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Rep. Duncan Hunter Corruption Trial Postponed Until January 2020 And More Local News

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U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter won't go on trial until next year on corruption charges that involve spending campaign funds for personal use. Plus, the Catholic bishop of San Diego is laying out a new plan to deal with the sexual abuse of children. Also on today’s podcast, plans to add protected bike lanes to a major street in North Park are facing a legal challenge and San Diego may get a faster water quality test for local beaches.

Show transcript

Speaker 1: 00:00 It's Wednesday, August 14th I'm Deb Welsh and you're listening to San Diego news matters from KPBS coming up. US Representative Duncan Hunter won't go on trial until next year on corruption charges and water testing may get much better soon.

Speaker 2: 00:15 We want to make sure that they know that water is safe when they go into swim or surf or enjoy our recreational opportunities here at our San Diego county beaches.

Speaker 1: 00:25 That and more San Diego news stories coming up right after the break.

Speaker 3: 00:32 [inaudible]

Speaker 1: 00:33 thank you for joining us for San Diego News Matters. I'm Deb Welsh for every dollar California puts into healthcare treatment. It's spending only 68 cents on prevention capitol public radio. Sammy Kayla takes a look at the numbers. Many California health advocates say investments on the front end in home visiting services. Health navigators and education could save a lot of money down the line, but state spending on treatment climbed between 2007 and 2018 while funding for social services and public health grew at a slower rate. That's according to new data from an Oakland based foundation called the wellbeing trust and a national think tank called the lown institute. The report looked at total state budget spending annually, including federal dollars and special funds. The states finance department says the rise in treatment dollars is tied to the expansion of public insurance options. They say the state will continue striking a balance between providing care and preventing illness in Sacramento. I'm Sammy Kayla. Plans to add protected bike lanes to a major street in north park are facing a legal challenge. KPBS measure reporter Andrew Bowen says a group of residents and businesses claims the bike lanes violate a state environmental law.

Speaker 4: 01:47 Last spring, Mayor Kevin Faulkner directed city staffers to reconfigure 30th street in North Park to make it more bike and pedestrian friendly. Gone will be the on street parking and in its place protected by claims. A group called save 30th street parking announced Tuesday with suing the city claiming public outreach on the project didn't meet the standard required under state law attorney Craig Sherman.

Speaker 2: 02:10 But you need to follow your plans. You need to follow environmental reviews and that's what this is about, that these projects need to be done in the open do process and follow the laws.

Speaker 4: 02:18 The lawsuit is a long shot. The city held several public meetings on the bike lanes and in 2013 state legislators passed a law declaring parking loss is not enough to trigger higher environmental reviews. Andrew Bowen KPBS News,

Speaker 1: 02:32 a decision on whether Congressman Duncan Hunter illegally spent more than $250,000 in campaign funds. We'll have to wait until next year. KPBS reporter Matt Hoffman was in court Tuesday as a federal judge agreed to delay Hunter's trial.

Speaker 4: 02:49 It was unusually quiet. Tuesday as congressman hunter entered the federal courthouse flanked by supporters inside the courtroom, Judge Thomas Waylon agreed to push back hunter's trial date by four to January

Speaker 5: 03:00 of 2020 former federal prosecutor Chuck Labella says, delaying a trial could be difficult for both sides. You know, delay is always a difficult thing to predict. I mean it, it can hurt your case because witnesses can forget. Witnesses can get sick, witnesses can die. Last year, federal prosecutors charged hunter with using money to fund a lavis personal lifestyle, which included trips to Las Vegas and Europe. Recently, hunter filed a motion to have his case thrown out, citing the speech or debate clause of the constitution, which protects members of Congress for being prosecuted for legislative activities. Judge Waylon denied that request and hunter is trying to appeal that to the ninth circuit. The congressman would not comment after Tuesday's hearing. Matt Hoffman, K PBS news.

Speaker 1: 03:41 Bishop Robert McElroy of the Roman Catholic diocese of San Diego called together the more than 2,500 priest teachers and staff of the diocese on Tuesday to talk about the sexual abuse of children. Hey, PBS reporter John Carol says the Bishop laid out a four point plan to a radical [inaudible] such abuse.

Speaker 6: 04:00 The bishop's action follows a directive Pope Francis issued in May, bishop McElroy. His plan includes a requirement that everyone employed by the diocese is now required to report suspected abuse, not just so-called mandated reporters. McElroy called on everyone to report suspected abuse wherever it happens, not just in church. He charged a task force to develop programming to raise awareness and new restrictions for bid. All Diocesan employees from communicating privately with minors in person or on social media as to why such a meeting hasn't been called until now. McElroy said the diocese did begin background checks in 2002 and employees must be continually trained in how to spot abuse.

Speaker 7: 04:44 They have to every couple of years be updated in what we're doing to try to prevent a via spiders. So we've been doing it

Speaker 6: 04:52 in September of 2007 after declaring bankruptcy, the diocese agreed to pay nearly $200 million to settle numerous complaints over clergy abuse. John Carroll k PBS news.

Speaker 1: 05:05 San Diego County officials are close to adopting a new, faster water quality test for local beaches and waterways. Hey, PBS reporter Eric Anderson says that could mean people will get better information when water is contaminated.

Speaker 7: 05:20 Dennis presale snaps a bottle onto the end of a long yellow pole. You remove the seal green rubber waiters, keep them dry as he walks into the water at corn tide Pool Beach, a vintage brown and yellow Padres hat shields his eyes from the sun. Do you want to get an approximately, approximately needy and the reason we do this is we want to get an accurate sample of the water for sell. Methodically dips the bottle into the bay. He stops just above and underwater carpet of eel grass. I go down below the surface but but take care too to have the bottle a few inches from the bottom and we want to get a true representative sample for sale. Tilts the bottle exchanging oxygen for water. After I take the sample, I put the lid back on the sample. He wraps the bottle in a plastic bag, drops the bag into a cooler and heads to another location. Tried pull beaches, one of 45 spots where county officials regularly sample water to check if there's pollution. Lara Siefert works for the county department of Environmental Health.

Speaker 2: 06:29 We want to make sure that they know that water is safe when they go into swim or surf or enjoy our recreational opportunities here at our San Diego county beaches

Speaker 7: 06:38 determining whether samples contain contaminated water happens. If the counties, water testing lab workers add a solution to the samples, then wait to see what grows. They're put in sealed trays and then workers use ultraviolet light to show the harmful bacteria, but that process takes a day. So pollution warning signs, I only go up 24 hours after a water sample is taken. It's possible the bacteria is already gone, but that may be changing. San Diego County is working with a new fast test that cuts the time between sample and result to a handful of hours.

Speaker 8: 07:16 It is a little bit more technical, so you have to be a very good with your hands because we're using very small pieces of equipment.

Speaker 7: 07:25 Storia steel works at the county's public health lab. She says the new polymerase chain reaction test measures the amount of partial DNA strands of dangerous bacteria in the sample. There is no need to wait for the bacteria to grow. Steele says PCR is much faster and the test has other benefits.

Speaker 8: 07:45 It's much more sensitive. So we will be able to see much lower limits of organisms as compared to the cultural method.

Speaker 7: 07:53 Currently more than 90 locations get at least a weekly water test during the warmer summer months. The counties, Lars Seaford says the frequency drops in the winter. At some locations

Speaker 2: 08:03 we do conduct year-round testing as well. So some of the more popular beaches, even through the winter, we're testing to make sure that we get that information to the public.

Speaker 7: 08:12 The county has already studied the PCR test and the existing method for more than a year and they're finalizing research results. See for it says there's a chance that PCR method will become the county's water quality test of choice. He says it could be a game changer for beach.

Speaker 2: 08:28 Yours take the sample, the water quality at the beach, uh, habit to the lab and the same day before people are visiting the beach, going out, uh, to enjoy your San Diego county beaches. They'd have basically that information on what the water quality is and whether it's safe to surf or swim at that beach.

Speaker 7: 08:44 San Diego County needs state and federal approval to become the first place in the country to use the new testa notion waters that could happen by the end of the year. Eric KPBS News,

Speaker 9: 08:58 the ongoing housing affordability crisis impacts nearly everyone in California, but few are hit harder than the refugee community. Attendance Union was formed late last year to protect the rights of these vulnerable residents and other renters KPB as reported Prius Schreder takes a look. The SLO Mwah family came to San Diego in 2016 from a refugee camp in Tanzania. They say since moving to their two bedroom apartment in city heights, they've dealt with a broken stove and refrigerator and cockroaches in their apartment.

Speaker 8: 09:32 Good luck. This is to go back in Africa. We thought America was heaven. [inaudible] there's a kid's bedroom over here and this is where the mold is still come in.

Speaker 9: 09:42 On a recent afternoon, Katherine [inaudible] came to visit the SLM was and other families living on Polk avenue. She's a community organizer. With the San Diego tenants' union.

Speaker 10: 09:52 A lot of them are refugee and immigrant status or non citizen status. Um, a lot of them have resettled and I've just gotten acclimated with what it, what it's like to live in America as far as the routine, the schedule, and a lot of them aren't aware that there are rights with living in a home

Speaker 9: 10:13 and the toilet was leaking on us. They came and they repaired that on the ceiling. Nicole Johnson lives downstairs. She called the tenants union after getting eviction papers for not paying her rent. She says the people living here have been dealing with awful conditions and the manager's responsible for her property or doing nothing to help.

Speaker 8: 10:31 We don't have a working stove. We don't have a working refrigerator there. Their toilet was not on the ground properly. So where you can move it, the water, the feces, water was leaking from, it's silly. I me and my daughter

Speaker 9: 10:45 Mendoza says it's a common problem she sees with low income and minority tenants, especially when there is a language barrier like with the SLM was, she says one of the top priorities of the tenants union is to notify renters of their rights.

Speaker 10: 10:59 People need to think of it more as a contract between two parties versus a landlord that is deciding everyone's fate. It's a mutual contract. When you pay each month, that means you and the property manager, landlord, et Cetera, accepts that contract.

Speaker 9: 11:16 The tenants union also tries to serve as an advocate for renters when they have issues with their landlords. In this case, the properties on Polk Avenue are managed by prime asset management. We reached out to the company after hearing about the residents' complaints. The owner made a site visit but left before our scheduled interview he told me over the phone that he hadn't received any work orders from the upstairs tenants and that the issues with Nicole Johnson's apartment had been resolved. He said their company has an online work order system, but acknowledged that it might be difficult to navigate for tenants who don't speak English. Refugee resettlement agencies regularly have to deal with situations like these. Donna Dooven is the executive director of the international rescue committee in San Diego. The agency that resettled the SLM was.

Speaker 11: 12:05 I do think there's an element of of this sense too that if they are expressing concerns about their living environment and if that isn't well-received, then that also is risking the safety and stability of their families.

Speaker 9: 12:17 She says during the first six months after placing a family and housing, they see them almost every day. Sometimes case workers make home visits, but usually the families come to the IRS. C's offices. Dooven says the IRC tries to educate families about their rights, but it's often hard for them to understand that as tenants they can speak up about housing problems. Christopher Ridgway is a real estate attorney. He says he frequently deals with habitability issues with tenants and that it's a landlord's responsibility to resolve most problems in a timely manner. He says, a landlord could be sued if they don't, and what if the population that they're dealing with isn't likely going to sue them? What then? Then it becomes a moral question. [inaudible]

Speaker 11: 13:02 really it's, it's any, their business question or moral question. What's gonna motivate somebody

Speaker 9: 13:06 back on Polk Avenue? Men, dawn says, says, legal help is among the services the tenant union offers as part of a $25 a year membership.

Speaker 10: 13:14 This is a beautiful community. It is so diverse with how many people of different backgrounds live here and they deserve the same living conditions as anybody else living in the u s regardless if they know it or not.

Speaker 9: 13:31 Since we started working on the story, prime asset management says they're not going to evict Nicole Johnson from her apartment. The IRC has also offered to find new housing for the east Salaam was Priya, Sri, either k PBS news. Thanks for listening to San Diego News matters. For more KPBS podcasts, go to kpbs.org/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.