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Unsafe lead levels at child care centers

 May 25, 2023 at 5:00 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Debbie Cruz….it’s Thursday, May 25th.

Some child care centers in the county have reported unsafe lead levels in drinking water. More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….


Outreach efforts are in the works to get District 4 residents to vote in the special election to fill the county supervisor seat, vacated by Nathan Fletcher.

The Registrar of Voters earlier this week presented the board of supervisors with her plan to get the word out about the August 15th special election.

During the meeting, some residents urged supervisors to support strong public outreach in the racially and culturally diverse district.

Officials say outreach efforts are especially important in a special election when turnout is likely to be low.

If no candidate receives a majority vote in the August election, the county will hold a special general election on November 7th.


The County Board of Supervisors this week also agreed on investing more than 7-million-dollars in programs that would route people who commit low-level crimes into services rather than jail.

The funding would address behavioral health issues, homelessness and other social concerns that lead to crime.

The plan is the result of a study that looked at who ends up in County jails, why and the best approaches to keep them from returning.


The director of San Diego’s Homelessness Strategies and Solutions Department, Hafsa Kaka has been selected to be Governor Gavin Newsom’s senior advisor on homelessness.

During her time with the city, she launched homeless outreach programs, and created more than 500 beds for the unhoused.

Kaka will help Newsom enact his strategies to fight homelessness.

The Governor’s goal is to decrease homelessness in the state by 15-percent by 20-25.


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


More than a hundred child care centers in the County have reported lead levels above state safety standards in drinking water.

Health reporter Matt Hoffman says there’s no safe level of lead for children.

California law requires childcare centers built before 20-10 to test their faucets and drinking fountains for lead and report those findings to the state.. If levels are above standards, they have to be fixed. Some of that data has been released.. and while most centers are in compliance, about a fourth of childcare centers across the state were not.. Little We’re really concerned Susan Little is a senior advocate from the Environmental Working Group.. The nonprofit sponsored  the testing law and was the first to get the testing data. Susan Little, California Environmental Working Group What’s alarming here is that we really see this as potentially the tip of the iceberg because the data we received only represents about 50% of licensed child care centers we’re still waiting to get the results from the rest of them Parents should be especially diligent and concerned that the water their children are drinking in care -- possibly all day long -- could have unhealthy levels of lead The CDC says there is no safe level of lead..One San Diego child care center has the highest testing result in California so far.. La Petite Academy near Rancho Penasquitos had one test from last August registering 11-thousand lead parts per billion.. The state requirement is 5 parts per billion or less.. In a statement a spokesperson for La Petite Academy says the source with the highest lead samples were drinking fountains that had not been used since before the pandemic.. Adding the fountains were immediately removed and other water sources were repaired., after retesting they say all water sources are in compliance. Nguyen No one wants a child to have lead -- it leads to all these downstream effects Dr. Vi Nguyen is a San Diego-based pediatrician. She also is chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics California committee on environmental health. She says children are generally at higher health risks from lead exposure. Probably the most common thing is neurodevelopmental issues because lead is a neurotoxin it deposits in the brain teeth, bones, liver Dr. Vi Nguyen, American Academy of Pediatrics  It’s toxic to the brain cells. And it can increase the risk of ADHD, autism because it just shifts the IQ curve Ngueyn says children are tested for lead exposure as early as one year old.. Nguyen Babies and children they’re not fully developed yet so their organs are still growing and absorbing so they tend to absorb more of the environmental toxins per body surface area than adults La Petite academy officials say they have no reports of anyone getting sick.. The second highest lead reading from drinking water at a child care center in San Diego County was from the Eastlake Community Church PreSchool in Chula Vista.. A test from last October revealed 570 lead parts per billion, well above the state’s 5 part per billion baseline. The director of the preschool says in a statement two bathroom sinks had elevated levels.. And those sinks were solely used for handwashing. The statement says hardware has been replaced and the sinks are restricted from use while the center awaits results from retesting. The third highest result in San Diego County was from the Next Generation Educational Center in El Cajon.. One test from this January found a 340 lead parts per billion reading.. KPBS reached out to the center for comment but they did not send a response before deadline --MH KPBS News.


Nearly 300-thousand County residents could get financial help to pay for groceries, but don’t.

Reporter Katie Hyson has more.

The largest numbers of people eligible for CalFresh food assistance, who are not enrolled, live  in majority Latino communities including College Grove and City Heights in San Diego and the city of Chula Vista. Some incorrectly believe enrolling will affect their citizenship application. And though the county has begun acting on recommendations to make the application process easier, advocates say it’s still too difficult. But Hunger Coalition CEO Anahid Brakke says the struggle pays off – a family of four can receive more than nine hundred dollars per month. While the program can be difficult and complicated to enroll in, the time is worth it for the amount. $926 is equivalent to about 30 trips to a food bank.  For help enrolling, call 2-1-1. Katie Hyson, KPBS News.


More San Diegans could be facing food insecurity if the U-S defaults on its debt…

Reporter Jacob Aere tells us why.

The San Diego Food Bank receives 20 to 30 percent of their supply from federally funded programs. The organization’s Vanessa Ruiz says this has happened before … even recently in 2018 and 2019 … and it impacted San Diegans. “We were serving additional folks that never came to our food distribution such as the Coast Guard. We had other military branches that were coming to our doors, asking for food assistance” Ruiz says the political stalemate on the debt ceiling could lead to cuts in their food quantity … and increase the number of people they need to serve. Time is running out – the $31.4 trillion ceiling has already been reached. If Congress fails to act, the government could default as early as June 1. Jacob Aere, KPBS News.


After complaints from neighbors, the city of Oceanside is reviewing its relationship with Brother Benno’s foundation.

The organization provides meals, food, and supportive services to the community… but nearby businesses say it is bringing harm to the area.

North County reporter Tania Thorne has the details.

Oceanside’s planning commission is reviewing the Brother Benno’s Foundation’s conditional use permit. The permit lets the foundation  operate in the business park on Production Avenue – as long as its  operations aren’t detrimental to the public or nearby properties. But business owners in the area, like Bryce Aberg, say the business park has become dangerous BRYCE ABERG/business owner Fights, altercations, defecating on our businesses, on our front door steps, and it goes on and on. The problems have gotten much worse Complaints against Brother Benno’s forced the organization to make changes earlier this year. (March) It’s closing earlier and hired additional security and sanitation staff. Michael Moskowitz is a Brother Benno’s board member. We are not enabling the homeless community, we are supporting the homeless community so that they can survive. An Oceanside police officer who spoke at the meeting says the changes have resulted in some improvements, but more can be done. Planning commissioners O recommended some changes including monthly meetings with stakeholders, 24 hour security from a third party, and additional sanitation support. A decision on Brother Benno's permit will be made at a later meeting. TT KPBS News. 


Coming up.... Our arts reporter joins me to clear up the confusion of what is and will always be the "real" Star Wars Day. We’ll have that and more, just after the break.


It should come as no surprise that America's finest city is home to some of the country's best parks.

The nonprofit “Trust for Public Land” ranked the park systems in the 100 largest U-S cities… and reporter Melissa Mae tells us San Diego came in at number 24.

MM: San Diego climbed five spots in this year’s ParkScore index ranking due to improved park investment. 19% of the city of San Diego is dedicated park space, one of the best marks in the country! MM: Will Klein is with Trust For Public Land. He says currently, 81% of San Diegans are within a 10 minute walk of a park, which is higher than the national average of 75%. MM: This year the ParkScore index included data about two key health factors: physical activity and mental health. “We found the cities with the highest ParkScore rankings, those in the top 25, like San Diego, were healthier places to live. In those top 25 cities, people were on average 9% less likely to suffer from poor mental health and 21% less likely to be physically inactive.” Washington, DC, retained the national ParkScore index title with a 84.9 out of 100. Melissa Mae KPBS News.


San Diego International Fringe is heading into its final weekend.

This year, there’s only one “bring your own venue,” and it's at the Les Girls Theatre.

Arts reporter Beth Accomando has this profile of theatre owner and Fringe artist Kata Pierce-Morgan.

Whenever I mention Les Girls Theater, I’m always surprised by how many people react with either moral outrage or snickering comments. KATA PIERCE-MORGAN Well, thanks to our efforts and not letting ourselves feel embarrassed or demeaned by the titters, we kept pursuing our mission, which was to speak out about what we think is societal injustice. That’s Kata Pierce-Morgan, the owner of Les Girls Theater. And she’s here to shatter stereotypes. For one she’s proud of the fact that she and her late husband James Morgan actively fought against police corruption, abuses of power, and censorship from the platform of a strip club. KATA PIERCE-MORGAN That was a time of Hair and Oh Calcutta, and they were big, big deals up to the Supreme Court. We also had to go to court, and like Hair and Oh Calcutta, we won. The judge actually came and saw the show, and he said, well, it may not be what I consider this or that, but it's legal. The show was Let It All Hang Out, and Morgan wrote the play for the opening of Les Girls Theater in 1970 in order to challenge restrictions on nudity. KATA PIERCE-MORGAN He came out to the audience and said, we're going to get raided. But if you want to be part of living theater history, stay where you are. And that's how it began. And Pierce-Morgan has continued that fight and combined it with her artistic passions. So once again she has created a new play for the B.Y.O.V. or Bring Your Own Venue” at Fringe. KATA PIERCE-MORGAN What's so exciting about our venue is it's historic. It's at the legendary Les Girls Theater. And what I like about our show Censored Heart or any of the programs that we do through Golden Corpse Productions is we are not silent bystanders. But Pierce-Morgan felt like a silent bystander when she arrived in San Diego at the age of 23 in 1970. KATA PIERCE-MORGAN  I came from UCLA, applied to dance for one month, and like any dancer in those days, I was hauled off to jail. No charges were pressed. But it was a very interesting experience for someone who was raised Catholic. And that was the beginning of her relationship with Les Girls and James Morgan. Now she has transformed Les Girls from being just a venue for adult entertainment to being a place for adventuresome theater goers. KATA PIERCE-MORGAN…I'm mixing these audiences. And what was present at that time was the high heel footprint, the stripper energy, all that past. You could hear them clunk, cluck, clunk, walking across the stage. And for me, this is now the residence for Golden Corpse Theater. And yet we also have an adult show for 5 hours a day, only five days a week that’s just 25 hours. Now the strippers have to contend with a 6-foot torture pillar prop from Censored Heart tucked away on stage just a few feet from the dance pole. KATA PIERCE-MORGAN…And on it were these rats, these amputated hands, these worms, all dangling from this torture pillar, which is relevant to our Asylum Act.  And they're up there dancing and looking over and going, holy moly, is that a rat? OK, in the interest of  full disclosure … I gave Pierce-Morgan that torture pillar. It was from my Hellraiser haunt and she needed something to symbolize a repressive society. KATA PIERCE-MORGAN I really wanted to portray what was happening to the Beatniks and in their incarceration by a society that was judging them. Beatniks, asylums, torture pillars, societal repression… Pierce-Morgan smiles and says Censored Heart is complicated. KATA PIERCE-MORGAN I mean, it's such a fantastical show. If you like jazz, you'll like this show. If you like poetry, you'll love it. If you like murder and mystery, you'll love it. And that’s exactly the kind of show Fringe embraces and Pierce-Morgan returns the love. KATA PIERCE-MORGAN Okay, this is from the intro to act four of the show. And it starts out, it's a hung jury with resigned cynicism fringe artists still find beauty in maggots as they wiggle motifs of line and shade through society's dirt and decay. Where there is art, there is hope. That's Fringe for you. That’s also the new energy Pierce-Morgan is bringing to the legendary Les Girls Theater this weekend for San Diego Fringe. Beth Accomando, KPBS News.

TAG: Censored Heart has two more performances at Les Girls Theatre tomorrow and Saturday, as part of the San Diego International Fringe.


Today is May 25th and some old-school Star Wars fans are celebrating a very significant anniversary.

So you’re probably thinking… wasn’t May the fourth, Star Wars day?

Well, arts reporter Beth Accomando is back to clear up the confusion between these two dates in the month of may. Welcome beth…

Beth, tell us about may 25th, and why it differs from may 4th.

Beth, you saw the film when it opened in san diego, describe the experience?

I love all things star wars, my husband and sons are into star wars, as well, the movies, toys, collectables, comics and we love playing star wars trivia games.

So Beth,  i thought i would ask you a star wars question to test your star wars knowledge…

My husband and i, just recently watched return of the jedi, in theatres, so tonight we will watch a new hope and the empire strikes back, and instead of just making some popcorn, i was hoping you would share some of your recipes for star wars themed food and drink.

If our listeners, want more recipes or they want to see some of the items in your star wars collection, how can they do that?

TAG: I’ve been speaking to arts reporter Beth Accomondo, thank you Beth for being on the podcast today, and of course, I can’t resist…. Beth, may the force be with you!


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 your daily local news, and to hear about the go to arts events over the holiday weekend. I’m Debbie Cruz. Thanks for listening and have a great Thursday.

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More than a hundred child care centers in San Diego County have reported lead levels above state safety standards in drinking water. In other news, nearly 300,000 county residents could get financial help to pay for groceries, but don’t. Plus, we clear up the confusion of what is and will always be the "real" Star Wars Day.