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tv   This Week in Northern California  PBS  January 19, 2013 12:30am-1:00am PST

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comprehensive immigration reform and gun control take front and center on the political stage. with preparations for the presidential inauguration under way in washington, scott shafer reports from the nation's capital where he's been talking to california lawmakers about their hopes for legislation. >> there's got to be some way for the 11 million people who are here without their papers to somehow get right with the law. >> what's next for the debate in congress? as the debt ceiling hovers over head? plus governor jerry brown up close and personal. in an exclusive interview with pbs "newshour's" spencer michels. >> it drives me crazy when people say, you haven't done anything. should we cut the colleges more
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and pump it into the prisons? >> our spotlight on politics coming up next. good evening. welcome to "this week in northern california." with the presidential inauguration coming up on monday, and major developments this week on gun control and immigration reform, we focus tonight on politics from california to washington, d.c. we'll hear from governor jerry brown later in the program. and to help analyze it all, we're joined in studio by carla marinucci, "san francisco
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chronic chronicle" senior political reporter." debra saunders, "san francisco chronicle" conservative columnist. scott shafer, host of the "california report" joining us from washington, d.c. scott, let's start with you. you've been talking to our california lawmakers this week on the push for immigration reform. is there progress on comprehensive reform, and what are you hearing from our congressional officials? >> well, it seems like the stars are aligning for immigration reform. something significant to happen in this session. no legislation yet, of course, but there is a lot of conversations that are happening. i spoke this week with south bay democrat who's on a subcommittee taking up this issue as part of the judiciary committee. i asked her what's happening and how likely is it that we're going to get something done on immigration reform? here's what she had to say. >> there's got to be some way for the 11 million people who are here without their papers to somehow get right with the law.
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right now, i mean, if you commit an offense other than immigration, you can, you know, pay a penalty and move on with you life. not so with immigration. right now, for example, we have 2 million migrant farm workers about in the united states. 70% to 80% of them are here without their papers. we have 5,000 permanent residence visas for people without a college diploma. we have husbands and wives that are separated for half a decade. that's not acceptable. we need to reform the system for the economy and for american families. >> and what she told me is this is a real imperative. what's new, it also is now an imperative for republicans. the election results from last november made clear the republican party needs a message for latino, asian-americans and immigrant groups if they have any chance of recapturing the
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white house. >> scott, this is carla marinucci. what's your thoughts on this? we've seen paul ryan, marco rubio extend a hand to president obama so to speak and suggest they are ready to talk about immigration reform. what's the biggest hurdle here? >> well, i think the biggest hurdle in the end is going to be politics, of course, but the issue of citizenship. what marco rubio outlined this week and last weekend is very close to what president obama talked about in 2011. and so i think that will provide some cover for other republicans. when you've got someone like marco rubio, a rising star in the party, paul ryan, saying we're ready to do a deal here, but the devil is in the details as they always say. democrats feel very emboldened on this issue, and they're going to sort of, you know, swing for the fences. they want full legal status, including citizenship for undocumented immigrants and it's not clear how far republicans will go to do that. >> scott, it is clear that they're listening because
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senator rubio had before only supported very small steps in the immigration reform debate, a series of small bills. he did not want a big sweeping bill. now he's sort of changing his tune a little bit saying, you know what, i might support that. i wanted to drive this home for california as well. carla, what role do you see california playing in this immigration debate? >> well, california is home to the largest number of undocumented immigrants. an estimated 3 million of them. this is a place where the dream act is going to be an issue. we've seen the organizing that's gone on on immigration. political pressure for president obama has come right out of california. california is going to play a role in this absolutely. there's no question. >> scott, i have a question. >> i would add if you look at -- if you look at some of the congressional races in this past election where you have ami berra, first generation indian-american knocking off dan lungren. and raul ruiz in the coachella
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valley. both of those elections sent a strong signal where california is on this issue. >> scott, do you think the first bill will come from the senate or the house? who's going to act first? >> well, at this point i think the house is being very cautious and in some ways they're saying, you know, why don't you go first and see what you can get through? and i think that they don't want to stick their necks out too far. but what's been happening in the house in the last week or two with the sandy relief passing and also the deal to avoid the fiscal cliff, it really, those things had more democratic votes than republicans, and a lot of sensitive, you know, that happens to john boehner too many times his speakership could be in trouble. so my guess is it will come from the senate, but you've got zoe meeting quietly with a republican from florida talking about details they can bring back to their colleagues. i think actually this is one of these issues where people in both houses are going to want to
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take credit for being outfront on this issue. i think you're going to see a spate of bills coming forward. >> scott, this is a hot issue. lots of legislators as you mentioned are jumping on the bandwag bandwagon. the lawmakers you talked to in washington, how hopeful are they there will be a bipartisan deal reached this time around? immigration has been attempted before and it's failed. >> i think there is a lot of hope. as i said, the stars kind of are aligning on this, not only do you have republicans willing to come to the table and talk seriously about a major reform of immigration law, you've also got traditionally republican-leaning groups like agriculture. i talked to somebody from the western growers association this week who's really pressuring republicans on this. you've got religious groups. you've got the chamber of commerce and business interests in california and elsewhere who are really going to push the republicans to come to the table and do something meaningful so that the legal status of this 11 million people in the united states will be clarified and so they can get jobs, they can go
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to school, and get more integrated into society. >> i think one other point that could be made is the other big changes that the democrats are doing something, when barack obama first ran for president in 2008, he promised his first year he would push a comprehensive immigration reform bill. he just didn't do it. this time he got 71% of the latina vote and a lot of latinos were saying, wait a minute, you promised, you didn't deliver, you better do it this time. while you're seeing a lot of republicans stepping up to the plate, you're also seeing democrats getting serious. >> there's another issue, too. scott, i think you're seeing the public opinion on this issue has really shifted in the last couple years. a new public opinion tragedy poll this week shows 87% of americans support some kind of path to citizenship. republicans are hearing that message as well. >> that's an interesting point. >> coming back to debra's -- >> as a conservative columnist for "the chronicle" what is at stake for republicans in this
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debate? >> go ahead, scott. >> i'm sorry. i think, just to debra's point, latinos really are tired, they say they're being used as a wedge. the fact immigration reform didn't happen was sort of helpful to the democrats in the 2012 election, but i think now they want something done. they're tired of being used and taken for granted and the pressure is really going to be on the democrats as well to get something done. >> yeah, i mean, i just think that's an important point. i think republicans, i mean, you've got on the one hand you've got people who feel if people break the law there should be more consequences. you've seen that in the base. that was sort of the mitt romney stance. look, big business has an interest in having immigration reform. the party has an interest in reaching out to minority voters and to new immigrants. you know, look it, i think it's natural for the party. people come here. they come here to work and to be successful and republicans should be reaching out to these folks. they're natural republican voters. >> another big issue this week, of course, for the republicans
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and the democrats, gun control. president obama introduced a whole slate of bills. very sweeping reform what he has in mind. carla, what impact is this debate having on california democrats? >> well, you know, in california we already have some of the toughest gun laws in the nation and we have had for more than a decade. but with this proposal, presents a dilemma to some democrats in california, particularly in swing districts. scott mentioned ami berra, jerry mcnerney in the bay area who are in districts where they've had tough elections or re-elections and they're going to have to face constituents again in the midterms. so this issue is a little bit of a delicate dilemma. they're going to be carefully watching i think to see what the proposals are and for people in the senate, not just in california, look, harry reid in nevada, who is an nra supporter, who's had the nra's support. this is going to be a very tough challenge for him to take on. and he's already sort of making
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noise that at this point, wait a minute, we're going to have to look at all these proposals. some of them like the checks, background check, really have much more sort of universal support. other things like the assault weapons ban, much tougher to get through. >> i mean, this is harry reid's biggest nightmare having the senate go first on assault weapons ban. this is not something he wants to bring up. i don't think he's, you know, my guess is there are a number of moderate democrats who come from states that are pro-gun states and they, i mean, we know that the last time that washington passed an assault weapons ban, that hurt democrats on the ballot the next time. and this is not a battle everyone in the democratic leadership wants. >> let's bring us now to the local level. i want to bring scott back into this, because i know that you've also talked to our local mayors, oakland mayor gene quan and san francisco mayor ed lee. they're in washington, they're there for the u.s. conference of mayors. how much of this debate actually affects us at the local level? cities like oakland, where there
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were four homicides within six hours last friday? where the crime rate for serious crimes has climbed 23% in the last year alone? does it have that much of an impact at the local level? >> look, well, it does. i mean, these mayors met in washington, the u.s. conference of mayors and joe biden spoke to them this week. and, yeah, i mean, they are desperate to have something done. i think what i'm hearing from nancy pelosi and also ed lee and gene quan is they want to see law enforcement officials, sheriffs, police chiefs and police cops on the street. people who have more credibility. people who buy guns to protect the public, essentially, to be really front and center in this debate because they feel that those constituencies can be more effective in talking to republicans. i mean, let's face it, oakland, san francisco, all the bay area delegation is going to be for gun control legislation. whether it's the assault ban or background checks or anything else. but i think something -- some new voices need to come forward and really be mobilized behind
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the president in order to move some of these republican votes and democrats in tough districts. >> so, scott, serious issues aside, i mean, let's not forget there's an inauguration happening as well in washington. taking place really amid much history. it's the 50th anniversary of the "i have a dream" speech by dr. martin luther king. it's also on martin luther king holiday. what's the mood there in washington? >> well, i have to tell you, it's a little quiet. i walked by the white house earlier today, and they were still putting up the reviewing stand. there were some folks there. some, you know, very excited. talking to the cab driver on the way over here to the studio tonight, he's saying, yeah, it seems really quiet. i mean, people are definitely coming into town and congress members say they've gotten rid of all the tickets. that they had more people asking for tickets than they could help. so, i mean, but there's no question that it is a little subdued compared to four years ago. last time, of course, there was a new president, new first
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family. it was a historic election. i think this time it's a little more subdued because there's a little more realism and the level of hope and the expectations are a little lower which may, in fact, be helpful to barack obama in his second term because the expectations the first time were just so sky high. >> we've had some reality checks obviously and just real quickly, scott, did you bring your gucci tux for the inauguration? >> forget about the inauguration. i'm going to the california fashion show tomorrow. by the california society. yes. and let me tell you, some of the fashion a-listers who are going to be there, mayor chuck reid from san jose is going, gene quan. >> and you're going to look so much better than all of them, my dear. >> you look like you've already been there. >> nice plaid shirt, my man. thanks for giving us an inside look for washington. great to have you with us. >> you bet. thank you. let's turn the focus back to california. governor jerry brown says he's fixed the state budget by increasing taxes and keeping a
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tight rein on spending. he declared an end to the state's prison crisis. correspondent spencer michels sat down with the governor earlier this week in an interview for the pbs "newshour." in this segment, they discuss whether california is really out of the woods and the governor's plans for the future. >> governor jerry brown, thanks very much for talking with us. >> sure. >> governor, proposition 30 in california was sold that it would help the schools and almost exclusively help the schools. are the california schools out of the woods? >> you say out of the woods. we live in the woods, so we don't get out of the woods. but the money is definitely going to the schools. it's very helpful. we're paying down the debt. the state took in borrowing $2.7 billion from the schools and over the next five years we're going to pay back our debts to the schools from the state and they're going to see per kid
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over about $2,300 per kid for all 6 million kids in california. it's going to help. >> oh, sure it's going to help, but we have to do other things. i have a formula to distribute the money if the legislation approves so that where there are more foster care kids, where there are more kids who are dependent, who are from poor families or who don't speak english as their first language, that they will, over time they will get a larger share of the new money. >> you said you'd give more money to school districts like richmond and less to a district like piedmont. >> give more to everybody, but as the growth each year which will be significant, we're talking lots of money to the schools. the growth to the lower income school districts will be greater than the higher income. by the way, here's the sense. you give richmond or poor neighborhoods in oakland, you
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don't get to go to europe for easter or hawaii. you don't get the whole affluence and attention that you get. so what i'm trying to do is just in a small way balance and compensate. by the way, almost a majority now of kids either don't speak english fluently or are from w low-income families. >> you mentioned city of oakland. >> yeah. >> over the last weekend, oakland had four homicides. i think with guns. the gun issue is on the national plate right now. the big debate. what do you think california ought to do with guns? are you going to press for more gun control laws? >> we'll have, first of all, california is the leading state. we have more gun control than any other state. and i'm proud of that. in fact, i signed a few gun control bills my first two years. >> so you favor essentially gun control and more gun control? >> well, i want to see what it is. just more of something doesn't
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mean better. there are some holes. we're not covering all the assault weapons that we should. >> last week you talked a lot about california prisons. you essentially told the federal government, back off, we can take care of our own prisons. and yet the whole reason for the federal lawsuit against california was that you weren't taking care of the prisons, the health care in the prisons was inadequate. there were too many inmates in there. >> yep. >> are you saying, go away, federal government, we've cured it? >> we spent a lot of money. california now spends over $15,000 per inmate on health care. the average in prisons is about $5,000. we're spending three times more. we weren't doing that ten years ago. so we're throwing massive amounts of money hiring psychiatrists, doctors or raising their salaries. we're building magnificent state-of-the of art hospitals. we're doing a hell of a lot and people are saying, nothing's happening. what to you mean nothing's
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happening? we've gone from 300 million to over 2 billion. every year. this is money. it's just really drives me crazy when people say, oh, you haven't done anything. should we cut the colleges more and pump it into the prisons? we are giving health care that i would venture to say everyone or at least the vast majority who go to prison will never get again. they never got it before. they'll never get it again. i know the judges, some of them want to let more prisoners out. we've already reduced the prisons by 43,000. they want to add another 9,000. i don't think that's smart and i don't think the law requires it. and moreover, i think the management of a prison is quintessentially an executive function. >> let me ask you this. you have proposed two very expensive programs. a tunnel under the delta for water and a high-speed rail that are going to cost billions of dollars. don't these fall under the category of too much spending?
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>> this is fundamental. this is like oxygen. it's water. it's the basis of so much of our economy and our life and the $14 billion or whatever it's going to take will be paid by the users. the wealth created in a year in california is about $2 trillion. if you take a big project, whether it be water or high-speed rail, that project is going to be around for 50, 75 years. when you say a project, well, it's $65 billion, that is for the next 50 years, so in reality, it's a fraction of the wealth that is generated. and, in fact, they both contribute to and preserve the wealth that we're all going to want to rely on in the years to come. >> there are some people who say, well, look, jerry brown wants to build more water projects, wants to build a high-speed rail, because that's going to be his legacy, because his father had a legacy of building water and improving the universities. is this legacy thing part of your psyche? >> i never heard of legacy.
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when i was governor the first time. no one ever, not one reporter in eight years said, what about this legacy thing? what the legacy is, i think the role of california governors in history books is minimal. now, people always want to psychologyize. why do you do this? why did you become governor? why didn't you become fireman? it's a silly story. i'm here. i'm here because i like it. i know this job pretty well and i want to do the best i can in the years that i have. >> thanks very much, governor jerry brown. >> thank you. >> and the governor does predict a rosier outlook for schools but wants to change the formula for how schools get money. he also says the water tunnel and high-speed rail are key investments in california's future. and carla and debra, i want to throw this question out to both of you beginning first with debra. how successful do you think the governor's proposals will be? he's enjoying some so-called political capital right now.
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will that be enough to push these projects through? >> well, i think the question is what's going to happen to the california economy? because with proposition 30's passage, he now has a tax revenue he wanted. of course, the economy has to pick up for that to really take off and give him what he needs. we have the third highest unemployment rate in the country. that's going to be, i think, the key thing to what's happening. you know, california has been through, like, this great downsizing. everything has. and i think this puts brown in a great position right now. he goes to the -- this is what jerry brown's great at. i'm going to get rid of the cell phones for a lot of the state employees. i mean, he understands what people are looking for the government to do. the sort of symbolic gestures. he spends 6 1/2 hours just one day with the regents and he talks about how bloated the university of california administration is. >> this just show, i mean, what a unique political figure jerry brown is. this interview shows it. this guy, he came back after 30
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years in office and he is knocking it out of the park right now. >> he seems to get it now. >> absolutely. >> he seems to know how to be governor. >> republicans are seeing him now as the adult in the room in this state. somebody who can maybe keep the democrat supermajority in line. and somebody who can say, i'm not letting more people out of prison. >> and the federal three-judge panel when he said, we let out enough inmates, it's about time this stops. he's governor. every time an inmate gets out and reoffends, that's a newspaper story about how they're letting too many people out of prison. he's the person whose name is on it. >> he's implementing obama's health care plan. he's been very cautious about the gun control thing. he doesn't go out and give the democratic line on it necessarily. >> easily he came out and said, i'm going to be a key player in immigration reform as well. >> immigration reform. >> to the educators he basically said, get your costs in line and maybe you better do more online classes because we can't afford to pay you anymore. we're not going to raise tuition. >> he says, yeah, you got some
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prop 30 money. if you want more, get your act together, teach more, research less. i want to ask you about the supermajority in the legislature. he's governor. the democrats have a supermajority in both houses of the legislator. >> that's not a great time to be governor when you have that many democrats and you're a democrat. they all think we can spend a lot of money. >> he said it's not a blank check. >> he has to actually -- he's the person who has to say, and this is -- republicans are looking to jerry brown to do it. he's a wonderful cheapskate. he's famously cheap. so it's not -- this is not going to be fun for him. he's going to be governor no. that's not the role -- >> that's right. he's more likely to play that role. that's why i think as a political figure he is the governor to watch in this country right now. on all those key issues. immigration, guns, climate change is another one. you know, we talked about water. infrastructure. this whole legacy issue is going to shape what happens, but you're right, the democrats are going to try and push him every
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way to spend more money and not necessarily are they going to get what they want out of jerry brown. >> and, debra, real quickly, former state senator says he now wants to vie for state gop chairman. what kind of relationship does he have with the governor? >> jim gets along with everybody in sacramento. that's one of the reasons why he's sort of an ideal chairman. he is a realist. he wants to get moderates into the party. he's not just -- he's not somebody who's just in the base sort of talk to himself. he's sick of the circular firing squad. so i think jim brolty is sort of kind of old-fashioned politics that we all now talk about that's so great. >> republican party is in the cellar in california, lowest level ever, 30% of the voters. this is a huge job for anybody. a lot of people feel if anybody can do it, jim can. he has lot of respect, a lot of contacts and donors. >> the chairmanship gets filled in march. thank you both for joining us. great to have you on the show.
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carla marinucci and debra saunders. that's all for tonight. visit us at for past episodes and segments, to subscribe to our pod cast and to share your story ideas. thanks for watching. good night.
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