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Interview with Michigan Governor Rick Snyder; Broke Detroit Faces State Takeover; Chinese Execution Broadcast Discussed; Passing on Your Twitter Account; Sex Education; Baby-Naming Deal

Aired March 1, 2013 - 14:40   ET


BALDWIN: Let's talk about Detroit. Detroit is so broke, it is now facing a government takeover. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder said today the state is ready to take over the operations of Detroit's city government. You see Detroit is on the hook for some $14 billion, including unfunded pensions and health care costs for retired government workers. A state takeover would be just short of a formal bankruptcy, but it would include appointing an emergency manager. Someone who could fire government workers. Poppy Harlow, she's been to Detroit many, many times. She joins me live. She's been all over this story.

But, Poppy, stand by, because Governor Rick Snyder, here he is, just put on a microphone. He joins us now live.

So, Governor, welcome to you. My first question would be this and then I want Poppy to jump in. A state takeover could mean job losses for people in Detroit. Many, many job losses. And that's a lot of families losing paychecks.

Are you, Governor, planning any steps to help these people find new jobs?

GOV. RICK SNYDER (R), MICHIGAN: Well, Brooke, the goal of us getting involved is not -- I don't view it as a takeover, it is really about bringing more tools and resources to help grow Detroit. The goal is to ultimately create jobs.

In the meantime, we do need to deal with the finances. We're going to work hard to work with people through that entire process because this has been 50 or 60 years in the making. Now is the time to solve the problems.

Let's turn around Detroit. Let's grow Detroit. Let's create more and better jobs and a great place to live.

BALDWIN: Poppy, jump in.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sure. Governor, I want to be clear for our viewers, what can an emergency manager do because there has been one in other Michigan cities?

They have the power basically to override city council, the mayor, they can throw out or renegotiate union contracts, they can lay off government workers because ultimately you need to save money in Detroit, but you also, I know, I've seen it firsthand, need to raise revenue, need to get more people paying taxes.

So my question is, there have been concerns, I heard it from some Detroit residents today, saying this process isn't democratic. They're very worried that they're going to have no say in what happens to their city.

How do you respond to them and how many job losses do you expect this will mean in the city of Detroit for government and union workers?

SNYDER: Well, Poppy, again, this is how to solve a problem because we have been successful with the emergency managers working in communities like Flint and Pontiac, where they work with the mayor and the city council. They're not mutually exclusive.

It is how to get things done better and faster so we can get on a positive path. There have been a lot of government job losses in Detroit already going on. The question is how do we stabilize the city and then start growing the city?

So I view this as one of the key steps to say we need to stop going downward, we need to start going upward and by having an emergency manager with more tools and resources, hopefully we can make that happen. We need to make it happen in Detroit.

HARLOW: Explain what do you mean by more tools and resources? Because I sat down with the mayor's office in Detroit this week and they really oppose having an emergency manager. You made this announcement at a town hall in Detroit and the mayor wasn't even there and I think that speaks volumes.

So what do you mean in terms of tools and resources? Do you frankly mean more power to make those tough decisions which are often cuts?

SNYDER: To put it in context, Poppy, I would go back to -- we did a consent agreement, which is how we can work with the city and partnership to do this. We still want to partner with the city, but we did that back in April.

We had 21 different action items to work on. Many of those items didn't even get work started on them until September. Others still need to be started. So there is a case of multiple months passing where an emergency manager can make decisions, take actions and not have to wait months to make those things happen. We can't afford to have that delay.

HARLOW: I've seen it firsthand, Governor, I completely understand. Something needs to change. We appreciate you joining us very much. And, Brooke, just to, you know, lay it out for our viewers a little more as well, this has been happening in Detroit for decades, right.

I mean, they went, you know, from 1.5 million people two decades ago to 700,000. And the "Detroit News" came without this article last week saying almost half of property owners in Detroit aren't paying their property tax bills.

So when you don't have enough taxes coming in and enough revenue, basically people paying their taxes you have a problem like this. He's a very decisive man making a bold step here and we hope it turns things around for Detroit.

BALDWIN: We do. I was there not too long ago. It's a great city. Poppy Harlow, thank you very much. Governor Rick Snyder, my thank you and best wishes here as we go forward looking at the city of Detroit.

Coming up next, the hot topics face-off. The panel weighing in on a TV station airing the final hours of death row inmates before they were executed.

Plus, a developer creating a program that sends your tweets after you die.

And sex education in kindergarten? Good idea? My panelists revealed next.


BALDWIN: Welcome back. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Outrage, controversy, talking hottest stories here happening now, beginning with this, you have to see the video to understand what we're talking about. You see this guy right there? He was a prisoner, he's now dead.

This video was shot hours before his execution broadcast live across China. Think Big Brother on death row. The two-hour television special was paid for by the Chinese government, and broadcast on state television. There were four foreign drug traffickers who were in this video.

They ultimately were sentenced to death for murdering Chinese sailors. After pull on Chinese's Twitter showed opposition, CCTV decided not to show the moment. They asked, but they decided not to show the moment when these four men were given their lethal injections.

Want to talk about this. Let me bring in my hot topics today. We have Joel Stein, author "Man Made A Stupid Quest For Masculinity," Loni Love today, comedian and host of "Cafe Mocha," Lisa France, entertainment guru and a writer and producer here at, and Brian Balthazar, editor of

So welcome, welcome and what a story here. Let me begin with you, Brian. I mean, this is talk about like reality TV to the extreme, granted yes, it is China. What do you think of this?

BRIAN BALTHAZAR, EDITOR, POPGOESTHEWEEK.COM: Well, you know, I'm not that offended by the fact that I think this is real reality, this is news. So they were covering it because they were responsible for killing, I believe, 13 fishermen and I think it was a story that people were very passionate about.

BALDWIN: But was this news? Was this news, seeing this lead up to their deaths?

BALTHAZAR: Well, you know, I mean, the fact that they didn't show the execution. I think people were obviously passionate about this story and wanted to see this. I know it is not the same as showing the execution of Saddam Hussein, but this is something that made news before. And some countries have actually public executions. So I'm not as offended as showing the actual death.

BALDWIN: This was live, guys. No room for editing. Loni, what do you think?

LONI LOVE, HOST, "CAFE MOCHA": Well, this is an extreme form of scared straight, but I would rather watch this than a marathon of "The Kardashians."

BALDWIN: Are you serious?

LOVE: Yes, I'm serious.

BALDWIN: Why do you say that?

LOVE: Because we have horrible programming in the United States. China at least is trying to give some realism and it is reality TV. I agree with what the man said, they did something wrong, they're trying to -- this is their version of scared straight, they have a right to do it. It is China.

BALDWIN: Joel, weigh in.

JOEL STEIN, AUTHOR, "MAN MADE: A STUPID QUEST FOR MASCULINITY": I personally would rather watch "The Kardashians." Yes. I mean, public executions are common. They took place in America for a very long time. I hope as a culture we moved beyond the death penalty. But I think China is probably doing many, many more horrific things than this. So I don't know if this should be on the top of our --

BALDWIN: Lisa France, you cover entertainment. You know all about reality TV. Let's just sort of think, could this possibly -- we have a very voyeuristic culture. I say, we, in the United States, we have shows like "America's Hardest Prisons," and "Louisiana Lockdown." Do you think some next reality TV producer wants to push the envelope? Would this ever happen here?

LISA FRANCE, WRITER-PRODUCER, CNN.COM: I think that more and more the public is expecting to be shocked and to see shocking things on TV. So I'm actually surprised it hasn't happened yet. Maybe not actually seeing someone die, but, you know, seeing someone in their final moments before death. It doesn't surprise me.

BALTHAZAR: We show police chases on the news all the time.

LOVE: They didn't show the execution.

BALDWIN: They did not. There was a poll. Let me say this. There was initially a poll and initially everyone said, yes, we want to see it. There were some dissenters and the pendulum swung the other way.

Here is my next question. What is the deal with our -- I say our, our global view, as we talk China, our fascination with death. What does that come from? FRANCE: People are naturally voyeurs, I think. We think about death, you know, and we think about our own mortality, and the opportunity to see someone before they're actually going to die, I think, is intriguing to some people.

He -- I thought it was weird he was smiling, but, you know, you never know what people were thinking in their final moments of their lives. People just want to be present and they want to be witnesses to things.


LOVE: I stand by what I say.

BALTHAZAR: I can't keep it back. The fact that we air police chases in this country all the time, where at a moment's notice, someone can get out and pull a gun, we have seen that actually happen or fatal car crashes can occur on live television.

Certainly this is not the same thing as willingly knowingly showing the -- leading up to of an execution, but we're also taking gambles on live television in the U.S. all the time.

BALDWIN: Are we becoming desensitized to death, given what we see on TV, the movies, games, on the news?

STEIN: We have a whole sister channel all about murder trials, right?

BALDWIN: Right, right, right. And people are fascinated --

LOVE: I stand by what I say, Brooke. I still say it is better than "The Kardashians." I don't care what anybody says.

BALDWIN: My goodness.

FRANCE: I'll stick up with the Kardashians.

BALDWIN: The next item here, don't know where to go with that. Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter may soon let you post one last goodbye after your final goodbye, after your death. Would you do this? Do you want to live on electronically? That's next.


BALDWIN: If you are an organized person, and you're thinking, say, long-term, you probably have your affairs in order, your wills, your life insurance, your funeral plans. What about your Twitter account?

One London-based ad agency is tapping into this new market looking to keep your tweeting even after you're gone. So, for example, great, so my Twitter handle @brookebcnn.

But if I were to pay this company, my Twitter handle would be, stay with me, @brookebcnnliveson. How do they know what to tweet? Great question, that was my question, they basically formulate tweets based upon your tweeting history, like this code, look at words you use, this web bot analyzes key words, your interests and it says it will imitate your writing style.

You train it while you're still living and tweeting. You choose an executor to monitor it once you've passed. Panel, come back. This is crazy, but I'm asking because I read the story this morning and I said what? How many people would do this? Zero. So, Joel's in. I see no hands. Joel, why would you do this?

STEIN: Can I write t write my column and my books for me too?

BALDWIN: Loni, you laugh, why?

LOVE: No, because when you're dead, you're dead. There are some people that are alive I don't want to see their twitter feed. Why do I want to see them after they pass on in that? That's for your children. Let your children keep your legacy going --

BALDWIN: Your Kardashian friends you don't want to see them tweeting? Too soon, sorry. Sorry. So I guess some pros would be you leave a digital legacy, you leave something behind. If you want people to be al atwitter over you, they can be. The con is it is kind of creepy. Are you with me?

BALTHAZAR: Whose tweets are that interesting? I tweet what I had for lunch all the time. I tweet when I'm about to go on CNN. After I'm dead, I would like to see that interview. So, it could be very interesting. I just don't know whose tweets are so interesting we need to keep seeing them.

LOVE: Mine. I do like the last tweets, though.

BALDWIN: Go ahead, Lisa, what?

LOVE: My tweets are fabulous. I just don't think they can replicate --

BALDWIN: They can't live on.

LOVE: They can't live on to how hilarious I am on Twitter nor my Instagram food shots, which are the bomb.

BALDWIN: What is the fascination with social media and the need for me, me, me and putting it out there even after we're dead. All of you laugh at the idea, but there are people, this is the experimental phase right now. It's not a real deal yet, but there are people who would actually do it.

FRANCE: Because social media makes you feel like a star. It makes you feel like a star. People, they respond to you, they care about what you have to say, care about what you eat for lunch. It makes you feel important. It makes you feel important.

STEIN: There is this other company that is tweeting or showing your last tweet and the date you died. You have to wonder what your last tweet would be. I think getting the repeating tweet from someone would be more of a morbid reminder they're gone. I think it is rude and insensitive to the people still living of your painful loss. LOVE: I like the idea of the last tweet, though, because I would just love my last tweet to be eat bacon. I like that.

BALDWIN: Not the kind of thing you can plan, always got to tweet your best. This panel is morbid. Let's switch this out. Listen to this, public schools in Chicago will soon start teaching sex education classes to kids in kindergarten. What, 5-year-olds, hello. As you can imagine, not all the parents are pleased. We're going to talk about that after this.


BALDWIN: Sex education for our kids in school or at home, whose job is it to explain the birds and the bees? Then there is the question of when, as in how old here? Most U.S. public schools start sex ed in the fifth grade.

But in Chicago, a controversial decision here, sex ed will now begin in kindergarten. I want you to listen to what the Chicago school system has to say about it.


BARBARA BYRD-BENNETT, CEO, CHICAGO PUBLIC SCHOOLS: It is important that we provide students of all ages with accurate and appropriate information so that they can make healthy choices.

DR. STEPHANIE WHYTE, CHIEF HEALTH OFFICER: Sex ed as a continuum of information, and so with the foundations beginning at kindergarten through fourth grade --

DR. BECHARA CHOUCAIR, DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH: I'm here to report from a public health perspective, it is an absolute imperative.


BALDWIN: Let me be clear here. There will not be teaching reproduction to kindergarteners. This is a gradual process starting with anatomy, good touch, bad touch, healthy relationships, and personal safety.

Let me bring this to the panel. Lisa France, let me just start with you. What do you think? 5, too young?

FRANCE: I think kids see worse on television, probably. It is my understanding that the parents have the option to opt out of it if they decide that they don't want it. Me personally like I don't want a school system telling my kid that there is no Santa Claus. I think, you know, each parent has the ability to decide if they think it is right for the child or not.

BALDWIN: Who thinks it is a good thing that the school start that early?

BALTHAZAR: Do we have to raise our hand?

LOVE: I think it is OK as long as she don't do show and tell. That's all.

BALDWIN: No show and tell? That would be bad news. Brian, you were raising your hand. You don't have to raise your hand, very funny.

BALTHAZAR: I think the knee jerk reaction is to sex is reproduction as you said. But there are important things that kids will need to know about what is inappropriate touching is and that comes down to some of those important issues.

Some parents aren't comfortable talking to their kids about that. I also think we live in a modern world where we can call it gender and relationships and talk about why does another -- one of my classmates has two moms or two dads and talk about basic things about relationships that I think they could benefit from.

BALDWIN: Do we think the school should take on the onus of teaching your child at this young age, should it be more at home, parents?

BALTHAZAR: Not everyone is doing it.

STEIN: Math and -- yes, everything will be taught at school. You want -- the whole point le point of this is to make sure your kid doesn't get molested, good touch and bad touch. I think you want to do that. Most parents, me included, didn't realize how young you're supposed to start that with your kid.

LOVE: The kids are learning stuff in schools, regardless.

BALDWIN: You can see a heck of a lot on television, can't you? Let me move on. Joel, this is serendipitous we're doing this story and you're on the panel. This is the story about the single pregnant mom from Oregon. She has a competition with a website called "Belly Ballot." She will now have online voters choose the name of her child.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome to Belly Ballot, the fun and interactive new way to find the best name for your baby. Belly Ballot replaces those boring baby name books and stuffy research web sites with the simple and social way to find the best name, and win prizes in the process.


BALDWIN: Win prizes, i.e. $5,000 here. In the case of Natasha Hill, ten names were chosen by the sponsors of the web site for doing it, so she gets $5,000. Joel Stein, so I get this column passed on to me, you wrote this back in '08.

Let me read the first line, I expect to be flooded with many complicated emotions when I found out I was going to become a father, but instead all I felt was this, naming this child is the most important writing assignment of my life. Please help Joel Stein name his baby. So you did this?

STEIN: Yes, I had a poll at before my son was born. I gave people five options and we let them vote. Yes, it is --

BALDWIN: Did you go with the answer?


BALDWIN: You didn't, OK. You're a tease then.

STEIN: I think they picked very well. I think they did a better job perhaps than we did.

BALDWIN: Who thinks --

STEIN: I think it is a great idea.

BALDWIN: You think it is a great idea. Who thinks this is too personal for a complete stranger naming your first child, mind you?

FRANCE: I don't think it is too personal.

LOVE: I think it is just not enough money. I think 5k is really cheap. I think if you add some zeros on to it --

BALDWIN: Fifty thousand, Loni, $50,000. You would allow that?

LOVE: Five hundred thousand.

BALDWIN: OK. I see how you are. Lisa, what about you?

FRANCE: I go for ten grand, but people come up with horrendous names on their own. If you can let somebody pick a name and not like the kid will end up like Johnson or something.

BALDWIN: So far, not yet. They're not brand names. We have seen some stories. One day you could, for your $500,000, Loni, what, name a kid Pepsi. You never know.

LOVE: That's a lot of money, Brooke. That's a lot of money. I don't know. I'd have a baby --

BALDWIN: Baby Pepsi.

LOVE: Yes, baby Pepsi.

FRANCE: Brooke, you should ask Apple Paltrow Martin about naming things like that. It is not like they're on some interesting names already out there. Why not?

LOVE: Loosen up, Brooke. Get with technology, OK!

BALDWIN: Get with technology. That's my takeaway for the day. Loni Love, my thanks to you. Joel Stein, Lisa France, Brian Balthazar, thanks you all so much. We had fun. Have a wonderful weekend to my panel.

Coming up next, the search for a man swallowed by a sinkhole while he was asleep. CNN's John Zarrella is there on scene. We're going to take you there live, explain what they're doing here. And we'll explain this camera. We'll tell you what they're doing with this camera in the sinkhole.