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Changing The City’s Tune

Cover image for podcast episode

CREDIT: BRAD RACINO

Above: Todd Gloria is shown on the steps of San Diego's courthouse on Union Street.

Three ways San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria has already changed the direction of city government. Plus: A gorilla troop at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park tested positive for COVID-19, Coronavirus cases at San Diego County senior care facilities have surged to their highest point yet and more local news you need.

Good Morning, I’m Kinsee Morlan in for Annica Colbert….it’s Tuesday, January 12...

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A look at Mayor Todd Gloria’s first few weeks in office next...

But first... the headlines….

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A gorilla troop at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park tested positive for COVID-19.
The zoo announced the infections Monday.
Caretakers noticed two gorillas began coughing on Jan. 6 and tested fecal samples of the gorillas. On Jan. 11, positive COVID-19 results were confirmed.
It’s suspected the gorillas contracted the virus from an asymptomatic staff member.
Studies have indicated some non-human primates are susceptible to COVID-19, but this is the first known instance of natural transmission to great apes.
The gorillas are being closely monitored to see their reaction to the virus.
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THE UNION REPRESENTING WORKERS AT MANY GROCERIES, DRUG STORES AND OTHER “ESSENTIAL” WORKPLACES SAYS A RECORD NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES ARE CONTRACTING COVID-19.
IN NOVEMBER, 82 WORKERS HAD TESTED POSITIVE FOR THE VIRUS. BY DECEMBER, THAT NUMBER EXPLODED TO 404.
A spokesman for UNITED FOOD AND COMMERCIAL WORKERS LOCAL 135 says COVID VACCINATIONS FOR THESE WORKERS SHOULD BE EXPEDITED…

FOR NOW, GROCERY WORKERS ARE IN GROUP 1C and the VACCINE DISTRIBUTION TIMETABLE FOR GROUP 1C HAS YET to be determined.
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And about vaccine distribution….

Governor Gavin Newsom says that more staff and flexibility on vaccine distribution are arriving soon in California.

So far the state has secured roughly 1900 state and federal staff to help with vaccine rollout..

And the state plans on adding 1000 health care workers this week.

The state is also expanding the list of people who can administer the vaccine.

With all those changes underway...Newsom says some people in Phase 1B may be able to get shots now instead of later.

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

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

After just one month in office, San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria will be giving his first state of the city address Wednesday night.

KPBS metro reporter Andrew Bowen takes a look at three ways Gloria has already changed the direction of city government.

AB: One of Gloria's first big decisions as mayor was related to energy. The city charges SDG&E fees to keep its gas and power lines on the public right-of-way. Those fees are written into a contract, called a franchise agreement, that was signed in 1970. For the past year, activists have been pushing city officials to strike a harder bargain with the utility while negotiating a new contract. And they felt Mayor Kevin Faulconer would be too willing to accept an offer made by the utility. Not Gloria.
2:47
TG: Rejecting the bid by SDG&E was an easy decision.
AB: Gloria threw out SDG&E's offer just a week after he was inaugurated. He's now preparing to set new terms for the utility that go further than what his predecessor wanted. Things like more money for the city's general fund and stronger commitments to renewable energy.
5:22
TODD GLORIA
SAN DIEGO MAYOR
TG: I'm trying to bring a different attitude and a different approach to City Hall. And that's one where we understand that we are the 8th largest city in the country, this franchise is worth billions of dollars, and we are going to negotiate aggressively on behalf of the people of this city.
AB: As a Republican, ex-mayor Faulconer was unlikely to support a city government take-over of electricity and gas services. That's a process called municipalization. Gloria says it's not off the table.
4:50
TG: The city has been served well by its utility partner over the last 100 years or so. I believe we can come to an agreement that works well for everyone. But if we can't come to that, we'll have to make a different decision.
AB: Another area where Gloria is changing the city’s tune is COVID-19. Faulconer was reluctant to punish businesses for violating the public health order. He said the state's ban on outdoor dining was unnecessary. Gloria, on the other hand, supports the restrictions.
6:14
TG: Going around the city and seeing most businesses complying with the public health order, and then observing a handful of others who are not, that doesn't seem fair, doesn't seem right. And as someone who is tasked with protecting and serving the people of this city, I believed it was necessary to start stepping up enforcement focused on egregious violators of the public health order.
AB: On December 30th, Gloria signed an executive order directing the police and City Attorney's Office to cite and prosecute those scofflaw businesses.
7:29
TG: I recognize the frustration that is out there. All of us are impacted to differing degrees. And there's no way around this. The only way through it is to do everything we can to stop the spread, advance vaccinations as quickly as possible, and let's hope that we get on the other side of this sooner rather than later.
AB: A third area where Gloria is distinguishing himself from his predecessor is in his relationship with city employee unions. Last week, a judge invalidated San Diego's 2012 ballot measure Proposition B, which denied pensions to newly hired city workers. Faulconer was among Prop B's strongest supporters. Even when it became increasingly apparent the measure would be thrown out in court, Faulconer still fought to preserve it. Gloria says the judge made the right call.
0:12
TG: I think it brings us closer to closure on this issue that we have been dealing with for years — something that I have always opposed, even when it was unpopular… (0:29) And I look forward to the opportunity of working with city leaders as well our employees to figure out a path forward that will put this issue to rest and allow us to focus on the many other issues that demand attention here at City Hall.
AB: Gloria's State of the City address Wednesday will likely reveal more about Gloria's approach to the job of mayor, and the ways in which he's different from… or similar to his predecessor.

That story from KPBS metro reporter...Andrew Bowen. I love following Andrew on Twitter...and you can follow him, too, at AT AC-BOWEn...that’s @a-c-b-o-w-e-n.

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Coronavirus cases at San Diego County senior care facilities have surged to their highest point yet.
But getting vaccines into the arms of these vulnerable people has been spotty and slow.

KPBS Reporter Amita Sharma has more.

Scripps physician Karl Steinberg says less than 20 percent of area long-term care places have received the vaccine. And he says about half of caregivers have thus far refused to take it. The situation is worse statewide. Lawyer Mike Dark of California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform says only 10% of the people at senior care facilities projected to have received the vaccine by now have actually gotten the shots.
[00:12:50.940] “We are getting calls every day from residents in long term care and from their families saying, where is it? We know the vaccines exist. We know they've been set aside for us. We've not even heard from our facility what the plan is on actually getting them to us.”
Sources say part of the problem is the federal government has left the vaccination process to CVS and Walgreens which aren’t well-equipped to handle such a large and complex undertaking. Meanwhile,Patricia Will, chief executive officer of Belmont Village Senior Living, is using the extra time to educate residents.
[00:09:07.950] “We launched a really multifaceted information campaign involving experts doing webinars for family members.”
She says most of her residents are choosing to get the vaccine.

CVS said in a statement that it’s experienced in COVID-19 testing at senior care facilities and also dispenses thousands of flu vaccines in these communities each year.
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San Diego County is taking a new approach in its effort to develop a climate action plan that survives legal scrutiny.
KPBS Environment Reporter Erik Anderson has details.

San Diego County is required by state legislation and executive orders to bring down greenhouse gas emissions. Climate Action Plans are a key tool, but the county has repeatedly produced plans that were challenged and rejected in the courts. County supervisor Nathan Fletcher says times have changed. The board’s new Democratic majority is setting new guidelines for the process.

Zoom_0(6) 00:01:48 – 00:02:07 “It must be comprehensive. It must be legally enforceable and not rely on the purchase of carbon offsets to meet emission reduction targets. And it needs to use updated data and modeling And it needs to emphasize environmental justice and equity.”
Critics appreciate the new energy but they worry the county plan won’t go far enough. They want the supervisors to consider a plan that eventually calls for the elimination of fossil fuels.

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THE F-B-I IS WARNING OF MORE POTENTIAL UNREST AHEAD OF INAUGURATION DAY.

A MEMO SAYS ARMED PROTESTS ARE PLANNED AT ALL 50 STATE CAPITOLS AND IN WASHINGTON D.C.
KPBS REPORTER MATT HOFFMAN SAYS OFFICIALS ARE MAKING PLANS FOR POTENTIAL TROUBLE.

GOVERNOR GAVIN NEWSOM SAYS HE WILL ACTIVATE THE CALIFORNIA NATIONAL GUARD IF NEEDED AFTER REPORTS OF ARMED PROTESTS PLANNED AT STATE CAPITALS.
I CAN ASSURE YOU WE HAVE A HEIGHTENED, HEIGHTENED LEVEL OF SECURITY
NEWSOM SAYS FREE SPEECH IS WELCOME, BUT THERE WILL BE NO VIOLENCE.
HERE IN SAN DIEGO, POLICE SAY THEY HAVE NO REPORTS OF PLANNED PROTESTS OVER JOE BIDEN’S UPCOMING INAUGURATION… BUT THEY SAY THAT COULD CHANGE. THEY DID ARREST TWO ADULTS AND ONE MINOR AT A RALLY IN PACIFIC BEACH LAST SATURDAY. THE PRO-TRUMP RALLY WAS MET WITH COUNTER PROTESTORS WITH ANTIFA FLAGS. POLICE GOT IN BETWEEN THE TWO GROUPS, BUT SAID ANTI-FACISTS WERE THROWING BOTTLES AND ROCKS AT THEM. FIVE OFFICERS WERE INJURED BUT DIDN'T NEED HOSPITALIZATION.
POLICE ARE ALSO LOOKING FOR VICTIMS OF CRIMES. SEVERAL FIGHTS BROKE OUT BETWEEN THE OPPOSING SIDES. AT LEAST ONE BUSINESS DID HAVE A WINDOW BROKEN-

San Diego Mayor Todd gloria is responding to the protests saying violence will not be tolerated and there will be consequences for those seen committing crimes. He says he does support the right for people to peacefully demonstrate but wants to remind San Diegans that COVID-19 is killing thousands of Americans daily.
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Coming up....

A San Diego congressman talks about efforts to remove the President….

That story after a quick break.


House Democrats yesterday took the first steps in the effort to remove Donald Trump from office.
An article of impeachment was introduced...charging Trump with incitement of insurrection in connection with the storming of the Capitol by a mob of his supporters.
San Diego Congressman Scott Peters joined KPBS Midday Edition host Maureen Cavanaugh to discuss the dramatic events in the house.

Speaker 1: 00:35 This session in the house went by so quickly today. It was easy to miss. What happened? Can you explain why unanimous consent was asked for in the 25th amendment resolution?
Speaker 2: 00:46 Sure. In order to speed things up. Um, one of the, one of the options that Congress has is to dispense with the rules. Typically that would take you, you have to go through to get, to get something on the floor. Um, you do that by unanimous consent, but only takes one person to object. So I think that she expected that there would be an objection. There was an objection. So today the rules committee, uh, Congress will take the steps needed formally to put it on the Florida Memorial for a vote.
Speaker 1: 01:13 And, okay, so it's, they're going to ask for a vote tomorrow on the resolution. Uh, even if it were passed though, it wouldn't force the vice-president of the cabinet to invoke the 25th amendment, would it?
Speaker 2: 01:26 No, but I think it's, I think this is the most important message to the center. Uh, we have a president who, uh, incited an insurrection, a coup against the United States. Uh, I believe he's gotta be out of office now. Obviously he could resign. We know he's not going to do that. The next best thing is to ask Republicans to take responsibility for, uh, this president and help us, um, lead an effort to get him out of office. And the cleanest way to do that is through the 25th amendment, which is a job of the cabinet and the vice president.
Speaker 1: 01:55 Okay. Also today, an article of impeachment was introduced against president Trump. What is the timeframe on moving forward with that?
Speaker 2: 02:04 Well, as you can imagine, it's very problematic. I think that what I've heard, we have a caucus meeting coming up later today is that the, if nothing happens with regard to the 25th amendment, uh, that speaker Pelosi will bring to the floor, um, this article of impeachment, uh, I think probably Thursday, a house would pass that. I think we may even have some Republican votes, but then obviously it goes to the Senate and we already know that the Senate doesn't reconvene until the 19th and probably this trial wouldn't get started in the Senate until literally the hour after president Binus sworn in on the 20th. So it didn't, it didn't achieve the objective of getting rid of president Trump, didn't get them out of office and it starts to get in the way of what we really want to do, which is move on and fix this country deal with coronavirus, uh, to take care of the economy, all the other things. So that's why I think, um, the impeachment may be of important, important as a statement, but it doesn't get us what we want, which is the movement of president Trump,
Speaker 1: 02:57 You know, and let me, let me ask a few more questions about that because the last, uh, impeachment of the president last year went through the house with no Republican votes. It was a complete, complete partisan sort of a vote. And you say this time around, you think that some Republican members in the house may vote for impeachment.
Speaker 2: 03:18 Yeah. So we've seen it a couple people. Um, Adam Kinzinger is one of my colleagues from Illinois. A couple of people really express outrage the same as any Democrat has about the president's role in inciting this violence. So I think we'll probably get a few, but not, not, not 30 or 40 or 50, I'm thinking more like five or 10.
Speaker 1: 03:36 So you've outlined, uh, the timeframe that Mitch McConnell has set for the earliest, they could take up this impeachment trial, which is, you know, uh, as you say that the hour after Joe Biden is inaugurated as president, considering that, is there really any point in pursuing impeachment proceedings?
Speaker 2: 03:53 Well, that's an excellent question. It's a little bit like firing a missile at a building that will be the empty, empty by the time the missile hits. I believe that the argument for it, that people make is that there has to be some accountability for this, and this is the gun that Congress has the fire's impeachment. And so even if it ends up just being in the nature of a center, uh, we will have declared that president Trump is the only president to have been impeached twice. You know, we'd really like to hear from president Biden about whether this is really how he wants to spend the first month of his presidency or any part of his presidency is talking about Donald Trump. I kind of think that attention is what Donald Trump wants and then having that trial about him almost in the nature of a reward than a punishment, we'll vote for it if it comes to the house floor. But I think your question is, or is a really good one
Speaker 1: 04:40 When the mob stormed the capital last Wednesday, what did you and your staff experienced during those hours?
Speaker 2: 04:48 Well, because of COVID, we don't have a full staff in the office, so actually it was just me and my, uh, DC chief, Dan [inaudible]. He was in my, uh, my office. I went to, I went down to hear the argument personally. So I was one of the people in the house chamber who, um, was there when leadership was whisked off the floor. Uh, suddenly, uh, we were told that the Capitol had been breached told to prepare our gas masks at one point, told to get hit, hit the, hit the ground. And we witnessed the people at the, at the door being against which there was a barricade, uh, trying to get through. And it was very harrowing kind of situation. Ultimately the Capitol police were able to get us to safety and we, we quarantine for some time, but, um, it's not something I would wish on anybody.
Speaker 1: 05:32 I understand you're back in San Diego now, are you going back to Washington for the inauguration?
Speaker 2: 05:38 Go back for the inauguration? Yeah. I, um, will want a security briefing on it in this, the most fortified building that I know of, or at least one of them. And certainly one of the top terrorist targets in the world, uh, how it was that, uh, a mob of civilians were able to overrun our force. Uh, that's a question that's got to be answered. I think that's gotta be answered, not just for me, but the president vice president elect and for the country.

And that was congressman Scott Peters talking with KPBS Midday Edition host Maureen Cavanauch. KPBS’ Midday Edition has its own podcast...You can search for it and subscribe on Apple, Google or wherever you listen to podcasts.

That’s all for today. Thanks for listening and, do me a favor, if you like this podcast, recommend it to a friend you think will like it too. Thanks in advance..

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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.