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Sheriff Gore’s last day

 February 3, 2022 at 5:00 AM PST

Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Thursday, February 3rd>>>>

The Ups and Downs of Sheriff Bill Gore’s tenure

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

The latest COVID surge is subsiding, but that didn’t keep San Diego County from passing another pandemic milestone.. Over 700,000 cases have been confirmed since the pandemic started two years ago…

Eric Topol is with Scripps Research Translational Institute. He says 90 percent of Americans would need to be vaccinated for a chance at ending the pandemic.

“We’re still far from that, so we’re highly vulnerable here in San diego, california and the entire united states.”

San Diego’s vaccination tracker shows 80 percent of county residents are fully vaccinated.. While 91 percent of residents have first doses.

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Savaii Seau has been identified as the man who died in a head-on collision with a big rig near lakeside on tuesday. He’s the brother of former San Diego Chargers linebacker Junior Seau who died in 2012. Savaii was 56.

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California is sitting at 92 percent of its historical average of mountain snow in January, down from 160 percent in December.

Sean de Guzman heads the snow surveys at the state department of water resources…

"That one dry month of January basically wiped out whatever head start we had as we head towards the end of winter. We still have about two more months to build up our snowpack but we all need to be prepared for a third consecutive dry year."

Much of the state is still in severe drought, though San Diego and Imperial counties are in a moderate drought.

Melting snowpack makes up about a third of the state’s water supply.

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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.

Today is San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore’s last day on the job. He’s 74 and was elected sheriff three times. Overall he’s spent more than half a century in law enforcement.

KPBS’s Amita Sharma has more on the legacy he leaves behind.

“I William Gore do solemnly swear….

Bill Gore took office in early 2011 after serving as interim sheriff for 18 months. It was a rough and painful time. The Swine Flu hit county jails and two teenage girls – Amber DuBois and Chelsea King – were murdered within 13 months of each other.

“I don’t think the men and women of this department could have performed any better than they did the last 18 months.”

Before joining the Sheriff’s Dept.,Gore spent 30 years working for the FBI. He was special agent in charge for the San Diego office on 9/11. Some say that job taught him the importance of collaboration.

“....So we're all working together and not in silos. He had the respect of every police chief and certainly the respect of the DA's office.”

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan lauds Gore for co-creating the San Diego Human Trafficking Task Force and forming special units for sex crimes and cold cases. She says she and Gore were instrumental in pushing for special mental health crisis stabilization units.

“He deserves credit for a lot of positives and a lot of why this area is looked at as a really great symbol for professional policingI think he would own all of those positives and would also take responsibility for the things that are negative.”

Many say the negatives outnumbered the positives during Gore’s tenure.

During his first year in office the sheriff’s department faced intense scrutiny for how it handled the case of Rebecca Zahau. In July of 2011, Zahau was found hanging in a Coronado mansion. And though she had been bound and gagged, Sheriff’s department investigators conlcuded she’d died by suicide. Zahau’s family believed she was murdered by her boyfriend’s brother Adam Shacknai. A civil jury agreed and found Shacknai liable for Zahau’s death.

In the years that followed, Gore continued to face accusations that he had rushed to judgement.

He would not be interviewed for this story. But in 2018, he told a reporter that the suicide ruling followed a careful investigation.

“We looked at this. We didn’t start off saying this was a suicide and then gather information and facts to support this.”

In 2017, Gore faced the public’s ire for the conduct of his deputies. More than a dozen local women accused deputy Richard Fischer of sexual assault and misconduct.

“He just scared me so bad, I’ll never let an officer in my house again.

Many of the women blamed Gore for not firing Fischer quickly enough from the department. Gore disagreed.

Later that year, Gore again came under fire for failing to discipline Deputy Christopher Villanueva who shot and killed Jonathon Coronel while trying to serve a search warrant. It was Villanueva’s second fatal shooting in 10 months.

“These gentlemen were unarmed. They may have been gang affiliated, but that was splashed all over the news to defame and retraumatize the family and criminalize the individual.”

Yusef Miller is with the Racial Justice Coalition. He described Gore as a skilled politician.

“I think his PR is excellent. His Department and himself, they can neutralize and deflect the complaints of the community.”

Some complaints were backed up by data. A 2021 study by the Center for Policing Equity found that San Diego Sheriff’s deputies were four times as likely to use force against Black people than Whites. Black pedestrians were also stopped 3.5 times more frequently.

Deaths in sheriff-operated county jails have also dogged Gore. A 2019 investigation by The San Diego Union Tribune showed the department had the highest death rate of California’s largest counties. Gore told KPBS he disagreed with the methodology used by the paper.

Gore chose to retire earlier than expected to care for his ailing wife, Natalie. He called her at his last swearing in as his staunchest supporter.

“You’re my rock thank you. I love you.”

Amita Sharma, KPBS News.

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Some San Diego county communities will soon have a choice on what kind of power they use.

But, kpbs reporter kitty Alvarado found some customers are confused about the choice.

Confusion I didn’t understand why we’re doing this …

BOB SIMINSKI AND OTHER IMPERIAL BEACH RESIDENTS WE SPOKE WITH HAVE A LOT OF QUESTIONS ABOUT MAILERS TELLING THEM THEY WILL NOW BE RECEIVING THEIR POWER FROM SAN DIEGO COMMUNITY POWER, THE NON PROFIT COMMUNITY UTILITY

CODY HOOVEN, THE CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER OF SAN DIEGO COMMUNITY POWER, SAYS CUSTOMERS WILL AUTOMATICALLY BE ENROLLED AND MUST OPT OUT TO STAY WITH SDG&E

It’s automatic for them so they’ll receive the same bill we work with SDG&E so they’ll just get one bill … For most customers they won’t notice much change at all except maybe a little bit of savings on their bill

BUT THEY WILL SEE MORE OF THEIR POWER COMING FROM RENEWABLE SOURCES AT A SAVINGS OF ABOUT ONE TO TWO PERCENT

KITTY ALVARADO KPBS NEWS.

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Some rural San Diego County residents could get forty thousand dollars to make their homes more fire safe.

Inewsource reporter Camille von Kaenel explains.

Dulzura resident Jack Dillender said it’s hard for his neighbors to do the work to protect their homes from wildfire.

DILLENDER: It's not that they don't want it done. It's not that they are not afraid. They're scared of fire, but it's very expensive to do this kind of stuff and they just don't have the money to do it.

Low incomes are partly why the state chose Dulzura to pilot the new program, which will bring $24 million dollars to San Diego County to help backcountry residents. The aid comes after the county abandoned a smaller but similar program.

For KPBS, I’m inewsource reporter Camille von Kaenel.

inewsource is an independently funded, nonprofit partner of KPBS.

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The National Football League has awarded 1 million dollars to two medical research teams to study the impact cannabis and C-B-D have on pain management and recovery from sports-related injuries. One of those teams is at UC San Diego.

KPBS reporter Jacob Aere says the study will include both THC and CBD remedies.

UC San Diego is one of two research facilities that will assess the potential for cannabis to relieve soft-tissue injuries in elite athletes.

Dr. Mark Wallace is the head of the UC San Diego Division of Pain Medicine.

He believes cannabis will prove to be a better pain remedy than what’s currently used in the NFL.

“A very high percentage of professional athletes have been exposed to opioids. And many of them continue on opioids after they retire. And that's one of the reasons why I think the NFL is interested in this.”

He says the initial trial will not only evaluate pain relief and recovery, but also any effects on physical function, sleep, cognition and mood. Jacob Aere, KPBS News.

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Coming up.... Students in Southeast San Diego have a new resource for getting into college and it has nothing to do with school work…

“If you’re a good player, it’s mental. It’s the experience of having to think your way around the court and use those tactics to be able to win.”

School and squash. That’s next just after the break.

The community of Southeast San Diego is getting some new resources to help children reach college and their career goals.

KPBS Education Reporter M.G. Perez tells us about the unexpected collaboration between a charter school and the old English game of squash.

There is a distinct sound to squash...the old English game played to score points with racquets slamming small rubber balls against the walls of a court.

“Why is it called squash? Because the ball is squashy.”

That’s the simple explanation from Deon Saffery, Squash Manager at the Access Youth Academy on Euclid Avenue in Southeast San Diego. The Academy offers squash lessons on the courts… and academic tutoring in a classroom after school. Neighborhood charter school students are invited to both. Saffery says it’s a perfect combination.

“If you’re a good player, it’s mental. It’s the experience of having to think your way around the court and use those tactics to be able to win.”

Even if you’re not a great player, there are benefits. 11-year old Theresa Joy says she’s not a great player and she loves it here.

“It’s a really safe place where everyone can help and it just gets your mind off things when you’re in the court.”

teacher “You’ll share a little bit about that, ok?”

Theresa is a 6th-grade student at the nearby KIPP Adelante Preparatory Academy, a tuition-free charter that opened about a year ago at its new location… steps from the Euclid Avenue trolley station. As a public charter school, there is an extended school day, allowing students more time for study and extracurricular activities… like learning to play squash through the Access Youth program.

Adelante is a Spanish word that means “ahead” or “making progress.” The charter is also about choice…according to School Leader Roxanne Cowperthwaite.

“we want it to be a choice for them…for them to say, Ok, I want to go to college because this is the pathway that will open for me...or…I have a choice to maybe not pursue college however I pursue a path that is best for me.”

The Adelante School currently has 3-hundred-70 students who live in the neighborhood… and also commuters who come from as far away as Barrio Logan and downtown. There is room for almost a hundred more students in this program offering strong academics, social-emotional learning, and a physical and mental health curriculum.

Carolina Inzuna is a 7th-grade student who never expected to find her way from class to a squash court...

“two people came into my classroom and talked about squash and they talked about how it could help with college…probably help with college ..and your health!”

The game of squash is intentional to this combination of learning and athletics. Squash is not widely played at many colleges and not as competitive for scholarships as other sports.

A-den Fent-tay is a 10th-grade charter student happy to help her odds.

“I have pretty big ambitions I would say academic-wise, that’s why I think that it’s cool to offset that with another sport.”

The Access Youth Academy for tutoring and squash lessons and the new Adelante campus are part of a master plan to redevelop and infuse resources into a 60-acre area of Southeast San Diego. The plan is partially funded by the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation. Reginald Jones is the president and CEO…

“we hope within that to demonstrate a way of community building that can be modeled in other areas and build out the entirety of Southeast San Diego and create a more vibrant place.

For now, the charter school and squash academy continue recruiting for more students.

Young Theresa Joy reminds us she’s happy to already be a member of both.

“I do want to be a pro squash player…but if it comes to a job…maybe a nurse or a dentist…(squash player or nurse?) ….yeah.”

She and many other students now have more choices as they continue their journey in the classroom and on a squash court. MGP 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.

Thursday marks the last day in office for San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore. The department made strides in fighting sex crimes and human trafficking during Gore’s 13 years at the helm. But his tenure was also marked by racial profiling, deputy misconduct and jail deaths. Meanwhile, some San Diego County residents will soon have a choice on what kind of power they use. But many are confused about how it will work, and whether or not they should opt out of San Diego Community Power. Plus, students in Southeast San Diego have a new resource for getting into college.