Category: Leadership

The Key to JFK’s Leadership: Inspiration

WARREN BENNIS, USC Leadership Institute, USC Marshall School of Business.

This op-ed originally appeared at CNN on Nov. 21

I vividly recall those 13 days in the fall of 1962, watching President John F. Kennedy on our black and white television in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I was a professor at MIT focusing on the emerging field of leadership studies, and the Cuban Missile Crisis was about leadership writ large for the world to witness.

Fifty years after the Kennedy assassination, there is conversation everywhere about JFK’s unrealized potential. Amid the wave of sentimental reflection this year, there has been much focus on the mythical elements of Camelot or too many details about that tragic day in Dallas, and not enough on the real-world challenges of the JFK presidency.

Can Data Build a Better L.A. Government?

CHRISTOPHER WEARE, research associate professor, USC Price School of Public Policy, and JULIET ANN MUSSO, associate professor, USC Price.

This op-ed originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times on Oct. 21.

Last week, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti unveiled the first specifics of his plan to modernize the city’s sprawling bureaucracy, posting on his website some of the metrics by which he intends to hold city departments accountable for delivering services. They include such measurements as Fire Department response times and speed of graffiti removal and pothole repair.

The mayor’s attempt to improve performance is certainly timely. A recent USC Price/L.A. Times poll found that Angelenos want better services. For example, more than 60% of respondents were dissatisfied with the state of street repair in the city. But metrics and data collection alone won’t solve the city’s problems. Garcetti will also need to transform the culture of city government and convince city workers that the changes will stick.

Blacks Consuming More Media — With Less and Less Control of its Content

Ernest J. Wilson III, dean of USC’s Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism.

This op-ed originally appeared at The Root on Feb. 17.

Today, in early 2013, American media and entertainment face a curious condition. On the one hand, African Americans and other people of color are flocking to movies, Twitter, television and blogs in ever-greater numbers and percentages. We are huge consumers of media.

On the other hand, the Federal Communications Commission and the Hollywood trade and professional organizations report that the percentages of people of color (and in many categories, women) in senior positions are stagnant or actually declining. Minority ownership is also on the way down. With black ownership and executive ranks dropping, not surprisingly, black-themed shows are falling as well.

Can a Legislature Run by California Democrats Clean Up the Mess

SHERRY BEBITCH JEFFE, fellow, USC Price School of Public Policy, and DOUGLAS JEFFE.

This op-ed originally appeared at Reuters.

California is on the verge of becoming a one-party state — but policy gridlock isn’t going anywhere soon.

Democrats now hold all the statewide offices and have a shot Tuesday at achieving two-thirds majorities in the Legislature. Yet they are far from being able to unilaterally resolve California’s fiscal logjam.

For the past decade, California’s fiscal picture has been awash in red ink, legislative stalemates, borrowing and a lot of budgetary gimmickry. Three governors in a row, Gray Davis, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jerry Brown, hit a stone wall in trying to resolve the state’s structural deficit—the imbalance between ongoing spending and available tax revenues — that has persisted in

Warriors on the Edge of a Fiscal Cliff

RON AVI ASTOR, professor of urban social development, USC School of Social Work.

This op-ed originally appeared at CNN.

With the presidential race heading into its final stretch, both candidates vow to protect the sacred promises made to military families. But neither is offering any details on how they might support military families if we hit a fiscal cliff with budget cuts that could wipe out services for military and veterans’ families.

Month after month, in the midst of a heated presidential and congressional pre-election cycle, we see no organized blueprint to integrate millions of military family members into civilian society.

Salvation Through Good Works

DIANE WINSTON, Knight chair media & religion, USC Annenberg.

This op-ed originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

Do something!”

That was the command William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, gave his son upon seeing homeless men huddled under London Bridge. Booth was a man of action who, in his zeal to save souls, valued deeds over creeds.

What would the 19th century Christian evangelist have done about the growing number of poor today, huddled in American cities, suburbs and on farms? According to a recent Associated Press article, economists expect that when the 2011 census figures are released this fall, they will show that poverty has climbed to 15.7%, its highest level in 50 years. Heavily mortgaged middle-class families, out-of-work laborers and debt-ridden college graduates have found themselves suddenly and unexpectedly joining the ranks of the poorest poor.

California Needs a Politics Rooted in 2012, Not 1978

DOWELL MYERS, demographer and planning professor, Price School of Public Policy.

This op-ed originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

At the root of California’s dysfunctional politics lie some old ideas about who we are as a state. Demographics have been more volatile here than in other states, and many Californians older than 55, who make up roughly 46% of state voters, don’t want to pay for changes they never welcomed. The tragedy is that they are battling problems that have largely dissipated. The outlook for California going forward from 2012 is very different from what it was two decades ago.

Take population growth. The 1980s brought an unprecedented growth spurt for the state, with population increasing by some 6.1 million people. This far exceeded the population growth of 3.7 million people in the 1970s and 4.3 million in the 1960s.

Romney’s Tax Disclosure Forms Overdue

EDWARD D. KLEINBARD, professor of law, USC’s Gould School of Law, and PETER C. CANELLOS, former chair of the New York State Bar Association Tax Section.

This op-ed originally appeared at CNN.

By announcing that he will release no further tax returns beyond his 2010 and 2011 returns, Mitt Romney appears to have exempted himself from the proud bipartisan tradition of presidential nominees displaying genuine financial candor with the electorate.

What is more, his disclosure to date is in the wrong direction: It is the release of Romney’s past returns, not his current ones, that matters.

How to Save the Euro: A Little More Inflation in Germany, Please

ARIS PROTOPAPADAKIS, professor of business and finance, USC Marshall School of Business.

This op-ed originally appeared at the Huffington Post.

Euro zone leaders’ latest plan to rescue the euro, agreed to late last month, focuses on two crises: the continent’s ailing banks and the sovereign-debt woes of Europe’s southern peripheral economies. Unfortunately, their blueprint neglects a third crisis that continues to grow and could bring down the euro zone: Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain are becoming increasingly uncompetitive economically relative to Germany.

Most economists agree that renewed economic growth is essential for saving the euro. The problem is that the effects of measures such as creating a banking union, the centerpiece of the recent summit’s rescue plan, may save the banking system but will do nothing to reverse the loss of competitiveness among the region’s economies. The euro zone can’t wait much longer, as the steadily rising borrowing costs of Spain and Italy demonstrate. It needs to start growing now, and the fastest and surest way to stimulate growth without increasing deficits is for Germany to accept a much looser monetary policy and the consequent higher inflation to help restore the competitiveness of Europe’s peripheral economies.

We’re Not Living in Mayberry

SHERRY BEBITCH JEFFE, senior fellow, USC’s Price School of Public Policy.

This op-ed originally appeared at Prop Zero.

On the same day that the passing of Andy Griffith, the beloved TV sheriff of fictional Mayberry — that perfect epitome of small-town values — made front page news, the above-the-fold, page A1 headline in the Los Angeles Times read: “Office Seekers Recall Cudahy Intimidation.”

As part of an ongoing probe of alleged civic corruption in Cudahy, Calif. –a small, working-class community — the FBI uncovered evidence of election fraud. Three local officials had already been arrested on bribery charges.

Clearly, we don’t live in Mayberry.

Cudahy is only one example of a pattern of civic dysfunction that includes fiscal mismanagement and just plain corruption, which has long bedeviled smaller California cities, particularly in eastern LA County.