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State Of The Union Recap, Ammar Campa-Najjar On His Second Run For Congress, Chula Vista Measure M, Child Poverty, ‘Climate Trail’ Video Game And ‘Imperfect Union’

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Speaker 1: 00:00 President Trump delivered his third state of the union address to Congress last night. It was a performance rich and emotional appeal, but short on attempts to bring a bitterly divided country together. The speech got off to an unexpected start when the president appeared to refuse to shake house speaker Nancy Pelosi's hand joining us to talk more about the speech and the atmosphere inside the house of representatives is representative Mike Levin, who represents the Northern part of coastal San Diego as well as a portion of Southern orange County. Congressman Levin joins us by Skype. Thanks so much for joining us. So you are in the chambers there and we all watched as president Trump walked up to the desk, handed copies of the speech to the vice president and speaker Nancy Pelosi. And then when the speaker offered her hand, he turned away. What, if anything, was the reaction of the people around you to that?

Speaker 2: 00:52 Uh, well, it was just unfortunate. Uh, you know, I, I felt that, uh, the, the president fell short on many pressing issues, but, uh, really did not embrace the type of bipartisanship, uh, that I have noted in many past, uh, addresses, whether it be from Republican or democratic presidents. It, it almost took the, the tone and the narrative of a campaign rally. Um, and I was particularly, uh, inserted by his rhetoric on healthcare, uh, which, uh, does not match the reality of the policy record when, when the president talked about protecting, uh, coverage for those with preexisting conditions, you know, he's doing exactly the opposite. He's, he's in the federal courts right now waging a campaign to eliminate, uh, these protections and basically to destroy every other protection and benefit of the affordable care act.

Speaker 1: 01:44 Well, let's just listen to a little piece of sound about that because, uh, as you say, he said he would protect a healthcare system that includes coverage for preexisting conditions, any promise to lower prescription drug prices. There was reaction to that in the chamber. Let's listen,

Speaker 2: 01:58 get a bill on my desk and I will sign it into law immediately.

Speaker 3: 02:22 [inaudible]

Speaker 1: 02:22 okay. So there we can hear the chant, HR three and a, that's the Democrats chanting HR three explained to us the significance of HR three.

Speaker 2: 02:31 And what that bill does is a, in fact, what the president, uh, claims he wants to address. Uh, we, uh, in that bill give Medicare the power to negotiate directly with the drug companies. We create new tools, uh, to force drug companies to come to the table to agree to real price reductions for things like insulin as an example. And then we make those lower drug prices negotiated by Medicare available to everyone, not just Medicare beneficiaries. Now I'm

Speaker 1: 03:00 moving onto something a related issue. Medicare and social security. The president has said just within the last month or so that he'd be open to changes to those. But last night he said his administration would always quote, protect Medicare and social security. What's a voted to think?

Speaker 2: 03:17 Well, as a candidate, he made those types of promises as well, Alison. But then we saw when he was surrounded by the world's wealthiest people in Davos, Switzerland at the conference there, he said that, uh, they would look at, look at, uh, cuts to social security and Medicare and Medicaid. And all you have to do now is just look at the administration's plan. They want to, uh, cut Medicaid dramatically, uh, and it really would harm the people who need the help the most. And then in terms of Medicare, his budget last year, uh, proposed a cut of $845 billion to Medicare.

Speaker 1: 03:53 Now I know that one of the most important issues for you is the climate crisis. There was no mention last night of either engagement or the climate crisis. What do you say are the implications of heading into a future with a president who doesn't even recognize the climate and carbon emissions? There's an issue.

Speaker 2: 04:11 Well, the president didn't talk about a plan to address climate change because he doesn't have a plan to address climate change. All he wants to do is keep polluting and hope the best and really pad the pockets of a handful of big go oil and coal executives. Uh, he is now put, uh, oil and coal lobbyists in charge of things like the environmental protection agency, which I think, uh, would appropriately be known now as the environmental pollution agency. Uh, the surgery, the interiors now run by a former fossil fuel lobbyist. And make no mistake, this is unprecedented in recent American history. Over the last five or six decades, we've been able to work across the aisle on everything from creating the EPA to the clean air act, clean water act, the endangered species act, the national environmental policy act. These are all bipartisan initiatives. And in California we know that we've been able to, uh, grow the economy and protect the environment, combat climate change. And we've got to get smart about this. So we, uh, unfortunately the, the president just seems focused on, on continuing to pollutant and hopefully it all works out.

Speaker 1: 05:18 No, the end of the speech was marked by speaker Nancy Pelosi, who ripped the speech in half behind the president. And the Democrats say they're the party of unity. Did that exemplify unity?

Speaker 2: 05:30 Well, what's interesting is many of us, myself included, were already, uh, I, I had already started walking out when, uh, when that had occurred. Many of us were heading, heading out. Uh, but, uh, you know, I, I think that we've got to get back to some bipartisanship in this country. I think everybody would be well-served to turn down the temperature just a bit.

Speaker 1: 05:49 Democratic Congressman Mike Levin of the 49th congressional district. Thanks so much for joining us. Thank you, Allison. Always good to speak with you.

Speaker 1: 00:00 One of the most high profile races in San Diego County is the contest in the 50th congressional district. Three Republicans and one Democrat are the major candidates trying to succeed disgraced former Congressman Duncan D Hunter. The 50th is a traditionally conservative district that has had Duncan Hunter father or son as its representative for 40 years. We're interviewing candidates for the 50th district starting with Democrat Amar camp in a jar. And Amar, welcome to the program. Thanks for having me. In 2018, you were running against Dunkin Hunter who had already been indicted for campaign finance violations. You lost by about 9,000 votes. Now there's no Duncan Hunter in the race. How does that change the campaign? You're running

Speaker 2: 00:47 questions. So, you know, I've been running for three years for a two year term and I'm pretty committed to this race. I didn't jump into this race because it looked good for me. I've been committed to this district for awhile. And uh, look, we, we run a really hard campaign against Congressman Duncan Hunter. No small feat. A 40 year dynasty, nearly half a century even indicted with two months to go until the election. That was a really large undertaking. Most people would say we came within 1.7%, 1.7% more. We would have gotten 50% plus one and this would've been a different conversation, but nearly half the district voted for me. So that told me that we had a mandate to run again. And so I think that this time, the way we're going to win is by, by starting stronger to finish stronger. And I think we're uniquely positioned to do that.

Speaker 2: 01:29 I'm the only candidate who's running, who actually wants to represent everyone. If you heard my opponents, they're all saying they want to keep this seat in power, uh, for under one party versus the other. I'm the only one who's saying, let's put people over politics, country over party and lead with our values. And um, I'm the only one that, of the top three of us who are running, who actually lives in the district. I'm the only one of the three me, Isiah and Carl who will actually be able to vote in this election. So I think, you know, that's an important prerequisite. You ought to live where you're trying to run and I think that uniquely positions me to win a broad swath of the voters come March 3rd

Speaker 1: 02:04 well, when you're a Democrat, you kind of have to put country over party in the 50th district because there are about 46,000 more Republicans than Democrats. How do you go about appealing to women?

Speaker 2: 02:15 How applicant voters in your district? I think that you should always put country over party no matter what seat you're running for. But the district is 40% Republican and 60% the rest of us, independents and Democrats, there's more of us than there are than them, but we want to bring everyone together. That's how you can really legislate and govern. And my message has always been, look, I'm being from East County raised by a single mom. You see the world a little bit different and I'm just fed up with politicians who look down to people. I've looked up to my whole life working class people. We see politicians give big banks and big companies and billionaires, all the breaks while the rest of us are working more for less. And I think it's time that we give the middle class tax cut that we lower the cost of housing and healthcare and the cost of living and that we start work in this country, not just wealth.

Speaker 2: 03:01 So that's my message that I'm taking across the district and it's being well received by everybody in the district, not just Democrat. So with the partisan divide that we hear so much about in this country and in the 50th district as well, those are the issues you think that are going to come across, no matter what party someone is. I do. And I think the overarching message that I bring is, you know, ending the era of corruption and moving forward to our unified future. A new generation of leadership that doesn't look at politics between the left versus the right, but it's really a politics of the outsiders, like all of us versus the insiders, the political class in Washington who's really using all of us for their own, their own benefit while we fight for scraps and the rest of real America. And that's really the fight that I'm waging here in the 50th, not a fight between Democrats and Republicans, but all of us together trying to chart a new course forward as people with common aspirations and common dreams.

Speaker 2: 03:51 Well, let me try to break this down with some specific issues. You've talked a lot about the fact that you own guns and support the second amendment for many second amendment supporters. What that means is no federal laws restricting gun sales. Do you agree with that? I think that there are a lot of things that gun owners like me believe in that are common sense. Universal background checks. 90% of people including gun owners, NRA members support background checks and being a believer. The second amendment myself, I believe it means reading the second amendment and our founders left us some wisdom in the second amendment of how to reduce gun violence and also protect our rights. If you read the second amendment, it says quote unquote a well regulated militia. So let's look at what the military does before you're issued a weapon. You go through a background check, safe stores training, um, and the psych evaluation and you learn how to use your gun before we even issued your actual weapon.

Speaker 2: 04:46 We should do that in the civilian world as well for civilian gun owners like myself. If we did that, we would curb a lot of the gun violence in this country. And other common sense things that even president Trump on a good day supports like the red flag laws like, um, you know, the, the getting rid of the bump stocks and the conversion kits and the high capacity magazines that turn a civilian weapon into a weapon of war. We do all those things that will not infringe on anyone's second amendment rights. It'll protect our rights and protect, um, our communities at the same time. And I think we in the second amendment and leaning on that wisdom of a well regulated militia is our way out of this problem of gun violence in this country. Speaking of president Trump, uh, would you have voted to impeach him? That's a good question.

Speaker 2: 05:30 It's a hypothetical question, but it's an important one. Uh, clearly there was some wrongdoing that was done by president Trump. The question is, is it rise to the level of, uh, high crimes and misdemeanors, high crimes, not low crimes. And I do think that we have to hold this president accountable. I think that it is, uh, important that we review all the evidence members of Congress have access to public information, the confidential information and the ability to question witnesses. So I think without pre-judging the, you know, doing what Mitch McConnell did, I think it would be important for me to evaluate all that information and make that determination. The sad truth is we know that the vote tomorrow is going to fall on partisan lines. Republicans are going to vote one way. Democrats going to vote one way. And I think a lot of Americans are going to feel like the process is broken.

Speaker 2: 06:15 They're going to feel that there's no accountability, there's no transparency, that it was deeply bipartisan that was deeply partisan. And then we're wondering is there any way to hold a president accountable? And some people might feel discouraged, but that's no excuse to shy away from your responsibility because you know, some people feel like this president might, uh, do something that might render an illegitimate result. That's the concern people have. Our job as voters and citizens is to make sure that no politician can get within cheating distance of winning an election. Legitimate, which means let's make 20, 20 a year of massive turnout. Clearly our institutions and our government and our democracy is broken and it's not going to save us this time. We have to save it. And the way we do that is getting out in record numbers. If our government isn't willing to do it's responsibility, it's left to us as citizens to do our job.

Speaker 2: 07:14 Now, one of the major areas of difference between most Republican and democratic politicians is their commitment to take action on climate change. What do you think the federal government should do to address climate change? Look, the federal government has been doing something. The DOD gave the military, gave Donald Trump in 2019 the report on climate change and they said, this is an AOC. This is the defense department saying that climate change is the number one national security threat that we face as a planet. And it has an a as a country. And they've said that there are 80 mission critical, uh, U S military bases in mainland America. The two thirds of which are not fully combat ready because the coastlines are rising because of hurricanes and droughts and mudslides and fires that are caused by climate change. So we should have a world war II mobilization to combat climate change.

Speaker 2: 08:04 Get rid of all the corporate welfare that we give to the fossil fuel industry level, the playing field, turn this climate crisis into a renewable energy revolution that will create good paying jobs and create a, just transition for people who rely on traditional industries of fossil fuels and make sure that they have the ability to have dignity and have a good experience getting back into the workforce. But we have to treat this seriously because in 12 years, scientists and the military says that in 12 years, if we don't do anything about this, we won't be able to be even breathe a breath of fresh air. So this is a matter of not just being a tree hugger who loves the environment. It's a matter of national security. It's a housing issue. How many of us know friends who have lost their homes and fires? And right now we're having a hard time figuring out where to build more housing because of the threat of wildfire.

Speaker 2: 08:50 So this is not just an environmental issue, it's, and it's a national security issue. It's a healthcare issue. It's a housing issue. It's an all of the above issue and we could turn this calamity into our greatest promise if we come together. And I think San Diego is uniquely positioned. We're a pioneer of innovation here in San Diego. We share, uh, you know, we're one of the biggest military installations in the country in the world. We could bring together all of our resources and our expertise and talents to really lead the way in this revolution for renewable energy. What you've been talking about sounds like a great deal. Like the green new deal. Do you support that? So I actually don't think it's the green new deal. The green new deal is a little bit more aspirational than that. What I'm referring to is a little bit more practical and it can be done in the next 12 years.

Speaker 2: 09:33 I think some of the things that are in the green new deal, uh, are a little bit, um, they're well intentioned, but they go think beyond what is possible. And the green new deal is not legislation. It's a nonbinding resolution. It's an aspirational manifesto, if you will. It's not legislation that has no financial, uh, appropriations tied to it. It's still kind of in the conception stage. Um, but when I'm in Congress, I will introduce and work on legislation that is practical, that could be done and this very narrow moment of time. Right now I think climate change has to be looked through, looked at through a lens of urgency and not aspiration because we don't have that much time to turn it around. Let's talk about immigration. You say you support the building of some sections of a border wall, right? I mean, so think about this right now in San Diego, we don't think about it, but we have a wall in San Diego in the nineties president bill Clinton, a Democrat built part of the wall.

Speaker 2: 10:26 Here's what I believe. I believe in having a mile by mile assessment of our needs along the border. It could be strengthening our ports of entry were $2 million a day, come through San Ysidro and making sure that we're the, you know, the ports of entry is where a majority of the drugs and guns and smuggling comes from. Anyways, not just any part of the border, but the ports of entry. It could be that, it could be personnel, it could be technology, or it could be some physical barriers and that is based on good governance, not just a slogan from one president or one party, but what do we really need to make sure that we address our border policy needs? And of course, no solution is complete without addressing the immigration aspect of as well, dealing with the dreamers, dealing with the 12 million people who are here in undocumented fashion in a realistic way.

Speaker 2: 11:12 And there's some policy proposals that even my opponent, Daryl ice in 2013 he's running away from it now, but he actually proposed giving 12 million undocumented individuals six years of status until we figured out what to do with them in a more permanent fashion, gives them an option to get citizenship. That was in 2013 I actually agreed with that and if I was in Congress, I would've signed on to that. But now given the reality, I think he's running away from his own record, but I embraced that idea and I think it's a good way to address the immigration portion of this comprehensive problem that deals with the border and the immigration crisis that we have in our hands globally. You say that if you are elected in the 50th district, even as a Democrat, you'll be the most conservative member of

Speaker 1: 11:54 Congress from San Diego. What do you mean by that?

Speaker 2: 11:57 It's a little tongue in cheek. I mean if you think about who's in office now, Mike 11 liberal, Scott Peters, a liberal Juan Vargas, a liberal and whoever replaces Susan Davis I presume is going to be liberal as well. So being the most conservative Congressman and that lineup is a pretty low bar. I think the fact that I own guns and I live in East County, that by itself it makes me more conservative. But being the most conservative in San Diego County still makes me the most progressive in the 50th district's history. Just because I believe in, you know, climate change is real. That I believe that we should make sure everyone could get access to health care, that we, you know, treat people with dignity, that we have comprehensive immigration reform, not just nibbling around the edges. And the most progressive thing that I offer, it's the mother of all of our solutions is government reform.

Speaker 2: 12:45 When I get to Congress, I'm going to introduce an amendment to overturn citizens United. So to make sure that corporations aren't people and that money doesn't equal speech. The only individuals could donate to this, that the campaigns and not special interests of any type. And if we do that, we will be bound by nothing but our own imagination, our own wilt to deliver results for everyday people. And that I think makes me the most progressive Congressman in the 50th history, probably the most progressive Congressman in many respects. But when it comes to, you know, not believing we should open up the border, uh, not wanting to rack up the national debt, not wanting to take everyone's guns away as a gun owner myself. That I guess in many people's minds makes me more moderate than the average Democrat.

Speaker 1: 13:26 So two 50th district candidates, Republicans, Carl de Mio and Daryl Eissa are leading in fundraising. This past reporting period showed that Demira raised over double your campaign. How are you going to try to overcome that?

Speaker 2: 13:40 Oh, I think they're trying to raise money to overcome the fact that I'm beating them in the polls. The polls are what matter in the end so they could have all the money in the world. We know a lot of people who run for president, we have a lot of money and aren't really scratching the surface of polls and aren't going to do well in the primary. So that's not the most important thing. Money and politics is not the most important thing, contrary to come and believe. But I will tell you this, we have a lot of money. We have a million on hand close to what our opponents have. Um, and I'm confident that we be able to do this. But honestly that's also why I'm running for Congress is I'm tired of the fact that we have to spend so much money, raised so much money and beg people for money when we should be actually talking to them about their vote and about the issues.

Speaker 2: 14:19 And that's why I want to get to Congress. We're going to have government reform to kind of curb the expense of running for office and also make sure that, you know, with all due respect, I think Carl Dima knows that he kind of had this shell corporation called reform California, this pass through organization that he knew he was building to eventually use to raise money off of that list for other things that were not related to running for office. And he used it to build a list off of these really popular agendas of his with the, I have never solving anything but only raising money for his own personal benefit and isn't it time that we just turn the page on having people run for office or hold office who are doing it for their own financial benefit in this case, trying to boost his own political career as opposed to delivering on these ballot measures that he was advocating for, most of which have failed.

Speaker 2: 15:10 So you know, and obviously we have their eyes. So who is self-funding his campaign mainly? So my main focus is making sure that I talk to voters and the end that's going to be what matters the most. But for me, I think we're raising a lot of money. We've raised I think $2 million. The average donation is $30 so if you want to help us out, go to Kappa and give to a corporate free Democrat who's running in the 50th well let me ask you finally, what are you hoping is going to tip the scales for you on election day? Is it a big turnout? Is it dissatisfaction with president Trump? What is that key thing that's going to make it happen for you as far as you're concerned? I think it's because I'm the consummate outsider and this district has voted for, they voted for Donald Trump because they want something different.

Speaker 2: 15:52 This is different. I offer something very different. Their eyes, the offers more of the same 20 more years of what we've had before and if you're not happy with what you're living with, well then you could point to him for part of that problem. The same thing we'll call the mile. He offers the same old, same, if you want somebody who's committed to the people of the 50th, someone who you know lost an election, came close and is continuing to run, didn't just lose a race or resigned from a race and move to another area because it would help them politically. I'm putting the 50th first and I think people are going to recognize that in this district people really do appreciate someone who's of them, from them fighting for them and I will stock up my ability to do that. And desire to deliver against anybody else running in this race. I have been speaking with Democrat and Mark Hampton ajar, who's running in the 50th congressional district, and you can see all the KPBS selection Mara, thank you so much for coming in and speaking with us. Thank you so much.

Speaker 1: 00:00 The Chula Vista elementary school district has proposing to raise property taxes to help subsidize housing for teachers and staff. KPBS education reporter Joe Hong explains how the bond measure would work and how other districts across the state have tried to cover living costs for their employees across counties.

Speaker 2: 00:17 Fornia school boards and superintendents are lamenting the lack of funding from the state, declining enrollment, rising pension costs and more students receiving special education services have tightened budgets statewide and this housing costs continue to rise in California. One school district could be the first in San Diego County to house its employees. Chula Vista elementary school district is asking voters to raise local property taxes to build a 100 unit affordable housing complex and subsidized rent for teachers and staff. Oscar ask Val oversees the district's finances. He said a school bond can help the district recruit and keep employees.

Speaker 3: 00:53 It's, it's a result of this survey but also a result of, uh, the school districts need to, um, incentivize coming to children's to elementary school district for those positions that we have a difficult time hiring. For example, special education, English language learners.

Speaker 2: 01:09 Measure M on the March ballot, the district is proposing a $300 million bond. Most of it would go to school repairs and modernization, but $65 million would go to affordable housing units for teachers and staff. Escoval said investing in these facilities is an investment in students.

Speaker 3: 01:25 They are important. They'd been here for about almost 20 years now and we were one of the first school districts who have completely air conditioned all our schools classrooms. So as a priority to make sure students are comfortable in the learning environment.

Speaker 2: 01:40 Chula Vista elementary school district employs more than 2,500 teachers and staff teacher salaries range from about $50,000 to just over a hundred thousand dollars a year. Susan skull is the president of the teacher's union at Chula Vista elementary school district. She said the union supports the bond over all, but it has concerns about district employees living in the same housing complex.

Speaker 4: 02:02 You know, I mean, here we are, we're good friends, and then all of a sudden maybe I'm up late at night playing my music too loud and then you know, that goes to work with me or you know, it's another issue with another employee at a different site and I just see potential for complications.

Speaker 2: 02:25 The bond measure would raise property taxes by up to $30 for every a hundred thousand dollars of property value. The San Diego County tax payers association, which reviews school bonds throughout the County did not endorse the measure. Kelly Baton is the director of policy at the association. She said the teacher housing component was the only thing holding me association back from endorsement. She said the district didn't provide enough details on how the money would be spent and how the housing complex would be maintained.

Speaker 4: 02:52 When we look at bonds, we, if a district isn't specific on how they're going to use it, we tend to not support those because

Speaker 5: 03:00 we want the voters to be aware and be educated on exactly how those funds are going to be spent.

Speaker 2: 03:06 But Chula Vista isn't the first district in California to tackle affordable housing with a bond. Jefferson union high school district, just South of San Francisco is breaking ground this week on their employee housing unit, which is being funded with a bond measure that passed in 2018 school board president Kalema Salahudin said that 122 unit housing complex will help. But she called it a bandaid to the problem of recruiting and keeping teachers. She said the state needs to take education funding seriously for a more permanent solution.

Speaker 6: 03:36 I didn't run for school board to become a housing developer, you know, that was never my intention or goal. Mmm. And to me it's just a reflection of where we are in the state when it comes to education that school boards are looking to have to do this in order to keep the staff that we need to educate our students.

Speaker 2: 03:52 Measure M needs 55% of the votes, the path Chula Vista voters decide on March 3rd Joe Hong KPBS news,

Speaker 5: 04:00 joining me is KPBS education reporter Joe hung and Joe, welcome. Thanks for having me. We've run some stories about school districts considering using some of their property to build affordable housing. But this is the first time is San Diego County school district is trying to do it. Do we know any details like how much the housing units could cost teachers or how interested teachers would be chosen for those housing units?

Speaker 2: 04:27 Yeah, so those details aren't super clear at this point. It's hard to know because it'll take four to five years to build these units and we don't know how much property is going to cost and two of us at a time. But the district did tell me that they will cost about, uh, up to 80% of market value when they're finished being built in four to five years. And uh, so, but currently, um, a one bedroom apartment in Chula Vista cost about $1,700. So you take 80% of that, that's about 1360 for a one bedroom.

Speaker 5: 04:58 And what is the argument against the measure M school bud?

Speaker 2: 05:01 So I spoke with the, uh, the San Diego tax payers association. And really it's not an argument for housing teachers as much as it is a sort of a concern about the district's plan and the lack of details in the plan for how they're going to pay for these units.

Speaker 5: 05:18 Okay. Let's move on to another measure, another school bond measure on the March ballot. It's measure P a $448 million bond to renovate schools in the Poway school district. But that district became notorious for badly planned to school bonds. Can you remind us about their last school bond?

Speaker 2: 05:37 Yes. So, uh, it's become, it's come to be called the billion dollar bond in 2008. Uh, how the school district passed the bond measure, it was about a hundred million dollars. And as you know, there was a great recession back in 2008. So when the great recession happened, it dropped property values in that district and all of a sudden the district didn't have enough money to make those payments on those bonds and it ended up costing the district $1 billion with interest. So that's for every dollar of the bond, that's $9 of interest.

Speaker 5: 06:10 So how is Poway trying to get voter support for this new bond?

Speaker 2: 06:15 When I talked to the, the superintendent, uh, about a month ago, she said, you know, she assured me that this is a completely different leadership at the district and that, you know, in the time that other school districts have issued, you know, two or three bonds, Hauwei hasn't issued any. And she said a big part of it has been informing the community, meeting with parents and telling them, look, we need this bond and our facilities are aging.

Speaker 5: 06:42 So the San Diego County taxpayers association is giving the green light to Poway ways measure P, what do they have to say about it?

Speaker 2: 06:49 Yeah. So at the end of the day, uh, they're assessing these bonds based on the detailed details in their, in their plan. And, uh, according to the San Diego taxpayers association, Poway submitted one of the most detailed plans for repayment and, and demonstrated the need for renovations.

Speaker 5: 07:06 Okay, then and, and finally there's a statewide school bond measure with the ironic name of proposition 13 unlike the more famous prop 13, a yes vote on this. Prop 13 could lead to higher property taxes in certain school districts. Joe, tell us why. So

Speaker 2: 07:24 this is a prop 13, it's a $15 billion statewide bond. And basically what it would do is it would allow local school districts to apply for matches on their local bonds, like the local mines we've been talking about. And so what it would do, it would essentially allow local school districts to sort of lift the cap on how much property taxes they could raise.

Speaker 5: 07:48 And this $15 billion statewide school bond. Do we know what the San Diego County school districts might get out of it?

Speaker 2: 07:56 Oh yeah. It's, it's all pretty speculative at this point. But San Diego unified school district has expressed interest in applying for this Chulavista itself. In measure M bill, it says there'll be applying for the state match as well. And um, Poway as well is hoping to get a couple million from, from this bond.

Speaker 5: 08:15 You know, we heard in your report and there's a lot said about the effect that the approval of these bonds may have on people's property taxes, but what kind of effect do they have on the schools that get this money?

Speaker 2: 08:27 Yeah. So, uh, that's something a lot of people don't think about. I think, uh, you know, facilities make certain types of education possible, right? So think about how much technology has advanced in classroom technology has, um, looks completely different today than it did, uh, even a couple of years ago. Things like, um, every classroom needs wifi. Every classroom these days has like a, a tug, a giant touchscreen that has replaced basically the whiteboard. And while these, these bonds won't pay for those actual pieces of technology, but they create sort of the infrastructure and sort of the, the, the electrical systems that, that allow for this type of, uh, technology in the classroom and do all of these school Mon measures need a simple majority to pass. So, uh, the local ones need 55% of the votes. Uh, prop 13, the statewide bond needs a simple majority. Okay. I've been speaking with KPBS education reporter Joe hung and Joe. Thank you. Thank you.

Speaker 1: 00:00 The mission get from a camp for climate survivors in devastated Atlanta to safety far North near Canada. Your fellow travelers have various survival skills and you're carrying limited resources. Can you make it? Can you continue to survive? That's the premise of a new video game created by video game developer and San Diego and William Volk. It's called the climate trail and it's free and ad-free as part of coverage from the KPBS climate change desk. Volk spoke in studio recently with round table host Mark Sauer.

Speaker 2: 00:34 Here's that interview. The premise of your game, the climate trail is the horrific challenges of life facing those surviving a worst case scenario in the United States. Describe our country as you envision it for players of your game. Well, it's interesting because when I first one of the game I fought, it was very hypothetical, but as time went on and events happened it seemed more likely. So basically there are a couple of things happen. There is major fires that basically burn a lot of things and they're out of control like we see in Australia, but much larger in scope. There is a diseases that are released from permafrost and glaciers. In fact, it was a story today about yesterday from Iceland. There was some viruses out of Ireland that they never seen before. And then there's resource Wars, which I don't want to, I don't dwell on the too much, but if there's going to be this much disruption, there's going to be resource Wars, people fighting each other for what their food, water basic or the country is fighting each other.

Speaker 2: 01:28 So basically I envision, uh, you know, a ruined situation, uh, no society, no organization, so on. Basically the survivors are living in a camp in Atlanta and they have to make their way to count it out. I, I mimicked that play of the most successful educational game in history to the Oregon trail, which did 25 million copies. And the game itself was inspired by a short story called a full life by Paolo Bugatti or something like that, and the MIT press. So basically that story is about a girl being shuffled around for the same reason. And we're talking about this perilous journey from city to city in the quest to survive. And it reminds me a bit of the walking dead. Uh, when do you, uh, you think this could happen or it's more specifically what's gonna cause this environmental collapse? Well, I'm trying to be somewhat unclear on the date cause I want people to worry about that.

Speaker 2: 02:17 If I gave him a date, people will say, well I'm not going to be around by then or Oh that's crazy. So I don't want to list a certain day. But there are some indications such as the scientists talking about being in school when the Amazon burned down and I'll be updating the game to represent Australia and so on. And as far as what could set it off, there are several things. One, right now our carbon emissions aren't going down, so we're on a path for what they call RCP 8.5 or basically four degrees centigrade warming or more, which is disaster, which is disastrous. Um, we can't necessarily avoid climate disaster where we can control how bad it is. The, the Irving's that can send it off are the blue ocean event. Blue ocean event is when the article is ice-free and that changes diabete or the earth.

Speaker 2: 02:58 And it's equivalent to about 25 years of warming. The worst case is the carbon bomb because that puts us into like eight degrees centigrade or more warming. That's if the permit for us released its carbon, which is equal to 40 years of, uh, of emissions, all that methane stored for all that time, all that time, including, uh, all of those diseases, storage for all that time. So these, uh, and of course we read the stories you're citing a lot of, uh, anecdotes and statistics and we see these all the time. But the point of the game, uh, right, is to bring this home, you play the game. So you experience it as a game player. I wanted to do this once again, so much a story in the news can tell you that's right. And what I think is people tend to not make decisions based on statistics and facts thrown at them.

Speaker 2: 03:39 So I felt that people tend to respond to an emotional thing and I could use my experience in the game industry even though I have a full time job to do this on my own and put this out. I spent some money on this artwork and music and all that, but I'm, I felt it was a worthwhile venture and so far it sounds that way. I just got a a in a joke. Your own funding, you're not on funding. I am trying to raise some money but I will. I wanted to get the game. They're very long. I have a whole bunch of enhancements going on in the game right now. I have a an ebook on climate being built into the game and every character conversation, if a character have mentioned something like wet bulb temperature or you know carbon bomb that will be hyperlinked to the article so that schools which are starting to use this can benefit from it.

Speaker 2: 04:21 I just saw a tweet today that a major school system college used this as in their curriculum and it was a very fascinating read. Now, how closely do you just stick to the science and predictions from scientists and very close climate judge found articles. In fact, the website itself, the climate has a page where it links stuff and I'll, I'll be updating that as I go along. So the IPC, which is the international protocol on climate change, they use models and they are scientists and they're trying to do the best job they can. The thing that's unpredictable as the feedback loops and also as someone said to me today in a conversation, if you talk to palaeontologists people who study the earth in the past, they're far less optimistic. Uh, they are very worried about the carbon bomb and also oceans going anaerobic, which I mentioned in the story as well as buying a permafrost.

Speaker 2: 05:10 A lot of these loops that tune just accelerate. There's a rather surprising ending in this game because I don't want people to think that just because you got the candidate, everything is great and wonderful. So I have a, I fro a little bit of a loop at people at the very end of the game. Hopefully the scientist you're with makes it because he see explains that if she hasn't made it in your, you're going to lose out. No. A, you touched on this, but the best scenario you, what do you hope to achieve with the climate trail? I mean, you're really trying to educate people. I want to educate people about more important. I want to be honest. I want to move people emotionally to wait at a, on the beach moving when I was a trial. That movie terrified me. Greg wants people to be angry. I want people to be scared and angry. I hate to say that, but the way that they were about nuclear war, I had been speaking with William Volkis, the designer of the climate trail. A new video game is exploring a dystopian future we may all face due to climate change. Thanks very much. Thank you.

Speaker 1: 00:00 Steven scheme can be exasperating as the host of morning edition. You want to hate the guy for waking you up each day. But then you start to listen and there's that information you need delivered with warmth, intelligence, and humor. So it's exasperating. And now even with the ungodly hours, his job forces him to keep. Steven scape is out with a remarkable book about one of America's first celebrity politicians and he's taken time out to talk with us. His new book is called imperfect union. How Jesse and John Fremont mapped the West invented celebrity and helped cause the civil war. Here's his interview with midday edition host Maureen Cavanagh. What is it about John and Jesse Fremont that kept you from the rest you so much deserve? Oh, well thank you. I get

Speaker 2: 00:48 into writing and I really love history and uh, I love learning about American history in particular. And in this case, John and Jesse Fremont touched a bunch of the greatest events of the 19th century at a time when America was taking shape. And I mean, taking shape, literally. I mean you, I w we're, we're talking here on a radio station and a part of the United States that wasn't a part of the United States at the beginning of my story, which is the story of this Western Explorer, John Charles Fremont, who from the 1840s the early 1840s through to the middle 1850s conducted a series of expeditions starting in st Louis, which was then the Western most city in the United States out to the Oregon country, out to what was then Mexican controlled California. He didn't actually discover that much. That was particularly new, but he went back to Washington D C and wrote best selling accounts of his adventures.

Speaker 2: 01:48 He would write these formal reports, but he would write them like a novel describing everything that had happened to him as he went through the Rockies and across the deserts and over the Sierra Nevada's and in the snows. And these accounts would be excerpted in newspapers and published as popular books. And when I looked into their story, Jessica and John Fremont, I realized two things. First, she was a huge part of it all. She was his secretary, editor, sometimes writing partner, sometimes even ghost writer as he put this information out there and she was also his political advisor and publicist. But the other thing that I realized, which makes this one of many, many things that makes us a really modern story is that the publicity they generated was the point. He was doing this in order to entice people to move from the Eastern United States out to the West because Jesse's father, the powerful Senator, believed that that was the way that the United States would take over land. American settlers would go there.

Speaker 1: 02:49 You know, in California, we may be more familiar with John Fremont than many areas of the country simply because there are places named after him. What was his role in California history?

Speaker 2: 03:00 He began the process of taking over California from Mexico. He first visited in 1844 he was thrashing around in the West and needed supplies and thrashed over the Sierra Nevada's in the snow and got a, got supplies actually from a guy named John Sutter, a famous figure in California history, a near setters Fort and wasn't chanted by California and went back on his next expedition in 1845. 1846. This is a time when the United States was facing tensions with Mexico over the U S acquisition of Texas. And so people thought a war might be coming, but Fremont going into California didn't know if there would or there wouldn't. Nevertheless, he participated in a series of increasingly provocative and erratic and strange acts that antagonized the Mexican authorities until they ordered him to leave, confronted him with force. And this started a chain of events that ended with American settlers in California proclaiming an independent Republic. It was called the bear flag Republic because they had a flag with a bear on it, which is now the inspiration for the state flag. And then the U S Navy appeared off the coast. And, uh, the Commodore concluded that if John C Fremont was inland conducting some kind of military operation, he must know the war with Mexico was on. So the Commodores sent ashore, sailors and Marines to raise the American flag and seize the ports of California. And that is how the United States claimed California.

Speaker 1: 04:35 Now you say that this sort of first Washington power couple, Jesse and John Fremont also helped cause the civil war. How, how did that happen?

Speaker 2: 04:45 The United States was divided between Northern States that had gradually abolished slavery and Southern States that had increasingly embraced slavery always in the past, major political parties, if they wanted to win, if they wanted to capture the presidency, they needed to appeal for Northern and Southern votes. They didn't want to alienate southerners. And so they would remain silent on slavery or tacitly or overtly support slavery. It wasn't possible. It seemed to have an antislavery national political party, but there was a great demographic change going on in the country. The North was growing far more rapidly in population than the South. That population increase meant an increase in political power because it was a Republic because of the census, because house representation and electoral votes were determined by the number of people, and it became apparent by the 1850s that it was possible plausible anyway to elect a president with Northern votes alone, and that's what made it possible for the Republican party to be an anti-slavery party. They didn't actually call for abolition. That was considered an extreme position, but they called for limiting the spread of slavery. They didn't want slavery to be established in the Western territories that John Charles Fremont had helped to open up to American settlement and the person they chose as their first presidential nominee, this seemingly grand and heroic figure was John C Fremont.

Speaker 1: 06:14 Steve, as we read imperfect union, will we see any similarities between him and our own celebrity president?

Speaker 2: 06:21 Oh my goodness. Well, I mean there is one kind of celebrity and that is that Fremont got to be a nominee because he was so talented at publicizing himself and our current president. I don't think it would be much denied that he's very talented at getting publicity himself and that was one thing that that he did throughout his career leading up to his campaign for the presidency. In other ways, I'm not exactly sure is a very different kind of personality. Had he been elected, he would have been a very different president, but what I think is similar is not the personalities of the individual candidates, but the times. This was a time when the nation was divided, the nation was divided over questions of race. The nation was divided over immigrants. There was a powerful anti-immigrant movement at that time. There was a particular fear of immigrants who practiced what was seen as a dangerous and alien religion, Catholicism, and there was also this great demographic change going on that was destabilizing and made some people fear they'd be shut out of power forever.

Speaker 2: 07:23 A lot of those things are happening in slightly different ways today. We have our own battles over immigration. We have our own arguments over race and we have this big demographic change in the country where America's becoming more diverse and that can be destabilizing because people of color, immigrants, the groups that are growing more rapidly than others are voting in more off more often than not for one political party, the Democrats, president Trump explicitly invoked that fear in his campaign in 2016 telling his supporters, this is your last chance, your last chance to save the country before we're flooded with immigrants and Democrats will let them vote. That was his theory in 2016 and people responded to that because there was that anxiety more widely in the country and now we also have Democrats. By the way, your fear of being shut out of power forever because of the way the president is appointing conservative justices, judges to lifetime appointments and is also a running, running, running over many of the rules of the presidency and behaving in an authoritarian way as Democrats would see it.

Speaker 1: 08:30 The similarities we've been talking about are from a new book, imperfect union. How Jesse and John Fremont map the West invented celebrity and helped cause the civil war. And the author is someone you know quite well for morning edition Steve Inscape, and it's been a pleasure to speak with you. Thank you so much for taking the time.

Speaker 2: 08:49 It's been a pleasure having this discussion. Thank you.

A recap on everything that happened at President Donald Trump’s third State of the Union address. Plus, in 2018, Ammar Campa-Najjar ran against former Rep. Duncan Hunter in the 50th Congressional District. Now with Hunter out of the race, Campa-Najjar talks about his chances to capture the seat in a deeply red district. Also, with the worsening affordable housing crisis, Chula Vista Elementary School District is proposing a bond measure to build affordable housing units for teachers. And, inspired by the “Oregon Trail” educational game, a local video game developer wants to show users the effects of climate change with his new game “The Climate Trail.” Finally, NPR Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep on his book “Imperfect Union” about the settling of the West and the parallels to today’s politics.

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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.