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SDG&E Looking To Increase Costs For Some Customers, While Reducing Bills For Others And More Local News

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San Diego Gas and Electric is looking to nearly quadruple the minimum bill it charges customers. Plus, a fourth horse has died during this racing season after sustaining a “serious injury” during training. Also ahead on today’s podcast, an inewsource investigation looks into the impacts of renovations on SDSU’s campus on the health of students, faculty and staff.

Show transcript

Speaker 1: 00:00 It's Tuesday, August 13th. I'm Deb Welsh and you're listening to San Diego news matters from KPBS coming up. SDG and D is looking to increase costs for some customers while reducing bills for others and deny news source investigation looks into the impacts of renovations on SDS. Use campus on the health of students, faculty and staff.

Speaker 2: 00:21 You know, it's not just one thing that went wrong, it's like a cascade on problem

Speaker 1: 00:26 that more San Diego news stories coming up right after the break.

Speaker 3: 00:31 [inaudible]

Speaker 1: 00:33 thank you for joining us for San Diego News Matters. I'm Deb Welsh. SDG and D is looking to increase electric bills on some of its customers while reducing rates for others. KPBS reporter Matt Hoffman says this comes as the utility is looking to balance cost sharing amongst solar and not solar users.

Speaker 4: 00:53 The minimum bill amount currently is about $10 a month. Um, and we're proposing to increase it to about $38 a month.

Speaker 5: 01:01 San Diego gas and electric to West Jones says the proposed increase comes as more customers are turning to solar.

Speaker 4: 01:06 A solar household, uh, may not pay their full cost of service. In terms of us giving them electricity, um, and that that cost is then shifted to a non-solar household for, uh, the grid to be maintained and operated.

Speaker 5: 01:22 Nicole cap rates with the climate action campaign says the proposal is a power grab by the utility.

Speaker 1: 01:27 I mean, it's outrageous. It's just another example of SDG putting profit over San Diego families.

Speaker 5: 01:33 STG disputes that saying the increase would not generate any more profits. It's also worth noting that the $38 minimum bill proposal must be approved by the California Public Utilities Commission. The commission could lower the amount or deny the request entirely. A decision is expected by spring of 2020 Matt Hoffman, k PBS news.

Speaker 1: 01:51 Well, some solar and low use customers might see an increased bill. SDG And d says the proposal with lower costs for a majority of customers, the government has published a new rule that would disqualify immigrants from legal residency if they've used a variety of public benefits. KPBS reporter Max Rather Adler explains how this new rule could lead to a dramatic decrease in immigrants gaining legal status.

Speaker 6: 02:17 The new rule allows the government to deny permanent residency to immigrants who use or seem likely to use public benefits. These include services like health care, housing assistance, or food aid, acting director of US citizenship and immigration services. Ken Cuccinelli announced the new rule at the White House on Monday morning. Lillian Serrano, the chair of the San Diego immigrant rights consortium, spoke with KPBS mid day addition about the difficult decisions San Diego's immigrants will now have to face.

Speaker 1: 02:47 No. It should be put in a situation where they have to decide whether they bring food to their house or do they have a chance to be in this country. Legally.

Speaker 6: 02:55 Enrollments and public benefits in San Diego County have dropped. The role was first proposed last year, but county officials wouldn't say whether it was due to fear related to this new rule. The rule will go into effect. In October, California Attorney General Javier Bissera has pledged to take legal action to challenge the new rule Max with Adler k PBS news,

Speaker 1: 03:17 parts of the Federal Endangered Species Act or sat to change. That's the message from the Trump administration on Monday. Capital Public Radio's Ezra David Romero reports one amendment will make it tough to use climate change as a reason to protect species. Others could shrink habitat and allow economics to be considered when making a designation. RJ Singh is a Sacramento State environmental studies professor

Speaker 7: 03:41 does it makes it a little bit easier for developers and oil and gas industry to essentially say the species is not here, so therefore we can develop this property.

Speaker 1: 03:51 The administration says the changes would ease the regulatory burden on the American public without sacrificing species. Richard Frank is a professor of environmental practice and the UC Davis School of law. The new regulations attempt to inject, uh, economic analysis as part of that equation in the, in the listing process that is a major weakening of the act. Frank says many states, including California, will sue as soon as the changes are recorded in the Federal Register in Sacramento. I'm Ezra David Romero, federal prosecutors in Arizona gave an hour, former border patrol agent a misdemeanor plea bargain after he ran over a Guatemalan immigrant in Nogales and then lied about it from KJ [inaudible] Frontera stance. Can Tucson Micelle Mariska reports.

Speaker 7: 04:39 Matthew Bolton was supposed to go on trial Tuesday in Tucson. He pays two charges, one for ramming into a watermelon immigrant with his agency truck and another for lying about it to investigators. Prosecutors contacted his attorney and offered him a plea agreement. Bowen's lawyer said the new charge has a misdemeanor and he must resign his position with the agency. Prosecutors have not said why they chose this route. When the list against Bowen was extensive. They had video evidence of the encounter in nearly 15 border patrol agents and officials who were scheduled to testify against him. He admits he's struck the victim with unreasonable force and violated demands rights. A spokesman for the US Attorney's office declined to answer why the decision was made not to go to trial from Tucson. I mentioned muddy school.

Speaker 1: 05:24 Another horse has died at the del Mar racetrack. This is the fourth death of the track. This summer season. KPBS is Alexander win as more. The horse was a three year old filly named Bree Bree. She was euthanized after she injured her pelvis during training on Monday. The del Mar thoroughbred club didn't release any information on how the injury happened except to say that was during training. The club only said we'll meet with trainer Jim Cassady to discuss the incident. Earlier this season, two horses died in a freak collision during training and another horse was euthanized after an injured its hind fetlock Alexander Wynn

Speaker 8: 05:59 kpps news, San Diego State University faced a public relations nightmare this spring when construction on a campus building second students and faculty new documents obtained by new source show money played a big role in why that happened. I knew source reporter Bella Ross has the story.

Speaker 9: 06:17 I had started a workout regimen. I'm seeing a trainer every Tuesday and Thursday. And so

Speaker 8: 06:22 last July Nathan Rodriguez began taking time out of his day as an assistant professor of media studies at SCSU to go to the gym. It was paying off, he said until,

Speaker 9: 06:31 but I think it was like mid February when I started noticing that things were going awry in my physical condition in terms of like heavy breathing, difficulty breathing, headaches, um, wheezing.

Speaker 8: 06:44 An SCSU roof construction project began during winter break and bled into the new semester and let off dangerous chemical vapors in the building where Rodriguez and others worked. Staff and students spent six weeks in the professional studies and fine arts building, breathing the noxious fumes. They suffered headaches, nausea, and nosebleeds. As a result, more than two dozen people filed health reports in March. University officials close the building, emails and reports obtained by I knew source now show a funding deadline was what prompted SCSU to rush the project and put the faculty and students at risk. For me. It started kind of have each of you say your name and then just spell it for us. I knew source sat down with three university officials. After reviewing the documents to understand more about the construction debacle.

Speaker 10: 07:31 Had we waited for the summer to to start some of this, some of the funding wouldn't have happened.

Speaker 8: 07:36 Eric Hanson is an SCSU associate vice president. He said there was an approaching deadline to spend money on the buildings repairs. So when the project faced delays last summer, officials try to complete the work over the short winter break instead of waiting until the following summer.

Speaker 10: 07:49 I would not say that the planning per se was um, the failure.

Speaker 8: 07:53 Here's the thing though, a month after we sat down with Hanson and SCSU spokeswoman told us a deadline was actually a year later than officials originally thought the rush and resulting sicknesses could have been avoided. Instead, students continued to attend classes in the building. Large fans were set up to reduce the odors, but the vapors remained. SCSU has said repeatedly the vapors were not harmful, but air monitoring reports obtained by new sores show levels were barely permissible under federal standards and an excess of standards established by other health organizations.

Speaker 2: 08:29 I mean, it's kind of predictable that people would be experiencing symptoms from those exposures.

Speaker 8: 08:36 So last month for n has a doctor and occupational and environmental health and teaches at Texas state university. She told, I knew the source of vapor issues could easily have been predicted and prevented.

Speaker 2: 08:47 No, this is the exact, like this could be a case study. It's not just one thing that went wrong. It's like a cascade of problems.

Speaker 8: 08:54 This cascade well beyond the walls of the polluted building. Students and faculty complained that campus wide communications about the health threat fell short. Their frustrations erupted out of form and April about the project he was Rodriguez. Again,

Speaker 11: 09:08 we have been sick and I want to know why information has not been communicated to people earlier.

Speaker 8: 09:14 After listening to criticism for more than an hour university president Adela Delatorre stood up, she announced the abrupt decision to keep the building closed, but I am not going to have the faculty and staff at San Diego state or the students placed at risk [inaudible]. But some students and faculty say they still feel kept in the dark. Here's SCSU student Brandon Lim in July.

Speaker 11: 09:38 Even now, you know it's summertime and it's been half a year since the building close and we're still kind of searching for answers.

Speaker 8: 09:46 An SCSU spokeswoman, said the university plants spent another $12 million on the renovations to the building, including a new roof that may put the building out of regular use for up to two years. One lesson university officials say they have learned from this is to improve their communications.

Speaker 12: 10:04 I think if we knew what we know now, um, don't find folks earlier, would've been something we would've done.

Speaker 8: 10:11 KPBS I'm a news source reporter Bella Ross for a look at the full investigation and all the incident reports filed by building occupants go to, I knew source.org I knew source is an independently funded nonprofit partner of KPBS professional horse racing comes with huge risks. Dozens of horses have died in California this year drawing scrutiny from lawmakers, but these incidents also caused injuries to riders, capital Public Radio Scar Rod reports on how California might become one of the first dates with a concussion protocol for jockeys.

Speaker 13: 10:49 [inaudible]

Speaker 12: 10:49 the mid morning fog blankets, golden gate fields in Berkeley as the bugle player adds a little flair to the day's first call.

Speaker 13: 10:58 [inaudible]

Speaker 12: 10:59 inside the jockeys lounge before the first race. Frank Alvarado sits at a diner counter with the towel cinched around his waist.

Speaker 14: 11:06 I'd be writing for 37 years. This the only thing I can do it do you guys ride horses?

Speaker 12: 11:12 Alvarado's frame is all seen you in muscle, not an ounce of fat to spare riding for that long means he's had his share of head injury.

Speaker 14: 11:21 Good. I don't remember anything. The only thing I remember when I wake up in the hospital, what am I doing here? And they say, Oh, you fell. I said, oh wow. Horse

Speaker 12: 11:30 racing has grappled with the issue of concussions for years, but unlike other pro sports, it doesn't have a standard protocol for handling them right now. The California horse racing board wants to create one jockeys. Trainers in horse owners have opposed similar proposals in the past since it would pull riders off the track, but as the longterm consequences of concussions become clear, the protocol gained support. This is one of the most dangerous of all professional sports, if not the most changes. Dr. David Seftel is the track physician at Golden Gate fields. He's seen numerous head injuries in the examination room below the grand stands.

Speaker 15: 12:06 We have been working for quite a long time to try and bring into effect concussion protocols that will help to protect our jockey community at the same time as preserved their capacity to work

Speaker 12: 12:21 outside on the track handlers, chlorella field of six horses at the starting line, they burst from the gate and fall into place around the first turn. Thoroughbreds like these weigh over a thousand pounds and can gallop up more than 40 miles per hour at those speeds. The slightest mistake can turn a 115 pound jockey into a human missile careening head first towards the track or other riders. California's concussion protocol would require jockeys to get a doctor's clearance to return after such a fall. Writers would also need to complete a baseline assessment every year together around Jockey Flavian Prat. After the race, he took home the prize at the sport's biggest event in May. You know the one with the big hats in Missoula.

Speaker 15: 13:08 Hey Guy with the Kentucky Derby.

Speaker 12: 13:11 Pret says jockeys understand the dangers of a head injury, but their drive to compete often affects their decision making.

Speaker 15: 13:17 You know, everybody tried to write as much as you can and especially if you have a good ride, you know, next. But I think when you people around us, you know who can say yes he can or no, he cannot.

Speaker 12: 13:29 I hear this from several other writers. They know the risks, but they still try to race with concussion symptoms. Top jockeys, like Pratt often feel pressure from horse owners and trainers, but it's even worse for average writers. A survey from the jockeys guild found professional writers earn on average $29,000 per year. For them. Missing a few races could mean losing their livelihood. Again, here's golden gate fields physician, Dr [inaudible].

Speaker 15: 13:54 This is the most pay for performance related sport. If a jockey doesn't play, they don't get paid. The result is that there's an intense pressure for jockeys to get back to work. Whether or not this is necessarily in their best medical [inaudible],

Speaker 12: 14:08 he says the protocol would be a good start, but it needs to be strengthened. Here's one issue. This system would allow jockeys to get clearance from any physician trained in concussion management, which opens the possibility of doctor shopping to return sooner. That means jockeys may still find ways around the system, whether they're racing for a big purse to simply pay the bills or for pure love of the sport in Sacramento. I'm Scott. Rod,

Speaker 1: 14:34 thanks for listening to San Diego News matters. If you're not already a subscriber, take a minute to become one. You can find San Diego news matters on apple, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

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San Diego News Matters

KPBS' daily news podcast covering local politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings so you can listen on your morning commute.