tv NBC Bay Area News Special Reality Check NBC December 26, 2015 6:30pm-7:01pm PST
robert daines: the ceo salary is usually a relatively small part of their total take-home pay. sam: but how much stock can we put in the so-called widening gap between company bigwigs and everyday workers? then-- barack obama: together, we've shown what's possible when the world stands as one. sam: presidents and prime ministers from around the world on stage in paris, clinching an unprecedented climate agreement. but concerns still flood the scientific community about a deal that doesn't deliver enough change. finally-- kath tsakalakis: we have to get guns out of american schools. sam: gun violence on school grounds. male: it's a mass shooting at an oregon college. sam: making headlines and leaving families in grief. some tallies estimate one incident per week, but are those numbers reliable? we look at the data and get to the truth in tonight's "reality check." and a good evening, and thank you for joining us on this special edition of "reality check." i'm sam brock. tonight, we take a look at our top stories from 2015.
for the next 30 minutes, we're going to take you behind some of the year's biggest headlines, using data and expert analysis to get to the truth. and we start this evening with a very sensitive subject, one that has left communities and families in tears: gun violence on school grounds. few disagree it's a very serious problem, which we were reminded of this year again in roseburg, oregon. gun safety group everytown has tracked school shootings in the us since sandy hook. the findings are both staggering and insightful in figuring out how we define school shooting. male: exchanging shots with him. he's in a classroom. sam: three months ago. male: massacre on campus, a mass shooting at an oregon college, police rushing to the scene. sam: four months ago. female: one student was killed and two others wounded by gunfire thursday at sacramento city college. sam: and maybe the worst of them all 3 years ago. announcer: here's lester holt. lester holt: good day, we're back on the air with our continuing coverage of the horrible tragedy.
sam: newtown brought the country to tears and propelled kath tsakalakis to action. kath: parents in other countries are not sending their children to school with bulletproof backpacks that are sold in america. so, i think newtown changed many things. we have to get guns out of american schools. sam: she joined moms demand action, part of the much larger everytown, michael bloomberg's gun reform counter-punch to the nra. michael bloomberg: i don't think any of us can truly feel the pain that they have had to endure. they can't bring back their loved ones. sam: the group's website lists around 160 school shootings in america since 2013, or roughly 1 a week. we wanted to know the criteria being used to make that list. kath: i think a commonsense way to look at school shootings is any time a gun is discharged in a school building or on school grounds. sam: that definition covers a lot of ground.
some cases detail high school or college students opening fire in cafeterias. others can be incidental. an idaho professor accidentally shoots himself in the foot during chemistry class. or, unrelated to the school other than the location, two florida men fight over crab traps and walk onto school property, where one shoots the other in the hand. we read through the entire list. we found 9 cases of guns accidentally fired, 27 shootings on school ground that didn't involve anyone connected to the school, and 15 cases of suicide or attempted suicide on campus. do all of these cases qualify as school shootings as they're commonly portrayed through incidents like roseburg? john donohue iii: the whole area of gun violence is such a complicated and multifaceted thing, that the mass shootings are the most visible and the most disruptive societally, but they're a relatively small number when you think of the
huge number of deaths that we have overall by gun or other means. it is a problem because passions are so high on this issue that people grab the numbers that make their side look better, and sometimes they might not be aware of the full nuance of that number. barack obama: somehow, this has become routine. sam: the only number president obama or parents like kath tsakalakis care about is zero. that's how many massacres, deaths, or firearm discharges they want to see on school campuses moving forward. kath: we can implement these better laws and get guns out of schools, out of criminal hands, and make these types of mass murder situations a lot less frequent. barack: i hope and pray that i don't have to come out again during my tenure as president to offer my condolences to families in these circumstances. sam: now, let's be clear, no matter how you define school
shooting, each incident delivers unimaginable grief and hardship. just since roseburg, everytown has counted 15 incidents. we're going to continue to follow this issue and the efforts to prevent future tragedies. well, in california this year, water headlined the news. this state's historic drought has pushed local leaders to find new ways to produce it, and the idea of toilet to tap drinking water is starting to bear fruit. but the million dollar question, is that water as clean as advertised? we decided to find out. silicon valley's regional wastewater facility probably looks a lot like how you'd picture such a plant. big vats of swirling water, mechanical bridges, winding hoses that hold the key to our water future, the rushing green tide coming from our drains, sinks, and yes, toilets. in all, 110 million gallons of wastewater per day, repurposed
and returned to the san francisco bay, and eventually, sooner rather than later, into your drinking cup. i know what you're thinking. dawn ross: of course, the first thought right away is, "ew, yuck." elenia hofler: but i guess if it's treated and properly processed, it probably isn't a problem. sam: the reality is most people we spoke with raved about recycled water as a tremendous resource if it's treated properly. so, is it? that's our fact check. all that wastewater that we just showed you that went to the wastewater facility, we're going to politely call that gunk. that gunk water has gone through a primary process and a secondary process that lasts 10 hours long and removes 99% of the impurities. this is what you're left with after that. this water then goes to an advanced water purification center. we're going to take you there right now and show you how it works. pam: we want the public to come see this technology. sam: pam john of the santa clara valley water district is
guiding us through what's basically a public fishbowl, the largest water purification center in northern california, in san jose. pam: 0.1 micron. sam: so, it's tiny? pam: very tiny. sam: john shows us microfiltration, where fibers block out viruses and bacteria. reverse osmosis? pam: second step. sam: which people joke about all the time, but apparently that's a real thing. and that's the second step right here. reverse osmosis clears away the salts and smaller viruses. and ultraviolet light treatment disinfects the water without using chemicals. what you're left with is a product that looks immaculate. but we wanted to know for sure. so, the water district provided some samples, packed it up in ice, and we rushed it to an independent lab, test america in pleasanton. we can't show you the delivery. the company asked not to be filmed inside. but the results for the primary test, e. coli and fecal bacteria, the lab found a most probable number of less than two, which is basically undetectable.
the other exam, for total organic carbon, or contaminants, yielded an nd, no detections. what do the results mean? that water purified at the santa clara valley water district's plant would be more than suitable to drink if you can get past your initial gut reaction. is that end product as clean, less clean, or cleaner than what's coming out of our sinks right now? pam: it's cleaner than what's coming out from your sinks right now. sam: because it's gone through so many processes? pam: correct. sam: so, how soon does the good as new tap water come to your faucet? the santa clara valley water district board of directors estimates about 3 to 5 years before they hit their goal of 40 million gallons of recycled water a day. coming up next on "reality check," how much money is your boss raking in? taking stock of the ceo to worker pay gap, and whether the divide is as wide as people think. plus-- john kerry: this is in the interest of every nation on earth.
who coined the term "side bread?" because there's nothing "side" about this bread. it may look like the moon. but it's the star of the show. unleash the power of dough. give it a pop. that sound. like nails on a chalkboard. but listen to this: (family talking) that's a different kind of sound. the sound of the weekend. unleash the power of dough. give it a pop.
not just your boss, how much does your ceo make? the scc wants to know exactly how much more chief executives make than the typical worker. this year, a push to force public companies to reveal that information. but there's a hiccup. can we even trust the ceo pay gap in the first place? nick woodman had reason to celebrate 2014. the gopro ceo brought home the bacon, $77 million in total pay. tim cook guided the country's largest publicly-traded company, apple, and netted $9.2 million. and jamie dimon ran the nation's biggest bank, jp morgan chase, raking in $27 million.
but from wall street execs to silicon valley superstars, how much stock should we put in the ceo pay gap? some reports calculate that divide at 330 times the median american worker. others, more like 216 to 1. are any of these studies accurate? well, here's one problem. robert: the ceo salary is usually a relatively small part of their total take home pay. sam: robert daines, co-director of stanford's rock center on corporate governance, hits on a really important point. ceo salary isn't usually that high. the bureau of labor statistics says it's about $180,000 a year, which is roughly 5 times that of a typical worker. elon musk made $35,000 in salary in 2014. larry ellison made $1. robert: the vast majority of their pay is actually in stock options or stock that they get. sam: so, you can go by salary and stock awards, which most studies do.
but it turns out that data isn't reliable either. brookings institution senior fellow robert pozen explained to us over facetime that stock awards aren't automatically awarded. they're usually tied to performance. robert pozen: the condition should not be just that the ceos alive and still there after 4 or 5 years. it should be something like the company has grown revenues, or has grown earnings, or it's done some good things. sam: the reality is ceo pay could be inflated or understated in these studies. we don't know. neither do the authors. so, here's a prime example of the formulas and factors that go into ceo pay. nick woodman, we mentioned him, he's the highest-paid exec in silicon valley. his salary was $800,000 last year. but his stock awards were almost $75 million. he founded a company, he took it public, and he reaped the benefits. now, marissa meyer, she didn't found yahoo!, but she was tasked with making it grow when that company paid her a total compensation of $42 million between salary
and mostly stocks. but you know what? to woo her away from google, they kind of had to do that. robert: you have to pay a lot to get good talent. there's a really difficult question. does pay always reflect talent? and that's a really tricky--that's a really tricky question. sam: value can be debated. what cannot is that the so-called ceo pay gap contains inaccuracies. and beyond that, pay gap disclosures don't even work historically. to add to that, professor daines says every time there's been a financial crisis in the last 20 years in this country, the congress has voted to disclose more about ceo pay. and despite what you might assume, every time, ceo pay has gone up. well now, rich in agriculture, poor in water resources. up next on "reality check," we get to the truth behind claims that farmers are bringing in more money during the drought despite less rain. plus-- male: this is kind of a hopeful step, but the problem is a
taken its toll, from brown grass to fewer crops. but is there an upside when it comes to cashing in? the farming community says the lack of water has been devastating. but a new study out this year shows the exact opposite, that farmers in california have never made more money. in small cities and towns dotting california's central valley, you'll find some of the richest agricultural land in the world. it's land that stocks the pipelines of global crop production, and also pushes the economic pedal for millions of people in the state. paul wenger: we've been reallocating that water. sam: including modesto almond farmer paul wenger, who worries the shrinking reservoirs will eventually dry up his profits
and 100-year-old farm. paul: this year, we cut back 10% of our orchards, we pulled them out. and we're not going to plant them back until we know that we either have the surface water we need out on pedro reservoir, or that our wells are going to be good enough to let us plant those orchards back. sam: it's a storyline that many farmers know all too well: fallowed land, faint water, falling profits. except one highly respected environmental research group says the revenues aren't going down, they're going up. heather cooley: i think it is counterintuitive. i think many people thought that ag revenue would be down dramatically because there was less surface water available. sam: data from the usda shows just the opposite. according to the pacific institute's report, "impacts of california's ongoing drought," california agriculture raked in record revenues in 2013, $51 billion, only to be topped by 2014, almost $54 billion.
wenger says don't be deceived by the numbers. but why are you not getting rich if revenues are at record-high levels? paul: because our costs are also escalating. and so, as our costs escalate, those margins shrink, and so we're not making the margins. next year, we're probably going to look at a losing year. sam: for the first time since his grandfather gave life to this farm in 1910, wenger says he had to dig wells, two of them in fact, to steal from the ground what mother nature has failed to provide from the sky. paul: i have to drill a well. i have no--i have no option. and so, while it's expensive, it's called survival. sam: and here, we uncover the fundamental fact of this fact check. farmers are getting by on groundwater that is incredibly expensive to access, and it's finite, meaning eventually the well runs dry. heather: and there's a cost to that. there's a cost to families, communities that have to dig deeper wells. there's a cost to repairing damage to the infrastructure. and there's a cost to future generations as well that don't
have the water that they're going to need. sam: simply put, it's a situation that's not sustainable. high-value crops like almonds have helped keep profits afloat. so has that first rush of reserve groundwater. but the numbers are trending in the wrong direction. for california, agricultural income peaked in 2013. wenger said in 2014, it dropped more than six percent. in 2015, you may not want to ask. paul: yeah, absolutely. yeah, if the drought was to continue at this rate for very much longer, we'll be talking about people going through bankruptcy. the good news is, at least now, we're making a little bit of money, which allows us to invest for our future, to try to get by this drought. sam: a lifeline through a frustrating forecast. as for the latest now, those 2015 revenues for the farm season aren't out yet, but at least for this rain season, we've seen a bump in precipitation for many parts of northern california and, maybe more importantly,
the promise of more runoff from snow. coming up next. barack: we came together around a strong agreement the world needed. sam: the president mentions an agreement. it's an agreement that made history in paris. so, why are climatologists worried that it falls well short of denting global climate change?
leaders from across the globe went to the cop21 conference to hammer out a critical climate plan. now, the participation was historic, that's not debated. but the question is, will the impact be historic? new drone footage of the arctic showing melting ice and splitting glaciers is chilling, but not nearly as chilling as what might happen if we don't severely cut our carbon emissions. climatologists predict deeper droughts, food shortages,
rising oceans, even widespread disease. diarmid campbell-lendrum: many of the largest disease problems that we face are highly sensitive to climate conditions. sam: onto the world stage steps president obama and governor jerry brown, along with a host of world leaders trying to prevent disaster. climate policy expert adele morris at the brookings institution think tank says the meeting is unprecedented. adele morris: well, what's unique about this meeting is it's the first time all countries, all major emitters, or nearly of them, have pledged to take action. sam: but will the action be anywhere close to enough? criticism of shoddy standards splashes headlines these days, like this politico article. the author says, quote, that, "talks are rigged to ensure an agreement is reached, regardless of how little action countries plan on actually taking." is it voluntary carbon reductions? adele: well, every country, or almost every country, is
coming forward with its pledge that it designed itself. sam: in other words, countries are making up their own benchmarks. the good news, 150 nations are pledging. you can look at their proposals on the un website. the bad news, we're falling far short of what we need. for the better part of a decade, scientists have said a two degree rise in global temperatures is the magic number, the bare minimum we can't break to avoid catastrophic climate change. if we continue on our current policies, we'd be at almost double that, about 3.8 degrees celsius by 2100. should all countries at the paris conference keep their pledges, the world would warm, on average, 2.7 degrees celsius, better, but nowhere close to that critical benchmark. michael wara: this is kind of a hopeful step, but the problem is a big problem. and it's not going to be an easy one to solve, particularly in the context of, you know, us politics.
sam: ah yes, the politics. stanford environmental law expert michael wara points out 26 states have taken the obama administration to court over recently tightened epa standards. the justices could unravel us efforts to lead on climate change. so could a future president. michael: were the supreme court to strike down the regulations, were a republican administration in 2017, say, to walk back from these commitments, you know, the perception that the us has kind of gotten its act together could change very quickly. sam: now, even if the obama administration wins in court, even if the next president supports the paris plan, there's still the tiny matter of congress. a climate deal demands contributions in the billions from rich countries like the us to poor and developing ones. republican lawmakers have said that money would likely be dead on arrival, another challenge to changing the world, but still some very encouraging signs.
well, if you would like to see more in-depth stories like these, please visit our webpage, nbcbayarea.com/realitycheck. we examine issues every day that affect you, so go ahead and email us your tips to email@example.com. that is going to conclude this special edition of "reality check." thank you for watching. you can always check out our segments, which air every week on nbc bay area news at 6 o'clock. we'll see you next year. have a safe and a very happy holiday, and a great night. [music] [music] [music]
who coined the term "side bread?" because there's nothing "side" about this bread. it may look like the moon. but it's the star of the show. unleash the power of dough. give it a pop. that sound. like nails on a chalkboard. but listen to this: (family talking) that's a different kind of sound. the sound of the weekend. unleash the power of dough. give it a pop. michael schwager: you can't really have, i don't think, a vibrant community in all its manifestations without artists.
evelyn cisneros: the bay area is so special. jeff gunderson: it does attract people who want to be individuals, who want to do something that's out of the norm. male: the art scene in san francisco is organic. david best: good art should help people. [music] peter coyote: the first great artist was at work in california before the gold rush, before the spanish, before the first native americans. since the first sunrise, mother nature has been making a masterpiece of america's west coast. using the oldest rocks, the greatest ocean, and an unsettled earth, she has rendered a landscape so beautiful, people