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San Diego City Attorney Moves Dismiss 5,000-Plus Marijuana Convictions And More Local News

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The San Diego City Attorney's office is working to dismiss more than 5,000 low-level marijuana convictions. Plus, how a Trump administration rule meant to discourage immigrants from accessing social services could have a far-reaching impact on the California’s health care system. Also on today’s podcast, more details are emerging from the charges filed against 13 Marines accused in connection with a human trafficking operation. And, the latest on the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump.

Show transcript

Speaker 1: 00:00 It's Thursday, September 26th I'm Deb Welsh and you're listening to San Diego news matters from KPBS coming up. The city attorney's office is working to dismiss thousands of low level marijuana convictions at more details. A verging from the charges filed against 13 Marines in connection with a human trafficking operation.

Speaker 2: 00:21 The fact that there's a border wall doesn't stop this type of activity from taking place on either side.

Speaker 1: 00:27 That more coming up right after the break. Thank you for joining us for San Diego news matters. I'm Deb Welsh. Inquiry minds want to know why the acting director of national intelligence with held a secret whistleblower complaint. Joseph McGuire is appearing before the house intelligence committee. Today. The complaint is at the center of a firestorm about president Donald Trump's handling of Ukraine and was made available to members of house and Senate intelligence committees Wednesday. After weeks of delay, you can find the latest developments@kpbs.org the San Diego city attorney's office is working to dismiss more than 5,000 low level marijuana convictions. KPBS reporter Matt Hoffman says the office started the process. Wednesday

Speaker 3: 01:18 state law requires prosecutors to review. Some marijuana convictions that are eligible for dismissal or reduction.

Speaker 2: 01:23 The purpose of what we're doing and being aggressive and Outfront is to try to take the burden off of individuals to wipe their slate clean.

Speaker 3: 01:30 San Diego city attorney Mara Elliott moved to dismiss around 30 convictions Wednesday,

Speaker 2: 01:34 and that's the first 30 of at least 5,000 we will be filing. We have looked back to 2009 in our current database,

Speaker 3: 01:42 the city attorney's office. We'll also be looking at thousands of convictions before 2009 cases. Eligible for dismissal include convictions for less than an ounce of marijuana and eight grams or less of concentrated cannabis. The San Diego County district attorney's office has also been reviewing marijuana convictions. I spoke to him and says the office is getting ready to submit more than 25,000 requests to reduce charges or dismiss cases. Matt Hoffman, K PBS news,

Speaker 1: 02:06 transportation officials. Wednesday presented options for improving access to San Diego international airport via public transit. KPBS Metro reporter Andrew Bowen says several options are on the table.

Speaker 4: 02:20 The planning agency. SANDAG says the design that would attract the most ridership is a driverless subway line from the airport terminal to a new transit hub on Navy property. Near old town. Passengers could reach the terminal in about three minutes and it would cost between 3.9 and four point $7 billion to build. SANDAG is expected to continue studying different options, including an extension of the existing trolley line. The project is likely years away from breaking ground. Andrew Bowen KPBS news.

Speaker 1: 02:52 After five months of intensive negotiations, Kaiser Permanente and the coalition of 11 unions have a four year agreement. KPBS has Donald Bloodworth tells us the pact covers 85,000 employees, most of them in California and staves off the prospect of a strike.

Speaker 5: 03:10 The tentative agreement was reached by Kaiser Permanente and union negotiators Tuesday following nearly five months of active bargaining that began in April, 2019 it will now go to coalition union members for ratification with voting expected to be completed by the end of October. If ratified, the contract will go into effect October 1st and cover more than 85,000 healthcare employees. 67,000 in California alone. Coalition employees represent hundreds of job classifications from optometrists and pharmacists to maintenance and service workers. Donald Bloodworth, KPBS news,

Speaker 1: 03:45 a San Diego oceanographer who helped write part of the newest you in climate report, says the steady paint a bleak picture of a climate that is changing faster than expected. KPBS environment reporter Eric Anderson has details.

Speaker 6: 04:00 The UN report says, the ice in Greenland and Antarctica is melting faster than previously thought, and the ocean is warming at a faster rate. The study paints a dire future of higher sea levels, a warmer climate, and more destructive storms. Lease 11 coauthored part of the report. She says, researchers were taken aback by the speed of change.

Speaker 2: 04:20 Warming in the oceans is accelerating. It's been, uh, speeding up since the mid 1990s. And many of the other changes, including sea level rise are also as a result. Accelerating

Speaker 6: 04:34 Levin says coastal storms combined with higher ocean levels will create havoc along California's coast. However, Levin also says some of the worst outcomes can be avoided if people make choices that stop putting pressure on the environment. Eric Anderson KPBS news,

Speaker 1: 04:50 California could lose over $500 million in federal funding if a Trump administration rule goes into effect next month. KPBS reporter max Rivlin Adler tells us how our rule meant to discourage immigrants from accessing social services could have a far reaching impact on the state's healthcare system.

Speaker 4: 05:09 A new study released by researchers at UCLA and the California immigrant policy center says that under the Trump administration's public charge rule, California could lose 510 million in federal funding that would have gone to hospitals, labs, and other health services in the state. The public charge rule would make it difficult for immigrants to obtain legal status in the country if they've used or likely to use social services like the state's federally funded Medi-Cal program. Since the rule was first announced last year, enrollment and social services throughout the state's immigrant population has already begun to decrease. Almost. Saeed is an attorney at the California immigrant policy center,

Speaker 2: 05:48 so families are preemptively disenrolling choosing the opportunity to stay over things like housing and food and basic subsistence, including care. The report

Speaker 4: 05:58 recommends the state invest in increased outreach to immigrant communities to explain the new role. California suing in federal court over the rules implementation before to set to take effect. Next month, max with Linda Adler, K PBS news,

Speaker 1: 06:12 a millionaire who conquered the trillion dollar tech industry last year by forcing new consumer privacy protections into California law is mounting a new effort aimed at next year's ballot Capitol public radio's been Adler reports, Bay area real estate developer, Allister McTaggart's first ballot measure led to a deal in the legislature to avoid a costly ballot fight. Starting in January, Californians will have the right to learn what companies like Facebook and Google know about them and to stop the sharing or selling of their data. Senate majority leader Bob Hertzberg, who helped negotiate that deal, says rival efforts at the Capitol this year to both expand and weaken the law. Failed

Speaker 4: 06:51 a couple of minor things, got to be fixed that needed to be fixed with those needed some clarity, but it certainly needs a bigger think about what to do about privacy.

Speaker 1: 06:59 So now after consulting with Hertzberg, McTaggart has filed a new voter initiative. It would define what constitutes sensitive personal information and create a new state agency to regulate this rapidly evolving arena. You'll need to turn in more than 600,000 valid voter signatures to qualify his measure for the November, 2020 ballot at the state Capitol. I'm Ben Adler. More details are emerging from the charges filed against 13 Marines accused in connection with a human trafficking operation. KPBS military reporter Steve Walsh looks at how this fits in with the history of smuggling in San Diego.

Speaker 4: 07:35 The Marines are accused of being part of a ring that transported migrants from the border to locations in central and Northern San Diego County. They were all junior Marines. None of them made more than $23,000 a year. The 28 pages of redacted charge sheets released by the Marine show that all 13 charged are from the fifth regiment at camp Pendleton. Their battalion can be seen drilling in camp Pendleton in this defense department. Video taken in September six are charged directly with driving migrants from the Mexico border. The earliest cases from may 19 the most recent cases from July 10th one Marine is accused of smashing a cell phone to conceal evidence. The charges STEM from an investigation prompted by the July 3rd arrest of two Marines. Border patrol agents had spotted three migrans climbing into a civilian car on the side of the highway close to the border. They're an Francisco border patrol spokesman said smugglers often enlist young drivers who aren't familiar with San Diego

Speaker 7: 08:35 that are not familiar with the border patrol or how the border region works. And that just plays in the hands of the smugglers. They don't give them a lot of information. They keep it very vague. Can I just need to pick up some people at this known location and bring it back here?

Speaker 4: 08:46 In exchange for driving migrans North from the Mexico border to a safe house, the two Marines who were originally charged say smugglers promised to pay them thousand dollars.

Speaker 7: 08:56 I think it's a benefit on their behalf to have a, a Marine or somebody in law enforcement to be a potential lo driver. Uh, they may see that as a positive just because of their uniform or their job status that we may overlook or give them some sense of a leniency.

Speaker 4: 09:11 Last year, California national guardsman was arrested for a similar attempt. Smugglers have worked with Marines at camp Pendleton as early as 1979 that's when a group of Marines and their wives were discovered to have moved several thousand undocumented migrants through camp Pendleton as a way to avoid a border patrol checkpoint. The lure of what some people see as easy money enjoys widespread appeal. Pedro Reyes with the American friends service committee, which works with Migron, says plenty of people without ties to the military get caught up in smuggling.

Speaker 2: 09:43 The fact that there's a border wall doesn't stop this type of activity from taking place on either side. There's always been an attempt to infiltrate some of the agencies such as the border patrol and exploit some of the loopholes that they have.

Speaker 4: 09:58 Rios has worked with immigration issues since the 1990s he says these networks have become more elaborate as measures to maintain the border have become more restrictive.

Speaker 2: 10:07 If the Marines were infiltrated in this way, might there be other agencies and the law enforcement world that have been infiltrated as well?

Speaker 4: 10:16 He's right. The highest profile smuggling case in San Diego County involves not the Marines, but two brothers who worked as agents for the border patrol. Fidel and Raul Diorio were convicted in 2013 of taking bribes to move migrants across the border in San Diego in 2018 Raul's attorney argued that his 30 plus years sentence should be lowered before a panel that included federal appellate court judge Susan Graber.

Speaker 1: 10:41 These folks violated their trust and did exactly the opposite of what they were hired by the people to do.

Speaker 4: 10:49 In the most recent case involving the Marines, the ring isn't described as being nearly as sophisticated as the one involving the two convicted border patrol agents. The Marines aren't releasing the names until the convening authority decides which Marines will face court's marshal. Federal officials have dropped the case. He, Ken's the two original Marines charged with human smuggling so they can be tried in military court. Interesting fact. The smuggler never paid. The two Marines originally arrested in July. The border patrol says it's a sign of how hard nosed human traffickers can be with the people they recruit. Steve Walsh KPBS news.

Speaker 1: 11:25 This story was produced by the American Homefront project, a public media collaboration that reports on American military life and veterans funding comes from the corporation for public broadcasting. Thanks for listening to San Diego news matters. If you like the show, do us a favor and tell your friends and family to subscribe to the show.

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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.