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Inflation challenges restaurant industry

Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Monday November 15th>>>>

Supply chain issues are forcing san diego restaurants to get creative

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

Over the weekend workers at Kaiser Permanente reached a tentative deal with union leaders on a 4 year contract covering nearly 50,000 employees in 22 local unions. The agreement prevented a potential strike of thousands of workers. The deal now goes to a common issues committee, and then to union members for ratification. Voting will occur over the next several weeks.

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Health officials say it’s time to get your COVID-19 booster shot. Right now, the best data suggests eligible adults should get the same vaccine for your booster as you got originally. However a mix-and-match will also work.

Dr. Davey Smith is the Head of Infectious Diseases and Global Public Health at UC San Diego.

“I think it is important for people who are eligible to get a booster dose... to go ahead and get them. Winter is coming as they say. I am sure we are going to have an increase in cases and having more people better vaccinated….as one might expect with a booster….should help.”

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The new surfrider foundation state of the beach report gives California strong marks.. The group studies how states with coastal borders are preparing for a warming climate. The surfrider foundation’s Stefanie Sekich-quinn says the state is doing well with managing development, sea level rise, and sediment management. She says the state’s legislature, governor and coastal commission are doing the right things.

“it is the progressive nature of those three different entities that are constantly propelling california forward so that we manage our coastlines properly.”

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

The pandemic turned the restaurant business upside down and now that business is challenged with inflated food prices. KPBS Melissa Mae describes how a local restaurant group is coping with the higher prices.

MM: Brad Wise is the chef owner of Trust Restaurant Group. Besides operating five restaurants throughout San Diego, they own a butcher shop and catering company… Rising food prices have forced his business to get creative.

BW “Zero waste goes into it too. We make sure that every piece of every item is being used. If it’s the fat trim on this steak or at the butcher shop, it’s being rendered down, put into butter that is for sale. So, when your back is up against a wall that’s usually when you’re the most creative.”

MM: Wise said customers have been understanding of higher food bills and inflation is not going to stop his restaurants from providing a place for the community to gather and eat. Melissa Mae KPBS News.

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California’s independent redistricting commission approved the first official draft congressional district map last week.

But some observers say the process lacked transparency, and would dilute voting power of some communities of color. CapRadio’s Nicole Nixon reports.

In the hours before draft maps were approved, the public couldn’t even view them. The only version of the congressional draft was a low-resolution image that made it impossible to distinguish lines in densely populated areas.

Matt Rexroad is a Republican redistricting consultant.

REXROAD: The public has to be able to look at those tools that are given to them by the commission and be able to say yes or no. I like that or don't like that. <<:08>>

And there are other concerns with the drafts, too.

California is losing a congressional seat, and it appears the area most impacted is a heavily-Latino district in Los Angeles. That’s according to Democratic redistricting expert Paul Mitchell.

MITCHELL: If that becomes the prevailing take from these maps, that the commission in a state with a growing Latino population and a diminishing white population created a remedy that just eliminates the Latino seat, I think that would be a scar on this commission. <<:16>>

Members of the commission acknowledge the drafts aren’t perfect and will go through more changes before final maps are adopted. They’re encouraging public comment before their final deadline on December 27.

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There is a widening gap between the rich and the poor in California, and that leaves lots of people concerned. KQED’s Katie Orr reports on a new survey.

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The new trillion dollar infrastructure bill, passed by Congress last week- is designed to overhaul and reimagine much of the nation’s roadways, bridges, ports, rail transit, and power grid. San Diego is in line to receive 10s of millions of dollars from the bill. How the Federal infrastructure bill could affect San Diego’s ambitious infrastructure plans...is now being examined by SANDAG officials.

Hasan Ikhrata is the executive director of the San Diego Association of Governments. He spoke with Midday Edition host Maureen Cavanaugh about the opportunities created by the infrastructure bill, and how San Diego will compete for the money.

Is San Diego guaranteed a certain amount of money under the infrastructure bill?

Speaker 2: (00:57)

Um, there's two parts to the bill. One is the formula funding that we're going to get from Washington, but the most importantly is the grant funding we could get if we put good applications together. And I can tell you that this federal bill is a welcome news. It is an amazing opportunity for this region to move major infrastructure projects, to say it lightly, this national infrastructure bill puts every federal funding program is steroid. It doubles the federal program to support an expand the region rail system. It makes project like fixing that their motto pro for moving the tranq, uh, more achievable. It funds more that infrastructure and makes our autonomists a to project, a more achievable. Um, it, it moves us into the future when it comes to electric charging. It's an amazing program. And I think San Diego region will be one of the regions that use as an example of how successful it's been.

Speaker 1: (02:08)

As you mentioned, much of the money will be allocated under the discretion of the department of transportation. Those grant funds, as you said, how has San Diego prepared to compete for those funds?

Speaker 2: (02:18)

We, in the last couple of years, we actually have proven that we can get federal and state funding because we have very innovative and creative programs that we are ready at SANDAG to put actually we've been ready for awhile to apply for funding, to move the tracks of the bluff, to symbolize the bluff, to build the auto message, to, to continue with our environmental work on the new commuter rail lines. And so what we're going to do is we're going to immediately, once the department is ready with the rules, we're going to immediately police application. And not only that, this application has all the innovation and the data needed to make them successful. So we're, we're more than ready at SANDAG. And, and this is something your listeners probably be interested to know, uh, San Diego, when it comes to, you know, population, we're about 1% of the, of the nation's population. But if you look at our history, we got more than one person to the funding because we're creative, we're innovative. We're ready to go on this five big moves. This plan that we're just about to work our board to adapt has definitely imagine the future of transportation in San Diego have definitely put us in Lyon to compete and be the best competitor for all these programs that this national bill has. So we're really modern. We're ready to go and we're ready to receive significant funding from the federal government.

Speaker 1: (03:48)

So you're saying you think the proposed new regional transportation plan, uh, gives us an edge in competing for the funds because of the kinds of projects in it. Is that what you're saying?

Speaker 2: (03:59)

Absolutely. This plan, as I said, not only imagine the future of transportation in San Diego, but goes into the areas that this bill emphasize rail, which we're putting 200 miles of air belt rail. And we're going to went about to start the environmental work in that, moving the tracks of the Del Mar plot and stabilizing the plot for good that building the tunnel needed for that, where we just signed a memorandum of understanding with our partners in Mexico, not IMS, a two a, we are building a central mobility hub and making, uh, providing choices for San Diego to get around. So this the five big moves, the new plan definitely positioned us not only to compete for federal, but for state funding. It positions us to be very successful and exact. We were expecting exactly what's happening in this year. Right now, when we start the work on this

Speaker 1: (05:00)

Now, would monies received from the infrastructure bill allow SANDAG to abandon ideas like charging a 4 cent, a mile driving fee to fund transportation projects.

Speaker 2: (05:10)

The simple answer is yes, it could. We S we still need to know that the impact of this in the overall regional transportation plan, but if we could get the cause of the stimulus national stimulus, we could get enough money. Obviously we, we need the local funding. They haven't been in history and many projects that were a hundred percent funded by the federal government. So you need the local match to be successful. Every project requires you to put local money on the table. We're about to deliver the mid cost, a $2.2 billion project. The federal government paid half a billion, and we can have, so I don't expect this would the need for federal funding, but the local funding, but will this, for example, look at the statewide broad charge. That's going to have to be there because that's what the state is going to do by 2030, the additional road charge. Yes. We're going to evaluate and see whether we still need us, but absolutely is going to impact our local financial strategy moving.

Speaker 1: (06:21)

Aren't there a climate considerations though, in that 4 cent, a mile driving fee to try to get people off roads and onto public transportation.

Speaker 2: (06:28)

Totally. Uh, I think, uh, I'm Maureen, I spoke to you on porn when I started here, but almost three years ago. And I told you a nice, you could research this article. I told you, climate change is going to drive all transportation decisions. And that's exactly still true today. Climate change is driving it a road user charges, a very effective strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. That continued to be part of the discussion, but even if we scaled down and the, the local funding sources, we still need to come up with measures to reduce the greenhouse emission because we're required to do it by state law. So yes, there is global warming consideration for that Napali funding. And now that giving that we have a national stimulus that we think we're going to compete well for, do we need the state charge and the local charge, or do we need one of them? And that's something we still don't know the answer to, but at the end of the day, we're going to have a plan that meets the state's greenhouse gas emissions reduction that meets the federal requirement of financial constraints and needs our goals as a region to move forward with the system that we imagine the future of transportation.

Speaker 1: (07:46)

And how quickly do you expect the funds to be released? And these projects started,

Speaker 2: (07:51)

I believe this is the optimist in me. Uh, I believe by, by the end of this year, we should, we should hopefully see a final rules. Uh, but for us, we are writing the application right now in anticipation of this foods being finalized. It quickly dependent the stages of the project we have right now, a billion dollar worth projects that are ready to go, what did it took at the ground, but we have multiple billion dollar project that we still in the environmental, uh, and design process. And that is what I hope when the department of transportation, the national department of transportation, put the rules out, that they allow projects in the environmental stage to be eligible. And that's our hope. So it could be very quickly, but it will all depend how quickly the rules can be put in place. So the rules of the game are clear.

That was Hasan Ikhrata is the executive director of the San Diego Association of Governments, speaking with KPBS Midday Edition Host Maureen Cavanaugh.

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Coming up.... Clifton Hicks came from a military family. He joined the army and was deployed to Iraq in 2003. What does he think when he looks back on his service?

"The only thing I'm proud of is that I spoke out against the war."

We'll hear from any Army veteran who became a conscientious objector...more on that next, just after the break.

Now the story of an American Veteran, the latest in our five-part series from the American Homefront. Clifton Hicks came from a family with a long history of military service. Watching the 9/11 terror attacks on TV in high school, all he wanted to do was join the Army and serve his country. But his deployment to Iraq in 2003 fundamentally changed his relationship to the military.

Pretty quickly, I learned to hate the place.

I did count the days, I did not like what I was doing. It wasn't glamorous, it wasn't masculine, it wasn't honorable, it was just stupid and dangerous. Everybody that I knew around me, nobody wanted to be there, you kick yourself every day for being such a damn fool that you volunteered to come out to do this.

I think the only time I ever really saw confirmed enemy, you know, up close, was when I was on gate guard duty where you have to guard the main gate to the base. And there was a mortar attack while I was on gate guard. And after the mortar attack, this Iraqi guy came walking up to the gate, and he had his hand blown almost completely off. His hand was wrapped up in a bloody rag. And they said they brought the medics up there. And they quickly determined that he had powder burns on his hand. He had just been firing the mortars at us. He was just a regular guy.

And truth be told he had every right to try to kill me. It's their land, it's their city. I have no business here. You know, if I'd been born in Iraq, I would be him.

And then there comes that happy day when you hand it all off to the new guys. And it's their problem now. We started to hear through word of mouth that things were going really bad in Iraq, you know, parts of Baghdad had been overrun, our old base where we were had been overrun, all of Fallujah had been taken by insurgents, and a lot of Americans were getting killed.

But we still had that feeling like man, we got out of there just in time, it never occurred to anybody around me that the Army would send us back. Things were very different. When we got back, all of the overpasses over the highway had been blown up. And the closer we got to Baghdad, the more of just destruction you started to see on the side of the road, you started to see, you know, tons of shot up burnt like trucks and cars on the side of the road, you would see the occasional dead person on the side of the road.

You know, I kind of clammed up at that point, I stopped talking for a long period of time, because basically as a 18 year old kid at that point, it was more than I could process. I could not make sense of the things that I was seeing. So my response was just to shut down and just pull into myself.

When I did start speaking again, I was very vocal about how wrong the war was, how we shouldn't be there, and how we were all getting used.

When I got back to Germany, they had us in the basement lined up outside the arms room, and we all drew our rifles again, right back into training. Like that's how the Army operates. So I knew I was like, oh, they're gonna send me your right back as soon as they can. I remember that moment where I thought, "I've got to get out of this any way I can. I will not go back to Iraq."

And so once I'd done my research, I found the Army's definition of a conscientious objector was just that you had to have be genuinely opposed to war. There was tons of paperwork. But after eight months, somebody came and said, "Hey, you're needed up at the first sergeant's office." And I was like, great, I'm in trouble again, because I've been in a lot of trouble.

And so I went back up to the first sergeant's office and, and he said, "All your paperwork came through, you've been honorably discharged."

That was probably the happiest day of my life. The only thing I'm proud of is that I spoke out against the war.

That's Clifton Hicks, recorded by Insignia Films for GBH Boston. You can hear more on the PBS series "American Veteran" and the podcast "American Veteran, Unforgettable Stories."

This excerpt was produced by the American Homefront Project.

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.

Rising prices have forced restaurants and even food suppliers to get creative. Meanwhile, a first draft of a new congressional map was released last week with the approval of California’s independent redistricting commission. Plus, the latest episode in a series of veterans stories told in their own voices.