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Last Day For San Diegans To Vote In Newsom Recall Election

Cover image for podcast episode

PHOTO BY ALEXANDER NGUYEN

Above: In this file photo, voters waiting in line to cast a ballot a the county Registrar of Voters office in Kearny Mesa, Nov. 6, 2018.

Today is Election Day in San Diego County and the last chance for voters to choose whether they want Gov. Gavin Newsom recalled from office. Plus, an employment expert weighs in on what protections are in place for workers experiencing mental illness and what workplaces can do to help those experiencing mental health challenges. Also, the redistricting process is happening right now and some UC San Diego students want to move into a district that more closely represents their interests, and out of the district that represents La Jolla. And, a new book recounts the experiences of Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher's unit, as well as the ensuing investigation of Gallagher’s actions, and Gallagher’s trial and the controversy over the verdict. Finally, from the archives, scientists have been studying a small group of East Pacific green sea turtles who seem to have found an ocean home off La Jolla Shores.

Speaker 1: 00:01 The window to vote is closing and the recall election

Speaker 2: 00:03 Right now, we're seeing about a 47% turnout. The last time I checked, so turnout is pretty

Speaker 1: 00:11 I'm Jade Hindman with Maureen Kavanaugh. This is KPBS mid-day edition. How organizations should prioritize mental health.

Speaker 3: 00:28 If an employer can support mental health regularly and on a consistent basis, you won't have people leaving, you know, abruptly because they've all of a sudden burned out and need some time off

Speaker 1: 00:40 A look at how San Diego city council districts may change. And a new book examines the Eddie Gallagher case. That's ahead on mid day edition

Speaker 4: 01:01 The eyes of the nation. This is not hyperbole the eyes of the nation on California, because the decision you're about to make isn't it it's going to happen. And that's going to have a huge impact on California, and it's going to reverberate around the nation. And quite frankly, not a joke around the,

Speaker 1: 01:19 That was president Joe Biden at a rally in long beach last night to drum up last minute votes for a fellow Democrat governor Gavin Newsome today is election day and the last day for voters to weigh in on whether or not to recall the governor from office and to choose his replacement. Should he be recalled? Joining us on this special election day is San Diego's interim registrar of voters. Cynthia pass Cynthia. Welcome

Speaker 2: 01:44 In morning for voters

Speaker 1: 01:46 Who have not yet voted, how can they still get their ballot?

Speaker 2: 01:50 Absolutely. If you still have your mail ballot in hand, act on that mail ballot, seal it inside your envelope, sign your name and date it, and you could drop it off at one of 131 mail ballot drop-off locations across the county, as well as 221 in-person voting locations. You can find these locations@sdvogt.com. We have a locator tool, so you can find a location close to you. Is it too

Speaker 1: 02:21 Late to actually mail it in?

Speaker 2: 02:24 There is still time. We typically at this point, tell folks to go ahead and drop it off at one of our, our voting locations or drop off locations. But if it is mailed today, the ballot must be the envelope must be postmarked on or before election day and received by our office by the 21st of September. So they do have seven days if postmark timely to make it to our office. What time

Speaker 1: 02:53 Do the polls close

Speaker 2: 02:54 Today? The polls close at 8:00 PM. So if you want to vote in person, visit one of our 221 locations across the county, and you can vote in person up until 8:00 PM. If you're in line at 8:00 PM, you will get to vote. If you try joining the line after 8:00 PM, it will be too late.

Speaker 1: 03:16 And what if they didn't get a ballot in the mail because they aren't yet registered to vote.

Speaker 2: 03:20 They can register at any of our 221 voting locations or at our office. They simply can come in register to vote. It's called a conditional voter registration, and they will vote provisionally, meaning their ballot will be placed in an envelope. And once their registration is verified, that ballot will be removed from the envelope and added to the count.

Speaker 1: 03:45 How can voters track their ballot to ensure their vote has been counted?

Speaker 2: 03:49 If they're mailing it through the us postal service or dropping off their mail ballot at a mail ballot drop-off location, they can use a tool called where's my ballot, and that will track their ballot and let them know when it's received by our office.

Speaker 1: 04:06 And we know it's still early in election day, but voting has been going on for several weeks. Turnout is always an important part of an election, uh, but especially during a special election, how has turnout been so far

Speaker 2: 04:18 Right now? We're seeing about a 47% turnout. The last time I checked. So turnout is pretty good. When you look at off your elections, we tend to see lower turnout, but this is pretty steady participation. We're seeing an increase and voters going to the polls today. Um, so ultimately on October 14th, when we certify these results to the secretary of state, we'll see what the actual turnout is.

Speaker 1: 04:47 You have any expectation of what that turnout might be overall at this point

Speaker 2: 04:52 At first, I was anticipating just looking at the 2003 recall election, which was really the only election we could compare it to. We saw a 66% turnout in our county. I was anticipating maybe a 65 to 70% turnout. Maybe now I'm thinking 60 to 70% percent turnout. So, so we shall see what that might end up being. We know that over 900,000 of our active registered voters have already cast their ballot. So today we'll be telling, but that folks are interested in this election and they are turning out to vote

Speaker 1: 05:33 Even before the election has been decided. There are already voter fraud allegations, surfacing of what steps are you taking to ensure the voting is fair and accurate.

Speaker 2: 05:44 As with every election, we take the security of our election. Um, very seriously. We have several chains of custody, um, procedures in place. Uh, prior to every election, we do an accuracy testing. It's called a logic and accuracy testing on all of our equipment. Um, after election day, we do a 1% manual tally to again, verify the accuracy of our voting equipment and our scanning equipment. So we take security very seriously. And when

Speaker 1: 06:25 Will we know the results of the election

Speaker 2: 06:28 We have until October 14th to certify this election to the secretary of state. And we will take every bit of that time to make sure the election is accurate, completely canvassed. And every eligible vote is in the count. We may see anywhere from 150,000 to 200,000 mail ballots dropped off today. So those will still need to be processed into, into the count over the following weeks. Any conditional voter registrations will still need to be processed as well. And those are a bit more labor intensive. So it may be a couple of weeks before in our county. At least we'll see more of a resolution, but we will take until October 14th to certify these results to the secretary of state.

Speaker 1: 07:17 I've been speaking with interim San Diego, registrar of voters, Cynthia pass. Cynthia, thank you very much for joining

Speaker 2: 07:24 Us. Thank you.

Speaker 5: 07:33 There's an interesting dispute taking place between San Diego county and the county's former chief medical officer, Dr. Nick, if auntie's known to many, simply as Dr. Nick, he was a prominent county spokesman during the early days of the COVID 19 pandemic here's event,

Speaker 6: 07:51 But I must be transparent and admit that eventually the stress became overwhelming for me. I couldn't run from it. I began suffering from depression and overwhelming anxiety. I lost my ability to sleep. And so in that situation, I did what I believe any of us would tell our loved ones to do, to take a brief leave of absence.

Speaker 5: 08:14 After he took a medical leave of absence, even TDS claims, he was not allowed to resume his position with the county. Now in a lawsuit filed against the county. The doctor's attorney claims even TDS was quote, thrown away because of his mental health disability. The county has not commented on the pending litigation. We are often told that there's a stigma surrounding mental health problems that prevents many people from seeking treatment, but can that affect employment? What protections are in place for workers and what can workplaces do to help those experiencing mental health challenges? Joining me is Katherine Matteis she's founder, CEO of civility partners. That's an HR consulting firm focusing on helping organizations create respectful and positive workplace cultures. And Catherine, welcome to the program.

Speaker 3: 09:07 Thanks for having me

Speaker 5: 09:09 Since the pandemic, how would you say stress has shown up in the workplace?

Speaker 3: 09:14 Well, we've all been through a, a rough time, no doubt. And between figuring out the new way of work, figuring out a new way to parent figuring out our relationships at home when we're stuck there with our loved ones there, this has just been change after change, after change and change causes stress. And then you've got, you know, you're the pressures of work. Everybody needs to make sure that they can keep their paycheck and survive. So I suspect that many of us have been holding back on our stress or letting it come through in order to just put our heads down and get through this. Um, so I think this, uh, pandemic and the stress that's created is not over once the pandemic is over. I think we'll still see stress as a big issue.

Speaker 5: 10:03 What procedures are generally in place for workers suffering from depression or stress?

Speaker 3: 10:08 Well, the law provides avenues for employees to take time off, to take care of their mental health and take care of their stress. Um, worker's comp provides that opportunity. Um, FMLA provides that opportunity. So there is, you know, the opportunity for employees to do what they need to do and take care of themselves.

Speaker 5: 10:29 Would you say that there's still a stigma attached for workers who tell their employers that they have mental health issues?

Speaker 3: 10:35 100%? Absolutely. I think a silver lining here is that we've chipped away at that stigma a little bit with people being more willing to admit how they're feeling, but absolutely there is a stigma

Speaker 5: 10:49 Now without addressing the lawsuit that's been filed against the county. Do you know of instances where people's employment has been threatened because of leaves of absence or treatment for mental health issues?

Speaker 3: 11:02 Absolutely. It's not that uncommon. Um, employers are focused on the bottom line. Something I see a lot in my work is that, you know, the business owner or CEO is focused on the bottom line and, and sometimes, or a lot of times it's at the cost of employee mental health. And you hear employees are leaving because of burnout. And the employer sort of ignores that fact and continues to push people hard, continues to hold them accountable to high levels of work, quality and quantity. So from a business standpoint, you know, you're gonna drive your employees to get whatever you can from them. But from a ethical and moral standpoint, you gotta give your employees time to recover and function so that they can produce for you while they're there at work.

Speaker 5: 11:50 So from what you're saying, it sounds like a of organizations are not equipped to handle, uh, a stressed out workforce.

Speaker 3: 11:57 I would say that's correct. Yeah, because what do you do if you have a team of 30 people, for example, and five of them are feeling the pressure and need time off as a business owner or a CEO that's hard to manage. So what I think employers miss is they often push employees hard and then they need to take time off because of that. Versus if an employer can support mental health regularly and on a consistent basis, you won't have people leaving, you know, abruptly because they've all of a sudden burned out and need some time off

Speaker 5: 12:34 An employee can no longer handle his or her fair share of the workload because of mental health issues. It must be a difficult decision for the employer about what to do

Speaker 3: 12:44 That's right. Absolutely. It is because you've got to balance your employees needs and you know, you care about your employees, but you've also got a business to run and paychecks to pay. Um, so it is a difficult place to be. And there isn't a black and white answer it's case by case, you know, what's going on? What is that? Person's responsibility. Are there other people who can take on some of those responsibilities? So there's a lot of factors involved in figuring out what to do, how

Speaker 5: 13:12 And the culture of a workplace become more accepting of people who are struggling with emotional and psychological problems.

Speaker 3: 13:20 That's a loaded question because organizational culture is much about nuances as opposed to policies. So for example, if your managers are working crazy hours, sending emails at four in the morning, working on weekends, working over PTO, and you're an employee at the receiving end of those emails, while the manager may be saying, I don't expect you to respond at four. That's just when I'm working, there's a message that comes with that though, that you have to work hard in order to survive here. So that's an example of a nuanced culture change that needs to happen where organizational leaders need to make it very clear to managers that they need to, you know, exemplify mental health and wellness, and that they're working at reasonable hours instead of working 80 hours a week. Um, so I think manager training is one big key to culture change here. Also, managers can be more vulnerable for their employees, you know, self-disclosure begets self-disclosure. So if a manager were to say things like, gosh, I'm feeling stressed out, how are all of you doing? Um, you know, that'll open the door for those types of conversations, but you know, culture has to come from the top. The leader has to make it very clear that they're interested in the mental health of their employees, and they're willing to work with employees in order to, you know, let them be healthy. I've been

Speaker 5: 14:49 Speaking with Catherine Matteis founder and CEO of civility partners. Katherine, thank you very much. Thank you. If you have an emergency or just want to talk about what help is available, you can call the San Diego county mental health access and crisis line at 8 8 8 7 2 4 72 40.

Speaker 5: 15:21 This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Maureen Kavanaugh with Jade. Heinemann how different will San Diego city council districts be after redistricting? That's something the city's redistricting committee is working on using the latest census data and public input to decide one change that's being put forward is that the UC San Diego campus and its environs be moved out of district one and into district six advocates of the change say students have very little in common with the affluent and expensive community of LA Jolla in district one, and would be more at home in district six, which includes university, city and Mira Mesa. Now one reporter who has been following the ongoing redistricting debates is Maya Sri Christian, a voice of San Diego and Maya. Welcome.

Speaker 7: 16:11 Thank you for having me.

Speaker 5: 16:13 What's the fundamental reason some student advocates want out of district one.

Speaker 7: 16:18 There's a lot of reasons, but the primary reason is that students at UCFD have really been feeling the housing crunch that we all feel throughout the county, but, um, they've been feeling it especially hard with the pandemic. Uh, they've really been struggling to live in areas near the university.

Speaker 5: 16:37 I think they'd have more of a voice in either changing housing policies or being, uh, having access to more affordable housing in district six.

Speaker 7: 16:46 So right now UCFD is part of district one, which contains some very affluent communities like LA Hoya. Uh, and the students say that oftentimes what this results in is that the representative on the city council and the planning group are mostly focused on doing things for single family homeowners, which generally means trying to keep their housing values. High district six is a district with more businesses. It has a different socioeconomic, uh, picture then district one. And so people, um, the students particular feel that they would have more in common with residents of district six and that their city council representative, if they were a part of district six would be more focused on things like creating more affordable housing in their region.

Speaker 5: 17:37 And there's also a demographic angle to the desire to change districts. Tell us about that.

Speaker 7: 17:43 So district six, uh, when it was formed in 2011, became the city's Asian empowerment district and it had a high enough proportion of Asian residents that they would have a significant say in who was elected. Um, the UCS, each student body is really diverse, uh, especially in compared to district one. And it includes a lot of Asian and Asian-American students. So if UCS D and some of the surrounding areas like Sorento valley, um, university city, uh, were added to district six, it would actually increase the percentage of Asians in that community. Um, from, I think what one of the maps presented recently showed was that it could raise it to about 42% of the entire population of that district six as it was drawn. Um, and right now district six, as it currently is, has about 35% of the population is Asian.

Speaker 5: 18:45 This debate over where UC San Diego should be placed is only one of several redistricting debates that you've been covering. One that involves San Diego's Vietnamese community finds that community dispersed over four city council districts right now doesn't.

Speaker 7: 19:01 So, um, the city's Vietnamese community has grown significantly. It's more than doubled since the last round of redistricting a decade ago. Um, but as you mentioned right now, it's split into multiple city council districts. Uh, so there are several different solutions that various leaders in the community have put forward. Um, to be honest, it probably will be impossible to bring all of the Vietnamese community into one district because districts need to be geographically contiguous and connected. And there's a bulk of the community in today's, um, districts fix it's near Mesa. There's also some in Linda Vista. And then there's also some on sort of the Eastern side of the city, uh, in city Heights. And in some parts of today's districts for some of the solutions have really focused on, um, around district six, uh, potentially bringing Linda Vista, which has a really high number of Vietnamese residents into, um, district six, which again is the current like Asian empowerment district.

Speaker 5: 20:02 On the flip side, though, you reported on some Asian American residents of park village in Rancho Penasquitos who want to be taken out of district six and returned with the rest of Penn mosquitoes. Why is that?

Speaker 7: 20:13 Yeah, so this is one of the most interesting things about the redistricting process is that, um, you know, all of us have multiple identities, uh, and when it comes to what community we live in, um, what did he come to the district who want to be in who we want to vote with, who we want to represent us, um, different identities can take priority over others. And in this case, park village is a part of retro casinos that was split off from the rest of Rancho. Penasquitos back in 2011 to be added to district six. The community is, um, very diverse, has a lot of Asian families. And so it helped create that Asian empowerment district I'm into these district six, but a lot of the residents, um, even a lot of the Asian Asian American residents really wanted to remain a part of Rancho Penasquitos and they prioritize that identity over their identity as Asian Americans, when it came to how they want it to be represented, and they felt, and continue to feel today that they have more in common when it comes to the issues that they want the city to deal with, um, with the rest of Rancho Penasquitos, um, rather than some of the communities in district six,

Speaker 5: 21:24 Right now, the redistricting committee is hearing from planning associations all over the city. Do we have any idea when the new districts will be announced?

Speaker 7: 21:33 So this redistricting process has been, um, very different from past ones in terms of the timeline. We got them census data very late, uh, and the commission is still going through public hearings and hasn't actually started drawing its map or anything like that. Um, as of now, the districts need to be final, um, by December. Uh, so the redistricting commission probably in the next couple of months, we'll put out to maps and then get feedback from the community on those maps. Before it actually comes out with the final maps.

Speaker 5: 22:07 I've been speaking with reporter Maya, Sri Krishnan, a voice of San Diego, Maya. Thank you.

Speaker 7: 22:13 Thanks for having me.

Speaker 8: 22:21 [inaudible]

Speaker 1: 22:23 In California, the number of people dying from methamphetamine and cocaine overdoses. Now, outnumbers deaths from fentanyl health officials are desperate for more treatment options for stimulant addiction. And right now the governor is considering a bill that would direct the state to pay drug users, not to use drugs, KQ EDS, health correspondent, April Demboski explains

Speaker 9: 22:46 When Billy lemon was trying to kick his methamphetamine addiction, he went to a drug treatment center in San Francisco, three times a week, and peed in a cup. If it tested negative for math, he got paid $7.

Speaker 10: 22:59 And for somebody who had not had any legitimate money without committing felonies, that seemed like a cool thing.

Speaker 9: 23:06 The treatment is called contingency management and it incentivizes drug users with money or gift cards to stay off drugs. People can earn up to three or $400 over the course of three months for lemon. It was about more than just the money. It was about being told good job.

Speaker 10: 23:23 It was the first opportunity where I was like, I have, self-worth still, it's buried. This person sees it and is willing to give me $7 just to take care of myself. That was very motivating.

Speaker 9: 23:38 Studies show contingency management works in San Francisco. 63% of participants stopped using meth entirely and another 19% reduce their use the incentives aim to rewire the brain's reward system. So the person seeks the money or gift card to get a dopamine release instead of meth or Coke.

Speaker 10: 23:58 You're like, oh, oh, oh, I can feel good without the daily use of that substance. Oh, I, maybe I should. Let me try and go one more week. And then all of a sudden you're at 90 days and you've actually you've made

Speaker 9: 24:12 The treatment is controversial. Critics have scoffed at the idea of paying drug users, not to use drugs, calling it an ethical or a bribe. Most insurers don't cover it. State Medicaid programs, fear there'll be violating federal rules if they offer it, the feds forbid any kind of financial inducement as a protection against fraud and waste. So patients can't be lured into unnecessary services, but a California state bill now on the governor's desk would change that state Senator Scott Wiener is the author.

Speaker 11: 24:41 We need to embrace this proven effective approach, make it clearly legal and start reimbursing.

Speaker 9: 24:50 We knew a surprise. The bill passed with so much bipartisan support.

Speaker 12: 24:54 Republicans love it, which I didn't think they would, but they actually like it because there's an abstinence component to it, right? It's like we pay you money. And you abstain from using

Speaker 9: 25:04 The state's department of healthcare services is also on board this summer. It asks federal regulators for permission to offer contingency management through the state Medicaid program. And the Biden administration appears poised to grant it. Dr. Kelly Pifer is the department's deputy director of behavioral health. Besides California's rising death toll from meth and cocaine. She says these drugs have catastrophic effects on the living. Ha

Speaker 13: 25:29 I stimulant use means a lot of people involved in the criminal justice system instead of treatment. It means foster care placements. Instead of children's staying with families,

Speaker 9: 25:38 It leads to dental problems, lung problems, and heart problems,

Speaker 13: 25:42 Which obviously not only devastating to the person and the family, but very expensive for our healthcare system.

Speaker 9: 25:48 Um, unlike opioids, there are no FDA approved medication therapies for stimulant addiction. Making contingency management more widely available would cost the state less than $180,000 a year. And Pifer says it will make more people willing to seek treatment

Speaker 13: 26:04 Because people will see success stories. They'll see friends and family getting treatment and getting help and getting better.

Speaker 9: 26:11 So far incentive treatment programs have been ad hoc and privately funded. If the governor signs the bill and the feds give their approval, the state could start offering contingency management across California. As soon as January

Speaker 5: 26:25 Was K Q E D health correspondent, April Demboski The fall semester is bringing new opportunities for students on the Chula Vista campus of Southwestern college, a modern $66 million performing arts center is now open KPBS education. Reporter mg Perez tells us more about its impact on the south bay and the next generation of artists.

Speaker 14: 26:54 There we go. There we go. Yeah.

Speaker 15: 26:59 Sarah Marie White makes every movement with meaning. She's a dancer learning how to express her artistic talent and develop tenacity,

Speaker 16: 27:07 Huge adrenaline rush. If you're like me and you just like, you really crave that like attention and you like you feed off the audience. It's like, it's an unreal feeling. If I'm being honest, it's amazing.

Speaker 15: 27:16 And Sarah is one of the first students to take classes at the new 41,000 square foot performing arts center on the campus of Southwestern college. The brand new complex is state-of-the-art veteran dance. Professor. Mary Jo Horvath is determined to use her modern classroom studio to train and cultivate the distinct and diverse talent coming from the south bay community.

Speaker 14: 27:39 Some are coming in with Folklorico training. Some are coming in with Polynesian training, belly dance, Latin, and you're gonna have those same people in a ballet class or a tap class or a musical theater.

Speaker 17: 27:51 This is the large auditorium, which will primarily be used for music concerts, but it will also be used for dance concerts. And also occasionally for theater,

Speaker 15: 28:02 Mike Buckley is the Southwestern theater arts technical director. He says the performing arts center is not just for learning. It's for entertaining to the school will Mount it. Student productions in the complex scheduled alongside events produced by professional arts organizations and community groups. Negotiations are underway with the San Diego opera [inaudible] And the San Diego symphony to lease the space in the future. The complex costs $66 million to design and built. All of it was paid with bond money approved by local voters in November, 2016.

Speaker 17: 28:46 Really thank the voters of Chula Vista who saw the vision for what could happen at Southwestern college. If they just injected some funds.

Speaker 15: 28:55 The corner of the campus where the performing arts center was an empty lot for 50 years, generations of children from the south bay would come at Christmas time to pick a tree with their family or enjoy the pumpkin patch at Halloween. Now the corner offers much more than just fun, but opportunity like never before freshmen Taylor Wiggins wrote a monologue for professor rough, Jaeger's acting one class. She wants to be an actress or playwrights someday.

Speaker 18: 29:23 I love you. And I'm trying to make this work, but you make it so difficult. You don't want to listen to a word. I say, shut me out.

Speaker 15: 29:32 Taylor says, she's grateful for her education and the new and improved resources Southwestern has to offer her. And other students of 90% of the student population comes from historically minority and marginalized communities. Almost 70% of them are Hispanic. Edwin Anthony Rodriguez is one of them. He wants to be a choreographer and maybe someday start his own dance studio. This is where the dream begins for him.

Speaker 19: 30:00 I have a lot of Mexican background and I really appreciate it. I love to hone my heritage. That's why I'm also a Latin dancer. So I can really get into

Speaker 15: 30:08 Professor Horvath has spent 31 years on the Southwestern faculty teaching and creating a community of next generation dancers. She provides the education and encouragement that often takes her students much farther than a stage.

Speaker 14: 30:23 I think dance kind of gives them, uh, a new outlook on life. They start to kind of come out of their shell a little bit as they gain a technique and as they perfect their craft

Speaker 15: 30:35 Just a few weeks into the fall semester, a community multimillion dollar investment is already yielding a profit of potential mg Perez KPBS new

Speaker 1: 30:50 In 2018. Us Navy seal Eddie Gallagher was court-martialed for a number of shocking crimes. He was accused of committing while leading an elite commando unit in Iraq, despite appalling accusations from members of his own unit, Gallagher was ultimately only convicted of posing for a photograph with the corpse of an enemy, combatant his case and the ensuing political discord that surrounded. It continues to spark debate about us military conduct during war and how American soldiers are held accountable for their actions in his new book, alpha Eddie Gallagher and the war for the soul of the Navy seal, New York times, military correspondent, David Phillips recounts the experiences of Gallagher's unit, as well as the ensuing investigation of Gallagher's actions and the controversy of his verdict. David Phillips joined us. Now, David, welcome to the program. Thanks so much. So let's start with the title. What made you want to frame this story as a battle for the soul of the Navy seal?

Speaker 20: 31:49 Well, what I realized when I started looking into this crime is that it wasn't much of a who done it. There was a lot of evidence that Eddie Gallagher had indeed killed this enemy combatant, including his own words and texts that he sent to France, but there was something much more interesting. There was sort of a cultural who done it because it seemed like Eddie Gallagher's behavior was very much a learned behavior of, of a subculture in the seals. And there was an internal clash in the seal teams between people who were trying to operate with the rules of the law of war. And there were other people that saw that as naive and that, you know, the most elite unconventional forces had to do things that were a little bit in the shadows and the law sometimes got in the way

Speaker 1: 32:31 The militaries prosecution of Gallagher's case was riddled with errors. Is that also part of the struggle for the soul of the military? Well, I think

Speaker 20: 32:40 It prevented the Navy seals and, and us as a nation from really taking on a stock of what happened and what lessons can be learned. So in, in Eddie Gallagher's case, he was charged with murdering a prisoner and shooting at civilians, old men, women, children, and he was acquitted as you notice if almost everything, but what we found that was that there were several things that might've kept a really reliable verdict from being reached, including that on the jury, there was a seal who knew Eddie Gallagher personally, and lied about it to, uh, the Navy prosecutors and the judge.

Speaker 1: 33:17 You write about one of the men that Gallagher served with Craig Miller in many ways, he was sort of a whistleblower of this whole case. What role did he play in noticing some of the red flags of Gallagher's behavior and ultimately in alerting superiors to his conduct,

Speaker 20: 33:32 Craig Miller, who by the way, right now is serving as an active duty seal chief in quarter natto. He was Eddie Gallagher's right man, handyman and his closest ally in the platoon. And step-by-step, he, he came to believe that his leader, his chief had really gone mad and he had to do something about it. Now you, you call him a whistleblower. I think that all of these guys were really reluctant to say anything that there was extreme pressure within the seal teams to protect the tribe, to keep news like this within the family, to be loyal to your brothers that you went to war with. But ultimately what he was forced to decide is, am I doing more harm? Am I be trained my brothers more by staying silent? And this was not an easy decision to make, but he, and several other members of the platoon eventually decided that they came to see Eddie Gallagher and, and, and his subculture as a cancer, that if they didn't cut it out of the seals, no matter how painful was going to be potentially really bad news.

Speaker 1: 34:30 And your book deals a lot with how well regarded Gallagher was by many of his peers, something that is made even more shocking by the seriousness of what he was accused of. How do you think Gallagher is regarded by people within the military?

Speaker 20: 34:43 Well, that, you know, there's millions of people within the military, and I'm sure there's as many opinions, but certainly within the seal teams, he was seen as, as what they call a good dude, that's sort of their seal of approval, uh, a reliable operator and experienced die, a guy who would be good to have by your side. And when the seals that served under him in alpha platoon learned that he was going to be their leader. They were excited because he had an excellent reputation and they thought that he would be a ticket to success. And in some ways he was, he got them a very coveted assignment to go to Mosul, to fight ISIS. But when they got there, they realized that his reputation hits something much darker, that he was going to do things you're well beyond what they were supposed to be doing. And things that had nothing to do with the mission

Speaker 1: 35:29 And the death of one person is not all he was accused of. Correct.

Speaker 20: 35:33 Literally his, his, uh, platoon doesn't really know how many people he killed because of the way it happened. According to them, he fired a lot at, at civilians, out in the city and, and how many of them were killed. They don't know, but there were stories that individual I've witnesses told of him shooting an unarmed old men or groups of school-aged girls or families going to get water at the river. They, they heard him boast about this stuff and, and keep a mounting count of the people that he had killed.

Speaker 1: 36:02 Gallagher's conviction was ultimately overturned by president Trump. What message did that send about this case and how the actions of military personnel are proceeding?

Speaker 20: 36:12 I think that the Navy leadership was extremely troubled. Um, they actually wanted to throw at a Gallagher out of the Navy, um, essentially fire him after this because they thought that, that he had done so many bad things beyond just what he was charged with criminally. And so to have a president in their view, politicize, what is, you know, a matter of good order and discipline was really a problem because what happens when the next guy gets accused, does he learn the lesson that, Hey, if you go on Fox news and get the president's attention, you can essentially get an out. I think that's their concern, Eddie Gallagher's cases. The only one like this in the sense that he is to my knowledge, the only seal, uh, ever to be charged with murder in a combat zone. But in my reporting of this, what I found over and over and over is it was almost like walking down a long corridor, where there were rooms off to either side that you could kind of look in. And when passing, where there seem to be other things, including things from Eddie, Gallagher's other deployments to places like Afghanistan, uh, there seem to be a culture that celebrated law breaking and celebrated bloodshed. Now, I do not want to suggest that this is the majority of seals at all. I mean, what this book tells is the story of a bunch of really upstanding guys who did the right thing, even though it was super tough. But, uh, I think there's a persistent subculture that doesn't really care about the rules and things that are above them.

Speaker 1: 37:41 I've been speaking with author and New York times, military correspondent, David Phillips, David, thank you very much for joining us.

Speaker 20: 37:48 My pleasure.

Speaker 5: 37:56 This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Maureen Kavanaugh with Jade Heinemann one Marine researcher says they are among the most beautiful things you can see in the ocean. And they're friendly. Scientists have been studying a small group of east Pacific green sea turtles who seem to have found an ocean home off LA Jolla shores. Finding the four turtles has surprised biologists because the water is colder here than in the tropics. These creatures usually prefer. And because of the way they've been behaving with divers, the turtles seem to like hanging out with humans. Last spring, I spoke with Megan Hannah and environmental analyst for the Navy. Her research into the LA Jolla turtles was published in the journal frontiers in Marine science. For those among us who have never seen an east Pacific green sea turtle. Can you tell us what makes them different from the average term?

Speaker 21: 38:54 Well, typically I think what people are used to seeing are the, um, Hawaiian greens, which have a care, which is their shell that is more caramel and color. Whereas the east Pacific green turtles have a shell. That's a little bit darker olive, um, almost a black color and their plaster on the underside of their belly is going to be typically a little bit more yellow or gray.

Speaker 5: 39:16 And how big are

Speaker 21: 39:16 They? Well, shockingly enough in, um, general, in fact, in San Diego bay, we have some that are almost four feet ranging from like 300 to 400 pounds at the largest. And then I'd say in LA Jolla, they were probably closer to about two and a half to three and a half feet, much smaller.

Speaker 5: 39:36 And there's some sort of debate about how long they live. Everybody knows they are long lived creatures, but can they make it up to 100 years?

Speaker 21: 39:45 If you ask my boss, Dr. Jeffrey seminar, I think he would say yes, about 90 to a hundred years. I think we have documentation of at least 70 years so far, but we haven't been able to document them living for much longer than we've been studying them for about 20, 30 years. At least

Speaker 5: 40:03 There's some speculation that they may outlive some of the researchers trying to study them.

Speaker 21: 40:08 I would not be surprised at all.

Speaker 5: 40:10 So where are these turtles usually found? I know you just said there were some in San Diego bay, but where do they usually make their homes? So

Speaker 21: 40:18 Traditionally these specific greens have nesting beaches that are off mainland Mexico and the coast of Southern Baja, California, or islands just off of Baja, California. And what they do is they basically start nesting and then make their way up the coast of Baja, California, and Mexico, and settle down in areas over there for foraging or off the coast of Southern California in places like San Diego bay, LA Jolla now, and even as far north as, um, long beach.

Speaker 5: 40:46 Now the LA Jolla turtles seem to have adapted to humans in a way that the San Diego bay turtles haven't. Can you tell us about that?

Speaker 21: 40:55 Yeah. I think LA Jolla presents a very different and unique opportunity and it's in that it's an area where, uh, there's a lot of tourism and the water's a little bit more clear, so people can snorkel and actually see the Reese and the wildlife there. Whereas in San Diego bay, the water isn't as clear, and there's not exactly a lot of tourism. So I think that the turtles in the choir have had the opportunity to be around recreational divers, snorkelers, kayakers, and I've had an opportunity to kind of acclimate to that a little bit.

Speaker 5: 41:26 Now swimming with these turtles is described as really an incredible experience. They sort of float and glide beside you. Have you been in the water with them?

Speaker 21: 41:37 Yes, of course the photographers that actually helped out with the citizen science project helped show me around and take photographs with them. And we do always make sure that we do our best to keep our distance and not alter their behavior in any way, but it truly is extraordinary experience.

Speaker 5: 41:53 Why is it so extraordinary?

Speaker 21: 41:56 I think because they have somewhat of a calm nature. So just watching them move about with the current in the surf grass. Some people call them little surfers when they see them over there and just watching them forage. So peacefully is really awesome

Speaker 5: 42:11 Water at LA Jolla shores. And even in San Diego bay is cooler than, as you were saying, the traditional nesting grounds for these animals. How does the cooler water affect the turtles

Speaker 21: 42:23 Cooler water causes turtles to go into a state of what we would call brumation in which they somewhat slow down their metabolism and try to hunker down sometimes under like rock shelf or in the substrate that they are president. And this is just a way for them to lower their metabolism, save up their calories and kind of conserve the energy that they have and stay a little bit warmer.

Speaker 5: 42:48 What does this migration northward tell us about these turtles and about conservation efforts?

Speaker 21: 42:55 I definitely think that the migration northwards we think is caused by years of successful conservation efforts, um, in Southern Mexico, which includes, um, reduce poaching and illegal hunting and protection of nesting beaches. We think this has caused the east Pacific population and we know it has caused them to grow in numbers. And we think that their population is now expanding out of regions, that we traditionally saw them in, into regions further north, as their numbers increase.

Speaker 5: 43:26 And it is important for people to know that the east Pacific green sea turtle is a protected species. So if you do see one swimming with you, what should you have

Speaker 21: 43:36 For doing essentially you should definitely avoid altering its behavior in any kind. Um, so try to keep a distance, definitely do not touch or chase the turtle, but it is a very cool and spirit experience. So try to relax and just watch from a distance and enjoy. Can you ever

Speaker 5: 43:52 See these turtles just hanging out on the beach?

Speaker 21: 43:55 They do not nest on beaches here, so they are just foraging. So the best way to see them is, um, over the reef shelf where there's a lot of red algae.

Speaker 5: 44:04 Okay, then, so from what I understand, there are only four in the group. Now, do you expect the numbers of these turtles in LA Jolla to increase?

Speaker 21: 44:14 We actually had a recent sighting about a month or two ago, and I'm hoping that this turtle is not just transient and that it decides to, uh, make LA Jolla at home as well. But with conditions being a little bit poor lately for diving and snorkeling, we aren't sure if the turtle has stuck around, but the last recruit was in 2019. So hopefully they will be increasing in numbers over the years. That was biologist Megan, Hannah.

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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.