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Public defender signs report with false statements

 January 17, 2023 at 5:00 AM PST

Good Morning, I’m Erik Anderson in for Debbie Cruz….it’s Tuesday, January 17th.

San Diego County Public Defender Randy Mize admits to signing off on a report with false statements. More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….

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The stormy weather isn’t over yet.

According to the National Weather Service, we can expect more rain, mountain snow and strong winds in San Diego County today.

But, forecasters say tonight could be the last night of showers.

A wind advisory is in effect until this evening, so you’ll want to dress warm.

Temps will be in the 50s.

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Several East County school districts will be closed today because of the stormy weather in San Diego County.

Schools in the Julian Union Elementary and High School District, Mountain Empire Unified School District, Spencer Valley School District and Warner Unified School District will all be closed.

You can check the San Diego County Office of Education website for additional updates.

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Following a deluge of rain from atmospheric rivers, California is about to enter two weeks of dry weather.

But while the atmospheric rivers dump lots of rain on California, that doesn’t mean they move far enough inland to bring snow to the Colorado River basin.

California State climatologist Michael Anderson says San Diego remains very dependent on Colorado River water.

“If you rely on the California River basin for your water supply there will be continuing drought problems because of that extreme drought in that part of the world.”

Yes there is a longstanding drought in the Colorado river basin, but there is some good news this year.

Colorado snow packs are currently above normal.

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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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Court transcripts show San Diego County Public Defender Randy Mize admitted under oath last month that he signed off on an investigative report knowing it contained false statements.

KPBS investigative reporter Amita Sharma has more.

Mize’s admission came during the December trial of former deputy public defender Zach Davina’s successful wrongful termination lawsuit against the county. “....Mr. Mize, he was, of course, under oath, under penalty of perjury. And he acknowledged that when he signed and approved the official investigation report into Zach's complaints of discrimination and harassment, that when he signed it, he knew it was false.” Davina’s lawyer Chris Ludmer says that investigative report was the result of the Public Defender Office’s HR probe into Davina’s firing. The Superior Court jury sided with Davina in his case and awarded him $2.6 million in damages. The trial transcripts show Mize repeatedly acknowledged he knew that four of the five supervisors who sat on Davina's tenure review panel had made false statements. Panel members had known of a complaint Davina took to a colleague after appearing before the review panel. But they told the investigator they hadn’t. According to the transcript, Ludmer then asked, “And you didn’t do anything to correct them, did you?” Mize answered,  “I missed it. Ludmer follows up with, “You missed something that directly beared on one of Mr. Davina’s specific complaints of retaliation?” Mize responded, “I did.” He also acknowledged reading the full investigative report before signing it. Mize did not respond to a request for comment. Neither did the four tenure review panel supervisors Mignon Hilts, Frank Barone, Sherry Stone and Jo Super. Davina, who is gay, says a supervisor on the tenure review panel opened by asking him whether he was too flamboyant and animated … and if that hurt his clients. “Their follow-up questions were very much like, `Oh, are you sure you're being professional in court? And it became very clear it wasn't a question of what is actually professional or what is actually right as a public defender, but why aren't you acting straight?,’” Right after the tenure review session ended, Davina complained to fellow deputy public defender Jessica Enriquez that he felt discriminated against and harassed. Mize and the other supervisors labeled Davina’s complaint a breach of confidentiality, according to court records Mize acknowledged during the trial that the so-called breach had been discussed with those same panel members at a meeting on Nov. 2, 2020. And they were angry that Davina disclosed what happened at his tenure review. But that’s not what four of the five review panel members told the HR investigator. They said they never knew that Davina had complained to a colleague about his treatment. Ludmer has harsh words for Mize.  “Any senior public official doing something like that should immediately lose their job, The idea that the county would continue to pay our taxpayer dollars and keep someone in their job who's admitted to this kind of gross, unethical misconduct is shocking to me.” Ludmer urged the County Board of Supervisors to take strong action.  “I hope that the board of  supervisors will conduct an internal investigation preferably by some outside law firm that is not tainted and can hopefully make some findings and conclusions and some recommendations on what should happen not only to Mr. Mize but the entire senior leadership of that public defender’s office.” KPBS reached out to the county administration and supervisors for comment. They said the matter will soon come to the board in closed session and so it’s inappropriate to comment at this time. Amita Sharma, KPBS News.

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County Supervisor Nora Vargas has been elected chair of the San Diego Association of Governments.

KPBS metro reporter Andrew Bowen says Friday's meeting had some drama.

AB: SANDAG is responsible for planning and building transportation infrastructure, and for implementing state climate goals. Vargas represents South Bay communities. She told fellow board members she would use the chair position to build consensus and promote equity. NV: You all give me a lot of hope by saying that you are interested in collaboration, and also in making sure that there is equitability in representation, because that's something that hasn't happened, particularly for the communities of South County for so many years. AB: Later in the meeting, nine board members walked out of the room to protest Vargas' election and SANDAG's voting procedures, which give big cities more influence over transportation policy than small cities. Andrew Bowen, KPBS news.

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San Diego police are mourning the loss of a former fellow officer, killed Friday in Riverside County.

KPBS reporter Kitty Alvarado profiled Darnell Calhoun last year.

She talked to his former San Diego partner.

Veteran San Diego Police officer Chad Crenshaw was paired up with new officer Darnell Calhoun in 2020. I instantly liked him … he was happy, outgoing, But last year Calhoun became a Riverside County Sheriff’s deputy. The job was closer to home. so I was happy for him … we kept in touch…he called me two days ago … and made plans to get together soon Calhoun was killed Friday while answering a domestic violence call in Lake Elsinore. Crenshaw says his former partner was quick to act whenever he thought lives were at risk… and recounted this story from their time together: A gentleman had  a heart attack while picking up his daughter from high school and we raced over there and got there before medics did and Darnell immediately jumped on and started CPR… when the medics showed up they said hey if it wasn’t for Darnell‘s quick action doing chest compressions this guy wouldn’t have lived so Darnell …Darnell … he’s a hero. Calhoun is the second Riverside County deputy killed on duty in just over two weeks. He is survived by two sons… and a pregnant wife. Kitty Alvarado KPBS News

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A group of around 100 San Diego Unified teachers gathered last week to say they need more support.

That’s because schools are adding more four-year-olds to the transitional kindergarten program.

KPBS reporter Claire Trageser has details.

The teacher’s union had a listening session with San Diego Unified Superintendent Dr. Lamont Jackson. They were raising issues about the new grade in California: transitional kindergarten. Julia Capper was at the meeting. It was a little bit unclear this year to many of the teachers what they were supposed to be doing. She’s president of the San Diego chapter of the Association for the Education of Young Children. She says teachers want clearer guidelines on how and what they should be teaching in universal transitional kindergarten, or UTK. There's an early learning department giving communication, but a lot of the communication is, oh, ask your principals. But the principals haven't gotten training on what the UTK is supposed to be either.” CT KPBS News.

A spokesperson for the school district said in a statement that the event will help the district strengthen U-T-K and they look forward to an ongoing partnership.

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In other education-related news….

The Chula Vista Elementary School District is moving ahead with plans to convert two of its campuses to Community Schools.

The California department of education has awarded the district a half-a-million dollar grant to add additional services at Harborside and Palomar Elementary schools starting next August.

That includes academic tutoring, more sports programs, a regular onsite pediatrician, and cooking and parenting classes.

Lisa Forehand is Senior Director of Student, Family, Community and Instruction for the district.
  
“It’s no longer, ok with have the principal and the teachers making some decisions..it’s we have the community partners involved making decisions, we have the student voice that we’re hearing…and we have the parents as well.”

A Community School is a public school the state designates as a hub of services for underserved and marginalized students.

Harborside and Palomar have the largest group of non-english speaking students, and those living with food and housing insecurity.

“Community schools will allow us to close the opportunity gap and remove those barriers so they can truly have access to discover their passion and discover their talents.” 

Forehand says the district will consider its other campuses for the community designation in the future.

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Coming up.... We rounded up some of the most popular New Year's resolutions, and one stood out most. We’ll have that story and more, next, just after the break.

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People who take the train between San Diego and Orange counties have had to use other options for months now, because the tracks are closed for repairs.

And thanks to all this rain they’ll have to stick with those other options for a while longer.

KPBS reporter Tania Thorne found out how passengers are coping.

Buses have been taking passengers back and forth between Oceanside and Irvine since the track repairs began in September. The service is called a “bus bridge.” Tanzil Khan rode the bus bridge a few times. The most important thing I really like is that as soon as I got on the bus, the bus driver is professional and has a kind demeanor. The only downside Khan says… there aren’t as many time slots available for the buses. She found herself having to wait 3 hours until her bus would depart. Construction crews continue working to stabilize the San Clemente rail bed that called for the suspension of service in the first place… and the latest word is that passenger train service will resume in late February. TT KPBS News.

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Increasing egg prices are having an effect in some surprising places…. like child care.

KPBS reporter Melissa Mae explains.

MM: Sarah Song is a family childcare provider in National City, and her husband cooks nutritious, homemade meals for about 10 to 12 children. MM: She says they both got a real shock recently when he went shopping for eggs to feed their young clients. SS: “He said it was like $12.00. And I said, ‘$12.00?!’ The high cost of eggs could mean changes for Song’s meal plan, but change isn’t always easy when you’re cooking for children. SS “It’s going to be even harder to pick which menu items to put out there and see if they’re even going to like it because we know what they like, so it will be hard to switch some things up.” MM: Song estimates that her business’s food costs have gone up by 25% and she may have to increase the tuition for her daycare. Melissa Mae KPBS News.

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Some of the most popular New Year's resolutions are ones about getting in shape, whether that’s eating healthier or joining a gym.

KPBS Health reporter Matt Hoffman talked with some resolute San Diegans, and fitness instructors about how people can stick to their resolutions.

Music and drum sticks clacking. Inside the fitness center at San Diego Oasis people are getting their dance -- and exercise on. This group class is called cardio drumming -- and it involves drumsticks and large inflated exercise balls. Fitness instructor Andra Valencia leads the class– Andra Valencia, fitness instructor It’s definitely a good cardio workout so we’re using the whole body and we’re engaging all the muscles in the body so it’s a great full body workout Nats of the drumming Oasis recently held their annual Fitness Palooza, where seniors are able to try out a variant of group exercise classes and plan ahead for any new year's resolutions. Valencia I think it’s always a good time to reset your goals for the year and maybe we ate to much from the holidays and get rid of the winter fun we’ve had and get started on a fresh new page Valencia says some people will drop off after the beginning of the year.. But cardio drumming is typically fully booked.. She says when it comes to new year's resolutions to get fit -- choose something that’s going to be fun. Valencia If it feels like it’s a chore and if it feels like ugh you’re really struggling to get out and do something just pick something to keep you moving Lisa Garvey from Santee came to check out the different classes which included Soul Line Dancing and Zumba Gold.. She’s here on a new years resolution to improve her health– Lisa Garvey Santee My husband passed away last year and I had been a caregiver for many years and now I thought I have to take care of myself now Garvey says she’s tried gyms in the past, but they weren’t for her. Lisa Garvey, Santee It wasn’t an environment that was much fun for me I kind of like the comradery of the class, people are very supportive here and I kind of like that It’s that sense of community that fitness instructor and personal trainer Russell Rowe says is key for longterm results. He also says it shouldn’t feel like a chore– Russell Rowe, fitness instructor If you can make it enjoyable -- like bring music with you talk to friends go on a nice hike where the scenery is beautiful and do something that doesn’t require you to drive too far like convenience is a huge thing too it’s something that allows people to stick with their exercise Rowe says his personal training business is very busy this time of year. Rowe because of new years resolutions of course. people eat a little bit too much over christmas they’re socializing, having fun and then they’re like oh i gained a few pounds so it’s time to get back in shape Rowe says pairing a new year's resolution to get fit with a long-term goal helps people stay motivated. He also says people shouldn’t expect results overnight.. Rowe As a personal trainer you try to not get people to focus on the weight so much as the behavioral changes that will bring the weight off gradually, naturally so you’re looking more at lifestyle changes Nat Maass January is definitely the busiest time of the year for us we typically start the year with an incentive or a promotion to make it even easier to come Teri Maass is the senior director of Y experience at the San Diego YMCA.. They do more than fitness, but their 14 locations across the county all have gyms and pools. And less than two weeks into the new year, they’ve had 26-hundred new members sign up. Teri Maass, San Diego YMCA I think it’s just the year of hope. People are hopeful for new things this year 2023 maybe habits they haven’t had a chance to get to in the last couple of years Maass says over the next nine months they expect about half of new members to drop off.. They ran a promotion in January for new members and are holding a challenge next month to help people stick with their fitness goals.. At the Y, it’s also about building that sense of community. We want to build a relationship with you so you want to stay. We want to help you find a connection with your group exercise instruction your swim instructor-- other people in the class so the reason you stay isn’t because you have, but because you want to Nat soul line dancing Fitness instructors say people don’t need to be part of a class or gym to start getting fit, changing your diet and taking small steps like going on a regular walk or hike can also help. MH KPBS News. Nat end of soul line dancing and clapping.

Last week we asked you to tell us your new year’s resolutions.

They included, “to meditate daily,” “to volunteer more and help out in the community” and “to be compassionate and kind to people.”

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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 Erik Anderson. Thanks for listening and have a great day.

Court transcripts show San Diego County Public Defender Randy Mize admitted under oath last month that he signed off on an investigative report knowing it contained false statements. In other news, the Chula Vista Elementary School District is moving ahead with plans to convert two of its campuses to Community Schools. Plus, we rounded up some of the most popular New Year's resolutions, and the most popular ones were about getting in shape.