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Public officials can be sued for blocking critics on social media

 March 19, 2024 at 5:00 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Debbie Cruz….it’s Tuesday, March 19th… the first day of spring!


Public officials *can* now be sued for blocking people on their social media pages. More on the recent supreme court ruling next. But first... let’s do the headlines….


Hotel vouchers for flood victims can now be extended up to May 11th.

The Emergency Temporary Lodging Program was launched last month to provide lodging for San Diegans affected by the January storms.

Originally, the vouchers were set to expire this month.

Now eligible San Diegans in the program, will have their situation evaluated by case workers, and could have their vouchers extended up until the later date.

The county is working to move victims into programs with longer term benefits.

For more information on available resources for residents and businesses, visit alert-San-Diego-dot-org-recovery. 


The stage is set for the men's March Madness tournament and the SD-SU men’s basketball team will be there.

The first round of N-C-double-A tournament play will be the Aztecs against the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

The game will be in Spokane, Washington on Friday.

The Aztecs were seeded fifth.

If they beat U-A-B, they'll play the winner of the game between number 4-seeded Auburn and number 13 Yale.

That second-round game will be played Sunday in Spokane.


There’s a chance of more rainy weather today (Tuesday), but only in the county’s mountains.

The other areas of the county will be dry, but cloudy.

Temperatures in the inland areas and deserts will be in the 70s, by the coast, temps will be in the low 60s, and in the mountains it'll be in the low 50s.

Forecasters say the rest of the work week will be clear for the most part, but could get cloudy at times.


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


A recent supreme court decision says officials **can** be sued for blocking their critics on social media.

The case involves a lawsuit filed against two elected officials in Poway.

North County reporter Alexander Nguyen has more on what this means.

In 20-17 … two parents in the Poway Unified School District sued after they were blocked from commenting on two school board members' social media pages. The parents said the blocking violated their First Amendment rights. The Court ruled that public officials who use their personal social media to make official statements may not delete comments or block critics. But the Court also said officials are also private citizens off the clock and have their own constitutional rights. David Loy is with the First Amendment Coalition. “The ruling does not necessarily make it harder for people to exercise their own free speech rights in their private capacity. Again, I think the best practice would be for individual officials. If they want to maintain a personal social media presence, separate apart from their work, they can create a separate page, designate it purely personal.” With the Supreme Court ruling … the case now goes back to the 9th Circuit for the justices to re-evaluate based on the new standards. Alexander Nguyen …. KPBS News.


San Diegans impacted by the severe January storms now have until Friday to apply for disaster Cal-Fresh benefits.

This is an extension of the state’s earlier deadline.

Cal-matters’ Olivia Jow has the details.

The CalFresh benefits will cover eligible households for 30 days’ worth of food. To be eligible, people must have lived in storm-impacted areas on January 21st...when record levels of rain swelled creeks and rivers...flooding neighborhoods. News reports have linked several deaths to the storm and flash floods. And the governor’s office has said hundreds of San Diego-area residents were displaced.

TAG: That was Cal-matters’ Olivia Jow.

To apply, residents can call the county’s social services office or submit an application on-line, at benefits cal dot com.


A new survey of thousands of military families finds quality of life issues, again among the top concerns, and fewer say they’d recommend military service.

Military reporter Andrew Dyer has this.

Pay, housing, spousal employment and time away from home were the top concerns both for service members and their households. childcare costs were also high on the lists. maggie meza is the san diego chapter director of blue star families, the military service organization that’s conducted the survey for the last 15 years. she says many of the issues start with employment challenges military spouses face due to frequent military moves. “and if the service member is only here for a short while most military spouses can't get employed. and employers won't take a chance on them.” the survey suggest these issues could be affecting recruiting. more than half of the active-duty respondents said they’d recommend military service as recently as 2016. this year, that number’s down to 33 percent. andrew dyer, kpbs news.


Water is something most of us rarely think about: you turn on the tap and water is there.

That water comes to the county from different sources, but it must all travel through pipes.

Reporter John Carroll tells us about the high-tech methods being used to keep those pipes maintained, and the water flowing.

It takes a lot of pipelines to get water to all of San Diego County’s nearly three-million people.  This story is about large-diameter pipelines. There are 308-miles of those big pipes running all through the county, delivering water to the San Diego County Water Authority, and its 23 member agencies.  So, it’s critical that they’re properly maintained.  The Water Authority’s Martin Coghill. Martin Coghill/San Diego County Water Authority “These large diameter pipelines are known in the industry as transmission pipelines.  So they’re like the main arteries in your body.” Sticking with the medical analogy… you might call Coghill the lead physician when it comes to the health of this area’s water transmission pipelines.  His actual title is operations and maintenance manager for asset management for the Water Authority.  We met him off Sycamore Canyon Road in Poway within the Goodan Ranch Preserve.“So, there’s visual, with us climbing inside the pipelines and then also using video technology.” Coghill showed us the various devices he and his colleagues use in determining what shape the transmission pipelines are in.“We have acoustic fiber optic cable which goes in some of our pipelines…” That cable picks up the noise made when high-tension wires, wrapped around a pipe - snap.  That tells engineers the exact location of a problem. There’s also an acoustic leak foam detection ball which flows with the water… it can “hear” leaks as it bounces along. Back to that visual technology… Coghill invented a device he calls “Scanny.”  It looks like a big spider with arms extending from a center disc that holds it all together.  It makes high-resolution video surveillance possible in areas where it’s a challenge for humans to be in the pipes. “Some of them go through very steep sections and that requires specialist rope support for the personnel     that are inside the pipelines.” In other words, it’s risky for people… With Scanny, you get the surveillance without the danger. “Scanny allows for us to lower the device with an array of 7 cameras so that we can get the equivalent resolution from someone being inside the pipe done via the cameras.” All this work is happening in what’s known as Aqueduct One, comprised of one pipeline built in the 1940s and Pipeline Two, built in the 1950s.  Pipeline Two is currently being inspected with repairs to follow, then the older one is up next for inspection and repairs. “This condition assessment, which involves 15 miles, we anticipate will be complete in about 4 to 5 weeks.  There is some other work going on in this pipeline to rehabilitate these structures, and that will take about a year and so in a year’s time we will actually finish that rehabilitation work and we’ll switch the pipelines over.” The surveillance and repair work being done now wouldn’t have been possible 10-years ago.  Coghill says they can do it now, thanks to conservation by water users in San Diego County. “The demands have come down sufficiently enough that we can isolate one pipeline from the other and just supply for this time of year using one pipeline.” And so the work continues… the never-ending work of keeping the pipelines in good shape… the pipelines that deliver something no living thing on earth can do without… the elixir of life… water.  JC, KPBS News.


Some San Diego Community College students are getting a free ride for their education.…but this support is not going toward tuition…

Education reporter M.G. Perez tells us it helps meet another fundamental need.

According to the San Diego Community College District… almost half of all students attending a continuing education campus have an annual income of under 10 thousand dollars. A car is a luxury most can’t afford…even a monthly bus pass can be expensive. This spring, eligible students are being given one-hundred dollar vouchers to cover the cost of taxi rides…and they can re-apply if needed. It’s a pilot program and a partnership between the College of Continuing Education and the United Taxi Workers of San Diego. Peter zee-SHE is a trustee and financial advisor for the taxi union.. “the drivers are providing rides to the students …the students are paying the drivers who then give it to their families who are part of the community…we’re building community wealth.” The taxi vouchers are funded from the school’s budget to support the basic needs of students. MGP KPBS News.


That’s it for the podcast today. As always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. Tomorrow, one of our KPBS reporters joins me on the podcast to talk about a new digital video series that takes an in-depth look at the child care crisis in San Diego. Join us for that, plus the day’s top stories. I’m Debbie Cruz. Thanks for listening and have a great Tuesday.

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A recent supreme court decision says officials can be sued for blocking their critics on social media. The case involves a lawsuit filed against two elected officials in Poway. In other news, San Diegans impacted by the severe January storms now have until Friday to apply for disaster CalFresh benefits. Plus, we learn about the high-tech ways the San Diego County Water Authority is keeping the water flowing to the county’s nearly 3.5 million people.