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Teachers caught in the middle as schools wait for next steps on masking

 February 22, 2022 at 7:35 AM PST

Speaker 1: (00:00)

Teachers are on the front lines of student and parent protests against bass in school.

Speaker 2: (00:05)

My hope is that we can unite the community and educators. Again,

Speaker 1: (00:12)

I'm kina Kim with Marine Kavanaugh. This is KBB S midday edition 2021 was the deadliest year for traffic death. Since the city adopted vision zero and victim families feel let down by the city's response,

Speaker 3: (00:33)

He lost his life. And, and I hoped that I would at least find some peace in our justice system.

Speaker 1: (00:44)

Then as more stores go cashless, a look at who's being left behind and just in time, a preview of the Oceanside film festival, which starts tomorrow that's ahead on midday edition. Last week, state health kept the statewide school mass mandate in place planning to review the policy. Next week on February 28th, in the meantime, local schools are facing increased resistance to masking often leaving local teachers stuck in the middle. Joining me to talk more about what teachers are experiencing in the classroom during this seemingly transitional period in the pandemic is Carrie ALA, president of the Vista teachers association. Welcome.

Speaker 2: (01:30)

Hi,

Speaker 1: (01:30)

What are you hearing from Vista teachers when it comes to masking in schools right now and their role in enforcing it?

Speaker 2: (01:37)

So educators are equally divided just like our community. When it comes to masking in our district, it's been a pretty clear policy where the Stu and get sent up to the office. If they actively refuse to wear a mask, you know, our educators wanna be more focused on educating our students and not if they're wearing masks or not. So we're all looking forward to some sort of return to what school like looked like before. COVID

Speaker 1: (02:04)

What does the Vista teachers association dance on the statewide masking requirement in schools?

Speaker 2: (02:09)

Well, it's important for our school districts to follow the CDPH and OSHA guidelines. It was important before COVID and it's gonna remain to be important after COVID. So as the guidelines change, we just want our districts to follow the safety guidelines, because as the working conditions of our teachers and educators are the learning conditions of our students, and we want it to be safe and healthy,

Speaker 1: (02:34)

Something we keep hearing about is also immunocompromised teachers. What are their specific concerns when it comes to the school masking requirement?

Speaker 2: (02:42)

Well, that is one of the reasons why educators are so divided as well. I mean, we have indicators that are worried about the mandates changing, especially in elementary schools where a lot of kids aren't vaccinated yet, or have, you know, they don't have access to vaccines for some reason in high schools, it's a little bit different because the vaccine rates are higher with our older students. So that's why this is such a difficult issue is because everybody's kind of divided on how they feel about it.

Speaker 1: (03:16)

School staffing shortages have made headlines race and have resulted even in the deployment of the national guard in certain areas of the country to fill in is Vista facing similar staffing, shortages,

Speaker 2: (03:26)

Staffing, shortages, all over education right now. You know, it's hard right now. Our profession has changed. Not a lot of people wanna come in and substitute right now because it's a little hard in the first place, but with COVID, it made it a little bit more dangerous. Working conditions has changed where like the workload has pretty much doubled where teachers have to maintain a physical classroom and then also a digital classroom. And then there's constant. There's been constant negative rhetoric about educators, about, you know, them not wanting to return to, to school. And then there's this feeling that they're being used as babysitters. You know, one thing I have heard over and over again is with all of the quarantining. Sometimes you only had half of your class there. So what kind of education are you giving to those other 15 kids who are at home doing asynchronous learning? How can you support them as well? So is that really the best education for our students?

Speaker 1: (04:24)

You know, something I'm thinking about is just as you're explaining all this to me, how is morale amongst teachers? You know, what are you telling your members as they enter the third year of teaching during a pandemic and you yourself are a teacher. How are you feeling as you're navigating? All of this

Speaker 2: (04:39)

Well is low. I mean, that is 100% true. What I'm hearing almost every day are educators that are doing so much for the kids that they're neglecting themselves, they're crying, they're neglecting their families. So I told my members to make sure you turn off work and go out and practice. Self-care like for a parent, right? You can't put your kids first. If you don't put yourself first and that's, what's happening a lot to our educators and it's attributing to a teacher, burnout, educator, burnout, people are leaving the profession.

Speaker 1: (05:12)

What do you think the long term impacts of that burnout and kind of all this back and forth will be even with these long term staffing shortages,

Speaker 2: (05:19)

We're highly educated, highly educated workforce and we're educators and being treated like you're more of a babysitter than an educator. When people realize they can go out into the private sector and make more and be respected a bit more that's, that's scary. You know, people go into this profession cuz it's one of the heart. You know, we do care about the kids. My hope is that we can unite the community and educators again, you know, like when we went from COVID like we closed down in two weeks, teachers became like society's number one hero. And then within like two weeks, the rhetoric got so difficult that it, it hurts our hearts.

Speaker 1: (06:05)

What do you want parents to know about what teachers are experiencing in the classroom right now?

Speaker 2: (06:09)

I would like the parents to know that the educators are also frustrated about the constant changes and the lack of clarity in some of our, I want them to know that our profession has profoundly changed. And just to know that they're doing what's best for your student, you know, and we all want it to return to how it was before. Take the politics out of the classroom. So we're all in this together. Let's stay on the same page.

Speaker 1: (06:36)

I've been speaking with a Vista teachers association, president Carrie ALA, Carrie, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me today.

Speaker 2: (06:42)

Hey, no problem. Thank you for having me

Speaker 4: (07:03)

San Diego and the nation are seeing an alarming rise in traffic deaths. K PS, Metro reporter, Andrew Bowen says even in cases of recklessness or negligence drivers who kill often don't face any serious consequences.

Speaker 3: (07:18)

Have my group got these flowers. And those have been there from almost the beginning.

Speaker 5: (07:23)

Laura Keenan shows me around the roadside Memorial. She and others created for her husband, Matt. Last September, he was struck and killed by a wrong way. Driver while biking in mission valley, Keenan is now the single mother of their one year old son. Evan.

Speaker 3: (07:40)

I miss waking up in the morning and seeing him cutting fruit for Evan and eating and smiling and making happy food noises. And I miss him being able to find humor in the most mundane or awful situations. And I miss how he makes me feel

Speaker 4: (07:59)

The

Speaker 5: (07:59)

Death toll on city streets last year was 67. The deadliest year, since San Diego adopted its vision zero goal of ending all traffic deaths. Some experts attribute the trend to more reckless driving during the pandemic, the driver who killed Matt said she thought she was on a one-way street and that she never saw Matt coming. Keenan doesn't buy it.

Speaker 3: (08:21)

Something had to make her extremely distracted and really what that is. Shouldn't be the issue. She was so distracted that she did not see my husband, his extremely bright lights. She never hit the brakes. You hit the brakes for a box in the road and she did not hit the brakes from my husband.

Speaker 5: (08:40)

Keenan was dev dated infuriated. When the district attorney's office told her last month, they didn't see enough evidence to charge the driver with a felony. Instead they referred the case to the city attorney's office as a misdemeanor.

Speaker 3: (08:54)

He lost his life and, And I hoped that I would at least find some peace in our justice system.

Speaker 5: (09:06)

Instead, Keenan found a whole new level of pain and suffering

Speaker 6: (09:10)

Manslaughter looks at the negligence of the driver. Who's at fault.

Speaker 5: (09:14)

Mark SCHs is a civil attorney who previously prosecuted vehicular manslaughter cases in both the da and city attorney's offices. He says, felony charges have to involve gross negligence. The term is imprecise, but in practice it usually means if the driver was intoxicated or showed recklessness far beyond the norm

Speaker 6: (09:35)

Cases where it's simple negligence, maybe just you pull up to a stop sign and you look to your left, but you don't look back to your right before going and you didn't realize a pedestrian walked out in front of your car, stuff like that is gonna be more characterized as simple negligence. And then in those cases, the charge will be filed. As a

Speaker 5: (09:51)

Misdemeanor. San Diego county has seen nearly 300 prosecutions of vehicular manslaughter in the last seven years. And roughly two thirds were felonies. That number does not include traffic deaths where no criminal charges are filed at all skill says, prosecutors may also be reluctant to file felony charges because of jury bias. Most jurors in San Diego drive every a and are likely to put themselves in the defendant's shoes.

Speaker 6: (10:19)

They generally think that they are themselves safe drivers. And so when they've been in incidents which were near misses or, or other collisions, I think they think, you know, it wasn't their fault. And so that permeates their mindset. When they're sitting as jurors too

Speaker 7: (10:33)

Often, people use the word accountability as a proxy for

Speaker 5: (10:37)

Amanda Berman works for the center for court innovation in New York city. She's heard from countless families like Keenans who say the legal system has failed them. So the center is developing a program that will bring drivers face to face with the loved ones of the victims they killed

Speaker 7: (10:54)

And hear from them firsthand who that person and what the impact is of your actions, how it has destroyed lives and having to confront that and reckon with that is much more powerful and much more likely to change behavior.

Speaker 5: (11:10)

Keenan says she's not all that concerned about how much time the driver spends behind bars, nor does she want an apology.

Speaker 3: (11:17)

I think the only thing that would give me any peace from the driver is that she does something throughout her life to prevent this from happening again,

Speaker 5: (11:26)

An outcome she's unlikely to get from the justice system.

Speaker 4: (11:31)

Joining me is KPBS Metro reporter, Andrew Bowen, Andrew. Welcome.

Speaker 5: (11:36)

Hi Maureen.

Speaker 4: (11:38)

You, you know, we often hear about situations you describe in your report, a car colliding with a cyclist referred to as a tragic accident, do road safety experts say that's the wrong way to think about it.

Speaker 5: (11:50)

Absolutely. I think the, the word accident implies that no one was at fault and nothing could have been done to prevent that death. And there is definitely a movement among, uh, safe streets advocates to replace the word accident with crash. And the idea is to just change people's perceptions, get people to start seeing that all traffic deaths are preventable. The city adopted its vision zero program, uh, which is to end all traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2025, uh, in 2015. So that was almost seven years ago and we're not going to get there. I think by continuing to shrug off these traffic deaths as simple accidents that no one could have stopped.

Speaker 4: (12:32)

Do we know how many drivers in San Diego are actually prosecuted for hitting and killing a cyclist or pedestrian?

Speaker 5: (12:40)

The data is really hard to pin down on this largely because prosecutions are split between the city attorney's office and the district attorney's office. The city attorney handles misdemeanors in the city of San Diego and the district attorney handles misdemeanors outside the city, as well as felonies in the city and out outside the city. So countywide, both offices have separate case management systems and the data isn't always complete. And it's basically impossible to, to tell which of the prosecutions from the da happened in the city versus side of the city. Um, but I did obtain some records and, uh, that showed that there were 292 vehicular manslaughter cases since 2015, roughly two thirds of those were felonies. And the vast majority of the felonies involved driving well intoxicated. I wasn't able to find any number of how many traffic deaths never was a altered in a prosecution at all.

Speaker 5: (13:36)

Sometimes prosecutors see a weak case. So they'll decline to filed charges other times. Uh, the decision is just made by the detectives in the field that the, the victim was at fault and they let the driver go, you know, case closed advocates will quickly point out that the victim never gets to tell their side of the story because their dead it of course. And in cases where say a pedestrian gets, uh, struck and killed while they're jaywalking, the driver may have also been speeding. They may have run a red light. They may have been distracted by their phone or some of something else. Those things can be really hard to prove. And the perception certainly among advocates is that a lot of people just get off totally Scott free, even if they, uh, bore some responsibility for that death. And that police are more willing to give drivers the benefit of the doubt than victims.

Speaker 4: (14:25)

Now, if there's no intent to harm by the driver and no reckless disregard for life like intoxication or speeding, why should a driver be held criminally responsible for a traffic death?

Speaker 5: (14:36)

Well, a driver generally won't be held criminally responsible if they were following all of the traffic laws. The attorney that I spoke to mark sch said that prosecutors have a saying, which is death is different. So when somebody dies, they, uh, those cases deserve extra scrutiny and they should leave no stone unturned to determine whether that driver Bo any responsibility for that person's death, because you know, that person has gone forever and you can never take that back. Um, but to your point, many advocates for safe streets want to see more restorative justice programs worked into these cases. They often don't see tough jail sentences or, or hefty fines or whatever, as a very effective in preventing future traffic deaths. And so the, the principles of restorative justice put more emphasis on healing and making amends for the harm that someone caused and preventing something like that from happening again, as opposed to just punishment.

Speaker 4: (15:33)

Tell us more about the accountability program, the kind of restorative justice you mentioned where drivers meet families. Who've lost loved ones to car collisions.

Speaker 5: (15:43)

The center for court innovation in New York city operates, uh, actually two programs. One of them it's called the driver accountability program. And this with drivers who were ticketed for relatively minor traffic violations, say running a red light or, or, uh, you know, a stop sign, but no collision occurred and they can get out of having to pay a fine or some of the other consequences that come with those types of tickets by doing a group course, uh, that focuses on safe driving habits. And also includes watching a video with testimonials, from families of crash victims. And the idea is to really get these people to contemplate every time you get behind the wheel, it's kind of like loading a gun and you have the potential, you know, cars or weapons and collision. And a death can happen in an instant if you're, if you're not paying close attention at all times.

Speaker 5: (16:31)

And so this, the whole hope is that this method will be better at preventing future crashes than the typical, uh, punishment for the, those tickets like fines. The program only recently got funding to study the impacts on recidivism. So there's not a lot of data in that regard, but they do find that, um, folks who have gone through the program, um, self-report, you know, high satisfaction and changes in, in the, a way that they think about driving. The other program is called circles for safe streets, and they're still putting it together, but that is the one that will sit drivers down with the victim's family, uh, for a guided discussion. And the woman that I spoke to from this organization told me that the legal system generally discourages this type of interaction every step of the way. So when a driver hits and kill someone, they're told not to admit fault, uh, don't talk to the family, let the lawyers and the insurance companies handle everything for you. And many drivers actually want the chance to speak with the victim's family and apologize or make amends. You know, they might feel this immense sense of guilt that doesn't just go away when they're told by their family, somebody else that this crash wasn't your fault. And there's nothing that you could have done.

Speaker 4: (17:38)

I've been speaking with KPBS, Metro reporter, Andrew Bowen, Andrew. Thank you very much.

Speaker 5: (17:43)

My pleasure, Maureen,

Speaker 4: (17:52)

This is K PBS midday edition. I'm Maureen Kavanaugh with Christina Kim in for Jade Henman former San Diego unified school superintendent. Cindy Martin got a promotion last year to become the deputy secretary of education in the Biden administration that San Diego unified searching for a new superintendent. The selection process narrowed down to two finalists late last year, but the final choice has been delayed because of the Omicron surge. The two finalists are Lamont Jackson, currently the interim superintendent and Susan Enfield, who is the superintendent of Highline public schools in Washington state. Today we talk with Dr. Susan Enfield, who is a California native has previously worked as interim superintendent of Seattle public schools and was named superintendent of the year in 2021 by the Washington association of school administrators. She says, she's interested in San unified as her next challenge, Susan Enfield, welcome to the program.

Speaker 8: (18:55)

Thank you very much, Maureen. So happy to be here.

Speaker 4: (18:57)

Tell us a little bit about yourself and, and why you want to become San Diego school superintendent.

Speaker 8: (19:03)

Sure. So I was born and raised in the, uh, San Francisco bay area. So spent, uh, the majority of my life up until my, the thirties in California. So California is home. My family is still in the state. And so, uh, I am a big believer that we have to choose our professional home wisely just as we choose our personal home wisely. And, uh, I'm in my 10th year serving as the superintendent for Highline public schools, just outside Seattle. I've absolutely loved it. And I just felt that in my 10th year, it was time for a fresh professional challenge. And I began looking for a district that again, would be that professional home. Um, the work of public education leading in public education is not work that happens in two to three years. It takes time. And so I wanted to look for districts where I felt the values, um, the practices matched my own, and I believe that's the case in San Diego for so many reasons. Um, leadership stability at the board and staff level, a community that deeply cares about the education of its children and a real prioritization of acknowledging the rich diversity that makes, uh, San Diego unified in the San Diego community, such a special place,

Speaker 4: (20:20)

You know, despite improvements made under the last superintendent statistics show that black students are still three times more likely to be suspended than white students at San Diego unified. How can San unified do better?

Speaker 8: (20:36)

Well, that is a challenge, not unique to San Diego. And it's one that I have grappled with in my current district as well. Uh, I, I will link it back to, uh, first of all, relationships, um, every student needs an adult advocate in their school who knows them, who supports them, who holds them accountable. And I think that if we can put systems in place that allow for those connections to be made, and if we have a relationship with a student, when they make a bad choice, make 'em stake, uh, we can actually turn it into a teachable moment. Now, again, I wanna be clear doesn't mean that we don't hold students accountable for behavior, but I think too often, and why we see some of these disproportionate discipline numbers is we punish the behavior before getting to the root of the problem. So making sure that a student is known that we look into why we're seeing the behaviors that you're, that we're seeing, and then figuring out what that student needs in order to make better choices and not be disciplined in the way. And I think we also have to be relentless and honest and constantly reviewing our data, uh, to see how we're doing and always do it in the spirit of how can we do better. I never want my principals teachers to feel that, you know, saying we're struggling here. We need additional help, uh, is a problem. That's what I need to hear as the leader of the system.

Speaker 4: (21:59)

COVID 19 of course, disrupted learning for many months, it's still having a big impact on schools and classrooms. Some things about our schools may have changed forever. What lessons do you think have been learned?

Speaker 8: (22:13)

So one example is exactly what we're doing now, the power of zoom, uh, because our families could actually attend meetings without having to find childcare or leave work. We saw family participation and engagement if their, their, uh, school staff for their, to support their child's learning skyrocket. And so we've asked all of our departments in schools to make sure that whenever there's any kind of family meeting, whether it's his parent teacher conference or an IEP meeting, that they provide a virtual option so that our families can do that. Because I think that that's, that's positive. And I think it's important for us to identify positives like that so that we can sustain them. And similarly for our students, while we know that the vast majority of students learn better in person, and we want our students physically in school, we do have students for whom virtual learning really worked. And so we, I, we have an app, an obligation to provide them with that as part of the menu of learning options that they have within our system. So this year we launched our Highline virtual academy, so that students who really wanted to work at more of a, um, independent study self-paced, uh, way could do so

Speaker 4: (23:28)

San Diego unified is active, trying to diversify its teachers and staff to look more like its student body. Did you do anything like that in Washington state? And was it successful?

Speaker 8: (23:40)

Absolutely. So we're a richly diverse school system in Highline. And, uh, we still have an educator workforce that doesn't mirror that now in recent years, we've increased the diversity of our workforce by about 40% because we've really invested heavily in recruitment and retention. We also though have come up with some innovative programs. So one of those is what we call our by Al teaching fellows program in partnership with Western Washington university, we, um, reach out to our para educators who are bilingual and they enter a cohort, uh, and do a two year pro completed two year program where they get certified to become teachers. So we can then hire them back to teach in our dual language program. Uh, we think that's important because it's wonderful to support our staff in their learning and growth, and also for our students to see staff, uh, who look like them as we know representation matters. And so this is work that is ongoing, but it's work that can be done.

Speaker 4: (24:40)

Now in Washington state, you oversaw a much smaller school district. I believe it's one fifth, the size of San Diego unified. How do you plan on transitioning from that smaller district to one of the nation's largest districts,

Speaker 8: (24:55)

Just prior to Highline? I was the interim superintendent in Seattle public schools, which is about 50,000 and earlier in my career, I also was the bureau director for teaching and learning support for all hundred and one districts in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. So I have worked in systems of, of larger scale before. And, and here's what I know while the scale may be different. The nature of the challenges remain the same, the need to go in and to listen and to build relationships and to have a clear plan where people feel heard and seen and included, uh, to collaborate with families, with staff, with community, to make sure that every child is receiving the public education that they deserve. Uh, that's the work no matter where you are. And so I believe that my strengths and the systems that I have led will continue to be strengths there in Sandy.

Speaker 4: (25:48)

I've been speaking with Dr. Susan Enfield, one of two finalists for the position of San Diego unified school superintendent. Susan, thank you so much.

Speaker 8: (25:57)

Thank you very much.

Speaker 4: (25:58)

The public will have a chance to meet the San Diego unified school districts. Two superintendent finalists before one of them is chosen for the job. There's a public 4:00 AM scheduled from noon to two this Saturday at Wilson middle school, near normal Heights

Speaker 1: (26:22)

From touchless payment methods to online banking, new forms of technology have been making cashless trans actions easier and more common for both buyers and sellers. But despite the intended effect of streamlining daily commerce, the move away from physical dollars and cents is leaving certain groups out of the technological leap forward voice of San Diego reporter. Jesse Marks joins us now with more Jesse, welcome back to the program.

Speaker 9: (26:48)

Hey, thanks for having me.

Speaker 1: (26:49)

Let's start with some numbers. How many San Diegos don't have a checking or savings account?

Speaker 9: (26:55)

So the stats that I was able to find, uh, that came from the federal deposit insurance corporation. Most people know it as the F D I C, and in 2019, they released a survey showing that close to about 6% of Californians. Don't have a bank account within San Diego county itself. That number is about 4%, which may not actually sound like a lot when you hear it. But when you consider that there are 1.3 million households in the San Diego region. We talk about upwards of about 55,000 people. If you assume that each one of those households has at least one person potentially up to three, then we're probably talking about a hundred thousand people collectively that don't have a bank account for one reason or another. Typically you find that people just can't meet the actual minimum balance to have a bank account. So they literally can't afford it. But also the people who I spoke with for this piece were telling me that they viewed not having a bank account as a kind of form of self discipline, because they were afraid of getting hit with overdraft fees, which would then tack on their costs and just get them deeper into debt over long term,

Speaker 1: (28:00)

Black and Latino households are actually more likely to be unbanked. Why is that? And what exactly does it mean to be unbanked?

Speaker 9: (28:08)

So to be unbanked means you don't have a checking or a savings account, and you're right. People of color are disproportionately represented in the stats that I cited a second ago, the California Senate committee on business professions and economic development looked into this question in 2020, because they were cons considering a bill to require retailers to continue to take cash as this cashless trend moves forward. And so they found that black and Latino residents were seven to 10 times more likely to be unbanked than white ones. And that's typically for the reasons I cited a second ago, because they don't have the income to open a bank account. And because they're afraid once they do, it's only gonna de their actual financial income over the long term. And so I think it's a product not only of class, but also of race in our region. And so when we talk about going cashless, we're forgetting that not everybody is able to afford this trend, even as innovative and forward with thinking as it sounds

Speaker 1: (28:59)

Right. So what services do, people who are unbanked find themselves locked out of,

Speaker 9: (29:04)

Oh, they typically find, find themselves locked out of any purchases that you and I would make on a daily basis, say buying a cup of coffee, renting a car. I spoke with one woman who lives in El Cajon who actually tries to use an alternative to banking. So she uses cash apps, but she found that she was unable to rent a car over the holidays to go see her family. So when we talk about the unbanked and we talk about going cashless, it can be anything, it could be a simple everyday purchase. And the criticism of the cashless trend in general is that it's marginalizing low income shoppers. The people who can least afford stuff are most likely to be blocked from the things that you and I take for granted

Speaker 1: (29:43)

Beyond these kind of daily interactions and transactions like coffee and renting a vehicle. What are some of the greater impacts of not having access to a traditional bank?

Speaker 9: (29:54)

One of the people who I spoke with actually had a trouble using public transit, which I thought was interesting because the metropolitan transportation agency just moved over to a digital fair system, which sounded great. And the, the purpose of it was to try to increase ridership by creating more options available to people, depending on how they pay. So you could get a digital card and then use that to just jump around buses and trolleys and not have to worry about cash. But the problem is if you're unbanked and you only, you rely on cash for those purchases, you have to go find a kiosk in order to do that. And they may not be convenient. They may not be around you. And so, in one case, I spoke to a guy who had to take a bus to go downtown, to put money on his card, to then transfer around. And in the process, he was effectively paying twice and it was only $2 and 50 cents to make that ride. But for someone who only makes a few thousand dollars a year, that's actually considerable amount for him. And so he's, he's getting hit twice for the same convenience that you and I just take for granted. Again,

Speaker 1: (30:48)

There's been several legislative efforts to ban cashless stores. I know San Francisco has successfully banned them. What's going on locally and at the state level,

Speaker 9: (30:57)

Uh, locally at the moment, I don't know of much, but at the state level, there was an effort in 2020, there was a state Senator up in the bay area named Jerry Hill who had been looking at the racial disparities in banking and had also noticed just in his own neighborhood, that more restaurants were going cashless. And so he started to look into it and he introduced a bill that would've required businesses to accept up to $5,000 worth of cash. He viewed it as an equity issue and thought that the rest of society was moving too quickly without really thinking through who maybe excluded from commerce longer term. And so he introduced a bill a couple weeks before the pandemic. It had some bipartisan support, but then the pandemic hit and there was a concern at the time, right or wrong that COVID could spread on physical currency.

Speaker 9: (31:41)

So I think that helped kill his bill, but he also got a lot of pushback from the banks and from oil and energy companies. And he told me that he was faulted for his lack of 21st century thinking. And so the bankers, the oil companies, they said, look, your definition of a retailer's too broad. You're gonna attack on additional costs that we can't manage. And according to Jerry Hill, the lobbyists behind the scenes effectively killed that at the time. So I don't know if anyone's planning to take it up because Jerry Hill left the California legislature a couple, uh, a few months ago. And then also I saw lo Gonzalez the other day talking about how she would've introduced that as well, but she just recently left the assembly. So I don't know if anyone's moving forward on it at the moment

Speaker 1: (32:18)

I've been speaking with Jesse Marks, a voice of San Diego. Thank you so much.

Speaker 9: (32:22)

Thanks Christina,

Speaker 4: (32:28)

Millions of Americans with disabilities, face barriers to getting married, tying the knot can mean losing the federal benefits they rely on from K a C U in Monterey reporter. Erica Mahoney has this story on people trying to change the rules

Speaker 10: (32:44)

Five years ago, Lori long's boyfriend, Mark Contreras got down on one knee. The moment captured on video.

Speaker 11: (32:52)

Yes. Don marry you Don marry

Speaker 10: (32:54)

You long dreamed about finding love, but wasn't she or it would happen,

Speaker 12: (32:59)

Especially for somebody like myself with a significant disability and, and a spinal deformity. Like I have

Speaker 10: (33:08)

Long has an autoimmune disorder that results in painful fractures in her spine. After the proposal, she started looking at wedding dresses,

Speaker 12: (33:17)

Thinking about possible venues, looking at invitations.

Speaker 10: (33:20)

Then the nightmare hit. She learned marrying her fiance, who isn't disabled would mean completely losing her federal disability benefits and Medicare long. And Contrera went from happiness to

Speaker 12: (33:35)

Heartbreak,

Speaker 13: (33:36)

Definitely disappointment, but I did it along to lose or give up on her

Speaker 10: (33:43)

Long, gets her healthcare through a social security program. It's complicated rules written decades ago. Assume the spouse can cover medical expenses long works. Part-time in retail. Contrera works for a nonprofit, but his insurance wouldn't cover everything long needs her healthcare. Isn't just a few trips to the doctor every year. But hospital stays upwards of 50 grand per visit together. They decided it was a love story worth the fight.

Speaker 12: (34:15)

I thought, boy, this is kind of like a David and Goliath, sort of a fight. You know, one person going up against to big government. But I felt that I had to try.

Speaker 14: (34:25)

She inspires me and she inspired me to write this bill.

Speaker 10: (34:28)

That's Congressman Jimmy Panetta of California. Last month, he introduced the marriage equality for disabled adults act in the us house of representatives. It would ensure that people like long never have to choose between healthcare or marriage.

Speaker 14: (34:43)

We just feel that's an antiquated and borderline cruel law. That should be changed.

Speaker 10: (34:49)

Millions of Americans with disabilities, face marriage penalties, a total or partial loss of their federal benefits. There's a separate bill in the Senate to end the penalty for people on another federal disability program. Senator she brown of Ohio introduced that legislation. It

Speaker 15: (35:07)

Makes no sense from a logic viewpoint. It makes no sense from a moral viewpoint. It makes no sense from a religious viewpoint.

Speaker 10: (35:15)

It makes no sense in today's world says disability rights advocate, Bethany Lilly.

Speaker 16: (35:20)

I don't think you know, 50 year, years ago, people would be thinking about people with disabilities getting married. Whereas now that's just a, a perfectly normal, uh, expected part of life for a lot of people.

Speaker 10: (35:30)

Lily is with the arc, a national disability organization based in Washington, DC. She hears heartbreaking stories all the time.

Speaker 16: (35:38)

Generally speaking, I suggest that people talk to a lawyer before they think about getting married. That's an unfortunate position to put folks with disabilities into,

Speaker 10: (35:47)

And it says Lilly, the wrong message to send

Speaker 16: (35:50)

As a person with a disability. And as somebody who identifies as LGBTQ for me, marriage means the acceptance by society.

Speaker 10: (35:59)

Meanwhile, Lori Long and her fiance say they aren't giving up on saying I do

Speaker 12: (36:05)

Love is very powerful. And I think when two people are able to tap into that energy, then look out world because that kind of loving is close to unstoppable.

Speaker 4: (36:20)

And that story from K a Z U reporter Erica Mahoney,

Speaker 1: (36:34)

Listening to KBB S midday edition. I'm kina Kim with Maureen Maureen kava, Jade Heman is off today. The Oceanside international film festival returns to the Brooks theater on February 22nd for in-person screenings. The festival has been virtual for the last two years because of the pandemic K PS arts reporter. Beth Amando speaks with the festival's executive director, Lou Niles.

Speaker 17: (36:57)

So Lou the O Oceanside international film festival had a milestone a 10 year anniversary, but this occurred during the pandemic. So how did that feel?

Speaker 18: (37:08)

It was disappointing to have a, you know, such a important milestone go without being in person and all those kind of in person, cool, curated events that we normal. We have, but everybody really came together and we had a lot of the filmmakers and then some of the, some of the stars, even Sean from animal kingdom, you know, record stuff on their phone and send it in. And we edited together and had this kind of online TV production. That was just so neat and so well received that it actually went okay. We, we were really pleased with it.

Speaker 17: (37:44)

And this year you are going to be back in person. So what is your opening night film?

Speaker 18: (37:50)

Our opening night, we're extremely excited about it's the 20th anniversary of the film, blue crush, Carly when my wife and also the co programmer and artistic director of the film festival worked on that film back in the early two thousands. So she called up a bunch of her friends. We decided to have a see if, Hey, can we pull together a 20th anniversaries? Nobody else is doing it except us. So the director, John Stockwell's really, uh, sonno lake who's one of the actresses and surfers in the film. And, and of course, Kate Bosworth is coming too. And she's really excited.

Speaker 17: (38:29)

And let's listen to a little bit of a scene from blue crush.

Speaker 12: (38:32)

Who is that

Speaker 17: (38:33)

You,

Speaker 19: (38:35)

That was the first time you beat me at the Mennet contest in Oliva. He's talking all that trash and how you would be number one, I was so at you cause I knew you would be, the boys were spinning. Remember that they had to throw up some [inaudible] rule, barring you from the boys context.

Speaker 17: (38:56)

Talk about how this film is appropriate for the Oceanside film festival, cuz you are a beach community and you are interested in things like surfing and others, outdoor sports like this.

Speaker 18: (39:06)

It, it, it really is. I mean, we feel like we're not reaching and just picking some random film that had its 20th anniversary because of course, Carly worked on the film. I went and visited her for 10 days in Hawaii experienced the, the wildness that was shooting on set at pipeline. John Stockwell, the director of the film, he was in top gun, he plays Cougar and top gun and, and there's kind of a weird tie into Oceanside there too. So it, it all kind of worked together to really be something that, that we thought could happen and, and it is happening.

Speaker 17: (39:39)

So how would you define the personality of the festival in terms of the kind of programming you do and the kind of films you look

Speaker 18: (39:46)

For? I think we've talked about this before, where you like that. Do we have the kind of these little curated, special events that aren't, it's not just wall, the wall films. Sometimes we have these interesting things. It may have something to do with TV, like animal kingdom, or may have something to do with music. Like, uh, Mrs. Henry's last waltz. We had Taylor Steele do a kind of a curated talking story about some of the scenes that were cut from his films. And that's what we really like. We like to kind of base that I is kind of the anchors throughout our, our festival. We always have a surf block. We always have some kind of cause environmental related films, but we really let it, our, our festival become what was sent to us that year. And then Carly and Sterling do an amazing job of curating the film blocks that there may be an animated, uh, narrative and an documentary in the same block.

Speaker 18: (40:39)

So you're not going to see a, a block of documentaries or a block of narrative shorts. Um, they tie together with different themes. You know, like we have extraordinary people as one of our themes, our sustainable planet thrills and kills family dynamics. And we have our surf skate of course. So some of 'em are really kind of creative titles that tie together some sort of theme that's going on in the different films. Uh, and then some of 'em are a little bit more literal, but we like to just see what comes in and that's kind of what grows the festival each year.

Speaker 17: (41:13)

You have this fabulous documentary, the whale of Loreno, which really gets to some very complicated issues because it's not, it's not necessarily what you think it's going to be because it ends up showing how complicated environmental issues can be.

Speaker 18: (41:29)

I, I work my regular job in sustainability, in health and wellness. And so I, I, I think it's wonderful when we can show these amazing films and kind of tell some of the truths that, that people are living, that it might be easy from, you know, a desk in Southern California somewhere to say, oh, well, we need to do this. We need to recycle. And we need to be not farm those types of animals or fish types of fish. Um, when it's something that, you know, maybe for hundreds of years, certain people have done, it's, it's their way of life. It's how they even, you know, have the energy or light in their shack, these, these animals. So it's really fascinating to me. And I that's, I think the wonderful thing about filmmaking is some of these stories that just come in and blow us away over the years, you know, like a top rack from Turkey a couple years ago. And I feel like the whale of Lono is another one that it just really takes you deep into a place you never even would've thought, uh, existed or that you would never experience in your normal life.

Speaker 17: (42:31)

Were there any films that particularly stood out for you that are your favorites?

Speaker 18: (42:35)

Well, I'm, I'm a little biased to the, to the surf block. I, I really like this. Uh, keep it a secret, which is our headliner on Saturday night, it's a surf film about surf discovery in the seventies in Ireland, which that's interesting Ireland and surf discovery. There's a lot of films about out that, but it doesn't just focus on surfing it dives in a lot to the troubles. You know, what it was like to, you know, be a, a youth trying to go surfing and then trying to, you know, run a machine gun gauntlet or, you know, anything terrible could happen. It was definitely scary and threatening.

Speaker 17: (43:11)

Let's hear a clip from that film

Speaker 20: (43:13)

And you have a surfboard on top of the car. The British army would be what the hell is that? And they would be bringing you in to check that there wasn't something in those surfboards that was a, I don't know, a rocket or whatever, but you just got used to it. I mean, that was just the way. And you learn when you were driving from a to B, you just learned the areas not to go into

Speaker 17: (43:34)

And tell people about your venue.

Speaker 18: (43:36)

Our venue is, uh, the Brooks theater it's in the heart of downtown Oceanside, right in the middle of the Oceanside cultural district. It's a historic theater and we've been there for quite a number of years now. Um, we will have our opening night, uh, red carpet on Tuesday, the 22nd at the inside museum of art. So it's outside. They have a beautiful patio doing the red carpet with, uh, the stars of, uh, casting crew from blue crush. Uh, and then we'll walk the couple blocks that it is over to the Brooks theater and enjoy the screening and have a great Q and a afterwards.

Speaker 17: (44:11)

And are there any pandemic restrictions in place, uh, regarding mask wearing or proof of vaccination or anything like that?

Speaker 18: (44:19)

Yeah, right now the theater Alliance is really just asked that people wear masks inside and then we are looking for the vaccination card or the negative PCR test, um, at the door.

Speaker 17: (44:32)

All right. Well, thank you very much for talking about the Oceanside international film festival and congratulations on turning 10 during the pandemic.

Speaker 18: (44:40)

Thank you. Thank you so much for having us.

Speaker 1: (44:43)

That was Beth. Amando speaking with Lou Niles. The Oceanside international film festival runs February 22nd through the 20.

San Diego school leaders are facing increased resistance to mask mandates from parents leaving local teachers stuck in the middle. Next, an interview with, Susan Enfield, one of the finalists for San Diego Unified School District’s superintendent position. And, how the cashless economy is creating inequities in San Diego. Then, millions of Americans with disabilities face barriers to get married, one of which can mean losing the federal benefits they rely on. Finally, the Oceanside International Film Festival returns to the Brooks Theatre on February 22 for in-person screenings. KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando speaks with the festival's executive director Lou Niles.