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Part Of César Chávez’s Legacy In Hands Of Supreme Court Justices

Cover image for podcast episode

PHOTO BY CAROLYN KASTER AP

The Supreme Court is seen beyond a razor wire-topped fence at sunrise on March 8.

Nearly 30 years after César Chávez's death, a key part of his legacy is in jeopardy.The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing arguments in a case surrounding a 1975 California law that affords union organizers limited access to farms to organize workers. Plus, nearly three-quarters of all inmates in California have not been convicted of any crimes and are sitting in jail waiting for their day in court. Also, it's well-known that "gang life" isn't easy. Often it leads to jail time, substance abuse or even death. How one organization is helping at-risk youth overcome their involvement. And, as more people get vaccinated against COVID-19, one company is asking for stool samples to study how the vaccine interacts with our bodies. Finally, in an excerpt of “Port of Entry” podcast, why one woman left her life in the U.S. behind to help take care of orphaned kids in Tijuana.

Speaker 1: 00:00 The Supreme court reviews, a law favoring, California farm worker unions,

Speaker 2: 00:05 A fundamental tenant of labor organizing is the ability to communicate with workers to convey information.

Speaker 1: 00:11 I'm Andrew Bowen with Maureen Kavanaugh. This is KPBS mid day edition. Thousands of inmates in California jails are spending years behind bars while they wait trial

Speaker 3: 00:30 In San Francisco, where, you know, only about 5% of the population is black. 50% of the unsentenced inmates who've been there for more than a year are black.

Speaker 1: 00:41 How feces could shed light on the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines and from our port of entry podcast across border love story. That's not about romance that's ahead on midday edition.

Speaker 3: 00:52 Yeah.

Speaker 1: 01:01 Today is the birthday of the late labor and civil rights activist says are Chavez observed in California as an official holiday. Now almost 30 years after Chavez's death. A key part of his legacy is in jeopardy earlier this month, the us Supreme court heard arguments in a case surrounding a 1975 California law that affords union organizers limited access to farms to organize workers. Growers can tend the law violates their property rights while unions and the California department of justice say it's necessary to protect the right of farm workers to unionize. Joining me to discuss the case is Richard Paul, a founding partner at Paul Plevin, LLP as well as a professor at the university of San Diego school of law, specializing in employment and labor law. Richard, welcome, glad to be with you. Let's start by giving us some background on this case. What is the basis of this original 1975 law? And why are we seeing a challenge to it? Now?

Speaker 2: 02:00 The basis of the access regulation was the recognition that agricultural labor is fundamentally different than labor in the private sector. Elsewhere seasons are short and at the time many of the workers lived on the premises. A fundamental tenant of labor organizing is the ability to communicate with workers. Workers have a right to receive information and union organizers have a right to, to convey information. So the origin of the rule was the Frank recognition that in the short season where election cycles are very short and expedited method of getting information to farmers, farm workers, so they could make intelligent votes was necessary. That's the origin of the rule itself. The basic challenge by the growers is that the rule has become out of date back in, uh, 1975 when the act was passed. And shortly thereafter, when the regulation was, uh, there weren't sufficient alternate means of communicating with farm workers, but now there are, uh, through cell phones, social media and the like, um, communication is essential. And the growers in their petition observed that none of these workers actually lived on the premises at the farms that were involved. And so there was really no need for a regulation that, that allows outsiders to come onto the premises.

Speaker 1: 03:23 Do other States give unions the right to enter farms and speak with workers, or is this unique to California?

Speaker 2: 03:30 It is unique to California in this respect, federal labor law governs labor relations generally in the private sector, but it excludes agricultural labor relations from its coverage. So States are free to have their own versions of the national labor relations act. California has by far the most developed version. And by far the most liberal access regulation. Uh, my sense is that it is likely that no other state has a rule that is quite as permissive as California.

Speaker 1: 04:03 The argument from growers is that this law violates the takings clause in the fifth amendment to the U S constitution. Explain what that is and how they want it to apply. In this case.

Speaker 2: 04:14 Takings clause of the constitution basically says, uh, that, uh, if the government takes the property of a private citizen for public use, the government has to pay for the property that it is taken. So if the government condemns your land to build a freeway, the government has the power to condemn your land, but it has to pay for that. Land of edit has taken, uh, in the last 30 years, an issue has arisen that we call regulatory taking, and that is where the government doesn't actually physically take the property, but by regulation, it diminishes or impairs the value or use of the property in the nature of an easement that allows non invited people, union organizers to come on the property and therefore the government has to pay for it.

Speaker 1: 05:05 You said that growers argue this law is outdated, that it was passed before social media or when farm workers, most for the most part lived on farms. What do unions counter to that argument? They say, of course, that it is still necessary. What are their arguments?

Speaker 2: 05:21 Well, their arguments are several fold. First. They say it is necessary to be able to speak with workers where they are, especially given the fact that workers may come from lots of different locations and then meet together before the Workday or stay together in groups after the Workday. And frankly, it's just more efficient for organizers to meet with them at those points in time. Uh, workers often will get on buses and then be driven to various fields where they work and they're dispersed. And it's very difficult to keep track of them in that fashion. The other argument that labor makes, uh, is that because election cycles are very, very quick in agriculture because the season is short, the workers are only there for a short period of time. So if there's going to be a union election, campaigning has to be done. Quickly, elections have to be done quickly. And the like that this is heightened access is really necessary to effectuate the purpose of the act, which is the having farm workers have free choice in deciding whether they want to unionize

Speaker 1: 06:25 U us Supreme court has a solid conservative majority now, and past decisions have shown they're somewhat skeptical of labor rights. How might the justices rule in this case, could the largest be overturned completely?

Speaker 2: 06:38 Uh, I doubt it, uh, it's possible that it, that it could be overturned, but I think that the major concern based on the questions that the justices asked from the bench, uh, is that this doctrine of, uh, regulatory taking is in danger of being expanded in a way that will be difficult to contain it. The questions from justice Roberts, from justice, SOTA, Moyer, and others seem to be suggesting that they're looking for a way potentially to rule with the growers, but without having to expand the idea that incidental government have restrictions on the use of property violate the constitution. Uh, I read a blog, uh, earlier today, uh, that, that gives you an idea of what is at stake, at least in one person's viewpoint. And that is that the civil rights era laws, uh, w w where, where we said, essentially that owners of private businesses that are businesses of public accommodation hotels, and the like, uh, have to allow patrons of all colors, imposes an incidental burden, uh, that otherwise wouldn't be there.

Speaker 2: 07:50 If property owners had free choice to exclude anybody they want. Uh, but we have long since, as a society grown very comfortable with the idea that that's an appropriate use of governmental power and pursuit of governmental objectives of equity and inclusion. And so I think that the majority of the Supreme court is very much aware that this doctrine, uh, if, if expanded to make potentially a taking out of, uh, relatively minor intrusions of governmental power, uh, is troublesome and some of the justices on the court, as I'm sure you know, are, um, our, our fans, if you will, or have shown, uh, and awareness of, um, the importance of government being able to function, uh, without significant restriction, others seem to be more sensitive to property rights, but the, I predict that there will be, uh, an Alliance of different viewpoints in this decision when it comes out. That will be very non-traditional.

Speaker 1: 08:53 I've been speaking with of San Diego

Speaker 4: 08:56 Law, professor Richard, Paul and Richard. Thank you. You're very welcome. The Corona virus pandemic has shaken up the state's criminal justice system for months. Courts were closed, and many inmates were released early as the threat of COVID raged through prisons and jails, but there is also a fundamental problem facing the legal system. That's been around longer than the virus. It's the large number of people accused of crimes. Who've been left, waiting in jail for years for their day in court. And investigative report by Cal matters has found that there are more than 1200 people in this state who have been in jail for more than three years waiting for their trials to begin. One man accused of murder has been waiting in jail for his day in court for 12 years. Johnny Ms. Reporter Robert Lewis, author of the Cal matters report waiting for justice and Robert, welcome to the program. Thanks for having me. Is this a problem in jails and court systems throughout the state?

Speaker 5: 10:07 It is. I mean, up and down the state, uh, many courts within California just have had historically a difficult time closing cases in a timely manner. And the pandemic has, has certainly made the situation worse in a lot of places,

Speaker 4: 10:23 KPBS, investigative reporter, Claire Traeger, sir, calculated that approximately 350 people have been in San Diego County jail waiting a year or more for trial, but it was hard to get a firm number on that. Did you also encounter that problem,

Speaker 5: 10:41 Huge issue? Uh, there, there is not good data on this, which, which just completely calls into question, the ability of, of state judicial branch administration to, uh, to provide any effective oversight. Um, they're, they're just, I asked a number of, of sort of state bodies, trying to figure out basic questions about how long cases are taking, how many people are behind bars for extended periods of time, and it just doesn't exist. And so I ended up having to put in, uh, public records requests to, uh, all 58 County Sheriff's departments, uh, scrape online, inmate locators use court records to really just try to even begin to understand, uh, the scope of the problem.

Speaker 4: 11:23 Are there racial disparities involved in who winds up behind bars for years before their trials?

Speaker 5: 11:29 Certainly I was able to get a racial demographic breakdowns for about 21 of the counties and the majority of the, uh, pretrial detainee, uh, the unsentenced inmates in those counties, uh, do appear to be black or Latino, Hispanic, uh, as listed in the, in the various reports. And one small example in, in San Francisco where, you know, only about 5% of the is black, um, 50% of the, uh, unsentenced inmates who've been there for, for more than a year are black.

Speaker 4: 12:01 And our jails are quick to house inmates for long periods of time.

Speaker 5: 12:07 You know, the advocates that I talked to in the inmates themselves, uh, say, no, um, they say that jails really aren't made to hold people for a long time. There's often not outdoor space. There's often not the same types of programs, say like educational programs for the folks inside. And so, uh, you know, one inmate who who's currently there who has spent time in prison, uh, said being in jail is hard to time. Uh, that's what, that's what he called it. It's, um, it's really not, it's not the best situation. And, and, you know, a number of the, the inmates I talked to, you know, also said, you know, when you're in prison, you can work on bettering yourself. It's just, it's a different quality of life. And you know, that the next stage from there is, is home. Um, whereas you're in jail, you're locked down. Uh, there's not as much outdoor space. There's not as much to do. And you're just in this sort of state of limbo, not knowing what is going to happen to you

Speaker 4: 13:02 Now, does the recent state Supreme court ruling that people can't be held in jail simply because they can't afford bail. Does that have any impact on these cases?

Speaker 5: 13:13 You know, it could have some impact going forward in the future. Um, but not an immediate impact. I mean, it's, it's not like the jail doors are suddenly flung open and these people are getting out. Um, you know, that the attorneys that I talked to say in many of these cases, uh, the defense attorneys are going to have to file motions for reconsideration. Judges are going to have to figure out how they're going to handle this. Um, and you know, they still can decide to hold someone in jail if there's a public safety reason, uh, or potentially if, uh, if they think they might not show back up in court. So there's a lot of while advocates certainly hailed that decision. Uh, there's a lot that is, is left. Uh, in question after that decision came out

Speaker 4: 13:56 Now, in your report, you go through some of the reasons that people wind up waiting for months and years for their trials, the things like court continuances, sentence enhancements, multiple defendants cuts to court budgets, but overall, what has happened to the defendant's right to a speedy trial?

Speaker 5: 14:16 Well, if, if you talk to prosecutors, they put a lot of the blame on defense attorneys and they say, look, there, there are speedy trial rights. It's the defense attorneys who are waiving those rights and are continuously asking for continuances, asking for delays so they can prepare a case. Um, and, and what prosecutors will say is their cases don't age well that, that, uh, witnesses die. They, they, their memories fade. And so there is an interest for prosecutors to moving things, moving things quickly, however, uh, defense attorneys and advocates sort of counter and say, you know, the sentences, uh, the sentence enhancements, the three strikes law here in California, or our soldier konijn that, that they need to, uh, spend extra time with these cases because the system is so stacked against their clients, that if they lose, uh, you know, their clients are facing life behind bars. And they also, uh, allege that prosecutors will, will sort of pile on the charges, knowing that a defendant is gonna gonna sit in jail and, and it's going to pressure them to take, to take a plea deal. So, um, there's sort of a lot of blame to go around. And, and, you know, one thing to mention is of course the courts as well, they have a role to play. The judges, have the ability to, uh, to say, they're not going to grant a continuance or to, or to push things to resolve more quickly.

Speaker 4: 15:32 So have many of the defendants held for years refused a plea deal?

Speaker 5: 15:38 Uh, conceivably, yes. I mean, the ones I talked to, a number of the attorneys, I talked to that that is the case. Um, although there's also a number of, you know, cases I looked into where there wasn't a plea deal on the table, or at least not initially, and that the prosecutors were taking a very hard line. Uh, the elected prosecutor, prosecutors, I should add, we're taking a very hard line in specific cases. So, um, you know, every case is, is different and their unique situations and circumstances at play.

Speaker 4: 16:05 Is there any compensation for someone held for months, even years if they are acquitted or if the case has been dropped

Speaker 5: 16:14 Likely not? Um, I mean there are, uh, civil remedies available, but, um, you know, the, the attorneys that I talked to say, it's, it's, those are, it's fairly difficult to, um, to, to get money, prove a claim, uh, through those routes. So, so no, I mean, it's not like, uh, you know, you're acquitted after three years behind bars and they say, oops, here's a, here's a whole bunch of money for your, for your time. Uh, it doesn't really work that way.

Speaker 4: 16:40 Now your report also documents what these delays due to the victims of crime and their families. What is it like for them waiting for justice?

Speaker 5: 16:49 I, it sounds horrible. I, I, you know, I talked to a number of victims and victim families and, and, you know, they talk a lot about, about closure and wanting to move on with their life. I interviewed the mother of a 21 year old man who was, who was murdered in Sacramento. She lives in Texas and she, you know, she flew out for the first hearing, uh, with, with a friend, she, she flew out on the anniversary to meet the new, uh, prosecutor in the case she's logged on to every zoom hearing and she could still have months and years of, of this case dragging out. I talked to the brother of a woman who was murdered nearly 12 years ago. Uh, and he's just completely fed up with the judicial system, uh, and any hope of, of sort of closure through, through justice

Speaker 4: 17:37 And our lawmakers coming up with any answers to solve these long waits behind bars.

Speaker 5: 17:43 You know, I think that's really going to be a big question going forward. Uh, you know, you talk to judges, you talk to judicial administration. And, and one thing they say is that historically for years, the court system has been underfunded. Um, and so, you know, as we have this amazing, uh, pandemic related backlog contributing to what the backlog that already existed, um, you know, I, I do think there are some questions to the legislators, you know, at what point, uh, do they use the power of the purse to maybe help the court system, uh, use their oversight function to, to maybe look a little bit more closely at what's going on.

Speaker 4: 18:22 I've been speaking with reporter Robert Lewis, author of the Cal matters report waiting for justice and Robert. Thanks a lot. You're welcome. Thank you for having me. This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Maureen Cavenaugh with Andrew Bowen gang involvement has led to jail time, substance abuse and even deaths. We're going to hear from an organization helping at-risk North County youth overcome their gang involvement for a chance at a new life KPBS North County reporter, Tonya thorn has this story about the group called resilience.

Speaker 6: 19:02 Send that I'm older. I grew up surrounded by gangs drugs and an unstable home.

Speaker 7: 19:06 I didn't have nobody there. So I ended up turning to gangs and everything that I was looking for at home. I found it in the streets. I'm a recovering addict. I started using drugs when I was 13. Um, I had some traumatic experience when I was growing up at the age of eight. And, um, it just skyrocketed from there

Speaker 6: 19:28 At 21 more. I went to prison she's as prison and letting her family down where the turning points to her turbulent life.

Speaker 7: 19:35 I just, you know, it was time, time to change my life around

Speaker 6: 19:39 Moda. Now, 45 years old chose to give back to the community she grew up in. She is studying drug and alcohol counseling at Palomar college and expects to graduate in the next two years. Mora is also a mentor for resilience, a nonprofit organization, helping at-risk North County, youth on probation or leaving juvenile detention.

Speaker 7: 19:59 I love it. I'm able to give back to the community, you know, and I can relate to all the kids that I've came across, you know, from them not having the support at home or their parents are doing drugs

Speaker 6: 20:11 19 year old AKI Del Rio is one of Mona's mentees.

Speaker 7: 20:15 My whole family is gang related from different days in the, in the whole society. So, uh, I just kind of grew up around that type of stuff. Like my dad, he was a gang member. Uh, he died when I was in first grade. He was Cuba was our police department. Um, our group of foster home, instead of we knew him, my mom was a drug addict, you know, bounce from house to house.

Speaker 6: 20:34 When Del Rio was in juvenile hall, resilience reached out to him to connect him with a mentor who had been through similar programs before.

Speaker 7: 20:42 Well, I've seen though always having an agenda. You know what I mean, either it's just to get finished with you. So can move on to the next person, you know, it's to make the money,

Speaker 6: 20:49 But he saw a difference and resilience, right?

Speaker 7: 20:53 What these people right here that it's real genuine and stuff, you know, and everything they do was out of the bottom of their heart and stuff. You know what I mean?

Speaker 6: 20:58 All of the mentors and resilience have a past gang affiliation or have been to prison, helping them bond with their mentees.

Speaker 7: 21:05 I don't want to see this kid go back to Joel. He's so smart. You know, they have so much potential and you see it. And that's part of a bit about being a mentor that you got to remind them, you know, that they're worthy of living a different lifestyle.

Speaker 6: 21:22 Robert Coldwell is a resilience mentor. He says part of his job is showing the students. There is more to life than the four corners of the city they grew up in.

Speaker 7: 21:31 Um, took them to be able to do things that they've never done. Um, fishing trips, kid, who's never been on a boat. Um, those types of experiences we, we deal with every day,

Speaker 6: 21:42 Resilience, guides their youth in a variety of ways from field trips and exercising together to regular meetings, helping with college enrollment and attending court hearings. And they provide mentees someone they can trust

Speaker 7: 21:55 Me. And my job is to try to, uh, make the ones who are going in and out of jail and are comfortable with that. Be uncomfortable when they go back because they experienced a lot more than life has to offer

Speaker 6: 22:07 Mentors, say their job never ends. And it can go. As far as taking phone calls in the middle of the night to save a mentee from making a bad choice.

Speaker 7: 22:16 I stayed on the phone with one of my girls for like almost two hours, you know, just talking, laughing, just try to get her out of that state of mind. You know what I mean, where she wants to take off, take the bracelet off that she has because she's on probation or, you know, she wants to go and get high or drink or, you know, something that's going to eventually get her caught up and go back.

Speaker 6: 22:36 Del Rio has graduated from the program with no plans to go back to his old life. He hopes to join the army. At the end of the year,

Speaker 7: 22:43 The program managers did a lot for me, like got me off probation, got me into colleges. You know, there's just so many opportunities to bless me with, you know, just it's damaged to the point where I'm at now, you know,

Speaker 6: 22:54 And while he explores his opportunities, he also returns to resilience to mentor other youth that are going through what he did and showing them how resilient they can be. Joining me is KPBS North County reporter Tanya thorn, Tonya. Welcome. Thanks for having me, Maureen, who came up with the idea of the resilience program. When did it start? Well, it started in 2018 and it was a pilot program that kicked off here in Oceanside by the County of San Diego probation department. And they based this program off of the credible messenger program in New York. And although it launched in 2018, you know, it took a little bit of time to recruit mentors because they really wanted mentors that grew up here in North County and just knew the area, knew the problems happening in the community. So that's kind of how it started. The counseling

Speaker 4: 23:46 Method sounds a lot like alcoholics anonymous with the mentor system. I'm wondering, is there any overall guiding philosophy or religious affiliation

Speaker 6: 23:55 Involved, you know, is really similar? And I think what's really special about this program is that, you know, the mentors bond with the mentees because they have a similar past, um, you know, they grew up in the, in the, in the area, they have maybe a gang affiliation they've had maybe similar drug use. Um, they've experienced traumas like domestic violence at home. Maybe the parents are gone, they're working all the time. So I think, I think that's what really makes this program special is that the, you know, mentors just have gone through a lot of the experiences that the mentees are now going through. You know, although there is no religious affiliation, I think that, you know, if maybe a mentor does, you know, bond with a mentee over that, I mean, it's, you know, ultimately one more thing that they can relate to each other with

Speaker 4: 24:43 Is resilience mentoring. Part of any court ordered program for kids in juvenile hall.

Speaker 6: 24:50 You know, it's court ordered the San Diego probation department does refer youth to the program, but it's really voluntary. I mean, although they're referred, you know, the youth has the, you know, makes the choice to go or not. And is the group exclusively focused on North County? You know, this program resilience is it's, um, in Oceanside and Vista. So it's it's youth that are on probation in Oceanside and Vista. And then obviously some of them have moved throughout North County. So then as long as they were residents in Oceanside Invista, they can participate in the program. But now, because the program has been so successful, the County of San Diego is expanding into central San Diego. So South East San Diego lemon Grove, city Heights area,

Speaker 4: 25:35 One of the young men you spoke with said, he quote unquote, graduated from the resilience program. What does it take to graduate?

Speaker 6: 25:43 You know, it can mean so many different things, but because of the program requirements, you need to attend group sessions. So there's a certain limit and limit that you need to attend of the group sessions. You also need to meet with your mentor one-on-one, but now it can go beyond that. So AKI, he actually got off probation. He graduated from high school, took a couple college courses. And so now he's looking to join the army at the end of this year. Hopefully. So now the army is willing to take him as long as he removes his tattoos. And again, because of all the work that he has accomplished and all the accolades that, you know, he has because of resilience and where does resilience get its funding? The main funding comes from San Diego probation department. And so, um, Vista community clinic is who gets the funding and they facilitate the program. And so, you know, their funding is very minimal. The program manager told me that, you know, the funding that they get does provide some field trips, but it's more things fishing, hiking, kayaking before the pandemic, they were able to do more things like go to LA, go on a couple of road trips, go to K one, you know, the speedways, but, you know, because of the pandemic and that limited funding, I mean, you know, the field trips aren't as extensive as I'd like them to be.

Speaker 4: 27:02 And how much of an effect has the pandemic had on the resilience program

Speaker 6: 27:07 From speaking to the program manager, Jimmy, you know, he set the pandemic has been a big challenge on the program because you know, it doesn't really end the problems that these youth are facing. I mean, he told me about shooting still happening the week that we went into quarantine and broad daylight at parks, you know, some of these parents are very limited with money, so they still have to go to work to be able to provide food. The drug use still continue domestic violence. A lot of these kids are, you know, facing anxiety. And so at the beginning, they, they did go virtual for, you know, maybe one to two months. But after that, they realized they needed to continue their group sessions because they were ultimately an outlet for these youth. This is the group sessions are providing a way for them to get out of that toxic environment. And so they started distributing foods in the neighborhood and just started to do more outdoors things like fishing and hiking once, you know, once the rules eased up a little bit

Speaker 4: 28:04 And can any at-risk kid reach out to the resilience program?

Speaker 6: 28:09 Not anybody, you know, it's, it's a tough age. So I don't know if any kid, you know, wants to go, but, um, so that youth does need to be on probation in order to join. But, you know, again, the referrals happen organically. Once the group of kids that's already there sees how fun it is and just how they can put their differences aside and just, you know, what the program, the opportunity the program gives them. I think they start talking to their friends and amongst themselves, you know, amongst the kids that are on probation and just invite them over and, you know, hopefully it gives them a new chance to

Speaker 4: 28:41 Life. I've been speaking with KPBS, North County reporter, Tanya thorn, Tanya. Thank you. Thank you. More

Speaker 8: 28:48 Three.

Speaker 1: 28:54 As more people get vaccinated against COVID-19, researchers are trying to understand how the vaccine interacts with our bodies. While there are a number of ways to test the efficacy of a vaccine. Once it's been administered one San Diego biotech company is soliciting San Diego stool samples to analyze how the vaccine interacts with our gut microbiomes mid-day additions, Jade Hindman spoke with Stephanie colour CEO of [inaudible] bio-science to learn more.

Speaker 8: 29:22 How is it that data

Speaker 6: 29:24 Gathered from stool samples can give us a better understanding of how our body interacts with the COVID vaccine?

Speaker 8: 29:31 Yeah, so, so are most people don't actually know that our GI track is actually one, our largest immune organ, 80% of our immune cells are in our GI. And so they have a profound impact on actually how well we respond to vaccines, how well we deal with disease and in prevention of disease and immune health and our bodies. And as many of us know the GI track is home of the gut microbiome, these trillions of microbes that exist within our gut and the bacteria that we have in our gut and what they produce, what do they do has a tremendous impact on our overall immune health and our health to prevent and fight disease. And so it's actually the types of microbes that we have can impact how well we respond to vaccines. And so the only way really to study what's in our gut is by looking at stool samples or otherwise known as poop. Yeah.

Speaker 9: 30:28 Is there a precedent for collecting data through this, this unusual method?

Speaker 8: 30:32 Yes. Our, our company, as well as several others in the spaces, as well as academics, um, locally at UC San Diego with the microbiome Institute there, um, have been profiling the microbiome for the last almost 20 years now. And so, um, and, and we've been doing, it has been through collection of stool samples. Um, our company has, has namely focused in cancer where we have found that, um, the kinds of bacteria that cancer patients have in their gut impact, how well they respond to the latest cheered of cancer drugs.

Speaker 9: 31:09 And how are you reaching out to the community to find participants for this study?

Speaker 8: 31:14 Very much a grassroots efforts that he took. Imagine we're a small biotech company, um, incubating inside of J labs, which is part of Johnson and Johnson innovation. And we've been reaching out in several ways, one through our friends and family network, our, our academic colleagues, but, but also through social media, through, through Facebook, um, as well as, um, Instagram and other platforms. Um, and so that that's been, what's been really helpful for us is, is targeting the community through those efforts.

Speaker 9: 31:47 It's important to note that diversity in these studies is also important. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Speaker 8: 31:53 Yes, absolutely. Um, and as we've seen with, with the pandemic, it's really, um, put a light or a spotlight on, on the challenges we faced in clinical studies where, um, you know, ethnic and racial minorities are normally not included representative sufficiently, um, the drug development process. And as we've seen with COVID-19 in particular that these groups, ethnic racial minorities, the elderly have been most impacted, um, and have been showing, you know, the most impact from the severity of the disease itself. And so our study is meant to address that 50% of study participants are aimed to come from these ethnic and racial communities that have been most impacted so that we can truly understand, um, the impact of the gut microbiome on vaccination response, but how, how are people in the real world and in these subpopulations very much, um, reacting to the vaccine

Speaker 9: 32:51 And what is the team behind this study really hoping to find? I mean, are they looking to confirm any existing theories about how the vaccine affects our bodies

Speaker 8: 33:00 In some regards? Yes. Um, and we want to understand the immunity that people have to it and, and when, when they fail. So for example, we know that there are virus variants going around in our communities. And how is that impacting vaccine response? Our ultimate goal as, as a company actually is to develop a microbiome therapeutic in orally deliver pill that contains the right bacteria to stimulate your immune system, to respond most effectively to a vaccine.

Speaker 9: 33:32 Are there plans to increase the scope and scale of this study once this initial trial is done?

Speaker 8: 33:38 Yes, absolutely. This initial trial is really meant to get us data as quick as possible. So we can publish this in the scientific community, but we want to scale nationwide to over 10,000 participants and are looking to partner up with other academic institutions, those manufacturing, the vaccines that we are all receiving, um, as well as perhaps other healthcare providers, um, like, uh, CVS health or Walgreens.

Speaker 9: 34:06 What ways do you hope to study creates a clearer picture of what we know about the various COVID-19 vaccines?

Speaker 8: 34:12 Yes. Um, I think what's been missing here and we're just starting to get that is real-world data. We, we have been hearing on the news data coming from clinical trials, but as we can imagine, those are very structured settings. So what, what we're really trying to aim at is in the real population, our country, how are we most responding to the vaccines and are there ways to improve that are there ways for the next generation of vaccines to take data from this study and make them better and make them work for everybody? You know, most medications are not a one size fits all. Well, how can we take this data to make sure that these vaccines are indeed a one size fits all?

Speaker 9: 34:55 And I understand that you're looking at the stool samples, you're, you're observing the bacteria, that's in those samples. What about the virus itself? Do you anticipate finding the virus in any of those samples?

Speaker 8: 35:07 There's a possibility. And so what we're doing, and especially once we get to the national scale, getting looking at thousands of study participants is if they do unfortunately get the Corona virus, we will be sending out a kit to them to be able to sequence, to understand which variant in particular, and as some studies have shown, um, it does look like there is a GI related impact on severe cases of COVID-19 specifically, um, unhealthy microbiomes

Speaker 3: 35:38 Have been linked to severe COVID-19 responses. And so that's something that we're, we're looking at as well. I've been speaking with Stephanie color CEO of Pacific bio-sciences. Stephanie, thank you so much for joining us. Thank you.

Speaker 1: 35:58 You're listening to KPBS midday edition. I'm Andrew Bowen with Maureen Kavanaugh. Jade Hindman is off today. Lots of love stories in our region involve people from opposite sides of the U S Mexico border in its most recent season KPBS border podcast, port of entry focused on some of these cross border loves stories and expanded beyond just romantic love. The latest episode for instance is about the love between an American ex-pat Daniel Gresham, and the orphaned kids. She now takes care of in Tijuana.

Speaker 10: 36:33 Okay. So six years ago, Danny aggression left behind her life as a real estate broker in Las Vegas, and started a new life here at the border.

Speaker 11: 36:44 Right now we're on the East side of Tijuana.

Speaker 10: 36:48 We asked Danielle to record an audio diary for us to sorta show us what a typical day is like for her.

Speaker 11: 36:54 So it is about, I don't know if I'm rushing, like maybe a minute walk from my apartment to the Caso bar and through this neighborhood that I have grown to love. I guess

Speaker 10: 37:16 These days Daniel's life revolves around the Casa. O'Gara she and her friends started back in 2015. It's essentially a group home for kids, an orphanage

Speaker 11: 37:28 City hall. Okay.

Speaker 3: 37:30 Yeah.

Speaker 10: 37:35 The Casa O'Gara Daniel helps run houses up to 25 kids right now. 12 kids call it home, including this little guy. You hear jumping on a trampoline outside the orphanage.

Speaker 11: 37:57 Yeah, it is now seven 31. I am just going into the house. There shouldn't be any kids

Speaker 10: 38:06 Until recently, Daniel lived at the orphanage and de Quanah with the kids. But over the holidays, she finally raised enough money from friends, family, and supporters to pay for a small apartment, just a few blocks away. So now she walks to work the day Danny recorded her audio diary. She had the early shift.

Speaker 11: 38:27 No, it's super quiet here. Um, Maria is up Ray and her sister Rose are usually the first ones up. They have to take medicine, uh, at eight o'clock. So let's see what's going on in the house. So, Nope, I didn't think so. Nobody's up yet. So we're going to take a few minutes and get situated, get the girls, their medicine, and then we'll start waking kids up.

Speaker 10: 39:01 After the kids get up, they make their beds and do some other cleaning and chores except Sammy. Sammy's not cleaning.

Speaker 3: 39:07 Debbie was that in Sunday? [inaudible] Santa Claus brought the zombies. Okay. So he's not cleaning. Sammy's clean right now with me at the table.

Speaker 11: 39:29 So I'm in charge of breakfast and getting the girls up today. And so, because I'm in charge of breakfast, we're having cold cereal. So that's what I'm about to do. I'm about to make some powdered milk up. So it doesn't taste like powdered milk, and they're going to eat Socratic desk, Choco crispies, and that's going to be breakfast today because Michelle is in charge of the wonderful home cooked meals. And I'm in charge of the cold cereal.

Speaker 10: 40:00 After breakfast, Danielle often does paperwork. Then she takes the kids to their psychiatry and therapy appointments. She'll help clean cook. And as often as she can, she'll sit down to play with kids like Sam.

Speaker 3: 40:14 Yes, he is.

Speaker 10: 40:37 The day Danny recorded was actually supposed to be one of her days off. So she was set to leave early, but that didn't happen. So

Speaker 11: 40:48 Leaving the house right now, because it was only supposed to be here until one, but not that that was a pipe dream, but whenever girls, um, you know, she had their, we call them wedding Jace, and they're stronger than a temper tantrum. They're up along the lines of a fit kind of along that line. So, um, I'm going to go home now though. And, uh, try to relax a little bit before I have a meeting at two with a church, um, about somehow partnering with us or being involved with us somehow. So we have a zoom meeting. So my days, not that exciting,

Speaker 1: 41:34 But that's what today is.

Speaker 10: 41:37 I'll be back tomorrow morning, orphanages in Mexico get very little government support. So it's up to people like Daniel to raise money, to keep them going mostly through building relationships with churches in the U S it's a lot of pressure. I mean, imagine just constantly having to ask people to pitch in every single day. So it's hard, it's hard Danya. And the other folks who help run the cassava guard, they have all these little lives depending on them, not only to house feed and educate them, but to love them to the love is that these kids, they don't have anybody that's going to stand up for them except us.

Speaker 1: 42:48 And that was Daniel Gresham talking with port of entry, host Alan Lillian Thall, to hear how Daniel ended up in Tijuana taking care of those kids, listen to the full episode online, or find a port of entry on Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen.

Speaker 10: 43:29 [inaudible].

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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.