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San Diego GOP Summons Party Faithful, California Looking To Enter Rx Market, LGBTQ Center Exhibit Leads To Diversity Training And SDSU Film Grad Serves Up Social Justice In New Film ‘Just Mercy’

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The Republican Party of San Diego County is calling all party faithful to discuss 2020 issues and strategies to combat this election year. Plus, California is looking to become the first state in the nation to sell its own generic prescription drugs under a new plan proposed by Gov. Gavin Newsom. There are a lot of Iraq veterans in San Diego, and now they're seeing the situation heating up again in Iraq, following the U.S. assasination of an Iranian general. We'll hear from several veterans about their experiences and America's appetite for more war in the Middle East. Also, how an exhibit on San Diego's LGBTQ history led to a diversity program training for local law enforcement. And, a conversation with SDSU film graduate and director of the new social justice film “Just Mercy.”

Speaker 1: 00:00 The San Diego County Republican party is summoning the party faithful tonight to meet and discuss 20, 20 issues. And candidates much has been written about the decline of the GOP in California. And last year was a difficult one for local Republicans. Uh, San Diego city council member and the County district attorney both left the party to become independence and a state assembly member switched parties entirely to become a Democrat. Political strategists believed the San Diego board of supervisors could become majority Democrat this year, and a Democrat could also become San Diego's next mayor, but the Republican party plans to fight back. Starting with tonight's small meet and mingle series of caucuses across the County. Joining me is the chairman of the San Diego County Republican party, Tony [inaudible] and Tony, welcome to the program.

Speaker 2: 00:49 Thanks, Maureen.

Speaker 1: 00:50 What are tonight's meetings going to be like? What do you have planned?

Speaker 2: 00:54 Well, these are, uh, we meet every other month, uh, as a whole and the mission Valley usually. And then, uh, on the, uh, odd number of months we meet, uh, out in the, in the County, there's an opportunity for Republicans to get together, uh, with a more local flair to organize and meet local candidates, uh, local elected officials, local activists, uh, and, uh, we haven't been, uh, Carlsbad and it's gonna Deedo, uh, East County, South Bay, you know, scripts ranch and so on. So, uh, there's a, there's a lot of excitement, obviously there, there's a national election coming up, but, uh, what makes the most difference in most people's lives are local offices. And that is the, uh, the prime thing that we focus on at the Republican party, Sandoval County,

Speaker 1: 01:37 one of the key races that San Diego County Republicans need to win this year.

Speaker 2: 01:42 Well, you already mentioned the, uh, supervisor race. Clearly, uh, the unions would like to take control of the County board of supervisors. You see that with the over a six figure spent already again, or already against a supervisor Kristen gas bar, who was the incumbent. Uh, you know, the Democrats have two candidates there, you know, of different flares of, of, uh, of leftists. Uh, I don't think a North County voters are looking for that. Uh, so, but that's going to be a tough one. And of course, uh, for the longest time there was no candidate for, uh, a mayor from the Republican side. You had, uh, uh, two flavors, uh, of Democrats, uh, with Todd, Gloria and Barbara Brie. But, uh, Councilman Scott Sherman threw his hat in the ring, uh, to bring some, uh, common sense above the nonsense, uh, at city hall. So those are two big ones. Uh, but of course there are, uh, there's dozens of races across the County.

Speaker 1: 02:34 Now what about the 50th district? Duncan Hunter has no officially resigned from Congress. The County party didn't endorse a candidate to replace him. Is there a chance that the GOP will now revisit that vote and endorse a candidate for the primary?

Speaker 2: 02:48 Uh, we will revisit it, uh, after March. At this point, there's no more plans. We had a vote. We had a robust debate. Uh, no, none of the three candidates received the two thirds vote of the, so, uh, we will support whoever makes it out of the runoff. And, um, then that person will be most important them and going into November, it is a very Republican district. So, um, Omar in a jar or whatever his name is, um, doesn't really find much of a chance. This is a very, very Republican district. Uh, so we look forward to holding that, uh, come November.

Speaker 1: 03:20 Uh, just to, just to make it clear, it's a Mark cap and a jar who's running on the democratic side and the 50th district. Now the GOP has been effective and using certain issues to fire up voters and win elections. What issues do you see Republicans being able to use in this election?

Speaker 2: 03:37 Well, uh, what do you see blowing up, uh, all over? Uh, social media and Twitter is a AB five. It's, it's absolutely huge. Uh, with the local assembly woman, Lorraine Gonzales, uh, basically effectively, uh, eliminating the gig economy in a, in a, in state and the state of California. So you have a lot of freelancers, be they journalists or interpreters. Um, uh, you know, people who drive for Uber and so forth. I was just in the car this morning with a gentleman. He said, I don't want to be an employee. I want to just turn on my, my, uh, my Uber app and go driving when I need to make a couple of hundred bucks extra. And so, uh, this is really a bridge too far where Lauren goes, Alice, this was quoted as saying, will be great if everybody was an employee and if everybody was a member of a union.

Speaker 2: 04:24 So I think this is putting the cart before the horse. So that is one, uh, huge issue, uh, that the Democrats, uh, just shows that they're, they're, uh, in front of their skis and other one is a age appropriate, uh, sex ed in our schools where the Democrats are having all kinds of discussion with school aged children where our position is that we should teach the basics in school and anything beyond that should be left to families and churches. So those are two examples where the Democrats are, um, in front of the skis, if you will, and where people are paying attention. The third one is school choice. Uh, there's a war on charter schools and, um, that's, uh, you know, most parents would like to be able to choose the school that the kids go to. The Democrats say, no, you must go to the government school that we assign you to. And that also goes against, uh, the feelings of most San Diego

Speaker 1: 05:15 now see a candidate in the 50th district. Carl de Maya recently told KPBS he believes Republicans in California are not putting up a strong enough fight and are surrendering to their circumstances. I wonder what your reaction is to that.

Speaker 2: 05:29 Well, uh, there's no doubt Republicans need to be more on offense. We are right on the issues. Democrats, uh, to their credit, they find all kinds of, uh, idea. They come up with new ideas and their crazy ideas in many cases, but at least they have ideas. And then they'd drive the debate and people started discussing something that wasn't being discussed uh, before. So that's to their credit, uh, Republicans need to do a better job of just, uh, being on offense. Uh, taking our message to voters too often are Republicans water down their is to try to just become like Democrats when people are looking for a, a bold colors, not pale pastels. And uh, uh, we are right on the issues. I just mentioned three issues where I think that's a 70, 80% agreement if you, uh, if you ask San Diego sons on those three issues. So we need to proudly proclaim them. Carla Meyer is one candidate who is certainly never afraid to show his colors and uh, we're encouraging more of our candidates to paint with bold colors and not pale pastels like I mentioned.

Speaker 1: 06:27 So Tony, in your opinion, has the Republican party in San Diego found a strategy to talk about president Trump in a way that doesn't alienate either those that support him or those that don't support him?

Speaker 2: 06:39 Well, obviously, uh, when people are running for local office, there's, they're, uh, advocating for the local issues be there in Sacramento or be they on the border supervisors or be they on there on, on the city council or school boards or planning groups. So the issues are always local. And anyone who's running for local office, if the PR the president be they from whatever party, uh, have a policy that's, that's good for that district, then, uh, they would support that. If it's bad for that district, then they would not support that. So we were talking about local office. It's really, uh, very important to get to know the people and it doesn't say Republican or Democrat on the ballot. So voters, uh, need to do their own homework. They will do their own homework, uh, and, uh, if they want to discuss federal issues, then of course there's a ballot for that to vote for the president or not the president. And you have congressional races as well. So, but for local offices, uh, it's always about, uh, the local issues and everybody I've talked to, all candidates are gonna do what's best for that district regardless of who the president is.

Speaker 1: 07:41 Any more big meetings of the San Diego Republican party coming up before the primary?

Speaker 2: 07:46 Yes. Actually, we're going to have a, our big meeting just before the elections take off on Monday, February 3rd, uh, at mission Valley. Our, uh, we're going to hear from Scott, chairman, candidate for Sandia mayor and Candice Owens, uh, who is the founder of [inaudible], uh, which are black Americans, uh, leaving the Democrat party. And that's going to be another huge, uh, meeting. People can go to San Diego, republicans.org to RSVP for that. We will also be launching all our, uh, Trump 2020 materials, be the yard signs, rally signs, tee shirts, and so forth. So all freedom loving San Diego that's open to the public, all freedom loving San Diego sons are, uh, are welcome and uh, right can register@sandiegorepublicans.org.

Speaker 1: 08:30 I've been speaking with the chairman of the San Diego County Republican party, Tony Guevara, and Tony. Thank you.

Speaker 2: 08:35 Thank you.

Speaker 1: 00:00 It's a bold strategy to drive down prescription drug prices. Governor Gavin Newsome is proposing the California become the first state in the nation to establish its own generic drug label. The idea being to make those medications available at an affordable price to the state's nearly 40 million residents. That proposal is part of the governor's $222 billion budget for 2020 and he announced it last week, but how would such a program work and how will the state pay for it? Joining us to talk more about this is Sammy Kay Yola of Capitol public radio. Sammy, welcome. Hi. Thanks for having me. You know, I realize the governor hasn't filled in all of the details about this yet, but what can you tell us about how such a program might work?

Speaker 2: 00:44 We don't know a lot about the details. We don't know how much it would cost or the mechanics of what it would mean to become a generic drug label here in California. But theoretically what's been proposed is that California would contract with a drug manufacturer to create more generics that are California generics and they would be available to health plans and hospitals and other purchasers and those purchasers would buy drugs from the state generic medications.

Speaker 1: 01:13 Okay. And Medi-Cal already cost the state and the federal government about a hundred billion dollars a year. Are there any estimates at least of how much this generic drug program might cost?

Speaker 2: 01:24 There are no estimates at this point. There was not a dollar amount in the budget and our requests for more information to the governor's office came back, uh, without, without any dollar amount.

Speaker 1: 01:34 Hmm. Has the governor yet explained how the state would, would pay for this program? And you've talked to people on both sides of the issue. What are supporters and opponents saying?

Speaker 2: 01:43 There are several different interpretations as to how this could go. And part of why there's so much speculation is because we don't have all the details, but some people are thinking that this is a great idea. Um, the, the argument for it is that it could increase competition in the generic manufacturing space. There are some generic drugs for which there's only one generic. And so the drug maker that makes that generic can set the price wherever they want. If California were making its own generics, they could theoretically introduce some competition and possibly lower some of those prices. Then you've got other health economists and pharmaceutical experts who say that generic drugs are a really small part of what's driving the price increases in the drug market. So, I mean, most of the medications people purchase are generics, but you've got some experts that say that generics are not really rising in price very rapidly.

Speaker 2: 02:37 They're pretty cheap already. And that focusing on making generics cheaper isn't the way to go. We should really be focusing, they say on these specialty medications, um, drugs for hepatitis C drugs for which there's really only one, uh, patented drug and that drug becomes astronomically expensive. So they say, you know that focusing on generics is just kind of putting your focus in the wrong place and then it's not going to do that much for the overall drug pricing problems in the state. You know this strategy is one of several. The governor is proposing to lower the cost of healthcare for Californians. What else is on the table? Yeah, he sent out a slew of healthcare proposals related to drug pricing. Another interesting one is making California the sole drug purchaser for all plants in the state. So that would include public plans and commercial plans.

Speaker 2: 03:26 And he's arguing that if California goes to the drug negotiation table on behalf of all the plans, that there'll be this purchasing power that's increased and will help more leverage and be able to get cheaper prices sorta because we're buying in bulk instead of each health plan going to drug makers to try to get the best cost. And how much have drug costs risen in recent years. So I have some data from the California office of statewide health planning and development showing that from 2017 to 2019 a generic drug prices Rose about 37%. While brand name drugs, uh, the price increased only about 25%. So when you look at that, you could say that the price of generics has been rising actually a little faster than the price of brand name drugs. But I did talk to some health economists who said that's not necessarily accurate data or it doesn't tell the whole story because that's the wholesale acquisition cost.

Speaker 2: 04:22 So that's the price that the drug will cost for wholesalers or for drug purchasers, but it's not necessarily what the customer is going to see at the pharmacy. So I don't necessarily have the data for how those prices have increased for the customers. Uh, pocket price, you know, with drug prices though, increasing as much as they have. What's been the impact on consumers? I think many consumers are noticing or rise in their prescription drug costs when they go to purchase. Uh, and it can be worse for people who have rare conditions or who are on a specialty medication. Um, I think it's a point of frustration for a lot of consumers. I spoke to some people in the, um, in the, in the labor union space, um, who say for workers that are just making a minimum wage that you know, healthcare costs and specifically the cost of medication are biting out larger and larger chunks of their weekly paychecks.

Speaker 2: 05:20 Um, and that it's, it's really breaking the bank for some folks. So I know there's, there's a lot of interest on the customer side and getting these drug prices down. And I know a Kaiser survey found that what three in 10 Americans reported not taking their medicine as prescribed due to the cost of prescriptions being so high, you know, if this proposal is successful, are there any estimates on how much the price of generic drugs could be lowered in California? No, we haven't seen any estimates yet because the proposal is so new and we have so little information about how it might play out. Right. I know this is something that you will continue to cover and many people will keep an eye on. I've been speaking with San Micaela of Capitol public radio. Sammy, thank you so much for joining us. Thanks for having me.

Speaker 1: 00:00 What does a San Diego museum have to do with training deputies and other personnel from the San Diego County Sheriff's office? The answer begins with an exhibit at the San Diego history center on the history of San Diego's LGBTQ community and its struggle for civil rights. A conversation between a museum employee and San Diego sheriff. Bill Gore led to a training program, a cooperative effort between the history center San Diego pride, and the Sheriff's department. Joining me to talk more about this innovative program, our gym LA Barbara from San Diego pride and Jacob Hernandez from the Sheriff's department. Welcome to you both. Thank you for having us. Thank you for having us. June. I'd like to start with you. Can you tell us how pride got involved with this program and what that involvement entails? Sure. So we had a former board member who was involved with some of the trainings that law enforcement around San Diego have been engaged with, and so she connected us with the Sheriff's department. She knew that we provided these kinds of cultural competency trainings. And so we came in to provide the kind of LGBTQ one Oh one level of the trainings that the Sheriff's department has created in deputy Hernandez. You've been through the training. What was your expectation going into it and, and what are your feelings now that you've completed it?

Speaker 2: 01:18 I was a student of probably one of Jen's first students over a year ago now. I really had never seen any topic like this in my eight, almost nine years on the department. And I was really interested to see what exactly was that they were going to show us going through it very eyeopening. Uh, I born and raised in San Diego, didn't really see a lot of these things in the news. I learned a lot of the terminology that I could use on the job that may, that would be appropriate to use, uh, given the situation. And I feel like a lot of people learned a lot of things and a lot of, uh, tools for the, for the tool belt, if you will.

Speaker 1: 01:54 Yeah. And this is a question for both of you. Many of us go through training programs and they're usually held in a classroom setting. Um, tell us about the advantages of doing this training in the museum that's hosting the LGBTQ exhibit. Sure. So I think one of the things I've heard from the Sheriff's department and from their deputies is that it is really beneficial to get them out of their normal comfort zone of a training facility that they're used to into a museum in Balboa park. The added benefit of having the amazing LGBTQ history exhibit that's at the history center helps to kind of tie the whole thing together at the end of the training. So I'll provide the one Oh one the terminology, cultural context, gender identity, sexual orientation information. The Sheriff's office will provide kind of more the how it actually applies to their jobs. And then they'll go through the exhibit and all the pieces will kind of come together. And deputy Hernandez.

Speaker 2: 02:51 The advantage, I mean have you been on the department and gone through numerous trainings, hundreds of trainings and knowing that it was always going to be either eight hours of being at the firearms range or eight hours of sitting in a classroom, learning about various topics. This being a four hour training that we offer two sessions per day, a four hour training in a beautiful setting like Bobo park outside of the classroom, away from the range. Uh, really got our mind going as to what we were in store for and then having time, our own free time as part of the training to walk through the exhibit and learn things kind of at our own pace and read things that interested us. Uh, that was, that was probably the biggest benefit right there.

Speaker 1: 03:33 And deputy Hernandez, we know that the goal is to get all deputies to complete this training, but other members of the Sheriff's department are undergoing it as well. Can you tell me about that?

Speaker 2: 03:42 The goal for the Sheriff's department as of the fiscal year, beginning last year, um, October the training's began. The goal is to get all 1200, roughly 1200 detentions sworn deputies through the training in the next two years. So a total of three years to get 1200 of us through. Um, we're also working with different divisions that work within the jails and the detention facilities to complete having gotten all their staff in through that as well.

Speaker 1: 04:10 And Jen, tell us about the relationship between the LGBTQ community and law enforcement in general and how that relationship informed this training program. Sure. So the origin of the LGBTQ movement really started as a protest against state sanction police violence against the LGBTQ community. So we know that the relationship between LGBTQ folks and law enforcement is not always or often a positive one. And so we see this training as an opportunity to, towards that goal of accountability, right. The first step in holding our law enforcement institutions accountable for treating LGBTQ folks with respect and dignity is education and deputy Hernandez. What has been the reaction to the training you've heard from your colleagues in the department?

Speaker 2: 05:01 Everyone's always very, um, surprised by the information that was given. They didn't know that the department would, would offer something like that. Um, in a positive way. Like, like I said, we're used to spending eight hours at the range or eight hours learning, um, a new platform of a maybe a database or something like that. And we're always, it's always a pleasure to learn something new, to add something to our, to the repertoire of training. Uh, especially in being in San Diego, serving this community and addressing those, the issues that need to be addressed, um, across not only across the community to be across the department as well.

Speaker 1: 05:36 I'm also curious from both of you about the exhibit itself. Can you walk, walk me through it. What do you see and what type of emotion does it invoke from you? Sure. So the LGBTQ history exhibit at the history is really a full picture of San Diego's LGBTQ community. So it goes emotionally from really devastating acts in time periods of the AIDS crisis when we lost a whole generation of, of gay men mostly and trans women and goes through an ends kind of in a space of hope. And, and also the space of where we still need to go. Right. The fight is not over. And it gives us that opportunity to look back at how far we've come. Deputy Hernandez, when you, when you saw the exhibit,

Speaker 2: 06:25 how did you feel? I felt taken back by everything. I didn't know that that went on throughout so many years through the community that I grew up in. Uh, never knowing any of this happened and these, these seem, they were such huge, huge events and there were so many huge cornerstones, um, champions of the community that are finally showcased and all in one place. And to be able to go to one place and learn it all and, you know, add that to the things you know about and things that you can appreciate living in San Diego and working in San Diego, it was great.

Speaker 1: 06:55 I had been speaking with Jim LA Barbara from San Diego pride and deputy Jacob Hernandez of the San Diego County Sheriff's department. Thank you both very much for joining us. Thank you.

Speaker 3: 07:06 [inaudible].

Speaker 1: 00:00 Filmmaker, Destin Cretan went to SDSU and was recently tapped to direct the upcoming Marvel film Shang CI. Currently he has the film just mercy in theaters. The film tells the story of New York lawyer, Bryan Stevenson, who started the equal justice initiative in Alabama. KPBS arts reporter Beth hock Amando showed Cretans student films a decade ago and has been following his career. He spoke with her by phone last week from Sydney, Australia.

Speaker 2: 00:30 I want to just start by saying that I've had the pleasure of watching you grow and mature as a filmmaker since I was able to show all your early student films and I think you said that it was going to one of the student festivals. I ran that you saw a film by Greg Durbin who was from San Diego state and that actually inspired you to go into filmmaking.

Speaker 3: 00:54 Yeah, that was the first time I watched. I went to a festival that had short films and then Greg, he went up and did a Q and a afterwards and Greg was kind of the first film maker, the local Frank and I reached out to you and we were doing our first shorts in San Diego. So he was our introduction to the San Diego scene there.

Speaker 2: 01:18 So in watching you grow up as a filmmaker and seeing a number of your short films and now your features, it seems like one of the things that's running through all of them is this sense of community, whether it's looking at a, a larger community or how individuals fit into a community, but that seems to be a running theme. And do you see that as something in your work?

Speaker 3: 01:41 Yeah, it is. I don't, I'm not sure if it's a conscious decision or not. I mean community is, has always been in an important theme in my life. It's part of the growing up experience in Hawaii is and community is kind of everything. Their community and family. It's just part of the culture to call your friends parents by auntie and uncle. That's the, the vibe of growing up on the Island is that we're kind of all in this together, so we might as well make the best of it.

Speaker 2: 02:13 Now, how did you discover just mercy and the story of Brian Stevenson?

Speaker 3: 02:18 I first read the book the year that it came out and it just gripped me from the first page. I was so surprised by the way that Brian Stevenson painted these characters. I mean, I, I feel like I constantly, um, relearning the lesson of don't judge a book by its cover over and over and over in my life. And when I read Bryan Stevenson's book just mercy, that's really what he does so brilliantly throughout the book as he starts with a character that is very easy judge. Then he starts peeling off the layers of that person introducing you to how they grew up, what their family life was like. Um, where they abused as a child. Did they go to war? And by the end of each chapter, you now have a completely different perspective on the character. And that's really what he not only does in his book, that's what he does in his work. That's how he gets people off of death row. Who are, they're wrongfully accused. He tells these stories and paints these pictures, uh, to judges and juries in order for them to have a really full perspective of who that person is. And the judgment of them really does shift. Once you, once you really know a person, let's hear a scene from just mercy in which lawyer Bryan Stevenson played by Michael B. Jordan visits his client, Walter McMillan play by Jamie Fox in prison.

Speaker 4: 03:55 You respond from Harvey, you don't know what it is here. When you're guilty from the moment you're born and you can buddy up with these white folks and make them laugh and try to make them like you, whatever that is. And you say, yes sir, no ma'am. But when it's your turn, they ain't got to have no fingerprints, no evidence, and the only witness that got ate the whole thing up. And none of that matter when all y'all think is, is I look like a man who could kill somebody. That's not what I think

Speaker 3: 04:31 is there really is a pretty intense feeling of helplessness with the African American community and that the issue of mass incarceration and what I've found really emotionally moving through the book and through telling this story, was seeing how when one family member is locked up, how it affects the entire family and the community from which that person came from. In particular, when someone is locked up or accused for a crime like this, when it was very clear that that person, Walter McMillan was in the company of 30 members of his family and his community at the time of this murder. And when a judge and jury that are primarily Caucasian, look at Walter McMillan and look at that community and say, no, you guys are all wrong. He was on the other side of town doing this murder and whatever you all say does not matter. The stripping of truth from a community with something that was really eye opening to me. And the frustration that comes along with that is real psychological battle that not only is happening to the person who's in prison but all of his loved ones who are left out outside. And one of the things that I really like about your films is the way you keep on a very

Speaker 2: 05:58 human scale. You know, when you get a Hollywood movie you can sometimes make people larger than life and you know, this sense of things happening really quickly. And, and in this film you really got that sense of how much work he put in and how long it took to, you know, affect any kind of a change. And I thought that was uh, you know, really compelling.

Speaker 3: 06:23 That's definitely a reason result of working closely with Brian Stevenson throughout the process. And there were certain things that he was rightfully so very protective of. And one of those was really trying to show how one, how easy it is in this judicial system that we have, how easy it is to lock up somebody, particularly people who are poor and don't have the legal resources that other people have. How easy it is to lock somebody up and, and condemn, condemn them to die in prison and how long and difficult it is to navigate the system in order to get that person out even when all of the evidence points to their innocence.

Speaker 2: 07:10 And how does it feel moving from something like this to, you know, now being one of the directors who's going to be working on a Marvel film? It seems like such a leap in a kind of a different direction.

Speaker 3: 07:24 It is a big leap. I will say that, um, the process is extremely different and the same in the same breath. I mean I think that the thing that we all love about Marvel movies is they do look and concentrate on characters who feel like humans and feel real and joke like we joke and cry like we cry. And that's the thing that feels like a constant between the two.

Speaker 2: 07:50 Well, I want to thank you very much for taking some time and talking to me all the way from Sydney and

Speaker 3: 07:57 thank you Beth. So great to hear your voice.

Speaker 2: 08:00 That was Beth OCHA, Mondo speaking with filmmaker Destin Cretan about just mercy, which is currently playing in theaters.

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KPBS Midday Edition is a daily talk show hosted by Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon, keeping San Diegans in the know on everything from politics to the arts.