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tv   KQED Newsroom  PBS  October 28, 2017 1:00am-1:31am PDT

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hello and welcome to kqed "newsroom." i'm thuy vu. the historical currents that led to president trump's rise to power. i'll talk with a co-author of one nation after trump. plus, week one of a closely watched murder trial at the center of a national debate over so-called sanctuary cities and immigration. a look at the key developments at the steinle case but first, it's been more than three weeks since fires broke out in the north bay killing dozens of people, destroying thousands of structures and devastating neighborhoods. many residents in the afblfecte areas looking to leave or rebuild? and what will it take to start over? we'll start with an update from james lee witt, the interim executive director of rebuild north bay a non-profit
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organization coordinating organization efforts after the wildfires and director of the federal emergency management agency or fema under president bill clinton. via skype now from little rock, arkansas. thank you for joining us. >> thanks for having us. >> what is the most urgent need right now in the fire ravaged parts of sonoma and napa counties? >> the most important thing now is for the material out of the way where the contractors come in and get the debris out of the way but also, start planning for what your neighborhoods will look like and meeting with developers and how you want to rebuild. and i would stress that as you are thinking about rebuilding, think about how you'll go back safer with more resiliency and i think that will be really important. >> that rebuilding process is challenging, you take stock of the city's housing stock, for example, in santa rosa. 5% of the city's housing stock,
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roughly 3,000 homes destroyed by the fires. what can be done to address that problem, the housing shortage problem during the rebuilding process? >> we did have a discussion with that and temporary housing for individuals in hotels and motels but that can only last so long. and we talked about what kind of temporary housing could be in place whether it's housing in areas that could be set up and then also discussed about the long-term recovery efforts. so it is really, really important to be able to put a temporary housing program in place so you keep people there and keep the workers there and start building back the revenue within those. >> what kinds of disaster aid can fire victims get from fema? >> they have several in the programs. fema's an individual assisted program as well as the family
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program as well as the hud housing program as well as sba and can do the small business loans. and sba can particularly, the small business, it has a loan on that small business. sba can come in and rework that loan and then loan them money to build their business back with low interest. one of the things they've been asking to do is work with fema and to make sure that we maximize all the different federal state funding streams and then identify the void that's going to be there and there will be voids. and the non-profit help fill the voids to help people get back on their feet. >> since you work with fema, mr. witt, there have been reports that some undocumented immigrants are afraid to speak of federal aid out of fear of immigration authorities. on thursday, five california congressmen wrote a letter requesting confirmation that fema will not disclose the
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immigration status of fire victims. what is fema's process for how immigration status information is handled? >> you know, i'm not sure what the policy is today. i know at one time in california when we had a big tree that froze and crops, we housed immigrant workers at that time and we do not have any problems then. did not have any. >> will you be taking up this issue with them when you work with fema? >> absolutely. >> why did you decide to step in and take charge of rebuild north bay? >> you know, director fema under president clinton for eight years, we had 850 presidential disasters. family or a thousand families lose everything they worked for. and old years as a director of fema, and the private sector,
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when we responded solely to the disasters, i just want to make a difference. i want to make a difference to help them to help themselves and get their life back together and as soon as possible. that's why i still do this. >> james lee witt, the interim director of rebuild north bay. thank you so much for joining us from little rock, arkansas. >> thank you. have a great weekend. >> you too. >> and now to broaden the discussion, joined by editorial director paul via skype from santa rosa and here in the newsroom, jon romero. we just heard james lee witt the new head of rebuild north bay talk about the issue of whether fema will ask undocumented immigrants about the immigration status. what are you hearing in the community about the fears among undocumented immigrants on this? >> i mean, that's definitely a concern. not only among undocumented residents who lost homes or
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jobs, but among their relatives who are u.s. citizens and who can apply for that aid. >> paul, you wrote a very impassioned touching op-ed asking fire victims to please stay. don't leave the region. was there a key moment or interaction that led you to write that op-ed? >> it was the result of a number of conversations i've had with many friends who are victims of this fire. this obviously is a very personal event for the staff here at the press democrat. we know dozens, if not hundreds of friends, family members who have lost homes and many of them are having challenges, a great deal of difficulty trying to find a new place to live. many of them are looked at ending up in places as far away as nevada with windsor, quite a drive and we also are aware after a catastrophe of this type, areas tend to lose population. new orleans lost some 20% of its
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population after hurricane katrina and we've already had a significant housing crisis in our area and now this is only going to compound that. so there is concern we're going to lose our doctors, teachers, police officers, even firefighters lost homes and it's going to be very difficult for them in finding a new place to live. we have over 200 doctors in the areas that have lost homes and we have a doctor shortage and some of these physicians are not going to have difficulty offered positions in other areas. that may be more easier to housing and that's going to be, there is real concern there that eventually after this wears off, it may seek other opportunities. >> and i want to bring you in because i know you've been to the fire ravaged region in the areas and what are some of the biggest everyday challenges that firefighters are facing?
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they still have jobs and children have to go to school. >> like paul mentioned, housing is a number one issue right now in a lot of people's minds who lost their homes. like he was saying, there was already a really tight, you know, rental market in the santa rosa area so people are trying to figure out where they're going to live in the long-term while they rebuild homes or where they're able to rent and i was able to speak with students at santa rosa junior college who lost homes and for them, it's not only that, you know, impact of the fires but also, now that they're back at school and with classes, they don't have textbooks or have computers. they don't have laptops. >> how many students lost their homes at that college? >> well, the college is reporting that at least 600 students lost homes as well as dozens of faculty and students. so a lot of people in this situation. >> paul, can you put this into the broader bay area context for us? santa rosa one of the most
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affordable places in the bay area that people could live and commute to jobs and other cities throughout the region. what's the impact on the bay area as a whole? there aren't too many places anymore, sadly, where you can get a home for the median price of $500,000. >> i think that that's a big question. my wife and i from the south bay from palo alto and los altos. we came here 20 years ago, it was a more affordable opportunity for us to live here and the question will be, where can people go? now, some people up in fountain grove or doctors, they'll have the resources to relocate to other places in the bay area. i obviously don't want them to do that but may seek those opportunities. others may end up moving to lake county of all places which also had a significant fire in the valley two years ago. we're already seeing more
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workers come from that area and this fire just hit a broad spectrum of our population from the very wealthiest to some of the very poorest and coffee park, for example, blue collar area. if those, many of those people are lifelong residents of santa rosa, it's going to be tough. >> a broad economic impact. we have a minute or so. what is the long-term economic impact? many businesses and wineries not damaged but a dramatic drop in visitors. i've had friends e-mail me saying that the tasting room, several of them have to close. >> well, i mean, local authorities are expecting an economic downturn because of the fires and you have to remember that cinema county was having an economy that was booming before the fire, so they had record, you know, hotel occupancy rates and a lot of records in terms of economic growth. and so this is definitely going
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to be for them, but the county also says that as soon as the fires are completely over, they were already planning to start a big campaign to try to attract visitors again to wineries. because the wine industry and agriculture as well as tourism and retail are about a third of the economy in the county. a big part of it. >> paul, what's your biggest concern now as the rebuilding phase begins? >> well, i think we were already having a shortage of doctors and nurses and teachers. i think the other shortage we have is construction workers. i think the concern is where are these people going to come from? who's going to help us rebuild? there's 6800 homes we've lost. almost twice as many in the oakland hills fire. a huge amount of work and this concern is where are the people going to come from who can help us pound the nails and get this done quickly? >> our thoughts certainly with all of you foeblks out there.
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faeda with kqed. thank you. to politics now, donald trump's presidency has led to national soul searching even as the base continues to support him. this week, republican senator jeff blake of arizona announced he would not seek reelection. he cannot be complicit in the reckless, outrageous and undignified behavior of trump. bob corker criticized the president and announced he won't seek reelection. how trump came to power and the gop's role in the rise focus of a new book. one nation after trump, a guy for the perplexed, disillusioned and not yet deported. thomas mann, one of the co-authors and a resident scholar at uc berkeley governmental studies. nice to have you here. >> trump is less of an outlier than he may seem.
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>> what we mean is he's less of an outlier to the republican party. he managed to seemingly come out of nowhere and win the nomination from all of the regular republicans. he did that because there was a market for his kind of populism, nationalism, nativism that had been for years if not decades in the republican party. >> you compare it to sort of a jurassic part. the republican party created the conditions for someone like donald trump and then lost control of their creation. so when did the radicalization of the republican party begin? >> it probably goes all the way back to the '60s with the civil rights movement, the countercultural politics of the democratic party. but by the time ronald reagan
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was elected in 1980, the coalition was clear. the conservatives, evangelicals. it was the business community and it was white working class americans who were really distraught by the kind of changes that were occurring in the economy and frankly, by developments of the diversification of the population. >> and you wrote that you felt one key turning point was newt gingrich and his rise to power. >> newt was incredible. he came in as a new member of congress and 1979 with a well developed plan to so criticize and delegitimize the congress as an institution that the republicans would throw out the long-term democratic majority and usher the republicans into power.
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he had a special vocabulary that he taught. new republican candidates that he recruited for office. he said, your job is not to explain the policy choices to americans and help deliberate. your job is to attack. it's to demonize your opponents. >> so fast forward now to 2017. we have a situation in the past two weeks where at least four notable republicans have been sounding the alarm against president trump. former president george w. bush, senators john mccain and all delivered really harsh critiques of the president, the republican party, the direction of the country. what effect do you think this will have? >> trump has become a real threat. he has authoritarian instincts. he's an ethno nationalist and broken every norm in american government and yet, the republicans made a bargain with
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trump. we'll put up with your peculiar and even anti-democratic behavior if you sign our legislation. with a unified republican government, we get our tax bill, we can repeal and replace obamacare and we can bring all of this regulation of business. that was the deal but it's not been going so well. >> you and the book's two co-authors, i know that you consider yourself non-partisan but widely considered to be to the left of center. so does the democratic party here bear some of the blame for the rise of donald trump? especially among white working class who felt abandoned by the democratic party who once championed them? >> sure. democrats are not angels. we're not here to make the case for the democratic party more
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broadly. this is the development in our politics that happened gradually over time as people's identities became more important than their thoughts about public policy issues and the two coalitions departed, democrats believing in government were prepared to bargain, negotiate. they played hardball. but republicans wanting limited government and lowered taxes were more inclined to try to seed the public with complete distrust of government. so the reality is both parties were implicated but the republican party was the only place where a person like donald trump could actually garner a major party nomination for the presidency. >> and on a broader platform, you claim in the book our entire
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democracy is in crisis the way our political system is set up. can you detail that? >> well, we have now such polarized, tribalized political parties that the main incentive the public has is voting against the other side and therefore, it's very difficult for a member of one party to do business with a member of the other party in congress or with the president. >> so what's the antidote for all the challenges you pointed out? >> if trump is a product of our democracy, weaknesses, and a threat to it further, the anti-dote is citizen activism. it's you and me and millions of others that take seriously the threats to our democracy and get active. that doesn't mean 135 million
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people are going to make politics their major activity but millions more americans have joined up locally, in states and around the country. all kinds of people trying sort of very hard to reestablish the norms of american democracy and not let us drift into the autocracy we see happening all across the world. >> so your bookends on that optimistic note. dr. thomas mann, thank you better figure here. kate was shot and killed in pier 14 in san francisco. opening arguments began in the trial of alleged killer, jose garcia, undocumented mexican immigrant who had been deported multiple times. the case cited by immigration hard liners including president trump to boost support for a border wall and punish so-called
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sanctuary cities. the attorney claims the client had accidentally fired the gun that killed steinle after finding the weapon on the ground. a closer look at the case, kqed reporte reporters alex and maria. alex, this was week one of the trial. you've been in the courtroom. what were some of the key moments? take us through that. >> i think probably the most emotional testimony so far came from katherine steinle's father, james steinle, which in relatively brief testimony, he was not cross examined but took myself and the gallery and the jury through the walk he was taking on pier 14 with his daughter when she suddenly fell and reached out for him asking for his help. those were the last words because she died later that day at the hospital. >> what is the prosecutor's main argument and what is the defense attorney's main argument? >> i think this is a bit of a unique and interesting murder
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trial. it's not on intent. it's dispute that she was on that pier and the shot originated from his hands. the prosecution is saying that he intended to shoot someone, potentially katherine steinle and that justifies a murder conviction. the defense is saying he picked up an object that was wrapped in cloth. he didn't know what it was and went off. it was an accidental shooting. >> maria, this became a signature issue for donald trump as campaigning for president. how has it affected the national debate over sanctuary cities and immigration? >> this case is seized on by donald trump and others on the right particularly who, you know, already kind of had it out for policies like san francisco's in which they bar local law enforcement for, in most cases, cooperating with immigration and customs. so, you know, donald trump talks about it repeatedly on the campaign trail and invokes katherine's name at the convention last summer in his
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main immigration speech he made shortly before the election. and it really has become this rallying cry. i'm not sure it's the best case. there's a lot of complicating factors here including the fact that the federal government had him in their possession before they sent him to san francisco. and so it does keep getting brought up, but a lot of times, the facts of actual case and the background of it are misstated by people who are using this as evidence that this is not the way that the cities should operate. >> sarate has a felony record because he was repeatedly caught crossing the border over two decades. even if he hadn't been deported in this case, would it have made a difference? >> what if he hadn't found the gun? who knows? but i think if you look at his history, you know, he had a couple of felony drug charges from the early '90s but then, yes, he spent between 1998 and 2015, a total of 15 years in federal prison for illegal
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reentry and after two of those stints, the federal government just deported him back to mexico. in this case, they didn't. they chose to san francisco on a 20-year-old marijuana charge. and if they deported him, yes, maybe she would be alive and if they didn't pick him up on the 20-year-old charge immediately dismissed, who knows what would have happened but it is sort of an interesting question because i think there's a lot of moments that, you know, if one thing had changed, from a lot of people's perspective, things would be very different. >> when this case gets to the national level, it continues to get simplified and you miss these details. one of the biggest ones that i have never heard president trump talk about or anyone who kind of politically about this case is the fact that the gunshot that killed katherine steinle was a ricochet. it ricochetted approximately a dozen feet from garcia, traveled 78 feet before it hit katherine steinle. the defense is saying there has never been a ricochet shot
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charged as a murder in san francisco up until this case. >> people talk about him like a violent felon. he didn't have any violent felonies. people act as if, like, i just think she was shot point-blank by him so an open and shut case. there's a lot of misinformation out there. we keep on hearing immigration, immigration, every time this is mentioned in the national headlines, but will jurors hear evidence about the immigration status? >> no, i don't think so. i believe that's all excluded and the parties agreed to that with the one exception of when jury selection was going on. jurors were asked, you know, if they had strong feelings about sanctuary cities and/or immigration policies in general. but then were told in no uncertain terms that would not be considered in this case. this case is about intent and whether or not garcia zarate is kblt guilty of murder. >> you brought up the guns from
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the land management ranger. the ranger on the stand this week. any clear explanations of how that happened? how the gun got taken from him? >> it took a while, but yes. that narrative has become somewhat more clear. this ranger is based on the far southern california border with mexico, a place called el centro. he traveled on june 27th, some over 600 miles to san francisco with his family and his personal vehicle, but on his way to an official assignment in montana. and he stopped in san francisco sometime late in the evening around 9:30 p.m. for dinner. >> and backpack in his car that was broken into? >> this was his back-up weapon and it wasn't a backpack in his car that was broken into. one of the interesting things he said on the stand is this is common practice for him. he usually had that backpack with him for the protection of his family. >> so why does it matter where the gun came from in this case? >> i think generally, when you're looking at a murder case
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or really any homicide, the origin of weapon is of interest. and especially with the defense's argument of he found it seconds before it went off and this was an accidental discharge. also, a civil case up right now as a criminal case plays out. but katherine steinle's family is suing the u.s. government for negligence on the part of the bureau of land management. >> we just have a little bit of time. but can you bring us up to date on the status of kate's law? this was something that the house passed in response to the steinle case and essentially increase penalties for those who try to reenter the countries illegally. where does that stand now? >> it has come out for a vote and not clear whether they have the votes but i will say, you know, it's sort of ironic where this has gone politically because experts i've talked to don't think that law would have saved katherine steinle but perhaps if this gun hadn't been stolen, she might be alive.
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>> thank you both. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> that will do it for us. for more coverage, go to kqed.org/newsroom. i'm thuy vu. thank you for joining us.
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>> another firefight in the republican civil war. i'm robert costa. g.o.p. senators turn on the president. and the president turns to taxes. tonight, on "washington week." >> we have actually great unity in the republican party. >> the president brushes off stinging criticism from two conservative senators, bob corker and jeff flake. >> i don't know why he lowers himself to such a low, low standard, to debase his country in a way that he does, but he does. >> it is dangerous to a democracy. such behavior does not project strength. it instead projects a corruption of the spirit and weakness. >> as most rank and file republicans steered clear of the rebellion, the president took to twitter to dismiss his fellow g.o.p. leaders, writing they had zeronc

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