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.
Because, for nine-and-a-half years I have devoted a significant amount of volunteer time to making redevelopment a winning proposition for low-income communities in Los Angeles. While I admit that I have not always been successful,
(Editor’s Note: This feature first appeared on Huffington Post.)
With one statement January 5, Newt Gingrich, who constantly reminds voters about his past as a college professor, managed to mangle the facts while resorting to old-fashioned racist stereotypes to gain votes. With his poll numbers sinking, and his presidential campaign desperate, Gingrich told a crowd at a senior citizens center in Plymouth, N.H., “I’m prepared, if the NAACP invites me, I’ll go to their convention and talk about why the African American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps.”
“The fact is, if I become your nominee we will make the key test very simple: Food stamps versus paychecks,” said Gingrich hoping to appeal to conservative white voters in New Hampshire and in upcoming primaries in South Carolina, Florida and other southern states. “Obama is the best food stamp president in American history.
As dismal as things may seem, we Californians actually have a few things to look forward to. The fruits of reform efforts are ripening, with three common-sense laws making their influential debuts.
This new year will see a much-needed shake-up of the State Assembly and Senate. For decades legislators drew their own districts, ones that favored incumbents and decreased voters’ power. Thanks to the California Citizen’s Redistricting Commission created in 2008 and further empowered in 2010, our state finally has fair and honest State Assembly, State Senate and U.S. Congressional districts. Many current representatives find themselves in districts they are unlikely to win next year, and are making decisions to move to “safer” districts. This will pit many voters against Sacramento’s staunch culture of incumbency when party leaders run candidates in areas they haven’t represented in the past.
Voters will see another change at the ballots in the coming year.
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.
Of course it’s a really bad idea to run government like a gas station or bank —
This 2012 newspaper headline wishlist first appeared on the Labor Lou blog.
1) Gingrich Sews Up Nomination
Former House speaker clears the field as Romney pulls out
2) Scott Walker Recalled
Wisconsin voters remove unpopular Republican governor
3) Clinton, Biden Swap Jobs
Convention taps Hillary for VP; Biden will head State Department
4) OWS Veterans Get Political
Wall Street protesters energize Obama campaign
5) Clarence Thomas Resigns
Conflict of interest sinks Supreme Court justice
6) Unemployment Down, Consumer Confidence Up
Optimism rising as election nears
7) Democrats Take Back House
Pelosi promises progressive agenda
8) Demands Grow to Curtail Filibuster
Senate Republicans might lose their best weapon
9) Obama Makes Labor Reform “Top Priority”
Declares unions “Key to economic justice”
10) Court’s Conservative Majority Jeopardized by President’s Pick
Justices could revisit “Citizens United”