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Republican Vs. Republican In East County Supervisor Race

Cover image for podcast episode

CREDIT: CAMPAIGN PHOTOS

Above: San Diego supervisorial candidates Joel Anderson (left) and Steve Vaus (right) in these undated campaign photos.

San Diego Supervisor District 2 candidates Steve Vaus and Joel Anderson offer their stances on the issues as they vie to represent the East County. Plus, two teenage sisters are shedding light on what it means to be Black in the Poway Unified School District and they’re making a big impact. Also, for decades clinical trials have mostly recruited white men. A federal 10-year study called “All of Us” is trying to change that but some researchers believe the program may not actually benefit everyone. In addition, Phillip Halpern, a retiring federal prosecutor, has some choice words for Attorney General William Barr. And, the 1988 fires that scorched Yellowstone National Park captivated the nation and marked a new chapter of massive wildfires in the West. Finally, California theme parks could lose billions of dollars as the state’s coronavirus restrictions threaten to keep parks closed for the holiday season.

Speaker 1: 00:00 Teenage sisters create a racial reckoning and Poway unified school district. We had more teachers of color on campus. Those things wouldn't happen. I'm Mark Sauer with Maureen Kavanaugh. This is KPBS midday edition. We hear from candidates for County supervisor, district two, Joel Anderson and Steve boss.

Speaker 2: 00:30 I want to move the ball and I'm tired of politicians who just make excuses, but never really. In fact, they want their elected representatives to demonstrate integrity and respect and fair representation. That's what I've always done and always will do.

Speaker 1: 00:44 Uh, San Diego federal prosecutor quits because of attorney general, William Barr and SeaWorld and Legoland say it's time, they'd be allowed to reopen that's. The head on midday edition.

Speaker 3: 01:01 The San Diego County board of supervisors is changing more radically this year than it has in decades. As new term limits take effect. They, East County is second district seat that has been held by Republican Diane Jacob for nearly 30 years is now open. And two Republicans are vying for it. Joel Anderson, a former California assemblyman and former state Senator is competing with Steve Voss, the mayor of Poway and the chair of the San Diego association of governments. KPBS is Alison st. John spoke to the candidates about the issues and the race to represent the second district. Here's that interview the San Diego County board of supervisors is changing more radically this year than it has in decades as new term limits kick in this year, the East County second district seat that has been held by Republican Diane Jacob for nearly 30 years is now open. And two Republicans are vying for it. Joel Anderson, a former California assemblyman and former state Senator is competing with Steve Voss, the mayor of Poway and the chair of the San Diego association of governments. So gentlemen, welcome to you both. Thank you. Thank you first. I'd like to give you the opportunity to help us understand the differences between you as Republicans. So Senator Anderson, let's start with the president. President Trump is a as a divisive figure. What are the things that you admire most about him? East County needs jobs in career paths.

Speaker 2: 02:26 President Trump has a economic plan

Speaker 1: 02:29 That I support and I support president Trump.

Speaker 3: 02:32 Thank you very much, mayor Vos. What about you? I know that, uh, Joel Anderson has in the past called you and never Trumper is that accurate

Speaker 2: 02:38 545 days ago when her bottom Poway was attacked and Lori Kay was killed by a hateful gunman hours later, I got a phone call from the president. He offered the full support of the federal government to the president, stood with us during those difficult thing and dark days, I will never forget that. And yes, I will support president on November 3rd.

Speaker 3: 03:01 Now, many of us you are actually not endorsed by the Republican party. Does, does that bother you? You know, which endorsements do you particularly value?

Speaker 2: 03:09 I'm endorsed by folks all throughout East County district to the ultimate being Diane Jacob, the 28 year incumbent. Who's done incredible things for the district. The majority of mayors in the district, majority of council members, folks on waterboards fire boards, boards of education, Cal fire firefighters, FCIU United domestic workers, deputy Sheriff's association and every law enforcement group in the district also by laborers, local 89, Latino American political association, Asian Americans for equality, black contractors association. They support me because they know my record. They want their elected representatives to demonstrate integrity and respect and fair representation. That's what I've always done and always will do.

Speaker 3: 03:53 Senator Anderson, you are endorsed by the Republican party. Why, why do you think they picked you? What values do you represent better than your opponent?

Speaker 4: 04:00 Well, uh, I'm pretty straightforward. My answers are succinct. I don't speak in platitudes. You get yes and no answers out of me. When you ask me a question and I think that that's really important. I did over 453 bills with Democrats while I was served in legislature. If you added all the Republicans together collectively, I did more bills than all of them. And I did that because people knew that when I gave my word immense something, I didn't tell people what they want to hear in my opinion, change with the audience that I spoke to. So when you're looking to build bridges, you have to be honest and you have to understand the other person's viewpoint and look for that mutual ground.

Speaker 3: 04:44 Okay. Now whoever wins this, uh, seat, the County board of supervisors will still be dealing with the Corona virus one way or another Senator Anderson. Do you support the state's four tier system for reopening businesses?

Speaker 4: 04:57 I have a lot of frustrations with it. Uh, look, I support science and three of, uh, three of my friends have passed away from Cronin virus. I understand how serious it is, but I also understand that we need to get to herd immunity. And if the goalposts keep changing and we're saying stuff like big box stores can be open and yet mom and pop shops can't be open. That is very difficult for people to track. They want to have consistency. They want to know what the parameters are and they don't want people to keep changing them.

Speaker 3: 05:32 W what's your take on, on the four tier system for opening businesses that is determining how many businesses can open, how far

Speaker 2: 05:40 This is a dangerous virus? Well, over 200,000 dead in the United States, close to 800, I think in the County, not so we've got to pay attention, but small businesses are being crushed. And I struggle with the fact that this has being treated as a size fits all pandemic it's as though the state is trying to do brain surgery with a chain slot, when really what's needed is a steady hand with a scalpel. I'd like to see us have more local control. Uh, the impacts in Barrio, Logan and, and Barrett junction, uh, are very different. And I would much prefer that we're in a position to be able to deal with those on a local level.

Speaker 3: 06:22 Okay, let's talk a bit about housing and development because it's fair to say the region is desperate for more housing, but you know, climate change and wildfires are increasingly threatening homes built in that rural urban interface that is included in your district mayor Vos, where do you support building new development?

Speaker 2: 06:39 Well, with regard to the areas, the higher zones, roughly 80% of the unincorporated area is in a high fire prone zone. So a blanket denial of housing permits in such areas would be a de facto moratorium. And that would impact large scale project and single family homes that would impact affordable housing. Nobody wants that. What we really need is balanced areas with limited infrastructure in the backpack country may not be safe, but homes, but areas closer to urban centers, villages, or quarters like the [inaudible] may be more suitable. We may need to take another look at our general plan. There have been significant changes from Sacramento, uh, in recent years. And we need to have a fresh look at where development is special and safe.

Speaker 3: 07:26 Senator Anderson. Would you vote for new housing developments in the unincorporated areas of your district?

Speaker 4: 07:30 I wouldn't rule it out. I'd want to see the data I live in one of those areas. Alpine, three weeks ago, there was a fire, uh, within a mile of my house. We lost power for 12 hours. So I understand firsthand, but I also understand that none of my neighbors nor I started that fire and that fire would have occurred whether we were there or not. And if we weren't there, fire trucks wouldn't have responded as quickly because nobody would have notified them because they wouldn't have known where the fire is. So people who are living out there are really Canary in the coal mine protecting the city because we saw in the witch Creek and the Cedar fire, the fires almost push out to the ocean. It got deep into the city and uh, had somebody caught that fire sooner. We could have nipped it in the bud.

Speaker 3: 08:19 Okay. Well, speaking of wildfires, obviously climate change is a big issue. So I would like you to both reflect on where you stand on the government's role in preparing for climate change, you know, should the county's climate action plan be modified. And if so, how

Speaker 4: 08:32 San Diego County doesn't have a climate action plan. It absolutely needs to have it. You can't say that, that you take climate change. Seriously. It never proposed or passed when like Poway, you have to, you have to do it. It's in our community's best interest to have a climate action plan. Now there's other communities, other cities in the region that have had a success passing one here in San Diego,

Speaker 2: 08:56 We've made three attempts. We've been tied up in the courts. It's time to stop spending money, defending bad policy and start looking to the future of what we can and how we can make it work. Once you have a climate action plan, any new project will save money in time passing all the environmental studies. So it's in our best interest to move forward with.

Speaker 3: 09:16 Okay. So mayor Vos, indeed. The county's plan has been tied up in the courts. What do you think is the way forward?

Speaker 2: 09:23 Well, first of all, yes, climate change is absolutely real. If you have any doubt and look at how the military is planning, as far as the county's climate action plan, we need to get everybody at the table set egos aside. It's critical. We find a path to balance climate protections with the need for new housing, because right now we have a defacto moratorium on building in the unincorporated area. I think we can get it done. The MSCP process, multiple species conservation program brought together the building industry, wildlife agencies, environmental groups, and many others, and created a meaningful environmental protections and allowed streamlining in the permit process and allowing the County, the sign off for all parties. That's the example we should look towards.

Speaker 3: 10:08 Thank you. So now recently the counties, uh, budgeted millions, more dollars to address mental health and homelessness. What is the best thing the county's doing at the moment to address mental health and what future initiatives would you support? Mayor Voss?

Speaker 2: 10:23 Well, my own sister was diagnosed severe schizophrenia in her late teens, and she lived a rough and tumble life on the streets at times due to her mental illness. I'm thankful those issues finally, out of the shadows and getting a spotlight and funding, it deserves hundreds of millions of dollars. And now being spent on behavioral health, including mental health and addiction treatment services for too long law enforcement firefighters and paramedics have been carrying the burden of treat people during mental health crises. And that always leads to a revolving door at emergency rooms. We're finally moving towards a better way with crisis stabilization or someone who isn't stable, but doesn't belong in a jail or a hospital bed can be cared for. We also need long-term care coordination for those folks. We're getting there. I appreciate supervisor Fletcher's leadership on this. We spoke a month or so ago about next steps and I look forward to working with them just weeks ago. I visited with the staff at Alvarado hospital. They're anxious to bring a crisis stabilization unit online. There's no doubt it's needed to oldest safer for those in desperate need of effective treatment room for our folks on the front lines, dealing with the human impact of mental illness. I won't rest until we can provide the resources and programs and facilities they need.

Speaker 3: 11:38 Okay. And Senator Anderson, do you have any ideas or initiatives that you would support in the future for the County to do about those suffering from mental health?

Speaker 2: 11:48 Well, I have a long track record in the legislature supporting mental health funding, mental

Speaker 4: 11:54 Health, Jim bell. And I joined author to bill to bring money to an, a pilot program to three counties. And it was $200 million to help with mental health. Look, I'm grateful for what Nathan's done on mental health. I think he's a hundred percent, right. We have a hundred beds dedicated to mental health, but 3.5 million people in the County. When, uh, when we send out Sheriff's team on 51 fifties, which is when someone's having a mental break, we need to have perc teams. We needed to have psychologists out there with them, uh, not in lieu of them, but with them. And right now we only have three teams. We need many more of those teams. We could have much better outcomes if we worked together in put the emphasis on treating these folks and getting them back to a stable position and stable life.

Speaker 3: 12:41 Okay. Thank you. So finally, I just wanted to ask you, um, to wrap this up, you know, are there policy issues where you feel like you openly disagree and the difference between you is very marked? Or would you say that it's more a question of, of who you are and your backgrounds, Senator Anderson, can you start?

Speaker 4: 13:01 I've been outspoken. I've spoken against my party. I've spoken with my party. I have been an independent leader in Sacramento. Darrell Steinberg recognized me as my own caucus for two weeks. Yes, it was a little bit tongue in cheek, but the fact of the matter is I was named, uh, the third, most independent, uh, legislature in Sacramento. I want to fix things. I want to move the ball and I'm tired of politicians who just make excuses, but never really do anything. How can you say you care about homelessness when Polly doesn't have a homeless shelter? How can you say that you care about the environment when you don't have a climate action plan in your own city? That's a lack of leadership. That's not about leadership. That's about followship. And so I wrote my sleeves and I work hard.

Speaker 3: 13:47 Thank you. So mayor Vos, let's talk about leadership. What, what would you say is the difference between yourself and your opponent here?

Speaker 4: 13:56 I think my personality allows me to work with everyone. I'm proud to have been elected unanimously, the chair of the San Diego association of governments, more directors, majority of which is democratic. They elected me because they trust me and they enjoy working with me. And that's reflected in all of my endorsements for County board of supervisors. I think it comes down to temperament, track, record and trust.

Speaker 3: 14:24 Um, I'd like to thank both of you very much for taking the time to talk with us. Uh, we've been speaking with former California assemblymen and state Senator Joel Anderson, Senator Anderson.

Speaker 4: 14:34 Thanks for having us on, appreciate it.

Speaker 3: 14:36 And mayor of power and chair of the San Diego association of governments, Steve Voss. Thank

Speaker 4: 14:41 You so much. That

Speaker 3: 14:43 Was San Diego County board of supervisor district two candidates, Poway mayor, Steve Voss and former state Senator Joel. They were speaking

Speaker 5: 14:52 With Alison st. John.

Speaker 1: 15:04 The question of whether systemic racism exists has been central to the presidential campaign Democrats, Joe Biden, and Kamala Harris, call it a major problem. Republicans, Donald Trump and Mike Pence take umbrage at the idea and the mid, the black lives matter protest. Last spring and summer teenage sisters are raising the issue among students and faculty at Poway unified school district. And they made a big impact. Joining me to explain is Kristen Takita education reporter for the San Diego union Tribune. Welcome back to the program, Kristen, thank you for having me. We'll introduce these sisters. Who are they and what did they set about doing within the Poway school system?

Speaker 5: 15:44 Yeah, these are two sisters that are named Naynay and [inaudible] they? Uh, one of them Naynay. She graduated from Poway and her sister younger sister economic currently goes to Westview high, but basically what they did is over the summer, they created this, um, Instagram account where they invited students of color to share what their experiences were like in school and our, like for them in school. And the account really blew up with hundreds of stories about racism that students, former students and even, um, some staff had, uh, experienced in Poway schools. And a lot of it was, uh, racism from other students, but there were also several stories about racism from staff and adults. And so that was a big development that happened the summer for Poway. And it really brought attention to the problem of racism and that was happening in schools.

Speaker 1: 16:45 And your story noted, they received 1200 examples of a racist incidents at the school, which was rather astounding. And I want you to give us a few examples of what students at Poway unified shared anonymously via black at PUSD. But first let's hear from, [inaudible] talking about an anonymous post that really struck her.

Speaker 5: 17:06 The story talked about how a teacher had black students play slaves and the white students be like the slave masters and had black students pretend to pick cotton and things like that. And that was a story that definitely shocked the both of us. Um, and in that moment and reading that story, we realized that if we had more teachers of color on campus things, those, those things wouldn't happen because those teachers would be able to say, that's not right.

Speaker 1: 17:34 And what were some of the other examples that you included in your story? Kristen,

Speaker 5: 17:38 There are a whole range of examples ranging from racial straight out racial slurs, such as the N word. And also there were lots of, uh, microaggressions or basically assumptions based on racial or other stereotypes. So, and there were also things like bullying or teasing because of a way a student's names sounded or what they were eating or what their hair looks like. And then there was some more extreme stories where the students said that staff had even sorted students into groups based on their skin color or their race. It was a very large range of, of experiences,

Speaker 1: 18:21 Right? And as you know, it would involve the staff members and teachers as well. Now for listeners who may not be familiar with Poway, how would you characterize the difference?

Speaker 5: 18:31 Naturally, the students who go to Poway are relatively diverse. Although black students make up a very small minority there, I believe there are about 2% of the students, but, um, most students who go to Poway are students of color. But, um, I, I guess if you look at one racial group, white students are the biggest single group.

Speaker 1: 18:54 What's your reaction to the Poway school district to the black in PUSD survey, starting with the superintendent.

Speaker 5: 19:00 When I interviewed the associate superintendent who is in charge of basically in charge of implementing these reforms, she had actually said they were already aware of the problem of racial slurs happening on campus, um, for the past few years. And that's something they attributed to the national political climate. But, um, I think I still think that with the black lives matter protest that happened in June and also the, this Instagram account, and those were just additional factors that really fueled a need to look at these efforts, again, these racial equity efforts

Speaker 1: 19:41 And what changes are taking place in Poway schools as a result?

Speaker 5: 19:45 Um, yeah, basically they, uh, they wanted several reforms that they wanted to see in schools to prevent this from happening again, or to stop it from happening. And so among those were having a more inclusive curriculum that just does it focus solely on or mostly on Euro-centric history or, um, or basically white people. And so that was one thing they wanted to see. They also wanted to see better, more training for staff about, uh anti-biased and being inclusive. But now, because of partly because of what was revealed in that Instagram account, um, the Poway school district has, especially since the summer, they've been really, um, focusing on implementing these reforms and changing it so that the school environment is just in general, better first for students of color.

Speaker 1: 20:40 And what's been the reaction of the sisters who started it all rolling their power unified school district. Uh, are they happy with everything that's taken place?

Speaker 5: 20:49 They've been working with the school district to work on all these reforms. And the district has been working with other students, other student leaders as well. Then they've been holding community forums about racial equity too. So they seem to be happy with the fact that progress was being made or that things are moving forward. And for example, one thing they worked with the district on was helping to recruit more teachers and staff of color as well. So the district high, so they hired 13 more black teachers and other staff, um, just in the past few months since the Instagram account started and this movement got into motion.

Speaker 1: 21:32 A good example of a couple of people with an idea can really make a difference. I've been speaking with Kristen Takita education reporter with the San Diego union Tribune. Thanks Kristen.

Speaker 5: 21:42 Thank you.

Speaker 6: 21:50 This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Maureen Kevin all with Mark Sauer for decades. Clinical trials have mostly recruited white men, but a federal 10 year study called all of us is trying to change that it aims to diversify medical research by collecting genetic data from a million people with around half of them being people of color, but as KPBS reporters, Shalina Chad Lani says some researchers believe the program may not actually benefit everyone. 11 years ago when Los Angeles resident is still a Mata was 35 years old. Her sister was diagnosed with lupus and she literally almost died. Treatments were hard to find for the Mexican family lupus, a disease that causes the immune system to attack the body. Still doesn't have a cure.

Speaker 5: 22:37 When we found out that loop is, was like genetic. We're like, Oh my gosh, like we need to get more involved into like clinical trials

Speaker 6: 22:44 Mata and her sister heard about a national institutes of health clinical trial called the all of us research program and enrolled about a year ago in Los Angeles. The $1.5 billion program started enrolling patients in 2018 and hopes to rectify a decades long problem that most clinical trials have only collected data on white men and not Latinas like Moto

Speaker 5: 23:07 Well precision medicine, right? We're talking about the future of our, uh, of our health care. And right now it's not customized to the individual.

Speaker 6: 23:15 Mata says she gave up her genetic information because she thought it would be used to help people of color Hispanic women for example, are more likely to be affected by lupus compared to white women. But one genetics researcher says the all of us program is likely not really for all of us.

Speaker 1: 23:32 You can't really talk about science in America without talking about colonialism,

Speaker 6: 23:36 UC San Diego anthropologist, Kalu Fox looks at the ocean. It reminds him of how he got into genetics is that he has Hawaiian ancestry, but found people like him are often exploited in science,

Speaker 7: 23:48 In science. There aren't enough, you know, PhD carrying Brown, black, and indigenous people to represent our interests

Speaker 6: 23:56 Says that exploitation of people of color could happen with the all of us research program funded by taxpayer dollars. The data is open to everyone

Speaker 7: 24:04 Actually going to benefit indigenous black and Brown communities in the same way that it's going to benefit a handful of people that work for Pfizer, Merck, GSK, et cetera. I don't think so.

Speaker 6: 24:17 Biomedical historian, Ben Hurlbut says that's likely in the nineties, academic researchers started teaming up with rare disease community groups to identify genes causing disease. So they could try to come up with treatment.

Speaker 8: 24:29 The academic researchers would patent the gene without the involvement of the rare disease group who brought them the resources to do the research in the first place

Speaker 6: 24:40 After scientists discovered the gene causing cystic fibrosis in 1989, our rare disease group and NIH funded researchers partnered to study the condition. Vertex pharmaceuticals use the decades of research to create a therapy that could help 90% of patients, but it costs around $300,000. Okay.

Speaker 8: 25:01 My, when that drug came out, I, my daughter was in like third grade or something and one of her best friends had CF. His mom took on a full-time job in order to pay for the drug.

Speaker 6: 25:11 270,000 people have signed up or gone through all of us. So far Hurlbut says the solution to unequal healthcare access is an easy, but we control the market dynamics.

Speaker 8: 25:23 We could change those tomorrow. If there was the political will to do so. Pharmaceutical

Speaker 6: 25:29 Companies are working on the all of us study, but Alyssa caller, a spokeswoman for the program says participants get information before they consent. And she says, private public partnerships in drug discovery have produced life. Saving therapies

Speaker 8: 25:43 Really is important to bring together all of these different voices to make sure that we're building a resource that will be available to answer this very ambitious call.

Speaker 6: 25:52 Caller says the data has been made anonymous and there's a code of conduct. She does. The NIH is aware of future treatments from the program may be unaffordable, but she says the NIH doesn't have an answer to that problem yet and says, it's not their job to control drug prices.

Speaker 8: 26:07 Been a lot of conversations with different communities, um, to really help us think this through and think about potential solutions.

Speaker 6: 26:15 As for all of us study, participant is Stella Mata. She says, she's okay with the idea of her data, going to a pharmaceutical company. If people like her sister who needed the therapies will be able to afford them. Shalina Celani KPBS news,

Speaker 8: 26:39 Phil helper, and his flood. The us justice department Halpern was a

Speaker 1: 26:44 Prosecutor at the San Diego us attorney's office for 36 years, under six presidents and 19 different attorneys, general helper, and worked on the corruption cases of former congressmen do Cunningham and Duncan Hunter help her until KPBS is Amica Sharma that he quit his job because of what he calls current attorney general William Barr's resentment of rule of law. Prosecutors. Here's that interview?

Speaker 9: 27:10 What I meant by rule of law is that every single prosecutor in the department of justice is sworn to follow the laws of the United States. That's the very fundamental bedrock of our democracy. When we have an attorney general, the head prosecutor who thinks it's more important to follow the dictates of a president than it is to follow the laws of the United States. We have a problem.

Speaker 10: 27:37 So tell me specifically, why did you decide to leave the us attorney's office in San Diego?

Speaker 9: 27:42 I was hoping when the attorney general selectively quoted from the Mueller report, it was a mistake. He wasn't trying to mislead the American people. However, it became clear when I saw what happened in the Manafort case, the Flynn case, the stone case, the imposition of the president's will threw him on the normal course of justice. This became too much. And it just continued from there. His representing of Donald Trump's personal interests, whether it was trying to stop Michael cone from publishing a book, trying to prevent the president's tax returns from being public, his representing his wife's interests in a tell all book about her, his representing the president in a sexual harassment lawsuit by EEG and Carol, that had happened more than a decade before he was president attorney general BARR was working as Donald Trump's personal lawyer, as opposed to the lawyer for the people of the United States, which is his job. This is outrageous he's acting as the president's consigliore his mafia attorney. The better question is almost why did I stay as long as I did? And I stayed because I felt it was imperative to complete the prosecution of Duncan Hunter and his wife, president Trump made it clear in an early tweet that he was upset at the attorney general for indicting, both Duncan Hunter and Chris Collins, two of his most ardent supporters in Congress, given that I was very, very concerned that there'd be meddling from the department of justice. If I left

Speaker 10: 29:13 Some might say bars, predecessor, former attorney general sessions acted more egregiously. When he went along with the Trump plan in 2018 to prosecute all undocumented immigrants, even if children had to be separated from their parents. And many of these children ended up in cages in detention. Did you think about leaving the justice department? Then

Speaker 9: 29:38 It bothered me, but at time I waited and I said, as long as I personally would have nothing to do with it, I could do more good on the inside. I was what I think Donald Trump would refer to derisively as the deep state. And I want you to know that's a term that the career people in the department of justice and every other agency now wear with pride.

Speaker 10: 30:06 Several federal prosecutors have quit the justice department under Bard, including the four who worked on the Roger Stone case. Why did you go public with your criticism of BARR?

Speaker 9: 30:18 Well, I'm towards the end of my career and I had less to lose. Even that was a serious decision. It was something that troubled me greatly. I loved the department of justice. I've made my entire career. There. It's people are some of the best you could find anywhere. And in many ways, going against the department of justice is seen as an attack. Now I want to make it clear. I went against the attorney general and the leadership of the department of justice, not the department, but no prosecutor wants to walk that narrow line. I also felt because I weighed being silent, but at the end of the day, silence is really the enemy of democracy. Unless people speak up, we won't have a democracy.

Speaker 10: 31:02 How widely shared are your views within the us attorney's office in San Diego

Speaker 9: 31:08 In one simple word widely, I have to tell you one of the best things that have come from this, because obviously some people are upset at me, but that's balanced by the hundreds of emails, text messages, phone calls telling me that they're happy with what I did. They're proud of me that I gave them a voice. And because of that, I am forever grateful. And it's my hope that more prosecutors may speak out

Speaker 10: 31:37 What have been the consequences for us. Attorney's offices across the country of having attorney general BARR at the helm.

Speaker 9: 31:45 The consequences have to do with morale. Somebody says, who's your boss. If you have to say bill BARR, you're not going to hold your head up high. When people see how he's politicized the department of justice.

Speaker 10: 31:56 So us attorney Bob brewer in San Diego, your former boss sent out a press release this week. Designating prosecutor, Chris Tenorio as the election officer for the Southern district. And the goal is to deter election fraud and discrimination at the polls. What's your take on this move.

Speaker 9: 32:16 I have nothing bad to say about Bob brewer and doing something like this. The fact of the matter is Chris [inaudible] has been our election fraud coordinator for years and years. He's a loyal public servant. He's a great guy. He's going to do a good job. My problem is not with that. My problem is with the department of justice and bill BARR for the first time, since I can decades changing our policies to say that he is going to attempt to bring charges regarding election fraud before the election. That's very, very dangerous. Now, the reason that's so dangerous is because bill BARR is likely at the president's command to bring those charges selectively. The people need to see a department of justice. That's not taking sides.

Speaker 10: 33:09 What's your prediction for the justice department. If president Trump wins the election next month,

Speaker 9: 33:15 If you had asked me the same question a year ago, maybe even six months ago, I'd say, don't worry to meet there. We have a strong democracy. We don't have anything to worry about in this country. We have the courts. We have the press. We're going to be fine. I can't say that. Now. If bill BARR is put in charge of the justice department and Donald Trump of this country for another four years, I think our democracies and risks, I think this country could slip into tyranny. A president who asks for his political opponents to be indicted in jail is a dictator. This is reprehensible. People can't lose track of this. No democracy can have the president asked for the jailing of his political opponents. If we do, we're going to be more like Russia or Turkey, then we're going to be like the United States.

Speaker 10: 34:03 So if vice president Joe Biden wins the presidential election next month, what happens at the justice department?

Speaker 9: 34:10 Well, it's simple. We're going to have an attorney general installed, who follows the rule of law. We know what type of person Joe Biden is because we've seen that in eight years as vice-president, we're going to have the people of the United States be represented by the attorney general. And we're going to have an attorney general who is not a lapdog of the president.

Speaker 10: 34:29 They'll help her. And thank you so much for speaking with me today.

Speaker 9: 34:32 Amantha it's been my pleasure

Speaker 11: 34:40 In the summer of 1988, Yellowstone national park was engulfed in flames. After the fire was extinguished, plenty of thorny questions remained. What should those fires mean for the parks near pristine rivers and lakes. Today, we start a series taking a closer look at where water and fire intersect across the West from K H O L Robin Vincent reports from Jackson, Wyoming, National park service hydrologist. Aaron White is at Kepler cascades where whitewater plunges 150 feet into the fire whole river. The multi-tiered waterfall is flanked by a sea of mature lodgepole pine trees dotted in between our young trees that sprouted after the 1988 fires,

Speaker 10: 35:29 You can see the variation and the landscape and the types of environments that were affected

Speaker 11: 35:34 1988, Yellowstone fires torched more than a third of the park and touched nearly all of its landscapes in some way. That meant

Speaker 12: 35:43 Watersheds and Yellowstone were not impacted.

Speaker 11: 35:46 Likes to call Yellowstone America's first water park. It's home to the headwaters of multiple major rivers and hundreds of waterfalls. Thousands of geysers, mud pots, and hot Springs, gush bubble, and boil here too, because the 1988 fires focus the nation's attention on wildfire for months. Soon after scientists descended on the park to study the impacts, what they found reflects the fires legacy of renewal, small streams were affected in the short term with ashy runoff, but big bodies of water showed little change in water quality that resilience proved important back then saving and then recovering watersheds wasn't top of mind for overwhelmed fire managers, human built infrastructure was the priority.

Speaker 12: 36:37 Good morning does wildfires raging in the area of Yellowstone national park show? No signs of

Speaker 13: 36:42 Very quickly. It became apparent that we did not have and could not have the resources to contain the fires. Despite the best efforts of thousands of firefighters

Speaker 11: 36:56 That Steve fry, uh, former incident commander, he and his team were laser-focused on protecting three

Speaker 13: 37:03 Firefighters, the public and those iconic developments within the park

Speaker 11: 37:09 Icons, like the historic old faithful in built in 1903, former Yellowstone historian Lee say was a law enforcement ranger at the time.

Speaker 13: 37:20 Oh, faith was surrounded by fires on all sides. And I remember just being amazed that everywhere I looked for 360 degrees, I saw fire

Speaker 11: 37:31 For incident commander fry, the fires signaled a paradigm shift. They ushered in a new chapter of massive frequent fires that communities across the West face today. And they expanded our understanding of wildfires vital ecological process.

Speaker 13: 37:49 It was may of us on fire management, something that we had never experienced before, but the magnitude and the fire behavior, we have experienced a number of times since

Speaker 11: 38:04 The subtext here is climate change. It's fueling longer, more intense fire seasons, Montana state university, paleo ecologists, Cathy Whitlock studies, how climate influences fire. She was in Yellowstone in the summer of 88, but she wasn't there for the fires. Whitlock was examining the history of the parks plants and the fires were simply a nuisance.

Speaker 13: 38:28 I hadn't really even thought about fire as being something worthy of attention because there hadn't been fires in Yellowstone for a long time. In

Speaker 11: 38:36 The end, the fires refocused her career. She pioneered a way to trace back fire history. Thousands of years, using charcoal from the parks, lakes, and streams. And she found that in many Western forest wildfires have long played a key ecological role, but today with a smaller window between fires, the concern is there won't be enough time for intern forest could transform into grasslands. This all dials back to water in 1988, Yellowstone saw a profoundly dry summer priming it for mega fires. It was the kind of hot dry summer that will likely become more frequent in the years ahead, putting Yellowstone's wildfire resilience to the test. I'm Robin Vinson in Jackson, Wyoming

Speaker 14: 39:35 [inaudible].

Speaker 15: 39:38 This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Maureen Kevin Hall with Mark Sauer, uh, visited Disneyland has become part of the holiday season for many California families, but like so many other traditions this year that visit may have to be canceled. New state guidelines require theme parks like Disneyland and Lego land to remain closed until their counties enter tier four, the least restrictive of the state's Corona virus levels. Since the locations of most California theme parks are in counties in the first or second tier experts say, it may take months before the venues are allowed to reopen, but a coalition of theme park leaders say that requirement is unfair and they hint a lawsuit may be in the works. Johnny Mia, San Diego union Tribune, reporter Lori Weisberg and Lori. Hello? Hello. Okay. So California's theme parks have been closed for a long time. When were they forced to shut their doors?

Speaker 16: 40:38 Um, like many other businesses around in March. Now they, when we say forest, they actually they'll tell you that they all voluntarily shut down around mid-March. Um, but it was coming anyway. So yeah, it's been a, it's been a really long time. Um, I should, I should point out that sea roads, a little bit of an anomaly. It not so long ago, got permission in August to reopen partially under the rules for zoos and aquariums. So, um, it's, you know, animal encounters and those sorts of things are open, but none of its bread and butter rides are, are open at all, like theme parks.

Speaker 15: 41:13 Okay. So give us an idea of the kinds of venues that are affected by the closures. It's not SeaWorld, but what else?

Speaker 16: 41:22 So every major theme park in California from Disneyland universal studios to Lego land, to Knott's Berry farm, I mean, all the biggies, it's a separate set of rules of the state just released for smaller parks that, that are more amusement type parks that for capacity under 15,000 and in San Diego County, we would know that type of park as Belmont park, but they, um, they get slightly easier rules. They can open in. What's known as tier three. They don't have to wait all the way to the least restrictive, which is tier four.

Speaker 15: 41:57 What kind of impact has closing the theme parks had?

Speaker 16: 42:01 Well it's, um, it's obviously hurt these, the companies that own these parks. Um, they've all had to go into basically debt, but they have to get extra debt to keep the parks running. There was one recent study that said that Disneyland alone has an $8.5 billion economic impact on, um, the Anaheim Southern California area so that, um, that's gone. Uh, and that, and that has a ripple effect because that means all the kinds of businesses, whether it's C roll ignition Bay or, you know, all the Anaheim businesses around Disneyland, all those businesses that rely every year for the, for the business that those parks get, that's all gone. So, um, tens of thousands of layoffs, um, all these parks have had to either put their employees on furlough or lay them off. So it's, it's a huge, huge impact.

Speaker 15: 42:53 And, and really what is the state saying about when they can reopen?

Speaker 16: 42:57 So the biggest, I mean, there's a number of rules, but the biggest, most troublesome one for the theme parks is this idea of waiting to tear for which, you know, as you know, we have this new sort of tiered system in San Diego and many of the other Southern California counties, except for LA or in the second most restrictive tier. So we have to bring our case rates down significantly to get into those more relaxed levels. And the theme parks are arguing. That's going to take a really long time. And then on top of that, once we do make it into those more reluctant into that more relaxed here, they would limit the capacity of the parks to just 25%. Um, and the theme parks argue well in the most relaxed here, all other businesses get to be either no capacity limit or 50%. So why are they being singled out? So, um, those are, those are two of the key restrictions that they, they don't like at all. And then, Oh, another one is that everybody that wants to come to a theme park, once they're open, has to call, has to make a reservation 24 hours in advance. And then the theme parks have to contact all those people and screen them before they actually arrive. Um, they're arguing that that too is very, it's almost impossible for them to operate that way.

Speaker 15: 44:17 Um, and the theme part, the coalition of theme park leaders, uh, protesting the idea that they have to remain closed while parks and zoos can open. Whereas much of the theme park operations are outdoors. So what do health officials say about why theme parks are different and need more restrict?

Speaker 16: 44:38 Um, I think the concern is that you have tens of thousands of people coming into the parks and then they're leaving. And we don't know from where, I mean clearly a lot from Southern California, but it could be from other parts of the country. Um, and then they go out into the community and the worry is that these tens of thousands of people could then spread the virus to others. Uh, but some health officials that I've talked to seem to think that the protocols of a theme parks come up with maybe helpful, and maybe that's a little true, um, rigid thinking. Uh, one, one person I talked to UCLA, he said, why not try and experiment open a theme park for several days, test everybody before and then see what happens afterwards to see how well this works. I don't know how practical that is.

Speaker 15: 45:31 Well, in a sense, there is an experiment going on in other parts of the country, for instance, Disney world has reopened in Florida. Have there been any widespread COVID outbreaks because of that?

Speaker 16: 45:42 So that's a good point. You're right. That is, that is an experiment because California, normally we're the only state that is not allowing theme parks to reopen. So I have seen, um, a New York times report that, um, that they did what they said Disney world has had no outbreaks. Um, I talked to the reporter that covers theme parks in Florida at the Orlando Sentinel. Well, she says she's a bit skeptical. She too said, if there's been very, very few cases that are tied to the theme park, there really have not been any reports of major outbreaks or even that many cases coming out of theme parks.

Speaker 15: 46:17 Now do state health officials indicate they'd be willing to work with the theme parks on a compromise?

Speaker 16: 46:23 Well, they said that before and they think they're still willing to talk, but I haven't gotten the impression yet that they're, they want to change this at any time soon. Um, for now they sound like they're not budging on this.

Speaker 15: 46:37 Okay. Then I've been speaking with San Diego union Tribune, reporter, Laurie Weisberg, and Laurie. Thank you so much.

Speaker 16: 46:44 Oh, thank you.

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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.