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Marine hearing continues

Good morning. I'm Anica Colbert. It's Friday, January 7th. The latest on the Marine hearing. more on that next, but first let's do the headlines.

Speaker 1: (00:20)

San Diego county residents are being urged to avoid emergency rooms if you're seeking just COVID 19 testing, that's due to the ongoing surge in cases, hospitalizations and staffing shortages at hospitals. Officials say you should only go to the ER if you have symptoms that need emergency care. Meanwhile, hospitalizations continue to climb. 400 people have been hospitalized since Christmas county public health officials reported more than 5,700 COVID 19 cases on Thursday.

Monday was the deadline for all San Diego city employees to be fully vaccinated. By now, 86 city employees have been notified that they could be fired for failing to comply with the COVID 19 vaccine mandate. The departments with the most advanced notice of termination letters are public utilities with 19 police with 15 and parks and recreation. With 13. last month, 900 of the city's employees were warned that they needed to comply with the mandate.

Speaker 1: (01:23)

The city says employees who got vaccinated or applied for a medical or religious exemption did not receive a termination notice.

Authorities are seeking the public's help in finding the suspect who spray painted vulgar slurs on a wall at Santo academy high school on new year's day. The San Diego Sheriff's department has released surveillance photos to help identify the suspect who was seen running away. Anyone with information is asked to call or leave an anonymous tip with crime stoppers at 8 8 8 5 8 0 8 4 7 7 from KPBS. You are listening to San Diego news. Now stay with me for more of the local news. You need Several Marines face being kicked out of the core after a July, 2020 accident that San and amphibious assault vehicle and killed nine service members. K PBS's Sally Hickson spoke with KPBS military Steve Walsh yesterday, about what happened on the third day of the administrative board hearing. This

Speaker 2: (02:29)

Is basically a hearing to determine whether or not Lieutenant Colonel Michael Regner will remain in the court and whether or not he will be able to retire at his existing rank. And so it's a little bit different than courts. So they allowed the families of the Marines who die that day. They allowed them to testify. I've I've just come out of the hearing room. This was incredibly emotional testimony. So from Stockton, California, her, uh, son, Christopher, the sailor on board who died, she talked about how this has devastated her life, that her two older daughters no longer want to have children after watching her go through what she's gone through over the last 18 months, broke down several times saying that, uh, some days she's angry, some days she's strong. Sometimes she feels like she has cement all of over her body and she cannot move. Uh, again, there, there are something, there are about six parents who have come from all over the country to be here in the hearing room for this, including also Christopher's dad who, uh, says this. This is really going to be their only chance for justice. Nobody has being charged in military court. These are the really, their only chance to, uh, have their son, um, lives recognized. And they wanna make sure that, uh, this sort of thing never happens. Again. The

Speaker 1: (03:48)

Decision on Lieutenant Colonel Michael jayner's future with the core is expected to come down later today For over a decade. Police in San Diego county have been using technology that tracks the location of people's cars. But as I knew, sources, Cody Delaney found some agencies have been breaking state law by sharing that location data with law enforcement all over the country, police

Speaker 3: (04:18)

Use automated license plate readers to capture every plate that comes into view along with the time date and location, that data can be used to connect cars to crime scenes, but it also can reveal where and how you spend your time. Master

Speaker 4: (04:33)

Surveillance technology collects the most intimate information about our personal

Speaker 3: (04:38)

Lives. That's the pseudo a lawyer with the a C L U of Northern California. Most

Speaker 4: (04:44)

People do not have a choice except to drive in many car dependent communities. And so they have to subject themselves to this surveillance, whether they like it or not.

Speaker 3: (04:54)

That's why in 2015, former state Senator Jerry Hill sponsored a law to restrict its use.

Speaker 5: (05:00)

When you're a, a hammer, everything looks like a nail. And, and that's, you know, where is that line? You know, is

Speaker 2: (05:06)

Everyone a criminal?

Speaker 3: (05:07)

The law says data has to stay in California, but until recently five local police departments have been sharing with states as far away as Florida and New York police maintain the more information available, the more successful they can be.

Speaker 1: (05:22)

That was, I knew source investigative reporter Cody Delaney. I knew source is an independently funded nonprofit partner of K PBS. The new year is bringing a new financial opportunity for hundreds of students in the San Diego community college district application are now being taken for the promise program. KPBS education reporter mg Perez has more.

Speaker 6: (05:51)

Brenda Martinez is in her second semester as a San Diego city college student COVID has forced much of her learning to be online right here at the table, in her kitchen, where she spends time with her 12 year old son, Giovanni wonder

Speaker 7: (06:07)

All my classes are getting paid right now through promise

Speaker 6: (06:10)

The San Diego promise program gives Brenda two years free tuition and grants, money for textbooks that she is using in her studies to become an alcohol and drug counselor. Her story also includes a four year old daughter. She is working to gain custody of, and she is a recovering drug addict.

Speaker 7: (06:30)

I just know I'd be good at it. I know that I have passion for, for the addict, for the loss, for the, for the people that are like less

Speaker 6: (06:39)

Fortunate. The promise program is available to eligible high school graduates or G E D students attending San Diego city, Mesa Miramar, or the continuing education community colleges, private donations, also fund students who are veterans undocumented or come from foster home promise program coordinator. Luke Ben Chaka is also its most devoted supporter and cheerleader to marginalized students. It's an investment

Speaker 8: (07:06)

For you. Uh, we believe in you, we believe in your future. We believe in your family. We believe in your journey and we believe that your journey can start here at the community college district here in San Diego,

Speaker 9: (07:15)

Money has always been a challenge. Me

Speaker 6: (07:17)

18 year old, Abraham Aguilar is a freshman promise recipient. His family comes from Mexico and is struggling to make ends meet. He is studying for a career in heating and air conditioning installation. What keeps you going?

Speaker 9: (07:32)

Um, just my, my family, my mom, mostly my mom, my mom, and knowing there's money in the industry.

Speaker 6: (07:39)

The promise students sign a contract to maintain at least a 2.0 average meet with counselors and succeed in their dreams. Brenda Martinez made a promise to herself as well.

Speaker 7: (07:51)

I promised myself that, that I wouldn't quit. I promise myself that that no matter what it takes, I have to get there.

Speaker 6: (08:02)

Mg Perez, KPBS news,

Speaker 1: (08:12)

Hundreds of children in national city were tested for COVID 19 on Thursday ahead of their return to school on Monday. And in celebration of three Kings day, each kid was able to pick out a toy of their choice. Thanks to some donations. K PBS reporter Alexandra, Ron hell has more. Oh yeah.

Speaker 10: (08:33)

The national school district and the California highway patrol joined forces to give more than 400 children in a special gift to celebrate three Kings day. It's a holiday celebrated by many Latino families. CHP officer Salva Castro says it's an event they do every year for the community. And this year it was held at Lincoln acres elementary.

Speaker 11: (08:57)

For me, this has been something for that I've always liked to do because I've celebrated since I was a kid three Kings day. Um, we, we wait and that's the day we open our stocking. Uh, so I know a lot of families here in, in San Diego celebrated when

Speaker 10: (09:11)

Castro heard there would be hundreds of kids getting tested on day. He worked with the mayor to organize the joint event. Yeah. He's like, I know what I want. Although a free toy is a great incentive to get tested. Gastro

Speaker 11: (09:24)

Says we're given to any kid that comes in, whether they test or not, they get a toy.

Speaker 12: (09:28)

So they're really happy with that, that, that, even though he wanted the bicycle, somebody else got the bicycle, but he's really happy that he's gonna get a

Speaker 10: (09:36)

Little gift today. A Cuevas, a mom of two boys at national school district says the free toys are very much appreciated, but she has getting her kids tested before they go back to school on Monday is important for her. It does worry because

Speaker 12: (09:51)

You don't know where they have been. If they have it, if they don't have

Speaker 10: (09:55)

It. She says seeing other families in the school district take the same precautions gives her peace of mind. National city mayor Alejandro soles says, that's what it's all about. We

Speaker 13: (10:07)

Saw folks waiting at five 30 in the morning to get the rapid test kits. And there was two in each box and those are the parents of family members of the youth that are

Speaker 10: (10:18)

Here waiting more than 400 students were in line to get tested. Each student was given a rapid test plus a PCR test, all in the hopes for a safe return to school. We spotted one kid on his way home who received just what he wanted for three Kings day. Have a good, very nice Alexandra KPBS news

Speaker 1: (10:44)

Coming up businesses are facing more and more uncertainty ahead of the latest surge of COVID 19 and the high transmission of the Omicron variant we'll hear from the San chamber of commerce next, just after the break Instances of restaurants, grocery stores and other businesses temporarily closing their doors are becoming more common. As the pandemic carries on. Uncertainty remains high over how the latest surge will impact commerce the long and short terms. Jason Wells is the chief executive of the San Joe chamber of commerce. He spoke with K PBS's, Christina Kim on midday edition about the challenges local businesses are facing.

Speaker 10: (11:51)

We're seeing historically high case

Speaker 14: (11:53)

Numbers and extensive transmission of the virus in recent weeks. Has this impacted businesses in your area?

Speaker 15: (11:59)

Well, absolutely. And you know, I think the, the hard part is we're all, uh, we, we, we kind of thought we were getting over this, right. Um, and then to have a, this, this new wave of a new variant, um, you know, as a chamber, we're doing all we can, uh, we've got, uh, uh, uh, sanitizer, gel masks, everything we provide out to our businesses. Um, we've got a, uh, agreement with Sani health. They vaccinate folks here in our, uh, parking lot, um, to date. Um, I think they've done a couple thousand, which, uh, their next highest site was like 600. Uh, so we're doing all weekend on the business owners. It's especially, uh, you know, San with the border restrictions. We were only actually allowed to reopen, uh, a little over a month ago. Uh, so this is, this is especially worrisome, you know, and then I think also you get the impact of, you know, you're hearing the news and it's like, okay, this is spreading fast, but it's not as bad. So now you have people wondering, you know, should we be as, as, as worried, you know, as we were before of of course, again, as a chamber, we were saying, yes, but I think, you know, we've been given the precautions, you know, if you're wearing the masks and doing the distancing and being vaccinated, you know, the shouldn't be much to worry about. That's kind of the, the attitude we've been taking.

Speaker 14: (13:09)

Are you hearing concerns from business owners about having to close down because of this,

Speaker 15: (13:15)

We endured over 20 months of in effect being closed because of border restrictions. So our businesses are not set up to endure any further kind of closure. You know, it it's, we, you know, we're fighting for our livelihoods here. Um, as I said, as a chamber, we're just making sure that we do it safely. Assuming the CDC knows what they're talking about and we believe they do. We're gonna, you know, continue in the safest way possible.

Speaker 14: (13:39)

As you're saying, Sandy Ciro is in the unique position of having much of its commerce, having just recently been reinvigorated by the recent border opening. So how our business is faring. Was there an uptick during the holiday season? And how, if at all, is this recent Sur are kind of just changing the way business is working down at the border.

Speaker 15: (13:58)

There's obviously an uptick in, in, in the removal of the restrictions. However, as you started the segment out with, you know, uncertainty is always the worst piece here. And so for us, when you're talking about border crossings, anytime there's uncertainty, as far as if the border is open or not, you know, people will, will not make tricks it in our case, even though the restrictions were lifted for vaccinated people, there's still a question Baja as to do my children need to be vaccinated. Do I have the right kind, vaccination is my vaccination on the list, those types of things that kept people back still we've seen an uptake, but still only about 70 of our

Speaker 14: (14:36)

Side from the surge business owners are having to contend with the great resignation as well, a record number of 4.5 million Americans quit their job this past November. Are you hearing about a shortage of workers? Are businesses in San struggling to attract workers?

Speaker 15: (14:52)

Absolutely. You know, the interesting thing is, um, you know, amids all the problems the economy seems to be doing well because there's a lot of jobs, you know, low end retail or, or, or, uh, tourist jobs. What have you that are paying, you know, 17, $18 an hour. So I've got people that sell, you know, pizza by the slice and they're like, I can't afford over four an hour. Right. And they've had to change over their staffs completely. Yes, we are definitely seeing a work shortage. It's maybe not ASED as some areas, but, uh, we still are being impacted. Like I said, I I've, I've got restaurants that have, uh, completely changed over their, their, uh, staff, uh, because it's, it, it, it's hard to find employees,

Speaker 14: (15:30)

Right? You mentioned earlier that businesses have endured so long and so much and are already fighting for their livelihood, as you're saying, employing family members to make it through. But there's still the issue of temporary closure due to a significant portion of staff being sick. Are you seeing a lot of that? And, and what does that mean for the future of business in the San area?

Speaker 15: (15:50)

That's just something as business owners we have to deal with. Uh, there there's no magical pot of, of employees anywhere. Like I said, we've been utilizing families both to get through, you know, the time when we had border restrictions and employees couldn't even get, uh, you know, to work on time. And now with people being out with positive COVID tests,

Speaker 14: (16:07)

As we start this new year, I know there's a lot going on, but what's your short outlook for local

Speaker 15: (16:13)

Businesses set us here is at the heart of our by national region, a very strong by national region. So I, I think we're gonna be okay. What the holiday season allowed us to do is stabilize some of these businesses. Um, of course, then no Macron comes in until I'm hoping that this is just a bump in the road. I think we're gonna have a fairly strong spring, um, and stabilizing ourselves, allowing our business to pay off debt that they incurred to over the months of the restrictions where they had no clientele. You know, I think business is going to be okay, what we're doing as a chambers, we've developed a recovery plan. Some of that is a one-on-one assistance to businesses and helping get a little bit more onto e-commerce. We've got some infrastructure concepts in and projects, uh, that were trying to do the enhanced businesses.

Speaker 15: (16:56)

We also lost, uh, 276 businesses. So some of that infrastructure improvement is meant to bring in new businesses. Um, however, it's been a little slow in getting all of those elected officials that felt bad for us during the restrictions. It's been as little slow, having them with, uh, give us checks to help put the recovery right now, out. As far as the chamber is concerned, we have three major focuses. That's one helping businesses get through, uh, this latest wave two, it's getting our recovery plan funded and three it's working with CBP to get the, uh, reduction of border. Wait times back as a, as a priority. Again, we can be fully open with no, but if we've got three to five hour border wait times, we're still closed.

Speaker 1: (17:37)

That was Jason Wells, chief executive of the San Joe chamber of commerce. He was speaking with K PBS's, Christina Kim on midday edition. That's it for the podcast today. Be sure to catch K PBS midday edition at noon on K PBS radio, or check out the midday edition podcast. You can also watch K PBS evening edition at five o'clock on K PBS television. And as always you can find more San Diego news online@kkpbs.org. I'm Anna Colbert. Thanks for listening and have a great day.

A hearing regarding a July 2020 sinking of an amphibious assault vehicle continued on Thursday. We have the latest. Meanwhile, our partners at inewsource found that several San Diego County police agencies have been sharing license plate data across the U.S., in violation of state law. Plus, instances of restaurants, grocery stores and other businesses temporarily closing their doors are becoming more common as the highly infectious omicron variant continues to spread at an unprecedented rate among the nation’s population.