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Supreme Court Rules Against Immigrants With Temporary Status

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CREDIT: ASSOCIATED PRESS

Above: In this Nov. 5, 2020, file photo the Supreme Court is seen in Washington.

A unanimous Supreme Court ruled Monday that thousands of people living in the U.S. for humanitarian reasons are ineligible to apply to become permanent residents. Plus, new data shows that grades went down and absenteeism was up with about 14% of San Diego Unified students skipping a significant number of online classes. And San Diego city Councilmember Monica Montgomery Steppe is a member of California’s newly formed Reparations Task Force. She spoke to Midday Edition about what she hopes to accomplish. Then, the county's Building Industry Association, which represents developers, is in a transition — to a new CEO. Lori Holt Pfeiler will be taking over that job on July 6. Plus, the California Senate passed a bill last week that would dramatically change the way bottle recycling works in the state. Finally, Ed Vodrazka captured some of his most exceptional experiences and stories from his fellow lifeguards as a testament to life on the beach in a new book, “Stories from Sea Level: The Heroic and Humorous Adventures of California's Ocean Lifeguards.”

Speaker 1: 00:00 The Supreme court ruling against temporary status immigrants.

Speaker 2: 00:04 Those that are being blocked from this pathway are often doomed to a life of living in limbo.

Speaker 1: 00:11 Jade Hindman with Andrew Bowen, Maureen is off. This is KPBS midday edition. How schools are addressing pandemic learning loss.

Speaker 3: 00:27 We are in a situation now that we know we've got a lot of work to do to help our students recover

Speaker 1: 00:34 And a look at the agenda for California's reparations task force. Plus the story of a San Diego lifeguard that's ahead on midday edition,

Speaker 4: 01:00 Temporary protected status ensures the rights of roughly 400,000 foreign nationals to remain in the United States. If it's deemed, they cannot safely returned to their country of origin. However, the Supreme court unanimously ruled this morning that temporary protection from deportation does not guarantee a path to a more permanent stay in the country. Joining me with more on the implications of this ruling is Andrew. [inaudible] a local immigration attorney and a member of the American immigration lawyers association. Andrew. Welcome. Thank you. What are the implications of this ruling? Could it potentially affect hundreds of thousands of people in this country?

Speaker 2: 01:39 Well, I think it's important to realize that this is not going to effect everybody who has TPS temporary protective status, but it will affect many who are otherwise eligible to become legal, permanent residents. When it comes to becoming a legal permanent resident or somebody who's physically in the United States, current federal law requires that that person who's, as people refer to it, seeking a green card and going through the adjustment of status process also have gone through what's called an inspection and admission process. And so some of the people who have TPS went through that process and some did not. So it will affect certain people who might otherwise be able to get their green bonds.

Speaker 4: 02:17 Any sense of how many people in San Diego county will be affected by the decision?

Speaker 2: 02:22 Well in San Diego, I think it potentially could affect a lot of people. I think it's important to think about how individuals with TPS get to the United States. Some people might have come here on tourist visas. Some might've come here on student visas. Others might have directly been fleeing some type of war or a natural disaster in their home countries. And they essentially came to the United States and entered without any type of visa at all. So this decision really impacts those who perhaps were most directly trying to save themselves from those conditions and entered the United States without any type of formal process. And the court decision essentially says that those individuals will not be able to both through the adjustment of status process, even if they are married to a United States citizen, oddly, as it might seem those people with TPS or in the United States, even if they're without status, for instance, that they overstayed a visa. If they overstate a tourist visa or a student visa, those individuals can go through the adjustment of status. So it's really going to depend on how those individuals came to the United States to begin with

Speaker 4: 03:29 What are some of the countries that are covered by the temporary protected status program. And what is that? Program's purpose?

Speaker 2: 03:36 TPS is a program for nationals of certain countries, where there are conditions that essentially temporarily prevent them from returning safely DHS, the department of Homeland security can designate countries or TPS for reasons like ongoing, armed conflict, civil war, environmental disasters, like earthquakes or hurricanes and epidemic or other sort of extraordinary and temporary conditions. Right now, I believe there are 12 countries that have been designated for a TPS status. Those would include, uh, Burma, El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen. So individuals from those countries would be able to apply for TPS because the conditions in their home countries have so bad that they essentially cannot return.

Speaker 4: 04:29 This ruling mainly affects a person's ability to get a green card. As you mentioned, what about a path to citizenship? How does it affect?

Speaker 2: 04:37 Well, in order to become a citizen of the way the current laws are written, you first need to be a legal, permanent resident. So that is an important step on the road to citizenship. An individual needs to get that green card first and then have it for a certain number of years. Usually up to five years before they can then naturalize and become a United States citizen. So if you block somebody from getting their green card from getting that legal, permanent resident status, you're also blocking them from eventually getting the United States citizenship. And it's also important to remember that a lot of people with TPS are going to be in the country for many years, because sometimes those conditions back home just don't fix themselves very quickly. So those that are being blocked from this halfway to any type of more permanent legalization in the United States are often doomed to a life of living in limbo for quite some time, if not forever,

Speaker 4: 05:36 The Supreme court essentially punted this policy decision to Congress. What efforts are there in Congress to fix the TPS program or provide those with temporary protected status, with a path to permanent residency and or citizenship.

Speaker 2: 05:51 So that, that was one of the most interesting things about this unanimous decision justice Kagan, who wrote decision was very clear that Congress is considering legislation that would allow all TPS applicants or recipients to get some type of permanent lawful resident status. And so the Supreme court said, essentially, this is not for us to decide. This is for Congress to decide there has to be some type of permanent solution to this. And I think a lot of this is from a certain amount of frustration that is currently shared by everybody on the Supreme court, as well as people across this country, that there's really no consistent application of some of these rules. And until Congress passes some type of consistent and fair application of the rules that will be applied consistently across the country, we're going to regularly see these issues coming up in the Supreme court is essentially saying, Congress, you need to address this. I've

Speaker 4: 06:50 Been speaking with Andrew, [inaudible] a local immigration attorney and a member of the American immigration lawyers association. Andrew, thank you for joining us. Thank you very much for having me

Speaker 1: 07:06 A year of online classes has taken a toll on many San Diego unified students. New data shows grades went down and absenteeism was up with about 14% of unified students, skipping a significant number of online classes. The impact was even greater among black and Latino students and students with disabilities. But San Diego unified has hoped that getting back to full-time in-person classes next fall and introducing new plans to address falling grades and increase racial equity will help students recover from the pandemic downturn. I spoke with Richard Berrera president of the San Diego unified school board about those plans. Here's that interview. It was expected that the pandemic online classes would result in some learning loss and negative outcomes for students. But what did the board learn about the data behind that impact?

Speaker 3: 07:57 Yeah, so Jade, there were really two key stories in the, in the data that we reviewed on Tuesday night. One was that pre pandemic we have been seen over the couple of years, um, you know, leading up to the pandemic really significant progress in many of the areas that we have focused on. So that includes reducing chronic absenteeism, improving attendance, uh, and improving grades. So consistently across the board. And most of those data points we saw in the two years leading up to the pandemic, really significant improvement, which gives us confidence that the strategies that we had been able to, uh, to use pre pandemic were effective and, you know, indicates that those are the strategies that we should really be focusing on coming out of the pandemic. But then of course the other story was the impact, the pandemic on most of those areas. So in most of those areas, uh, over this last year, we saw our reversal of the gains that we had seen prior to the pandemic. And like you say, that was anticipated, but it is, um, sobering that we are in a situation now that we know we've got a lot of work to do to help our students recover both academically, but also to help, uh, overcome some of the social and emotional stress, the mental health issues that we know our students experienced, uh, during this year,

Speaker 1: 09:32 The data highlighted some issues of equity, uh, students who were most impacted were black and Latino. Talk to me about,

Speaker 3: 09:39 You know, African-American and Latino students historically have not achieved at the same level with grades and academic outcomes as white students. And then, uh, black and Latino students also have tended to have higher rates of chronic absenteeism. So the strategies that we had been employing that were showing really positive impact in the years leading up to COVID really depends on that personal relationship between a classroom teacher, a counselor, and a student. And by getting to know our students, connecting with them, understanding what may be happening in their home situations, that's allowed us to put supports in place to help those students overcome barriers and be in position to do well. The pandemic very much hurt that relationship, you know, between a teacher and a counselor and students, it was just much harder to establish that strong, positive connection, uh, when students were not, you know, in person when students were online, sometimes connecting sometimes not just very, very difficult for teachers and counselors to really understand what was happening with those students.

Speaker 3: 11:01 So building those personal connections between, you know, teachers, counselors and students is key to overcoming these historical inequities that we've seen with black and Latino students. All of these are strategies that we're very hopeful that as students start to come back to school, uh, we're going to be able to, uh, you know, to help students overcome what they dealt with over this last year. But we also know that it's not simply that students being back in class will be enough. We will have to put, and we are planning to put extra support into helping our students get back on track. And that was the major focus of our meeting Tuesday night. Why does our plan to help students recover to, you know, allow us to reconnect with those students and then to accelerate their learning over the next three years? Yeah. And

Speaker 1: 11:53 Personal relationships, as you mentioned are important. So are, so is the curriculum, um, have you all identified any areas and opportunities where there's room for improvement?

Speaker 3: 12:03 There we are very aggressively moving forward with an ethnic studies for all curriculum. It allows us to have really honest conversations with our students about, you know, why there is systemic racism in our society. Why students have experienced barriers because of race, because of ethnicity, because of gender sexual orientation, all of those issues absolutely have impact and create barriers for students. And they are historical in nature and they are systemic. And what we find in the ethnic studies approach is that as students are able to understand both their own experiences and the systems that have led, you know, to inequity, it actually is very empowering for students. It's engaging. And it puts students in a position that they say, okay, this isn't just something that's wrong with me. This is something that's really wrong with society. And we're going to confront that and we're actually going to do our part to make it better.

Speaker 3: 13:11 So, you know, we instituted a couple of years ago, a requirement that in order to graduate high school, uh, every student needs to take at least one ethnic studies course. And that graduation requirement is now in place for this year's freshmen class. But it's not just about one course. It's also about training teachers, uh, in our entire curriculum to be able to have an ethnic studies frame. So in the way that we teach math in the way that we teach science, certainly in the way that we teach literature arts music, can we bring this frame into the conversation so that what students are learning is relevant and grounded in their own real experience? So the expansion of ethnic studies is a, is a very much a priority for us moving forward. Okay.

Speaker 1: 14:02 As you mentioned, the district is going to roll out some new programs to help students recover. How is the district going to help students who have suffered learning loss?

Speaker 3: 14:11 So we're starting with a rapid, uh, dramatically expanded summer program. So starting on June 21st, we're going to be offering summer school to all of our students at all of our grades. And it's about academic support, but also community enrichment. So we're partnering with the San Diego foundation and a number of community-based organizations to offer enrichment programs to students this summer. We're calling it a summer of learning and joy. So the dramatically expanded summer school program is where we begin that process towards recovery. And then as we get into the next school year, we want to extend the day with afterschool tutoring available to more students. Uh, we want to expand our mental health support in terms of counselors and other mental health professionals. And we want to very much focus on what has been proven to be very successful professional development of teachers so that when we have coaches that can work side by side with teachers in the classroom with students that really shows a dramatic improvements in literacy and math, uh, in a variety of subjects and in social and emotional learning. So an expansion of that student center professional development, uh, will be a core strategy as we move forward into the fall. I've been

Speaker 1: 15:35 Speaking to Richard Berrera president of the San Diego unified school board. Richard, thank you so much for joining. Thank you so much, Jade. You're listening to KPBS midday edition. I'm Jade Heintzman with Andrew Bowen. Maureen is off as the country continues to reckon with its harmful history of racial injustice born out of slavery and systemic racism. California's newly formed reparations task force is meeting the nine member task force met for the first time last week and established their goal to study and develop reparation proposals for African-Americans reparations task force member, Monica Montgomery step, who also represents district four on the San Diego city council joined mid day edition to talk about her role on the task force and what she hopes to accomplish. Here's that interview. So in this first meeting with the task force, you all spent time defining what reparations is. And when we look at places like Evanston, Illinois, and Asheville, North Carolina, they call social programs, reparations, but that's not what we're talking about here. Can you explain the differences and what this task force is trying to address

Speaker 2: 16:50 This task force is charged with doing some investigatory work, additional research, truly defining what reparations should mean for African-American Californians, and then completing a proposal by June 1st of 2023, so that the state legislature lecture could have a say in that proposal. So I believe in certain aspects of reparations around cash payments, around additional social programs, investing into failing schools with African-American students, student loan debt pay off, there are many different ways that we can go about pursuing this repair that needs to happen not only in California, but in the nation. We just have to figure out the best way to do that and educate people along the way.

Speaker 1: 17:48 How will the task figure out who qualifies for reparations AB

Speaker 2: 17:52 Three one two, one that was authored by Dr. Weber is the bill that established this task force. And the bill is somewhat specific about African-Americans who are descendants of slaves. We still have to dig deeper into that and figure out, you know, identifying who would be eligible for reparations, how we would go about doing that. So clearly, you know, we have two years to do this work, but it is a lot of work and we look to be a model for the nation. And so we're going to be very detailed in how we move forward, because I think it's going to be very important, uh, as the nation's eyes are upon us in this task force, you

Speaker 1: 18:35 Know, some people are having a tough time understanding why this effort should be a priority. One question people are asking is why should California take this on when it wasn't part of the Confederacy? Can you talk about that?

Speaker 2: 18:47 I am a descendant from folks who came from the Confederacy, uh, myself. And in addition, you know, this is a nationwide issue and, and the effects of slavery reverberated across the nation. We know that there has been since slavery state sponsored discrimination, state sponsored violence among, uh African-Americans. And so we have to look at the entire spectrum of how slavery actually built this nation to be one of the richest nations in the world without slavery, that would not have happened. And since that time, red lining black codes, Jim Crow era, and what that brought about the terrorizing of black families, we have to look at this across the board. Slavery absolutely was horrible, and it was the first layer of this, but there are many other layers of discrimination that were built on top of the foundation of slavery. And California is also a part of a lot of that type of discrimination. So we have a responsibility, I believe, to put our best foot forward with doing the investigation, doing the research on the nationwide impact of slavery, but also on events that may have occurred in California specifically. Okay.

Speaker 1: 20:13 So while the, this task force works to address those violations against humanity and the oppression that followed do reparations work without a strategy for social justice. And how important is that to all of this?

Speaker 2: 20:27 Well, I believe reparations is foundational to how we move forward in the social justice space. I really do. I think part of the social justice conversation should certainly be about repairing the nation and, and repairing, uh African-Americans who are descendants of slaves, uh, based on the laws that we have followed in this nation. So it's certainly a part of the conversation. It should not be, you know, be all the end, all, we still have quite a bit of work to do. And I think that's where the educational piece comes in as well, because there is a lot of, of confusion about where reparations fit, but it's extremely important. And as a policymaker, you know, I can draft all types of policies and introduce all types of policies, but the foundational work of, of repairing the wrong is needed. If those policies will be successful in the future,

Speaker 1: 21:29 I'm asking, you know, the reparations we'll address the wrongs, right, that have already happened. But if we still have systemic racism, that's so prevalent in healthcare and finance and banking and all of those things, housing even then do the reparations really work. I see my

Speaker 2: 21:48 Work as coinciding so much with what we are doing on the task force with regard to reparations. So I think really to have a sustainable nation, we have to have both and, you know, the education of why reparations are so relevant, why it's so important. It's important to continue to educate, because as we educate, we will understand that many of our laws stem from racist origins and that has created systemic racism in our systems. So we, as a part of reparations, I believe how to continue to educate because the education, the empowerment, the enlightenment that this will bring it will in and of itself, I believe, begin to really change the structure of our government to change those laws. We will then know where these laws have come from and what spirit in which they were passed. And we can do the work to shift that paradigm. You know, it all works together for us to be in a better state, uh, in an, in a better nation. So I think they go together,

Speaker 1: 23:04 You know, the task force is intergenerational and diverse. How do you see that playing out? And how do you think you all will work? It will

Speaker 2: 23:13 Be like many other taskforce and commissions and committees that we serve on. We all come with a different perspective and we have to continue to work together. We have to respect each other, which I believe, you know, we had a great start in doing that and we'll continue to do that. And I think we will work well together to be proud of the product that we present to the state legislature.

Speaker 1: 23:39 You know, that intergenerational divide was highlighted during the vote for chair and vice chair. Um, what was your takeaway from that?

Speaker 2: 23:47 Yeah, well, it was very important as expressed by other task force members that we honor that intergenerational component that we honor gender inclusivity in leadership, and it was displayed, it was a close vote, the first go round. But I think we made really good choices and the task force will be better for it. We have a young African-American attorney who is a woman that is chairing this task force. And we have a civil rights leader that was taught by Martin Luther king, Jr. Who is the vice chair. And both of our leaders now will be able to work together and to provide the different perspectives so that again, we can move forward with a good product, a good plan to bring before the state legislature,

Speaker 1: 24:48 Reparations task force member, Monica Montgomery step. She also represents district four on the San Diego city council,

Speaker 4: 25:01 San Diego county's building industry is in a moment of transition. Large developments of single family homes are increasingly rare as the county runs out of vacant land. And as the government seeks to concentrate growth in more urban areas, the county's building industry association, which represents developers is also in transition to a new CEO. Laurie Holt filer will take over that job, come July 6th. And she joins me now to discuss what that means. Laurie, welcome,

Speaker 2: 25:30 Andrew, glad to be here.

Speaker 4: 25:32 You've been in your current position, which is leading this San Diego chapter of habitat for humanity for nine years. Now, what interested you in this new job?

Speaker 2: 25:41 Well, and the nine years that I've been at habitat for humanity, it we've become increasingly aware of how long it takes to build housing and even, uh, trying to build 10 units in an urban core area could take up to two years to get permits. And so, um, we know that we're not building enough main habitat. We have 500 people that will show up for an orientation for 10 homes, which shows you how desperate people are and how like the shortage, there's a severe supply problem.

Speaker 4: 26:18 You will be the first woman to lead the building industry association. You're also, you're also one of the relatively few affordable housing developers to take on a leadership role. Most of the past leaders have been market rate developers. How significant do you think those two things are?

Speaker 2: 26:34 I, well, it's pretty exciting to be the first, first, uh, female CEO. Um, there's a lot of, there's not many CEOs in many industries at all. So for the building industry association to lean in and put their faith in a female CEO is really pretty exciting. And then on the affordable side, um, I passionately, I learned that, uh, as, as the mayor for the city of Escondido, that, um, you may want to vote for libraries and, and building out the city and having recreation programs, but it so that people can make better decisions for their lives, but it's not until a family has a home that they can call their own that they're really able to thrive. So I became passionate about housing, uh, while I was the mayor for the city of Escondido and, and it's low income housing, but it's also that huge missing middle, uh, you know, somebody just earning a firefighter, teachers, nurses, earning a really, really good wage and to find that they cannot buy a home or, or live in an affordable, um, whether it's rental or home ownership to be able to have affordable housing is really, really not good for our community fabric.

Speaker 2: 27:49 For all of our cities.

Speaker 4: 27:51 The current CEO bore of incl led the BIA for 13 years and he was never shy about sharing his unfiltered opinions. Shall we say he frequently criticizes organized labor, uh, environmental groups sometimes. Do you think you'll do the same?

Speaker 2: 28:07 Oh, that's not my style. I don't, I don't think they, uh, that's not my style. So, um, I'll have to lead and, and push and I'm persistent. I listen, uh, it is just be a little, it'll be different.

Speaker 4: 28:21 Berkeley and Sacramento both recently moved to legalize fourplexes or four unit apartment buildings on lots where currently you can only build a detached house and they're doing this as a means of both increasing the housing supply, but also to combat racial segregation. Do you think San Diego should do the same?

Speaker 2: 28:40 I think that that's one solution that should be considered it, you know, there's lots and lots of, uh, solutions and opportunities. I think that we have to try all of them. I think more. So we have to look at an attitude of San Diego. We want to house our own. Uh, and you know, most of the folks that are here in San Diego are our children and our grandchildren. And I think, uh, we'd like to see them be able to thrive in our, in our own communities. In our cities.

Speaker 4: 29:07 There's been a battle as of late between the state government and local governments over who decides how much housing should be built and where, and I want to read you a comment from Liza, Hepner the mayor of Solana beach. She said recently that cities should be allowed to preserve their uniqueness through local zoning authority and that she would like to zone for more housing near public transit, but it's not always possible. What are your thoughts on, on those comments and this push and pull between state and local control.

Speaker 2: 29:37 It is a push in a pool. And I really think that, um, it, cities can solve the housing problem themselves, but they need to step up and start doing it. If they, if they solve the problem, then the state would not have to mess in local politics.

Speaker 4: 29:56 What needs to change in order to make housing more affordable for working and middle-class San Diego,

Speaker 2: 30:02 We need to increase the supply of housing. Yeah, we're only building, uh, less than half of what we should be building every year. And so there's a cumulative deficit. And so how do we build more housing? You have, um, councils that, uh, that empower their, or their counters to approve, approve permits. You have the city councils themselves voting to approve housing. And, uh, and then there's all, there's all kinds of other challenges, uh, trying to build the house, uh, with an increase in materials costs. Um, there's lots and lots of challenges, but we have to take these one step at a time and figure out how, how did as a society, we have to figure out how to improve the supply of housing.

Speaker 4: 30:47 What do you think about this big idea of shifting our growth from the old and more traditional, uh, sprawling development in, in the back country or in undeveloped areas and, and funneling it, or focusing it more in, in more urban areas is this feasible. And can we get enough people on board to actually make sure that when those fights over density in, in, you know, down the street happen, that, uh, folks are willing to say yes,

Speaker 2: 31:16 That will be an interesting conversation as we move forward. Do we need housing of all types? Uh, there's lots of choices. Uh, there could be a lot of housing available if, uh, if that, um, family or seniors that are living in large loans were able to sell their home, that would make it a different type of home available for them. So we need housing of all types in, uh, for lots of different folks. Okay.

Speaker 4: 31:45 I've been speaking with Lori Holt filer. She's the incoming chief of the building industry association of San Diego county. Lori, thanks for joining us. Hey, thank you and Andrew,

Speaker 1: 32:01 The California Senate passed a bill last week. That would dramatically change the way bottle recycling works in the state. Senator Bob Y Koski of Fremont wrote the bill because he says the current system isn't working and hasn't for years, he joined cap radio afternoon news, anchor, Randall white, to explain how the new system could work.

Speaker 4: 32:22 Senator white Koski. Currently the [inaudible] for recycling bottles is on the country, but your bill shifts that to the distributors.

Speaker 5: 32:31 Well, they really strict shifts to the manufacturers. This is an extended producer responsibility. We want the people who make the bottles, make the soft drinks and the beers and bring them in. They're ultimately financially the ones that are responsible instead of having the state of California, tread the herd and collect all these manufacturers from all over the world. That's easy to use the distributors as the point of entry when they come into the state. So it's an accounting perspective, but that's the easiest way to get it done. Senator,

Speaker 4: 33:01 The deposit based system we currently have has been in place for more than 30 years. Why do you think it's taken until now to address its issues? Well,

Speaker 5: 33:10 There's 75 other bills. Amendment statutes has been changed where we've given entitled people to different things and they are good. You know, we want to give 10 million to the plastic industry to try to figure out how to plaster, give 15 million to curbside, give some money to the local CCS that adds up to 17 different programs that we have that we subsidize it. And remember the program is designed so that, that we look at the world price of aluminum and plastic and glass, and the state of California is sort of clunky. It's not nimble like private industry where it can change as those world prices fluctuate. So we're going to shift it to the people who know, who run this business, the private industry to let them come up with a stewardship program, they get to design it. The people that actually recycle they're going to put together the program and then Cal recycle is going to, and the problem

Speaker 4: 34:05 Senator right now is that the, the bottles just aren't making it back into the recycling system. They're they're ending up in landfill.

Speaker 5: 34:13 Yeah, we're we're at about 58% recycling right now. I mean, they may quibble with 59, but you know, we're supposed to be this bill SB 38 says you must meet an 85% recycling rate. We're going to make the consumer, which are our constituents through elected leaders of the state of California. We're going to make it convenient for them. We're going to have 20 times, 30 times more recycling sites where you can have an easy drop-off you have a vending machine, something that makes it seamless. Your

Speaker 4: 34:43 Bill did pass by a good margin in the Senate, 23 to eight, but it wasn't unanimous. What is the main argument for

Speaker 5: 34:51 Opponent? Well, I think it's everybody likes the status quo. Whenever, you know, we're in, we're in the game, changing business in, in the legislature, we, we have some status is this and we want to change it. There's a lot of folks who, um, are friends with the haulers, are friends with the recyclers and thinking, oh, this one business in my district is going to be hurt because whenever you do fundamental change, I mean, we were saying, we're getting rid of the whole program and setting it up. A lot of people are antsy, but you know, we've done a lot of environmental work. And I think, uh, the assembly is going to, uh, look at this as, as an opportunity for them to fix it for their constituents. And

Speaker 4: 35:28 The governor has indicated that he might sign this.

Speaker 5: 35:31 Yeah. Um, the indications we've got from the, uh, uh, EPA and from recycling directors that the governor wants to see something done this year. So we're going to give them a bill,

Speaker 1: 35:41 Senator Bob Y Koski of Fremont, author of California's new bottle, bill speaking with Kat radios, Randall white, the legislation now heads to the assembly.

Speaker 4: 35:57 You're listening to KPBS midday edition. I'm Andrew Bowen with Jade Hindman Maureen Kavanaugh has the day off the dream of being a lifeguard has captivated everyone from children at the beach to TV audiences. It seems like a life full of sunny days, ocean views, and heroics, and as recalled in the new book stories from sea level, it does involve heroics, but also terror and tragedy, along with laughter absurdity and a deep commitment to the people they serve after 46 years, San Diego and ed Vaughn. Raska his last day as a state lifeguard was Sunday. He's captured some of his most exceptional experiences and stories from his fellow lifeguards as a Testament to the life on the beach, in a new book stories from sea level, the heroic and humorous adventures of California's ocean lifeguards. He spoke recently with mid day edition. Co-host Maureen Kavanaugh,

Speaker 6: 36:51 And welcome to the program.

Speaker 3: 36:52 Appreciate you taking the time to have me on

Speaker 6: 36:55 Congratulations on your retirement and your long career.

Speaker 3: 36:59 Thank you. Thank you. It's been a good run

Speaker 6: 37:01 Is being a lifeguard, really a dream job.

Speaker 3: 37:04 I believe it is. You know, most of our lifeguards that we hire are very young. They're 17, 18, and they're very idealistic. And most of them have achieved some level of success in the swimming world. They're collegiate swimmers that are, some of them have full ride scholarships to colleges. Some of them are water polo players. Some of them are just great surfers, but for them, we take those young kids and we mold them. And then we kind of indoctrinate them with the fact that all of those great accolades that they've they've had for their whole lives is wonderful for them. But when you become a lifeguard, you use all those skills for public service. And in our estimation, that's when you really become a valuable member of the community. And then, you know, they use those skills to truly save lives. So yes, I do believe it. It is a tremendous profession.

Speaker 6: 37:49 Now, ed, you have been a traveler, a spiritual seeker during your life. Do you find other lifeguards share those traits?

Speaker 3: 37:57 You know, one neat thing about our profession is, you know, we come in, I came in at 17 years old and I was mentored by a group of elders who were 24, 25. They'd been lifeguards for four or five years. And of course I viewed them with the ultimate of respect. You know, we, we joke and say, you know, like it's an odd profession because we, we really do work together shoulder to shoulder. And we, we lay it out on the line sometimes when the surf gets big and, and there's nothing more rewarding than being able to go out in big surf and make a rescue where you realize you'd saved someone's life. And that's a tremendous bonding experience for people, you know, in this profession. And so we do love each other and my best friends are lifeguards in the whole world. And, you know, we joke and say, you know, life guards will be there dancing at your wedding often inappropriately by the way, but they will be there dancing at your wedding.

Speaker 3: 38:46 And, and it's, it's really true. And now as I get older, I can't tell you how many lifeguard weddings I've been to and spoken at. And unfortunately now funerals that I'm attending for elder lifeguards that pass. So there's that comradery that is, I don't know of any other profession that allows us to have such an incredible bond with each other, but again, it starts by the nature of public service and the things that we do on the beach risking our hide. When we go out there and believe me lifeguards do risk their hide. When the surf gets big.

Speaker 6: 39:14 As I said, stories from sea level, compile some of the really exceptional experiences that you've had over your career and your fellow life guards. Can you share one of your favorite stories from the book?

Speaker 3: 39:27 I don't know that I have a single favorite just because the nature of the profession is the nature of life itself. I mean, there's days on the beach where it's a sunny day, the surface small, and the public gets into some, some kind of crazy predicament that we get involved with. And those are the funny stories. And, you know, as you can imagine, after 46 years of doing this, the book is a highlight reel. It's, it's my hand picked favorite stories for my entire career. And, but, and by the way, most of these do not involve me. This is an homage to my brothers and sisters who were involved in some of these incredible events. So some of them are really funny and people are laughing a lot at my stories. And then the next couple of pages that are crying because of the tragic nature of the profession. And then, and then they're inspired by the third story, you know, and there's, there's no greater compliment to me than to have that kind of feedback

Speaker 6: 40:15 And do life guards and counter life and death situation.

Speaker 3: 40:19 Any good lifeguard is able to really predict problems long before they happen. And quite often a guard will see a victim drifting towards a rip and they'll go early, they'll swim out. And just as the victim realizes, they're in trouble, they turn to shore and in mild panic and boom, the lifeguards right there. And they, the public is dumbfounded as to how the lifeguard knew that they were going to be in trouble. But in actuality, those, those swimmers have been watched and the lifeguard saw what was happening long before they did, but mother nature does throw us curve balls. So we do unfortunately deal with a lot of tragedies. I mean, I think the average life guard deals with a life and death situation, probably about every two summers where they are making a rescue where they realize without any doubt at all, if they hadn't been there, that person would have certainly drowned that little boy or little girl or grandmother, whoever it is would certainly have drowned. And they know that.

Speaker 6: 41:10 And of the people that you've tried to rescue and haven't been able to do they stay with you, do those experiences stay with you?

Speaker 3: 41:17 Wow. I reckon that I've probably made a thousand rescues in my career and I don't remember the great rescues. I don't remember the successful events. I remember every single drowning bill, every single drowning is burned into my, and they are, they are scars that we bear. I'm not saying it's our fault. And I, I will mentally try to convince myself to appease myself of, of blame, but I still think of those situations where had I turned left on the coast highway instead of a right. Could I have been there in time? And those are the things, unfortunately that I probably will, we'll be reconciling on my death bed. Those are the things that I do ponder and they do bother me.

Speaker 6: 42:00 Well, when it's not, life-threatening interacting with the public can be kind of crazy. Sometimes. What kinds of questions do you get asked? Most often,

Speaker 3: 42:09 One of the most common questions is, you know, like, are there sharks out in the ocean today? You know, of course, that's a funny question to us because they're there every day, but we get all kinds of questions and some of them are comical. We have people from back east that come out when they see the ocean for the first time. And I remember one gentleman told me he got, I thought it would, I thought it would be bigger. You know? And we love to have a fun time with the public. You know, we love to interpret this incredible environment that we work in. We, we educate the public when the dolphins are coming, which are almost a daily occurrence here at Torah. You know, when the dolphins are coming up the coast, we tend to call out to the public around them and let them know that they're there because you know, for someone visiting from Arizona, they're not going to see many dolphins in Arizona. So it's kind of a big deal for them, you know, and the kids who see a dolphin that could be the highlight of their summer. So we're purveyors of Goodwill. That's what we do. We, we want to serve the public. We want to educate the public. We want them to have a good day. We do that in any possible way we can.

Speaker 6: 43:01 And why did you want to compile these stories from sea level? What did you want the public to learn about your profession? The motivating

Speaker 3: 43:08 Factor for me was two things. One I want the public to know. I want them to understand what we do because I believe wholly, as you can probably tell by my tone and these, in these answers, I wholly believe in this profession. You know, this is a very noble profession that the valor and the, the actions that lifeguards do stand alone. That was the first reason. The second reason which was equally important to me was, you know, these people, these guards risked their lives. And in fact, 10 of the stories that are highlighted in this book, those guards were given the medal of valor to get a medal of valor in a profession that is based on heroics. In general, we swim out in rips by the nature of what we do. We, we swim out into dangerous situations and rescue people. So these are things that stand head and shoulders above anything that you can imagine. And as you read these stories, you'll, you'll get the feel for it. I want their families to know what they did. I want their children to know what they did because they deserve that.

Speaker 6: 44:04 I've been speaking with Edward Raska. He is former head lifeguard at Torrey Pines, author of stories from sea level, the heroic and humorous adventures of California's ocean lifeguards. And it has been a pleasure speaking with you. Thank you so much for coming on.

Speaker 3: 44:21 Oh my gosh. Marine, the honor. Honor's all mine. Thank you so much for letting me share my thoughts on lifeguarding with, with your listeners.

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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.