tv This Week in Northern California PBS February 11, 2012 1:30am-2:00am PST
closed captioning of this program is made possible by the firemen's fund foundation. california joins a nationwide settlement with the country's biggest lenders. but does it do enough for the majority of homeowners who are under water? >> no action, no matter how meaningful, is going to by itself entirely heal the housing market. but this settlement is a start. >> a landmark decision this week as the u.s. ninth circuit court rules the prop 8 ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. cal trans says next weekend's closure could help speed the opening up of the bay bridge's new eastern span. and belva davis talks with john
burton as the california democratic convention gets under way. >> the better the president does, the better the rest of the ticket does. >> coming up next. >> good evening. i'm renee kemp in for belva davis who's on assignment. welcome to "this week in northern california." joining me for our news panel are tom day vaur, ttvu. scott shafer, kqed public radio.
and aaron glantz, reporter with "the bay citizen." aaron, you're going to be talking about the foreclosure settlement that's been months and months in the making. can you talk about the parameters of the settlement that finally came about? >> you've been hearing in the news about this $25 billion national settlement, the tape that we played of barack obama. but the good news for people in california, we had our own side settlement. california consumers are going to be able to get up to $18 billion, that's what kamala harris, our attorney general, negotiated for us. but only certain kinds of people are going to be able to get this. you have to have a loan with wells fargo, bank of america, citibank, jpmorgan chase, a allied financial, they have on own your loan and not have sold it to somebody else. if you've already lost your home all you're going to get is about
$6,000. 60% of the loans are fannie mae or freddie mac. only 20% of the loans are covered by the settlement. >> i remember when the crisis began, there was discussion what to do. people felt like, people who could never have afforded this in the first place, who shouldn't have had a mortgage, who were using it as an atm, they shouldn't get benefit from bailout or any help. in this case are those foem folks going to be helped by this? what's the criteria, who's going to decide whether or not you're eligible? >> you have to be underwater on your mortgage, you have to have your loan from one of these five banks, and theoretically you should have access to this pot of money. $12 billion is for reworks on loans here in the state of california. it should help hundreds of thousands of people. and then there's hundreds of thousands more who are just going to get checks of about
$2,000 because they were fraudulently foreclosed on. and the ceo of bank of america called this rough justice. it's hard for them to retroactively go back and figure out who was rightly and wrongly foreclosed on. if you got foreclosed on during a three-year period you could get $2,000. >> harris said 450,000 people are going to benefit from this. i get the sense, and i'm wondering if you get the sense, what this really does is turns up the he'd on everybody to do something. because these five banks, extraordinarily powerful banks, extraordinarily influential, to a certain extent they have knuckled under to pressure. can we look for other large banks to eventually make similar settlements? >> she's also suing fannie and fredie because they were refusing to answer investigatory questions from the state of california. also, she has demanded the head of fannie mae resign.
the head of delegations are demanding he resign. the question is why is obama keeping him when there's so much pressure from his own party and the republican party also critical? it's somewhat confusing. >> what is going to be done? there's this big pot of money. whenever there's a big pot of money there's predators and scam artists who are going to come in and potentially get some of that money. how are they going stop that? >> if anybody comes to you and says, give me $500, i'll access this, hang up the phone. >> if you know. >> if you know. there are hud certified housing counselors in the state of california, the country, at community centers and large organizations. but there are going to be scam artists and law enforcement chasing scam artists. a lot of it is about how much messaging the government can do to people so people are actually
aware of what the system is. one of the provisions of the settlement is that if you are part of this group of people who is eligible, the banks are supposed to end this practice called dual track, which is i'm talking to tom about my rework at the same time scott is foreclosing on me. they're supposed to only have one point of contact in the discussion. we'll see how that works out. that's something bangs have resisted. >> so much of this money is set aside, if you want to call it money, it may be nothing more than a stroke of a pen, to write down principal. somebody owes $450,000 on the house, they'll only owe $300, 0 $300,000. it's a question of whether there will be an exchange of money, or say we'll write this off, take the tax benefit, move forward $12 billion of $18 billion is write-offs. >> it's surprising they decided they would work with clients
whether they were current with payments or not. >> that is a big change. because one of the problems we've seen so far is the early programs that the obama administration adopted, you have to go into default first. first you have to get behind, then you end up negotiating with your banks to months and get farther and farther behind, so if you can't do the rework you lose your home to foreclosures. hopefully this will work differently. >> we're going to move along a bit. everybody was saying that the economy was going to be the major subject of the presidential election. but it looks like there are going to be social issue popping up too. i wouldn't be surprise tuesday prop 8 wasn't one of them. scott shafer, talk about the scope of the decision that was made this week. >> going back to why this was before the ninth circuit court of appeals, there was the decision in 2010, a sweeping, wide decision that really broke open the door for gay marriage and said there was a fundamental right that everyone had to marriage. regardless of your gender.
so that went up on appeal, then this week a three-judge panel narrowed the ruling. they agreed the judge was right in striking that down, prop 8, but there was a much more narrow ruling tailored to the facts in the california. von august walker's opinion, if it had been upheld by the supreme court, it could have struck down gay marriage bans across the country. this one only applies here if upheld. the decision they came up with said, look, california had gay marriage, they had a broad away of rights for domestic partners and adoption and preventing discrimination. so when they withdrew the word marriage, essentially, from gay and lesbian couples, there was no rational reason for that other than animosity, prejudice, and the only effect it had was diminish their status. they found that to be unconstitutional. it's a much narrow irdecision. >> in that it was specific to the language in the california proposition and does not apply necessarily to any other state? >> it could apply theoretically
to other states in the ninth circuit where they had gay marriage, then a ballot measure took it away. the decision really rested on a previous supreme court decision in 19 anything. the romer v. evans in colorado that was passed and then struck down by the u.s. supreme court. it basically prevented any kind of special benefits or legal protections for gays and lesbians. anthony kennedy, the critical swing justice, wrote that decision striking down amendment two in colorado. i think they're hoping the opponents of prop 8 are hoping he would be on their side in this as well. >> in an odd sort of way as california continues this fight, continues and continues, in states all around us and states around the country, we're seeing more and more moves to the legitimatization of gay marriage. is this almost a day late and a dollar short? >> i think people look at iowa, now washington state this week passed gay marriage, the governor says she's going to
sign it. clearly things are moving along. that raises an interesting point because it may not be in the -- time may not be on the side of supporters of prop 8. but the longer this drags out, before it goes to the u.s. supreme court, you've got now new york state has it, new jersey's thinking about it, illinois's thinking about it. the courts tend not to like to get too far out in front. so if by the time this gets to the u.s. supreme court you've got 20% of the united states living in a state where they have gay marriage or something very much like it, you might see the court more willing to strike down prop 8. >> this three-judge panel, two of the judges are quite liberal. why would they craft such a narrow ruling? >> interesting question. the two judges who struck it down were both appointed by democrats. steven rinehart, probably the most liberal federal judge in the country. and i think the reason they narrowed it down is very much toward -- with an eye toward the supreme court. i think in one sense, they wrote it so narrowly there's a chance now that the supreme court won't
even take this up on appeal. because they may feel, well, this only affects california. it's not really -- usually when the supreme court takes a case it's because there's a disagreement in different circuits throughout the country, like health care. that's not the case here. you can see that maybe the conservatives on the the court might be a little worried about anthony kennedy, where they would rule. they may not vote to stake it up. the liberals might just be happy not to have to rule on it quite so soon. there is that chance. fit does go to the supreme court, the fact that it's narrower and based on anthony kennedy's ruling in romer, and he also wrote the decision striking down sodomy in 2003. so i think they feel like if we target the argument right at him, that will help win his vote fit does get to the u.s. supreme court. >> the actions by officials, obama refusing to defend the defense of marriage act, kamala harris, jerry brown refusing to defend prop 8, how much do you think that is playing into this legal fight? >> well, it's interesting. the defensive marriage act,
there are several cases in the federal courts, including two here in california. one of those, the one in massachusetts, may actually get to the u.s. supreme court before proposition 8 does. it's probably going to be at least the 2013 session before prop 8 gets there. so it's quite possible that doma will be struck down before it gets -- doma requires states to recognize marriages that are performed in other states even if it's not legal in your state. it's going to be interesting. i think clearly things are moving. you look at the polls now. there's a slight plurality supporting gay marriage. that was not the case three, five years ago. certainly not when prop 8 passed. things are moving. it's part of the political gestalt changing a little bit. >> bottom line is, when can marriages start again, if at all? >> interesting question. it looks like the stay on the ruling will end on february 28th. which would mean theoretically they could begin on february 28th. you can be sure backers of prop
8 will go back into court, to the supreme court if necessary, to get that stay put back in place so there won't be any more same-sex marriages until this is finally resolved. >> the lone dissenting judge was a bush appointee? >> randy submit, bush-appointed in 2007, a mormon from pocatello. his dissent was narrow. he basically said, i'm not so sure there wasn't a national reason for enacting prop 8, that it didn't have to be based on prejudice. he used the phrase, optimal parenting. that the state does have an interest, the voters had an interest in wanting to have households where there was one father and one mother and that's a reasonable thing to want. you don't have to be anti-gay to necessarily support that. so that was the basis of his decision. we'll see whether the supreme court picks up on that, if and when it takes this case up. >> okay, great. and the ninth circuit will be busy. they have oral argument starting monday. >> monday, anti-discrimination ban in california is going to be
taken up. governor brown interestingly enough is on the side of the paragraphs. we'll see what happens. we're going to turn to tom vacar. i'm sure everybody's seen the signs about the closure of the bay bridge. can you talk about what we can expect with that closure? >> let's go to the video. what we're going to look at is a cal trans-generated piece of tape. basically what you have to understand is that the westbound lanes, what i mean by that is the lanes that are going into the city, are going to be closed. the other eastbound lanes going to oakland will be fine. what's happening here is if you look at what you're seeing there at the toll plause zarks you're going to see that the traffic is going to be moved off to the left. and what that means is that the lanes have already been built, they're simply shifting these lanes during this closure on which happens over the weekend until next tuesday. then what will happen is that will clear the way for the new down -- the oakland touchdown of
the bridge to actually be built. the idea is to move the traffic over so you can put this thing down so when they're actually ready to open this up you can open both lanes, parallel lanes, some east, some west, they'll be parallel. the idea is to clear it out so it will get done six months to a year earlier. although nobody will say this out loud, and in time for the americas cup so they can show this magnificent bridge off to the world for the duration of the meshes cup. that's really what's going to happen. as we continue to move forward we'll see the stringing of the actual cables. there are going to be 17,000 strands that will make up one cable 2 1/2 feet wide, one continuous cable that will put that bridge into place. then by labor day of 2013, not far from now, we'll actually have this bridge go into operation, 24 years after the first earthquake, loma prieta quake, felled part of the bridge
and made it a priority to replace it. >> who ever thought it would take so long. 24 years, starting at $1 billion. >> now about $1.6 billion. this is a one-off bridge that had to be built on unique territory, deep into a bay, it had to be done in the right way, it had to be built to a standard which is this. if there's a major earthquake, the largest credible earthquake either on the san andreas or the hayward faults, capable of very large earthquakes, the bridge not only needs to survive that, it needs to be in service immediately thereafter for emergency crews for emergency crews and the public. it is built to the highest standards there can be. however, going through all of that were the politics of it where you had the mayors brown arguing over what should be done, the governor schwarzenegger saying, we just want to do a causeway, ultimately we ended up on this large self-anchored suspension tower that's out there. so it is going to be a monument that will last about 150 years,
to the year 2163. so the $6 billion, if you amortize it out, it's a pretty good bargain but we're going to pay for it quicker than that. >> what about the politics? when i saw this deadline i went to the americas cup website and the finals are going to be the week of september seeth of 2013. how does that work? who got that done so that it would work in time for that? >> part of it is what cal trans learned in emergency repairs on double slide, when the bridge went out in geyserville, when part of the maze burned down, they learned to do things much more quickly. they started saying, okay. without getting crazy about money, what can we do here that would be different, that's never been tried before, that would speed this up? they came up with this thing. they said, here's an opportunity, there's a window of opportunity here where we can show this bridge off. safety was never compromised in any of that. i don't think anybody decided that. but they figured out a way to do it. because they figured out a way to do it, it will be done six
months to a year early. clearly the idea of showing off this bridge to a worldwide audience is something that they're thinking about. >> do you think that it will actually be done then? those of us who have been waiting 23 years may have some skepticism. >> i tell you, i think the question is what happens in the interim, if there's a major earthquake, what would we do? would we have to speed that up new bridge in order to not have to rebuild the new one? or to repair the old one? or are we likely to run into more politics? i think we won't run into more politics because the public will not bear any more expense on this bridge for this project. >> since you're our resident road warrior talk about the doyle drive project since that's smack dab in the middle and seems to run out of funds. >> the reason the bridge is, it's supported by tolls. it's been committed. the people that lend the monica know they're going to be paid. doyle drive is a different thing. it was a phased project as all
projects are but they've gotten to the end of the first phase. the money that was supposed to come from the state is not forthcoming any time soon. some money that was supposed to come from the feds that they wanted to divert from other projects, they wouldn't get that done. if they don't get it figured out in the next few weeks, come june this is going to halt halfway done. what's important about that, obviously, that is we're talking about a very dangerous situation. a 75-year-old bridge. and it's one that needs to be replaced. >> okay, thank you, tom. in fact, thank you all for joining us today. alan grants, tom vacar, scott shafer for being here. the california democratic party is holding its state convention in saying this weekend. with redistricting and the new top two primary system for selecting winning candidates. the upcoming election season should provide interesting outcomes. john burton spoke with belva davis earlier this week.
>> belva: 2012 is a different year for party chairs. there have been so many rules, laws, lawsuits, changes. let's start with where we vote. that is the long battle over the district lines. >> the new districts favor the democrats. it was done by an independent commission that democrats were against and republicans were for. but largely because i think of the demographic change with more democrats being registered, more independents, less republicans being registered, that there are more districts, new districts that democrats could win. so it's an interesting concept and that makes it harder for us to focus because there are more districts to focus on, but it's also a lot better chances to pick up enough votes to have two-thirds in the assembly and senate, to help governor brown, some members of congress
anywhere from two, three, four to help nancy pelosi get the majority of the house back so she could be speaker again, which would be not only good for california but good for the country. >> belva: usually when there's voter increase it's the party chair that has engineered something to get those new party members. has that been a goal of yours? >> what we do is we sign people up to be permanent absentee voters. and statistics show that an absentee voter is probably 45%, 50% more likely to vote than somebody who has to go to the poll. also it gives us 30 days to get the vote out. because we know who gets an absentee ballot. we're able to contact them all the way up to election day to make sure they mail the ballot in. and that's beneficial to us. so we've been working on that. also in a presidential year, people just tend to register because there's more interest.
in this year, republicans had a very low registration. democrats had a pretty good one. but the biggest group were independents who i think weren't crazy about either party but they were clearly i think less crazy about the republicans after seeing, you know, almost six -- well, not 6 months but a lot of republican presidential debates where both on the issues they seemed a little off but the way they were just attacking each other viciously. >> belva: now we have this -- the two top vote-getters -- >> the top two in the primary. what happens is it used to be democrat or paper agreei paper, libertarian. members of those parties would vote wind the party who they want to represent them. and now anybody could vote for
anybody. but when it's all over, only the top two vote-getters will be on the ban lot. the green party will never see itself on a general election ballot, in my opinion, nor will the libertarians, and i think that's wrong. also what you have is if you have two republicans with the biggest vote-getters, basically democrats will determine who the republican is to represent the republican party, the same as far as republicans determining who the democrat is. >> belva: the latino population has grown tremendously over the last ten years, from about 11 million to about 14 million. i think it's like a 37% increase in the population. >> we've seen the change in the state, more latinos, more asian-americans, more women, more gays and lesbians, less african-americans. african-american used to be four
in the state assembly, two in the senate. now i think there's maybe one in the senate, i think. maybe two or something. barbara lee, she's the only african-american north of east l.a. >> belva: you're about to hold your state convention. what -- who's going to be there, what are they going to be fighting or agreeing about? >> we're going to have governor brown, of course. will probably pitch his tax program. save the schools and public safety. we'll have senator boxer -- senator feinstein, excuse me. we'll have all the elected -- secretary of state, all the elected officials will just be up giving the rah-rah and the importance of seeing president obama win, although i think it's clear he'll carry our state. the better the president does, the better the rest of the ticket does.
>> belva: democratic party seems to be in a difficult position with the governor dead gate ede getting a tax measure passed. now there are two announced competing measures going to gather signatures. >> we've really got to look and see what they are, see if they qualify for the ballot. then we have to -- then we make a decision. you know. could the party support all three of them? i don't know. if you have three on the ballot, does that hurt the governors? i don't know. i believe everybody rational thinks we need more money for the state. >> belva: on to san diego. and 2012. i want to thank you very much for being here, john burton. >> always a pleasure. >> you'll find more coverage of the state democratic party convention on kque radio "california report" and kque