Takeaways From VP Debate, COVID-19 Upends California’s Homeless Epidemic, 49th Congressional District Race, San Onofre Surfing History
KPBS Midday Edition / October 8, 2020
ERIC BARADAT AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES
Both Senator Kamala Harris and Vice President Mike Pence dodged questions in last night's debate but drew sharp contrasts in the two parties’ agendas. Plus, the coronavirus pandemic derails California’s plan to deal with its homeless epidemic. Also, a KPBS investigation found Avocado Post Acute nursing homes provided far fewer hours of care from registered nurses than required while raking in millions in yearly profits. And, Republicans are hoping to take back the 49th Congressional District that got swept in the Blue Wave two years ago. Finally, a new book documents the history of surfing at San Onofre State Beach.
Speaker 1: 00:00 The vice presidential candidates took turns firing at last night's debate. Well, let's go.
Speaker 2: 00:06 This is important. And I want to ask mr. Vice president speaking,
Speaker 1: 00:10 I'm speaking. I'm Alison st. John, along with Maureen cabinet, this is Gabe PBS. Midnight edition has the pandemic forest, California to come to grips with its homeless in a new way.
Speaker 2: 00:29 California has more than 150,000 homeless people. Most of them over a hundred thousand people by last count are unsheltered. So they're living outside
Speaker 1: 00:40 An investigation, reveals inadequate staffing at nursing homes in spite of big profits. And we'll take a rest pipe print today's news as the author of a book on the legendary center of free surfing beach takes us on a trip down memory lane that's ahead on midday
Speaker 3: 00:54 Lives. And livelihoods continued to be up ended by the COVID-19 pandemic. California is attempting a delicate balance between caution and a population eager to resume some semblance of normalcy. It's hard to say what part of the population has suffered most from the shutdowns and restrictions of the past eight months, but a new investigative report highlights. The effect COVID-19 has had on tens of thousands of homeless people in the state while efforts to avoid a major Corona virus outbreak among the homeless have largely been successful. The impact of a societal shutdown has made life for them much harder. Joining me is reporter Angela Hart, co author of the investigation by Kaiser health news and Angela, welcome to the program. Thank you very much. The main focus of state and community plans for homeless individuals throughout this pandemic was to try to keep them safe from the disease. Can you take us through some of those efforts?
Speaker 2: 01:53 Sure, of course. So what we saw in the beginning of the pandemic almost immediately, a few weeks after governor Gavin Newsome order, the first statewide lockdown order, as there was a major scramble to figure out what is going to happen with all the people, sleeping outside, people, sleeping and large and growing encampments under a freeway underpasses. We see it every day. If we live here, you live here in California, you see it every day. And so the governor and the new state administration really thought really, really hard about what to do to move people in doors. And so that's, I think the most important public health intervention during COVID-19 that, uh, from the state of California's perspective was really, we need to get people inside. Now, California has more than 150,000 homeless people. Most of them over a hundred thousand people by last count are unsheltered.
Speaker 2: 02:51 So they're living outside. So you can see the enormous public health catastrophe that was brewing. So the governor said we need to move people inside. Um, he was working on a plan, um, quietly to buy a hotel or motel rooms before COVID struck. And so when it did hit, they sort of plucked it off the shelf and quickly transformed it into a hotel motel program to move homeless people who were sleeping outdoors into a, they call it non congregate shelter. So the idea is enough, you know, shelter inside with enough space to safely social distance. This is called project room key. It had gotten a lot of glitzy coverage sort of in the media. And we really endeavor to try and understand how it was working and not working and on the streets and outside
Speaker 3: 03:41 Here in San Diego, the convention center has become a homeless shelter. In fact, the city council just voted to expand the bridge shelter for women and families at golden hall. My question is have the state's efforts largely shielded the homeless population from a widespread viral outbreak?
Speaker 2: 04:00 Yes, so far a widespread outbreak has been averted and there some interesting reasons we heard why, um, from some of the public health experts, we talked to, there's sort of a natural segregation. If you will, among the homeless population, at least the unsheltered population, you know, we don't, we, as in the general public, don't have a lot of interaction with people who are sleeping outside. And so that has sort of provided a natural barrier and the project RoomKey hotel and motel rooms of course have provided, um, critical, safe shelter that really has been important. And in some cases, life saving and yes has prevented, uh, major outbreaks among the homeless population. Um, I will say however, there is still a giant fear among homeless service providers from Southern California to Northern California and rural California and, and coastal cities and counties. There is a giant fear that we are not out of the woods on COVID-19 and there was still a big fear that this could rear up among the homeless population, especially given that project room key rooms, um, by and large are winding down by the end of this year. And as we all know, COBIT, isn't going away anytime soon.
Speaker 3: 05:14 And how has life changed for homeless people who remain on shelter?
Speaker 2: 05:19 It's really been heartbreaking to, to, to, to hear and to see really how much more difficult people's lives had gotten. You know, interestingly, this is not something that we had expected when we got out and started out reporting. We really wanted to understand how people, how the public health impacts that were being averted. But really what we saw is sort of these sort of ad hoc cobbled together supports that homeless people, homeless communities really have developed, um, have been shattered. Uh, we're talking about, you know, the closure of public libraries during the various shutdowns, the closure of restaurants, the closure of stores really cut off electricity. It cut off food, food, access to food, it cut off clean water and, you know, that has made life so much more difficult, but it also has increased some of the public health threats faced by the people who are sleeping outside in California today, people we talk to and Imperial County people, we talk to and Fresno County, rural, rural California, people are bathing and canals, people are bathing in dirty water.
Speaker 2: 06:29 Um, and so it's really a threat on multiple levels and that's just one part of it. What are some other ways that life has gotten harder? You know, mental health and addiction has worse ended. We heard directly from people who said, you know, we can't get our mental health condition under control. A gentleman I spoke with, you know, had had his bipolar disorder had been getting worse and worse because he couldn't access his medical benefit. Um, so there are stories like that all over California at heartbreak. And, and again, this is one of those areas where, uh, I think the hardships are continuing and there's a lot of fear among the homeless people that we took. We talked to, um, that it's just going to get worse. Unfortunately,
Speaker 3: 07:12 In El Centro, your report introduces us to a man living in a tent outside the city, tell us about Carl Wilkinson. He's had to make it through on his own and says, it's a lot tougher.
Speaker 2: 07:24 You know, Carl Wilkinson is a gentleman who, who has been homeless for quite some time, uh, much of his life, he has been living outside. But one thing that we heard from the many of the homeless service providers as this is the exact type of person who really should be getting indoors during COVID, he's got sensitive health conditions has age, puts him at risk for COVID-19. And really these are the people like Carl are really the types of people who, um, the state says should really be prioritized for a project room, key room. Um, however, you know, Carl, like many other people in California, um, were not placed into a room and are left living outside to their own devices. Again, sleeping in and unsafe on sheltered encampment, sleep, bathing and canals bathing in dirty water. This is, this is a very, very dangerous situation.
Speaker 3: 08:23 Now, some advocates say that despite the increased strain on many homeless people, the efforts being made because of COVID have actually helped many people find housing and find a way off the streets. Is that also the case?
Speaker 2: 08:38 And so, yes, the people who are lucky enough to get inside the people who are lucky enough to be selected for a room or for a housing unit, or, you know, long shot, but permanent supportive housing. Some of, some of the most coveted housing, you know, those rooms though, those shelters, but that housing really can be lifesaving, but I cannot overstate this enough. They are far short. And we heard that all over California. I've been speaking with reporter Angela Hart, she's co author of the Kaiser health news investigation. And the headline on that is hard lives made harder by COVID California's homeless endure, a slow moving train wreck. Angela, thank you so much for speaking.
Speaker 4: 09:23 Thank you so much.
Speaker 1: 09:30 The vice presidential debate last night was particularly significant at a time when the presidential candidates are both in their seventies and we're in the midst of a pandemic, both Mike Pence and Kamala Harris, dodged questions about how they might handle an emergency that required them to step in, but they did reveal sharp contrasts in the two parties agendas here to reflect on what we learned from the debate is Michael Smolins columnist for the San Diego union Tribune. Mike, thanks for being with us.
Speaker 4: 09:58 Thanks for having me on Alison.
Speaker 1: 10:00 So what did you think voters got out of last night's debate and you know, what, what was your takeaway?
Speaker 4: 10:06 Well, I think that, that, that might've been a little bit of a relief that, that there were some sharp exchanges, but it was, it was a civil debate, uh, you know, after the presidential debate last week. And we almost forgot what that was like. Uh, it wasn't, you know, entirely, uh, you know, gloves on, um, they took some tough shots at each other, spoke over each other and went beyond their time limits. But the bottom line is that vice presidential debates really don't often factor in much, uh, to the election dynamic. And I think it's safe to say that this one did not okay.
Speaker 1: 10:43 Well, covert of course, it's top of mind for everybody. Um, and the two candidates did respond to it as it is one of the first questions in the debate here is part of their exchange,
Speaker 2: 10:53 Whatever the vice president is claiming the administration has done. Clearly it hasn't worked when you're looking at over 210,000 dead bodies in our country, American lives that have been lost families that are grieving that loss.
Speaker 4: 11:08 But when you say what the American people have done over these last eight months, hasn't worked, that's a great disservice to the sacrifices the American people have made. What do you mean?
Speaker 1: 11:21 I think he was referring to in terms of the sacrifices people have made.
Speaker 4: 11:26 Well, I think he was trying to turn things back on, uh, uh, vice presidential candidate Harris, uh, you know, she was talking about the administration, uh, she wasn't talking about the American people and the people that have stayed home that has have worn masks and done the right thing. Uh, you know, so he, he did try to suggest that she was, uh, you know, taking a shot at them, which wasn't the case, but, you know, he was in a difficult position, uh, in large part to his and president Trump's doing because they have not really come up with a coherent strategy to try to approach how to, to contain, uh, the coronavirus outbreak. Uh, so it was a tough position to defend against. And I think as we saw through the, uh, the night on that and other issues, he sought to change the subject somehow, or at least change the direction.
Speaker 1: 12:14 Yes, there were, there were a number of questions that the candidates dotted both of them, in fact, and of course that is normal political tactics, but it did seem more plate blatant last night than usual. For example, they, neither of them answered the question about whether they had a plan for assuming power of their respective presidents were incapacitated. Um, do you think we learned anything from the candidates performance to tell us about who they are and how they might govern
Speaker 4: 12:39 That was the most significant question that as you point out when unanswered with, uh, the presidential candidates and as old as they are, uh, you know, the, the, the, the passing of power is a very significant question, uh, in this election. And, uh, it was a shame that neither of them even came close to answering it. They just went on to other things.
Speaker 1: 13:01 And then, um, Mike Pence completely avoided the question about preexisting conditions, which is, you know, a very important issue for many voters and healthcare is a strong suit for the Biden campaign. Do you, do you think that he set people's minds at rest about healthcare?
Speaker 4: 13:17 I D I don't, you know, they, he reiterated as the president has said, we have a plan. Well, there is no plan and it's four years in and they don't have a plan. They haven't pushed a plan. Uh, they're in court to try to strike down the only existing plan, which is the affordable care act known as Obamacare. And the big component of that of course, is, uh, uh, you know, coverage for people with preexisting conditions. He also talked about how, uh, the public doesn't like it, or I'm paraphrasing. It is, it is against Obamacare over time. Uh, I think a very strong majority, according to polls have, uh, agreed that it's a good thing for the country to have. So, uh, it's a tough argument for them to make, but again, not having any plan of their own to counter that other than just some rhetoric, uh, false, pretty flat.
Speaker 1: 14:07 Yeah, no. In terms of not addressing the question, Harris did not directly address pencil's question about court packing. I mean, do you think Pence was effective in his accusations on the issue of the Supreme court?
Speaker 4: 14:19 I do. I, I thought so. I thought just, you know, and also talking about, uh, you know, uh, the, uh, nominated justice Barrett, um, I think that that focus, uh, might help energize the conservative base, what it might do to potential swing voters. I don't know. And, and probably not much sort of lingering question I have is that's an important issue, whether they, you know, expand the Supreme court or so-called tactic court, but it's, uh, it's a little bit of an insider game right now. And I just don't think that's at the top of people's agendas. Uh, like I said, I think that that is something that alarms conservatives and people that are really paying close attention to watching a lot of cable news. But, uh, for the average voter, I just don't know whether that's something that's going to, uh, uh, swing their vote. Yeah.
Speaker 1: 15:08 Well, speaking of voters agendas, you know, they did differentiate themselves very clearly on climate change, you know, Harris called it an existential threat and Penn spoke of climate alarmists, but how important do you think climate change is to voters?
Speaker 4: 15:22 I think it's very important. I, you know, I've written about this and talked about it, that it's, it's unfortunate with everything else going on, that it is, uh, being pretty much ignored there, there was just a, a story the other day about how, um, September this past September was the hottest September ever on record. Well, to find that store, I mean, that's a significant story, but to find that story on any given day, this week, uh, you really had to search for it. And, uh, you know, it's, uh, I think, uh, Jerry Brown said this former governor, Jerry Brown said this about the nuclear war threat, as well as climate change, sort of the end of the world. Isn't news. Uh, there's been so much going on in the moment. There's still as a sentence that that's far in the future, but we're finding almost on a daily basis, uh, that is coming upon us pretty quick. Uh, so I do think that, that people are very concerned about that, but, uh, we seem to be hyperventilating over so much else right now.
Speaker 1: 16:20 Well, finally, you know, do you think Penn succeeded in painting Harris is far more liberal than Biden? Did he win over more to undecideds?
Speaker 4: 16:28 I think he was effective when he brought up the green new deal and that they oppose fracking, which of course the Biden Harris ticket doesn't, but she, at one point did support the green new deal, which has become this red flag. I'm mixing my color metaphors there, um, to, to conservative voters that the expense, you know, the limits on whatever they may be able to, to in terms of driving. Did they swing anybody? I don't really think so in that regard,
Speaker 1: 16:54 Right. Well, Michael, where was like talking to you, thanks so much for joining us.
Speaker 4: 16:58 Thank you for having me on again.
Speaker 1: 17:00 We've been speaking with Michael Smolins columnist for the San Diego union Tribune.
Speaker 3: 17:05 This is KPBS mid day edition. I'm Maureen Kavanaugh with Alison st. John, a key question hanging over the tragically high number of COVID-19 deaths at nursing homes is do they have the money to do better KPBS investigative reporter or Meetha Sharma reviewed the finances of a local nursing home with a poor care record and has this report old photos of Irma Eastern show, a young dark haired, luminescent, beauty whose life brimmed with promise decades later, her life ended June 8th when paramedics failed to revive the 66 year old after she choked on powder donuts in her room at avocado post acute in El Cahone, she have to die
Speaker 5: 17:50 This way. They're trained medical staff, the hair. So what are they doing?
Speaker 6: 17:55 Eastern starter Beatrice Barrios says an avocado nurse had given Easton a pack of the donuts, then left her alone to eat them. Despite the fact that Easton was a diabetic and needed her food mechanically softened due to a swallowing disorder and a history of choking,
Speaker 5: 18:12 Obviously they're not providing proper care.
Speaker 6: 18:15 Delivering proper care has been a challenge at avocado KPBS reviewed avocado's financial reports with the help of lawyer, Ernie Tosh. He is a nationally recognized expert on nursing home finances. We found the for profit facility has failed in recent years to provide the level of nursing care expected by regulators, the regulators, the centers for Medicare and Medicaid services published the expected level of staffing and reimbursed avocado based on the needs of the facilities residents yet in 2018, the record show avocado shortchanged its residents 184 hours of registered nursing care per day.
Speaker 5: 19:01 And I'm not making it up tomorrow or the next day. It is never going to be made
Speaker 6: 19:07 2018. Registered nursing care deficit at avocado was part of a pattern. Avocados shorted its residents more than 170 hours in registered nursing care per day in both 2016 and 2017 avocados lawyer, John Cohn argued in a written statement that the facility staffing ratios of registered nurses were in line with California and national averages, but he never addressed why they were not in line with what federal regulators expected. Taj says CMS is expected. RN staffing levels were meant to ensure that residents received the care they need
Speaker 5: 19:49 Are the front line, top medical providers in new facility. When you don't have them there, you don't have anybody that can assess the patient that can determine if they're developing an infection. If you don't have RMS, your healthcare system breaks down in a nursing home
Speaker 6: 20:07 Ricardo's complaint. History shows that the facility might have systemic problems from 2017. Through October 5th of this year, 462 complaints were filed against the nursing home. According to the California department of public health, 56 of those complaints were filed this year alone. More than four times, the statewide average Cohn avocados lawyer said many of those complaints were self-reported. He added that given the large size of the 256 bed facility compared to other nursing homes, quote it logically follows that it will have more incidents to report, but nursing home reform advocates say complaints against avocado are still high. Even when factoring size over the years, inspectors have cited avocado for lax infection control, abusive residents, falsifying records, and failing to keep the place free of hazards. Avocado has also had the second highest number of residents who tested positive for COVID-19 among nursing homes in San Diego County core issue is that there's inadequate staffing at this facility.
Speaker 6: 21:20 Brian Lee is executive director at the Texas based nonprofit families for better care. The residents end up suffering by under-staffing registered nurses. Tosh calculated that avocado has saved $1 million or more annually from 2016 through 2018. Yet avocado has brought in more than $3 million in profits in both 2017 and 2018 clue. When you're making three to $3 million in profit, you could staff property. This is not a facility that can stand up and say, we're going. We have the money to do. Meanwhile, the California department of public health investigated Irma Easton's choking death and told her daughter Beatrice Barrios. That avocado was not at fault. Various doesn't understand that conclusion. They let her die there. They didn't help her. They didn't provide her assistance in the moment that she needed most. She died in the most painful, horrible way that I can imagine that she would die. I mean the Sharma KPBS news
Speaker 3: 22:24 Joining me is KPBS investigative reporter Amica Sharma Amita. Welcome.
Speaker 6: 22:30 Thank you, Maureen. It's good to speak with you.
Speaker 3: 22:33 The report we just heard is the second of two reports focused on nursing home care and revolving around avocado post acute. Now, yesterday we heard about a 73 year old resident who was allegedly sexually molested by an avocado employee and that same employee then went on to allegedly molester resident at another nursing home and ultimately lose his state care license. My question is Amica, who has the ultimate responsibility of protecting residents in for profit nursing homes?
Speaker 6: 23:06 Well, the administrator at the facility does, um, but if the administrator falls short, it's the job of the other layers of regulation to come through. And by that, I mean the California department of public health, which inspects nursing homes that are federally funded through Medicare and Medicaid, um, and those inspectors act on behalf of the centers for Medicare and Medicaid services. So they go into a nursing home and they inspect what's going on. They investigate incidents like this, but Maureen, let me just say something about both the California of public health and the centers for Medicare and Medicaid services. Again, they are the regulators of these nursing homes. I have not found the CDPH or CMS to be very communicative. They have underperformed in answering questions in producing data and producing relevant data in a timely and complete way. And at any point in time, I don't know that their data is reliable. And this is happening at a time when people are deeply concerned about their parents, about their loved ones in these nursing homes and information coming out of CDPH and CMS is critical. It's absolutely critical.
Speaker 3: 24:32 Well, I was really surprised that the center for Medicare and Medicaid services doesn't do audits of these nursing homes that are mostly operating on Medicare money. Is there any agency that watches out for fraud at these facilities?
Speaker 6: 24:48 No. We asked a very specific question about that and they said they do not perform audits. And by the way, that's backed up by lawyers who represent families, suing nursing homes.
Speaker 3: 25:01 Now the alleged victim of that assault is suing the facility. What does she hope the lawsuit will achieve?
Speaker 6: 25:08 Well, I think she has two goals. One of which she mentioned in the piece, she believes that the people who didn't properly report the sexual assault didn't properly report what allegedly happened to her should never be allowed to work in nursing homes. Again, she thinks that's justice and she wants the caregiver who allegedly did this to her to be charged by prosecutors.
Speaker 3: 25:35 Now today's report the report that we just heard focused on the discrepancies between staffing levels claimed by avocado and the actual hours of care the residents are receiving your report seems to indicate that this isn't a mistaken avocados part, but couldn't be a deliberate misrepresentation in order to save money on care.
Speaker 6: 25:57 Well, if it's a mistake, maybe the figures that they represented in terms of what they provide or how many hours of nursing care they provide, their residents would have happened in one year, but for three years in a row avocado that each of its residents received a total of 5.2 hours of total nursing care. And when you look at the actual hours worked, that's simply not the case.
Speaker 3: 26:28 You know, I'll bet. Most people don't realize that nursing homes are viewed as great investment opportunities. Had you heard that before?
Speaker 6: 26:36 I had not, but I've never really heard this area before. And in terms of being great investment opportunities, this is a situation that has really developed over the last two decades. So now you have a bunch of large nursing homes, um, that are basically chains and they are publicly traded companies. And even those that aren't are owned by private investors or private equity companies. And they have all created these layers of corporate ownership. They have their own management companies, uh, they've put their property in limited liability companies or trusts is to limit legal liability. And of course it's beneficial to them tax wise, but where does this leave resident care? When the overriding goal of nursing homes is now profits for owners, profits for investors. So you're left with a situation where quality of care takes a back seat. And as our stories demonstrate, regulators, aren't really regulating.
Speaker 6: 27:47 And I suppose the question that people are left with is how can an individual or a family member figure out if a care facility has the staff and track record to be entrusted with the care of a vulnerable person? Well, that's just it, I mean, you nailed it in terms of your question. There is no reliable source, other than word of mouth, your gut, lots of shopping around, um, asking a lot of questions. You can go to the state's website, the CDPH website to find out how many complaints have been filed against the particular facility, um, and then compare it to other facilities, but it's still a very difficult process to figure out. And there's certainly no guarantee that after completing that process, that you were going to be able to find a quality facility for your loved one. I've been speaking with KPBS, investigative reporter Amantha Sharma Amika. Thank you very much for this. Thank you, Maureen.
Speaker 1: 28:54 39th congressional district includes San Diego's coastal North County from Del Mar up to Dana point in orange County. It was a hotly contested race two years ago when Democrat Mike Levin rested the house seat from the Republicans. This year 11 is challenged by her Republican brand Marriott, who is hoping the blue wave that swept through the district might recede again here to give us some perspective on the races KPBS reporter Sherlyna Chatwani Shelina thanks for joining.
Speaker 6: 29:18 Hey, glad to be here
Speaker 1: 29:20 Back in March. And the primary people said this could be a tight race because Brian Marriott actually started primary night ahead of 11, but that changed and 11 ultimately won with 60% of the vote. So tell us, what is 11 now campaigning on what accomplishments does he have to show? Yes.
Speaker 6: 29:37 So in the March primary, it was really interesting because it seemed
Speaker 2: 29:42 Like there were more registered Republican voters then, and now it's looking like, uh, orange County and San Diego County registrar of voter data shows that there are slightly more democratic voters this time, 38% compared to 36% and about a quarter are independence. And so that could significantly change things. And when we see that Levin ultimately won by 60%, but now it's looking like they're even more democratic voters this time, um, which may reflect him securing the seat. But in terms of what he's complaining on, um, Levin has really built a lot of his issues around fighting climate change, um, around figuring out a solid waste site for the nuclear waste on San fray. Um, getting it off of the beach and putting it in a federal repository, um, as well as a lengthy history of veterans spills and he points towards the veterans spills to, uh, show that he is bi-partisan, here's what he has to say about that.
Speaker 4: 30:46 Well, I've tried to be a bipartisan leader in Congress, and I think the record speaks for itself. Uh, you know, I sit on three committees, I'm the chairman of a veteran's superior sub committee where I've helped to introduce 20 bills by partisan bills, 12 of which it passed the house four of which have already been signed into law by president Trump, look at my own record and I'm very proud. We've done a very good job in trying to represent our community.
Speaker 2: 31:14 And in my interview with Levin, he talks about how they recently just passed another piece of bi-partisan veteran legislation, uh, not too long ago. Okay. So he's saying that he's right in the middle. What does Marriott have to say about that? How's he challenging living? Where does he think he might have some leverage to actually unseat him? So Marriott says that, you know, essentially that's not true. Um, he claims that Levin is kind of a very liberal side of the spectrum and that he wants to do things like have public healthcare. He's, here's what he has to say.
Speaker 4: 31:45 I mean, Mike is a very, very ambitious, progressive he's part of a progressive caucus that has ideas about nationalizing, our energy sector or healthcare sector. And that means putting you and your family on a government run plan quickly. I mean, that's their plan and that's not what families want.
Speaker 2: 32:01 So Marriott's point here is that voters in the district want a little bit more variety. They want to have options. They want to be able to choose a private health care plan if they want to. And that's actually a huge part of his campaign platform. And so, you know, he thinks with that sort of issue, he could really flip the seat because he thinks that voters want to have those options. So now in terms of Senate, right, does Marriott have anything to say about the dangers of storing nuclear waste on the beach? There Marriott's point is that under a Republican government, things would have happened more quickly, um, that Levin hasn't used the issue in and turn it into a bipartisan issue. And that's the reason why we've seen little progress on the moving of nuclear waste into a federal site. And so his retort is essentially that he could be doing more though. Levin has run numerous task force, including including the former chairman of the nuclear regulatory commission to address the issue of nuclear waste.
Speaker 1: 33:08 How does president Trump play into this race? Is he an asset or a handicap for Marriott?
Speaker 2: 33:14 I asked Maryann about that, um, and about sort of the impression that Republicans might be getting or that Democrats might be getting is either side of the spectrum here, I'm in this race, it has become a very divisive race. And he says that while the president has at times said things that can be very crass, it's coming from a place of having experience with business. He's a businessman and Marianne is also a businessman and he relates to that. And what he says is that he doesn't think it's going to hurt him, but that he will focus more on channeling the business side of his experience, um, into the work that he's doing and leaving the, uh, sort of divisiveness behind him
Speaker 1: 34:07 In terms of fundraising. Um, Levon has raised half a million, but a Marriott has raised almost 400,000 himself, not a shabby amount. Um, is there a sense that Marriott has quite a bit of financial backing?
Speaker 2: 34:22 Well, I, I'm not, I wasn't clear on where he's getting his campaign finances from, but it is evident that he does have ties to the business community. He is a businessman. Um, and so maybe that is giving him some leverage in terms of, uh, being able to, uh, raise funds for his campaign. But ultimately I, I'm not quite sure how much of a difference the, the finances really make at this point in this race, because it is a swing district. And so I think it will really mostly depend on voter turnout and that quarter of independence who could go either way at this point. So, and, and I think that Maryon, and both Levin understand that that's the case.
Speaker 1: 35:08 Okay. Thanks so much, obviously, a race worth watching Shalina thank you for your insights. Thank you. We've been speaking with KPBS reporter Sherlyna Chet Lonnie. You're listening to KPBS midday edition. I'm Alison st. John, along with Maureen cabinet at times like these, the carefree days of Southern California surf culture it's height feels almost like a dream it's comforting to look back on those Sunday wrench days of riding the waves when things like COVID-19 and sea level rise were nowhere on the horizon. Our next guest has written a 1500 page book that documents in detail, the history and culture of surfing at Santa fray, state beach, David Matousek is the author and publisher of this tome, which is called Santo freight memories of a legendary surfing beach. Dave, thanks for joining us
Speaker 7: 35:57 Aloha, Alison, and thanks for having me.
Speaker 1: 35:59 So now this book is one of the biggest books I've ever seen. It's 1500 pages packed with photos and documents, recording the history and the culture of, of Sandino fray. How long did it take you to put it together? And why did you think it was important to document this history?
Speaker 7: 36:14 Well, it's an eight year project and, uh, most of that was after I retired from a 40 year teaching career. And I had so many friends that were the pioneer surfers in California that were all in their late eighties and early nineties. And they had stories to tell, and I became the person who chronicled their lives in the earliest days of California, surfing, going all the way back to the 1930s.
Speaker 1: 36:47 I knew you don't live right next to this beach, but you're still willing to get up at four in the morning to make the track, to spend the day there. What is it about this beach that keeps people like you coming back?
Speaker 7: 36:58 Well, it's a magical place. Uh, it's it's been described as a Shangrila of surfing by many of the old surfers. Um, the first surfers arrived in 1933 at Santa know Freya, Whitey Harrison, and a group of surfers from Corona Del Mar had spotted waves at Santa, no afraid driving by. And they were actually coming back from a surf trip down in Baja, and they drove up to Corona Del Mar said, Hey, we just saw some good waves at a place called Santan. Oh, fray. They took two car loads of surfers in 1933, drove down to Santa Ana and they documented the first surfing at Santa Ana offering.
Speaker 1: 37:40 What is it about the waves that Senator free state beach? How are they different from waves in say Northern California or swamis, you know, here in San Diego?
Speaker 7: 37:48 Well, one of the most important things about surfing the waves is consistency and Santa, no fray is world famous for the consistency of the waves. I mean, there's only probably three or four days out of the entire year where there is not a wave of some kind that you can ride.
Speaker 1: 38:09 No, of course it hasn't always been a state park. Uh, the beaches is sort of technically on camp Pendleton. So how do the surfers managed to get the Marines to grant access to it when they were conducting military exercises there?
Speaker 7: 38:20 Okay, well, the surfers had been surfing for nearly a decade prior to the arrival of the Marines in 1942. So they knew the value of the waves. And so they insisted on being allowed to come in and surf there beginning in 1942. And then at first the Marines were reluctant to let them in, but because of the, a decade long history of surfing already there, the Marines granted a group of the surfers to serve only the area that we now call old mans, and they could only surf it if they regulated their own behavior. So eventually in 1952, they formed the Santan old phrase surfing club, but they had a locked gate. Uh, it became a private, uh, beach of sorts and, uh, many people re referred to it as the most exclusive club in the world. There were as a five year waiting list to get into that surfing club that were movie stars that couldn't get into it. And so between 500 and a thousand surfers only were allowed in at that break. Now the other locations along the beach, but primarily Trestles and church, or completely off limits because that's where the amphibious landing craft were training. And so that was a cat and mouse game of hide and seek between the surfers and the Marine Corps for decades there.
Speaker 1: 39:49 That that was sort of when the culture was at its height, though, at the end of the war, after the war. And you talk about a culture that was almost like a monastic order of beach bums, who, you know, pretty much took vows of poverty and chastity. Was that part of the surf club culture?
Speaker 7: 40:08 Well, that's the way it started before world war two. It was a group of wild singles for the most part, they were heavy drinkers, heavy partiers. Uh, there was certainly that beach bum influence along the beach, but many of those surfers went off to war during world war II. And when they came back, uh, they got married. They began to raise families and sent an old fray transition from a wild singles surf club to a family beach. And now it's become a world famous for its family, Aloha spirit,
Speaker 1: 40:43 No president Nixon apparently was instrumental in getting the beach to become part of a national park, which made it much more accessible to the general public. Ho how was he in?
Speaker 7: 40:54 Well in the 1970s? Uh, he was of course at the Western white house there on cotton's point, overlooking Santa, no Frank and a rumor has it that he asked his aides, why isn't that beach open? And he was told that it was private. And he said, well, let's find a way to get that open. Now it didn't hurt that. One of the members of that exclusive club, the Santano fray surf club was his deputy attorney general. So he was also influential in, in making that happen. And some of the officers of the Santa Fe surfing club met with president Nixon there on the beach, and they actually gave him a, a third board for his daughter that was inscribed to him from the Santa, no free surf club. And I have photographs of that meeting in the book. So yes, it was, uh, Nixon did play a role in opening up Santa, no afraid to the public and making it a state park.
Speaker 1: 41:51 And I guess that was a mixed blessing for the surf club house, which was pretty elitist in the sense that, uh, no, just anybody could show up, right.
Speaker 7: 41:59 It really was. And at first the surf club was furious about it. There was even talk of disbanding, the surf club, there was talk of moving it to another beach. You know, you can't hardly blame them for decades. They had this place to themselves. And, uh, in a very short order that attitude changed. And, uh, the surf club welcomed new members and the surf club itself for decades has been instrumental in preserving the Aloha spirit at Santa Ana beach. And they've also been very instrumental in keeping the beach primitive. That's another trademark of Santa, no fray. There's been very little development there. Uh, we didn't, and I'm a member of the club have done for about 40 years. Uh, we have really tried to keep away from developing the beach and having it become something like a Doheny state park, or there's a lot of concrete and, and, uh, uh, you know, ornamental, uh, plantings and so forth. And what you find when you drive down to surf beach, which is the beach where old man's, and the point is you drive down onto a dirt road that parallels the beach and you pull up and park right next to the sand there's native, uh, flora there along the Bluffs of Santa Ana, old Fran it's, it's very much in its natural surroundings. The only development that has been made in recent decades has been to put in restrooms, uh, showers and, uh, drinking fountains. And that's pretty much it.
Speaker 1: 43:37 So do you have to be a surfer to want to read this book? No,
Speaker 7: 43:40 No, not at all. Because the effect that surfing culture has had on Southern California culture, California culture, and even American and worldwide culture has been profound.
Speaker 1: 43:53 San Antonio frame memories of a legendary surfing beach is being distributed through San Diego surf shops. And it's also firstname.lastname@example.org. And we've been speaking with author David Matousek. Thanks so much for being with us, Dave,
Speaker 7: 44:09 Thank you so much, Alison, it's been a pleasure.