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Third week of transit strike

 June 1, 2023 at 5:00 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Debbie Cruz….it’s Thursday, June 1st.>>>>

Transit strike raises questions about why bus drivers are employed by a private company? More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….


June 1st brings the start of Pride month in San Diego and beyond.

There will be a few ceremonial events around the county.

That includes a first for the San Diego Community College District, which will display the Pride Flag at its 8 campuses and its district office in Mission Valley.

One of the first big events on the calendar is Pride by the Beach, happening Saturday in Oceanside.San Diego’s celebration is planned for mid-July.


A Camp Pendleton Marine is among 33 people facing charges related to ghost guns.

Those are weapons that don’t have serial numbers, or are otherwise untraceable.

Federal prosecutors announced the arrests as part of a three month enforcement operation.

“Our number one priority is keeping our community safe. And criminals with ghost guns are a serious threat to that safety.”

That’s local U.S. Attorney, Randy Grossman at yesterday’s press event announcing the arrests.

Beyond more than 80 ghost guns, the U.S. Attorney’s office says drugs including meth and fentanyl were seized during the wider operation.

Those caught up in the enforcement now face a mix of state and federal charges.


The San Diego State Aztecs football team has its calendar set.12 games will be nationally broadcast starting Saturday August 26th.That’s when SDSU will host the Ohio Bobcats.The game will be carried on Fox Sports One and start at 4 p.m.At this point, all home start times are set for late afternoon or evening.

That will likely avoid a repeat of the heat issues we saw during last season’s home opener.


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


Bus drivers in San Diego are entering their third week of a strike — the longest transit strike in San Diego’s recent history.Metro reporter Andrew Bowen says the labor dispute is raising questions about the privatization of public transit.

AB: Bus drivers are continuing to walk the picket line. they're asking for better pay to deal with the soaring cost of living in San Diego. and they want better access to clean and safe bathrooms during their shifts. Erika Lopez has been a bus driver for 14 years. She says the bathroom situation is often unsanitary — and it's especially bad for women. EL: And then let's say at 5, 6 in the morning, if we do go to a port-o-potty, I've had times where people from the street try to open the door. So you have to juggle a couple things, you have to be like holding onto the door so nobody tries to get in, and then you do whatever you have to do to get out. AB: The buses Lopez drives may have the mts logo on them. but she and her colleagues don't work for mts. They work for transdev, a private, multinational company that mts contracts with to operate about 65% of its bus routes. mts says this arrangement saves taxpayers money — that transdev has the benefit of a large economy of scale translating to lower costs for insurance, labor and equipment. CP: It results in government services not being responsive to the public, who have expectations for high-quality service. AB: Colin Parent of the nonprofit circulate san diego says the trend toward privatizing public transit took off in the last few decades. But there wasn't much discussion at the time about what mts was giving up: a direct relationship with transit workers and riders. CP: And instead of the riders being able to tell mts, the public agency, hey we want you to take care of your workers so that we get the buses running again and so we can get to work on time, instead mts can kind of point to this third party intermediary company and say, 'well it's not our fault, it's this other company.' and that's certainly not good for the workers. but it's also really not good for the riders. GG: I use public transportation to get around every day, so the strike is definitely impacting my ability to get around. AB: Gary Goss lives in hillcrest and takes the bus to his job in kensington and to school downtown. Most of the bus routes that are out of service are in the south bay and east county. but there are routes in central San Diego that are also not running. goss says mts has done a terrible job communicating that info to riders. We met at a bus stop on university avenue. There was broken glass on the side of the bus shelter. and there was no signage telling riders the number 1 bus was impacted by the strike. GG: I still see a lot of people waiting there. and they don't know when the next bus is coming. and i just want to go out every single bus stop and tell them, 'hey, there's not another bus coming for maybe another hour. Or this bus that you're expecting that's supposed to be here in a minute is not coming. AB: Goss doesn't have strong opinions about whether privatizing public transit is inherently bad. but at the moment, it doesn't seem to be working. GG: If mts has a good reason to contract out these specific services to a private company, then i think they should be able to do that — if they can make the case. but it seems like they haven't been willing to make that case at all. and they just sort of say, 'this is how it is, it lowers costs somehow.' but are riders really seeing that lower cost? because riders are having to pay for ubers right now. AB: Teamsters Local 683 is the union representing transdev bus drivers. it says the two sides have been negotiating and are getting closer to a deal — but that the company still hasn't addressed the lack of safe and clean working conditions. mts board chairman stephen whitburn sent kpbs a statement saying: "i am deeply concerned about transdev’s failure to provide transit service to many of our mts customers. If the transit service is not restored this week, I will call an emergency meeting of the board of directors to explore our options." Gary Goss says if San Diego really cares about fighting climate change and reducing our dependence on cars, public transit strikes like this one cannot be allowed to happen. GG: How are we going to make any improvements to our future transit system — make more rapid bus routes, make more trolley lines — if we can barely maintain the already popular local routes that we have now. AB: Andrew Bowen, kpbs news.


A new study of North America’s largest marine protected reserve off the coast of Mexico finds the fishing industry has not suffered since the area was protected in 20-17.

Environment reporter Erik Anderson has details.

 The marine reserve is located 700 kilometers south of Baja California.  The new study in the journal Science Advances provides evidence that the fishing industry did not suffer smaller catches or higher expenses after the reserve was created in 2017.  Scripps Institution of Oceanography researcher Octavio Aburto says fishing is actually better. “The fisheries is probably the sector that receives the most benefits when these areas are generating more fish, more animals. And they start moving outside these areas.” The study assessed the area before and after the creation of the reserve.  The underwater park is home to more than 300 fish species.  36 species are only found there. Erik Anderson KPBS News.


Scripps is also looking at climate change as it relates to California’s projected snowfall.Sci-Tech reporter Thomas Fudge says the state’s snow line could rise by 16 hundred feet by the end of the century.

The study was led by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and is based on past records that show declining snow accumulation and rising snowlines, due to global warming. The snowline is the elevation, where you get snow above it and rain below. Scripps research meteorologist Alexander Gershenov says more rain and less snow will mean it’ll be harder to manage water supplies in California that were once stored in our snowpacks. “California needs to learn how to generate water resources from flood water. Because less and less of those water resources are going to be released gradually in spring and early summer snowmelt.” Rising snowlines in the state’s mountains also mean some lower elevation ski resorts are not going to get much snow, if trends continue. Thomas Fudge, KPBS News.


Coming up.... A sudden change to where, and how, Padres fans can watch the games. We’ll have that story and more, just after the break.


More and more kids are experiencing significant mental health challenges.

For one San Diego teen, a residential treatment program was life changing.

But that option has not been available to some of the most vulnerable children.

Health Reporter Matt Hoffman says that’s about to change.A warning to listeners -- this story includes a mention of self harm.

15 year old Maddie Harvey’s love of music started when her grandpa bought her a ukulele a few years ago. A year or two later I saved up the money to buy my acoustic guitar and started learning that -- that was a lot harder. Maddies enjoys jam sessions with friends from the Junior Reserve officer training corps at San Marcos High School. It’s there that Maddie has found her ‘tribe.’ “I joined JROTC and like the first day I went into my flight i was like okay these are going to be my people.” The road to get here hasn’t been easy.. Maddie struggled with her mental health over the years.. Her parents Cindy and Steve Harvey found out she had a sensory processing disorder at five years old. She would get so upset with a teacher wearing high heels that clicking sound would drive her crazy and she would have to be excused from class and she would be outside beating her head off a brick wall trying to create any other sound than those high heels -- that was probably at the worst of it. A CDC report from earlier this year says mental health among students is getting worse.. In 2021, 22 percent of  high students reported considering suicide. And 40 percent reported persistent sadness.  Maddies’ parents first sent her to a residential treatment center when she was in fourth grade. She ended up going three different times. We were really worried about the self harm issues and a few trips to the hospitals too and we were like okay we need more care. That was tough. As a parent you don't want to like give your child to anybody else to care for but we did not have the tools necessary to get her to where she is right now. Residential treatment is a higher level of care that sees kids staying for days, weeks or months at a time.. At the San Diego Center for Children it involves everything from psychiatry to counseling and therapeutic activities. CEO Moises Baron says it’s a key part of care, especially for kids who may be going to the emergency room for mental health reasons. Baron says there’s a gap in the system. While residential treatment is available for kids  who have private insurance, referrals from schools, are in the foster system, on probation, and those with welfare services. It is NOT available for kids who  have Medi-cal. That’s the state’s health plan largely serving low income residents. What’s changing that is a result of Assembly Bill 2317. It was signed into law last  year. It  creates a new license category that will allow psychiatric residential treatment facilities to serve everyone -- including kids with medi-cal. Maddie’s most recent time in residential treatment was a seventh month stay at the San Diego Center for Children where she says everything turned around.

“I understood why this time -- it was the self harm thing and I needed to get more serious help because what was happening wasn’t going to work. I met some really great counselors and staff that also deal with the same things I deal with and have the same stories and we clicked immediately.” Maddie’s parents say the residential treatment has been life-changing. That’s just it -- without the insurance that we had or had at the time there’s no way -- she would have been in and out of hospitals every other weekend probably mom

Now since she’s out of the center she has a good head on her shoulder, she has the coping skills. It’s more fun and relaxed now that what it was -- it’s not eggshells -- it’s nice. The future is bright for Maddie. At fifteen she’s looking forward to getting her first job soon and getting behind the wheel. “I can get my permit in october and I’m sooo excited.” Maddie says when she grows up she wants a job that can help people. And she isn’t ruling out one day working at a place like the San Diego Center for Children. “Knowing that i’ve been there and knowing how much the center has helped people -- I know the center will still be running by the time i'm an adult -- considering how much it’s helped me and other kids I know they’ll still be running. Guitar sounds - ‘Wait are you getting the sound right now? Oo don’t get the sound right now’ Matt Hoffman, KPBS News.

Tag: If you or someone you know struggling with thoughts of suicide, you can call the suicide and crisis lifeline at 9-8-8 for support information and resources.


Padres games have a new distribution partner and it’s a familiar name – MLB.Kitty Alvarado explains what the new deal means for fans.

The deal would give fans more options on how to watch the games. The League has deals with four different T-V systems… and cord-cutters can catch the games through the M-L-B’s streaming service. Serena Reid, a professor of media studies at Palomar College, says when it comes to baseball broadcasts, this could be the wave of the future, especially when it comes to audience reach. The team says it had been reaching 1.1 million homes before, and now will reach 2.1 million. Almost a 200 percent increase. This is the new golden age of television. A complete 360 kind of event that almost never happens, especially in television. This is the new golden age of television. You got so many choices out there to watch so many different things. Mike Tourtellot, one of the hosts of the Sons of Montezuma podcast has a warning for the MLB network, that diehard fans won’t watch if the voices they love aren’t calling the game. Don’t touch it. Just leave our guys in. Those two guys are San Diego through and through. Kitty Alvarado KPBS News.##########And before you go, a summer tradition returns to East County tonight.The La Mesa Classic Car Show is happening from 5-to-8.Just look for the action, along La Mesa Boulevard between 4th and Spring Streets.Live music is also part of the fun.The event happens every Thursday night through the end of August, and it’s free.


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 more local news, plus , we’ll hear from Padres chairman Peter Seidler on how he’s trying to help address homelessness in San Diego. I’m Debbie Cruz. Thanks for listening and have a great Thursday.

The bus driver strike in San Diego is raising questions about the privatization of public transit. In other news, a residential treatment program is proving to be helpful for local teens with mental health struggles. And, MLB takes over production and distribution of Padres game broadcasts.