Return to Transcripts main page

Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Post-Labor Day Return Mandates Set Up Looming Showdowns; Conservation Efforts Stall As Lake Mead Dries Up; Deshaun Watson Suspended 11 Games, Fined $5 Million. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired August 19, 2022 - 05:30   ET




CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Across the U.S., corporate bosses are calling back office workers to be in the building at least a few days a week starting after Labor Day, and this time they mean it -- well, maybe.

Let's bring Anita Williams Wooley, professor of Organizational Behavior and Theory at Carnegie Mellon University.

You know, we know why -- good morning. We know why work-from-home is so popular. I mean, all the surveys show it. The workers like flexibility. They want more control over their work-life balance. Many say they're, frankly, more productive from home.

And by the way, they have choices. There are almost 11 million open jobs in this country right now. There's a lot of job-hopping, too.


Are bosses facing a showdown, maybe, this fall from workers who don't want to be in the office three days a week?

ANITA WILLIAMS WOOLEY, PROFESSOR OF ORGANIZATION BEHAVIOR AND THEORY, CARNEGIE MELLON UNIVERSITY (via Skype): I think that's absolutely the case. I mean, it has been the case for a while that there are certain categories of knowledge workers with technical skills, for example, who have been in high demand. And those folks are the ones who are probably going to hold out for the better working conditions, and those organizations that can give them that are going to win out in the labor race.

ROMANS: You know, it's been 2 1/2 years of this now. And there's childcare shortages in the country as well -- so, for some people, they really need the flexibility. I mean, they can't do the job without the flexibility.

WOOLEY: That's right, and I think that now that we've seen -- I mean, almost every way you look at the data it shows that there really is no great benefit to bringing employees into the office. And on the flip side, being -- having the flexibility to work from home means that you can juggle these things and you can live where you want, et cetera.

ROMANS: Yes, but I talk to bosses and CEOs and they worry about corporate culture. You hear a lot about that. They worry about collaboration. They worry about identifying young talent and being able to develop them.

Those are their concerns. That's why they want people back in the office.

WOOLEY: Certainly, those are important things that leaders need to be thinking about. However, we don't see any evidence that you can't accomplish those things just as effectively in a remote work environment. It does take being very thoughtful and intentional but you can absolutely mentor new employees. You can build culture. You can do all of these things in a remote environment.

ROMANS: Yes. It feels like a new model.

I know the New York Fed yesterday had a report saying that this is -- in a -- in a part of, like you said, the knowledge workplace this is becoming more established. That this is going to be the way it's going to be.

The Wall Street Journal -- this headline in The Wall Street Journal really caught my attention -- "Americans are breaking up with their work friends." It says many office workers say that forging friendships at the office has become harder and less of a priority in this new hybrid environment.

What does that say to you about how people might be -- I don't know, might be rebalancing their priorities?

WOOLEY: I think it's actually a positive and a healthy move, quite honestly. Given what we see with some of the dynamics in organizations -- people getting laid off, et cetera -- having your social support system not intertwined with your workplace is probably a very healthy thing for employees. And it can also be simpler for employers if people's social relationships are not caught up in decisions in the workplace.

ROMANS: You heard about this quiet quitting trend, too, right -- people who are saying I'm just going to work nine to five. I'm going to do my job. I'm not going to -- you know, I'm not going to just kill it anymore. That's not what the pandemic has taught me.

What do you make of that?

WOOLEY: I just think it's a -- it's a terrible recipe for both employees and leaders. And actually, I think it's a symptom of a deeper problem. It's time for leaders to shift from focusing on what hours people work and in what location and instead focus on goals and holding people accountable for what they produce. And if that were the case in a workplace, then quiet quitting is irrelevant. How do you quietly quit when it doesn't matter where you are and what hours you are there? ROMANS: Interesting, Professor Anita Williams Wooley. I mean, it's a whole new kind of a whole new landscape. It's really interesting to watch.

Thank you so much for dropping by this morning. Have a nice weekend.

All right --

WOOLEY: Thank you for having me.


Alec Baldwin tells CNN why he thought Donald Trump was going to get him killed. And desperate measures to save the Colorado River system.


BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: This is the biggest reservoir in the country -- it's only 27 percent -- flashing red lights of warning for the 40 million people who depend on this water system to survive.




ROMANS: There is a historic drought worsening in the West and the federal government has ordered states along the Colorado River to come up with a plan to cut 25 percent of their water usage. They missed the August 15 deadline. Officials had hoped the feds would step in and enforce these cuts. So far, that hasn't happened.

Here is CNN's chief climate correspondent Bill Weir.


WEIR (on camera): Desert dwellers tend to normalize drought, so sometimes you lose track of just how far the water has dropped. But there are reminders here on the Nevada side of Lake Mead everywhere. This is where the water line was in 2008 -- a far way from where the drought started in the year 2000. That's when the water line was way up the hill. But now you can see it's receded so far down below.

This, the biggest reservoir in the country, is only 27 percent full. The bathtub ring now is higher than the Statue of Liberty, just flashing red lights of warning for the 40 million people who depend on this water system to survive.

After these new rounds of cuts were announced, they were agreed upon among the states. But the states were hoping that the federal government would come in and sort of be the bad cop in this situation and lay down some tough, new restrictions that everyone then would have to adjust to. That didn't happen. The politics in the United States these days are very complicated and nobody in an official wants to shut off somebody's water these days unless they have to. So they've been kicking this can down the road now one election cycle after another.

And there's no end in sight to this drought. It would take 10 years of heavy snowpack to recharge this reservoir. So the only thing to do in the near term is try to preach conservation and maybe use federal money to pay homeowners to rip up lawns or farmers not to grow -- to let their fields go fallow and let this water -- as much of it stay here as possible. But that could end up in court, whether that is ultimately decided.


There are big, grand promises of desalination plants online coming in California. Maybe infrastructure to catch stormwater and pump it underground. But these take time and a lot of money. And in the meantime, this is evaporating drop by precious drop and there's nothing but thirstier days in the near forecast.

Bill Weir, CNN, Boulder City, Nevada.


ROMANS: Bill, it takes time, it takes vision, and it takes political will.

Let's bring in Charles Fishman, author of the book "The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water." Charles, thank you so much for coming by this morning.

We know 90 percent of the Colorado River basin is still in drought. And this really struck us -- this comment from a former water authority official -- listen.


PAT MULROY, FORMER COMMISSIONER, SOUTHERN NEVADA WATER AUTHORITY: If we have another lousy winter, all things being equal, that we will dry this lake down to elevation 1,000. That is 100 feet above dead pool and you're at the bottom of the martini glass. So, it doesn't take much to tip that over and get to the point where nothing can go downstream.

And if you don't take it seriously now -- if you think that you're going to avoid this, do a rain dance, go pray, do whatever that we have a great winter, you're insane.


ROMANS: Charles, what do we do?

CHARLES FISHMAN, AUTHOR, "THE BIG THIRST: THE SECRET LIFE AND TURBULENT FUTURE OF WATER" (via Skype): I recognize -- I recognize that voice. That's Patricia Mulroy -- ROMANS: It is.

FISHMAN: -- of -- formerly of the Las Vegas Water Authority.

And here's the thing, Christine. Patricia Mulroy retired about five years ago. Thirty years ago, in Nevada, she looked at the curves of growth for population in the Las Vegas metro area and the available water. Her curve for growth was going like this. The water doesn't change.

And she changed the culture of Las Vegas. Las Vegas -- when she retired, each person in Las Vegas used literally 50 percent less water than they had when she started managing water.


FISHMAN: So she knows what she's talking about.

And the economics of the region depends on managing this water smartly and we are in trouble.

ROMANS: We are in trouble. Is it conservation? Is that the only answer here -- using less of it?

FISHMAN: Well, yes, but you're going to have to change the way people do things.

One thing that Patricia Mulroy did in Las Vegas -- Las Vegas cleans and reuses every gallon of water that hits a drain in the city -- 93 percent. It's the biggest reuse community in the country by far.

There's very little recycling across the West because people have relied on these huge reservoirs -- Lake Powell and Lake Mead. You know, we keep saying they are 27 percent of capacity. What that means I they're 75 percent empty.

And the seven states that are -- that are in the -- sort of have this water agreement together -- they met for 60 days. Patricia Mulroy's replacement at Las Vegas Water, John Entsminger, said we accomplished nothing. No one is taking this seriously yet.

And so, literally, if you throw in Texas -- Texas isn't part of the Colorado River but adjacent to this region -- this is one out of four people in America and one out of four dollars in the U.S. economy. This is -- this is as big a slow-moving crisis as the downturn in 2007-2008. It's really a slow-moving disaster. It is not going to rain and so we have to change what we're doing.

Utah, last year, passed a law to give homeowners money to take their lawns out and replace them with desert landscaping. Nevada did something more radical. They have banned grass that doesn't serve a purpose. It's all going to have to come out. So we're going to have to change how we live out there.

ROMANS: Yes. Well, and it's not just out West, right? You've got the Midwest suffering from drought here. There's drought in the northeast. American farmers killing their own crops and letting their fields go fallow, selling off their herds. You know, culling their herds because of dry conditions. And because of a problem with global prices for feeding their animals, too. I mean, the whole thing is interconnected.

FISHMAN: It is -- it is very much interconnected.

And here's the other thing. We often write about this and think about it as if oh my goodness, those slightly whacky people who live in Arizona and California, and Nevada -- first of all, the fastest- growing -- half the fastest-growing communities in America are in the Colorado River basin. So Americans are moving to Scottsdale and Las Vegas and to California, and it's not clear those places can support the growth with the water they've got.


But also, as you -- as you alluded to, half the fruits and vegetables in America come from this part of America. So, your strawberries, your lettuce, your carrots. If you live in Cleveland, if you live in Orlando, if you live in Boston, the chances are they're coming from Colorado River water. Literally, your carrots are grown -- all those baby carrots are grown --


FISHMAN: -- with Colorado River water. And so, this is going to affect all of us.

And so, the decision this week not to impose federal limits on the water -- to let the states keep talking -- you know, that was an effort to sort of say we're not going to top down this. This is the 100-year anniversary of the agreement to share the Colorado River and they spent two months and made no progress.

So, something -- we do need what you said. We need a little vision and we need leadership. You heard Patricia Mulroy. You need straight talk on this.


FISHMAN: There's no -- there's no way around water shortages.

ROMANS: Charles Fishman, thanks so much -- author of "The Big Thirst." We'll keep talking about it and wait to see where that vision comes from. Thank you.

FISHMAN: Thank you.

ROMANS: All right.

Some, but not all, of the Mar-a-Lago search documents is now public.

(COMMERCIAL) [05:55:52]

ROMANS: OK, Friday edition. Let's get a check on CNN Business this morning.

Looking at markets around the world, markets are closed in Asia for the week. They closed mixed. Europe has opened narrowly mixed. And on Wall Street, leaning lower here this morning after all three major averages rose Thursday, on track for another winning week on Wall Street.

Jobless claims fell slightly this week, a sign of a strength in the labor market. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage slipped as the housing market cools, but still above 5 percent here for a 30-year fixed. Gas prices ticking down to $3.92 a gallon overnight, and diesel prices slid below $5.00 for the first time since March.

Those higher interest rates are cooling the housing market. Home sales down for the sixth month in a row, but home prices remain near record highs. In July, the median home price was nearly $404,000. That's up nearly 11 percent from a year ago but off the record high reached last month.

Rapidly-rising interest rates are adding hundreds of dollars to monthly mortgage payments. That has pushed many potential buyers to the sidelines this year and cooled the once red-hot housing market.

To sports now. The NFL and the Players Union reach a deal to nearly double Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson's suspension after those allegations of sexual misconduct by more than two dozen women.

Andy Scholes has more in this morning's Bleacher Report. Hey, Andy.


So, the new suspension for Deshaun Watson is now 11 games, a $5 million fine, and he has to undergo mandatory evaluation by behavioral experts and follow their suggested treatment program. But this agreement -- it did not include any apology directly to his accusers or admission of guilt. Watson actually did the opposite yesterday, maintaining his innocence.


DESHAUN WATSON, CLEVELAND BROWNS QUARTERBACK: I'm moving on with my career and my life, and I'm continuing to stand on my innocence. Just because settlements and things like that happen doesn't mean that a person is guilty for anything. I feel like if a person has an opportunity to stand on his innocence and prove that -- and we proved that on the legal side. And we have just got continue to push forward as an individual and as a person.


SCHOLES: Now, in a statement, Watson did say "I apologize once again for any pain this situation has caused. I take accountability for the decisions I made."

Watson has been accused by more than two dozen women of sexual misconduct during massage sessions. He has settled 23 out of the 24 civil cases against him.

Watson can still practice with the team in the preseason but Browns coach Kevin Stefanski says he's not going to play in the team's final two preseason games. Watson will be eligible to return against the Houston Texans, his former team, on December 4.

All right, to baseball. There used to be little chance that Albert Pujols was going to get to 700 home runs before he retires at the end of the season, but now it's a real possibility. The 42-year-old launching a pinch-hit grand slam against the Rockies yesterday. That was home run 690 of his career. He's seven away from passing A-Rod for fourth on that all-time list.

The Cardinals won that game 13-0.

And finally, Little League player Easton Oliverson took another huge step in his recovery after falling from a bunk bed at the Little League World Series. Easton's family says he's moved out of intensive care and into a regular room. He's been able to stand up, eat and drink by himself, and communicate with family members more frequently.

Doctors say, Christine, he's expected to make a near complete recovery.

And his team from Utah -- yes, it's just great news. They're going to play in the Little League World Series later today. It's the first time they've ever made it. And Easton's little brother Brogan actually taking his spot on the roster. So you know it's certainly going to be an emotional day for that team.

ROMANS: Yes, I know.

We're going to hear from the family on "NEW DAY" too, so we'll get to revisit that story in the next hour or two.

Thanks, Andy.

SCHOLES: All right.

ROMANS: Nice to see you.

Thanks for joining us this morning. I'm Christine Romans. Have a great weekend, everybody. "NEW DAY" starts right now.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Willful retention of national defense information. Do those specific words create specific legal jeopardy for Donald Trump?

I'm John Berman with Brianna Keilar.