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tv   KQED Newsroom  PBS  January 25, 2014 2:00am-2:31am PST

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next on "kqed newsroom," governor jerry brown touting california's turn-around. >> a budgetary surplus in the billions. in the billions. [ applause ] >> and reaction from around the state as election season heats up. alternatives for getting around town and commuting generating friction. and filmmaker ken burns on why we should all memorize the gettysburg address. >> four score and seven years ago -- >> our fathers brought forth on this continent -- >> a new nation. ♪
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. >> good evening and welcome to "kqed newsroom." i'm thuy vu. in his state of the state speech this week, governor jerry brown praised the huge budget surplus but also expressed concern for california's long-term pension liabilities and the drought. >> and we must follow the ancient advice recounted in the book of genesis that joseph gave to the pharaoh -- put away your surplus. during the years of great play so that you'll be ready for the lower years which is soon to follow. >> one of jerry brown's critics is neel kashkari, a moderate republican who entered the race for governor this week. >> i'm running for governor because i want every kid in california to get a quality education, and i want every californian to get a chance for a good-paying job. >> and joining me now for analysis of the political landscape in california are carl marinucci, "san francisco chronicle" senior political writer, josh richman, bay area
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news group politics reporter, and scott detrow, kqed's sacramento bureau chief, joining us from the state capitol. scott, we'll g to the content of the state of the state speech in just a moment, but first, some late-breaking news tonight on the issue of high-speed rail. the brown administration took some action on that. what did they do? >> yeah, the administration has asked the state supreme court to step in and repeal two rulings issued late last year that really harmed high-speed rail. one of them blocked the project from accessing $8 billion in bond money, and the other one basically threw out the plans, financial plan, and said you need to rewrite it. this is an interesting pivot, because the authority's message all along has been these rulings are not a problem, they're something that they can work around. these won't delay the project at all. but now, the brown administration has put forward this court ruling, saying that those earlier rulings, "imperil the project." and of course, this comes weeks after governor brown proposed diverting $250 million from
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california's cap-and-trade program to pay for the rail project. so, i think this is an indication that the high-speed rail project really is in financial trouble in terms of accessing the money it needs to start paying the federal government later this year, and that's in addition to the political problems it's having. polls show that a lot of californians are now skeptical of this plan, and more and more republicans are attacking it. neel kashkari, who announced a run for governor this week, has taken to calling it the crazy train. >> scott, is it possible that this sudden attempt by the brown administration to expedite this legal process is because some of the opponents of the project have been using this lower court ruling as an excuse, essentially, to try to pull the plug immediately? i mean, there have been republicans in the house who have floated bills in the past week or two to essentially deny any further federal funding to this. are they trying to get this overturned in a way so that they can no longer be used as a talking point by people who want to pull the plug? >> right, i mean, i think that is a real dynamic.
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i haven'tdad a chance to read the entire ruling yet. it's about 50 pages, but you're right, there is more of a push from washington to scale back that $3 billion already given to the project. i think one date that we're going to see very quickly is later this year, late spring, the state has to give its first payment to the federal government to start matching those federal funds that have already been spent, and i think there's a real concern that they might not have the money to make that payment at that point. and if the state does miss a payment, the authority, rather, i think that will give a lot of ammunition to these republican critics of the project. >> i mean, scott, don't you think one of the reasons that governor brown glossed over high-speed rail in that state of t state address, barely mentioned it, along with a lot of other things, we should say -- fracking, the water tunnel -- he stuck to his message. and i think fiscal responsibility, this guy knows enough to stay on message. he's been doing this speech longer than any other governor in the history of california, but isn't that one of the reasons? >> well, he knows how to stay on
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message, definitely. >> right, right. >> and what has the reaction been to his state of the state speech address, because no concrete, new proposals or plans came out of it? >> i think that a few days after the speech that is kind of the main point that you're hearing from both republicans and democrats. the main message of brown's speech was that, you know, the state has a surplus now, it's better than it was when he came in to office, but let's not go crazy, let's use that money to pay down long-term debt and set aside for rainy day fund. that was basically the only new proposal in the speech. the rest of it was devoted to kind of recapping previous accomplishments, and there was a lot of criticism from liberal lawmakers, like senator holly mitchell of southern california, for instance. she said she would have liked to hear a lot more about poverty, a lot more about restoring california's social safety net programs, and that's actually something a lot of republicans said as well. they also would have wanted to hear brown defend this high-speed rail project, which he's been a big advocate of before, but you're right, only gave a very glancing mention to in the speech this week. >> you know, i think in a lot of
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ways, this speech was as much a campaign rollout as anything else. he gav us his campaign message for 2014, even though he hasn't actually declared. experience counts. continuity matters. even handed out cards with his dog on them with that fiscal responsibility message, a huge hit. that was the first campaign literature -- >> yeah, well, the dog's always had a good job approval rating, so that's a surefire winner. i thought it was interesting in that it didn't get into details, things like the unfunded pension liabilities in terms of the fact that our state still has very high unemployment rate compared to other states, the highest poverty rate. these are talking points that, obviously, people like neel kashkari, who's challenging him, want him to talk about, because they're somewhat to his detriment. kashkari, for instance, is making the case that, you know, oh, it's great that we don't have budget deficits anymore, but it's kind of like balancing our checkbook when you have no hope of paying the mortgage on
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the house, whereas jerry brown would probably counter, yes, but the house was on fire when i got here and i put it out. so, how about that? >> that's exactly right. that was his message. and you talk about jerry brown likes to paddle to the right, paddle to the left. this speech was, i'm going to take it right down the middle, and he knew exactly what he was doing. why hand ammunition to everyone else out there? let's just stay on message. >> ged kashkari's ammunition, or he tried to fire some ammunition, was that brown didn't address the poverty issue. >> i think it's so interesting that a republican is the one bringing this up. why didn't you say anything about poverty? the governor did say something, and scott, i want to hear your thoughts on that. but the fact is, the republicans in the chamber there seemed pretty much happy. i think connie connelly said i love to hear jerry brown channel his inner republican. that's the kind of thing. the criticism seemed to be coming more from the democrats, like why didn't we talk about universal preschool for all and returning money to the mental health programs that have been
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cut? that's the challenge for jerry brown. >> let's talk a little bit more about the upcoming gubernatorial election. i mean, we've thrown out neel kashkari's name several times now. now, what do we know about him? former treasury department official. >> that's right. >> mr. bailout. >> this is the guy, he's 40 years old, by the way, and really was a wall street wonder kid, the guy who managed the troubled assets relief program, was known as the $700 billion man on wall street but has no political experience as he runs for governor in california. he admits voting for barack obama, which in most gop circles makes you a nonentity right away, but he's also pro-choice, pro gay marriage. a lot of people have said this is a new sort of conserve taren republican, a libertarian but conservative on fiscal issues. he's really got to make the case. and also, californians don't know him. he's also got a problem. he hasn't voted a lot. we did an investigation this week. you know, almost half of the elections in which he was
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eligible. >> i would merely insert that mr. kashkari would want to point out, he only voted for barack obama once, only the first time. >> and for many republicans, that is enough. >> and only because of the candidate's positions on the t.a.r.p. program. >> but seriously, what are his chances, if brown runs for re-election? and the only other person on the republican side, assemblyman tim donnelly, who's also not well known, is the other challenger, tea party favorite there. >> yeah, and i think, scott, from up in sacramento's point of view, i hear, you know, donnelly has problems right within the chamber of the legislature. he is a very conservative guy, correct? >> that's correct, and -- >> how's he seen up there? >> i think that one of the things donnelly is known most for in the assembly chamber is being the guy who has something to say on every single issue, on every single bill. they have jokingly turned off his microphone at times before. and that's basically his reputation. but on the other hand, you know, i've been with donnelly going out to tea party groups, and his argument is that, you know, as we mentioned, neel kashkari is a pro-abortion rights, pro gay marriage, guy who voted for
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barack obama. that's not going to play too well with the limited but very enthusiastic, you know, grassroots wings of republican voters out there. and i think the t.a.r.p. background is going to be interesting for kashkari, because we've seen this with the candidates who have had to go and defend their votes for this program. very unpopular program. the argument is, yeah, well, it helped us prevent a great depression. but the problem is, it's hard to run on something that didn't happen, you know? i'm the guy who saved us from something that you have to think about kind of hypothetically. it's a tough sell because nobody likes t.a.r.p. you can acknowledge that it did work, but nobody's applauding the fact that the government had to give all this money to the banks that caused the problem to begin with. >> you know, let's also talk real quickly, in the little time that we have left, about the ro khanna versus mike honda race in the south bay. closely watched congressional race throughout the country. why is this so high-profile? >> i think this is because this is one of those races that's going to define perhaps generational shifts. ro khanna in his 30s running
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against a seven-term congressman who's widely liked in the south bay. >> plus, endorsed by president obama. >> endorsed by obama and all of the democratic establishment. khanna's picked up a lot of the silicon valley tech stars and a lot more money than mike honda, 3-1 cash advantage at this point. it's an asian-american battle. ro khanna, the son of indian immigrants, south asian population is the biggest that it -- the only, i think, majority population, congressional district in the country. so, you've got, and mike honda, of course, from an internment camp as a child. >> yes. >> these are two very compelling stories, and this is a big battle of democrat versus democrat, top two primary. >> that's right, we've got the open primary. >> that's right. >> and it is becoming one of the most expensive democratic primary, so we'll watch that. very interesting. >> absolutely. >> thank you all for being here.
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carl marinucci, josh richman and scott detrow from sacramento. later in the program, the backlash against high-tech buses and alternative ride services. but first, it's only two minutes long and contains fewer than 300 words, but this moving speech marks a turning point in american history, the gettysburg address. filmmaker ken burns's documentary follows a group of boys as they work to memorize the address. scott shafer sat down earlier with burns to discuss why a speech from the civil war moved him to make a film. first, a clip from the documentary. >> okay, guys, let's sit up straight in our chairs. let's get ready to start morning meeting. today we are introducing a tradition here at greenwood, studying and memorizing the gettysburg address. and in a lot of ways, it is a
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right of passage. >> this is one of the most famous speeches of all time, and this was, like, 200 or 300 years ago? so, even if you say it for, like, two minutes, it still means a lot. >> four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. >> well, ken burns, welcome. >> thank you for having me. >> your latest film weaves together the gettysburg address with the story of this school in vermont where boys who have learning disabilities memorize and recite the gettysburg address. what was it about that school that you found so compelling? >> i live across the river in wall poll, new hampshire, and a few years ago, they asked me to come in and judge this contest that they've had every year of the 35 years in which this school is opened, where they ask these kids with learning
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disadvantages, dyslexia, adhd, an alphabet soup of learning differences, and i was so moved. tears were running down my cheek. i said somebody's got to make a film of this. i came back as a judge just as a good neighbor. i'm a father of four daughters, so it was good to have -- >> boy energy. >> a little bit of boy energy around. and fell in love with the school what they were doing, fell in love with the idea that the gettysburg address could be so transformative and then realized this is the anniversary of the gettysburg address, i've got to do it. and it is a heroic, triumphant story. we like to separate people and say these are kids with special needs. these are special kids with needs. >> and what is it about the gettysburg address and their struggle with memorizing it? and then also the message of that address. >> yeah, well, this is the whole thing. first of all, it's not that long, which means as hard as it might be for you or me to memorize, it's that much harder for them, but it's just two minutes. it's extraordinarily well written. it's very complicated and has
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the word here in it seven or eight times, and lincoln moves that word around, so it's sort of like rearranging the furniture for a blind person, it's dangerdangerous, and you c watch the kids struggling, and we would struggle if everybody in the country memorized the address and uploaded it to learntheaddress.org. it's also the most important speech ever given in american history in which lincoln talks about a new birth of freedom, which it is for these kids, so there's that connection. but this is him doubling down on the declaration, this is the declaration 2.0. this has been our operating system since then. we have no other operating system. he said, look, the guy who wrote the declaration "all men are created equal" owned other human beings implicitly, but now we really do mean it. and even though we've experienced the greatest battle ever fought on american soil, we can come out of this stronger and more unified, and it is that kind of metaphor of battle of struggle that also compels these boys across various learning
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differences to do it. >> you are asking americans, all americans, to learn the address, and many have. all the former presidents and president obama as well. you suggested this would be good for the country. >> yes. >> if everyone learn this. why so? >> we often do best as a country when we've got our oars in the water at the same time, pulling in the same direction, and we don't do this now. we are based on our distinctions. we're red state or blue state, we're male or female, we're gay or straight, young or old, black or white, north or south, east or west. we always want to make a distinction about the other, but what if we realize that we share? and this is what public television does every day of its life, we remind people that we share so much in common. it doesn't matter what your politics are. so, we had nancy pelosi reading and also marco rubio. and we had bill o'reilly and rachel maddow, trying to point out that there are some things, that table history is a table around which we still agree to
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co-here. and we don't memorize anything anymore. i've got an hour or so on my hard drive, my kids have less, and we need to go back to some of these things are important. >> there was some controversy about obama's reading because he didn't use the phrase "under god," and there's some important information, explanation about that. >> well, this proves my previous point about how preoccupied we are in got you. there are several versions, several drafts of it and we asked the president to read the first draft, the bliss version, which is incredibly different. it's not just lacking that phrase. but what we wanted to do -- and people have read the bliss versions and other versions, is talk about text. we don't know precisely what he read that day. there was no stestenographer th news camera. the greatest words in history, the greatest speech, certainly, has complicated history to it. >> as you say, there was no, of course, video of president
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lincoln. now there's video of everything. >> everything, you know? >> how do you think that changes our understanding and interpretation of history? >> well, it's going to be different. we have less letters to go by, we have less words to go by, but we have now pictures, which are often -- maybe they've been devalued because there's so many, they're mabel not worth 1,000 words, but maybe still worth 250, so pictures do things. you can think of rodney king, the videotape. there's a film in the kennedy assassination as we've been thinking about that. you know, it's interesting that human nature doesn't change. i mean, "the chicago times" said, the cheek of every american must tickle with shame as he reads the silly, flat, dish watery utterances of the man who needs to be pointed out to intelligent foreigner as the president of the united states. that's "the chicago times" from illinois, the home state of president lincoln, to the gettysburg address. >> also, you've completed a film or a long series about the roosevelt, eleanor, franklin, theodore. and i was just thinking, you know, california has its own
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sort of interesting family, the brown family. >> indeed. >> jerry and pat. is there any thought of doing anything on that? >> of course! if i was given 1,000 years to live, i wouldn't run out of topics in american history, but you think of centrality of california and the history of the united states from the get-go, and particularly now as a laboratory of experimentation and you think of the way which the brown family has superimposed their lives and struggles and paralleled the lives and struggles of california. it would be a terrific film. >> ken burns, thanks so much for the address and your extraordinary body of work. >> thank you. thank you. new ways to get around town and get to work in congestion-prone bay area, that sounds like a good idea, but some of these transportation alternatives are generating controversy. double-decker shuttle buses run by silicon valley employers like google and yahoo! have attracted the attention of regulators.
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the buses will soon start paying fees for each stop they make. and ride service companies like lyft and uber that allow nonprofessional drivers to pick up passengers are being scrutinized for their safety and insurance policies. joining me tonight for analysis are chuck nevius, "san francisco chronicle" columnist, and jon brooks, kqed news fix reporter. chuck, let's begin with you and the google buses, generating a lot of headlines, even nationally. the mta, san francisco's municipal transportation agency, approved a pilot program this week. what would it do exactly? >> it's an 18-month program. what's happened is that people are sayi ining the google buses using these stops, the muni stops, without any compensation, and they're blocking the muni buses, it makes it slower, it's causing traffic jams. they have to compensate the city somehow. so, the mta said, all right, we hear you. we're going to impose a $1-per-stop fee each time the bus stops, and that brought in
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some serious money. some of them make as many as 200 stops. so, there was talk that some of these companies might pay as much as $100,000. however, protesters say that's nothing, it's a drop in the bucket, that doesn't do anything. as they point out, a parking fine is $271. $1 is worth doing. >> but the city really can't impose something more than $1 fee. that's regulated by the state. >> that's the problem is that the state regulates parking spots. all you can do is get cost reductions. the amount of money that it would cost to implement this plan is all you can collect. they determined that would be $1, therefore, they can't go higher than that. >> but is there talk of some sort of preposition to try and impose a tax or a fee? >> that's right, if there were to be a tax, we would have to take it to the ballot box, and i would imagine with the energy and emotion with this, that would be a huge surprise that that would pass, but it has become just a lightning rod for the entire issue, for housing,
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for the change in the city, and most of all, for class. >> is it misplaced anger, though? you're not going to solve the affordable housing crisis by targeting these buses. >> well, i think it is misplaced. i don't think you can make the case that buses cause higher rents, but what i can say is that if you block one of those google buses, "the chronicle" and every news outlet covers that, you've certainly gotten people's attention. and one of the things that happened just this last week was that the mayor stated the same message, spent a lot of time on affordable housing, on stipulations and stipends for helping people buy homes and so forth. so, the message has gotten through. i'm just not sure about the messenger. >> and the buses, they do cut down on greenhouse gases. there was a study that came out, a couple of uc berkeley graduate students did it and said if these buses weren't available, 48% of the riders they surveyed say they would drive alone to their jobs. >> right, and even 60% of them said that they would get rid of their cars, have gotten rid of
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their cars. many of them live in a very dense, urban area, just as many of us do. it's a terrific idea in that sense. now, there's also a part of that study that said that 40% of those people would say that they would move elsewhere if they didn't have a google bus to take them there. but the fact of the matter is, there is no transportation from downtown san francisco to mountain view. there is no -- i mean, there's a way to do it with the train, but you've got to take a bus to the train. there is no direct link, and that's what the real problem. >> it is complex, and the big, high-tech companies have pretty much stayed silent on this. we will see what they plan to do on this. i'm sure more to come on this. >> you can count on that. >> yeah, in the next year or so. another transportation issue generating headlines are these alternative ride services, like lyft, the pink mustache, which people recognize, uber, side car. jon, you've been reporting a lot on the conflict between the taxi industry and these services. first of all, though, explain how they work. >> well, these ride service companies, they enable any car
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owner to actually become a little bit of an entrepreneur. they can become sort of quasi taxi through these apps, these phone-based apps. they can sign up through the service and they can pick up passengers and take them around the city. >> and what is the appeal? are they just more convenient than taxis? >> well, i think the appeal is, and you will actually get people in the san francisco taxi industry admitting this -- the taxi industry has not done a great job of servicing the city. i mean, it's sort of a city that's notoriously hard to get a cab in, and these new firms have come in and kind of filled that gap, and they really have taken a significant amount of passengers away from traditional taxis and they've also taken away drivers from taxis. a lot of cab drivers are now moving over to their own vehicles and kind of setting up
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shop for themselves. >> ironically, many of them -- i did a column on this at one point. one of the taxi drivers got in touch with me and said you've got to ride around with me and so forth, i'll show you how difficult it is to be a cab driver, so i did. then he called me and said now i'm doing uber 2. it's a separate cell phone for uber, so he takes the regular cab rides, but also does uber. so, as much as they talk about how damaging this is, they recognize which way the wind's blowing and they're going to pick up on this. >> jon, talk to us quickly about the insurance issue, because these are basically private drivers using their private vehicles for a commercial purpose. do they have commercial insurance? are they insured at all? >> well, the ride service companies, like lyft and side car, et cetera, they have a $1 million excess liability policy in effect that's supposed to kick in when the driver's private insurance leaves off. the only problem is, is that the insurance industry says that
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private insurance will never cover an accident if you are driving commercially. so, what we're seeing in our reporting -- we've talked to a lot of these drivers, and they don't want to come public with the fact that they actually are driving commercially, but they're afraid that their insurance companies will actually cancel their policies. and just recently, we've seen that's happened to a couple of people. >> and that -- >> pardon me, there's even a movement at one point where the cab drivers were posting photos of the people who were -- so that the insurance companies could see them and say, it strictly says in your policy, you do not drive for hire with this insurance company. >> and of course, the insurance issue becomes a very big question when accidents happen, and we have had a couple recently, including one on new year's eve that involved a few fatalities. so, many more questions that remain unanswered. >> yeah. >> thank you both for being here. >> thank you. >> sure thing. >> and if you're wondering where scott shafer is, he's on vacation tonight, but he'll be back with us next friday with a look at some of the stories we'll be covering. for all of kqed's news coverage,
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please go to kqednews.org. i'm thuy vu. thanks for watching. have a good night.
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