AB 5 Court Ruling, Trump’s ‘Public Charge’ Goes Into Effect, San Diego Man Free After Change In Felony Murder Law, County Homelessness Plan, And Ken Cinema’s Future Uncertain
Speaker 1: 00:01 Instacart comes up against AB five and the impact of the new public charge policy. I'm Mark Sauer for Jade Hindman. I'm Maureen Cavenaugh. This is KPBS mid day edition. Speaker 1: 00:23 It's Wednesday, February 26th Instacart, the shopping app that provides personal shoppers for grocery pickup and home delivery has run into trouble with California's new AB five labor law. The company announced Tuesday that it will appeal a ruling by a San Diego judge that people who work for the company should be reclassified from independent contractors to employees. The city of San Diego sued the company claiming it was in violation of the new law and that it owed employees back wages and owed state and federal payroll taxes. This is one of the first legal battles over a B five which has rocked the gig economy and parts of the freelance employment world. Joining me is San Diego union Tribune business reporter Brittany miling and Brittany, welcome. Thanks for having me. San Diego. Judge Timothy Taylor's ruling is from a case brought by San Diego city attorney Mara Elliot last September. What was the city asking for? They were alleging that the workers should be classified as employees instead of contractors. Speaker 1: 01:27 And as such, they should be retroactively given lost compensation. Um, you know, think for things like meal breaks that they had not been given insurance. They also alleged that Instacart, um, had evaded payroll taxes to the state and federal government. How do the terms of working for Instacart line up with the rules of employment according to AB five? So Instacart operates kind of similarly to Uber. Like I think of the shoppers as like the, the Uber of the grocery delivery company. And so these are gig economy workers. They're not, they have for a long time, not been considered, um, employees. Um, and so they, they actually though they don't pass this new kind of new three factor test, uh, as the definition of a contractor. And so that's what this case was kind of sitting on is the judge saying, um, if this case were to go to trial, Instacart's not going to be able to prove that these shoppers are actually contractors. Speaker 1: 02:23 And so, you know, we're going to go ahead and put this injunction in place. Now, what does Instacart say about how designating hit its workers as employees instead of independent contractors? How do they say it would affect the company? Um, they're, they're saying that this is very serious for the livelihood of the company. Very expensive because not only do they have to make tens of thousands of you shoppers here in California, part time employees, but they have to set up a lot of infrastructure around that. That's not just management, but we're also talking about a lot of new software because right now the app is meant for the gig economy workers. There's going to be a lot of new needed for Instacart to make these shoppers now part time employees. So they're actually saying like, this could, this could sink us, you know, if we have to reclassify all these workers, even though the judge ruled in the city's favor, his ruling seemed to express some skepticism about AB five. Speaker 1: 03:15 Isn't that right? That's right. He kind of makes the point that, um, this is how the law reads. And so, yes, these workers are not, um, you know, they're not contractors. However he, he kind of addresses that there are a lot of people who are not sure about the wisdom of this law as it's written. And if the, if the city gets what it wants, then the workers may not actually get what they want, which is this company might go out of business, they're not going to get their lost wages because they're going to be drowning from creditors and bankruptcy and who knows what. And the state is also not going to get their payroll taxes. So he's kind of makes the point that this is a bit of a lose, lose situation. And Instacart says it will appeal the ruling. But didn't the judge almost invite them to do that? Speaker 1: 04:04 He did, yeah. And he kind of said he kind of wanted to urge the court of appeals to, to figure this out because there's a lot of cases cropping up and so he's kind of saying, you know, it'd be really great if this could get sped along so that companies and really have a better idea of what is being asked of them moving forward. Now judge Taylor issued an injunction against Instacart, but it's not the kind of injunction that brings Instacart's operations to a halt. Right? It's actually, it was a bit confusing for me. Um, the injunction doesn't actually force any action really. It's kind of like a, it's like a warning saying, okay, if this proceeds to trial, you're probably going to lose. You might, as, you know, you should be stopping classifying your workers as contractors now. Um, but it's not the kind of mandatory injunction which would actually force some payments happening from Instacart. Speaker 1: 04:56 The judge said, you know, I don't want to be responsible for overseeing all of that. And so, you know, he basically said, we don't have the resources to do that. And I also kind of don't want to do that. And so this was kind of just like a, like a warning. What does a three factor test for, uh, independent contractors or employees? And so they're calling it the ABC test. And it's kind of interesting cause you, you don't wanna just have to satisfy one of these three factors. You have to satisfy all of them to be considered a contractor. Um, and so you have to be doing work that is outside the core of the business, which, you know, for Uber and Instacart you can't really make that argument. There are absolutely core to the business and then they have to have an independent trade or business. Speaker 1: 05:38 So I think of that as like, you know, a plumber who comes in and fix the sink at Instacart, that's a contractor. He's got an independent business, but the shopper's not so much and they have to be free from the control of the company. And so the judge is making the point that it's very likely that Instacart is not going to meet, um, one or two, possibly even three of those factors. This ruling comes as assembly woman Lorena Gonzalez is tweaking AB five after getting an really an avalanche of pushback from freelance workers throughout the state. Will this ruling have any effect on that process so far? You know, like the judge says in his injunction, all three, um, you know, sections of government have spoken on this issue. We had Dynamex with the Supreme court. Then we had the legislature, you know, put forth AB five and then the governor signed it. And so at this point he's kind of saying there's not a lot of wiggle room here. Okay. I've been speaking with San Diego union Tribune reporter Brittany miling and thank you. Thank you. Speaker 2: 06:38 A new rule with potentially profound effects on immigrant families went into effect on Monday. The Trump administration was successful in getting the five conservative Supreme court judges to clear its public charge rule over a rare and quite strident descend from liberals including justice Sonia Sotomayor. Joining me is KPBS border and immigration reporter max Rivlin Adler. Well, max, start with what exactly the public charge rule says Speaker 3: 07:06 the public charge rule provision dates back to at least the, uh, immigration act of 1882. So it's, it's fairly deeply rooted in American immigration policy and it was amended in 1996 under the Clinton administration when there was comprehensive immigration reform to make America a lot more restrictionist and its immigration policies. The idea being that, you know, it was aimed to, uh, restrict people from getting green cards who would be primarily dependent on government, uh, than you know, anybody else who would be coming. So it'd be people who would immediately register for government programs and that would be their only source of income. Speaker 2: 07:48 All right? In this change compared with what the situation was until uh, til just now, Speaker 3: 07:53 right? The change that's happening under the Trump administration is taking people who would be primarily dependent on, uh, the government. So over 50% not having a job, not having any outside income, to being more likely to be dependent. So that could mean things like, you don't even have to be enrolled in the programs, but you could, you know, not have a steady income. You could be working off the books like a lot of individuals are. You could be, um, having a, a brief moment of joblessness. So all of these things will be taken into consideration and this will impact how many people sign up for things like food benefits, housing vouchers, and Medicaid. So vital things that people need, that the government does offer in some instances to undocumented individuals and people trying to normalize their status and get a green card will no longer be something that people will be trying to pursue. Speaker 2: 08:44 No, I know children in the United States without documents are eligible for a medical, not adults. Is that right? Speaker 3: 08:50 So only in a few States. California is one of the few States with along with Washington DC, a few other States that has expanded its Medicaid program. And in California we have that as Medi-Cal to impact a young people. People under 18 actually in fact this year was extended all the way to 26 who are undocumented. Um, on top of that, California is now even going further and providing these, this resource for older individuals. But the idea that people, especially young people will be now held back from the rolls out of fear of no longer being able to get status in the country will have a huge impact going forward on not only their health outcomes, but the amount of, uh, of federal funding that the state of California will get. Speaker 2: 09:34 And that gets to the fears that many immigrant families have regarding impacts, should they and their children utilize supports or, Speaker 3: 09:41 right. Let's just say you have a mixed status family, right? So let's say you do have U S citizen kids or kids with a green card, but you're the parent is undocumented, the aunt, the uncle, the grandparent. Because the way the public charge rule could be applied would be, um, not in a necessarily narrowly just to that one individual, but to the family as a whole. I think you're going to see, and this is what advocates are really fearful of, is that families holding people back who are under no threat of having their status changed from these vital programs that provide them with things that are necessary such as food. Speaker 2: 10:17 And even before the new rule went into effect, medical enrollments on 11% decrease, uh, among, uh, undocumented children in the, uh, in the County. Talk to us about the impact of that. Speaker 3: 10:28 So that was in San Diego County and it was just over 600 children left the roles between January, 2020 and January, 2019. You know, it is really tough to game out exactly what drives these decreased enrollment. We can't say it's necessarily related to the public charge rule, but again, you know, it obviously plays a role in the grand scheme of things just because the numbers are so low. Then an 11% decrease is not that many children, but it's, it's still obviously a big deal to all of those kids. I spoke with Alma [inaudible], she's an attorney at the California immigrant policy center and she'd spoke about what kind of impact, you know, this decreased enrollment and Medi-Cal will have on federal funding for California in general. Speaker 1: 11:11 You know, per our estimates here, looking at higher medical costs for families, but also approximately $510 million lost in federal funding to the state of California. Speaker 2: 11:21 And a similar decrease has been seen in the Cal fresh program as well. Isn't that right? Speaker 3: 11:26 Yes, but it's, it's gone down around 10% but undocumented children are not eligible for CalFresh because that's a federal program, a much like Medi-Cal, but the way it's dispersed is different still. As I was saying before, you do have these mixed status families, so somebody who might be eligible, who might already have a green card legal residency, who might even be a citizen because of fears for their parents or another adult in the household. They might be being held back from these. And the question becomes how are they going to, how are they going to feed themselves Speaker 2: 11:57 and are there other public services that are being looked at under the public charge rule? Speaker 3: 12:02 Yeah, so we're really interested in looking out over the next few months how this is actually going to be applied. We obviously just went into effect on Monday. No determinations have been made. We don't know how the government is going to apply this, but it could impact things such as housing vouchers, section eight housing vouchers. So you know, not only would this kind of impact how people feed and get themselves healthcare, but also could possibly exacerbate California's housing crisis. Speaker 2: 12:28 Well, as I said in the open a justice Sonia Sotomayor had a really unusual and a pretty riveting descent that made a lot of news this week. Tell us about that. Speaker 3: 12:38 Unlike a normal Supreme court argument that we're used to where lawyers from the government and the plaintiffs get up and there's a large amount of deliberations and exhibits are given and arguments and you have these kind of months pass before a decision is made. This was a ruling on an injunction. This was to stay an injunction from a lower court. So basically what soda Mario was pointing out was that there have been a string of decisions that have been stayed by, you know, a string of Trump administration rules regarding immigration that the Supreme court has kind of allowed to go into effect without necessarily seeing what the impact might be. Right? We have injunctions in these lower courts because courts can say, we're going to put a hold on this policy until we find out or till we figure out what kind of impact this will have to make sure that we're not putting something into practice that will have an impact on people in a way that you know is illegal. Uh, instead the Supreme court has said, we're going to go along with this and then we'll revisit this issue and do those arguments. But in the meantime, these types of policies will be able to go into effect and this has happened and things like the third country asylum ban, um, there's a few other cases that are winding their way to the Supreme court. Again, not at the kind of this merits argument phase, but instead ruling on the injunction itself Speaker 2: 13:57 and uh, they're talking about this incense of a, that it's an emergency, we have to do this right now. And her whole point is this isn't an emergency. You're simply helping the administration out. Speaker 3: 14:07 Right? So her argument is why are we weighing in on these injunctions before we've had an opportunity to be fully briefed to have these long arguments. And instead what you're doing is you are under the emergency pretense able to push these policies into practice. And if you're somebody like Sotomayor on the Supreme court, that's kind of a big problem, right? Because if you can justify everything happening under an emergency, where does that end? Speaker 2: 14:30 Well, I'm in speaking with KPBS reporter max Riverland Adler. Thanks very much max. Thanks. The 2020 March primary election is just days away and a superior judicial candidate is causing an uproar. It has to do with Sean McMillan's Facebook posts, which among other things are racially charged, carry anti-immigrant themes and ridicule gender identity. Speaker 4: 15:04 Realistically, it's a mechanical issue. How many genders are there? Speaker 2: 15:07 Well, that's McMillan and an interview with KPBS last week. He says, had he known he was running for judge, he likely wouldn't have shared the post. Speaker 4: 15:16 It's, I might've been like all the other candidates and kept all my views secret hidden from everybody. So you're all guessing what I really think. Speaker 2: 15:23 KPBS reporter Amika Scharmer recently spoke to California Western school of law is professor Ameritas Jan Stiglitz about McMillan and why judicial races matter. Speaker 5: 15:34 San Diego superior court judicial candidate Sean McMillan has shared controversial posts on his Facebook page. One advocates arming all Americans and other States. President Trump replaced a racist president referring to former president Barack Obama. So another suggests stopping welfare to illegal immigrants as a way to get them to deport themselves. And one shows pictures of Monica Lewinsky, former NFL player Colin Kaepernick and us Senator Kamala Harris, along with the caption when nobody knew who you were until you got on your knees. Political candidates make incendiary comments all the time. But what about judicial candidates? Should they? Speaker 6: 16:18 No, except that it gives you a window into who they are and actually exposes why they are unqualified to be on the bench. What you need in a politician, an elected representative, is a point of view. Isn't agenda is a plan for policy change? You don't want that in a judge. A judge is supposed to be neutral. A judge is not supposed to be prejudice. A judge is supposed to have an open mind and treat people with respect. And when someone walks into a judge's courtroom, they want to know that the judge has not prejudged them or prejudged the issue they're bringing before the court. So when you have a candidate like this who makes a comment about there are only two genders who may never have had a case involving gender discrimination and seeing research and science on it, that judge is not perceived as coming in with an open mind and we want judges to be both fair and perceived as fair. Speaker 5: 17:31 The San Diego County bar association judged McMillan to be lacking qualifications, but they didn't say why should they have? Speaker 6: 17:38 It would have been helpful because we don't know whether like me, they found him on qualified because he seems to have prejudged very serious issues and wouldn't be fair and respectful of everyone who came before them. It could also be for other reasons by key lacked the legal background. Like he may have taken actions as a lawyer that suggest he is not the kind of person who you want on the bench and we don't know. So it would have been helpful to know where do you stand on the issue of judicial elections? Should superior court judges be appointed or should they run? I much prefer the appointment system. I know every election time I get calls from friends. Do you know any of these judges? Who do you think I should vote for? I've been involved in the San Diego legal community for 40 years and half the time I don't know all of these judges. Speaker 6: 18:34 I do know that when the governor is ready to point someone, there's a very intensive vetting process and a commissioned set up to seek input and give a good evaluation of prospective judges. So I actually trust gubernatorial appointments more than I do the election process. Most people don't pay very much attention to these judicial races. But how important are judges to people's lives? Oh, they're extremely important. If you believe that your rights have been violated, whether it's a merchant who has cheated you, whether you've suffered a severe accident, whether there's been discrimination in the workplace, you want to know that there's a judicial system that will give you a fair opportunity to be hurt. And the higher up you go in the court system, the more important it is to have good judges Speaker 7: 19:28 [inaudible] Speaker 8: 19:30 from additional outreach officers to emergency relocation sites. San Diego County is moving forward with its plan to step up its assistance to the homeless. The board of supervisors Tuesday heard back from staff on the first wave of actions approved last month to provide help to people living unsheltered in the counties unincorporated areas. The plan includes an expansion of the hotel motel voucher program estimated to cost the County seven point $9 million. Johnny me is KPBS reporter Matt Hoffman and Matt welcome. Hey Morin. After the supervisors gave the go ahead to the new plan, they asked County staff to come back with a report on their progress. What did they report back yesterday? Speaker 9: 20:13 We're talking about this report on this as they call it a homelessness pipeline that the County wants to create right now. They say they don't have this pipeline or they have this hotel motel voucher program, which basically gives people a roof over their head. There's some people that will come in and check in on them. Um, there's some services they get like laundry and other services, uh, but they really want to build this whole pipeline. And that pipeline is something where you could say it starts at the hotel motel voucher, then it goes to something building like a shelter or they go to a shelter and then once they're in that shelter for a long time, they get out of that shelter and they go toward either affordable housing or some type of a supportive permanent housing. Uh, yesterday we heard from the board that since their action, um, last month to approve that hotel motel voucher program, uh, namely in spring Valley, uh, at Lamar park where there's a large number of people are homeless, sleeping at that park. Uh, they say they were able to get about 56 people off the streets and into a hotels or motels, part of that hotel, a voucher program. So, so that was the update yesterday that they have gotten so far more than 50 people off of the streets and into this hotel motel voucher. Speaker 8: 21:09 How is the County identifying people who need shelter? Are they sending workers to outreach to the homeless? Speaker 9: 21:15 Yeah, they are. There's an accounting staff out there and they're basically giving these people these hotel motel vouchers and bringing them into this hotel motel voucher program. Um, a lot of those people converged on converged in spring Valley, uh, to Lamar park a month ago and got a lot of those people out of there. I'm also part of this, uh, pipeline plan. The county's working on, they're also beeping off the Sheriff's department, homeless assistance, uh, resource team also called heart. Um, and that's sort of like the city of San Diego's or their, their police departments team to going out there trying to connect with the homeless on a one on one level, trying to figure out what their needs are. So they're also working to build that up in addition to these hotel motel vouchers and then getting some shelters or some permanent supportive housing. Speaker 8: 21:51 Well, as you say, the, a major part of the, the counties, uh, homeless pipeline is working on building homeless shelters for the first time. Tell us more about it. Speaker 9: 22:01 Yeah, it's really kind of an unprecedented plan. I mean, the County or they're not in the shelter business right now. They don't operate any shelters in the unincorporated areas. They identified County staff, found 15 locations and that where they could potentially build a shelter or build some, uh, supportive housing. And that's an and or I should say, um, cause this plan encompasses, uh, some sort of a bridge shelter and then also a, some more permanent supportive housing. Now of those 15 locations, six are in spring Valley, two are in Lakeside, seven are in Fallbrook. We asked for a specific addresses of where those are. The County says that they are not going to be releasing those as they're still looking to see which one works best. We do know that the governor identified some properties last week and we know that some of those are some Caltrans properties. Uh, but it's a mix of Caltrans properties, County properties and some private properties that they would have to buy and then develop onto. Speaker 8: 22:48 Now the city of San Diego has already poured millions into shelters and housing for the homeless. Why has it taken the County so long to step up? Speaker 9: 22:56 I, I th I think it's a number of things. I mean, I asked this question directly to supervisor Diane Jacob, and she said, well, we don't want a bandaid fix like other cities are doing or other municipalities. We want a comprehensive approach and that, and that, that that's what they're saying this, this plan is. But also I think it's because we've seen, I mean, city of San Diego, we've seen, uh, the, the point in time count, the homeless numbers go down, but we're also seeing in other areas outside the city of San Diego, uh, those numbers are starting to rise like in an unincorporated area. So I think now they're realizing that, Hey, we have a problem. You talk to supervisor, Jacob's supervisor Desmond. They say, yes, we do have a problem. Here. We see it, uh, the business owners, the residents are starting to realize it now. It's just a question of finding a site that works well for the community. I had a chance to talk yesterday with supervisor Jim Desmon. Um, obviously seven, um, location selected in Fallbrook, which is in his district five. He was unhappy with that and he wants to look at the whole district. Just one area of Fallbrook. Uh, but, uh, like as Desmond said yesterday, it's going to be hard to find a site that works well for communities. Speaker 10: 23:52 Well, I think everybody gets the need. Nobody wants it next to them. And so that's the challenge that we have to face. And maybe finding spots that are less, um, you know, have less of an impact or minimize the impact. Uh, potentially. Speaker 9: 24:07 Yeah, we talked about minimizing the impact. Now the County, when they chose these sites, it was very strategic. I mean, they don't want to stick them in the middle of nowhere like Bracho Springs or something. They're trying to find sites that, that are near the quote unquote problem near near people who are homeless that are near services. Um, and, and they're trying to really spread it out. So, uh, it's going to be a balancing act here. And, and I'm a supervisor, Jacob says that they're already going out in the community having those discussions, telling them we are going to do this. And now it's just a matter of finding a location that works. What's the time frame that the County is looking at to get this homeless initiative off the ground? Well, they've already been working on it for more than a year. And, uh, the board, uh, there's a report due back to the board within 60 days. Speaker 9: 24:44 Now, in those 60 days, a lot could happen. I mean, literally the County could say, Hey, we've made an offer on this property. Um, but what's likely gonna happen is they're gonna come back and say, we've identified one property, two properties, three properties that we think are the ones that we should do. Um, but it really just kind of depends on staff here. I mean, it's, it's definitely gonna be a month long process going forward and we'll just have the, see what those developments are. Is the state helping out in any way? The state is helping out. I mean, just last week, governor Newsome, he identified hundreds of properties throughout the state that could be used to build some, some sort of shelter, some sort of permanent supportive housing. A lot of those are Caltrans, lots, just all different kinds of state property. Seven in San Diego County. Uh, some of those the County is looking at as well and the state's basically offering saying, Hey, we'll give you a dollar lease on this land. Speaker 9: 25:29 And they say you can also tap into this $650 a emergency homeless aid fund to help build those properties. Um, supervisor, uh, Jacob says that they are looking into some of those properties to see if they will work. Um, and also the governor also, uh, proposing more than a billion dollars to fight homelessness. You got to think that some of that is going to be available for these local jurisdictions who want to build. I mean, some of these properties the governor is talking about are in cities like San te. Um, can, does, does the city of Santee have the capital to build a homeless shelter to build some permit? Supportive housing? I dunno. And then you've got to have the will of political leaders there too. I've been speaking with KPBS reporter Matt Hoffman. Matt. Thank you. Thanks Maureen. Speaker 11: 26:10 [inaudible] Speaker 2: 26:14 a man who'd been in prison for 16 years is now free and figuring out what to do next. He'd been sentenced under the state's felony murder rule, which says people can be convicted of murders they were present for, but didn't actually commit. That law changed last year. KPBS investigative reporter Claire Traeger, sir caught up with him recently and brings us his story. Speaker 9: 26:41 Sean Khalifa wanders the campus at San Diego university Speaker 12: 26:44 taking in the crowds of students rushing to class. Speaker 10: 26:47 Yeah, no, I went to the library earlier. I loved it. Speaker 12: 26:50 College is one of the many things Khalifa missed. He went to prison at age 15 and is now 31 he's touring SDSU with the hopes of enrolling as a student in a few years as Khalifa. Heaven is a library. His life took a dark turn when as a teenager in Riverside County, he participated in a home invasion. He acted as lookout while two of his friends savagely beat the homeowner. Hubert love to death. Khalifa says the plan was to Rob him, but he had no idea they would kill him, but he was still convicted under California's felony murder rule, which allows the defendant to be charged with murder for a killing that happened during a dangerous felony. Even if the defendant is not the killer. But then last year, new hope, a new law removed much of the felony murder rule and allowed prisoners like Khalifa to apply for a lesser sentence, district attorneys in the state, including San Diego, da summer. Stephan challenged the law change. But this week the California Supreme court rejected their challenge. That means there's no question. Khalifa will remain free. Speaker 10: 28:01 I started letting it sink in and letting go and starting to embrace the fact that I was going home and it wasn't going to be stopped this time. Speaker 12: 28:07 He sat down with KPBS to talk about his journey. Speaker 10: 28:10 You could just feel the stress like note off of you when you kind of know you're going home. And so just thinking as possible, have you spoken to the victims family at all? I have not. Um, it would be nice to like make living amends and, and have dialogue with them in the future. But I understand currently my release is not something that they're excited about or happy. They're probably worried and they're going through a lot of stress themselves. So I think the best thing is just, um, time. What would you want to say to them? I would just want to let them know that, um, um, personally it was a tragedy in my life as well. Then that's her love lost his life and it's something I have to live with forever. Just knowing that I was, I was there like I showed up and that I didn't get them help that day. That's something I live with the rest of my life and I'll spend the rest of my life making living amends for that. Speaker 5: 29:02 So you've been in prison for more than 15 years. 16 exactly. A couple of days over. Are you worried about fitting back into normal life? Speaker 10: 29:12 What's so exciting is that, um, when I came back out it felt like I'd never left. Cause I've always been goofy. I've always liked to make people laugh. I've always been silly. But before I was a criminal, so I thought like a criminal and I had all these criminal, uh, attributes like stealing and lying. But now to be out here and to be able to make people laugh, but have these humble experience that I've gotten, like while in prison, all the groups I'd taken, like all the work I've done on myself to come out here and now exhibit humbleness, kindness, compassion, helping strangers. Like I just love it. I'm, I'm like super excited. I'm fitting right into society. Um, other things that you want to say. There was a guy named Joshua Nicholas who was a former life where I was, I was hanging out with the other day. He said, it's called survivor's guilt, where you feel bad for the guys you left behind. So that's just one thing I want to share that there's still guys in there that don't need to be incarcerated. So hopefully that's what restorative justice does. Eventually. Speaker 12: 30:08 Sean Khalifa's mom, Coleen Khalifa is thrilled to have her son home. She says she doesn't worry about him reintegrating into society at all. Speaker 5: 30:17 When I see the look of happiness and joy on his face and I know who he is and his strong character, I just, I can't work. I can't worry about it because I know he's going to be fine. Speaker 12: 30:32 Claire Trigere, sir KPBS news Speaker 8: 30:40 women took to the streets of Tijuana last week following two high profile murders in Mexico city, including that of a seven year old girl. The protests blocked traffic heading into Mexico at the San Ysidro border. Those protests are part of a larger movement across Mexico against what some are calling femicide UC San Diego, epidemiologist. Dan worm has been on a quest to find what's driving the rising female homicide rate. His book is city of omens, a search for the missing women of the borderlands. Here's our interview from the mid day edition archives. You first started conducting research into Juana in 2013 which was primarily focused on the HIV epidemic. What led you to look at issues facing women into one a more broadly Speaker 13: 31:30 [inaudible] so as an epidemiologist, you know, my job is to track epidemics to understand them and then hopefully work to try to prevent them. I came down to Tijuana to do research primarily on HIV as you said, cause that's what I was trained in. But when I got to HIV, I, it became abundantly clear to me early on that HIV was only one of the, what I describe as epidemics, uh, facing marginalized people living in Tijuana who were primarily and disproportionately women working in the sex trade and women who were injecting drugs. And often those two groups were overlapping, Speaker 8: 32:07 overlapping and also pressured by a number of different [inaudible]. Speaker 13: 32:11 Yeah, absolutely. So, you know, what struck me immediately was the level of law enforcement and you know, this was people being roused from where they might be slipping on the street or in the canal or you know, stories are really horrific stories of extortion, physical and sexual assault at the hands of police. But you know, when you start looking at the issues, it seems like the structures just keep getting higher and higher. So, you know, it's not that the police are victimizing women, but that on the other side it's the cartels. And when it's not the cartels, it's clients, and when it's not any of those, it's the, the way that the border has hardened, which has made cross border traffic tourism to Tijuana, much more difficult and left women in a much more economically vulnerable situation. Speaker 8: 33:01 The homicide rate in Tijuana is skyrocketing once again. How is that affecting the city's female population? Speaker 13: 33:08 So as you said in the intro, it seemed, you know, we often think of the homicide rate is you know, driven primarily by the drug trade and and almost entirely among men. However, what I've noticed is that, you know, looking at the statistics over the past 30 years or so in Tijuana is that not only has the homicide or the murder rate, I should say in the city increased, but the proportion of women who are being murdered is also increasing. So recently is 2007 the murder rate among women was 1.8 per 100,000 but in the last few years it's increased to as many as 40 per a hundred thousand. Speaker 8: 33:49 What does the title of your book, city Bowman's mean? Speaker 13: 33:52 As an epidemiologist, I look at a number of different risk factors and some of them are you know, engagement with police and some are as sort of distant as where people are living or where they came from and the kinds of jobs that they had. I, I'm always trying to think of ways to better communicate the kind of science that I do and these risk factors to me often seem like omens. They might seem like sort of instinctive ways to follow a narrative that can lead you if you understand them correctly to a certain kind of truth Speaker 8: 34:26 in all of this that you've compiled all of these factors that lead to increasing danger for the women in Tijuana in particular. Are there any signs of positive change? Speaker 13: 34:39 I am a natural optimist so I always try to look for the bright sides and really I think the struggle is to identify for individual women what their potential pathway out of their current situation is. So for some women that I interviewed in the book, they were able to navigate through the sex trade, avoid the drug trade, which is a major and increasing source of income for women and also a violence and, and uh, death and find a, uh, you know, a landing spot within Tijuana's economy. But that's not the case for everyone. And I think it wouldn't honor the women that I bet shared their stories with me to just suggest that there's a simple solution. What I do think is that increasing the militarization of the border, just assuming that we can punt our concerns about migration and immigration over the border and think that they're going to go away is a recipe for disaster for, you know, marginalized women for women who, um, historically have been working in the sex trade to serve American tourists and have now effectively been abandoned. So I think we have a duty to, to at least understand their stories and hopefully work towards policies that recognize the imbalance at the border and the vulnerability that we can produce, um, through our border policies. Speaker 14: 35:59 I've been speaking with Dan [inaudible] and Dan, thank you. Thanks for mean that was UC San Diego, epidemiologist and author Dan [inaudible]. His book is called city of omens, a search for the missing women of the borderlands Speaker 15: 36:14 [inaudible]. Speaker 2: 36:21 The obituary writers have been poised before when it appeared the venerable Ken cinema in Kensington was closing down the last time was in 2014 but now it looks like it's really going to happen. Landmark theaters, which Lisa's San Diego's charming and last remaining single screen cinema says they will cease operations on March 22nd joining me is KPBS arts reporter Beth, Armando and Beth. Uh, how fast did this come about? Speaker 14: 36:48 Um, this has come about pretty quickly. The property management company said they only heard a week ago that landmark was not planning to renew their lease and are now scrambling a bit to see what can happen to the building. It's owned by the Birkin trust, which is three siblings and two cousins. They said once the news broke, they received a lot of inquiries about what's going to be happening and they are now sorting through them. So one of the, a, I just got off the phone actually with someone from the management company who said that they hope to have some information in two to three weeks about what the future for the Kensen mold will be. Speaker 2: 37:21 So it's still all up in the air, right? Speaker 14: 37:23 Correct. So to be clear, landmark is leaving as the tenant and operator of the Ken cinema, the Ken cinema itself that's in that building is not at this point closing like in the sense of the buildings being sold. Uh, so right now it's empty in the sense of it doesn't have a tenant. If they can bring someone in who is interested in keeping it running as a cinema, then we will still have the cannon, our neighborhood. Not sure what it's going to be in terms of programming, but it could still be running as a cinema. Speaker 2: 37:51 And for now they'll still be showing some films in between now and in the middle of March. Speaker 14: 37:57 They have not released everything that's on their schedule yet. They did announce over the weekend that there would be no more midnight movies, but they have programming that will supposedly run through March 22nd and I don't know if they're planning any sort of special farewell week of films Speaker 2: 38:11 and there's a rich history to this neighborhood theater. Walk us through some of that. Speaker 14: 38:15 Yeah. So it started in 1946 there was a rumor at one time that it was built in 1912 but that's not true. But in 1946 Robert Birkin decided to run this theater and he, back in the forties, he decided he wanted to make it a place for foreign and art house films. And that was really visionary at the time. And he ran that until 1975 when landmark theaters, which then I believe was known as parallax theaters took over and has run it continually since then. Speaker 2: 38:45 And all sorts of different shows and exotic things have gone on there, right? Speaker 14: 38:50 Yeah. They, they're known for running Rocky horror picture show at midnight. They've had bands come in and play. They've, uh, run film festivals. One of my favorite memories is there was this Russian guy who rented the theater Sunday mornings to bring Russian mainstream films to San Diego for the Russian community. So they've been open to all sorts of programming. Speaker 2: 39:09 And since the announcement San Diego ads have been sharing all their memories of the Ken, can you relate? Some of those Speaker 14: 39:16 are so like wraps up in this cinema and you know, I had one friend who has taken a photo of the marquee for every film he's seen and he has 250 photos of the marquee. You know, people have raised their kids there, the staff, a lot of times back in the, like the eighties and nineties people were there who were like film students and wanted, this was the only way you could watch movies before VHS is to see them on the big screen. So people were getting their film education there. Speaker 2: 39:43 And you talked to Steven Russell, the house manager, the candidates prime in the 80s what memories did he share? Speaker 14: 39:49 He shared a lot and I mean to him it was really a community place, a place where a film could bring people from Russian community or from the Jewish community. But one of the things he talked about was the unique marquee of the theater. Speaker 6: 40:02 I loved the, the marquee. We used to put up special marquees for special occasions. One of the more memorable ones was when divine passed away and we put up those marquee farewell divine at Jane's side meeting Jane Mansfield of course. And we would do special marquees for all kinds of occasions and sometimes they only stayed up for the hour until someone photographed it for a birthday or a special event. But it was a, it was a way of communicating with the neighborhood that, that, uh, you know, it's a sweet bygone era kind of thing. Speaker 2: 40:33 Jane Mansfield course that's going to appeal to just the can type a tribe, a client clientele, I should say. And you've spent a year sheriff time there and there's some quirky memories you may have. Speaker 14: 40:45 Oh, I've been there for so long. Uh, you know, I have a great memory of my son met Bruce Campbell in the projection booth because he was waiting to introduce Bubba Hotep and I was going to take him to see evil dead two at the midnight show. And he was a little wary because I think he was nine years old and um, he asked Bruce Campbell about it and Bruce Campbell goes, Hey kid, don't worry about it. It's splat stick. It's splatter Gore and slapstick comedy and you'll be fine. And then, you know, when the San Diego opera was in trouble, we had a fundraiser there and showed night at the opera and the landmark theaters let us come in there and do that. So there's so many memories wrapped up there. Speaker 2: 41:23 Yeah, I saw him, Bubba ho tub myself. Now, given the popularity of online streaming services, you think that played a role in the Kenza closing or, or the, the brink of, as we're talking about here? Speaker 14: 41:34 Well, I'm sure for landmark, you know, the changing landscape for film going is definitely a factor. People want to just stay home and watch movies in their home theaters. And even getting them to the, the more, you know, luxurious landmark theaters like the Hillcrest is a little tough. So that definitely plays a role. But I think if you look to LA, there are theaters like the Egyptian and the Vista that have proven that if you curate your programming, if you kind of eventize your films, bring guests, have something going on that makes it worth coming out of your house to see you can be successful doing that. Speaker 2: 42:09 As you say, the Ken cinema has been saved in the past from closing and been brought to the brink as it were. Any idea whether a similar campaign might be mounted here? Speaker 14: 42:17 Um, as I said, because the management has changed at landmark, I don't think that sort of 11th hour rescue is going to happen because I don't think there's any doubt in their mind that they want to cut their losses with the Ken and move on to something else. They have the Hillcrest here and they seem dedicated to that in 2017 they put in a lot of renovations. But like I said, the cinema remains as a building, as a facility. And there seem to be a number of people interested in taking it over. And if you just look on my post on Facebook, there are so many people are going like, can we just crowdsource this? Can't we get a grassroots organization? You know, can we get a group of film festivals to come in? So there's a lot of activity around what's going to happen to the Ken. Speaker 2: 43:03 Well, this is certainly something to watch as we go into in the weeks to come here with this deadline looming and see what, Speaker 14: 43:09 yes, I, I mean, it's a point where it's like landmark is exiting. It's the end of an era. It's really heartbreaking on a certain level. But on the other hand, this could be the opening of a door to something new where a new operator could come in with a little more passion for renovating the theater and curating the films more specifically to the audience. And hopefully the Ken will still be with us. Speaker 2: 43:32 Well, we'll certainly find out and want to watch for your reporting. And me speaking with Beth Armando, who's the KPBS arts reporter. Thanks Beth. Speaker 14: 43:39 Thank you.