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Scott Sherman On His Bid For San Diego Mayor, San Diego Dems Party Head On March Election, 50th Congressional Race Heats Up, August Wilson’s ‘Jitney’ Hits Old Globe

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Speaker 1: 00:01 The president's lawyers conclude their defense today at the Senate impeachment trial. We'll bring you NPRs live coverage of the trial starting at 10:00 AM but first we're going to turn to San Diego's race for mayor. It looked for a while as if the contest for mayor would not have a well known Republican in the race, but just before the filing deadline, Councilman Scott Sherman who represents district seven decided to run with Malin voting starting next week on election day on March 3rd we're speaking with the top four candidates for San Diego mayor and today we welcome Councilman Sherman. Welcome to the show. Thank you. There was speculation that you became a candidate just to have a Republican presence in the mayor's race. Is there any truth to that?

Speaker 2: 00:44 No, not really. I mean, my wife and I were really looking forward to going back to the private sector and a life of anonymity after seven years of doing this, but literally every time my wife and I for the last couple of months would go out in public. We'd get stopped by two or three people saying, Hey, are you going to run? We need you to run, please run. I mean one time we were putting gas in the boat down at the Bay and the sardine boat was next to us filling up gas and the captain came down from the Hill and walked out on the deck and asked me to run. Then the Harbor patrol was filling up their boat. Two guys from over there came over and asked me to run. So my wife and I were camping in the desert over Thanksgiving and had a long conversation and decided, well I think this is something we kind of have to do. We were asked to run the first time I got into this race, I didn't look to get into politics and it was kind of playing out the same way for mayor as well.

Speaker 1: 01:32 Why do you want to be San Diego mayor though?

Speaker 2: 01:34 Um, I think we need to change the conversation on a few things that we are doing here in San Diego, mostly around homelessness and around housing. I don't think we're, I mean we're moving somewhat in the right direction, but we're missing part of the conversation.

Speaker 1: 01:47 Okay. So what in your opinion is stopping more housing from being built in San Diego?

Speaker 2: 01:53 Um, I think it's twofold. I think politicians a lot of times who haven't been in the private sector look to government to solve the housing problem. And when 47% of the cost of building housing is government regulation and red tape, I think if we look to incentivize the marketplace we can see more production of affordable housing, middle income housing. Because right now with the cost of building housing here in San Diego, it forces home builders to build either luxury units cause they gotta make their money back at, you know, expensive, expensive amounts or they take the incentives that we've put in place for taxpayer subsidize affordable housing. We are missing that missing middle someplace to go once you get out of affordable housing and get into the middle. I mean both of my kids have moved out of the state because they can't afford housing.

Speaker 1: 02:42 What's your stand on the push for higher density housing in the city?

Speaker 2: 02:46 I'm all for it. Especially around mass transit corridor is it makes all the sense in the world. And it can concentrate on that middle market. Next step in the economic ladder type housing and, and that's really where the problem is. Those people on subsidized housing can't move out. The people waiting to get into subsidized housing end up on the streets cause they're waiting so long.

Speaker 1: 03:07 Okay, so one pushes for a higher density housing in the city and other is for more alternative transportation. Now you're not really a fan of more bike lanes in this city, but how do we reach our climate action goals if we don't get more people out of their cars?

Speaker 2: 03:22 Well, I'm okay with bike lanes. I mean even in Linda Vista, we're approving a bike lane. I'm here pretty soon. But the key component of that, it doesn't take away parking spaces and it doesn't take away car lanes because as it stands right now, well into the high 90 percentile of people still take a car to work. We need to try and make it easier for people to choose alternative transportation, but we can't do it at the expense of people who take their car.

Speaker 1: 03:47 Do you then think the city of San Diego needs a a better master plan for public transportation?

Speaker 2: 03:53 I think we need more flexibility and more thought about the public transportation and those types of things. There's not a lot of flexibility built in right now and that's usually some of the problems we see in government a lot is, okay, here's what we've decided, here's what it is, and it doesn't take into account any kind of conditions on the ground that may change.

Speaker 1: 04:13 Now you've said that you think the missing piece to addressing homelessness in San Diego is increased enforcement. What do you mean by that?

Speaker 2: 04:21 Well, we've done a lot on the compassion side. We've built tent shelters, we've done affordable housing, permanent supportive housing, different services, navigation centers, everything we can to try and get people to help that they need, but a lot of times what we haven't been concentrating on are the consequences side. I mean, we've been doing a ton of the compassion side, but nothing on the consequences side. And so many times if there's no consequences, then it just becomes enabling people, especially the drug addicted types that we see in the river bed and those types of things. It enables them to keep doing what they're doing. I mean, I talked to a guy, Brian, which is over at Zephyr, which is a permanent supportive housing for veterans. He came up to me at the ribbon cutting and thanked me for breaking up the tents downtown. He said, look, I was in those tents shooting meth in my veins every day.

Speaker 2: 05:06 He says, it wasn't till the city came in and broke it up and said I had to do something else. From there he went to the shelter, he got a case worker, found benefits he didn't know he had as a veteran. And the next thing you know, he's lived in a sobriety program, living in permanent supportive housing. And now he's 11 months clean and sober. We were down at the river, uh, Alvarado Creek right behind Zephyr on a different issue. And there was Brian picking up trash alongside of the river and he looks over and just waved and said, still giving back buddy. I mean, those are the kinds of success stories that you can have if you're willing to say it's not compassionate to let you keep doing what you're doing. We need to try and make a change.

Speaker 1: 05:44 We have a federal court ruling now that says cities can't ticket people for living on the street unless the city can provide shelter for them. We don't have enough shelter beds in the city. So what's your priority? Shelter, beds or tickets?

Speaker 2: 05:58 Uh, both. We need more shelter beds so we can have more places for them to go. San Diego is actually kind of been ahead of a lot of the other cities when putting in shelter beds and those types of places to get people out of the shelters to their next step. I think we need to do a little bit more of both. We need to do it in every district. The council has committed to doing it in every district, but if I look at districts one in five, there's no permanent supportive housing been built. There's nothing permitted. There's nothing in the pipeline in district seven in my district where I've been for seven years, which is North of the aid, we've put in over 170 permanent supportive housing. We have stuff in the pipeline, stuff that's permitted. It needs to be in every district because it's a citywide problem that needs to be addressed on a citywide level.

Speaker 1: 06:38 Now, Scott Sherman, it was well known that you had a countdown clock in your office counting down the time that you end your city council term, but now you've decided to run for mayor. I'm wondering what aspects of holding public office do you dislike

Speaker 2: 06:54 on the council side? What I really have grown to dislike is politics gets involved in everything and you're running a city's not supposed to be political. There's, it's supposed to be nonpartisan, but I mean, I've literally shook hands with somebody and five minutes later they'll turn around and do the exact opposite. Well after 27 years in the private sector, my word is my bond. That's all you have at the end of the day, and that doesn't exist in council. I've even seen people vote against measures that they have sponsored because the right political pressure was put in place.

Speaker 1: 07:24 Do you think that things would be different if you were mayor?

Speaker 2: 07:27 Yeah, I mean from on the mayor site it's completely different. You're not working with nine different people. You are more worried about the nuts and bolts, labor negotiations, those types of things that run the city. You're not having to deal with nine individuals on the policy side of of getting things done. It's more about making an organization run efficient and giving the taxpayers the best bang for their buck.

Speaker 1: 07:48 I've been speaking with a Councilman, Scott Sherman of district seven he's running for San Diego mayor. I appreciate your coming in and speaking with us.

Speaker 2: 07:55 Pleasure anytime.

Speaker 1: 00:00 As major elections drawn near the San Diego County democratic party is planning its strategy to win seats. It also aims to get a democratic majority on the County board of supervisors. Joining me is will Rodriguez Kennedy the chair of the democratic party will welcome. Thank you. Thank you for having me. So ballads for the March election will be going out as soon as next week. How is the County democratic party preparing for the primary? Well we are full speed ahead. Um, just over the last week we have been launching our, our grassroots organizing team where we have over 600 volunteers who are doing, who are doing the major work of canvassing. Uh, we launched that from 20 different locations. We are lucky in San Diego County to have one of the most politically effective County parties in the country. We have a cash on hand advantage of five to one over the Republicans.

Speaker 1: 00:48 So we are, we're, we're, we're just hitting the ground running. It's going to be a great year for us. And you've recently Cove wrote a letter along with democratic County supervisor, Nathan Fletcher and ahead of the San Diego. And Imperial counties, labor council saying the race for County supervisor district three is the most important race in San Diego County in 2020. Why is that? What makes this race so important for Democrats? Uh, if we take the district three, you have the County board of supervisors, we will for the first time ever be a democratic County on that body. It is one, it is the highest priority of the San Diego County democratic party to actually take that seat back. Um, which is why we are going to hit the ground running. When it comes to the, uh, the general election that in mind then, why was the party not able to make an endorsement in the race?

Speaker 1: 01:36 Well, primaries usually lead for candidates to make their cases. And in this case we have two very strong candidates. One of the candidates did get a majority of the votes, but she wasn't, she didn't get the, uh, threshold needed in order to be endorsed. So, um, and that was all good Diaz. Uh, but Tara is a Terra Lawson reamer and Olga are really strong candidates and whoever wins, um, we'll, we will come together in the, in the general election we have a breakfast set up where both candidates are committed and will take the fight to say goodbye to Kristin gas bar. So what are some of the other key races that you believe Democrats need to win this year? Well, um, we have focused our political strategy based on something I call the SANDAG strategy, which is the association of governments. So what that requires us to do is to focus on the County board of supervisors to forecast on the mayor's race and San Diego to focus on the San Diego city council races.

Speaker 1: 02:25 We have an unprecedented five open seats on the San Diego city council and also, uh, to uh, to also defend, uh, Carlsbad district one which is all up in the primary. You know, there are other Democrat versus Democrat races that one would imagine. Um, there will be more of those races moving forward. How do you see democratic candidates differentiating themselves from each other to San Diego County voters? Well, it really depends on the region. All politics are local. So each of the cities and each of the different part regions of the County have sort of hyperlocal issues in which candidates tend to focus in on. Um, you'll see some distinctions there. Things like in the mayor's race where the candidates are really general are generally, at least on the democratic side, are generally in alignment. You know, there are things that they might disagree with on sort of the specifics. So for example, on housing policy, whether, uh, w w like what approach to that or in homelessness policy layer, Todd Gloria has embraced housing first. Um, Barbara Brie has decided to go the other way

Speaker 2: 03:24 is measure a, which would require a County wide vote on housing projects that currently only require supervisor's approval. Um, one of the issues that's currently driving a wedge within the democratic party, you think

Speaker 1: 03:35 I belonged to a, a big tent party. So there are divergent set of opinions on any one issue. Um, the goal here is to sort of remind people that the, the, the conflicts will be over in, in March. Um, we don't tend to just throw people out of our party cause they disagree and there is a very healthy, uh, and honest disagreement among the, uh, our party and among the County over what is the best way to move forward on development and, and where to develop and how to develop and whether or not it's infill or quote unquote sprawl or, and, and, and whatnot. So, um, we're still having a healthy debate about that. I have, I, I, they're both, there are multiple sides and we look forward to see what the people will decide on on March 3rd,

Speaker 2: 04:18 the democratic party came out against measure a what went into the decision to come out against measure a

Speaker 1: 04:24 well, um, there was a lively debate among our central committee, um, principal argument in terms of where there's consensus because the reality is that both sides had a series of different arguments and charges. And countercharges is that the San Diego County democratic party does not support ballot box planning. And it's the opinion of, of the members of our central committee that this will increase that level. But if there is ballot box planning on issues like a measure B, we will take a position against sprawl development. So you know, it, it is a, again, I don't belong to a party that that just like enforces its, will buy an iron fist. Um, we have a lively debate on these discussions and we try to make the best decisions when we can and sometimes we're going to disagree.

Speaker 2: 05:08 And you know, Republican party chair, Tony [inaudible] told us assembly bill five is one of those issues that Republicans will use in the election. Uh, and the GOP has been effective in using certain issues to fire up voters and win elections. Um, what issues do you see Democrats being able to use in this election?

Speaker 1: 05:23 Well, I would argue that the GOP has not been effective with that. Um, we saw that with the, uh, the, the measure last year where called a Mio tried to take on the, the tax to, for, for, for, for, for roads and transit. Um, so I, I don't think that that F that that actually is effective, especially while the Republican party's coalition is crumbling. Um, the reality is that San Diego has have a series of issues that are at the top of their mind, including climate change, including housing, including transit and affordability and jobs. And if you talk about those issues from our perspective, we're going to win on the, and you know, this is the first major election since you took over as party chair. Are you bringing any new strategies or new approach as we head into the March primary? Sure. Uh, what you'll see from the County democratic party is that we're now engaging on actual policy.

Speaker 1: 06:12 You can see that we've strived, we've aligned our political effort along a actual strategy. So we're doing this. We're not only playing, working harder, we're working smarter. Uh, we are, uh, we are stronger in terms of our, our strategic alliances. Uh, labor is United and they're a partner. We're working with community groups. We are deploying the largest fueled up effort that we've ever deployed, um, in our history. And what you'll see is they're going to do more of that. We're going to do it. We're going to lead from our values. We're going to take, uh, we're going to communicate, communicate those values to the people. And then on March 3rd, they're going to vote. So how will you measure success for the San Diego County democratic party this election season? Well, hopefully we went on elections. Um, that's the best way to tell, to tell the success of the democratic party, but also that, uh, to see how we come together after the primary is going to be really important to determine, uh, whether or not we're going to be able to have the discussions we need to have and maintain the solidarity and unity in our party that we, that we need in order to win the general elections.

Speaker 1: 07:09 Because the reality is a lot more of these elections are going to be Democrat on Democrat, while the Republican party slowly fates. I've been speaking with will Rodriguez Kennedy, chair of the San Diego County democratic party. We'll thank you so much for joining us. Thank you.

Speaker 3: 07:31 [inaudible].

Speaker 1: 00:00 For the first time in four decades. Someone that isn't named Duncan Hunter will be representing the 50th congressional district. Hey PBS reporter Priya Sridhar takes a look at the local race that has a national spotlight.

Speaker 2: 00:15 It's been a whirlwind in the 50th uh, district with 750,000 constituents that covers much of North and East San Diego County and has been one of California's most reliably red districts for decades. The seat has been held by the Hunter dynasty first by Dunkin Hunter senior, who served as a representative from 1981 to 2009 and then with his son, Dunkin Hunter jr, who was elected in 2009 and served as the representative for the 50th until he resigned earlier this month after pleading guilty to a campaign finance crime. Hunter denied any wrongdoing for more than a year after being charged in 2018 with 60 federal criminal counts for using $250,000 of campaign money on personal expenses. But he did a one 80 in early December and pleaded guilty. On one count, Hunter told local news station K, USI he wanted to spare his family a trial.

Speaker 3: 01:14 I did make mistakes. Um, I did not properly monitor or, uh, account for my camp campaign money. Um, I justify that plea with the understanding that I am responsible for my campaign and what happens to my campaign money

Speaker 2: 01:27 Hunter now faces five years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he sentenced on March 17th. But where does that leave the 50th? Because of the timing of Hunter's resignation. California governor Gavin Newsome decided not to call a special election. That means voters like Joseph knob will have no representation in Congress until January of 2021 when the winner of this year's November election takes office.

Speaker 4: 01:56 Well, I think our community should be represented at all times by a rep, by a Congressman. So if we don't have a Congressman for a year, I mean that's not really fair for the people around here who, who vote,

Speaker 2: 02:09 but they will have a chance to vote in the March primary when three Republicans and one Democrat compete for this seat. One of the front runners is Democrat Amar camp and a jar of former Obama administration official who ran against Hunter in 2018 and lost by fewer than 9,000 votes.

Speaker 3: 02:28 Nearly half the district voted for me to be a Congressman. This district, we've been running for three years and we've been talking to everybody, uh, Republican and Democrats, uh, independence, people who aren't ignorant but ignored by the democratic and Republican party

Speaker 2: 02:43 on the Republican side. Former nine term Congressman Darrel Eissa, current state Senator Brian Jones and former radio host in San Diego city. Councilman Carl DeMaio are all contenders of the candidates only Jones and [inaudible] live the 50th district. Joan said the voters there should be familiar with his record.

Speaker 5: 03:04 I think I've built a pretty good reputation in Sacramento, you know, working with my democratic colleagues to get stuff done. Uh, I've fought and defended for the principles that are important to this district all at the same time getting bills passed through Sacramento and signed by the governor. So I think that skillset will transfer well to Washington D C

Speaker 2: 03:26 none of the three Republican candidates was able to gain the endorsement of the San Diego Republican party, which requires a two thirds majority of party committee members of the three running de Mio has been the most vocal opponent of Dunkin Hunter

Speaker 5: 03:41 and I've shown time and time again, whether it's taking on the politicians with the, the pension, uh, reform initiative or fighting them on the gas tax. I'm willing to step forward and fight for the people when career politicians sit on the sidelines.

Speaker 2: 03:57 Secretary [inaudible] and about a dozen of his supporters showed up to protest Daryl Eissa when he announced his candidacy in late September. Eissa was the only candidate who turned down our repeated requests for an on camera interview. But he did speak to the press when he threw his hat in the ring. I believe that I have the history, the skills, the seniority, and the capability to hit the ground running, not just for this district but for California. Do the primary is March 3rd the top two candidates will go on to the general election in November.

Speaker 6: 04:32 Joining me is KPBS reporter, Prius Ryther and prio. Welcome. Thanks. Has there been any polling done in the 50th any way to tell which candidate might be ahead? Yeah, so there is actually just a new poll that came out about a week ago that was done between channel 10 and the union Tribune. And this was the first poll that's come out since Dunkin Hunter has actually resigned and stepped down and is not in the race anymore. And it shows that a Mar camp in a jar is actually winning with 26% of the votes in the district. And then behind him, virtually tied for second place is Darryl Eissa with 21% of the votes and Carl DeMaio with 20% of the votes. And then we have a state Senator, Brian Jones in third place, I guess you could say with 12% of the votes. So what's interesting here is that we're seeing a Mar camp in a is support compared to a similar poll that was done in October, declined from about 31%, which is the amount of voters who said that were pulled, uh, supported him back then. So it's unclear because there are a few, uh, democratic candidates who have entered the race if they perhaps, uh, took away some of the support from Amar or if perhaps Dunkin Hunter leaving the race is one of the reasons that Amar his support has also decreased. Carl DiMillo's numbers have virtually stayed the same from October until now. And we're seeing Darrel numbers increase. He was the last person to throw his hat in the ring in this race. Um, and we're also seeing Brian Jones numbers increase as well.

Speaker 1: 06:06 What's the main issue in the 50th? Is it whether or not you support president Trump?

Speaker 6: 06:11 Definitely a big one. Um, on the Republican side, we're seeing border security as a huge one. Um, gun control still remains to be huge there. What's really fascinating about, uh, the 50th is that there is a large chunk of people who actually identify themselves as independents, about 30%. And so that's, I'm really going to be the key factor when it comes to this race. And that's really the group that Amar camp in is Shar. The Democrat in the race is trying to appeal to. So he's, you know, really advertising himself as a moderate Democrat. And he said repeatedly, you know, that he would, he doesn't really support Nancy Pelosi. Um, he talks about having a strong border. He talks about guns, how he owns guns. So he's really trying to appeal to those undecided people in the, in the middle who don't know which way to go.

Speaker 1: 07:00 And on the Republican side, it seems like the candidates are sort of splitting the vote and that has resulted apparently in a controversy over political ads on the Republican side. Can you tell us about that?

Speaker 6: 07:12 Yeah. So the latest kind of scandal and the 50th are so many of them are a new ad that Daryl Eissa has put out that has headlines from various national news publications that reference Carl DiMillo's sexuality. So what's interesting about this when I've spoken to some political analysts is that he's not coming right out and talking about Carl de Mio sexuality. Instead, he's using headlines that reference his sexuality. And so the chairman of the San Diego County Republicans, Tony [inaudible] has come out and said that he believes that these advertisements are extremely inappropriate. And we saw back in October when the committee members of the San Diego County Republican party came together to try to figure out who they wanted to endorse in this race. They weren't able to actually come to a conclusion or a majority to endorse anyone. But, um, there was a lot of squabbling between all the Republican candidates back then.

Speaker 6: 08:10 And Tony [inaudible] was constantly interrupting them and saying, you know, please, nothing slanderous. Uh, no attacking each other. And now we've seen this ad come out. And so, um, I did get a chance to reach out to Daryl ISIS camp today and they said that they stand by the ad. Um, and that, you know, if there are any questions about those headlines that you should reach directly out to the news publications and ask them why they chose to put those headlines. Carl [inaudible] camp did talk to me today and also said that this is desperate. Darrell ice trying to distract voters from the 50th about the main issues.

Speaker 1: 08:45 What about the Dunkin Hunter factor in this race, senior and junior? Has anybody been endorsed as anybody relying on the, the Goodwills to speak of the Hunter name through the years in the 50th to try to get it right?

Speaker 6: 09:00 Yeah. Duncan Hunter, that name, it's a dynasty in the 50th. It was fascinating. I got a chance to ask Brian Jones if he would've even wanted a Dunkin Hunter seniors endorsement and he kind of paused and was a little bit confused about how that would be received by voters. Dunkin Hunter senior has come out and said that he is endorsing Daryl Eissa. The two of them have been extremely close over the years and Daryl Eissa has been um, a little bit kind of all over the place about how he references his relationship with the hunters. We've seen him in advertisements walking along the border with a Duncan Hunter sr, but he doesn't come out that much and talk about their relationships. I guess time will tell if that's going to be a factor in the voters decision making at all.

Speaker 1: 09:45 And you found a little bit of Hunter fatigue or at least annoyance in your conversations with some voters in the 50th

Speaker 6: 09:52 yeah, I've spent a lot of time in the 50th and I think a lot of people were just waiting for all of this to come to a conclusion. And so in some ways they're relieved that finally Duncan Hunter has resigned and he's no longer in this race. But I think a lot of people are extremely frustrated by the timing of his resignation. Had he resigned back in December, the state law would have mandated that governor Newsome would have had to hold a special election. But now, you know, governor Newsome has said that given the timing, it just doesn't make sense to hold a special election. And so now the people in the 50th will be without representation in Washington until January of next year when this, uh, election comes to a conclusion.

Speaker 1: 10:34 I've been speaking with KPBS reporter Prius there. Thank you so much. Thanks.

Speaker 1: 00:00 Against the backdrop of city buses, engines, revving and concrete sidewalks is an urban Oasis of nutrition in San Diego's Mount hope neighborhood. Fruits, vegetables and herbs grow with the Mount hope community garden. And until recently the gardens future was up in the air. I stopped by the garden to speak with Diane Moss, managing director of project new village who oversees the garden about the vision to turn the area into a hub for good food underneath

Speaker 2: 00:27 project new village. Is this garden Mount hope community garden? Yes, it is a small part of a big picture. Explain all that. So we've been doing this work in Southeastern San Diego since 2010 and we've defined this area between uh, Euclid and the 15 freeway is what we call the good food district. And in that district we plan to put a hub here, right? We recently got a grant or to work with farmers, so a group of farmers to work together to grow the food. And then we got a loan from a national nonprofit so that we could buy this property from the city. So with that, what we plan to do is to put a grocery store here where a significant amount of what's sold in the store comes from the neighborhood we make it or we grow it so that we're increasing the wealth and the health by virtue of eating the food that we grow in the neighborhood where we are.

Speaker 2: 01:20 And also tell me a bit more about that because not only are you increasing the health in the neighborhood, but there's a lot of education that goes along with that too. Correct? Yes. We do want to say that food is not cheap, and so when you buy food that's cheap, somebody gets cheated, usually the grower of the food. So we want to grow food here in an ethical way and really educate folks to the true cost of food so that everyone is treated ethically, the consumer and the person who grew or put the food on the table. And how do you do that though? I, you know, if you're in an area where there are few economic resources, how do you square that? But a few things. Some people don't look at two subsidies as I'm purchasing power, but it is. And what we also want to do is to try out something called TimeBanking so that people put in time helping us with our projects, whether you water or call people, it's worth whatever it's worth for for an hour.

Speaker 2: 02:16 And then we want to bank that. So when you go to purchase food at this market that we make, you have an account because of the sweat equity you put in on the front end to buy food. People are doing this, bartering, well, we want to do it with food and see what happens. So it's really a feasibility study and the self-determining practices of farmers in this area, but people also who live here to consume food, to know that for everyone to benefit, everyone has to share the risk and the benefits. And this particular garden, it's not just farmers that are growing food in here. Tell me about that. I'd say the majority of the people who grow food here, they want the experience of growing food or the healing aspect being in a garden. So there are people that live in the neighborhood that see the value of spending time in a garden.

Speaker 2: 03:04 Most are not farmers or growers or food for for distribution. Yeah. Yeah. A lot of people who are, who kind of just come and want to learn how to grow collard greens and what else is growing out here? So we've got collard greens, we just had a, this was the year for us last year of the black eyed pea. So we grew a lot of black IPS because culturally you can't really start the year without having black eyed peas. We have also tropical kinds of things that people said would not grow. There's passion fruit here. We have Japanese Kiwi in the back. Um, bananas. So there are a lot of different things that are [inaudible] growing here. How long have you been doing this? So I started working in food justice about 2008. I never knew what, who justice was, but I went to a conference and saw that. That's what, uh, that was what was happening here.

Speaker 2: 03:53 There was an injustice here. We don't have a scarcity of food. It's decisions about where food will be distributed. That's where the issue is. My background is community organizing and advocacy. So we need to change some rules so that all of us can have access to [inaudible]. Cause I wanted to ask, what do you, what are the conditions that create food deserts and food insecurity within communities? So the most part it's, it's, it's decisions that are made about who could have food, where the food is grown, what food is subsidized, right? At the federal level, we have a farm bill, the farm bill controls, uh, snap or food stamps. And if they cut food stamps and people have less ability to get food, right. And if you look at the stores that we have in our neighborhoods, it's very hard for you to find anything that says organic.

Speaker 2: 04:38 Not that that's the indoor, but the quality of food here is different than it is in other places. And it's usually an economically driven or a politically driven agenda. It's not anything that's wrong with the residents or the people that live in that space. What's the value in people or within a community knowing how to grow their own food so we don't have access to the best quality of food where we are. So we want to ensure that you know where your food comes from and know the nutritional value and that there were no chemicals or anything used on the food. You know exactly what happened to the food from the seed to your table and let's, I want to circle back to the question about education because um, part of it is not only knowing where the food is sourced from, but also what's good to eat, what's healthy to eat, how to prepare meals.

Speaker 2: 05:29 Tell me about that. We partner a lot with nutritionists and particularly with the County of San Diego so that we have people come out and talk about recipes and sharing of recipes and how to cook foods where you don't cook the new vision, nutritional value in. I find a lot of value here in cultural sharing. I grew up where you collard greens, you put them in a pot with water and you boil them forever. But I talked to others here. Now I mostly stir fried my greens or steamed the greens and make them into like a where you can make a rap growing up. That's not what we did with collard greens. You got your saute in green. [inaudible] said, okay. Some guy told me at the farmer's market the other day, he puts it on the grill. I, you know, I heard, I went to a Juneteenth celebration and that's how they do the greens.

Speaker 2: 06:18 They put them on a grill and or either used him as a wrap. They said that's what they did in Texas. Way back when I said, okay. All right. Um, now I want you to talk to me a bit about the funding that you got to buy this land. How difficult was that? It was an incredible of opportunity. So the national nonprofit we worked with was the conservation fund. We met them through the San Diego regional food system Alliance. We're both members and what, and so being at our table, looking at who our partners were and what we were trying to do and sincere, uh, they made us a proposition. If we could raise $100,000 in 60 days, they would give us a loan to buy. This property sounded incredible to us at the time, but we did it. It's cash and pledges. So we were able to do that by October and then November they gave us the loan, and then in December we got the deed.

Speaker 2: 07:13 We, we bought this land. How'd that feel? Incredible. It's an incredible leap. We are a grassroots small organization with very little staff. So this really ups our game in terms of the potential of what we can do here with ownership. You call yourself a a food activist fighting for food justice. We do. Um, why is this something you're so passionate about? Because I think that all of us would have good food buy right? And when we don't, and I go other places and it's there, I want to work real hard to make sure it's here. I live here too. I'm working with my neighbors every day to change these conditions.

Speaker 1: 07:48 That was Diane Moss, managing director of project new village. [inaudible]

Speaker 3: 07:57 [inaudible].

Speaker 1: 00:00 The old globe theater is currently staging August Wilson's Jitney a play set in 1977. Pittsburgh KPBS arts reporter Beth Huck Amando interviewed two of the actors, Keith Randolph Smith and Steven Anthony Jones. And quickly discovered that the sense of place and of telling stories extends beyond the play to the people involved when she asked each actor to state his name to check audio levels. These are the stories she got.

Speaker 2: 00:29 My name is Keith Randolph Smith. I was born in Cleveland, Ohio. I live in New York city. Oh, I'll actually now in New Jersey. I went to the American Academy of dramatic arts in New York. Been in army for a couple of three years.

Speaker 3: 00:42 All right. And just to start, just state your name.

Speaker 4: 00:45 I'm Steven Anthony Jones and I was born in Cleveland, Ohio. We didn't cross paths, but um, we, we come from the same place. Please call caramel house in Cleveland. Yes. Yup. Everett. It's the oldest community theater in America in 1911, uh, by Russell and Rob Wiener GLF and this was a white couple and they always insisted that it be integrated. It was, uh, in 1959, I saw a production of guys and dolls and that was it. That was it. I was gone. I was gone. I was a boy. And I asked my parents if you could make money doing that. And I said, well, that's what I'll do from the age of 12. I have been in love with the theater.

Speaker 3: 01:42 So Keith, to start off with, tell us about the character you play in Jitney.

Speaker 2: 01:47 Okay. The character playing Jitney, his name is dub. He's a Korean war vet. He's a Jitney driver.

Speaker 3: 01:54 And remind people what Jitney means.

Speaker 2: 01:57 Jitney is, um, another term for an unlicensed cab. Uh, in some someplace they call them gypsy cabs. Nowadays we call them lifts and Uber's, but they provided a service to the community, whereas at the time, yellow cabs would, uh, be hesitant to go into the Hill district in Pittsburgh.

Speaker 3: 02:18 And what do you think August Wilson brought to theater? What do you think was unique about him that he kind of brought to the stage that no one else was doing at the time and make some kind of an original?

Speaker 2: 02:31 Well, August wrote, uh, he wrote a play for each decade of the 20th century, uh, trying to share what, um, African Americans were going through and dealing with in their existence in the United States of America. Display Jitney is the 77, 1977. But what he did was he showed working class people. He did not show them as saints. He showed them all their complexity and all of their dimensions and just a fool full human being. And that's, I think one of his specialties. What he does, he's shows rich characters and all of their depth and especially working class folks

Speaker 3: 03:13 and talk a little bit about August Wilson as a playwright. His plays are very specific in terms of kind of the time and place, yet they, you know, speak to everyone.

Speaker 2: 03:25 August Wilson as a playwright has a musicality and a rhythm to his language and I'm sure that has to do with him. Writing poetry when he started out were words are important. Word order, we're choice, a sentence, construction images, uh, metaphors, all of that alliteration. Uh, it's all in his plays is they really beautifully written. When people come see the play, they always remark that, Oh, that character reminds me of my uncle. That character reminds me of that cousin. And I've heard this from people of many different nationalities, many different ages, many different genders. And so I know there's something universal in the specificity of his writing and it's, it's beautiful to witness him go home.

Speaker 5: 04:19 The man was by here and you ain't told nobody what he say. They go bought the place up, come the first, the next month. Why in the hell didn't you tell somebody? I'm telling you now,

Speaker 3: 04:32 Steven, first of all, describe your character in Jitney.

Speaker 4: 04:36 My character is Jim Becker. I am the boss of the Jitney station. The play occurs against a backdrop of urban renewal.

Speaker 5: 04:47 It ain't like that's a small piece of news. I got rent to pay doctor bills. Every man in here is dependent on the state or for the livelihood.

Speaker 4: 04:57 So of course this is a us creates a great deal of, of, uh, an angst and, and, and a little turmoil.

Speaker 3: 05:05 What do you think defines an August Wilson play in terms of kind of the, the style and the tone of it?

Speaker 4: 05:13 He is a great storyteller, but he is not plot driven. I think he is more character and language driven. They are ordinary people who speak really poetically. And it is, I don't think a fabrication. Um, I, I think that in black culture in America, um, the, the way that we deal with language is different. Um, every ethnic group in the country deals with the English language differently. And I think very often, um, we have a rhythm and a style that lends itself to, uh, that is poetic. But that lends itself to a, a kind of a poetic expression, uh, within the structure of the drama. Uh, very often I find myself afterwards feeling as though I had been riding, floating along and in this sea of language, uh, that, that carries me up and down. And, uh, sometimes it's stormy and turbulent and other times it's just, it's smooth and the sun is shining and it's, it's filled with such, such beauty. Uh, but the other thing about his writing is that he achieves, uh, an emotional honesty that is stunning.

Speaker 3: 06:58 The cycle of 10 plays was written with very specific times and places in mind. So how does that play to a contemporary audience? Do you feel?

Speaker 4: 07:08 Well, each player's a period piece and like any period piece, uh, the audience, uh, sits in their seats, the lights go down, and then we take a journey together. Whether it is a journey and the time that we live in, or it is a journey that is in the seventies or the sixties. Um, that is part of just part of the magic of the theater. I think what August Wilson captured in Jitney was the life of working class black people, the everyday life, uh, in, in a sense, um, by examining the, the, the most mundane things he found things that were profound.

Speaker 3: 08:06 That was Beth Armando speaking with actors. Keith Randolph Smith and Steven Anthony Jones. Jitney runs through February 23rd at the old globe theater.

For a while, there were no Republicans in the race for San Diego Mayor until City Councilman Scott Sherman jumped in last minute. Also, San Diego County Democratic Party head Will Rodriguez-Kennedy talks to KPBS about the March election. Plus, without Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter on the ballot, the race 50th Congressional District seat is wide open, a potential for it to turn blue for the first time in decades. And, August Wilson’s “Jitney,” his first play, but the last to be produced on Broadway, comes to The Old Globe.

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KPBS Midday Edition

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