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San Diegans Duped Into Joining A New Political Party And Other Local News

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Speaker 1: 00:00 It's Thursday, February 13th I'm Deb Welsh and you're listening to San Diego news matters from KPBS coming up. Health officials say San Diego now has its second confirmed case of coronavirus and some San Diego ins had been duped into changing their political party.

Speaker 2: 00:18 People were signing people up with doctor knowledge. I mean that's going to happen if people are having people get paid to sign them up.

Speaker 1: 00:26 That more coming up right after the break.

Speaker 3: 00:36 [inaudible]

Speaker 1: 00:37 the centers for disease control Wednesday confirmed another infection in San Diego of the Corona virus called co vid 19 the patient was among a group of people who were under a federal quarantine at Miramar air station last week. Two planes arrived at the air station from China where the virus is widespread. This brings the total number of Kovac 19 cases in the United States to 14 in San Diego. The two people who've tested positive for the virus are in isolation at the UCS D hospital. The CDC says the two patients arrived on different planes and were housed in separate facilities, so the virus did not pass from one to the other. The death toll for the flu has risen to 57 in San Diego County this season. KPBS has Donald Bloodworth has more

Speaker 4: 01:23 seven influenza related deaths were confirmed last week in San Diego County. Bringing the number of fatalities so far to 57 that's compared to only 30 deaths at this time last year. According to the counties health and human services agency, last flu season saw 9,655 confirmed cases this year. It's just over 15,000 however, the number of cases has dropped for the third week in a row showing the seasonal virus may be on its way out. County health officials are encouraging people with symptoms to call your doctor and get vaccinated. Donald Bloodworth K PBS news.

Speaker 1: 02:00 Local teachers who specialize in serving some of the most vulnerable students say they aren't getting the help they need. KPBS education reporter Joe Hong spoke with special education teachers and AIDS from San Diego unified at a protest on Tuesday evening.

Speaker 5: 02:24 [inaudible] teachers and their aides protested outside the district building and then marched into administrators' offices to drop off three boxes filled with complaints. The documents tell the story of overburdened teachers and under-trained staff. Kesha Borden is the president of the teacher's union.

Speaker 6: 02:40 These folks are service providers, but they're seeing that they're not able to meet all the needs of their students because there's a lack of staff. There's understaffing. Um, there aren't enough peer educators. Those are some of the things contained in the complaints. A spokesman

Speaker 5: 02:57 for the district said, superintendent Cindy understands

Speaker 7: 03:00 these challenges and that she would be reviewing each of the complaints. Joe Hong K PBS news

Speaker 1: 03:05 deescalation tactics are often discussed as a way to prevent violent encounters between police officers and the public KPBS. Metro reporter Andrew Bowen says in San Diego, police and some city council members don't agree on what deescalation actually means.

Speaker 7: 03:21 SDPD gave a presentation on deescalation Wednesday to the city council's public safety committee. They provided a technical definition attempting to gain compliance from a subject while reducing the need for physical coercion. So does that include say, pointing a taser at someone? Sergeant Mike bells trains police recruits in deescalation? He says, yes, deploy a taser and Amy as somebody and using the targeting laser on him, giving him commands that comply because of the presence of the taser, using that taser is essentially deescalate from having to go to a higher level force. Some committee members disagreed with that example saying the threat of a taser actually escalates the situation. Recent changes to state law require more deescalation training, which the police department began last month. Andrew Bowen. KPBS Kratom

Speaker 1: 04:11 is a plant that users say has medicinal benefits, but officials say the unregulated substance can kill you. KPBS health reporter Tara and Minto says the San Diego County board of supervisors move to take action against the herb, but Kratom advocates pushed it toward a slightly different direction. Supervisor Diane Jacob was unfamiliar with Kratom when a constituent raised concern, it was being sold in local smoke shops. So then we looked into it cause I had not heard of it before. County resident Linda Klein was also once a Kratom novice without understanding what it was. I was thoroughly against Kratom for a very long time. Now Klein uses the herb for anxiety and owns several storefronts that sell Kratom. It really did change my life, but Jacob wants to hinder sales of the Arab that's linked to 100 us deaths, including 10 in San Diego. FDA had put out a warning basically to say to people, do not use credo, but when Klein and dozens of other Kratom supporters pleaded their case at a County supervisor's meeting this week,

Speaker 7: 05:13 I stopped drinking completely. If you learn this, you will be threatening my life.

Speaker 1: 05:19 Jacob says she listened and how Kratom actually helped alleviate those particular symptoms. The board voted to develop an ordinance that would label it a public nuisance, but Jacob asked staff to work with industry representatives on a second option that regulates Kratom. The board will pick wind when the two are presented in 60 days. Taryn mento KPBS news night of the living dead. George J Ramiro would have been 80 years old on Tuesday. KPBS film critic Beth luck. Amando says, what better tribute to the father of the modern zombie than to have a new French film called zombie child, which re animates the genre with a fresh take

Speaker 8: 05:58 on the undead.

Speaker 1: 06:01 George Romero's shambling undead can trace their roots to Haitian voodoo in the 30s and forties zombie films drew on fooduh in which zombies were beings that no longer possessed free will and were controlled by others. These zombies mirrored the inhumanity of slavery. That history is revived and re-examined in zombie child in which a black teenager at a French girls prep school calls upon her zombie voice to reveal a family secret about a man brought back from the dead and slavery. The film cleverly weaves multiple stories, timelines, and notions of being a zombie to deliver a meditation on identity and cultural colonialism. It's flawed but still compelling and with lovely performances from its young cast. Beth Huck Amando, KPBS news

Speaker 8: 06:47 zombie child opens this weekend at digital gym cinema. Yesterday we told you about how signature gatherers signed up San Diego voters for a new political party without their knowledge or consent. It's called the common sense party and experts say it's methods for registering voters raise ethical and legal issues today. K PBS investigative reporter Claire Traeger. Sir gets to the bottom of what happened. Quick recap. We talked to 31 people who are registered as members of the common sense party and 30 of them had no idea what I was talking about. They'd never heard of the party and didn't remember signing up. All of those 30 people were signed up by paid signature gatherers. I knew the LA Jolla group was hired by the common sense party to sign up voters, so I went to their offices, which are in Kearny Mesa. Hi, is this the LA Jolla group? I'm a reporter with KPBS, the head of the firm. Bob Glazer was there and he agreed to talk to me. He says, the registrar voters had found one instance of a voter being signed up for the common sense party without their knowledge. He says it was the signature gatherers fault.

Speaker 9: 08:03 The secretary gathered was turned over. The registrar who contacted the signature gather. So between them and we don't take any more cards from that person,

Speaker 8: 08:10 but he says they didn't report it to the common sense party leaders still. He insisted his company's methods are above board to sign people up for [inaudible].

Speaker 9: 08:21 I've been doing this 35 years. I'm an attorney, I'm fully aware of all of the, uh, importance of these cards and we, uh, do not allow any type of fraud or any other type of problems. And when the registrar gave me the one problem, we immediately researched it.

Speaker 8: 08:40 Then I called Chris Easterling, he's a signature gatherer whose name is on the registration forms for several people who said they unknowingly joined the common sense party

Speaker 2: 08:52 and people were signing people up with doctor knowledge mean that's going to happen if people are having people get paid to sign them up, right? I mean, so there's going to be people that are not going to be ethical.

Speaker 8: 09:06 He says he works with the LA Jolla group and says, starting in December or January, the firm changed his policy. Now he says common sense registrations have to be in the voters own handwriting.

Speaker 2: 09:18 Those are the people doing these that are, you know, you know them try to, you know, gain the system. But now they figured that out and now they said it has to be in their own handwriting, but to count

Speaker 8: 09:32 he claims he never filled out someone's form for them.

Speaker 10: 09:36 That's fascinating. In a bad way.

Speaker 8: 09:41 Will Rodriguez Kennedy is the chairman of the San Diego County democratic party and he had never heard of the common sense party, but his mind immediately went to what party these common sense registrants had come from.

Speaker 10: 09:54 I'm like, are they a no party preference? Were they Democrats? Were they Democrats? They were Democrats.

Speaker 8: 10:00 Yep. About half of the common sense. Voters who are already registered to vote used to be Democrats. Well, 10% were Republicans. It appears signature gatherers, targeted specific groups. Nearly 40% of common sense party voters in San Diego are under 25 and almost two thirds live in urban areas South of interstate eight so then I went back to the organizers of the common sense party to ask about what I'd found. That's, that's crazy. Julie Meyer, right? A well known former Republican who lives in San Diego was shocked. She claims she didn't know people were duped into joining the party and pledged to look into their allegations.

Speaker 1: 10:47 I will personally make sure that we get to the bottom of this.

Speaker 8: 10:50 Needs to act quickly, vote by mail. Ballots have already gone out, so common sense voters will have to contact the registrar to ask for a new ballot if they want to vote in the democratic primary.

Speaker 1: 11:03 Tyga sir KPBS news after KPBS contacted common sense leaders, they said they plan to email everyone in their party to confirm their registration. To read the full story and listen to part one go to kpbs.org/common the department of veterans affairs is experimenting with ways to keep older veterans out of nursing homes and assisted living facilities. One violet program in Texas, places federally backed volunteers in the homes of veterans to help with cooking, cleaning, and other tasks from San Antonio Carson frame reports for the American Homefront project. 92 year old world war II veteran. Jerry Bennett lives by himself in an apartment community, mostly made up of seniors. I like the independence, having my own place and doing my own thing in July. He's considered moving to an assisted living facility, but think it would be a good fit, at least not yet.

Speaker 11: 11:55 I think I don't like it as you are conformed to the things that they do and I don't feel I need to kind of help to people in a lot of people in assisted living need.

Speaker 1: 12:07 Bennett still drives. He works out at Gold's gym, goes to the senior center and sometimes drops by a nearby VFW post, but sometimes feelings of isolation creep in. His wife died seven years ago and his children are scattered across the country.

Speaker 11: 12:20 I have no nobody down here in North [inaudible]. If it gets a little lonely, if I, if I feel like I'm getting depressed, I'll, I'll give Gloria call. We'll talk.

Speaker 1: 12:29 Ben, it's talking about 70 year old Gloria Estraya, his neighbor and a volunteer with the new VA pilot program. She cooks, cleans and exercises with Bennet and keeps in touch with his children about his health. She's also his rival in seven card Rummy. What do you want to play today? Are you guys pretty competitive with your, with your cards? Gory. Australia and Bennett are part of a five city pilot called the choose home senior Corps program. It was created by the VA and the corporation for national and community service, a federally funded agency that also administers the AmeriCorps program. It recruits volunteers over 55 to help out in veterans houses. Some of the vets already rely on primary caregivers. Others just need a little bit of help and companionship. Kelly Golan coordinates the program in San Antonio. There's been many, many, many studies on, you know how when you're isolated like that, there can be a lot of chronic things that can come up as far as with your health. The program is part of a broader VA effort to keep veterans out of institutional care. Scotty harsh rough is with the VA's office of geriatrics and extended care. He says initiatives like choose home cut costs and try to honor veterans wishes.

Speaker 2: 13:39 As technology improves that medical care improves and people live longer. How can we really honor their preferences to remain in the home as long as it's safe to do so.

Speaker 1: 13:49 The veteran population like the rest of America faces a longterm care bubble. The VA's annual costs of nursing home care have risen to almost $6 billion by 2024 that number could top 10 billion. A huge chunk of the department's budget, VA under secretary Teresa Boyd told Congress in February that as veterans age, approximately 80% will develop the need for longterm services and support. There's an urgent need to accelerate the increase in the availability of the services. Since most veterans prefer to receive care at home and VA can improve quality at a lower cost by providing care in these settings. Well, keeping veterans at home longer can put a burden on family caregivers, usually wives, children or younger siblings. The land, the program coordinator in Texas says she's seen situations where they just can't do it all. In those cases, volunteers may mean the difference between a veteran being institutionalized or not.

Speaker 1: 14:41 Sometimes the caregiver will get proned out and prematurely they'll have to put them in a nursing home and they don't want to have to do that. In addition to San Antonio, the choose home senior Corps program is also underway in Colorado Springs, Las Vegas, Pittsburgh, and Glen dive, Montana Galanter hopes the pilot will expand. She says in her city, the demand for volunteers is outpacing supply. I'm Carson frame in San Antonio. 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. Do us a favor. If you appreciate the podcast rate or review us on Apple podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts. Thank you.

People got signed up to join the “Common Sense Party” when they never intended to do it. Plus, a second case of coronavirus, now called Covid-19, is confirmed in San Diego. And special education teachers rally to protest what they call a lack of funding and resources in San Diego schools.

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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.