tv New York Viewpoint ABC March 6, 2016 5:30am-6:00am EST
>> good morning and welcome to "new york viewpoint." i'm ken rosato. today we bring you the new york civil liberties union with their efforts on behalf of schoolchildren and their safety. we also have with us an inventor who has some great tips on preventing burn injuries. but first, an estimated 5.3 million americans, of all ages, have alzheimer's disease. while it ranks among the ten top causes of death in america, it's the only disease that still cannot be prevented, cured, or slowed. the national alzheimer's association says everyone with a brain is at risk for alzheimer's. today we bring you the author of a book, "on pluto: inside the mind of alzheimer's." please join me in welcoming
reporter greg o'brien, who was diagnosed with younger-onset alzheimer's at age 59 and is a regular contributor to the huffington post and psychology today. greg, good to have you with us. >> thank you, ken. it's an honor to be here. >> well, tell us about the title of the book. what inspired the title? >> well, the title of the book, "on pluto," when i was a young investigative reporter, i would take sources off record. i covered the mafia and organized crime, and i would tell my sources, "i'm gonna take you out to pluto, where no one can hear what is said." and i was fascinated with the planet pluto. and then, as i got older, you know, men and women, you go and you talk about the unmentionables of life, and my buddies would say, "are you taking us out to pluto?" and i said, "yes. we're off the record." and in this disease, in alzheimer's, there's this urge to just drift out, which i have to fight against all the time, and i had to invent a place that i could go to, and i called it pluto. and my maternal grandfather died of alzheimer's, my mother died of alzheimer's, my paternal uncle died of alzheimer's.
was diagnosed with dementia. and they've been out to pluto, and i've taken family and friends, and someday i won't come back, and i want them to know where i am. >> tell me what it was like when you first encountered symptoms. and what were those symptoms like? >> well, the symptoms were severe short-term memory loss, not recognizing family and friends -- my wife, on two occasions. picking up a phone and not knowing how to dial. picking up a lawn sprinkler and not knowing what it is. so, alzheimer's, in the early stage, ken, is like a light going off, someone turning a light off in your brain. and you never know when it's gonna happen. it shuts down. it shuts up. it shuts down. and it -- you -- at times you have no idea where you are, who you're talking to, and then, moments later, you're back on track. >> it's a short circuit, if you will? >> it's a total short circuit. the brain -- okay, i cut up a frog in high school. it's the only thing i did medically, but as a journalist, yeah.
currents, and that's what's happening. >> and what do you do to resist that, if you will, to try to get back on track? >> well, "on pluto" is not a book about dying. it's a book about living with alzheimer's. as the great bugs bunny once said, "don't take life too seriously, 'cause nobody gets out alive." so my book, "on pluto," is not a misery memoir. it's strategies as a journalist that i've learned, taking copious notes with my laptop -- my macbook -- and my iphone. i will e-mail myself 30, 40 times a day and then forget that i did it at the end of the day, look at all the e-mails, and say, "oh, my god, i've got to return --" and i realize that two-thirds are from me. >> that's amazing. and you'll see those e-mails and that'll be -- do you even -- you have any recollection at all of some of those e-mails? >> sometimes i don't. but that's why it's -- you ever lose your thought in a second? >> oh, sure. >> gone, gone. well, multiply that by 200,000, and that's what
and there are people who are walking around like me in jobs who have this disease. it's a disease that can take 20 years to run its course. and everyone seems to think of alzheimer's as that end stage, where you're ready to die. and that's the stage that usually people have walked on this journey for 20 years, and i'm trying to get people's attention that there are a lot of young americans and people around the world who are struggling with this disease and are afraid to talk about it. you know, we have to make alzheimer's popular. >> how long ago were you diagnosed? >> five years ago. >> and can you say at this point you notice the progression of the disease in that five years? >> yeah, and it comes on at times -- there are times when my brain will tell me it's okay to open the wood stove at home and push back that smoking-hot piece of glass until my skin burns in a second-degree burn, and there are times that i see things that aren't there, and these are scary things to talk about, but as a journalist, shame on me if i don't, because
about it, people who are working through these. and there are people who are watching right now who have early-onset or may even have the symptoms and are afraid to talk about it. we need to move forward and make this disease popular. >> how do people know the different degrees, because there is dementia, which is a type of -- it's in the same family, right, but it is not alzheimer's? >> dementia is the umbrella of which all the cognitive impairments, and alzheimer's is the most popular, so to speak. and what it is -- it's basically a loss of self and losing the sense of who you are. >> okay. and at what point should somebody seek medical attention? >> if you're having problems remembering things and it's interfering with your day-to-day, go get a cognitive test, and go to a pro. family doctors are wonderful, but in new york there are a lot of pros. go to a pro and have a cognitive test.
i'm on the the highest medications i can be taking. and they can slow the progression. >> okay. what about suggestions for family members? what -- you know, sometimes, as you point out, you have to e-mail yourself, and you forget you didn't -- that you even e-mailed yourself. >> yeah. well, i was both a caregiver -- family caregiver for my mother, and now i have the disease, and, you know, love and touch are so important. and don't overcorrect. if a person with alzheimer's dementia says, "that's a beautiful blue wall," and it's red, you know what? let it be blue. does it really matter? >> right. >> let it be blue. >> there you go. and how special the time is. we have a picture here -- i guess we had -- of your family. how special it was, i'm sure, for you to spend time with your, those who passed -- who had the alzheimer's in your family and dementia and how special a time it is. >> i was there when my mother died, and i made her a promise that i would fight this fight.
did your parents know that you were developing -- >> my mother did, and we were on parallel tracks. she was ahead of me, and there were times when we took our aricept together. >> no kidding. what would you tell somebody who is recently diagnosed? >> have faith. you can't get through this battle without faith, hope, and humor. and i'm not here to define faith. i'm irish catholic, and you can figure that out. but there's a power beyond us. and tap in to it, because you can't take this journey alone. it's isolation. and i can sit here and do this interview, and you can say, "well, that's good," but this saps the energy right out of me. and walk in faith, hope, and humor, and it's a journey that's gonna take a while. and there's a lot of life left to live, so -- and my book is about the strategies. it's the first book written by an investigative reporter embedded inside the mind of alzheimer's. >> "on pluto: inside the mind of alzheimer's."
it's amazing to get it from this perspective from a professional journalist. i'm sorry that you have alzheimer's, but what a fascinating peek inside, if you will, from an outsider. and for those who have not thought about making a donation, especially at the holidays, the alzheimer's foundation is a wonderful organization. it's helped so many people. definitely think about helping out. and if you notice any symptoms in a family member or loved one, or if you think you might have these symptoms, don't just sit back. see a professional. >> no. don't sit back. reach out. >> greg, thank you so much for being with us today. >> god bless you. >> and all the best to you. god bless you as well. >> thank you, ken. we're coming right back with the new york civil liberties union their efforts on school safety issues.
in increased data reporting on school discipline practices and their impact on new york city children. the amendments will require, for the first time, reporting by both the nypd and the department of education on the use of metal detectors, handcuffs, and emergency services in city schools. now, today joining us from the new york civil liberties union, we have donna lieberman, the executive director; johanna miller, their advocacy director; and alexis karteron, a senior staff attorney. welcome, all three of you. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> now, first off, what is the student safety act? >> well, the student safety act is a response to the massive use in the new york city schools over the last decade or so of exclusionary discipline practices -- suspensions, arrests by police, summonses to go to criminal court -- instead of a trip to the dean's office when a student misbehaves. and for years, it was going on,
happening to, how often -- are these horror stories just like one-offs? or are they a pattern? and we all saw -- we watched with horror what happened in south carolina as a young student is thrown off a chair because she wouldn't obey her teacher. really? get thrown off a chair, dragged off in handcuffs? and so transparency about what's happening in schools, about the use of metal detectors, so that we know who's being required to, like, be wanded and patted down as they go into school every day, about the use of handcuffs. how many times are kids being handcuffs? and which kids is it happening to? is it black kids? oh, yes. is it latino kids? oh, yes. is it white kids? not so much. and so the racial disparities about who's being impacted by these policies that are really, really harsh, that undermine the school climate for kids,
what we call the school-to-prison pipeline, are clear to parents. and why that? because if we know what's going on, then we can press for change -- and that's precisely what we have been doing in new york, what we are doing -- is to press for change so that schools have a humane and respectful environment for all kids. >> and to recall, to remember, for people who aren't given this thought, it's a law, it's a truancy law. so, kids are forced by law -- parents are forced by law to make sure those kids go to school. and then, once they get there, they're forced by law to go through the metal detector. once they go through the metal detector, they're forced by law -- so it becomes almost like a police state, beginning to end, and so it's kind of nice to know that there's the civil liberties union standing by to kind of make sure things aren't pushed just a little too far. >> that's right. we think so. [ laughter ] >> just kind of saying. so, what is the ultimate goal, then, here? what are we looking to do? just -- is it just from what i just said, just to make sure, look, we want to keep the kids safe, we want to make sure no one has weapons, we want to make sure that, you know, kids -- at the same time, we
some kids aren't mouthing off at the teacher and don't have any -- they may not have any discipline at home, and so the only discipline they're getting are at school, and they're threatening -- they're using threatening language at the teacher -- i'm creating a scenario here. clearly i am. >> yes. >> but we don't know that that's not the circumstance. or maybe saying something threatening to the officer. but at the same time, how far are the limits here? and you're talking about a 16-year-old kid versus a 40-year-old or 35-year-old officer with a weapon. >> well, we know that most of what happens to kids in school -- most of the arrests by police, most of the tickets that students get, and most of the suspensions -- are for nonviolent infractions, so things like talking back, like being disorderly -- which -- show me a 15-year-old who isn't disorderly. that's what we know already, and we know that 95% of the kids who are arrested or given a ticket in school are black and latino. so, we're seeing a big gap there, and we believe that students who are disorderly -- a white student in a school on the upper east side and a student who's disorderly in
disorderly in harlem -- shouldn't be treated so, so differently, and so transparency helps us to think about how we can do school discipline and maintain safety with also respecting students and keeping their dignity. >> and also, not every school has metal detectors. >> that's right. >> so how do they even determine which school gets a metal detector and which school doesn't? >> i'm so glad you asked that, because that's a question that we've been wondering for a very long time, and the nypd and the department of education have not been at all forthcoming about that that process, but that's one of the great reforms of the student safety act, that now we'll know which schools have metal detectors, kids and parents can know when they're considering which high school to apply to, where they're going to go, what kind of an environment they're sending their kids into. >> yeah, because i may not want -- i mean, some parents may want -- "i want my kid to go through a metal detector and blah blah, that may make them safer." but other parents may say, "wait a second, i don't want my kid subjected to that." >> one of the things that we're gonna learn from the student safety act is how often and which kids are getting handcuffed. and, you know, nobody has that information now, nobody.
department. and -- but we at the civil liberties union get complaints and reports about kids getting handcuffed -- handcuffed to each other, handcuffed to the radiator. why? for refusing to close the book? for refusing to put the cellphone away? that's crazy. >> what happened to calling the parents? >> well, but there's one other point that i want to make, which is also, kids with special needs, kids who are supposed to be getting special attention because they have special needs, behavioral needs or academic, processing needs, adhd, who have, who are entitled to special supports -- instead of getting special supports, all too often, particularly if they are black or latino, they are being subjected to arrests -- >> but i have to ask you, then, how much of that is the parents? if the parent knows the kid has -- >> no, no. >> whoa, whoa, whoa. let me ask you a question before you jump and give me an answer. >> i think that's a good idea. >> let me ask you a question. at what point does the parent not say, "does my child have adhd?"
have the responsibility to ask their doctor or the school to test their child for adhd? >> but what i'm saying is that kids who have been diagnosed and have been given what's called an individual educational plan or behavioral plan and are therefore, by law, entitled to special support services are getting arrested for following their plan. >> well, that should be liable. schools should be liable for that. >> so that's the problem, and i think that -- and we know that for black kids with special needs, the problem of being thrown out of school or thrown into jail is really much greater. so, what we're talking about is treating all children with dignity and respect in school. >> my question is do schools not have in place an "abc" procedure? before it escalates to handcuffing, don't schools have a method where, okay, step "a," principal's office.
step "c," they're still getting violent, now we get the police involved. >> some schools do, but not enough schools, and there's no requirement that they go through progressive steps of discipline, which is something that the civil liberties union and many of our allies have been working to require for many, many years. and that's another thing that transparency helps us to determine, is are they leaping to the most severe consequence at the very first offense? or is there a progression of discipline? >> and what kind of reaction have you gotten from schools with this, with the act? >> well, i think it really kind of varies. i think some schools are very understanding of the need for these kinds of reforms. there are a lot of principals and teachers around the city who understand that sending kids to the police for minor infractions is not a good idea. and we're seeing more and more principals and schools wake up to that idea, that they need to be part of the solution and they can't over-rely on the police for minor misbehavior. >> and, you know, the good news is that while things don't change overnight, culture doesn't change overnight, the
arresting kids in school for what should be a trip to the principal's office is not a good idea, and he's recognized the racial disparities in these overly harsh disciplines. and so he's convened -- and we work with -- a leadership task force to develop reforms in the way the schools do the business of safety and discipline. >> principals, remember, you were kids in school, too. >> yeah. right. >> think back to those days. donna, johanna, alexis, thank you for being here today. >> thank you. >> good luck with the act. really. thank you. and, everybody, chill pill. [ laughter ] chill pill. for information on all the organizations featured on "viewpoint," and if you've missed part of this show and want to see it at your leisure, do visit us at abc7ny.com/viewpoint. we're gonna be right back with some very important information on preventing burn injuries.
>> welcome back to "new york viewpoint." i'm ken rosato. the american burn association states that roughly 450,000 patients receive hospital and emergency-room treatment for burns each year. according to the cdc, burns and fires are the third-leading cause of death in the home. in 2010, a fire-related death occurred every 169 minutes. a fire injury occurred every 30 minutes. please join me in welcoming william lerner, who is a burn-prevention expert and an inventor. recently he's been praised by many burn centers for his patents for an excessive- temperature warning on glass-fronted gas fireplaces and gas ranges and cooktops. good to have you with us. >> good morning, ken. >> so, tell me about what led you to all your inventions and patents. >> well, what led me to it was that i was almost burned on a cooktop, and i thought that there should be an indicator
hot after somebody cooked, and it was -- burns are devastating injuries, so you really need every bit of precaution that you can possibly have. concept? >> yes, it was. >> so, you see that every-- and -- >> no, the stoves don't have them because the manufacturers don't see it as an issue. and unfortunately, the consumer product safety commission only surveys 129 hospitals for data, and if you count all of the hospitals and urgent care centers, there were over 12,500. so, the data is being correlated from only 1%... >> no kidding. >> ...of all treatment centers. >> 'cause my glass-top stove does have it now. >> yes, but not the gas cooktop stove. >> oh, the gas don't. i got it. so you're trying to get the gas -- >> yes, the gas stoves, because you can't mix gas and electric safely, and i've invented a new way to use light for status and safety, so there is no reason that these gas cooktops should not have the safety feature. >> so, the technology -- that makes a total amount of sense 'cause i guess normally any electric feature on a gas stove is on the back, not on the surface.
the danger zone is. >> that is fascinating, of course something that the non-inventor would never give any thought to, and that's why you have the inventor mind. >> that's why i did it. it was driven by need. >> that is brilliant. >> thank you. >> [ laughs ] as the inventor says, "thank you." you know it's brilliant. how many different patents do you have? >> i have 14 patents in five different fields. >> and some tips on burn safety, what should people be careful, probably everyday things that we don't -- that we just take for granted? >> well, first of all, be mindful. you don't text and drive. don't text and cook. it takes one second at 167 degrees for a burn injury. and when you're entertaining -- and fires are a big problem now in thanksgiving and christmas season -- don't put cookies or wine glasses or anything tempting near the stove as you cook. and new york, most people live in small apartments. so keep everybody out of the kitchen and make at least a 4-foot buffer zone from the ranges. >> how about when you're pulling something out of the stove, have
>> yes. absolutely. >> ...for the hot item. which i didn't do last week, and everybody saw what happened as i dropped the 500-degree pot onto the ground because i didn't have a place and my hands started to burn. >> exactly. and that's why you want to keep children 4 feet away from the cooktops and the ranges at all times. >> yeah. and it's just -- always have good -- they now have really good silpat and -- i don't mean to name one particular brand, but they have the really good grips that you can get in stores, that are not that expensive. a wet dish towel is not what you want to pick up a -- >> is not an answer. >> right. >> what you actually want is a full-body -- a full hand glove. you don't want a pot. you don't want a towel. you want to be protected. because the inside of the oven, the racks can heat up to up to 1,850 degrees. >> so it only takes a second or so. >> it takes a second, and less for children and the elderly. and children tend to freeze, and so do elderly. and their skin is actually thinner, so you really want to take a precaution when you have the in-laws over, the parents,
with your environment. >> what are the most common causes for burns in the home? i mean, we tend right away, we think stove, but is it stove? is it fireplace? is it a boiler? a hot-water heater? >> it's actually everything, and you really need to be mindful. i talk to people and i interview them on how they got burned, and there are just so many ways that it happens, so anything that's hot, and you just need to pay attention. >> yeah. what about glass-fronted fireplaces? >> oh, i spent two years working on glass-fronted fireplaces. i was part of the hot temperature working group, and we rewrote the new standards for the glass-fronted gas fireplaces. they present an incredible danger for people because most people think that the glass barrier is a safe place. and if they look at the way an oven door is, you can touch the oven door, but you can't touch the glass panel. it's not the same technology. those glass-fronted panels can heat up to 550 degrees. >> i had no idea.
for that, which i discovered, is 1,328 degrees fahrenheit. >> that's insane. >> it is absolutely -- >> because the oven glass is insulated, right? >> the oven glass is -- yes, it's called cool-touch technology. and there's a thermal barrier, so a child can put his hands on the glass of the oven door. >> but that was never required for these fireplaces? >> no. no. and consumers -- people make the mistake. they think that it's the same as the oven door. but no one's born learning how to -- no one is born knowing how to use an appliance. so it is my mission to teach people that that glass can either be cool -- you may see one at one of the big-box stores -- you may see a decorative fireplace -- or you may see one that's engineered to be 500 degrees fahrenheit. so you never know. never go near it. always treat it as it's on. >> and if a little kid wanders over to the front of one of those without having any knowledge and puts their little hand on something -- >> i have many, many people that i deal with that that has happened. one of the most tragic things is the remote control.
so there's no status indicator, and one child was playing with it, turned on the glass-fronted fireplace, and the brother walked up to it and put his hands on it. >> william lerner, we are out of time, but i want to thank you so much for these great tips. very important, especially at the holiday time as people are around the house, all these -- the flames on the fireplaces and the stoves going. >> exactly. >> thank you for being here. >> thank you, ken. i'm ken rosato. we thank you again for joining us.
. this is new york's number one news, channel 7 eyewitness news, with michelle charlesworth and rob powers and amy freeze -- rob nelson and amy freeze with the exclusive accuweather forecast. now, eyewitness news this morning. good morning, everyone. developing at 6:00 a.m. we are following a serious accident across the street from a high school in new jersey. information still coming in at this hour. eyewitness news is live in north bergen with what we know at this hour. a close call in long island after a small plane losing engine power. a father and daughter were on board. we'll have details on that as well. a close call in brooklyn after an unknown man opened fire on a