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Much was made in Ray Bradbury’s obits last week of his paradoxical nature: He was a science fiction writer who never drove a car or used a computer, a seer who looked to the past to describe the future. All of which was true – Bradbury was one of the few authors who could make a trip to the next century seem like a sentimental journey. The reason is that so much of his Tomorrowland was really mid-20th Century America dressed up in a space suit and relocated to Mars. The Midwestern front porch on a summer evening, lit by fireflies and the murmur of conversation, was as key to Bradbury’s fictional worlds as rocket ships and robots.
In fact, Bradbury is too often typecast as a science fiction writer – after all, he wrote a number of plays for Los Angeles theater, along with the screenplay for John Huston’s film Moby Dick and the narration for King of Kings.
Even as transit agencies around the U.S. are cutting back on bus and rail service and raising fares, L.A. has embarked on this country’s most ambitious transit expansion — from 118 miles and 103 stations to 236 miles and 200 stations, a work program likely to generate an estimated 400,000 construction jobs.
For the first time ever in Southern California there are three lines under construction at the same time: Expo to Santa Monica, the Gold Line to Azusa and the Orange Line to Chatsworth. Add the Crenshaw Line and the downtown L.A. Regional Connector — utilities are being relocated now so construction can begin — and that’s five lines under construction.
Suddenly the world is looking at Los Angeles in a very different light. As Brookings Institution spokesman Adie Tomer told the Los Angeles Times:
“You have this archetype of L.A. as the highway city of America.
(Editor’s Note: This American Prospect post appeared on the eve of last Tuesday’s Wisconsin recall vote and, as such, only anticipates events that have since occurred. Still, Harold Meyerson offers some astute insights into why that recall effort ultimately failed.)
We don’t know the outcome of Tuesday’s gubernatorial election in Wisconsin, of course, but we do know this: Even if labor somehow manages to oust Republican Governor Scott Walker, the result will be nothing like the resounding repudiation that Ohio voters delivered last year in repealing that state’s anti-collective bargaining law pushed by an equally controversial GOP governor, John Kasich.
Why the difference? Kasich’s bill went beyond Walker’s in banning collective bargaining for cops and fire fighters, which proved a decidedly unpopular position, but that can hardly account for more than a fraction of the difference. Moreover, Wisconsin is generally regarded as a more liberal state than Ohio.
A June 4 Los Angeles Times article reported that hotel rates for business travelers in North America surged 9.3 percent in April, coming within 3 percent of the peak pre-recession rates in fall 2008. Rates for leisure travelers also rose 7.3 percent. The report also indicated that rates will continue to increase as demand continues to rise. This is a big deal because it means travel (both leisure and business) is heading in a positive direction since the 2008 recession hit. A city like Los Angeles – that hosted a record 26.9 million visitors last year – has a great opportunity to capture this rise in tourism. As the number one employer in L.A. County, home to pristine beaches, year-round beautiful weather and other attractions, tourism is poised to be one of the primary sectors that will lead Los Angeles out of the recession.
However, Los Angeles has some major work to do to be a leader in tourism and to develop a sustainable model that equally benefits the industry,
The New Republic’s Richard Yeselson has a perceptive piece on that publication’s website that’s worth reading before our collective amnesia allows us to forget all about Governor Scott Walker’s recent electoral triumph.
“Not With a Bang, But a Whimper: The Long, Slow Death Spiral of America’s Labor Movement” is, as you might surmise, another in a series of post-Wisconsin election eulogies for American unions. Yet it’s much more, becoming a meditation on the place unions once occupied in the American imagination, both in politics and pop culture, and how their mention today barely elicits shrugs – even from many union members.
Yeselon likens unions to the typewriters that many writers of a certain age profess affection for but which none of us will ever return to using. “The problem isn’t that most people hate unions,” he writes. “The problem for unions is that most people don’t care about them,