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No charges filed in SDSU rape case

 December 8, 2022 at 4:35 PM PST

S1: No charges in the alleged SDSU rape case.

S2: Ultimately , they came to a conclusion that there were not enough evidence for a conviction.

S1: I'm M.G. Perez with Jade Heineman. Maureen CAVANAUGH is off. This is KPBS midday edition. Workers helping the homeless who need help themselves.

S3: The irony is that these workers , their jobs are to get people into housing and they themselves are struggling with housing.

S1: A conversation with the two newest trustees on the San Diego Unified School Board And hundreds of North County families compete for a bargain price. New Home. The children's book featuring a Patchwork of love. That's ahead on Midday Edition. No charges will be filed against any of the San Diego State football players accused of a gang rape off campus last year. In a statement , the district attorney's office said that after reviewing the evidence , there was no path to a potential criminal conviction. Joining me now with the latest is KPBS North County multimedia producer Alexander Wendt , who has been following this case. Alex , welcome back to Midday.

S2: Well , thank you.

S1: Remind us about the details of the case.

S2: October of last year , the girl reported that she was taken into a back room of a house on Rockford Drive. There she was repeatedly assaulted by three men. They were later named in a civil suit as Matt Arisa , Xavier , Leonard and Alan. You are legal. All three men were on the Aztec football team at the time that Arisa was later drafted by the Buffalo Bills and was released soon after the civil suit was filed. Both Xavier Leonard and Allan Poe were let go , were not on the team this year.


S2: Ultimately , they came to a conclusion that there were not enough evidence for a conviction. The DA's office , exact phrasing is the evidence does not support the filing of criminal charges and that there is no path to a potential conviction. And I want to point out that the D.A. did not say that they don't have any evidence. It's just that they don't feel the evidence was strong enough for a conviction. And in a criminal case , prosecutors need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.

S1: A civil suit against the former players is still moving forward.

S2: The young woman's attorney only needed to show that the preponderance of the evidence shows that the incident was more than likely than not to have occurred. A preliminary hearing is set for January 6th. A research civil attorney says they will mount a rigorous defense that they claim that he left the party prior to the alleged attack.


S2: In the email , she said that the DA's decision has no bearing on the ongoing Title nine investigation. And she also said that anyone with a direct knowledge of the incident should report it to the school's online reporting portal.


S2: Legal's attorney released a statement supporting the DA's decision. He said it was clearly a decision made after an exhaustive review of the evidence. Xavier Lerner's attorney did not respond to a request for comment.

S1: Arises Lawyer made some comments about his client when asked of the nature of this case.

S2: And it was it wasn't unusual for women to throw themselves at him. Here's what he had to say at the news conference yesterday afternoon.

S4: He thought she was 18 years old. He was 21 at the time. He's only three years older. It's not like a 60 year old man having sex with an 18 year old girl or 17. It's different. Put your moral values on it , if you will. But I just don't see it being that big of a deal. It happens all the time. I mean , let's face it , the guy the guy is a good looking guy. He was the number one punter in the United States that year on a pretty good San Diego State football team. He had girls coming at him all the time. I'm not saying what he did was necessarily morally right , but it definitely wasn't criminally wrong , I put it that way.

S1: Matt A riser was dropped from the Buffalo Bills as a result of this.

S2: There is still the pending civil lawsuit. And if he's found liable , that might hurt his chances. My guess and this is just a guess , is that the NFL might just wait and see what happens with the civil trial.


S2: Dan Gillion , the attorney for the young woman , released a statement to KPBS saying that he was not surprised by the announcement. He says it's very rare for the criminal justice system to achieve anything satisfactory for victims of sexual assault.

S1: I've been speaking with KPBS. Is Alexander Win. Alex , thank you. Thanks.

S2: Thanks. It was great to be here.

S5: For the fourth month in a row , the number of homeless people in downtown San Diego has reached a new record high. The downtown San Diego Partnership reported this week that there were more than 1700 people living on the streets in November. This on the heels of another report by the San Diego Regional Task Force on Homelessness that showed twice as many people became homeless in October than were able to actually get out of a shelter and into housing. And as getting a handle on the homeless crisis eludes the city. Another report this week that San Diego pays those on the front lines of helping homeless people well below a living wage. Kelly Davis wrote about this latest finding for the San Diego Union-Tribune and joins us now. Kelly , thanks for joining us.

S3: I think dead.


S3: And they really focus on building trust because many of the people they're contacting are dealing with trauma , mental illness or they've had a bad experience with with homeless services in the past. Wow.

S5: Wow.

S3: Outreach workers make about 50,000 a year. So the compensation study actually looked at a broad spectrum of homeless service workers. So not just outreach workers , but also looked at all all these people who work under city contracts. So housing specialist , substance abuse counselors , crisis counselors. And they found that the average salary for all these workers was about $45,000. And the study put San Diego's living wage at about 75,000. So the wage someone would need to cover all their basic needs housing , medical , transportation , about $75,705. So these workers are making , on average , only about 60% of a living wage. Hmm.

S5: Hmm.

S3: You know , they love their jobs. But some have applied for subsidized housing. Or they'll move in with their parents or they'll double up in an apartment unit meant for one person. You know , kind of the same things you hear from a lot of San Diegans who are facing housing costs being so steep. But the irony is that these workers , their jobs are to get people into housing. And there they themselves are struggling with housing. Mm hmm. Absolutely.

S5: Absolutely.

S3: But at that point , the folks who have the contracts with the city , they were in the process of hiring more people.

S5: Well , what about retention ? Has the city been able to hold on to these workers at such low pay ? Yes.

S3: So so vacancy rates for for homeless services workers was about 25% earlier this year. They're doing better. It's currently around 15% vacancy rates. And , you know , as the city is working hard on on reducing street homelessness , you know , they need as many , you know , boots on the ground , so to speak , as they can get. So , yeah , they're definitely looking at closing that that gap , that vacancy rate gap.

S5: Mm hmm.

S3: The fact that they've they're making these the results public , that they are committed to raising worker pay. And , you know , as long as I've been reporting on homelessness , this has always been an issue. Low wages for for homeless sector workers. But , you know , making making this information public , I think , is a very important step in having a discussion about , you know , what what we want to pay people who are doing such critical work.


S3: Mayor Tuggerah has described them as doing heroic work , and he's admitted that they're not well compensated. You know , and the city has said that pending , you know , contract negotiations , what they're trying to do is , is add benefits that they're able to add like peer support meetings , training , you know , helping to find self-care resources for for people who are really kind of first level , you know , first in a first responder position there. They're often the ones making contact with someone who's having a mental health crisis or someone who's who's dealing with an unaddressed serious injury. So the city says they're doing anything they can to to make this job easier , since it could really be , you know , these are high stress positions.


S3: I talked to Hannan Scrapper. She's the regional director of PATH People Assisting the Homeless. It's one of the city contractors. And actually her organization is working on their own internal compensation study that should be completed by the end of this year. And she said the plans are to follow that with organization wide salary increases and also to take all this information to the city council. And , you know , given all this data that we have now. Ideally , we'd see a boost in contract amounts and a boost in worker pay , maybe starting next fiscal year.

S5: I've been speaking with investigative journalist Kelly Davis. Kelly , thank you.

S3: Thank you.

S5: You're listening to KPBS midday edition. I'm Jade Hindman with Maggie Perez. Zillow says the average price for a home in asking Dito is $800,000. So it's not surprising that hundreds of families have signed up for a chance at a home costing less than half that much. KPBS North County reporter Tania Thorn tells us out of those hundreds , only ten will get a new set of house keys.

S3: San Diego , Habitat for Humanity is building ten homes off El Norte Parkway in Escondido.

S6: So what we're seeing here is the horizontal pads , the foundations for what's going to be ten affordable home ownership homes.

S3: Kofi Reed is a president of San Diego Habitat for Humanity. The homes are three bedroom , two and a half bath duplexes.

S6: And these homes are , as with all of Habitat's products , going to be priced to be affordable for families that make 80% of the area median income. So for a family of four , we're talking about a family that makes about $92,000.

S3: With a price tag of approximately $300,000 each. There's huge demand.

S6: We had 270 applicants apply for those ten spots. It's tough , right , because the median price for a home in San Diego is , as we all know , 800,000 or so dollars. And so for working families who are trying to make that leap into homeownership , it can be really tough.

S3: Escondido council member Consuelo Martinez says she isn't surprised so many families applied for the chance at affordable housing. Now these families are living with their parents in multi-generational homes , waiting to be able to buy something affordable. Right. And they're saving that money , but they just can't enter that market yet. And so this is really going to provide an amazing opportunity for our families here in Escondido. Martinez says the opportunity comes as she sees gentrification happening and pushing residents out of the city. You know , I notice that a lot of the older homes are being purchased by investors. They're being gutted and remodeled and sold at a really exorbitant price. So it's really pricing out a lot of folks. So I want to for me , it's something that I'm very concerned about. I don't want my residents to be displaced. Although ten affordable homes is a small feat , Martinez says it's a start in the right direction at having more affordable housing in us. Candido a start that Maribel Vega says many families hope for. Vallejo works as a liaison for families at Mission Middle School and let them know about the opportunity. Well , I immediately started talking to my families and letting them know , you know , this is happening. You know , you should apply because I know the need. I know they need in this communities. As she was promoting the application , Mejia realized she also had a need for an opportunity like this. When I started looking at the requirements , I. I began to think of myself , too. You know , I'm in that situation. So I did go through the application process. She's currently renting a room and doesn't have the space for her children. If she is selected , she says it would change. Everything would be beautiful to have my children back with me living. And , you know , it's something that that I'm hoping for. Habitat for Humanity will be reviewing applications and expects to have the families selected before the end of the year.

S6: For us , what that means is we get to pick ten extremely qualified , hardworking families that fit all of the criteria that you'd like to see. But it breaks our heart that we had to say no to some 260 plus. Otherwise really qualified families who also deserve this dream of home ownership.

S3: Families must be in need of improved housing , willing to participate in the building of the home and have a stable income in order to qualify. The city of US , Candido and the State each contributed $1 million for the project. Reid says it's those partnerships , donors and volunteers that make their mission possible.

S6: We have costs for our development that aren't this aren't as high as market rate , but they're pretty close. So the difference for us is we're not passing those costs along to our homebuyers. We are working with partners to help make it affordable so that other people can get that dream of home ownership , of not having to pay eight or $900,000 for their house.

S3: He says the mortgages won't exceed 30% of the family's gross income and that affordability allows families to be healthier. Kids thrive in school and can be a resource for the future.

S5: And now , KPBS North County reporter Tanya Thorn joins us. Tanya , welcome.

S3: Thanks for having me.

S5: All right. So what is the current housing market like in Escondido ? Paint the picture for me.

S3: Oh , this housing market , we've heard so much about it this year in Escondido. According to Zillow , the average home price for a home there is around $800,000. And , you know , it's about the same in San Diego County. But I think what's interesting , at least for North County , is that Escondido used to be one of the more affordable places to live , and that's either to purchase or rent. But that has started to change. And of course , the rising interest rates are also pricing people out. So someone that might have been able to afford a home , let's say a year ago , may not be able to afford it anymore due to an extra couple hundred dollars on their mortgage due to the interest rates. So when it comes to a $300,000 home , newly built , it's a sweet , sweet deal. Wow.

S5: Wow. And how. Is Habitat for Humanity work.

S3: So , of course , they rely heavily on donor support , and that's corporate and individual large donations , but also partnerships. So the city of San Diego and the state of California each contributed $1 million for the project. And then you have the volunteers that help with the work. So all of these things together really help them accomplish this.

S5: So I know in doing research for this story , you also explored the impacts of having affordable housing in communities. What did you find out there ? Yeah.

S3: So , you know , as I worked on this story , the organization really talked about how having affordable housing , not having that stress of a mortgage , of not being able to not afford your mortgage every month really helps families out. And that comes down to their health , to their children being able to thrive in school. I mean , you know , children obviously see parents struggling sometimes and that stresses them out. Right ? They leave to school maybe thinking like , am I going to be homeless ? We've seen a lot of homelessness very recently and families living in their cars. And that really impacts impacts children , the entire family as a whole. And so when families are able to live in an affordable house , it just it's it determines a better future. And , you know , that house is an investment that could be used in the future for the family , family for itself. So their families are able to build equity. And when the day comes that you have to send your kids off to college , you know , home , sometimes you can use that equity to be able to pay for their college , to be able to pay for hospital bills for those expenses that sometimes we really don't expect. And a lot of that , you know , are what is cause a lot of people to go homeless. I've done a lot of reports on individuals that have ended up on the streets due to hospital bills and just things that they weren't able to afford , including housing. Wow.

S5: Wow. All right.

S3: So it's like a lottery. It doesn't hurt to try , but there are some requirements. So in order to qualify. Families must be in need of improved housing. So you have to be living in a smaller space. And , you know , I hate to say it , but maybe not so safe situation. So just you need to have that need for improved housing. You also have to be willing to participate in the building of the home. So all of the families that get selected have to come back when they are selected and actually put in some sweat equity is what they called it. And that could be anywhere from , you know , dry walling , painting fixtures , even landscaping , so that you have to be able to work on the home. And I think there is about 250 hours that each family that is selected has to put into the home. And of course , lastly , there's the income. Families have to have a stable income and there are some income parameters. So I think the family has to earn between 50 and 80% of the area median income. And , you know , I think what I really like about this is that the mortgage payments are tailored to each homeowner so they won't all be the same. The houses do cost around $300,000 for their mortgage , but they know one family is going to have the same mortgage , but it will be no more than 30% of their gross monthly household income. So that's that's huge for what we're seeing nowadays.


S3: This is one that obviously applications have closed , but there will be another ten or 11 units coming up in Escondido , where applications should be opening in 2024. And Habitat for Humanity is always doing projects throughout San Diego , not just North County. And they did tell me that 17 homes will be coming up in Santee , and that will be in around 2025. So , of course , construction and working out all the details of these projects takes time. But I really you know , it never hurts to apply. You never know. And if you are selected , this could be just huge for any family and for just our entire region as we're seeing just the need for affordable housing.

S5: I've been speaking with KPBS , North County reporter Tanya Thorne. Tanya , thanks for joining us today.

S3: Thank you.

S1: San Diego Unified has a new school board.

S4: This is not a board that's adding two new board members. This is a new board. And we are going to work our way through a.

S2: Common vision that is going to.

S4: Do great things.

S2: For young people in this.

S4: Community for generations.

S1: That is Richard PEREIRA , San Diego Unified School Board Trustee , welcoming Shayna Hazen and Cody Pederson during their swearing in ceremony Monday. Both were just elected in November to replace longtime incumbents on the board in Districts B and C. Hazen is a parent , a nonprofit executive , a former public school teacher and a product of San Diego Unified.

S3: To ensure all kids reach their full potential , we have to help them build self-efficacy. That's that intrinsic belief that they have what it takes to achieve their goals. As a district , we must work in partnership with families to empower our kids to shape and achieve the future they want for themselves.

S1: Patterson is also a graduate of San Diego Unified with a Ph.D. in anthropology from UC San Diego. He is a parent committed to empowering the younger generation at a time they need it most.

S4: We are surrounded by crisis. Our children are surrounded by crises , real crises. The climate crisis. The housing crisis , the homelessness crisis. The crisis of wealth and income inequality. The crisis of racial and ethnic inequality. And on top of that , we have a crisis of democracy.

S1: Both Cody Pederson and Shayna Hazen join us now. Welcome to you.

S3: Thank you.

S4: Thank you.

S1: First of all , congratulations on your elections.

S3: I saw far too many kids who just weren't reaching and reaching their full potential. And one of the things I know , based on my experience , is that when we have clear goals for plans that are truly centered around kids and families , every student in our district can receive the education they need to succeed. And I know we can make things better.

S1: Both of you addressed in your opening statement some of the district's biggest challenges homelessness , mental health and COVID consequences.

S4: I have a deep love for the district. Its teachers were really a fundamental part of my growing up process. And we're really an extended family for me. I grew up half a block from LA Elementary and my mom was PTA president. I really had a deep desire to give back to the district , and particularly to the teachers who not only were fundamental to my experience , but are also helping to raise my kids. So I think , like first and foremost , I wanted to I wanted to give back to the district. And I actually had a lot of experience doing advocacy for public education with our state and federal legislatures and had a pretty broad experience on policy issues. So I felt like I had a lot to give , and I felt like it was a district that really has a lot of potential , but it also has some some , as my colleague , Trustee has pointed out , has a lot of challenges , and I look forward to doing anything I can do to help advance the interests of our students and teachers and other staff.

S1: The district will be getting some substantial funding in the new year , both from Prop 28 , guaranteeing arts education for every school in California and of course measure you the bond measure.

S3: I think it's something that's been missing from the education we've been providing for our kids. So I think this is a huge win for our students , and I'm excited to do the work with our incredible arts educators and leaders in the district to make sure that every school and every student has regular weekly music and art instruction that is enriching for them. And I think one of the things I've noticed as a district mom with a student in fourth grade is that while many of our middle schools and high schools have really exceptional arts programs , so whether it's band or orchestra , visual arts , our elementary schools don't. And often. It is private supplemental funding that makes that available at some schools , but not at all of them. And so I'm excited for us to be able to provide really wonderful arts experiences for our youngest learners.

S1: Cody Asking voters to approve more bonds is a big ask , and yet voters approved measure you overwhelmingly allowing the district to borrow $3.2 billion for various projects.

S4: We have a very good team on that. We have an oversight committee on that to make sure that it's consistent with the interests and values of our constituents and that it's financially sound. There'll be a ongoing community conversation in terms of how we expend that. We've heard people being very favorable to certain kinds of investments , other ones that. There's a lot of different voices on how that gets spent. But certainly we want a lot of that money going to classrooms. We want to go into security improvements. The truth is , we also need a lot on the outward facing elements of those campuses , because part of what encourages families to have their kids in the schools is a sense of the school is an attractive place , a safe place for their kids to attend.

S1: Children with special needs were particularly impacted by the COVID shutdown. Almost three years later , there are many parents still who feel their children were forgotten.

S3: And I know it is my commitment and Trustee Pederson and really all of our board members to ensure that we're doubling down to make sure students with special needs get what they need and have the support that they are entitled to. And so we have to prioritize that work. It starts with ensuring that we are completing on time assessments of all students and then really wrapping around the child and the family to not just say what is the minimum we are required to do , but what can we do ? What is every single thing we can do to make sure that each child reaches their potential ? And I know we don't always do that. I think it requires a cultural shift internally and really thinking differently about how we support families.

S1: Shayna Those results showing a learning decline in both math and reading.

S3: And I think that , you know , part of that story that no one's talking about is the test results that we've seen , both at the state level and NABE. The nation's report card reflect outcomes for students who were in third grade last year. Those are not the kids that were hardest hit by COVID closures. So those are students who had a full year of in-person kindergarten , nearly a full year of in-person first grade. And so as we see results , particularly in reading , that didn't change a whole lot. And I think what's being reflected is San Diego is doing kind of okay and maybe better than expected coming out of COVID. I think the real story is what about those younger students ? What are we going to see this year in those results ? And I wouldn't be surprised if we see more significant declines. Those are the kids who were in kindergarten in first grade , not in-person. And we know that just is not the right place for us to be able to learn well. And so for me , it's really about thinking about those youngest kids. We have to , of course , think about older students as well. But in terms of setting a strong foundation both for literacy and numeracy , I'm still particularly concerned about that.

S1: You both have deep roots in education. Those roots started , as we mentioned , growing at schools in San Diego Unified all those years ago.

S3: I remember in eighth grade , going on a trip with my classmates to Washington , D.C. , I went to Maryland's middle school and we went to D.C. and it was really fun and also really educational. And I think when we can create experiences for kids that are fun , that are engaging and where they're learning , that is that secret sauce that we want to really spread across the district.

S1: Before we go , Cody , your favorite memories.

S4: I would definitely echo trust. Hazen. I did sixth grade camp. I would love to explore how we bring outdoor education back to anything. If I potentially get that sixth grade camp type situation at Palomar back online. I would also say really , one of the things when I look back , I see the relationships I had with teachers and I was able to bring to do the swearing in , able to bring Mrs. Roden Rice and Mrs. Montgomery and Mrs. Crowder and Mr. Mica back to my old teachers. And that's really more than anything , what I take away is just this deep sense of gratitude to the teachers at Santa Unified. My children now have that same sort of relationship. I just have a lot of gratitude for those those relationships with teachers.

S1: I've been speaking with Cody Pederson and Shanna Hazen , newly elected trustees of the San Diego Unified School District. Thank you both.

S3: Thank you.

S4: Thank you , Angie.

S1: This is KPBS Midday mission. I'm M.G. Peres with Jade Heineman. What kind of person do I want to be ? It's a question that every child will find themselves asking at some point. Most parents strive to steer their children in the right direction while also giving them the freedom to be themselves. That's in addition to their own curiosity and self-discovery as they grow more aware of the world around them. A new children's book by San Diego author Matt de la Pena explains all of this. Earlier this year , I spoke with Matt about the book Patchwork. Starting with the question of how he chose the book's title.

S7: Well , there are two things. Each individual child , but also adult , I think is a collection of things in your past , you know , memories , significant family members or friends , the community that you're raised in. So all of these experiences over time kind of make up who we are , as , say , a 10th grader or an adult down the line. But the title also refers to kind of the bigger picture , which is that all of these individuals kind of fit into the patchwork of humanity. So all of us are telling stories with our lives , but our stories don't exist on their own. They're collective.


S7: If something hurts you , you just kind of shove it away. And so I was thinking a lot about that. And now that I've become a writer and one of the things I'm most interested in as a writer is what makes you feel things on the inside ? What makes you feel emotion ? So I thought , How did I go from that athletic kid who sort of played by the code of machismo to being somebody who's interested in writing about emotion. So I think most writers , we don't set out to like , deliver a message. It's more that we're exploring something that we don't quite understand or we're asking an interesting question.

S1: Your code illustrator has received a lot of praise for the way her art style complements your writing.

S7: She lives up in Washington State now , but she's actually from San Diego , too. She did a book called The Book of Mistakes , a picture book that I greatly admired , and I really wanted to work with her. So we got connected. We have the same agent who also lives in San Diego , so a lot of San Diego connections there. But what she brought to the book is this incredible sort of metaphor with color. So each child originally , they see themselves in one color , kind of like a basic color. And the first vignette , it's blue. But then over time , as the child evolves , she complicates that color and she adds in pink and then ultimately brown. So each vignette , she underscores what's happening in the text with this complication of color , which is just really exciting.

S1: Let's talk about your writing. What is your style ? It's very lyrical and evocative.

S7: So I lived in Brooklyn for 15 years and I wrote all my books there until the last to move back to San Diego , where I live now. It was right before the pandemic , so now I kind of had to write from home. I didn't have an office anymore , so I was writing at home and to describe my style , I would say this , you know , when I write a picture book , I try to get two things right. First of all , the story , but then second of all , the music. And to me , the music is just as important as the story. This is the kind of text that's going to be read , hopefully again and again. You know , this could be a child reading to themselves , but often it's a parent reading to a child or a teacher reading to a classroom. So I want the musicality to live up to the story. And and also , one more thing I would add about that is all my writing , whether I'm writing a novel or a picture book. Sometimes I don't even know if I'm making things up or just plagiarizing the world because these are just voices that I've been surrounded by my whole life , you know , growing up in National City and then Cardiff by the Sea , moving to New York City , Brooklyn. You know , I just hear the voices of the subway or the streets , and I try to integrate that as much as I can into my texts.

S1: You write a lot about how children can grow and develop in ways that they might not expect.

S7: But now I'm a parent and I'm watching this firsthand. And , you know , not too long ago , I was in a conversation with a few parents and they were all talking about their children and how these are second graders , but they hadn't found their quote unquote , thing yet. And that made me really kind of wonder , why is it that we as parents are in such a hurry to define our children ? And once we do define our children , what does that do to our children ? Does that really change the way they see themselves ? And I really do think , of course , I do this , too , to my kids. My daughter , she's eight years old and she is a really big reader. And I think because I'm an author , I'm very excited about this. So I often mention this early on in a conversation when my kids come up , but I wonder how much my influencing , how she thinks of herself. And isn't childhood really a stage of exploration and play ? Shouldn't this be ? And we can make mistakes when the stakes are low. So I'm trying to think about this as both a writer and a parent trying to be a gardener with my children and less of a contractor. In other words , there's no blueprint that I'm just building my child out to be. I'm just sort of tending to who they are and how they're growing and trying to work with that.

S1: Let's continue that thought. Emotional and physical growth can be really tough for a child.

S7: I started off writing exclusively novels , but now I'm writing more and more picture books. And I often wonder , what is the job of the writer for the Very young ? Is it to tell the truth or preserve innocence ? And I think , you know , each writer makes their own call. I tend to want to lean toward the truth , but if I'm going to do that , I have to do it in a way where a child who isn't ready for that truth , especially if it's a hard truth , then they can enter the story at some other point. So patchwork , if you really get deep down into it , it's a pretty complex idea. The fact that , you know , we should not be defined by a single thing. We are more complicated than that. But a child who's not ready to think on that level hopefully will just get caught up in each vignette and the color. So I think as a book creator , I try to have multiple levels that a child can enter in because that makes for a more inclusive book.

S1: What a powerful statement. Tell the truth or preserve innocence. I love that.

S7: One of my more recent books is called Love , and it's a picture book. And it you know , this is a book called Love. And this is a concept that no one person owns , Right ? So I wanted to bring everybody in. So I didn't want just one main character. I wanted multiple main characters. So inclusivity. Now , often people will immediately think , well , he's talking about racial inclusivity , and I am , but I'm also talking about ideological inclusivity. You know , here I am living on the coasts , and you might assume a certain political belief system that I'm that I have. But I've also done events in the middle of the country where maybe the politics are slightly different from mine. But if you love your eight year old daughter the way I love my eight year old daughter , then I can have a conversation with you. So I want to have political inclusivity as much as I can. So I want to bring everyone in. And I hope that that's a good formula for a kid just seeing themself in a book , because that's a powerful thing.

S1: The book deals with themes like affirmation and empathy.

S7: I think , you know , often we think of picture books and we think of six , seven , eight year olds , second graders , third graders. But the truth is , when you write a picture book , you do have two audiences. You have the child , but you also have the parent that might be reading to that child or the teacher who might be sharing that book with the class. So I actually think picture books are not just for kids , I think they're for humans. I speak at colleges. I speak at high schools , middle schools , elementary schools. I always read a picture book everywhere I go. The only difference is if I'm reading with an older audience , we have a different conversation. If I'm reading to a younger audience , maybe it's going to be , you know , we're going to hit more of the surface area of the book at the end of the day. A book is just a tool for conversation. And so I kind of think about that every time I need a new audience.

S1: I've been speaking with Matt de la Pena , author of the new book Patchwork , along with co illustrator Carina Lukin. Matt , thanks for joining us.

S7: Thanks so much for. For letting me be on your show.

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No charges will be filed against any of the SDSU football players accused of a gang rape on campus last year. And, for the fourth month in a row, the number of homeless people in downtown San Diego has reached a new record high. Plus, Zillow says the average price for a home in Escondido is $800-thousand dollars. So it’s not surprising that hundreds of families have signed up for a chance at a home costing less than half that. Also, San Diego Unified has a new school board, and two new members in Shana Hazan and Cody Petterson. Finally, a new children’s book by San Diego author Matt De La Peña explores self-discovery and curiosity in children.