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Criminal justice reform law causing problems

 March 16, 2023 at 5:00 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Debbie Cruz….it’s Thursday, March 16th.

The District Attorney’s office says it's being overwhelmed by resentencing requests.

More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….


A fourth person who died in an alleged smuggling attempt has been identified.

Alma Rosa Figueroa Gorgonio was one of the eight people who died when an alleged smuggling boat capsized off Blacks Beach late Saturday.

She was 17.

The three victims identified earlier in the week were between the ages of 22 and 48.


The son of a woman shot by local law enforcement is suing the city and county, claiming police and sheriff deputies escalated the situation.

Yan Li was killed last March in a condo building in Little Italy... in a confrontation that started when a deputy tried to serve her with an eviction notice.

The wrongful death lawsuit, says Li was suffering a mental health crisis.

It alleges the officers used excessive force and had inadequate training.


Teachers in the San Diego Unified School District started picketing for a new contract yesterday.

Unionized teachers with the district have been working for months under terms of their old contract.

This week, they’re staging pickets outside different schools around the city.

Kevin Gutierrez is a 7th grade English teacher at Millennial Tech Middle School.

He joined the picket line yesterday.

“I believe we are one of the only countries in the world that don’t value teachers as much as they should be valued. We do an important job and I think we need to be compensated as such.”

In a written statement to KPBS News…the district communications director said in part…. “to our educators and staff members…we hear you and we appreciate you.”


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


A new state law aimed at criminal justice reform allows some inmates to request resentencing. But the county district attorney’s office says it's causing problems.

Reporter Kitty Alvarado gives us the details.

The district attorney’s office says the new law is bogging down a system that is already overwhelmed. It’s already received more than 525 petitions from inmates requesting resentencing under this new law this year alone. But more than that–  the DA says families will be re-traumatized by having to go back to court. I feel for those families. They probably thought finally that part of their day to day life was over. Laura Keenan’s husband Matt was killed by a wrong-way driver in 20-21. She says she can relate to some of what these families will have to go through, because she  is in the middle of a plea sentencing process that has been painful. it's a feeling of utter injustice, you know, for me and anybody who has lost a loved one. But criminal defense attorney Jan Ronis  says this is also about making a justice system that is fair for everyone. It’s far more burdensome to have prisons running at 200% capacity, 250% capacity. So on balance, this is a fair and just approach to restore equity and sentencing in California. Kitty Alvarado KPBS News.


The city of San Diego’s ambulance provider is again under scrutiny for response times and staffing levels.

The city and Falck have been trying to amend their contract so the fire department can bring in another ambulance provider to backfill missing hours in an effort to boost response times..

But if that doesn’t happen by next month, councilmember Marni von Wilpert says she’s ready to take action.

“If we do not have a full amendment by docket closing in april I will be -- as the chair of public safety -- asking the city attorney to docket an item to explore our legal options to end this contract. I am not afraid of a breach of contract lawsuit -- I don’t want that -- I want this to work.”

Falck San Diego’s Managing Director Jeff Behm says they’re committed to renegotiating the contract.

“Falck pays nine million dollars to the city annually for a fee for service and the firehouses where we have our staff. And so that goes away -- that does reduce our costs we still do have costs to run the program and so we’re working to figure out what is that rate that we can agree on.”

On the staffing front, Falck offered a 50-thousand dollar sign-on bonus late last year and says it’s helped bring on about 40 additional paramedics.. But the company is still having staffing issues.


A charter school in southeast San Diego has laid off employees … but that isn't the only challenge the school faces.

inewsource reporter Andrea Figueroa Briseño has more.

School leaders at America’s Finest Charter gave few details on how staffing cuts were made. But teacher Paul Cardoza says he and others were surprised when they were laid off.. CARDOZA “Instead of sharing with the teachers and staff, hey, this is what's going on, they were like, well, everything’s fine” Now, along with a large budget deficit and drops in enrollment, the school is also facing allegations of age discrimination. Officials deny the claims and say they did not consider age, race or gender in the layoffs. They also say they’re making progress in reducing the deficit. For KPBS, I’m inewsource reporter Andrea Figueroa Briseño.

TAG: inewsource is an independently funded, nonprofit partner of KPBS.


Rain has made a bad situation worse for crews trying to fix a sinkhole in Cardiff.

Reporter Claire Strong has the story.

“As you can see, It’s quite dramatic”, That’s Cardiff resident Paul Howard, describing the large sinkhole on Lake Drive, which has even swallowed part of the sidewalk. Last weekend's heavy rain made it bigger than ever and crews are now working to stabilize it and prevent any further erosion. In the meantime, traffic’s being diverted along nearby Crest Drive, which is causing problems of its own. Eva Engelsberger lives there and says it’s dangerous. “People go through 50 miles per hour, it’s frightening. Some of the neighbors are scared someone’s going to get killed. It’s that bad.” Cardiff is governed by the City of Encinitas. The city released a statement last week saying work on the sinkhole is expected to last through April.  CS/KPBS News.


Coming up.... We have details on two new exhibitions opening at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego this week. We’ll have that story next, just after the break.


The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego opens two exhibitions this week — from two Latina artists, representing two generations and two different places along the U-S-Mexico border.

My colleague Julia Dixon Evans takes us inside.

At first glance, with the oversized illustrations and text, the bright colors and found objects suspended from the ceiling — it feels like stepping inside a children's book — on a massive scale. "Breaking the Binding" is the first "career retrospective" exhibit for Celia Álvarez Muñoz. The 86 year old El Paso artist is noted for her public art, whimsical artist books, and her activism through art. After a long career, she's still driven to make art. Celia Álvarez Muñoz, artist "Why do I keep going? Because it keeps me going." "That's what propels you to wake up in the morning and have a mission. I think for me, it has been more of a vocation." Álvarez Muñoz's work infuses humor and private narrative into broad themes, informed by her life along the US Mexico border — as well as her background working in advertising. She combines text and image in nearly every piece, playing with puns, mistranslations and mispronunciations. Co-curator Isabel Casso said the exhibit has 35 art works — 7 being major installations. "She's an unbelievably distinct visual and verbal storyteller." "El Limite" is the first work you see, with images of  sardine-can trains enlarged and pasted on the walls. Large printed text tells childhood stories about post-war immigration routes by train. The museum commissioned this piece from Alvarez Munoz in 1991 "She draws on many things from her own personal history to collective histories and I think that's one of her greatest skills" "Petrocuatl" is another installation, representing a performance piece. It centers on an artifact she invented, made from a found gas mask and vivid feathers, set against a full wall-size mural with photos of Mexico City from old magazines. Set against bright fuchsia is text that's equal parts unsettling memory and absurd story. One of Alvarez Munoz's darker works is "Fibra y Furia." Suspended from the ceiling are 20 massive bolts of colorful, patterned fabric and several dress forms, embellished clothes and diapers made from lace. "It was a rebuttal against the fashion industry for the sexualization of women, from early age…" The installation also touches on post-war women's labor issues. It evolved over time to address the artist's "fury" or "furia" [FOO-ria] over the murders of young women workers linked to Juarez maquiladoras in the advent of NAFTA. "Then we have the bridal gown over here." "And it's wicked. It's decay. It's a lot of decay." Downstairs is the first solo museum exhibition of artist Griselda Rosas, who lives and works in San Diego and Tijuana. Senior curator Jill Dawsey helped with the exhibit. "She is truly one of the most gifted and compelling artists of our region, just so authentically deft at working with materials" When her son was small, Rosas began borrowing characters from his drawings — and adding embroidery with her sewing machine at the kitchen table. "I mostly do my work at my kitchen table, so my kitchen table is always a mess." Rosas' embroidery works are like little sculptures, layering drawings, vivid splashes of watercolor, and bright thread. The embroidery fills in, borders or embellishes the painting beneath it. In the images, she pairs the flat, dimensionless perspectives of a child's drawings with that of Mesoamerican styles. There's weaponry and war regalia on fantastical creatures, infused with Rosas' knowledge of pre- and post-colonial history. "You have this layering of moments in time, and the work really comes to shed light on the entanglements of the past and the present." Rosas is also a sculptor. More than a dozen oversized slingshots are affixed to the walls. They're made from branches found on both sides of the border, and the elastic is stretched to the brink, casting shadows like drawings of their own. These slingshots encapsulate Rosas' fascination with the tools and regalia of war and childhood. — And fill the room with literal tension. "And I was thinking about tension and how do you get to the other side through a sling shot or war and all those things." Both exhibitions open at M-C-A-S-D La Jolla during the Free Third Thursday event, which runs from 10 a.m to 8 p.m. tomorrow [THURSDAY]. The work will be on view through August 13. Julia Dixon Evans, KPBS news.

TAG: You can find images of some of the works mentioned in the piece at KPBS-dot-org.


That’s it for the podcast today. I’m Debbie Cruz. Thanks for listening and have a great Thursday.

A new state law aimed at criminal justice reform is allowing some inmates to request resentencing, but the county district attorney’s office says it's causing problems. In other news, the city of San Diego’s ambulance provider is again under scrutiny for response times and staffing levels. Plus, we have details on two new special exhibitions opening at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego this week.