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East County Valley Fire Expands, Destroys Homes

 September 7, 2020 at 5:22 AM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:04 Today's day two for firefighters battling the Valley fire it's in the rural valleys. South of Alpine fire officials have asked residents in the past of the fire to evacuate Cal fires. Kendall war teaser says the rough terrain makes groundwork dangerous. So they're using aircraft. Speaker 2: 00:22 We have aerial resources assigned to this incident from beginning to end. Uh, we have air tankers available to us. We have helicopters available to us, and that decision is made every night for the next day as to how much aircraft we're going to need assigned to the incident. And those folks will be out there working as long as they need to, to pick the sick up Speaker 1: 00:41 Board. Teaser says the fire burned more than 5,000 acres in less than 24 hours. That makes it the third largest active fire in California. And there's concern a Santa Ana wind event later this week will make things worse. An arraignment is expected this week for a black man accused of pepper spray in San Diego police at a protest late last month. Protestors have gathered outside the downtown jail every day for the past week or so. Calling for Denzel John's release, drawn is being held on a $750,000 bail. That's higher than a bail for kidnapping and almost as high as a bail for murder police spokesman. Lieutenant Sean Takiyuchi says the department asked a judge to double John's bail. Speaker 2: 01:29 He was a danger to officers if you would release, because he had shown that he has an ability to commit violence towards officers. Speaker 1: 01:38 Police alleged drawn, picked up a can of pepper spray that they had dropped and then sprayed them with it. They're charging him nine times. One for every officer they claim got sprayed protestors and drones. Lawyer claimed that because drawn is a high profile activist. The high bail is meant as a form of retaliation. A recent audit of the county's main transportation and planning agency alleges hundreds of thousands of dollars in improper payments to high level employees. The audit found that the San Diego association of governments or SANDAG made severance payments to three top former officials. Those officials were not entitled to get that money because they voluntarily quit SANDAG disputes. The findings Ray trainer is SANDAG chief planning and innovation officer. He says the payments were vetted by multiple outside law firms. Speaker 2: 02:36 I tend to continue to work with the independent auditor and to just ensure that they're going to be provided with all this information for a complete and a comprehensive analysis. Speaker 1: 02:46 The audit also found that SANDAG lacks control and oversight when it comes to bonuses, hiring, and promotions, the audit will get a full hearing at a SANDAG committee meeting. This I'm Annika culvert. It's Monday, September 7th and it's labor day. This is San Diego news matters from KPBS news, a daily morning news podcast powered by all of the reporters, editors and producers in the KPBS newsroom. Stay with me for more of the local news. You need to start your day. Speaker 1: 04:00 Coronavirus outbreaks are happening at businesses, restaurants and other establishments across the County. But health officials have refused to release specific names and addresses the County shared a bit more information on Friday, amid a lawsuit filed by voice of San Diego and KPBS. Our health reporter Terran mento has more. The list does it and include the specific locations of outbreaks, which is the information being sought by the lawsuit. But the document does include the city for each of the 239 listed community outbreaks information. The County previously did not provide, however, cities are not listed for a handful of outbreaks at private residences. The overwhelming majority of community outbreaks were reported in the city of San Diego. San Diego County says it will not release specific outbreak locations because it may hinder official's ability to get accurate information from businesses where cases occur or from people who test positive KPBS and voice of San Diego argued the information is the public's right to know and learning where outbreaks occur may shed more light and how the virus is spreading. That was KPBS health reporter, Teran mento. Speaker 1: 05:16 One in every five Californians knows someone who's died of COVID-19 for black and Latin X people. The ratio is even higher. That's according to a new state poll KQBD Nina Sparling reports. The poll from the California health care foundation shows that black and Latino Californians reported knowing someone who has died of COVID-19 at nearly three times, the rate of white Californians, low income people were more likely to know someone who has died to Andrea Appolonio is a fellow at the UC Riverside school of medicine. She says that isn't exactly surprising given. We know that black and Latin X populations, I have disproportionately being diagnosed with the virus. Disproportionately. The poll also looked at how Californians feel about shelter in place rules. 70% expresses support for stricter rules. If it slowed the spread of COVID-19 for the California report, I'm Nina Sparling, the U S food and drug administration supported convalescent plasma as a breakthrough treatment for COVID-19. But local scientists are saying there's just not enough data on plasma. To be able to say that here's KPBS is Shalina Chatwani that lack of data means it's still unclear. Whether convalescent plasma is an effective and safe treatment for all COVID-19 patients. Dr. Eric Topol of scripts research wrote an open letter online address to FDA commissioner, Steven Hahn asking him to correct. The notion that a preprint or unpublished analysis on plasma is a breakthrough as characterized by president Donald Trump. Speaker 2: 07:00 There was a preprint that had a cherry picking analysis that raised a hypothesis that there might be some benefit of complice and plasma, but to call it a breakthrough was preposterous Speaker 1: 07:14 Han spoke of plasmas early promising data at an August 23rd press conference, where the FDA discussed plasma's emergency use authorization. A week later, the national institutes of health released a statement saying there's not enough data to support plasma safety and efficacy for ologists. You may Attenda the Sanford Burnham previs medical discovery Institute says a vaccine. Shouldn't be fast-tracked either. Speaker 2: 07:38 You don't want that vaccine to fail because it was rushed that we didn't hold ourselves to the same standards that we sat in. The drug discovery. Speaker 1: 07:48 The FDA says it's still encouraging clinical trials on plasma. That was KPBS science and technology reporter Shalina Chet Lonnie. The COVID-19 pandemic is putting a lot of pressure on places. You might not imagine like tide pools, too many visitors at local tide pools, maybe putting them at risk KPBS environment. Reporter Eric Anderson has more. Speaker 2: 08:16 Cory Puccini stands just behind Dyke rock North of Scripps pier. He's pointing out at the areas tight. You look around, you'll see a lot of these small fish and invertebrates bikini is the California conservation manager for the environmental group, wild coast. He worries about the small pocket habitats scattered along San Diego's coast because they're getting a lot of attention from visitors. It would take a long time to recover. They would eventually if left alone repopulate, but it's going to take a long time. On the decades. Scale bikini says tide pools can be found at swamis and Sanitas point Loma and Carlsbad among other places. He wants people to enjoy Speaker 3: 08:56 The near shore habitat, but bikini doesn't want to see them loved to death. Eric Anderson KPBS news, Speaker 1: 09:06 The Trump administration moved up the deadline for census counting in San Diego and nationwide. Now local organizations are racing the clock to get everyone counted and accurately. So the thing is this year's count is important to Latin X political power in local agricultural communities. As part of our every 32nd series in collaboration with the world. KPBS is max Revlon Adler reports. Speaker 3: 09:33 Since this organizers have been worried about a possible undercount in Latino communities for years, those worries intensified when the Trump administration announced that in-person counting in San Diego will end September 18th weeks before it was supposed to the census determines how much money and how much political representation these communities will have for a decade. Organizers like Paolo, [inaudible] say a Latino getting counted in 2020 can bring about even more change than casting a single vote. For instance, this year's cares. Act the pandemic really funding bill was allocated based in part on the 2010 census. Speaker 4: 10:08 I know we talk about time. We tell them, you count yourself this year. You're making sure you count for the next 10 years. You don't count yourself this year. You basically are not receiving or don't exist for the next 10 years. And guess what? We're going to lose $2,000 each year for each person that doesn't count for the next 10 years Speaker 3: 10:32 [inaudible] works for the Vista community clinic. She organizes agricultural workers from Mexico and central America who worked the avocado fields. Many of these workers can't vote. Their children. Many of whom are us. Citizens are still too young to vote. So to participate politically in Alaska wants them to get counted. That's not always easy, says he less Gus, especially when it comes to undocumented and mixed status family, Speaker 4: 10:55 Many of them still have said that other people have expressed a distress. Are they really the employees? Or are they faking to be the employees in order to, to get them? Because for years we've been saying, don't open the door to, uh, ice officials. This is your right, right. And you know, now we're saying open the door Speaker 3: 11:16 That transition takes trust between census organizers and the community, but other issues like wildfires and pandemic relief are taking priority on a recent sweltering day in San Marcos, wildfires threatened rural communities across the state. Our cellar Nunez Alvarez, a community organizer planned on leading a group of volunteers to pass out census literature outside of a low income housing development. But the volunteers are redirected. A wildfire had just broken out in a farm worker community. Speaker 4: 11:47 A lot of adults many have very limited formal education. They've had to work Speaker 3: 11:54 Their entire lives, but care about their community. Nunez Alvarez grew up here. She understands the importance of messaging coming from members of the community. These leaders then live in apartment complexes, like the ones here around us. So they're members of that community. They speak the language of that community. They look like the community that we're trying to reach. She says that will many community members can't vote. That doesn't mean they don't have a role to play in getting resources to their community. These are communities that have them politically disengaged are disenfranchised and under counted, you know, in the census, Miguel Hernandez is an organizer with [inaudible], which is helping spearhead census efforts in the Imperial Valley. He said that going from fuel is not always an option for census organizing. You know, that particular thing might work for the other communities, you know, for, for Imperial County others, uh, you know, people that first do not have access to the internet, or they're not have the literacy on how to operate a computer. Speaker 3: 12:56 He's worried that not having that face to face interaction during the pandemic has set them back that having a direct conversation and you know, probably saving, uh, a coffee or, you know, and that's going to keep us bundles or something like that with our neighbors. That's the way what community wants to be approached. That's the way of community builds confidence to the information you've you given them. Time is running out for Latino communities, undocumented immigrants and citizens who have just a few more days to make themselves count and a decade to live through the results Speaker 1: 13:27 That was KPBS is max Revlon, Adler. And coming up on the podcast, the CZ you lightening complex fire in San Mateo and Santa Cruz has scorched through the big basin state park, but not all is lost. That's up next. After this break, one of the fires that's been burning in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties has scorched California's first state park, big basin, nearly all of the parks, historic buildings have been lost, but the good news is that many of its enormous old growth redwoods are expected to survive as they have for centuries. Sasha, Coca presented this collection of stories and memories about the park for the California report. Those giant trees have inspired lots of folks in different ways. Listener Tom Taylor composed this piece of music called big basin breakdown as an ode to the park Speaker 3: 14:33 Shortly after high school, my friends and I went camping to big basin, had a wonderful night. Unfortunately, the next day I went home and my mom handed me my draft notice. So surprise. I had to spend a little time in the army before going to college, but I always had such a fondness for big basin. What a beautiful Tom Speaker 5: 14:52 Says, Speaker 6: 14:53 Tribute to the giant trees really help launch his career and make it Speaker 5: 14:57 In the musician he is today. It did take me to Europe and beyond. I got to meet the president of Bavaria, the mayor of Munich, all sorts of dignitaries, just because of a wild night with some of my high school friends back in 1972 Speaker 6: 15:10 Tom's piece is being performed here by musicians from San Jose state, with the Kronos quartet and David Grisman on mandolin. We're going to play it for you now while other listeners share their memories of big basin. Hi, my name is Arianne Lozano. I was born in the Philippines and moved to the U S at 13 and in seventh grade, one of my teachers organized this camping trip for us. I just remember thinking to myself, getting to big basin. Wow. I have never seen such chai GaN take trees. I mean, I was just in awe and stunned by how beautiful the redwoods were. My name is Kim Baker and I worked at big basin, Redwood state park as a park ranger in the early two thousands. The park has 17 or so residences where staff live year round. It's kind of a unique experience because you really form a close bond with your neighbors. Speaker 6: 16:14 We lived in the sky meadow neighborhood. Unfortunately it was destroyed in the fire. It was a special place to live, especially with children. It was just a great place for the kids to be able to play. They could run freely, back and forth to different houses. Everybody celebrated birthdays together. We really felt like it wasn't just us. We were part of many generations of park families that had grown up in that neighborhood and a long tradition. I think a lot of people are reaching out to each other right now to console each other over philosophy of that special part of the park. Hi, this is Jessica from Pleasanton, big basin. It's just so near and dear to our family's hearts, being Latinos and first generation Americans. We really feel that it's important to expose our boys of color, to nature and big base, and really played a key role in that. Speaker 6: 17:10 This was really our way of breaking social barriers and constructs for them growing up in the Bay area. Our mother made it a point to take us on hikes, which is really remarkable being that it was something she really didn't do growing up in an impoverished Nicaragua and big basin has really helped us do that and teach our boys to respect nature, which we really hope in turn. They can apply that to their fellow human. And we're just so heartbroken. What's happened to big basin due to the fires, but we also realize that this is just part of nature and it'll survive this disaster as done for tens of thousands of years. So I just want to say thank you. And I can't wait to go back. Speaker 1: 18:06 That was Sasha Coca from our reporting partners with the California report. That's it for the podcast today. Thanks for listening.

Firefighters are battling a fast-moving brush fire that broke out Saturday when it burned about 500 acres in a single hour in the Japatul Valley area near Alpine. Also, a protester is charged with 19 felony counts after allegedly spraying officers with pepper spray during a protest on Aug. 28. Police say Denzel Draughn is a flight risk, but his lawyer and fellow protesters saybail of 3 quarter million dollars is meant as a form of retaliation. Plus, a recent audit of SANDAG alleges hundreds of thousands of dollars in improper payments to high-level employees.