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Another resident at Veterans Village is dead. The DEA took notice.

 July 29, 2022 at 1:07 PM PDT

S1: Stand down is this weekend amid concern over the Veterans Village Rehab Center.
S2: There was a death at the rehab center this week. We know that it occurred Tuesday night , that it was a suspected fentanyl overdose.
S1: I'm Jade Hindman. This is KPBS Midday Edition. A look at what happens to organic waste once it's hauled away from your home.
S3: This is going to be a large habit change for millions of residents , and we're going to take the time to do it right.
S1: And there are plays and contemporary dance theaters to check out in your weekend preview. Plus , a dive behind this week's biggest headlines on the roundtable. That's ahead on Midday Edition. Veterans and veteran families experiencing homelessness in San Diego are getting some much needed help today. The 35th annual stand down event is being held today through Sunday at Roosevelt Middle School near Balboa Park. The event , run by Veterans Village of San Diego , provides food and medical care , legal assistance , employment support , housing referrals and even haircuts. But this year's event is being overshadowed by several deaths at the organization's rehab Center for Veterans. This week , a person died of a suspected drug overdose. It's the fourth death at the nonprofit's flagship campus this year. Joining me now to talk about this is Jill Castellano , investigative reporter with I news source. And , Jill , welcome back.
S2: Thanks for having me on.
S1: What can you tell us about the death at Veterans Village's rehab center this week ? Yeah.
S2: So for context , Veterans Village of San Diego is this large nonprofit. They run all sorts of services and programs throughout the county. But their flagship location is on Pacific Highway. That's where they have their rehab center. That's really the heart of their program. It was founded by a Vietnam veteran struggling with addiction. And that's really what the organization is all about. And unfortunately , there was a death at the rehab center this week. We know that it occurred Tuesday night , that it was a suspected fentanyl overdose , and that actually prompted the DEA to respond. This makes the second DEA investigation ongoing related to a suspected fentanyl overdose at this property.
S2: The DEA , they have this task force called the Overdose Response Team , and they're very invested in trying to stop the spread of fentanyl and the sale of fentanyl because of how potent it is and how much it's linked to the rise in overdoses locally and nationally. So when there is a death like this , it makes sense that they would go out to the scene , they would try to figure out what happened , that they would look for the supply sources. And their ultimate goal is to collect evidence for a potential prosecution. So that's what they're out there doing. It is interesting that they now have two ongoing investigations at the same location.
S1: You've been reporting on Veterans Village for months now. Remind us what you've uncovered about the organization and its rehab facilities.
S2: Yes , I've talked to dozens , probably up to about 60 people at this point who love Veterans Village , but are concerned about how the organization has changed over the past couple of years , particularly at this rehab facility. The residents and the staff that I've spoken with says it's become very disorganized. The staffing is so low that it's very hard for anybody to keep an eye on the situation. And it's gotten to the point where there are a lot of drugs inside the facility itself , even though it's supposed to be a closed campus , a residential facility where drugs are not permitted. Unfortunately , that poses a lot of safety risks. And I've talked to residents who say I went in there trying to get sober and I was surrounded by drugs and then I relapsed. And so that's really the heart of what I'm hearing , is concerns about the safety of the residents in there. Hmm.
S1: Hmm. You know , let's talk about the event happening this weekend.
S2: Veterans are a huge part of the San Diego community in general. So we have the third most veterans of any country or any county in America. And Veterans Village of San Diego puts on this event every year for three days to try to help connect veterans to resources. And this event has become such a success that it's been replicated throughout the country.
S1: And this event has been going on for 35 years , and it's become a national model. Tell us about how its work has been replicated.
S2: I think more than 200 cities now have actually replicated this event. It's been praised by U.S. presidents and dignitaries. It's considered the premier event for connecting veterans to services for any veteran who might need help reintegrating into society. Help with addiction housing. It's really considered this amazing opportunity. A one stop shop for veterans in need.
S2: Sometimes they're very complex cases. Sometimes people overdose. Things like this happen and that they're doing their very best. They really defended the quality of care provided at its rehab center and across the organization. They did say , yes , we have a staffing shortage , but we are doing our very best. All that being said , I was interested in the most recent response to this most recent death. This week , Veterans Village Leadership actually brought in drug dogs , which is something that staff and residents have been requesting for a very long time now , which they're very hopeful signals that there in village is starting to take their concerns seriously and trying to get a handle on the situation and the complaints about possible drug use on the campus.
S1: You know , Veterans Villages provides a lot of support for so many veterans and their families. I mean , have any of these recent deaths or problems you've uncovered affected the organization's ability to provide support to veterans and even provide support in this particular event ? Stand down.
S2: Well , one interesting thing is after the death that occurred back in April , that fentanyl overdose death. After that , the probation department got spooked and actually pulled residents out of the rehab center because they were worried about their best interest. So they've actually lost clients over some of these deaths. As for stand down , the organization says they , you know , love putting on stand down , that it's still a great event and going very well. I can say that leadership has mentioned to me that they think that the reporting has been disruptive and made it difficult for them to stay focused on their mission to provide quality care to veterans.
S1: I've been speaking with Jill Castellano , investigative reporter with I news source. Jill , thank you very much for joining us. Absolutely.
S2: Absolutely.
S1: It's been seven months since California required trash haulers to start picking up and composting food waste. But the city of San Diego is still far away from complying. KPBS environment reporter Eric Anderson says the clock is ticking.
S3: So compost is nutrient rich.
S4: Rene Robertson walks up to a large pile of brown stuff.
S3: It's not soil. It's a soil amendment to nutrient rich soil amendment. I can see the moisture in it.
S4: Robertson runs the city's Environmental Services Department , including the 75 acre greenery site at the Miramar Landfill. This is where green waste , such as grass clippings and shrubbery , trimmings , come to get a second life. It's ground up and sequestered under waterproof tarps. Oxygen gets pumped into the piles to speed up the natural composting process.
S3: There's a blower , very small electric engine. And then this is the other the brain components in the feedback.
S4: It is a process that has been refined over the two decades. San Diego officials have been working to keep green waste out of the landfill , unlike regular recycling , which relies on shipping trash far away.
S3: What comes to this facility has been generated within 30 miles , and our final product goes right back out within 30 miles. So I think it's really taking everything that we think about from climate action and really flipping it in the right direction where we're doing it locally.
S4: And the operation is about to get a lot bigger. A new state law that took effect in January requires cities to begin collecting food scraps and composting the organic material. That's because decomposing food in landfills creates methane , a significant greenhouse gas that warms the climate. The Miramar Landfill already handles commercial food waste from large vendors like Starbucks , SeaWorld and the Marine Corps recruit depot. But the city has a lot of work to do to upgrade its residential collection system , where we've gotten a little bit tripped up. Of course , some of the issues that frankly , everyone has seen and the industry has seen , and that is supply chain issues. City Council member Joe LaCava chairs the Environment Committee. He says some city residents who have private waste haulers are already separating their food scraps. But everyone else won't be able to until the city can ramp up its collection capability. It has to pick up green and organic waste from 285,000 customers every week. We're going to switch from the current schedule , which calls for recycling and for Greens to be picked up every two weeks to include them on the weekly pickup. Now , what that means is we need more trucks and more drivers for those trucks to really update that collection on a more frequent basis. LaCava says supply chain issues are keeping 43 new trucks from being delivered until early next year. When the trucks arrive , the city will deliver 240,000 green waste containers and 285,000 food scrap buckets to city residents. The pickup schedule needs to happen weekly because food scraps can attract rodents and other vermin. We really are very motivated for both environmental reasons and regulatory reasons to get this right. If we get go make sure everybody understands how this won't work. Cal Recycle is phasing in implementation over a two year period. If the city fails to get the program up and running , there could be a notice of violation and fines. But the process allows for ample opportunity to correct the violation before daily fines would be issued. Call recycle. Officials say if the entire state removes food scraps from landfills , it will be the equivalent of removing 3 million cars from local roads.
S3: Or all generating food waste right now. That's what I always like to point out. So we're just going to be putting it in a different bin. We're going to be putting it in our green waistband along with our green waste.
S4: The city's Rene Robertson says changing the city's trash system is a challenge.
S3: This is going to be a large habit change for millions of residents and we're going to take the time to do it right.
S4: And city residents will have to adjust for this climate friendly effort to succeed.
S3: We're really set up well to start receiving this material.
S4: The Miramar facility handles about 100,000 tons of compostable material in the course of a year. That's going to grow to 250,000 tons by the time this organics recycling program is fully up and running. Eric Anderson , KPBS News.
S1: You're listening to KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Jade Hindman. For our Weekend Arts Preview , we have Chamber Music , a new play from the people behind The Laramie Project. Plus plenty of visual art and dance. Joining me with all the details is KPBS arts editor and producer Julia Dixon Evans. Julia , welcome.
S5: Hi , J. Thanks for having me.
S1: The La Hoya Music Society begins their annual summer fest this weekend. Tell us a little bit about opening weekend. Sure.
S5: Sure. There are three distinct concerts this weekend and the whole month long festival is themed under the influence , which kind of keys in on the influences and the sources behind these compositions. And it's all chamber music. So small ensembles opening night tonight at 730 is called Side by Side. And it's about composers who were working together in collaboration or writing pieces for multiple of the same instrument , including at Sony Piece for four pianos. They're going to fit four pianos on the stage. And then on Saturday night , a highlight for me is this premiere of a new setting of Steve Reich's New York counterpart. This was originally composed in 1996 for a single clarinet player , electronically recording multiple parts and then playing along with the recording. So it's this wall of clarinet. But this time they have paired with the Lincoln Center and a filmmaker to record different clarinet players on each part. And then at the concert , Anthony Miguel , who is the New York Philharmonic's principal clarinet. He will play live with the film. So it's still the effect of a dozen clarinets. And then Sunday afternoon is baroque music. That's at 3:00. But there are plenty of other concerts throughout the festival and even some free , open rehearsals during the weeks. And it all runs through August 26th.
S1: And the La Hoya Playhouse is opening a new world premiere play called Here There Are Blueberries.
S5: Yeah , this one began preview performances earlier this week , which means tickets are about $10 cheaper through this weekend. And this is co-produced by the La Hoya Playhouse and Tectonic Theater Project. They're known for Twins The Laramie Project , which was based on the story of the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard. And in this one here , there are blueberries. It follows the true story of a young archivist at the Holocaust Memorial Museum. She finds this album of photographs from Auschwitz , but it's not photos of the prisoners. The album chronicles the lives of the Nazis who ran the camp in their free time , and she set out to figure out who these people were. The play tells her story , the archivist , and uses projection to give the audiences their own relationship with the photographs. And for playwrights Moisés Kaufman and Amanda Granik , in telling a story that addresses the real lives of Nazi guards and workers , it came down to this clear distinction that the creative team drew between humanizing and thinking of the people in the photographs as human beings. And this is one of the playwrights.
S3: Amanda Granik Our play is not exonerating , it is not forgiving , as one of our characters says , that the Holocaust did not happen in a passive voice , people actively determined to do this.
S5: And this weekend's performances of here there are blueberries are tonight at eight and Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and it's on stage through August 26th.
S1: And next in Visual Art , a group exhibition opens at the Anthony A Music and Arts Library. Tell us about this one.
S5: This is their annual juried exhibition and they had a record number of submissions this year , which shows how competitive the field is. It was juried by Anita Feldman of the San Diego Museum of Art and visual artist Marinella Della Holz , and they ended up with 40 artists. Some of the names are recognizable on the list for sure , but also lots of names I hadn't seen before. And I think that's what really makes these juried exhibitions so interesting. It opens with a reception tonight at 630 , and the gallery will also be open 10 to 530 on Saturday. The exhibition will be on view through September 3rd.
S1: And finally , some dance modern dance company , Lit VOC Dance has a performance this weekend. Tell us about that.
S5: Yeah , it's outdoors with live music and surrounded by visual art. Litvack is collaborating with four other dance companies. There is White Berg and Entity Contemporary Dance , both from L.A. There is Tijuana's Lux Boreal and then locals , the Roslyn Box Project and Perla Negra , a Latin jazz quartet , will perform live music. And this is all in the ICA , San Diego's North Campus and Encinitas. It's set in their garden , but the gallery will be open , so you can check out Aaron Glassons Primordial Refuge exhibition before that one closes on Sunday. This exhibition looks towards a future that is radically transformed by climate change. And one of the highlights in that exhibition is this life size , inhabitable , transportable pod that you can float in water or pull by a bicycle. And that's all on Saturday , there's two dance performances , one at 430 and at 730.
S1: And you have one more dance recommendation. This one in City Heights. Yes.
S5: Yes. This is Disco Riot , the Contemporary Movement Arts Company. They're locally based , but they're about to head out on a tour. It's their kind of touring swap they're doing with San Francisco based company Fact S.F. and in early August they will perform this piece Ex Nihilo. It's Disco Riot's recent piece , which is a 35 minute quintet that's informed by some of the writings and lectures of Alan Watts. And it also has original music from Johnny Tar. They're going to take that on tour in August , but before they go , they'll perform it at the City Heights Performance Annex for local audiences. That's on Saturday at 430 , and it's a donation based show. And then next spring , fact S.F. will travel to San Diego to perform here with Disco Riot.
S1: And you can find details on these and more arts events or sign up for Julia's weekly KPBS Arts newsletter at KPBS. Jorge's Arts. I've been speaking with KPBS arts editor and producer Julian. And Evans. Julia. Thank you.
S5: Thank you , Jade. Have a good weekend.
S1: You too.

Veterans Village of San Diego is holding its 35th annual Stand Down event this weekend. The event provides food and medical care, legal assistance, employment support, housing referrals and even haircuts to veterans and veteran families experiencing homelessness. But it is being overshadowed by several deaths at the organization's rehab center for veterans including one this week. Then, it’s been seven months since California required trash haulers to start picking up and composting food waste. But the city of San Diego is still far away from complying. And for our weekend arts preview we have chamber music, a new play from the people behind “The Laramie Project,” plus plenty of visual art and dance.