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Student debt forgiveness for Ashford students

 August 31, 2023 at 5:00 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Debbie Cruz….it’s Thursday, August 31st.


More than 2-thousand people will have their student debt forgiven.

More on why and how, next. But first... let’s do the headlines….


Governor Gavin Newsom's office this week announced nearly 760-million-dollars in grants, for affordable housing and transportation projects across the state

Lynn Von Koch-Liebert with the governor’s office says the money will pay for projects from Sacramento to San Diego.

“Californians are going to see 21 beautiful new developments that are designed in a way to really meet the needs of the community and residents.” 

She says the money will also fund upgrades to sidewalks and lighting, and provide services such as childcare at the new housing developments.


The U-S-D football team is under investigation for an alleged hazing incident.

Our media partner 10News is reporting that a U-S-D spokesperson told them that about half of the football team is facing varying degrees of disciplinary action.

Some have received indefinite game suspensions.

University officials did not release details on the incident, but said they do not believe anyone was physically harmed.

U-S-D gave the preliminary results of their investigation to the San Diego Police Department.

They have also contacted an outside firm to start an independent review.


We’ll be getting some relief today from the recent hot weather.

The National Weather Service says it’s expected to cool down a bit over the next few days.

Today, temps in the county’s inland valleys will be in the mid 80s, while mountain areas will be in the low 80s.

And in the deserts temps will be in the low 100s.

Forecasters say there’s also a chance of rain today in the county’s mountains and deserts.


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


Students of the former San Diego-based Ashford University got some relief from their outstanding government loans, yesterday, following a state and federal lawsuit on their behalf.

Education Reporter M.G. Perez has details.

The California Department of Justice and the U-S Department of Education investigated… then sued… Ashford University for  misrepresentation and other illegal activities in its recruitment…they won that lawsuit..and now the Biden administration will forgive 72-million dollars in outstanding loans…for the 23-hundred students impacted by the wrongdoing. U.S. Under Secretary of Education James Kvaal. The college and its owners created a high pressure sales environment, that resulted in recruiters extensively, misleading students about their career prospects, the cost to attend the University, and the time, it would take to complete and the ability to transfer credit. If you attended Ashford University between 2009 and 2020 and feel you were harmed, you can submit a claim online at STUDENT AID - dot-GOV. MGP KPBS NEWS


A local union is pushing to add a ballot measure in three San Diego County cities.

Health reporter Matt Hoffman has more.

Go to a grocery store or shopping center in San Diego, La Mesa or Chula Vista and you might see people collecting signatures for a couple ballot initiatives. One seeks to limit health care executive compensation and the other would implement a $25 dollar per hour minimum wage for workers in health care. Renee Saldana is a spokesperson for the union behind the ballot initiatives. Renée Saldaña, SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West $25 an hour works out to roughly 50k a year. We see that is the baseline to be able to make it in california, to be able to pay rent, buy groceries, put gas in your car in this very expensive state The Hospital Association of San Diego and Imperial Counties is opposed to both initiatives.. Arguing they support higher wages, but this would bring increased expenses without additional revenue. Something they say would put providers in a tough position. MH KPBS News.


In other health related news, some leaders are taking a stance against the expansion of harm reduction efforts in North County.

Those efforts include expanding access to things like sterile needles, drug paraphernalia, and drug testing kits.

Here’s reporter Tania Thorne with more.

Six North County leaders signed a letter to Governor Gavin Newsom, calling for an end to the distribution of clean needles and drug-use devices. Jim desmond san diego county supervisor We all signed on to a letter stating that we do not want these needle exchanges and pipe per smoking paraphernalia done in these cities County Supervisor Jim Desmond says state funding for  the needles and pipes would be better spent on  engagement and treatment. Tara stamos is the founder of the Harm reduction Coalition of san diego. TARA STAMOS-BUESIG/Harm Reduction Coalition of San Diego. syringe service programs and other harm reduction programs do reduce the risk to the individual. They also reduce the risk to the community. She says communities that don’t have syringe service programs see an increase in diseases and syringe litter left behind. 


The city of San Diego's new police oversight commission held its first meeting this week.

Investigative reporter Scott Rodd reports.

The new Commission on Police Practices is the result of Measure B…an initiative overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2020…which called for increased oversight of the San Diego Police Department. The City Council took nearly three years to set it up … but the new commissioners have now been officially sworn in. The commission will review police misconduct, officer-involved shootings and in-custody deaths. It will also have the power to launch independent investigations…but it’ll take months to develop a process for how that happens. While the commission cannot punish officers directly, it can make recommendations on disciplining officers to the San Diego Police Department. Commissioners will also be playing catch-up. For years, an interim commission struggled to keep up with reviewing complaints against officers. There's now a backlog of more than 100 unreviewed cases. SOC.


In the special election to replace former county supervisor Nathan Fletcher, outside spending has reached a new high of 1-point-4 million dollars.

inewsource investigative reporter Jill Castellano has the story on the money behind the recent election.

CASTELLANO: You may remember when Nathan Fletcher was elected to the San Diego County Board of Supervisors in 2018. It was a big deal. He was the first Democrat to join the board in decades. FLETCHER TAPE: “It’s a great night. I’m humbled, I’m honored, the voters give a clear and compelling message. They’re ready for change. They’re ready to see their county go in a more progressive direction. And with the election behind us, I’m excited to get to work.” CASTELLANO: The county board is in charge of billions of dollars and helps provide a range of public health, public safety and community services. So it’s no surprise that groups are interested in spending money to help get their preferred candidates elected to the board. CASTELLANO: Back in 2018, outside groups spent $1.2 million in the primary election that led to Fletcher’s victory. At the time, it was considered an unprecedented sum in San Diego politics. CASTELLANO: But that total was surpassed this year in the race to replace Fletcher, who resigned due to sexual assault allegations. The primary election on Aug. 15 amassed $1.4 million in outside spending. SHEPARD: “I think it’s noteworthy that the level of spending has ratcheted up so much.” CASTELLANO: That’s Tom Shepard, a longtime political consultant in San Diego who ran successful campaigns for past mayors and supervisors. He’s been following this year’s race, and noticed that much of the election spending is coming from labor unions. In fact, one coalition of labor unions known as “Real Working Families” spent almost $700,000 supporting Democratic candidate Monica Montgomery Steppe. CASTELLANO: Shepard said the increase in election spending is a sign of the changing power dynamics in San Diego. SHEPARD: “When there was a Republican majority on the board of supervisors, a lot of these unions played in the elections, but they played at a much reduced level because they ultimately, there was a limit to how much influence they could have with that particular board. That's no longer the case. And there's much at stake.” CASTELLANO: Labor unions and other groups can form independent expenditure committees, which allow them to spend unlimited amounts communicating to voters about candidates, so long as they don’t coordinate with candidates’ campaigns. CASTELLANO: Montgomery Steppe faced the most spending from outside groups in support of her campaign, and she also faced the most opposition spending through attack ads by law enforcement groups. She is advancing to a November runoff election with Republican Amy Reichert. CASTELLANO: In an interview, Reichert cautioned voters to be careful of the outside spending and the ads they see in the coming months. REICHERT: “I would just encourage everybody, do your homework. If you see a commercial on TV, make sure that you look at the fine print that says ‘paid for by.’ And then you're gonna know who's trying to control the strings and the puppets here.” CASTELLANO: Eva Posner, Montgomery Steppe’s campaign spokesperson, said the candidate is honored to have the backing of the working families of San Diego County, adding - quote - we are proud to have earned so much support. CASTELLANO: For KPBS, I’m inewsource investigative reporter, Jill Castellano.

TAG: Inewsource is an independently funded, nonprofit partner of KPBS.


Coming up.... The Black Panther Party is recruiting, and decades after the government spread misinformation about them, the San Diego chairman says they’re still misunderstood.

“You spend more time now having to explain to people what you are not as opposed to what you are.”

We’ll have that story and more, just after the break.


New research found that a large red tide event along the California coast in 20-20 had a significant impact on the near shore marine habitat.

Environment reporter Erik Anderson has details.

U-C San Diego researcher Drew Lucas got an unprecedented look at an algal bloom, a major red tide event in April and May of 2020. Drew Lucas, UC San Diego “during the days, a rust-colored very red-colored surface ocean you can see it even as the waves are breaking, the white of the breaking waves almost has some pink to it.” But at night, the plankton responsible for the phenomenon turned the waves into a light show. “When they’re disturbed they release flashes of light.” Researchers say the plankton got sunlight for photosynthesis near the surface during the day. And scientists recorded them diving deep into the ocean at night to get nutrients.  That bloom created toxins in the water and used up oxygen which led to fish kills that summer. Erik Anderson KPBS News.


Applications close today to join the Black Panther Party in San Diego.

Decades ago, the U-S government spread misinformation that caused the party to become mostly inactive.

Now, the San Diego chapter is one of many being revived across the country.

They say their goals are still misunderstood.

Reporter Katie Hyson explored their renewed effort to “return all power to the people.”

A room in the Malcolm X Library in Valencia Park fills with chatter. More than a dozen people  arrive for a meet and greet with The Black Panthers. Half a century later, their ten-point platform remains the same. [nat pop and underlay: number two, we seek and establish avenues of proper minimum wage employment for our people and continuously disregard the practice of codependency with the systemic and systematic modes of oppression . . . ] But copies are being passed into a new generation of hands. At one end of the tables sits their minister of information: a 24-year-old in all black, curly hair spilling out of a beret. I like my speech and my action to align. So if I'm saying I'm a panther, then you're going to see a panther. She goes by Fiel. A lot of us prefer the pseudonyms just for identity protection . . .  because the counterintelligence programs are still operating against especially black radical organizations. Fiel had been hunting for an outlet for what she calls revolutionary change. But I wasn't really vibing with . . . a lot of the movements that were happening around me. She says she mostly saw protests with no follow up. We're here, we're angry, we're a lot of times facing a lot of violence, and then literally nothing is changing. She learned about the Black Panthers in a TV documentary, and looked to see if they were still around. She joined the local chapter last year. They run a community garden, feed unhoused people and run a free store on what used to be a notorious site of gang activity. They file complaints against the police and observe stops in their neighborhoods. Through the programs, they teach the community how to empower themselves. The Panthers were mostly active in the 1960s. Their iconic black berets – brought out of the history books and back into the streets of San Diego – grab attention. Every time we go out, it's always like that. They're like, oh, my God, there's Panthers. Y’all are Panthers? What are you doing? *laughs*  You know? Can I ask what your family thought about you getting involved? I didn't tell them at first. laughs She says she was nervous about what they might think. Fiel and the Panthers face a lie that has survived across decades. They're a black hate group. They're just a black version of the Ku Klux Klan. Mychal Odom, SDSU Africana Studies professor. You know, these are all things that were put out to deliberately mislead. Misinformation put out by the FBI, who saw their organizing and socialist ideology as a threat. The government’s efforts caused the Black Panthers to go largely inactive by 1970. But they reconvened for a 50th anniversary in late 2016. This was around the time of a guy by the name of Alfred Alongo was killed in El Cajon. Alongo, Black, unarmed and in mental crisis, was shot and killed by the police who were called to assist him. Original members decided the community still needed the Black Panther Party. So they brought it back to life. Police violence is one of many issues the Panthers organized around in the 60s that persists today. At the moment that the Panthers were organizing against incarceration, there was less than a tenth of the people in prison then that are in prison now. It’s not just in San Diego. The Panthers are reviving in places across the country to address worsening issues like incarceration, housing and food insecurity. But San Diego Panthers chief of staff Koran Fields says their vision is bigger than their service programs. These are BandAids, right? Like, these are programs designed for survival, right? So this isn't the end goal. The goal, he says, is to empower the community to change their conditions. End the need for BandAids. End the need for the Black Panthers. As long as we need Panthers, then our job isn't done. The party now vets new members, including background checks. There’s also a new multicultural branch called The Panther Party. And they don’t open carry guns. The most serious weapon we carry around is an ink pen.  Applications close August thirty-first. Katie Hyson, KPBS News.


That’s it for the podcast today. As always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. Join us again tomorrow for the day’s top local stories, plus, we have some ideas on what you can do over Labor Day weekend. I’m Debbie Cruz. Thanks for listening and have a great Thursday.

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Students of the former San Diego-based Ashford University got some relief from their outstanding government loans, following a state and federal lawsuit on their behalf. In other news, in the special election to replace former San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, outside spending has reached a new high. Plus, applications close today to join the Black Panther Party in San Diego. The San Diego chapter is one of many being revived across the country, after the United States government spread misinformation that caused the party to become mostly inactive decades ago.