Skip to main content

LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 | Racial Justice | KPBS Voter Guide

US Options Limited In Middle East, The Uncertain Future Of San Diego’s Planning Groups And A Reporter Looks Back At A Decade Of Covering California Politics

Cover image for podcast episode

With the renewed conflict with Iran, the U.S. has limited options in the Middle East as more troops are deployed there. Plus, San Diego's 42 Community Planning Groups have operated in different ways from each other since they came about in the 70’s. Now, the city is attempting to standardize those operations. Also, California is in need of more teachers, especially male teachers of color, and there’s a program underway to recruit them. And, as a California capitol reporter hangs up his political reporting cap, he looks back at a decade of covering California politics. Finally, on the latest episode of “Only Here,” hear about an opera singer who is breaking down barriers at the border through songs.

Speaker 1: 00:00 As tensions rise in the middle East to local military bases are tightening security at entry points, warning people. There could be long lines at the gate as security is stepped up, this as more troops are deployed to Iraq following tensions that reached a tipping point when president Trump ordered the killing of a top Iranian general in the country. What is the U S his next move and what can we expect to happen next? KPBS military reporter Steve Walsh joins us with more. Steve, thanks for joining us. In addition to more troops being deployed, those that were already in Iraq have been redirected. Tell us about that.

Speaker 2: 00:34 So there was a U S led, uh, anti ISIS coalition in Iraq in Syria, and they announced over the weekend that they're pulling back. They were supposed to be training Iraqi forces for the fight against ISIS, but instead they're going to be pulling back so they can defend us bases in Iraq as well as the U S embassy.

Speaker 1: 00:51 The need for increased security at the basis is due to a concern of retaliation by Iran over the killing of Iranian general costume. Sulaymani you spoke to a UC San Diego professor about ways Iran could retaliate. What did you learn there?

Speaker 2: 01:07 So we talked with Eric [inaudible] who's with the center for peace and security studies at a UC San Diego. What he felt is that, uh, obviously Iran will retaliate in some way, uh, but they're less likely to attack the U S openly considering the U S has such superior conventional forces. Also, he felt that Iran has all the time in the world that they've been the, uh, the major beneficiary of a U S policy in Iraq so far. And as long as they can just sort of bide their time, it's increasingly likely that we'll end up, uh, leaving, or at least our present will be presence will be greatly reduced and that Iran will end up filling that power vacuum.

Speaker 1: 01:48 And you know, Steve, uh, over the weekend there were, there was a lot of talk of a draft, particularly on social media. What is your understanding of if that's something that would happen?

Speaker 2: 01:58 Well, yes, this selective service servers actually crashed on Friday after so many people rushed in there to see whether or not the draft had been imposed or how that might work. Now I can tell you it's very unlikely that a draft would be imposed just the way it would work. It would take upwards of a year for people to actually even mobilize and it's very unlikely that there's going to be a large, massive ground war against Iran. Uh, but what it does say is just how focused people are on this. There have been several sort of tit for tat back and forth that we've pulled out of Syria, but this, the killing of Solomanis seems to have really galvanized not only Iranians, but a lot of young Americans who think that we could be in for world war three. Whether or not we are going for world war three. That's another question, but people are really starting to talk about this.

Speaker 1: 02:46 Do the people you've spoken with, uh, believe that this could lead us into war?

Speaker 2: 02:52 War is essentially when two sides declare that they are at war. When they acknowledge this in many ways, Iran and the United States have been in a smoldering war for, for several years, and it really is a matter of whether or not this would break out into open conflict if whether or not the U S would actually declare that it was fighting against Iran, whether or not they liked the president said that they would have started attacking sites within Iran cultural sites and actually create an open warfare with the country of Iran. This comes as the parliament voted to end. The U S has presence in Iraq. What prompted that vote? Well, the drone strike, they were not informed ahead of time. Uh, the American forces there, the 5,000 troops were there to help them fight ISIS, but they were not involved in any way in the planning of this, this air strike that happened at the Baghdad airport, right in Iraq.

Speaker 2: 03:46 So, uh, over the weekend, the Iraqi parliament did vote to remove the U S forces, asked them to leave. This is an a resolution. It's nonbinding. The government still has to back that up with an actual order for American forces. And how has the U S reacted to that vote? So they've reacted to it by, um, president Trump has claimed on Twitter that he will impose sanctions saying that we spent a lot of money building up these bases in Iraq. I think he might be confusing sanctions with tariffs that somehow we would get money back if we imposed a sanction on the Iraqis. And you know, the consequences of that, it's pretty hard to say, given that the Iraqi government is already a fairly unstable the way things are if you impose sanctions on them, I guess you might end up with regime change in Iraq, but that regime change could be heavily influenced by Iran.

Speaker 2: 04:36 And I want to circle back to the troops. What kind of impact will troops being diverted to focus on security have on the fight against ISIS? It will have a negative impact on the fight against ISIS right now. I mean, the Americans had already lowered their footprint in Syria. They had, we pulled out troops. We are, we're, we're investing less and less in that conflict. And now all of those troops are being pulled back to basically defend the Americans in the country. And Steve, some of those troops that have been deployed are from local basis, correct? They are indeed. They're part of a what's called a Marine air ground task force that was already in Kuwait. And now some of those troops have been moved to into a Baghdad to help defend the U S embassy and they're from camp Pendleton, 29 palms and Miramar, another 3,500 troops have been called up from the 82nd airborne division.

Speaker 2: 05:28 That's army from the East coast. Army Rangers are also being dispatched and also from the East coast based. 26th Marine expeditionary unit has been diverted to Iraq at the same time here in San Diego. As people are concerned about what Iran might do, there's heightened security at each one of the basis here, both Marine and Navy bases. They're already warning that, uh, expect long lines if you're trying to get in or out of Miramar or, or 32nd street or any of the bases here in San Diego. I have been speaking with KPBS military reporter, Steve Walsh. Steve, thank you very much for joining us. Thanks, Jade.

Speaker 1: 00:00 Recommendations aimed at making San Diego's 42 community planning groups more inclusive and transparent. We're heading towards city council approval before a legal analysis last week from the city attorney's office. The analysis found that the planning groups that play a crucial role in determining the fate of housing projects across the city probably can't be regulated by the city because they're independent. The city attorney suggests some ways the city might change that, but those remedies could slow down the reform effort and advocates say San Diego needs those reforms to address the city's housing crisis. Joining me is Colin parentees, executive director and general counsel of circulate San Diego, a nonprofit which supports the planning group reforms. And Collin, welcome to the program. Thanks for having me. Now the city attorney's concerns about reforming community planning groups seem to STEM from the uncertain status of those groups. They are now apparently independent bodies and the city would have to change that before it could regulate them. Did you see this issue coming?

Speaker 2: 01:04 You know, uh, I think what's important to understand here is that the city attorney is said very clearly that, uh, that there have to be some reforms and that the, the direction they were going may not be the direction they ultimately go. Uh, but there is an option to do that. It just would require, you know, some other things. Uh, so we, we actually saw, uh, uh, uh, the city attorney actually produced two different options are three different options. Two of those were ones that circulate San Diego had identified as potential options, uh, in a prior legal memo that the city attorney is currently responding to. So this is not a big surprise to us. Uh, but it's is going to take a little work to navigate what the, what the city attorneys as newly identified.

Speaker 1: 01:46 Right. Because the, these technical legal issues were apparently overlooked by the city auditor and the city council land use committee when they gave approval to new rules to make these groups more inclusive and transparent.

Speaker 2: 01:59 Yeah, that's right. And part of it is also that the city attorney has been a moving target as to what, how they feel about these community planning groups. And so in the past they have said that they are created by the city council. They are public bodies, that it must be regulated by the Brown act, which is the California's open meeting law. And then now their, uh, their new, um, advice is saying something different. They're saying it's more ambiguous. Uh, they tried to address that, uh, discrepancy in a footnote in their, uh, uh, in their memos saying, Oh, well we kind of said that before, but now it's a little different.

Speaker 1: 02:31 So let me take you back a step back. Collin, what are some of the reforms recommended for these community planning groups and why do you think they're needed?

Speaker 2: 02:38 Yeah, so they're needed for a variety of reasons. And the, in circulate San Diego really, uh, was one of the first groups to really kick this off with a report that we published called democracy and planning. And what essentially we're identifying is that there's a variety of ways in which the community planning process, which has a lot of benefits, isn't, doesn't live up to our expectations for what we expect out of a democracy. So, um, in order to serve on a community planning group, you have to get elected, uh, by your neighbors. But the elections are not always fair. So for example, in some of those elections, in order to even vote, you have to have attended a prior community planning group meeting. And think about, think about that. Let's imagine you go and you show up to vote for your city council member in November.

Speaker 2: 03:19 And the person at the poll says, Oh, you know, I'm, I'm sorry, Marina, where you're not able to, uh, to vote, uh, because you haven't attended a prior city council meeting. You know, you think that was outrageous, right? Or, or you can't, you know, you can't vote for this member of Congress because you've never visited Congress. Right? I mean, that's just, that's just nonsense. And so, uh, there's no way that we should be, uh, maintaining a structure like that. And so some reforms like that, um, can be, can and should be implemented to make sure that the, the, these groups that do advise the city on really important matters are, um, are equitable and accessible to everyone. And there was some concern that the community planning groups as they're made up right now aren't really inclusive. They don't, they don't include a lot of renters.

Speaker 2: 03:59 They don't include a lot of minorities and women. Uh, and uh, you, you were looking to see that changed. Yeah. And let me clarify. The dad is, um, that's all based on anecdotal observations. Uh, there's plenty of academic work in, in other regions that show that more specifically. But one of the key recommendations was that we need to have that data for San Diego. So we need to make sure that when people are elected to community planning groups that we, that we survey them, that we have some sense of who is serving in these capacities so that we can make, you know, thoughtful choices about how they're structured. Cause currently we, we just don't have that data. Uh, but, but yeah, when you go there, it's, it, you definitely get that sense. And again, it's, it's different for different groups. Students, some, some groups that are in, um, are certainly more diverse and to their credit, but, but others are not.

Speaker 2: 04:46 And the idea is that from advocates who want to save more housing and more dense housing in San Diego, that sometimes these community groups are obstacles to that. Yeah. I mean that's certainly the perception but, but we in, there's, I think some truth to it, but the focus of our, our efforts and the reforms are really value neutral. They're not about making sure that we're going to have more, more housing. They're not about making sure that we're going to have more bike lanes, that that's actually not what it's about. It's about making sure that the system that we use to make those decisions are more fair. How do you think this legal analysis from the city attorney's office impacts the reform effort? Well, I think it does clouded a little bit, but, um, but that, but that's okay. It's important to get to the right outcome.

Speaker 2: 05:32 And it's important to have an outcome that's defensible that we can all live with in a going forward basis. So, uh, the city attorney really identifies three different options. One is to sort of disband them and have the mayor appoint, um, uh, members and as probably not going to happen politically. Uh, the other option is to have them be a relatively independent, but if they are going to be independent, then they have to, they have to be, um, uh, organized as nonprofits and the city can't incorporate them in the land use process as deeply as they currently are. And that's, you know, that's, that's an option. Uh, and then the third option is they would have to, uh, amend the city charter to allow for this sort of structure. But then also if they amend the city charter to allow that, that gives the city more opportunity to regulate how they operate and to ensure that they are, uh, elections and operations are, are fair and equitable.

Speaker 2: 06:18 From your standpoint, what do you think the, the city's next move should be? Well, I think the city's next move is that the council needs to take, uh, take this up as a council and they need to direct the city attorney at which of those three models they want to move forward with. Um, I think they, if done correctly, any of those models can be, can be appropriate. Uh, but right now the city attorney doesn't, doesn't know exactly which of those models the city council wants to do. So the really the ball is in the court of the city council. They need to docket this and they need to direct the city attorney on how to move forward. I have been speaking with Colin parent, he's executive director and general counsel of circulate San Diego and Colin, thank you. Thank you.

peaker 1: 00:00 Fewer than 10% of California's teachers are non white men. And that's a problem because they could play a significant role in helping to close the achievement gap for black and Brown boys as part of our California dream collaboration. [inaudible] Vanessa run Canio reports

Speaker 2: 00:17 today in third period English teacher. Darryl McKellar has a writing assignment for his ninth grade students.

Speaker 3: 00:23 So this is what I'm asking you guys to do. What does racism mean to you? How was racism related to uh, the apartheid that's discussed in the text? They seems sorta kinda interesting, but some phones are out. How many people have experienced, let's do it this way. You've experienced something because you black or Brown, you've experienced something hands go up

Speaker 2: 00:40 around the room. All the students in this veteran teacher's classroom in South central LA are black or Latino.

Speaker 3: 00:47 What'd you guys do? Go ahead. Jake. One says, two days ago he was at a store in Santa Monica that was just following me around, like keeping a close eye on me, seeing if I was going to steal something. McKellar tells the students about a time in college when a classmate made a racist comment about him. I get a flip out before it cause if I, if I've live out them, would I get kicked out. The class can't graduate then you would never have me in front of you. He gets a smile out of the students. They keep their eyes on him and I don't want you guys to, to be, to be part of that. Oh well you know I'm black, I'm Brianna, I ain't gonna make it. I go to school in the hood. I call BS on that.

Speaker 3: 01:23 Don't make, do not make your life hard. To connect with his students to relate to and understand their experiences makes a difference. When students of color have teachers of color in classrooms like this one, there's strong evidence. They learn more, finished high school at higher rates and are more likely to aspire to college. When you see someone in front of you that looks like you and you can relate to what they're talking about and they can code switch and come, come to where you're at and then come back out and say like, see, I just jumped somewhere else but I was just there with you. So what does that mean that you need to do? And I think I had a jump with you for almost my whole school year life. I only had like woman teachers,

Speaker 2: 02:05 student Elijah foster says having a teacher like McKellar is still a pretty new experience. His classmate Tyler banner says it's just [inaudible]

Speaker 3: 02:13 different. It feels like the man expect more out of you. CMS like the homie, like a close friend, like as in Mike, trustable

Speaker 2: 02:23 McKellar knows he can play a critical role for his students. That's why he sharing his 20 years experience in the classroom with aspiring male teachers of color. He's part of a program at a handful of California state university teachers, colleges. That could be a model for getting more men of color into teaching because sometimes we could sit in a class, show me that. It's 25 young ladies in, it's only like three of us, 28 year old Fabienne floras is in the future minority male teachers of California program. He says he almost quit early on after a veteran teacher warned him away from the profession saying it's underpaid, undervalued.

Speaker 4: 03:02 I was kind of like on the ropes like, yeah, should I continue? Yes, no bad. I don't really belong. Even

Speaker 2: 03:07 he says, having McKellar as guidance and a support group of other men of color gave him the confidence to believe that not only does he belong, he's really needed, but he had another problem. He was scrambling to pay for school and that's not unusual, especially for students of color who are disproportionately burdened by debt. The program offered Florida is a $5,000 scholarship.

Speaker 4: 03:31 I would not be here if it wasn't for that extra money.

Speaker 2: 03:35 Now for him, it's a matter of overcoming his own doubts about what comes next.

Speaker 4: 03:40 What scares me is getting a job at an elementary school where I don't have a mentor that shows me the ropes.

Speaker 2: 03:49 Domingas Hills is trying to make sure students like Florida stay on track to finish and move into classrooms as full fledged teachers. The next challenge is actually keeping them there in Los Angeles. I'm Vanessa Trengganu.

Speaker 1: 04:03 Joining me is KQBD reporter Vanessa Ranconyo and Vanessa, welcome. Thanks for having me. Now. I suppose keeping male teachers of color in the classroom has a lot to do with the teacher salaries. What is an average salary for a beginning teacher in [inaudible]

Speaker 2: 04:19 four yeah, according to the department of education, it's between about $43,000 a year and $52,000 a year and that's across all different kinds of districts.

Speaker 1: 04:31 Now, is there a fear that that kind of salary is not enough to encourage these new male teachers to keep on teaching?

Speaker 2: 04:40 Sure. But that's a factor I think for a lot of teachers and prospective teachers, especially as the cost of living rises in California for teachers of color. This issue is compounded by specific factors like a greater debt burden on average than white college grads carry. And for male teachers of color specifically, or I should say for, for male teachers in general, there can be a kind of stigma around teaching, especially at the elementary school level. Um, this is something I heard from people who run teacher preparation programs, right? That there's just sort of an unease around men being around young students. So that's something that they have to work against. And then I heard from a lot of these male teachers of color that they feel like they're really not respected by their peers as sort of experts in their field that they tend to get called in when there's a disciplinary issue, right?

Speaker 2: 05:49 So they're sort of seen as the campus police. Um, and, and that can be really disheartening for them. And as we know, the numbers are quite low. So there's this isolation that many can feel that just compounds these other feelings. Now, what you've just been talking about are these, some of the reasons that we hear in your report, three quarters of students in California are kids of color, while only 10% of teachers are men of color. Are these some of the reasons that why that teacher gap exists? Yeah, I think the issue of debt burden, again, is something that disproportionately affects college graduates of color, college completion rates in general for college students of color are disproportionately low. Um, and then just the cost of completing a teacher preparation program and doing a year of student teaching, right, which you've got to manage the cost of, um, and the licensure exams, all of that comes together to make it especially challenging for teacher candidates of color.

Speaker 2: 06:56 Now, what do educators think men of color as teachers are going to add to the classroom? Yeah, so there are some theories about white teachers of color in general make this difference that we see in outcomes for students of color. Um, people think it could have to do with this role model effect. Um, others theorize that it has to do with implicit bias, right? That teachers of color may be exhibiting less implicit bias in interacting with their students of color, that they have higher expectations for these students or that students of color aren't experiencing the same kind of stereotype threat when interacting with a teacher who looks like them. Um, then when interacting with a white teacher. So I think part of the interest in getting men, specifically men of color specifically into the field just has to do with diversity in general, right? That as a society, this tends to be something that we value and that we think is good for students and it's going to help prepare them to go out into a diverse world.

Speaker 2: 08:01 But there's also a hope that specifically for male students of color who've often scored at the bottom on state tests, that having a male teacher of color as a role model could really make a difference. You know, programs like these, I think always run the risk of disrespecting the work of female teachers who've been plugging away in classrooms. Of course for decades, our existing teachers groups supporting this effort. I can't speak to specific teachers groups, but I know that the CS CSU leadership is behind this effort and I think the people who are leading these efforts would say that they are certainly not trying to disrespect anybody. They're trying to address a narrow problem. Right, which is the very low number of male of color. I think they'd probably argue that there should be specific supports for female teachers of color. Right, but they're just addressing this narrow issue.

Speaker 2: 09:06 Now I know this is the first of two reports. Vanessa, what will we hear in tomorrow's report? Tomorrow you're going to get to sit in on a pretty unusual meeting of male teachers of color at a high school in Compton where a UC Berkeley researcher is leading an initiative to try to improve retention of male teachers of color. Cause this shortage is not just about recruitment. A big part of the problem is that new teachers coming in leave and male teachers of color in particular leave at really high rates. Okay. Then I've been speaking with KQD reporter, Vanessa Ranconyo. Vanessa. Thank you. Thank you.

Speaker 1: 00:00 California law makers reconvened today for their 2020 legislative session, but for the first time in nearly a decade, Capitol public radio's Bureau chief and Adler won't be joining them before he moves into a new role with the station. He digs back into his reporters notebook to reflect on our polarized political debate. Here's the final piece and our California dream collaboration series on solutions. In the spring of 2017 when democratic assembly speaker Anthony Renden shelved a single payer healthcare bill

Speaker 2: 00:30 cost doubled the state budget and didn't have a funding source attached dude. It was a bill that was woefully incomplete.

Speaker 1: 00:36 The California nurses association posted a violent graphic to social media, a knife with the word Renden on it, stabbing the California grizzly bear in the back. The union's done. Nielsen defended the image.

Speaker 3: 00:47 I think it represents very well what the speaker did. Yeah, he stabbed California residents in the back.

Speaker 1: 00:53 Weeks later, governor Jerry Brown crossed party lines to negotiate a cap and trade deal with a block of Republicans, assembly minority leader Chad Mayes acknowledged the political risk.

Speaker 2: 01:03 What they decided was that they were going to put the people of California ahead of their own careers.

Speaker 1: 01:09 Nan did. Sher was influential. Conservatives like John Fleischman forced maze to resign his leadership post.

Speaker 3: 01:16 Most hardworking Republican activists. I expect our legislators to draw a line in the sand.

Speaker 1: 01:21 Despite these pressures, someone makers still seek connections, compromise and karaoke once a year. The legislature's cordial caucus convenes for a karaoke night with drinks and some below average singing democratic state Senator Stephen Bradford told me it makes finding common ground a lot easier.

Speaker 4: 01:42 Events like this allow us to sit down outside of the party, outside the building, outside the politics, and get to know one another.

Speaker 1: 01:50 And former GOP, Senator Tony Strickland said, politicians do know how to disagree without being disagreeable.

Speaker 4: 01:56 If you really want stability, you need to hear what the other side's talking about and have some respect that your constituents, your active ones are pressuring you to go further and one direction without that question. That's why it's a comment upon leaders to lead.

Speaker 1: 02:10 Sometimes they do. Earlier this year, governor Gavin Newsome and lawmakers from both parties resolved one of the nation's most polarizing debates with a compromise. Three 92 is now law in the state of California assembly. Bill three 92 raise the legal standard for when police can use deadly force after months of negotiations. The final deal drew bipartisan support. Here's its author, democratic assembly woman, Shirley Webber. They always say, if you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together and here's Republican assemblyman, Tom Lackey.

Speaker 2: 02:43 When you have true leadership, really polarized positions can come together,

Speaker 1: 02:48 but it's not just politicians who must choose between tolerance and tantrums. It's the rest of us too. It can be hard to find tolerance of the other side, even perhaps from ourselves. Yet every once in a while there's a moment like this one outside of Trump speech in Reno in August, 2017

Speaker 5: 03:07 Kevin, you're wearing a make America great again hat. Actually, this is signed by president Trump and his son and Kathy. You're holding a black lives matter sign made this in my backyard last night

Speaker 1: 03:19 as police held protesters and supporters apart, there were Kevin coffee and Kathy Blaine just talking with each other

Speaker 5: 03:26 first a little bit, and now I kind of feel like he's a friend. Love and respect your neighbor and understand that some people don't agree with that.

Speaker 1: 03:35 In my 20 years as a journalist, I've only felt comfortable advocating for two things. Donate to your local public radio station and vote. But as I turned in my reporting gear, I think I'm ready to add one final thing to that list. Just because you disagree with someone's political views that doesn't make them a bad person at the state Capitol. I'm Ben Adler.

KPBS Midday Edition podcast branding

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.