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Court lifts injunction against San Diego Unified vaccine mandate

 December 6, 2021 at 3:29 PM PST

Speaker 1: (00:01)

San Diego unified vaccine mandate stays. The

Speaker 2: (00:04)

Ninth circuit agreed that San Diego unified is in fact acting in the best interest of students.

Speaker 1: (00:11)

I'm Jade Henman with Maureen Kavanaugh. This is KPBS midday edition. What local hospitals are doing to prepare for cases of the Omicron variant.

Speaker 3: (00:29)

They feel like they're doing the max of what they can to prepare for everything that's likely to come at them.

Speaker 1: (00:35)

And the contractors who died during the war in Afghanistan, plus will tell you about five works to check out that's ahead on midday edition. Over the, the ninth us circuit court of appeals voted by a two to one margin to lift a temporary injunction on the San Diego unified school district's vaccine mandate plan, moving it forward. The mandate requiring students 16 years of age and older to be fully vaccinated by December 20th had been challenged by a Scripps ranch high school students, religious discrimination here to catch us up on what the latest court decision means for the district's vaccine. Mandate is KPBS education reporter mg Perez mg. Welcome. Good to

Speaker 2: (01:35)

Be here, Jade.

Speaker 1: (01:36)

So what did the court rule over the weekend?

Speaker 2: (01:38)

So the ninth circuit agreed that San Diego unified is in fact act in the best interest of students, uh, and is not discriminating, uh, on the basis of religion, which is what the plaintiffs claimed. And the court said, uh, that the plaintiff had not proven, uh, that they had any good evidence that would, uh, eventually have them win. But more importantly, that they did not pro provide, um, evidence that there would be irreparable damage to the plaintiff if the mandate was carried out.

Speaker 1: (02:10)

And this wasn't the only effort in the courts recently that challenged the school district's vaccine mandate plan. There was another court decision announced last Friday, what happened in that case?

Speaker 2: (02:21)

That was the case of the group called let them choose. And they had been and efforting to have the mandate, uh, stopped as well. But the judge decided, uh, in that case that they too did not have merits, uh, and, uh, they had postponed any further action on that until later in the month. But at this point it looks like the district, uh, is winning so to speak and its effort to, to keep students vaccinated.

Speaker 1: (02:46)

And what happens to students if they don't get vaccinated by the December 20th date

Speaker 2: (02:51)

Immediately, nothing. Um, it's just that because the vaccines require, uh, two doses, December 20th is the safe date to have received a second dose. So the mandate actually states that by January, if a student 16 or older is not, uh, vaccinated, uh, they will not be allowed to attend classes in person and will have to go to the virtual academy.

Speaker 1: (03:15)

Now, this particular case was brought by a student who claimed to have religious reasons for not wanting to get vaccinated. What types of exemptions are currently allowed?

Speaker 2: (03:25)

Religious exemptions for students are not allowed. And that's really the point of this case. The only, uh, exceptions and exemptions that are allowed are medical exemptions. And generally those have to deal with students who have special needs and also students with medical issues. So at this point, those are the only exemptions now for adults, they are allowed religious and personal exemptions, but at the moment, it does not apply to

Speaker 1: (03:50)

Students. And this current vaccine mandate impacts students aged 16 years and older. What about students under 16 are any mandates in place for them?

Speaker 2: (04:00)

There are no mandates in place, but the school board has been seriously considering lowering the age and mandating, uh, younger students to be vaccinated. But at this point they are just waiting to see how this first wave goes. Uh, and then they'll make those decisions at a later date.

Speaker 1: (04:16)

San Diego unified is not the only school district in the area. How are other school districts handling vaccine mandates?

Speaker 2: (04:23)

It is not the only school district in the area, but it is the largest. And of course it's the second largest school district in the state. So all the other districts are watching and, uh, to be fair, San Diego unified is continuing trudging ahead with the effort to get as many people vaccinated as possible. And currently, uh, children five years and older are eligible to get vaccinated. So their vaccination van is going to various, uh, school sites in order to accomplish that goal.

Speaker 1: (04:53)

A and what types of efforts has San Diego unified undertaken to increase the number of students vaccinated as the vaccine deadline approaches,

Speaker 2: (05:01)

You can't get any better than coming to you. So, uh, the vaccination vans are going to school locations. We actually will be visiting one of them, uh, at Morse high school this afternoon. And also, uh, there'll be other locations throughout the week. That includes Crawford high school, San Diego high school. And to be clear, everyone in the community is able to go and get vaccinated, uh, that is not only applying to students, but their parents and community members who want to get their doses. They can get it conveniently at these mobile vans at school campus locations, just go to the website for San Diego unified. There's a COVID 19 tab, click on it. And you can find out more since

Speaker 1: (05:42)

There was a halt, uh, in this mandate, do you anticipate the district actually pushing back its deadline for the vaccine mandate?

Speaker 2: (05:50)

Not at all because despite the court action, the, uh, district continued with its uh, plans, which is to get as many students vaccinated as possible. It to say halt only meant that it could be halted in the long term, but since it has not been halted, there's really been no change for the district and they will continue as scheduled. And what's

Speaker 1: (06:13)

Next for this court

Speaker 2: (06:14)

Battle. The attorney representing the plaintiff says that they will take this all the way to the us Supreme court in order to be heard. And in order to stop this mandate, as you know, that is no easy feat. So we will have to wait and see how that progresses.

Speaker 1: (06:30)

I've been speaking with KPBS education, reporter mg Perez mg.

Speaker 2: (06:35)

Thank you. Thank you.

Speaker 4: (06:48)

Researchers say it's almost inevitable that Theran variant will be identified in San Diego soon, but a San Diego union Tribune report finds that local hospital officials are not overly concerned about that variant. And it's not because Omicron isn't dangerous. It's because after a year and a half of surges and staffing problems, healthcare providers have a battle weary confidence that they can handle. Whatever is coming down. The pike. Joining me is San Diego union Tribune health reporter, Paul Sissen and Paul welcome. Thanks for having me are local hospitals preparing for the rival of the O Macron variant?

Speaker 3: (07:27)

That's a good question. You know, it's a little, yes, it's a little, no. I mean, uh, we have had the flu season ramping up in a way that it didn't last year for months now, and they've been really kind of rushing to get as much capacity online as they can, assuming that flu cases are going to be quite bad this winter. Uh, so, you know, talking to people, it seemed like they were feeling like, gosh, we're doing everything we can to ramp up our capacity. We have a labor shortage going on. We have a larger number of non COVID related cases coming in and was case last year when a lot of, uh, elective procedures were, uh, being delayed or canceled, uh, to make room for COVID. So, so my sense is that they're just, uh, they feel like they're, they're doing the max of what they can to prepare for everything that's likely to come at them. Uh, and so, uh, one more thing at this point there, there's just not a lot of additional know response to, to bring forward.

Speaker 4: (08:23)

Now, if there is a winter surge propelled by the new variant, what measures are healthcare systems planning to put into place,

Speaker 3: (08:31)

Uh, you know, the same ones that they really you, you learned to use last year when, when we had that huge spike in the, uh, in the winter of 22, 20, uh, 2021, they, uh, they found themselves very quickly, like I said, delaying, uh, non-emergency procedures, uh, and probably a fair amount of, of the surge and non COVID cases that we saw this summer had to do with procedures that got delayed last year. And everybody has a story of not being able to get in for routine appointments and things like that. So, so that's one of the first levers that they will pull and they did already pull it a little bit over the summer with the summer Delta search that we had, you know, they'll start being more aggressive about delaying things that aren't absolute emergencies. Uh, this isn't necessary a very good thing to be doing.

Speaker 3: (09:16)

Uh, you know, you're talking about things like, uh, cancerous tumors that end up staying in people's bodies for longer than they otherwise would, uh, as they're making space for COVID patients or flu patients or people who are in an actual Tyro emergency. So delaying of procedures is kind of the biggest lever that they, they can pull the other, the other significant, uh, thing that they might end up doing is not taking as many transfers, uh, as they usually do. San Diego has a lot of big hospitals and in 2020 and 2021, we took a lot of transfers from Imperial county and other places, uh, that don't have quite the, uh, medical resources that we do here. Uh, if O our hospitals begin to really fill up, uh, there will be less transfers, uh, capable from other, uh, parts of the state. And that could really, uh, kind of cause the situation in other places to be even worse.

Speaker 4: (10:03)

So as regards research into Omicron are scientists becoming convinced it's more contagious than

Speaker 3: (10:10)

Delta. Yeah. It seems like, uh, what they're seeing from South Africa really does, you know, and how spread to other countries so rapidly does seem to, to have, uh, mounting evidence that it spreads more quickly than Delta. Uh, the, the big open question is how much has it escaped our existing, uh, protection from vaccines and from natural immunity from, from Delta and other variants, uh, that's something that takes them a little longer to research and improve. So that's why we don't really have as solid of a lead yet on whether or not it's, it's escaping our immunity.

Speaker 4: (10:41)

And how do vaccines hold up against the new variant.

Speaker 3: (10:44)

We know for the Delta variant, that they are very good at preventing hospitalization and death, even if people who are vaccinated still get infected, uh, we don't know as much for . They are researching that right now in. And, uh, and that is really the big question. It seems like the infection is more likely, but whether or not, uh, the vaccine can prevent severe illness is something that, uh, that many, many very smart people across the globe are furiously trying to figure out as we speak that there are a fair amount of anecdotes that cases we've seen in California, for example, have all been quite mild. Uh, and there are a number of reports across the globe of, of mild illness, but they really need to do some significant lab work and, and, um, and more epidemiological research to really know that that's true. What are

Speaker 4: (11:29)

San Diego public health officials saying about the imminent arrival of OCRA?

Speaker 3: (11:33)

They have been quite, uh, quiet so far in terms of exactly what they intend to do about this. They have put out a couple short statements last week that indicate that people should keep getting vaccinated and go out and get their booster shots, uh, as much as possible. And, uh, you know, they, they continue to talk about trying to avoid large gatherings and wearing your mask, but they haven't yet come out and said whether they intend to take any, any more stringent public health action. Uh, as you recall, of course, we, we were, uh, we were in a shutdown situation all the way through till, uh, June of this year. Uh, we, we had a much stronger mask mandate back then than we have now, technically the, the health policy at the moment is that anybody who had, who has COVID vaccinated can go indoors for, to stores and gatherings and what have you without a mask. Uh, and so they, they haven't really said whether they intend to change that or not. They, they have been silent on that so far, but we do have an update from Dr. Wilin, uh, county public health officer to the port of supervisors at their, uh, regular meeting tomorrow. So it may be, they will hear a little more about that. Uh,

Speaker 4: (12:33)

Are the number of people getting booster shots in San Diego? I, I is that number rising?

Speaker 3: (12:38)

It is increasing, uh, the last number we got from the county, uh, on Wednesday indicated that we were, uh, approaching 500,000, uh, people who have gotten boosters. Uh, but we know that everybody age 18 and older, who was, uh, two weeks from their second dose is eligible for a booster. So it seems like there's still quite a few people out there who could get boosted, who haven't

Speaker 4: (13:01)

And even, so even if they do get boosted, as you say, it's not clear that new vaccinations and booster shots will help avoid a holiday surge this month. And why is that?

Speaker 3: (13:12)

Uh, it all comes down to whether or not the, the antibodies that we get from the vaccine are a good match for, for Omicron. Uh, if they aren't then, uh, then we might still see quite a surge, but what, uh, some researchers I've spoken to have said is, you know, the mutations that are in Omicron look very similar to some other variants that we've seen before, not necessarily Delta, but others. Uh, one, one that even came out of, uh, South Africa. And, um, in those cases, it looked like having a lot of antibody in your system when you're exposed to those variants seems to, uh, produce a more mild illness. And so there is reason to suspect that, uh, that boosters and getting, uh, getting a fresh dose of antibodies produced in your body, right as this new variant is arriving, will likely have some positive effect, at least at reducing the burden on our healthcare resources. Uh, but we just don't know that for sure. Again,

Speaker 4: (14:03)

I've been speaking with San Diego union Tribune health reporter, Paul Sissen, Paul as always. Thank you so much. Thank you. This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Maureen Kavanaugh with Jade. Henman many people who fought and died on behalf of the us. During 20 years of war in Afghanistan were actually contractors, not us, us troops, K P S military reporter. Steve Walsh says it's part of a change in the way America fights its wars with lasting consequences.

Speaker 5: (14:47)

You become a lot less concerned with your own safety than you do the guys behind you, because they're putting, they're putting their life. In

Speaker 6: (14:54)

Your hand. Andy Kutz is a veteran, but not in Afghanistan. He served in the Navy in the 1990s, but after working as a narcotics dog handler for a police department in Texas, he was hired in 2008 by a private contractor to work with Bob sniffing in Afghanistan in less than a month Kutz was in the field with special forces.

Speaker 5: (15:15)

Our, our rotation typically was we we'd be there for six months and then we'd get to come home for like 23 days. And then

Speaker 6: (15:22)

We'd go back as the number of roadside bombs skyrocketed. He stayed nearly eight years until his injuries piled up and his wife convinced him. It was time to come home. But

Speaker 5: (15:32)

When you know, there's nobody out there that's seen what you've seen and you can't go anywhere to people who have been through and seen that you feel real isolated and, and lonely. And again, that's why a lot of contractors commit suicide, but it doesn't make the news.

Speaker 6: (15:47)

No. A Coburn is an anthropologist at Bennington college. He spent time in Afghanistan trying to get a handle on the number of contractors hired by the us,

Speaker 7: (15:56)

Frankly, the political cost of a contractor being killed is, is much less. It oftentimes doesn't even get reported on. And you can see it simply in the headlines after these attacks where it will say three troops killed. And it won't even mention the fact that they were with 12 contractors at the time

Speaker 6: (16:10)

Brown university found about 7,000 military members died in all post nine 11 conflicts, but nearly 8,000 contractors died. Coburn says private contracts hide the true cost of war

Speaker 7: (16:24)

Hiring companies to do, uh, the work that the military did historically, whether it's building the bases, whether it's delivering fuel,

Speaker 6: (16:32)

No one had as a complete list of who was hired. Some were Americans, many were Afghans, a large number were from third countries like Nepal in the Philippines. A few were highly paid, but most earned in a tiny fraction of the trillion dollars. The us Ben in Afghanistan.

Speaker 7: (16:47)

One thing that every one of the last four administrations has agreed upon in entirely. It's the one constant in our strategies in the war in Afghanistan and in Iraq. And that is the ratio of contractors to troops have steadily increased over the last 20 years.

Speaker 8: (17:04)

I mean, I'm not psychologist, but, but to be honest, I was able to see the anger in their face.

Speaker 6: (17:11)

Part of behi so's job was to go to Villa with us forces when someone was killed by mistake, he remembers an elderly man shot by an American sniper. The man was holding up what turned out to be a flashlight.

Speaker 8: (17:24)

They shot them down. So, and the next day we were trying to cover that, uh, bad incident. We had a meeting with them and explain everything and spent like at least two to three hours,

Speaker 6: (17:40)

SA worked as an interpreter for nearly seven years before leaving Afghanistan in 2014, he's now an American citizen living outside of Washington, DC though Afghans were paid far less. They were expected to take on some of the most dangerous missions when contractors get hurt. Instead of military doctors and VA benefits, companies are using a version of workman's compensation known as the defense base act. Jeffrey winter is an attorney and San Diego who handles these cases. They start to

Speaker 8: (18:11)

Recognize they have flashbacks. They have things that startle them and it gets to the point where they, the family says, look, you either need to go see somebody or we're leaving. It just gets to

Speaker 6: (18:22)

Be that bad lawsuits can drag on for years, the dog handler Andy Kutz is back home in Texas. He's paying for, for his own PTSD treatment after receiving a settlement. I don't think of

Speaker 5: (18:32)

Myself as just the civilian out there with those guys. It's just, when you get outside that little bubble, that me or anybody else who is in my position becomes just vapor. You know, they, we, they just kind of disappear and we have to deal with it ourselves,

Speaker 6: (18:47)

Not at home with fellow combat for veterans and not able to move on after years of war,

Speaker 4: (18:55)

Joining me as KPBS, military reporter, Steve Walsh, Steve. Welcome.

Speaker 6: (19:01)

Hi, Maureen.

Speaker 4: (19:02)

Your report makes the point that there's no easy way to find out how many contractors were used in the Iraq and Afghan wars, but why did the us start using contractors in the first place weren't there enough us military personnel?

Speaker 6: (19:17)

Well, I, I guess one of the arguments is that it was cheaper, but there's not a lot of evidence that, that was true. We spent a couple trillion dollars in Afghanistan. Much of that money went to us. Contractors, you know, when it comes to the workers, the, a liability is a little less. So maybe there's a savings there. The real inequity exists, uh, between contractors, disability, compensation, insurance versus, uh, military benefits, contractors, death benefits are also much less than what it would be for us troops. The real benefits seems to be optics though. We heard a lot about the last 5,000 troops that were in Afghanistan, but very little about the 20,000 contractors who were still on the ground. You know, this process kind of lowers the footprint for us troops. And that may be the, the biggest benefit.

Speaker 4: (20:05)

Now, how much did political ideology play into the decision to use so many contractors? I remember this was the era when many aspects of government were being privatized,

Speaker 6: (20:15)

You know, true enough. So during that same time, we saw a lot of privatization in all aspects of government. This, uh, could be seen as the Pentagon getting on board with the trend. I mean, we've seen, uh, conservative elements in Congress pushing the VA to send up more veterans to private doctors outside the system. So it certainly, isn't just isolated to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan though, from, you know, Bush to Obama, there were strict controls on the number of troops being allowed into these countries, but there were no caps whatsoever on the number of contractors. So they could actually create a surge without actually increasing the number of us forces in the country.

Speaker 4: (20:54)

Okay. So besides interpreters and dog handlers, what kinds of jobs did contractors do?

Speaker 6: (21:01)

Oh, there were a whole host of jobs. A lot of them logistics, the things that quarter masters used to do, you know, supplying troops and providing fuel equipment and housing. There were bases set up that looked like us bases, but they were actually run by private contractors. Uh, they were running reconstruction projects. They, uh, provided most of the tech support for aircraft provided to the Afghans. There were all sorts of questions about what would happen to the Afghan air force. Once the us military pulled out when most of the maintenance was being done by us contractors, of course, they, uh, they also did pull security, uh, a company by the name of Blackwater founded by a, a Navy seal is the most notorious. They eventually became academy. They had a number of high profile incidents that really gave contract is a bad name.

Speaker 4: (21:49)

Now the us government has a commitment to help injured military personnel for the rest of their lives. And of course there are also other benefits for veterans in housing education, et cetera. In contrast how comprehensive is the version of workman's comp that covers contractors.

Speaker 6: (22:08)

So the BA's benefit system has its problems, but it's designed to help veterans. There are assumptions that veterans are allowed certain benefits tied to their service. Now, if you're a contractor, you, you can work through the defense base act, which, uh, basically operates through the department of labor. There are administrative law judges. It does look very much like workman's comp, which is, you know, adversarial, Andy Coots. Um, the dog handler told me that, you know, he would go to depositions with the opposing attorneys and they had hired an investigator to follow him around. They had pictures of him playing with his son in the park, I guess, as evidence that he had had certain, you know, had a certain range of motion. Eventually he became so frustrated that he eventually settled not wanting this case to, to drag out any longer. So it's, it's much different from, from the VA process that we know

Speaker 4: (23:00)

What prompted your report on military contractors. Steve, was it the problems many interpreters faced in getting out of Afghanistan earlier this year? Yeah,

Speaker 6: (23:10)

I think that's part of it. I mean, there has, there have been a lot of discussion of trying to get to Afghan contractors who worked with the us out of Afghanistan. I'm, I'm starting to think this will be seen as sort of the signature cause of this war, much like the P w M a a issue became so prominent after Vietnam, but interpreters were really only one kind of contractors. What really struck me was the figures by brown university that showed that more than 7,000 us troops died after nine 11, but more than 8,000 contractors died, they're completely overlooked. Many were Americans. They often were not paid enormous sums and many stayed on the job for years. They suffered the same wounds of war as, as us troops, but they existed in this gray area. No one really talks about them. If they weren't in the military themselves, they aren't even considered veterans, even though many of them have more combat experience. And the average us troop, you know, the reputation did become tainted by black water, but many worked, uh, directly with us troops and weren't ever associated with any atrocities, but they're just sort of out there on their own.

Speaker 4: (24:19)

Did you get any sense of regret in the people you spoke with about taking on the role of military in a battle zone?

Speaker 6: (24:27)

Well, you know, oddly enough, no. I mean, Andy Cootes who still suffers from PTSD, he, he still talks about how proud he was of his service and being able to work alongside us. Military. I talked to several other contractors who felt very much the same. They're, they're very proud of their service, even though no one really acknowledges that they served.

Speaker 4: (24:47)

I've been speaking with KPBS, military reporter, Steve Walsh, and Steve. Thank you.

Speaker 6: (24:52)

Thanks Maureen.

Speaker 1: (25:09)

And now a report from the Cal report magazine about parents building a safe and intentional place to live for their adult children who have intellectual and developmental disabilities. K Q Eeds, poly striker reports

Speaker 9: (25:24)

On a recent Saturday, a group of families pulled up to a 20 acre parcel of land on the coast in foggy half moon bay, about 30 minutes south of San Francisco. There's a lot going on here. You only see when you get out of the car and start walking around. This farm is part of the big wave project. There are rows of crops here, strawberries, peas, lettuce, squash, and lavender. There are are chickens, and there's a construction site, giant mounds of dirt and graders, leveling of foundation for apartments. This is where I meet a man in his mid thirties, who will soon be able to live independently in a community of his peers. For the first time I

Speaker 10: (26:05)

Am Matthew Kagan,

Speaker 9: (26:07)

Her I Matthews six foot three wavy brown hair, black rimed glasses. He's also just 11 months older than his brother Daniel. One of the family members who keeps a close eye on him

Speaker 11: (26:18)

Asperger's was the term that, um, well, and that's what Matt was diagnosed with until they'd kind of changed it to being an autistic spectrum. The

Speaker 9: (26:25)

Two of them have been a part of the big wave project for over it decade, but it all began over two decades ago,

Speaker 12: (26:32)

Bounce on the ground, bounce pass. Okay. Bounce

Speaker 9: (26:35)

It down to me. An evolving concept that started with special Olympics basketball. The teams practice here on this grassy field, near the farm. It's the brainchild of a local dad with a differently able daughter. So

Speaker 13: (26:48)

When I say rebound, rebound,

Speaker 9: (26:53)

Standing over six feet, tall, silver hair under his baseball cap, Jeff, Peck's got an easy but direct way of coaching at that point. You

Speaker 13: (27:01)

Gonna pass shoot, oh, shoot. Right, but always protect the ball.

Speaker 9: (27:07)

It doesn't really matter. Who's on what team here. This is more of a practice than a game today. It's all about helping everyone get a chance to hold the ball, to pass the ball, to aim for the backboard, and generally have a good time with each other.

Speaker 11: (27:20)

Some of them can't catch the ball thrown at full speed and some, and can

Speaker 9: (27:24)

That's Daniel. He coaches the cougars, one of four teams, a big wave. His brother, Matthew floats through the teams and is thinking about becoming a coach himself. Matt

Speaker 11: (27:33)

Is the big man on the court. He is there, uh, to get rebounds and blocks and hopefully throw the ball back up. If he catches a rebound

Speaker 14: (27:41)

Due to my height, I was either power or forward or center. So I was having to get in this scrimmage and be a bit of a punching bag. At times

Speaker 9: (27:52)

Two decades ago, there were seven basketball players. Now there are around 60 on the four teams. It's really become a tight community as Jeff Eck.

Speaker 13: (28:01)

They come back year after year, after year, they started when they were eight, some in their 30, some of 'em started in their 20. Now they're in their forties, but they keep coming back. Cuz that's the community which they created.

Speaker 9: (28:17)

This is what led the parents to wonder a number of years back. What if they could make that feeling of connection into something bigger, something more permanent, a home for their children to live, work and be their most authentic selves. Even after their parents die.

Speaker 13: (28:32)

Uh, the biggest fear of parents with children who have special needs Mo most parents is what's gonna happen to my child when I'm too sick to take care of them. Or when I die, there's Aline spec there that haunting grinding specter in your mind, what's gonna happen when you pass.

Speaker 9: (28:50)

Daniel's familiar with this fear. Matthew lives now with an uncle in south San Francisco, but those who don't have family willing to step up can face grim alternatives, like group homes that can feel institutional. Daniel says people like his brother and be warehoused, but rather embraced by the community.

Speaker 11: (29:09)

What is schizophrenia? What is autism? What is down syndrome? Like what, what are these things that, you know, affect the community? And shouldn't be like hidden away, you know, something that's so public out facing and accepting and you know, welcoming is just so awesome.

Speaker 9: (29:26)

Big wave Daniel says has given Matthew an opportunity to explore and grow as a member of a community.

Speaker 11: (29:32)

Matt has his own social circle here and people ask him for advice and him really just holding his own audience. When talking to a group of people, it was cool to walk into a situation where it's not, oh, this is Daniel's brother. It's like, I know I'm Matt's brother. This is his space.

Speaker 9: (29:48)

Even if Matthew's not too keen on farming,

Speaker 11: (29:52)

He does not like to get his hands dirty. He doesn't mind organizing. So he'll, he'll organize the gloves or come up with a process or, you know,

Speaker 14: (30:00)

Try to avoid getting too left gloves or too right gloves. It's gonna be exceedingly awkward if you're trying to do farm work.

Speaker 9: (30:07)

Big wave meets its people where they are. It's okay here for Matthew to work out issues he's struggling with without being condemned or dismissed or patronized. He

Speaker 11: (30:16)

Started a bad habit of like slapping his forehead. Like when we're playing basketball, he'll like miss a shot and get a really angry and you know, do the stupid, stupid, stupid thing. And I'm like, where did that come from? Like, why are you doing that?

Speaker 9: (30:27)

Daniel says, he's grateful to Matthew for teaching him more empathy and patience. But it's also important. Daniel says that Matthew have a space where he gets to be the big brother. Matthew has training as a peer counselor, something he uses with this community.

Speaker 11: (30:41)

You know, if someone's having a bad day, he'll go over and chat with them. They'll usually take 'em aside or, you know, have that kind of conversation to see how they're doing. See how they're feeling, talk it out, help them kind of process what they're going through.

Speaker 9: (30:59)

The brothers share a lot of history, much bit traumatic. Their mother died of brain cancer in 2009.

Speaker 14: (31:06)

Not that I'm a big religion person, but I do like to thank some part of us that makes us unique. Does move on. When our time here passes

Speaker 9: (31:17)

Daniel guides, Matthew through the

Speaker 11: (31:19)

Grief, he still feels that same kind of guilt of like, oh, I wish I could have like been more supportive of things and I just have to reinforce it. No, no, no. I feel the same way. You know, it, it's totally fine that you feel that way. And that just means that you're a good person

Speaker 9: (31:34)

After their mother died, their father plunged into a serious battle with drinking and opioid addiction. He was eventually institutionalized and then

Speaker 11: (31:43)

He died and Matthew has similar guilt to my mom as my dad of like, oh, maybe I could have talked him out of drinking. We did the best we could. And so it's, it's stuff we talked about, you know, of just guilt is there and it's okay to be guilty.

Speaker 9: (31:58)

Big wave has been a critical solace and support to the brothers. And Daniel says he hopes to move into one of the caretaker apartments imagined for big wave farm to help his brother transition to independent living. He's looking forward to helping Matthew do things like cook for himself.

Speaker 11: (32:13)

He likes a lot of different types of food. And it's like once he has his own kitchen space to figure it out like, oh, alright, let's go. Let's go make sushi. You know, like, uh, let's make Robin let's you know him how to make noodles from scratch,

Speaker 9: (32:27)

Creating an intentional community for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities is no small feat. Founder and CEO. Jeff Peck did well for himself as a contractor and bought this land back in 1999, but it's taken numerous hearings and environmental reviews and permit applications to get to the point where big wave could break ground. The green light finally came during the pandemic. Now 68 years old Peck knows he's got a limited window of time to establish something that can outlast him and the other original parents, something that will be financially sustainable. All

Speaker 13: (33:04)

Of the revenue from this commercial assets go to keep the operating costs low, to make this a better community.

Speaker 9: (33:10)

A core group of families paid about $60,000 each for their adult child to have a place at big wave. Although costs have risen with construction and prices and county requirements.

Speaker 13: (33:21)

Not only do you want your child to be safe, but you want your child to have opportunity a community. You want them to have a full life.

Speaker 9: (33:30)

In addition to the 57 apartments, they'll be office space for rent, a culinary school, a martial arts academy and a cafe which will be overseen by the folks who run Sam's charter house nearby their parents too, with a child who will live at big wave. The model's kind of like a co-op with a board to run it all that has residents on it. PAC knows this is a big, expensive experiment.

Speaker 13: (33:55)

This is my life's work. And when you have children that look at the work differently, you get an insight into life and death and history and spirituality and wisdom that you wouldn't get. Otherwise

Speaker 9: (34:09)

I ask Matthew Kagan, Hern, what he hopes for as he gets ready to move into big wave. Once construction's finished, possibly by the summer, I

Speaker 14: (34:17)

Am just hoping I can be, be a part of a community that accepts me for what I am and not having me be something I am not.

Speaker 9: (34:30)

That's big wave a community where Matthew and his peers get to control their own destinies together

Speaker 1: (34:39)

For the California re that was poly striker reporting. You're listening to K PBS midday edition. I'm Jade Henman with Maureen Kavanaugh. San Diego has a lot of visual art with dozens of art, museums and galleries than we can count. If you want some help narrowing down your museum going plans, KPBS arts, producer and editor, Julia Dixon Evans puts together a monthly Roundup of five works of art to see each month. And she joins us now to discuss her December picks Julia. Welcome.

Speaker 15: (35:19)

Hi Jade. Thanks for having me.

Speaker 1: (35:21)

So let's start with an outdoor of work, especially since some folks might not be interested in going indoors right now. Uh, this one is outside the Mesa college art gallery. Tell us about it.

Speaker 15: (35:32)

Yeah, it's called shadow work. Oh one it's by local emerging sculptor, Jennifer Vargas. And I really like how she uses fine wire mesh in her work. She'll bend it and layer it. And the density of the mesh plays with the light and the shadow and all the layers in intersections kind of create these gradients and patterns and metal in general is such this hard and cold material, but it somehow looks airy and soft in her sculptures. And this one it's just outside of the Mesa college art gallery, part of the sewing seeds of universal language exhibition. This was all curated by the museum studies program there and the sculptures huge. It, it almost like undulates up from the cement. There is some splashes of blue and orange and it, and it transforms as you move around it, especially when you crouch down and, and look up at the sky at the light, through the mesh and Mesa college art galleries hours are limited to Tuesday through Thursday during the day. But since it's outside, you can visit this work. Whenever you can get to campus. Parking is enforced 24 hours a day, Monday through Saturday, but it is just a dollar an hour and you can park right in front of it. Or you can just visit it on a Sunday. That

Speaker 1: (36:50)

Shadow work, oh one by Jennifer Vargas on view outside the Mesa college art gallery through December 15th. Next is an interesting performance installation involving actual food. Tell us about artist Maggie Shin's work.

Speaker 15: (37:05)

Yeah, this is another local artist and the work is a mixture of sculpture, animation, music performance, and, and eating. And she's informed by having spent about 15 years moving from continent to, and she would see how, how food and the ingredients and where food comes from is so different everywhere. And she's really honing it into study landscapes and the environment with this installation. I recently talked to Maggie, she, and she says that she wants visitors to think about the large scale systems involved in your food production, in the harvesting and the eating and also its impact. And she does this by making everything in the exhibition really tiny

Speaker 16: (37:49)

Because I shrunk the, the size of the landscape that make the relationship between, you know, people and land, um, become more obvious. You know, like what we do to the land sometimes can be very abstract if the, if the nature is so

Speaker 15: (38:05)

Big. So the food then is these edible mini sculptures that represent different parts of the landscape here. And audiences do eventually get to taste the food there's stuff like edible sand that tastes like lemon or a sponge made from avocado. It's a mixture of realistic and other worldly looking things. And this work, yes, it's intended to be experienced as a performance piece. So the audiences gather and watch as she and an actor take them through like a, a sort of scientific harvesting process while accompanied by animation, augmented reality, and then a sounds scape of found noises. And then we get to eat. Mm.

Speaker 1: (38:49)

All right. Maggie Shin's scape installation performances will take place this Friday do December 10th at 6:00 PM. And again, on January 8th at the athe Neum arts center in Logan Heights, this San Diego museum of art recently opened an exhibition of more than a hundred works of photography from the 20th century to today from iconic photographers like Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lang, and minor white to name a few. One of those stood out to you more than others, Julia, uh, one by Paul strand. Tell us about that

Speaker 15: (39:19)

First. I will say that it was almost impossible to pick one stand out here. There are so many captivating pictures, but this one by American photographer, Paul strand, who lived from 1890 to 1976. So really solidly working in the earlier part of the 20th century. This piece is called wall street, New York. And it was published in 1915. The setup of the picture sounds simple. It's just like a dozen people rushing to work in front of the very distinct front windows of the JP Morgan building on wall street. but the abstraction in Strand's work, the composition, it builds on what you'd expect to fixate on in a photograph like that. Like the historical curiosity of 1915 capitalism, but the way he works, the perspective that people seem tiny in scale. And then by nature of the light they're SIL to look almost ghostlike and the building's windows appear ominous too. Just these massive thick black rectangles kind of lording over the street definitely feels like a metaphor. And yeah, the entire exhibition is worth a browse, but this Paul strand photograph, it stopped me in my

Speaker 1: (40:37)

Wow interesting Paul Strand's wall street, New York work is part of S DMAs masters of photography, the garner collection exhibition, which is on view through February 21st. Let's stay in Balboa park for one more at the Japanese friendship garden. There's an exhibition of textiles from influential Japanese design for Nuno. Tell us about this

Speaker 15: (40:59)

Right. Nuno was founded in 1984 and this exhibition of some of their historic textiles, it's on the lower level of the Japanese friendship garden inside a relatively unassuming gallery room. The in a Mai pavilion and inside there's about of these metal rod stands arranged in even rows. The stands are, are part dress, form part kind of glorified coat hanger. And definitely look almost like Erie ghosts, and each form is draped with one of these textiles. And the textiles are really beautiful. It's it's this blend of form function and, and material. And one of my favorites is a 1997 float weaving work called patched paper. And it has scraps of fine white paper slipped in amongst the fibers of this other, a shear white cloth. And they protruded out like, like chunky squiggly hair or feathers. And I have to say it was hard not to touch it.

Speaker 1: (42:02)

that's part of Nuno, the language of textiles, which is on view at the Japanese friendship garden through February 27th and in Carlsbad Fest gallery is displaying ans installation by Wendy Mariama called the tag project. Tell us about that.

Speaker 15: (42:17)

This one is part of Wendy Maria's larger work called executive order 90, 66 named after the order by FDR to authorize what we now know as the Japanese American incarceration camps and for the tag project Mariama, who is a San Diego artist, she created 120,000 paper tags, replicas of the tags that were prescribed to each Japanese-American sent to the camps. And she divides the tags into hanging bunches. These are divided by camp as well, and then hung from the ceiling there, huge and unsettling. The inhumanity of what the tags represent is really monumental. And this work it's installed as part of a group exhibition, it's called imper ATEST gallery, and it focuses on the transitory aspects of life of objects and art. And it's all a really interesting and meditative show. Wendy

Speaker 1: (43:16)

Maria's tag project is on view through February 13th, ATEST gallery. You can find details and pictures of each of these works of art on our website, I've been speaking with KPBS arts editor and producer Julia Dixon Evans. Julia. Thank you.

Speaker 15: (43:33)

Thank you so much, Jane. It.

Over the weekend, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals lifted the temporary injunction against San Diego Unified’s vaccination mandate, meaning students will need to be fully vaccinated by Jan. 24 — the start of the second semester. Plus, the omicron variant will soon or later be identified in San Diego, but hospital officials are confident that they can handle it whenever it comes. Also, the vast majority of people killed in action in Afghanistan are not soldiers but contractors. It’s part of a change in the way America fights its wars, with lasting consequences. And, parents in Northern California are building a safe and intentional place to live for their adult children who have intellectual and developmental disabilities. Finally, San Diego has a lot of visual art, with dozens of art museums and more galleries than we can count. Here’s this month’s roundup of the must-see five works of art.