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San Diego Stays In The Red Tier

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ALEXANDER NGUYEN

A man with a stroller on Aug. 1, 2020, walks by a Balboa Park health and safety guidelines sign design to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

San Diego County will stay in the State’s Red Tier for COVID restrictions, County supervisors say, despite exceeding the state’s Covid-19 metrics. Plus, after being blocked from slides and swings for six months due to the pandemic, kids can now use any outdoor playground regardless of what tier their county falls in, according to new state guidelines. Also, San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit promised a thorough investigation into allegations that one of his officers mocked on social media a roadside memorial for a robbery suspect fatally shot by that lawman three months ago.

County health officials say San Diego County will stay in the Red Tier of the state’s covid-19 system. The weekly update from the state came down on Tuesday. San Diego’s case rate is just over the state’s threshold to be moved into the purple tier, but because San Diego is testing more people than the state’s median, the overall adjustment was lowered.

San Diego county public health officer Wilma Wooten says that while it’s not possible to predict the future for the state’s testing system, the county is exceeding testing numbers.

A social media post has led to a San Diego police officer being suspended without pay.

An instagram account that appears to belong to Jonathon Lucas, a four-year San Diego Police Department veteran, contains a post, mocking a street-side vigil of a man he shot and killed this past June.

At a press conference Tuesday afternoon at police headquarters, Chief David Nisleit said that this type of behavior from an officer is unacceptable, especially during a time of heightened scrutiny on policing across the country.

“This unnecessary act only reopens wounds during an already painful time. I want to insure our community that I do not take these allegations lightly. Officers take an oath to value all life. The officer responsible for this social media post has been suspended without pay and his police powers have been revoked.”

Lucas was one of two officers who shot and killed 25-year-old Leonardo Ibarra. Ibarra, who was armed, was wanted in connection with a robbery.

Chief David Nisleit says the investigation into the social media posts is ongoing, and that further action, including termination, could be taken against the officer.

Organizers of "Operation Shelter to Home" have asked for an extension for the homeless housing programing at the San Diego Convention center. They want to keep it running through the end of the year.

Barbara Bry (Bree) was among several San Diego City Council members to express support for the extension.

"Operation Shelter to Home has created closer collaboration between the city and county, which is a good thing in addressing the regional issue on homelessness. That it has proven that we can address peoples individual needs that we can have good outcomes."

The program gets people moved into permanent housing through partnerships with different organizations. The City Council expects to make a decision when funding details are finalized.

It’s Wednesday, September 30th. This is San Diego News Matters from KPBS News...a daily morning news podcast powered by everyone in the KPBS Newsroom. I’m Anica Colbert. Stay with me for more of the local news you need to start your day.

The State has reopened public playgrounds after KPBS reporting found that they were closed indefinitely--with no plans for reopening. Now they’re re-opened, with a few added rules. KPBS’ Claire Trageser Reports.

"Are you excited the playgrounds are going to open?"
"YES!"
Four-year-old James McCann got some good news from his mom. After more than six months, playgrounds are finally open.
"What else are you going to do besides the swings?"
"I'm going to play on the slide!"
"The slide!"
The governor's office announced that effective immediately, outdoor playgrounds across the state could open, regardless of what COVID tier their county is in. But there are a few new rules:
Playgrounds have been closed since March, despite medical experts telling KPBS that playgrounds are far safer than indoor activities. A growing body of evidence that COVID-19 is much more likely to be passed when breathing and talking than by touching surfaces. Here's Rebecca Fielding-Miller, a UCSD epidemiologist.
"If it's safe to go to a restaurant and drink inside, it's certainly safe for a kid to go down a slide."
KPBS's story earlier this month prompted state Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez to ask the governor to come up with a plan for reopening playgrounds. She also sent a letter signed by 23 state representatives.
"So often we forget about some of the most obvious things because it's not economically related and yet it has such an impact on our families."
Gonzalez says the fact that playgrounds reopened so soon after the KPBS story…
"Tells me that maybe this was forgotten and it was exciting to see it get elevated and addressed so quickly."
Just because playgrounds are open, it's still up to parents to decide whether it's safe for their kids. So what will James McCann's fate be?
“If it's not too crowded and we'll bring our hand sanitizer, maybe some cleaning supplies to wipe a few things down first.
She's definitely happy to have a place where James can get out and burn off some energy.
Claire Trageser, KPBS News

That was KPBS Investigative Reporter Claire Traegeser. A city spokesman says all the tape around playgrounds should be down by Friday, and county playgrounds will be open today. (Wednesday)

Major Changes to how we vote are in the works now, due to the pandemic…. despite elections only being about a month away.

Mary Plummer reports for Inewsource.

Starting Monday, check your mail box. Unlike in prior elections, all San Diego County registered voters will now receive a vote by mail ballot automatically. Ballots need to be postmarked by election day. A new state law allows extra time for them to arrive and be counted … Up to 17 days after the election. If you don't want to mail them - There will be more than 100 drop off locations. You can also bring your ballot and vote in person if you'd rather -- but check your sample ballot for a location near you. There will be FAR FEWER polling places this year.
As a reminder, you don't need a stamp. The return envelopes are postage paid.
For KPBS, I'm inewsource reporter Mary Plummer.

That was Inewsource reporter Mary Plummer. The deadline to register to vote and get a mail-in ballot is October 19th. For a complete guide to all the election changes this year go to inewsource dot org. inewsource is an independently funded, nonprofit partner of KPBS.

Meanwhile, As November approaches, California voters say they're concerned with the integrity of the upcoming election. Capradio's Nicole Nixon reports.

A new UC Berkeley poll shows 42 percent of likely California voters don't think the presidential election will be conducted in a fair and open manner. And more than 80 percent are worried that many Americans will not accept the election outcome.
LEVINE: "That's concerning."
David Levine is an elections integrity fellow with the Alliance for Securing Democracy, a bipartisan, Washington DC-based initiative.
LEVINE: It's concerning because what we see is that voters aren't necessarily aware of all of the steps that election officials, their federal partners and others have done to make sure our elections are secure."
Levine says that includes things like paper ballots and post-election audits.
The poll also shows an impact of President Donald Trump's constant attacks on mail-in voting. Only 50% of Trump supporters say they'll vote by mail, compared to 90% of Joe Biden supporters.
SOC

A new mural was unveiled in Chicano Park earlier this week

It's a tribute to Anastasio Hernández Rojas — a San Diego resident who died after a confrontation with Border Patrol agents at the San Ysidro Port of Entry 10 years ago.

Hernandez Rojas was beaten and tased, but no Border Patrol agents were held responsible for his death.
The new mural was created by Victor Ochoa, one of the original artists at Chicano Park.

The completion of the two-sided mural was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. It depicts Hernandez Rojas on one side, and his widow and children on the other. It also includes the faces of several children who have died in ICE or CBP custody in recent years. To see a photo of the mural, go to KPBS.org ????

San Diego Port officials celebrated a 24 million dollar upgrade at the 10th Avenue Marine Terminal.

KPBS Reporter Erik Anderson says the port facility is now more flexible with receiving cargo.

Large blades destined to be put on electricity generating wind turbines lay side by side on the port terminal. They are stacked where two long warehouses used to sit. Port vice chair Michael Zuchett says the change allows the Port to accept specialty cargo.
“They’re 67 meters long, as you see. And there’s 45 of them and as we stack them end to end you see it’s two or three football fields worth of windmill blades. And this is something that would not have been possible before the modernization project.”
This port upgrade is also part of a larger plan to eliminate some of the pollution generated here. That includes replacing diesel powered vehicles with electric ones.

Coming up on the podcast…. the San Diego Italian Film Festival and the GI Film Festival kick off tomorrow. KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando has a preview of the busy fall film season. That’s next, after this.

COVID has forced film festivals to postpone and regroup online. For San Diego that means the busy fall film fest season has become even more crowded. KPBS film criti c Beth Accomando previews the GI Film Festival and San Diego Italian Film Festival that both kick off tomorrow.

FILMFESTS (ba) 5:09
The GI Film Festival and the San Diego Italian Film Festivals both have a strong perspective to share.
Keshia Javis-Jones is a former Marine who served on the advisory committee for the GI Film Festival. She says it’s important for people to know history.

KESHIA JAVIS-JONES: So a lot of history is yet still untold, and I believe that this is one of the ways that the GI Film Festival is making such a huge difference in telling those untold stories. As a combat veteran myself, I know that not many people other than my immediate family know any stories that I connected with personally or hardships that I had while I was in uniform.

“In Their Own Words” is one of six documentaries screening at this year’s virtual showcase. The film interviews some of the surviving Tuskegee Airmen who were the first African-American fighter pilots to serve in World War II says Denton Adkinson.

DENTON ADKINSON: This was the first time that African-Americans were given the opportunity to serve in officer roles. And the program was entirely from the pilots to the cooks, parachute riggers, nurses. Everyone was African-American. So it was it was sort of a test by the Air Force, the Army and the Air Force that ultimately succeeded. And from their service record, along with other units, the military was desegregated in 1948.

Adkinson co-directed the film with Bryan Williams.

BRYAN WILLIAMS: One of the things that we realize is that these were the precursors to Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr. I mean these men paved the way for them.

The film gathers remarkable personal stories and uncovers great archival materials. Williams says there were many anecdotes they wanted to include from Eleanor Roosevelt’s impromptu flight with a Black pilot to an attempt to integrate an all-white officers club at Freeman Army Airfield.

BRYAN WILLIAMS: After the Freeman Field mutiny, you had a camp where the Tuskegee Airmen soldiers were being kept under lock and key while German prisoners of war were walking around the camp free as a bird. That's crazy to think that happened in America.

Although they might not have seen themselves as activists, the Tuskegee Airmen helped change America. The San Diego Italian Film has made activism this year’s theme says artistic director Antonio Iannotta.

ANTONIO IANNOTTA: So we selected the movies, having in mind this general theme activism. This year is an election year. We really believe that everybody needs to do their part. And but our movies are not going to be just about politics or immigration, but also about art, also about disability, also about gender inequality, also about inclusion in all our movies.

The festival opens on Thursday with a film title It Will Be Chaos, which seems all too fitting in this year of a pandemic and social unrest. Executive director Diana Agostini points to another film with a title that challenges you, Normal.

DIANA AGOSTINI: What is normal anymore? But also it touches upon a concept of normality related to gender stereotypes in Italy. And we loved that movie. It's very experimental. It's a totally different experience also. So our audience really needs to go into it, having not just an open mind, but just thinking, OK, this is going to be something that I would not expect from a normal movie.

Challenging audiences to embrace the unconventional is key to the Italian Film Festival. The film Michelangleo Infinito, for example, shatters the traditional documentary form in order to create a dynamic portrait of the influential Renaissance artist.

ANTONIO IANNOTTA: Art has the power to transform our lives and as also the power to transform an artist's life. And we are going to see and experience that for Michelangelo for this movie… So what we're going to see with Michelangelo is it is a sort of documentary biopic reinvented because we're going to have two actors, one playing an old Michelangelo, remember, in his life and work.

In addition to the films, which are available Thursday through Saturday each week in October, there will also be a Zoom discussion each following Sunday morning. The early start is to allow filmmakers with a nine-hour time difference in Italy to join the conversation. The GI Film Festival also invites audiences to partake in post film discussions online.

Beth Accomando, KPBS News.

For more information check out Beth’s Cinema Junkie blog at KPBS-dot-org. The GI Film Festival San Diego is presented by KPBS. That’s it for the podcast today, thanks for listening!

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San Diego News Matters

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