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Potential changes for California's telephone lines

 April 5, 2024 at 3:11 PM PDT

S1: Welcome to KPBS roundtable. I'm Andrew Bracken. Today we hear about a proposed change in how the state's phone lines are maintained and what it could mean for the future of phone service in California. Put simply , they no longer want to be the carrier of last resort. They don't want to have the expensive , troublesome task of maintaining those copper wires. Then the primary election is done. Now it's on to November. San Diego voters may be voting on multiple new tax measures then. Plus , we hear about the legacy of former Padres owner Larry Lucchino , who passed away this week at the age of 78. That's all ahead on KPBS roundtable. First the news. Welcome to KPBS roundtable. I'm Andrew Bracken. AT&T has long been responsible for maintaining the state's phone lines , but that may soon be changing. Then we hear about some of the potential tax measures that could be coming to San Diego ballots this November. All that , and we hear about the legacy of Padres former owner Larry Lucchino , who passed away earlier this week. The KPBS roundtable starts now. Despite the rise of the smartphone and mobile internet , half a million Californians still depend on landlines for their phone service , but that technology may be at risk as phone carrier AT&T is now asking the state to be removed from its obligations to maintain California's phone lines. The proposed change is receiving pushback from areas that still depend on landlines , many with limited cellular access. Here's Joshua Hart , who lives in rural Plumas County , California.

S2: And so while AT&T claims to be bridging the digital divide and working on these advanced technologies , a lot of people , you know , in urban and especially in rural areas are really being left behind without alternatives.

S1: Here to tell us more about what the future may hold for California's landlines is Thomas Fudge. He is KPBS science and Technology reporter. Tom , welcome back to roundtable.

S3: Thanks very much , Andrew. Good to be here.

S1: So in your story , you say AT&T is called the carrier of last resort. What does that entail ? And how did AT&T become the one responsible for maintaining these phone lines.

S3: Well , they became the one responsible for maintaining the phone lines , these copper landlines , because they always have been responsible for them. I mean , this is technology that dates back to the time when AT&T in California was called Pack Bell , and nationwide , they were called Ma Bell because they were the phone company. It's kind of like they were before deregulation and all these different carriers coming out of the woodwork. They were the phone company , and being the carrier of last resort essentially means that they are the ones who are responsible for keeping and maintaining those copper wires and those landlines , which , like you said , fewer and fewer people are using these days.


S3: They don't want to have the expensive , troublesome task of maintaining those copper wires. It's expensive , especially if you're in rural areas. And so they want to be relieved of that burden and they want to compete in the market just like any other private company.

S1: And in your story , you spoke with one researcher , as well as a former telecom executive. That was Michael Kleeman about the change. And here's a little of what he had to say. This would be the.

S4: Same as saying , oh , you live in a rural area. We're no longer going to give you Postal Service because you're more expensive.



S3: I mean , what they say in their application to the CPUc is we will continue to maintain these landlines in areas where there are , quote , no alternatives. So supposedly that means that if you're in a rural area or something like that , and the only thing you got and the only thing that you will logically have is a landline , they're going to leave those alone. But the thing that critics are a little bit concerned about is what do they mean when they say no alternatives ? I mean , what is a viable , affordable alternative to a landline ? And that's something we still don't know from either AT&T or the CPUc.

S1: You know , earlier you mentioned this term , Ma Bell. And I think , you know , some people may remember those times. Others may have grown up in the era of cell phones and may not remember that time.

S3: They were the ones that you depended on. And they they were kind of it. And they were promised to profit. They were guaranteed a profit essentially by states like California. But then deregulation came. And so we had all these carriers coming into the market and competing with AT&T. And so now AT&T says , hey , look , we're no longer Ma Bell. And so we shouldn't be tasked with maintaining these landlines anymore. Just doesn't make any sense. And if you talk to somebody who understands the telecom business , they will say to you that what AT&T is proposing. Makes perfect business sense in this day and age where there's so much more technology available. But the problem is it's the old Ma Bell question , right ? The problem is , you can't just say to people , well , you make a choice when you decide to have telephone service. Telephone service really is like a utility. I mean , you need it to be able to talk to loved ones , and you needed to be able to call 911. And if a landline is all you got practically , then that's what you need. Yeah.

S1: Yeah. And I think you're right , kind of making this parallel to what a utility was , because that's kind of seems like what the service they provided for people was more like what we get from water. Electricity. Right. Yeah.

S3: Yeah. Yeah. No , that's that's exactly true. On the other hand , you know , the contradiction here is it is a very competitive market and you have lots of choices that you can make. It's not just AT&T anymore. Being Ma Bell and being guaranteed a profit. So that's what AT&T is saying. It's a new world and we should we should move with it. The question is if not a landline then what. And I think one thing that Michael Kleeman is trying to say is he understands what AT&T is trying to do. And again , he says that it's a good business decision.

S1: And your story does note that , you know , there are efforts there , investments going on at the state and federal level to increase investment in access.

S3: Yeah , there's I mean , there's tens , literally tens of billions of dollars coming from the state of California and also coming from the federal government. And AT&T and carriers like it have the opportunity to apply for this federal money to sort of subsidize their service , in a sense. So , yeah , there's a there's a lot going on in terms of money going into the system to create the new technology. But again , until you can sort of say to the folks who depend on landlines , well , you're not going to have a landline anymore , but you're going to have this. We're not there yet with all the federal investment , all the state investment in broadband and , uh , uh , fiber optic lines. We still don't have answers to those questions.

S1: Well , and I think another part of your story does bring up is just the question of cost , even if you have access. But , you know , the cost of a landline might be a lot less than getting , you know , some of these options. I think you mentioned , you know , the Starlink service , which is the satellite service that provides internet access to a lot of remote areas that can't otherwise access it. But there's a cost that comes with that potentially too. Right.

S3: Well , yeah. And you're getting back to the question of what is an acceptable alternative to a landline , because it has to be something that works. It has to be something that is affordable , and it has to be something that is reliable. It it needs to be those three things. And one guy in Plumas County , I talked to a couple of people in Plumas County , California. If you have no idea where that is , it's on. It's a mountainous , forested county on the Nevada border. It's the size of Delaware , but it only has like 20,000 people living there. And I talked to a couple of people there , and this is a place where cell phone coverage is very spotty. There's not a lot of fiber optic line going into Plumas County. And so one. Alternative that some people have gone to is called. And I think you may have brought this up is called Starlink. And this is the satellite service that I believe is run by Elon Musk. And it is an alternative. But is it a good alternative ? A lot of the locals there in Plumas County , and there are a lot of low income people there say it's too expensive. And also , our friend Michael Kleeman says the problem with satellite technology is the way it works. It doesn't work very well if there is an obstruction , if there is a tree in the way , if there's a mountain in the way. And again , Plumas County is mountainous , it's full of forests. And it's probably not a good place to use satellite technology. So is that an adequate alternative ? I think a lot of people would argue that it's not.

S1: I mean , you talked a lot about Plumas County and kind of the makeup there and how they could potentially be impacted by this.

S3: Now , this is this may be a situation where elderly people are very comfortable with landlines. It's what they've had all their lives. Right. Old folks are a little bit phobic of new technology. And so that's another issue that comes in here. I mean , if you have different technology to use for your phone service , do you even do you even know how to use it ? It was interesting because I listened in on a public hearing , which was a remote public hearing. So people from all over the state were participating in this public hearing before the CPUc and person after person called in to say they didn't want AT&T to do this thing , they were opposed to it. And a lot of people were elderly folks , and they and they said so. So those are the people who are really concerned about what is going on here. And certainly among certain groups , there's a lot of opposition to what AT&T wants to do in California.

S1: You know , with all that , what's what's next here ? I mean , in your story , you do mention a couple of these rural counties in California are at least looking into submitting letters of opposition to AT&T move.

S3: Well , Plumas County has I mean , their Board of Supervisors has voted to send a letter of opposition to this plan to the CPUc. Imperial County , a little bit closer to home , um , was going to vote on that. Their Board of Supervisors was going to vote on that , but they decided to pull it from the agenda and give it a little bit more thought. So there's a lot of opposition out there. The thing that we're waiting for , of course , is the vote by the CPUc. How are they going to come down on this request from AT&T ? And I ? And Andrew , I tried very hard to get an answer to the question , when are they going to vote ? But I was not successful. It's probably going to be toward the end of the year , and that's when we'll know where we're going with this thing.

S1: Well , we'll hopefully have you back on again to talk about it once we hear more. But this is a really interesting story. I mean , so much of when we hear a technology reporter , we think of , you know , AI and internet are like the fastest , newest , but also this technology that's been around for maybe 100 years is also really integral in people's lives , you know , throughout San Diego and beyond.

S3: Yep , it certainly is.

S1: Thomas Fudge is KPBS science and technology reporter. Thanks so much for being here.

S5: Thanks , Andrew.

S1: When roundtable returns with the primary election behind us , voters attention will soon move towards November's general election. We hear about some of what voters may be voting on this fall.

S3: We may be seeing a handful of local tax measures , which of course , could compete with one another.

S6: And the question is if they all get on there.

S1: Welcome back to KPBS roundtable. I'm Andrew Bracken. So the 2024 primary election is now behind us. Results from that election are due to be certified next week by California's secretary of state , Shirley Weber. Now it's on to November. In his latest column , the San Diego Union Tribune , Michael Mullins writes about some of the potential tax measures San Diego voters may vote on in the fall's general election. And he joins us now to help break down some of those. Michael , great to have you back on roundtable.

S6: Thanks for inviting me.

S1: So , you know , as we mentioned , we just made it through last month's primary. Now the focus starts to turn towards November. In your latest column , you write about the possibility of a so-called ballot logjam.

S6: And the question is , if they all get on there , how much tolerance to or acceptance do voters have for them ? As we know , the one that's actually on the ballot is the countywide transportation sales tax of a half cent increase. And that would go to the projects in San Diego's long term plan. That's sandag the San Diego Association of Governments , which is the regional planning agency , particularly for transportation. Then the city of San Diego looks like it's headed to put a full cent sales tax , uh , on the ballot for just within the city. The transportation one is countywide. And this would basically be a general tax to help bail out their budget. Uh , they they've got a budget deficit they're facing they've had for years of structural budget deficit , deficit , um , in which , you know , just built in cost are more than the revenue they bring in. So they're trying to , you know , change that imbalance. Uh , then there's another city flood control tax. Uh , that that would be a parcel tax that came up. Uh , it's come up in the past years , but came up after the January floods. That really wreaked havoc , particularly in the southern part of the city and county , and drove hundreds of people out of their homes. Now , the real new one is this bond measure , uh , by the sheriff's department and the county of San Diego. It's very much in its early stages , really. They've just gone out with a poll to see what people's appetite is for a big bond or a quarter cent sales tax , but that money would be targeted to public safety. But that , uh , that's got a ways to go.

S1: And on that new , you know , county bond measure , the design of it is to fund public safety.

S6: I basically it was sort of under the radar. No , absolutely under the radar until this poll surfaced that started asking specific questions about various proposals. And like I said , there would be , you know , bonds of up to $800 million or a quarter cent sales tax , and it would be says to be targeted towards , um , you know , improving the jail system , uh , substations for both the sheriff's department and firefighting agencies and then various mental health , uh , facilities and uh , domestic violence facility. So it covers right now , uh , you know , a broad array of things that you would consider public safety. But I think that depending on what their results they get from their poll , we'll see , um , a more refined target of what this is really for.

S1: So as you mentioned , you know , the county is in the early stages in this effort to fund public safety. And jails are one piece of this. As we know , there's been a high number of deaths in San Diego jails over the last several years , and that's an ongoing concern.

S6: And certainly the , you know , improving the facilities that in some cases are deficient. Um , and also there's some potential use for mental health , uh , facilities or services within the jail system. Um , that is all a positive. And like I said , I think we'll see that , that argument. But these this is largely money for facilities. And I don't know that that , you know , the , the blame for the deaths have fallen on the facility so much as , you know , how the jails have been managed , how people have been monitoring prisoners and things like that. So , uh , it's hard to really say , but I think that that it will , you know , be a discussion , maybe a selling point. But then again , it's not like the advocates in the sheriff's department are going to say , hey , this will stop all the deaths we've seen in the jails , because I don't think they want to remind people of that. I think they just want to kind of make the argument that it'll make the whole system a better and more efficient and safer.

S1: So you mentioned the city of San Diego's budget deficit. Their state of California is also facing a pretty significant budget deficit as well. How much ? You think that , you know , this financial picture plays a role in some of these measures , whether they'll succeed or fail.

S6: Ultimately , on the one level , they they provide a certain higher level of desperation for the government agencies that that really need the money now , because the city is looking at a budget deficit , the county's budget is going to be , you know , in a big crunch and down the line. We know the state has a huge deficit. But the flip side is that , you know , I mean , it all comes down to what the public thinks. And while the economy has improved on so many levels , costs are still very high on a lot of things for people. And critics are saying , you know , people are still if not just making ends meet. They're kind of stressed out by this and they're really not going to go for another tax increase. So we'll just have to see what holds up.

S1: And you know , the sandag , this transportation measure you mentioned , it's the only one that's actually on the ballot right now. Mhm. And you know you referenced it a little bit. But that agency you know has run into some controversy , some bad PR I think as you , as your story puts it , can you break down some of what's been happening at Sandag and how that may play a role in , in that transportation measure.

S6: Well , it's never good to go to the voters and ask for money when you've got a lot of problems , particularly about what , you know , questions about management and spending. And that's exactly what Sandag is facing. Now to take a step back. This was an initiative put on by labor groups and environmental groups and contractors. So it's , you know , it's got arm's length from Sandag in terms of the whole political process. But the money would go to the Sandag long range , um , transportation plan to start helping fund projects. Now for the last couple of years , anyway , Sandag has been embroiled with internal turmoil. Um , as we all know , at the end of last year , there are CEO of , I think , five years Sonic grata. He left. Uh , I don't know if he was forced out , but left under controversy. There were big disputes between him and some board members. Uh , there were some audits that did not reflect very well on how Sandag was being run. But most recently , there's the South Bay Toll Road that has turned into a mess. And , uh , the whole collection system was not good. Um , the Sandag lost money. And more recently , we found that that , um. Uh sandag. Uh. I'm sorry. More recently , we found that Sandag administrators knew about the problems , like a year before they even told the board members. Not only that , they knew the thing didn't work and still went ahead with it anyway. And so some people were being discharged on these tolls. Uh , that's really just not good stewardship to to be selling to voters when you're asking for more money. One final thing that the real wild card is that we've also learned that the FBI is looking into something at Sandag. It sort of came up about the same time as this whole toll road. Uh , latest review , but it's unclear whether it's related to that. Anyway , none of that is is a good atmosphere to be asking people to fund your projects. Right.

S1: Right. And your colleague Jeff McDonald published a really great piece on that federal investigation involving Sandag. But as you mentioned , still a lot of unknowns there. I mean , one key point that you make note of in your column is that , you know , with this transportation tax measure , it would require a simple majority from voters , rather than a lot of us are more familiar with that two thirds majority for attacks.

S6: Harken back to 2016. The Sandag board put a half cent sales tax increase on the ballot. And because when a government agency does it under the current laws and the law has been evolving , it requires two thirds of a vote. Uh , in recent years , court rulings have determined that when it's a citizens initiative , you know , once when you go out and circulate petitions , uh , independent of the government agencies , that only takes a simple majority. So that's why this particular tax increase would take a simple majority to approve it. Uh , you know , bonds are still a two thirds vote majority , um , uh , under current law. But there are a few ballot measures statewide , uh , in November that could really upset the applecart as to what the voter threshold is on all these initiatives.

S1: And another of the ones you mentioned was the one related to in reaction to maybe the destructive flooding that hit parts of San Diego this winter , uh , really brought forth a lot of concerns about city infrastructure and the need to update and improve that.

S6: But recently , it seems that there's been negotiations going on quietly within City Hall and among interested parties outside City Hall. Uh , this did get forwarded from a city council committee. To the full council , which has not approved it yet , but that would go on the ballot if they did. And again , this one would require two thirds majority approval under existing law , because it would be not only put on by the the council , but it would be specifically targeted for a specific purpose , which requires a higher threshold. But we'll see. Um , you know , that's a lot to ask to people to take. And I know that there's discussions going on about what should be on the ballot and what shouldn't. Of course , everybody who's advocating one of the measures doesn't want theirs to be left off.

S1: I think , as you mentioned , you know , getting voter approval for any tax measure can be a challenge.

S6: I mean , it's going to be a big turnout as presidential elections always are , and presidential elections tend to turn out more Democrats than they , you know , do a non election years. Now that's changed a little bit because the congressional elections uh , and the Trump factor has changed that equation where , you know , even in the so-called off years , uh , there's been pretty good turnout. So that bodes well , I think , because Democrats in general , not as you know , there are exceptions , uh , are more favorable to to increasing taxes for services that they think people need. The other thing is whether the various agencies can make the case , um , that this money is both needed and well spent. I think that in the past , we've seen transportation tax increases , uh , received favorable vote , even those that required two thirds of persons that when I mentioned 2016 , that half cent sales tax that received 58% of the vote , which under , you know , a that's a huge majority , but because it required two thirds , it didn't pass. Um , so we'll just have to see if those kinds of things can , uh , you know , convince voters along with just the notion that , that some people think services roads need to be improved and this would be a good investment. Again , all the agencies have their weaknesses in terms of , I think , the public view as to how well they've managed things. Uh sandag. We've talked about in the city of San Diego's run into some problems about some of the decisions and spending decisions it's made. So we'll just have to see how voters weigh those kinds of things.


S6: You know , it seems unwieldy. Uh , but in particular , I think that that there's this notion that sales taxes might be difficult to compete against each other , whereas , uh , you know , something for public safety in bonds or the parcel tax for the , for the flood control might be viewed a little separately , but still , uh , you know , the electorate's pretty discerning on things , and they know all this is going to cost them money.

S1: Well , a lot to continue to follow. Uh , we look forward to more of your columns as we get closer to this year's general election. I've been speaking with Union-Tribune columnist Michael Collins. Michael , thanks so much for joining us today.

S6: Thanks again. Take care.

S1: Coming up on roundtable , former Padres owner Larry Lucchino passed away this week. We hear about his lasting impact on San Diego sports. That's next on roundtable. You're listening to KPBS roundtable. I'm Andrew Bracken. So the 2024 San Diego Padres seasons now underway. As of this airing , the team sits a game below 500 for the very young season. But this week , a figure from the Padres past has also been grabbing headlines. Former Padres executive Larry Lucchino passed away this week at the age of 78. During his tenure with the Padres , he helped lead the team to a pair of playoff appearances , including its last World Series appearance in 1998. He's also credited as being instrumental to the development of Petco Park , which is now entering its 20th year as the home of the Padres. Here to tell us more , I am joined now by Marti Caswell. She's part of the Darren Smith Show on San Diego Sports 760. Marty , thanks so much for being here.

S7: My pleasure. Andrew. Thank you for having me.


S7: I mean , you know , back in those days , the Padres , they were the tenant. They were the tenant to Jack Murphy Stadium , to Qualcomm Stadium. It was the Chargers. It was a Chargers town. It was the Chargers city. It was the Chargers stadium. Everything you know everything. The signage , most of the sponsorships that that ran through the Chargers. And listen I loved going to games there because that was a place of Tony Gwynn. And it had some charm there. And it was kind of fun to pay $5 and sit in the outfield , and you can kind of pick and choose where you want to go and sit general admission. But that was not that was not sustainable. And when they expanded , when they expanded Jack Murphy Stadium to 60,000 seats , really capacity 75 so they can accommodate Super Bowls. I mean , that place went from being fun for baseball to being pretty much like a toilet bowl. They were an afterthought at at the stadium. And so if they for them to survive , they needed to get a ballpark of their own. And to you got , you know this , Andrew , if you want something to happen in San Diego , especially when it comes to public money , I mean , that's that's close to impossible to do. But Larry Lucchino , man , he was he got this thing going. He was an executive who knew how to run a franchise. He knew how he knew what the how to run the he knew how to hire the right people , let those people do their jobs. And he knew how to schmooze the politicians , the people with money. He knew people in baseball. He was a visionary and he got things done. I actually believe that if Larry Lucchino had not been the president of the Padres , the CEO of the visionary , the number one , there is no Petco Park. There absolutely is no Petco Park. And without Petco Park , how on earth do we even have the San Diego Padres still in the city ? So a big part of me believes that if there hadn't , if he hadn't been , if it hadn't been for Larry Lucchino , Petco Park does not get done. And I don't know that we were talking about the San Diego Padres , you know , being what they are today , the heart and soul of of the sports scene in San Diego.

S1: Oakland as we're talking , Petco Park is going to celebrate its 20th birthday in just a few days , right ? I mean , as you kind of refer to their San Diego sports fans know this , you know too well. Stadium politics are often part of the sports story in the city. Right ? So you talked a little bit about how , you know , how he kind of got Petco Park because Petco Park was done with public money. Yes.

S7: Yes.

S1: How did he succeed when some other teams that we know of maybe were unable to and decided to leave San Diego when the 1998 Padres.

S7: I mean , that was a team full of absolute superstars. I know it's very easy to go ahead and talk about what we had last year with the popularity of Manny Machado and Tatis and Joe Musgrove and and Yu Darvish and of course , Juan Soto and a and a and an owner of that spent some money and absolutely invested into his team. But you can't overlook how popular the 1998 Padres were. And when you talk about them , you start with Tony Gwynn , you start with Trevor Hoffman , you start with guys that were that were part of the community , guys that lived here year round. You think about Ken Caminiti , man , was he popular. As popular as Manny Machado is , boy can come in and he was in a class of his own. You think about how how the place went. I mean , the city went nuts when they traded for Kevin Brown. That was a popular team that went to the World Series. And leading up to that , you had Cami , you had Trevor Hoffman , you had Steve Finley , you had Wally Joyner , you had Bruce Bochy. You have these guys running around campaigning for prop C and that matter. That was an extremely popular team. That's still the that is I mean , think about how hard it is to get to the playoffs for the Padres. They were in the World Series. The timing was magnificent. And Larry Lucchino I mean , he he knew how to he knew how to to meet the right people. He's the opposite of Mark Fabiani. He's not threatening people. And , you know , calling people out and making fun of people. This guy , he he had the right people. The politicians , the business people. And he knew how to integrate with the San Diego sports scene , too.

S1: You're kind of comparing these two eras of , of Padre baseball , you know , the last few years that's seen some success compared to these 90s teams that , you know , 98 team we know went to the World Series. But I'm curious , you know , the Padres have lost two major figures in the franchise over the past year , first with owner Peter Seidler in November.

S7: We you know , I know Eric Hacienda , his Peter is one of his Peter's best friends is the acting chairman right now. And there's there's not really anyone that I've talked to in baseball or around the team that that thinks that he this is what he wants to do. You know , Peter Seiler has a has a baseball. Lineage , of course , with the families and the Dodgers family. And he wanted to be. He wanted to own a baseball team. I don't think era consent is design or long term plan is to own a is own to own the team. I don't know that I have any expectation that any of Peter's siblings and he had , what , nine siblings ? I don't know that any of them want to go ahead and take up that role. So they're there's a huge uncertainty. I don't know what's going to happen. The Padres were so we were so lucky and blessed to have Peter Seidler. And boy is he a unique owner in this sport. Someone that cares so much and is so invested and so badly wants to win at any cost. He's he's a unicorn. I think what's happening with John Fisher and the A's. So I don't know what's going to happen. Um , could it be a transition. Yes. Because one thing that we that we saw from this offseason , the Padres are not going to be spending the way they did that the past couple of years under Peter. They are they seem to be it's it's it's without question they want to be under that the the luxury um the threshold. So you can see right now that the the the what , the what the Padres did the past couple of years , that right now is changing before our eyes. We don't have any answers right now as to what the ownership's going to look like. So to me , Andrew , that is the biggest , the biggest unknown when it comes to this , to this franchise.

S1: So , I mean , we have you here. Might as well ask you. I mean , how optimistic are you about the Padres season , as I mentioned ? You know , it's just getting started. But yeah what's what's your take so far.

S7: Um , I think it matters not to have him there at third base. I don't know that I'm seeing the same swing from Manny I think is going to be fine. I want to see how really how the rotation shapes out Darvish is. He's going to be fine. Musgrove is going to be fine. They both seem to be bouncing back from the the offseason surgeries they have. To me , the rotation is the most important thing or directly affects the bullpen as we know. And I think I I'm curious to how the bullpen is going to look to I mean , you have so many new faces with Nick Martinez being gone. Uh , everyone's gone from that bullpen. Of course , Josh Hader has gone. So the back end of the back in the bullpen is different. Robert Suarez seems to be the closer. Yuki Matsui has been good so far. They signed ago who of course is starting the season in the minors , but really how the bullpen is going to come together ? Um , and also how Jackson Merrill is going to hold up if the biggest , the biggest reason the Padres win is because of Jackson Merrill that that to me is a problem for this team. Because for me , the biggest question for me is how do how do the big three perform this year as opposed to what they did last year ? The big three , of course , being Tatis , Machado and Bogart's. If those guys can resemble what the back of the baseball cards say they do , then I think the Padres will be competitive. But to me , the biggest question is still about the pitching staff.

S1: So , you know , another fact I learned about Larry Lucchino is he actually is credited with coming up with the term evil empire , and that's to describe the New York Yankees , particularly in their heated rivalry with the Boston Red Sox. And , you know , on the Yankees this year , Padres fans are seeing a pretty familiar face. And so far , he's he's getting a lot of attention. And that's Juan Soto.

S7: Soto. Um , you know what ? Good for him. It's a it's expected. It's not surprising that he's going to flourish there in a way that I think I mean , listen , he had a spectacular season for for the Padres last year , right ? He was he was their best player. I mean , he was. And it's not surprising , you know , when we would have the conversation I had with Juan Soto and I would ask him , you know , how do you like San Diego ? Are you comfortable here ? What's going to be important to you when it comes to , you know , your , your whatever team you want to be , a team that you want to be with. And he always cited that , number one , winning is important. But being close to his family is super , super important. And the toughest thing for him being in San Diego , he seemed to love the city. You know , he seemed to like his team. The toughest thing for him was being so far away from his mom. She would come out to visit him , cook him Dominican meals. But and it's much easier for him to have his mom around , you know , in New York City. And there's a much bigger Dominican population. It's a huge population in the Dominican Republic. So I think those two things right there , he is going to flourish. It's much closer. It's it's he's more of an East Coast guy. I don't think that this lifestyle was for him. So it's not surprising. That was a great player. I mean , he was fine to deal with. He's going to be fine. It's not surprising that he is going to have a monster season for the Yankees. And it it just wouldn't surprise me if he ends up being that you that you're talking MVP with with him.

S1: Marty Carswell covers San Diego sports for the Darren Smith Show on Am 760. Marty , thanks so much for being here today , Andrew.

S7: It was my pleasure. I hope I answered your questions. I have one more thing on the Padres. I mean , they need to get a bat. They need one more bat. Let's go.

S1: It's time now to catch up on some other top stories from the week. And joining me is KPBS web producer Laura McCaffrey. Hey , Laura. Hey.



S8: Um , and the big news of the week was probably California fast food workers getting a $20 an hour minimum wage. And that is higher than California's 16 an hour minimum wage. But this applies to certain chains chains with more than 60 locations , and it excludes restaurants with bakeries and restaurants within grocery stores. Right.

S1: Right. I think on an earlier roundup , we talked a little bit about this , but there's the Panera exception that a lot of people were talking about. Yes. And it's potential connection. I think there was an executive with Panera or somebody that ran a few of their locations that was a donor of California Governor Gavin Newsom. Yeah.

S8: Yeah. That's right. So , you know , because Panera has the bakeries within its restaurants , they're except they're exempted. So he's like a franchisee owner , like he owns like several locations , um , and has donated to Newsom in the past. So people were kind of being like , well , that's why he put that exception in there. Um , and so Newsom has kind of denied that. And the owner of those Panera locations , he said he will be paying the 20 an hour minimum wage , partly because he said , you know , you have to compete to get like good workers nowadays. So yeah. Panera. Great. Yeah.

S9: Yeah.

S1: Well , and then just in the run up to this , I think we saw a lot of stories about what the impact may be , what , you know , what could come about.

S8: So , you know , there's some worries that companies might , uh , lay off some people because , you know , increased costs. But the field director of California Fast Food Workers Union , she doesn't think so. So this is what Maria maldonado had to say about that.

S10: When the minimum wage went up , uh , in 2015 with $15. Like the the corporations were saying , like , are we going to go broke or franchises ? Right. And it didn't happen. Yeah.

S8: Yeah. And then also Alan Ginn , he's a economics professor at the University of San Diego. He said restaurants might raise their prices , but overall workers will be well off. So that's kind of where he sees the big impact there.

S1: Yeah , I think with stories like these , it's always interesting to kind of check back in , you know , maybe like six months or , you know , down the line to actually see what the impacts are. Mhm. Um , I think a lot of times we hear , you know , predictions and things , but just to kind of see how it goes , it'll be interesting to see.

S8: Yeah I'm going to hit up Carl's Jr in six months and see what's going on. Let's see what's just to check in. Get my Impossible Burger or Beyond Burger I forget which one they have and then.

S1: Well , sounds like you haven't been there in a while. You're due for a trip , I know. Yeah.

S8: Yeah.


S8: So eclipses happen several times a year , but solar ones are more rare. And that's when the moon is between the Earth and the sun. And it blocks the sun temporarily. Yeah.

S1: Yeah. And this is a big one. Granted , San Diego is not in the path of totality , right ? Do you know , like , what that means ? What can we see ? How much of it can San Diego can see from this area ? Yeah.

S8: So we'll see what's called a partial eclipse , which is what it sounds like , you know , like the sun won't be completely covered by the moon. And so the path of totality , which San Diego is outside of , it's just like a very thin path , um , that goes from western Mexico and it ends like southeastern Canada. And so a lot of folks are traveling to that path of totality this weekend just so they can experience it. Um , and they're go camping or , you know , get hotels within that area , but you can still see a pretty cool partial solar eclipse in San Diego. It's just , you know , it's not going to be total. But if you're not traveling like us and you want to see it , we're going to have live radio coverage. 11 a.m. I guess you can't really see it , but you can hear about it. Um , but PBS and Nova , they're going to have a live stream and. And you can see it there. And there's a couple viewing parties around town for partial eclipse watchers , like your local library's CCS astronomy department , they're doing a thing , and they'll have some eye protection to view the eclipse.

S1: Which is really important.

S8: Sunglasses do not count. They do not count. They have to be special. And we were giving away some of those solar eclipse glasses. But we ran out like that.

S1: Oh , really ? Yeah. I remember the last eclipse. Not having them and trying to have a , you know , shuffle around to find them. I do think going to some of the events is a great way to experience it , because you can also get additional context and like people can answer questions about what we're seeing , what it means , and blow your mind some of what what you're experiencing. Yeah.

S8: I'm going to try to go to the Sdsu astronomy department and look through a telescope or something. Yeah , that sounds great fun.

S1: One more food related story. And this is a San Diego chef was named James Beard finalist. And this is Chef Tara Mansard. She is a chef at anime. And that's a restaurant downtown. It's like an Asian fusion restaurant in downtown. I've heard of it , if you've been there. She was a guest on Midday Edition earlier this year after her nomination for this award. And now she's a finalist. Um , and it's just really great to see kind of San Diego's culinary scene get this recognition , because a lot of times I don't I don't think it's it's gotten this. I think this is the first time that a San Diego chef has been a finalist here. So I thought that was a that was something worth mentioning. Yeah.

S8: Yeah.

S1: Laura McCaffrey , thanks so much for being here.

S8: Thanks for having me.

S1: That's our show for today. Thanks so much for listening. We'd love to hear from you. You can email us at roundtable at You can also leave us a message at (619) 452-0228. You can always listen to our show as a podcast. KPBS roundtable airs on KPBS FM at noon on Fridays again Sundays at 6 a.m.. Roundtable's technical producer is Brandon Truffaut. This show was produced by Laura McCaffrey and me , Andrew Bracken. Brooke Ruth is roundtable senior producer. I'm Andrew Bracken. Thanks so much for listening. Have a great weekend.

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The State of California will decide whether landline service will go the way of other old communication technology, like this dial phone. April 3, 2024
Thomas Fudge
A dial phone is pictured, April 3, 2024.

Telecom giant AT&T has long been responsible for maintaining California’s phone lines, but that could be changing. What could it could mean for the future of phone service in California?

Then, we take a look at some of the tax measures that San Diego voters may see on their ballots in November.

And, former San Diego Padres executive Larry Lucchino passed away this week at the age of 78. We hear about his impact on baseball in San Diego and beyond, as well as his role in the development of Petco Park.

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


Thomas Fudge, science and technology reporter, KPBS

Michael Smolens, columnist, The San Diego-Union Tribune

Marty Caswell, The Darren Smith Show, San Diego Sports 760

Lara McCaffrey, web producer, KPBS