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At Least 50 Hurt in NYC Ferry Crash; Wal-Mart to Attend White House Gun Meeting; Armed Posse Near Maricopa County Schools; Promoting Responsible Fatherhood; Baseball Hall of Fame Announcement Today

Aired January 9, 2013 - 10:30   ET


ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And then she heard emergency officials tell everybody who could, who could walk, to go to the front of the boat and get off first. They wanted to attend to people who were more seriously hurt. Ashley told me how when she did walk, she felt lots of people lying everywhere. One man in particular she said had a huge gash in his head, lots of blood from him.

She got off the boat and you know, was in tears. I mean, clearly a very scary -- a very scary commute in. Another witness that I spoke with said that a lot of the people who were hurt worse were standing up. This is a two-tier ferry, an upstairs and a downstairs. So what happens is a lot of these people are eager to get off the boat, to get -- to get on with their day.

So a lot of people wind up standing up even before the boat stops. So unfortunately what it's been according to the witnesses, is a lot of people were standing up on the staircase. And when this boat hit the barge, these people came tumbling down the stairs -- Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, it's lucky no one fell in the water because it's really cold in New York City right now. We see that some of the -- some of the injured were being treated on the scene on stretchers and firefighters were putting blankets over them to keep them warm. Other passengers, Alison, were taken to the hospital. At least 50 people injured in all one of them critically.

Earlier I, too, spoke to a woman who was on board that boat. She was sitting in the back, a young woman named Elizabeth Banta -- I'm sorry -- Julie Westfall, we have her on the phone, Julie Westfall, I'm hearing from my producer right now in case you're wondering why I suddenly stopped. Julie, you were a witness to this accident. Before I get to Elizabeth, tell me what you saw.

JULIE WESTFALL, FERRY CRASH WITNESS: I mean, I didn't see the accident happen. I just saw some of the aftermath when EMS had started to appear -- I just gotten there a few minutes before. And they were bringing out a lot of injured passengers on board. And there was a lot of bleeding heads and this are like stunned-looking passengers. The passengers were still coming off of the ferry when I got there.

COSTELLO: Are you close enough to the boat to see that big hole in the front of the thing? WESTFALL: Yes, one of the passengers that I talked to showed me a picture that he had taken the front of the boat. It didn't -- I couldn't tell if there was a hole. There was definitely a lot of damage on the front sort of bottom of the boat.

COSTELLO: How did that person you were talking to, how did he describe the impact?

WESTFALL: He just said, you know, it was a huge jolt, a big, you know, huge impact and that's pretty much how everyone described it. Luckily the passenger that I talked to, he was still seated. And he was, I guess, sort of in the process of getting up. And so he did hit his knee, but he wasn't as bad off -- you know, there were lots and lots of passengers who were standing because the boat was coming in, so they were sort of getting ready to get off the boat.

COSTELLO: We're looking at some of the pictures you took at the scene from your Facebook page, I think. I think that's it. So this is from Twitter. I apologize, from Twitter. So Julie, explain to me again the extent of the injuries you saw.

WESTFALL: I saw, you know, I saw a lot of bleeding heads with in sort in the white bandages covering them. I saw a lot of people strapped to boards who were laying on the cement dock. And I couldn't see -- some of them didn't appear to be injured, but obviously there was enough concern about their health, you know, to keep them strapped to their boards.

COSTELLO: Absolutely. Julie, we appreciate you sharing your story with us this morning.

And you know, just to wrap up again, 50 people injured in this ferry accident. One of them critically, I don't know why that ferry ran into the dock right now, but as you might expect, an investigation is now under way.

We're also following breaking news involving Wal-Mart. The retailer now says it's going to -- it's going to go to a meeting on gun control this week at the White House.

Christine Romans broke this story. She's in New York with more. Good morning, Christine.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. The company, as you know, had said that it has its monthly meetings in Bentonville, Arkansas and wouldn't be able to physically attend the Vice President's gun meetings, gun meetings will be attended by all kinds of different groups including the National Rifle Association.

Wal-Mart has said indeed that it had -- it had talked to, it had a conference call earlier in the week with the Vice President's staff and scheduling difficulties meant he couldn't come. Of course, a lot of folks said wait a minute.

Other groups had conference calls with the Vice President's staff. They're still personally going to be at this meeting. Some said that it was a slight to the White House and the Vice President's team.

Wal-Mart all morning had been telling me it's not a slight to the -- to the effort here. They just couldn't make it because of scheduling -- a scheduling problem.

Now Wal-Mart has changed its mind. It will be sending somebody there. The company telling me in a statement, "We underestimated the expectation to attend the meeting on Thursday in person, so we are sending an appropriate representative to participate."

Carol, when I broke this news to you about 20 minutes ago, I told you the company was having a change of heart. Company spokesman David Tovar corrected me. He said we have not had a change of heart. We have always been involved in the discussion about gun safety. They are -- they say responsible sellers of armaments in this country.

It wasn't a change of heart. They've always been in this discussion, but they will now personally be at the table. That they had underestimated how important it was for public perception quite frankly to do this face to face.

COSTELLO: I believe -- I believe you said they had a change of heart about attending this meeting in person, not the other thing.

ROMANS: That's what I said. That's what I said. But I have been going back and forth with Wal-Mart for about four hours about these meetings and why they would not personally be there. Now they have changed their mind. I think the public outcry was pretty -- was pretty clear here. A lot of people will be sitting down, talking and listening over the next couple of days and now Wal-Mart will, too.

Wal-Mart is the largest retailer in the country. Wal-Mart sells ammunition. It sells AR-15 style Bushmaster rifles like the ones that were used to kill those 26 people in Newtown. Wal-Mart is a purveyor of the very products that are at the center of this debate about gun safety. That's why Wal-Mart is invited and that's why Wal-Mart will be there.

COSTELLO: All right, Christine Romans, thanks so much.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is no stranger to controversy. So his latest program on school safety should come as no surprise, armed volunteers patrolling areas near schools. Sheriff Joe's posse next.


COSTELLO: The controversial Sheriff Maricopa County, Joe Arpaio, he's certainly taking his own approach to school safety. This weekend Sheriff Joe have his volunteer posse start patrolling areas near schools under the county's jurisdiction. Armed men and women in marked vehicles including some who have had a criminal past. Of course, they've had background checks.

The county will insure them in case something happens. Sheriff Arpaio spoke out about his new program.


SHERIFF JOE ARPAIO, MARICOPA COUNTY, ARIZONA: It's not a secret. I want everybody to know we're there. And maybe the bad guys will worry about it.


COSTELLO: The Sheriff's office says those volunteers with criminal backgrounds have already served their -- serve their time in prison and/or have had their records expunged, so they're entirely OK to patrol the areas around schools.

Jose Miguel from affiliate KPHO joins us from Anthem, Arizona, outside an elementary school where those volunteers are on patrol. Thanks for being with us.

JOSE MIGUEL, KPHO REPORTER: Thanks for having me.

COSTELLO: So first of all, describe how these patrols will look. Will they get out of their vehicles and walk, and will you see their weapons?

MIGUEL: They will actually patrol the grounds as well as on foot as well as in their vehicles. What we understand is basically the sheriff is looking to make sure that their presence is very well known. He thinks that as long as people can see these uniformed posse members out in this area, it will deter anybody who shouldn't be on campus from going anywhere near the campus.

So not only will they be patrolling in their marked vehicles, they will also be walking around the perimeters of the campus as well.

COSTELLO: Have parents in the county asked for this?

MIGUEL: From what we understand, they're actually giving a lot of mixed reaction. There are some parents that think that any extra protection is great. When it comes to the safety of their children, they don't want to spare any kind of expense. That means having extra eyes and ears on school property, they are all for it.

But then there are some parents that say maybe this isn't a good idea. Maybe we shouldn't make the children more afraid than they need to be. Maybe if they see a uniformed person on campus, they think something is wrong and they might be a little bit more nervous than if there was just the regular school administrators out patrolling.

So there is definitely some mixed reaction from the parents when it comes to this program.

COSTELLO: I'm just curious, in Maricopa County, is there a big problem with guns in schools or violence in schools?

MIGUEL: We have had some issues in certain areas of the county. They are just like any major metropolitan city, there are certain areas that you might see weapons more prevalent than others. Typically when a situation like that occurs, it's handled rather quickly by the school administrators. We haven't had any incidents within the last few years where a weapon has been discharged or anything of that nature, which is great news for the parents in the area.

But the school administration in this city is very strong in their beliefs about not allowing any type of weapon on campus, be it from a student or a parent, for that matter.

COSTELLO: Jose Miguel from our affiliate KPHO, thank you for -- thank so much for filling us in. We appreciate it.

And by the way, Sheriff Joe will hold a press conference at 4:00 p.m. Eastern, I think it is. And he's also invited reporters from around the country to ride with his posse to see how that program exactly works. We'll keep you posted.

A man who has 11 children with 10 different women is a star in a reality show.


SHAWTY LO, RAPPER: Like I said, there's a lot of fathers who don't take care of one, you know. I take care of 11.


COSTELLO: That's Shawty. And 30,000 people are objecting to Shawty's new show. You'll hear from the woman leading the charge.


COSTELLO: The importance of being a responsible father, it's a topic that can be a sensitive one in this country but one President Obama has been talking about for several years, even before he was elected.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We need fathers to recognize their responsibility doesn't just end at conception. That doesn't just make you a father. What makes you a man is not the ability to have a child. Any fool can have a child. That doesn't make you a father.


COSTELLO: And once in the White House, the President launched a fatherhood pledge, asking men to renew their commitment to their families and communities. But a new reality show flies in the face of everything the President is promoting. It's called "All My Babies' Mamas and features Atlanta-based rapper Shawty Lo, his 11 children and their 10 mothers. And now Shawty Lowe and his show are sparking outrage.

Joining me now is Sabrina Lamb, author of the financial literacy site She has launched an online petition on to get this show canceled. Sabrina, good morning.


COSTELLO: OK. So 30,000 people have signed your petition. What are they saying? What are you saying about this show?

LAMB: Well, together with the diverse coalition from the parents television council, Paul Porter, The Odyssey Project, from around the country, around the world, they're saying say no to Shawty Lo because this -- this debacle, it's not -- it's an offensive debacle because number one -- and I wish someone would break this news -- the term babies' mamas is a slur. It is a slur against the honored position of being a mother. And casting the child as if they were a mistake, like oops.

This particular musician talks about publicly that, you know, he didn't use condoms. And so this network that we are launching this protest, we're demanding that they never air it. It's positioned to send a dangerous message as if these women are not honored women. And that they continue to use unprotected sex to bring children that they don't treasure, that they don't value.

And we're saying -- and this is different than all the other trash that's on television in the so-called reality genre -- we're saying children don't deserve to participate or witness your chaos, your determined chaos. They deserve to have a mother and father who brings them into the world and not witness you call each other babies' mamas and fight over who gets school supplies and have some network position your life, what you decided your life to be as what we're going to tweet and gossip about and who's going to get school supplies and who's going to get financial support.

COSTELLO: Well, I will say that the rapper in question, he's now speaking out about the controversy, in large part because of your petition, I suspect. Here's part of what he had to say in an interview with a New York radio station, HOT 97. Let's listen.


SHAWTY LO, RAPPER: I've been hearing a lot of people, like, saying talking about me and my kids or whatever, but like I said, there's a lot of fathers who don't take care of one, you know. I take care of 11. I'm hands-on with my kids, you know, before people were even talking about a show, before a show or after a show. Just check my Instagram. I'm hands-on with my kids.


COSTELLO: OK. So he says he's a responsible father. He supports them financially --

LAMB: Carol.

COSTELLO: He's involved -- I know.

LAMB: Carol, let's just keep this real. He doesn't need a reality show. He needs a step-by-step on how to use condoms and therapy. No show for Shawty Lo, seriously. Because what this network, Oxygen Media, is determined to do is to send these messages to their young, diverse female audience that it's OK to have unprotected sex. It's OK to have children out of wedlock. It's OK to not own your body. It's OK to fight each other for crumbs, for emotional and financial crumbs.

When you say you take care of your kids, you honor their mother, and you don't honor their mother by calling them babies' mamas. He's publicly saying, well, my baby's mama, she's got two by me. Excuse me, is this immaculate conception? You made a choice to conceive a blessing.

I wish our children -- I wish our children would, in this society, in this country, would be considered the sacred beings that they are. I'm hearing from children, Carol -- I'm hearing from children who say we'll be adults. Have standards for us. We're tired of witnessing your chaos.


COSTELLO: Wait a second. Wait a second. I have to interrupt, although I'm enjoying your passion, believe me, I'm enjoying your passion. But I have to get this statement from the Oxygen Network that's planning to air this show.

LAMB: And I have a response to that.

COSTELLO: OK, good. I suspected you would. It says, "Oxygen's one- hour special in development is not meant to be a stereotypical representation of everyday life for any one demographic or cross- section of society. It is a look at one unique family and their complicated, intertwined life. Oxygen Media's diverse team of creative executives will continue developing the show with this point of view."

You know, I just hate when they say diverse team. It's like --

LAMB: Exactly.

COSTELLO: So that gives it an excuse to be OK?

LAMB: I would like to -- exactly. I would like to meet the team of diverse executives. And also, you know, I don't think that "Birth of a Nation", you know that film, meant to be stereotypical, but it was. I feel like I'm in a scene out of Robert Townsend's film "Bamboozle" where they sat around and thought this was a good idea.

They've crossed the line here. As I was prepared to say, adults, if you want to act the fool on television, go at it. When you bring children in it, innocent beings who do not have to participate or should not have to witness your chaos and then you expect something else from them in terms of being, you know, self-reliant, self- confident beings, loving beings, then you're going to hear from the world.

And so this is no longer my petition. No longer my petition. It's the world's petition that they say no to Shawty Lo. COSTELLO: All right. Sabrina -- Sabrina Lamb, thank you so much. if you want to participate. And just as an aside, the Oxygen Network has now pulled clips of that show from YouTube and from its Web site. So Sabrina, your passion's getting through.

We'll be right back.


COSTELLO: This winter day is usually an exciting time for baseball fans. The results of the hall of fame voting are in. But there's a good chance no one's name will be announced this afternoon, and yes, you can blame the steroids era.

Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds are on the ballot for the first time. And even though neither failed a steroid test, neither has been able to shake off the whiff of PEDs.

Lance Williams is a senior reporter at the center for -- is at the center of investigative reporter. He wrote about bonds and the Balco steroid scandal in a "Game of Shadows". Good morning, Lance.


COSTELLO: I think I've read your book three times. It's a fabulous book. You know everything there is to know about --

WILLIAMS: Bless your heart.

COSTELLO: -- oh, it's a great book. You know everything there is to know about Barry Bonds and steroids. Do you think he'll get in today?

WILLIAMS: Well, the polling that AP did suggests he won't get half the votes. He needs 75 percent. It's solely attributable, of course, to the steroid issue because if you took that of the table, he'd be one of the greatest players who ever lived.

COSTELLO: Should that matter? Should that enter into it?

WILLIAMS: Well, each sport confronts this issue differently. If we were in cycling or Olympic sports, we wouldn't be talking about putting Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens in the hall of fame. They would be taking their records away from them. But that's not the way baseball rolls, if you can put it that way. They have not addressed steroids in the same way.

COSTELLO: In your book, I mean, there's so much evidence that you gathered against Barry Bonds to prove that he actually did use steroids. But he went through a court procedure. He was found guilty of obstruction of justice. Not for taking steroids of any kind. So as you paid attention to that trial, you know, what do you think?

WILLIAMS: Well, reality and admissible evidence are two different things. And that's just the way our criminal justice system rolls. In the trial. Important evidence of bonds' steroid use was ruled by the judge as not fit for the jury to hear about. And so you had positive steroid tests done privately at the Balco Drug Lab for Bonds. You had other documentary evidence, calendars tracking his doping that the judge ruled was not competent evidence. That's our system, but you know, what's actually going on and what reality is, is we don't fact find by the same rules as the courts do.

If you step back and look at the evidence, there's no question that he used banned drugs. And, of course, he's never really even stepped up and given an explanation for the changes in his body or the association with the steroid dealers and so forth that are part of the story here.

COSTELLO: Short answer, because we're running out of time, I just wondered if Barry Bonds does make it into the hall of fame, in your mind, what does that say about baseball?

WILLIAMS: Well, baseball continues to harm itself by not finding a way to deal with the steroid era. Pretending it didn't happen isn't a way to deal with it. It seems to me if you want to let these guys in, maybe if they admit it, maybe if you explain the context of the era when many people are using drugs, if you want to honor them in that way, that's OK.

But to simply pretend that drug use didn't exist and a red flag on him, I don't think it's good for the game long term. Other fans may feel differently.

COSTELLO: I think many fans probably are on your side. Lance Williams, thank you so much for joining us this morning.

I'm Carol Costello. Thank you for joining me today. CNN NEWSROOM continues with Ashleigh Banfield after the break.