints about a certain area, then they will send, um, I believe it's code enforcement officers out there to kind of investigate.

Speaker 1: 15:53 Did you find out how much money's street vendors are able to take in daily or weekly or what do they make?

Speaker 7: 15:59 Um, according to some advocacy group websites that I was able to find, it can range anywhere from 14 to $16,000. And obviously some are probably making greatly below that number depending on what they're selling. The ones that you saw in my story, um, they were selling jewelry on ocean beach, so I can't imagine that they would be making astronomical amounts of money, but they did say that they were making enough to scrape by and make a living and that they were hoping to one day have it be more of a, you know, business where they could, could support themselves fully

Speaker 1: 16:31 the news, a new state law for bids, local restrictions on vendors that would stifle competition. So the scenario that you mentioned in your report, our coffee card opening outside of a coffee shop could be allowed.

Speaker 7: 16:45 It could be allowed. Yes. And it's, so one of the interesting things that I learned about when I interviewed the director of discover Pacific beach, which is the business improvement district for Pacific beach, was she was saying that as it currently stands, business owners in brick and mortar stores are actually liable for the sidewalk. So they're liable for a certain distance between their store and the road. So that was one of the things that a lot of these merchant associations were worried about was that if these street vendors start hanging around on the sidewalks in front of these businesses and someone happens to trip over them or something happens, who's responsible, is it going to be that business owner? So that's one of the things that needs to sort of be straightened out once this, uh, proposal makes it its way through city council

Speaker 1: 17:33 would, San Diego's proposed new regulations on street vendors, re criminalize certain things that they might do.

Speaker 7: 17:39 So it wouldn't be criminal charges, it would be administrative charges. So this isn't something that would go on somebody's record and you would then have to perhaps report to an employer in the future. And really what they want to do, what the city and the state of California is saying is they want to promote entrepreneurship. And that's why even the permit that the street vendors would have to get eventually through the treasurer, the city treasurer's office is, um, according to them, very reasonable. It's only $50 a year. And so, um, they're saying they're trying to eliminate hurdles to people who really want to just make a living. Why haven't street vendors been part of the discussion about these new regulations? Yeah, it's really fascinating and I think perhaps in other cities where there's more of a street vendor culture, um, because they've existed for longer periods of time, like New York or you know, even Washington D C they actually have banded together and created associations so that they do have some sort of lobbying power. But here in San Diego, because they were illegal for so long and you could get a criminal charge if you were street vending, um, there hasn't really been an organized movement. And so as you heard from the people in my story, a lot of times they don't understand what the rules are unless law enforcement comes up to them and says, Hey, you're doing something wrong. So, uh, they haven't created an association yet. Perhaps that's something that's in the works given the fact that this is being discussed right now. So we'll have to see.

Speaker 8: 19:05 I've been speaking with KPBS reporter, Priya Sharif R. thank you so much. Thank you. The San Diego international airport has met a climate change challenge by earning a carbon neutral rating known as level three. Plus. The ranking means the airport has achieved the difficult task of absorbing the same amount of carbon dioxide as it produces. In fact, San Diego international airport is only the second airport in North America to receive this rating. Joining me is Brendan Reed, director of planning and environmental affairs for the San Diego international airport. Brendan, welcome. Thank you for having me. So what does it mean to achieve this carbon neutral rating?

Speaker 9: 19:48 Well, the program is called the airport carbon accreditation program. It started about five years ago in North America and it really has created this useful framework for airports to better track, manage and ultimately reduce their emissions. And when you join the program, you kind of move up to different levels, the more, um, milestones that you're able to achieve. So we were able very fortunate this year to achieve the highest milestone, which means that we are reducing emissions under our direct control, uh, influencing others on site that also, um, emit greenhouse gas emissions. Like airlines, ground transportation operators and helping them reduce their emissions. And then as you mentioned, we've offset a residual emissions to be carbon neutral. So,

Speaker 8: 20:32 and in plain terms, what exactly did you have to do to get this rating?

Speaker 9: 20:38 Yeah, and it's been a multi year effort. It started in 2016 we did a really robust greenhouse gas emissions inventory. It sounds very technical, but we had to get a better understanding of well what were the sources of carbon on our airport site, who controlled them. Again, there were certain emissions that we have direct control of and then there's certain emissions that we can only influence and it just changes kind of your approach to addressing those emissions depending on that. Um, and so we did that. We've also implemented a number of policies and programs to, again, reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Speaker 8: 21:13 So will passengers notice anything different?

Speaker 9: 21:16 You know, hopefully they know when they're traveling through the sustainable, uh, the San Diego international airport that is a very sustainable airport. And I think, um, this accreditation level, um, is another significant milestone and step to demonstrate that. So just like we hope that they're proud, that it's a beautiful facility and it's efficient and uncomfortable. I think we hope that passengers and community members also take pride in all of the accomplishments we have add.

Speaker 8: 21:41 So there's not necessarily any change in how passengers will travel or how long planes might be taxing or things like that.

Speaker 9: 21:50 Um, well some of that could come into the future actually is part of our airport development plan. We're looking at ways a part of the project is to improve airfield efficiency kinda to your point. But as of now you might see things like more electric vehicle chargers and our parking lots. Hopefully you'll see more led lighting inside the terminal and, and those type of, uh, improvements

Speaker 8: 22:10 as part of this rating. The airport worked with Uber and Lyft too. What did that entail?

Speaker 9: 22:15 Yeah, so that was actually one of the ways that we were able to achieve this milestone. Um, as I mentioned, we need to be able to demonstrate that we're influencing those other third parties to reduce their emissions on site. So we worked with those rideshare companies to create a really novel program. We're only one of two airports in North America that has a program where those ride share companies actually have to demonstrate that there is a employing different techniques, maybe more fuel efficient cars or more carpooling to reduce their emissions intensity. And we've had great success with that.

Speaker 8: 22:49 And the airport also spent a lot of money on a new parking garage, encouraging trips to the airport by a car. How does that fit in with the effort to reduce your carbon footprint?

Speaker 9: 22:58 Well, it certainly is the broader, um, approach to ground access to the airport. So, uh, one thing that maybe people don't necessary think of when they think about parking is um, for someone to come and park at the airport. Uh, it's actually fewer trips than having someone get dropped off by a loved one and then that person goes back home and then they come back to pick you up. Uh, and they're probably frustrated. Um, so actually by having just the right amount of onsite parking, we actually are able to reduce that trip amount. That being said, we are working very diligently to improve, uh, other options. So again, we talked about ride share companies and having them have lower trips, if you will, and lower emissions. We're also doing a lot to improve transit service to the airport in the short term and longterm. And, and one of the just of the exciting things I'll mention is that in the new year we'll actually be starting a new all electric shell shuttle service for transit riders from old town transit center.

Speaker 8: 23:53 Oh. And, and you know, part of, of receiving this rating has to do with the airport's good traveler program too. Can you tell us about that?

Speaker 9: 24:00 Yeah, that the good traveler program, uh, started at San Diego international airport a few years ago and we were trying to find a really convenient, affordable, a way for passengers who are interested in offsetting the impact of their flights, um, to buy carbon offsets and carbon offsets or where you're basically investing in a project off site to reduce emissions. So that program started at San Diego. It actually has since expanded nationally and is in over 13 airports in the U S um, and again, it's just another way, another tool in the toolbox where we're trying to reduce the overall emissions from the airport.

Speaker 8: 24:38 Did the airport have to work with airlines to get this rating?

Speaker 9: 24:42 Um, yeah. Airlines are actually a huge part of our STO stakeholder engagement efforts. Um, I'd also first I think I'd want to acknowledge they're doing a lot at the international level, uh, when it comes to, uh, aircraft designed fuel efficiency, but at the local level, they've really helped us convert their ground support equipment. Uh, so this is the equipment that's driving around the aircraft, pushback, tugs, baggage carts. Um, they've helped by converting, um, their fleet to electric and, and alternative fuels. So there are about 30% now a low carbon, but in the next five years that should go up to around 90%. So there are a huge part of this

Speaker 8: 25:21 and you know, ultimately how much control does the airport have over how airlines operate their planes. Um, and, and particularly while they're on the ground.

Speaker 9: 25:29 Yeah. Um, you know, we really have very little direct control, um, because of different federal and international rules. That being said, for that part that we can influence, we take that very seriously. So one thing that we've done is that all of our Gates have, um, something called preconditioned air and ground power. And what that essentially means is that when the aircraft are parked at the Gates, they actually can plug into our buildings, utilities. Uh, and that's a lot cleaner than built burning jet fuel. And to coupled on that, we've actually been able to increase our renewable electricity at the airport to 85%. So that means when those aircraft are parked, they're using 85% renewable electricity. So again, to your point, when they're on the ground, we can do things to positively influence their emissions.

Speaker 8: 26:18 And there's been a lot of news lately about how much airplanes pollute while a law. Is there anything this or any other airport can do to mitigate that?

Speaker 9: 26:27 Yeah, I mean, this is one of the ways where we're partnering with them. Um, one of the probably longterm strategies that has clearly the best benefit in the long run is, um, biofuel for aircraft, just like we've moved to renewable for, for trucks. Um, there's a push to have more what we call sustainable aviation fuels. So actually over the last year, the airport authority, um, and airlines and others actually worked with the state of California to include sustainable aviation fuel to the low carbon fuel standard. And that's important because there's not a real supply of that fuel locally now. And so the idea is that low carbon fuel standard will actually incentivize more production of that, um, lower carbon fuel in the state. So it's those type of things that I think we can still make a positive influence on.

Speaker 8: 27:16 I've been speaking with Brendan Reed, director of planning and environmental affairs for the San Diego international airport. Brendan, thank you so much. Thank you for having me. Andrew are listening to KPBS mid day edition.

Speaker 10: 27:42 [inaudible].

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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.