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California’s budget deficit could impact public transit

 May 17, 2024 at 5:00 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Emilyn Mohebbi, in for Debbie Cruz….it’s Friday, May 17th.


How California’s budget deficit could impact public transit in San Diego. More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….


Unionized grad students who work at U-C campuses, including UC-SD, are threatening to walk off their jobs in response to university actions against pro Palestinian protests..

United Auto Workers Local 4-8-1-1 represents thousands of student workers, and reported that 79-percent of them voted earlier this week to authorize leadership to call a strike.

The union is asking the schools to pardon all academic employees and students who face arrest or disciplinary actions for protesting.

And to disclose all its known investments in weapons manufacturers, military contractors, and companies that may be making a profit from the Israel-Hamas war.

The union says the goal of the strike is not to raise wages, but to protect workers' rights.


The San Diego Unified School District yesterday (Thursday) canceled most of the teacher layoff notices it issued in March.

Based on the financial information available back then, and because of required deadlines, 234 preliminary layoff notices were issued to educators.

Yesterday (Thursday), the district and the San Diego Education Association canceled all but 9 of those notices.

The district was able to avoid the layoffs by taking an updated look at its financial situation and identifying which teachers were retiring or resigning.

It’s now working with site principals to finalize staffing plans for the upcoming school year.


We’ve been starting our days with “May Grey” weather this week.

And that’s expected to continue today and into the weekend.

Plus, in the inland and coastal areas, there’s a chance of patchy drizzle before 11 A-M today (Friday).

By the coast and in the mountains, temperatures will be in the low 60s, and in the inland areas, temps will be in the low 70s.

Weather in the deserts will feel like summer… with temperatures in the 90s.


From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now. Stay with me for more of the local news you need.


California is facing a budget deficit of more than 27 billion dollars.

Metro reporter Andrew Bowen says that's impacting funding for public transit in San Diego.

AB: Last year, state lawmakers passed SB 125, pledging 4 billion dollars to help public transit agencies continue their post-pandemic recovery. MTS had planned to spend its share on increased bus and trolley frequencies and a new overnight bus service to the Mexican border. But the transit funding has been frozen amid state budget deliberations. At an MTS board meeting Thursday, San Diego City Council President Sean Elo-Rivera said it's disappointing. SER: These were changes that folks were excited about and looking forward to because of the impact it will have on riders' lives. But we didn't have control over the SB 125 funding, and so we need to pivot. AB: MTS still has its own structural deficit and dwindling reserves. A countywide sales tax measure on the November ballot could save the agency from having to cut services. Andrew Bowen, KPBS news.


There’s also the possibility of big cuts for education in the state budget.

Education reporter M.G. Perez has more on what is in it and how much could be out for schools at all levels.

Governor Gavin Newsom says his latest state budget revision protects most major funding for TK through 12th-grade programs. Even so, the revision includes eliminating 550 million dollars to pay for more buildings to house preschools, TK classrooms, and full-day kindergarten programs…there’s also a cut of 60 million dollars from the Golden State grant program that helps teachers pay for their credentialing classes. 60-million will stay in the budget for community college nursing programs to help the state’s nursing shortage. doe-ME-trives Armstrong is Associate Dean of Nursing at San Diego City College “we are needed …we are essential…to provide care for the patients who deserve it.” The San Diego Community College District continues campaigning for a bill in the state legislature that would allow a 4-year nursing bachelor’s degree starting in the next fiscal year. MGP KPBS News.


Two Southwestern College professors are suing the school for retaliation after reporting racial discrimination.

The suit echoes a longer history.

In 20-18, a U-S-C assessment found a quote, “climate of anti-blackness” on campus.

Reporter Katie Hyson visited Southwestern to see what has changed since.

Current president Mark Sanchez inherited Southwestern’s racial challenges in 2020. Transfer rates for Black male students to four-year colleges were in the single digits, he says. I would venture to say that was probably one of the lowest transfer rates in the state at a California community college. So I knew the situation was urgent. He says a lot of students rely on public transit. Which makes getting to even the nearby four-year colleges difficult. So he worked on convincing more programs to offer their classes on Southwestern’s campus. Arizona State will start in August. Um, UCSD is looking to bring a physician assistants and a bachelor of nursing degree here in the fall semester. After the 2018 report came out, Southwestern created an equity officer position and hired Janelle Williams Melendrez. She asked a key question – Who is being invited to interviews, who is hired as a result? We see much more diversity in those pools now. Though overall diversity is increasing, the number of African American faculty and administrators is trending down. They won’t have this years’ final numbers until August, but Sanchez says – We're already starting to see an uptick in Black student enrollment. They offer a learning community geared toward African American students, called Umoja. I sat down with five members to see what the college is like for current students. Um, for me . . . Victoria you have to speak up Victoria Ayekof’s voice is almost drowned out by the loud hum of the air conditioner in Umoja’s community room. The most amazing part about being here on campus as a black student is the resources. Resources like tours of historically Black colleges. Internships and scholarships. But, she says – It's kind of like a double edged sword because so many people don't know about it. Learning communities like Umoja have a limited number of spots. She wants to join student leadership to help all Black students benefit from the community Umoja offers. Which is much needed, says Stanley Mitchum. We also have to take into consideration there's, like, three, 4% of us on campus, so – Not even that. You just heard it here. Not even that. It’s four percent. Nikki White. It's not just like, oh, I just want it to be all black. But it is a comforting feeling. Like, when you see, like. Like, black people have this thing, like, when we see you walking. Well, if for me, for sure, I'm gonna holler at you, because I don't see a lot of us walking around like that. They say they have Black leaders to look to on campus. And they have each other. But when they go to class, they’re often the only Black student in the room. There’s this pressure to represent all Black people well. Dwight Howell Junior. You know, my teacher was talking about, like, environmental racism and stuff like that, and, like, he kept, like, asking me for my input, but shoot I didn't even know. I didn't even know even know about that. I didn't even know what environmental even was. So it's like, it's kind of like, you know, I feel like I'm letting myself down. And not only myself, I'm feeling like I'm letting, like, down, like, all the people, all the black people on campus. Because I feel like since there's not a lot of us here, like, all of us have, like, a certain job that we have to, like, I guess we have to present ourselves in a certain way so we can, like, uphold our, like, reputation and stuff like that. White again. We really get held at a high standard, like, to the point to where we can't breathe. Yeah. Because it's like everybody, like everybody – the campus, the hood – is, like, banking on us to make it so that we can open that door. And it's. And I'm not going to sit here and lie. I am very disciplined, but it is stressful. Howell. I feel like that not only it's stressful for us, like, physically, it's also stressful for us mentally because we also feel like that, oh, I got to do this. Oh, I got to do this. Oh, I got to walk straight. I got to keep my back up. I got to clap my hands a certain way. Jose Jackson. Statistically, physically, even mentally, you have to beat the system because people are going to look at us and racially profile us and not even say anything. I'm constantly telling myself, like, I am the best. Like, I will graduate. I will be somebody who is a leader. The students say they hadn’t heard about the recent lawsuit or the 2018 report. But they believe the claims. They know friends who’ve had bad experiences as Black students. And Ayekof’s heard there’s history from the longtime Black staff. They've paved the way for us because they weren't, what's it called? Supported when they originally wanted to start a program like Umoja. It's at a point where we've done a lot of fighting and a lot of vocalizing . . . Her voice is soft, I lean in to hear her. The issues of Black people are already out there, she says. Now, she says it’s up to others to respond. Or be complacent with the system. Katie Hyson, KPBS News.


The city of San Diego has more than 250 miles of alleys.

That’s according to a UC-SD professor, who says they have untapped potential as public spaces.

Reporter Katie Anastas says the community can learn how, this weekend in Normal Heights.

For many San Diegans, alleys are places to park your car or throw out your trash. On Saturday, U-C San Diego urban studies professor Sue Peerson, her students and community partners will share how they could be made greener and safer. PEERSON The students looked at seating, and lighting, and green walls. Maybe the idea to take a two way alley and make it a one way alley to reduce the impact and the width of the car traffic and the truck traffic. Alleys in Action will feature interactive models, kids’ activities, a gallery of urban studies students’ designs and an opportunity for attendees to share their own ideas. The event is from 1 to 4 p.m. in the alley south of Adams Avenue off Mansfield Street in Normal Heights, where Peerson says alleys make up 30% of the street network. Katie Anastas, KPBS News.


A new, local opera company is about to make its debut in downtown San Diego.

Reporter Jacob Aere says Opera a la Carte is using regional talent in their productions… and making the high-class art of opera accessible to all.

Inside the quaint Tenth Avenue Arts Theater in downtown San Diego … the sounds of music fill the air. Opera a la Carte founder Abla Lynn Hamza is excited for their inaugural production — Giacomo Puccini’s La Boheme. It’s a 1940’s rendition of the classic opera, created for and by the San Diego community. “There aren't a lot of smaller companies here and there are all these talented performers. And I really wanted to give people opportunities to perform, as well as introduce people to opera who maybe don't know that much about it.” Hamza says their mission is to use all local talent … and make the beauty of opera and classical singing accessible and affordable to all audiences. The La Boheme shows kick off Thursday and run nightly through Sunday. Jacob Aere, KPBS News.


That’s it for the podcast today. I produce this podcast, and it’s edited by Brooke Ruth. We’d also like to thank producer Ben Lacy for helping the podcast team this week. As always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. Join us again on Monday to start the new week together with the day’s top stories. I’m Emilyn Mohebbi. It’s been so fun chatting with you all this week on the podcast. Debbie Cruz will be back on Monday. Thanks for listening… I hope you have a happy Friday and a great weekend.

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California is facing a budget deficit of more than $27 billion and that's impacting funding for public transit in San Diego. In other news, two Southwestern College professors are suing the school for retaliation after reporting racial discrimination. Plus, a new, local opera company is about to make its debut in downtown San Diego.