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California Going Gas-Free

 September 24, 2020 at 2:00 AM PDT

A Kentucky grand jury brought no charges against Louisville police for the killing of Breonna Taylor during a drug raid gone wrong. Prosecutors said Wednesday that two officers who fired their weapons at the Black woman were justified in using force to protect themselves after they were shot at. The only charges brought by the grand jury were three counts of wanton endangerment against fired Officer Brett Hankison for shooting into Taylor’s neighbors’ homes during the raid back in March. Protesters across the country took to the streets after the announcement was made. Here in San Diego, protests were planned downtown, organizers asking people to show up to continue demanding justice for Taylor and other Black people killed by police in recent months. *** California is aiming to phase out gas-powered vehicles in an effort to cut carbon emissions and slow climate change. Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order Wednesday that would ban sales of new cars with combustible engines by 2035. Of all the simultaneous crises that we face as a state, I would argue as a nation — and for that matter, from a global perspective — none is more impactful, none if more forceful than the issue of the climate crisis. That's exactly what we're advancing here today, is a strategy to address that crisis head-on." The order would still allow Californians to own and buy *used* gas-fueled cars after the phase-out. *** 278 more people tested positive for coronavirus in San Diego County — that pushes the region's tally past 45,400. And another two people died for a total of 767. If it seems like this rising death toll, locally AND nationally, is becoming normalized, the county's Dr. Eric McDonald put it into perspective. COVID-19 is now the sixth-leading cause of death in San Diego county, and McDonald expects that trend to continue. That's really quite concerning, it's actually rapidly rising on accidents and I would not be surprised if it comes into the top four by the end of the year." ** More people are doing drugs during the pandemic. That’s according to a study released yesterday. It was co-authored by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and San Diego-based Millennium Health. They found that drug test positivity rates for cocaine, fentanyl, heroin and methamphetamine have increased nationwide during the COVID-19 pandemic *** From KPBS, I’m Kinsee Morlan...stil filling in for Anica Colbert for the next few days. It’s Thursday, Sept. 24…. and you’re listening to San Diego News Matters, our daily news podcast powered by everyone in the KPBS Newsroom. Do not go anywhere...seriously….Stay with me for more of the local news you need. On Wednesday, the mayor's office announced it's opening up an auction for utilities to bid for a multi-decade energy franchise agreement with the city of San Diego. Deputy Chief Operating Officer Erik Caldwell says this new deal offers more oversight over the winning utility. The franchise agreement that's proposed as infinitely more enforcement capabilities than the existing franchise agreement. The old franchise agreement did not have an audit provision, we now have one proposed every 2 years. Still, some community members say those audits will not have any teeth. KPBS science and technology reporter Shalina Chatlani has more. On two separate occasions, city councilmembers could not agree on how to set the terms of the franchise deal. But Mayor Kevin Faulconer said he would go ahead. In a press release, the city is asking a utility to minimally bid $80 million dollars for this multi-billion dollar contract. That's an increase from the previous number, but the agreement doesn't include some provisions councilmembers and advocates asked for… like the option for the city to branch off from a poorly performing utility and form city-owned power, said Matthew Vasilakas of the Climate Action Campaign. VASILAKAS: The mayor's heading out of office and he's crafted a sweetheart deal for his friends at SDG&E, a deal that puts SDG&E interests ahead of taxpayers. Though city leaders say the process was fair and San Diego always has the right to sue a utility and take over its infrastructure. Still, Climate activists and some community members will try to block any agreement with a bidding utility when it comes up for a vote at city council. *** The Padres development team that put together Petco Park has been chosen to revitalize Tailgate Park. The construction would cover a four block area in San Diego's East Village. Simon Andrews is the Vice President of the East Village Association. He says the new development is expected to bolster the economy there. But he is also concerned about the many homeless people who use resources in the surrounding area. "I'm hoping that some of the initiatives that are happening now, currently, within the county and the city to house homeless will really address a lot of that. KPBS reporter Jacob Aere has more. _____________________________________________________________________ The Padres plan is to transform a parking lot into a destination with housing, public plazas, and both retail and office space. Erik Gruepner is the Padres President of Business Operations, he says the new space will also include green rooftops, additional parking, and capacity for Padres watch parties and live performances. Erik Greupner| Padres President of Business Operations 11:51 - 12:01 "As part of our overall vision for the site, we're actually going to add 600 parking spaces beyond the 1000 that are here right now, in a new state-of-the-art parking structure." The next step is to take the Selection Committee's recommendation to the City Council. If approved, a final agreement with the Padres development team is expected to happen by mid-2021. The top Navy SEAL is moving on. KPBS military Reporter Steve Walsh says Rear Admiral Collin Green seems to have survived his run-in with President Trump last year. Last fall, many thought Green's career might be over when he tried to remove Edward Gallagher from the Navy SEALs. Gallagher was convicted of a single count during his war crimes trial. Navy Secretary Richard Spencer actually resigned after President Trump ordered him to stop the process. David Maxwell is a former special forces colonel. "If Admiral Green had resigned, or been forced to resign. I think it would have sent a wrong message to the force and it might not have recovered from that." Instead, Green is moving on to become chief of staff for US Special Operations Command. In his final email to the SEALs- obtained by KPBS - Green says he is "Proud of how our team has overcome adversity and faced challenges that we could not anticipate.' Green is replaced by Rear Adml H.W. Howard III as head of Naval Special Warfare. *** The University of California and a San Diego doctor are going to court over a $10 million research donation. Our partner inewsource investigated the doctor's activities earlier this year. Now inewsource reporter Jill Castellano has the latest. CASTELLANO: Last week, the U-C system sued Dr. Kevin Murphy, a former vice chair at U-C San Diego, claiming he misspent the $10 million to enrich himself and his private businesses. CASTELLANO: The next day, Murphy sued the U-C system, claiming administrators blocked him from doing research and retaliated against him when he filed complaints. CASTELLANO: Murphy was supposed to use the money to study an experimental brain treatment he developed. Almost $7 million has been spent and no research has been performed. For more on Dr. Murphy and the research money, go to inewsource dot org. *** After many San Diego County farmers were initially left out of federal COVID-19 relief programs, that's now changing. In another story from our partners at Inewsource…. reporter Camille von Kaenel (cah-MEE von kah-NELL) explains. VON KAENEL: Flowers and nursery plants are the region's most valuable crops. But when the government offered aid earlier this year to farmers for coronavirus-related losses, these kinds of crops weren't covered. Now they are. Starting this week, growers of flowers and specialty fruit can apply to get some of the 14 billion dollars in new federal funds. Michael Mellano heads a flower company with fields near Camp Pendleton that saw sales plummet this year. He worries he may not recapture the part of his business that has moved abroad. MELLANO: Certainly it's going to significantly change and really the coming months will dictate our ability to remain open. The federal aid will help, and he's applying for it. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- And those last two stories are from inewsource.. an independently funded nonprofit partner of KPBS. *** An urban farm in City Heights is becoming an anchor for the community amid the pandemic, letting people pay what they can for fresh food. In this audio postcard from our Speak City Heights Partner, Media Arts Center San Diego, A La Vuelta Farm co-founder Adriana Barraza, tells us more about how they're keeping City Heights fed. IN: A La vuelta farm is a partnership… OUT: It's not all about profits, it's about sustainability, and how do we keep not just ourselves in a safe place that feels stable but our communities. And that audio postcard from La Vuelta Farm co-founder Adriana Barraza *** *** Coming up… Puppets can be used for far more than just child’s play. How local creatives are using puppets as tools for social commentary and entertainment. That story after a quick break. <<> The Society of Wonder suggests that every backyard contains a secret portal to an underground kingdom of inspiration and hope. The six-part series of videos just premiered online as the latest entry in La Jolla Playhouse's Without Walls or Digital Wow Festival. KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando speaks with Animal Cracker Conspiracy about the series, which uses puppets for social commentary and entertainment. During Nazi occupation Czech puppeteers delivered anti-fascist themes through illegal underground performances called "daisies." That history of radical puppetry is something Bridget Rountree wants to tap into. BRIDGET ROUNTREE: You have the possibility to comment and say things that humans can't necessarily get away with saying if it's something that's kind of considered maybe for children or are not seen as a as something that could potentially have a dangerous message or political message or social message. And so it's been able to kind of hide in plain sight and comment and do things for centuries and has been used that way, which we always love that. Rountree along with Iain Gunn are Animal Cracker Conspiracy, a San Diego-based puppet company. Since they can't perform live because of COVID, their latest project, The Society of Wonder, just launched online as part of La Jolla Playhouse's Digital WOW or Without Walls Festival. Gunn describes it as… IAIN GUNN: A mysterious series of five minute videos that introduce you to five unexpected characters who are brought together through coincidence, serendipity and happenstance, to form a society that reflects or is empowered by their gifts, their uniqueness. It's a production that's arisen out of quarantine and the inability to get exactly what you want when you want it. So the pair made sets, props and puppets from what they had lying around the house like paper, cardboard, and masking tape. IAIN GUNN: So what we want people to experience is the wonder of what our human imagination is capable of in terms of taking crude and easily accessible materials and turning them into a story, creating a world out of that. A world that pays homage to film noir and old radio serials. Gunn says it also draws on the street puppets of Java and Bali. IAIN GUNN: They're carved wooden heads. They have a torso that is suspended. So it can it can turn so the shoulders can turn. Bridget and I papier mâchéd them and she added in texture of vintage newspapers. So there's actually words and language like embedded into their faces and into their arms that you can see or maybe not see. That's how much you want to scrutinize the little films. Gunn and Rountree created six puppet characters that have a vintage feel yet also seem to be from a world very much like our own. BRIDGET ROUNTREE: So it's an alternate reality, but it relates, I think, to a lot of the issues that we're dealing with environmentally, socially and politically and definitely with an absurd tone or leaning, and that feels very timely right now. Helping to bring this alternate reality to life is Margaret Noble. MARGARET NOBLE: I list myself as sound designer, but there's many elements to sound design. Sometimes it's composing sounds, sometimes it's recording sound. Sometimes it's collaging and cutting up sounds. But essentially it's putting together lots of little tiny pieces to make the world come alive, the visual world. The puppets don't speak so Noble has to create sounds that evoke their inner emotions. Rountree says Noble employs a lot of layered sounds. BRIDGET ROUNTREE: Just a layer of constant layering of little sound cues of where we are setting the tone, she paces it sets the pace, sets the environment through sound at the top of their voices. And then she also creating their voices… So she's always reinforcing the story in that way. Creating a brave new world through puppets can be liberating says Noble. MARGARET NOBLE: If you're doing live action, realistic sound, you're very focused on being as accurate as possible. But here there's no boundaries and any puppet could make any sound. Any world could make any sound, sound doesn't have to be literal. And often it's more interesting when it isn't and it's symbolic or expressive. It's about reading symbols, sounds and gestures…And it has a little bit of darkness and mystery. There are many mysteries to unpack with each episode of The Society of Wonder so sign up to be wowed by the latest entry in La Jolla Playhouse's Without Walls Festival. The first episode of Animal Cracker Conspiracy's Society of Wonder, by the way... is available now FREE for through the La Jolla Playhouse's Digital Wow Festival. That’s all for today. You can always find the latest breaking news online at while you’re there, consider clicking the blue give now button and becoming a member. We’d love to have you join the KPBS fam.

California will halt sales of new gasoline-powered passenger cars and trucks by 2035, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday. The move will cut greenhouse gas emissions by 35% in the nation’s most populous state, according to the Governor. Plus, more local and state news you need. Support KPBS’ daily news podcast by becoming a member today.