Mayor Todd Gloria talks city budget, Ash Street and Prop B
S1: Mayor Todd Gloria discusses topics from San Diego Pride to the Ash Street deal.
S2: The choices left to me by my predecessor Maureen , are bad and worse.
S1: I'm Maureen CAVANAUGH with Jade Heineman. This is KPBS Midday Edition. San Diego gets initial funding to move train tracks away from the Del Mar Bluffs.
S2: This is a great deal for San Diego and San Diego. This is the start of something that people thought. It's a pipe dream , but it's no longer a pipe dream. It's still we're going to start the work immediately.
S1: A state audit investigates San Diego's rising utility rates and the tragic tale of San Diego's 1947 slavery trial. That's ahead on Midday Edition. The City of San Diego has just started a new fiscal year with Mayor Todd Gloria's $5 billion ready to rebuild budget plan. It was unanimously approved by the city council , but other aspects of city business remain unresolved. For instance , the mayor's proposal to settle the legal chaos surrounding the Ash Street building lease has been abruptly withdrawn and the bill for San Diego's foolhardy Prop B pension experiment continues to rise. Mayor Todd Gloria joins us this morning to talk about those issues and more. And Mayor Gloria , welcome to the program.
S2: Thanks for the opportunity , Maureen.
S1: Now , you came up with a plan to settle the legal battle over the leases of the Ash Street building and the Civic Plaza by having the city pay millions for those properties. But you withdrew that settlement from a city council vote right before the vote last week and shortly after the city attorney came out against it.
S2: What I did was react to what I heard from numerous folks , including many in the media , who want more time with this settlement agreement. Maureen , if you were to go to the city's website , you'd see 28 separate attachments associated with this particular council item. And I wanted the public to have a full month to take a look at it. You know , part of how we got into this mess in the first place was the lack of transparency. That will not be a feature of my administration. We're going to be as upfront , as honest , as transparent as possible. And I believe that we can spend the month allowing everyone to vet this , ask questions and come back and hopefully win a vote of the city council to put this sorry history behind us and move forward on addressing other major issues that are facing the city today.
S1: I'm going to ask you this as straightforwardly as I can. Why do you believe it's a good idea to pay $132 million to buy out the leases for two buildings , one that is uninhabitable while the city is involved in litigation that claims the building leases violated state law.
S2: It's a complex situation , but I can tell you the sustained answer is that every other option available to us is worse. Maureen , the fact of the matter is , is that our current trajectory , we could spend the next half , two full decade arguing this matter at tremendous cost to taxpayers. And if we win , what we'll do is have the opportunity to spend the same amount of money you're describing to fix the building that our contractors broke and simultaneously have 800 of our employees evicted from the building they currently occupied. That's if we win. Maureen if we lose , not only do we get the privilege of paying millions of dollars in legal fees , but we also have the responsibility to repair that same building and pay the same amounts for the building that you just mentioned. The choices left to me by my predecessor , Maureen , are bad and worse. And all I promised San Diegan to do is to try and resolve this matter in the best of their interest in a transparent manner , and to do it in a way that allows us to move forward. I believe the settlement agreement will do that.
S1: Moving on to another costly subject for San Diego. San Diego voters approved Prop B in 2012 to stop most city workers from getting city pensions. The courts eventually found Prop B illegal. Now the city has to pay to replace all those pensions it didn't give to workers.
S2: And I hope that that means something in terms of San Diegans willingness to understand that I engage in these issues deeply. I look at them closely and I try and give the best opinion that I possibly can. My opposition to Proposition B was relatively lonely political position back then. Here we are today , where it's been thrown out by the courts and has left us with what we all knew would happen. Enormous legal fees with large obligations to taxpayers. Where have you heard this before , Maureen ? So I'm at least in the privileged position of making sure that we can redo this in a way that is advantageous not just to our employees , but to taxpayers. And the fact is , Maureen , right now we have so many vacant positions in the city because for years we've held pay flat and we stripped away benefits that you can get at most other municipal employers in terms of the costs that you're describing , Maureen. Those are in many ways defined by both employee behavior. It's not clear how many of our employees would choose to re-enter the pension system. Most of them have. And so that has a cost associated with it. And of course , our stock market has also has an impact on this. What we know is everything that we're talking about , you and I right now , has been known to the city. We've been working with our Department of Finance and our employee bargaining groups to anticipate these costs. Ultimately , many of the final decisions are those left to our independent pension board , and they will make those decisions in the coming months. But whatever we will do , we will make sure that we can facilitate them financially here at the city , and we won't repeat the mistakes of the past , mistakes that have been left. Me to fix and I'm doing because that's in the best interest of the city and its taxpayers.
S1: Right now , San Diego seems to have a split personality when it comes to dealing with homelessness. On the one hand , outreach and services are expanding on the other. Crackdowns on homeless tent encampments and the cars and vans of homeless people are increasing.
S2: I think we have a very focused plan that provides robust services for homeless individuals. In a year and a half that I've been privileged to be the mayor of the city. We have created and dramatically expanded our homeless street outreach efforts. We have dramatically increased the amount of shelter beds that are available on any given night with more on the way. And we've been very deliberate in pursuing pro housing policies that create housing not just for the formerly homeless , but for working and middle class San Diegan that also are squeezed by our housing crisis. All of these are being made available and there is an expectation that folks will avail themselves of these services. What we also will be , in terms of compassion for those sleeping on the sidewalk , is not allow them to live in the kind of squalid conditions that resulted in 20 of them dying in 2017 when we had a hepatitis A outbreak. So I don't think that there's a split approach to this. What I think we have is leading with compassion , providing all of those resources at the cost of tens of millions of dollars annually to taxpayers. And we have an expectation that folks will utilize those services to get off the streets and stay off the streets , leaving people on the sidewalk , which is not compassionate. And San Diego will be led by compassion when it comes to addressing our homelessness crisis.
S1: Mayor Gloria , the San Diego Union-Tribune is reporting on the exodus of San Diego police officers from the department , a 52% increase over last year. Now , the report suggests a number of possible explanations for police resigning from vaccine mandates to staffing shortages to new police reforms.
S2: When I talk to my fellow colleagues of mayors across this nation , all of us are seeing this. It's a national trend that I think speaks to many of the issues that you raised. You know , law enforcement is a difficult job in normal times. These are not normal times. There is tremendous scrutiny , tremendous accountability , appropriately so , as well as other demands and pressures on those folks who take on these responsibilities. My job is to make sure that we resource them appropriately. We have fully funded our police department in the new city budget to compensate them fairly. We recently approved a 10% pay raises for our law enforcement officers and then to hold them accountable by doing things like having an independent police review board. What I think we're seeing , particularly here in San Diego , is a large number of our officers are retirement age and many of them are choosing to retire. And that may go back to your question about pension benefits and the like. You know , we have to find ways to incentivize folks to be able to work here at the city of San Diego and to stay. One of the things I'm currently working with , Chief is light on is a package of recruitment and retention bonuses that can cause people to want to choose. Come work at the City of San Diego. I think we have one of the best police departments in the country. If we explain that to folks who are considering a career in law enforcement , my belief is they'll choose to come work to the city.
S1: KPBS reporter Claire TRAGESER is reporting today that the city is starting to send out termination letters to city employees , including police who have refused to get a COVID vaccination and refused to take weekly COVID tests.
S2: In fact , the matter is we implemented our vaccine mandate late last year. And as you can tell by timeline , we have been extremely patient and working with individuals on an individual basis to identify those who need a reasonable accommodation when it comes to being vaccinated and then providing testing free of charge while at work to make it super convenient for folks to stay within the guidelines of our vaccine mandate. I don't think it's too much to ask for folks to protect the health of themselves , their coworkers , and the folks that we're honored and privilege to serve. And that's what this vaccine mandate is about. You are right. We are at a point now where over six , seven months into this , we have folks who continue to not either request an exemption or who have requested one , but are now refusing to test. At some point , there is a disciplinary process that has to kick in , that is kicking in now. My fervent hope is that folks will understand why they should get vaccinated and choose to do so , or if they continue to feel as though they can't be vaccinated for whatever religious or health reason that they get tested on a regular basis. I mean , it's not too much to ask. It's what I'd ask every San Diegan to do. And I think it's particularly important for public servants , people who serve our public , our residents directly to do that. A part of why I was able to enjoy the 4th of July holiday , why so many San Diegans were able to enjoy that , is that we've been able to increase our vaccination rates and thereby reduce. Use our infection rates and allow our economy to reopen again. I think this city workers should lead by example and they have. Maureen , prior to the adoption of our vaccine mandate. Roughly 69% of city employees were vaccinated after the implementation of the mandate were over 90% now. And that's undoubtedly helped us to reopen our economy , get our kids back in school and get us back to some level of normalcy. I expect every city employee to abide by these rules that we've adopted and that are now in place.
S1: And later this week , San Diego Pride returns in-person after a two year pandemic pause. Along with the celebrations comes a note of caution , because yesterday we saw a 4th of July parade in the Chicago area attacked. There have been threats against pride celebrations in other parts of the country.
S2: Many spectators have probably long seen that as they go along the parade route. And this year it will be no different. We will do all that we can to make sure that folks can go out and celebrate and enjoy this wonderful civic event and to do so safely. We ask for the public's participation. Obviously , if you see something , say something. Make sure that you are in areas that are well policed and let's make sure that we have a good time. But. It is frustrating to have this threat of violence across the nation impacting this event and events across the nation like it. After a two year hiatus , many of us have missed this event. As the first openly gay mayor of the city of San Diego. I'm looking forward to the opportunity to be able to march in our parade proudly and in reflection of the historic nature of this opportunity to lead this great city. And we wanted to be able to do it safely. I have full faith in our city , the police department , as well as our regional law enforcement partners. But again , we live in these terrible times where it is easier to get a gun than it is to get access to reasonable health care in this country. And as long as we continue to have those kinds of policies coming out at the federal level , the local governments will have to step up and we will be doing that. I encourage people to go out , celebrate Pride , as well as Comic-Con and some of the other major civic events that will be happening in our city over the next number of weeks. But know that our city police department will be there to keep folks safe , and we're putting everything we have toward it to make sure that people can have fun and they can do it safely.
S1: San Diego Mayor Todd , Gloria , thank you so much for taking the time out to speak with us.
S2: Thank you very. Sandbags.
S3: Sandbags. Longstanding train track relocation plan along a 1.7 mile stretch of the Delmar Bluffs has gotten its initial funding from the state of California. The growing need to relocate the tracks was highlighted last week when a bluff collapse sent a massive boulder crashing down from the cliffside at Torrey Pines State Beach. Thankfully , no injuries were reported. Joining me now with more on the plans for this relocation is Hasan Kuroda , CEO of the San Diego Association of Governments. Hasan , welcome.
S2: Thank you. Good to be with you.
S3: So this state transportation funding package includes $300 million to begin relocating the train tracks in Del Mar away from the bluffs.
S2: When I joined SANDAG a little over three years ago , I made it a priority and one of the agencies top priority to deal with the eroding Del Mar bluff. In my ten years , twice we have to slow the trains down because the bluff collapsed. So we went and got over $100 million to fix it. But then I said many times you can find nature. Nature will win at the end of the day. A temporary fix is not good. So we went and started a study to remove the track of the bluff , and we worked with Senator Pro-Tem Adkin , who's amazing to get money to start that , removing the track of the bluff. So this $300 million will be able to environmentally clear design the new tunnel with the track in them off the bluff , and will make us as a region very competitive , too , receiving billions of dollars from federal and state governments. So this is a great deal for San Diego and San Diego , and this is the start of something that people thought it's a pipedream , but that's no longer a pipe dream. It's still we're going to start the work immediately.
S3: And you mentioned nature always wins. I mean , we heard last week about a huge bluff collapse , a boulder I'm bigger than a car fell on to Torrey Pines State Beach. Luckily , no one was injured.
S2: This is the only corridor for goods , movements and people movement that link us north. And there is no question the bluff is eroding six inches a year and has been for a long time. And there's no question that at one point this will not be operational. So moving the track of the bluff is a must for our region from all kind of reason , economic reason , climate action reason , but but most importantly for safety. And so , you know , this is a no brainer. I know it's going to cost a lot more money to accomplish it , maybe two , two and a half million dollars. But this $300 million is a good down payment to start the process and to get San Diego to the point where there is no point of return. There's no longer talk about , oh , it's another study , this is real. Now we're going to start spending real money , 300 million to start that process.
S2: So we're spending $115 million to stabilize the bluff by inserting piles and building seawalls. And we just got unanimous approval from the Coastal Commission. So we will never compromise safety. But again , let me underline temporarily fix the bluff , not permanently fix the bluff. And , you know , you can't predict nature very well. Sometimes things could happen. And again , in my ten years , which is a short time in San Diego , three years twice we had collapses , the seawall collapsed. We had to slow the train down. And that could happen any moment in a year where we get a lot of rain. And obviously the water seepage from the houses above this could be a disaster in the making if we don't pay attention to. But to your point , safety's number one priority. Now it's safe. We're spending real money , over $100 million to stabilize.
S2: Economic activity is going to be disrupted. We're talking about thousands of jobs related to that. We're talking about actually linking us to the rest of the state. And we're also talking about military. I mean , this is designated as a nationally significant corridor. So an all aspect of it not having the corridor operational is very disruptive. You know , people say , well , we'll just move things by trucks. Well , you drive in the I-5 and you know that it's already congested. Imagine putting all these things we put in trains and trucks and putting it on the I-5. I can't imagine that. So therefore this corridor has to continue to be operational for many years to come , many generations to come. And we're starting to make sure that this is going to be fixed. I'm. By the way , we're not only talking about moving the 1.7 mile. We're talking about strengthening the minute marker , double tracking and triple tracking , replacing bridges. When I make sure this carried on to the second busiest passenger corridor after the northeast in the country. Yes , it is for our second , but it's the second busiest. We want to make sure this corridor operate correctly. And that's what we're doing at SANDAG.
S3: And and you touched on this earlier , but tell us more about the scope of this project.
S2: And we the study concluded two alternatives , both of them 80 feet down underground in the city of Del Mar. And eventually that study now is ready to move into the next stage , which is the environmental stage , where we're going to pick the preferred alternate and adopt alternatives. It is going to be inland , short of a mile , and then it's going to be underground , 80 feet down at least. And I believe it's going to cost somewhere between 2 to $2.5 billion.
S3: The majority of funding for this plan is not in place.
S2: We had a temporary fix , 150 , in which we already have gotten from the state and some local match. Now we have this $100 million , which hopefully will do the environmental and design for the whole corridor. Then that would position us to go for federal money. We're talking billions of dollars and additional state rail money. There's no question there is a need for additional local money. That's why in our five more regional transportation plan , we assumed that the voters in San Diego will give us the funding needed. And again , I say underline the voters of San Diego , not me , not the board , but the voters have to say yes to our sales tax measure that bring local funding to match the federal and state money. Most of this money is going to come from federal state government , but local match is a must , and we're searching for ways to get additional local money. If San Diego say and I'm an optimist , I think San Diego will say it because this is important for the future generations.
S3: I've been speaking with Hasan Kuroda , CEO of SANDAG. Hassan , thank you so much for joining us.
S2: Thank you.
S1: This is KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Maureen CAVANAUGH with Jade Heineman. The San Diego Gas and Electric really need to keep boosting our utility rates and our state utility regulators really looking out for ratepayers. Those two questions and more are now the subject of a review by the California state auditor. Assemblywoman Tasha Berner Horvath of Encinitas requested the audit after she says she was swamped by calls from constituents when Janey raised its rates in January. This audit will be conducted while SDG and has another rate increase request before the California Public Utilities Commission. If that's approved , it would further increase rates for the average customer by almost 9%. Joining me is San Diego Union-Tribune , energy reporter Rob Nicholas. Rob , welcome.
S2: Nice to be back with you.
S2: They go to the California Public Utilities Commission periodically and they tell them what they think it's going to cost to maintain and upgrade their power systems over the coming years.
S1: And remind us how much rates went up at the beginning of this year.
S2: In January , the average residential customers electric bill went up 7.8%. And for customers who have natural gas hookups , their natural gas rates went up 24.6%. And that was largely due to higher natural gas prices that were seen all across the country.
S1: Now , the audit will include reviews of how state agencies are protecting ratepayers. Tell us about that.
S2: Yeah , the audit won't just look at San Diego Gas and Electric. Also look at the California Public Utilities Commission. The CPC regulates investor owned utilities like San Diego Gas and Electric. And the audit will also look at how the commission determines what is justified when it sets those rates for those utilities. Also , in addition to that , take a look at the public advocate's office , the public advocate's office as the independent arm of the CPC that looks over and tries to protect consumers. And the audit will take a look at the public advocate's office and see if the offices , in the words of the auditor , adequately performing that submission to obtain the lowest possible rates for customers.
S2: And the city representative said it welcomes that. The utility welcomes the audit and the CPC had their executive director there as well and they said something very , very similar , saying that the process to approve rates is transparent , has lots of input from various stakeholders. And so Eugenie has to justify its spending every single time they come to the CPC.
S1: Now Jenny has another rate request before the CPC. Will that be part of the audit ? Yes.
S2: The auditor will take a look at the past and the future rate request. All that will be looked at. In May , Eugenie filed what's called its general rate case , and that estimates how much it will cost to upgrade and maintain the power system from the year 2024 to 2027. They do that in three year increments and it's a long process. It involves lots of stakeholder review and lots of discussion.
S1: Well , for its part , the Public Utilities Commission says that it knows that rates are high , and this year the regulators put together a workshop to address the issue.
S2: They had members of the legislature there , they had utilities there , they had consumer groups there. They had some academic people there. And one of the ideas that was brought up in this brainstorming session was taking out public purchase programs from being included in rates that. Comes to about $2.7 billion a year. They were talking about taking those public purchase programs out of rates and then having the legislature instead debate those costs each year in the state budgetary process. Now , public purchase programs , that includes things like programs that fund utility bill discounts for low income families. And see , Jeannie was there at that brainstorming session. And they estimated that if they took out the public purchase programs , took them out of rates , put them into the state budgetary process , that it could save the average customer about $90 a year.
S2: I'm not sure , to be honest with you , what kind of enforcement powers the auditor has. But I'm sure that if the auditors came back with something that showed ways , showed excessive rate increases. I'm sure that they'll come out with a report that would no doubt lead to quite a political firestorm all across the state. So I think that even if they don't necessarily have enforcement powers per say , if they do , you come back with something that's substantive , then I think it would probably lead to some some pressure from some political pressure to fall on either the CPC or San Diego Gas Electric or both.
S1: Okay , then I've been speaking with San Diego Union-Tribune , energy reporter Rob Nicholas. Rob , thank you.
S2: Thank you , Mary.
S3: Think of the nearest grocery store to your home if it were to close down. How would it impact you and your family ? KPBS North County reporter Tanya Thorn takes a look at how a Vons closing its doors and Vista could make it hard for some to access fresh , healthy food. Mark Day and his wife Fredy Abalos , used to get their groceries from Vons investor. The store was less than 5 minutes away from their house , but that Vons is now closed and boarded up. Being able to have a grocery store that is very close and accessible was has always been important to us. And that is why we're feeling really the strong effects of now being forced to drive a considerable way to get fresh food. Abalos says Bonds's closure doesn't come as a surprise because in the last couple of years , the shopping center started to feel unsafe. There were many times where I would get out of my car and be accosted , and I stopped going there completely at night. I have not been to the Vaughn Center at night for at least five years. It simply does not feel safe. And I know that many people who also frequent that shopping center used to frequent that shopping center feel the same way. KPBS requested an interview with Bonds to ask about the reason for the closure. The company did not respond. We did talk to some Vons employees who didn't want to be recorded out of fear of losing their jobs. Some think the store was closed because of the increase of homeless in the area and the thefts the store was dealing with on a regular basis. Others told us it was due to the high costs to repair the refrigeration system and the store not making a profit no matter the reason. The Vons closure adds to the growing number of empty stores in the shopping center. Abalos thinks Vista City Council has neglected this part of the city while making improvements downtown. They have moved mountains to bring in new stores and great restaurants and breweries. And and it hasn't necessarily been bad , but we can't focus on one part of our community and then turn our back on another part. Abalos says her and her husband are lucky to have a car and be able to drive further. But she knows not everyone has that privilege. People don't have the money for an Uber. People do not have friends or family that can take them regularly to the grocery store. And even when the Vons was here. One of the saddest things that I would experience and this I saw every day are poor people carrying and their families carrying groceries , sometimes in the hot sun , sometimes in the rain. 76 year old Alexis White doesn't own a car , but she has a motorized scooter. So I get in it and ride over and bring the stuff back. White lives in a senior community across the street from the Vons. She says many of her neighbors relied on it. It's making it a hardship for a lot of people. I never knew that I would miss it. Since the closure , Yvonne White has made the Journey to win KO and Oceanside , where she thinks groceries are affordably priced. I think when they'll be in the cheapest store and I guess is not too far.
S2: I could take the.
S3: Bus over or the train. City Council member Katrina Contreras says food insecurity is an issue for many of us. The residents and the loss of a grocery store makes that problem worse. It's it's really heartbreaking. I just. I fear that the quality of nutrition. Is going to be going down because.
S2: What's most.
S3: Accessible there is you go to CVS , right ? 7-Eleven , you're not going to be able to get the nutritional the dietary needs for your children to grow up without health concerns. Contreras says the city council needs to discuss the safety concerns surrounding the shopping center and how to get the nearby residents access to fresh food. We can't survive off of fast food. We can't survive off of convenience food. We're human beings and we need real food to grow and we need.
S1: A safe place to be able to shop. So.
S3: You know , with Vons leaving , it really gives me a lot of concern about what's.
S1: Going to happen with that shopping center. She says the city.
S3: Has no information on what is taking Bonds's place because it has a private sale. Tanya Thorne , KPBS News.
S1: The director of the National Science Foundation. His name , Seth Oren Parker Norton , paid a visit to San Diego last week to dedicate an upgraded earthquake shake table at UC San Diego. The NSF put more than 16 million into the project. So Poncho Nathan was there to see how the foundation's annual investment in the region is being spent. The NSF invested 150 million in San Diego research in 2021 alone. Paul Jonathan spoke with KPBS science and technology reporter Thomas Fudge.
S4: You say that science is a bipartisan issue and it certainly should be.
S5: I mean , as long as we have data and information that backs up what we say and I have never seen anything less than respect for scientists and this is some of the things that NSF does end up also promoting is individual scientists investing in that amazing ideas. But we also ensure that how science is represented , how science is perceived , how science becomes a solution pathway for many different grand challenges and most importantly , economic prosperity and innovation across the nation. I think this is something that NSF does really well and should do better in the future.
S5: I often will talk about NSF in terms of what I call the DNA of NSF. The DNA of NSF has got two strengths , which is the first strand of curiosity driven , discovery based explorations , and the other strand being use inspired solutions , focused translations and innovations. These are highly intertwined. So if you look at the investments in discoveries , they make possible amazing inventions and vice versa. Inventions make possible more discoveries because there are more things to be found. And so this symbiosis of what the DNA represents , I find San Diego is an excellent exemplar of that.
S5: And yet it is today $150 billion company is something that we are very proud of. That's the kind of inventiveness and what that invention means by promoting tremendous amount of prosperity , jobs and in advancement of the technology and what it is for. So the challenge sort of addressing societal challenges , I think it's very , very exciting. We want thousands and thousands of Qualcomm's all over our nation , not just limited to great places like San Diego , but even in places , you know , that don't have such economic vibrancy. We want it everywhere because that's how we're going to ensure prosperity for everyone everywhere.
S4: In reading some of your statements. You have talked about challenges that we're facing.
S5: So NSF is deeply committed to seeing how talent everywhere can be energized. And so this we can do as long as science becomes a motivator and inspire. And , you know , I often refer to this as stem spark. How do you ignite the stem spark in every kid , everywhere ? Now , some of them may pursue science and technology and engineering as a career path. Some may not. But it's important for them to have that exposure and that appreciation of science. And if that is there as an underlying and a fabric of what we do for for all the children across the nation , I think we will serve our country well for the future.
S4: Another big challenge I think you would agree we have is global warming.
S5: What we should not do is to attempt to solve it by just saying , If I only did more science , I will tolerate. If only bill more technology sabotaged , or if I only can do , you know , behavioral changes , then I can solve. It's all of the above and more so we need social , behavioral , economic scientists , humanities , engineering , all all aspects of scientists , technology , all folks coming together and addressing this comprehensive problem and finding these comprehensive solutions , therefore , that are real and can actually have an impact. So looking at it as only one slice of it is doing real disservice , first of all , to the problem. Secondly , you cannot find real solutions and sustainable solutions to the future , no pun intended. Sustainable solutions to the for the for the future.
S5: I call it the strengthening the established NSF as a major priority. At the same time , we cannot do this by not having the diverse perspectives that is which are needed for making real progress into the future , not only for the individual , as I said earlier , but also for all the communities in our nation. Right.
S5: And so which means that inclusion and diversity is an important part of how do we advance into the future that is making progress everywhere.
S4: Is there a way that you can be specific in.
S5: NSF should fund all aspects of science. That's why it's called the National Science Foundation , which means that all aspects of science should be funded. Social behavioral. Economic scientists. Computing information scientists. Biological scientists , geological scientists. And and surely we should focus on STEM education as part of that. So learning scientists , you never know what is going to solve the next big problem and where the innovation is going to come from or where the innovation is going to come from come from because the fusion of all of these scientific disciplines working together. And so NSF is very interested in not only advancing individual scientific disciplines , but also motivating a lot of fusion , a new areas of discovery that's made possible for the future.
S4: You believe that we're in a very special moment when it comes to science and when it comes to global competition. Tell me what you think about that.
S5: The most important thing is the fact that we have never seen global competition like what we are seeing now. And for me , global competition is a good thing , which means that it motivates us , inspires us to do better , more , faster. And so it's not about the competition itself. Yes , it is. You know , it is motivating us. But what it is , it's about us. And if I find that what NSF is looking at is by God , let's see how we can get more innovations. I call it strengthening at speed and scale is it's sort of the moniker I use. This is a moment to strengthen its speed and skill.
S1: That was KPBS science and technology reporter Thomas Fudge , speaking with National Science Foundation director Seth Roman Ponch Paunch Jonathan.
S3: You're listening to KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Jade Hindman with Maureen CAVANAUGH. A horrific case of a woman enslaved by a Coronado couple unfolded in a San Diego federal court 75 years ago this summer. The case is remembered as a watershed moment for some of the civil rights protections we have today. John Wilkins wrote about the case in Saturday's edition of the San Diego Union-Tribune , and he joins us now. John , welcome. Hello.
S2: Hello. Thanks for having me.
S3: So this case involves a white couple , Elizabeth and Alfred Ingles and a black woman whom they enslaved to work as their maid named Dora Jones. You write that she was raped , forced to perform menial tasks , physically beaten when she complained , clothed in rags and paid nothing for most of her life.
S2: Mrs. Engles first husband , had forced himself on her a number of years earlier. That resulted in a pregnancy and then an abortion. And the couple held the prospect of jail over her head all those years. So she was afraid that she might be sent to jail or a mental asylum.
S3: And it was more than just the threat of jail. I mean , Dora Jones was really terrified of the Ingles.
S2: Well I think she was , you know , the threat that was held over her head was because abortion was illegal back then , that she would go to jail. Elizabeth Ingles also regularly berated her as being dole witted and and told Dora that she would never be able to survive on her own out in the real world. So there was this threat to Dora that if she tried to come forward and tell anybody her story , that nobody would believe her. Right. She was young. She was black in a country that was still wrestling with any kind of fair notion of civil rights. So she was terrified to try and make the case for herself that she should be free.
S3: The Ingles were turned in by their daughter , as you write , who discovered Dora Jones was forced to sleep in the couple's car as they relocated from Boston to Coronado.
S2: They reported seeing her outside , shoveling snow without a jacket or gloves. They reported that Mrs. Ingles was frequently abusive to her , both verbally and physically. At one point , Dora's brother tried to check on her well for fear from Alabama , and he was turned away at the front door.
S3: And the trial , as you write , is believed to be the first federal anti-slavery case since Reconstruction.
S2: So anti-slavery cases that had been prosecuted under the 13th Amendment , which was passed in 1865 , had for a long time mostly looked at sort of financial slavery known as peonage cases. So if somebody owed somebody a debt , they would use it as a financial loophole to keep somebody enslaved. So the federal government had been prosecuting those. But in the wake of the New Deal and then in the wake of World War Two , they started looking at other cases and applying the 13th Amendment to cases that involved involuntary servitude.
S2: As I talk about a little bit earlier in the story , it was mostly the federal government starting to look to expand civil rights in some of the areas , in particular looking at working conditions for people. So not just slavery in the way that maybe we sort of stereotypically remembered somebody in in chains and physical bondage , but other kinds of enslavement and involuntary servitude. And then there also were justices on the Supreme Court who began looking at these cases , who said , well , maybe we should look at things that involve security of the person as well. And so it opened up an expansion of looking at all sorts of rights.
S3: And this story really exemplifies the work of California's reparations task force.
S2: It continues to today. So this Coronado case , which happened almost 100 years after the end of slavery , showed very much how those tentacles remain. When you had a woman who was still being enslaved , even if it didn't involve , you know , physical shackles and chains.
S3: Elizabeth Ingle served just 11 days in jail and was sentenced to probation.
S2: I mean , certainly reading it through today's lens , it looks like it was a she got off quite lightly , although it was considered pretty astounding at the time that she got thrown in jail at all. So she did go in for 11 days. And between her conviction and her sentencing , and she did have a three year jail sentence hanging over her head if she had somehow veered from probation. But you're right , she never saw a day beyond that of incarceration. And Dora Jones moved in with her brother back in Saint Louis and made it quite well known to people that she wanted nothing further to do with the angels. Hmm.
S2: You know , one of the unusual things about this case at the time was that the judge ordered Elizabeth Ingles not only to pay a fine to the government , but basically to give Dora Jones back paid $6,000 , which was almost $80,000 in today's dollars. And Dora Jones reportedly took that money as an annuity and lived out the rest of her days pretty quietly in Saint Louis , living with relatives there. She turned down opportunities to take paid speaking engagements to talk about her life as a slave. I think she just wanted to try to enjoy whatever freedom she could with the years that were left to her. She died in 1972 at the age of 82.
S3: I've been speaking with John Wilkins , a reporter with the San Diego Union-Tribune. John , thank you so much for joining us.
S2: Thank you for having me.