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In recent weeks the more poetically inclined of us at Frying Pan News have borrowed inspirations ranging from Doctor Seuss to Clement Clarke Moore to express their hopes for the environment and the economy. Now, Jessica Goodheart and Trebor Healey borrow a leaf from Bashō and squeeze green sentiments into a trio of haiku.
(Photo credits: Port of L.A., Brian Ferguson, Louise Rosskam)
For 25 years, Manuel Pastor has been writing and teaching with keen insight about the economy and how it shapes our lives. Trained as an economist, Professor Pastor serves as the director of USC‘s Program for Environmental and Regional Equity and co-director of the university’s Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration. In recent years, his research has focused on the economic, environmental and social conditions facing low-income urban communities in the U.S. His writing has appeared in dozens of academic and popular publications, and he is the recipient of grants from the Rockefeller, Ford and National Science foundations, among others.
This is the first installment of an ongoing conversation with Professor Pastor about our economy, our politics and the future of Los Angeles.
Frying Pan News: One of the hottest issues this week in L.A.
I spent last Saturday morning at the five-acre Annenberg Community Beach House complex which, as far as I know, is the only publicly accessible beach facility on the entire coast of our great state. About 200 of us were gathered to honor the 31-year tenure of Barbara Stinchfield, a Santa Monica city staffer who led the effort to finance, design, build and manage the newly opened beach facility for community use.
With a public pool, playground, shaded seating areas, outdoor fountain, public meeting rooms and an indoor-outdoor reception room, the complex, located on the “Gold Coast” adjacent to high-end beach homes, offers ordinary people the beauty of the California beachfront in a tastefully designed building – just what the wealthy can afford to buy in a private beach club.
The “private sector” would have had no incentive to build a public facility like this since it generates no profit and its primary mission is service to the public.
The morning after covering the New Hampshire primary, American Prospect and Washington Post commentator Harold Meyerson was getting over a bad cold, but answered a few questions about whether the conservative electorate was becoming more sympathetic to populist pitches.
Frying Pan News: All of a sudden pro-business presidential candidates have been backpedaling or “clarifying” the red-meat comments that they’ve been throwing to their base – comments deriding Americans who are too lazy to be millionaires, or celebrating the joy of firing people. Are candidates suddenly feeling the average person’s pain?
Harold Meyerson: I think Mitt Romney crossed the line when he said he likes firing people. When Romney says it his background as a venture capitalist comes into play. As an actor he’s precisely the guy central casting would send to play a Wall Street executive.
FPN: So you don’t think the Republican candidates will be playing the populist card?
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,