Tag: los angeles times

Life at the Extremes — Not Really

DAVID TREUER, professor of English, USC Dornsife.

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

During the election cycle we tend to ask: What does America mean; where are we going? And then someone decides to check on the Indians to find out the answer, as though Indians represent America’s soul hidden in the attic. And of course politicians have long stood next to their “souls” and posed for pictures on the campaign trail.

Within the last year, Diane Sawyer and “20/20” did a special on the sorry conditions at the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, and the New Yorker featured a grim photo essay on Pine Ridge too. The New York Times published a piece on brutal crime at the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming and another on the deep financial problems at Foxwoods, the Pequot-owned “world’s largest” casino in Connecticut. Indians make the news, but the news

In China, Blame the Murder Victims

MEI FONG, lecturer, USC’s Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism.

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

After USC graduate students Ming Qu and Ying Wu were shot and killed earlier this month, the Chinese student community in America was saddened, shocked and frightened.

The reaction back home was very different. The killings, which happened while Qu and Wu were sitting and talking in a BMW, unleashed a torrent of Internet vitriol in China, and it wasn’t directed at the pair’s attacker.

What Brought L.A. Back From the 1992 Riots

MANUEL PASTOR, director of USC’s Program for Environmental and Regional Equity, and KAFI BLUMENFIELD, president and CEO Liberty Hill Foundation.

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

In 1992, the acquittal of four police officers accused of beating Rodney King was the match that ignited a city, setting off a wave of violence that left 53 dead, thousands injured and hundreds of businesses destroyed.

There was a lot of accumulated tinder to burn. Los Angeles was struggling with a faltering and de-industrialized economy that left too many without good jobs, a wave of demographic transition that caused ethnic and generational tensions, and a widening gap between rich and poor that was just beginning to emerge into public view — a bit like the U.S. today.

Keeping L.A.’s 30/10 Transit Plan on Track

LISA SCHWEITZER, associate professor, USC Price School

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

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa‘s 30/10 plan may be in trouble. The proposal calls for borrowing from the federal government over 10 years the total amount expected to be raised and repaid over 30 years from a half-cent sales tax authorized by L.A. County voters in 2008. With the money, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority could complete transit and highway projects in 10 years instead of 30.

However, on March 29, Congress extended federal transportation spending for only 90 days — the ninth such action since 2009 — to avoid a complete shutdown of Washington-funded highway work. Funds for the mayor’s proposal were not part of the bill. The possibility of movement won’t come until after the November elections, and even that may be a pipe dream.

The 30/10 financing model, widely heralded among transportation experts, thus appears to be another hostage to partisan acrimony in Washington. A two-year bill, which passed 72 to 22 in the Senate, included financing for the 30/10 plan, but Democrats in the House could not force a vote on the legislation. Some House Republicans simply do not want to expand federal loan programs, which they believe encourage overbuilding and mismanagement.

There are options that do not depend on Washington pulling itself together. But Villaraigosa must first decide what is truly important about his plan: fast-tracking the money or developing a model for the federal government to do so. That’s a debate worth having because there are three options for fast-tracking money into Southern California to pay for our needed transportation projects.

The first is the California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank, which has been around since 1994. Because California’s economy is bigger than that of most countries, it can finance much of its own infrastructure. The bank has an AAA credit rating and thus can offer competitive rates. It has helped fund some large projects, including the Bay Bridge‘s deck replacement. Given its modest size, the bank probably wouldn’t bankroll more than a handful of projects at once, so Los Angeles would need to prioritize its projects. But then, nobody really expected the feds to finance the entire 30/10 wish list either.

Villaraigosa also could look overseas for some fast money. The European Investment Bank has lent money to 78 countries to build highways and transit projects, the bulk of it to member states of the European Union. Although the bank has not financed a project in the United States, its mission is to foster infrastructure projects that support EU goals, among them slowing global warming. The 30/10 plan has multiple transit projects — the Westside subway and the Green Line/LAX extension — that dovetail nicely with this environmental goal. Villaraigosa could make an unprecedented proposal to the European bank. What’s the worst that could happen? It says no and mocks our soccer teams ?

A Natural Metaphysical Poet

CAROL MUSKE-DUKES, professor of English, USC Dornsife.

This commentary originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

It was a freezing night in March 1978 — and the small, determined woman climbing next to me up the icy incline to the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for women leaned on a cane. I wanted to take her arm, but because she was famously fiercely independent, I hesitated. Later, I thought that I was right to hold back: Adrienne Rich was that kind of standard-bearer, accustomed to her own “climb,” accustomed to a righteous loneliness in her ascent.

Behind Ocsar’s Nostalgia: Self-Loathing

NEAL GABLER, senior fellow, USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center:

This article originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

“This is the Oscars’ year of nostalgia — or at least that has been the pronouncement among observers. There is, of course, “The Artist,” a silent film set in the silent film era. There is Martin Scorsese’s “Hugo,” which is the story of the rediscovery of one of the early pioneers of the movies, the French director George Méliès. There is Woody Allen’s”Midnight in Paris” in which the protagonist slips through a hole in time into the Paris of the expatriate

Redevelopment Is About Building Communities, Not Money

WILLIAM FULTON, senior fellow at USC’s Price School of Public Policy:

This article originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

“The most telling thing about the death of redevelopment in California was what Gov. Jerry Brown said about it — or, more to the point, what he didn’t say. After the California Supreme Court last month upheld a state law eliminating the state’s redevelopment agencies, Brown issued a one-sentence statement saying the decision “validates a key component of the state budget and guarantees more than a billion dollars of ongoing funding for schools and public safety.”

Should We Punish Inside Traders?

LARRY HARRIS, professor of finance and business economics: “Most people believe that insider trading is simply unfair. … But what seems cut and dried to the public is a more nuanced issue to market experts, economists and legal scholars. Their…

Finish the 710 Freeway

JAMES E. MOORE II, professor of industrial and systems engineering “In the best case, the political impasse over raising the nation’s debt ceiling would lead to a new political reality for evaluating transportation projects: new rules that favor projects with…

For Sale: U.S. Infrastructure?

LISA SCHWEITZER, associate professor, USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development “Greece is having a fire sale of its publicly-owned transportation system, with planes, trains and roads all being sold off as the country attempts to dig out of its…