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  • Labor & EconomyJuly 18, 2012Steven Mikulan

    State Gives Struggling Homeowners a "Fighting Shot"


    You don’t have to be a recent homeowner to know how precarious the housing market has been since the bubble popped in 2007. Consider this, for example: Today half of all San Bernardino County homeowners have to put on scuba gear to view their mortgages. Last week, however, just as that county toyed with the idea of seizing such homes through eminent domain, there was a bright spot. Governor Jerry Brown signed into law (to take effect January 1, 2013) the Homeowner Bill of Rights, a consolidation of several bills that had been strongly pushed by state Attorney General Kamala Harris.

    The HBR offers several solid benefits to homeowners, but two stick out:

    • The law prevents banks from carrying out “dual-tracking” tactics in which they negotiate mortgage modifications with financially distressed homeowners while simultaneously preparing to foreclose on them.
    • It guarantees that struggling homeowners have a single person to contact at their lender – a person who is fully knowledgeable about the details of the owners’ individual cases.

     » Read more about: State Gives Struggling Homeowners a "Fighting Shot"  »

  • EnvironmentJuly 18, 2012Nora Mathison

    Out of Stock: Recycling Options for LA Businesses

    Sandra Zebi is no stranger to the challenges posed by urban waste. Now the owner of a vintage clothing store in Marina del Rey, Zebi was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, which produced 14,000 tons of waste each day.

    Ironically inspired by her urban surroundings, Zebi created art using recycled materials. Moving to L.A., she renovated a run-down building and now uses it to house her shop, which is filled with recycled clothing and art.

    Zebi loves L.A. but she is not a fan of our waste and recycling system. Like many small business owners she has found that her store does not have a recycling option.

    Because of her tenacious environmental consciousness, Zebi seeks other options. Some of her actions are illegal or frowned upon by city government. A business partner, Vanessa, for example, gives bags of recyclable materials to neighborhood homeless men who reside near their store.

     » Read more about: Out of Stock: Recycling Options for LA Businesses  »

  • Labor & EconomyJuly 17, 2012Donald Cohen

    Plan B From Outer Space: Olympics’ Privatization Fiasco

    The London Olympics starting in two weeks will be an enormous logistical and security challenge for the city. More than four million people are expected to visit London over the Olympic period and billions more will be watching; 4.7 billion people from around the globe watched at least some of the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

    Under that kind of global spotlight, successful games will burnish the city’s glow and bring millions of new tourists for years to come. Failure, on the other hand, could tarnish the city’s reputation in the eyes of the world.

    London is off to a bad start. The private global security giant, G4S, hired to guard the games failed to meet their hiring targets. The British government has stepped in and called up 3,500 troops to fill in. It’s yet another example of public contracting gone bad.

    At first look,

     » Read more about: Plan B From Outer Space: Olympics’ Privatization Fiasco  »

  • EnvironmentJuly 17, 2012adminsm

    What It Really Takes to Create a Green Economy

    One central challenge to building a green economy is that for many, the inner workings of a key pillar of that economy — the construction industry — are a mystery. Understanding construction helps us move beyond simply creating green “jobs,” which could be temporary or even dangerous, to building a new green economic sector that generates permanent construction careers.

    Construction is one of the largest sectors of the U.S. economy, with a dollar value approaching $800 billion and more than 7.2 million workers. It brings together people from all different walks of life. For community members that the economic downturn has hit the hardest — low-income workers, minorities, women, those returning from the military or from prison — construction offers a chance at a middle-class career.

    A growing piece of the construction industry is retrofitting buildings to increase energy efficiency. Launching a project to retrofit a building,

     » Read more about: What It Really Takes to Create a Green Economy  »

  • Culture & MediaJuly 16, 2012James Elmendorf

    The Penn State Scandal: It’s Not About Football

    Last week Penn State University released a report by former FBI Director Louis Freeh about the Jerry Sandusky scandal. It confirms what most of us already believed—that the leadership at Penn State had reason to believe Sandusky was molesting children but failed to do anything.

    Sandusky’s been convicted, and several key officials—Penn’s president Graham Spanier,  athletic director Tim Curley and football coach Joe Paterno —have been fired or have been convicted in the press and will likely soon be convicted in a court. (Paterno died last January.)

    Now the debate is turning to the responsibility of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the idea being that the NCAA should impose sanctions on Penn State.

    The main idea of this debate is that Penn State’s cover-up says something about the influence of football on a college campus, and on our culture at large. It doesn’t. This isn’t to say the Paterno legend is irrelevant,

     » Read more about: The Penn State Scandal: It’s Not About Football  »