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Junior's Final Days; N.J. School Probes Tape; Police Cleared of Wrongdoing in the Killing of African-American Man; U.S. Unemployment Falls to 8.1 Percent; Schools Ban Bake Sales for Fundraising; School Ban Home Baked Goods; Atlanta's Housewives

Aired May 4, 2012 - 08:00   ET



SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome from Atlanta this morning.

Our STARTING POINT: Junior Seau's final interview on tape. Were there warning signs? Listen.


JUNIOR SEAU, FORMER NFL PLAYER: You know, it's fun to be in a position that we're in. Kids look up to us.


O'BRIEN: This morning, his family is speaking out about possible concussions and also making a tough decision that could help the next generation of players.

Plus, the dad who wired his son to prove that teachers were bullying special needs children. He says there are more tapes, but he's not releasing them. He'll tell us more when he joins us live.

And we're 30 minutes away from the big April jobs report. It could move the polls. It could move the markets. It could move the unemployment numbers. Christine Romans is going to join us with that, straight ahead.

And Yahoo! under fire for fudging the CEO's resume.

It's Friday, May 4th. STARTING POINT begins right now.


O'BRIEN: A little bit of a tough turn, wasn't it, from whatever that STARTING POINT heavy duty metal music was to one of the women I love the most, Gladys Knight and the Pips, "Midnight Train to Georgia." Mayor Shirley Franklin's playlist this morning.

It's nice to have you joining our panel, we appreciate it. Really I'm joining you in your fair city.

Also with us this morning is DeShawn Snow. She's the founder of the DeShawn Snow Foundation. Also former cast mate of "The Real Housewives of Atlanta."

We have so much to dish about that because I want to know real, sort of real, completely fake. Come on.

Also joining us, Erick Erickson of Nice to have you with us.

It's weird because I feel like this is not my home or something. Have you with us, but really I'm here in your home.

ERICK ERICKSON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Atlanta is everybody's home.

O'BRIEN: Yes, it is. That's very true.

Lots to get to this morning, including some new details about the shocking suicide of football star Junior Seau. "The L.A. Times" has now decided to donate his brain. They're trying to determine if he had chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

This morning, we have an exclusive look at one of the last interviews he ever gave. He made one of his last public appearances at a charity golf tournament where he was signing autographs and talked with him fans. He spoke in an interview about how he felt privileged to be a role model, listen.


SEAU: You know, it's fun to be in a position that we're in, for kids that look up to us and for us to be able to give so much back.


O'BRIEN: That was on Monday. Just 36 hours later, Seau would be dead. The San Diego County medical office last night released the preliminary autopsy findings and they say that the 43-year-old died in his home of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest. The manner of death has been classified a suicide.

But many of his friends this morning are asking why?

Joining us in a CNN exclusive is Dave Biber. He's a friend of Seau's, who was involved in that charity. And also, Tim Abell, he's the man who interviewed, did what we believe is the last interview with Junior Seau.

Nice to see both of you. My condolences to both of you because I know you were both friendly with him.

Tim, I'm going to start with you, if I may. Tell me about the circumstances around the interview. Clearly it's a charity event. But talk to me about the day and that particular interview.

TIM ABELL, CONDUCTED ONE OF SEAU'S LAST INTERVIEWS: David asked me to interview -- do some interviews at the golf event. It was the Tim Brown and Kathy Ireland/911 for Kids event. We were interviewing some of the celebrities that were there, a lot of the football stars.

And Junior Seau was on one of his final holes and he stopped to eat some of Dave's pig, he made a full pig and Junior loved that. So he was over there smoking a cigar, having some pig. I asked him for an interview, he came over. He had a lot kids around him, was signing autographs, signing footballs and just the happiest guy in the world.

And we talked a bit before he went on camera and just said how much he loved kids and being a role model. Then we started doing the interview, it was about a minute long, I believe. We talked a bit about what it was like for him to be a role model for kids. He talked about the Junior Seau Foundation and how much it meant to him to be a role model to all these kids.

O'BRIEN: Let me play a little clip of that interview, because of course now -- you're right, that interview is very brief but I think people go back and look at that last interview. Thirty-six hours later he would take his own life, so look for clues. So, let's play a little bit and talk on the other side.


SEAU: Whatever you give yourself, there are a lot of kids out there that need help and (INAUDIBLE).


O'BRIEN: Besides interviewing, you spent the day around him. Was he -- what was he like? How would you describe his demeanor? Did he seem unhappy in any way?

ABELL: I found out that he had died and I was -- I was totally shocked. I told my friends that he was -- he was bigger than life on the gridiron and talking to him on the field, he's an imposing guy, he's a big guy. But he just had -- he was so jovial and happy and kids loved him and everybody was getting pictures with him.

I have to say that he was probably the most dynamic individual out there that I saw and that I talked to that entire day. He was over there with David talking about -- David is in about 17 different events with him and they had a much more personal relationship than I did.

But I thought the guy was -- showed no indication that he would do what he did 36 hours later.

O'BRIEN: How about you, David? Did you see any clues to depression or unhappiness or any kind of problems?

DAVID BIBER, FRIEND OF JUNIOR SEAU: We were at the 12th hole and the only complaint that I heard that day was no birdies. He seemed to be in the very good mood.

As Tim said, he was signing autographs surrounded by people. It was a flurry of activity has always followed junior. He's bigger than life, even in real life. Bigger than life on camera, bigger than life on the field and bigger than life in person, which you probably got from the fact there was one guy in the golf cart.

O'BRIEN: Let me ask -- that's true. Let me ask you a question for both of you. The family, as you know, has now said they will allow his brain to be studied so they can analyze to see in fact if he had CTE.

Do you think that that's a possibility? Is it something that he's ever, Dave, talked about or that you would have experience with?

BIBER: Not something that I'm that familiar with. However, Tim is a veteran and very familiar head injuries, so I would prefer to have him speak to that. I'm a barbecue guy.

ABELL: Well, I guess for me, you know, the quickness and the surprise of him killing himself is not too far off from a lot of the young kids that I've worked with coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan that have traumatic brain injuries and PTSD and depression and sleeplessness.

It's very similar to that. We have guys who I've worked with and talked with and a month later, two days later, you find out that he's suicidal or they have killed themselves.


ABELL: It's just amazing. It's amazing the similarities.

O'BRIEN: Tim Abell and David Biber -- thank you, gentlemen. Those similarities really chilling, I appreciate your time.

There are other stories making news. Let's get right to Christine Romans. She's got an update for us.

Hey, Christine.


Former Illinois police sergeant, Drew Peterson, faces a court hearing today for allegedly killing his third wife in 2004. Drew Peterson is also being investigated for the 2007 disappearance of his fourth wife. Last month, an Illinois appellate court ruled prosecutors can use incriminating statements against Peterson made by both women before they died or went missing.

Minding your business this morning: infighting at Yahoo! getting pretty ugly this morning. Yahoo!'s board of directors is now reviewing CEO Scott Thompson's resume after a hedge fund investor, Third Point, claimed he lied about having a degree in computer science. Third Point owns nearly 6 percent of Yahoo!'s shares and is battling to gain seats on the firm's board.

Probably the most important report in the economy and politics to be released at 8:30 a.m. this morning, the April jobs report. Economists surveyed by CNN Money expect to see 160,000 jobs added last month -- an improvement for March, but that pace could still be slower compared with gains we witnessed in December, January and February.

Checking markets -- U.S. stock futures hovering around break even this morning. Investors really in a holding pattern waiting for that big jobs report out in just about 20 minutes.

Nerds around the world are celebrating "Star Wars" Day.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, Luke, may the force be with you.


ROMANS: Why today? May the 4th be with you. And that silly pun is reason enough to celebrate.

Now, if you think that pun is bad, it could be worse. Nobody here in the CNN newsroom got dressed up but look at how our colleagues at Australia's Network 10 is celebrating "Star Wars" Day. Darth Vader himself made an appearance on the anchor desk. R2-D2 was there, too.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie getting an unusual request at a town hall meeting last night from a sixth grader named Peter Schwartz (ph).


PETER SCHWARTZ, SIXTH GRADER: I kind of need a note for school.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: You need a note for school?


CHRISTIE: Peter, it just says please excuse Peter from school today, he was with me, all right?


ROMANS: Signed, Governor Chris Christie.

That is one official excuse for missing class, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: And he's also like, also, it's on YouTube if you don't believe me. That's very funny.

All right, Christine, thanks.

Now, tomorrow, as we've been mentioning all morning, is the Kentucky Derby and here at STARTING POINT, we thought it would be nice to toast the race by learning how to make the different drinks of the Triple Crown. We showed you the classic mint julep in the last hour. Now, we're going to show you the Black-Eyed Susan is the official drink of the Preakness stakes.

And James Conley is the mixologist at the W Hotel here in Atlanta.

Nice to see you. The Black-Eyed Susan, tell me about that.

JAMES CONLEY, MIXOLOGIST: It's the Preakness' answer to the mint julep of the Kentucky Derby.

O'BRIEN: Out of jealousy.

CONLEY: Yes, exactly. And it consists of rye whiskey, vodka, orange juice, sour mix, which is just lemon.


CONLEY: I've got these already in the shaker. You want to give it a good shake and then just fill up a Collins glass with regular ice. It has the name because of the state flower of Maryland, which is the Black-Eyed Susan. That's what they cover the horse in after they win the race and the drink actually has that same color.

O'BRIEN: Is it as good as the mint julep?

CONLEY: It's very interesting. Too many drinks --

OBRIEN: That's either a yes or a no. Right, right.

CONLEY: It's not quite as much of a classic but it is a very delicious drink at the same time.

O'BRIEN: All right. James, thank you. I'm going to try that on the commercial break.

Still ahead on STARTING POINT this morning, the fat police or the fun police. More schools are saying keep those homemade cupcakes at home.

Plus, the father who wired his son to expose bullying teachers is making a new threat. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any time I feel the district is not following through in a responsible manner, then I reserve the right to release further information to the media.


O'BRIEN: He's threatening the school with more damning tapes. He's going to join us live to talk about what he's got on tape.

Plus, a CNN exclusive, dramatic surveillance video in a racially shooting. An elderly black veteran gunned down in his own apartment and the man behind the trigger is a white police officer. We'll tell you how it all went down and what a grand jury said about it when his son joins us coming up.

Plus, the big April jobs report is just a few minutes away. We're going to have a look at the numbers and a look at where those jobs are right now.

Here's Christine Romans' play list, the theme from "Star Wars."

You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in just a moment.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. A threat this morning from that New Jersey father who secretly recorded his son's teachers bullying, his son, in the classroom. Stuart Chaifetz announced yesterday that the school has assured him that a full investigation is under way. He says he's going to hold off on releasing more of the tapes, but with a catch.


STUART CHAIFETZ, FATHER OF AUTISTIC SON: However, and this is critical, if at any time I feel the district is not following through in a responsible manner, then I reserve the right to release further information to the media. I doubt anyone who has seen my video would think I would do, otherwise.


O'BRIEN: It was back in February when Chaifetz bugged his 10-year-old son, Akien (ph), who has autism with a small recording device. Pretty shocking contents of the tape made national headlines.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, boy. Knock it off.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Go ahead and scream because guess what? You're going to get nothing, until your mouth is shut.


O'BRIEN: Wow. Stuart Chaifetz joins us this morning. Nice to see you. I've seen that clip now many, many times, and it's still very horrible to hear. It must just break your heart every single time you hear it. You'd plan to release more of the tapes and then you decided not to. Why?

CHAIFETZ: Well, first of all, it does hurt every time I hear that, and it probably always will. I had planned to go forward, and then, the school district reached out to me a couple of days ago, and we had a pretty in-depth conversation, and I really walked away from that feeling that they were serious about this.

And if you watch the video, you know, I was only seeking an apology because that's all I thought I could get. And the thought that there could actually be some justice for the first time in a long time, I felt like this hand, which had been clutching my heart for all these months, was starting to open up, and I realized that's what I needed.

You know, I needed a sense that there was some justice, and that was more important to me than airing this out in the public media. But as I said, you know, I'm not -- I'm no one's fool in this situation. I want them -- I'm going to give them the space. I'm not part of the investigation.

But, you know, if anything I just don't think is happening in the correct way, I can always come back for round two.

O'BRIEN: Let me bring in my panel, because between us ,we have 26,000 children. You know, I think what his -- Mr. Chaifetz's issue was a sort of an issue that every parent has had. How do you put yourself inside the school to figure out what's happening to your kid. In his particular case, his son is autistic, meaning that he couldn't sort of come home and tell his dad exactly what was happening.

Now, he's sort of saying, I'm going to hold on to this threatening material until I get the answers I want. What do you think of this strategy?

SHIRLEY FRANKLIN, FORMER ATLANTA MAYOR: Well, I actually think that the fact that the school district has reached out, that they've had an extensive conversation, I mean, that's a really positive sign. And I applaud him for giving them an opportunity to do a full investigation and then make some corrective action.

O'BRIEN: You have three boys roughly his age.

DESHAWN SNOW, FOUNDER, THE DESHAWN SNOW FOUNDATION: Yes. And actually, my younger son has ADHD, and so, he's on the lower end of the spectrum. And it can be challenging at times, but you know, you definitely, when you send them off to school, you're hoping that they're going to take good care of them and not treat them that way.

O'BRIEN: At the same time, it feels very odd to have to hold a school hostage, right? Like, you need to do these things, otherwise -- I mean, that's very unusual if you think about it.

JAMAL ANDERSON, FMR NFL PLAYER: It is unusual, Soledad, but you've got to have that level of accountability, especially with what's already transpired. Trying to understand the parent -- being a parent myself, I understand where he's coming from. You want to make this as smooth as possible, especially move it forward to resolution, but I do understand his points.

O'BRIEN: Here's what the school district said, Mr. Chaifetz. "We're continuing to diligently pursue this investigation. The district is designing a comprehensive training program for all educational assistants with specialized training for those who work in self- contained classrooms."

That sounds like it's enough for you, but give me a sense if it is not, at what point do you say this is not enough and you reveal what else is on that tape? And I'd love to have an insight into what that might be, if you're willing to tell us.

CHAIFETZ: Well, it's not -- you know what, it's not so harsh as that. And by the way, I am grateful to that. And I should also mention that a New Jersey state legislator, Senator Diane Allen, is going to introduce legislation to help deal with this. So, there are many positive things moving forward.

And I want to help, you know, make that go forward so that no other parent has this. To me, it's more of an issue of what happened in that classroom. I just want to make sure that there's justice done. I don't know what's going to happen. You know, the tenure process is a very long, complicated process.

And I just want to -- you know, as I said, the thought that there's actually some justice, I can actually think of this issue and smile for the first time in a long time, because I didn't even realize how much I wanted that until it was on the table. So, I'm going to let -- even if -- whatever happens, I can't control the situation, I'm no part of it.

But the fact that it is being so seriously looked at to me is a vindication and a victory.

O'BRIEN: Stuart Chaifetz joining us this morning. Thanks for your time. Appreciate it.

CHAIFETZ: Thank you. I appreciate it.

O'BRIEN: You bet.

Ahead on STARTING POINT, an elderly Black veteran gunned down in his own apartment by a White police officer. What exactly happened? Is it a case of excessive police force? The victim's son will join us live in a CNN exclusive.

Plus, we're minutes away from the big monthly jobs report. It could affect your money and your 401(k) whether you have a job or not.

Plus we're live in Atlanta. We're going to check in with "The Real Housewives of Atlanta," Kandi Burruss as well. One of the cam ones (ph), surprising everybody with a big old blowout. But that's reality TV, isn't it?

If you're headed to work, check out the rest of the show on our live blog at or chat with us on Twitter, @STARTINGPTCNN. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in just a moment.


O'BRIEN: Still ahead on STARTING POINT this morning, a CNN exclusive, dramatic surveillance video in a racially charged shooting. An elderly Black veteran gunned down in his own apartment. The man behind the trigger, a White police officer. We'll tell you how it all went down and what the grand jury said when his son joins us up next.

And we're waiting the breaking news on the latest job numbers. Is anybody hiring right now? The April jobs report is just a few minutes away. We'll tell you how the economy is doing now.

And put on your bow tie, done your biggest straw hat. The Kentucky Derby kicks off tomorrow. We're going to get the drinking started early.


O'BRIEN: I'm going to show you how to make a Belmont breeze, which is the official drink of the Belmont Stakes, the last leg of the Triple Crown.

This is DeShawn's playlist, Bruno Mars, "Just the Way You Are." You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in a moment.


O'BRIEN: The family of a 68-year-old veteran who was killed by a police officer say that they're going to send letters today demanding a federal investigation into the case. The officer who shot Kenneth Chamberlain was cleared yesterday by a grand jury in White Plains, New York. It all started when the former marine triggered his medical alert pendant.

An ambulance responded, the police too. There was a confrontation that lasted more than an hour with Mr. Chamberlain, and he got more and more agitated. The police ended up breaking down the door. They tasered him at first, but eventually, they shot and killed him. Take a look.


O'BRIEN (voice-over): The alarm rang in at 5:00 a.m. on a cold morning. A 68-year-old Vietnam vet with a severe heart condition had set off his medical alert device, but instead of an ambulance, police arrived at Kenneth Chamberlain's apartment. Neighbors saw guns drawn, a riot shield.

WILBERT JOHNSON, NEIGHBOR: They stated that if he didn't come open the door, they were going to knock it down.

O'BRIEN: His niece who lived upstairs told police at the scene he'd set off the alarm accidentally, to please let his family talk to him.

TONYA GREENHILL, CHAMBERLAIN'S NIECE: I just kept hearing my uncle respond, "Please leave me alone, go away, I didn't call you, I don't need your help."

O'BRIEN: Chamberlain and the police were being recorded by the alert device.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I need to see that you're OK and then we'll go.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can't leave.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You called us. I can't leave.


KENNETH CHAMBERLAIN, JR., VICTIM'S SON: You hear one officer use an expletive and that's when he said he didn't give an "f," used the "n word."

O'BRIEN: But there's more. A district attorney showed the family two videos in their custody, one from a hallway security camera, another recorded by a camera on a taser gun.

KENNETH CHAMBERLAIN, SR.: Shoot me. Go on. Shoot me. Shoot me. Go on. Shoot me. Shoot me.

O'BRIEN: Police say Chamberlain threatened them with knives.

DAVID CHONG, PUBLIC SAFETY COMMISSIONER, WHITE PLAINS, NEW YORK: We're obligated as a police department never to walk away from an emergency. And we're not going to.

O'BRIEN: So then they fired two real bullets.

JANET DIFIORE, DISTRICT ATTORNEY, WESTCHESTER COUNTY, NEW YORK: There were civilian witnesses, there were police witnesses, there were expert witnesses, 100 exhibits went before that jury, and in this case most of this event was captured on audio or videotape. All of that information was before the people who made the determination in this case. After due deliberation on the evidence presented in this matter, the grand jury found that there was no reasonable cause to vote an indictment.


O'BRIEN: The district attorney said they will fully review the use of force against emotionally disturbed people by the police. The city is also going to conduct its own independent review. Mr. Chamberlain's son, Kenneth Chamberlain Jr. joins us this morning. Our condolences. We should also mention that your attorney is with you as well this morning. It's nice to see both you gentlemen. Let's begin with you, Ken, if I may. You told me yesterday that you were saddened but you were not surprised. Why were you not surprised?

KENNETH CHAMBERLAIN JR.: Well, I'm not surprised because if you look at the history in Westchester County, there have been a number of questionable police shootings, and all of them have come back cleared. I'm speaking about the Detective Ridley Case as well as the college student D.J. Henry, and now this situation with my father. And I've stated from the beginning that I thought it would be a conflict of interest, especially when the Westchester county D.A.'s office works very closely with the White Plains police department, and Janet Difiore (ph) herself is a member of the chiefs association. So why would I think that she had would indict a police officer?

O'BRIEN: When you listen to the tapes, it sounds like your father is getting more and more agitated and the cops are, I guess the word I'd use, are pushing him a bit. The district attorney confirmed for us that in fact the "n" word was on these tapes. Here's what the D.A. said.


DIFIORE: The police officer was at a rear window and he was attempting to distract Mr. Chamberlain. At that time he uttered a racial epithet and that was caught on audio tape.


O'BRIEN: So when you hear, I guess, the mocking and the "n" word that a police officer is using towards your dad, that's just got to break your heart.

KENNETH CHAMBERLAIN JR.: It does, and it's very hard for me to look at the video again, to listen to the audio. And for them to use the "n" word and they don't deny using it and there's been no disciplinary action. I mean, it makes you wonder. I would like to see their policy and procedure that says that it's OK to use the "n" word on an individual before shooting and killing him.

O'BRIEN: The attorney in the case, the officers say they removed a knife from Mr. Chamberlain Sr. And all the while we can hear him on tape saying shoot me, shoot me, and he's cursing. Talk to me about his mental state.

RANDALL MCLAUGHLIN, ATTORNEY, NEWMAN FERRARA LLP: After an hour to an hour and a half of these officers abusing him, calling him names, threatening him, mocking him, he becomes agitated. And there is some indication, though it's not clear on the video and not clear on the audio that there was some metal object here.

Here's the bottom line, at no time during this entire incident, when the door was down, when the door was up did Mr. Chamberlain leave his apart and threaten anyone. This was a tragedy caused by the white plains police department, their lack of professionalism. The fact that an officer is using the "n" word in an African-American community, there's absolutely no excuse for that behavior.

O'BRIEN: Ultimately as the commissioner said this the piece that we ran, he said the police are obligated to not walk away from an emergency, but not walking away versus killing the person who called for help in the emergency seems like an absolute compounded tragedy. I want to thank you both for joining us. Again, our condolences to you and thanks for being with us this morning.

CHAMBERLAIN: Thank you. O'BRIEN: We've got some breaking news coming into CNN. The unemployment rate is dropping. Christine Romans will join us with the April jobs report number straight ahead.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Hi there. Yes, 8.1 percent is the unemployment rate, Soledad and you had 115,000 jobs created in the month of April. So 115,000 jobs compares with an estimate of 160,000, so we're a little light on how many jobs were created. But that is good news that the unemployment rate ticked down.

Another unemployment rate that ticked down as well, black unemployment fell a full percentage point to 13 percent. That compares to 7.4 percent for white -- the white demographic, but still that was a move lower there. Men and women are about the same, 7.5 percent for men and 7.4 percent for women.

A couple of things to tell you about. We noticed job creation had been slowing down here, but we do know February and march were revised upward so we had better job creation, 50,000 more jobs created in these two months than we had thought. You saw professional business services hiring, retail hiring again, manufacturing. Transportation and warehousing is where we lost some jobs. So no real explanation overall about why.

I want to show you politically why this is so important too. This is what the story will be on the campaign trail because Mitt Romney has been saying that we've had record eight percent unemployment for 38 months. That's true. The president has been saying we have 4.1 million jobs created in the private sector over the past 25 months. That's true as well. Both of those statements are true, but now it becomes a big political game about how we're doing since this big jobs drought, how we are doing in creating jobs. We really had 115,000 jobs created right here. Again, all of this is a weak recovery, post-recession recovery. You want to see more job growths than this, but it has been slow and steady and it continues.

O'BRIEN: That's a graphic that's particularly impressive, especially in an election year. Christine, thank you very much.

We've been talking about the triple crown of horse racing known for its three jewels and the three drinks that go along with those three jewels. This morning we're learning how to make the original drinks for each race. We've done the mint julep for the Kentucky derby, the black-eyed Susan for the Preakness, and now the Belmont breeze. James Conley is back, a mixologist. What's the breeze, what's in it?

JAMES CONLEY, MIXOLOGIST: It's a mix of rye whiskey, cranberry juice, lemon juice. This is a perfect one to pre-batch for a party. It serves around five to six. Serve it over half crushed ice and half regular ice, a very light drink, great for the summertime. Go ahead and garnish that with a wheel of lemon. Get that on there right. Throw a fresh strawberry in there. And in honor of mint julep, the original trip crown cocktail, get a nice, big sprig of mint and throw it in there.

O'BRIEN: I like it. We'll see how it tastes on the commercial break.

Still ahead on "starting point," can't a kid have a cupcake anymore? The very latest thing to go in the battle over childhood obesity. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in just a moment.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back. That's off of DeShawn's playlist. There is no way to sugar coat it this morning. A growing number schools are doing away with bake sales. No more selling homemade goodies. Rules and regulations are supposed to help curb childhood obesity. In fact according to Bloomberg, eight states have regulations aimed at limiting bake sales. For example, California, nutrition guidelines strictly limit the fat, sugar and total calories of any food that's sold on a school campus. In Colorado, a House committee approved a trans-fat ban that would nix after school bake sales and concession stand treats. And there in New York City there's a complete ban on bake sales, so parent groups like the PTA are exempted and can hold one bake sale once a month.

Stephanie Armor is a food safety reporter for Bloomberg News. Her story about bake sale bans appears in Bloomberg BusinessWeek magazine. Elizabeth Puccini is the mother of a first grader in New York City. She protested the city's bake sale ban. Nice to see both of you this morning. Let's begin with you, Stephanie. Is there a sense that bake sales are responsible for the childhood obesity problem now?

STEPHANIE ARMOUR, FOOD SAFETY REPORTER, BLOOMBERG NEWS: There is actually some real concern that there are so many bake sales that are going on that when you add this together with other food that's sold on campus like vending machines, that it's really one of the reasons that the obesity rate for children has tripled since 1980. So there are some real concerns here that's driving this.

O'BRIEN: So Elizabeth, tell me about your experience. You have a first grader, I have a couple of first graders. I feel like every couple of weeks in order to raise some money for trips you want to do or things you want to buy, you want to have a bake sale. Are you finding limitations on that in New York City?

ELIZABETH PUCCINI, MOTHER OF FIRST GRADER: Absolutely. Now we're only allowed to have one bake sale a month in the schools. But with the budget cuts we've been experiencing, parents -- students are desperate to raise money for their schools and bake sales are a very lucrative way to do that. In the large high schools in the city it can raise anywhere between $500 to $700 for an extracurricular club or a sport.

O'BRIEN: Let me turn to my panel for a second. Good thing or bad thing? Obesity clearly a huge problem. On the other hand, schools are having their resources cut back.

JAMAL ANDERSON, FORMER NFL PLAYER: To me, this is one of the big issues that we're having. I personally think the bake sales, the things cooked at home are probably better than what we're going to have at school, but I want to control the whole entire thing, because most of the time what happens now, students have these accounts at these schools, where you can just got out -- well, I know mine, my kids, stop, don't do it out today.

But my kids work mine out. And I'm like What are you eating every day? They can go up and there's a lot of --

O'BRIEN: But isn't it better to tell your children to learn to control their eating versus saying what we're going to do is put all the baked sale goodies under lock and key?

ANDERSON: I -- I -- I think so. But at the same time when I'm trying to control the way I eat, I just don't have certain things around me. And I think that's probably what we're looking at the situation.

O'BRIEN: Let me bring it back to Stephanie for a moment. Stephanie, in your reporting, I've got to imagine that a lot of people you're talking to are sort of annoyed by the big brother aspect of it even more than talking about calorie counting or what foods are available to the kids.

It's sort of like what right is there to start controlling what my kids have access to?

STEPHANIE ARMOUR, FOOD SAFETY REPORTER, BLOOMBERG NEWS: I think annoyed is almost putting it mildly. I talk to some people who really are fairly outraged. They said this is nanny state politics. They say that this is taking away significant funding for schools, that some activity groups have actually disbanded because without the bake sale money they -- they can't really do anything.

So it's -- it's really, I think and for some parents a very significant and concerning issue.

O'BRIEN: Elizabeth, are you outraged? Are you an outraged mom?



O'BRIEN: The mother of a first grader is outraged all the time. You're just worn out and outraged.

PUCCINI: As a mom, we all know that we occasionally give our child a sweet and not all of our children are obese. And I think what we really need to be examining are the vending machines that are in the schools that are making junk food available to our children every single day.

And those extra calories I believe are really contributing to the obesity rates that we see and not the occasional cupcake or even muffin. I mean, these bans on bake sales ban anything from cupcakes to coffee cake to muffins to a quiche. You know it's all home-cooked foods basically.

Stephanie Armour and Elizabeth Puccini joining us this morning. Thank you so much. Yes I am with you, I -- bring on the cupcakes. Come on, please.

Still ahead on STARTING POINT, she's one of the most popular of the real housewives. She's going to join us this morning. Singer and "Housewives of Atlanta" Kandi Burruss joins us straight ahead.

Welcome. We're listening to Shirley's playlist. India RE video. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in just a moment.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't want to be mean to you. I'm trying to say something crazy to you but now you want to come at me? You don't know (EXPLETIVE DELETED). You don't know (EXPLETIVE DELETED) about my boobs.


O'BRIEN: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. I love when I'm showing clips and I have to bleep, bleep, bleep, bleep. And this is the woman who's described as the calmest and most sane of the cast members of "The Real Housewives of Atlanta". But during the reunion special, Kandi Burruss got a little heated responding to unofficial cast mate's Marlo Hampton's claims that she's a sugar mama. Even the Bravo -- and it's really auditioning right? Come on, put me on. Put me on.

KANDI BURRUSS, FORMER CASTMATE, "HOUSEWIVES OF ATLANTA": I did not know that was the clip we were going to see.

O'BRIEN: Bravo exec reunion host Andy Cohen was tweeting all the while. I didn't see this fight between Marlo and Kandi coming, did you? Question mark, question mark. She joins us now, she's a musician and actress, producer, reality star, Kandi Burruss.

And of course we have another former cast mate who's been with us for the last couple of hours, Deshawn Snow joining us as well. You were also the calm one.


O'BRIEN: Tell me, all right, so here's what I want to know. Reality TV, really real or a fakely real?

BURRUSS: I'd say that it's --


O'BRIEN: I can tell fakely real, that's way too long of an answer.

BURRUSS: Well, the reason I say that is because no --

O'BRIEN: And that's a yes, no. And that's true.

BURRUSS: Like we don't read a script. But like say, for instance, we may not hang together if it wasn't for the show.

O'BRIEN: So they set up scenarios? Right?

BURRUSS: You know they say, ok, you all are going to eat here but they know that these people do not necessarily get along. So --


O'BRIEN: Alcohol involved? Do they serve everybody a couple of drinks? Yes, I can tell.

BURRUSS: I'm not a drinker so I never, ever drink but a lot of the ladies do you know get a little extra with the drinks.

O'BRIEN: Do you, when you were on the first season and one of the -- the slams on you, which I think is a great testament, was that you were very normal. Like you were a nice, regular, calm woman, which I guess on reality TV would work against you a little bit.

SNOW: Yes. And I guess people want the drama. But I was who I was during the -- when they were interviewing me, during the taping and after, so they knew what they were getting.

O'BRIEN: Do you feel sometimes you have to play it up because you know there's sort of a great opportunity, that's how -- that's who you are?

BURRUSS: No, no. I'm very just laid back. I like to have fun. I think on the show I come off more of like, oh, that's the girl that I want to hang out with because I like to have a good time you know. I'm about my business. You know I love to talk about business and making money and that's my thing. And that's what you see on the show it's very rare people get under my skin. That clip you show --


O'BRIEN: I know, I know, I know, everybody was a little bit surprised. Do you look at the models of people who have been successful in terms of business? I mean, do you get into a real housewives type show and say what I'm really trying to do is build a brand. What I'm really trying to do is build a business, five, ten years down the road.

BURRUSS: Well, that -- that's how I feel you should do. I feel like it's really stupid to have that type of platform and not make the most of it. Why sit up and let people talk about you every day and -- and make you look crazy every day if you are not going to benefit in the long run.

O'BRIEN: Did you worry about having -- I mean, you have kids, you both have kids, you have a daughter and you had three kids. Do you worry though, about cameras and your house and the kids? My kids would say -- oh this is why I would never be on reality TV. My kids would say all kinds of inappropriate things. I'd have to be bribing, you can't put that on TV.

SNOW: True.

O'BRIEN: Where you worried about that?

SNOW: You worry at first but then you just kind of get used to it.

BURRUSS: I kind of forget that they're there sometimes. And plus we don't have the cameras 24/7 like some people think.

O'BRIEN: Right. Yes, I thought that.

BURRUSS: You know it's only for, no it's because the camera crew may be there at your house for like three hours and that's it. Then they're going to the next person's house. It's not like they're just there all the time and you can't get undressed.

ANDERSON: I know how popular the show is now. I was on one little clip one time and I still get people, you were on "Housewives". I was like that was three years ago, man.

BURRUSS: I had no idea how you know the reaction --


BURRUSS: -- people do when they watch that show, but it's really just like a living soap opera.

ANDERSON: Right, with the clip that we showed, though I think people were so surprised because you're so mild mannered and we have so many other things going on.

O'BRIEN: Not in that clip.

ANDERSON: No, I think it was a rare moment where you kind of like Kandi has had it, you know what I mean. And you've got the singing and you have your other business.

SNOW: That's the part of reality that the people see all sides of you.

BURRUSS: Exactly. I think that's a good thing that people get to see all sides. I mean because, it's -- I mean, it's -- every day if I followed you every day, you're not going to be so together every day.

O'BRIEN: Why, yes, I would. I'm a hot mess.

BURRUSS: You know, out of the four or five months of them taping, of course they have got to keep the things that are going to be interesting to make people tube in every week. If I'm nice and boring every day, they're like people aren't going to watch.

O'BRIEN: And sanity. Nice and boring and sane. I like that. Thanks for being with us, Kandi. We certainly appreciate it. Lots of businesses coming up that you're kicking off.


BURRUSS: Yes, I'm very excited from my new show that I have "Kandi Factory", which is about music and not drama and then I have "Bedroom Kandi", I have my store tags.

ANDERSON: Bedroom Kandi.

O'BRIEN: Leveraging it.


ANDERSON: Which show did I do? I did one of your radio shows.

BURRUSS: Oh, "Kandi-Coated Nights".

ANDERSON: Right. Kandi is a business. She's a business. Kandi is a business.

O'BRIEN: Our "End Point" is up next with our panel. We'll give you the recipe for the drinks we've been showing you all morning as well. We're back in just a moment.


O'BRIEN: Oh, I did love listening to Anita Baker this morning, absolutely adore her. She's going to be at Radio City this weekend. I want to remind everybody, the drinks that we've been making all morning are on the table. So check out the Web site if you want to know how to make them. The recipes are there.

"End Point" with the panel. Deshawn, you're going to start us of. What do you think is the big takeaway?

SNOW: I think the big takeaway is with Junior Seau and just to -- during your grief to make sure that you always think of other people and let someone else heal through your pain.

O'BRIEN: That's good advice.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think when you have a father that's really hurt by what happened to his son but is willing to give the school system a chance to correct and the school system is willing to do the training. I mean that's a good story. That's the way we need to live our lives.

O'BRIEN: You get our final word this morning.

ANDERSON: Junior Seau most definitely, and bringing a heightened concern on the safety of NFL players, former players, great players like that. It's so unfortunate what we're learning and what has transpired with Junior and putting the emphasis on trying to control the stuff and make football safer but more fun.

These are guys who love the sport, who care a lot about the sport. And I think we've got to make it as safe as possible.

O'BRIEN: Genuine tragedy if in fact CTE had something to do with his suicide. That would be truly sad.

I want to remind everybody that on Monday, if you're an Elvis fan, you want to check it out. We've got a sneak peek at a new exhibit with some never before seen Graceland artifacts, 35 years since the King has passed away (AUDIO GAP) by his daughter.

That is it for us. Have a great weekend, everybody. I'll see you back here on Monday morning starting at 7:00 a.m. Eastern time. Let's get right to Carol Costello. Hey Carol good morning.