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tv   This Week in Northern California  PBS  August 18, 2013 4:00pm-4:31pm PDT

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. did hillary clinton's visit to san francisco this week set the stage for a presidential run? also in san francisco, attorney general eric holder called for cutting back harsh prison sentences. >> we need to ensure incarceration is used to punish, to deter and to rehabilitate but not merely to warehouse and to forget. $1 billion plan to expand california's largest reservoir shasta dam caused a flood of controversy. plus the greening of a billionaire who wants to help steer the company's energy policy. >> energy and climate are going to be the challenge for our generation. coming up next.
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good evening. welcome to this week in northern california. joining me for insights and analysis of news from the week are craig miller. michael montgomery. and carla marinucci. two prominence speakers came to san francisco this week tackling tough issues and between rating national headlines. attorney general eric holder and hillary clinton. they both addressed the annual meeting of the american bar association.
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clinton criticized what she sees as an erosion of the voting rights taking sharp aim at north carolina's now voter i.d. law. >> that progress, that historical progress towards a more perfect union will go backwards instead of forwards. >> so, carla, we'll talk in a moment about eric holder. let's discuss hillary clinton. this is just the first speech in a series she will have in the coming months. what else is she expected to talk about. what is the san francisco as the kick-off for the 2016 presidential run. >> when you look at the buzz she got, you look at the attention, there's no question that people were looking at what they see as a presidential candidate and the start of that campaign. you know, addressing vote rights, an important issue to the democratic base. american standing in the world, trust in the world in the next month. these are big issues and issues
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you don't address unless you want to talk to the queen tire country. the fundraising is going on for hillary clinton. ready for hilary p.a.c. a major democratic donor is out there pushing for her. >> she's got a fundraiser coming up for her in november. >> that's right. she's returning here in november, hilary here with chelsea clinton and an event directed at millenials, voters important to barack obama, voting right issues to latinos, african-americans. she's hitting all the right buttons here. to watch this event it was interesting because she even -- her people were looking at who was in the audience. newsome was in there to watch the speech. shows she got the figures out there and the people out there looking at who she needs to contact, i think, for future
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run. >> clearly she's got a lot of women excited. forget the process of the first female president. however, women were excited in '08 and she lost that time to barack obama. is she taking a page out of the obama playbook this time? she's going after the millenials, trying to lay down her social media very early. >> absolutely. here's the difference. i talked to a lot of people in silicon valley about hillary clinton. about a year ago no she may be old news, now they are saying look we're on board with her. she's got to get the same bright young people that obama had to run that campaign. none of the old guard. the people that failed her the last time around. this has to be a new campaign with a new group of people. and it looks like that's where she may be going. >> so when and where will we see bill? talk about new people. >> bill who? >> look, san francisco bay area,
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northern california loves bill clinton. he was a major factor in obama's success here. you remember that speech he gave at the democratic convention. as far as i think they are concerned he can't come off ten enough or more. this will be so inning to watch. i was at an event today in san francisco and the women there were already talking about 2016. i think -- look a lot can happen in politics between now and then, but if she done run, it's a free for all. who knows. the bench is quite thin to be honest. >> who all is there? >> joe biden, maybe andrew cuomo, talking about martin o'malley, governor of maryland. who you say? that's pretty much the situation. hilary is the star player -- >> on the republican side? >> republican side -- >> the marital is a mess. >> marco rubio, jeb bush. not too soon for another bush to come back even though his mother
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said it may be. i mean it's going to be an interesting race all the way around. hilary is dominating this race and the spotlight will be on her. >> how much of a difference either way do you think her stint as secretary of state has made. on one hand it kept her in the limelight but out of the nastiest -- >> i think it's huge but the republicans are already talking about how they are is going to attack her on benghazi. that's -- they are already going for that and the looking at her record. however it's made her much more popular with americans as a whole and giving her the kind of credentials that no one else in this race has. >> is she better liked now? >> yeah. you saw that reception in san francisco. this was a rock star reception. >> the polling shows she's running hot. >> we want to talk about someone else as well because we want to turn our attention to attorney general eric holder who was also in san francisco this week. he sparked much debate when he announced sweeping new changes in minimum sentencing policies.
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holder directed it to u.s. attorneys across the country stop charging low level drug offenders that carry severe sentences. >> incarceration has a significant role to play in our justice system. widespread incarceration at the federal, state and local levels is both ineffective and unsustainable. >> carla, let's go back to you. michael i want you to join the conversation too. what eric holder announced, how significant is this federal shift that he's talking about? >> he opened a national conversation when he called the justice system shameful. in that study shows black males as a whole have sentences 20% longer than white males and what he did is direct 94 u.s. attorneys to be 0 more flexible in their snernsing when it comes to these low level nonviolent drug offenders. that's significant. as michael knows, there's a lot
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of debate about how effective this could be. it was opening a conversation that was very, very important, a lot of people thought that was significant especially since the prison population has grown 800% since 1980, overcrowding is a major issue he's trying to address here. >> are there parallel? overcrowding is a huge problem in california. >> that's right. who is channelling whom is eric channelling jerry brown or is jerry brown channelling eric holder. we have full prisons. what hold certificate saying, what the attorney general is saying is we have to create more flexibility in the system. there has to be more discretion. he's not changing any laws, can't. congress might be able to do that and there's some criticism, some critics of the speech are saying this should be left to doing take care of not the attorney general. but the problem here is how you
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get there. governor brown launched this realignment program. that's diverting low level offenders to county. hopefully so that they will be handled dinnerly alternatives perhaps not being locked up. in some sentences that's what holder is trying to accomplish. that is get people to think how should we deal with people who might be drug addicts, committing crimes to, you know, get more money for drugs but who aren't dangerous people. >> that's the key question if not hard time then hat? -- what? if we want to use alternative programs what programs? are they out there and ramped up? >> one of the themes, in some ways, in some states and perhaps the attorney general is recommending we start looking at this get tough era, the 30 years of laws and sentence enhancements. some experts will say what's different between now and 20 years ago we have alternatives. there's proven alternatives for low level drug offenders, you
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don't need to incarcerate them and in fact it's cheaper and more effective. we've seen that in states like texas and oklahoma. the federal government is behind the curve as is california at least what a lot of experts say. >> california passed prop 36 recently how states have been taking the lead. in prop 36 basically said for the third strike to happen it has to be for a serious crime. i'm wondering with what holder announced if there's bipartisan support in washington for something like this? >> we are seeing that. i think -- michael i want to hear your thoughts in the cultural shift here. it was not too long ago that californians and across the country people said throw away the key. people are starting to look at the prison system and some of the injustices which holder called shameful and realizing there are huge inequities and a lot of lives being affect when you talk about throwing away the
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key on 20-year-old man. a young man who was 23 sentenced to life without parole for the first nonviolent drug offense, $1500 drug deal. serial killers, you know, don't spend that much time in prison. that kind of case is what holder is talking about. >> there's going to be a continuing debate about what actually -- how do you define a low level offender. we didn't hear that from the attorney general and we didn't get a lot of details from him. we expect to hear more from him on that soon. >> while we wait for that we also want to talk about another situation going on in the criminal justice system in california and that's the hunger strike by california prisoners. it's now in its fifth week and there doesn't seem to be a resolution in sight. they demanded changes and how prisoners are treated in sold e
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solitary confinement. michael you have been on this program before talking about this issue. there were developments today. there was a settlement conference in the lawsuit involving pelican bay. talk about that. >> 38th day of the hunger strike. 98 inmates have not been eating for 38 days. that's pretty far in. much longer than the last hunger strike in 2011. parallel with the hunger strike is the federal lawsuit focusing on pelican bay, focusing on conditions there. curriculuming that these conditions are unconstitutional. there have been settlement talks order by the federal judge in the case. there seems to be some progress, there perhaps not a break through, but the feeling is that if there's a settlement between the inmates and their lawyers and the state on the federal lawsuits that might get thinger strike lead towers call off the protest. >> some of the prisoners involved are some very bad guys. we know that. and what have they accomplished when it comes to changing public
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opinion? has public opinion, you know, is the public on their side? >> they're some really bad actors among some of these. >> we're talking rapists, murderers. >> pelican bay, the units that are in issue, security housing units. prisons within prison system. men are not sentenced there they are sent there determined by the prison system. many of these inmates are convicted of murder, for example. they are placed in these units largely on allegations that they are gang members, prison gang members. last week we had an indictment concerning the mexican mafia and drug cartels going into cahoots to control trafficking -- >> while they are in -- >> one of the indictments is the hunger strike leaders. on the other hand there are low level offenders, three striker types who ended up in pelican bay for years trapped in this
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system where they can't get out. you have a law, wide spectrum of offenders. >> i got to ask you this because you've been up there, you've been up to pelican bay. throughout this controversy the state has been saying again and again we don't hatch solitary confinement. do they? >> the allegation from the hunger strikers and the lawsuit pelican bay really is long term solitary confinement and that it's torture and they throw out international conventions supporting that. i've been there. i would never don't locked there. whether it constitutes solitary confinement there's no consensus on that. there's no legal definition of solitary. some of the inmates are double celled so they have cell mates. >> they are. >> some. >> do they have access to the outside world. >> they have televisions. they get visitors behind glass. their every day life, they are in their cells 22 1/2 hours a day. the hour and a half they are out they are in a concrete room.
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they don't see the outside world except -- >> it's isolation. >> i would argue it's isolation. whether it's solitary confinement i don't know. >> looks like the civil disobedience may not be the best recourse at this point. there's very little public pressure to do about it. >> i think that a lot rides on this lawsuit and being settled. in the meantime you have some men in very vulnerable medical situations. there could be -- they are vulnerable to heart attacks and all sorts of thing. we haven't seen any emergencies but we're getting into that moment. >> know you'll watch it. michael, thank you. moving on to something else. a monumental $1 billion plan to expand shasta dam. it's causing concern among native americans. it forms california's largest reservoir shasta lake. it supplies water from silicon valley to san diego. supporters want to raise the dam
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by 18 1/2 feet to increase storage capacity. >> not a new idea. this has been kick around for at least a decade going back to a planning initiative in the 1990s. back in the news now. one they put out the environmental impact statement for it which is about 10,000 pages long so i'm assuming you read it. and also -- also because there is growing pressure, growing political pressure and industrial pressure from the water agencies for more storage in california. that's why we're even talking about this now. >> okay. i got to ask, after our experience with the bay bridge which was supposed to cost a billion dollars and now seven and how many years. what's the record on this kind of infrastructure project in california or the likelihood
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this will get done. >> it's federal project part of the central valley project which is a big federal project going back to the 1930s actually. shasta is sort of the centerpiece of that whole system. so ultimately it would have to go to congress and congress would provide money for it. the $1.2 billion on paper construction price. believe it or not of the three or four different alternatives for surface storage they are considering it's one of the cheaper ones. >> at $1 billion. >> proponents are saying this is a good idea because the dam is already there we're just adding to the top it. it's cheaper than building another dam. >> you reported on water in this state, we have a bit of a water problem, drought. where does water going to come from? >> that's one of the arguments opponents are making making the dam bigger doesn't create more water. bureau of reclamation says that
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lake fills to capacity once every four years. >> what are they saying. it would flood their sacred lands? >> some of that happened when they made the dam in the first place. for you they say they would lose another 60 to 80 of their sacred sites if the lake got bigger. the problem is the wintu are not a federally recognized tribe, they are recognized by the state but not the federal government and they are dealing with a federal agency. >> they have no legal standing. >> they are not considered a legitimate stakeholder. >> if this doesn't get done what's the alternative? any other project? >> there are other project, big engineering projects being considered. one of them is a valley that
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doesn't have a river going through it up in sacramento that they would seal off and flood. off stream storage. some of the critics are saying look, let's take a holistic approach to this. rather than pour more concrete to solve california's water shortage issues let's talk about conservation, let's talk about how we can work surface water and ground water together to try to maximize the benefit than pour more concrete. >> public hearings are happening now? >> this is the time to call the public comment period. i want goes another month or so. >> you have a story on this on kqed radio we want to point out. >> monday morning, it's our regular monday morning science feature segment. >> we look forward to that. thank you. continuing on the environmental front san
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francisco billionaire is emerging as a green climate advocate. the former hedge fund manager was the driving force behind proposition 39 last november. that measure yielded millions of dollars to make schools more energy-efficient. he opposed the keystone xl pipeline and using his financial and political muse told pressure the obama administration on energy policy. scott shafer spoke with tom earlier this week. >> thanks for being here. >> scott, thank you very much. >> you have been spending a lot of your own money on politic, mostly on candidates, ballot measures and so on, mostly promoting green energy. why it is so important to you? >> i think that energy and climate are the, going to be challenge for our generation. i think they are going to be measuring stick for how we do as a generation. >> what can one person do in
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that regard? >> the end is for us to have an energy system that's sustainable, that is good for job creation, that is -- makes america the economic powerhouse that it's always been and i hope it always will be. and which also preserves the earth in a good way. >> here in california it's also good politics, the fact of the matter is california has let the nation in many ways including environmental legislation for decades. so if you look at the clean air act, if you look at the clean water act, if you look at the miles per gallon regulations they have come from california. >> you call yourself a business democrat yet it's business that poses a lot of these policies you're promoting in terms of carbon taxes and other things that promote green energy. >> there are elements of the business community that are pushing back and those tend to be companies involved in fossil fuels. and they see their job as representing their economic interests and their shareholders. that's fine.
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but the fact of the smart from a business standpoint there are plenty of businesses that profit dramatically from new kinds of energy, from advanced thinking about energy that are going to create many more jobs than extracted fuel industry. >> one of the issues you focus on is the keystone pipeline and there's a big decision awaiting president obama. you personally talked with him about this. you want that project to be killed. why, why is the president taking such a long time to make what to you seems like a pretty obvious easy decision? >> i think in the beginning no one was paying much attention. and so the industry was pushing the idea that it was about energy independence and big jobs program and a number of other things that turned out not be true. it was one side of the argument was being strongly made and the other side wasn't being made at all. that went on for quite a long time. then suddenly people woke up and said whoa, this seem quite right. let's examine the premise.
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>> isn't that what the president is supposed to to. he's not supposed to pay attention to arguments out in public. he has advisors -- >> he has done a much better job in nigeria and climate than people realize. he did it quietly in the first term. he was much more vocal about it in his second term. he's consistently pushed hard on energy and climate and in fact this is something that has blown up really this year, starting last year but has blown up this year and become kind of a prime fight. >> you got involved a few weeks ago in the b.a.r.t. strike. it wasn't a strike yet. they were talking and coming to logger heads and before the governor stepped into the avert a strike you showed up at a b.a.r.t. station in solidarity with people who clean up the station. what is the billionaire doing standing with people who clean b.a.r.t. stations. >> the person who -- there are two unions involved.
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i really only know about one of them which is really the lower paid workers. and the person who is reppi i representing them and she said tom you should come down. she gave me the what people get paid when they start, what they move up to and their benefits. come down and spend a day in their shoes and see how hard the job is. >> there's so little public support. is there a shifting attitude towards working class people, towards unions that's playing out. >> i hope there's not a shift towards working class people because these people are doing a very hard, dirty job under tough circumstances. and they are by no means -- they are not making a ton of money and their benefits are not outrageous. what people are reacting to, there may be people in this situation who are at the high end where they feel as if people in the public sector are getting paid better than people in the private-sector. >> thinking about the b.a.r.t.
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strike or any other issue what's the biggest failure of leadership right now? >> the question in the united states is what is our mission? what are we trying to accomplish as a people and as a policy. i think if you understand that and you can put it into terms then all the decisions are out of it. if you don't know what your mission is, then every decision is an individual tactical decision and then everything. >> your name has been kicked around as someone who might be governor some day. >> i have been involved in a couple of proposition and races. when i got involved i said there's something that's not being done that i feel strongly about. and i'm willing to go in and if it's time consuming, embarrassing. >> you were captain of the yale soccer team. what did you learn from that experience? >> i learned two things from that experience.
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one is don't accept authority without question because i played for a lot of coaches and you really have to keep in mind. the second thing i learned is if you want to be a good leader you better understand what the mission is and you better go out and make sure that the people who are behind you accept the same mission and are willing to do what it takes to win. >> thanks for coming in. >> thanks very much. someone to keep on watching. that's all for tonight. i want to thank all of our guests, michael montgomery, carla marinucci and craig miller. you have nothing else to do on a friday night but hang out with me. a pleasure to have you on. visit us at kqedtv.org. have a good night. thanks for joining us.
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the following kqed production was produced in high definition. ♪ ♪ ♪ every single bite needed to be great. >> twinkies in there. >> wow! >> it's like a great, big hug in the whole city. >> that food is about all i can handle. my parents put chili powder in my baby food. >> french fries everywhere, all over the table and just a lot of chili.

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