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  • Labor & EconomyFebruary 9, 2012Madeline Janis

    California Needs a Redevelopment Reboot

    (This post first appeared as a Los Angeles Times opinion piece.)

    Last week, one of the country’s oldest and largest public economic development programs came to an inglorious end when the governor and Legislature pulled the plug on California’s 400 redevelopment agencies.

    So why did the governor and lawmakers end the state’s only real community revitalization program, especially at a time when there is such great need for jobs and affordable housing?

    The biggest reason was the desire of local governments and the state to use the programs’ resources — about $6 billion a year statewide — to fill budget holes. But part of the fault also lies with the agencies, which never fully articulated a mission or resolved tensions between public purpose and private profit.

    The purpose of redevelopment, laid out in the original law authorizing it, was to “eliminate physical blight,”

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  • Labor & EconomyFebruary 8, 2012Guest Feature

    “R” Is for Recovery: 23,400 Jobs Coming to LA Metro

    By Maria Elena Durazo and Denny Zane

    (This feature first appeared on the Huffington Post.)

    While Washington, D.C. has been stuck in what amounts to a partisan traffic jam on the 405 at rush hour, unresponsive and unwilling to rebuild our national economy and infrastructure, we took matters into our own hands in Los Angeles.

    In November of 2008 business, labor and environmental organizations of Los Angeles County worked together to sponsor Measure R, a half-cent sales tax increase to fund transportation projects throughout the county. When voters overwhelmingly approved Measure R, they may have been looking primarily for solutions to traffic congestion and air pollution, but they succeeded in approving nearly $40 billion over 30 years to create hundreds of thousands of jobs as well as an economic stimulus for Los Angeles.

    In addition, Mayor Villaraigosa is working hard to convince the federal government to create a program of low-interest financing for Measure R’s transit program to accelerate the implementation of those projects over 10 years,

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  • Labor & EconomyFebruary 7, 2012Madeline Janis

    Getting the Living Wage Message to the LA Times

    Last week economist Manuel Pastor and I went to talk to the L.A. Times editorial board about the importance of “updating” its position on living wage policies. The week before, the Times had written an editorial in support of the MTA construction careers policy, but at the same time criticized living wage policies as part of “a long and mostly unsuccessful history of using public resources to try to engineer positive social outcomes.”

    Over the years, the L.A. Times editorial board has written at least a dozen editorials criticizing the various living wage policies adopted by the city and county of Los Angeles as job killers, bad economic policy, government interference with the market and many more names.

    One of the things that I have written about before is that living wage policies in Los Angeles have actually been very successful.

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  • EducationFebruary 6, 2012Guest Feature

    Documented: Pomona College's Shame

    By Jennifer Medina

    (Note: This feature appeared on the New York Times Web site February 1.)

    CLAREMONT, Calif. — The dining hall workers had been at Pomona College for years, some even decades. For a few, it was the only job they had held since moving to the United States.

    Then late last year, administrators at the college delivered letters to dozens of the longtime employees asking them to show proof of legal residency, saying that an internal review had turned up problems in their files.

    Seventeen workers could not produce documents showing that they were legally able to work in the United States. So on Dec. 2, they lost their jobs.

    Now, the campus is deep into a consuming debate over what it means to be a college with liberal ideals, with some students, faculty and alumni accusing the administration and the board of directors of betraying the college’s ideals.

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  • Culture & MediaFebruary 3, 2012Rev. Jim Conn

    99 Percent Only: The Mirage of Wealth

    We are the 99 percent. Well, yes we are, but not everyone among us thinks so. Lots of people think they are part of the 1 percent when they aren’t even close. According to Harper’s Index 13 percent of Americans think they are part of the1 percent, and 28 percent of “Hispanic Americans” think they are part of the 1 percent. Since these are statistical impossibilities, it makes me wonder why people don’t identify with who they are instead of who they are not.

    Some people identify with the rich because they expect to be rich some day. That is why so many low-income people play the lottery. One day their ship will come in. On the other hand, many people think that if they work hard, climb the ladder and make a few clever deals, they too will be rich. Some 43 percent of Americans actually think that.

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