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The Navy’s Racial Bias Report

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U.S. Navy

Rear Adm. Alvin Holsey (left) speaks with Ensign Dimitri Foster aboard the USS Lake Champlain in 2018. Holsey - one of the Navy's few Black admirals - heads the One Navy Task Force.

The Navy has come out with its long-awaited report on racial bias. Meanwhile, Poway Unified School District is considering leasing 27 acres of undeveloped property to Costco but the move is getting push back. Plus, local airport workers are asking state officials to allow them to get the COVID-19 vaccine even though they are not currently eligible.

Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Friday, February 5th.

The Navy Releases A New Racial Bias Report.

We’ll have that next, but first... let’s do the headlines….

Scripps Research and the company IAVI announced a breakthrough in curing HIV. They say a new HIV vaccine was successful in its first clinical trials. The trial results mark a big step in what has been a 40 year journey to find a cure.

There were a couple thousand open COVID-19 vaccination appointments at the downtown super station. The site is run by UC San Diego Health with support from the county.

After putting out a call on social media for seniors and health care workers they were quickly filled up.. County officials say they have the infrastructure to deliver 20-thousand total vaccines a day but only have the supply for half of that. This as San Diego county public health officials reported more than 1500 new covid-19 infections on thursday and 55 additional deaths

Judge David Carter held a hearing from a folding table and chair outside a shelter in Los Angeles’s Skid Row on thursday. The case is accusing the city and county of Los Angeles of failing to address the homelessness crisis or the desperate conditions homeless people face. Judge Carter says he held the hearing by Skid Row because he worries people are “not seeing and feeling” the reality on the ground.

From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now.

Stay with me for more of the local news you need.

The Navy has come out with its long-awaited report on racial bias. Task Force One Navy was created in June, after the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis Police. KPBS Military Reporter Steve Walsh says, despite critics saying the effort feels watered down, Navy leadership says they intend to create lasting change.

There are only a handful of African American admirals, or flag officers, in the navy and few PEOPLE OF COLOR in some of the Navy’s most celebrated communities, such as Naval aviation -- where the head of the task force, Rear Admiral Alvin Holsey is from.
“Being here, being one of eight Black flag officers in the Navy. It is a lonely spot. But yes I do know, I think the Navy is committed. I think we can gain some ground here, in what we’re doing.”
The task force worried their effort to root out discrimination would be caught up in THE PAST ADMINISTRATION'S TARGETING OF diversity training, says Dr. Charles Barber. HE'S the consultant who worked on the report. Some things will NOW be put back into the draft, HE SAYS, WITH A NEW ATTITUDE AT THE WHITE HOUSE:
“We did have some content that talked about bias. We had some material that had a discussion centered around the concept of white privilege, those are the things we want to put back in.”
Critics say the report stresses inclusion and diversity, but didn’t look more directly at overt racism. John Clark is a recently retired commander who writes about his experience as an African-AMERICAN in the Navy.
“To me what was disappointing was what is not in the report. There was not a direct discussion of de facto racism and segregation. The current state of the navy and why we are where we are.”
A recently released 2017 Pentagon survey showed roughly one in 5 sailors and officers experienced racial or ethnic decrimination or harassment that year - more than any other service. Clark says the Navy’s process for filing decrimination complaints is broken.
“We have some people in our service who don’t want racism in our ranks. They are willing to step up and root it out and speak up. But at the same time you have some other people. Mainly older white men, that want to retain that position of power.”
Unlike a similar report at the Pentagon-level, the Navy didn’t address HATE groups in the ranks. The report did look at reforms in Navy justice, but did not recommend specific changes. In the early 1970s, during a period of racial unrest in the country and within the Navy itself, the head of the navy - Admiral Zumwalt - is credited with a push TO better integrate women and PEOPLE OF COLOR into the service. Barber - the Navy’s consultant - admits many of the reports that followed have sat on a shelf, but he plans to stay on to administer their findings, which are based on dozens of focus groups held behind closed doors with sailors.
“Continually looking at the culture. So that way we can continue to make some progress. We don’t want to keep talking about this stuff years and years from now.”
Rear Admiral Holsey, the leader of the task force, says a top priority now it so bring more people of color and women into leadership roles:
“It’s not a one and done. So imagine every six months. This issue is not going to go away. it’s going to be embedded in our training throughout the life of a sailor. And our senior leaders are being constantly engaged and pushed to turn levers on this.”
And, he says, the problem won’t go away because of a change in administration or the RECENT confirmation of the first African American secretary of defense. For the Navy it’s all about readiness, he says. People who cannot trust one another, cannot easily come together when it comes time to fight. Steve Walsh KPBS News

That story from KPBS Military Reporter Steve Walsh. This story was produced by the American Homefront Project, a public media collaboration that reports on American military life and veterans. Funding comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting

The Poway Unified School District is considering leasing a vacant lot to Costco, but residents don’t like the idea and they’re suing.

inewsource investigative reporter Jennifer Bowman has more.

The twenty-seven acre lot at Camino Del Sur and Carmel Valley Road is surrounded by homes, a church … and not much else.Years ago, the land was set aside for a future middle school. Now, Poway Unified says leasing the land to Costco instead would help the district’s multimillion-dollar deficit. But residents say they haven’t been included in the process.NGUYEN: “You don’t do this to your constituents and to the community, and not be responsible or not communicate with them about it.” (00:08)Gianni Nguyen is part of Protect Our Community Now. The nonprofit formed to oppose the Costco deal and says the retail giant’s offer undervalues the land. The group also filed a lawsuit accusing the district of violating the state’s open meeting law.Poway Unified declined to comment on the litigation but told inewsource they’re working to keep residents informed.David Snyder, head of the First Amendment Coalition, says that’s what public agencies should be doing.SNYDER: “They’re acting as representatives for the public. They ought to be telling the public as much as possible about what they’re doing.” (00:06)The district has scheduled two meetings on the project next month.For KPBS, I’m inewsource investigative reporter Jennifer Bowman.
That was Inewsource investigative reporter Jennifer Bowman. inewsource is an independently funded, nonprofit partner of KPBS.

Since the pandemic started...unemployment benefits in California have been bogged down with improper distribution and fraudulent claims.

KPBS reporter Jacob Aere says state lawmakers announced plans to fix things.

Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez was one of nine assembly members who came together Thursday to unveil a package on reforming the state’s Employment Development Department.
Gonzalez proposed a bill called AB-74 to expand options for people to receive their benefits in forms other than Bank of America debit cards.

“They should continue to be able to have that direct deposit. Cut out the middleman if they so choose. If they chose to have the Bank of America debit card, that's fine. And if they choose to have a paper check they should be able to have that choice as well.”
Since March of 2020, the Employment Development Department has paid more than 11 billion in claims to people who didn't verify their identity, which the department says is likely fraud.

That story from KPBS’ Jacob Aere.

Union workers who clean-up inside San Diego's main airport are pressing state officials to move them up the vaccination list. KPBS environment reporter Erik Anderson has more.

They carried signs, wore purple shirts, but mostly remained socially distanced and mostly silent. But they had a message to deliver, give us the vaccine. San Diego union official Genovev Aguilar says union workers are at risk of contracting Covid everyday. She says that’s frightening.
“You’re not going to come back to home. And you’re the only provider. And I think that’s the most difficult part. It's scary moments. We’re not asking for a lot. We’re just asking to be alive. That’s it.”
The Service Employees International Union has three thousand local members. They want the governor to move them up on the essential worker vaccine list. Protests also happened at airports Los Angeles and Oakland.Erik Anderson KPBS News.

That story from KPBS Environment reporter Erik Anderson.

Some big changes are coming for people who inherit property from their parents and grandparents. It’s all thanks to Proposition 19, approved by California voters last November. KPBS John Carroll has more.

If you’re going to leave your home or business to your children or grandchildren, February 16th is an important date to keep in mind. That’s when certain provisions of Prop 19 take effect. A big one centers around inherited property. Jordan Marks is the taxpayer advocate with the County Assessor’s Office.
“We’re gonna see the slimdown of the parent to child transfer benefit. So, subsequent to that, you can’t give your kids a second property or commercial property, part of that family wealth building, but you will be able to pass them your primary residence with a limit of a million of market value above what you’re currently paying.”
Children or grandchildren who don’t live in an inherited home will see their property taxes convert to the current valuation… potentially meaning thousands more in taxes. A virtual town hall is being held on Friday at noon to answer your questions. Information on how to pre-register is on our website. JC, KPBS News.

And that was KPBS’ John Caroll.

Coming up....what growing up on both sides of the border means for San Diego first latina supervisor. We’ll have that next, just after the break.

San Diego County Supervisor Nora Vargas is the first Latina, and immigrant to be on the board. As part of a collaboration with PRI’s The World, KPBS reporter Max Rivlin-Nadler looks at how growing up on both sides of the border has shaped Vargas’s political perspective.

Nora: Happy Sunday from National City! Where it’s actually raining a lot We’re here to knock on doors…
::fade under::
Nora Vargas walked in the rain in National City ….. going door to door asking people to support her campaign....
This was during the primary elections last year….
She was running for the County Board of Supervisors… where there hadn’t been a competitive election in 25 years….
So when Vargas would show up at her neighbor’s doors asking for their vote…. It took some trust-building….
19:11
Folks in the community would say, we’re going to give you a chance, but we’re going to be watching you. Because politicians come here, they ask us for things, but they never come back. That’s the piece that’s really important. We have to deliver for our communities.
Latinos in San Diego county had never been elected to the board of supervisors... in a county where they make up 33% of the population….
But that changed in November’s election….
[AMBI: The results are showing Nora Vargas with a healthy lead at 54.5% to Ben Hueso’s 45.5%]
VARGAS was born in Tijuana. Her mother was a US citizen…. her father, a Mexican citizen...something that’s pretty common in this cross-border community.
Going back and forth between two nations, is where she believes her political journey began.
4:40
I think when I realized that I was in a very unique state because I was able to cross the border that’s when it hit me “what can I do to make the world better for other people…” and I think that politics was an avenue for me to do that.
For Latinas in San Diego, there wasn’t a roadmap to political power.
So Vargas had to look elsewhere.
6:47
To be a Mexicana, a Latina, and then later on, what my friends would say, an honorary Chicana, I really count my blessings where going away for college was encouraged. I needed to see the world. I needed to learn.
Watching her own mother work in local non-profits, and her grandmother run a cross-border business, she told me they were “unintentional feminists.”
A perspective she brought to a Jesuit university in San Francisco…
8:41
Having those conversations about what feminism was and what women’s rights were… and then me trying to figure out what does that mean to communities of color for people who don’t have access or opportunities.
Vargas found a place at Planned Parenthood, where she eventually became an executive.
9:46
I was a patient at planned parenthood, and in my household no one talked about sex or secuality or reproductive healthcare. There’s a lot of myths and in the Latino community there’s a taboo about speaking about sexuality.
But her experience at Planned Parenthood and as community college board president… pales in comparison to the job ahead of her…. Dealing with the economic and health care fallout of the pandemic.
Board Chairman Nathan Fletcher… says he believes Vargas is in the most difficult position on the board.
6:04
Nora Vargas, the burden she faces is she has to work harder to give voice and perspective to the community she represents that have never had representation at the same level. To do more.
VARGAS believes that reaching the community in ways they’ll not only understand, but also trust, is the key to ending the pandemic in Latino border communities….
24:25
I’m talking and I can just code-switch like that, pienso platicar en espanol, y por los detalles importante, and I did it today and we were talking about environmental justice and I switched… because language shouldn’t be a barrier.
For Vargas, activating the next generation of Latina leaders is the most important part of her journey. She’s hired several young community organizers to work for her.
34:20
I really want to make sure it’s not as hard as it was for me. My commitment is to try to make sure that the system is really shaken so that the opportunities are there for women and communities of color to rise.
Max Rivlin-Nadler, KPBS News

That Story from KPBS’ Max Rivlin-Nadler in collaboration with PRI’s The World.

And for our arts segment today...Moviegoers have had limited options in recent months. You basically have to watch at home or go to a drive-in. But tonight (Friday) Cinema Under the Stars in Golden Hill reopens to screen Alfred Hitchcock’s espionage love story “Notorious.”

KPBS film critic Beth Accomando has more...

Doug Yeagley’s charming and magical Cinema Under the Stars has been closed since December. But with COVID-19 cases dropping he was relieved to see the State declare last Monday that some businesses, including an outdoor venue like his, could reopen. So this weekend he turns to a cinema classic to entice people out of quarantine to come watch Cary Grant seduce a Notorious Ingrid Bergman into a dangerous game of espionage.
CLIP Kiss scene
That famous kiss scene in Notorious faced restrictive 1940s censorship rules that said a kiss could only last 3 seconds. But director Alfred Hitchcock had a clever solution: simply have his gorgeous stars engage in a series of 3 second kisses in a tight two shot to steam up audiences.
In addition to the heat generated on screen, Cinema Under the Stars will warm audiences with heaters and if there’s rain, a retractable roof will be pulled out to cover the cinema and keep everyone dry. There are safety rules in place as well: People are required to wear masks and seating capacity has been reduced so seats can be socially distanced in pairs.
Beth Accomando, KPBS News.

That’s it for the podcast today. Be sure to catch KPBS Midday Edition At Noon on KPBS radio, or check out the Midday podcast. You can also watch KPBS Evening Edition at 5 O’clock on KPBS Television, and as always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. I’m Annica Colbert. Thanks for listening and have a great day.

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San Diego News Now

San Diego news; when you want it, where you want it. Get local stories on politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings. Hosted by Anica Colbert and produced by KPBS, San Diego and the Imperial County's NPR and PBS station.