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Candidates Trade Attacks In District 7 City Council Race

 October 23, 2020 at 4:54 AM PDT

San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco are in the top ten cities nationally when it comes to having a working Climate Action Plan. That’s according to a new Brookings Institution report. Among the country’s 100 largest cities, just under half have Climate Action Plans. UC San Diego Professor David Victor worked on the report. He says many more communities will have to adopt climate action plans for there to be meaningful impact. San Diego Federal Court Judge Dana Sabraw says he wants to see more coordination from the federal government to find the parents of 545 immigrant children separated after crossing the border beginning in 2017. At a hearing on Thursday, Sabraw asked the Department of Justice to help determine if any of the parents are still in its custody or if they know their whereabouts. The hearing is part of a conference meant to enforce a settlement that ended the government’s “family separation” policy at the border in 2018. The next status hearing is set for December 4th. Flu season is upon us… and the county is offering free vaccines to make sure everyone gets vaccinated. Yesterday, (Thursday) county officials said free vaccines will be offered at various health clinics throughout the county through November 3rd. Hours and exact locations are available at county-news-center-dot-com or by calling 211. It’s Friday, October 23rd. Happy weekend Eve. This is San Diego News Matters from KPBS News. I’m Anica Colbert. Stay with me for more of the local news you need to start your day. We are fact checking some campaign mailers this election season, and for our next installment we turn to the San Diego City Council District 7 race. KPBS investigative reporter Claire Trageser says the race is getting nasty, with back-and-forth attack mailers and text messages. Let's start with mailers attacking Raul Campillo, the Democrat in the race. His Republican opponent, Noli Zosa, along with a couple outside PACs, have sent mailers that say Campillo "has been nailed for four ethics violations during his City Council campaign." Campillo was fined by the San Diego Ethics Commission, but for a mistake with campaign materials, not an ethics violation. The fonts on some of his election materials were too small. "I think voters are smart enough to know that font size is not really an ethical issue. That's why it's highly misleading." Zosa defends the mailers. "He was cited and fined and everything is truthful...00:02:59:03 He was cited five times for his unethical campaign practices" Campillo's campaign sent out text messages to voters that say, "Zosa has been under investigation for illegal solicitation of city officials for money." This refers to a city law that says, "It is unlawful for a candidate or a candidate’s controlled committee to solicit, directly or indirectly, a political campaign contribution from any city employee with knowledge that the person from whom the contribution is solicited is a city employee." "Every single candidate is invited to a training on the various rules, and they give you a list of the top 10 do not do's, and one of them is soliciting city employees and elected officials for donations." But it may be more complicated: the city law says it's OK if the candidate asked for money from "a significant segment of the public that may include city employees," which may be what Zosa did. Candidates have been knocked for breaking this rule before: City Attorney Mike Aguirre was fined $1,500 in 2007, even though the Ethics Commission agreed he probably asked city employees for donations accidentally. The text also says Zosa's "business was sued for Civil Rights violations and discrimination in 2017." That refers to a lawsuit that alleged Zosa's restaurant Dirty Birds was violating the Americans with Disabilities Act because it did not have adequate knee space, table height or aisle width. The case was settled, with the defendant getting a settlement of less than $10,000. "He's trying to throw everything at me and see what sticks. I haven't been cited and fined a single time after all the accusations he's made against me." For more details on these mailers, and fact checks on claims from other campaigns, go to kpbs dot org slash election. Claire Trageser, KPBS News That was KPBS’ Claire Traegeser. And remember you can find all of our election coverage at the KPBS voter guide, on our website at KPBS DOT ORG SLASH ELECTION. Oceanside could see big changes in its agricultural community with the North River Farms project. KPBS North County reporter Tania Thorne gives us the details on Oceanside's Measure L. Approval of Measure L could bring the North River Farms project to an area in Oceanside already dominated by commercial farms. The project includes 585 new homes, 80 acres of organic farming, a new fire station, and roadway improvements. But opponent Dennis Martinek with Let Oceanside Vote says project managers have been misleading on the farming plan and the traffic impact on North River Road. "it is very obvious that they are building a housing development, 585 units." "It's gonna result in over 7000 vehicle trips each day on the 2 lane road. Tanya Castaneda with Yes on L says roads will be expanded to accommodate the influx of Traffic. She says the homes would be priced affordably for working families, but: "If Measure L doesn't get a yes vote this land would revert to sprawl development of luxury homes on 2.5 acre lots with no public benefits." Martinek says the project site is on the last 12% of agricultural land in Oceanside. Voters will have to decide if the city's need for more housing is more important than keeping the existing farms. In Oceanside, TT KBPS News. Californians are voting on a dozen ballot propositions this election, including Prop 24, which would tweak the state’s new digital privacy law. CapRadio’s Nicole Nixon reports. California’s new Consumer Privacy Act has been in effect for less than a year, but already its backers want to strengthen it. Prop 24 would create a new state agency to enforce that act and would triple fines for companies that violate children’s online privacy. It would also give consumers more control over the data companies collect. Some advocates — like Consumer Watchdog President Jamie Court — say these are good things. COURT: This is the strongest protection in America we have now in California, and Prop 24 makes it stronger. But others worry the initiative is riddled with loopholes and say it could lead to consumers paying to shield their sensitive information. SNOW: The steps forward are minimal at best, and the steps backward are really problematic. That’s Jacob Snow with the ACLU of Northern California. The two sparred over the issue this month in a virtual debate hosted by the Sacramento Press Club. Under current law, users have to check boxes to prevent companies from selling their data. Prop 24 wouldn’t change that, but Snow says it should. SNOW: It doesn’t make privacy the default, which is the protection that Californians need and the thing that will actually do the job of protecting peoples’ privacy. <<:07>> But supporters worry if Prop 24 doesn’t pass, tech companies will start to chip away at California’s landmark privacy law. Court points out that in the year after it passed, special interest groups flooded the state capitol trying to gut the law. COURT: It is crazy and this law will fall if we don’t lock it into statute. <<:05>> Some argue that the current law should have more time before it’s changed. The California Small Business Association says business owners spent time and money to comply, and a new law would cost them more.SOC You just heard about Prop 24, now we have prop 25. It’s the only referendum on this year’s ballot, and it’ll determine whether California will keep its ban on cash bail. CapRadio’s Scott Rodd has more. To understand Prop 25, you have to go back to 2018. Lawmakers voted to abolish the state’s cash bail system.... Giving judges more control over a defendant’s pre-trial release. They’d rely on computerized risk assessments to make their decision. The bail industry swiftly filed a referendum. Now it’s up to voters to decide. John Bauters [BOW-ters] is with the nonprofit Californians for Safety and Justice, a reform group that supports Prop 25...meaning, they want to end cash bail. BAUTERS:“The cash bail industry is a multi-billion dollar industry that has prayed off of low-income families and working families, and particularly communities of color, for a very long time.” (:10 ) He adds that cash bail can result in defendants confessing to crimes they did not commit. CapRadio had no luck requesting interviews with the No on Prop 25 campaign, or prosecutors and victims rights groups that also oppose the measure. They argue more defendants on the street could endanger communities. But there’s also opposition from some criminal justice reform groups that say Prop 25 does not go far enough. John Raphling [RAY-fling] is a senior researcher with Human Rights Watch. He says it’s problematic that a defendant’s release would be based on employment history, education level and past criminal record. RAPHLING: “Because the factors that they’re using reflect racial and class bias within our society overall, the risk assessment tools, they’re unavoidably discriminatory.” (:11) Supporters warn that defeating Prop 25 means the Legislature can’t pass another law abolishing cash bail. Opponents like Raphling say that’s not true...Lawmakers can’t pass the exact same law, but they can pursue bail reforms that go further. SOC With the worst wildfire season on record in California still raging, experts from across the state are calling for California to invest $2 billion dollars next year in prevention tactics like prescribed burns. CapRadio's Ezra David Romero reports. With 57% of forested land in California owned by the federal government, the wildfire experts want Congress to spend more money on forest management. They also want the California legislature to approve $500 million dollars for wildfire prevention in January and another $1.5 billion dollars before the end of 2022. Paul Mason is with the nonprofit Pacific Forest Trust. "It's like trying to win a football game by only playing defense. We really need to be proactive about addressing some of these challenges, especially when the challenges are the result of our active intervention on the landscape for the last century." Mason says this fundamental change doesn't stimy the need for suppression to protect lives and property. It also supports efforts to limit the size and scale of future wildfires, not just fight them. In Sacramento, I'm Ezra David Romero. Phil Halpern has fled the U.S. Justice Department. Halpern was a prosecutor at the San Diego U.S. Attorney's office for 36 years, under six presidents and 19 different attorneys general. Halpern worked on the corruption cases of former congressmen Duke Cunningham and Duncan Hunter. Halpern told KPBS's Amita Sharma that he quit his job because of what he called Attorney General Bill Barr's "politicization" of the Justice Department. 5:53 I was hoping when the attorney general selectively quoted from the Mueller report, it was a mistake. He wasn't trying to mislead the American people. However, it became clear when I saw what happened in the Manafort case, the Flynn case, the Stone case, the imposition of the president's will through him in the normal course of justice, this became too much. And it just continued from there. 7:28 There were countless instances that career prosecutors got very upset about. His representing his wife's interest in a tell-all book about her. 7:40 William Barr represented the president in a sexual harassment lawsuit by E. Jean Carroll, that had happened more than a decade before he was president. This is simply outrageous 7:53 And his attempt to prevent early tax returns from being discovered by private citizens, they could be congressmen or the DA in New York. 8:04 He's acting like the president's consigliere, his mafia attorney. He's not acting like the attorney general of the United States. 4:12 "The better question is almost why did I stay as long as I did? And I stayed because I thought it was imperative to complete the prosecution of Duncan Hunter and his wife.President Trump made it clear in an early Tweet that he was upset that the attorney general for indicting both Duncan Hunter and Chris Collins, two of his ardent supporters in Congress. Given that, I was very, very concerned that there would be meddling from the department of justice if I left, therefore I stayed so I could complete that prosecution. Then it was only a matter of time, tying up loose ends and I was out of there. 9:40 Some might say Barr's predecessor, former Attorney General Sessions acted more egregiously when he went along with a Trump Administration plan in 2018 to prosecute all undocumented immigrants even if children had to be separated from their parents...and many of these children ended up in cages in detention...did you think about leaving the justice department then? 12:06 It bothered me but at the time, I waited and I said as long as I personally would have nothing to do with it, I could do more good on the inside. I was what I think Donald Trump would refer to derisively as the deep state. I want you to know that's a term that the career people in the department of justice and every other agency now wear with pride. 17:20 U.S Attorney in San Diego, Bob Brewer -- your former boss -- sent out a press release this week, designating prosecutor Chris Tenorio as the Southern District's Election Officer and the goal is to deter election fraud and discrimination at the polls. What's your take on this news? 17:43 Well, I have nothing bad to say about Bob Brewer in doing something like this. The fact of the matter is, Chris Tenorio has been our election fraud coordinator for years and years. He's a loyal public servant. He's a great guy. He's going to do a good job. My problem is not with that. My problem is with the department of justice and Bill Barr for the first time since I can remember decades, changing our policies to say that he is going to attempt to bring charges regarding election fraud before the election. That's very, very dangerous. 21:00 What's your prediction for the Justice Department if President Trump wins the election next month? 21:14 I can't believe I'm saying this, because if you had asked me the same question a year ago, maybe even six months ago, I'd say, `Don't worry, Amita, we have a strong democracy.' We don't have anything to worry about in this country. We have the courts, we have the press. We're going to be fine. I can't say that now. If Bill Barr is put in charge of the justice department and Donald Trump of this country for another four years, I think our democracy is in risk. I think this country could slip into tyranny. It would be a disaster. THis is a scary time. We can't have a puppet attorney general. We can't have a demonized press. We can't have immigrants who are made to feel like scapegoats.28:04 A president who asks for his political opponents to be indicted and jailed, is a dictator. This is reprehensible. People can't lose track of this. Donald Trump does so many things that are outlandish, that people simply say, `It's just Donald being Donald.' No democracy can have the president ask for the jailing of his political opponents. If we do, we're gonna be more like Russia or Turkey than we're going to be like the United States. 24:52 And if former vice president Joe Biden wins the presidential election next, what happens at the Justice Department? Well, it's simple. We have an attorney general installed who follows the rule of law. We know what type of person Joe Biden is because we've seen that in eight years as vice president. We're going to have the people of the United States be represented by the attorney general. And we're going to have an attorney general who is not a lapdog of the president. Phil Halpern, Thank you so much for speaking with me today. Amita, it's been my pleasure. That was Former US prosecutor Phil Halpern, speaking with KPBS’ Amita Sharma. Coming up on the podcast...watching the San Diego Opera’s La Boheme... from your car. "It is the first drive in opera. Yes, I know there have been a couple of other companies around the world right now who've been experimenting a little bit with drive in opera. And it feels really exciting to be one of those maybe three companies." The challenges of staging a drive-in opera during a pandemic. That’s next after this break. Live opera returns but with a twist. San Diego Opera is staging La Boheme outdoors at a pop up drive in. KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando previews what that experience will be like. Honk if you love opera takes on a whole new meaning as San Diego Opera stages its very first drive in production. CLIP Honking Honking is replacing applause at San Diego Opera’s La Boheme this week. Keturah Stickann is directing the innovative production. KETURAH STICKANN: It's a first it's an absolute first for me and for all of us on stage and for all of us backstage too. COVID-19 halted live opera earlier this year. It is slowly returning but with challenging onstage protocols in place. KETURAH STICKANN: One of the biggest ones being that each singer needs 120 square feet of their own wherever they are on stage, meaning that they cannot be any closer than 15 feet from the person that they are singing towards and no closer than four feet on either side. So that challenge changed the entire way that I that I had to think about the piece that I was putting together. Those protocols also affect the orchestra pit says conductor Rafael Payare. RAFAEL PAYARE: For the orchestra string player is six feet. And for wood wind and brass is actually 12 feet. For me as a conductor it's also 12 feet between me and the next musicians. Payare, the music director at San Diego Symphony, is making his debut with San Diego Opera and loving it. RAFAEL PAYARE: First of all, of course, opera is so dramatic, you know, and you get involved in this world and you feel and you cry and you get overjoyed for everything, but especially since you know what is happening in the world, we have been deprived for this or just the fact that we're being able to do it is going to bring a lot of excitement. Part of the excitement stems from the creative challenges of performing during COVID. One painful choice was the decision to cut the chorus says Stickann. KETURAH STICKANN: We had to cut the chorus and the chorus going away was sad but necessary, both from a spacing point of view, we do not have space for one hundred twenty square feet for every chorus member. It's just impossible. But also just it's the easiest way to get the timing down to a point where we're simply looking at the experiential moments of these characters all put together. The shorter run time was necessary in order to do away with an intermission but these forced changes are leading to artistic choices that allow us to see La Boheme with new eyes. KETURAH STICKANN: There is something about really honing in on these intimate moments between characters that I think is going to allow both of us as performers and the creative team and the audience to take a deeper look at each of these people as their story’s told. Soprano Andrea Carroll sings the role of Musetta. She says opera is all about big emotions but this reimagined La Boheme has found a way around close contact on stage. ANDREA CARROLL: You might think, oh my goodness, it is a love story, how will you manage? But the way that it's being structured is that the story is being told as a memory. The main protagonist is Rodolfo and we are hearing the story through essentially flashbacks from Rodolfo's mind. Stickann places Rodolfo in his study writing stories 10 years after the death of his beloved Mimi. KETURAH STICKANN: I love this moment that you can dive so deeply into a memory and hear everything and smell things and feel things, but you can't actually touch what happened. It doesn't exist anymore. And so I'm allowing these people who came through his life to appear and disappear as the memories, sort, of course, through him. Carroll says the experience will definitely be different but only in some ways. ANDREA CARROLL: The story will be the same, just a little bit shorter. The voices will be the same. And I don't think any magic will be lost. Stickann says it’s an adventure. KETURAH STICKANN: And so I think the energy and excitement and courageousness that's going to be in the atmosphere there is going to is going to seep into the car. So honk if you love opera. Beth Accomando, KPBS News. Opening Night for San DiegoOpera’s La Boheme at the Drive-in is begins tomorrow at the Pechanga Sports Arena.

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The Presidential campaign revved into high gear on Thursday night with the last debate between President Donald Trump and Vice President Joe Biden… Meanwhile, in San Diego election issues: We’re fact checking mailers and texts from the San Diego City Council District 7 race. We’ll also review Prop’s 24 and 25 on the ballot this year. And, an interview with a former US prosecutor who fled the US Justice Department because of Attorney General William Barr.