Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Watch Live

San Diego County unemployment rate drops to 4.2% in December

 January 24, 2022 at 5:52 PM PST

Speaker 1: (00:01)

Tech jobs lead the way in boosting San Diego's employment rate,

Speaker 2: (00:05)

Compared to where it's been the last two years, roughly this is pretty good news for San Diego county.

Speaker 1: (00:11)

I'm Maureen Kavanaugh with Jade Heman. This is KPBS midday edition. It's getting harder for preschools to find childcare staff

Speaker 3: (00:29)

Considering I'm doing the job of two teachers right now at minimum wage, it's really discouraging.

Speaker 1: (00:36)

A new report finds too many domestic abusers still have their guns and Moxy theater unveils a play that's friendly to your senses. That's a head on midday edition, Even in the, so the Omicron surge, the San Diego county unemployment rate continues to decrease San Diego end of the year with a 4.2% unemployment rate. That's the lowest rate since the pandemic, but not all industries are equal in the amount of job growth, high end tech and life sciences employment is booming while jobs in the state industry are down. Joining me is San Diego union Tribune business reporter Philip Moar Phil. Welcome back to the show.

Speaker 2: (01:30)

Yeah. Great to be here, Maureen. Thank you.

Speaker 1: (01:32)

Can you give us an idea of how a 4.2 unemployment rate in December stacks up against what the rates have been through the pandemic? Yeah,

Speaker 2: (01:40)

So that is very low compared to what we've seen throughout the pandemic. It hit a high of 15.9% in April, 2020, but it took a really long time to basically get back down to where we are now, before the pandemic in the months leading up to it, it was crazy. Unemployment rate was lower than 3%. So 4.2%, you know, if there was no pandemic, you just looked at it, you'd say, oh man, things are up kind of high. But compared to where it's been the last two years, roughly this is pretty good news for business analysts and economic analysts for San Diego

Speaker 1: (02:14)

County. And with that 4.2 unemployment rate, are we doing better or the same as most of California and the country

Speaker 2: (02:21)

Actually, we're doing better than the California average of 5%. So that's pretty good. But the national average is 3.7% a little bit lower than what we're at right now. You know, it's kind of funny earlier in the pandemic, especially when things started opening up, everyone kind of said, California's gonna take longer to recover because we had much stricter lockdown measures in order to stop this spread of COVID 19. However, I'm hearing different things now. No, one's really quite sure why California's taking a little bit while to recover compared to the rest of the nation. I mean, the prevailing wisdom does seem to be that the lockdown measures were part of the factor. So we'll have to wait and see

Speaker 1: (03:01)

What industries in San Diego are doing the most hiring.

Speaker 2: (03:04)

This one was a little shocking, especially for December where it's not usually a big hiring month, but the high paying professional and business services sector is the one hiring the most right now, which is kind of fascinating because it's our highest jobs in scientific research in technology, biotech architecture. So that's where we saw the biggest jump, which was pretty good. If you're an economic analyst, do we

Speaker 1: (03:29)

Know why that would be

Speaker 2: (03:30)

Throughout the pandemic? There's been tons of money pouring into venture capital. We saw San Diego startups in 2021 at 9.6 billion for a variety of companies in life science technology. So a lot of those industries, investors just poured a lot of money into them, especially, you know, biotech here in San Diego, lots of research, shrouding pandemic and all this kind of stuff. So they're kind of flush with cash at the moment. So that sort of translates into hiring. And that's what we really saw about 4,100 jobs were added in December in professional and business services. So those jobs can pay a lot of money. Yeah. A

Speaker 1: (04:09)

Lot of money. You have a list of them in your article and we're talking six figures,

Speaker 2: (04:13)

Aren't we? Yeah. You know, the funny thing is through the bureau of labor statistics, I only have 2020 numbers right now, but you could imagine that they've gone up. For instance, if you're, you know, like a computer and information systems manager, the entry level in 2020 was about $99,000 a year. But if you're some physical scientists that might work in some sort of biotech field, your annual salaries could be around 120,000 and starting wage back then was around eight, 2000. I really suspect that it's, it's getting up for entry level in that position, probably nearing a hundred thousand. And of course there's a lot of other things like if you're a super high paid biotech person say you're a natural science manager, they were making in twenty twenty, a hundred eighty 3000 a year. So pretty significant wages in those, those areas

Speaker 1: (05:01)

On the flip side, a number of sectors actually lost jobs in December. Is that because of the surge in the

Speaker 2: (05:08)

Virus, you know, the weird thing about that is it probably was affected in some way, but some of them, I wouldn't have expected such as like retail, leisure hospitality. A lot of times they have a big jump in hiring around December. So I'm not quite sure exactly the, the exact reason why we saw a dip in those industries. I know a lot of them are struggling, especially construction define workers. So that could be part of the factor too. But there, there just seems to be a lot of things going on with, you know, supply chain waiting for goods to come in. So they could actually, they work on stuff and, you know, tourism is still suffering. There was a ton of things canceled because of the latest surge. So that's another factor as well.

Speaker 1: (05:51)

Overall though, on an annual basis, tourism in San Diego did quite a lot of hiring. I mean it rebounded pretty well. Can you remind us what kind of jobs the tourism industry includes?

Speaker 2: (06:03)

Anything from like casinos to working at a hotel and sort of in the leisure and hospitality sector, we kind of roll it all into one with restaurants. So it's all that type of work right there that sort of runs into it. And of course that includes bars as well. Bar tend to that sort of thing. So if we look at a year over year basis in December, the leisure and hospitality, they added about 37,600 workers. So if you looked at just year over year, you'd be like, wow, they did great, you know, but, um, they're still recovering from the pandemic.

Speaker 1: (06:33)

And although home prices are incredibly high as, as, as you've been reporting through the year, a lot of real estate related jobs seem to be suffering. Yeah. I

Speaker 2: (06:42)

Was surprised by that. I saw a dip in financial services hiring and I was thinking to myself, okay, well there seems to be a lot of work in finances, but then I kind of forgot that real estate is included under that, that category. That includes a ton of reals. And the interesting thing that's going on in that industry right now is you have these record breaking sales, big profits. But the biggest thing is we have very, very few homes for sale. At one point in December, a weekly estimate was about 1700 homes for sale in a county of more than 3 million people. So one way to look at that is real estate agents don't have as much to do. Another thing is there's a lot of jobs tied to real estate, such as mortgage loan, originators, all sorts of stuff like that. If there aren't a lot of homes for sale that gives a lot of people, a lot of free time who don't have anything to do, you know? So that are tied to that industry.

Speaker 1: (07:33)

Does having an employment boom, in jobs that pay $100,000 or more, does that help our overall economy in San Diego?

Speaker 2: (07:42)

I talked to Ellen, Jen over at the university of San Diego. And he says, yes, because if you have those people that have those high paying jobs, they are putting money back into the economy. They're going to that restaurant. And you work at with poor wages and they're paying for it or say, they're some describing to your newspaper for your lower paid report, something like that. You know? So they're putting money into the community and it might be a tough pill to swallow if you're in the construction industry and seeing someone's making like triple what you're making, but you know, it's not like they're like just independently wealthy people, just moving to San Diego to sit around on the something they are part of the economy they're out there every day. They're maybe getting lunch on their lunch breaks. If they're working back in the office, all those kind of things sort of filter out through

Speaker 1: (08:28)

The economy. Okay. Then I've been speaking with San Diego union Tribune, business reporter, Philip Moar and Philip. Thank you very much.

Speaker 2: (08:36)

All right. Thank you so much.

Speaker 1: (08:49)

Even before COVID it was difficult to hire childcare staff because the positions are undervalued and poorly paid. Now it's nearly impossible. K PBS investigative reporter Claire Traeger looks at what's causing a childcare staffing crisis in the region

Speaker 4: (09:07)

In May, 2021, all had just graduated from SDSU with a degree in child and family development. When looking for her first job, she was hired immediately by a local preschool.

Speaker 3: (09:20)

This is the first and only job I applied to and it ended up working out, but

Speaker 4: (09:24)

Her college education did little to prepare her for what she ended up walking

Speaker 3: (09:29)

Into. So technically I would have a co-teacher and we would split up the children's six and six with where I'm at right now. I am keeping all 12 kids

Speaker 4: (09:39)

Together, six months into the job, Allie and her classroom of toddlers are left with a rotating cast of substitute teachers. Allie doesn't wanna reveal her full name or the name of her school to protect her job.

Speaker 3: (09:52)

We put, um, name tags on the children so that we can help the subs, identify them. And they can actually refer, refer to them by their name.

Speaker 4: (10:00)

Plus sometimes the subs themselves call in sick or just don't

Speaker 3: (10:04)

Show up. I've noticed how attached they are to me. And when other subs come in, it's kinda like stranger danger, preschools

Speaker 4: (10:17)

And childcare centers everywhere are dealing with a massive staffing shortage on job search websites. There are more than 200 local childcare openings. Some even offering signing bonuses, providers told KP S they can't find qualified people to hire. The problem is much worse than the general labor shortage trend childcare providers have to compete with retailers and restaurants for workers, but those other sectors can raise starting wages. Plus people are still worried about catching COVID from unvaccinated toddlers. We're

Speaker 5: (10:54)

Asking so much for, you know, $12 an hour when you could be making more at

Speaker 4: (11:00)

McDonald's Caitlyn. McClean is with the center for the study of childcare employment at UC Berkeley. If we

Speaker 5: (11:06)

Want to make sure that families have access to these services, we have to make sure that this is a good job that people want to do. And we have not been doing that

Speaker 4: (11:17)

On app Ridge, California, preschool teachers make less than half of what kindergarten teachers make. And more than a third of childcare workers live below the federal poverty line. Raising pay for these workers might seem like an easy solution, but there's a domino effect. First off state regulations require childcare centers to have one for every four infants and one for every six toddlers, which means a lot of staff. So if they pay more, they'd have no choice, but to raise rates for parents, which many can't afford there,

Speaker 5: (11:51)

There's no way that I can, um, continue to ask parents to pay out of pocket, um, at a higher weekly rate than I already do. I'm already within market

Speaker 4: (12:01)

Rate. Holly Weber owns magic hour preschool in Mira Mesa.

Speaker 5: (12:05)

It's just running a fine line between parents choosing to not even go back to work because their childcare expenses are so

Speaker 6: (12:12)

Absorbant people of course are gonna apply to jobs where you aren't being recognized

Speaker 4: (12:18)

Like Allie, Brianna Mendoza also recently graduated from SDSU with an early childhood education degree, but she has no interest in working at a preschool. She instead is looking at jobs where she would work one on one with children earning crisis, which would pay 21 to $22 an hour. I

Speaker 6: (12:37)

Mean, you are constantly like running. I'm telling you, like I would be sweating in the classrooms. Like whether I was changing diapers, carrying babies, feeding them sweeping, like it wasn't just childcare in there. It was like sweeping like housework.

Speaker 4: (12:52)

Meanwhile, Allie who is solo teaching at a local preschool is trying to hold on, but isn't sure how long she wants to continue considering

Speaker 3: (13:01)

I'm doing the job of two teachers right now at minimum wage. It's really discouraging

Speaker 1: (13:09)

Joining me as K P S investigative reporter, Claire trier and Claire

Speaker 4: (13:14)

Them. Thank you.

Speaker 1: (13:16)

Now the impact of the staffing shortages is apparently making preschool work much more difficult, but what is it doing to the preschools themselves? I mean, are the schools turning away, new kids or some closing up entirely?

Speaker 4: (13:31)

Yes. Uh, definitely to both. Um, you know, there's been a number of schools that have had to close during the pandemic and then something that I'm hearing a lot now is that they would like to expand. They'd like to be able to have more classrooms and help more kids, uh, take in more kids. And they just can't because they can't hire enough staff to fill those classrooms. So definitely a problem of, of, uh, lack of access for more kids who are wanting to go back to preschools right now,

Speaker 1: (14:02)

It sounds like even before the pandemic, the entire preschool sector existed by underpaying teachers and now that's just not working anymore. Is that one way to look at it?

Speaker 4: (14:14)

Um, sort of, I mean, I think that yes, preschool teachers have always been underpaid and under undervalued. Um, you know, it's a position that doesn't have as much respect necessarily from general society as, as maybe like elementary school teachers. And, you know, there's just a, a massive labor shortage going on on everywhere right now. And so it's kind of really built up the problem where if you're looking at maybe a retail job that can increase its pay for, for employees, and someone's looking to turn back, return back to work, they might go and, and be more interested in, in one of those jobs that pays more than, uh, a childcare job, even if you know their passion or what they really enjoy is, is childcare.

Speaker 1: (15:04)

And what kind of an educational background do childcare staff need?

Speaker 4: (15:09)

Well, it varies to do a family home based childcare. You don't need any educational background. You do need a number of, uh, trainings and certificates like CPR training, things like that. Um, and then for, uh, for more state funded programs, you might actually need a bachelor's degree. Some private preschools just prefer or that in, in applicants. And then, um, most preschool teachers need 12 college credits. So you do need at least some level of, um, of college classes to be able to teach at a preschool.

Speaker 1: (15:44)

Can you give us a little more background on why childcare facilities feel they can't raise staff south to a living wage?

Speaker 4: (15:54)

Right? So childcare facilities, they have a lot of government, uh, oversight and, and restrictions, which makes sense. You know, you don't want people to be able to do whatever they want when you're dealing with babies and toddlers. And so one of the big ones is the ratio. So for babies, you need, um, one teacher for every four babies. And then for slightly older kids, you need, uh, one teacher for every say, six toddlers. And that means you just need to have way more staff than you would in the kindergarten where you might have one teacher with 20 kids or something like that. And those staff, they cost a lot because they have benefits and, um, pay. And so even if the pay is, is lower, it's still very expensive for schools to have all of the staff. And so they operate on really thin profit margins.

Speaker 4: (16:48)

And so if they need to increase the pay of their staff, they're going to then need to increase the cost of families. But as you know, most families would tell you daycare or preschools childcare are already, you know, barely affordable. And so even if you raise their cost by say a hundred dollars a month, that might make it make a difference for, for families where they're gonna say, you know what? I can't even afford to send my kid to, to preschool. I'm going to stay home and take care of them anyways, or I'm gonna, you know, find another solution or whatever it is. So the center's risk losing customers if they raise their prices even just a little bit.

Speaker 1: (17:30)

And when we speak about staff, isn't it mostly women who are underpaid in these childcare jobs.

Speaker 4: (17:38)

Yes, it's 94% of the industry, uh, are women. And a lot of them are women of color.

Speaker 1: (17:46)

Now, what could be the ramifications on the workforce if childcare costs go up?

Speaker 4: (17:52)

Right? So, I mean, I touched on this a little bit, but it, it could mean that there are far more, especially, you know, unfortunately women who stay home, um, to, to take care of kids because they say, you know, we just can't afford. And especially if you have maybe more than one kid, you're gonna say, I'm just gonna quit my job. I'm gonna stay home because, uh, the childcare cost is more expensive than, than what I'm actually getting paid. Um, and so it would really, you know, continue to remove women from the workforce.

Speaker 1: (18:26)

Now, Claire, this is the first of a two part report that you're doing on childcare staffing. What do you cover in tomorrow's report?

Speaker 4: (18:34)

Well, yeah, today kind of laid out what seems like a really impossible problem. Um, and tomorrow I'm going to look at some potential solutions. Unfortunately, the biggest one seems to depend on Congress doing something at the federal level, which, um, may be difficult. Um, but then also looking at, uh, there's talk of a local ballot measure that might address the problem and some state, uh, state solutions as well.

Speaker 1: (19:01)

I've been speaking with KPBS, investigative reporter, Claire trier, Claire. Thank you.

Speaker 4: (19:06)

Thank you so much.

Speaker 7: (19:14)

You're listening to K PBS midday edition. I'm Jade Henman with Maureen Kavanaugh. California has arguably the toughest gun control laws in the country, but it often struggles to enforce those laws. A new investigation from Cal matters, a nonprofit news outlet covering California policy and politics finds that the state has failed to take guns away from thousands of domestic abusers. And those failures can have deadly consequences. Reporter Robert Lewis brings us the tragic story of one young mother in the central valley, and just a warning. This story has graphic descriptions of and could be upsetting.

Speaker 8: (19:55)

Kelly Gray's mom knew something was wrong. Kelly had grown distant after meeting her husband, but when she did reach out, like in this 2018 voicemail, she tried to sound normal. Hey,

Speaker 9: (20:05)

Gimme a call back and wanted say hi and tell you they were about to get on something to eat. But, um,

Speaker 8: (20:11)

What Kelly's family didn't know was that her husband, Julio gray was keeping her a virtual prisoner in their central valley home, beating her regularly and threatening to kill her. Shortly after that voicemail, he allegedly drove her into the, your shirts outside town, knee her down and put a gun to her head. When you

Speaker 10: (20:31)

Close your, and you think about what she had to have gone through and you know, home alone in the dark with him, that's that's nasty.

Speaker 8: (20:43)

Jody Williams is Kelly's mom. She says they didn't learn just how bad it was until May, 2020. That's when Kelly escaped with the couple's three young boys, she got an aunt to drive them to the cha chill police department. Early one morning, when Julio was out of town for work, she

Speaker 10: (21:00)

Wanted to take care of her kids, and she just wanted to be happy. She just wanted to be free.

Speaker 8: (21:05)

But if Cal thought the system would protect her, she was wrong. ACAL matter's investigation has found that too often, California law enforcement and the courts failed to disarm domestic abusers. And two months after Kelly Gray escaped, her husband found her on July 14th, 2020 Julio gore stalked Kelly to a doctor's appointment in Madera and shot her. When she came out, as she was loading their kids into a minivan, the brazen daylight killing in a parking lot, riveted the central valley. The suspect

Speaker 11: (21:41)

In the tragic shooting death of a child chill woman is behind

Speaker 8: (21:44)

Bars just after a mid. It was one of those salacious, domestic violent its murders. That seems to hit the news every few months, and then quickly fades from the public's memory. Julio gray went on trial for murder in late September. Eric du temple was the prosecutor on the case. And I

Speaker 12: (22:00)

Say, you're gonna get to see this execution. Cause we actually have that incident on surveillance video. And I'm gonna that surveillance for, uh, for you right now. Can I get the lights please?

Speaker 8: (22:12)

Over the course of three weeks, do temple laid out an overwhelming amount of evidence. Proving Julio killed his wife.

Speaker 12: (22:19)

So how something so horrific like this happened, um, to get a full picture before we understand

Speaker 8: (22:25)

There was trace fingerprints, the surveillance video, but the trial also revealed how much authorities knew before the killing a child chill police officer Ernest Escara testified about Kelly's may 20, 20 escape. When she first contacted police.

Speaker 12: (22:43)

Did she say why she didn't report this incident sooner? She say she was scared and afraid of what, uh, Julio might I do if he found out or saw her there. So she waited on that specific day because he left to Monterey for work. Did Kelly do or say anything after your interview with her? Yes. She, um, was crying, um, and stated that he was gonna try and kill her.

Speaker 8: (23:08)

Julio was arrested the next he made bail and got out the DA's office didn't file charges right away. The da says they wanted law enforcement to keep investigating so they could bring the strongest possible case. Three weeks later, Kelly met again with Cilla police this time, detective Brian Bovie, here's prosecutor, du temple, questioning Bovie warning. It's pretty disturbing. And,

Speaker 12: (23:33)

Uh, what kind of objects did she say? She was abused by? She mentioned a fire poker and she described it in detail. Having a triangular tip was made outta iron, um, a metal bat, a chainsaw blade.

Speaker 8: (23:50)

And she also told him about being threatened with a gun like that time. Julio kneeled her down in the orchard kids in the car.

Speaker 12: (23:58)

He, um, ordered her to tell the kids that say goodbye to the kids because he's gonna kill her. So

Speaker 8: (24:12)

Then he pulled the trigger.

Speaker 12: (24:14)

She knew she that the trigger was pulled because she heard the metal on metal click.

Speaker 8: (24:22)

Despite that terrifying story, Julio wasn't charged. There were no search warrants looking for his gun. No raid. Julio was out there armed and looking for Cali. So a month after her escape, she turned to the Madera county family court and asked for a domestic violence restraining order, such orders require abusers to surrender their firearms and judges are empowered to hold special hearings and hold abusers in contempt. If they don't comply in her written request, Kelly included more than a dozen single spaced pages of horror, including photos of bruises and stories about her husband's threats. Her mom, Jody Williams. Read me part of Kelly's statement.

Speaker 10: (25:07)

I felt scared for our sons. I didn't know if his anger was still going to continue over and him take his madness out on our boys. I am still very scared that Julio will find me and kill me. He has always told me that a restraining word is not bullet proof and that he will find me. And I believe

Speaker 8: (25:22)

Him. There's no evidence. Those haunting words made any impact on the judge who considered her request at a June, 2020 hearing the judge ordered Julio gray to stay away from Kelly and the kids. But in spite of all her warnings about his gun, the judge asked just one question about firearms, quote, sir, there's no information that you have any guns or firearms or ammunition. Do you think you have any of these items Julio's reply? No. In the end it appears. No authorities tried to disarm Julio gray, a victim services worker, Asda Duran witnessed the result. She was with Kelly the day of the killing a month after Kelly filed for a restraining order. Two months after she went to the police.

Speaker 6: (26:12)

I didn't see the truck at first cause she was walking my view. But when she moved, um, that's when I saw him running towards the van.

Speaker 12: (26:22)

Did you hear anything?

Speaker 6: (26:27)

She screamed out the no after that nothing was said,

Speaker 12: (26:35)

Did you hear any gunshots?

Speaker 6: (26:38)


Speaker 8: (26:40)

The judge in Cilla police chief refused to talk to me about the case, her death devastated Kelly's family who hopes she'll be remembered as a sweet soul who died protecting her children again. Kelly's mom. She

Speaker 10: (26:53)

Made me happy. I love being her mama. I love be mama.

Speaker 8: (27:06)

The jury found Julio guilty. He was sentenced in November to life without parole. After the verdict, a different judge read aloud another standard court order telling Julio if he had any guns, he'd need to surrender them.

Speaker 13: (27:40)

That's Robert Lewis with a story he reported for Cal matters. It's such an upsetting story and you know, really speaks to the incredible violence that can happen, um, to women and, and in communities that are rural and isolated, where there aren't organizations sometimes to help folks. And I'm sure Robert, that, that took a real emotional toll to report this story too. And to hear the pain in these people's voices, when you were talking to them,

Speaker 8: (28:13)

Kelly's story really haunted me. Um, I just, I couldn't get it outta my head. I knew I wanted to had to do something with it. Um, the horror she, she described the courage add to, to finally escape and to try to protect her kids and, and the degree to which she, she told anyone in a position of authority, um, what was happening and, and said exactly what he was going to do to her. And the fact that the system, uh, didn't protect her. Uh, it just, it was unconscionable. And, uh, she and her family deserved better.

Speaker 13: (28:50)

Well, this is a story, not just about one woman's case in Madera county, but it's really about our whole state. I mean, California is struggling to enforce its gun laws and to protect people from violence, especially family and domestic fight violence when it involves guns. So tell us what is supposed to happen when a judge issues, a restraining order against a gun owner.

Speaker 8: (29:14)

So in California, anyone who is the subject of a restraining order, even a temporary one is supposed to surrender their firearms to law enforcement or sell them to a licensed dealer with than 24 hours of being served. And that's because there's research showing domestic violence is much more likely to turn deadly when there's a gun present.

Speaker 13: (29:35)

Well, and as we've just heard in call Gore's case, that certainly didn't happen is that typical?

Speaker 8: (29:42)

Well, at the start of last year, there were 4,600 people. The state justice department believed, still owned a gun despite being the subject of a restraining order. But those were just registered guns. It doesn't count people like Julio gore who didn't have any weapons stern in his name when he shot his wife, the state court system for its part doesn't track. How often victims like Kelly inform the courts that their abuser is armed with a registered or unregistered gun and how often guns are formally surrendered in those cases.

Speaker 13: (30:17)

So could they be tracking this? I mean, is there a way that the courts could

Speaker 8: (30:21)

Do that? Well, there is a checkbox on every restraining order request form. Uh, does your abuser have a gun? Yes. No. In theory courts could be looking at how often victims are alleging there's a gun. And then seeing if proof of surrender is filed, um, but they're not doing it.

Speaker 13: (30:38)

Robert, is this a new problem for us here in Cal, California, especially when it comes to restraining orders related to domestic violence?

Speaker 8: (30:46)

No, there have been numerous reports through the years warning that the firearm relinquishment provisions in domestic violence cases are not being enforced. Uh, judges, aren't making sure their orders are followed. Law enforcement is often not going out, trying confiscate the guns. I talked to Paul Durenberger, a retired Sacramento county prosecutor who is in charge of domestic violence cases. He says in California, it's too often just up to the abuser to decide whether to comply or not. And the honor system, it just doesn't work.

Speaker 2: (31:20)

We have to find a better way that sir, uh, do you have any guns? And the person just says, no,

Speaker 13: (31:27)

Wow. What could the courts or law enforcement be doing to better enforce it rather than just relying on that honor system? Well,

Speaker 8: (31:35)

By law, the family courts are supposed to be doing background checks on alleged abusers before issuing a restraining order, including a search for registered firearms. But half the courts don't even have access to the state firearm database. So sometimes judges don't know if an alleged abuser is armed.

Speaker 13: (31:53)

Wait, why don't they have access to that state firearm database, the state

Speaker 8: (31:57)

DOJ guards, its data closely, uh, the courts need to have the technical ability to access these systems while also keeping the information safe. Some courts either can't or haven't gone through the process to get access. And, you know, even when the courts do have evidence of a gun, judges are supposed to make sure the abusers file receipts proving those guns were surrendered and they can hold abusers in contempt if they don't. But many judges just don't do that. Um, as for law enforcement agencies are often not in the loop and in many places, they don't send anyone out to get these guns.

Speaker 13: (32:35)

Why isn't law enforcement following up and, and why aren't judges holding people in contempt. If that's something they can do, restraining

Speaker 8: (32:41)

Orders are handled in the civil side of the court. Uh, law enforcement often isn't involved. And even when agencies get an alert about one of these cases, it might be low on their priority list. Um, as for the courts, sometimes the judicial officers handling these case might not have experience with these types of cases or might not recognize the danger. And when we're talking about unregistered guns, it can be hard for victims to provide enough proof for some judges to feel that they can act. Uh, I talk to faith Whitmore who runs in organization helping domestic violence and survivors in Sacramento county. She acknowledged it can be hard to get evidence. An abuser is armed, but she thinks the judges could be pressing harder. You know, if

Speaker 14: (33:28)

It is the law and there's a reason, there's a law and there's, you know, the courts are the ones to enforce that. It seems that throwing up one's hands should not, not be the default, uh,

Speaker 13: (33:42)

Response. Are there any places in California that are handling this better, that could be models for the rest of the

Speaker 8: (33:48)

State? There are some courts and certainly some individual judges who take these issues very seriously. I talked to a long time judge in Mendocino county, Cindy Mayfield. She develop a clear, consistent policy for her court. Every case they check for registered firearms and make a note of it in the file. If there's evidence of a gun, they hold a special hearing. Uh, it's a rural county, lots of gun owners. Judge Mayfield says the issue comes up often. I do

Speaker 15: (34:16)

Kind of feel bad sometimes because they want 'em for wildlife or snakes or what have you on their ranches. But it's like at this point for the next three years, I'm sorry, you're just not gonna have guns because it's not

Speaker 13: (34:28)

Safe. Well, and it's not just rural counties where this is a problem. You actually found some evidence that the courts aren't following through in big counties and big cities, right? I

Speaker 8: (34:38)

Heard from attorneys and advocates in LA and other counties around the state that they rarely see guns confiscated. And I did an experiment in orange county. I looked at hundreds of restraining order requests filed there the same month that Kelly Gray filed her request in Madera county. And I found two dozen cases where an allegedly armed abuser was ordered to surrender any weapons they had. But in only one of the cases was there evidence in the file that the subject of the order gave up a gun and the courts just weren't following up.

Speaker 13: (35:14)

Is there any hope that this can be fixed in California?

Speaker 8: (35:18)

There was a bill that passed last year aimed at getting family court judges to use their power more, to enforce orders. The bill is also supposed to make sure law enforcement is notified when an abuser doesn't surrender a gun, but parts of the law are voluntary and some advocates are skeptical. It'll change behavior. I do know, uh, what happened to Kelly Gray really shook a lot of people. I've heard prosecutors, judges and advocates are looking at this issue, trying to figure out how they can make sure something like that doesn't happen again. I don't think

Speaker 4: (35:52)

Any of us want something like this to ever happen.

Speaker 8: (35:55)

Again, there are women right now, uh, living in fear, living in, in, in horror and situations like, like C dealt with and we owe it to them and certainly owe it to the memory of C to, to make sure when they build up the courage to escape they're protected.

Speaker 7: (36:14)

That was call Matt's reporter. Robert Lou is speaking with the California report magazines, Sasha Coka.

Speaker 1: (36:25)

This is K PBS midday edition. I'm Maureen Kavanaugh with Jade Henman Moxy theater is staging the world premier of Diana bub Bono's play sapience next month. It focuses on new diversity and offers a sensory friendly production to explore what that means. K P S arts reporter. Beth Amando speaks with director, actor, Vanessa Doron, and inclusion specialist, Samantha gin,

Speaker 4: (36:53)

Vanessa, you are just about to direct sapience at Moxy theater. And before we talk specifically about the play remind people who Moi theater is, and kind of what their mission statement is.

Speaker 16: (37:04)

Sure. So Moi theater is a theater that is ran by women and we put on plays that are created by women. Pretty much Moi theater's mission is to create more diverse and honest images of women. And our culture by producing just works by female playwrights and giving special attentions to the place that defy female stereotypes. And

Speaker 4: (37:26)

Tell us a little bit about this play sapience and what it's about. Oh,

Speaker 16: (37:30)

What is, what is it not about? it's such an amazing play. It's about communication. It's about how we strive to, uh, feel heard, to feel seen how we socialize with each other. It's about understanding and compassion. There is so much in this play,

Speaker 4: (37:52)

Samantha, you are the inclusion specialist on this show. And one of the issues that it raises is this idea of neuro diversity. So what does that mean?

Speaker 17: (38:01)

Neurodiversity means anyone with a neurological difference who thinks differently in their brain and who is not defined as neurotypical. So that could be someone on the autism spectrum or someone who's dyslexic. Those are some examples of neurodiversity. And this play focuses on two actors who are on the autism spectrum. This

Speaker 4: (38:25)

Play says that it's going to invite audiences to experience theater in a new way. So Vanessa, how are you going to package that for the audience? Well, we

Speaker 16: (38:35)

Are making this play sensory sensitive, which means anyone can come and see it. So we're incorporating things like if there's a, a sound that we think it's too jarring, there will be a cue light that will prompt someone to put on headphones if they need to, or, or walk out of the theater or if they need to, we're creating a safe space for, uh, people to walk out of the theater and take a breather. If they need one, we've dialed back the, the lighting to make sure that it's, there's no like stroke lights or anything. That's too flashy. We've taken down a notch on our voices. So we're not screaming on, on stage. So there's so much, um, there's a lot of learning experiences in the lobby. When you first walk in, audience members are allowed to leave the theater if they need some alone time. So just, just be mindful of the, the needs that that need to be met in our audience members.

Speaker 4: (39:33)

And Samantha, I mentioned that you're the inclusion SP so what does that job entail?

Speaker 17: (39:38)

So, um, I have been working with people with disabilities for the past 20 years, and I'm also an actor and a director and a writer. So I've been blessed to have both of those, those worlds in my journey. So for the past 10 years, I've, I've been working with actors with disabilities and putting on sensory friendly shows and doing a lot of neurodiverse programming. And so this time around at Moxi, they brought me in to make sure that the show is in deed sensory friendly and accessible to those who may avoid going to the theater because of those loud noises. And because maybe they, they need a sensory break to regulate. And so we're showing audience members like, what would that look like? And also how can we be, how can we show compassion as audience members to those who may need to go have a break that perhaps people who are neurodiverse in the past at the theater may have not felt like, oh, I'm safe to leave the theater right now. I don't wanna be distracting or what if I make a noise right now? And so we're just really creating a welcoming space. And so my job is to, to make sure that space is accessible to those and also to support some of the neurodiverse cast members to make sure they feel regulated and supported. And also to I'm finding like it's exciting to educate others, other designers, other people that are involved in the show of how would we modify our language to best support a neurodiverse actor in the process. So it's been really exciting.

Speaker 4: (41:23)

Now, part of this educational push also extends to the fact you are holding workshops after each of the plays. So what can audiences expect from that? Uh, a great

Speaker 17: (41:33)

Partner in this show is the autism society. And I know that they're right now coming up with a, a list of what are those post show discussions going to look like? And Vanessa,

Speaker 4: (41:44)

This is going to be your directorial debut at Moxy. And there seemed to be quite a few challenges in this play. One thing I noticed is that it involves an orangutan and I'm curious, how is that going to play out on stage?

Speaker 16: (41:59)

First of all, our actor is amazing in this. She's so warm and she's so open and it's, it's an amazing experience. First of all, the Orangutang I don't wanna give too much away so it, it, it's a way to show audience members communication and compassion, how needs are just sometimes just not met and how we, we, how we have to open up our minds to different types of communications. I that's, I feel that that's what Wiki represents and in the show,

Speaker 17: (42:35)

Uh, the orangutan ties directly to, to how people sometimes on the spectrum communicate in different ways. But that doesn't mean that they're not communicating correctly, but in our society, we have created these norms of this is what communication looks like, and this is how you communicate. And some times I find working in the autism community that the, the, our society is trying to change the way someone communicates to, uh, to fit the social norm. And that's where, uh, I find that people on the spectrum can get frustrated because they're just communicating in a different way, but they're not being told, heard. So I think it, it, it's symbolic of sometimes the challenges that people in the, the autism community face when they feel like they are expressing just in a different

Speaker 16: (43:27)

Way. And not only that, it also like kind of ripples out to not just people who are neurodiverse or people on the spectrum, but it also ripples on to like people who have have different language, um, people who are deaf people, you know, all sorts of, of, of ripple effects that happen from that. But yeah, and also I think it, it shows how just shifting a little bit can help communicate, just opening your mind up to something different can help us with other.

Speaker 17: (43:56)

It illustrates how we all felt during the pandemic of like, we're not wired to be alone. We're not wired to feel isolated. And what does that do when you feel like you don't have a community when you don't feel like you're seen or heard or, or valued, or you're afraid to speak up. And so I think that the play is really special because it, it shows the importance and especially in the autism community, there's this, um, false idea that people with autism are, are people who don't wanna be social. And that's absolutely not true. They wanna be social just like any neurotypical person wants to feel accepted in a community. So we have to enter their world and figure out how to tap into their expression.

Speaker 4: (44:41)

Well, I wanna thank both of you very much for talking about Moxie's new play. Sapience. Thank

Speaker 17: (44:46)

You. Thank you, Beth. Thanks for having us.

Speaker 1: (44:49)

That was Beth AIMA to speaking with Samantha gin and Vanessa Doron, Moxy theater presents sapien, February 3rd through the 20th.

Ways To Subscribe
San Diego ended the year with a 4.2% unemployment rate, the lowest rate since the pandemic started – even in the face of the omicron surge. Later, KPBS investigative reporter Claire Trageser looks at what is causing a childcare staffing crisis in the San Diego region. Plus, a new investigation from CalMatters finds that the state has failed to take guns away from thousands of domestic abusers, and those failures can result in deadly consequences. Finally, KPBS Arts reporter Beth Accomando speaks with Vanessa Duron and Samantha Ginn about staging the world premiere of Diana Bubano's play “Sapience.”