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tv   This Week in Northern California  PBS  July 30, 2011 1:30am-2:00am PDT

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captioning by vitac, underwritten by fireman's fund >> belva: with no deal in washington on the debt ceiling, california braces for a federal default. uc berkeley professor goodwin liu is appointed to the state supreme court by governor jerry brown. liu's previous nomination by president obama to the ninth circuit court was blocked by senate republicans. the governor signed dozens of bills including a provision of the dream act making it easier for undocumented immigrants to access privately funded scholarships for education. and california citizens redistricting commission released its final political district maps today for public
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review. we'll hear from two commissioners about the process. coming up next. >> belva: good evening, i'm belva davis. and welcome to "this week in northern california." joining me tonight on our news panel are carla marinucci, politic writer for "the san francisco chronicle." scott shaffer, host of kqed public raradio's the california report. tom vacar, consumer editor for
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ktvu news. tom, first to you. what's the latest from washington? where do things change now? >> we've been sitting here longer than ten minutes so i'm not quite sure. i'll give you the big thing. this evening by a vote of 218-210 the house of representatives approve a republican plan and that would raise the debt limit by $900 billion initially then another $1.6 trillion sometime in early 2011, but it is all linked to a balanced budget amendment which, of course, the senate says is doa on arrival. and, in fact, they voted and basically said it's doa and on arrival. in the senate a democrat plan will be voted on tomorrow and the republicans in a sense are saying they will vote tomorrow to say it's dead before it even gets here. you can see these adults are really getting along with each other. but the reality of the situation is we are no closer to a deal. in fact, arguably, we're farther from a deal. for the last six days, the stock market has gone down 500, 600
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points, and monday if there's not a deal, we might see the market go into some sort of a panic. that's a real possibility because the bad news would flow from that would just be incredible. now, the big problem is that if this happens, the credit of the united states is lowered, the credit rating. which means that most investors are going to want a higher risk premium for whatever lending is done. so what happens, well, first the government has to pick and choose from which bills it wants to bay. will it pay the bonds? certainly. will it pay social security? certainly. will it pay the soldiers? certainly. out of the shortage of $200 billion a month, they're going to have to make choices. some people are the not going to get paid. many credit agencies will regard that no different than default on the bonds so the credit rating would likely go down. >> belva: almost every politician says, we'll do this, we're not going to let this country get to the edge and fall off the cliff. >> that reminds me of the guy that's had too much to drink
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that goes out driving, saying, don't worry, i'll get home fine and you see him wrapped around a tree a mile down the road. this thing is headed for trouble. most people understand that. there's a certain faction in the congress i think honestly believes if we wreck this thing and try to put it back together we will put together a better thing. the trouble is i think they don't understand the wreckage will be so great that it could be significant to the united states in many, many ways. because once u.s. starts borrowing again, that risk premium i talked about uses only so much money out there that gets l gets loaned. what happens to the private guys looking for a car loan, home loan, education loan? those prices go up as well and tied to indexes that why go up as well. this could be a terrible problem for the united states. we're two, three days away from seeing what really is going to happen. >> do you have a sense how it would affect local governments? cities borrow as well. would it affect the rating of san francisco county, alameda county? >> depends on how well prepared they are.
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a lot of money they get from the feds might be compromised. what's easier to do than say to people, keep taking money away from -- we're just not going to pay you, you have to get along with that. which means public employees get laid off which exacerbates california's problems, much worse than the others, much worse than tany other states. that's a problem. the other thing that can happen, a lot of programs that need this money simply don't exist or have to try to borrow money at some premium. it's a whorrendous problem we'r in. >> what's interesting, this procedural thing. ronald reagan raised the debt ceiling 17 times. all of a sudden this has become such an issue. we're seeing now a lot of the congressional delegation here. today, garamendi, barbara lee suggesting the president should invoke the 14th amendment if we're talking about coming on to this -- i mean, he has ruled that out. >> he's ruled it out. section 4 kind of basically passed during the civil war to
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guarantee people who want the united states government money would get paid. it says the debts of the obligations of the united states should not be ignored. that does present some sort of an issue as to whether or not the president can say in order to uphold the constitution, i can't ignore this reality and go ahead and move that and just let the fight go into the courts and go ahead and pay bills and print money and do all that stuff. the fight you're spoiling for them is going to last a long time and you don't really know what the outcome is going to be. >> the markets, i imagine, right? >> rather than have a situation where there is an orderly process where you have debts paid and the united states says we are going to get out of this mess but what we're not going to do is stiff anybody. you stiff somebody and the credit rating agencies who are not blameless in this. remember, the credit rating agencies were the ones who said all the lousy housing bonds were going to be good are the same people who are going to say, we're going to downgrade the
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credit of the yoois united states. >> isn't it too late for this? i've heard bonds people say it's gone on so long it may be downgraded no matter what. >> put on a negative watch. >> belva: one thing we can talk about what bill lockyer, the treasurer did in borrowing money so california would be in fairly good shape. is that going to help? >> of course. he's going to want to pay the bills. you borrow the money at the cost. that's more money the people of the state of california are going to have to pay. it's all money, but the bottom line at the end of the day is that if this thing goes through, if interest rates go up, we're going to pay not billions, but hundreds of billions of dollars of extra penalties for something that basically is because a bunch of people that are acting like 12-year-olds -- >> belva: are they working over the weekend? >> they're working over the weekend. whether or not they'll come up with a solution is anybody's guess. >> belva: we've come to one solution. that is the appointment of one member of the supreme court that had a pretty rough time in washington. scott, that is your story. >> goodwin liu, that's right.
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a law professor, society dean over there. president obama, as you said at the top tried to appoint him to the ninth circuit court of appeals. the senate blocked that. that was in part payback for his opposition to the nominations of samuel alito and john roberts to the u.s. supreme court by george w. bush. a lot of times you see judges, they have no paper trail. these nominees. they try very hard. they lay low, not be controversial. especially if they're ambitious and want to get on to the courts. goodwin liu is like a paper mill. he has all kinds of writings. he's written about affirmative action, death penalty, same-sex marriage. not hedging his bets. he is who he is. it is, some people are already comparing him to rose byrd who jerry brown appointed to the state supreme court when he was governor the first time. all accounts, he's very smart, he's young, 40 years old, very likable. he's a good colleague. he is -- you'd have to say left of center. so it will remain to be seen
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just, you know, what kind of a judge he'll be. he's never been a judge. >> talking about the comparisons to rose byrd. conservatives in california and republican party are already talking about this particularly on the issue of the death penalty, he's anti-death penalty. he's made statements. >> he's written about -- he had skepticism about the way the death penalty is implemented, but he's also said he would have no trouble enforcing the law and the death penalty as of now is the law of the land here in california. but, you know, when he was a nominee for the ninth circuit, republicans said a couple things. many things really. he had no experience as a judge. and secondly, that he was one of these activist judges who would try to use his own personal feelings about the world and shape the law to that -- those feelings. >> if it's rejected does he become a poison pill or could he down the road kind of be rehabilitated if that's the word, to be appointed in some other point? >> like i said, one of the criticisms on him is he's never been a judge. he's now going to be judge and going to be on the supreme court
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here for a while. he's a young guy. i mean, 40 years old. so in ten years, i mean, senate could change. there will be a new president. he could certainly be appointed to the federal bench or the supreme court. >> belva: there is an unusual controversial fight going on. cries of unfairness behind the scenes. that is that there were many who thought the governor should have appointed another latino because of the justice who just left and also because there's no african-american on the court and that there is now, for the first time, i guess in the country, a court where there would be four asians. >> that's right. there are three asian americans on there now, ning chin is one. the chief justice. also joyce canard and gubin lu would be the fourth. the latino community had some candidates. the latino caucus and the legislature put forth four people that they liked. the african-american community put forth one.
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and he ignored those. he really -- he said at the press conference this week he liked the fact that he had been shot down by the republicans. he liked him personally. he met with him, he and his wife did. jerry brown marches to his own drummer. he doesn't have a judicial appointment secretary. he goes with his gut. he's a lawyer, himself. attorney general. he interviewed all these candidates, personally. he liked liu and chose him and he said, you know, whenever you make a choice you're excluding other choices. he was very unsentimental about it. he said, what about irish? there are no irish members of the court either. there are openings at lower courts in california. i would be very surprised if one of those didn't go to a latino at the appeals court level. so i think he may try to appease the community that way. >> belva: philosophically is this going to be a different court or -- the balance -- will the balance remain the same? >> well, you know, there's a lot of change on this court because
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tonny who replaced ronald george, chief justice, then we have carlos morano leaving and liu. the chemistry changes. relatively small court. whenever you change members there's a different dynamic going on. he'll probably be the most liberal member of the court as was carlos marano and only democrat appointed judge. he could be persuasive as a -- he has a great mind. he went to stanford and oxford and yale. if he brings other votes along with him, he could, you know, on some close votes he could change the outcome of some cases. >> belva: any chance this nomination will not go through? >> i don't think so. there's a three-person panel that includes harris and tonny, the chief justice and another judge. they're all eager to have that member put on the -- they've already scheduled oral arguments
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for prop 8 in september, september 6th. you can be sure they don't want to do that with a temporary judge sitting in as they have been the last several months. it's clear he's going to get confirm e confirmed. >> belva: the timeline will be short? >> yes. it will be done by the end of august and be a love fest. >> belva: we're talking about one appointment by governor brown. carla, you're here to talk about other things the governor did. signing bills that created controversy. something he seems to enjoy. >> that's right. goodwin liu nomination, you know, fired up conservatives. they said, there goes the liberal jerry brown again. he's been signing laws now that the budget crisis is over in california. and doesn't really fit that straight-on liberal profile that a lot of people thought of. you mentioned the dream act at the beginning of the show. very important to latinos. it was vetoed three times. this is the one that allows undocumented students attend california state colleges and universities and apply for
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scholarships. in terms of state funding, they're hoping that will come later. at this point, this is a big deal for dio who's been trying this for a long time. governor signed the lgbt history act. you talked about that on the show. that's now fired up conservatives. they're getting together a ballot measure, they hope, for the june ballot to repeal that law so that's another area. but on the other -- you know, the governor has also done some things that have made liberals unhappy. he vetoed adult daycare centers. this was an $85 million outlay. the governor said medical is going to fill in the holes. a lot of people who run adult daycare centers say fragile seniors, poor seniors, these people are really going to suffer. brown took a lot of hits in editorial boards and in the press this week on that one. so i think -- i mean, there's a lot of different things going
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on, and i think one of the most important things -- today he signed the bill on moving california's presidential primary to june. that is saving money and putting california, perhaps, a little bit more back in the mix on the presidential primary. so -- >> belva: we changed this once. >> we changed it once. it was moved up by governor schwarzenegger who said, hey, we're forgotten. by the time it gets to june. let's move it to february. then you may remember about a million states moved up to february also. there was a super tuesday. california didn't matter at all. now the feeling is let's go back to june and that way we only vote once on all the primaries. it would save around $80 million, $100 million. so it's a good cost cutting measure. some republicans aren't happy about it. they'll think it will minimize or affect their vote somehow.
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the fact is brown has done a number of things all around the political circle. >> it reminds me, jerry brown, of course, perceived as a very liberal guy and in many ways he is. think back to the first time he was governor, he had a lot of fights with the democrats in the legislature. he was not, you know, a big -- >> state workers overpaid. that's right. we're going -- you're absolutely right, scott. we're seeing some of the same things that came back in his first two terms. we're seeing sort of vestiges of the cheapskate is one of them. >> do you get the impression he's happy doing this? it's a tough job even under good times. this is in a lousy time. public office. >> you are right. there's a lot of speculation. is he acting as a guy who's not going to run for this job again? there's a tremendous amount of speculation on that. a lot of people say, look, he just seems to be sort of swinging for the fences and, you know, whatever happens happens.
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on the other hand, we've asked him a number of times. he doesn't rule it out. he's taking a lot of hilt hits that. vetoing the adult senior centers this week, one of the critics said they were disappoint iing seeing governor brown doing that. seeing that he's a senior, himself. the age factor is a factor a lot of people talk about. >> he might be tempted to go another term because the economy will probably be better. it's no fun presiding over this economy. you can't really do anything. >> exactly right. and there's the issue for both parties really, who exactly is on the bench to take on this -- you know, brown got in there because of the experience factor and the fact that he said, look, i just want to do some good for california. at this stage of my life. he's used that term a number of times. i think it's still -- the think the jury is still out on exactly what he wants to do, but certainly the budget battle was no fun. and it's one of the reasons why he and his wife decided do go off and go hiking with bears and
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other wild animals, rather than to face the legislature. >> belva: so there's no clearer picture of this jerry brown than there was of the first jerry brown? >> as you said, sort of somebody who does things all over the board. careful study, but doesn't fit any particular profile. >> not very sentimental about it either. kind of cold calculation and let the chips fall where they may. >> exactly. exactly. more to come on this. >> belva: well, my thanks to all of you for joining us here tonight. >> thank you. >> belva: in a moment, a conversation with two members of the citizens redistricting commission about their final political district maps.
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>> belva: in an effort to put an end to political jergerrymander, california voted twice for taking work of drawing political boundaries out of the hands of elected representatives. newly formed california citizens redistricting commission completed and released its maps today. a final vote is scheduled for august 15th after 14-day public review. joining me to discuss the new maps are two commission members, they are cynthia dai, a democrat from san francisco, who's ceo of a high-tech company. and connie galambos malloy declined to state from oakland is an irving planning manager.
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welcome to both of you for being here. cynthia, explain how the commission's process of drawing lines differs from what we had before us before. >> for one, it's the first time the public has had a seat at the table. it was completely open and transparent. all of our meetings were live streamed. so anyone could see it. what we were doing and all of our decisions about the maps. >> belva: how did that make you feel? being there knowing that everything was being recorded that you were doing? >> well, much as you have, we get used to it. i think you get to a point where you tune it out and focus on the task at hand. and in a way, it has been rather freeing to know that there's nothing going on behind closed doors. there are no secrets as to how we've conducted ourselves as a mission. every piece of information that went into creating the maps is publicly available. >> belva: why did you decide that this was a way you wanted to spend your time? that you wanted to do this kind
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of public service? >> well, it's an opportunity and part of history. this is the very first kind of independent redistricting effort that was really done this way. uniquely californian way. >> belva: how emotional did the discussions get? you're all strangers, all coming together. representing republicans, democrats and independents. how did it work in room when you -- well, this wasn't a secret room. people could watch you do it. >> we got to know each other fairly well. not only were we spending 12 hour days in meetings. we were going late into the night with public hearings where we had hundreds of individuals there giving testimony. we were on the road together traveling all over california. and all of that contributed to an environment where although we're a diverse group, we were able to have lively, principled debates where we sometimes agreed and other times we disagreed, but we always learned from each other. >> belva: is it ever personal? >> we all brought our personal
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and professional experiences to bear on the task at hand, but we really did see ourselves as representatives of the entire state of california, and that's really came not just representing our own city or region but thinking of the best interest of all the people of california. >> belva: a question for both of you. one critic says where we've had lines drawn by republic ans and democrats before, that this commission considered race and culture as the dividing and the motivating thing behind its decisions. how do you respond to that? >> well, we have to take race into account as one of many factors because we have to comply with the federal voting rights act. which prevents dilution of minority voting power, but it was certainly only one of many different factors we considered in trying to understand communities of interest around the state of california. >> belva: would you have more comments to that? >> sure. at the same sometime we were considering race we were looking
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at geography, coastal districts and urban districts and looking at local economies. we were looking at what types of transportation people use, what was their housing stock like? what were their recreational activities -- there were a number of different factors and they were all designed by the local communities that helped us identify the communities of interest that most mattered in terms of fair and effective political representation. >> belva: did you weight any of these issues before you? federal government is telling you one thing then, of course, you're on the edge of politics when you get into this. and there must have been some political pressure from those that you know. you still lived your normal lives, right? >> well, that's debatable. >> belva: tell us about that. how many hours? how hard was it? >> i have -- essentially this was all-consuming. we have put our personal and professional lives on hold. i haved ed thave toddlers i ne
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reacquainted with when i go back home. we were on the road. when we weren't on the road we were reading tens of thousands of public comments. we were preparing documents. we were hiring and managing staff trying to learn how to run a government agency in eight months. there was no time. >> belva: have either of you ever done anything like this before? >> it's a pretty unique experience. we have a startup government agency. one of the things that was very funny at the beginning, they said normally takes about a year to start up a government agency. you have eight months to finish your task. >> belva: one other story that i read about the working of the commission is that we have fewer competitive districts now than we had before. would you say that's true or not true? >> well, it's interesting, competitiveness was actually not one of our criteria, but i think that you'll see that it's almost impossible for the new maps to be less competitive than the old maps.
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there will be one seat changed parties in the last ten years. >> we have a number of districts where there are no incumbents. it's essentially wide open. one of the things we're anticipating as commissioners is it's really going to take years for us to be able to look back and identify some of these areas of the state that have been able to foster new leadership from across the state where before there were no opportunities. >> belva: are you pleased with the outcome? >> very. very. >> belva: would you do it again? >> in a heartbeat. absolutely. >> belva: well, anyway, you are pioneering women, and your commission is 14 people. and all of you, you had to get a majority of -- >> a super majority. >> belva: a super majority of the three different groups that were there and you managed to do that. what was the final vote? >> the final vote on the assembly senate and board of equalization were 13-1. and the final vote on congress was 12-2. >> belva: all right. my thanks to both of you for giving us a peek behind the
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scenes. >> our pleasure. >> thank you for having us. >> belva: hearings held in the public. to hear more about redistricting, tune into forum at kqed public radio monday morning at 9:00. visit kqed.org/thisweek. also catch up on past episodes and share your thoughts about the program. i'm belva davis. thank you for watching. good night.
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