tv KQED Newsroom PBS November 10, 2013 5:00pm-5:31pm PST
next on kqed "newsroom," wall street is atwitter with the latest social media ipo. but is there a downside in the bay area to the success? the google barge floating in san francisco bay. a mystery only partially solved. sunnyvale makes national headlines with a new law taking aim at gun violence. spearheaded by its mayor. >> no city, no entity, is immune from any of this at all. >> plus, how to keep lake tahoe blue. >> the ultimate goal is to restore clarity to what it was back in the 1960s.
>> good evening and welcome to kqed "newsroom." this week's elections thrust the south bay city of sunnyvale into the national spotlight. voters approved a new gun law and the national rifle association is threatening to sue. the new law would require gun owners to lock up their weapons and report firearm thefts. gun dealers would have to keep records of all ammunition sales. and perhaps the most controversial, a ban on large-size magazines. the new law takes effect january 1st. scott shafer sat down with sunnyvale's mayor to find out what inspired him to push for the law. >> mayor, welcome. >> thank you. thank you for having me. >> you really pushed for measure "c." to put it on the ballot and get it passed. what made you so passionate? >> many things. but the one that drove the point home was the unfortunate incident at newtown where young
children that actually this past year should have been going to school are not going to school. that made me angry. we hear about all these tragic shootings across the country. and we feel sorry for them. and, you know, we have compassion for them. but i don't think anything made me as angry as that did. >> what were you angry at? >> the fact that it happened. how could such a tragedy happen? how could they -- not they. how could something like that, how could anyone even think about hurting young children? they're starting in life, they're enjoying life, they're a pleasure to have. they're exciting to be around. and someone ends their life like that. and i think, how senseless, and why aren't we doing anything to prevent that? >> so the politics of it made you angry also? >> absolutely. that's what drove it home is that, you know, i was, like anyone else, okay, this has to be the catalyst that our congressional leaders and our state leaders are going to say, this is it. this is enough.
let's do something about it. >> we all know congress didn't really do anything about it. what makes you think sunnyvale, a city that's 140,000 people, one out of a hundred cities and towns in the bay area where there's 7 million people -- what makes you think one ballot measure in one town can make a difference? >> i like it to the ban on plastic bags. it started in one town. then it went to another town. then it went to another town. san that clara county, we no longer have plastic bags. it has to start somewhere. no city, no entity, is immune from any of this at all. >> but on the other hand, how are you going to enforce it? you're not going to have sunnyvale police knocking on doors and seeing if guns are locked up. how will you even know if people are violating the law? >> you know, it's no different than most of the gun laws. you don't really get involved with the gun laws until something happens. today our police don't knock on doors to see if you have fully automatic weapons or anything
you're not supposed to have. generally when you see a law enacted, it's in the commission of a crime or something, or an accident. so it comes to light. so when it comes to light, you know, didn't you lock your gun up? why not? oh, you had a high-capacity magazine, you're in violation of the law. those things would happen. we're not going to be knocking on doors and asking them to show us. >> you compare it to the plastic bag ban, those bags are gone. >> it was visual. but my point with the plastic bag ban was, you know, what good would we do starting in one town? my point that is we've already got calls from two or three other cities saying, we want to do something, the same thing you're doing. so that's the start of it. if we can build a good base for our congressional leaders to stand on to do something about that. >> wouldn't it be better for the state to do something? governor brown, for example, signed into law some 11 gun-related bills in this past session alone. he did veto a few of them also. but wouldn't it be better to
have a state, ideally a national law, that would really do what you're trying to do? >> ideally, to have a national, yes. can we get it on a national level? no. we haven't been able to get it. that's why it has to start from the bottom up, not top down. we have been waiting and waiting and waiting and it's not happening. the ideal world, if congress or the state legislators can pass a statewide law, a national-wide law, get it done, fine. but they're not doing it. >> the nra is threat nothing or promising to sue. they haven't done that yet. is the city prepared to go to court and spend whatever it takes to defend this law? >> we hope that, you know, that doesn't happen. but if we have to do what we have to do to defend our law, we will. you know, the nra always -- that's their first words out of them when you talk on any issue with guns, we're going to sue you. >> do you feel like they tried to intimidate you, to prevent you from putting this on the ballot? >> well, they tried to.
but their intimidation didn't work with me. but what they tried to do, which they failed to do, was try to intimidate our citizens. tried to threaten them with lawsuits and the cost of things. so they'd be afraid to go to the polls. but our citizens stood up very loud and clear and said, nra, you don't scare us. >> i detect a little bit of a south bronx accent. are you spoiling for a fight with nra? >> i'm not spoiling for one but i'm ready to fight. as a kid from the south bronx i'm used to fighting. like i said, bring it on. >> you're not going to back down? >> no, we cannot afford to back down. we cannot lose any more children. we cannot have any more children taking weapons to school and hurting other children. that has to stop. >> sunnyvale mayor tony spitalerri, thank you very much. generating water cooler talk and big headlines as well this week, google shed light on that
mysterious barge in the san francisco bay. and twitter made its trading debut. enthusiastic investors helped the company raise nearly $2 billion in its ipo. clearly they are winners. but are there losers as well? twitter, yelp, other technology companies have moved to san francisco's market street area in recent years. they've helped to revive the neighborhood. but they're also creating tension. for a look at what it all means, i'm joined now by three technology reporters. arsi shahani, kqed news. michelle quinn. and steve penn. steve, twitter's ipo, the company still isn't profitable. is all this investor exuberance, does it make sense? or is this reminiscent of the dot com bubble? >> i would say it doesn't make sense if you just look at twitter's financial earnings. i mean, i think if you look at their share price, their stock price, how much it rose the
first day, i think that had less to do with the fundamentals of twitter as a company than with supply and demand for that stock on the market. twitter has more than 200 million users, billions of people know about it. but the amount of stock they issued was relatively small in comparison. i think there is a little bit of a mismatch on the stock markets and that generated a big price spike. i also don't think that twitter is truly a pets.com. this is a company that has been -- >> let's hope not. >> -- been around for years, it's generating hundreds of millions in revenue, its revenue is growingpy 100% a year. it has a very engaged user audience. it's a real company with real revenues. they're not profitable now because they're investing and building for the future. so it's not just going to go away. would i recommend twitter as an investment? you know, i'd be more cautious about that. >> don't you think that stocks are about the future, they're about the promise, so a stock -- dependable companies who produce
great revenue, great profits, often have flat stocks if they don't have a good story about how they're going to grow. >> sure. but, you know, if you look at twitter's revenue to share price multiple and compare to it facebook, it's at its current trading price, it's twice as expensive as fak. facebook is growing faster in every metric. it's, you know -- its revenue is growing almost as quickly as twitter's. its user base is growing more quickly than twitter's, as a percentage on a much bigger user base. i think if you were, you know, and i don't do this. but if i were to play stock picker, i would be hesitant to recommend twitter. i wouldn't bet against the company. i think the company has a great future. i just question whether or not this particular moment on the stock market makes sense. >> what do you think twitter needs to do to fulfill that promise that you were talking about, people buying stocks,
hoping that they'll fulfill their promise in the future of becoming profitable. what does it need to do to make sure it doesn't end up like groupon and zinga, both trading way below their ipo price. >> one thing i wonder about the twitter pop, the founding story of twitter is that it's an ink blot. no one knew what it was going to be about but everyone saw their own value it in. now you see a reshuffling of leadership again. livian shiller, for example, huge name in media, npr, nbc, now going to twitter. you're seeing the gravitation of major names in news. so i wonder if part of the excitement about twitter is that, you know what, maybe in a year it's going to be about a lot more than tweeting? >> you know, twitter also generated excitement when it moved to its market street office last year. and in fact, the number of other high-tech companies have moved to the market street area in san francisco as well, including
squares. how have they transformed that whole market street corridor? >> you know what they've done that's interesting is they've kind of made it okay for others to come. so that's one thing that's happened. is that was an area that these people, these companies are moving into what were empty buildings. you know, in the previous booms, people would start companies in sunnyvale because that's where engineers wanted to live, they wanted together houract housing the city. the fact that they're moving into buildings that have been empty -- a reporter for yammer told our reporters they moved into the am mid-market area and didn't feel okay about it until they saw twitter arrive, then hey, maybe we're on to something here. it's definitely revival. it still can feel sketchy at times. walking down, you fell a little nervous. i think it has kind of also planted -- it's not the financial district. so it's a place that has a lot
more -- different kinds of people moving in and out, different needs, different interests. >> a couple of things i find fascinating about the twitter building itself. they just have a few floors in that building. a cleaning lady walking in the morning of the ipo, shout-out. she loves her twitter. she works at yammer. and she was telling me, she's like, you know, in the building we're not all equal. the twitter workers get in before the yammer workers. she was giving me building politics. there is the subculture of high-tech. the elite -- you always manage to create the haves and have nots, right? >> speaking of haves and have nots, that whole sense of equality. you've got a lot of tech workers pouring in. their incomes have risen by about 17% over the past year. and i was reading something by the bay area council that says, you know, incomes for other jobs such as retail, just 1% over the
last year, and income stayed flat in health, in education, it shrank by 9% for nonprofits. do you get the gap between the haves and have nots is widening and is it causing resentment? >> i think there's one clear indicator this week that caught my eye, which is that on tuesday at the voting booth, san francisco voters rejected a highrise complexion on embarcadero. it's the kind of housing, residential housing, that meets the needs of high-tech. but voters said, no, we don't want it. i think that as well as some of the protests around the twitter building the day of the ipo, there are these sorts of more than just a murmuring. but an actually speaking out about concern for what's happening in the mid-market region, but also san francisco more broadly. the flip of that is, i was at the twitter building the morning of the ipo, trying to get a sense of, to people feel pride? does it feel like it's all of our ipos?
there was ambivalence or mixed feeling. on one hand, hey, i have more places to eat during lunch, i don't feel afraid, i don't think i'm going to get mugged. everyone across classes feels that way. then that's where those, how long am i going to be able to stay here? >> i think this is going to be the story for the next few years here. because this is a boom that's not -- it's not like pets.com. as steve mentioned. these are companies that probably could have gone public awhile ago. they've got solid business models. they know what they're doing. so the risk is not going to just even itself out with a downturn. that's what happened before. and i think that this -- you're going to be looking at this, if it's going to be the google buses, flash points of resentment. >> let's take a quick turn here. and go to a story that sort of has provided some fun water cooler talk. the google barge. we finally got some details about it from google. >> the hardest-hitting story of the week. >> exactly. lucky you. what do we know about the goo google barge?
>> what we know about the google barge is actually that this barge has been there for up to a year. at least several months. oracle was doing some racing and some boat work around treasure island and the people working on treasure island were like, what's all the uproar about? this thing has been sitting here forever. >> what is it supposed to be? an interactive learning center, right? >> so they say. >> okay. >> so the barge is under construction, four-story barge. google is saying now that, yeah, it may be a showroom for google, you know, the tech community can come there and learn, it could be sort of an incubator on the seas, that kind of thing. we don't totally know what it is, we know what google is saying it could be, interactive space. hilarious, the "chronicle" reported it was going to be -- going to look like a vessel with fins. >> like sailboat fins. >> and the google barge twitter handle with 5,000 followers plus, including myself. it happens.
and google barge the twitter handle tweeted back to the story, "never, i refuse to be dressed up in whimsical sea fins!" just my style. so we have some details, but the mystery remains. all right, thanks to all of you. thanks for being here. >> thank you. and now we move our focus to the california/nevada border where there's a battle to keep lake tahoe blue. the sierra club filed arguments in a lawsuit against a new plan that governs development along the lake's shores. it and oets environmental groups say the new rules favor economic growth over protecting the lake's clarity. gabriela has the story. >> okay. we'll go around the island. we'll look at the waterfall. we'll look at some osprey nests. then we'll go back. >> reporter: lake tahoe's famous waters are the clearest of any
large lake in the united states. they attract 3 million visitors to california and nevada each year. >> the blueness comes in large part from just the incredible cleanliness of it. what's pretty wonderful is that you're really living in an environment that does have all the hallmarks of a national park, but anybody can come here, anybody can live here. the trick is how do we keep that quality and keep using it? >> reporter: that question has guided scientists like jeff and hounded policymakers ever since the 1960s when researchers at the university of california davis first documented a decline in the lake's clarity. the university's branch allen takes measurements every ten days. >> when we try and translate lake charity to the public what they want to know is how deep into the lake can they see? and so i'll be lowering this down into the lake until it disappears.
getting our clarity readings for the day. >> reporter: allen lets a fri s frisbee-looking device sink until it disappears. >> 18 meters. pretty sip call for summertime readings. it varies seasonally. >> reporter: since 1968, the lake has lost 20 feet of clarity, mainly due to uncontrolled urbanization in the 1950s and '60s. the 1960 winter olympics raised the lake's profile and encouraged development. as did frank sinatra who hosted celebrities at his cal neva casino. sierra club volunteer laura lanes witnessed the boom firsthand as a young woman growing up on the lake. >> when i was in college i came home and my papers said, oh, you should go down and look at what they're doing to the swamp. >> reporter: what some residents considered a swamp at the south end of the lake was actually a large wetland, replaced in the
1960s by a maze of houses and canals called the tahoe keys. the wetland was no longer available to filter out dirt and pollute ants before they flowed into the lake. when plans for development threatened a pristine corner of the lake, citizens organized. they pressured california, nevada, and the federal government to enter into an agreement or compact that would regulate development around the lake. >> they agreed that tahoe was threatened and that tahoe needed to be protected. by a planning agency, regional planning agency. >> reporter: starting in the 1980s, the tahoe regional planning agency restricted all new construction. scientists had discovered that dirt, erode and washing in from urban areas, contributed more than any other pollute ant to clouding the lake. >> it's due in large part to very fine particles of things like dust coming from the roads,
and also steep dirt surfaces prone to erosion. >> reporter: hard surfaces like roads and parking lots can keep transporting dirt years after they're built. so even though development slowed down, the lake continued to lose clarity. >> the ultimate goal is to restore clarity to what it was back in the 1960s. that's a depth reading of about 97 feet. right now, we're at about 70 feet. so that's a large change. >> if we can cut off things like lose ant flows into the surface, then we would estimate it something like 20 to 30 years, the lake's clarity could be restored if all the right things were done. >> reporter: but doing the right thing comes with a hefty price tag. $1.6 billion in federal, state and local funds have been spent over the last 15 years on wetlands restoration and other improvements. and the tahoe planning agency requires visitors and locals to
follow strict and often expensive rules. private contractors like rob base sell si basil makes a living helping homeowners. >> everyone needs to pave their driveway so it doesn't wash sediment into the creek. then you need to capture and treat the stone water run-off from your roof and driveway so it doesn't leave your property. >> reporter: the new channel in his driveway is costing brad $2,000. >> i personally don't mind at all doing it. and not only am i willing to do it, i think it's really important to put in these filtration systems. >> even though this rule has been on the books for 20 years, only one-third of residential and commercial property owners have complied. the tahoe regional planning agency wants to change this. says public information officer jeff cohen. >> meeting property owners at the door with a list of, you're going to have to do this, you're going to have to do this, you're going to have to do this, has
resulted in very little progress in environmental restoration on the private sector. so we're trying something new. >> reporter: in the first comprehensive overhaul of its rules in the last 25 years, the agency has loosened some of its building restrictions, hoping to entice property owners to put in filtration systems. the planning agency holds up the edgewood tahoe golf course in stateline, nevada, as an example of what it would like to achieve. >> most of the new hotel project will be located on the 9th fairway. >> reporter: in exchange for permission to build a 200-room hotel on one of their fairways, the golf course owners agreed to remove a parking lot and two buildings that had been built on wetlands. edgewood executive vice president patrick ramey explace. >> the investment in the hotel allows us to invest back into the land and do better for the lake and have the financial flexibility to add more wetlands and storm water controls. >> reporter: but the sierra club and several lake tahoe environmental groups filed a
lawsuit in february to stop the new rules which they argue will add more dirt to the lake. >> when you increase density, you increase people. when you increase people, you increase cars. and when you increase cars, you have to add parking. so you add asphalt. >> there isn't going to be an explosion of growth in lake tahoe from this plan. there isn't going to be a sudden explosion in land coverage, and certainly nowhere near the lake. >> preserving lake clarity is the lifeblood of any business that's here at lake tahoe. it's about the lake. that's the reason why people come here. >> reporter: the battle will play out in court over the next year. so far, scientists believe that efforts to keep dirt out of the lake are paying off. to find out about other threats to lake tahoe, watch kqed's documentary "lake tahoe, can we save it?" at kqed.org/science.
time to see what kqed news is working on for next week. >> monday is veterans day. on the california reports, aaron grants from center for investigative reporting is looking at how the va is doing reducing that terrible backlog of claims that they had, reporting that he uncovered about a year ago sometimes the wait for help was over a year. so he'll be taking a look at has that gotten better? if so, is that change sustainable? >> nationwide it seems like it might have gotten better. this week they announced the backlog was reduced by 34% nationwide. will the report take a look at that as well? >> shull. and there's no question that the va is putting more resources, working overtime to reduce the backlog. but again, the question is, how long can they do that? and also beginning to bring a computer system online, so that will get rid of those stacks of files and papers that have slowed things down. >> also something coming up on three strikes? >> we're at the one-year point where voters passed prop 36 that
changed our three strikes law, making it possible for people serving life in prison to get out early. we're going to have a look at how that implementation of reform is going, how many people are getting out, how easy is it to get out, what's happening to them when they're out? >> some critics said it would allow hardened criminals out of jail early. has that happened and caused a problem? >> again, the people who are getting out, their third strike was nonviolent. it could be something as simple as petty theft. and what the statistics show so far is that the ones getting out are actually committing fewer crimes than others who are getting out. so it seems that for whatever set of reasons, and we'll be looking into what the reasons are, they are not committing more crime. >> let's switch gears as well. kqed "news fix" has an enterprise series going on about ride-sharing services that are becoming so popular. >> the pink moustaches. >> the pink moustaches but also uber, sidecar. are there issues with that?
>> there are. of course the taxi industry thinks they're going to put them out of business. but the series that the newsfix blog is looking is looking at all kinds of issues, including what are insurance issues? if you're a drive forelift, sidecar, uber, and you have car insurance, what happens if you get into an accident? are you covered? are you covered to the extent you think you are? then what are the implications of that for the passengers? >> and just real quickly, we have the demolition of the bay bridge eastern span coming up. also you have an interview with janet napolitano. >> i do. she's been keeping a low profile but the new president of the university of california will be speaking at the regents meeting, her first since she took over, and we'll be talking about her agenda for the university of california. and bit way, if you have questions you'd like to ask president napolitano, you can send them to kqed.org. >> for all of kqed's news coverage, go to kqednews.org. >> i'm scott shafer, have a good night.
on this edition for sunday, november 10th. the death toll soars in the philippines following the massive typhoon. in our signature segment, we'll take to you a country in europe wherever everyone gets a pension. what makes it successful is you basically force people to save for their old age. >> and what the use can do to help retirees. >> it is much more efficient for people to have guaranteed income until they die rather than a big pile of money. >> next on pbs "news hour weekend." >> made possible by louis b and louise. judy and josh weston.