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Mayor Gloria Proposes $4.6 Billion Budget To Help City Recover From COVID-19

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CREDIT: POOL PHOTO VIA 10NEWS

Above: San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria holds a press conference in front of Super Cucina in City Heights. April 15, 2021.

Nonprofit and small business loans, building "sexy" streets, reducing police overtime, investing in the city's Climate Equity Fund and a focus on supporting the San Diego Convention Center are among the highlights of Mayor Todd Gloria's $4.6 billion proposed budget. Plus, a preview of the California Report’s series honoring Californians lost to COVID-19. This week’s remembrance is about Eric Warner, who died last July in San Quentin Prison. Then, our weekend arts picks include a musical tribute to legendary San Diego flautist Holly Hofmann, a new contemporary painting installation, and a conversation with the poet-in-residence at Art Produce, Julia Alvarez, author of "How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents."

Speaker 1: 00:03 Mayor Todd Gloria unveils, a $4.6 billion budget plan.

Speaker 2: 00:07 Gloria says without the aid in the American rescue plan, the city would have had to make really serious cuts to services.

Speaker 1: 00:14 I'm Maureen Kavanaugh. This is KPBS midday, Tribute to one of the thousands lost in California to COVID-19

Speaker 3: 00:32 Formerly incarcerated men in prison. Staffers reached out to express their condolences, all had to let me know how much Eric meant to them. And yeah, I was just calling to. I'm so sorry.

Speaker 1: 00:43 Visual art and a musical anthology coming up on the weekend. Preview that's ahead on KPBS midday edition

Speaker 1: 01:00 Money from the federal government has saved the city of San Diego from making deep cuts and layoffs and its city budget for next year. That's the message from mayor Todd, Gloria, as he unveiled his first budget proposal on Thursday, the mayor says funds from the American rescue plan have more than covered the $120 million deficit expected after a year of pandemic shutdowns. Now Gloria says the city can invest in small business relief convention center, operations street improvements and police oversight, but there are some cuts included in his budget proposal involving new library hours and police overtime. Joining me is KPBS Metro reporter, Andrew Bowen and Andrew. Hi. Hi Maureen. Thanks. Did the funds from the American rescue plan make all the difference in this budget proposal?

Speaker 2: 01:53 They really did. The city is receiving or expects to receive in total about 300, $6 million in federal aid. And it's using it spreading that over a couple of years, it's using about 51 million to balance the current fiscal year. Cause we haven't, you know, uh, fully recovered yet. And we've been spending a little bit more than what we've been taking in, uh, $141 million would go to the next fiscal year, uh, which starts on July 1st. And then the balance of about 114 million would go to the following fiscal year or years after that even, um, Gloria says without the aid in the American rescue plan, the city would've had to make really serious cuts to services, lay off workers, potentially ask them to take a pay cut after they spent the last year, really, you know, struggling through this pandemic. And an interesting note is the cares act funding from last year had to be spent in 2020. It could, they couldn't spread it over multiple years. So the American rescue plan has a bit of a different rule and it allows cities to, uh, you know, kind of balance the, uh, their budgets with some modest cuts, uh, and then use these one-time dollars to spread out over, uh, uh, recovery that it will likely take years.

Speaker 1: 03:05 And so then what kind of relief does the mayor propose to offer do small business?

Speaker 2: 03:12 Well, he's proposing $10 million in loans to nonprofits and small businesses. And the focus is meant to be on the industry hardest hit by the pandemic and also minority owned businesses. And he also wants to create a concierge team at the city to handle requests and questions and, and things like that from the applicants. Uh, the budget announcement, uh, on Thursday was at a Mexican restaurant in city Heights. And the owners spoke to reporters at that press conference saying that the bureaucracy is just submitting. The application for aid in previous rounds was one of the biggest barriers to receiving that aid. So, um, business owners might feel discouraged or intimidated by all of the forms that are, you know, in the requirements boxes you have to check to that are really meant to make sure the money is spent properly. Um, but the goal seems to be just have a team on the city, uh, at the city on standby to help those business owners access the aid that they're entitled to.

Speaker 1: 04:08 And what kind of funding is proposed for the convention center? We just heard that the convention center is supposed to be getting funding from that newly restored measure C tax.

Speaker 2: 04:18 Well, potentially the city is not going to collect that additional tax revenue until it gets a favorable decision from a judge. So there's still some ambiguity there. And then also the money is meant to go to the actual physical expansion of the convention center, not its operations. And so the mayor is proposing $10.2 million just to basically keep the convention center operational. So it's not forced to lay off all of its workforce or much of its workforce. Um, while the economy right now is still gaining some steam and, and starting to recover, large conventions will probably be one of the last things to return to normal. They involve, you know, of course, big crowds, there's a high potential for spreading the virus, even if the pandemic has mostly subsided. So in order to keep the convention center corporation ready for that return to a large, for large conventions, um, the mayor wants to subsidize its operations in the interim.

Speaker 1: 05:14 And despite the federal dollars may of glory is proposing a change to the city's library hours. What's that about?

Speaker 2: 05:21 Yeah, this is probably the change in the budget that would, that would be most noticeable to a residents, especially if they patronize libraries a lot. Um, the physical libraries have been shuttered since the onset of the pandemic. They, the department has developed some virtual programming where you can browse the books online, maybe do a contact delivery, uh, contact lists, um, pickup and drop off of those books. And they've got eBooks. You can also check out. Um, but when the library is open in person, the mayor is proposing running them on a Tuesday to Saturday schedule. And, uh, so they'd be closed Sundays and Mondays, and this is expected to save $6.9 million. Some of which would be reinvested in the library's system and the digital, um, uh, programming they had. I asked Gloria why he felt that this area libraries, which are very popular among residents is an area of the budget that should be cut.

Speaker 2: 06:12 And here's what he said. We've figured out a way to do library services during the pandemic. And you see other opportunities that people are engaging or using like drive through and whatnot. We feel like this is the time to maybe reposition this particularly important of department to better serve the needs of our residents and also making investments into the electronic media, more actual inventory of items that folks can check out or, or download as well as virtual hours. That might actually be a net service increase for folks who want to get to the libraries even after hours that are currently programmed.

Speaker 1: 06:43 Okay. Then. So although the overall police budget would be going up under this proposal, the police overtime budget is going down. Why is that?

Speaker 2: 06:54 Well, the, yeah, as you mentioned, the police budget would go up by about $19 million, mostly because of salary and benefit increases that the mayor is budgeting for across the entire city workforce. Um, the $4 million reduction in overtime and overtime is an easier area for the city to cut from its police budget. It's, uh, a lot of that, um, uh, money is, is, uh, basically discretionary. The city can choose to fund these overtime hours or not. And so the savings is supposed to be put toward this new independent, uh, commission on police practices and also community programs that are meant to prevent gang violence and also, um, youth focused diversion programs to kind of support communities, um, and help kind of prevent crimes before they happen.

Speaker 1: 07:38 Okay. So the mayor formally submits his $4.6 billion budget to the city council next week. What happens from there?

Speaker 2: 07:47 The council begins a weeks long process of reviewing the budget, each department, a line-by-line basically, and there are several community budget town halls where the public can learn more. And then, uh, based on all of the feedback that he gets, the mayor presents a revised budget in mid may. And, uh, then the, all that, this leads up to a final vote at the city council on the budget. And that's scheduled for June 14th.

Speaker 1: 08:12 I've been speaking with KPBS, Metro reporter, Andrew Bowen, Andrew, thank you. My pleasure, Maureen Now to a preview of the California reports weekend magazine, they are launching a series to honor some of the more than 60,000 Californians who have died from COVID 19. This week's remembrance is about Eric Warner who died last July in San Quentin prison. He was 57 and born and raised in San Francisco. The son of Filipino immigrants. Eric's older brother, Hank brings us this tribute.

Speaker 2: 08:54 Having an only incarcerated

Speaker 4: 08:56 For life leaves a hole in your heart. You long for sibling companionship and guard your secret for fear of shame. Growing up, we collected pollywogs after big rains, we had ventured new horizons on bikes, imitated major leaguers in the school yard life was simple. We happily sang along to Don McLean's American pie, oblivious to the foreshadowing of things to come

Speaker 5: 09:31 [inaudible] whiskey and dried and seeing him this would be the day that I die

Speaker 4: 09:36 By our teenage years, Eric and I drifted in opposite directions as adults. I only saw him at times of crisis, like when he lost his leg in a tragic car accident, or when I visited him at County jails and hard to reach penitentiaries, As he began serving his life sentence, we reconnected through handwritten letters. I committed to helping Eric survive. He needed a life of meaning and purpose. For more than 20 years, we talked about spiritual guidance and emotional fulfillment like workout partners. We had a regimen for building his mental and emotional strength. A complete transformation came after he graduated from rehabilitation programs. San Quentin's intense workshops gave Eric the tools to conquer his demons. He learned how to live a life of redemption.

Speaker 5: 10:38 He,

Speaker 4: 10:38 As he was known in the pen, studied law in the prison library, he handled his own appeal and successfully reduced his life sentence by California's three strikes law. The root problem to over sentencing and deadly overpopulation prevented him from ever seeing freedom. His resolve would not be broken. He used his valuable new skills to help hundreds of incarcerated men fight for their legal rights. He became the prison lawyer. Soon after Eric died, I received an overwhelming number of texts and phone messages.

Speaker 6: 11:16 Hello, this is Miguel Cosara. I'm a friend of your brother, Aaron

Speaker 4: 11:22 Firmly incarcerated men in prison. Staffers reached out to express their condolences. All had to let me know how much Eric meant to them.

Speaker 6: 11:29 And yeah, I was just calling to. I'm so sorry to hear of his passing. And I'd love to just share some of my reflections of who Eric was as a man and just offer my support. Hi, Hey, this is Danny. I'm calling on behalf of your brother. He, he is a good friend of mine and has this wanted to call it to connect with you? Um, to see if this in a way

Speaker 3: 11:54 His friends can support you and the family, I couldn't understand what motivated these people to reach out to me. Then it hit me. Eric's lives may have been taken by COVID, but his spirit will live on he's left his legacy.

Speaker 1: 12:10 That was Hank Warner with a tribute to his younger brother, Eric who died last July in San Quentin prison. After contracting the COVID-19 virus, you can hear more of Hanks tribute this weekend on the California report magazine. That's this Sunday at 6:00 AM on KPBS radio or wherever you get your podcasts.

Speaker 3: 12:34 Uh,

Speaker 1: 12:48 This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Maureen Kavanaugh. On our weekend preview. We can find some French contemporary art streamed, jazz flute. Join a conversation with writer, Julia Alvarez, and even attend an art opening in San Ysidro with a live band. Joining me with all the details is KPBS arts editor, Julia Dixon Evans, and welcome Julia.

Speaker 7: 13:13 Hi Maureen. Thanks for having me

Speaker 1: 13:15 First up French painter, Adrian Cobra has new work at Quint one. Tell us how we can view it.

Speaker 7: 13:22 Cobra is this youngish contemporary artist living in Paris. And this is actually his first solo exhibition in the United States. He's known for these shimmering color pieces that seem to transform as you move around them. It's really gesture heavy, like the use of brushstrokes to add texture, to create the illusion of movement and velocity. And this particular piece is called partition. It has 21 individual panels they're arranged in a grid and each one seems to have a life of its own. Definitely make an appointment to see it so that you can get up close and see it from all angles. Quint. One's open for appointment viewings. They're open Tuesdays through Saturdays and Quinn one, which is a satellite gallery is also just a block away from quince brand new location. And I recommend making an appointment to see both galleries in one go. The Alfredo Yar exhibition at the main gallery closes in just one week.

Speaker 1: 14:18 Adrian kuvaas partition installation opens today at Quint one in LA Jolla. It will be up through May 15th. There's a live stream jazz show honoring the music of San Diego and Holly Hoffman. What can we expect? Julia,

Speaker 7: 14:34 The anthology series, which is hosted by Gilbert kassianos and electric Louie land, which is Louis balance. Swale is popular streaming platform out of the avant garde music company in Chula Vista. Here's the Townsville Spiller. When I spoke to him earlier this year about this project, you know, so we've been

Speaker 5: 14:52 Doing just different shows and I've even been able to team up with, uh, with Gilbert Castellanos. He did his, his comeback show on the stream. He reached out to me. He really liked it. Now he's doing an anthology series, which is like featuring different jazz grades from the past present and future. Uh, in April, it's going to be the music of Holly Hoffman featuring her. So that's going to be great.

Speaker 7: 15:12 And Holly Hoffman is a, is a jazz flute player. And she's been on the scene for decades, just a really steadfast performer, recording artists and collaborators. So it's really great to see her getting honored by her peers. They'll dig into her whole catalog. I've seen the other anthology series shows and they really do take the time to honor the entire catalog. And it's the Gilbert kassianos Holly Hoffman quintet. So she'll also be performing with them. And here is a track called flue Topia, which I have to say is an amazing name.

Speaker 1: 16:08 That's San Diego, jazz flutist, Holly Hoffman, and her work will be performed on Saturday at 7:00 PM. Live streamed on the electric Louie land, YouTube or Twitch channel in literature, Dominican Republic writer, Julia Alvarez, joins art produce for a discussion on poetry. How can we tune into that?

Speaker 7: 16:29 Yeah. So this is part of art produce galleries poet in residence program. They have Catherine can Navy, who is a local writer, educator and cultural worker, and she's spent the last month or so hosting public workshops and poetry soapbox sessions on the theme of cartography of a community. Canadian also worked with Julia Alvarez about a decade ago when evoke dance theater adapted her book in the time of the butterflies into a choreographed dance production. They toured in the Dominican Republic with Alvarez herself, and most people don't know her for poetry, but she's a beautiful poet. And she recently published poetry about the pandemic Alvarez will be joining a virtual discussion on zoom on Saturday morning, open to the public and the losses spend some time taking audience questions, art

Speaker 1: 17:20 [inaudible] poetry conversation with Julia Alvarez will take place Saturday at 10:00 AM online and in San Ysidro, there's an art opening with some live music. Tell us about black box gallery.

Speaker 7: 17:33 Yeah. So this is a relatively new, small indie art space in Santa CDO. And they're opening a new solo show of works by Filipino American artists, TJ Santa Ana. I really like what I've seen of Santa Ana's work. He came to visual art from graphic and digital stuff, and still doesn't shy away from using digital art, but he's combining some mural full wall pieces with, with these really distinct brushstroke, swirls and details, as well as canvases and drawings. There's also a reception Saturday night with a life set by Ruby clouds, which is a sibling duo band out of Tijuana and San Ysidro. And they just put out new music the summer here's me Corazon, Debussy

Speaker 8: 18:41 [inaudible].

Speaker 7: 18:41 So if you're ready to go out and be in a somewhat intimate venue for some live music, here's your chance. Otherwise the exhibition will be on view through May 3rd and tickets for Saturday's event are available in advance, but they're just five bucks.

Speaker 1: 18:58 TJ Santa to is opening reception with a performance by Ruby clouds takes place Saturday at 7:00 PM. Now for details on these and more events or to sign up for Julia's weekly KPBS arts newsletter go to kpbs.org/arts. And I've been speaking with KPBS arts editor and producer Julia Dickson Evans. Julia, thank you. Thanks Maureen

Speaker 8: 19:24 Weekends.

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