tv KQED Newsroom PBS March 20, 2022 5:00pm-5:31pm PDT
tonight on kqed newsroom , san francisco's cable cars to boost in the latest u.s. spending bill. lawmakers debate relief on rising gas prices. a battle over student enrollment at uc berkeley raises questions about housing in the environment. phil tang joins us with more. bells ring, lights flas pulse flight at the pinball izium in this week's look at something beautiful. coming to you from kqed headquarters in san francisco,
this friday, march 18th, 2022. i am priya david clements. thank you for joining. it looks like thousands of uc berkeley students would lose their spots and california legislators stepped in. he was a little background. a local group called save berkeley's neighborhood sued the university for growing its student population by 30% over the past two decades. without doing enough to account for the environmental impact of the students. the judge directed the school to limit a moment of 2020 levels. that meant the school would have to go back moment by about 3000 students and resend 5000 offer letters. but california legislators acted with speed to make sure there were no environmental requirements. the bill was signed into law on monday. student moment will go forward as planned for now. but broader questions raised by this lawsuit remain unanswered.
joining us now to talk through some of the questions is one of the authors of the newly enacted law, phil tang, from seven cisco. assembly member tang. >> thank you for having us. >> this story when it came out struck a chord with so many throughout the state. i am assuming the same for you. the district is san francisco but you attended uc berkeley. >> that's right. also assemblyman skinner. they were really up against the wall and they told us about the 5000 letters, if you think about students who worked their whole lives and they have a dream to go to uc berkeley and because of it for coding and court order they can't go through no fault of their own. it sounds horrifying. >> there are certainly problems here in terms of the growth of students and the impact on berkeley. tell us a little bit about what you see is the real concern thatneeds to be addressed.
>> we have a 2 million degree short in the entire state of california for housing, for students. without college degrees. the legislature and governor have been telling all the csu's and you see is, you need to grow. so berkeley was growing at the state's direction. not on their own. we have been giving them funding to grow. when this taccone in case came down was kind of shocked because we didn't think any judge would really go that far to cap student moment. it's critical we try to address this issue. >> this bill seemed to move with unusual haste. it was completely unopposed. it happened just a few days. have you seen this sort of bipartisan effort happened in recent history? >> we have been working behind the scenes for about one month before the bill was actually introduced and then voted on the floor. but this is actually fast.
you move so quickly i think because we had a deadline. the letters are going out in the next couple of weeks. so we knew march 23rd something needed to be done. if we didn't do something those letters will not go out. and then those 5000 lives would've been changed. >> what you think of the bipartisan nature of this action? does that give you hope for where you and your republican colleagues who are in the assembly can co together at some of these issues? like housing, which is at the top of californians concern. >> i think the difference in the california legislature, most of our bills are bipartisan. i would say roughly 80+ percent of the bills we vote on i received bipartisan. we do have controversial roads where they are partisan boats but in general the party seem to agree on quite a bit. we definitely agree on housing and weneed to build more housing. one of our biggest challenges is how we fight with the cities because the cities are really
the ones zoning and approving the planning permits. so the state has never been involved in housing but really the last five or six years we have started to do a lot more streamlining bills. i streamlined all of them are units in san francisco and making it statewide to grow the housing supply. so this is critical. i think the irony of about the situation is the very neighbors who sued the university about the student enrollment also are susie about the housing they are building for students. >> so they are fighting on both sides. it is true in berkeley or housing needs rebuilt. do you see that happening in the next few years with the current environmental regulations and requirements? >> absolutely. we set aside $2 billion in this year's budget. specifically for public universities all across the state to build more housing. it's a major priority. i'm working with assemblyman mccarty to put another 4 million in the budget to help the board of the universities.
we need to provide assistance and look at -- we do these piece mail bills but we do need a more holistic approac. but it's hard to get major stakeholders. >> let's take a step back and talk about what secret is. sequel is the california environmental quality act. it was passed about 50 years ago under ronald reagan in 1970. the purpose of it was noble. it was to say before we develop projects, let's talk about the environmental impact. let's get feedback from the community and what's not just bulldozer way to the future. what has happened in the last 50 years with it that has turned it from the great wonderful intent to really being problematic in so many situations? >> for the most part it is being used in a positive way. when you do something, when you build a street, build a home or a building you talk about the environment impacts. that's positive.
but you see it as a political tool by neighbors who have in their minds property rights and their property is being impacted negatively. it's not so much they are fighting for the environment. they don't want to have to have more neighbors. they don't want more cars on the road. they don't want more people in their neighborhood so they use it as a tool. to that has been a problem. i think we need to take a more holistic view when it's appropriate to use it and when it's not. it's one of the third rails in sacramento and difficult to get the stakeholders involved. >> a controversial topic. >> it's very hard to talk about. >> wiser? >> you have many sides. you have labor unions and environmentalists who are court democratic supporters supporting and protecting it. in order to have that much of a holistic discussion you ne
leadership from the top. you need the governor, both legislative houses to really engage in traditionally we have not been able to get there. >> this particular legislation you will move forward it does provide a carveout for universities of some of the environmental regulations. do you think we can continue down this path with making changes as needed? or do you think there is a complete overhaul that is required? >> i would much rather have a complete overhaul. i'm getting tired of all of these runoffs. until we do have that discussion we will continue to do these one offs there it for this particular event it is very narrow and the definite will change. it's really telling the courts what they could or not you. >> for me it's one of these issues i am interested in but not the issue i am leading on.
we have other folks in the legislature that are working on that that have traditionally worked on it. i think it requires great leadership. >> this week we commemorated the one-year anniversary of the shooting in atlanta at a spa in which several people who died were asian american. you were at a remembrance ceremony this week. you have also recently introduced a bill to require more uniform reporting on hate crimes. i see this as an area in which you have certainly stepped out and said, let's change the situation. yoare leading on crimes particularly against the asian pacific islander community. >> last year i was proud to lead the effort in the budget to get hundred and $65 million appropriated towards the asian american community to fight hate crimes. that money is being appropriated right now.
about 110 of it will go to community groups over the last three years. they have led the effort all around the state to fight the hate. i have a bill right now that is icing on portman's to have unified systems and reporting on hate crimes. law enforcement doesn't always know when to identify hate crimes. part of that is because of trading. we want to make sure everyone is trained we can properly identify hate crimes so we know what to do in the future. >> i think there was a lot of awareness raised after the shooting in atlanta last year of the crimes against asian americans and of that hate. where would you say the state of california is now? >> i think we are still improving. the hate is not new. the hate has been here since the first asians ca to the state to build the railroad's. you've seen what the immigration, there has been antihate in san francisco. one of the major steps we took
lester was having an ethnic studies requirement in high schools. hoping people take up the ethnic studies. we have that you see berkeley to make sure people really learn about ethnic studies history. i think that is one of the major changes we can improve the situation for all of us. >> i want to ask you about a bill you proposed which seems a little counterintuiti. you want to make it legal in some cases at least to jaywalk. why is this? >> we all have the right to cross the street. what is ironic is almost all of us have crossed the street and i walked in the middle. we have looked both ways to make sure no car was around yet we have not got cited. in certain instances in certain places and communities we use it as a use since ticket. the city of beverly hills issued over 200 jaywalk tickets and almost all of them went to african-americans weird if you
look at the population that is not reflective. to certain neighborhoods have this enfoement and some don't. also some neighborhoods don't have a lot of crosswalks. so if you look at the neighborhood of -- it is made for loading trucks and it is not really pedestrian. so if you were enforcing the jaywalking here it would be really fair. >> i see the equity piece of the public safety, it certainly is a concern to me. i will be interested watch that. one last question. gas prices have been so high. summary of us feel it at the pump. these are record level highs. this week a group of california family members proposed an idea to provide $400 back to every california taxpayer in relief for that. we think that proposal? >> i think it's a great idea.
we will be looking at tax relief in the budget. we have to figure out how much money we have in the budget. úw we are starting to hit our limit, the limit to the amount we can spend. but absolutely it is called the gam limit. >> it has a gam limit. >> we will send checks to taxpayers and we just have to figure out which ones and how much and i think we will do that so relief is on the way. i like the approach of sending the money directly to the taxpayers because if you just take away the gas tax, the oil companies get a tax break, not necessarily the drivers in california. >> phil tang, it's a pleasure to have you. thank you. >> it's a pleasure. >> earmarks are way for members of congress to request funding for specific projects and they have been banned since 2011. this week earmarks made the return. out of the $1.5 trillion budget the president right inside on tuesday telephone you will get $766 million for projects including construction at naval bases and replenishment in
southern california. the roughly 100 million is coming to the bay area for healthcare education and transportation projects. i am joined now by the severance of the chronicles washington correspondent, tal copen. hello. >> hello. are you having me. >> and politics and government senior editor for kqed, scott shaver. >> hello. >> what is going on with the earmarks? they were done with in 2011 because republicans were worried they engendered corruption. are they back now because democrats have more power? >> in part. yes. that's a simple answer. it wasn't just democrats that wanted to see earmarks come back. at the end of the day a lot of republicans ended up asking for earmarks in the process that unfolded. for the past decade plus it has been exceedingly difficult for congress to pass spending bills. there has just been a lot of
stalemate and short-term extensions and that type of thing. one suspicion in shington has been the demise of earmarks made more difficult because being able, whether it is a bridge in your district or a community health center or whatever it might be, being able to get those sort of small dollar things to come to the district that are big impacts for the district was key for lawmakers to show they were doing something. and get incentive and votes, we have branded community project funding. they had to be transparently requested. members had assigned an affirmation that they had no financial interest in the project. they are officially back as of this most recent government funding bill. >> walk us through some of the projects in california. i know there are several that are all over the state. maybe highlight a few of them for us. we know where some of the money
is going. >> it really is going to a wide range of things. people from san francisco ma be pleased to know there are $2 million coming to cable cars. there was a renewal effort and senator dianne feinstein required did money for cable cars. to show the breath you're there is also money going to the efforts to restore the forest off the coast that has been ravaged by climate change and the growth of urchins. there is money coming to a marine mammal center. there is money coming, actually a lot of projects that are healthcare related. many of them are mental health services or crisis services. efforts to help those facing housing and security or food insecurity. the safe disco food bank will t the money. that was speaker pelosi's request for her district. úso i projects. >> that is fascinated to hear
about. i want to pick up on one element you're talking about which is mental health care. scott, i want to talk to you on this. this week governor gavin newsom spoke with us here and one of our colleagues about the care court proposal that he is putting forward. are there more details that came out from this conversation? is there funding, structure by this proposal? >> not yet. for this to happen the legislature will have to take it up with a bill that will have to be passed. right now there is no legislation. what we have is a broad outline of the governortalked about that on for him this week. everyone agrees the status quo is not working. you can see on the streets of severance is going los angeles and san diego even rural parts of san diego. in california. the idea is to create a process where people who really need help, were unable to take care of themselves can be put into care with supervision and representation from a public defender. the problem is we don't know exactly what the care will look like, how much it will cost, for example we have a very strained mental health system
right now in california that is inadequate. if you will lay on top of that these care courts, you will need more treatment beds, more providers, you'll need public defenders. because that is part of the ideas that they would have someone to represent them in court as to whether or not abuses. none of that is clear. it's what we have is a broadbrush outline of something and some agreement from republicans who know the status quo is broken and clearly not working. california has only spent $14 billion in the past two years on housing and things like that. there is not much to show for it. so that is the reluctance on the part of some. do we really want to throw more money at something without knowing exactly how you will be spent and have accountability. >> i have heard ntal health advocates seeing these folks did need, do not need to be pushed into court advocate of restrictions or care. they need support and services where they are right now. >> i think the governor would
agree with that. they want to keep it local. they don't want to be coming from on high. but i think in the past there have been abuses of this. there have been institutionalization scans people's will. no one wants to see that happen again. disability rights folks and civil rights advocates are concerned there will be abuses if there are not guardrails on úthis program. so we have to see exactly what the details are that will becoming more clear in the next úfew weeks or months. >> let's turn to rising gas prices. this week we are looking at $5.80 a gallon up over last friday. it seems like prices have not gone up quite as high this week but there are still record highs. let's talk a little bit about the efforts coming out of the california legislature to give money back to folks who are hurting at the pump and hurting at home. >> there is a lot of pain and this is an election year. they're hearing from constituents and legislators and the governor want to do something about this.
prices are high. we've all seen the price of gasoline, or will go down but we have not seen it at the pump. republicans are saying, let's have a gas tax holiday. there is a $.51 per gallon tax. let's get rid of that for a while. democrats don't like that idea because they say there is no guarantee the money will go to consumers. so a group of assembly democrats said, let's give a $400 check to all californians who pay taxes and that will help with gas prices, and anything else people are struggling to pay for. the governor kind of has something in the middle he wants to send cash to people but people who have vehicles. people who are feeling the pain at the pump because they drive for living or just to get around. i think every one agrees something is to be done. there is a big surplus in sacramento. so some form of rebate will go back to consumers but it is a question of how big, who will
get it, and the mechanism? one reason democrats don't want to do the tax holiday is a lot of the revenue goes for roads and bridges and projects democrats and republicans like. >> let's talk about funding coming out of dc. nancy pelosi, speaker pelosi is unhappy is not coming. this is specifically for covid- 19 relief. democrats are pushing for more covid-19 relief funding to come but that is not on its way. what is happening? >> last week when there were all of these last-minute, always last-minute discussions to try and get a federal funding package together, originally the plan was to include $15 billion for further covid-19 aid support but there were offsets including client back previously unspent money that was sent to cities and states for relief in the past. it was a democratic revolt and reportedly it has speaker pelosi pretty steamed up because she is the negotiator and she is only as powerful as her ability to say, i will bring my members to the table and have the still be announced
and then to have members basically defy her and say, we will not vote for it because of these offsets, it really rattled her up. we saw that in our press conference. she was fired up about this. but she also said the money is coming. it was sort of an odd split screen at her most recent press conference this week. she was asked about how this funding will be worked out. she said they will have to find the money and the offset but it was in the same breath that she was explaining her own exposure to covid-19 the night before where ireland's prime minister who was in town, they were having a big dinner and in the middle of the dinner he was pulled out because his pcr test came back and he had been positive for covid-19. and he was sitting right next to speaker pelosi. she said he was pulled out in the middle of advertisers.
it is flying around dc. president obama tested positive in a number of others have. there are a lot of positive tests in washington and the white house that if they don't get this money it will be really dire. people will have to pay out-of- pocket for things like vaccines and treatments. they are really sounding the alarm that they absolutely need this money. >> we are also hearing new waves may be coming. the numbers are starting to tick up in the uk. we tend to be a few weeks by them. so there are concerns i can start to spread again here. last, i have been super groggy this week because daylight savings time, right? this started this week and it has taken me a little while to catch up. i don't know about how you all are doing with daylight savings. does it bother you at all? >> i like the daylight but we all hate that saturday night where we have to spring forward and lose an hour. it's always better in the fall. the whole thing is kind of silly. there is a realization that it is really from a bygone era
when we were more an agrarian culture and the economy in the senate passed unanimously something to get rid of it. it will go to the house. california has done something similar. >> i want go back to what happened in california. tell us what happened in the senate. it's it sounds like it's next to >> technically it passed by unanimous consent. i think this is a great lesson in how washington works. i think it sounds to most people like it passed unanimously. but it's not like there was a vote. to sometimes washington things past through this grinding donna britt consensusbuilding process where you squeak out the vote for this one did not come from a vote. there is also a mechanism to pass in the senate and house where someone basically stands up on the senate floor when they're in session and says, i
ask for unanimous consent that this happened. and no one stands up at that moment and objects, so it will be. legislation actually passes that easily sometimes. apparently what happened here, and there is a process for this. it's called hot whining. every office is supposed to be notified of the exact time that someone makes his request. you are not supposed to sneak one by because they were not paying attention. >> apparently it sounds like that happen here. >> that's right.? we will have to leave it there. talk open, think of her being on. and politics and government senior editor, scott schaefer. thank you. >> thank you. >> turning to a final story of the show, whether it is light or dark outside pinball lovers of the bates to make a pilgrimage to the pacific pinball museum in alameda. machines from throughout the decades are on display in is week's look at something
captioning sponsored by wnet >> sreenivasan: on this edition for sunday, march 20: russia bombards ukraine as the ground war slows and president zelensky calls for peace talks. the state of texas faces challenges after redrawing the lines for congressional and state districts. >> communities of color in fort bend county were really just right on the edge of being able to win political power. across the board in texas, what you see is the creation of these suburban rural districts. >> sreenivasan: and author poet claudia rankine on her new play about race and privilege. >> if people were privileged but-- and were not also in control of the government and also in control of my possibilities as an american citizen, i.e. my voting rights, my all of that, then it wouldn't matter so much. then we woulst
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