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1,700 flood victims still in hotels

 May 24, 2024 at 5:00 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Debbie Cruz….it’s Friday, May 24th.>>>>

It’s been four months since the January floods and nearly 1,700 people are still living in hotels.More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….


The county is asking state and federal health officials to investigate health issues linked to cross-border sewage pollution.

Some stomach illnesses and related emergency room visits are tracked by the county.

But Imperial Beach Mayor Paloma Aguirre [a-ghee-re] says that doesn’t capture everything.

SEWAGE 2A [18s]

We know that people are becoming ill by bacteria and pathogens that are not on those lists, one. Two, not everybody can afford health coverage. Three, not everybody feels that their symptoms are serious enough to merit becoming  hospitalized or going to the emergency room.

Multiple beach closures have been issued heading into Memorial Day weekend.

They include beaches in Imperial Beach, Coronado and the Silver Strand.


The San Diego Unified School District is in the process of investigating its own Superintendent.

Board Trustees have hired a Los Angeles law firm to investigate what the contract calls a “sensitive internal” issue.

KPBS News has confirmed that Dr. Lamont Jackson is the subject of the investigation, at a cost to taxpayers of 100-thousand dollars.

Jackson was hired as permanent superintendent in 2022 …after serving a year as interim superintendent.


More C-H-P officers will be on the roadways over the holiday weekend.

The maximum enforcement period will begin this evening (Friday) and continue through Monday.

Last year, the C-H-P says it recorded more than 11-hundred arrests statewide for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol during the Memorial Day enforcement period.

If you’ve been drinking, arrange for a sober driver… or use ride sharing services, taxis or public transportation.


From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now.Stay with me for more of the local news you need.




It’s been four months since the January flooding. Nearly 1700 people are still in San Diego County’s temporary lodging program. Reporter Melissa Mae spoke to one person who says he lost everything he owned in the flood.

FLOODFOLO 1 (mm)  1:13  soq

The Best Western in National City is one of  65 hotels included in the County’s Emergency Temporary Lodging. The program has been housing January flood victims since February 12th. Including former Mountain View Resident Michael Rios, who has lived in four different hotel rooms in the last four months. He says it’s taken a toll. “The stress of just not knowing where you're going to stay the next week or the next night.” Rios is one of 530 households still in the hotels. But the Temporary Lodging program is set to end on June 21st. “My mental health in the beginning was really bad. It's improved, but it's going back to the beginning again.” Rios says his renters insurance claim was denied and his apartment has still not been repaired. The owner of the property, J & J National LLC told KPBS they plan to renovate and allow previous tenants to move back in, but they do not have a timeline. Rios says he’s been searching for rooms to rent but doesn’t have a place to go yet. He says the housing commission told him the waitlist for a section 8 housing voucher is 12 to 15 years. Melissa Mae KPBS News.


San Diego County is working on a plan to expand psychiatric care services. Reporter Katie Anastas (a-nass-tis) says county leaders are calling the need “urgent.”


The county is negotiating with U-C San Diego Health to add up to 45 new psychiatric care beds at its East Campus Medical Center. County Supervisor Monica Montgomery Steppe says the state needs an additional 1,900 acute care beds. Dr. Gaurav Mishra is a child and adolescent psychiatrist at San Ysidro Health. He says the area needs additional services. This initiative is crucial for our South Bay, Southeast and East County communities which are disproportionately underserved. On Tuesday, the board voted unanimously in favor of starting negotiations with UC San Diego Health. They directed the interim chief administrative officer to give an update within four months. Katie Anastas, KPBS News.


Nearly 80 years ago, a Black Coronado resident drowned in the San Diego bay. He just became the third Californian on the national registry of racial terror lynchings. Reporter Katie Hyson looked into his death, and how the truth was buried.

ALTON FT trt 4:55 SOQ (kh/mb)

Around 8 p.m. on Saturday, April 27,1946, Alton Collier boarded the Coronado ferry to San Diego. He never reached the other side. His body washed up on the Coronado shore a week later. What happened to Collier depended on which newspaper you read. White-run papers didn’t use the word “man” in their headlines about Collier, but “Negro,” “suspect,” and “knife assailant.” In their accounts, Collier, 26, got in a heated argument with two 19-year-old Navy men, Freddie Johnson and Otis Gilbert. Then Collier drew a knife and slashed Johnson’s arm. So Gilbert confronted Collier with boat hooks. And Collier leaped over the railing into the bay. Ferry crew dropped a life raft. Then kept going. Even though Collier screamed for help. After he hit the water. This detail bothered Coronado historian Kevin Ashley. You know, why would a guy jump into the water and drown if he knew how to swim? If he didn't know how to swim, why would you jump in the water? Something didn't add up about it. So Ashley searched Black-run newspapers and found a very different headline. Drowned Man Victim of Gang-Up Attack By White Navy Men. In this account, witnesses saw sailors calling Collier the n-word, crowding him toward the railing, striking him with a boat hook, and Collier falling overboard. The white press basically fed what I believe was a prevailing narrative of African-American men as aggressive. And the Black press portrayed him as a victim. In the months leading up to Collier’s death, race relations were boiling in San Diego. African Americans were picketing businesses that wouldn’t hire them. So Collier’s story didn’t surprise Ashley. He believes the ferry’s Navy passengers closed rank. They basically agreed what was the story . . . One of the guys had a so-called “slash” – which, it first was portrayed in the press as “he lost so much blood,” and later on it was just sort of a scratch. The coroner declared Collier’s death a suicide. Collier’s wife, Georgia, sued the ferry company.  Imagine this 24-year-old African-American woman with a primary school education taking on the Spreckels Company. Her deposition paints a different picture of Collier. A cement worker and union man at the Hotel del Coronado. He never drank. Had asthma, wore glasses. And, importantly: He didn't own a knife. Georgia Collier told the lawyer, quote: He had no temper whatsoever. That Saturday, he got off work before noon. Helped her with the dishes and cooking. Planted flowers. Then boarded the ferry to pick up tailored trousers for himself and a coat for Georgia at a downtown department store. They were supposed to go dancing that night. But he never came back. His glasses were later found on the ferry deck, broken. Georgia insisted he was killed. Her lawyer was also Chairman of the Democratic Party in LA County. Ashley says his power was susceptible to influence. Spreckels was trying to sell the ferry.  The case was dismissed. Georgia Collier never saw a dime. A week later, the ferry company sold for 5 point 5 million dollars. The sailors were never charged. Ashley’s research prompted the Equal Justice Initiative to declare Collier’s death a lynching. SDSU anthropology professor Seth Mallios says San Diego could lead a national reckoning with the broader definition of lynchings. You immediately think of these images from the deep south, and you think of hangings. Lynching is about people taking the law into their own hands . . . and terrorizing an individual. Yvette Porter Moore is a San Diego genealogist. She wants accountability. I would like to see the county of San Diego change his death certificate. I would like to see some type of recognition with the courts. On the anniversary of Collier’s death last year, around 8 p.m., Moore and Ashley boarded the Coronado ferry. I just wanted somehow to say, like, I know what happened to you. Maybe nobody else knows, but I know. Collier didn’t get to see the flowers he planted that day bloom. On the waves he was left to drown in, Moore and Ashley sprinkled fresh petals. Say his name, Alton Collier. A public ceremony will be held this summer. Katie Hyson, KPBS News##########

Coming up.... Recess as a right and more. Just after the break.




A big shift is coming to California schools in the fall: recess as a right, not a privilege. Changes to state law mean all elementary school students should be getting more time to play every day.

But as Kori Suzuki reports, many San Diego schools still aren’t ready to talk about how they’ll meet those new requirements.


Starting in the fall, all elementary schools in California will be required to provide 30 minutes of recess every day. Teachers and administrators also can't take it away as punishment. That’s because of a new state law. That’s meant to ensure students are getting to play in a free, unstructured way. Something that a growing body of research argues is really important for young kids. But even though those changes are set to kick in in just a few months, a lot of San Diego’s biggest school districts still aren’t ready to share how they plan to make sure they're  following the law. Last month, KPBS reached out to the five largest elementary school districts in the county. Three of them declined requests for interviews and didn’t answer detailed questions. But one district did agree to talk. We just have been following and reviewing it to make sure our policies reflect what it says. Christine Olmstead is the assistant superintendent at Vista Unified. She says their district largely already meets those requirements. And that they’re working directly with all of their principals to make sure everyone understands that some district policies are now also state law. We felt validated that what we've been doing is actually what the state is now requiring. Kori Suzuki, KPBS News.

########## (longer music break)

A play about liberation, black culture and queer identity is coming to the Old Globe this weekend.

Reporter Jacob Aere says “Fat Ham” is an award-winning story that reimagines Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

FATHAM (4:06)  SOQ

**NATS OF play rehearsal ** For the first time ever at The Old Globe … the Broadway production of Fat Ham is taking the stage. *Nat pop* Sideeq (SUH-deek) Heard is director of the show. “The play is set in North Carolina, so it's set in the south. And so what we see are the traditions and customs similar to being in a black church, right? We have a big family prayer that we all can recognize.” He says the 2022 Pulitzer-winning, Tony-nominated play is a fresh and funny take on Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Fat Ham was written by James Ijames (EYMS). “So it's still a life and death show, but when you do it at a barbeque and add in some karaoke, it becomes a really good time. But it's definitely more comedy than drama” The story is set at a Southern family cookout … and includes ghosts … and demands of revenge for murder. *nat pop** Felicia Boswell plays “Tedra” (TEE-dra) in the show. “She's a firecracker. She has a lot of heart, she has a lot of spirit. She's fun, she's going to be comic relief for you. She's crazy about the men in her life, her baby, her husband. ” Tian (TEE-in) Richards plays Larry … a marine who’s returning home … and slowly changing his old beliefs. “You get a full arc with Larry. He comes in one way and ends totally different – it's a full 180. Just to get to play that full range and gamut is any actor's dream. And it's a true gift from the writer James Ijames to just be able to come in with how people perceive a man to be and the explore all the facets of what a man can be.” Heard says that the story focuses on black and queer identity … something not usually shown on a stage this big. “We have Juicy who's coming into his queerness, Opal who's coming into their queerness, Larry who's discovering their queerness. So we have these characters who are trying to figure out their identity. And along that journey we end up pulling in an audience.” Richards says Larry is the silent type who's battling with the psychological effects of warfare. He says his character shows that black queerness … and queerness in general … can look many ways. “Larry does embody these deep elements of the wounded masculine, and performative masculinity. And then we get to see that cocoon crack and we get to see this beautiful unfolding of what he becomes by the end.” Boswell is originally from Alabama. She says the story is honest and shows real people from the South. The actress drew inspiration for her role from the women and family who raised her. “We don't hear stories written about women like this, or families like this – and this is real life! I grew up going to my grandmother's house with my family, everybody was playing cards. The drinkers were drinking, the smokers were smoking. And I grew up around that sort of energy and that camaraderie.” The play is full of joy … and Heard says it's a great conversation starter. For him, Fat Ham has an even deeper meaning. “I love this play. Because this play actually helped to liberate me in my queer journey and it helped me usher into this field of directing as well. It really feels amazing being here in San Diego, it's so beautiful. And I really hope the play can find a community of people who are searching and in need of that liberation.” The story's message is about having a true sense of freedom, so Heard says it's a show for people from all walks of life. *nat pop* It explores the conflict between what you owe your family and what you owe yourself. “Whether it's the tidbits of hamlet that James has written into the script; whether it's just the narrative of this black family in the south struggling to figure out how to work together, love each other, heal from their trauma; or whether it's just you just want to come to the theater and party and have a good time, we have all of those elements. Performances run May 25 to June 23 with the official opening night on May 30 at The Old Globe. Jacob Aere, KPBS News.


That’s it for the podcast today. This podcast is produced by Emilyn Mohebbi and edited by Brooke Ruth. As always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. We’ll be back in your feed on Tuesday because of the Memorial Day holiday. I’m Debbie Cruz. Thanks for listening and have a great long weekend.

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It’s been four months since the January flooding. Nearly 1,700 people are still in San Diego County’s temporary lodging program. Then, a Black Coronado resident just became the third Californian on the national registry of racial terror lynchings. Plus, a big shift is coming to California schools in the fall: recess as a right, not a privilege.