By Peter Dreier
Eric Garcetti has enormous potential to be one of L.A.'s great mayors. He is young (just 42), full of energy, experienced in politics and government, passionate about L.A., brimming with policy ideas, compassionate toward the disadvantaged and a great communicator and explainer. I saw many of these traits up-close when I co-taught a course with him at Occidental College in 2000, and have watched him blossom as he joined the City Council and served as its president.
Now he faces the daunting challenges of running America's second-biggest, and most diverse, city.
By Steve Hochstadt
I've been thinking a lot about community lately. My involvement in my local elections has led to hundreds of conversations with people about our community - what the problems are, how to improve them, how the city should be run. But more important than the way we vote or even whom we vote for is the role the whole community plays in our local affairs.
Every once in a while, we all get to vote. Voting is one of the most important foundations of our democracy. Our ability to select our political managers, at the local, state, and national levels, and to vote them out of office the next time, puts ultimate power in the hands of the people.
By Rev. Jim Conn
Let the hand-wringing begin! In last week's primary election, just over 16 percent of Los Angeles voters turned out at the polls, less than four years ago, which was less than the election before that, which was less than the election before that - and on and on. In Southern California municipalities - big city or small - elections draw about 20 percent of the vote. This is a problem in a democracy.
By Terry O'Day
Nothing is more central to the future of Southern California communities than water. Increasing the sustainability of our cities will require an effective transportation system, improved urban planning, clean air, green energy sources and more. But you can go a day without driving, or even without electricity. But try going a day without water.
This is a good time to reflect on how our communities will provide water for our future. There's a great deal of focus on water policies in California at the moment. And today, in Southern California, there are two competing visions for the future. Deciding between those visions is important to our future economic health, to the state's environment, and to our collective pocketbooks.
By Dan Aiello
In an article scheduled to appear in the Bay Area Reporter on Wednesday, sources in Sacramento's gay community as well as an additional source connected to the Capital City's selection committee tell the paper it is possible that Sacramento's next police chief could be openly gay.
While none of the sources were named, their connections to the selection process and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community are known and appear to be credible.
The 42-year old Bay Area Reporter is a well-respected print and online publication serving the San Francisco Bay Area with a print circulation of approximately 30,000. The paper is published every Wednesday evening.
By Robert Cruickshank
One of the top issues facing the state legislature in 2013 will be reforming the California Environmental Quality Act. It's an idea whose time has come. CEQA is popular with environmentalists, but overall it has failed to achieve its goals of producing better development and protecting the state's environment. Since CEQA's passage in 1970, sprawl has exploded, carbon emissions have soared, species have been lost, and other environmental impacts have not been averted. Rather than promote environmentally friendly planning, CEQA's primary use is for NIMBYs who wish to prevent sustainable change. At times it does serve to stop projects that are truly bad for the environment, but those are rare cases, and too many good projects are delayed or made more expensive by the flawed process. California can do better.
By Dan Aiello
In the wake of California's election last month where voters passed two propositions aimed at reducing the number of inmates in California's overcrowded prison system, the State Assembly's Safety Committee Chair says he will introduce major prison reform this session targeting a correctional system failure rate that persists as the highest recidivism rate in the nation.
"With voters approving both propositions 30 and 36, I believe we are in a position to achieve significant prison reform to reduce our failure rate and begin decreasing our prison population," San Francisco Democrat Assembly member Tom Ammiano told the California Progress Report recently.
By Dick Meister
You might reasonably think Clint Eastwood lacks political savvy, given his bizarre presentation at the Republican National Convention. But he was once plenty savvy, as he showed clearly during his two-year stint as mayor of tourist favorite Carmel.
Prior to his election, folks in Carmel and elsewhere tended to think of Clint as just a craggy, handsome movie actor playing at politics. But, boy, were they wrong. Listen to what Carmel resident Jean Lajigian said after Eastwood took office in 1986:
"When I voted for Clint Eastwood, I knew that democracy worked, that we could change things. Since he's been mayor, there's been just an upbeat feeling in the community."
By Rev. Jim Conn
My grandchildren live on pizza. Oh, they eat other things that young children like, but whenever mom or dad work late or events intervene, the call goes out for pizza man to deliver.
I was thinking about this when I read a piece in The Week a while back about franchisers who will soon need to cover the cost of health insurance for their low-wage workers or pay a fine. The case study focused on a guy who owns a string of chicken and Mexican fast food stops and who employs 425 workers. Some of these people run the front counter. Some do the deep frying. Some sweep up. None, apparently, have any health insurance.
By Steve Hochstadt
Local government issues may not appear to be on the Presidential ballot this November. But the national elections, for President and Congress, will affect our local governments and our daily lives for years afterward.
Like all governments, local administrations are funded by tax revenues. A small number of municipalities and counties across the US have their own income taxes, usually under 1%, but sometimes higher. Every county in Indiana, Kentucky and Maryland, 560 cities and villages in Ohio, and big cities like Philadelphia, Baltimore, New York, Birmingham, and St. Louis receive funds from local income taxes. Most municipal and county governments, however, rely on property and sales taxes.