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Hope for teens in justice system

 July 27, 2022 at 5:00 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Debbie Cruz….it’s Wednesday, July 27th.

A new program in Kearny Mesa for teens in the juvenile detention system. More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….

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The San Diego City Council yesterday (TUESDAY) voted 6-3 to settle a lawsuit related to the now infamous 101 Ash Street property and nearby Civic Center Plaza..

The lawsuit sought to void leases on both properties by arguing that the city’s real estate advisor broke state ethics laws.

Instead, the settlement calls for the city to buy the buildings for 132 million dollars.

The city still has to decide whether to renovate or demolish 101 Ash.

There are also other lawsuits and a criminal investigation yet to be resolved.

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Creators of a San Diego-based pornography website pleaded guilty yesterday (Tuesday) to one federal count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking.

Matthew Wolfe, one of the creators of girls-do-porn-dot-com admitted to his role in what prosecutors say was a scheme to persuade women to appear in pornographic videos under false pretenses.

Prosecutors allege the website owners and operators led women to believe the videos they appeared in would be distributed only to private customers outside of the country.

Instead, they were allegedly distributed online.

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Have you and your family been considering adopting a pet?

Well this week, the San Diego Humane Society is waiving all adoption fees for the final week of its “summer is cooler with a pet” promotion.

The fee waivers apply to all adoptable bird species, livestock, dogs, cats, puppies, kittens and small pets.

Fees will be waived through Sunday.

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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.

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There is a new home and even more hope for teenagers who find themselves locked up in the County’s juvenile detention system… thanks to a new Youth Transition Campus.

This summer young people in custody are learning more than just life’s hard lessons.

KPBS Education reporter M.G. Perez takes us inside.

“I first got locked up when I was 14 and I was in there on my 15th birthday. Oceanaura Fallow is now 18 years old…with a past that includes time in San Diego County’s old juvenile hall. “I was hanging out with people who were in here…or were out there doing bad stuff. I had to completely cut everyone off because if you hang around the barber shop too long you’re gonna cut a haircut.” Ocean, as she prefers to be called, did not get a haircut. She did get in the middle of gang fights and a life of illegal drugs. But a few stays in the County’s custody turned her life around. She just graduated from an online education program that will allow her to start classes at Grossmont College in August. She also describes herself as a side-hobby artist whose latest painting shows the mythical Persian huma bird in brilliant pastel colors. “it never touches the ground, it just flies high in the sky and it brings hope and gifts to people in despair.” Ocean’s painting hangs in the lobby of the County Probation Department’s brand new multi-million dollar Youth Transition Campus in Kearny Mesa. The Y-T-C replaces facilities that looked more like a prison and have now been demolished. “I saw kids being released…two weeks later re-arrested and back in my class.”Alex Long has been a teacher in San Diego’s juvenile court schools for 25-years. Most of that time he taught science and math. But 5 years ago, the County dedicated much more money to career and technical education..that’s when he started teaching wood shop…6 students at a time…for two hours 5 days a week…building furniture, picture frames…and anything they could dream of to construct from wood. “the majority of the time, it is the first time that a student has made something with their hands…and it looks good.” The new Youth Transition Campus has a wood shop that is more than twice the size it was in the old building. Students sell their furniture online and the money raised is used to buy more supplies and tools for the next group of wood shop students. Offenders become contenders for real-life jobs and much better futures according to Long who has a sign hanging on his classroom wall that says WE ARE THE CARPENTERS OF OUR OWN DESTINY. “now when they’re released from here and have taken my class they can get an entry level job and then they can …I believe affect their lives for good as they move forward and they have options.” “so our students are underwater and they’re drowning and need support.” Ellen De La Cruz is helping teens in trouble through reading at the new Y-T-C. She’s been a teacher for county court schools since 1997. “they want to learn how to read big words…they want to be able to spell big words. De La Cruz says one third of the 50-teenage students she teaches read below a fifth grade level. But they are eager to get their hands on as many books as they can. The new campus has an expanded library with titles that include topics from fantasy to feelings about first loves…there’s even a summer reading contest underway right now. “we’re paying attention. No one’s paid attention to how they’re doing academically…and what their achievement is.” “I want to help kids …get them off the streets…off drugs and hopefully save their life.” Ocean Falllow has gone from student inside …to mentor outside…admiring her painting in the Y-T-C lobby. “(how does it make you feel to see your name on a painting?) …super cool…super cool…it makes me really happy.” Happiness she hopes to some day turn into a career as a judge in the juvenile justice system. MGP KPBS News.

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The Marines are looking at why waves capsized the latest version of its sea-born troop transport.

KPBS Military reporter Steve Walsh has the story.

A video posted by the independent non-profit Naval Institute shows several Marines jumping out of one of the new Amphibious Combat Vehicles, as the vehicles were tossed by high waves near the shore at Camp Pendleton. The accident happened last week. No one was injured. The Marines have issued a pause on all waterborne exercises. The Marines said Tuesday that the pause is still in place at least until whenever the investigation is complete. The Marines are just rolling out the new ACV, which look like a floating tank, and carries Marines from ship to shore. The ACV is a long-awaited replacement for the aging amphibious assault vehicle. In 2020, eight Marines and a sailor drowned when an AAV sank in waters off San Clemente Island. Steve Walsh KPBS News.

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New research published yesterday (Tuesday) bolsters the claim that the virus causing COVID-19 came from animals in a Wuhan, China market.

KPBS reporter Alexander Nguyen has more.

In two studies published today in the journal Science … researchers at Scripps Research and UC San Diego say they’ve pinpointed the origin of COVID-19 and that it jumped from animal hosts to humans at least two dozen times. Kristian Andersen is a professor of Immunology and Microbiology at Scripps Research. He says data analysis shows the virus originated from a market in Wuhan, China. Well, all this evidence tells us the same thing. It points right to this particular market in the middle of Wuhan, which is where the early suspected place where this pandemic actually started. In his paper … UC-SD graduate researcher Jonathan Pekar says the virus may have jumped to humans two dozen times before two lineages emerged that caused the pandemic. AN/KPBS

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San Diego County spent more than a hundred and three million dollars ($103 million) to operate the Crowne Plaza hotel in Mission Valley as a COVID-19 isolation center.

As inewsource reporter Cody Dulaney reports, newly obtained documents could help explain complaints about poor-quality food.

DULANEY: County officials spent more money for security guards at the Crowne Plaza than on food for people who were isolated there with COVID-19. And new information shows food vendors were cited by county health inspectors for safety violations. Emmalee Cobb isolated at the Crowne Plaza for 10 days in 2020 after her 2-year-old son tested positive. She says staff didn’t have any kid-friendly meals. COBB: “That’s when I called them and said, you know, ‘My kid’s not going to eat a salad.’ And they’re like, ‘Well there’s nothing we can do about it.’” DULANEY: A county spokesperson would not comment on complaints about food. For KPBS I’m inewsource investigative reporter Cody Dulaney.

inewsource is an independently funded, nonprofit partner of KPBS.

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Coming up.... Childcare for police officers’ families. We’ll have that story and more, after the break.

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San Diego is set to become the first city in the nation with a child care center for police officers' families.

KPBS reporter Kitty Alvarado has details.

According to 2022 department figures, 20 police officers are leaving the force every month. Lt. Brian Avera is a 16 year veteran of the department, and the director of the San Diego Police Officers Association.He says childcare plays a big role in that equation. Our childcare project really originated with a phone call with one of our members that needed help with childcare That officer’s phone call… opened the floodgates. and that’s really what caused us as I like to say put one foot in front of the other through this difficult project and get to where we are four years later Where they are four years later is a partnership with Kindercare, to develop a first in the nation program specifically to address child care issues in police officer’s families. That got unanimous approval from the San Diego City Council for the lease agreement … and a $3 million dollar state grant. Kitty Alvarado KPBS News

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A small school district in East County is pioneering a project that could become a big deal for the electric grid when demand for power climbs.

KPBS Environment reporter Erik Anderson has details.

Several electric school buses at the Cajon Valley Union School district are poised to deliver more than children to school. They will be pumping electricity from their batteries back into the grid when there’s a lot of demand for power. San Diego based Nuvve developed the technology. Nuvve’s Gregory Poilasne says the buses have larger batteries than regular electric vehicles and they could be an important source of power. Gregory Poilasne, Nuvve “Those buses have the ability to plug that gap between the peak consumption and the generation that is available at any time. This is the first vehicle to grid power project to come online in the country. It will be constantly evaluated during its five-year run. Erik Anderson KPBS News

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You’ve probably seen them as you drive along I-5 past Mission Bay Park…

150 decaying mobile homes on de Anza point.

Last week, the coastal commission gave a long-awaited approval to dismantle and remove the abandoned mobile homes.

It’s part of a plan to transform northeast Mission Bay to include a campground, open space….and marshland for bird and marine life habitat.

Conservation director for the San Diego Audubon Society, Andrew Meyer, joined KPBS’S Maureen Cavanaugh to talk about the plan.

The area the city is planning to redevelop includes De Anza Point, the RV camping areas, Mission Bay Golf Course and some surrounding areas. What kind of ecological potential do you think that area has?

The plan put forward by Mayor Todd Gloria preserves 400 acres for marshland…do you think that is enough?

You’ve raised concerns about private use of this land - can you tell us about these concerns?

How long do you think it’s going to take to actually realize your vision for the redevelopment of this area?

That was conservation director for the San Diego Audubon Society, Andrew Meyer, speaking with KPBS Midday Edition host, Maureen Cavanaugh.

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That’s it for the podcast today. As always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. I’m Debbie Cruz. Thanks for listening and have a great day.

A juvenile transition center in Kearny Mesa helps incarcerated teens. In other news, Scripps researchers are among those with evidence bolstering the theory that the COVID virus jumped from animals to humans in a Wuhan, China market. Plus, San Diego will be the first city in the country to provide a child care center for police officers' families.