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Two More Votes Today; Judge: Speed Cameras Unconstitutional; America's Upstairs Neighbor; Harper's Brave Battle; Taco Bell's Growth Soars on New Taco

Aired March 13, 2013 - 10:30   ET


JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A lot of people that I talked to anyway are staying around, they're basically saying they're going to come back this afternoon to see about the second vote and the third vote today and how that turns out and maybe even come back tomorrow if necessary before they get a pope -- Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Jim Bittermann, thanks so much.

Here at home, those annoying speed cameras are cash cows for a lot of cities and that in part, makes them unconstitutional. That's what a state judge has ruled in Elmwood Place, Ohio -- that's a small town near Cincinnati. Now this judge's decision calls the speed cameras a sham, and a high-tech game of Three-Card Monte. This judge is ordering the city to pay back 10 people who challenged their tickets and now the entire state of Ohio is considering making the cameras illegal. Listen to lawmakers.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is just a scam, a money grab.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And it's an example of Big Brother gone wild in a budget crunch.


COSTELLO: Profits reaped from the ticket are huge. According to the court, about 115 tickets are issued daily in that tiny town. Each ticket, each fine, I should say, is $105. That adds up to more than $360,000 per month and that money is split between the city and, of course, the people who make those speed cameras.

Joining us now from New York is our CNN legal contributor Paul Callan. Good morning, Paul.


COSTELLO: These kinds of stories always fascinate me. Is this the first time that a judge has ruled that these speed cameras are unconstitutional?

CALLAN: Well, no, it isn't. Actually, there have been lawsuits filed against these cameras all over the country. There are even some class-action lawsuits involving huge numbers of motorists suing. Every place that they turn up people get really mad about it because you get nailed automatically, you have to pay the ticket, maybe you're not even driving the car, maybe you lent it to a friend.

So it's a - they're controversial every place that they're installed. So -- but this is one of the strongest, the strongest worded decisions I've seen denouncing the cameras.

COSTELLO: I was going to ask you in part this judge ruled that these things are unconstitutional because 40 percent of the profits in this case go to the people who make the cameras. The rest of it goes to this tiny village.

CALLAN: Yes. You know what the judge found in this case is that the company, the private company that supplies the cameras, is in charge of calibrating the cameras and setting them up. So how do we know that company is not setting them up to nail more drivers to make more money? This is very different than a police officer with a radar gun who works for the government and due process protects us. We can go into court and say hey, the radar gun was off or the cop was looking a different way. With these laws, you're automatically ticketed, you're deprived of due process of law, you can't even fight these things. Unconstitutional, says the judge.

And it's a blistering decision denouncing the village for doing this.

COSTELLO: I know. It's really a fun read, actually. This is very colorful language. I guess my last question to you would be, if the state of Ohio makes these speed cameras illegal, will most of the country follow suit? I mean, is -- are these things fast becoming a thing of the past?

CALLAN: No, I don't think they're becoming a thing of the past unfortunately. And you know you can even talk about drones, law enforcement using drones. These is -- these are all technologies that the police are using because they're efficient, they're generally very, very accurate. You can set up a system that's constitutional. You have to build in due process and you have to build in ways for citizens to challenge the accuracy of the cameras.

However, you know, the legislature might respond to citizen anger and ban it. Now that's happened in some states. In some states, the state legislatures have said we're banning the cameras because they're going to throw us out of office if we leave them in because people just don't like them.

But in terms of the courts or the constitutionality, ultimately if you do it right they're totally legal. And I think you'll still see some states using them. You know they do save lives, some people say, because they slow people down and they slow the traffic down.

COSTELLO: Paul Callan, many thanks.

CALLAN: Always nice being with you, Carol.

COSTELLO: Thanks Paul. It's a simple taco, but boy, is its impact unbelievable. Taco Bell sells more than a million Dorito Locos tacos every single day and guess what, that little taco is creating thousands of jobs. Ahead, can a taco save America?


COSTELLO: Television viewers fell in love with Valerie Harper back in the '70s on the "Mary Tyler Moore Show". She played the kooky upstairs neighbor Rhoda Morgenstern. Harper was always there with a laugh.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I draw the line, married guys with medallions, double lines for married with children.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, he's divorced.



COSTELLO: She's such an example for young girls at that time. Now Harper is sharing her brave battle with a devastating cancer diagnosis. On Tuesday, she told Piers Morgan what it was like to get that diagnosis after she thought she had beaten the disease.


VALERIE HARPER ACTRESS: Just two months after I was saying I was cancer-free and this is great I got this diagnosis. So I think I was opened up to talking to people about personal things in my life. Nothing raunchy or hot because I didn't have raunch in my life or drugs or alcoholism, just, you know, slept with my husband.

So you know -- or if I did, I wasn't going to talk about it. So that was my book. And I -- I think that's part of me wanting to go public now, because I want people clear about what's going on, that was four years ago and Dr. McKenna gave me that and now Dr. Natale (ph) and Dr. Ruddnick are on the trail of trying to help me with this.

So after this little course, a short course of chemo, that's designed to get through the blood brain barrier if you understand what that is.


HARPER: That's this protective coating, that infection and bacteria don't get through, but neither does chemo, except certain designed ones. They're now working on medicine, rather than cheno -- excuse me rather than chemo, that gets to my particular cancer.

Every cancer cell has its own DNA. Who knew? I certainly didn't and markers. And they are working from my tumor of four years ago, looking at it, biopsying (ph) and trying to develop something specifically for me. Not because I'm an actor or people know me, but because I'm a cancer patient.

MORGAN: When you look back, Valerie, over this extraordinary life and career that you've had, what has been the greatest moment for you? If I could replay a moment for you now, what would you choose?

HARPER: Oh, my goodness. My husband telling me that he thought we should adopt because I would make a great mother. That was a nice one.

And other -- the achievements are being directed by Paul Newman. Who wouldn't want to look into those blue eyes? Just there have been -- there have been milestones all along, but I guess the biggest of all was just having Tony Cacciotti in my life, at my side, at my back, helping me in every way possible and enjoying life with me and traveling and all the things we've done.

So I guess my marriage, which is an ongoing, unfolding, to this minute.

MORGAN: But I've never seen anybody who -- I've known some people in my life who have been diagnosed with a terminal condition and you know, to most people it would be the single most crushing thing that's ever happened to them. You've reacted in this extraordinarily positive way, which I think has really inspired people and they're all asking the same thing. Where do you feel you get the strength to be like this?

Harper: Well, first of all, I'm almost 74 and I have had a magnificent run, the most wonderful husband in the world for 34 years, a great career and finally after all these years of wanting to be a little stage actress, I got a Tony nomination in 2010. At 70 years old, what could be better?

But I really look at my life as blessed. Sure, I've had challenges and terrible things happen and loss of dear people and all that, but I really think that if we had less fear and resistance, like a stratified thing to death, life would be happier and the moments of our lives would be fuller and richer and I'm not saying, you know, Pollyanna, yes, yes, I don't mean it to sound like, "Yes, here comes death," but it's just that if it is a reality as "People" magazine said -- they did say three months to live, but oncologists will tell you we don't say that, we say three, maybe six, maybe one week.


COSTELLO: I still want her to be my best friend, like I always did. Wow. You can catch Harper's full interview on

We'll be right back.


HARPER: I'm going crazy with hunger.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well eat something.

HARPER: I can't. I've got to lose ten pounds by 8:30.



COSTELLO: Time to talk back at a number of important stories this morning.

The president will have a really -- actually he'll really have to turn on the charm when he travels to Capitol Hill to talk face to face with House Republicans. They have stood in the way of virtually all of his priorities and most likely they will ask him about what he told ABC's George Stephanopoulos.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My goal is not to chase a balanced budget just for the sake of balance. My goal is how do we grow the economy, put people back to work and if we do that, we're going to be bringing in more revenue. If we've controlled spending and we've got a smart entitlement package then potentially what you have is balance, but it's not balance on the backs of, you know, the poor, the elderly, students who need student loans, families who have got disabled kids. That's not the right way to balance our budgets.

Joining us now, Jason Johnson, chief political correspondent for Politic365 and political science professor at Hiram College; and Ron Christie, former special assistant to President George W. Bush. Welcome to you both.



COSTELLO: Good morning.

See I always thought a balanced budget was really, really important. What exactly is President Obama saying, Jason?

JOHNSON: Well, what he's saying is, I want my policies to go through and I got re-elected arguing for these policies. That's basically the point. What we've got here is an impasse because Barack Obama feels, since he just won the presidential election on these policies -- that is what the Republicans in congress should be willing to work with. They're not interested in that.

I don't really think a balanced budget is important in and of itself but he really doesn't care because he thinks that there are some bigger issues that he wants to tackle in his second term.

COSTELLO: Ron, what do you think?

CHRISTIE: Well, I think the President has an obligation to lead the country and to outline specifically what his priorities are. He is mandated by law to put forth a budget, the first Monday in February. He's failed to do this four out of the five years he's been in office. And I think it's very important for the American people to understand what this Administration would prioritize on funding and what they wouldn't.

I listened to the way that the President demonized the Republicans and said oh, they want to balance the budget on the backs of the poor and elderly. That's nonsense. The senate budget resolution proposes to spend $46 trillion over the next ten years. Paul Ryan supposedly would put $41 trillion. Or Paul Ryan says we should increase spending by 3.5 percent every year and the Senate Democrats say 5 percent. That's hardly cutting spending.

COSTELLO: Ok. You've seen sort of what the conversation is like on Capitol Hill or going to be like today.

On to topic two. Lawmakers in Mississippi are saying "Nanny Bloomberg do not mess with us." Mississippi has passed a bill to prevent any ban on large sodas dubbed the anti-Bloomberg bill. This after a New York judge struck down the mayor's soda ban. Mayor Bloomberg's soda ban, that is.

Perhaps understandable, except Mississippi is the fattest state in the nation with a 35 percent obesity rate. So the question, is Mississippi's anti-Bloomberg bill a good idea, Ron?

CHRISTIE: I don't know. I mean I think it's more symbolic than it is anything else. The fact of the matter is that chronic disease is really the driver of health care costs in this country. If you look at the money that we're spending at the federal government, you're looking at about 75 cents out of every health care dollar is going to chronic disease.

I understand their really disdain with what Mayor Bloomberg was trying to do, but at the same time, passing a symbolic statute I think is somewhat meaningless.

COSTELLO: I'm just looking at our viewer comments, Jason. This is from Don. He said, "I thought America was a free nation. Who does Bloomberg or the government think they are to try to tell us what we can or cannot do?"

I hear that, but I also know, as Ron said, we have an obesity problem in this country. People are addicted to fattening foods. So what as a nation do you do? Because we all share in the health care costs.

JOHNSON: Well look, Bloomberg's plan went too far but he has the right idea, and the idea is to say look, if we all end up having to pay for these costs we have to make sure that this goes down very simply. I think it had a negative economic impact but I think his idea was good.

What Mississippi is doing I think is a waste of time. I'm sure there's a lot more important issues down there like education and health care that they should be handling.

COSTELLO: Ron Christie and Jason Johnson, thanks for playing today. We appreciate it.

JOHNSON: Thank you.

CHRISTIE: Always a pleasure.

COSTELLO: On the subject of fast food, could a craving or could addiction to a taco save America? The taco craze that helped -- that's helping to boost the American economy. We'll talk about that, next.


COSTELLO: I'm thinking about a neon orange meat filled miracle taco wrapped in a nacho cheese dorito shell. Thanks a lot "Daily Beast". Thanks to you, I cannot get that image out of my head now or this "Daily Beast" headline: "Can this taco save America?"

It's no joke. According to the "Daily Beast", last year Taco Bell sold one million doritos locos tacos a day. It's hired 15,000 workers to handle the madness. Talk about success.









COSTELLO: Wow. So, since we love that "Daily Beast" headline, can a taco really save America, we want to talk about that? Joining us now our business guru Alison Kosik and Lynn Johnson, director of digital and social strategy and brand strategy at Marketing and Wagner. Welcome to you both.



COSTELLO: I love this story. Alison, can one delicious taco really save America?

KOSIK: I don't know if it's going to save America. I mean what's the sodium content in that thing? I think it's going to really hurt our health. All right. But putting the nutrition and the health aside, you know, it does kind of make that turn to the economy. And from what I've been reading about this taco, this taco could really provide some jobs. Hey, isn't that really the key thing in growing this economy?

Did you know that this is Taco Bell's most successful taco ever? In fact, the CEO says the company had to -- as you said, add 15,000 jobs last year just to handle the craziness over the loco taco. Greg Crede, that's his name.

He said he believes the chain could also add another 2,000 new restaurants over the next ten years, just here in the U.S. So those are going to need full staff. You see the sort of domino effect happening.

And this is mainly because of the success of the Doritos Locos tacos. You know, the company sold 375 million of the original nacho cheese version in less than a year.

And you know what's coming. The cool ranch taco is coming next. I understand that Taco Bell was supposed to launch it on a Wednesday. It didn't until a Thursday and everybody went batty on social media saying that taco was supposed to be available Wednesday, we are not happy.

COSTELLO: I know. You know, Lynn, I'm going to pose that question to you, because the marketing of this taco was insanely good, as Alison said. Taco bell's Facebook page lit up when people couldn't find the cool Doritos Locos taco. One person said on Facebook "I've never been more angry on my life and you lied to me, I thought we had a better relationship than this."

What makes people gravitate to a single product like this?

L. JOHNSON: Well, I think, you know, you have -- you have this successful relationship between Doritos and tacos. Tacos has already done a really good social media marketing job at handling their technique crisis, right. And you know, they changed brand perception around that.

But beyond that they're working with Doritos which Doritos wins Super Bowl social media, you know, oftentimes because they bring the consumer, the people, into the advertising with them. They let people create ads for them. They run the spots on the social media sites. They let the best one then run during the Super Bowl. I think you have the backing of Dorito as well with Taco Bell here, to just have a win/win for both companies.

COSTELLO: And I guess when people bite into that taco there's some sort of weird drug in there that addicts them. I'm just kidding about that. But it's amazing that so many people like this taco.

Alison, the CEO of taco bell seems to be an uncommon man. The "Daily Beast" quoted -- this is a quote from the "Daily Beast" from Mr. Crede. He says, "We've done some research. The top thing that customers look at is how people treat their employees. They'll judge us not just on our quality of food but on how we treat our team members. I found that to be refreshing and kind of unusual."

KOSIK: It is kind of true. Look how consumers have sort of lashed out against Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart has been accused of mistreating its employees in one way -- you know, one sense or another, and there have been petitions online here and there about consumers saying I'm not shopping there anymore.

It is really one of the key factors people look for when judging a company, when spending their money at a company. You know, what's it like to work there? Many people feel like if the employees aren't treated well, why should I spend my money there?

COSTELLO: Interesting. I wish we could talk more about this but I have to go out and get a taco. Just kidding

KOSIK: One for me. I want.

COSTELLO: Cool. Alison Kosik, Lynn Johnson, thank you so much.

L. JOHNSON: All right.

Up next, live from Vatican City as the cardinals get ready to start their afternoon session.


COSTELLO: Thank you so much for joining me today. I really appreciate it. I'm Carol Costello. "NEWSROOM" continues now with John Berman, in for Ashleigh Banfield.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm John Berman, as Carol said, in for Ashleigh Banfield today.

We're going to go straight to Rome very soon because three votes down, who knows how many to go? It is possible the cardinals have some idea and it's possible that the black smoke we saw this morning, the whole world saw this morning, could turn to white by this afternoon. All we know with anything close to certainty is that right now, the 115 cardinal electors were trying to choose the next --