Janis, Madeline


Madeline Janis is co-founder and executive director of the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy. She is also a Senior Fellow at the UCLA School of Public Affairs and led the historic campaign to pass L.A.’s living wage ordinance, which has since become a national model.

Sustainable Communities Bills Sent to Governor Brown

By Madeline Janis

On August 29, 2012, one of the most important job creation and environmental bills in recent memory was adopted by the legislature and sent to the governor. Senate Bill 1156 was developed and introduced by Senate President pro tem Darrell Steinberg and supported by a strong majority in both houses. Steinberg built quiet momentum behind the bill starting last February, in partnership with a broad-based coalition of community, environmental, labor, smart-growth and good-government activists, with support from the counties, infill developers, non-profit housing developers and business.

How PATCO Crashed – But Why Unions Don’t Have To

By Madeline Janis

Much has been said in recent months about the labor movement’s “impending decline,” with the right wing’s unrelenting attacks against collective bargaining rights in states across the country, from Arizona to Wisconsin to New Jersey.  California is facing its own version of this attack with the qualification of the Paycheck Deception initiative for the November 2012 ballot that would dramatically curtail working people’s ability to participate in politics in the state.

Sustainable Communities Bill: Modest, but Much-Needed Replacement for Redevelopment in California

By Madeline Janis
Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy

Finally, there is some potential good news on the horizon for affordable housing, job creation, and environmental advocates in California. Just this afternoon, the State Senate approved SB 1156 (Steinberg), a bill that will allow cities and counties to create Sustainable Communities Investment Authorities to promote high road economic development in targeted areas. If approved by the state assembly and signed by the governor, SB 1156 will create a much more transparent and sustainable version of redevelopment agencies and give cities and counties a new tool to create desperately needed affordable housing, good jobs and a healthy environment. The legislation also specifically protects schools and fire districts from having any funds diverted for redevelopment purposes.

RIP, Community Redevelopment Agency

By Madeline Janis
Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy

On February 1, 2012, I will be out of a job. That’s because at 12:01 a.m., more than 400 California redevelopment agencies will go out of business, including the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency (LACRA), where I have served as a volunteer (meaning unpaid) commissioner for nine-and-a-half years. California’s $6 billion annual economic development program used by cities to revitalize distressed neighborhoods will disappear.

This is happening because of the legislature’s adoption of Assembly Bill 26X, which  was upheld by the California Supreme Court on December 29, 2011. While the consequences for me are different than for the hundreds of LACRA employees who will eventually lose their livelihoods, it’s still a personal blow.

Why Government Is Not a Business

By Madeline Janis
Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy

In a recent blog post on the “value” of running government like a business, I had some fun pretending to agree with the mantra that government decisions are best made with a “business orientation.” As a non-profit leader for the past 30 years and a part-time public official for nearly 10, I have heard this “run government like a business” adage again and again, as though it were a biblical truth. Government is best run without emotion, I have been told, with a view toward gaining “efficiencies” and getting the job done as effectively as possible. Pay what’s necessary to get the “talent” at the top to get the job done and make decisions about “cutting” – and “saving” when it comes to everyone and everything else without regard to any sense of “morality” or emotion.

Sacramento Scorecard: A Legislative Tally

By Madeline Janis
Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy

These days people complain a lot about government. Our California state legislature continuously gets low marks for (not) getting things done. But as the October 9 deadline passed for Gov. Jerry Brown to sign or veto legislation passed by our state lawmakers, I decided to check on the Office of Legislative Counsel site to see what Sacramento actually did this year.  (You can check bills here yourself.) I was amazed. Despite a less-than-perfect process for including the voices of all Californians, our legislators got a huge amount accomplished in 2011.