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Lawsuit demands military do more for discharged service members

 September 28, 2023 at 5:00 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Matt Hoffman, in for Debbie Cruz….it’s Thursday, September 28th.


A lawsuit is demanding the military help service members discriminated against over their sexual orientation.

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


A new real estate report says San Diego is the seventh most expensive city in the U-S for renters.

According to the report, the median rental price for a one-bedroom apartment in San Diego is nearly 2 thousand five hundred dollars a month, and a two bedroom, is just over 3-thousand-250 dollars.

Lucinda Lilley is the past president of the Southern California Rental Housing Association.

She says she’s noticing that rental prices are leveling off.

“The rents are not increasing at the rate that they were increasing last year and the year before. What I'm seeing is that people have kind of caught up a little bit.” 

Even though prices are much higher than before the pandemic, the Zumper report says year-over-year rental prices are down 5 to 6-percent.


If you’re an S-D-G-AND-E customer, a little relief is on the way.

The utility’s residential customers will see an almost 61-dollar credit on their billing statement next month.

The credit comes from the state’s cap-and-trade program.

It requires power plants, and large industrial facilities that emit greenhouse gasses to buy carbon pollution permits.

You don’t need to do anything extra to get the credit.


Seniors with certain medicare plans will soon have to find different doctors through Scripps Health.

Doctors with Scripps Clinic and Scripps Coastal Medical Groups will no longer be in-network for individual medicare advantage plans next year.

In a statement to KPBS, Scripps said the revenue from those plans doesn't cover the cost of patient care it provides.

Around 32-thousand San Diego County patients will be affected by the change.

Both medical groups will continue to accept original medicare plans.


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


Before 20-11, tens of thousands of service members were forced out of the military because of their sexual orientation – many with so-called “bad paper” discharges.

Now, the Pentagon says it will proactively fix some of them, but a new lawsuit insists it do more.

Military reporter Andrew Dyer has more.

Before 1994, gay, lesbian, and bisexual people were barred from the military. then, from 1994 until 2011, a policy called "don't ask, don't tell" allowed them to serve - as long as nobody knew their sexual orientation.  all told, since 1980, almost 33-thousand people were separated from the military under these policies. on sept. 20th, the 12th anniversary of don't ask, don't tell's repeal, the pentagon announced it will begin proactively upgrading the discharge codes of those separated under that policy. however, that doesn't help the more than 20,000 people who were tossed out of the military before 1994 when don’t ask don’t tell took effect. a new federal lawsuit filed in california seeks to address that. jules sohn, marine veteran “for me, i went into the marine corps going, ‘hey, i want to be a marine. that's really what i want to do.’” jules sohn, a plaintiff in the lawsuit, was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant in the marine corps in 1999. she says she knew that as a member of the lgbtq community under don’t ask, don’t tell, she’d have to live in the closet. “i could have my personal life and my marine corps life. and so this is my idealistic self at my early 20s thinking i could do that.” after a tour in iraq in 2005 sohn left active duty. she was approached by activists with the servicemember’s legal defense fund to talk about serving under the don’t ask don’t tell policy. she says her decision to share her story is what sparked an investigation into her, even though she was in the inactive ready reserve. sohn was discharged in 2008. although it was an honorable discharge, it was involuntary, which she sees as a black mark on her military record. “how do you explain that to people, right? it's like kind of awkward because they're like, my oh, is it a dishonorable discharge? you're like, no, it’s an honorable discharge it’s involuntarily and they don't understand what that means.” elizabeth kristen is an attorney who specializes in gender equity and lgbtq rights. she says service members discharge papers include outdated and discriminatory language. elizabeth kristen, attorney “it says to me. shocking things on it, you know it says homosexual admission. it says homosexual conduct it says attempt to engage in homosexual, conduct attempt to engage in same sex marriage.” this language appears at the bottom of people’s dd-214s, the document veterans submit for va benefits and to qualify for veteran preferences when applying to federal jobs. veterans can petition on a case-by-case basis to have their discharges amended, kristen said, but the process often requires legal help, so many never do. san diego attorney melissa johnson enlisted in the air force when she was just 17 and excelled – she even joined an air force women’s softball team and competed throughout europe. but she says after getting kicked out of the air force in 1983 she wouldn’t even talk about her military service. melissa johnson, air force veteran “probably for about 20 years i never even mentioned anybody that i was in the service ever. people who are my best friends, never knew i served and and i think i just tucked it away and because i talked it away even when i had the opportunity to petition to upgrade my discharge i just never did. and and i still haven't.” johnson is now the president of the san diego bar association but she says it took years to recover from the trauma of her discharge. she isn’t involved in the lawsuit but says fixing veterans paperwork is the least the pentagon can do. melissa johnson, air force veteran “it would probably make me feel better about my military service. that the government actually did something affirmatively to help me. and so i think it would make a lot of veterans feel more satisfied with their military service.” the legal team behind the suit says although it welcomes the pentagon’s new initiative regarding these discharges the department has much more to do before every veteran impacted by its longtime ban receives justice. andrew dyer, kpbs.


Starting next week, county judges will accept petitions for CARE Court.

The program will allow family members, treatment providers and first responders to petition a judge to set up a voluntary treatment plan for adults living with untreated schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders.

Officials say participation is voluntary and not forced on people.

Chief deputy public defender Richard Gates maintains CARE Court is not a pathway to conservatorship, if someone refuses services.

“I think all of the parties agree that care court is separate voluntary attempt to engage people when a therapeutic alliance is necessary to get a better outcome for them, where a conservatorship is almost the last possible attempt to protect a person from themselves.”

Petition applications for CARE Court can be found at S-D-COURT-DOT-C-A-DOT-GOV-SLASH-CARE-ACT.


The rebuilding of two aging City Heights schools started in 20-17.

Now they’re connected in an advanced education complex… as reporter M.G. Perez tells us..

Central Elementary and Wilson Middle School have been neighbors along Orange Avenue in City Heights since the 1930’s. San Diego Unified invested 150-million dollars in school bond money to expand and improve both campuses…now known collectively as the George Walker Smith Education Complex. Smith was the first African-American elected to office in San Diego County when he won a seat on the school board in 1963. Superintendent Lamont Jackson says Smith is an inspiration for generations of City Heights children… “he set the path for many of us and we should not take that lightly…and so I’m honored as a Black an educator to follow in those foot steps.” Former Superintendent and now U-S Deputy Secretary of Education Cindy Marten was on hand for the dedication ceremony. She was principal of Central when the dream of a new campus started…with students collecting lucky pennies in a jar. MGP KPBS News.


Coming up.... We have details on a new exhibit that dives into the history of the hip-hop scene in San Diego.

“I tried to get a hold of as many of the old school guys that I know from the 80s and from then the word spread. I wanted to incorporate some of the new and upcoming artists too and female artists too.” 

We’ll have that and more, just after the break.


San Diego researchers say a boost in the number of “southern” white rhinos living in the wild is a positive sign that conservation is working.

Environment reporter Erik Anderson has details.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources report says the population of the threatened rhinos increased for the first time in a decade.   The study found the wild population climbed more than five and a half percent over the last year and that happened as poaching continued to be a problem.   The San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance’s Barbara Durrant says conservation efforts get the credit. “We cannot lose sight of the goal.  We can’t let our guard down now.  These advances are wonderfully encouraging but they’re not the end of the story.” Durrant is working to revive the nearly extinct “northern” white rhino species. It is a process that could still be years away. Erik Anderson KPBS News.


It’s been 50 years since the birth of hip hop.

The genre has created regional scenes and cultural movements across the country.

Including here in San Diego where an underground movement can be traced back to the mid 80s through early 90s.

The new “Beyond the Elements'' exhibit at the New Americans Museum pays tribute to that history.

It dives into everything that defined those early days of San Diego hip hop… from graffiti art and clothing, to dance crews… and most importantly, it highlights the multicultural and immigrant youth who embraced the movement.

The exhibit is curated by graphic designer Mario ‘O-G’ Lopez.

My colleague Jade Hindmon spoke with Lopez, and Linda Sotelo – the executive director for New Americans Museum.

Here’s their conversation.

Mario, I want to start with you. This is actually your first time curating an exhibit. What inspired you to take on this project and put together a tribute to San Diego hip hop culture?

There will be a lot of art, music, and other audio-visual elements from the time… Mario, walk us through it. When someone steps into the exhibit for the first time, what will they see and hear?

Linda, a lot of the programming at the New Americans Museum centers on the voices and experiences of immigrants. Can you talk more about the museum’s mission, and how this exhibit aligns with that?

TAG: That was Linda Sotelo, the executive director for New Americans Museum and Mario ‘O-G’ Lopez, the curator of the “Beyond the Elements” exhibit.

The exhibit opens to the public tomorrow (Friday), and runs until December 31st.

The museum is located in Liberty Station.


That’s it for the podcast today. As always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. Join us again tomorrow for the day’s top stories, plus, a fellow KPBSer joins me to talk about fall events in the county. I’m Matt Hoffman. Thanks for listening and have a great Thursday.

Before 2011, tens of thousands of service members were forced out of the military due to their sexual orientation, many with so-called “bad paper” discharges. Now, the Pentagon says it will proactively fix some of them, but a new lawsuit insists it do more. In other news, starting next week, San Diego County judges will be accepting petitions for CARE Court. Plus, we have details on a new exhibit that dives into the history of the hip-hop scene in San Diego.