(The following talk was given last night by Robert Gottlieb at Pasadena’s ArtCenter College of Design.)
This is an interesting venue for my talk. If, historically, the school has been engaged in making the automobile a more attractive object for consumers and industry alike, then my talk seeks to do the opposite. Can we envision eliminating or at least reducing the automobile’s role in Los Angeles? And, if so, what would that mean for the ArtCenter College of Design and its long history with the automobile?
Let me start with a recent New York Times Sunday Business article on the design firm Ideo with its slogans of “slow becomes fast” “auotomobility” and “autonomous driving.” The headline for the piece was “Helping Ford Go Beyond the Car,” although it could have also been headlined “How to save the car while also capturing its alternatives.” Is this the route for the ArtCenter College of Design?
With tongue firmly planted in cheek Thursday, a beaming Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti credited two secret weapons for helping him break a deadlock among a labor coalition, civic groups, Kinkisharyo International LLC and the city to craft a compromise to save jobs and keep construction of new light rail cars in Palmdale: “bad pizza and smaller meeting rooms.”
Garcetti also serves as chair of the county’s transit authority, Metro. His self-deprecating quip garnered a hearty laugh while setting the tone for a mostly celebratory morning press conference to announce the new agreement before Thursday’s regular Metro board meeting.
In addition to the mayor and Kinkisharyo reps, news conference attendees included L.A. County Supervisor Mike Antonovich, Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford Jr., Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor Maria Elena Durazo and Antelope Valley business group leaders.
All of the speakers heaped praise upon Garcetti for taking the lead in this 11th-hour process to broker the deal.
Los Angeles City Council members convened Tuesday for an Economic Development Committee hearing on a motion that would raise the minimum wage for workers in the City of Los Angeles to $13.25 per hour beginning in July 2017, and link future wage hikes to the Consumer Price Index. The motion also calls for an independent study on the economic impact of raising the minimum wage to $15.25 per hour after 2017. Councilmembers further discussed a closely related motion that would focus on the challenge of implementing and enforcing the new wage laws.
Supporters from a variety of local community and labor organizations, each wearing different colored T-shirts, showed up to back the wage increase, including from the Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance (KIWA), Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), L.A. Black Workers Center and Restaurant Opportunities Center Los Angeles (ROC-LA), among others. The hearing, which came just a month after Council members voted to raise the minimum wage to $15.37 for certain hotel workers,
If you watched the Roosevelt series on PBS, as I did, you might have been struck by how Teddy and FDR saw their presidential duties. Both acted on the belief that the role of the federal government was to secure the material wellbeing of the American people. In their eyes the central government had a responsibility for full employment, living wage jobs and reining in the power of corporate America, among other initiatives. They took responsibility for how the national economy impacted the ordinary citizen and saw government action as a vehicle to reverse economic suffering.
Fast forward to the present. We now have a largely paralyzed federal government, consumed in debate over whether or not government action is a curse or a blessing, and unable or unwilling to address the widening income gap. In response, many major American cities are stepping into that pro-active, Roosevelt role; new minimum wage laws have been passed,
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray used last May Day to announce that business and labor had agreed to a historic plan to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Seattle’s bold measure is part of a growing wave of activism and local legislation around the country to help lift the working poor out of poverty. The gridlock in Washington – where Congress hasn’t boosted the federal minimum wage, stuck at $7.25 an hour, since 2009 – has catalyzed a growing movement in cities and states.
The Seattle victory was a game-changer. Within months, politicians in other cities jumped on the bandwagon. San Diego city officials voted in August to adopt a $11.50 an hour by 2017. In San Francisco, which already has a citywide minimum wage, voters will decide in November whether to raise it to $15.
On September 24, the Los Angeles City Council voted by a 12 to 3 margin to require large hotels to pay at least $15.37 an hour to their workers.