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Former Top Prosecutors Weigh In On Hunter Corruption Case And More Local News

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Two former U.S. Attorneys say Rep. Duncan Hunter’s corruption case is not as a slam dunk as it seems. Plus, cybersecurity concerns emerge as San Diego transitions into a “smart city.” Also, climatologists say July was the hottest month on record, going back 140 years. What does that mean for San Diegans? And, how SDG&E’s new time-of-use plan could affect your electric bill.

Show transcript

Speaker 1: 00:00 It's Friday, August 16th I'm Deb Welsh and you're listening to San Diego news matters from KPBS coming up. Former top prosecutors weigh in on the duck and hunter corruption case and San Diego's becoming a smart city, but what does that mean for individual privacy?

Speaker 2: 00:17 One sentence touched the smart city in proper perspective. It's basically security versus civil liberties

Speaker 1: 00:25 that 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. This week a judge moved back Congressman Duncan Hunter's corruption trial to next January. This is hunter's trying to appeal to a higher court to have his case thrown out. Federal prosecutors have charged hunter and his wife with illegally spending more than $250,000 in campaign funds. KPBS reporter Matt Hoffman spoke with legal experts about the case against Hunter

Speaker 3: 01:02 [inaudible].

Speaker 4: 01:02 Nearly every time hunter has had a hearing, dozens of protesters have followed calling the six term congressman from Alpine, a thief

Speaker 3: 01:13 [inaudible],

Speaker 4: 01:14 but two former US attorney say it's not so easy to determine what's illegal when it comes to campaign finance. A lot of this is gray. I mean, where does the political line and on the personal line begin factually it can, it can be a little bit blurry. Prosecutors say hunter and his wife spent campaign cash on family vacations, groceries and golf trips. Carol Lamb, his former us attorney for the southern district of California. It does appear to be a fairly strong case. That's a different question of a, is it a, you know, a slam dunk in terms of a criminal trial. And I think most experienced prosecutors would always be hesitant to say that any trial is a slam dunk, particularly a white collar type of case. Chuck Labella is also a former us attorney for the southern district of California and says, perception of these cases does not always match reality. The government is aware of these PR hurdles, uh, but, and as the defense is, but I don't think the general public is aware that how difficult these cases can be when they're purely personal versus political funds being used.

Speaker 3: 02:23 [inaudible]

Speaker 4: 02:23 you know, when you have somebody who's been a campaign donor for you for years and they are a fundraiser for you, and maybe you're not running for election, but you're going to go back to this person and you know, in your political career you're going to go back to this person. So you take them for a golf game, you take them for dinner. Well, isn't that cultivating a source? I mean, I think the defense is going to argue that's cultivating a source. In June, Hunter's wife took a deal from the government essentially. Have you had a chance to talk to her husband? She pleaded guilty to conspiring with the congressman to misuse campaign funds. It's easy to see how that might strengthen the case against him.

Speaker 5: 03:00 The value of a cooperating defendant or a cooperating witness is they were on the inside. And so they sort of color in, um, the picture for the jurors.

Speaker 4: 03:11 When you put a spouse on the stand, when you put, um, uh, mistress's on the stand, it's, uh, it's a jump ball for, for, for both sides. Uh, you don't know what's going to come out of the witness's mouth when you put those kinds of witnesses on the stand. They're explosive, potentially explosive. Hunter has argued he will not get a fair trial in San Diego. He says negative media attention will sway jurors.

Speaker 5: 03:39 I've had some very high profile cases that were on the front pages of our local papers for months and when we brought the jurors, potential jurors into the courtroom and asked how many of them had ever heard of the case or the, or the allegations, um, we would only have a handful of people raise their hands.

Speaker 4: 03:57 Labella sees things differently. The people who are reading this or hearing it on TV are prospective jurors. And so, um, there's a real chance here that it's going to be difficult to pick a jury. The case is scheduled to go to trial in January. That gives hunter plenty of time to take a deal

Speaker 5: 04:12 when the evidence seems to be very strong. Uh, there's usually maybe an approach by the defense saying, well, you know, he believes in his innocence, but what would you offer if he was willing to resolve the case.

Speaker 4: 04:25 But Hunter says he's a victim of a witch hunt and is ready to fight. I've done nothing wrong. And I say, bring the trial now. I, you know, that's just me. I don't see these parties coming together and striking a deal because I think they're there. They're just so at odds with each other. If the case does go to trial, will hunter himself take the witness stand? Lam says it's a tough choice.

Speaker 5: 04:44 If the defendant takes the witness stand and denies the allegations and then is found guilty anyway, um, that's probably going to hurt the defendant at the time of sentencing.

Speaker 4: 04:53 Both lamb and labella agree. A decision to testify will likely come after the government finishes presenting its case. If the defense believes that the government hasn't come close to proving its case, I think the chances of hunter, um, congressman hunter testifying are slim. Matt Hoffman, K PBS news.

Speaker 6: 05:10 San Diego officials are investing in new technologies to help the city become more advanced, but as science and technology reporter Shalina Celani reports these innovations create questions about cybersecurity and individual privacy on a bustling downtown San Diego street passers by, probably aren't thinking about streetlights for the [inaudible], but they have cameras. But when resident Brian Walker did start thinking about it, he had questions.

Speaker 5: 05:37 So it's like what's the purpose? And like who's the company that is the third party source that doing all this monitoring and what is their intentions in the first place?

Speaker 6: 05:48 Eric Caldwell, director of economic development for San Diego says it's only the city that's collecting data from the smart technologies it's deploying and the intention he is to help the city save money and become more efficient.

Speaker 7: 06:00 It's about taking information that you already have and putting sensors into the urban environment, sensors into your workflow so that you're getting near real time data that helps you make better decisions.

Speaker 6: 06:15 In recent years, the city has installed around 3000 smart street lights with plans to install a thousand more. Caldwell says the lights can show how many people or bikes go by, what's the temperature outside or even driver patterns in communities.

Speaker 7: 06:30 That's really critical information in terms of understanding how changes we're making to mobility. Infrastructure is actually being utilized by the public.

Speaker 6: 06:40 But the idea of a smart city doesn't appeal to all. There are two concerns. One is how does the city physically secure data that it's collecting? Darren Bennett, chief information security officer for the city of San Diego attended a u s chamber of Commerce Cyber Security Conference in San Diego last month. He says the city is always trying to stay ahead on security from a hardware perspective.

Speaker 8: 07:03 Deb, will you follow best practices for security? We'll use different security standards. We have a third party auditor come in and uh, you know, monitor our work, evaluate if, if we're up to standards. We also know what our critical data is and where it is and protected accordingly. But he says it's impossible to stay ahead of every possibility. There's no perfect entity, you know, there, I always joke that it's an unfair game, right? It's, you know, you have a limited number of security professionals trying to secure an entity. And then you basically have almost an unlimited number of foreign hackers that are trying to get in. And there's a second concern that was brought up at the same conference by Adam [inaudible]

Speaker 6: 07:44 folio of the consulting company, Deloitte, who moderated a bit

Speaker 2: 07:47 handle how of these smart cities, you know, San Diego, we're gonna change the way we live and how do we prepare for the, you know, to manage the risks that are going to be, especially with that once tenants touched the smart city in proper perspective, it's basically security versus civil liberties. ECS Dean's court in Romney's

Speaker 6: 08:05 says the reality of imperfect security paired with the collection of personal data is concerning.

Speaker 2: 08:10 So the speed comes in the real problem. How do we maintain the sanctity of the individual and their privacy?

Speaker 6: 08:17 The city administration building, Eric Caldwell says San Diego takes both physical and personal security. Seriously, it's doing that by not only investing in it technology that's secure, but also by being cautious about what type of data is being collected in the first place. For example, he says the streetlights are just collecting metadata.

Speaker 7: 08:36 It's just numbers. It's not telling you who walked by. It's not telling you where they were going. It's not following people around the city. It's not providing raw video data.

Speaker 6: 08:47 This data he says is intended to help the city create helpful tools. And though he says it's only the city that's handling this data, some residents

Speaker 1: 08:56 like Brian Walker still feel scattered

Speaker 5: 08:59 too cold. So it's like what are they doing with the other portion of the data? You know, are they selling it to other people that are data mining people's everyday lives? Cause that's kind of weird and creepy

Speaker 1: 09:10 for KPBS news. I'm Shalina Celani with a t warnings and advisories the last couple of days have had a lot of us turning up the AC KPBS reporter John Carroll looks at how SDG and e's new time of use billing plan could affect your electric bill.

Speaker 9: 09:27 The switch to time of use billing plans began in March following a one year pilot project now about 575,000 SDG and e customers are on the plan. It calls on every one to avoid using appliances between four and 9:00 PM SDG and e communications manager West Jones says it's all because of the increasing amount of renewable energy on the power grid.

Speaker 5: 09:49 There's a lot of renewables on the grid in the middle of the day, a lot of clean energy, but that's starting to decline later on the day

Speaker 9: 09:55 when that happens, SDG and e has to fire up. It's natural gas power plants and that energy is more expensive. Joan says 85% of SDG and e customers who have been moved to the new plan have chosen not to opt out. Joan says they could see savings because 19 hours of the day are off peak and energy. During that time. It's less costly than on the old plan. John Carroll KPBS News,

Speaker 1: 10:20 uh, San Diego climate researcher says the record high global temperature last month is significant. KPBS reporter Eric Andreson says, the record is more evidenced, the climate is changing.

Speaker 10: 10:32 The National Oceanic and atmospheric administration says the global average temperature in July was the highest monthly temperature ever recorded. It was the 43rd consecutive month of July temperature was above average. Scripps Institution of oceanography researcher Dan Chaon says Noah also reported that there was less cis than ever before.

Speaker 11: 10:53 Having less sea ice makes the oceans essentially darker radiative Lee more absorbing of the energy coming in. So in a sense, losing CIS is a feedback that makes the system warm. Even more.

Speaker 10: 11:12 Kn says the world could be on a path to catastrophic climate change by the end of the century if people don't stop putting greenhouse gases into the air. Eric Anderson KPBS news.

Speaker 1: 11:24 Five years ago, Jennifer Kent won a claim for her first feature, the Beva Duke KPBS cinema junkie. Beth, like a motto as this review of her second film, the Nightingale, there's a lot of expectation writing on the sophomore feature of a director who hit it out of the park. With her first film, Jennifer Kent delivered a breathtakingly original feature debut with the Baba Duke. Now she returns with a period drama that reveals a similar emotional investment, but a far less audacious approach. The Nightingale looks to Irish convict Claire, who's lovely voice exist in harsh contrast to the brutal world of 1825 Tasmania. Hi. Wish my who also to the films oblique revenge tale for the me too movement. It also taps into Shakespeare's notion about bloody instructions returning to play the inventor, the films fueled by a visceral rage, but it never attained the artistic perfection and innovation of the Baba Duke Beck Amando KPBS news. Once a year, California lawmakers gather for the annual legislative softball game, but as Capitol Public Radio, Scott Rod reports this year is a little bit different.

Speaker 12: 12:33 It's the slow pitch version of America's pastime. That means hotdogs, beers and bipartisanship. That's apparently the case this year. Instead of Democrats versus Republicans like in previous games, the two teams are a mix of party affiliations, the waves and the grizzlies. We just wanted to break it up a little bit, try something new. You could have a little bit about that bi-partisan action going on and then we need more of that in our government and certainly on the softball field is helpful. That's democratic assemblyman, Kevin McCardy, but by partisanship may not be the only reason for the mixed teams. Here's Republican assemblymen, Tom Lackey with democratic assemblyman, Jim Wood Shiming in there are so few Republicans only being 18 right now versus 51 democrats. Okay, so come on, man. Yes, to rub it in, but yeah, 61 yeah, there's quite an imbalance that's in the assembly. The Senate has 29 Democrats with 11 republicans with so few GOP lawmakers, it would be hard to feel the full team.

Speaker 12: 13:34 It's a reflection of politics at large in California as traditionally red districts like Orange County or turning blue, but that doesn't mean there isn't a strong sense of competition between these politically mixed teams. Here's democratic assemblymen in grizzlies, Captain Ian Calderon. Oh, I'm sure. Every once in a while you'll hear somebody a yell from the batter's box here. If you get this, your bales dad in certain such and such committee or potentially on the floor, but you know, it's all part of the fun. After all, the ball is always in play when it comes to politics in Sacramento. I'm Scott Rod

Speaker 1: 14:07 the debate over whether Gig economy companies should be required to treat their California contract workers as employees could spill into next year as capitol public radio has been Addler reports the state Senate leader suggested deal likely won't get done before lawmakers. A juror next month, democratic senate president pro tem Tony Atkins says she wants the legislature to strike a balance in the high stakes business labor battle at the state capitol. We want to continue to make sure that those workers have the flexibility but also have the ability to make a decent living besides or exploring a deal where companies like Uber, Lyft, and Postmates could extend benefits to their workers, will still classifying them as independent contractors, but in an interview with

Speaker 13: 14:52 capital public radio, Atkins suggested that could take awhile. I have no doubt that we will discuss this into next year. The California Supreme Court has ruled that Gig economy contractors should be treated as employees, a bill that would codify that ruling into law with exemptions for certain industries but not others is expected to pass this year, not the state capitol. I'm Ben Adler.

Speaker 1: 15:13 Medication that prevents HIV infection has been on the market since 2012 but patients say access is still a challenge. Some California lawmakers want to allow pharmacists to dispense the drug without a prescription and eliminate complicated insurance steps. Capitol Public Radio, Sam e k Ola has more. Los Angeles resident gave, Dickerman says getting on preexposure prophylaxis, commonly known as prep brought down his anxiety about contracting HIV.

Speaker 14: 15:41 You were taught that if you're gay, you're going to get aids and you're going to die. And so after a lifetime of being kind of, you know, under this cloud that you know, bad things would happen to me, you know, practice ban, you know, just a tremendous emotional release.

Speaker 1: 15:58 But he says he had to fight to get the drug. Sometimes doctors have to get special approval from health plans before writing the script. That's called prior authorization and it may be part of why less than 10% of people at substantial risk for HIV are on the regimen.

Speaker 14: 16:13 It feels like increasing when you were seeing plans using prior authorization to limit access.

Speaker 1: 16:21 Courtney Mulhern Pearson is with the San Francisco Aids Foundation, which is sponsoring a bill to eliminate prior authorization for prep. It would also allow pharmacists to give out a limited supply of the drug.

Speaker 14: 16:31 It's more accessible access point for a lot of people when require an appointment and they're in every community.

Speaker 1: 16:38 Senator Kamala Harris is also pushing a national proposal to require all health plans to cover the medication in Sacramento. I'm Sammy K Yola. The Trump administration was handed another defeat Thursday in federal court. It had appealed a decision that granted detained migrant children, toothbrushes and soap as well as adequate food and water. KPBS reporter Max Rivlin Adler explains that big decision for children along the border.

Speaker 15: 17:05 The Trump administration was appealing a 2017 district court ruling that found children in us customs and border protection custody did not have access to adequate food, clean water, or basic hygiene items like a toothbrush. The judge found that those conditions violated a longstanding settlement known as the Flores settlement agreement. When the appeal was argued in front of the ninth circuit in June, a lawyer from the government was chastised by judge a Wallace Tashima.

Speaker 16: 17:32 It's within everybody's common understanding that, you know, if you don't have a toothbrush, if you don't have, so if you don't have a blanket, it's not safe in Santa Fe. Well, wouldn't everybody agree to that?

Speaker 15: 17:43 Customs and border protection has said it's simply does not have the resources to comply with the ruling given the influx of children

Speaker 1: 17:50 arriving at the southern border over the past year, Max Woodland, Adler, k, PBS news, 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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