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San Diego’s effort to expand Convention Center hits legal roadblock

 March 10, 2022 at 4:40 PM PST

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Major C suffers a setback , so did City Council manipulate voters ? Well , our concern was about the power taken by City Council to ignore election law.
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I'm Jade Hindman with Maureen Cavanaugh.
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This is KPBS midday edition.
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Domestic violence involving guns is on the rise here.
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What's being done about it ? Those of us who work in the field of domestic violence anticipated an increase in both the number of domestic violence cases that would occur , as well as the severity around them.
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As some states ban abortions , new California legislation offers to provide them , plus the future of restaurants in a pandemic.
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That's ahead on midday edition.
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A San Diego Superior Court judge declared the San Diego City Council waited too long to declare measure sees approval on Tuesday.
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The measure , which was on the March 2020 ballot , would raise the city's hotel room tax to fund an expansion of the San Diego Convention Center.
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Now , the city is facing some legal setbacks on multiple issues.
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Joining me to talk about the measure is KPBS Metro reporter Andrew Bowen.
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Andrew , welcome.
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Hi , Jade.
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Thank you.
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So Measure C has been a years long effort.
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Can you tell us about the measure and the changes it would bring to San Diego ? Well , as you noted , Measure C would raise the city's hotel tax.
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San Diego has a comparatively low hotel tax rate when you compare it to other cities in Southern California and other major cities where you know they have big convention centers.
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And so raising it to the level of comparable cities has long been seen as a relatively easy way to get more revenue for some of the city's really long standing needs.
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It's also pretty attractive because it's mostly just paid by tourists , not regular San Diegans who are actually voting on the issue.
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So most of the revenue from this tax hike would go to the convention center expansion.
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The motivation behind that is if the city can attract more conventions , bigger conventions , then that means more visitors spending money in hotels and , you know , spending money in restaurants and shops and more tax revenue for the city.
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Just growing the tourism economy.
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The second largest share of this money would then go to initiatives tackling homelessness that could be affordable housing , homeless services , shelters , et cetera.
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And then the third largest share would go to road repair and infrastructure needs.
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The measure was on the March 2020 ballot and received a 65 percent approval from voters.
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Was that enough to pass the measure ? Yeah.
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Well , that's the big question , and it just depends on who you ask.
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So California has had this long standing rule that taxes dedicated to a specific issue or , you know , funding priority require a two thirds majority from voters.
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But then in 2017 , the California Supreme Court ruled that citizens initiatives , you know , those ballot measures placed on the ballot by a signature gathering drive don't have to follow the same rules as ballot measures that are proposed by governments.
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It was a fairly narrow ruling , but one that opened up this possibility that maybe a tax increases that are proposed by citizens initiatives don't need the two thirds majority , and instead they could pass with just 50 percent plus one in the run up to the March 2020 election.
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There was still some ambiguity on this issue.
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Courts hadn't spoken with total clarity.
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But since then , tax measures elsewhere in California have gone through , you know , up through the appellate courts and have actually been validated with a simple majority vote less than two thirds.
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So the timing of Measure C was really unfortunate for the proponents because it came at this time of of legal uncertainty.
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And since then , there have been more clarity.
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But now we find ourselves in in this , you know , gray area where we don't really know what the rules were at the time of the election.
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And the measure has really brought on some legal battles over multiple issues.
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What are some of those issues the city is facing with this ? Well , one fundamental question is that question of the threshold , the ballot materials , you know , the sample ballot and the summary that voters got stated that Measure C needed a two thirds majority.
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So there's a question of whether the city is relatively conservative.
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Interpretation of the law at that time mattered the most or as the city is arguing.
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You know what you say in a sample ballot and the measure summary is superseded by these other court decisions that said no.
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In fact , a two thirds majority isn't necessary.
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It could just pass with a simple majority.
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There's another question that central to this case from this week , and that is whether the City Council waited too long to certify the election results.
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Generally , the city is supposed to declare whether a measure passed or failed within one month of the election.
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But what the City Council did when they were certifying the election results is they said yes , measure c god about 65 percent of the vote.
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Courts have not spoken with clarity on on whether that's enough.
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And so we're just going to wait and see.
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And then it wasn't until about a year later , after some favorable court decisions that the City Council ultimately declared a yes measure.
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Sea had passed and they were going to ask a judge to validate that decision.
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I spoke with Andrea Guerrero of Alliant San Diego , the nonprofit that sued the city and is trying to overturn that decision by the council.
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She basically said that the city's trying to change the rules mid-game.
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Our concern was about the power taken by City Council to ignore election law and manipulate the election to get the results that they wanted , and the judge essentially agreed and said that the council had no authority to wait for a year.
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Before deciding whether Measure C was actually approved or rejected , well , how has San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria responded to seeking major cease validation in court ? Gloria called this week's ruling an unfortunate delay.
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There's this question of waiting to certify the election results that has to be resolved before the city can.
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Then after that , ask for clarity on on this question of the threshold that it needed.
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So with the decision this week likely added at least another year to this court case , it's definitely almost certainly going to go up to the Court of Appeal.
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It could go up to the Supreme Court and Gloria's really a longtime supporter of the convention center expansion.
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He absolutely wants more money to deal with homelessness and infrastructure.
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And we're also hearing a political argument from him , not one that the city can really make in court , but to regular people.
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He's saying , How can this judge say that the city council overruled the will of the voters when in fact 65 percent of voters said yes to measure C , they wanted it to pass ? But you know , again , that's that's a question that's hard to make in court because it's just a lot more complicated.
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And what are the next steps in the battle with this measure ? Well , the City Council has to vote on whether to appeal this decision , a measure sea proponents.
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The people behind the ballot measure can also step in and file an appeal , and they have 30 days to do that from when this ruling is finalized.
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So we're just going to see more hearings , more motions , more , you know , lawyers arguing the case on both sides , just more waiting to see whether all of those things in Measure C will actually happen.
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I've been speaking with KPBS metro reporter Andrew Bowen.
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Andrew , thank you.
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Thank you , Jade.
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There were several disturbing numbers in this week's report on crime in San Diego.
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In addition to an overall 13 percent increase over last year , a few crime statistics jumped significantly , including vehicle thefts and hate crimes.
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Among those big jumps was an increase in domestic violence crimes involving firearms.
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The report , presented to the San Diego City Council this week , found crimes involving domestic violence and guns increased 70 percent.
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This despite state laws aimed at taking guns away from abusers.
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Joining me is Jessica Yaffa , a former president of the San Diego Domestic Violence Council and president of the organization.
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No silence , no violence.
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Jessica , welcome.
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Thanks so much for having me.
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Is it surprising to you that guns seem to be involved more often in cases of domestic violence ? Certainly disturbing , although not that surprising , given what has happened in our community and really nationally over the last couple of years.
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Those of us who work in the field of domestic violence anticipated an increase in both the number of domestic violence cases that would occur , as well as the severity around them.
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To that point , San Diego District Attorney Summer Stephan says domestic violence calls increased across the county during the pandemic.
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This week , police chief nearside blamed the overall increase in crime on COVID.
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Do we actually know , though , what role the pandemic has played in domestic violence ? Well , certainly no one can say for sure.
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But what we do know , statistically speaking , is that when pressure in our homes and in our communities increase , there is a direct correlation between that and there being a rise in the number of incidents and the severity of incidents.
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Domestic violence is all about power and control.
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And so when someone feels powerless or begins to feel an increase in the loss of control , it makes sense that those incidents then become more frequent and more severe.
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And so when we think about the kinds of scenarios that are in existence because of the pandemic , we can't imagine that there wouldn't be a direct correlation.
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Does domestic violence typically escalate ? In other words , could it start with minor physical or verbal abuse and then escalate to gun violence ? I would say that most of the time domestic violence increases.
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Over time , we would be silly to think that we fall in love with someone who initially presents as a monster or someone who's going to be incredibly physically aggressive and harmful.
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And so not only does it often increase slowly and methodically over time , but we also know that a lot of those early red flags and warning signs can be missed because they are so subtle.
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And what are some of those red flag signs ? Those red flags can include anything from being controlling over what a person wears , who they're spending their time with , isolating from friends and family in the name of wanting to spend all of their time together and wanting to be priority , ensuring that they know where a person is at all times , which can also be disguised as wanting to ensure that they're safe and that they are protected.
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And so again , when we think about what some of these early signs can look like , we can mistake them for what actually feels like very loving behavior and can feel very good for the recipient.
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San Diego City Attorney Maura Elliott has been praised for strict enforcement of state laws to take guns away from people who have a domestic violence restraining order against them.
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Those laws now have been in effect for a couple of years.
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Do you think they've been effective ? Absolutely.
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The city attorney's office is doing a beautiful job in really moving toward the pursuing of gun restraining orders , et cetera , and we know that we have some collective work to do when it comes to expanding to all cities in San Diego County , as well as recognizing that it's very hard to monitor because the expansiveness in which access to guns has existed historically is something that can be difficult for us to wrap both our head and arms around.
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Well , then you ask yourself , though , why this 70 percent increase in domestic violence gun crimes ? What we do know is that those who are in a position of power and control who are wanting to do harm can be very creative in the ways in which they gain access to weapons.
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San Diego County continues to be very committed to mobilizing around the insurance that prohibited persons like those who are barred from having weapons because of a domestic violence criminal case that when we come together , we have the opportunity and the capacity to really make a collective difference.
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Now , recently in Sacramento , a man killed himself four other people , including his three daughters , during a supervised visit.
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He reportedly used a Ghost Gun.
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What role do ghost guns ? Those homemade guns with no serial number play in and abusers access to guns ? From what we know and what we can tell thus far.
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Ghost guns aren't used all that often , however , we do believe that with more awareness and knowledge on behalf of those who are doing harm and considered to be perpetrators of abuse , it's certainly something that we continue to be concerned about and are creating efforts around implementing ways of breaking through some of those challenges.
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And what more do you think law enforcement and the courts can do to protect victims of domestic violence from specifically gun violence ? Information is key.
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We as a community , whether that be law enforcement and first responders , as well as those who have a collective responsibility in the ways in which we're talking about and offering resources surrounding domestic violence have the capacity to ensure that victims feel safe in coming forward , whether that be recognizing that they have access to the resources that they need and that they're not stuck.
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We're able to work collectively to ensure that they understand the importance of a safety plan and are able to look at and take part in the ways in which they are able to prevent harm when it comes to weapons.
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Really important as a community that we offer information around the fact that there are ways in which survivors are able to maintain some level of control and empowerment , whether they continue to be in the relationship or are moving out of the relationship.
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And I've been speaking with Jessica Yaffa , a former president of the San Diego Domestic Violence Council and president of the organization.
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No silence , no violence.
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Jessica , thank you very much.
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Thanks so much for shedding light on this important topic.
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This is KPBS midday edition.
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I'm Maureen Cavanaugh with Jade Hindman , as other states continue to enact measures restricting the right to abortion.
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California is expanding reproductive options for women.
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Most recently , a bill was introduced to allow nurse practitioners to perform abortions in the first trimester without the supervision of a doctor.
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The legislation would clarify two previous laws allowing qualified nurses to perform unsupervised procedures.
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The nurse practitioner bill was introduced by State Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins of San Diego.
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She says expanding the role of nurse practitioners would provide greater access to abortions across the state.
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As California begins to see more women from other states coming here to seek abortions.
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Joining me is California Senate President Toni Atkins.
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And welcome to the program.
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Thank you , Maureen.
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It's always good to be with you.
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Now , nurse practitioners usually have to work under the supervision of a doctor.
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And aren't there good reasons for that ? Well , in 2013 , you might recall I did a B one 54 , which allowed nurse practitioners , certified midwives and physicians assistants to do abortions under supervision of a doctor.
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So that was almost a decade ago , and since then 88 90 assembly member Wood came forward with a bill that would do post-graduate transition to practice for nurse practitioners.
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So it's this is sort of marrying those two bills to speed up the timeline by which practitioners would work without supervision.
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And what I would say is 13 other states allow practitioners nurse practitioners to do abortions.
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None of those states without supervision.
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So we are not California , certainly not the cutting edge when it talks about transition to practice for nurse practitioners in many areas , including primary care , which is part of this.
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Now , as you mentioned , this bill actually clarifies two previous bills , and I'm wondering why was it needed and why do you believe it's needed now ? Well , I think it is needed because we are in California.
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One of the issues that came up through the future of Abortion Council that did an analysis of where we are as California.
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California is really ahead of the curve in terms of the right to privacy in the constitutional protection of the right to get an abortion.
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But where we lag , if anything , is allowing practitioners experienced , trained , qualified nurse practitioners to really expand to the full scope of what they're able to do.
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So it is sort of marrying two pieces of legislation and helping it move quicker forward so that we have more providers to provide more care.
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In California , it was one of the workforce issues pointed out in the future of abortion council recommendations for what California could do to further make it possible to help existing Californians , as well as those who might now come here because of what's happening in other states.
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And do we know for sure that more women are coming to California from other states to obtain abortions ? It is one of the key questions.
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I asked a number of the providers , Planned Parenthood and others that actually provide abortion services , and we are already seeing an increase.
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So it's it's not uncommon for my days when I was a clinic director in San Diego and Los Angeles back in the mid to late 80s when abortion rights were curbed in other states and Mexico , I might add we saw more.
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We saw more women coming to our clinics for help , and we anticipate and have already seen that.
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That's the case.
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And is California ready and willing to take on the role as provider as other states roll back abortion rights ? Well , I think it becomes a practical nature of women will seek out the service and come here.
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I think the initial reason for a number of the providers , medical groups etc to do an analysis where we are is will we be able to provide that foundation of care for our own Californians , but in additionally women who will come here and seek services ? And so it was a real assessment , and I think we're prepared to step up and be a beacon for those who are in need.
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And I'm glad that we can do that and we want to make sure that we have the foundation and the structure to really accommodate.
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And I would just add this is about providing extensive care to Californians who need access to health care and not just abortion care , but access to primary health care.
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And we know that we need that throughout California , not just for abortion services.
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If the U.S. Supreme Court , though , does overturn Roe v. Wade as many think they will.
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What do you think California will experience as a result ? Well , I hope again , I hope , Maureen , that we are there to provide protection to women who should have the right to make self-determination over their own bodies and you know it , it just feels so odd.
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I've been , you know , I used to be a clinic director 30 some years ago and the fact that we are still trying to make sure that women have access to quality and safe legal abortion is just astounding to me today.
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Are there any plans for funding people who come here specifically for abortions and perhaps wouldn't have been able to make the trip except for that funding ? There is a piece of legislation that that looks to provide that public private partnership.
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Again , there's always been a private philanthropic effort by those who really support the right to get an abortion for those who can't afford it.
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I think this is taking it a step further and trying to determine how we can advance that and help.
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California cannot have an open checkbook , but I do think you know that we have striven to increase access to health care for the residents who live here , and we're going to continue to do that and we will see how that proceeds.
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But it would be more than likely a public private partnership.
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I've been speaking with Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins.
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Thank you so much for speaking with us.
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Always a pleasure , Maureen.
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Thank you.
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And another bill has been introduced in the state legislature to ensure that reproductive health care , including abortions , are free of cost to patients in California.
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Assembly member Akilah Weber of San Diego proposes the establishment of a reproductive health equity program to cover the gaps in health coverage for women in California and for those who travel to California to obtain an abortion.
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The money would go to health care providers who offer reproductive services free of charge.
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Joining me is assembly member Akilah Weber , and welcome to the program.
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Thank you so much for having me.
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Now , most insurance plans in California already cover abortion services.
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So who would be helped by this bill ? You are correct.
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All state licensed health plans in California are required to cover abortion services.
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However , there is a gap in coverage that exists for employees of religious employers and for employees of employer self-funded plans who may exclude these benefits.
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Additionally , currently , even for some state licensed plans , they may have an out-of-pocket or quote a co-payment that their employees must pay.
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And so even though in California , you know it is required , it does not cover all employers.
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And and for those and for those employees that do have it , they may at this particular time also have an out-of-pocket expenses as well.
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How would the money in the reproductive health equity program be distributed ? Would it go to providers ? Providers would.
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Essentially , it would be a grant funding to safety net providers who offer an abortion of contraceptive services.
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And so they would be able to apply for these funds based on the number of patients that they serve or they anticipate serving.
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Would the grants coming from this program come exclusively from state funds , or would private sources contribute to the program ? That is a great question , and that is one of the things I really , really like about this bill.
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So some of the funds would come from actually the employers that do not cover these services for their employees.
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They pay a dollar per month per employee that they have , but it also allows for private funding.
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So if people want to donate to the fund because they really believe in the ability for women to choose and providing reproductive health services , they can actually donate to this fund as well.
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And so it's actually a combination of both.
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Have you introduced this Abortion and Reproductive Equity Act , largely because of what's happening to abortion rights in other states around the country ? You know , this bill came from one of actually two of the recommendations from the the California Future of Abortions Council , the Fab Council.
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But as an ob gyn , someone who's been practicing in this realm of women's reproductive health care for a long time , you know , I am very well aware of the need to increase access.
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And increasing access means that we have the ability for providers to go to places where they may or may not be dealing with people who are able to pay for themselves.
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Although this is a recommendation that came out of the Fed Council.
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I know from personal experience that this is something that that California has needed for a while.
00:24:53.060 --> 00:25:07.370
Now , are you concerned , though , that low income and women of color will be affected the most by other states restrictive laws against abortion ? I am extremely concerned about that before , so I am a native San Diego.
00:25:07.760 --> 00:25:28.430
Before I moved back to San Diego , I was actually practicing in Dallas , Texas , and the number of minority women seeking care from me because of the restrictions that were being applied back then , as far as different clinics closing in their areas.
00:25:29.060 --> 00:25:32.510
And so they were having to go outside of their area to seek care.
00:25:32.780 --> 00:25:41.070
I definitely thought at that time having a disproportionate impact on on minority women and and those of lower socioeconomic status.
00:25:41.090 --> 00:25:54.830
And so these laws and these restrictions and what may happen if Roe vs. Wade is unfortunately overturned will definitely have a disproportionate impact on lower socio economic women and women of color.
00:25:55.520 --> 00:26:01.330
Even just their ability to come to California for care will be definitely reduced.
00:26:01.340 --> 00:26:09.890
And so that is one of the reasons why here in California and hopefully in other states that will continue to provide those services , we are having these hard discussions.
00:26:09.890 --> 00:26:16.220
We are planning for this so that we are able to provide these services to to everyone who needs them.
00:26:16.910 --> 00:26:23.870
If Roe v. Wade is overturned , I know the California is expecting an influx of women coming here to obtain abortions.
00:26:24.140 --> 00:26:30.950
Will that potentially overwhelm our reproductive health services ? That is an excellent question , and you are correct.
00:26:31.310 --> 00:26:46.970
The Guttmacher Institute has estimated that if Roe vs. Wade is overturned , that the clinics in California would have an increase in the number of patients that we see from about forty six thousand a year to 1.4 million.
00:26:47.420 --> 00:26:54.260
And that is a 3000 percent increase in the number of patients in our clinics we have.
00:26:54.440 --> 00:27:08.180
And so and that's one of the reasons why we are looking for ways to expand access to care , looking for ways to expand the number of providers that are here in California that can provide these services.
00:27:08.720 --> 00:27:10.670
There are some bills that have been introduced.
00:27:10.970 --> 00:27:35.780
There is one kind of on the back of my head that my staff is working on , if we need to , to see if we can also quickly give kind of like emergency license to physicians that provide abortion services throughout the country to get a kind of temporary license here in California to just specifically do that to increase the amount of providers that we would have here in California.
00:27:36.320 --> 00:27:39.110
I've been speaking with assembly member Akilah Weber.
00:27:39.290 --> 00:27:40.460
Thank you so much.
00:27:41.000 --> 00:27:41.590
Thank you.
00:27:47.230 --> 00:27:52.340
They've been on the job as San Diego's full time ambulance provider for three months now.
00:27:52.360 --> 00:27:55.990
City officials say they are not pleased with Fowlkes performance.
00:27:56.350 --> 00:28:03.250
KPBS Health reporter Matt Hoffman explains why from the City Council's Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee meeting.
00:28:03.430 --> 00:28:11.410
San Diego Fire Rescue Chief Colin Stoll says his department will be pursuing financial penalties after an early review of Fox 911.
00:28:11.410 --> 00:28:15.550
One contract found the company was regularly understaffing ambulances.
00:28:15.640 --> 00:28:27.250
I think it would be inappropriate for me and premature to probably identify a dollar amount right now , but I can tell you that once this information is vetted through that , we will be pursuing that avenue.
00:28:27.340 --> 00:28:37.480
Falck took over operations in late November after promising just over 1000 staffing hours per day , but city data shows they've only hit that mark eight times in the last three months.
00:28:37.840 --> 00:28:44.440
Foulke has yet to meet their monthly minimum staffing hours , and the fire department says daily minimums are also often not met.
00:28:44.650 --> 00:28:50.080
The issue here is there were times that we agree to that or not be met.
00:28:50.200 --> 00:28:59.880
Councilmember Monica Montgomery , Steppe , says Foxx got the contract in part because they were going to provide a higher level of service while one outright.
00:29:01.420 --> 00:29:04.540
But that was based on promises that.
00:29:06.410 --> 00:29:14.330
Could never have been fulfilled , then we we have to go back to the table because that makes the process very unfair.
00:29:14.360 --> 00:29:19.310
Councilmember Raul Campos says Foulke is not following through on what they promised.
00:29:19.430 --> 00:29:34.610
I want to first and foremost , ask Falck why , why we shouldn't see the statistics from the last three months as really a bait and switch on the city of San Diego.
00:29:34.700 --> 00:29:41.300
Fowlkes leadership says they have been addressing disparities and are working with the fire department in areas where the company has fallen down.
00:29:41.420 --> 00:29:46.850
What we've seen along with the fire department is is a is a significant improvement.
00:29:47.360 --> 00:29:56.910
In February , Fowlkes managing director Jeff Baim maintains that the recent COVID 19 surge complicated staffing , with up to 25 percent of the workforce out at one time.
00:29:56.930 --> 00:30:03.080
We are working hard to continue our recruitment , bring our employees on as quickly as we can , the fire department says.
00:30:03.080 --> 00:30:10.610
There have been times in areas where no ambulances have been available and they've had to rely on mutual aid while creating their own contingency plans.
00:30:11.000 --> 00:30:18.260
Baim says there may be no ambulances in certain areas because they operate a dynamic system that's meant to increase response times.
00:30:18.350 --> 00:30:24.320
All the units start out in one place , but as the system begins to get busy , those units are moved.
00:30:24.320 --> 00:30:29.240
Whether they're going on an assignment or not , they're moved around the city based on supply and demand.
00:30:29.450 --> 00:30:41.150
So even though a unit is staffed in a station for health , it may end up out of that station throughout its shift and may never go back to that station , often based on the the volume.
00:30:41.330 --> 00:30:47.300
The fire department , which runs the city's 9-1-1 system , also says that Foulke has not been following their guidance.
00:30:47.600 --> 00:30:50.090
Jody Pierce is the deputy chief of EMS.
00:30:50.210 --> 00:31:03.200
The city has provided direction to Foulke in relation to operational logistical education , quality assurance matters that all kind of revolve around not only contract requirements , but local and state requirements.
00:31:03.770 --> 00:31:08.900
And they have not followed that direction , which has caused issues with our fire operation.
00:31:08.930 --> 00:31:13.520
County EMS , we continue to work with them to try to address these issues.
00:31:14.060 --> 00:31:15.770
But yes , it has been a challenge.
00:31:16.220 --> 00:31:19.910
So what I'm hearing is Falck is not following the directions of San Diego Fire Rescue.
00:31:20.150 --> 00:31:20.630
Yes , sir.
00:31:20.810 --> 00:31:25.550
Some crews are pulling extra shifts and city officials are worried about the potential for burnout.
00:31:25.610 --> 00:31:32.480
My workforce has endured incredible adversity in call volumes , staffing levels and difficult working conditions.
00:31:32.600 --> 00:31:38.630
Anthony Saucy is a Falck paramedic and president of the San Diego Association of Prehospital Professionals.
00:31:38.960 --> 00:31:42.830
He represents hundreds of employees and says conditions have been getting better.
00:31:42.890 --> 00:31:49.460
We are happy to report that the service levels and in-kind working conditions have improved for our members.
00:31:49.700 --> 00:31:53.720
Before fines can be issued , Foulke will have a chance to review the city's data.
00:31:53.930 --> 00:31:57.260
The company has the 9-1-1 contract for the next five years.
00:31:57.650 --> 00:31:59.930
Matt Hoffman KPBS News.
00:32:05.780 --> 00:32:09.770
This is KPBS midday edition , I'm Maureen Cavanaugh with Jade Hindman.
00:32:10.010 --> 00:32:16.190
At least 90000 restaurants and bars across the country have closed since the beginning of the pandemic.
00:32:16.490 --> 00:32:19.250
That's according to the Independent Restaurant Coalition.
00:32:19.490 --> 00:32:27.410
And while the recent drop in COVID 19 infections are encouraging , new variants and future waves are not out of the question.
00:32:27.740 --> 00:32:34.280
The California report's Keith Mitsubishi says all that uncertainty has restaurant owners on edge.
00:32:34.730 --> 00:32:44.090
The Newsom administration says it's still focused on getting people vaccinated and boosted and making sure hospitals are prepared in case there's another surge.
00:32:44.720 --> 00:32:47.480
But gone are the days of a full lockdown of businesses.
00:32:48.110 --> 00:32:52.670
That's welcome news for Evan Rich , chef and owner of Rich Table in San Francisco.
00:32:52.910 --> 00:32:54.920
In the restaurant industry we're all accustomed to.
00:32:55.250 --> 00:33:00.260
We do this for the love and business is secondary and we don't think about money and all that stuff.
00:33:00.470 --> 00:33:08.390
But in reality , we run a business and need to make sure you know , people's livelihoods are dependent on us paying them and staying open.
00:33:08.570 --> 00:33:14.960
Rich says that if there's anything the pandemic has taught him over the last two years , it's that the restaurant industry has to be flexible.
00:33:15.590 --> 00:33:23.120
So while he's pleased that California is moving into this new phase , he's already making plans for how to respond if things get worse.
00:33:23.750 --> 00:33:41.900
Having the ability to kind of make choices on the fly to adjust their business is kind of what we've learned at Rich Table was one of many restaurants in California that decided to close at the height of the Omicron surge , and it meant thousands of dollars in lost revenue during one of the busiest times of the year.
00:33:42.680 --> 00:33:50.720
Add that to the massive amounts of debt bars and restaurants have accumulated during the pandemic , and many say they are now at risk of closure.
00:33:52.100 --> 00:34:04.310
A recent survey of independently owned bars and restaurants that applied for federal funding , but were denied about two and three found 80 percent would be forced to close permanently if they don't get financial relief soon.
00:34:05.060 --> 00:34:08.930
Silicon Valley Congressman Ro Khanna says that's simply unacceptable.
00:34:09.050 --> 00:34:12.080
Everyone knows one of their favorite restaurants , which is closed.
00:34:12.410 --> 00:34:13.970
We can't have that in this country.
00:34:13.970 --> 00:34:16.430
We need to provide restaurants with help.
00:34:16.850 --> 00:34:27.320
In late January , Klarna introduced his own legislation that would offer small businesses like mom and pop restaurants tax credits to offset a portion of state and local taxes.
00:34:27.950 --> 00:34:32.730
He hopes it can be part of a larger budget package that's being negotiated right now in Washington.
00:34:32.750 --> 00:34:37.220
Small businesses , small restaurants , these brick and mortar stores , these are my priority.
00:34:37.460 --> 00:34:43.670
When we look at who deserves relief , it's not just financial survival that has restaurant owners on edge.
00:34:44.210 --> 00:34:49.610
It's also the ever changing rules put in place for how they can remain open and operate safely.
00:34:49.850 --> 00:35:01.610
Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly has said that while the state is lifting its masking requirement for indoor businesses , health officials could go back to enforcing it if the virus surges once again.
00:35:02.840 --> 00:35:11.420
For Evan Rich , he's recommending not requiring that his employees wear face coverings , but he understands that a lot will depend on a person's comfort level.
00:35:11.990 --> 00:35:15.260
We're all adults here , so I want to make sure that everyone understands the risk.
00:35:15.260 --> 00:35:25.620
And as long as they feel comfortable with that , I am and you know , I I take my health into my own hands and I , you know , respect the fact that they do as well when it comes to financial relief.
00:35:25.640 --> 00:35:32.690
Rich says he's hoping to receive federal funding this time around , but if it doesn't happen , he'll have to find a way to move forward.
00:35:33.230 --> 00:35:41.750
And that could mean making some changes , like paring down his menu or adjusting what kinds of ingredients he's able to offer his customers.
00:35:42.530 --> 00:35:46.460
Congress's deadline to pass a budget for the fiscal year is March 11th.
00:35:46.940 --> 00:35:50.560
That was the California reports Keith Mitsubishi , who.
00:35:53.600 --> 00:35:59.390
San Diego Latino Film Festival has been forced to go virtual for two years because of the pandemic.
00:35:59.660 --> 00:36:04.970
But tonight it returns to an in-person festival at a new location in Mission Valley.
00:36:05.240 --> 00:36:10.580
The festival will host 200 movies from around the globe and from here in San Diego.
00:36:10.820 --> 00:36:22.460
KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando has been to the 28 previous ones and speaks with festival founder and executive director Ethan Van Peaoe about number 29.
00:36:22.700 --> 00:36:32.020
Ethan , we are on the eve of the 29th San Diego Latino Film Festival and we are sitting here in a brand new space and location for you.
00:36:32.030 --> 00:36:33.170
So tell us about it.
00:36:33.380 --> 00:36:34.370
Yeah , pretty exciting.
00:36:34.670 --> 00:36:37.850
We have a partnership with the Mission Valley Mall , Westfield Mission Valley Mall.
00:36:38.150 --> 00:36:41.960
They've been very supportive to us these past few years during the pandemic.
00:36:42.500 --> 00:36:51.680
They , in fact gave us a storefront , a free storefront this past two years where we've been having our classes , education classes for youth media and tech camps and our team producers project.
00:36:52.160 --> 00:36:55.730
And so it was a natural fit to also have the San Diego Latino Film Festival here.
00:36:55.730 --> 00:37:01.850
And you know , you can already see what it's taking place , but we've taken over this old restaurant from the AMC cinemas.
00:37:02.420 --> 00:37:06.950
We have a stage outside , so when people come to see the movies , they're going to see a lot of activities.
00:37:06.950 --> 00:37:12.110
We call it our festival village and this can be live music and we'll have a whole gallery space with art.
00:37:12.740 --> 00:37:17.720
We're going to be doing our food festival again here , so we are going to be taking place during the 11 days of the festival.
00:37:17.840 --> 00:37:27.110
So the festival hasn't started yet , but sitting here in the old Ruby's diner , I can see a lot of fun artwork and spaces for people to hang out.
00:37:27.110 --> 00:37:33.080
So this is nice coming out of the pandemic to have kind of a community space.
00:37:33.200 --> 00:37:42.170
Yeah , you know , and I think that's what we've missed , really , you know , the past two years , yes , we've did some wonderful virtual screenings and Q and A's , and it was fantastic.
00:37:42.170 --> 00:37:46.460
We did some activations at the Drive-In Theater and that was really fun.
00:37:46.880 --> 00:37:48.740
But there's nothing like getting people together.
00:37:48.740 --> 00:37:56.240
And I think I think if you remember the festival in the past too , we've always been a festival that celebrates the Latino culture in many different ways.
00:37:56.240 --> 00:37:58.400
So we have the wonderful movies , of course.
00:37:58.700 --> 00:38:01.670
But then you also have Sony do Latino concerts.
00:38:01.670 --> 00:38:04.640
We have over 30 acts that are going to be performing these 11 days.
00:38:04.940 --> 00:38:10.260
We have a whole gallery of artists and vendors that will be participating local artists and vendors with Alt.Latino.
00:38:11.060 --> 00:38:18.630
And then we have our big food festival that's going to take place because we want people just to come to the movie theater , sit outside in the mall , hang out.
00:38:18.650 --> 00:38:20.270
Read the festival catalog.
00:38:20.270 --> 00:38:21.560
Listen to some music.
00:38:21.860 --> 00:38:24.680
Talk to some filmmakers and actors that are visiting you.
00:38:24.680 --> 00:38:27.110
Take some photos on the red carpet and just have a good time.
00:38:27.500 --> 00:38:45.560
Especially , you know , in this time , that's kind of we hope it's post-pandemic , right ? As we get together the importance of getting together as a community and talking to each other and dialoguing about the films and just being together , I think we yes , we've benefited all from the , you know , the virtual settings and , you know , our Netflix accounts and all that kind of stuff.
00:38:45.560 --> 00:38:50.840
But there's nothing like getting together and seeing the movies together and and more than just seeing the movies together.
00:38:50.840 --> 00:38:53.450
It's it's about families , about culture and community.
00:38:53.450 --> 00:39:09.310
And , you know , so many people for the community here in San Diego , the festival has been a home for many people and they take their vacations and , you know , take a whole week off of work and participate here because they see family and friends and relatives and they see people from their country.
00:39:09.320 --> 00:39:16.670
So , you know , we live close to Mexico here , but for those that are from Argentina , Chile from farther , I'm just hoping that , you know , we'll see what happens.
00:39:16.680 --> 00:39:24.230
We don't know what people's reactions are going to be , but I'm hoping that we get back to the way it was and people do start coming out and enjoying cinema and getting back together.
00:39:24.530 --> 00:39:29.480
And in addition to showcasing films , you are having a tribute this year to Pepe Serna.
00:39:29.480 --> 00:39:31.280
So what's that going to entail ? Yeah.
00:39:31.670 --> 00:39:36.970
So opening night is all about Pepe Surnow in the legendary Chicano actor and just exciting.
00:39:36.980 --> 00:39:41.080
You know , he's participated in the film festival before , but this is a movie that we're premiering.
00:39:41.090 --> 00:39:45.590
You know , it was going to screen at the Palm Springs International Film Festival that was just suddenly canceled.
00:39:45.800 --> 00:39:50.120
So imagine as a filmmaker and actor , you're going to premiere your film and then , boom , it doesn't happen.
00:39:50.540 --> 00:39:51.860
My name is Pepper Sherman.
00:39:53.120 --> 00:40:02.900
I am an actor , painter , a writer , director , producer , motivational speaker.
00:40:04.580 --> 00:40:10.990
We're excited to be able to premiere this movie to showcase his career over 100 plus credits to his name.
00:40:11.000 --> 00:40:14.720
He's a wonderful character actor from , you know , Scarface or American me.
00:40:14.720 --> 00:40:16.820
People will recognize them when they see him.
00:40:17.210 --> 00:40:23.180
But to have him in person to talk before the film to do a Q&A again , that's what the film fest was all about.
00:40:23.480 --> 00:40:27.890
You can't get that , you know , from your your TV or your your Netflix account or something like that.
00:40:27.890 --> 00:40:31.310
So we're really excited to bring back that in-person component.
00:40:31.550 --> 00:40:35.810
You know , a lot of the actors and filmmakers are still kind of in their , you know , COVID bubbles.
00:40:35.810 --> 00:40:37.280
They can't leave their production.
00:40:37.880 --> 00:40:43.910
So we're not going to have as many actors and filmmakers as in past , but little by little , they're coming out and we're going to get as many as we can.
00:40:44.150 --> 00:40:47.390
And Pepper Sharon is one of those amazing people that will be here opening night.
00:40:47.900 --> 00:40:53.000
And you also have a showcase of frontera filmmakers because we are a border town and.
00:40:53.320 --> 00:41:06.310
What can people expect from this this year ? Yeah , so every year we like to showcase the border region what it's what makes us special as a as a film festival and and of course , as the city and as a region.
00:41:06.610 --> 00:41:08.170
So it's called frontera filmmakers.
00:41:08.170 --> 00:41:15.190
And throughout the years we've had workshops for the filmmakers and we always have a call to local filmmakers to participate in the festival.
00:41:15.490 --> 00:41:17.850
This year is something special took place.
00:41:17.860 --> 00:41:25.740
We have a guest curator , Adriana Trujillo , who's a filmmaker from Tijuana , and she ran a movie theater in Tijuana for many years.
00:41:25.750 --> 00:41:36.130
Unfortunately , the pandemic shut that down , unfortunately , but wonderful artists and an individual from the border region who's curated from the filmmakers for us.
00:41:36.430 --> 00:41:40.870
And so we're going to see a collection of shorts , but then also feature films and documentaries as well.
00:41:41.200 --> 00:41:48.370
And I just want to mention , I think the team is doing an incredible job of curating team this year and expanding our network of films.
00:41:48.370 --> 00:41:52.990
And we've invited many people like Adriana Trujillo , to be guest curators.
00:41:53.320 --> 00:41:58.090
So we have different programs and different programs for the first time that we we never had before.
00:41:58.330 --> 00:42:01.960
And so thus we have 200 plus movies , more movies than ever.
00:42:02.330 --> 00:42:06.850
You know , I told the team , let's , you know , let's show less film because it's a pandemic.
00:42:06.850 --> 00:42:07.870
We don't know who's going to come.
00:42:08.170 --> 00:42:10.330
But yet they programmed more of the films than ever.
00:42:10.450 --> 00:42:22.540
But that's because , again , the great work of the exhibition team and bringing more people and more voices and expanding our network because I think it's important , you know , I'm almost twenty nine years I've done this , so I founded the film festival.
00:42:22.900 --> 00:42:31.300
And , you know , more than ever , it's really important that more people get involved and help curate the movie and bring their voice to this wonderful festival.
00:42:31.750 --> 00:42:32.950
And you mentioned food.
00:42:33.220 --> 00:42:39.010
So on the closing weekend , you're going to have your support for food and drink festival.
00:42:39.010 --> 00:42:41.320
So what can people get there ? Yeah.
00:42:41.330 --> 00:42:48.510
Again , we could get a really simple and said , OK , we're just going to screen a few films as the pandemic , but we decided to do everything all out again.
00:42:48.520 --> 00:42:49.540
We just completely.
00:42:49.870 --> 00:42:50.740
So let's do it.
00:42:50.740 --> 00:42:54.910
So we have an opening night after party at Patricia's restaurant.
00:42:55.210 --> 00:42:59.260
We have a centerpiece party downtown San Diego.
00:42:59.590 --> 00:43:07.630
And then on March 19 , Saturday , one to five , we have our six Subway , Latino beer , food and festival , which was postponed.
00:43:07.840 --> 00:43:09.220
We couldn't do it the past two years.
00:43:09.880 --> 00:43:18.910
And that is a celebration of chefs , distilleries , breweries , wineries , all things the Latino food and beverages.
00:43:18.910 --> 00:43:21.400
And just say we're going to have a live music as well.
00:43:21.670 --> 00:43:25.900
And more importantly , it's well , it's about celebrating Latino culture and community.
00:43:26.110 --> 00:43:34.840
But then also every every time you buy a ticket to like some more Latino or any of the movie tickets , you're supporting our educational programs like our team producer's project that we do throughout the year.
00:43:34.990 --> 00:43:44.920
And what do you have planned for closing night , March 19 , Saturday at the Bread and Salt and Logan Heights ? We are taking over that space and going to be our awards ceremony.
00:43:45.160 --> 00:43:50.230
But then we have this wonderful 10 piece and coming in from La Jungle Fire , they're called.
00:43:50.320 --> 00:43:53.800
It's expect two hours of all dancing music.
00:43:53.800 --> 00:43:54.490
It's going to be great.
00:43:54.500 --> 00:43:56.470
So encourage people to come out and have a good time.
00:43:56.470 --> 00:43:59.410
And you know what a way to celebrate getting back in person.
00:44:00.100 --> 00:44:00.400
All right.
00:44:00.400 --> 00:44:05.500
Well , thank you very much for talking about the twenty ninth and twenty nine Diego Latino Film Festival.
00:44:06.100 --> 00:44:06.430
Thank you.
00:44:06.910 --> 00:44:10.000
That was Beth Accomando speaking with Ethan van Theo.
00:44:10.390 --> 00:44:18.970
The 29th annual San Diego Latino Film Festival kicks off tonight at the AMC Mission Valley theaters and runs through March 20th.

A San Diego Superior Court judge said the San Diego City Council waited too long to declare Measure C had passed. The council waited a year to determine the ballot measure needed a simple majority. At the time of the election it was thought to require a two-thirds majority and fell just shy at 65% of the vote. Plus, domestic violence crimes involving firearms in San Diego City jumped 70% last year, despite state laws aimed at taking guns away from abusers. Also, as some states ban abortions we look at a pair of proposed bills in California that would expand access to reproductive health care, including abortions. Meanwhile, San Diego officials were not pleased with the performance of their new ambulance provider, Falck. And, at least 90,000 restaurants and bars across the country have closed since the beginning of the pandemic. And while COVID-19 infection rates have dropped recently, there are still incertainties going foward, leaving restaurant owners on edge. Finally, the San Diego Latino Film Festival was forced to go virtual for two years because of the pandemic but on Thursday it returns to an in-person festival at a new location in Mission Valley.