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‘Coldest storm of the year’ hits county with wind, rain and snow

 February 22, 2022 at 2:18 PM PST

Speaker 1: (00:00)

San Diego is bracing for days of wet, cold and windy conditions.

Speaker 2: (00:05)

Coldest storm of the year is the bottom line.

Speaker 1: (00:08)

I'm G Kim with Marine Kavanaugh. This is KPBS midday edition. A new poll shows that longtime California, Senator Diane Feinstein's support is waning.

Speaker 3: (00:30)

We're seeing some pretty significant erosion in her support, you know, right now, you know, her approval's underwater and is well below that of other Democrats that we asked about.

Speaker 1: (00:41)

We hear from the families of the service members who died in a 20, 20 AAV accident. And we talk with Lutheran minister and author Nadia bulls Weber about radically inclusive faith. That's a ahead on midday edition After UNES high temperatures. Last week, San Diego is bracing for a cold and wet weather front over the next few days. A high wind advisory is an effect for the county's deserts and mountains. While snow is expected to fall at high elevation in the region causing some San Diego county schools to cancel classes for the day. Joining me now with more is Alex tardy, the warning coordination meteorologist with the national weather service in San Diego. Alex, welcome back to the program.

Speaker 2: (01:28)

Thanks for having me on again.

Speaker 1: (01:30)

Okay. So first things first, what can San Diego expect from this winter weather system over the next few days?

Speaker 2: (01:36)

Yeah, this is a cold one. It'll be the coldest storm of the year. We had a storm last week seems so long ago, seven day, years ago. And uh, that storm was cold. It brought snow all the way down to Julian at 4,000 feet. This storm will be even colder. So we'll see some snow accumulation all the way down to 3000 feet elevation and possibly even some snowflakes down to 2,500 feet, which is near Alpine. So this one is, uh, very cold. Uh, the wind will be strong in our mountains and deserts. It's already been blowing well ahead of the main storm. The temperatures won't go up much today and they certainly won't go up much on Wednesday and it'll be a cold fireplace type of night tonight with showers everywhere. And of course the snow above 3000 feet coldest storm of the year is the bottom line.

Speaker 1: (02:27)

Well, I'm definitely feeling that cold, but it's kind of hard to believe that it feels like just a few days ago we had 80 degree weather, sun field skies. I was hit the beach, but now we're gearing up for this cold snap. What's behind this dramatic shift in weather.

Speaker 2: (02:40)

This month of February is quite remarkable to think about, you know, 91 degree on a Saturday in San Diego. The all time high in February was reached just a couple weeks ago. Now we're talking about very low snow levels, even freezing temperatures for our inland valleys and parts of the coast. Meaning temperatures could get down as low as 32 Wednesday and Thursday mornings. That's just a bitter cold bitter extreme. So the weather pattern is I kind of call it the all or nothing, but the weather pattern is severely blocked. And the only way we can get any storms is if they go up and over this big roadblock in the Pacific or the jet stream. And when they do that, they tap into really cold air, um, straight out of Alaska. And that's what we're gonna see with this particular storm. When this whole blocking weather pattern shifts over us, we get Santana winds. We get the record hot temperatures like we saw in February. So believe it or not a, not a lot of major change, just a slight change in the weather pattern opens up the door to bring all this cold air in directly from the north. What we really wanna see is storms coming off the Pacific, uh, they're milder and they're wetter. And we are not seeing that. So this is not a good storm for California overall for drought improvement.

Speaker 1: (03:57)

That's what I was gonna ask California still in a drought, how much rain can we expect to see with this system?

Speaker 2: (04:03)

Yeah. In the San Diego area, we're gonna do the best in the entire state. Uh, so that may be hard to believe, but the most snow and the most rain's gonna fall in San Diego county compared to all of California with this series of storms coming through. So the storms are coming down directly from the north. Like I said, that's not a good pattern for California. The snow pack in California is now down to 70% of where it should be. It was about 150 on January 1st. So each week that goes by, uh, conditions have gotten worse. So the snow pack is dwindling. We've lost our precipitation that we normally see January, February, our WeTest months in the state. So overall, um, we are just seeing things continue to deteriorate. So all that gain that we had in December with the record, snow and lake Tahoe, the wet conditions everywhere in the state, even in San Diego, we had several inches of rain. All that gain has been dwindling away with the overall dry, mild weather pattern for January, February

Speaker 1: (05:03)

Earlier this month, forecasters had predicted that we might not see any rain in February. Was this storm unexpected. And does it tell us anything about maybe rain that we can expect over the next few weeks?

Speaker 2: (05:14)

Yeah, no, I wouldn't say it's unexpected. Uh, February's the WeTest month on average in San Diego, most of Southern California. So getting a storm is, is, uh, pretty par for the course. Uh, at least one, the difficulty is that these storms in this type of weather pattern are coming directly from Alaska, uh, and down the west coast. So they don't have a chance to tap into Pacific moisture or even tropical moisture. In most cases, they're, they're quick hitters, they're windy and they tend to be cold. So when we end this month, you know, and we only have a half inch of precipitation in the San Diego area, it will be still a big disappointment, but we'll take what we can get because just a week ago, fire weather conditions were quite severe, uh, because it had been so dry and so many Santana winds this month,

Speaker 1: (06:08)

You mentioned that we can expect some snow and high wind in the mountain areas. Are you expecting any road closures or power outages as a result of this?

Speaker 2: (06:17)

Yeah, the road closures will probably depend on accidents and how they're able to treat and manage the snowfall. I will say that the road conditions Wednesday morning will be treacherous, uh, icing. So the one thing to remember with these type of cold storms, it's not necessarily just the amount of snow. So if Julian comes in with four or five inches of snow, that's quite a bit, but all it takes is a half inch of snow down to 3000 feet. For example, on interstate eight and the roads can be very icy. And that's the main concern for tomorrow morning for Wednesday morning,

Speaker 1: (06:53)

I've been speaking with Alex tardy, the warning coordination meteorologist with the national weather service in San Diego. Alex, thank you so much.

Speaker 2: (07:01)

Thanks. Wrap me on

Speaker 4: (07:12)

After serving in Washington for 30 years, California, Senator Diane Feinstein's home state support seems to be collapsing according to the latest poll. She's down to a dismal 30% approval rating, but Feinstein isn't the only Democrat in California facing problems. Both president Joe Biden and vice president Kamala Harris are seeing significant drops in public support. And as far as Senator Alex Padilla is concerned, it seems not enough people even know who he is. Joining me as professor Eric Siler co-director of the Berkeley Institute of governmental studies, which conducted the new poll and professor Siler. Welcome to the program.

Speaker 3: (07:52)

Thanks Maureen. Good to be with you this morning.

Speaker 4: (07:55)

Now Senator Feinstein easily won a fifth term in the Senate in 2018. How much of that support has dried up in 2022?

Speaker 3: (08:03)

We're seeing some pretty significant erosion in her support, you know, right now, you know, her approval's underwater and is well below that of other Democrats that we asked about. So I think it's fair to say that, you know, if she were on the ballot today, you know, she would be in some real trouble,

Speaker 4: (08:20)

What reasons are Californians giving for that lack of support?

Speaker 3: (08:25)

I think there are a couple things that are going on. I mean, I think one thing is just the general bad environment for Democrats, where we are seeing, uh, lower approval ratings for Joe Biden for Kamala Harris. And that I think speaks to the general dis in the country, sense of things are on the wrong track, which is even hitting California, which is a very democratic state. So part of that is that, but what we're also seeing with Feinstein is a real kind of big decline among traditional strong democratic constituents. So individuals who identify as very liberal people in the bay area, people in LA county. And I think that reflects a sense that the Senator has become less effective over time and is also probably a little bit more moderate than many Democrats in the state. And so I think that combination that she's not in a position to really fight as hard for the things that, that those voters want a Senator to push for in part out of age and in part, out of being, you know, less liberal than they are. I, I think that that combination is eroded her support.

Speaker 4: (09:27)

I wanna take you through some of the other results in this poll. And as you say, California is a heavily blue state. So you'd think having a California Democrat as vice president would send approval ratings through the roof, but that's not the case for Kamala Harris, is it?

Speaker 3: (09:43)

No, it's not. And some of this is the role of the vice presidency today. You know, it is a really hard job to do because you are in the shadow of the president. Uh, you don't have necessarily a real chance to make a kind of independent mark you're often handling the hardest jobs. And so I think that to some extent that explains Harris's relatively low approval ratings. Um, I do think in addition, she's been a real kind of foil or target of Republican attacks. Uh, and I think, you know, it's fair to say that her gender and race likely plays into that. She's identified as perhaps more liberal than she really is due to some of the stereotypes associated with gender and race in our politics. And so she's become this kind of focus of Republican attacks, uh, you know, more so than say Mike Pence when president Trump was president, you know, Trump absorbed all the attention, but Biden is a kind of lower profile president. And so a lot of what goes on on Fox news and elsewhere focuses on Kamala Harris as a kind of target.

Speaker 4: (10:44)

What about support from women for both Diane Feinstein and Kamala Harris? Has that been eroding?

Speaker 3: (10:50)

It's been eroding as well. I mean, you do still see a gender gap where women are more supportive than men in general, but yet you all see some of the, the same erosion that, that you see among, uh, male voters.

Speaker 4: (11:02)

Now, president Biden has support pretty evenly split in this new poll. Tell us about that.

Speaker 3: (11:08)

Yeah, and I mean, that's obviously worrisome in such a blue state as California, and I think we see a couple of dynamics there. One is, you know, just as one would expect pretty much universal Republican disapproval. Uh, but what we're also seeing is, you know, lower approval among independence than earlier in his term. And I think that largely reflects, you know, frustration with COVID inflation kind of economic conditions. And though what's, what's also interesting in maybe the most worrisome is you see erosion among young voters and other strong democratic constituencies. And I think that in large part reflects frustration that more of his agenda has in past that there's a sense of paralysis again in Washington. And so I think that sucked out a lot of the enthusiasm among core democratic voters, which again, is also dragging down his approval ratings.

Speaker 4: (12:01)

I wanna ask you how, you know, why the people are saying they approve or disapprove. How much does the Berkeley poll inquire about why people feel the way they do a, about certain politicians

Speaker 3: (12:14)

In survey research. It's actually really hard to get at that. Why question in part, because if you just ask voters, why they're often not as good at kind of extracting those kind of source origins, you know, people aren't often reflecting on, you know, why is it that I like this politician and, and don't like that politician. So instead one of the things you can do is evaluate ask voters what they think about particular issues, about how things are going and see if trends in, in those responses track their approval. So one of the things that that's often used is a question about, is the country on the right track or wrong track. And we see a, a pretty big, um, collapse in, in the view that things are on the right track. And, and we see that among some groups that we would expect to approve of Biden and those groups are not approving of Biden right now. And so that I think helps us draw a connection between the sense that things are on the wrong track and approval of the, we also ask what issues you're worried about. And, um, and again, we see some tracking where concerns about the pandemic, uh, concerns about the economy also relate to the same voters who are expressing frustration with those, those aspects are also disapproving the vote of Biden. So we can, I guess, I, what I would days we can at least tentatively conclude that there's likely a connection there.

Speaker 4: (13:38)

Well, finally for Senator Alex Padilla, there's good news and bad news, his numbers are stronger than Diane Feinstein's, but he's got 40% of respondents with no opinion about him, good or bad. What does that tell you?

Speaker 3: (13:52)

I think that really speaks to something about California, which is that it is such a big, diverse, complicated state that to break through takes a lot of time. And so, you know, Padilla's been a figure within state politics for a little while now, uh, though only more recently a Senator and yet, you know, 40% of Californians don't have enough information to, to have a view of him. And I think that, you know, really speaks to the extent to which, you know, a few figures who've been around a long time and dominated the airwaves. You know, somebody like a Gavin Newsom, Feinstein, you know, everybody has an opinion about, but for other politicians just to break through statewide, as opposed to in a particular area like LA or the bay area is real hard. And so that's a kind of two edge sword right now for Padilla. It means there aren't more people approving of him on the other hand, you know, people aren't blaming him for what's wrong. And so maybe that gives him a little bit more time, certainly to kind of establish his own reputation, which I certainly think over time more and more voters are gonna be familiar with him and form a judgment.

Speaker 4: (14:57)

I've been speaking with professor Eric Siler, he's co-director of the UC Berkeley Institute of governmental studies and professor Siler. Thank you very much.

Speaker 3: (15:05)

Thank you.

Speaker 4: (15:22)

This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Maureen Kavanaugh with Christina Kim in for J Henman parents of eight Marines and a sailor who drowned off the coast of California, 2020, say they are worn down by a system that is slow to change. K PBS, military reporter, Steve Walsh spoke with some of the families.

Speaker 5: (15:42)

Very loving boy loved his dad. His sisters, me

Speaker 6: (15:50)

It's been over 18 months since Lu Peter Garcia's son was killed than a training accident. 21 year old lances, corporal Marco Barranco drowned along with eight other troops. When his vehicle sank off the coast of Southern California in July, 2020,

Speaker 5: (16:05)

I always thought the military was very organized. They knew what they're doing. And so I, I do feel guilty a bit because I didn't look more into it. Maybe if I would've known that there was all these flaws, maybe all these accidents, I would've talked to my son about it.

Speaker 6: (16:24)

Garcia wanted to meet me at a park in Montello, just east of LA when he was still in high school. Marco worked out in this park with a group of Marines to prepare him to enlist. His name has since been added to a local veteran's Memorial at the other end of the park.

Speaker 5: (16:40)

I, I believe in God, I have faith. And sometimes I just say, this is what God wanted regardless, but I don't accept that it was in training. That's what really, really gets me so angry. Why in training

Speaker 6: (16:59)

Garcia is among a group of parents who have sat in the audience during a series of hearings at camp Pendleton hearings, to determine whether some of the leaders involved that day will be kicked out of the core.

Speaker 5: (17:11)

It's just doesn't end your, you know, our wounds are like still open and they're putting salt on it, you know? And it's just to hear all that. But yeah, I just didn't feel anything like, oh, okay. I feel better now. Absolutely not.

Speaker 6: (17:31)

July 30th, 2028 Marines in one sailor drowned returning to the us says Somerset from San CLE island in an amphibious assault vehicle, the armored personnel carriers become boats in the water. Some of the aging vehicles broke down. Their unit was so far behind schedule that their shipped moved away to another exercise. Their commander was on board. One of the ships, battalion commander, Lieutenant Colonel, Michael Regner testified that in the confusion, he didn't understand which AAV was sinking. 45 minutes later. The track with Garcia's son went under with several true, still fighting to get out.

Speaker 7: (18:10)

I don't feel like we're getting justice, but all I hear in these boards, they're going in circles, pointing fingers at each other.

Speaker 6: (18:18)

Ali Ali bath is the mother of 19 year old PFC, Evan bath of Wisconsin. She has been at nearly all of the hearings, at least three officers in charge that day have been allowed to stay in the, the Corps. Each officer said, they told their commanders about problems. None of them stopped the exercise.

Speaker 7: (18:35)

They're supposed to be Marines, but no one's taken responsibility and no one is being held to be responsible. So me sitting in that chair, if nothing else, they have to look at me.

Speaker 6: (18:52)

The Marines and Navy produce multiple reports pointing to serious lapses in training and equipment breakdowns. And this isn't the only accident 60 Marines have died in training in the last five years, Congressman Seth Moton of Massachusetts is on the house arm services committee Moton also a former Marine officer who wrote on an AAV in combat,

Speaker 8: (19:14)

To be honest, I was worried. They might say, and that seemed to be the prevailing, uh, sentiment.

Speaker 6: (19:19)

He says they didn't feel safe riding inside the vehicle while crossing a river, leading into Baghdad during the initial invasion. So they rode on top.

Speaker 8: (19:28)

This gets back to the culture. If, if that, if I had that concern as a, as a young second Lieutenant, 20 years ago, then you know, why has the Marine Corps not satisfactorily addressed that since then?

Speaker 6: (19:42)

It took another 18 months after the accident for the Marines to finally pull the aging AAVs from sea duty. Moton says the harder question, whether the Marines can create a culture where officers are empowered to halt an exercise. When they see a problem, Nancy and Peter Vienna's son, Navy, hospital, Corman, Christopher Bobby NEM, drowned that day survivors told them what they saw.

Speaker 9: (20:06)

We asked him, what was he doing at the end? And he said, for a while, he was the guy that was joking around, trying to make everybody stay calm. But what he was doing was trying to help other people take off their, their gear.

Speaker 6: (20:19)

Their son was one of the troops who was allowed in the exercise though. He hadn't passed his required swim test,

Speaker 9: (20:25)

Interior lights, aren't working they're the, the boys are in the dark, a couple of them that snuck cell phones, which they weren't supposed to, but they're using their cell phones for, to try to see. And it wouldn't have mattered anyway, because they never got egress

Speaker 6: (20:38)

Training. Technically they aren't even gold star families. Congress reserves that title for families of those killed in combat, not training.

Speaker 10: (20:46)

I'd rather had my son die combat because I would've been prepared for this. Yeah, I would, I, I would accept it so much more because I know this was his job and they would ask me, it's been almost two years. Why you still wanting? I'm like, cause I can't accept this. I don't get to have an open casket. I don't get justice. I never saw him again. I didn't get to tell him. I love you

Speaker 4: (21:11)

Joining me as K PBS, military and veterans reporter Steve Walsh. Steve. Welcome.

Speaker 6: (21:17)

Hi, Maureen,

Speaker 4: (21:18)

Are the hearings into this AAV tragedy finished?

Speaker 6: (21:23)

Not quite yet. There's at least one more hearing that's scheduled for, for this week. You know, these hearings involve all the way from the commanders of the battalion landing team all the way down to the Sergeant in charge of the platoon. So there's a one more hearing also that's scheduled in on the east coast. It started back in December, that's Lieutenant Colonel, uh, Keith benic, he'd been in charge of the, uh, third assault battalion. Um, Bernice was the one who provided all the vehicles, which none of them were working when they were handed over to the unit. And then the unit ended up spending all of their time, you know, in repairs, trying to fix them instead of actually training on the machines. So we're hoping that the last of these, at least at camp Pendleton will be this week. And then, uh, Bernice will hear about his decision maybe sometime in March,

Speaker 4: (22:10)

Remind us about the age. And as you were saying, the condition of these AAVs because that was a primary reason for this training accident, wasn't it?

Speaker 6: (22:18)

It was, it was one of the reasons at the top level, the Marines have called this accident completely preventable. These amphibious assault vehicles were old. They were built in the 1970s and 1980s. They've been modified to make them more survivable on land, which makes them even heavier and slower in the water. The equipment they were given, as I was saying was deadline, which mean none of it worked. They had to waste a lot of time in training, actually just fixing the vehicles instead of actually becoming familiar with how to use them. So this actually crew, you know, that was involved in, in the accident, that was their first time in that kind of, uh, amphibious exercises. And you know, some of them had not completely completed their training.

Speaker 4: (23:00)

What is it about the culture within the Marines that would compel officers to carry on with an exercise when they knew there were problems with it?

Speaker 6: (23:08)

Well, you know, this is the basic value of the Marine Corps that they get it done and they do more with less. That's what makes them Marines. They, they push through a problem. They don't, they don't complain. They just get it done. Now, compare that with like, uh, Marine or Naval aviation, where you're talking about multimillion dollar aircraft, it's they, they have a safety off and, you know, they can call a halt to any exercise just to make sure a problem is fixed or there are no issues in the sky.

Speaker 4: (23:38)

Weren't there questions at the time of the accident as to why Marines were still training on these vehicles in the first place the critic said the nature of Marine engagements had changed and the use of the AAVs was fading out.

Speaker 6: (23:53)

This is true. I mean, for now that they're no longer using the AAVs, they stopped using them in December. Finally, I was up at camp Pendleton in last couple of weeks and they were debuting the newer, uh, a version of the AAV called the a C V that's what they're going to use going forward. But there were actually problems with the new vehicles and they had to cancel a water landing. They do plan to keep going with this type of amphibious landing and you're right Marine, you know, the last two commandants of the Marine Corps of question, whether the Marines will ever do the type of amphibious landings, the Marines are famous for, they haven't done one since Korea and modern defenses have basically made that kind of an amphibious landing obsolete. And they're looking at things like, uh, a newer boat that would allow Marines to get to the, the beach much faster. And, you know, in different ways of doing amphibious landings, that wouldn't involve a bunch of AAVs slowly in their way to the beach.

Speaker 4: (24:47)

Now you spoke with a member of the armed services committee in Washington. Is there any movement in Congress to provide more oversight on the safety of military training?

Speaker 6: (24:56)

There were changes in the defense bill that required all of the branches to submit, uh, safety reports to the department of defense. So they can monitor whether or not they've actually made the changes that they were supposed to make before the accident that happened back in July, 2020, there was a previous accident where a couple of Marines also drowned. They were supposed to make some changes, but those changes were actually never implemented. We also saw this in the case of the USS Bonham Rashard fire, that there had been previous fires in previous is reports, but not all of the changes had been implemented.

Speaker 4: (25:30)

Do you think the presence of family members at the hearings has had any impact?

Speaker 6: (25:35)

You know, I do. I think the parents have question whether they're have, they have really had any impact. You know, I it's often said that the military runs on bullets and embarrassments, you know, this was as ho I think as this accident was, there's always a temptation to move on to the next thing, you know, separation hearings often happen without anybody being there in the audience. You know, it does tend to shine a spotlight on, you know, the enormous issue of training accidents in the military. You know, this piece that we're hearing today, that's gonna run on NPR there. The parents were also interviewed for a segment that, uh, is running on 60 minutes. So if there's going to be any sort of long term changes, I think it's gonna require people shining that spotlight and not letting this job.

Speaker 4: (26:21)

And how do you think the families would want the Marine Corps to resolve the tragedy?

Speaker 6: (26:25)

You know, in many ways they keep a very open mind as to what the Marine need to do. They're, they're just one of the most watchful audiences to this. They don't always have the answer. Obviously the idea of getting officers to call a halt to training when they see there's a, there's a problem. They see that as a major issue. And a lot of people see that as a major issue, more money for training better equipment is always a huge issue in the Marine Corps, especially and accountability. I think people want, want someone to lose their jobs, not just lose their command and be allowed to just quietly retire. You know, and I, I also think these parents want other parents who might be in a SIM to know that they're not alone.

Speaker 4: (27:06)

I've been speaking with K PS, military and veterans reporter, Steve Walsh, and Steve, thank you.

Speaker 6: (27:11)

Thanks Maureen.

Speaker 4: (27:18)

Since last year, San Diego unified school district has been searching for a school superintendent, former superintendent. Cindy Martin is now deputy secretary of education in the Biden administration. Two finalists for the position were named late last year, but the final choice has been delayed because of the OCN surge. The two finalists are Dr. Susan Enfield, who is the superintendent of Highline public school rules in Washington state and Dr. Lamont Jackson currently serving as the interim San Diego unified superintendent. Today, we'll talk with Dr. Jackson. He's a San Diego native and prior to his interim post, he served as San Diego unified area. Two superintendent overseeing schools in clusters for the Mira Mesa Morris and university city communities and Lamont Jackson. Welcome to the program.

Speaker 11: (28:10)

Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Speaker 4: (28:12)

Tell us a little bit about yourself and why you want to become San Diego school superintendent.

Speaker 11: (28:19)

Thank you for that question. Uh, well, first and foremost, as you mentioned, uh, born in San Diego, I am a product of San Diego unified school district. So this to me is home first and foremost. Uh, that is the reason I am very interested in pursuing the tendency, say the second thing. Uh, it shouldn't be news to everyone that we've been through so much in the last couple of years. And I believe this is the time for stability and for consistency and for coherence. And as a former area, superintendent, chief human resource, officer, a principal, a teacher, a student in district. I believe I bring that to this district.

Speaker 4: (29:10)

Now, despite improvements made under the last superintendent statistics show that black students are still three times more likely to be suspended than white students. How can San Diego unified do better?

Speaker 11: (29:25)

My answer is we have, have to pull up next to them. I had the benefit as a product of the Sango unified school district to just have educators pull up next to me. I, I get a little emotional, but they believed in me more than I believed in myself at times. That's how we change the trajectory for our students. We have to personalize the attention for our students. We certainly have to hold them accountable. Absolutely. But during that, uh, engagement, and during that accountability, we have to show them compassion and love and kindness. We all make mistakes, but those of us who come out of it can point to people. Who've supported us. That's critical. That's how we change this narrative for our black children and all children.

Speaker 4: (30:31)

COVID 19 disrupted learning for many months and is still having a big impact on schools and classrooms. Some things about our schools may have changed forever. What lessons do you think we've learned?

Speaker 11: (30:44)

Things were changing on a daily basis. They continue change on a regular basis for us. I believe what we learned is the importance of leaning on the professionals, the health professionals, the scientists, the educators, the leaders. Um, we have to believe in our democracy. We have to believe that we are all gonna make the decisions that are aimed to ensure that our students are prepared for the college and the career of their choice. So I believe our, our learning was that we can be flexible. We can be fluid and we can be amazing together. And none of us know the answers at times, but I think when we come together, we're able to solve the most difficult of challenges. And I think San Diego, uh, unified was a beacon of that. We maintained a strong focus. Our board, um, was unwavering when it came to health. And I was unwavering as a superintendent around health and safety. Our district staff unwavering,

Speaker 4: (32:02)

San Diego unified has been dealing with a staffing shortage with not enough teachers or substitute teachers. How will you deal with that problem so that children's education doesn't suffer

Speaker 11: (32:13)

Prior or to the pandemic? Uh, I think it's important for, um, everyone to know that we have created an educator pipeline, uh, where we are working closely with our, uh, colleges and universities, uh, to bring folks in, to do, uh, residencies if you would, so that they are actually teaching while they're getting their credit. So we are working on a pipeline there. The other thing that we're doing is creating a pipeline for some of our para educators, uh, to go through credential programs, to go into some of the, um, uh, more difficult areas to staff, uh, supporting our students with IEPs. And I think we are going to see, um, make great strides, uh, in that area. Uh, we are also really focused on diversity, uh, and really recruiting, uh, more educators of color, uh, to come in and support our students. And so we are reaching across the nation to recruit and retain our educators, uh, and really develop, um, a pipeline for educators as well as, uh, something on the horizon of elevating some of our administrators so that we're preparing them for principalships, uh, and, and future leadership in those positions. So, very excited about the work.

Speaker 4: (33:35)

Now, you've been with San Diego unified for almost 30 years, you have experience, but the other contender for this position could bring a fresh set of eyes to some of the district's problems. How would your approach as superintendent be different in dealing with some of the district's longtime challenges?

Speaker 11: (33:55)

I have been, uh, a leader who loves to pull beside other leaders, um, and get proximate to the problem. And, uh, I do use the quote that Cindy, uh, you know, love to use. And we're gonna use data as a flashlight, not a hammer. Uh, that being said, we need to illuminate not what we've done well, but to your point, what we have not yet accomplished. And that's what I'm going to be able to bring. And I believe that's what someone from the outside may say they will bring, but I have a, a track record as an area superintendent that I show up for people.

Speaker 11: (34:44)

And, and that is because every leader, every educator, every person on this earth deserves to be seen and deserves to be heard, because when that happens, they can be their best. And when they can be their best, then we can close the gap. We can change the trajectory and we will see suspensions go down for our black and our brown students. We will see graduation rates go up for our, our multilingual learners, our Latinx students, our black students. We will be able to meet the goals of our students with disabilities. We are able to not be afraid to look into the mirror and look into the corners where we have not been successful.

Speaker 4: (35:34)

I've been speaking with Dr. Lamont Jackson. He is currently serving as the interim San Diego unified superintendent, one of two finalists to be the permanent San Diego unified superintendent and Dr. Jackson, thank you so much.

Speaker 2: (35:47)

Thank you so much.

Speaker 4: (35:49)

The public will have a chance to meet the San Diego unified school districts. Two superintendent finalists before one of them is chosen for the job. There's a public forum scheduled from noon to two this Saturday at Wilson middle school, near normal Heights.

Speaker 1: (36:15)

This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Cina Kim with Marine Kavanaugh, writing that provokes. That's the theme for this year's writer symposium by the sea at point Loma Nazare university returning to in person for the first time, since the pandemic Nadia bolts, Weber author Lutheran minister, and self proclaimed hopeful cynic will be the first author to grace. The festival stage tonight known for her bold take on religion and radical honesty. Bolts Weber is the founder of the house for all sinners and saints congregation in Denver, Colorado, and the author of several books, including shameless, a sexual reformation, accidental saints, finding God in all the wrong people and pastors, the cranky, beautiful faith of a sinner and Saint. And she joins me now. Welcome Nadia.

Speaker 12: (37:04)


Speaker 1: (37:05)

Nadia. You were a standup comedian with a heavy drinking problem before you turned to faith and the ministry. What was the moment you realized you were really meant to be a pastor?

Speaker 12: (37:15)

It actually was because a fellow, uh, recovering alcoholic and standup comic, who was a friend of mine named PJ, sort of lost his battle with mental illness and died. He died by suicide. And when PJ died, all our friends looked at me and they're like, well, you can do the funeral. Right? And I mean, I definitely had not been to seminary at this point. I was just the only religious person in my whole friend group. And so I did this man's funeral and it was at a comedy club in downtown Denver. And I looked out into the audience and it was a bunch of recovering alcoholics and comics and queers and academics. And I looked out and I thought these people, they need a pastor like they're grieving. And they did a pastor

Speaker 1: (38:02)

In that moment. When you were looking around, what was it about your community as you looked at them that really told you that they needed a pastor, what does it mean to need a pastor?

Speaker 12: (38:11)

Well, I think especially in those times of tragedy and transition, those are times when we sort of reach for, and the depth of our experience is really, really extreme it's in those moments that we kind of are asking really powerful questions of ourselves and about the world. And sometimes we need a sort of guide for the process of asking those questions.

Speaker 1: (38:39)

You've written about your childhood experiences growing up in a very religious household. And you've said that sometimes you would feel like you have to quote, have to culturally commute to show up to those churches. Why was showing up to church a priority for you despite not feeling like you fitting in?

Speaker 12: (38:55)

What happened was when I got sober, I ended up discovering Lutheran tradition and Lutheran theology, and it was very distinct and it felt like it gave me language for what I'd already experienced to be true in my life as somebody who had gotten sober, like there's an incredible grace to getting sober. And I felt like that religious tradition really gave me language for that. And that's why I was drawn to it. And while the people at these little Lutheran churches were nice enough, I never felt fully comfortable in those spaces. And I think I just started asking the question, what if there was a church where none of those things were true. You didn't have to bracket out parts of who you were in order to show up. And that's why I founded house for all centers and saints for other people who might not feel comfortable in traditional churches to have a space where they could be their whole selves and still be part of a really rich, really religious tradition.

Speaker 1: (39:57)

I know you mentioned you've moved on from that congregation a few years ago, but I know you're still writing sermons. You're still very much, you know, a public theologian for you. What makes a good sermon and really, what are you trying to communicate to your flock, to your congregation, whether they're, you know, literally sitting in a church with you or listening to you on your podcast

Speaker 12: (40:19)

For me, I want a sermon to break my heart. I don't want somebody to stand there and give me interesting information or what passes for preaching in most contexts, honestly, conservative and liberal is some version of here's the problem and here's what you should be doing about it. It, and I've never heard that as good news in my entire life. I guess I want a sermon that, that speaks to the truth of the human experience really deeply, and then says something about the divine that allows us to live another day to breathe more deeply

Speaker 1: (40:57)

In. Is there a sermon that you've given that to this day still resonates with you that somehow even feeds your own soul?

Speaker 12: (41:05)

I preached at the funeral of my friend, Rachel held Evans. And I think that sermon has stayed with me. The longest was so a sermon about Mary Magdalene. And it was the fact that Mary Magdalene had led a sort of difficult, somewhat tortured life that allowed her to recognize angels in an empty tomb. When the, when the men looked inside, the empty tomb, they saw laundry. And when she looked inside the empty tomb, she saw angels because she had night vision because of the life that she lived. I think that is the image from a sermon that I've preached, that stayed with me the longest.

Speaker 1: (41:49)

You also have a podcast called the confessional where us share some of their tars experiences with you. And then at the end of each episode, you give them a blessing. What do you think it is about confession that people want it, and they wanna share it with you in this public way. And what are they looking for when they are actually confessing?

Speaker 12: (42:09)

I think we all wanna feel less alone on some level. And it's our secrets that make us feel the most alone, I think. And like, we're the only ones to have done this thing, or we're the only ones carrying the truth of our stories. And so I only feel less alone when somebody shares the sort of jagged parts of their story with me. I, I never feel less alone as a result of somebody sharing their virtues and accomplishments. Those might be dazzling and maybe inspiring, but I'm never left feeling less alone by them. And so I think what really connects us to each other are our jagged edges. It's not the smooth part. When we, we are able to sort of speak the truth about our, our feelings and our shortcomings. If we can do that in a space that's filled with compassion and curiosity, we're more readily able to access the full truth of those stories.

Speaker 1: (43:09)

Earlier, you mentioned how moments of tragedy and transition can spur people to ask deeper question about their lives and their faith. The coronavirus pandemic certainly has brought a transformative moment to us all. I'm curious what your thoughts on religion and the church, if they've changed a lot at all over the past two years during this pandemic,

Speaker 12: (43:31)

I think people are more suspicious than ever of easy and answers to complicated questions. I mean, I think that we've all been forced to ask some pretty complicated questions with the pandemic and that the, the easy glib answers that religion often affords us or even Instagram influencers afford us. I mean, any simple glib answers to complicated question. So I think people are increasingly suspicious of, and those includes the ones that are offered to us by religion. But I think the flip side of that is that maybe we are asking some deeper questions. Now, if we are less satisfied with easy answers, then let us seek some more complicated ones. And I think really good theology come complex theology theology that is not available in sound bites might have more of a place in our lives right now than it ever has because of the experience that we've had.

Speaker 1: (44:29)

I've been speaking with ordained minister and writer, Nadia Boltz Weber who will be appearing tonight at 7:00 PM at the 27th annual writer symposium by the sea at point Loma Nazarene university. Thank you so much, Nadia.

Speaker 12: (44:42)

My pleasure. Thank you.

Speaker 1: (44:44)

If you or someone you know, is struggling with thoughts of suicide, you can call the national suicide prevention lifeline at 1 802 7 3. Talk for support information and resources.

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After unseasonably high temperatures last week, San Diego is bracing for cold and wet weather over the next few days. Next, according to a new UC Berkeley poll, Senator Dianne Feinstein is down to an all-time-low 30% approval rating and her home-state support is collapsing. Then, Marine families are still mourning and seeking closure from the military justice system 18 months after the AAV accident that killed nine in July 2020. And, we hear from Lamont Jackson, a finalist for the San Diego Unified School District superintendent position. Finally, the theme for this year’s Writer’s Symposium by the sea at Point Loma Nazarene University is “Writing that Provokes.” Author and public-theologian Nadia Bolts-Weber joins Midday Edition to talk about religion and radical honesty.