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First Responders, Marcel the Shell, Juneteenth

CBS Sunday Morning / Jane Pauley
The Truth Network Radio
June 19, 2022 4:15 pm

First Responders, Marcel the Shell, Juneteenth

CBS Sunday Morning / Jane Pauley

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June 19, 2022 4:15 pm

Jane Pauley hosts this Father’s Day edition of “Sunday Morning.” Lesley Stahl reminds us that healthcare workers are still on the font-lines of this pandemic. Anthony Mason sits down with legendary dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov on his new production and Russian’s war in Ukraine. David Pogue introduces us to the viral sensation “Marcel the Shell.” Plus, Mark Whitaker takes us on a personal journey on this Juneteenth.

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Let's partner for all of it. Learn more at Good morning and happy Father's Day.

I'm Jane Pauley and this is Sunday Morning. Healthcare workers were hailed as heroes during the early days of the COVID pandemic. Who can forget the music and the applause from rooftops and windows as they'd head home after another exhausting shift at yet another hospital overrun with the desperately ill. Two and a half years later, the pandemic is far from over, though it does appear the worst is behind us.

And those men and women on the front lines, Leslie Stoll reminds us, are still on the front lines. This was New York in the spring of 2020. But inside one of the city's premier hospitals, an even more apocalyptic scene. Were you scared? We were terrified that we wouldn't be able to care for this surge of patients coming in. Every day was terrifying.

COVID combat ahead on Sunday morning. Dance legend Mikhail Baryshnikov is still on stage at age 74, but he has other matters on his mind in conversation with Anthony Mason this morning. Memories of a Russia he left a long time ago. It's been nearly 50 years since Mikhail Baryshnikov famously defected from the Soviet Union. Does it seem a long time ago?

No, it's been very fast. Now, as he stars in a new adaptation of a Russian classic, The Cherry Orchard, Baryshnikov has become harshly critical of his former homeland. How has it been for you to watch what's happening in Ukraine?

Horrific. Mikhail Baryshnikov later on Sunday morning. He's the viral sensation who's finally coming out of his shell. David Pogue will introduce us to Marcel the Shell, one marvelous mollusk.

My one regret in life is that I'll never have a dog. Marcel the Shell began life as a YouTube viral sensation. He's just a guy in a place.

He holds himself with a relaxed, easy dignity. It's not overblown. And now, Marcel the Shell is a movie. Coming up on Sunday morning, they're going to talk to the people that made the movie about me. I'm Marcel the Shell.

Marcel the Shell. On this Sunday morning of Juneteenth, Mark Whitaker takes us on a very personal journey. John Blackstone reports from San Francisco and tells us there's trouble in paradise.

Luke Burbank visits a Portland sports bar where every night is Ladies' Night. A story from Steve Hartman. And more on this Sunday morning for the 19th of June, 2022.

And we'll be back after this. It's not only Father's Day, it's our newest national holiday, Juneteenth, the day which brought freedom to the last of all enslaved people in the United States. That the two coincide has deeply personal significance for our Mark Whitaker.

Juneteenth celebrations have already started this weekend in Galveston, Texas, the city where the holiday has its roots. It was 157 years ago today, on June 19th, 1865, when Union General Gordon Granger went from the piers to downtown Galveston, reading General Order Number Three, which said that all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves. But it didn't happen until two years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. I have my own personal connection to this story. This is the grave site of my great-grandfather, Frank Whitaker, who was born enslaved in Texas in 1853. My great-grandfather was 11 when he was freed on Juneteenth. Frank Whitaker is buried alongside his wife, Della, and one of his daughters, Julia, who died when she was just one year old.

The tombstones are in a tiny, well-kept, all-black cemetery, down a dirt road just outside the town of Jewett, about halfway between Houston and Dallas. How are you? I'm okay. Great to see you. An hour away, in Waco, I met my second cousin, Bernice Bryant, for the first time. It's only recently that I've become aware of, you know, this part of the family.

Me too. So we're discovering each other after all this time. Frank Whitaker was also Bryant's great-grandfather, and she actually met him as a child, when he was in his 80s and had lost his sight. Do you know Frank Whitaker?

I've seen him one time. He was blind, and he got very upset because he went to crying. He cried. Because he was blind and he couldn't see us.

I sat down with Bernice, her daughter Angela Tyler, and Tyler's son, John Bible. For earlier generations, Juneteenth didn't really change things all that much. You had slaves that were freed, but really had nowhere to go. They didn't leave with a mule and land or anything like that. They remained sharecropping, you know. They didn't, like, venture out right immediately. They waited for years. They couldn't buy their land. They couldn't own their land.

Right. My great-grandfather stayed close to the land, but he was able to get some education. In the decades after Juneteenth, Frank Whitaker became a sharecropper on this white-owned land outside of Jewett. Most of his 13 children never left this area, but my grandfather, C. Sylvester Whitaker Sr., migrated north to Pittsburgh and became an undertaker. Before he died, he left this remembrance. My father, an ex-slave, was very highly respected by all who knew him. He became a fine statistician and historian. Anyone wanting to know anything about the history of Leon County would go to my father.

He wrote many articles for the Jewett Messenger, the village newspaper. Even into Bernice's generation, many Texas descendants of Frank Whitaker picked crops. You were all working as children with your parents, right? Yeah. Pick cotton, chop cotton. You were picking cotton? Yeah.

Pick cotton, chop cotton, thin cotton, you know all that. And back then, Juneteenth was just another day in the fields. You couldn't take a day off.

No, no, no. And then Papa Nomar would get something good to eat, you know, and then we would eat and go back to the fields. Go back to the fields on Juneteenth. Oh my God. Now, Juneteenth has spread from Texas into a national holiday.

And my newfound relatives have come a long way, too. Angela is the director of a daycare center, where Bernice also works. And John is the president and CEO of the Centex African American Chamber of Commerce, which boosts black businesses. He helps organize the Waco Juneteenth Celebration. What should Juneteenth stand for? I think it should be a time where you look back and see where we came from, and then celebrate where we are now, where we are trying to arrive. It being a federal holiday allows everyone to understand that there's a second Independence Day, a true Independence Day in America, where everyone, you know, has a right to opportunity and freedoms. That's truly an Independence Day. It's not only for just black people, but it's for America. We thank you for the new family that we have found. Juneteenth is surely about freedom.

But for me, this year, it's also about family. For Christ's sake, we pray. Amen.

Amen. Even in the best of times, their work is demanding and difficult. But in these times of COVID, Leslie Stahl tells us, for thousands and thousands of health care workers, the trauma seems to never end. As head of a top intensive care unit in New York City, Dr. Lindsey Leaf is no stranger to emergencies.

If the organs are failing and you need to be placed on life support, you come to us. How much death do you actually see? A lot. A lot.

A lot. But in March of 2020, she saw more deaths than she ever thought possible. As COVID stormed through New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell's 5 South. We heard about hospitals sort of crumbling in, like in Milan, and we heard from colleagues there that there were patients literally dying on the floors of hallways with no oxygen.

So we had that sort of fire in our belly, that that was not how it was going to be here. But by April, it was a war zone with constant incoming. The number of COVID patients soared. ICU beds more than doubled. To have hundreds and hundreds of patients with the same disease on maximal life support. I mean, I remember walking floor to floor to floor. You were part of the small group that turned the whole hospital.

Essentially into ICUs. Wow. That's breathtaking. What they saw in that hospital was so disturbing to them.

Some of them still haven't gotten over it two years later. Journalist Marie Brenner's new book, The Desperate Hours, describes New York Presbyterian's early heroic battle against the COVID pandemic. There were no vaccines, no antivirals. Doctors were confronting the utterly unknown.

When doctors of any caliber, but of this level of expertise, are confounded by a medical mystery, they are both enthralled, they are in full adrenaline, but on some level, they're also terrified. And overwhelmed. I worked probably two months without a day off. And then you go home at night. Do you actually sleep? Can you sleep?

You can't. Definitely not. When it's quiet is when all those feelings and memories of the patients or the colleague who was in tears, that's when that all comes back. I barely slept. Yet she still helped her two young boys with their homework over FaceTime, while struggling to run an ICU short on beds, masks, and everything else. Brenner writes, had New York Presbyterian crumbled, the damage to the nation and the world would have been many times worse than what we did experience. Right before you were intubated, what did you say to her husband? I love you.

I said, you are now my proxy, so you have to stand in for me and make the decisions because I'm not going to be able to make them for myself. Karen Bacon knew she might die. She was not just another five South COVID patient, a Weill Cornell pediatric nurse.

She was the first health care worker treated there for the virus. It was a wake up call to them because, you know, they were saying, oh, my God, I could get this. I can see that. Yeah.

Yeah. She was sick, and it was very upsetting, of course, for our staff to see one of our own in the bed. Just 30 years old and a newlywed, Bacon went from a cold in February to a ventilator in March.

I think the hard part was going to sleep and then finding out it's two and a half, three weeks later. Was it a coma? Basically, a medical induced coma. Like Bacon, every single Weill Cornell ICU patient at the height of April was intubated. All the while, there was a ventilator shortage.

I have colleagues who to this day still I know talk about and think about decisions they made. Who got the first ventilator? Who got the first ICU bed? Was there guidance from the leadership of the hospital?

We were told they were waiting for guidance from the governor. So, meanwhile, my colleagues and I are, you know, making decisions with our best medical judgment in mind. However, you know, when someone with COVID died, which was every single day, of course, then you think, what if they had gotten the third ICU bed and not the fifth ICU bed, right?

In early 2020, I personally believe that we were all going to die. And without the proper tools to confront this mystery illness, Dr. Ben-Garry Harvey, a 5 South pulmonary and critical care specialist, knew the only answer was innovation. He started with COVID patient, Suzy Beebe. She'd been on a ventilator four months. She was a woman in her early 50s. You couldn't be on a ventilator that long?

She was at death store. She had, you know, huge holes in her lungs. Dr. Harvey had an unconventional idea, implanting a Zephyr valve. Recently approved for emphysema, it works by stopping leaks and damaged lungs. But it had never been used at the hospital on a COVID patient, and many there rejected the undertaking as too risky. Still, it worked.

It just gives me the satisfaction that we can become creative, that we can continue moving forward, exploring new avenues. And he said, if you stay in your lane when you are confronting this level of medical mystery, you're not going to solve it. I figured that if I found the leak on Suzy, I can put some of those valves to prevent air from growing into that part of the lungs. But here's the operative word there, if.

Well, what is the alternative? She would not have survived. I don't think so. Suzy, Bibi, is she okay now? She's amazing. She was able, with help, weeks after she got out of the hospital, to be at her son's wedding with her medical attendants, to walk down the aisle with people holding her. With so much death, victories were joyous celebrations. What was it like the day you left the hospital? They had everyone at the nurses' station. They did the clap. They put a crown on my head.

They just gave me the greatest send off. You know, we're sitting here talking as if this thing is behind us. Is it? Is it? Absolutely not. No.

No. But it's enormously inspiring to know that in the hospital systems, there are those who care so deeply and who did save lives at enormous cost to themselves. Turns out we're not the only ones who think Leslie Stahl is a great storyteller. David Pogue introduces us to one of her biggest and smallest fans. There are plenty of big movies this summer.

But the highest rated one of all is very, very small. My name is Marcel and I'm partially... The main character is no bigger than a quarter. I also have shoes and a face. He has this sort of granite dignity, but he's so tiny. I used to have a sister.

And I think that there is a lot of humor in watching something be the wrong size. Comedian, actor, and author Jenny Slate has voiced plenty of animated characters, but she considers Marcel the Shell her finest creation. Guess what I do for adventure? I hang light on a Dorito. Guess what I use as a pen?

I use a pen, but it takes the whole family. Slate had never produced that distinctive voice until one night in 2010. To save money attending a wedding, she was sharing one hotel room with five friends. It was so crowded in there and I just felt tiny and all of a sudden I just started saying like, it's just like I can hardly move, I can't move around. Her boyfriend, filmmaker Dean Fleischer-Camp, loved the new little character voice and decided to feature it in a short video. Do you want to see me talk on the phone? I knew I wanted to make an animated short and sort of something I hadn't experimented with before. Hello, this is me.

He went to a toy store and the art supply store and got a bunch of googly eyes, got the shells. The three-minute short was a huge hit online. One time I nibbled on a piece of cheese and my cholesterol went up to 900. In the next few years, the couple made two more Marcelle videos, racking up 48 million views and counting, published two Marcelle books, and got married. Ooh, baby, baby. Mwah, mwah, mwah, mwah.

Ooh, baby. I've seen people kiss on television. Inevitably, Hollywood came a-calling with big Hollywood ideas. Someone even recommended that we pair him with Ryan Reynolds and they fight crime together, which is not a movie I wouldn't see.

Finally, Camp and Slate found backers who'd give them full control. But to fill 90 minutes, they'd have to expand Marcelle's emotional range, fill in his backstory, and introduce new characters. Did anyone ever say, you know, whoa, whoa, whoa, that's tugging what made the short special too much? I think that part of that was in always gut-checking ourselves against the original and making sure, does it still have that sort of, you know, electricity that was so great about the shorts?

One of those new characters is Marcelle's grandmother, played by Isabella Rossellini. In the movie, they watch 60 Minutes together every Sunday night. We love it. We just call it the short. We love it. We just call it the show.

That's how much we love it. Leslie. Who's Leslie? Leslie Show. She likes Leslie Stahl. I'm Leslie Stahl.

She blows cases wide open. This movie has elevated me in the eyes of my grandchildren. Nana, make the noise. They've seen me on 60 Minutes and I'm nothing but with Marcelle. This is huge in my family. Fortunately for the filmmakers, the real Leslie Stahl agreed to take the role.

They wanted me to play it 100% straight, so they hired a 60 Minutes crew, a 60 Minutes producer, came along to produce the segment, and I think it does look like a 60 Minutes story when you see it. Marcelle, a one-inch tall shell, reminds us of the true value of community. Does it make you inclined to look fondly upon the next movie proposal that comes your way? Well, let me just say this.

I'm available. Here I am. Movie star. Dean Fleischer-Camp is in the movie, too, as the off-screen voice of the filmmaker. Well, mostly off-screen. Do you have any plans tonight?

No. I'm playing a version of myself that doesn't exist anymore, and I'm glad I'm not that person anymore. The movie wound up taking seven years to make because the filmmakers had to make it four times.

First, as a complete audio soundtrack. They're making me blush. The second version added storyboards. They're making me blush. For the third pass, they filmed the empty backgrounds for the entire movie, without Marcelle. They're making me blush. Finally, the team animated the tiny Marcelle puppet, one frame at a time, and added him into the backgrounds.

They're making me blush. In the end, the marriage of Marcelle's creators didn't survive. But their collaboration opens in theaters on Friday, a movie about a bald, armless, one-eyed shell on a quest to find his family.

Do you think they could be out there? That movie works at all. It's crazy. Yeah, I mean, of course that's a huge risk to take. And yet… I love it when people comment on it and they say, I can't believe I was bawling my eyes out of this little shell with googly eyes. It makes people feel like I'm a little guy, like, feelings, you know?

Wanting to be loved for your, for your own dear smallness. In this gigantic, weird, cosmic scheme that we're in. For more from this week's conversation, follow the Takeout with Major Garrett on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. Hi, podcast peeps. It's me, Drew Barrymore.

Oh my goodness. I want to tell you about our new show. It's the Drew's News Podcast. And in each episode, me and a weekly guest are going to cover all the quirky, fun, inspiring, and informative stories that exist out in the world because, well, I need it. And maybe you do, too, from the newest interior design trend, Barbie Corps, to the right and wrong way to wash your armpits. Also, we're going to get into things that you just kind of won't believe and were not able to do in daytime television.

So watch out. Listen to Drew's News wherever you get your podcasts. It's your good news on the go. Time now for an early happy hour. Compliments of Luke Burbank.

Cheers. It looked for all the world like an actual sporting event was taking place on a recent Friday here in Portland, Oregon. There were cheerleaders, news cameras, they even cut down a net. But in fact, all of this was to celebrate the opening of a sports bar.

And Jamie Orr was first in line. It feels like a very monumental day, not just in Portland, but for women's sports. That's because this isn't just any sports bar. It's the first one in America that exclusively shows women's sports on all of its TVs. If you're mostly a fan of men's sports, it would never even occur to you that a bar might not be showing the championship game or might have the sound turned off. But that's exactly what happened back in 2019 when Jenny Nguyen and her friends wanted to watch Baylor versus Notre Dame in the women's NCAA championship. The game was one for the ages.

It ended up being just like a spectacular game. But the audio feed was non-existent, at least in the bar where Nguyen and her friends were watching. Somebody was like, yeah, it would have been better if the sound were on. And so she had a thought. That kind of thought you might have after a couple of beers, but never follow up on.

I said something to the effect of, the only way we're ever going to be able to watch a women's game, like in its full glory, is if we had our own place. Nguyen and her friends even had a name for this still-mythical bar that she fantasized about opening someday. The sports bra, you know, because it just makes sense. Like, just switch a couple letters around. A little bit after that, I was like, I know what the tagline is going to be.

We support women. And it just, it was a big joke. But that joke got serious after the Me Too movement and the pandemic had Nguyen looking for a way to make an impact on the culture in whatever way she could.

You know, the whole country was going through a phase of reprioritizing what was important. However, Jenny's mom, whom she'd been working for at their family real estate company, was dubious. I yelled at her, and I said, this is not good. With the COVID and labor shortage, it's not going to work. But she told me, she said, mom, you cannot stop me.

I am doing it. And so she did, raising over $100,000 on Kickstarter. Along the way, she and the bar became something of a media sensation.

One of its kind in the world. But the most challenging part of running the sports bra might actually be finding enough televised women's sports to keep the TVs busy. Only 4% of all sports on TV are women's sports. So when you have that kind of a discrepancy, there's going to be issues.

But changing that might be part of Nguyen's plan. In the 50 years since the landmark Title IX legislation, millions of girls gained access to athletics. So it's not that women aren't playing sports, it's that the networks tend not to broadcast them. I'm asking a lot of networks, streaming services, all of these things, questions that they've never encountered before. So a lot of it is almost like taking your machete and cutting through the brush.

It's hard, and it's a slog. On this night, however, there was no shortage of content. It was the semifinals of the NCAA Women's Final Four.

The sports bra would be packed, and the volume would be turned up all the way. Steve Hartman this morning has the story of a high school graduate's dream come true. Mike and Tracey Tebow always believed that time heals all wounds. But that belief faded last fall, when their 18-year-old son Jake was paralyzed in a hockey game. I don't know how time's going to take care of this, because he couldn't do it. I'm like, I don't know how time's going to take care of this, because he couldn't cut a piece of steak, couldn't sit up, couldn't put shoes on. Plus, Jake's goal in life had always been to play college hockey, and his parents couldn't imagine how long it would take him to find new purpose.

They really couldn't imagine. Jake had just found out he would likely never walk again when his high school principal came to visit him in the hospital here. And whether Jake got caught up in the moment, or was simply in denial, he made a bold prediction that day. I don't remember much, but I vividly remember saying to him, like, I will walk at graduation. What was that based on?

I have no clue, honestly. I just said it. I was like, I'm going to walk at graduation. He was so positive.

Todd Bland is head of school at Milton Academy outside Boston. In a moment like that, you want to be encouraging, but you don't want to assure something that you're not sure can happen. So, he simply said, that's wonderful, Jake. So that just kind of became his goal. If I set something, I'm going to do what it takes to get to it. And from that day on, Jake immersed himself in therapy, doing way more than was asked of him in the slim hope that one day he could do that walk.

Jake Morris Tebow. Under his own power. I was so in the zone that I just kind of got a sense of, like, you can do it. Nine months work for 30 steps. And then he looks up and he just has this huge smile on his face.

One of the most special moments I've ever experienced. It motivates me to just go harder than ever to beat this. Next goal, to walk without support.

And soon, to be able to walk without support. And soon, because although time may heal all wounds, Jake Tebow isn't waiting. Mikhail Baryshnikov, a dance legend, if ever there was one, has lived a life in the spotlight, on stage, and off. He's in conversation with Anthony Mason. In a new adaptation of The Cherry Orchard, at the Baryshnikov Art Center in New York, the center's namesake is playing an old servant. Three degrees below zero, and the cherry blossoms all in bloom.

I'm almost 75 and I'm playing 85 years old. Okay. The white hair is for his character named Fears. It's bleached, you know. It's not mine yet.

One of the world's most acclaimed dancers, Mikhail Baryshnikov, has worked only occasionally as an actor, most notably an Oscar-nominated performance in the 1977 film The Turning Point. Are you gonna be all right? Don't worry about him, he'll be all right. I have a little secret for you. You know, I think it's perfectly all right to be an heiress.

And then cut her a pounder with cheese. And playing Carrie Bradshaw's Russian boyfriend on Sex and the City. Can you handle it?

Absolutely. But he learned from some of the best. James Cagney, he was a good friend of mine. He always thought, I said, James, how you play? I said, listen what that person is telling you. And then they tell him back the truth.

And if you're not dumb, you absorb. He has some sort of a light or some sort of a presence that is extremely unique. So what's that like as a director?

There's no way to control it. Ukrainian-born Igor Goljak is directing the Soviet-born actor in this Russian classic. Baryshnikov has another role as playwright Anton Chekhov in the virtual production. In Chekhov's play, the matriarch of a family, played by Jessica Hecht, faces financial troubles and has to face selling their beloved orchard.

If the estate is sold, it doesn't matter. I must look truth straight in the eye. The orchard, in the bigger sense of the word, one of the characters says, all of Russia is our orchard. It's very relatable right now. There's a complete loss of Russia right now. As Goljak was planning the production, Russia invaded Ukraine. His family had left Kiev for Boston back in 1990 when he was just 11. But when this war started, you know, something in the stomach started like twisting. And it just hurts. How has it been for you to watch what's happening in Ukraine? Horrific. And just now they're having issues, you know, about it.

Baryshnikov made headlines around the world when he defected from the Soviet Union in 1974. Does it seem a long time ago? No, it's been so, it's been very fast. Yeah.

Unfortunately. You never wanted to go back to Russia. No, somehow, maybe instinctively I knew that one day something like that would happen. In his Soviet years, as a principal dancer with the Kirov Ballet, Baryshnikov was privileged to travel, but he was watched. You were usually followed by KGB agents when you went, yes? Yes, but there were guys who were a couple of guys always, you knew them by names, you know, and sometimes we'd have a coffee with them, you know, it was like, okay. We had the nicknames for them, you know. So it wasn't that intimidating.

Of course, they have many different faces. But in 1974, while touring with the Bolshoi Ballet in Toronto, Baryshnikov slipped away. Where is Mr. Baryshnikov now? He is in Canada. Days after his defection, he appeared at a dance studio in Toronto. He wouldn't discuss his defection with news people today, and he wouldn't attend a news conference after his short exhibition. You've tried not to be political over the years, but you've made a point now with what's happening in Ukraine to say something.

I couldn't stay silent this time. I was born in Soviet, at that time, Soviet Latvia, in a family of military officer. His father, a Soviet colonel, was a Stalinist. It was his mother who introduced him to the arts in Riga, the Latvian capital.

At age six or seven, the first time my mother took me to see ballet, and it's orchestra playing, and this beautiful theater, and it's got me, got me. In 2017, Baryshnikov was given Latvian citizenship. It means something.

My mother is buried there. And that's why, back to your question about why now, that idea that, I would say, Russian tanks would go again to Baltics. You're afraid for Latvia.

I'm afraid for all that part of the world, and because I am part of it. Recently, he co-founded the charity, True Russia, to raise money for Ukrainian refugees. When Russia banned its website earlier this month, Baryshnikov addressed an open letter to President Putin, your Russian world, the world of fear, he wrote, will not live on as long as there are people like us. What did you think when Putin said, Russians who support the West are scum and traitors?

You know, this is disgusting. Do you think of this as Russia's war or Putin's war? It is Putin's war. He's trying to create new history of Russia. He does not care about people at all, although how it's possible, he has the kids himself. You know, how it's possible. Russians who speak out against him have a way of kind of disappearing. Listen, I will be 75 years old.

What I have to lose? My old master, that will be your grandfather. As he performs in the orchard, Mikhail Baryshnikov says the role of the arts is to inspire and engage. It's an oxygen. And his most important job is here, at the art center that bears his name. Why is it the most important job?

It's a social service. I've been working for a long time, I've been working for a long time. I've been honored to make my home in New York. I love this country with all craziness, but there is nothing better than to be a free man and living with your family in free society and in this extraordinary city. Like so many of our cities, the city by the bay has no shortage of problems these days. Reason enough for John Blackstone to catch up with San Francisco Mayor, London Breed. San Francisco's 47-year-old mayor, London Breed, grew up in this city of postcard views.

But much of that was not part of her youth. I mean, I grew up in poverty. I grew up in public housing.

So I wasn't really exposed early on to all of the beauty that you see now. I didn't know some of these neighborhoods even existed in San Francisco. For this mayor who has risen from poverty, fighting the city's inequality is one of her major challenges. In an area that's home to many of the world's most valuable companies, San Francisco now counts 8,000 homeless people, the fourth highest rate of any U.S. city. And that has been made worse by some of the country's highest housing prices. Smash-and-grab robberies along with car break-ins have become their own postcard, underscored by the fact that police solved less than seven percent of those property crimes, infuriating both residents and the city's more than six billion dollar tourist industry.

You said yourself many people in the city don't feel safe here any longer. Yeah, and I think that's why we're working on it. We're working on it with making sure we're able to add more police officers.

We're working on it by having alternatives to policing to respond to people who are dealing with mental health challenges. After Breed was elected four years ago, she picked up a broom and planned to spend tens of millions a year cleaning the streets. In total, San Francisco is spending one billion city, state and federal dollars on homelessness. Every single morning, there are people who work for the city and county of San Francisco cleaning up where you wouldn't even know it's the same neighborhood.

And even before noon, we're dealing with some of the same challenges of some of the litter and the feces and the urine and some of the other issues that many of us are frustrated over. Those frustrations, particularly over crime, may be making this famously liberal city a little less liberal. In a recall this month, voters threw out the district attorney, critics called soft on crime. That followed the recall in February of left-leaning school board members who focused on renaming schools rather than reopening them during the pandemic. On the national stage, politics here are a juicy target for critics on the right. It is now basically San Francisco, a tech mecca, surrounded by a filthy moat of degeneracy, lawlessness, criminals and a 549 team and drugs.

It is rhetoric with a long legacy. That was amplified in 2007 when a San Francisco Democrat, Nancy Pelosi, became the first female speaker of the House. Republicans, Newt Gingrich among them, talked disdainfully about San Francisco values. I mean, Nancy Pelosi represents a San Francisco value system. What are San Francisco values? I think San Francisco values really consist of pushing the envelope and willing to try things that may make people uncomfortable for the purpose of really turning people's lives around.

It seems to me the problem that San Francisco faces is that for people on the right, it's become shorthand for liberal crazies. Yeah, and again, there's nothing I can do about that other than to make sure that we're taking care of our city, we're cleaning it up, we're keeping people safe, and we're doing the things that make the people who live, work and visit here happy. In December, the mayor broke from the city's often lenient policies when she announced plans to get tough on crime.

And it comes to an end when we take the steps to be more aggressive with law enforcement, more aggressive with the changes in our policies, and less tolerant of all the bull that has destroyed our city. I looked at the police dashboard, you know, the retail theft that's up this year. Is your crackdown on crime working?

I don't think it's fair. I don't think it's a fair assessment to take statistics and then to equate them to a major headline around San Francisco being dangerous, especially in light of when you look at our homicide rate in particular, and when you look at the number of cases we've been able to solve and the number of people that we've been able to hold accountable. FBI violent crime statistics confirm at least 65 other cities have higher rates of murder, rape and assault. But highly visible crimes, car thefts and shoplifting, are up nearly 17% so far this year compared to last year.

I don't think numbers mean anything when something happens to you. And so ultimately, you know, we got to do a better job with improving how people feel in the city. Among the improvements the mayor is proud of is a transformed corner in a tough neighbourhood. So on the corner of Hyde and Turk, this used to be a notorious area where there was a lot of drug dealing and drug using and all kinds of things going on there. You go there today and there's a park, a brand new park there, and kids are now using the park. Let me ask you just to explain San Francisco to an outsider.

Ooh, that's a hard one. Complicated, unique, beautiful, crazy, wild, fun, innovative, challenging, all of those things and more. Like any other American city, San Francisco has plenty of problems. But much like any other big city mayor, London Breed is her city's biggest fan.

I love San Francisco, even though it's a complex city with all of its challenges, its issues, but it's a place of beauty, it's a place of hope, it's a place of opportunity. Thank you for listening. Please join us when our trumpet sounds again next Sunday morning. Now streaming, I used to believe in progress that no matter what we do, we just end up back at the start.

We're in crazy time. The Paramount Plus original series, The Good Fight, returns for its final season. The point isn't the end. The point is winning.

Yes! There are bad people in the world. The best way to make a difference in the world is to make a difference in the world. The point is winning. The point is winning. The point is winning. The point is winning. There are bad people in the world. The best way to protect the good people is to convict the bad. So here's to us. The Good Fight, the final season, now streaming exclusively on Paramount Plus.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-29 19:09:20 / 2023-01-29 19:25:57 / 17

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