Commentary, Environment, Zocalo Public Square »

Let’s brag about California’s weather while we still can

Posted March 13, 2015 by | 3 Comments | ]
Photo by Tony Hisgett via Flickr/CC

One of the little joys of being Californian is the opportunity to taunt folks back East about their terrible winter weather. Hey, Boston, how does it feel to have been colonized by Eskimos?
But this winter, we seem to be overdoing it, sending out a blizzard of social media postings of palm trees and blue skies. It’s enough to make you wonder if all our …

Health Care, Zocalo Public Square »

If you opt out of vaccinations, should everyone know where you live?

Posted February 11, 2015 by | 0 Comments | ]
vaccination

Shouldn’t we know where they live?
California’s measles outbreak has touched off a debate about how to reduce the number of parents who choose—in defiance of all credible public health information—not to vaccinate their children. So far, the debate has focused on tightening California laws that make it easy for parents to obtain exemptions from school vaccination requirements. Newly introduced state legislation would eliminate the …

California Elections, Commentary, Zocalo Public Square »

When it comes to elections, LA is in a state of emergency

Posted January 28, 2015 by | 0 Comments | ]
Los Angeles voter Amanda Sutton casts a ballot in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles. Photo by Avishay Artsy

 
Like a man who bangs his head against the wall to cure a headache, Los Angeles will hold more municipal elections this March. The certain result: another low-turnout embarrassment that draws the usual lamentations about how our democracy is in peril.
Enough crying. If California’s civic leaders are so sure that Los Angeles elections are democratic disasters, then why don’t they declare an official state …

Commentary, Zocalo Public Square »

Think big, California!

Posted January 21, 2015 by | 1 Comment | ]
San Jacinto Mountains and San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm
Photo by Chuck Coker/CC/Flickr

In today’s California, we set big, ambitious goals for improving energy efficiency, fighting climate change, and, well, not much else.
Governor Jerry Brown’s inaugural address this month was a case in point. The governor again expressed his famous skepticism of big plans and big spending, then made an exception for energy and climate change, proposing three ambitious goals for the next 15 years: to derive …

Commentary, economy, Zocalo Public Square »

What is the ‘California Dream’?

Posted January 14, 2015 by | 1 Comment | ]
Venice Beach Sunset photo by Graham/Flickr/CC

Today’s California dream is not your grandfather’s California dream.
So why do we keep telling ourselves that we’re still seeking the same California dream? “California dream” has become a verbal tic in speeches, a graffiti we scrawl on signs and headlines without thinking about its meaning. Democrats and Republicans alike, as they assumed new offices this month, pledged to defend the supposedly enduring California dream. …

Commentary, News, Zocalo Public Square »

In California, sainthood is not for the saintly

Posted January 6, 2015 by | 0 Comments | ]
César Chávez visits colegio César Chávez in 1974 / Wikipedia

Let’s say your New Year’s resolution is to be not just a better Californian, but a truly great one. You seek to be a secular California saint, so revered that people put your name on parks and squares and schools. What should be your path?
As it happens, three of the best books I read last year were biographies of such secular California saints—the bestselling …

economy, News, Zocalo Public Square »

What California can learn from the Rose Parade

Posted January 1, 2015 by | 1 Comment | ]
Photo via Flickr by Prayitno / Creative Commons

It’s not just how nice it’d be to have all the surfaces in Capitol offices covered in flowers (legislators produce enough manure to make such a project sustainable). Or how much more fun it would be to visit government offices if you could bring a barbecue and camp out the night before your appointment (imagine the change at the DMV). It’s that the Rose …

Arts & Culture, Commentary, economy, Zocalo Public Square »

A better, cheaper Disneyland?

Posted December 16, 2014 by | 16 Comments | ]
Photo via Flickr by Glen Scarborough / Creative Commons

On Christmas Eve, it felt like the park was all ours.
When I was growing up in the 1980s, Disneyland was so reliably empty on the day before Christmas that my family often spent December 24 in the “Happiest Place on Earth.” We rode every attraction in the park. Tickets got more expensive each year, but they didn’t break the bank; in 1989, adult admissions …

Arts & Culture, Commentary, Zocalo Public Square »

What ‘A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night’ says about California

Posted December 3, 2014 by | 0 Comments | ]
a_girl_walks_home_alone_at_night_33027-202x300

Sure, California has everything. But where would you find a murderous, Farsi-speaking, chador-wearing vampire riding her skateboard around an oil city?
Kern County, of course.
If a place could win an Academy Award for acting, I’d nominate Kern for an Oscar.
A young director named Ana Lily Amirpour—who grew up in Bakersfield, a child of Iranian immigrants—recently released a low-budget but critically acclaimed film, A Girl Walks …

Issues, News, Politics, Zocalo Public Square »

Photos: Getting coverage at a pop-up Obamacare center

Posted November 21, 2014 by | 0 Comments | ]
Salcido11

If California has a capital of Obamacare enrollment, you’ll find it at a Los Angeles mall next to a Sears, on the second floor of 3650 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
This is the office of Crenshaw Health Partners, in the heart of the Crenshaw district. As the second open enrollment period under Obamacare gets underway, you’ll be seeing pictures of people signing up for …

Arts & Culture, California Elections, Commentary, economy, Environment, Politics, Zocalo Public Square »

It’s not so easy to send a 5-year-old off to a California kindergarten

Posted August 27, 2014 by | 1 Comment | ]
Photo by Mrs.F /CC/Flickr

“Wait, Daddy,” you say.
You are 5, and you have your priorities. You are reassembling the wooden train tracks. You are building an airplane hangar out of MagnaTiles. You have a drawing you need to finish.
“Hurry up, Ben” I always say. Don’t you know that I have too many things to do? Don’t you know I need to put you to bed? Can’t you see …

Commentary, economy »

A new ‘Sputnik Moment’ for California?

Posted July 31, 2014 by | 0 Comments | ]
Aboard battlecruiser Pyotr Velikiy during Northern Fleet exercise in 2005 (Wikipedia)

Here are two words Californians should say to Vladimir Putin: Thank you.
California, with its historic reliance on defense-related industries, never quite recovered from the end of the Cold War. Today, Los Angeles has fewer jobs than it did in 1990. Fortunately, Putin seems intent on
giving us a new Cold War.
Let’s stipulate that Putin’s crushing of dissent at home, his seizing of the Crimea, his …

Arts & Culture, Politics, Sports, Zocalo Public Square »

Is Donald Sterling a product of Los Angeles?

Posted April 29, 2014 by | 1 Comment | ]
sterling

Late in Quentin Tarantino’s 1994 film Pulp Fiction, Marsellus Wallace—a criminal boss played by Ving Rhames—banishes prizefighter Butch Coolidge (Bruce Willis) from Southern California. “You lost all your L.A. privileges,” Rhames says with lethal menace, and Willis leaves the Southland on his motorcycle.
If only it were that easy to kick Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling out of L.A. But, alas, Tarantino’s film is …

California Elections, Commentary, Politics, Zocalo Public Square »

Is it even possible to be an informed citizen?

Posted January 21, 2014 by | 1 Comment | ]
Photo via Flickr by Loco Steve/ CreativeCommons

To be an engaged, informed citizen in California is to be hopelessly behind in your reading.
We’re told that we need to follow the big issues in California, that we need to be informed about policy debates, and that policymakers want our feedback on major proposals.  It all sounds reasonable enough, until you see the homework. The governor stresses the importance of his budget, but …

Commentary, Environment, Zocalo Public Square »

City government is the problem – not Sriracha

Posted December 3, 2013 by | 2 Comments | ]
Photo by tedeytan/ Flickr/CreativeCommons

Last week, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge ordered the Irwindale, California plant that produces the highly popular “rooster sauce” Sriracha to cease operations that could be emitting odors that are “extremely annoying, irritating and offensive to the senses warranting consideration as a public nuisance.”
Too bad the judge didn’t apply the same logic to the city government of Irwindale and shut it down …

Arts & Culture, Commentary, economy, Zocalo Public Square »

Who lost the Coliseum?

Posted October 9, 2013 by | 0 Comments | ]
The entrance to the LA Memorial Coliseum

The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum used to be among the most distinguished public buildings in California. It hosted two Olympic Games (1932 and 1984), two Super Bowls (including the first), and the 1959 World Series (Dodgers and Chicago White Sox). John F. Kennedy accepted the Democratic Party’s nomination for president there in 1960. And while the stadium often seemed rundown, you couldn’t question its …

Arts & Culture, Commentary, economy, Environment, News, Zocalo Public Square »

LA: A human city

Posted August 7, 2013 by | 19 Comments | ]
An aerial view of Los Angeles, by KLA4067 via Flickr/CC

We Angelenos were never supposed to be here.
In an 1868 essay that was taught to schoolchildren for a century, writer Henry George predicted that California would become one of the most prosperous places on earth. San Diego would eventually be an international destination. San Francisco, he wrote, would become perhaps the greatest city in North America, without a rival “for a thousand miles north …

Commentary, economy, News, Sports, Zocalo Public Square »

What California can learn from Yasiel Puig: Don’t hold down the young

Posted July 30, 2013 by | 80 Comments | ]
Yasiel Puig at bat. Photo by kla4067/ Creative Commons/ Flickr

There’s a nasty California disease spreading so fast that even our baseball teams have caught it.
Last year, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim kept their best player, then-20-year-old Mike Trout, in the minor leagues for the first month of the Major League Baseball season. This year, the L.A. Dodgers held down their most talented player, 21-year-old Yasiel Puig, for the first two months. Both …

Commentary, Issues, Zocalo Public Square »

Can San Diego stay classy?

Posted July 23, 2013 by | 11 Comments | ]
Official portrait of Bob Filner, mayor of San Diego

Stay classy? That may be too much to ask of San Diego these days.
“America’s Finest City” is in the middle of another one of its routine, self-destructive crises of local government. This one is an ugly fight over the fate of Mayor Bob Filner. He either has a nasty habit of intimidating women and needs help (that’s what the mayor and his supporters say, …

Commentary, economy, Zocalo Public Square »

Why the NSA is bad for California business

Posted July 9, 2013 by | 11 Comments | ]
surveillancecam

California and its businesses have a problem. It’s called the National Security Agency.
That may sound provincial. The debate over the massive NSA surveillance programs disclosed by Edward Snowden is a national and global matter, not just a California concern.
But the disclosures – and the U.S. government’s reaction to them – hit at the heart of California’s economic life. The problem for California is not …

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