Tag: los angeles times

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.

It’s OK to Lose a Little Face Over Syria

K.C. COLE, professor of journalism, USC Annenberg.

This op-ed originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times on Sept. 23.

A mathematical solution in Syria? That’s not as crazy as it sounds. In fact, the working compromise is a classic case of the power of game theory, a branch of mathematics that analyzes the best possible outcomes in conflicts where neither side knows what the other will do. It’s not about winning as much as it is finding the least worst option, which is precisely what Presidents Obama, Vladimir Putin, Bashar Assad and company have done.

No one gets exactly what he wants. But no one loses everything either.

California’s High-Speed Rail Needs a New Mandate

LISA SCHWEITZER, associate professor, USC Price.

This op-ed originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times on Sept. 11.

Over the last few weeks, the California High-Speed Rail Authority both lost and won fairly significant battles. It lost when a Sacramento County Superior Court judge ruled that its proposed funding plan violated the voter-approved law, Proposition 1A, that created the agency. The judge has set a hearing to give the state a chance to show that it can comply with the law and environmental reviews.

The Illusion of Willpower

WENDY WOOD, professor psychology and business, Marshall School of Business, and DAVID NEIL.

This op-ed originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times on Aug. 9

On a recent doctor’s visit, a compelling health video was looping in the reception room. It incorporated many of the accepted rules for achieving a healthy weight. The motivational video, tailored to the doctor’s clientele, illustrated simple ways to eat more fruits and vegetables and get exercise. It was striking, however, that many of the nursing staff, who must have heard this video a thousand times, didn’t seem to have taken it to heart. Nurses, as a national study revealed, are just as likely to overeat as the rest of the population.

Pope Francis’ Woman Problem

DIANE WINSTON, Knight Chair in Media & Religion, USC Annenberg

This op-ed originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times on Aug. 4.

Last week, Pope Francis loosed a media tsunami by dropping a pebble of sanity into an ocean of religious angst. “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has goodwill, who am I to judge?” he told reporters on the flight back to Rome after his trip to Brazil.

What did it mean? Was he changing church teaching? And how might it affect 1.2 billion Roman Catholics worldwide?

The Heat Should Be On to Do Something About Climate Change

ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, chairman of USC’s Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy.

This op-ed originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times on April 8.

I will always remember the day I woke to the news that more than 2,000 fires were burning in California. I thought I must not have heard correctly. Two thousand fires? How could that be?

In the end, the state’s brave firefighters, joined by contingents from out of state, won the battle. But not before 11 emergency declarations were issued and more than 400,000 acres burned. Countless lives and livelihoods were ruined.

How to Slow L.A.’s Rising Rents

RAPHAEL BOSTIC, director of the Bedrosian Center on Governance, Price School.

This op-ed originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times on Feb. 4.

Los Angeles, a city where 63.1% of residents rent their homes, is in the midst of a crisis in rental housing.

A recent study by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development laid out the stark facts. Los Angeles rents have increased, after adjusting for inflation, by nearly 30% over the last 20 years. During the same period, renter incomes have decreased by 6%.

One important part of the problem is an inadequate supply of affordable rental units. Only 37 units are available and affordable for every 100 would-be renters living at the average renter income level.

The Problem With ‘Plug-in’ Volunteering

NINA ELIASOPH, associate professor of sociology, Dornsife College.

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

Monday, millions of Americans will honor the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. by volunteering for community service. They will collect cans of food for the poor, ladle soup for the hungry and help the homeless. They will talk about their rewarding experiences, and the people they help will express their gratitude. Tomorrow, everybody will return to their normal routines.

The MLK Day of Service represents an increasingly popular form of volunteerism — setting aside a day or so to help the needy. “Plug-in volunteering,” as I call it, is the essence of Big Sunday, Make a Difference Day, Family Volunteer Week and other large-scale efforts. Short-term service accounts for nearly half of all volunteer activity in America. It serves many modern-day purposes: We’re making a contribution without taking too much time from our jobs and families, adding a line to our curriculum vitae or satisfying a community service requirement. And, of course, we’re sometimes giving temporary aid to the needy.

L.A.’s Future Economic Engine: Silicon Beach

LUCY HOOD, executive director of the Institute of Communication Technology Management, USC’s Marshall School of Business.

This op-ed originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times on Jan. 9.

What’s the future of L.A.’s economy? That’s a question that should be at the center of this year’s mayoral campaign. Key to that discussion should be recognition that Los Angeles, despite all its economic problems, is an increasingly prominent home to the next generation of technology companies that will drive the digital revolution in the 21st century.

Los Angeles’ tech awakening is unfolding in a slice of territory — dubbed “Silicon Beach,” which initially referred to Venice and Santa Monica and then expanded to Hollywood and downtown — where established giants such as Google and Apple have opened offices and where some 500 newcomer ventures have taken root. Silicon Beach culture, unlike Silicon Valley’s, is more consumer-oriented, drawing on art, entertainment and commerce to explore the intersections between technology and gaming, fashion, advertising and video.

Why Does CEO Mean White Male?

K.C. COLE, professor of journalism, USC Annenberg.

This op-ed originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times on Oct. 18.

A pedestrian holding a map approaches you and asks for directions. You engage in a short conversation, which is briefly interrupted when two workers walk between you carrying a door. A second later, you continue your conversation.

What you don’t notice is that the pedestrian is now someone else. Yep, that’s right: A different person took his place when the door passed between you. And you didn’t even notice. In fact, fully 50% of people who participated in this 1998 experiment by psychologist Daniel Simons were blind to the switch.