San Diego’s MLK Day Celebration, Duncan Hunter’s Downfall Documentary, Meet San Diego Mayoral Candidates, Tech Solution To Border Wait And Alan Alda On Science Communication
KPBS Midday Edition / January 20, 2020
Speaker 1: 00:00 It's celebrating Martin Luther King day with revolutionary love and later in the show, a conversation with after Alan Alda. I'm Maureen Kavanaugh. This is KPBS mid day edition. It's Monday, January 20th the annual Dr. Martin Luther King day. All people's breakfast was held in Balboa park this morning. The theme this year to honor dr King's life and legacy is be heard, be counted, belong. The keynote speaker at this year's event has certainly been heard. She's a civil rights lawyer, a filmmaker and author, and the creator of a Ted talk that went viral and it has been viewed almost 3 million times. Valerie Kaur joins me now and welcome.
Speaker 2: 00:55 Thank you so much for having me Marine.
Speaker 1: 00:57 Now, the subject of that Ted talk that I just mentioned was about revolutionary love. Is that the message that you brought today to the all people's breakfast?
Speaker 2: 01:07 Yes. Well, this morning it was so beautiful to see a thousand people gathering in honor of Dr. King and Dr. King. They knew that he had built an entire nonviolent movement for civil rights, anchored in the ethic of love. And so I brought the message that I believe that the best way to honor Dr. King and his legacy is to reclaim love as a force for justice for a new time. How do you define revolutionary love? Uh, first of all, I F I define love as sweet labor, not just a rush of feeling, right? Love is labor law, fierce bloody imperfect life giving. Um, it is, uh, it is a kind of labor that engages all of our emotions. You know, Joy's, the gift of love. Grief is the price of love, angers the force that protects that which is loved. And when we practice that kind of labor for others who do not look like us for our opponents and for ourselves, then love becomes revolutionary, becomes an ethic that can sustain social change.
Speaker 1: 02:05 Now you're from California, central Valley, where your family has lived for generations, but still you experienced hostility because of your family's Sikh faith. Did that experience start you on the path to your civil rights and social justice work?
Speaker 2: 02:20 Yes, I became an activist shortly after the terrorist attacks on September 11th, my, um, a man who I considered an uncle bill Bearson. So D was the first person killed in a hate crime after nine 11. And I remember shortly after those attacks, I went and saw a presentation, um, of dr King's speeches and it was sitting in the pews and looking at the Sloan black man who took the mic. It was an actor who was performing his speeches from the Vietnam war. And Dr. King was saying that our enemies are not individuals. Our real enemies are systems of oppression, poverty, militarism. And so he really turned me into an activist hearing his voice come down to us through the ages. I joined my first protest. After that, I became a lawyer. I became part of a generation, a new generation struggling for civil rights and human rights.
Speaker 1: 03:12 You know, there's not that many people in politics or even in the social justice movement talking about love these days. Is it hard to introduce the topic now and still sound relevant?
Speaker 2: 03:24 Yes. I think people are hungry for war rather than the language of love. And I've, and even I, I have to admit, you know, even after I became a lawyer, sort of that legal training made it so that every, anytime I saw someone's done on the stage and say love was the answer, I cringed. I rolled my eyes. Um, and it, and I realize it's because it's, it's not, the problem was not with love. It's the way that we have come to talk about it. We talk about love as a Russia feeling as thoughts and prayers that require no serious action, but it was going back to Dr. King and, and reading him. He says, power without love is reckless and abusive. Love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love. Implementing the demands of justice and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love for Dr. King. Love was not just a moral imperative. It was strategic, it was pragmatic, it was how we won. And it's how I've come to understand that our goal is not just to remove bad actors from power. It is to reimagine institutions of power so that one day our freedom won't just be ours. It will be everyone's, even our opponents.
Speaker 1: 04:34 It seems that anger in the political and social sphere almost makes people happy these days. I saw a political commercial recently and it was all about sticking it to the other side. Nothing about policy, but just I'll make the other side miserable if you vote for me. How would you confront that kind of rhetoric?
Speaker 2: 04:54 Oh, it feels good in the short term, right? To seek revenge. Um, I think that in a moment like this, we must not become what we are fighting. Um, we must not become what we are resisting. And at the same time we ought to honor our rage. There is a role for rage and this is the feminist intervention. This is Audrey Lorde, the black feminist who said that our rage carries vital information. And so our goal is not to explode our rage as we've seen happen on both sides, on all sides, or to suppress our rage, but to channel our rage and to creative redemptive action. And I think that's what we have started to do with this beautiful coalition of artists and activists and faith leaders rising up to reclaim love as revolutionary love for a new time. It seems almost
Speaker 1: 05:41 possible to nurture that kind of righteous rage and also not projected upon anyone else.
Speaker 2: 05:47 Yes, I talk about harboring our rage and safe containers processing our rage and safe container so that we are allowed to explore our body's needs to defend itself to, to, to Harbor our animosity, but not let it consume us. You know, either off the playwright events there says that anger is a potion of a poison that you mixed for someone else but drink yourself. So how do you honor your rage but not let it, uh, kill you in the process? And I find that revolutionary love can only be practiced in community, that we have to, we can be each other's safe container to let out our, our anger and, and our rage, and then still take each other's hands and March in the streets and lift up the call to love, um, and see. And it's really the refusal to see our opponents as anything other but human that there is no such thing as monsters in this world. Only human beings that are wounded. And once we hear beneath the slogans and the soundbites and we hear our opponents stories, we can hear even their pain and know that our goal is not just to end the hem, it is to change the institutions and cultures that radicalize them but authorize them to hurt us in the first place. It sounds like
Speaker 1: 06:52 it's as if dr King's legacy is something that viscerally feeds you and, and your, your motivation each and every.
Speaker 2: 06:59 It does. You know, last night I was, I'm kissing my son goodbye to come to San Diego for the event and I said I was coming to celebrate dr King's life and my son said, um, is Dr. King still alive? And I said, no. And he said, but mommy, I talked to him on the phone and I remember that we went to the civil rights museum and he picked up one of those phones and her Dr. King speaking in his ear. My son is right. Dr. King is alive. He's alive and in us and it is our responsibility to carry his message, to practice it and to live it for a new time.
Speaker 1: 07:29 I've been speaking with lawyer and civil rights activist. Valerie Kaur who was the keynote speaker at today's all people's breakfast here in San Diego. Thank you so much. Thank you. This is KPBS mid day edition. I'm worrying Cavanagh. The town of paradise is slowly recovering 14 months after the campfire killed 85 residents and destroyed 11,000 homes, but the rebuilding process is raising questions about whether paradise will remain the same affordable community it was before the fire. The California reports Lily Jamali has more
Speaker 3: 08:04 at Chico state. A group of researchers sits in a corner classroom on the fifth floor of beautiful hall. Since the campfire, they've been studying how the communities affected by the fire have changed. Looking through property data researcher Peter Hansen has noticed this about homes slated to be rebuilt in paradise.
Speaker 4: 08:22 60% of the new permitted structures are bigger than their predecessor
Speaker 3: 08:29 insurance. Money is a big part of the reason why so many homes are being built bigger. That money has made its way to some paradise residents, but there are plenty who haven't been so lucky.
Speaker 4: 08:39 On one hand you have people that are rebuilding or able to rebuild at the same time as these other individuals that also experienced the same, uh, campfire trauma are still seeking the most basic needs.
Speaker 3: 08:53 Chico state geography professor Jackie says this, finding highlights how the campfire has created more distance between the haves and the have nots. People who had good insurance and those who were under insured or had none. To see people inflating the size of their homes to a larger footprint is, is just another kind of indignity of the fire and what we're learning about it in its aftermath. Patty Savage had lived in her house for 12 years before the fire swept through. She shows me the land where her house once stood. All that survived was a concrete bird feeder left by the previous owner. I get up here and Anna kind of get lost. Savage had planned to use her insurance money to build something smaller as construction costs have soared, but she spent much of the last year tussling with her insurance company. I couldn't get a straight answer out of my insurance on what they're going to pay and obviously they're doing everything they can not to pay. Savage once thought she'd be among the first to rebuild, now she's not sure she'll be able to stay in paradise after all for the California report, I'm Lily Jamali in paradise
Speaker 5: 10:09 [inaudible].
Speaker 1: 10:12 The scandal that led to the resignation of Duncan Hunter from Congress and the race to replace him is the subject of a new documentary series called the 50th a scandal, a dynasty and election
Speaker 6: 10:26 congressmen. Any planning or design board? Gosh, I don't think anybody believes. Use the duck and Hunter will survive this last election. These fees getting folded.
Speaker 1: 10:49 The documentary is from the San Diego union Tribune, Sam Hodgson, the producer and photojournalists behind the series spoke to midday additions. Jade Heinemann, here's that interview. So can you first remind us of what led to the resignation of Duncan Hunter?
Speaker 7: 11:04 Yeah. Congressman Hunter was dated a few years ago under charges that he used more than a quarter million dollars of his campaign cash to pay for his personal expenses. So things like trips to Italy, um, flying his pet rabbit across the country, you know, video games and things like that. And ultimately he was forced to plead guilty and resign.
Speaker 1: 11:24 And the union Tribune broke the story about Hunter misspending campaign finance funds, as you mentioned. How did reporter Morgan cook discover that?
Speaker 7: 11:31 So she got a letter put on her desk by her editor from the FEC that had, uh, raised some questions about some video games that he had purchased. She looked at the letter, she was writing a quick story about it. She said to the editor, you know, I want to go back and just make sure that this was, was a one off, uh, that there weren't other, uh, funds that might've been sort of misappropriated. And, uh, she pretty quickly found out that it was not a one off. And the story unraveled from there and the union Tribune, you know, you all have told this story in print as it progressed. What made the newspaper want to tell the story in a video series as well? Yeah, well I started to look at the race, uh, to replace him and I started to see all these heavyweight California Republicans coming in and almost putting like a pressure campaign on him to step aside.
Speaker 7: 12:16 And I started to think about the fact that Hunter was heading to trial while he was going to be running for reelection. And I just said, someone has to make a documentary about this. In the moment that I thought that I realized that I was probably in a better position than just about anyone in the world to be able to tell that story. I had access to all the reporters who had broke the information. I had this great leeway to take some time to spend on a project. And I grew up in California's 50th congressional district. It wasn't the 50th back then, but, but what is now California's 50th congressional district. So I just thought I'm going to have to do this. I went to my editors and I said, I don't know what's going to happen with this story, but whatever happens is going to be fascinating.
Speaker 7: 12:55 Wow. And I'm curious to know, does the documentary a series include any previously unreported information? I think there are small bits of, uh, unreported information about how the race is shaping up. Uh, certainly you get to learn about the candidates and their personalities in a way that I don't think has really been reported out fully in terms of Congressman Hunter. There's no new information. But when you put the totality of what has happened with him, what has happened with his family in this district over the past 40 years, that they've been in power there and you, you juxtapose that with all the national political undercurrents that are happening in America right now, and you juxtapose it with the race to replace him. It all takes on a new life. You've worked on this series for five months. Can you tell me a bit about your process and how you worked with the rest of the newsroom, including Morgan cook, who as I mentioned, broke the story.
Speaker 7: 13:42 Yeah. My process is very fly on the wall. Just it is when I'm a being a still photographer at the paper. Uh, and so it's that way when I'm working with Morgan or when I'm working with other reporters in the newsroom or when I'm following candidates around. I think that that makes for an interesting documentary and makes it take on this nice life because these candidates, these reporters, everyone that's involved in this and Congressman Hunter, they're all just real people. And so when you're just hanging out with them as a, as a real person as well, their personality starts to come out. And so that's why I like to, to interview and document that way. And as you mentioned, the series also covers the race to replace Dunkin Hunter. Why do you think the area he represented California's 50th district is unique? Yeah. I say this in the documentary that when people think about California, they think about the Palm trees and the Teslas.
Speaker 7: 14:28 And the liberals and the 50th district. Isn't that at all? That's, that's not all what all of California is about. Um, so this is a story about a side of California that people don't always see. This is one of the last conservative strongholds in the state of California. There's only seven congressional seats that are represented by Republicans and it's had a Duncan Hunter representing it for more than 40 years. So we could see all these, uh, national issues at play out there. Immigration is huge out there. National defense is huge out there, uh, abortion. Uh, and so you see all of these national issues, uh, at play in this one sliver of California's countryside. And remind us of the area the 50th district encompasses if you could. Yes. So it stretches from the Western edge of alcohol and out very far East and then up into Ramona Escondido and even stretches into a small part of Riverside County.
Speaker 7: 15:21 So it's San Diego is East and North County centrally. Would you say the series profiles, those who are running to replace him? Oh, absolutely. Yeah. We spend a lot of time with, um, with Carl de Mio, with, uh, Mark [inaudible] with Senator Brian Jones. And while we don't ever do a sit down interview with him, we see a lot of former Congressman Darrel Eissa as well in the series. And can you talk to us a little bit about those candidates? Yeah, absolutely. Uh, so I go to a few different town halls and things, uh, events around with Carl de Mio. Uh, he's a really interesting figure. Uh, you know, he, he was a San Diego city Councilman and then he spent a lot of time as a successful talk radio show host, and it's been interesting to watch him because I think that talk radio show has really provided this great feedback loop for him where he really understands what people are angry about at an East County.
Speaker 7: 16:08 And he's really sort of tapped into that anger. And so he'll tell you he's angry about those things as well too. So you see that sort of feedback loop at work, uh, when you see him, uh, campaigning. Uh, Congressman Darrel Eissa was a very powerful man on Capitol Hill. Uh, he was chairman of the house oversight committee, led the hearing such Bengazi, uh, and ultimately stepped down from his, well, he didn't step down to he, he ultimately didn't run for reelection and, uh, his seat in the 49th, uh, so he's now coming in and, and uh, trying to run in the 50th, uh, state Senator Brian Jones. He's actually from East County. He lives in San te, uh, the other two contenders, Congressman Eissa and crowds Maya don't actually live in the district, which is not a requirement in California. And so he sort of has been popping up his back country bonafides, right?
Speaker 7: 16:53 Like explaining to people, look, I'm from here, I understand the issues that matter to you. And then there's, uh, there's the Democrat and Omar to Shar who came within spitting distance of beating Hunter last time as you sort of rode that blue wave, but ultimately didn't quite get there. He's running for reelection again. He's also from the district. And, uh, you see him very much playing up that fact as he's out on the campaign trail. How many episodes are in the series and how did you go about deciding what would be covered in each one? So there's five episodes that have been completed right now we're actively working on episode six, which we'll look at everything that happens between the time that Congressman Hunter took his plea deal and, and primary night we decided what to cover. Just sort of by, by what happened. I mean, we knew we needed to get into Hunter's family legacy.
Speaker 7: 17:42 And so we talk a bit about that in episode one. We knew we had to get into the Republican fight to try to defend this seat. So you see a lot of the candidates posturing to do that. In episode two we knew a Mark Hampton Hazara would be a big part of the storyline. So he's an episode three, episode four, which is my favorite title, a knife fight at the grand old party. Just Chronicles one night when all four of the Republicans, including Dunkin Hunter were on stage together, uh, duking it out. And you really see where they each are staking their claim as candidates. And then episode five is the United States of America versus Dunkin Hunter. We always imagined that that episode was going to be about Dunkin Hunter going to trial while he was seeking reelection. That obviously all got up ended when he decided to take a plea agreement. So what episode five does now is it sees all the events that took place as as he took his plea agreement and as he agreed to resign and report a Morgan cook who broke the story. Really walks us through that entire scene.
Speaker 1: 18:41 I've been speaking to Sam Hodson, the producer and photo journalist for the 50th documentary series. Thank you Sam. Thanks for having me. This series, the 50th a scandal, a dynasty and election will be screened Wednesday evening at the California center for the arts and Escondido. It will be followed by a Q and a with Sam Hodgson and Morgan cook. Their series will also be email@example.com starting on Thursday, San Diego voters will select a new mayor this year with the primary election scheduled for March 3rd state assemblyman. Todd. Gloria is widely considered the favorite, but that's not deterring city council woman and fellow Democrat, Barbara Bree from challenging him. KPBS Metro reporter Andrew Bowen breaks down their candidacies.
Speaker 8: 19:29 Hello Hillcrest.
Speaker 9: 19:31 It's a Saturday morning and Todd Gloria is speaking at the ribbon cutting of San Diego's first rainbow cross.
Speaker 8: 19:37 You know, I was once accused of liking infrastructure too much. You know, I say there's nothing sexier than a freshly paved street. I love seeing hundreds of people show up for a crosswalk dedication. It says I'm not alone and wanting some quality infrastructure in the city.
Speaker 9: 19:51 Gloria is eight years on the city council and three years in the state assembly have made in the familiar figure in San Diego and he is especially popular here in Hillcrest. Gloria, who's openly gay, it says he's proud to have passed laws protecting the LGBTQ community and increasing access to treatment for HIV.
Speaker 10: 20:10 This is the kind of perspective of lived experience becomes really important for. Um, and those are the kinds of things that you know, makes me think that if I wasn't there, maybe those issues wouldn't have been brought up. Maybe there wouldn't be a champion for that.
Speaker 9: 20:20 Gloria says he's also proud to have pushed for more state funding to combat homelessness. Andy touts his successful effort to raise the city's minimum wage as a boon for thousands of low income workers. Now he says, San Diego has to address its housing crisis and the mayor has to take a leadership role in winning over skeptics of new development.
Speaker 10: 20:40 I recognize that there are a lot of people who are suffering and they want a mayor who sees here's them is going to act on their behalf, but importantly going to go out and explain to other people that this is not bad for you. This can actually help make your community better. This can make your quality of life better.
Speaker 9: 20:54 Gloria has built a coalition of supporters that rarely get behind the same candidate. He's been endorsed by the County democratic party and the San Diego and Imperial counties, labor council, as well as the San Diego regional chamber of commerce, which historically backs Republicans. Overcoming that institutional backing is the main challenge facing Barbara
Speaker 10: 21:16 [inaudible].
Speaker 9: 21:17 Brie is speaking at a meet and greet in North park. It's hosted by a pair of residents leading the opposition to a plan to put bike lanes on 30th street.
Speaker 11: 21:25 I mean there no accountability and no transparency at city hall. Um, the decision on the bike lanes was made without adequate data and without adequate communication with the residents and the business owners who were going to be most impacted.
Speaker 9: 21:41 Re had a career in journalism and business before winning a seat on the San Diego city council in 2016 she represents district one which includes the LA Jolla university city and Carmel Valley. Bree says her proudest accomplishment on the council is her work to oppose soccer city. That was the failed 2018 ballot measure that would have sold the city's mission Valley stadium property to private investors for development.
Speaker 10: 22:05 And at the beginning I was out there all by myself and soccer city spent tens of thousands of dollars on social media criticizing my position and alleging that I was a corrupt politician, but I never wavered. I knew it was a terrible deal for the taxpayers, for the residents of this city, for the longterm.
Speaker 9: 22:25 [inaudible] says she supports building more housing, but that it wouldn't be the main approach to how she addresses homelessness.
Speaker 10: 22:31 If we're going to effectively address homelessness, we have to acknowledge that a lot of the increase in homelessness is due to mental health and substance abuse issues, which is accounting issue, which the County has neglected for decades and is finally starting to address.
Speaker 9: 22:49 Bree has also attacked the yes in my backyard or yin, the movement which pushes for cities to build more housing. She says there ponds of wall street investors looking to corporatize San Diego's neighborhoods and the local UMB democratic club, which endorsed Gloria.
Speaker 10: 23:05 I think they are backed by wall street whether they know it or not.
Speaker 1: 23:09 Andrew Bowen, KPBS news, you just heard about two of the candidates in the 2020 San Diego mayor's race now. KPBS reporter Claire Traeger, sir, we'll introduce you to two more. Starting with activist Tasha Williamson, she made a name for herself by leading protests against city leaders. Now she wants to be elected as one of them.
Speaker 12: 23:29 When I first heard her voice, I was like, Oh, okay. And then she, you know, she says, this is like a, a good call that I'm making a call
Speaker 1: 23:37 from the San Diego city clerk's office isn't usually a cause for dread, but it was for mayoral candidate Tasha Williamson a few weeks ago.
Speaker 13: 23:46 Williamson was genuinely worried she hadn't qualified for the ballot.
Speaker 12: 23:51 And I want to let you know that you met, uh, the 200 signature requirement and I just started screaming.
Speaker 13: 24:00 Yes. Williamson is not a seasoned politician. She doesn't even have a working website and she doesn't have deep pocketed supporters. Her campaign has raised just $675, but Williamson does have a voice in the community. She organized protest after Earl McNeil died in national city police custody. She says there was no one who looked like her in the San Diego mayor's race. No one who cared about her community of Southeast San Diego. So she jumped in.
Speaker 12: 24:33 There's some people that have been so, um, you know, so erased, um, from politic politics. Um, they've not been given the opportunities to have, you know, successes. Have all the things that they need. Um, they've D invested in communities like the one we're sitting in.
Speaker 13: 24:53 Williamson met us at the Willie Henderson park in the Lincoln park neighborhood and says it's cracked walkways and homeless population show. Her community has been ignored. If elected, she would focus on diverting money to housing, homelessness and other community services.
Speaker 12: 25:11 You know, I'm bringing in a whole new tone, um, to, to this, uh, political landscape and that, um, I'm doing things that have never been done before. Uh, but the one thing that I'm going to be saying that we're going to be doing is giving back to the people and nobody's talking about that
Speaker 13: 25:27 someone else who wants to bring up things other candidates aren't talking about is Councilman Scott Sherman. He's the lone Republican in the race. Sherman has long been known for his disdain for public office. He had a countdown clock on his desk marking the days until the end of his term and frequently said he wasn't a politician, but he's having trouble saying that these days I'm getting close to graduating to being a politician officially, you know, 25 years in the business world. I still think like a businessman, but seven years in this I, by definition I think I'm getting to be a politician now. Sherman waited until right before the deadline to make the decision to run with buy-in from his wife after conversing about it over a nice camping weekend and live the desert. We, we decided to, you know, we, we, we kind of need to give this a shot. If elected Sherman's biggest issue would be housing, specifically middle market housing. And what happens is, is you have people in subsidized housing, they start doing better and moving their way up the economic ladder and there's no place for them to go. He'd build more housing by adding density bonuses and changing zoning like he did in Grandville and his district. He also says the city needs to tougher on homelessness,
Speaker 14: 26:45 were doing a bunch on compassion and we're starting to not do as much on the enforcement side. And a lot of times compassion without enforcement just becomes enabling.
Speaker 1: 26:55 He also wants to reduce labor unions power at city hall using collective bargaining and is not a fan of bike lane.
Speaker 14: 27:03 The majority of us have to have a vehicle to do our daily functioning. I mean we it even at council you see the council members talking about the need to bike to work, the need for mass transit and people utilizing mass transit. And then you walk out in the parking lot and there's nine parking spaces for every council district and everyone's filled up with a car.
Speaker 1: 27:22 Sherman will be pushing the conservative ideas up until primary election day in March. Claire Tyga, sir KPBS news, the top two vote getters in the March 3rd primary. We'll go to a November runoff to see all our profiles of the candidates go to kpbs.org/election
Speaker 5: 27:47 [inaudible]
Speaker 1: 27:49 the line of cars and people waiting to cross from Tijuana to San Diego through the San Ysidro port of entry is so big and so long. It's created a whole world of its own. In a new episode of the KPBS border podcast only here host Allen, Lillian Thall and producer Kinsey Morlan bring us a story about the unpredictable beast that is the borderline and a tech entrepreneur who's trying to tame it.
Speaker 15: 28:22 [inaudible]
Speaker 16: 28:22 dozens of vendors wander through the massive parking lot of align at the port between Tijuana and San Diego selling burritos, churros blankets, and other little trinkets to people stuck waiting in their cars sometimes for hours on end. I really try not to see the line as a drag because I got to do it anyway and sometimes getting angry or frustrated just gonna make it worse, but sometimes it just is a drag
Speaker 17: 28:55 [inaudible].
Speaker 16: 28:59 I really try to do my best to stay creative and entertain. So I bought a little ukulele guitar hybrid to pass the time
Speaker 17: 29:13 [inaudible]
Speaker 16: 29:15 the people in the line, most of us anyway, we're used to the weight, this huge uncertainty of never knowing exactly how long the line will be. You think you figured it out and then you go back the exact same time on the same day the following week and it's just completely different. But just because we're used to the line doesn't mean we wouldn't love for it to go away. What do you think of the line? Like what didn't you like waiting in line?
Speaker 18: 29:42 No, nobody does.
Speaker 16: 29:44 Only here producer Kinsey Morlan and I recently found out across the lines of traffic at the border to ask some of the people why they were waiting in line and what it's like. How long is your wait today?
Speaker 18: 29:55 They like a hour and a half probably [inaudible] last time and when I waited a long time, I waited to grow the border for six hours and a half.
Speaker 15: 30:12 [inaudible]
Speaker 11: 30:12 how do you spend your time?
Speaker 18: 30:13 A reading book or on the phone or listen to music, watch on Netflix or just hear music, cookies, coffee, eat everything. Everything we can eat.
Speaker 15: 30:36 [inaudible]
Speaker 11: 30:36 do you like crossing the line every day to go to school? Yeah. Yeah. You don't mind it? How do you, how do you entertain yourself? You're playing chess. Yeah. Yeah. No.
Speaker 18: 30:48 What did that guy do? Gas and gas. [inaudible]
Speaker 15: 30:54 yeah.
Speaker 18: 30:58 Well we are crossing because we have patients from Mexico. She's one of us patient, uh, for cosmetic surgery. We own a home here and uh, let me see, you sold. We come here often,
Speaker 16: 31:12 uh,
Speaker 18: 31:12 to cross the border to going to work.
Speaker 15: 31:22 [inaudible]
Speaker 18: 31:22 well, I married a girl down in Mexico and waiting for paperwork to pass. So we're taking a lot longer than we thought. But that's what's happening.
Speaker 11: 31:36 Do you mind the line though, the weight,
Speaker 18: 31:39 you, you know, as part of the show, as far as the show, you've got to have your mindset that this cause is going to happen. It's going to happen this when we, yesterday, Sunday. So it's like for me it's normal, you know, if you're compared with other kind of uh, things to do, it's normal. What is important is the restroom part because if you're driving on your own, you have to be prepared to do not use the restroom for like three hours. And I seen some people that they have a little bottles or to improvise
Speaker 15: 32:11 [inaudible]
Speaker 16: 32:13 a shorter line would be a thing of beauty.
Speaker 18: 32:16 Hey, how's it going? Oh, nice to meet you. Trusting me to ask.
Speaker 16: 32:22 Czeslaw Tversky is standing in front of a mall that sits just a few yards away from the us Mexico border. The shopping centers parking lot literally ends right at the thick metal slats that make up the border fence. You can park your car and walk to taco bell and the border friends within 10 seconds of each other. Chess lava is here amid the criss crossing traffic at the border scouting locations, looking at businesses that might let him Mount his expensive 3d cameras on their rooftop.
Speaker 18: 32:52 And in fact, this one is looking out at the, at the location that we are quite interested in because, uh, this is, uh, uh, the West pedestrian crossing
Speaker 16: 33:00 chess lava, CTO and co founder of a company called curbside labs. He's the guy who made the winning pitch at the border innovation challenge last year.
Speaker 18: 33:08 The current inefficiency at the border is estimated to be between seven and $8 billion a year. So it's, you know, it's a humongous, humongous impact. So if that can be improved in any particular way, I mean, you improve it to a 10% while you know, we can all do the math sets closer to $2 billion, hundreds of millions of doors, right?
Speaker 16: 33:29 Chess loves winning idea is at its core simply better cleaner data. He wants to Mount fancy smart cameras on both sides of the border that he says we'll collect crossing data at a level it's just never been collected before. His idea won't make the borderline any shorter, per se, but it could make the unpredictable beast into a much more predictable one. And with predictability comes more economic opportunity and hopefully better solutions for shorter waits. So here's how it'll all work. Chess love is working on putting cameras in San Diego and Tijuana. The smart devices will be pointed toward the border and collect highly accurate information about how people move into, around and through the lines. Chess love is most excited about the technology's potential for collecting frequency data. Like this particular person crossed from Tijuana to San Diego, then he crossed back to TJ and then back to SD and back and forth again five times in one week. That's the insane level of detail he says his cameras can provide. And if you're freaking out about privacy and surveillance concerns, love would say, don't worry about it because these cameras aren't collecting footage in the traditional sense. Instead they recognize facial features, run the info through an algorithm and produce the anonymous data. The person who's crossing back and forth five times a week is never identified. And his ideas scales.
Speaker 18: 35:00 This is technology that's, uh, that's widely applicable to basically any border crossing out there. Right?
Speaker 1: 35:10 This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Maureen Cavanagh. What's the power of science if only other scientists understand it. We've seen issues like climate change and even school vaccinations develop into controversies in part because of a science communications gap. In recent years, one of our most well known and celebrated actors has been working to close that gap and make science accessible. Alan Alda, who came to fame in the 1970s TV series mash first took on the role of science translator as host of the PBS show, scientific American frontiers. Now he's bringing the message to San Diego announcing a new partnership between script's research and his nonprofit Alda communication training and that's to train scientists and how to talk about their work to the public and mr Alda joins us now. Welcome to the program.
Speaker 19: 36:03 Thank you. Thank you for having me.
Speaker 1: 36:05 Now as I mentioned, you hosted a scientific American frontiers on PBS TV. Is that what got you interested in founding your communication training company?
Speaker 19: 36:16 Yeah, it is and I think that's something I've learned while we were doing this show was that I was, I had found a way based on my training is inaccurate. My experience as an actor and particularly as an improviser, I loved improvisation. To me that's the most important thing I learned about acting because it puts you in contact with the other person in a very personal way. It's not improvisation for the sake of getting labs or coming up with Cod guide text. It's the connection between you and that's what I found out was using on scientific American frontiers and I wasn't translating those science for them. I was making contact with them so that they could speak their science in ways that I could understand and therefore the audience could understand and then I began to realize we could probably train scientists to do that and they wouldn't need somebody like me standing next to them. They could make that same personal contact with the audience.
Speaker 1: 37:21 Do you see what is the ongoing denial in some quarters of climate change in part is that that the result of this science communications gap do you think?
Speaker 19: 37:32 I don't know. I think a lot of smart people were trying to figure that out. One of the things that I hear that sounds to a great extent resonated with what we're trying to do is that when climate change, scientists are able to establish a conversation based on trust with their audience, whoever they're writing into and show that they understand what really matters to the people like good soil or clean water. They don't have to say the forbidden words of climate change. They can talk about things that can be done to improve those conditions, but that the idea of establishing trust has to happen in a way that's personal. You can't say, trust me because I know and you don't know. It's not, there's not a good way to start a conversation, I don't think.
Speaker 1: 38:36 Do you encounter any resistance from the scientists who are not used to communicating in this way to other scientists?
Speaker 19: 38:45 You know, you bring up an interesting point is that it's not only is communicating with the public then improves, but communicating with other scientists improves too. And uh, do we get pushback because they're not used to thinking this way. Once in a while we do. We've got, we used to get more now in after 10 years of teaching this people are coming to us because they realize the importance of it because once they get the idea, which is not conveyed to them through lectures, we don't talk about it. We do things, we do him very carefully crafted exercises. They take them from a basic level to a much more sophisticated level, one at a time. And once they begin to engage in that, they start to feel how good it feels to be connected and to really be understood.
Speaker 1: 39:40 Mr Aldo, may I take a moment to ask about how you are, I know you've been open about living with Parkinson's disease. Are you feeling well these days?
Speaker 19: 39:48 Yeah, I shake a little, but, uh, I'm doing, I'm having fun trying to figure out what I can do to slow the progress in the best way possible. And, and I, you know, something I that I, that is kind of hardening is that when I decided to talk about it in public, I, I did that because I wanted other people who had recently got a diagnosis to realize that the world hasn't come to an end. There's a lot you can do to slow the progress and live pretty much a normal life. I mean, it takes me longer to find the arm hole on my jacket than it used to, or button my shirt. But the, the, the hardening thing is I've, I've gotten many messages from people who said, I'm so glad that I followed your lead and I talk about it. It takes a great burden off you hiding, hiding something that's actually evident to a lot of other people.
Speaker 1: 40:48 Well, your acting career is still going strong. You're featured in the movie marriage story that's nominated now for an Oscar. Is that something you, you, you get excited about? You've had so many awards and so many honors?
Speaker 19: 41:02 I, you know, I get very excited about being in a movie like marriage story. That is so good. It's so powerful. And, uh, I'm very proud to be in it. And you're right. I still managed to do a lot of things. Uh, I spent the season acting with Liam Schreiber, Ray Donovan and I do my podcast, which I love. Let allow me to mention this thing that I love. It's called clear and vivid and I've talked to some of the most interesting people about communicating and relating to other people, including somebody who was coming up show and Paul McCartney, we had a wonderful talk together. He's a great guy. And, and scientists and comedians, diplomats. But they all had something to say about what you and I have just been talking about, which is how to connect with another person and make you're relating to them actually happen. And so it's a, it's, I'm having a lot of fun doing these things that I never know I'd be doing 50 years ago. If you had told me, you and I will be having this conversation, I wouldn't have known what you were talking.
Speaker 1: 42:14 Uh, I want to close on something that, that relates to the older communication training. I'm wondering, what do you think we, the public can do to boost our own ability to understand and evaluate what scientists tell us about their work?
Speaker 19: 42:29 Sometimes you have to help the person communicating with you communicate a little better and you have to say, what do you mean by that? I don't quite get that. It's very important if you're talking to somebody who seems to know more than you and really does know more, and then that's just operating on fantasy or wishes, ask them more about it. Where did that information come from, what studies showed it, that kind of thing. But most of all do that from a real sense of curiosity. I think we all are curious, or if we were always curious about nature and the way it works as we are about gossip, we'd be so much farther along.
Speaker 1: 43:10 I have been speaking with actor Alan Alda, founder of all the communication training, which is coming to Scripps research. Mr Alta. Thank you very much.
Speaker 19: 43:21 Thank you. This was fun talking to you.
Valarie Kaur on the power of love as a force for social change on Martin Luther King Jr.’s Day. Plus, The downfall of Duncan Hunter, the Hunter political dynasty and the race to replace him has now been turned into a documentary. Also, meet the candidates vying to be the next San Diego mayor — two establishment Dems, an outsider and the lone Republican. And, in a new episode of “Only Here,” meet the entrepreneur who is trying to tame the San Diego-Mexico border-crossing wait time with technology. Finally, Emmy-winning actor Alan Alda is partnering with the Scripps Research Institute to improve how scientists communicate their findings to the general public.