Some women in law enforcement face harassment
Good Morning, I’m Debbie Cruz….it’s Thursday, November 17th.
Locally, some women in law enforcement still face sexual harassment.
More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….
It’s been more than a week since the election, but the fate of two San Diego ballot measures is becoming clearer.
The San Diego County Registrar of Voters released another batch of ballots yesterday evening.
Measure C, which would eliminate the height limit in the Midway District is now passing by nearly nine-thousand votes.
Measure B, which would eliminate free trash pick-up for single family homeowners, is now passing for the first time since results began being reported out.
The “yes” vote is now about three-thousand votes ahead of “no”.
The Registrar of Voters told us yesterday they are nearly finished with the count, but there could be one more release of ballots before the December 8th deadline when they must certify the election.
THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA HAS ISSUED A WARNING SAYING THEFT IS UP FOUR-THOUSAND-PERCENT WITH E-B-T CARDS.
THE MAIN WAY CRIMINALS ARE stealing FUNDS IS BY USING SKIMMING DEVICES ON TOP OF A-T-M AND POINT-OF-SALE DEVICES TO CLONE THE CARDS.
SO FAR THOUSANDS OF SAN DIEGANS HAVE BEEN VICTIMS OF THIS CRIME.
THE COUNTY URGES ANYONE WHO NEEDS HELP TO CALL THEIR OFFICE, AND SAYS THEY ARE EXPEDITING THE CASES OF FRAUD.
THEY SAY CHANGING PASSWORDS ON YOUR CASH ACCOUNTS ONCE A MONTH CAN HELP PREVENT FRAUD.
Good news for many of us… gas prices are dropping.
The average price of a gallon of regular gasoline in San Diego County dropped yesterday to its lowest amount since September to five-dollars-and-44-cents.
But gas prices are still 81-cents higher than they were this time last year.
From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now. Stay with me for more of the local news you need.
Just one-in-10 law enforcement supervisors are women…
And trying to climb the ranks as a woman means sometimes having to battle sexism, toxic masculinity, even sexual harassment.
KPBS investigative reporter Claire Trageser brings us one such story from the San Diego Sheriff’s Department.
Debbie Stiesmeyer always knew she wanted to be a police officer. Former San Diego Sheriff’s Detective My parents always said, no, you're not going to do that job. It's too dangerous. But didn’t listen. She became a San Diego Sheriff’s deputy. And was eight years into a successful career. Then, in April 2021, she transferred to the Poway station as a detective. Her new supervisor was Sgt. Shawn Silva. On her first day, he stopped by her cubicle and looked at her pictures of family and friends. “He sat down, he looked around, and he said, ‘where is the picture of your boyfriend?’ I was very taken aback by that comment and I thought it was highly inappropriate and I just quickly said, ‘I don't have a boyfriend.’ And then he said, ‘well, if you don't have a boyfriend, you must be a lesbian.’” It was the beginning of a hellish three months. The harassment was constant, said in interviews with KPBS and a Superior Court lawsuit. Nearly every day … Silva commented on her body, her relationship status, her sexuality. She was just one of Silva’s targets. The department interviewed dozens of people—most of them Silva’s employees—for an internal affairs report. They all either experienced or witnessed quote “sexual harassment, discrimination, targeting and inappropriate racial remarks.” Silva retired before he was punished, and was allowed to keep his full pension. His attorney didn't respond to requests for comment. Ellen Kirschman Law Enforcement Psychologist “The culture itself is really dominated by masculine values.” Ellen Kirschman is a clinical psychologist who treats police. She says many departments allow sexism and toxic masculinity to flourish.“The emphasis on the physicality sometimes will cause smaller men and women to be held to different standards. Stacey Ralph also worked as a detective in the Poway station. In interviews and a lawsuit, she says the same things as STEES-meyer. The harassment from Silva went on and on. Stacey Ralph Former San Diego Sheriff’s Detective “If I would have just written down every inappropriate thing that he said, I would have never got my work done… I would just be so stressed or just be like, OK, what is it going to bring today, or I would just put my headphones on and pretend I was listening to something in hopes that he would just continue by my cube and I wouldn’t have to listen.” No one from the Sheriff's Department would do an interview for this story. A spokesperson sent a statement. “We hold all of our employees to the highest standards and require our staff to treat everyone with dignity, respect, and compassion,” the statement said. Kirschman says it’s common for officers to not report harassment they’re experiencing. “Very often if you report it, nothing happens, and that's even worse because then you have jeopardized yourself, put yourself out there for some retaliation and for what good did it do you? Because nothing happened.” Ralph and Stiesmeyer say that’s exactly what happened. They say they were blacklisted and faced retaliation. Finally, they couldn’t take it anymore. Both walked away from what had once been their dream job. Now works as a server in the Gaslamp. She says her experience shows why more people in law enforcement don’t report. “I walked away from essentially a $130,000 a year career, and I wasn't vested, so I don't get a pension, I had nothing lined up. That's how bad and desperate I was to get out of there… It's hard to report because there is a stigma that you're the snitch and then you're essentially blacklisted for the rest of your career.” Meanwhile, Silva’s pension pays him nearly $6,000 a month. CT KPBS NEWS
A federal judge on Tuesday ordered the Biden administration to lift Title 42 – a Trump-era policy that restricts asylum at the border.
KPBS reporter Gustavo Solis breaks down the ruling.
The ruling made by U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan struck down the controversial policy first enacted by the Trump administration. Melissa Crow is the Director of Litigation at the Center of Gender and Refugee Studies – one of the plaintiffs in the case. Crow “Judge Sullivan agreed with the plaintiffs that this policy is illegal at its core and for that reason he vacated the policy.” However, Tuesday’s ruling doesn’t automatically end Title 42. That’s because … “Judge Sullivan granted a stay this morning allowing the government until December 21 to wind down the policy and return to normal immigration laws.” That was Aaron Reichlin-Melnick. He is policy director for the American Immigration Council.He says the federal government could still appeal Tuesday’s ruling. “So at this moment we don’t know whether Title 42 will in fact end on December 21. But this is the closest it’s ever been.” Gustavo Solis, KPBS News
California regulators are inching closer to a major revamp of the rules governing rooftop solar.
KPBS Environment reporter Erik Anderson says final oral arguments on a proposed plan were debated yesterday.
The California Public Utilities Commission heard from more than 30 groups with a stake in the rule changes proposed during the last public meeting before the panel votes in December. A proposed decision slashes the value of electricity generated on rooftops, but does not include a much criticized mandatory grid access fee. Carla Peterson spoke for the state’s investor-owned utilities asking for grid access charges to be put back in the plan. “The clock is ticking for reform. By the time we transition to the new tariff the total NEM cost shift will likely exceed five billion dollars. It was three billion when you started this proceeding. Let’s not delay.” San Diego Gas and Electric officials were in the meeting but chose not to comment. Solar advocates, meanwhile, focused on the proposal to slash the value of extra electricity produced on rooftops. Brad Heavner works for the California Solar and Storage Association. “There’s a 75 percent reduction in the export credit on day one. That as part of the whole is too much. It’s too much of a shock. And I don’t think it’s too much to ask for that to be a little smoother.” The proposed decision concludes that the current system governing rooftop solar is not fair and creates inequities between those that have solar and those who don’t. Matt Baker is in charge of the CPUC public advocate’s office. He says the proposal is an improvement. “It requires new participants to be on rate plans that better align grid costs and customer bills. This is crucial if we’re going to succeed in electrifying our economy. The revamp of the state’s Net Energy Metering rules is part of a mandated legislative review. The process began about two years ago and commissioners could vote on the issue next month. Erik Anderson KPBS News
A new version of COVID vaccines could be on the way.
The white house is asking congress for an additional nine-billion-dollars in covid funding.
Officials say the additional resources are critical to continue combating the pandemic and preparing for a possible winter surge.
Money would also be used for research into long-COVID.
Dr. Eric Topol from the Scripps Research Translational Institute says the U-S has to be aggressive in developing vaccines that prevent infection and last longer.
“We want these vaccines to last for years who wants to go get a booster every four to six months we also need to be variant proof so we know how to get these vaccines to take on any variant.”
Topol says if the money is made available, the vaccines could be available within a year.
He says now is the time to get ahead of the virus while hospitalizations remain relatively low.
Coming up.... After controversy at a high-profile San Diego nonprofit, a longtime employee was fired. We’ll have that story and more, next, just after the break.
A controversy at a high-profile San Diego nonprofit prompted a board member’s resignation and concerns about retaliation.
inewsource investigative reporter Jill Castellano is back with the second part of her two-part series.
CASTELLANO: Let’s start from the beginning. Save Our Heritage Organisation, or SOHO, is a San Diego nonprofit dedicated to historic preservation. CASTELLANO: The husband and wife running it, Bruce and Alana Coons, have been accused of taking $70,000 worth of the nonprofit’s antiques to their private home in Mississippi to display on a tour that was not associated with SOHO. The Coons deny misusing any of SOHO’s assets. CASTELLANO: Christopher Pro, who worked with SOHO for 20 years, said he chose to tell the board of directors about his concerns because he thought it was the right thing to do. PRO: Life’s too short to keep feeling this and having this on your mind and shoulders and everything. It weighs, it weighs, it weighs heavy. CASTELLANO: To figure out what happened here, SOHO’s board of directors agreed to hire an independent auditor to investigate. BUT the auditor they chose was controversial… it was the certified public accountant who has worked on SOHO’s tax returns for more than 20 years. CASTELLANO: One board member was so concerned by this that she resigned from SOHO. Another board member has continued to speak out against this decision. CASTELLANO: Mason Wilder, an expert on the misuse of assets, said he sees where their concerns are coming from. WILDER: I think it could be argued that it wasn’t an entirely independent inquiry because of the preexisting relationship that the CPA had with the nonprofit. CASTELLANO: In July, the auditor concluded that all the antiques were returned and none of them were misused. But the auditor was working off incomplete records. inewsource identified a number of antiques that the Coons took to Mississippi without documenting them. That includes a $5,000 set of rosewood chairs and an almost-$5,000 Victorian table clock. CASTELLANO: Experts said poor documentation like this can make it really hard for institutions to investigate possible workplace misconduct. WILDER: It strikes me as a pretty good example of how smaller operations, oftentimes they’re vulnerable to fraud because there’s a lot of trust among the staff. And that trust can be manifested in a lack of controls or policies. CASTELLANO: Given the lack of paperwork and how the audit was handled, some people connected to SOHO are worried more antiques might still be unaccounted for. Here’s Pro again. PRO: It was a let’s bury our head in the sand attitude. That’s how I feel. CASTELLANO: Pro was let go from his position at SOHO days after the auditor finished his review. Based on the timing, Pro said he believes he was retaliated against for speaking out. Here’s some of a recording Pro took at the time. BRUCE COONS: So your position’s been eliminated. PRO: My position has been eliminated you’re saying? Correct. Okay. So we’re out of funds? BRUCE COONS: The funds that we have for employees are — PRO: So, you know, the 3 to 4 million dollars that we have in assets and everything, we just can’t use those? BRUCE COONS: You’re position’s been eliminated. CASTELLANO: The Coons said Pro was not retaliated against. They said they had to phase out Pro’s job because of the loss of a major contract and the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s Alana Coons. ALANA COONS: We basically found more other work for him and other work keeping people on as long as we could. That was the goal. CASTELLANO: David Goldberg, the president of SOHO’s board of directors, said the audit was handled appropriately and independently. He said all the antiques have been returned. GOLDBERG: What we were dealing with was not an issue of misappropriation but an issue of process, policies and how we deal with internal controls. And it continued to move in that direction. CASTELLANO: In October, SOHO adopted new policies around accepting and loaning assets. CASTELLANO: For KPBS, I’m inewsource investigative reporter Jill Castellano.
To learn more, go to inewsource-dot-org.
inewsource is an independently funded nonprofit partner of KPBS.
THE COUNTY IS AT THE TAIL END OF A SANTA ANA WIND EVENT, AND A HIGH WIND WARNING JUST EXPIRED.
BUT KPBS REPORTER KITTY ALVARADO TELLS US THAT ANOTHER ONE IS JUST ABOUT TO HIT.
The National Weather Service says this is the strongest Santa Ana wind event of the year so far, and some areas saw gusts of up to 80 miles per hour Captain Thomas Shoots with Cal Fire San Diego says they’re at peak staffing levels. The challenge we have this time of year is everything has been cooking all year long And he says this Santa Ana event has already erased the little progress made by last week’s storm. that brush it's just magically just back to doing great it’s still very flammable out there, still a lot of dry and dead vegetation and the winds will continue to dry the moisture that we did get and cause us problems Another Santa Ana is expected to begin on Friday…. And still another on Thanksgiving. fire with the Santa Ana Wind has the potential to be very, very devastating for your community Kitty Alvarado KPBS News
Poland’s former president and Nobel Peace prize winner Leck va-WEN-sah was in San Diego yesterday.
KPBS Education reporter M.G. Perez has more on his visit.
Leck va-WEN-sah was invited by the University of San Diego as part of the distinguished lecture series. In the early 1980s, he started the grassroots labor union SOLIDARITY in his homeland of Poland. In just a decade, he helped defeat communism and became the first democratically elected president of his country. He continues to support democracy around the world and his firm belief in the younger generation to carry it out. He spoke through a translator. ….because I’m too old to continue that fight….I’m leaving it to you now…you can do the work …and then you can thank me.” va-WEN-sah was awarded the 1983 Nobel Peace Prize for his campaign for freedom for Polish workers. 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 Debbie Cruz. Thanks for listening and have a great day.