tv This Week in Northern California PBS May 1, 2011 4:00pm-4:30pm PDT
captioning by vitac, the political standoff between spending cuts and taxes as the state's democratic convention kicks off. proposition 8 sponsors want federal judge vaughn walker's ruling thrown out, citing a conflict of interest due to his sexual orientation. apple addresses privacy concerns over tracking files and phones and other mobile devices. and the controversy over bringing the rotc back to stanford university. bringing the rotc back to stanford university. all coming up next. captioning by vitac, underwritten by fireman's fund
>> belva: good evening, i'm belva davis and welcome to "this week in northern california." joining me now on our news panel are troy wolfe ton, personal technology columnist for "san jose americay news." bob egelko, legal reporter, san francisco chronicle, and carla march new which i, also with san francisco chronicle. the senior leadership is assembling, these guys should be happy but the state where it is, what are the many concerns that will be discussed?
>> yeah, democrats meeting this week in sacramento. you're right, belva, they have a lot to be happy about. they have every statewide office. they have a voter advantage of more than 2 million in california. i mean, this is a party that should be celebrating a lot, except this hangup for their governor, harry brown, he needs just a handful of republican votes to get him those budget proposals in front of voters to california and it has not happened. i think this weekend we'll see drama up there. all of the statewide elected officials there will be, attorney general, gavin newsom and dianne feinstein will give the address on friday but the party will hear from brown on sunday and i think brown will have to give them tough love and say, look, we have to come to some agreement with the republicans and you all are going to have to give up a little more, more than you want.
there's a lot of concern in the democratic ranks. the labor people, when we're talking about pensions, and already we're seeing ads from the california teachers association up on tv, taking about do not cut education anymore. he's getting pressure from those groups and he will get it there. and we're going to see what kind of address he delivers and how tough he gets to them this weekend. because we have begun to hear some of what is the democratic strategy going forward or how they're starting to pressure the republicans, both bill and senate leader dennis steinberg talked about, well, maybe we can do outsized cuts in the republican district. that is, if the republicans are so opposed to tax increasing or taxextensions, maybe their districts can be cut back on in public services. we're hearing that argument being floated and, of course, the republicans are starting to
already -- >> is that legal? could they do that, say, orange county you're not going to get as much as alameda county? >> that's an interesting question. i'm not sure because all of these legislators are saying, enough already with this discussion, that is, if you republicans really want less government, let's have less government in your districts. you know, the republicans are going to have to come back. brown had two polls this week that had some good news for him. that is, the polls showed that people do -- by a 60% margin do want this proposal on the ballots so they can weigh in on it. >> belva: a proposal to? >> he's proposed a combination of cuts, which have already been made and five years of tax extensions, vehicle license, sales tax and personal tax. and the republicans have just opposed those tax extensions and many of them have signed no new tax pledges.
they say they will never go for it. but the fact s i did see the governor in the silicon valley this week. he has the approval of business groups all around the state. and they want to see this go forward, too. so republicans are getting pressure. brown now needs to make his case to his base up in sacramento this weekend. >> well, we've heard this. ever since brown got in office, well, he's going to pressure the republicans. he's going to meet with businesses, sheriffs, whoever. republicans don't press. meantime the polls, at least the ones i saw, seem to say maybe there's less of an attraction to voting on taxes that, you know, we are going to pay. now there seems to be to tax the rich. any thoughts in the democratic party or any of their allies to put that before the voters? >> this is where it's going to be interesting to see how much pressure brown gets. there's absolutely a feeling among base democrats that this
is where brown should go. there is the public support for increasing taxes on the wealthiest californians, republicans are fighting that one tooth and nail. many democrats also want to see taxes on oil, taxes -- more taxes on corporations. the republicans are fighting that, saying that would hurt economic recovery in california. and brown has tried to, you know, be right down the middle and try to appeal to both sides on this. he really has done an awful lot of lobbying work among republicans. >> he has no leverage with them, though. >> i'm not- i sense something is moving there because in silicon valley this week he still seems very hopeful something's going to happen. he's getting with these big business groups behind him, who the republicans are listening to. when you have silicon valley leadership, the 350 ceos in silicon valley, that'sen a group you just want to ignore. >> given the sentiment you're starting to hear from democrats about, let's tax the rich, let's
not do these cuts, how much flexibility are -- is the democratic party, the democratic rank and file going to give brown to allow him to have the flexibility to meet the demands of these two republicans? >> yeah, i mean, that is the question. flexibility particularly on the issue of pension reform. that's where brown is facing the most pressure from republicans. and he'll be facing it up there among the democrats who are going to fight that. any efforts to cut back pensions or givebacks, anything we saw brown get an awful lot of heat this week on the prison guards, 30,000 prison guard union in a deal, at least a proposal for a deal made there. so, it's -- he's really between a rock and a hard place on this. i think that's the drama going forward. how does he handle all these groups? >> i guess if there's anything coming out of this, that it doesn't really matter much if you're a majority. if you have an opposition that is solidly stands together as minority.
well, we also have a new development in another case we thought was sort of on the way settled, probably on its way to the supreme court. and that is proposition 8, which was the initiative that banned gay marriages. this week a new charge against the judge who wrote the decision to overturn proposition 8. >> yeah. the sponsors of proposition 8 insist is not that vaughn walker is gay and, therefore, had a built-in bias. they say, no, we're not saying that a gay or lesbian couldn't judge this fairly. it's that he has had a partner, a long-time partner, a ten-year partner, and maybe they'll get married and that gives him a stake in the case. at least he hasn't disavowed it. he kind of confirmed that in a meeting with -- >> belva: not that he's going to get married? >> no, i'm sorry, that he had a partner. after he left the bench at the end of february, he met with the
president, felt freer to talk about the case than when he was a judge. the question about his sexual orientation and partner came up, fairly well known but never out of his mouth, so the proponents say all we had before was rumor and speculation. my only newspaper was clearly the first source of it. nevertheless, now he's gone public. he should have said it before. he should have disclosed it. this at least would have allowed us to, you know, to make a timely challenge. >> belva: what was it about it that said he should have -- unless he was planning and knew in his heart he was going to get married? >> their argument was that the potential that he would marry his partner is something that they should have been able to know in advance so they could decide whether or not to -- you know, to challenge it, because this is something that in the language of the law a reasonable
person might consider as evidence of appearance of partiality. not bias but the appearance of it. of course, that's what they filed. that's now going to go before judge walker's successor who will hear it in june. >> under this argument, i guess, if you take it to the logical extension only an unmarried, asexual judge is qualified. who's qualified? you could take this to any number of cases. in is an after-can american qualified to listen to civil rights cases, a woman -- >> how far does it go? change the facts some. let's say judge walker, which he has not said, intended to marry his partner. or had tried to. or had a marriage license application pending. i mean, everybody pays taxes. that doesn't mean a judge is, you know -- suppose there's a narrow tax that only applies to a few judges or suppose you're
undisclosed personal friendship with the vice president or anything like that, not to name any names, if you change the facts enough, it might be a specific enough possibility. >> but in this instance, isn't a heterosexual married judge equally as disqualified under this argument? >> it could be. the premise of proposition 8 was to allow gay and lesbians to marry affected the children. on the other hand, that applies to everybody. the notion of a conflict is, it's got to be fairly narrow and apply to you specifically. that financial conflict, that friendship, that marriage license application, which no one seems to have found any evidence that exists. let's just say that the legal commentators who have been quoted so far don't seem to set too much thought in the notion of a conflict or the idea that they couldn't have raised this earlier. you know, why just raise it after you've lost the case? it kind of sounds like sour grapes. we don't know how judge weir
will feel about this. he'll have to judge a fellow judge and might be tough to say that he had that conflict. >> i was going to ask that. how are the courts likely to look on this? it seems there's an institutional bias on the part of the court, not to overrule another judge on whether or not he thinks he that he has a conflict. >> that's right. i think the odds are against a judge saying anything like that, but that said perhaps this is aimed at the big bench in washington where it's ultimately headed. it's in the ninth circuit on the merits of judge walker's ruling and it could be they're trying to lobby the supreme court in advance that besides everything else in the case we had a biased judge. they've already overruled judge walker on the question of televising the trial. this could just be intended to send a message. >> belva: let's just say judge walker ended up in that position because of the lottery effect. >> which he did. >> belva: on a computer. now we have judge james weir who's an african-american. he also ended up in that same
position because of that, is that how -- >> he is succeeding judge walker as chief and he was assigned all of judge walker's cases. walker himself drew the case by random draw at the start like all these cases are assigned. it just was happenstance. now months and months after the ruling, it's being challenged on the ground of bias. i should say -- i should mention also the same prop 8 proponents are saying judge walker illegally -- took and played videos of the trial and they're trying to get those confiscated from him as well. >> there seems to be no confusion about your story, troy, apple has done something a lot of people are upset about and that's a tracking file inside of your iphone and other devices, i assume. >> right. yes, there's a big controversy that sprang up last week when two researchers at a conference in santa clara announced they discovered this file on the iphone. which appears to keep track of
where that iphone has been over time. it turns out and the bigger controversy, people in forensic field, people that dig into files, hard drives on mobile phones, had known about this for a year and they had been using this file for quite a long time in legal cases, criminal matters and others. there is a little confusion and controversy over what this file was actually doing. apple took a week to address some of the concerns. they came out this week and said that the file was basically a bug. it was unintended. that it was collecting more data than it should have been collecting and that it -- that they're going to give users a way of not turning it on. and not backing it up onto their computers. >> belva: wait a minute. a bug unintended, apple? that doesn't sound --
>> in criminal cases? >> yeah. but my question is, how specific is the location? i mean, and it know we're in the kqed -- does my iphone know exactly where i am? how specifically could it pinpoint where we are? >> this file was not particularly precise. one of the thing apple noted in its statement is that it often had information about cell towers that were 50 or 100 miles from where people are. the forensic researchers i've talked to and people speaking at this conference said the data could be used to locate people and give you kind of a general idea where people are. you know, it's not extraordinarily precise but, you know, within, say, several miles or several hundred meters, probably, you could figure out where people are. certainly, that's the way it's been used in legal investigations, is to say, yes, a person was in this particular area or, no, they weren't in this particular area. >> what's the lesson here? that the more modern con
conveniences we get the more technological wizardry we use to make our lives more brighter or more keked to each other, the more we're inviting people we may not know to look over our shoulder? >> well, i think there's something to that. i mean, there's no evidence, that i've seen so far, that other phones are keeping this kind of log, this long-standing log. that was one of the objections to this file, is that it could contain data as much as a year old. there's no evidence so far that any other phone has this kind of log on it. but it is well known, and is becoming more known, that location data is being kept by all kinds of people. the wireless carriers have this information. apple and google say they do have this information, although they try to keep it anonymous. they say they keep it anonymous. and application providers have this information. application providers and mobile marketers they work with. many applications on your phone
are free. >> how did facebook get wrapped into this whole debate? >> facebook has been -- they weren't wrapped up in this debate precisely but facebook has obviously had a lot of privacy questions surrounding it. it's kind of something similar in the sense that people are sharing more and more information. the issues are similar in that people may be sharing information but not realizing how much information they're sharing and who has access to that information. so, they're sharing information unintentionally. people in the privacy community talk about informed consent and they would say in many cases users aren't getting informed consent or aren't giving informed consent. >> if the phone knows where we're at, what else does it know about us? >> well, gosh. each phone has a unique identifier. so that that particular phone is unique in the world. so, you can tie a unique identifier to the location. so you know precisely where a precise phone has been. in many cases you're using
services where they know things about you. like, you might have a facebook app on your phone. well, facebook knows who you are, where you live, knows your phone number. that type of information can all be tied together. >> belva: personal computer technology columnist here, you probably knew that's what he was going to say. it's time for this interesting conversation. to move on, but it is interesting. we'd like to have you back again to find out more of what we don't know. >> oh, dear. >> belva: well the rotc, reserve officer training corp, was banned from stanford university campus during the vietnam war but there is a controversial move to bring that program back as "newshour" correspondent spencer michels. >> reporter: if student at stanford want to join the rotc, they have to travel 16 miles to attend class at santa clara university.
>> carry on. carry on. >> reporter: stanford, like many private schools, severed ties with rotc 40 years ago. pushing it off kam pacampus. a situation that could be about to change. >> if you are an army officer you have a type "a" personality so you're all leaders. >> reporter: in the 1960s with the vietnam war raging, students and faculty at ute universities across the country made campus rotc programs the target of demonstrations. the mood was antiwar and antimilitary. at stanford the rotc building was burned down. ann thomp thompson is a stanford sister and commander in rotc. >> i think a lot of the reasons it wasn't really popular in the vietnam era, aren't really applicable to the debate today. >> reporter: the seven stanford cadets at santa clara get no
credit for rotc classes but most get their tuition paid, plus a monthly stipend and transportation between campuses. nationally nearly 500 rotc units have cross-town arrangements with nearby universities but those arrangements disturb. >> it precludes so many from participating. >> you could set up -- >> reporter: one reason stanford kept military training off kam pa was the military ban on gays. then in 1993 don't ask, don't tell, barred openly gay people from military service, including rotc. now with its repeal, although still not implemented, the debate has returned. harvard was the first private university to reverse policies that kept rotc off campus. stanford and other private colleges are debating the
issues. public university did not ban rotc, fearful of losing federal funds. at stanford the debate has been intense but unlike the '60s, polite. it began when former secretary of defense william perry, who now teaches at stanford, and others proposed moving rotc back into the academic fold. >> having a mixture of rotc students with rest of the students was a good thing, i thought. it was important for the stanford students to be exposed to the people who are going to be our future military leaders. >> reporter: with the u.s. military engage in at least two wars, perry is concerned that students at elite universities have become isolated from the men and women doing the fighting. merely a handful of stanford students have enrolled in the military in the last few years. >> we want citizens of the country to have something to say and participate in their army and not just the citizens from the lower ranks of society but
citizens who are going to elite colleges. >> reporter: despite a slight rise in college graduates entering the military recently, the numbers remain low, especially at elite schools like stanford. >> who is being court-martialed because -- >> reporter: history professor barton bernstein here teaching a seminar on nuclear war was a young antiwashing faculty who was active in demonstrations against rotc and is still fighting against it. >> the faculty would presumably be chosen by the pentagon and not the university. i have moral doubts about the presence of rotc. it's primarily teaching people how not to lead but how to fight and kill. >> reporter: education professor calan is part of the faculty formed to consider these arguments. he wonders if it impinges on
academic freedom. >> suppose have you an instructor teaching a course in international relations and decides that as the class assignment they will invite students to analyze some documents that have been made available through wikileaks. they're still classified documents. a student in rotc might jeopardize their future security clearance if they are required to examine one of those documents as a course requirement. >> reporter: but william perry is more concerned that the military be able to include in its ranks well-educated stanford students. >> they ought to be leaders, contributing to leaders in our military field as part of our country, as part of our democracy. >> reporter: professor bernstein, who was a cadet in the 1950s says true leadership is not the kind they teach in rotc. >> does leadership mean, element, column left, column right?
shoulder your rifles. parade rest. if that's leadership it's not something we should be teaching. if it's leadership with critical judgment, they're not allowed to criticize the commander in chief. >> don't debate tactics or techniques with a leader. if you're asked to give input, give it. if not, don't. >> reporter: but for an antiwar group putting up posters on campus, urging students not to support rotc, the issue was militaryism. >> it would be a u.s. military facility on our campus. >> it is in stanford and this country's interest to put the best into military, have them not only educated but also trained here. >> reporter: like the antiwar students, gay groups on campus also oppose the return of rotc. they say the repeal of don't ask, don't tell, didn't go far enough since it still allows discrimination against transgender people.
student association president angelina cardona thinks the exclusion of transgender people will play a surprisingly important role in stanford's decision on rotc. >> i'm personally pro military. my stepfather is a veteran. i would be thrilled to see the rotc return to stanford university. if they were willing to meet us halfway and to include all of our students in their organization and this unique opportunity. however, as it is now, they don't. >> reporter: the university president will now decide the fate of rotc at stanford following last night's full senate faculty recommendation. >> belva: so what's next? university president hennessey will begin discussions with the u.s. military about reestablishing the program at stanford. i thank all of you here for joining us tonight. and i thank you also. that's all we have for tonight.