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Grand Jury Faults San Diego's Response To Dockless Scooters And More Local News

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A recent grand jury report finds San Diego's enforcement of electric scooter laws is lax and riders routinely violate traffic laws. The city is pushing back on the findings. Plus, the city of San Diego says street crews are filling potholes at a record pace but the problem remains massive and expensive. Also on the podcast, the Department of Veterans Affairs is training clergy members around the country to look for signs of psychological disorders and other issues among veterans in their congregations. And, California's wildfire season has been relatively calm this year, but Gov. Gavin Newsom isn't taking it for granted. He signed a batch of bills Wednesday to improve wildfire prevention, response and recovery.

Speaker 1: 00:00 It's Thursday, October 3rd I'm Deb Welsh and you're listening to San Diego news matters from KPBS coming up the city at odds with a recent grand jury report on enforcement of electric scooter laws and the VA department wants religious leaders to look for signs of psychological issues among vets in their congregation.

Speaker 2: 00:19 As a veteran, as a military person, I'm never comfortable speaking with mental health professionals about my mental chest and I do have them

Speaker 1: 00:27 that and more coming up right after the break. Thank you for joining us for San Diego news matters. I'm Deb Welch, a recent grand jury report find San Diego's enforcement of electric scooter laws is lax and writers routinely violate traffic laws. KPBS Metro reporter Andrew Bowen says the city is on the defensive.

Speaker 3: 00:51 The report says starting last year, city sidewalks became overrun with shared electric scooters. It recommends the city beef up enforcement and requires scooter companies to pay fees and carry liability insurance. The city says, by the time the report was issued in June, San Diego had already implemented the report's recommendations, but all they, for Raj, who is visually impaired, told a city council committee on Wednesday that enforcement of existing laws is still falling short.

Speaker 4: 01:19 People are still riding on the sidewalks. People are still throwing scooters wherever they please. Often you'll see a numerous scooters blocking access to the button for the Outerwall crosswalk so I can safely cross the street.

Speaker 3: 01:32 City council members will get a more comprehensive update on the first six months of scooter regulations later this month. Andrew Bowen, KPBS news,

Speaker 1: 01:41 mayor Kevin Faulkner says, the city of San Diego is fixing streets at a record pace. KPBS reporter Prius Schriever explains, the mayor says city crews filled 49,000 potholes in the last fiscal year, much more than that 32,000 a year. The city was averaging before he attributes the success in part to tripling the number of road repair crews. Chris McFadden, the city's transportation director says technology is helping crews find streets that have the most potholes.

Speaker 2: 02:11 We have a company that goes out and they drive every mile of every street. They actually take a a very fine reading of the pavement and we actually have video files and it's something that allows us to program the funds where they're most needed.

Speaker 1: 02:24 However, some residents point out that filling potholes is only part of the job. A home owner at the mayor's press conference said her cracked and worn out street has yet to be repaved even though underground utility work was finished more than a year ago. Pre Sri, either K PBS news, a campaign to collect close Amy to help female veterans transition into civilian careers is kicking off. KPBS reporter Matt Hoffman has more on the initiative dubbed operation dress code. One thing

Speaker 3: 02:55 being in the military is you don't have to worry about what to wear, but once you get out, I went in for an interview

Speaker 5: 03:00 and had no idea what to wear. Lindsay CIN is deputy secretary for woman veterans affairs at CalVet. She's also a Navy veteran who knows the challenges of transitioning to life after the military.

Speaker 6: 03:09 It's a little bit intimidating. So the a point of dress code is to help reduce that barrier, that additional barrier of not knowing what clothes to wear or not knowing how to wear them, not knowing how to potentially dress for a job interview.

Speaker 5: 03:22 Starting this week, people can donate professional shoes, clothing and jewelry to help female veterans with their life after service. People can drop off the items in pink bins at locations across San Diego County over the next two weeks. Then early next month, the clothing will be given out to veterans during an event at the university of San Diego, Matt Hoffman, K PBS news.

Speaker 1: 03:41 To see a list of dropoff locations or to learn how you can volunteer for the event. Go to operation dress the former director of the Johnson space center and first Hispanic woman to go to space was also a student at San Diego state university, KPBS science and technology reporter Shalina Celani caught up with LNO cha, who came back to SDSU yesterday to receive an honorary degree.

Speaker 7: 04:07 Oh, a lecture hall at San Diego state is packed with high schoolers and university students. All the waiting. Elena Cho was arrival for her honorary degree. Before her talk, I got a chance to speak with the Choa as a Hispanic woman. She cut a unique profile and the space program. I asked what she thought about NASA partnering with companies like space X and blue origin that are owned by men. She says there's a growing diversity in the space industry.

Speaker 6: 04:32 I know Gwen Shotwell and of course she's the president at space X and she's somebody that, um, a lot of the women in the aerospace industry look up to in addition to many of the people at NASA. And you see CEOs of Lockheed and various other companies that are women as well.

Speaker 7: 04:47 And she says for NASA diversity as long [inaudible]

Speaker 6: 04:50 starting decades ago, I think NASA really had a concerted effort to, to diversify their workforce. And that's something that, you know, we continue to work on.

Speaker 7: 04:59 Uh, Joe said one of the ways to ensure more women and people of color make it into science and engineering fields is for schools to start offering those types of courses early. Shalina Celani Lani KPBS news.

Speaker 1: 05:10 California's wildfire season has been relatively calm this year, but governor Gavin Newsom isn't taking it for granted. He signed a batch of bills Wednesday to improve wildfire prevention response and recovery Capitol public radio. Scott rod reports on some of the notable new laws.

Speaker 2: 05:28 Utility companies are under increasing pressure to clear overgrown vegetation from the power lines, but progress has been slow. One new law will require an independent third party to oversee those efforts. California will also establish a new statewide weather center to conduct automated threat assessments and issue warnings to communities and when fire strikes, mobile communications for first responders will get added protections. State law will prohibit their phone and internet connections from being impaired during an emergency. Verizon true criticism last year for first responders cellular data during the Mendocino complex fire, the laws build off the $1 billion Newsome set aside in this year's budget for wildfires in Sacramento. I'm Scott rod

Speaker 1: 06:08 clean air day advocate's Wednesday, gave San Diego drivers a chance to sample electric cars that are currently on the market. KPBS reporter Eric Anderson says, the test drive event featured a number of different models,

Speaker 8: 06:22 electric and hybrid cars lined the sidewalk outside the County administration building. Corey Ironman slid into the seat of a 2019 BMW hybrid. Local officials were encouraging people to take them for a spin. San Diego County supervisor, Nathan Fletcher says, getting people familiar with the vehicle helps

Speaker 9: 06:41 electric vehicles, not a flying saucer or a spaceship. They operate like normal cars and that there is the infrastructure to support having a charging station at your house and that there's the financial incentives that make it affordable one. So it's, it's new and it's different, but those are, those are surmountable things. If we can figure out that the math on the financing

Speaker 8: 06:59 financing includes state and federal incentives available for anyone buying a new hybrid or electric vehicle and people who have more modest incomes can get a bigger rebate. Stephanie Hernandez says the state's Evie and hybrid rebate fund just got refilled.

Speaker 6: 07:15 This program is available to anyone in the state who is interested in purchasing or leasing an electric vehicle and plug in. Hybrid Hernandez

Speaker 8: 07:22 says some of the state's drivers are getting additional rebates because of things like air pollution that can cut the cost of a new Evy and hybrid in half. San Diego may be in line for similar incentives in the future. Eric Anderson KPBS news,

Speaker 1: 07:38 the department of veteran affairs is reaching out to clergy members around the country to help veterans in need. Agency is holding sessions to train religious leaders to look for signs of psychological issues among vets in their congregations. Carson frame of the American home front project reports from San Marcos, Texas. Barrington. Malcolm is a clergy training instructor with the VA and an army veteran. Since separating from the service, he struggled with suicidal thoughts but he says it can be hard to seek help

Speaker 2: 08:08 as a veteran, as a military person. I'm never comfortable speaking with mental health professionals about my mental Charles and I do have them.

Speaker 1: 08:16 Malcolm has developed certain tools to help him stay grounded tools. He teaches other religious leaders through the VA's community clergy training program.

Speaker 2: 08:24 So when I conduct my groups at the hospital, I let them understand, look what I'm sharing with you is what I'm using to help me stay alive.

Speaker 6: 08:34 I had a recent training at the central Texas medical center about 20 clergy members and veteran advocates, swapped strategies they've used to support those in need. One of the attendees, Mark George is a chaplain at the Caldwell County jail in Lockhart, Texas. There he sees a lot of incarcerated veterans in extreme distress. They're telling me they're having dreams suicide and

Speaker 10: 08:56 they see themselves dying this way or that way, and I didn't really don't get into questions at that point. I just let them talk.

Speaker 6: 09:04 These kinds of incidents happen a lot.

Speaker 10: 09:06 Just last week I had an individual tell me that I won't be here next Tuesday. Yeah, well, where are you going to go? I mean, you're going to be here for like two years from what I can tell. Well, I would just want to be alive next Tuesday.

Speaker 6: 09:19 Malcolm steps in with feedback. Keep them talking. He says, don't leave them alone. Call the VA suicide hotline.

Speaker 11: 09:26 That's the crucial part. That's the good part of our job is to be able to really listen and hear, hear what is not being said and don't be scared to ask the question. Use your ignorance to inform you.

Speaker 6: 09:38 Since 2010 the VA has been offering trainings like this to help clergy become more familiar with veterans issues, things like transition related problems, traumatic brain injury, PTSD, suicide and military sexual trauma. It costs the department a little over a million and a half dollars each year and operates in 47 States. Chaplain Larry Collins is another clergy training instructor in Texas and served in the air force and Navy. He says, veterans come to clergy and clergy come to him with questions.

Speaker 12: 10:07 We get questions about how difficult it is for veterans to transition back into the civilian sector after deployments. Uh, the specifics of symptoms related to PTSD, they want to know more about moral injury, but mainly from a practical standpoint, what can we do?

Speaker 6: 10:27 The training offers tips on how to reduce veterans isolation by creating supportive networks and empathize with veterans who may be having a stress reaction. It also outlines the major differences between military and civilian culture. Veterans service organizations and local mental health providers are usually looped into the training's giving clergy places they can refer out if necessary. Colin says veterans value the anonymity and acceptance offered by clergy. In part because there's stigma around mental health issues.

Speaker 12: 10:55 One of the things that we talk about is, is this idea that spiritual care in its essence is total acceptance. It's non-judgment and I believe that that many of our veterans know that

Speaker 6: 11:09 for Barrington, Malcolm, the other VA instructor, one of the most important things for clergy to realize is that they themselves can connect with veterans even if they haven't worn the uniform or been in combat. The first part I believe is for clergy tool open themselves to become vulnerable was recognized. I'm a human being. I hurt too. I don't live up here and the sky without pain. I struggled to the VA training seem to be making a difference. Early outcomes data showed that clergy who went through the program were more likely to make referrals to the VA and other mental health providers. Attendance has risen over the last nine years with more than 1500 participants in 2018 this is Carson frame reporting. This story was by the American Homefront

Speaker 1: 11:54 project, a public media collaboration that reports on American military life and veterans funding comes from the corporation for public broadcasting. What do you get when you mix the importance of being earnest? The school for wives, a narco telanovela and lots of band to songs to sing along to bad home raise good wives, which opens tonight at the San Diego rip KPV as ours. Reporter Beth Armando speaks with the reps, playwright in residence, Herbert sequenza and artistic director, Sam Woodhouse about the new comedy.

Speaker 13: 12:28 Herbert. You've written bad Andres, good wives that's going to be performed at the San Diego rep. Uh, give us a little background on what this story is about.

Speaker 14: 12:36 Bad rumor is good wives isn't loose. Very loose. Adaptation of malaria is the school of wives. And I've also added some other mashups into it. There's a little bit of a, the importance of being earnest. There's Romeo and Juliet and there's Hamlet and all these Euro centric plays are mashed up into a narco novella, so it's, it's Moliere in Sina LOA.

Speaker 15: 13:00 We commend that tonight. Ads of mercy, most merciful father, this, all of my brother Mario gotten part to ever commit his body to the ground. [inaudible]

Speaker 13: 13:12 Sam, this has come through the Latin X play festival, new play festival. And so what does this like for the rep to kind of mentor in a play like this and then see it through to full production?

Speaker 16: 13:25 Well, Herbert is our playwright in residence courtesy of the Andrew w Mellon foundation. The fact that we have a Latin X festival became a platform for the presentation of this play as part of its development, but Herbert wrote this play in residence at our theater with the intention of us producing the play and we are, here we go.

Speaker 13: 13:45 Herbert, what do you feel are kind of the themes that you want to play up that you want to connect with the audience?

Speaker 14: 13:50 It's exploring the myth of machismo because it is a myth. It's, it's, it's, it's something that's in our culture that it's acted upon and, and, and, and, and you know, we're now living in the, in the era of me too. And so I wanted to write something that addressed machismo in a new way. You know, because it's an old narrative. It's an old way of being right for a man to be in society. So we wanted to explore those themes in this play and just put my cheese on it, on, on, on hold, on hold and undisplaced to see how ridiculous it is and how dangerous it is. It really is

Speaker 16: 14:26 what happens when the traditional macho Mexican man runs into the young girl that he thought was his pawn and being raised to be the perfect subservient wife and she turns out to be a feminist raised in a nunnery.

Speaker 13: 14:41 Now you are not only the playwright here, you are also acting in it. And not only are you acting in this, you are playing a woman. So talk a little bit about this role.

Speaker 14: 14:50 Well, if you know by, that's probably not a

Speaker 1: 14:52 big surprise. Yes. I thought, I thought playing a woman in this particular play was important because I'm a man playing a, a dignified woman, you know, I'm a traditional woman, an older woman. And it's just interesting that I as a man, I'm making commentary about my gismo and about feminism and marriage, but I'm a man, you know? So I think it's, it's, it's, it's, it's just ironic and I love that. And what have been the particular challenges of putting this play on? I feel very comfortable in this John HRA, which is slapstick comedy, uh, with a political bent. So I'm very at at ease right now, but, but I, I trust Sam to, to, to bring it out even more. And that's why we're, we work together so well because I think he knows what I want and, and I'll suggest stuff. And if it works at, you know, it stays, we're just trying to create a show that's gonna be hilarious and, and it really is, it's going to be, I think it's my funniest play for sure on paper and probably on stage.

Speaker 1: 15:57 Do you think comedy can help kind of get a message across in ways that other things cannot? Well, when people are laughing, they're open. They are much more open to an idea, to a thought, to a message. When you're laughing, you surrender to the moment. How about that? And then the moment can be expressed from the stage as we wish. And I think comedy opens up your heart, which opens up your mind. Yeah. And then that's, that's the great opportunity to inject some message in a message in there. That was Beth Armando speaking with the reps. Herbert sequenza and Sam would house about bad home braise, good wives that opens tonight and runs through October 27th on the Lyceum stage. 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.