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50th District Candidate Angers Democrats

 October 13, 2020 at 4:20 AM PDT

Governor Gavin Newsom says cases of COVID 19 in California are trending downward. He made the announcement monday at a state wide press conference. The seven day average of new cases is down over the past two weeks, as well as hospitalizations and ICU admissions. "Accordingly we have made progress on our tiered status, now 42 counties of the 58 have moved out of that lower tier, the most restrictive tier, the purple tier." The state will update its COVID-19 guidelines for Halloween on Wednesday. Newsom also mentioned the state's response to wildfires. California has had one of the worst fire seasons on record, and it's only the middle of October. "Some 4.1 million acres have now burned in the state of California. We are currently dealing with 14 major wildfires and/or fire complexes." So far 31 people have been killed due to the state's wildfires and more than 9,000 structures have been lost. And... Weather forecasters say we are in for a hot and dry and windy week. Secretary of State Alex Padilla has ordered the California Republican Party to remove unofficial ballot drop off boxes from various locations in the state–according to the Associated Press. Fake ballot boxes were found in Los Angeles, Fresno and Orange counties. The Republican party refused, saying that what they were doing is “ballot harvesting” or “ballot collecting” which is legal in California. The fake drop boxes were found at churches, gas stations and gun shops. Some have paper signs saying [quote] secure ballot dropoff location,” while others say [quote] approved and bought by the GOP.” Official ballot boxes have extra security to them and can weigh up to 600 pounds because of it. Those official boxes are monitored by election officials, and there’s rules on how often they can be retrieved. Attorney General Xavier Becerra is threatening to prosecute [quote] anyone who knowingly engages in the tampering or misuse of a vote.” Mayor Kevin Faulconer is urging the city council to approve the purchase of two hotels as part of Operation Shelter to Home. He says they’ll serve as permanent housing for people phasing out of the homeless shelter set up at the San Diego Convention center. "These properties will pave the way for over 400 additional folks who have been stabilized through operation shelter to home to get a place of their own." If approved, the hotel rooms would also offer on-site specialized care and could be up and running by December. The San Diego Convention Center has been used for operation Shelter to Home since the beginning of the pandemic. The hearings for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett continue for the second day today. We’ll expect to hear from all 22 senators today with questions for the nominee. You can catch it live on KPBS radio at 89.5 FM. It’s also on KPBS 2 on television, and as a live stream on our website at KPBS dot org... And remember, the KPBS voter guide is online now. It’s a resource with just about all of your voting needs; you can request a ballot, or customize the guide to your ballot to find a comprehensive link to news and information on races and ballot measures. You can find the KPBS voter guide online at KPBS dot org, slash election. It’s Tuesday, October 13th. 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. A federal appeals court says the Trump Administration illegally redirected defense spending to pay for border wall construction in San Diego county. And yet, the work continues despite the ruling and ongoing protests. KPBS’ Max Rivlin Nadler reports. For months, members of the Kumeyaay nation have tried to stop the hasty construction of the border wall. They say that the federal government has not followed the law in consulting with them, and in doing so, is destroying their cultural heritage sites. So on Indigenous People's day, the members of the nation marched to the border wall to protest its existence. Stan Rodriguez is a member of the Santa Ysabel Kumeyaay. When we continue to speak our language, that is resistance. They have tried for over 500 years and we will not be erased. On Friday, the ninth circuit said the Trump administration had misappropriated $3.6 billion in military spending to go towards the border wall construction. But that ruling hasn't stopped construction. On Monday afternoon, a CBP spokesperson told KPBS despite the court's order for an immediate stop, that "construction continues" on the border wall. Max Rivlin-Nadler, KPBS News. People who are blind have had to adapt to social distancing, technology and other changes during the COVID-19 pandemic. CapRadio’s health care reporter Sammy Caiola [kay-OH-luh] says people with full vision can help keep them safe. Darrell Horst is blind and 72. He used to ride public transit a lot, but now it makes him nervous. “Because I don’t know how close somebody is sitting to me. And some people are very communicative and really help you with that and some are not.” He says the same is true when he goes to the post office or the grocery store. Even with his long white cane, he has to rely on his ears to tell if he’s six feet from others. “ I can hear somebody at the counter saying OK can I help the next customer? Or if they’re at a register you hear them bagging things up or moving the cart.” These are skills that the Society for the Blind in Sacramento has been teaching with greater frequency during the pandemic — mostly through virtual classes. But executive director Shari Roeseler says social distancing is still tough. Like those decals on the floor that tell people to stand six feet apart. “They’re smooth … is there a way to have a texture on these things that a cane could feel, and get a sense that there’s a decal?” And remote work can also be a challenge. Roesler says a lot of her students have needed help with new software that might not be intuitive. Horst is retired, but says he misses the camaraderie he found at Society for the Blind. He did recently take their outdoor grilling class. “They can teach you the skills you need to be independent and not feel like ‘I can’t do this’ …. I hear that a lot and it bothers me because we can do it. We may have to do it a different way, and connect with different people to get it done, but we can.” Roeseler says if you’re out and you see a blind person, it never hurts to offer assistance. SOC Proposition 14 asks California voters to approve $5.5 billion dollars in bonds to continue financing the state's stem cell research institute. Supporters want the money to continue the research, but critics say the science didn't do enough the first time around. KPBS science and technology reporter Shalina Chatlani has our story. Voters decided in 2004 to issue $3 billion dollars in bonds so that the state could create CIRM, or the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. This was at a time when the federal government closed off funding for stem cell research. But now, that money for CIRM is gone. And supporters like UC San Diego Health neuroscientist Larry Goldstein say voters should agree to provide more money to keep the research going. GOLDSTEIN: with 60 clinical trials that we're supporting, but by CIRM and another 30 that CIRM has leveraged, it's actually accomplished quite a bit. patients are going into remission based on very useful cancer drugs Goldstein has gotten around 21 million dollars from CIRM for his research. But Jeff Sheehy, who has been on the governing board of CIRM since its start, says the proposal means more state debt, when the federal government is now spending billions on stem cell research. SHEEHY: I'm proud of the work we've done and. CIRM was never conceived as being permanently paid for with debt. It was supposed to pay for itself and it hasn't and it needs to come back.We need to bring this back under the control of the legislature and the governor in the state. Supporters of Prop 14 say the institute is just getting started and needs more time and money. Opponents say the funding is not necessary anymore and should be directed to other issues like education. Shalina Chatlani, KPBS news. 50th Congressional District Democratic Candidate Ammar Campa-Najjar is apologizing for appearing in a video with a far-right group. He made a number of controversial statements at the meeting last week. Including telling the group, Defend East County, that he wasn't sure if he was going to vote for Joe Biden or Donald Trump. The 50th District candidate is now walking back some of his comments. KPBS’ Matt Hoffman reports. Ammar Campa-Najjar, (D) Candidate 50th District I don't care who wins. I'm going to work with whoever. My vote is still open. You guys think I'm going to vote for biden necessarily, I still want to see how they perform in the debates" Recently democrat Ammar Campa Najjar sat down with justin haskins of defend east county- I don't think anyone would argue or challenge that fact that I am about as far right conservative as they come There was no social distancing or mask wearing-- I want people to know that i'm not the only one smoking a cigar. We're having some whiskey and keeping it casual Defend east county is about 20-thousand strong on Facebook, and has come under fire recently after some members made threats of violence against- black lives matter protestors the group has recently been criticized for threatening violence against black lives matters protestors. But Campa-Najjar said he didn't know that. He told KPBS he talked to the group to dispel rumors about his heritage. I'm not a terrorist Are you a muslim? No I'm a christian Now Campa-Najjar is apologizing. Despite my best intentions i messed up, i messed up bad and i should have been stronger In a video posted to his campaign facebook page Campa-Najjar said he takes full responsibility-- I reject all forms of racism and i will assure you that i will never again engage any group that tries to threaten the lives of our people Haskins told KPBS he too has disavowed white supremacy and those who threaten violence on his page.. During last week's hour long conversation the pair touched on a number of controversial topics, including supreme court nominee Amy Coney Barrett "The fact that the democrats want the president to hold off until after the election, it's within his constitutional right, he's president for four years not three that's just the truth "I'd want to consider and then confirm her if I thought she had the qualifications based on her confirmation, it seems like she's very qualified so I would probably would" Campa-Najjar also promised to again investigate former President Barack Obama and former candidate Hillary Clinton-- "If there was something bad we gotta make sure we hold them accountable if not can we put it to bed?" Now Campa-Najjar is walking back those comments, saying the Clintons and Obama shouldn't go to jail, and everything in the past about them investigating Trump has been debunked. He also said there was a 99 percent chance he was voting for Joe Biden, who by the way has endorsed him.. After questions from KPBS about this, Campa-Najjar announced today that he has now in fact voted for the Democratic Nominee.. "I would support strong border policies - which means wall" Campa-Najjar did reiterate his support for Trump's border wall where needed and he also again questioned Trump's impeachments by house Democrats. “I don't have a lot of friends in the establishment right now they're pretty pissed off at me they're leaving me out to dry that's why I'm coming to talk to you" The chairman of the San Diego County democratic party says Campa-Najjar's comments are disappointing and some of his views are not inline with the party.. now voters in the 50th will have to decide for themselves. My exact words to Ammar were that I would not support him, i will not endorse him Campa-Najjar's repuiblican rival Darrell Issa also met with the group last week, and among other things said blacklives matter encourages violence and thanked Defend east County for being out in the community. You guys were pretty important as law and order was breaking down. So it was hard to miss you Issa's campaign did not make him available for comment about his appearance with the group. Matt Hoffman, KPBS News. That was KPBS’ Matt Hoffman. You can see all of Matt’s reporting on this story at KPBS dot org. In a quick shoutout to matt, He’s been following the 50th district seat for a while now, since the Former Republican Incumbent Duncan Hunter was indicted and eventually sentenced to prison for misusing campaign funds. Up next on the podcast….How is San Diego's third largest economic sector doing. "We're doing better than most cities but we are significantly below where we should be.” What San Diego’s is doing to cope with a lack of tourism, that's just ahead after this break. San Diego’s tourism industry used to be our region’s third largest economic sector. But it’s still struggling to rebound from COVID-19 shutdowns that hit in March and are still around today KPBS Reporter Erik Anderson talked about this with Julie Coker. She’s the head of the San Diego Tourism Authority. Here’s that interview…. “To date, just the conventions that the San Diego Tourism Authority booked we’ve lost 47 conventions since March of this year. That’s close to $1.2 billion in economic impact, over 700,000 room nights that our hotels would’ve consumed. And, again, that’s just a piece of the pie. We’ve also lost groups that our hotels are unable to hold at this time. Any meeting convention or trade show. So in terms of the convention market, the meetings market right now, it’s really devastated. As you know, we still don’t have direction from the state as to when we’ll be able to hold controlled gatherings. So right now we don’t have any gatherings at the convention center through the end of this calendar year and we’re seeing some slippage already in January and February which is concerning. “It was really, really bad in March a lot of businesses completely closed. Hospitality industry restaurants. How far back have we come? “We’re fortunate that as of June, hotels were opened for leisure stays. And we saw a very strong demand, especially Thursday, Friday, Saturday, as you can imagine, weekend stays. That has continued through the summer months. And since Labor Day, we’ve obviously seen a sharp decline on our weekday business. And that’s always been a challenge for us because San Diego has been fortunate to have a number of conventions book throughout the summer months that cover Sunday through Thursday, as well as that business traveler. So we’ve lost the convention traveler and we’ve also lost the business traveler which has impacted the weekdays. So right now we’re running about 50 percent occupancy which is significantly less than we traditionally do. Traditionally right now we would be sold out every weekend. In the fall, woe would be running about 80% to 100% occupancy in our hotels weekday. So this is a prime convention business traveler season right now that we’re not being ablew to take advantage of. So, we’re doing better than most cities but we still are significantly lower than where we should be.” “How does not having all the region’s visitor attractions open and available, to the extend that they were before COVID. How does that impact the decision to come to San Diego? “So the good thing about San Diego is that we’ve got some natural resources that others don’t. We have mile and miles of beautiful beaches. We’ve gopt a welcoming community that’s diverse and inclusive. And then of course we have our great cultural attractions, Balboa Park, USS Midway, the Zoo, the Safari Park, Seaworld. So that has really helped. Certainly we would love to have all of our attractions being able to open, Legoland. Than certainly adds to the product that we can offer visitors. But right now what we have is definitely a driver to the destination. Really what we’re missing is that business and convention traveler. What are you doing to help bring some of that business back? “Certainly as we know as business professionals as long as we have wifi we can work anywhere. And we can be efficient anywhere. So why nmot do it in a destination that has a great outdoors, an awesome hospitality community and a lot to offer. So we have really reached the traveler where they are. If you’re local, stay vacation here. If you are in a regional drive audience we have something for you. But more importantly, if you are looking to travel down the road, November, December, January we would want that to be San Diego. And so our messages are being communicated in that way. That was Julie Coker, the head of the San Diego Tourism Authority, speaking with KPBS’ Erik Anderson. That’s it for the podcast today, thanks for listening and have a great day.

50th District Candidate, Ammar Campa-Najjar participated in an interview last week with a group called Defend East County. In the interview, Campa-Najjar made a number of controversial comments that have angered Democratic supporters. And, things are still rough for the San Diego tourism industry but the region's top tourism booster is hopeful. Plus, Prop 14 is asking voters to approve $5.5 billion in bonds to fund stem cell research. Supporters want the money to continue the science, but critics say the science didn’t do enough the first time.