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San Diego Settles Suit On Sex Offender Residency Law And More Local News

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San Diego is forced to dial back its restrictive law about where registered sex offender can live. Plus, five U.S. citizens who traveled from China are in isolation at two San Diego hospitals. And tennis star Andre Agassi comes to San Diego to open one of the schools he helped develop.

Speaker 1: 00:00 It's Friday, February 7th. I'm Deb Welsh and you're listening to San Diego news matters from KPBS coming up. San Diego is forced to dial back it's restrictive law about where a registered sex offenders can live and lawyer Corey Briggs, well known for using nonprofits to Sue public agencies is running for San Diego city attorney. Um, and so we, we looked at [inaudible]

Speaker 2: 00:22 viewed these nonprofits again and what we found was that most still are out of time

Speaker 1: 00:26 compliance that's coming up right after the break.

Speaker 3: 00:36 [inaudible]

Speaker 1: 00:37 San Diego settled a lawsuit challenging the city's law that limits where sex offenders can live. KPBS Metro reporter Andrew Bowen says the city won't enforce the law for the vast majority of people on the registry.

Speaker 2: 00:50 A San Diego ordinance bans all registered sex offenders from living near parks, schools and other places geared towards children. In 2015, the state Supreme court ruled such laws were ineffective and unconstitutional when applied with no regard for an individual circumstances. A group of sex offenders sued the city in 2017 and last month the city settled. It agreed to enforce the law only against sex offenders on parole. That's about 15% of those registered in San Diego County. Chris Morris was the city's attorney on the case

Speaker 4: 01:21 and it gives the city that additional law enforcement tool and balances the right of sex, registering who have the right to to live within the city and make sure that they have a place to live as well.

Speaker 2: 01:29 As part of the settlement. The city agreed to pay the plaintiff's attorney's fees altogether. The lawsuit costs taxpayers more than $122,000 Andrew Bowen, KPBS news

Speaker 1: 01:40 five us citizens from China who may have the Corona virus are in isolation at two San Diego hospitals. KPBS reporter Matt Hoffman says they were all on board the flight that arrived at MCA as Miramar on Wednesday,

Speaker 5: 01:54 nearly 170 evacuees from China were on that flight and are now quarantined at MCA S Miramar for 14 days. Five of them had a cough or a fever and out of caution, health officials move them to local hospitals where they can get treatment. Three people were taken to UC San Diego medical center. Hillcrest and a dad and daughter were taken to Rady children's hospital official say they are doing well. Dr. John Bradley of Rady children's hospital says the patients are in isolation and posed no risk to the public.

Speaker 6: 02:20 There's no threat. There's no, so yes, I want to reassure, um, what we've got in our hospitals are these specialized isolation units that we all put together for Ebola that are sort of airtight. So they're only moving them cause we've got isolation and medical expertise, not because they're contagious or we're or we're worried that something bad will happen.

Speaker 5: 02:42 The patients have been tested for the virus and results are expected by Saturday. Matt Hoffman, K PBS news.

Speaker 1: 02:48 The housing industry is making a big push to defeat measure a on the San Diego County ballot in March. KPBS reporter Eric Anderson says the measure seeks change how developments are approved in the counties rural unincorporated area.

Speaker 7: 03:03 The homebuilding and selling industry is pump nearly one point $3 million into the effort to defeat measure a, that's almost nine times the amount of money raised by those trying to pass the initiative. Measure a proposes changing the process for approving housing developments that fall outside of the county's general plan guidelines. Instead of letting the County supervisors have the final word, County voters would weigh in on projects with six houses or more if those projects require an amendment to the general plan and if they increase housing density on rural or semi rural lands. The building industry association set up the no on a committee, but the top contributors are the California association of realtors and the national association of realtors, each of whom contributed $350,000 since the first of last year. Backers of measure a have raised just over $160,000 mostly from individual donors since the beginning of 2019 the largest single contributor to the yes on measure a effort is the San Pedro based endangered habitats league which donated $75,000 Eric Anderson KPBS news,

Speaker 1: 04:11 a new charter school officially opened in San Diego, Thursday and a world champion visited the campus to celebrate KPBS reporter Prius breather explains the Hawking steam charter school focuses on science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics and serves more than 1100 students between its two campuses. From kindergarten through sixth grade. The schools campuses were developed by the Turner Agassi charter school facilities fund, a social impact investment fund that provides resources to high performing charter school operators. The fund is named after former tennis champion Andre Agassi, who paid a visit to the school Thursday.

Speaker 8: 04:51 Well, this is the most exciting part of what I get to do. I mean, it's been nine years of figuring out ways to scale my mission, which is to give children that sort of society has written off the best chance of their future through quality education.

Speaker 1: 05:04 Since 2011 the fund has opened 96 schools across the country, pre assure, either K PBS news. Yesterday was the last day for the sale of most forms of a chemical linked to serious health effects in kids like disruption of brain development, calf radios, Ezra,

Speaker 9: 05:22 David Romero reports farmers can still use Clore pure PFOS and crops Subu end of the year and only a granular form used by 1% of agriculture. It will stay on the market. It said to not have the same health effects. Core peer PFOS is used to control a wide range of pests on crops like almonds, grapes, and walnuts. It's already banned for aerial sprain. The phasing out is a win for environmental justice advocates who have fought to keep the pesticide from being used near schools and communities nationally. The Trump administration has refused to ban it. A major manufacturer of the just

Speaker 10: 05:58 announced it will stop producing it in Sacramento. I'm Ezra David Romero. 30 million Americans suffer from osteoarthritis, a disease that causes debilitating joint pain. KPBS science and technology reporter Shalina Chet Lonnie says, salt scientists have discovered a potential new therapy that could reverse the disease at the Salk Institute in LA Jolla, scientists Poloma Martinez Redondo zooms into a cross section of a rats and me on. You can see how the cartilage is not there in most of the joint or it's broken. This rat has osteoarthritis, a condition where the cartilage between the bones thins out causing painful bone on bone contact. Martinez Rondo and her colleague discovered a mixture of two naturally produced proteins in the body could reverse that erosion. When we put our two products, we get they calculator, which means that these treatments not only avoided disease to go farther, but also improve the repair of the disease. She says, currently patients can only get access to therapies that make you feel better or they require invasive surgeries.

Speaker 10: 07:07 She says this therapy would be more natural and directly targets the disease. Now the scientists plan on having a human clinical trial. Shalina, Celani K PBS news, Laurier, Corey Briggs is well known for using nonprofits to Sue public agencies. Now he's running in the March primary to be San Diego city attorney. Our partner I knew source has previously investigated nonprofits associated with Briggs. I knew source investigative reporter Jennifer Bowman spoke with KPBS mid day edition hose Jay died when she explained why I knew source looked into those nonprofits again. And what they found this time in 2015, we found that his private practice had formed dozens of nonprofits and then sued on their behalf. And at the time we found that over half had been suspended by either the franchise tax board or the secretary of state for failing to file legally required documents. These documents. So things like finances, mission statements and board structures.

Speaker 10: 08:08 Um, and now he's running for office again. He's, I'm challenging Mara Elliott along with another challenger Pete message. Um, and so we, we looked and reviewed these nonprofits again and, and what we found was that most still are out of compliance. Um, most had been suspended by the secretary of state or franchise tax board. Some both in some cases. Um, the 11 nonprofits had received a cease and desist orders from the state attorney general for failing to, uh, to file as charities and a few owe $1,000 or more to the franchise tax board. Um, we asked Briggs, uh, for an interview to talk about our findings. He did not respond to our requests. Well, tell us about his practice of suing on behalf of nonprofits. I mean, what happens when he wins in court and what happens when he loses? So most of his clients are nonprofits and he's closely associated with these nonprofits.

Speaker 10: 09:01 Um, some of them he incorporated or his law firm incorporated, um, addresses match his law firms. Sometimes he's an officer, um, for these nonprofits and, and Briggs wins sometimes in court. Um, but Briggs also loses, and this has been challenged in court when he loses because he claims his clients have no money and inability to pay. An attorneys on the other side have challenged that before. So you've, you've heard attorneys argue that these groups are purposely kept penniless. Hmm. So why does all this matter? Why are nonprofits required to file documents about their finances? And officers, well, it's the law. Um, but there's a reason for those laws. So nonprofits are required to follow those documents that talk about their finances, their board structures. And if they plan on receiving donations, then the attorney general requires that they file, they register as, as a charitable nonprofits.

Speaker 10: 09:58 Um, there's a reason for the laws. The point is to be transparent with the public, the ag has that so they can monitor charities, make sure that the donations are not being misused. Um, and, and it's to be transparent with the public and, and that includes the people who make those very donations. And Briggs has hit Mara Elliot hard on issues like her failed public records act proposal. Um, and even the city smart streetlights program, how has she responded to his criticism? So, so Corey Briggs, um, has said during his campaign that Mara Elliott consistently provides bad legal advice to the mayor and city council. Um, and points to things like the records bill when he says that Mara Elliot's office is obsessed with secrecy. Mara Elliot spoke with us for our story and, and this is what she had to say.

Speaker 11: 10:49 It's unfortunate because the argument that someone like him will make is I am doing this for the taxpayers. I don't believe that for a moment because when he wins a pay out to, they're not substantial, but they certainly do add up. That money is coming from the taxpayers.

Speaker 10: 11:06 So he, she argues that Briggs is actually part of the problem. She was trying to address what the public public records bill rising number of records requests as well as costly and sometimes frivolous lawsuits. And, and when it comes to the smart street lights program, she is largely dismissed that criticism. Um, she's been hit for uh, owning some of general electric stock. GE owned the company that, uh, was installing the sensors. That's no longer the case. They've sent, sold that company, but she argues the $18,000 worth of stock is going to help pay for her college education for her children. Um, and then it does not constitute a substantial holding and therefore there is no violation of law that's been alleged and there are no conflicts of interest. That was, I knew source investigative reporter Jennifer Bowman. For more on this story. You

Speaker 1: 11:54 can go to. I knew source.org I knew source is an independently funded nonprofit partner of KPBS. The San Diego opera is bringing Grimms fairy tale Hansel and Gretel to life through large scale puppets. KPBS arts reporter Beth luck. Amando goes behind the scenes to see how designers, singers, and puppeteers are collaborating to make magic on stage.

Speaker 12: 12:29 It's not every day that an opera singer gets to bring a cannibalistic witch to life.

Speaker 13: 12:35 [inaudible]

Speaker 12: 12:36 I lure children into the forest and I cook them into gingerbread cakes and then I eat them. It's delightful, but what's not so delightful for tenor Joel Sorenson is having to wear a big puppetry rig to create a larger than life, which onstage the entire time I'm on stage, I'm, I'm basically working with a puppet while trying to sing and convey a character. So it's, it's a real challenge. It's, it's a very different approach to anything I've done before. The challenge for director Brenner corner in tackling the opera of Hansel and Gretel was how do you make adults look like kids and how do you bring a fairy tale to life? And quite frankly, the best way I could figure out how to do that was puppets. So anything that wasn't human became a puppet, like the witch Sorenson.

Speaker 14: 13:22 Hello.

Speaker 12: 13:24 It's different in that it's not my physicality because I'm manipulating her hands, her arms facially and vocally. I'm trying to do the same things that I would do if I were performing it without a puppet. Now, if you're thinking of puppets as something you put on your hand, think again. Imagine actors completely enveloped in layers of fabric with a large sculpted head or face high above their shoulders and an arm span that exceeds 10 feet. Judd Palmer of old trout puppet workshop in Canada, design the puppets. So we had to really

Speaker 14: 13:57 blow up the notion of what a puppet is in order to successfully encompass the fusion of opera and puppetry. Our inspiration was classic 19th century, a children's book, illustrators like uh, Arthur Raca, Morenci Wyeth and these kinds of characters. We wanted the whole thing to feel like it comes out of a book. It becomes, you know, the illustrations come to life like a, like a pop up book or like an actual book that comes magically into existence before your very eyes

Speaker 12: 14:22 in gun is the puppeteer working with Sorenson.

Speaker 14: 14:25 I get to live inside this character that I'm helping to bring alive, but she has her own voice standing right in front of me and I don't know how to describe it, but I feel like I am transported inside this imagination. It's like I'm in the time bandits or something like that where I'm really, we're doing something magical and it's a magical character and the only reason it's alive is because we're in there giving it our all. So it's pretty cool.

Speaker 1: 14:52 Corner says the puppets engaged the audience in a unique

Speaker 12: 14:55 way. The thing about puppetry is it's extraordinary because it's this agreement that the audience makes with the performers that we agree not to see the person who's obviously a person and instead we agree to look at this fabric, some PVC pipe and a plaster like face. Right? What's extraordinary to me about puppetry is that as an audience we're like continually investing our imagination. In seeing the thing that the performers want us to see.

Speaker 1: 15:25 Palmer says that by not trying to fool audience members and instead asking them to play along in a game of make-believe, it allows them to become co-conspirators.

Speaker 14: 15:35 You could see the puppeteer right there in a ridiculous outfit. They're sweating and panting from having to run across the stage and they're waving the thing around. It lets us all lean on the joke in a way, but also in the kind of the dream. It's, it makes it evident to everybody in the audience that that they're going to have to invest imaginatively in this in the same way as the people on stage. Our corner suggest that you come to this production with a sense of childlike imagination

Speaker 12: 16:00 like that, that joy that you had when you were a kid and you could imagine what would happen if a stick was suddenly a giant scary monster. That's what you want to bring to this production cause that's what this production creates, is the sense of wonder and joy and mystery that's inherent in being a kid

Speaker 1: 16:18 and inherent in a story that begins with the magical possibilities of once upon a time. Beth Huck Amando KPBS news, the San Diego opera's production of Inglebert Humper digs Hansel and Gretel runs through February 16th at the San Diego civic theater. That's all for San Diego. News matters. If local news matters to you, consider supporting KPBS by going to kpbs.org and clicking on the give now button.

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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.