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New Heat Wave Rips Across The State

 September 4, 2020 at 4:40 AM PDT

Another heatwave is in stock for this weekend.. And a flex alert has been issued. A flex alert is a call from power grid operators for people to conserve energy during peak usage hours. Officials who operate our state's powergrid aren't forecasting any rolling blackouts but that could change at a moment's notice. Mark Rothleder with California’s Independent System Operator says the entire west coast is competing for energy supplies right now. He says part of the problem in California is when the sun goes down, solar power goes away, but energy use is still up. We need to be cognizant of the needs of the system not just a peak hour and we need to make sure there is enough capacity and capability to meet the demand in all hours (:13) The statewide flex alert is in effect from Saturday to Monday from 3pm to 9pm each day. Officials say air conditioners are the biggest concern. Leaders of San Diego Unified School District joined some of the region's Congressional members thursday to urge federal approval of the HEROES Act. The stimulus bill includes funding for schools, which have faced unforeseen costs because of COVID-19. San Diego Unified Superintendent Cindy Martin says reopening during the pandemic requires funds for personal protective equipment and modifications of learning spaces. "And we have to modify our school buildings including our classrooms, our gymnasiums, our auditoriums, our cafeterias and our school busses so that we can meet the social distancing guidelines and recommendations." Congress is at an impasse over the next stimulus package. They're scheduled to return to work next week. The community fridge that recently popped up in north park, is now gone. We reported on it early this week... the fridge was set up by some young people, who got the support of the owner of "hangers cleaners" to put it next to his business... and he agreed to supply power to the fridge. But the owner, Gordon Shaw, now says his landlord told him the fridge had to go or he'd be evicted. We're told the young people behind the project are now looking for someplace else to host the fridge. I’m Anica Colbert. Happy Weekend Eve, it’s Friday, September 4th. You’re listening to San Diego News Matters from KPBS News...a daily morning news podcast powered by everyone in the KPBS Newsroom. Stay with me for more of the local news you need to start your day. California lawmakers approved a small slate of police reform bills before the legislative session ended Monday. But many others were left on the table. CapRadio's Nicole Nixon looks into what happened to a few of the most high-profile bills. Senate Bill 731 would have created a process to decertify police convicted of certain crimes or charged with misconduct. Most other states have a law like that on the books — it's supposed to keep so-called "bad apple" cops moving from department to department. But in the chaos of the Legislature's final night of session earlier this week, it was never brought to the Assembly floor for debate. Speaker Anthony Rendon told Politico that the bill didn't have the votes. But its author, Sen. Steven Bradford says that's not completely true. BRADFORD: We had our votes, but the Speaker wouldn't know that unless he allowed us to have our day in the sun. We had identified 31 votes, with 14 leaning "aye." <<:10>> The Gardena Democrat believes the bill was a casualty of gamesmanship between the Assembly and the Senate at the end of the session. Other bills that stalled out include measures that would have opened up access to police personnel records and restrict the use of tear gas and rubber bullets during protests. Another bill, nicknamed the "George Floyd law" would have required officers to intervene if they saw a colleague using excessive force — but it failed to advance weeks ago. Bradford says police unions opposed nearly all of those. BRADFORD: They said 'We couldn't do our traditional lobbying of going in the building, but they lit phones up. They lit members' phones up. That's all I heard this past week." <<:09>> In an email after the session, the president of one of California's most powerful police unions said while the group supports reforming certification laws, Bradford's bill was too far-reaching. But Bradford says he plans to reintroduce the measure next year. CapRAdio’s Nicole Nixon. A new state law and a federal order will help protect tenants from eviction during the next few months of the COVID-19 pandemic. KPBS reporter Max Rivlin-Nadler tells us how these two work together, and why they won't stop all evictions. Between the new legislation and the federal order, any tenant in California who can't pay rent because of the financial or health impacts of the pandemic will be protected from evictions until at least January 31st. But navigating the protections, which include paying a minimum amount and filing signed declarations with your landlord, will still be a lot of work for renters, says Greg Knoll of the Legal Aid Society of San Diego. Greg Knoll / Legal Aid Society of San Diego I fear, for people who are going to try this on their own. And say oh well, I can do this. The San Diego County Sheriff's Department has carried out 66 evictions during the pandemic. 43 of those were in just the past month. Prior to the pandemic, the Sheriff's department says it was serving over 400 evictions per month. Max Rivlin-NadlEr, KPBS News Our partners at inewsource are reporting that the top executive at the Harrah's casino in Valley Center says he was so against reopening during the pandemic that he quit. In a lawsuit filed this week against his former employer, Darrell Pilant (pell-AHNT) says he felt compelled to resign when management ignored his fears that people would be needlessly exposed to COVID-19. No one for the casino would comment. So far, the county says two-hundred-and-seventeen residents who got COVID-19 reported visiting a casino in days prior, though that doesn't mean they got the virus there. For more on this story, go to inewsource dot org. Around 1.6 million Americans are impacted by Type 1 Diabetes. KPBS science and technology reporter Shalina Chatlani says Salk scientists have uncovered a novel strategy for treating patients with this disease, and say so far the results are promising. ----- Type 1 diabetes typically occurs in adolescents, and it's a condition where the pancreas doesn't produce enough of a hormone called insulin. As a result, too much sugar ends up in the blood. Salk endocrinologist Ronald Evans says there are already a number of effective therapies for Type 1 diabetes, but sometimes the body can reject them, or they have to be partnered with drugs. So he and his team came up with a new approach: injectable human cells that can produce insulin. And they have a type of shield so the body wont reject them. EVANS: The cell begin to resemble a functioning human cell and we then have a way to turn those cells on and become active, and when we do that we find these cells are able to rescue diabetes in diabetic mice. Evans said the human cells were not only effective in mice, they also weren't rejected by their bodies. He says that's promising and shows the cells would likely work well in human clinical trials. Shalina Chatlani, KPBS news. For schools in southern San Diego County hit hardest by the pandemic, a public health crisis has collided with academic disparities. KPBS Education Reporter Joe Hong spoke to teachers, administrators and medical experts about how students who most urgently need in-person learning could be the last to return to the classroom. Natalie La Rosa is a teacher at Smythe Elementary in San Ysidro. She's currently juggling raising two children while being a full-time teacher and the president of the San Ysidro School District's teachers union. It's very stressful… Distance learning has been a struggle for La Rosa. She said she's always struggled with technology, and she said she spends nearly as much time preparing lessons as she does teaching. Although her life would be much easier if she and her kids could go back to the classroom, she says it's not worth the safety risk of going back to school while COVID-19 case numbers are still high in San Ysidro. Some of my students' parents told me they've had it. A lot of people have told me some people close to them have died from it. People in their 40s and their 60s. Once you know somebody, it's more real to you. As of September 2nd, the zip code where she teaches has had over 48-hundred cases of Covid. That's more than ten times the number of cases in parts of coastal North County. Other zip codes in South County also have had thousands of cases. But while a return to school would be more dangerous for families in these zip codes compared to elsewhere in the county, their children are the most likely to need in-person instruction. They're more likely to be English Learners and come from low-income families. Districts in southern parts of the county also serve a disproportionate number of students experiencing homelessness. Everyone recognizes that there are certain zip codes where people reside where the disease is a lot more prevalent. Howard Taras is a professor of pediatrics at UC San Diego and the consulting pediatrician for San Diego Unified School District. San Diego Unified, with more than 125,000 students, is the county's largest district and spans zip codes with both some of the highest and lowest case numbers. But Taras said the disparities in case numbers by zip code might not show the full picture. Many of the people that come from those zip codes go to school outside of those zip codes. So the importance of the zip code begins to become a little more muddled when it comes to how schools need to respond. But the public health disparities colliding with pre-existing academic disparities shows an on-going crisis, says Angelica Jongco. She's an attorney focusing on educational equity at the civil rights law firm Public Advocates. Long before this pandemic, we already knew that the zip code you lived in, dictated the quality of education you received. While every child was guaranteed the right to attend a public school, the quality of education that every kid was getting wasn't the same even before covid 19 arrived. Consider Scripps Elementary in the northern part of the city. It is in a zip code with among the lowest covid case numbers in the county and just 15% of its students qualify for free or reduced-price meals. Compare that to Porter Elementary in Southeast San Diego, which is in a zip code with among the highest infection rates and 95% of its students are eligible for free or reduced price meals. Taras says there is a possible scenario where Porter has to shut down due to high case numbers while Scripps stays open. I think those conversations do come up and its a big worry for everybody. Schools will hopefully not be the place where the disease will be transmitted. Chula Vista Elementary is another district with learning disparities AND a disproportionately high number of covid cases. Educators there tried over the summer to mitigate the disparities by offering a two-week virtual summer school session to vulnerable student groups. Matthew Tessier is an assistant superintendent in the district. We were able to engage the community and have cohorts of children working with teachers in a virtual setting to help mitigate the loss and accelerate the learning. Experts like Jongco say that the state needs to better support districts like those in the southern parts of San Diego County to battle both the public health and educational inequities. Closing the digital divide by providing devices and wifi to all students is just one example. A crisis doesn't have to be our fate. What I do want to say is that this pandemic gives us an opportunity to actually upgrade our educational system to meet 21st century needs. Joe Hong KPBS News. That was KPBS Education Reporter, Joe Hong. Coming up on the podcast…. “We have a new poll that shows that it’s close, almost dead even. She has a small lead of about 3 percent.” San Diego’s Mayoral Race is getting tight--real tight. We have a roundtable discussion on the latest news on the race between candidates Todd Gloria and Barbra Bry. That’s up next, after this break. San Diego’s Mayoral race is down to two democrats, State Assemblymember Todd Gloria, and City Councilmember Barbra Bry. There hasn’t been much news lately about the race.....until a recent poll showed Gloria was not the heavy favorite he appeared to be after the primary. San Diego Union Tribune’s David Garrick covers city hall affairs, and he sat down with KPBS Roundtable Host Mark Sauer to talk about the latest on the city mayoral race. Here’s that interview…… That was David Garrick of the San Diego Union Tribune, speaking with KPBS Roundtable Host Mark Sauer. To hear the full roundtable, you can catch it today at noon-30 on KPBS Radio, or listen to the Roundtable Podcast. That’s it for the podcast today. Thanks for listening, and have a great weekend.

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With another heat wave hitting our state this Labor Day weekend, a Flex Alert is being issued to combat expected high levels of energy use. Also, any tenant in California who can’t pay rent because of the financial or health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic will be protected from evictions until at least January 31st. But tenants are still vulnerable. And, leaders of San Diego Unified School District joined some of the region’s congressional delegation Thursday to urge federal approval of the HEROES Act. The stimulus package includes needed funding for schools.