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Residents accuse rehab center of dangerous conditions

 June 9, 2022 at 5:00 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Thursday, June 9th. >>>>

Widespread drug use at a renowned rehab treatment program in San Diego

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


A Marine Corps Osprey aircraft crashed Wednesday in the Southern California desert near Glamis.

Five marines were onboard the aircraft when it crashed shortly after noon Wednesday.

As of late wednesday the Marine Corps has not confirmed the number of killed or injured.

The marine corps said the rumors on social media that nuclear materials were on board the aircraft, were not true.


A former caretaker was sentenced on wednesday to 25 years to life in state prison for sexually assaulting three women at nursing care facilities in el cajon and la mesa.

37 year old Matthew Fluckiger, was convicted of three felony counts, including forcible lewd act on a dependent adult by a caretaker.

Jurors voted 11-1 in favor of convicting Fluckiger of two other counts,

but he later pleaded guilty to those charges before a retrial could begin.


There’s an Excessive heat warning for San Diego county deserts today, and it’ll stay hot throughout the weekend.

Temperatures up to 117 degrees are expected.

The national weather service recommends staying hydrated and in air conditioning.


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

An inewsource investigation has found that a renowned rehab center in San Diego is facing widespread drug use on the campus, and conditions there have become dangerous.

inewsource investigative reporter Jill Castellano has the details.

CASTELLANO: Veterans Village of San Diego started 40 years ago, with former Marine Corps lieutenant, Jack Lyon.

LYON: “The way I dealt with the war was to push it back with drugs and alcohol.”

CASTELLANO: After Lyon recovered from his addiction, he and four other Vietnam Veterans created a safe space to discuss war, trauma and substance use… which eventually became Veterans Village.

CASTELLANO: In 1990, the nonprofit built a rehab center on Pacific Highway that remains there today. Former resident Heather Miller said her life completely changed when she came to the campus.

MILLER: “I didn’t know how to be sober... I had lost so much I didn’t even know where to start, you know?”

CASTELLANO: Miller enrolled at the rehab center through Veterans Treatment Court, a program to help veterans in the justice system. She graduated from the court in January.

I’m granting your H motion, I’d ask everybody to please join me

MILLER: “I follow the rules now”

CASTELLANO: One of Miller’s mentors at Veterans Village, Marilyn Cornell, said seeing success stories like that is why she came to work every day.

CORNELL: “It was… being able to see miracles happen every single day, watching people reclaim their lives with dignity and respect.”

CASTELLANO: But Cornell, the former clinical director of Veterans Village, said the rehab center has changed dramatically over the past two years, as new leadership has pushed hard to fill beds. That’s led to a major decline in the quality of treatment.

CORNELL: “There was a sense of gloom and doom, and what’s gonna happen next... And morale was terrible.”

CASTELLANO: inewsource has spoken with 44 people who have lived or worked at Veterans Village. One of their biggest concerns is a growing presence of drugs on the campus.

CASTELLANO: They say employees are too busy to closely monitor the residents, which has made the environment unsafe. Here’s Cornell again.

CORNELL: “You’re not allowed to have it in the treatment center. You’re not allowed to have drug sales going on in the treatment center… It’s like lighting up in a cancer ward.”

CASTELLANO: Veterans Village leadership said drug use is not allowed inside the treatment center, the campus is carefully monitored and veterans are getting high quality care.

CASTELLANO: Akilah Templeton, the C-E-O, said she cares deeply about serving the veteran community.

TEMPLETON: “We want to do our part to end veteran homelessness, some people might mistake that as you know the organization being more concerned about filling beds. We are not concerned about filling beds. We’re concerned about saving lives. It’s very different.”

CASTELLANO: In late April, a resident at Veterans Village died of a suspected fentanyl overdose, and the D-E-A launched an investigation. Days later, the county probation department suddenly pulled 8 people out of the rehab center because - quote - “we believed it was in the clients’ best interest.”

CLOYES: “Do people on campus think campus is safe? No, absolutely not.”

CASTELLANO: That’s Victoria Cloyes, who’s living at Veterans Village now. Her fellow resident, former Navy SEAL Nathanael Roberti, overdosed at the treatment center in April. Roberti was on probation at the time, and now, there’s a warrant out for his arrest.

CLOYES: “So here’s a guy trying to save his life… having to get exposed to a substance that now puts his own life at risk and may have to suffer legal consequences because VVSD couldn’t clear campus of drugs.”

CASTELLANO: Cloyes says she has other concerns, too, about the quality of food and sanitation in the treatment center. She even filed a complaint with a state health agency.

CLOYES: “The biggest thing is how do we preserve this place? How do we save it? ‘Cause it is kind of a special place, and the men that established it are what we all call Mavericks.”

CASTELLANO: Those who spoke with inewsource said they want Veterans Village to succeed, and they hope leadership will listen to their concerns.

CASTELLANO: For KPBS, I’m inewsource investigative reporter Jill Castellano.

To read inewsource’s full investigation, go to inewsource-dot-org.

inewsource is an independently funded nonprofit partner of KPBS.


San Diego protesters blocked the front doors of Sempra Energy headquarters on wednesday.

Sempra is a fortune 500 energy company that owns San Diego gas and electric.

KPBS Environment reporter Erik Anderson has more.

Chanting hey hey ho ho corporate greed has got to go….

The front doors of Sempra Energy’s downtown headquarters were blocked for about two hours by San Diego residents worried about the planet’s future.

“This building is the home of the fossil fuel giant Sempra a company with big plans to sell gigatons of fracked methane all around the world in the midst of a climate emergency.

San Diego 350’s Masada Disenhouse leaned against a huge sign blocking the entrance saying she can no longer turn her back on climate change.

“Because Sempra’s business plan is to increase its profits by destroying our future and our health and I will not take it anymore

Sempra officials say they are committed to sustainability, advancing resiliency and affordability.

Erik Anderson KPBS News


A proposal to amend San Diego’s “People’s Ordinance” is a step closer to the November ballot.

On Wednesday, the city council’s Rules Committee approved sending the measure to the full council… who would have to approve putting it before voters.

San Diego is the only city in the United States that picks up trash for free for half of the city …

But the trash collection isn’t really free….taxpayers get stuck with a bill of more than 40 million dollars a year …

And that cost is expected to go up, costing half a billion dollars over the next ten years.

A grand jury has already called the current system inequitable.

San Diego City Council president Sean Elo-Rivera addressed that unfairness.

“The really what this proposal is about the city being the one that we claim to be one that values equity and sustainability one that invest in our work force and one that is committed to solving problems that affect residents everyday.”

The ballot measure would not allow privatization of trash services, and the city can’t make a profit.


Coming up.... Tuesday was the big election day and results are still coming in.
We’ll bring you an update on who’s ahead and behind. That’s next, just after the break.

The outcomes of the two-for-one election in the 80th assembly district continue to be ..well…complicated.

The race was on the ballot twice for some voters.

One race was to decide who should finish out the term of former assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez which ends in December.

In that race, As of Wednesday night, David Alvarez is leading fellow Democrat Georgette Gómez by about 39-hundred votes.

Alvarez says his strategy was simple. .

“I focused on winning the election in the special, I mean it's actually as simple as it gets. Because that means that I get to be the assemblymember and start serving this community that's been underserved, because of a lack of representation, for the last six months.

In the second, voters will decide who gets to represent the redrawn district for the next two years beginning in december.

In that race, Gómez is leading Alvarez by 1400 votes.

Alvarez and Gomez will face each other in the November general election.

But they will just be on the ballot once.


County Undersheriff Kelly Martinez and former city prosecutor John Hemmerling are headed for a November runoff in the race for San Diego Sheriff.

KPBS Speak City Heights reporter Jacob Aere has the details.

Kelly Martinez topped a seven-candidate field in Tuesday's June primary election to secure a spot on the November runoff.

Whoever wins then will succeed longtime Sheriff Bill Gore, who retired in February.

Gore endorsed Martinez. So did County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher and San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria, among others.

“I think that the public and the voters really expect a sheriff who is transparent and accountable and focused on public safety, and I am that candidate.”

John Hemmerling has a slight lead over Dave Myers for second place. In a written statement, he said the sheriff’s department needs fresh, new leadership… and said he looks forward to the opportunity to engage Martinez in a serious and detailed debate about public safety in San Diego County. Jacob Aere, KPBS News.


Democrat county Supervisor Nathan Fletcher will go to a November runoff election in his bid to continue to represent residents of District 4 He faces Republican Amy Reichert. The latest tally has Fletcher with 62% of the vote, Reichert 29%.
Fletcher was first elected to the seat – which covers parts of San Diego, La Mesa, Lemon Grove and National City in 2018. He is chairman of the board of supervisors, and the san diego metropolitan transit system. He’s also vice chair of the regional task force on homelessless.
Reichert is the co-founder of re-open san diego– an organization that sought to re-open schools and businesses that were shuttered to stem the spread of covid-19.
The organization also disapproves of vaccine and mask mandates.


Chula Vista city Councilman John McCann and Ammar Campa-Najjar appear to be the top two vote-getters in Tuesday’s mayoral primary for Chula Vista.

A November general election would pit the long-time Councilman against the former congressional candidate.

KPBS reporter Gustavo Solis has more.

John McCann is the lone Republican in a six-candidate primary race to be Chula Vista’s next mayor.

And though the city is home to more Democrats than Republicans, McCann says his comfortable lead in the primary shows party preference is not what voters care about.

“Potholes don’t have a party affiliation. I believe that people are tired of the hyper-partisanship. They just want people at the city who will do their job.”

McCann says that voters have responded well to his experience at City Hall and that will be the difference in November.

Ammar Campa-Najjar begs to differ.

The former candidate for San Diego’s 50th District congressional seat says voters are ready for new political leadership.

“The voters said they want something new, fresh different. They want new leadership. They’re tired of the same recycled career politicians.”

Campa-Najjar is currently nearly 10 points behind McCann in the primary, just ahead of third-place finisher Jill Galvez.

Gustavo Solis, KPBS News


And for an update on the san diego city council races…Three council incumbents will be on the ballot in november to keep their seats.Meanwhile two candidates will vie for an open seat in district 6.

Of those heading to a run off…

In district 2, incumbent jen campbell will face linda lukacs in november.

here's campbell.

​​“i think it’s clear from our strong first place finish that they want a councilmember who builds consensus who can work with everyone who moves san diego forward.”

In district 4, meanwhile, incumbent monica montgomery steppe will faceoff in november against gloria evangelista.

District 8 councilwoman vivian moreno had only one challenger in the race, antonio martinez, and both will advance to the november general election.

In the district 6 race, nonprofit director kent lee and tommy hough will advance in their bids to replace termed-out councilman chris cate.


And as always these results are updating throughout the day.
To catch the very latest numbers, you can go to KPBS dot org.
Just look for the very colorful live elections results button.

After being canceled in 20-20, and then scaled back in 2021, the San Diego county fair is back and in full swing...

It had its opening day wednesday.

There is one big difference this year.

all fair admission and parking tickets must be purchased online in advance.

Other than that – fairgoers can expect the works...rides, exhibits, concerts, food and animals. And did I mention food?


The San Diego Repertory Theatre is suspending all productions as of June 19 and laying off all its staff.

The theater has produced more than 300 shows during its 46 years with a mission to offer provocative and inclusive theater.

KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando speaks with the Rep’s co-founder and artistic director Sam Woodhouse.

Sam Woodhouse was planning to retire from San Diego Rep this September. But the theater he co-founded has been hit by a serious financial crisis that made it impossible for the organization to continue.

SAM WOODHOUSE: We have been challenged to produce and present programming in the basement of an active construction zone for over a year… We have suffered a significant loss of ticket sales due to the pandemic and perhaps our geographical situation. And we have been operating simply at an expense level above what we have proven we're able to generate in revenue in some ways. The simplest way to look at it is we have spent more money than we brought in.

But Woodhouse wants to make clear that The Rep is not disappearing. It is going on hiatus.

SAM WOODHOUSE: We have already formed a brain trust, if you will, to think about how we might be reborn and rise again as a more fiscally stable organization that does the art.

Moving forward the Rep will depend on volunteers, including a volunteer board of trustees and staff such as Woodhouse who are staying on without a salary. The Rep will maintain its lease on the Lyceum Theatre where it might still do some kind of programming as it contemplates what the next step in its evolution might be.

Beth Accomando, KPBS News.

That’s it for the podcast today. 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.

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Residents at Veterans Villages say there’s been drug abuse at the rehab center, and that conditions have become dangerous. Meanwhile, people protested outside of Sempra Energy Wednesday amid rising energy bills costs. Plus, The San Diego Repertory Theatre announced it’s suspending all remaining productions as of June 19th, and laying off all staff this month.