tv This Week in Northern California PBS October 29, 2011 1:30am-2:00am PDT
governor brown proposes a sweeping pension reform plan raising the retirement age and trimming benefits for many government workers. the police crack down on occupy oakland prompts other bay area cities to look for ways to protect free speech and public safety. the race for mayor in san francisco is heating up as more cities choose to use rank choice voting to we legislate their leaders. there is still debate over the method and outcome of instant runoff elections. >> a lot of eyes are on this for the election. it could be a test case of how
it works very poorly. >> those stories, coming up next. >> belva: good evening. welcome to this week in northern california i'm belva davis. joining me tonight are mina kim, reporter for kged news and rachel gordon, city hall reporter for the san francisco chronicles. and josh richmond legal and political affairs reporter for the oakland tribune. josh, the governor just released
this proposal on changing the pension plan. what are some of the main paint points. >> to create for new workers going forward hydrid pensions what ch are small parts like the defined benefit plan they have now. a bigger component of a 401 k type plan which is sort of what the american standard has become but is not something that a lot of public workers are used to. he would be pushing the retirement ages later for new workers. he would be using a three-year average of pay to determine the pension benefits instead of single ones as an effort to prevent some of the spiking and other abuses that have gone in the system. for all workers there would be an even split of contribution between employer and employee. a 50/50 contri bugs split. all of these have the public worker unions up in arms. they are not happy about this at all.
a lot of the legislative democrats who often represent these union's interest are also timid at best about the plan. >> belva: but josh, didn't the unions know this was in the works? >> they did. their point is they have made some concessions already but they feel that the nature of the problem has been misconstrued by the public that the average pension benefit for a public worker is not exorbitant. your beneficiary is not making bank off of this. opinions vary. what is known is that there is a huge unfunded liability. some say as much as a half trillion dollars that has to be addressed. the legislature is working on a plan. i think we should look at this plan sort of the way that people have looked at president obama's american jobs act. this is what i think we should
do. now let's see what we can actually negotiate what we can't do. >> belva: wasn't that exactly one of the points of the union saying it shouldn't be something that comes from the governor to be part of larger issues. put that in the mix. but perhaps they didn't come to the table on their own first which maybe the governor wanted. he used this kind of as the opening stop to say let's get there. this is what you face if you don't come again with something. >> exactly. he's sort of setting some parameters here. you saw it in the statement that speaker john perez and steinberg put out. basically said interesting idea. we'll take it under consideration. >> belva: but this goes to the voters, right? >> the governor wants the legislature to put it on the ballot and he's not really shown a lot of willingness to go to a voter initiative the way he probably will for the tax hikes
next year. so he really does want to work with the legislature on this to some extent. he probably knows that some of these are sort of non-starters but he wants to set it out there, put everything on the table and see what he can get. >> who are the lawmakers? what are they saying? >> surprisingly, and who would have foreseen this a year ago. there were some happy faces on the republican side of the aisle. there are some republicans saying, yeah, we maybe would like to do a bit more but we'll put this on the ballot. democrats, not so much. like i said they often tend to have the union's interest at heart to some extent and for instance darryl steinberg's rhetoric was a provocative set of reforms will approach them with an open mind but we can't forget that the vast majority of public sector employees are
middle class workers and their average pensions are far from exorbitant. he doesn't want to see this laid on the backs of workers. >> belva: right. behind the unions are the workers. >> and in front of the unions are a lot of the democrat campaign managers. >> belva: specifically for brown, he could run for governor again or maybe try a presidential run but he's really showing he doesn't have to tow the party lean because he's been there, done that. he said he is going to come in with independent ideas. >> it is going to make it a lot harder for people to argue. on the other hand i think he is also putting this out there knowing that not all of it is going to go through but this is the hand he starts out with. >> what are the savings? that's bottom line? what does this do for california's budget problem? >> well, not so much the budget problem. the structural budget deficit and the unfunded liabilities is
very different. not really a budget issue per se. eventually it could become a budget issue further down the line if we get to the point of those liabilities needing to be paid off. at the moment, the governor estimates that his reform plan would save the state somewhere in the vicinity of 4 billion to 11 billion over 30 years and maybe 21 billion to 56 billion over 60 years. this is one of those things where you have to take the listening view. the chair of the republican party came out this week and said we can't wait 60 years. we have to fix this right now. again, he is sort of engaging in a partisan rhetoric that even some of the republicans in the legislature are not quick to say. they think this is at least a decent starting place. >> belva: well, the city that the governor was mayor of for a long time made international news this week because of the occupy movement. mina, you were there for some of the toughest parts of what
happened in oakland in terms of the protesters and clashes with law enforcement officials. >> yeah. there were a lot of tense moments on tuesday night. there were a couple instances when i was running from tear gas myself. the first one was at 8th and washington initially when protesters were marching towards police head quarter. has they approach that intersection there was these flash bangs that i heard and protesters started scurrying every where. they regrouped, though and continued marching. there was the scene of another really tense interaction with police where police called an unlawful assembly and said they needed to disburse or chemical agents would be used. at that moment they did not do that. they continued to me an der through the city for some time. at the end of the night it turned really ugly. police projectiles were tear gas
that was affecting most of the people and have left many questions at this point about what exactly, what that night in terms of the non-lethal weapon, and what kind of policies they were really following when they were in fact clashing with protesters. >> mina, it wasn't just the oakland police department involved but it was more than a dozen law enforcement agencies around the bay area. was oakland in charge? whose policies were they following? whose orders if there was some violations, who is going to hold them accountable? >> today's -- mayor kwan said they were looking into a more complete investigation of what happened, what police tactics were used and what the other police agencies may have nad their arsenal, the ones who had offered mutual aid nar night. so hopefully there will be some
answers to those questions. but i did visit the encampment today after all of that and it was just a vast difference from tuesday night. it was calm. people were meditating were praying. there was also a lot of excitement. mike moore appeared and excited the group. you have been allowed to reoccupy the plaza. you got an apology from the mayor. you have national groups like move on showing support, putting out a video that was just really critical of mayor kwan's handling of all this. and you are allowed to camp. there was no police interference with camping. >> is this covering overnight or the 10:00 curfew the mayor asked for. >> the 10:00 curfew came and went and tents remained there. chief howard jordan said the line that he's going to be
taking over the weekend is there is going to be a minimal police presence through the weekend and they will only respond if there are service calls to the area. >> the national mooumt vement o tir. >> the injury was a fracture to a skull from a police projectile. it has robbed him of his ability to talk though they think that's temporary. but he has become sort of the battle cry when i was at the em campment today there was a mow photo taped to one of the tents. so definitely he is becoming a symbol. >> how is mayor kwan hand tllg. she looked like a deer in the headlights. she was terrible about it. she ordered the police to go in and yet she took off to go to washington, d.c. at the time. really one of the biggest test of her administrations.
>> yeah. she has had a really tough week. she looked kpooused, uncomfortable, dodged kpes. i have to say today's press conference she tried to show she had a little bit more control. she said things like i'm the mayor. she also tried to put out sort of a plan in the sense that she said public safety will be her number one priority, that she would continue to order a minimal police presence. she said that as long as first responders, public health inspectors are allowed in the camp she will continue to work with the protesters and also said she will try to address them. >> comment just a little bit on what's happened in san francisco, san jose, other surrounding cities. >> sure. san francisco has had some interesting -- i think they are trying to take a different approach, hadley is. he has been in negotiations directly with occupy washington
folks to continue negotiations to put out conditions and hope that san francisco movement protesters will sort of play ball with him. and he's trying to avoid what has become such an ugly scene in the national spotlight because he has political implications if he mishandles it so he is trying to me gaucheuate directly with protesters in a way that has a little bit more substance. >> at the bottom of all this there was comments about jean kwan. whether they find the task of ranking their top three from a field of 16 is liberating or daunting is up for debate. and as shot schafer shows us, instant runoff is making a difference in how the race is
won but how it is run. >> just a quick show of hands, who here is registered to vote already? excellent. >> san francisco department of elections official has come to this south of market senior center to not only get out the vote but also explain the method for casting that vote. >> everyone here familiar with rank choice voting? have you guys voted on a rank choice ballot before? okay. kind of what i figured. so let's go over it. >> draper gives presentations up to three times a day as part of a $165,000 outreach program to educate voters still in the dark about rank choice voting. after marking their first choice on a rank choice ballot voters pick their second and third choices in columns 2 and 3 to begin every voter's first choice is counted. if a candidate gets more than 50% of those votes, they are declared the winner. but if no candidate receives the
majority, the candidate with the least votes is eliminated. those who voted for that candidate will now have their second choice vote counted. the process of eliminating candidates and redistributing votes continues until one candidate has a winning majority. >> people ask me about this all the time. can i just vote for one candidate three times? that is a problem because if than candidate is eliminated, we don't have anywhere to transfer your vote. so your ballot will become what we call exhausted. >> to find out what would happen if a ballot was exhausted we met with the department. >> if someone comes and votes incorrectly can you sort of describe what happens with the ballot. >> let's do it. >> like this. >> any direction it will read it. >> just put it in. >> so it makes the warning noise and returns the ballot and then up here it presents the regular
voegt p voting pattern other voting rank. >> what about those who skip the trip to the polling place. >> we've got about 40% vote by mail i believe right now. >> and of course those voters are kind of on their own in the sense that they are not going to get anybody telling them and the ballot is not going to come back if they do it wrong. >> yeah. we can't mail one of these machines to every voter unfortunately. >> strategically machines are all apart of the message to educate voters. we asked a few residents how familiar they were with rank choice and what they thought of the system. >> what do you know about the system we're using to elect a mayor? >> it is rank choice. >> exactly. >> i like the fact that we're not having to spend the money for a second election which seems extremely wasteful to me. >> you ask nine different people what they think and you would get nine different answers.
if you had top three maybe you would get more of a consensus. >> this one here. >> you know you get three votes, right? >> yeah. that's the same all over. it's the same three times. >> so you're going to vote for him three times. >> correct. >> there is nobody else you like? >> no. >> so you get three votes, you vote for three different people. >> that's right. >> you're not going to use that one? >> no. i like the only one. this one here. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> san francisco voters pass rank choice or instant runoff voting in 2002, but this is the first time it will be put to the test in a competitive mayor al race changing not only the way voters cast their ballot but also how candidates campaign for their vote. >> i would be honored for you to consider me to be your first, second or third choice. thank you very much.
>> i, too, will ask for one of your three votes. >> values built into rank choice voting is that you have to have a certain strong core of support and a broad base in order to win. if you have one or the other you won't win. if you have both you have a good chance to win. >> steven hill was the driving force behind both rank choice voting and public financing in san francisco. he says the instant runoff system eliminates the cost of low turn out run off elections and gives more citizen assay in who wins. and he believes it cuts down on political mud slinging. it does have a tendency to clean up the campaign debate a little bit. if i'm running against you and i may need the second ranking from your supporters, if that's the case, doesn't mean i condition still presign you or take a position opposed to you but i have to do a principle instead of completely trashing you. >> in fact, rival candidates did
appear very friendly at a press conference in september. but afterward, herrera admitted hi does have mixed feelings about the rank choice system. >> certainly with rank choice voting there has been some benef benefit. but i wonder what wl it has made it more difficult to really disearn real distinctions amongst the candidates. >> the challenge for voters is now you have 12, 14 candidates running city wide at the same time. the difference is voters look at this mass of candidates and it is hard to differentiate. incumbents have not lost rank choice elections in the bay area. the reality is most incumbents end up being on other people's second and third place ballot. >> are you ready to vote? >> yeah. >> let's go out and vote. >> on the first day of early
voting, mayor lee staged a rally then led the crowd to city hall casting his own rank choice ballot. even though he may benefit from an instant runoff lee has concerns about whether voters understand how ballots are counted. >> people say they done understand what happens to their vote and that causes some confusion. >> the leader on election night can end up losing as candidates are eliminated ander that votes are redistributed until someone gets a majority. that's exactly what happened last year in oakland's mayoral contest. parada was first with 35% followed by kwan with 24% but kwan had more second and third place votes. that was her strategy. she hedged out 51 to 49%. >> seems to me that we all shouldn't be talking about this at this point of an election in san francisco. if you're talking about how the
election works as opposed to who's running and what are they saying, something is wrong. >> a lot of eyes are on san francisco for this election because a lot of jurisdictions are thinking about experimenting with it and this could be the test of how it works well or how it works very poorly. >> belva: the next election we'll be finding out. it appears that rank choice voting is not the only issue grabbing attention in the upcoming we lkss. rachel gordon is here to tell us now what are all the things that are making news? >> a lot of october surprises out there less than two weeks before the election. although people started voting several weeks ago. there have been about 30,000 ballots cast already and they will keep going through this weekend and with absentees. but the big issues out there now, there are a lot of issues swirling around. on behalf of the mayor, this is something that folks who are independent of his campaign have been accused of doing, going
into china town helping people fill out ballots, like almost taking their hands. the district attorney is investigating those charges. some of his rivals are coming out saying they want state and federal elections investigations on this behavior. and lee himself has come out now and said if what they did is true, cease and desist no more. that's one of the issues still out there. definite liz his rivals are bringing it up. another issue that broke this week, there was a fron page story in the chronicle about some accusations made about city attorney dennis herrera. accusation was that he wasn't as strong as he could have been or should have been in the 2004 battle for same sex marriage in san francisco. city attorney then and is now, running for mayor said that is absolutely dik louse. he has been with that issue from the get go. these are some anonymous sources
who said yeah, eventually he came on but he was slow going at the start. interesting is coming out now simply because san francisco is still an extremely powerful vote. herrera went i'll show you what people think about me. he had state senator, supervisor weiner, elected officials and other community activist coming out saying dennis was with us from the get-go. >> belva: what are some of the other things bouncing off the walls? >> those are the big ones. we're going to continue hearing about the rail extension into china town. they are going to start hammering a lot on the campaign finance report. so the new ones came out yesterday. says they are going to look at not only how much money the candidates raised, but really take a close look at the independent expenditures because there is not a limit to the
candidates' own campaign. you can give as much money as you want to for or against it. we're starting to see that play a lot. there have also been some allegations that there is something going on around there with some of lee's supporters. state senator who is running has tapped into a lot of expenditure money on his behalf from the teachers unions, we are being inundated in san francisco with calls, with mails coming in, tacks every week. i don't know if the vote rerz paying attention to that or not. >> the dvd or ed lee. >> this is put on by some of his wealthy supporters but it was brian wilson. it is kind of a hip hop rap video for ed lee. it went viral. it is really kind of fun to watch. he didn't have anything to do with it. >> you hear that are a lot from
ed lee. >> didn't have anything to do wit. >> you don't think of ed lee as being hip either. >> some good dance moves, especially when you use the computers to manipulate it. it is winding down in terms of what the messages are going to be. now they are getting their messages out. we talked about rank choice voting. people are really trying now for that second and third place vote. we can't ignore the whole occupy sf thing. this could have real consequences. right now lee has been fairly lucky with it, that there hasn't been horrible things happen. >> would it be fair to say this is probably the most controversial. >> several rivals there at the camp. supervisor, board of supervisors, president, others have been out there in support of the protesters. >> 16 candidates you did a great job. thank you, rachel. i would like to thank all of you