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High-profile bills making their way through the state legislature

 June 7, 2024 at 3:25 PM PDT

S1: Welcome to KPBS roundtable. I'm Scott Rod. A suite of high profile bills in the state legislature are moving forward , including a new push to ban plastic bags.

S2: Yeah , this bill would ban all of those grocery store plastic bags in favor of paper or other reusable non plastic bags.

S1: We also check in on other notable legislation tackling everything from AI regulation to confidentiality for LGBTQ+ students , with San Diego lawmakers leading the charge on several proposals. And new rules could be coming for the City of San Diego's Ethics Commission. We'll discuss what it could mean for campaign finance and lobbying rules. Plus , we dive into other stories from this week in the roundup that's just ahead on KPBS roundtable. We're more than halfway through this year's legislative session in California , and lawmakers have been busy debating and negotiating over mountains of legislation. So we figured this was a good time to check in on some of the high profile bills at the Capitol , including a few proposals carried by San Diego lawmakers. This political wrangling comes as state leaders also look to finalize the state budget and address the deficit that comes with it. Here to talk about all of this is Nicole Nixon , who covers California politics for the Sacramento Bee , and Debra Sullivan Brennan. She writes the Sacramento Report for the Voice of San Diego. Welcome to both of you to roundtable.

S2: Thanks for having us. Thank you.

S1: So , Deborah , let's start off by talking about plastic bags. There's a new effort in the legislature to ban single use bags , but this bill is something of a mulligan because lawmakers already tried to ban single use plastic bags about ten years ago.

S3: It did the opposite of what was expected. It actually increased the amount of plastic bags based on the numbers and the amount of plastic waste it was in 2014. There have been numerous , uh , successful local bag bans , and the state wanted to do the same thing , but they met with pushback from bag manufacturers who didn't want to stop making the bags , and grocers who didn't want to stop giving them away. So they came up with a compromise to produce these thicker , heavier plastic bags that were theoretically reusable or recyclable. Except that people didn't do it. They discarded the bags anyway , and the upshot was that plastic waste in California increased almost 50% between 2014 and 2022.

S1: So a ten year experiment , not very successful , Nicole. Now lawmakers are revisiting this effort to ban single use plastic bags.

S2: Um , one interesting thing about this bill is that it has support from the California Grocers Association , which opposed that first plastic bag ban in 2014. And then I'll also just note , this is kind of a part of a larger theme of California lawmakers trying to restrict single use plastics. A couple of years ago , they passed a law that requires single use packaging and food containers to be fully recyclable or compostable within a decade in California.


S2: Um , I don't have that answer right at my fingertips , but this bill is probably going to get some pushback from plastics manufacturers. They were also opposed to the 2014 ban. And I think we can expect a big fight from from their lobbyists on this one.

S3: Um , but it's also worth noting that there are two bills , companion bills in the Assembly and Senate that both passed those houses. So it looks like it's almost certainly going to make it to the governor's desk. Deborah.

S1: Deborah. There have been a number of bills focused on regulating or simply reining in artificial intelligence. Obviously , there are many industries that are watching this , and it includes legislation from some San Diego lawmakers.

S3: Um , one of his bills requires an AI risk assessment. It's aimed at protecting privacy and preventing bias and discrimination through the AI process. Um , it would require the state and its contractors to do risk assessments of any AI systems they use to make sure that they're not having unintended , harmful consequences. Basically , the I can't think for itself. And so it reproduces any biases that we introduce in the data or models. So the idea is to prevent that bias from affecting high consequence decisions such as health care , employment , housing , education or criminal justice. And this is a bill that would at this point only affect the state and its contractors. But it could be a playbook for broader regulation of AI in private industry.

S1: You know , politicians are often criticized or maybe mocked is a better word for their limited or outdated understanding of tech issues.

S3: And so the idea would be to bring all the real experts into the room together and have them help figure that out. And the bills themselves basically state the desired outcome. They don't dictate the kind of technical mechanism by which they achieve it. So I think the lawmakers aren't trying to wade too deeply into the technical specifications of this , but relying on the experts to flesh out the rules of their past.

S1: Nicole , I want to turn to a very serious subject , and that is that there might be some bad news for kids who love flaming Hot Cheetos.



S2: So there's a bill that would ban six artificial food dyes from being sold or distributed in California public schools. These dyes include. Red dye 40. Yellow five. Yellow six. Blue one , uh , you know , long list. Um , and these food additives have been deemed safe by the FDA. But the bill's author , who's Democratic Assembly member Jesse Gabriel , um , points out that they're banned in many other countries like Europe , South Korea , even Saudi Arabia. So he wants to ban them from schools. And he points to a 2021 state study that linked synthetic food dye consumption to hyperactivity and neurobehavioral problems in children. Now , it's a there's a lot of food , uh , food dyes there. They are in a ton of processed foods. So , yes , hot Cheetos , admittedly one of my favorite snacks , but also , you know , breakfast cereals like Fruit Loops , sodas and fruit juices , sports drinks and other snacks. And again , this bill would only ban these ingredients from being sold at schools in California. You would still be able to buy them in the store. If this passes.

S1: You listed red dye 40 blue number one. I mean , just some of my favorites right there. The greatest hits.

S2: So tasty.

S1: So this might sound familiar , though to some listeners because there was a similar effort last year to ban certain food dyes more broadly in California.

S2: Jesse Gabriel was also behind that bill. And it did include red dye number three. But there were other additives like brominated vegetable oil , potassium bromate , propyl paraben. And it bans all sale of those foods in California beginning in 2027. Um , again , some of those ingredients have been linked to diseases , including cancer and are banned in many other countries. So Gabriel says it's not about banning products like Skittles. Got a lot of attention with this bill last year , but he says it's more about pushing food makers to reformulate their products to get rid of some of those potentially harmful ingredients on US store shelves.

S1: All right , switching gears , state lawmakers are also considering a bill that would require age verification for pornography websites accessed in California.

S2: And it would apply to pornography sites , but it would also require age verification for online sales of guns , tobacco products , fireworks , dietary supplements , basically anything you need to already be 18 to purchase in California if you were to buy it in store. Um , of course , though much of the debate on this bill is centered around the idea of requiring proof of age to access online porn , and the main arguments , um , for this bill are that teens brains are not fully developed , that access to sexually explicit content at a young age can impact their perceptions of healthy relationships and consent. Um , now , on the other side , opponents of this bill say that sexual expression is protected under the First Amendment and that the US Supreme Court has ruled against age verification to access protected speech. And some states have passed similar laws. They're facing litigation over some of those , you know , that same issue of protected speech now ? Yeah.

S1: On that note , California often leads the pack among other states when it comes to legislation. But as you mentioned , other states have already established or passed similar requirements. And Utah's one of them , you know , that's and I know that's where you were a reporter some years back. And Utah was among the first to pass legislation like this.

S2: I think the first Anti-porn bill I covered in the Utah Legislature was in 2016. And , you know , these were simple bills back then , like the first one declared pornography a public health crisis , if I'm remembering correctly. So that author there in Utah was , you know , got made fun of mocked , as you said earlier , it's a religious conservative state. So opponents saw it as trying to legislate values. But I think one big difference now is that there's more research on the impacts of pornography on adolescents. And it's complicated. Some studies have linked consumption of , you know , sexually explicit sexually violent media , especially among teen boys with higher rates of sexual and dating violence. But on the other hand , other studies have shown it can aid teens sexual development and give them more knowledge and confidence in relationships. And then also , since , you know , we've talked about other states that have passed these age verification laws already. Um , big porn sites , including Pornhub , have shut off access to that website in the states , including Texas and Utah , in response to these age verification laws. So it'll be really interesting to see if this bill makes it all the way through California. And if there are those kinds of consequences of access being just blanket shut off.

S1: I want to turn now to a few bills that are being carried by San Diego area lawmakers. Republican Senator Brian Jones , whose district spans much of east San Diego County , has a bill that seeks to overhaul how sexually violent predators are placed in communities.

S3: Now the lease is in supervision of these former inmates are supervised by Liberty Health Care. That's the state contractor. And Jones and some of his colleagues are saying there's not enough supervision. The state needs to retake its authority over this. So the director of state hospitals has to sign off on that before they use taxpayer money to sign these leases or rental agreements. Um , the other thing it would do would be it requires the state hospitals to place public safety as a condition in the placement of these sexually violent predators. Now , Jones is original language that he wanted to be placed as the overriding consideration that was soften a little bit in the language. So it doesn't seem to be a very dramatic thing to ask them to consider public safety in these placements. But he feels like that's a big win to make sure that that's in the language and that that's part of the process.

S1: Yeah , it's kind of surprising , actually , that that isn't already a requirement when they're placing these individuals. You know , Jones has been focused on this issue for years , but past efforts to pass legislation didn't gain much traction. So what's different this year ? Right.

S3: This is his third attempt to pass the bill. He's tried it in the two previous sessions and it didn't. Make it through. Um , he changed a few things that would , um , would have been included in his original legislation. He had to scrap requirements for inventories of state property. He had to give up his request for reports on how many sexually violent predators are in each county , and also eliminate provisions against placing them near Indian reservations. So once he was able to remove those provisions , the other two requirements , which are pretty straightforward , were able to make it through the Senate.

S1: Democratic Assembly Member Chris Ward recently introduced a bill that would prevent so-called forced outings of trans students at schools.

S3: Um , it would also prevent any retaliation against teachers if they don't tell parents , and it would would hope to provide resources for parents and students and teachers to discuss LGBTQ issues. And this is this is taking place amid a legal climate where you have a number of school districts taking very opposite policies. Those policies have been challenged in court and the courts have come to different conclusions. For instance , in Temecula. They have a policy requiring parental notification. Um , there's a lawsuit by the teachers union , students , parents to overturn that. That's in court now , um , in Chino Hills , they had a similar policy requiring parental notification. And California Attorney General Rob Bonta sued. Chino Valley Unified School District to overturn that. Um , and then in Escondido , you had the opposite situation in Escondido Union School District. The school district had a policy prohibiting teachers from telling parents , and two middle school teachers sued , saying that violated their religious beliefs that they believe parents deserve to know , and that being forced to conceal that information was a violation. And so that has also gotten to court. So you have a very , um , conflicted landscape of school , school policy and court decisions on this.

S1: I mean , yeah , it sounds like a real patchwork , and I can only imagine how that's difficult to navigate for schools and for parents and for teachers. Nicole , this topic has some history in the legislature. What's happened over the last few years that's led up to this bill's introduction ? Yeah.

S2: Well , I think maybe just zooming out even further. LGBTQ issues have really been thrust into the spotlight nationally in recent years , especially issues affecting trans communities and trans students. You know , it started with Republican led states passing laws that do things like requiring trans people to use the bathroom that corresponds with their sex assigned at birth rather than their gender identity , banning trans girls from participating in girls sports at schools. And these so-called forced outing policies , um , which are also known by supporters as parental notification policies. And this issue arrived in California about a year ago. Really ? Um , as Deborah mentioned , with the Chino Valley Unified School District adopting a policy , uh , requiring schools to notify parents if their child asks to use a name or a pronoun that's different from their birth certificate. Um , immediately. Immediate backlash from LGBTQ rights groups and elected officials from the top governor Gavin Newsom and Attorney General Rob Bonta. So a lot of drama , a lot of , you know , meanwhile , patchwork , different , different policies being passed in different school boards. There was also an effort by Republican State Assemblyman Bill Lassally last year to make this , uh , parental notification policy statewide. Of course , that went nowhere. So that now brings us to Assembly Member Ward's bill that would ban school boards from adopting these forced outing or parental notification policies.

S1: And as we mentioned at the top , we're more than halfway through the legislative session. So these bills still have a ways to go before they're ultimately passed or not passed , and then have to be signed by the governor before they become law. Before we wrap up , I want to touch on the budget. Nicole. We're in the midst of budget negotiations. I mean , sort of heading towards this June 15th deadline , but it's always a little squishy. So where do we stand on on the negotiations and are there any key sticking points ? Yeah.

S2: Well , like you mentioned , lawmakers have to pass a budget by June 15th. They often pass what I call a placeholder budget just so they meet that deadline. If they don't pass something. June 15th. They don't get paid , so their real deadline is June 30th. That's the governor's deadline to sign a sign , a budget bill before the new fiscal year begins on July 1st. So , you know , there's this big deficit currently sitting around $45 billion. And I think that's where a lot of the sticking points this year are. Newsom proposed a budget that relies big time on cutting spending to fill that deficit. He's proposed what he describes as like tough but necessary cuts to some social service programs , um , new money for public health that was prioritized after the pandemic , homelessness grants for cities , a middle , a middle class scholarship program. And state lawmakers want to keep some of those programs and pay for them by capping business tax write offs and sort of limiting tax benefits for businesses over the next few years. And then last thing is bonds. Lawmakers are looking at moving some school , school , infrastructure , money and climate project money to the ballot to ask voters to sign off on bonds this November. Um , those are also still being negotiated along with the budget , but it looks like there are those negotiations right now are leaning toward climate and school bonds. So those might be on your ballot in November.


S3: It's a program that's been funded at $1 billion a year , provides substantial resources to cities and counties to operate shelters , outreach programs and other kinds of homeless services. And officials in these cities , and particularly in San Diego , are saying we can't operate these programs without them. So Mayor Todd Gloria , who's the leader of the big city mayors organization , has written to the governor arguing that they should restore this funding , saying that it's going to gut all of the progress that they've made over the past five years and worse than the homeless program , making it even harder to gain ground in the future. Now , the legislators in their version of the budget included that billion dollars. They're saying they want to put it back. So that will probably be a point of contention and negotiation between the legislature and the governor as they try to arrive at the final budget.

S1: I've been speaking with Nicole Nixon , who covers state politics for The Sacramento Bee , and Deborah Sullivan Brennan for Voice of San Diego and Calmatters. Thank you both for joining us today.

S3: Well , thank you for having us on today.

S2: Thanks for having us.

S1: When roundtable returns , we hear about San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott's efforts to change ethics rules and increase fines for political misconduct.

S5: I think this has been something on her to do list for some time , and not unlike a lot of elected officials , she may be trying to shore up her legacy.

S1: That's next on roundtable. Welcome back to KPBS roundtable. I'm Scott Rodd. San Diego could see significant changes to how campaign and lobbying rules are enforced. If a proposal from City Attorney Mara Elliott gets the okay from the city council and city voters. The plan would give more power and independence to San Diego's Ethics Commission , which was formed more than two decades ago as a way to combat misconduct by public officials. So what would this new Ethics Commission look like , and how likely is it to get on the ballot in November ? Here to tell us more , I'm joined by Jeff McDonald , investigative reporter with the San Diego Union-Tribune. Jeff , welcome to roundtable.

S5: Hi , Scott , thanks for having me.

S1: So to start , San Diego's Ethics commission was started back in 2001 to keep local public officials in line when it comes to campaigns and lobbying.

S5: So that's what the ethics , uh , ordinance is designed to provide. And , uh , you know , it's been in effect for 20 some years and , uh , you know , doing its work. Okay.

S1: Okay.

S5: I mean , it's , uh , it does issue fines in times where they find , uh , cases of misconduct or failures to comply with the rules. Uh , but one of the reforms that are proposed now , uh , would be to increase those fines because oftentimes they're , you know , just $1,000 or a couple thousand dollars and not really enough to dissuade , uh , you know , people who are purposely not disclosing information , uh , would dissuade them from doing so. So , yes , it's been effective. And it's a great resource for , you know , people like us , interested voters. Uh , but it certainly could have sharper teeth.

S1: So you mentioned the changes , potential changes to the fines. I want to jump into what else is being proposed here because it's kind of multifaceted. So for your story , you spoke with City Attorney Mara Elliott about her proposal. And in that story , she said about the Ethics Commission , quote , it's time to bolster their independence and better define their role.

S5: And not unlike a lot of elected officials , she may be trying to shore up her legacy , which is all well and good and completely understandable. The main thing before the , uh , well , the Rules Committee this week and we'll go to the council next would be a charter amendment , and that's what requires voters to approve it. And so with council approval , that'll go on the November ballot. That would do a couple of things if it passes with voters , uh , this fall. Uh , most specifically , it would rewrite a term of the charter to make sure that the Ethics Commission cannot be undone by a future city council. Uh , the current language says that , uh , uh , establishes the Ethics Commission , but also says basically , it shall serve at the will of the City Council. Uh , what the city attorney's reform would do is codify that in the charter so that it takes the existence of the Ethics Commission and makes it , uh , solid so that some future council can't vote the Ethics Commission out of existence. That's the main thing that this , uh , this charter amendment would do. And they you can't obviously change the charter without a majority of the voters.

S1: And in the plan , it would also change who was in charge of choosing the Ethics Commission's either members or director.

S5: So , uh , the city attorney put forward a , uh , a reform agenda , uh , last fall with a number of , uh , initiatives and proposals. Uh , the city charter amendment is the one that's on the table right now , and that requires voter approval. Uh , she also has a series of additional , uh , changes , initiatives , reforms that will be rolled out later this spring and summer and go before the city council. And that's where the increasing of the fines would come in. And , uh , she did try to force the issue now about the appointment and the independent appointment component of the Ethics Commission , but that won't be put to voters. That's something that still needs to be negotiated. It's fair to say that didn't receive a , uh , a huge , uh , hugely positive reception right now. The the commissioners are nominated by the mayor from a pool of people proposed by council members and the city attorney herself. What the city attorney is suggesting is that some independent authority should have that role , and not the elected officials who are the subjects or can be the subjects of ethics Commission investigations , if that makes sense.

S1: Yeah , it definitely makes sense right now. The city council and hand with the mayor , they're in charge of essentially , you know , deciding what this commission looks like in terms of its members and the director. Uh , but of course , any time you try to remove that authority or change it , it's typical that you get pushback if you try to make , uh , those sorts of appointments more of an independent process. So that does make sense. And as you said , the the details of that are still yet to be determined. It sounds like it still need to be worked out. Yeah.

S5: Yeah. She had proposed a panel of retired judges be given that authority. And that is the idea that was not moved forward. Uh , so what they did agree to was to pursue that , but table to table it for now. So it won't be part of the November vote. But she does plan to bring forward some. And that doesn't require a vote. That change doesn't require a vote of the public. It requires a vote of the city council. That's what she's going to bring forward. Later , presumably after some further negotiations.

S1: You had mentioned the penalties before , and there's been talk about how the commission , you know , the penalties that it doles out just simply aren't enough. So so what are the penalties now ? What are they typically look like ? What's the maximum and what are the proposed changes that Elliot's put forward.

S5: Well , again , the penalty the amount of the penalties isn't subject to public vote. So that's not what's going to be before voters in the fall. This is another one of those elements of her reform agenda , which is broader than just amending the charter. Amending the charter , according to the city attorney , has to is kind of a linchpin of these further reforms. The maximum right now is $5,000 per violation. Uh , and they often don't mete out that high a penalty to violators. Sometimes it's $1,000 , sometimes it's $2,000. It depends on , um , your level of cooperation , the seriousness of any offense. You know , how you respond to , uh , the investigation if you're cooperative or not. What , uh , what's been bantered around , uh , of late is tripling that to $15,000 per violation. So if you do something , every day can occur. Through a new violation so that could reach into , you know , a lot of money. But right now , you know , some firms will , uh , political consulting firms or whatnot , lobbyists , they'll , uh , fail to disclose and then , uh , or report it late and then pay the penalty simply as the cost of doing business. Uh , so what the city attorney wants to do is incentivize people to comply up front so that they don't just write off the fines as an extra fee for , uh , not disclosing their clients or their meetings with officials.

S1: You had mentioned before , Eliot , making this push , uh , on this front. But there are also other initiatives. She's been trying to move forward in the home stretch of her time as city attorney , you know , looking to cement her legacy. In addition to this push , she's also trying to make gun violence restraining orders , which are taken out when someone is either a threat to themselves or to others and has a firearm , and that firearm is removed , at least temporarily , from their possession , San Diego , under her watch , has really become a leader on that front , and she's trying to make San Diego kind of a training hub , so to speak , for other cities to also adopt similar measures.

S5: Certainly the gun violence restraining order. So she's been leading on that for years. And that's much to her credit. Uh , a lot of officials in their waning months and , uh , time in office , they do want to polish their legacy. Uh , and so there may be some of that going on here , but , you know , that's okay. That's human nature. Um , I think she , uh , she thinks it's important that , uh , she get more done , uh , before she leaves. And , uh , you know , these are important issues to her , and she's trying to , uh , trying to bring people on the city council around to her way of thinking. And it extends beyond , uh , beyond gun control issues. I mean , she's , uh , she's talked about imposing a civility code , which , uh , you know , would govern people who , you know , attacked public officials during , uh , public meetings , uh , and things like that. Uh , she's talked about improving whistleblower protections , which , uh , which is interesting. She's talked about , uh , expanding , uh , requirements for lobbyists who are unpaid because right now , the current code only , uh , governs , uh , lobbyists who are paid by their clients. Right. Uh , but we all know a lot of lobbying gets done , you know , on the golf course or at the restaurant or wherever. Uh , that maybe not is so formal. Uh , so there's a number of things that she wants to try and accomplish before she leaves office that she thinks would improve , uh , everyday governance in San Diego. Yeah.

S1: Yeah. And , you know , there are there definitely are politicians who look to polish their legacy or shore up their time in office with kind of a lasting impact in the home stretch. But they're definitely ones , too , who have a bit of senioritis , so to speak , and , you know , kind of want to just coast off into the sunset to mix up some metaphors here. And so it's worth giving credit where credit is due on this. And she definitely is trying to make a push on several fronts in these , you know , last months of her , her time in office , the city council's rules committee appeared split on this proposal at a previous meeting , but it went before the committee on Wednesday for a vote and passed unanimously.

S5: I mean , this is how the sausage gets made , right ? I mean , you try and win votes and build coalitions and whatever , uh , uh , initiative you're trying to pass that's just , uh , you know , politicking 101. So I think that , uh , some compromises were made , like the , uh , doing away with the retired judge's idea , for example , that , uh , that didn't muster any support when it was first broached. Uh , so it's kind of on the sidelines now. Now , what they did agree to was to proceed with some other independent appointment protocol that's not yet been defined. So those are the sorts of , uh , horse trading that happens behind closed doors all the time. But I think at the end of the day , the public's , you know , I mean , they're going to be , uh , they should be pleased that there's movement on this and something is getting done. Right. I mean , that sure beats the alternative. We all want an effective local government.

S1: Jeff McDonald is an investigative reporter with the San Diego Union Tribune. Jeff , thanks so much for sharing your reporting with us today.

S5: You bet. Thanks for having me.

S1: When we come back , we catch up on some other stories we've been following this week on the roundup that's coming up after the break. Welcome back to roundtable. I'm Scott Rod. It's time now for our weekly roundup of stories we've been following. Joining me is Andrew Bracken. Hey , Andrew. Hey , Scott , start us off.

S6: Well , I think , you know , one of the major stories this week is that President Joe Biden took action on the border to limit the number of asylum seekers. And this is something that we'd been talking about. I think Elliot Saget for the Associated Press had alluded to it. It had been a possibility , I think , over the last several months , that the president would take action at the executive level to limit the amount of arrivals , and that's what he did this week. It stops processing asylum seekers when certain limits are reached. I think it's 2500 crossings a day. And that threshold was reached. You know , earlier this week , I think it was like Tuesday night , Wednesday morning. And AP's Elliot Saget , along with his colleague Valerie Gonzalez , published some reporting on , you know , talking to asylum seekers about what's happening now and some of the confusion. And everyone's just trying to figure out where they go from here.

S1: It's interesting because Democrats have been resistant to this idea. And , you know , there was even criticism from some in President Biden's party , including Senator Alex Padilla from California , expressed his concern and even frustration with this executive order. And then you had some Republicans who were chiming in saying , you know , we think this is a good move. Some said , you know , we'll see if it works. But it's just interesting how in an election year , politics can get kind of scrambled across parties.

S6: I think one thing that's important is , you know , I think we've talked about this is the San Diego region is seeing a lot of migrant crossings. And The New York Times did publish a piece , you know , kind of talking about how San Diego Sector , it did become the top destination for migrants over the last few months in April , it was like 37,000 people crossed , putting San Diego ahead of some of the areas in Texas and other parts of the US-Mexico border. I think there's still some questions about , like , what it's going to look like and how the process works. And I think when we've talked to Elliott Bagot and other border reporters on roundtable before , one thing is when the rules change , it takes a little time for everyone to kind of figure things out and to see how that changes migration.

S1: And KPBS , Gustavo Solis has been following this as well. He'll be continuing his coverage of it. So keep an eye out for that on KPBS. Org. A few storylines that I've been following over the last week or two have been about the media industry. One was a report in newer publication called The Free Press by Michael Moynihan. He's a former longtime staff writer at vice , and the title of the piece was How Vice Went from a $6 billion media empire to Bankruptcy. And the subhead was , quote , it was hubris. It was the mismanagement of huge amounts of money. Most of all , it was a betrayal of everything that readers loved. And so vice , you know , for folks who aren't familiar. It started off as this scrappy punk rock magazine in Canada , you know , decades ago. And then over time , just grew and grew and really led the way , both in terms of print publication and then later online publications , and then branched out into video and TV and just became this juggernaut of reporting. And their whole their whole vibe was , you know , make it irreverent , do story angles that are different from what everyone else is doing iconoclastic , contrarian. Uh , and Michael Moynihan , the author of this piece , details the rapid fall of vice over the last five years. I mean , they declared bankruptcy recently. And from his perspective , you know , he raises questions about did they drift from that original mission that they had when they were irreverent , iconoclastic , and , you know , just the rapid fall over the last five years ? It raises questions about , you know , can that kind of punk rock , gonzo journalism thrive in today's media industry ? And it also just highlights how quickly the fortunes of a media outlet , a media behemoth , can change these days. Uh , fun fact maybe not so fun for me. I interviewed for an internship advice after college. Oh , really ? Didn't go well. The interview lasted like four minutes. They it was pretty clear pretty quickly. I was just not cool enough for that magazine. So they sent me walking. They actually never got back to me about whether or not I got the internship.

S6: So maybe that's why they're facing bankruptcy now.

S1: A lot of people's attention this week was the editor of the Washington Post , Sally Buzbee , suddenly stepping back , leaving her role. I mean , this was a stunning development. She's been in that position now only for several years. But. Under her watch. The Washington Post won six Pulitzer Prize , including three of them this year. I mean , she had a long , accomplished career with the Associated Press. In this sudden resignation , I mean , apparently it was because the publisher was looking into demoting her role to a narrower position in the newsroom , kind of responding to , again , the changing landscape of the journalism world. They're looking to do some new kind of fragmented things with their newsroom. So it was just kind of shocking to see how quickly , you know , and suddenly her departure was. There was also , though , some reporting just in the last couple of days about how their publisher , William Lewis , has been apparently trying to kill stories about his connection to a UK phone hacking scandal from some years ago. This was when he was previously a senior executive at the Murdoch News Corporation. So , I mean , just like a dizzying set of developments and very concerning for one of America's corner stone newspapers. I mean , we're heading into a whirlwind historic presidential election. So it's it's worrying for me as a news consumer. And just as , you know , someone who participates in the democracy , seeing such an important news outlet seeming to be in a scrambled position.

S6: Again to kind of just , you know , capture this , the nature of the industry. You know , The Washington Post isn't the only one kind of going through some instability. I mean , you mentioned the scandal he's facing from when he worked at Murdoch and another Murdoch owned paper , Wall Street Journal , I think , just had some layoffs. And the newsroom has been quite unhappy about changes there. So it's just like , I don't know , every week there's 1 or 2 more stories. And even here locally , um , news is just coming out that , you know , Times of San Diego has been bought by Arizona State University. The product news well , which I think works with different media organizations. And we'll see where that goes. Yeah.

S1: I mean , the Times of San Diego development , I'm a bit more optimistic about that. This , um , you know , this group news well is associated with the with Arizona State University. They have a really robust journalism program. So I think I mean , certainly that's better than being bought out by a hedge fund. Right. So I think there's reason to be optimistic there. But absolutely like I use the word dizzying before it's just every week , every few days it seems like there's a development or there's some more local San Diego developments , news that you want to talk about what's going on. Yeah.

S6: Yeah. And this one's an unfortunate story involving a couple of San Diego Padres players. One player to Capita Marcano has been banned for life from Major League Baseball for for betting. And this is something we've seen happen more and more over the past several months over the , you know , as sports betting has become more common. I think you're starting to see more types of these scandals. But he was banned for for life. The incidents happened when he was a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates. So it wasn't from Padre games. He hasn't really played for the Padres. I think he's had a knee injury , but still , he's yeah , his career is over due to betting on baseball. Another Padres pitcher suspended for a year , I think it was. And you know , as sports betting has been increasing , people have been raising concerns like this. And it's not the only sport uh , professional basketball has has had a similar thing with the NBA player Jonty Porter also banned for life. It's just kind of at this point , the way I follow the story is sort of like , what's the next shoe to drop ? Unfortunately. Yeah.

S1: Yeah. I mean , as sports betting has become so much more widely available and easy , you know , a couple taps on your phone , you have to imagine that some of these players are , you know , getting lost. You know , in the mix of that , it becomes more available , more players will likely start to do it. And it is really sad.

S6: Well , and also , I think you remember a couple elections ago , I can't even remember what year it was. We had two state propositions on sports betting. Both failed , but I think one expectation was that it wouldn't be the last effort whether it would go through the legislature , but that sports betting was just two huge of a market. It's , you know , legal in many states of the US now. So I think it was a question of when is the next proposal coming to California. So that's always something. I'm just kind of keeping my ear out for and to see how scandals like this impact that. Absolutely.

S1: Absolutely. I mean , California is , you know , not the final frontier of sports betting , but it's another huge frontier in terms of these sports betting companies trying to break in. And so , you know , we'll see. I think in the next few years , we'll see it break through in one way or another , either a bill that passes the legislature or perhaps getting back on the ballot. Andrew Bracken , thanks again for joining us.

S6: Thank you. Scott.

S1: That's our show for today. You can listen to KPBS roundtable any time as a podcast. KPBS roundtable airs on KPBS FM at noon on Fridays and again Sundays at 6 a.m.. If you have any comments on today's show or ideas for a future one , you can email us at roundtable at You can also leave us a message at (619) 452-0228. Roundtable's technical producers are Rebecca Chacon and Brandon Truffaut. This show was produced by Andrew Bracken. Brooke Ruth is Roundtable's senior producer and I'm Scott Rodd. Thanks for listening. Have a great weekend.

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San Diego Assemblymember Chris Ward (D) District 78 (at the podium) is joined by Susan Talamantes Eggman (D) Senate District 5 (left) and Tony Thurmond, California State Superintendent of Public Instruction (right) and other supporters of AB 1955, during a press conference, in Sacramento, Calif., on Wednesday, May 22, 2024.<br/>
Courtesy of Office of Assemblymember Chris Ward.
San Diego Assemblymember Chris Ward (D) (at the podium) is joined by Susan Talamantes Eggman (D), Senate District 5 (left) and Tony Thurmond, California State Superintendent of Public Instruction (right) and other supporters of AB 1955, during a press conference in Sacramento, Calif., on Wednesday, May 22, 2024.

California state lawmakers are moving ahead on a series of high-profile bills, all while negotiating the state’s budget deficit. The pending legislation tackles everything from AI regulation to confidentiality for LGBTQ+ students, with San Diego lawmakers leading the way on several  proposals.

Then, changes may be coming for how San Diego handles cases of political misconduct and corruption.

Plus, we hear about other top news stories from this week, in the roundup.


Nicole Nixon, California politics reporter, Sacramento Bee

Deborah Sullivan Brennan, reporter, Voice of San Diego, CalMatters

Jeff McDonald, investigative reporter, The San Diego Union-Tribune

Andrew Bracken, producer, KPBS