Los Angeles Initiative Director Zev Yaroslavsky and Blueprint editor Jim Newton joined the Slate podcast “Slow Burn” to discuss the aftermath of the Rodney King beating in March 1991. A tape of the beating exposed brutality within the Los Angeles Police Department, prompting many to call for Chief Daryl Gates to step down. At the time, the LAPD “saw itself as a paramilitary organization, primarily white and male, and viewed its fundamental charge as maintaining the peace,” Newton said. Yaroslavsky pointed out that the police commission could fire Gates only for a case of moral turpitude. “It was never an issue of whether he would be fired; the issue was whether he could be persuaded to leave,” Yaroslavsky said. The Christopher Commission, launched by former Mayor Tom Bradley and chaired by Warren Christopher, recommended that Gates step down; he did not retire until June 1992.
Jim Newton, editor of UCLA’s Blueprint magazine, spoke to the New York Times and Washington Post about California’s recall election, which ended in a decisive victory for Gov. Gavin Newsom. “There was never an intelligent rationale for this recall, and the people saw through it,” Newton told the Post. “And he got his people out, and that of course was the great fear heading into the vote, that too many Democrats would take the outcome for granted.” The New York Times piece focused on calls for reforming California’s centuries-old laws on recalls and referendums. Any changes are likely to be opposed by Republicans, who see the tradition of direct democracy as a key avenue of influence in a Democrat-led state. Newton commented, “The general premise that the initiative, referendum and recall are intended to curb the influence of powerful special interests has been tipped entirely on its head and it has now become the tool of special interests.”
Jim Newton, editor of UCLA’s Blueprint magazine, spoke to the Los Angeles Times about L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva’s decline in favorability since his shift to the political right. In 2018, Villanueva campaigned for sheriff as a relatively unknown Democratic candidate and promised police reform and transparency. However, since being elected, Villanueva has resisted calls for greater transparency, pursued controversial hires and resisted multiple subpoenas. The sheriff responded to the growth of the Black Lives Matter movement and widespread demands for police reform by publicly rebuking local elected Democrats and working to increase the number of people permitted to carry concealed guns in Los Angeles County. The story cited UCLA’s 2021 Quality of Life Index, which found that Villanueva’s favorability has decreased since he was elected; he will be on the ballot for reelection in 2022. “Whether Villanueva is vulnerable depends in huge measure on who runs against him,” Newton said. “Without a credible opponent, none of this really matters.”
Jim Newton, editor of UCLA’s Blueprint magazine, spoke to Vox about Caitlyn Jenner’s decision to run as a Republican candidate in the race to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom. Jenner, a former Olympian and reality TV star, helped increase transgender visibility through her own transition. However, her support for former President Donald Trump and other conservative colleagues who have attacked the trans community have alienated her from the liberal trans community. “If her base is trans-sympathetic Republicans, well, that’s not 51%,” Newton said. “But in this race, if there are enough candidates, and they divide up the vote enough ways, she could win with a lot less than that.” Still, more than half of voters would need to vote to recall Newsom for that to happen. “If California continues to battle COVID successfully in the fall, then I think it’s very hard for me to imagine that [Newsom] gets recalled,” Newton said. “Then it doesn’t matter where Jenner gets her support.”
UCLA Luskin’s Zev Yaroslavsky and Jim Newton weighed in on billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad’s enduring imprint on the cultural and civic life of Los Angeles. Broad, who died April 30 at age 87, was the rare individual who could “convene the agents of wealth and commerce and business to mobilize for a large civic project,” Yaroslavsky told the Los Angeles Times. On KPCC’s AirTalk, beginning at minute 18, Yaroslavsky spoke about the transformative impact of Broad’s decades of “venture philanthropy.” “His commitment, his civic involvement, was contagious,” said Yaroslavsky, a longtime elected official who now directs the Luskin School’s Los Angeles Initiative. Newton, editor of UCLA’s Blueprint magazine, wrote an L.A. Times op-ed calling Broad “an unstoppable force” bent on pushing the city toward greatness amid substantial resistance. “Today’s Los Angeles, from its schools to its political leadership to its skyline, reflects Broad’s great construction project,” Newton wrote.
Lecturer Jim Newton spoke to the Washington Post about Gov. Gavin Newsom’s approach to handling the COVID-19 pandemic. After winning the 2018 election with 62% of the vote, Newsom is now facing a recall effort caused by frustrations about his approach to the pandemic. In March 2020, Newsom announced a statewide stay-at-home order, which would be followed by a year of closing and reopening. “As it wore on, he seemed more vacillating, that there seemed to be a sort of uncertainty about how quickly to move to reopen,” Newton said. “It felt like the voices pressing for opening were starting to get to him.” However, Newton acknowledged that the circumstances were unprecedented. “I don’t know that he could have done it perfectly and I don’t know that there was a perfect way to do it,” he said. “He’s managed to be a little bit between the extremes and a little bit disappointing to people in both camps.”
Lecturer Jim Newton spoke to Voice of San Diego about the city’s shift in support of the Democratic Party. After years of being a Republican stronghold, San Diego County has voted blue in the last four presidential elections. When asked in 1989 if deeply conservative Orange County would ever turn blue, Newton imagined it might happen sometime in his grandchildren’s lifetime. However, Barack Obama won San Diego County in the 2008 presidential election, and Orange County joined the movement in 2016 and 2020 by voting for Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden. Newton pointed to the rise of the environmental movement and the increase in Latino voters for the shift. He explained that since the GOP drifted toward big business, “it’s hard to take the environment seriously and associate with the Republican Party.” He also noted that the GOP has become associated with deportation and intolerance in California. “It may take time, but political worlds shift,” he said.
Los Angeles Initiative Director Zev Yaroslavsky and lecturer Jim Newton were featured in a Forward article highlighting the successes and shortcomings of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who is reportedly being considered for a Cabinet appointment in the Joe Biden administration. Garcetti established his reputation as a mayor who could get things done after he signed a $15 minimum wage into law in 2015 and with the 2016 passage of Measure M, which expanded public transit and bike networks. “Today, no county in America has so much local money invested in building transportation infrastructure as L.A. County has,” Yaroslavsky said. “He has a considerable record under his belt in that regard.” However, critics point out Garcetti’s failures to address homelessness and traffic congestion. “I’m one of the people who wanted to see him be more ambitious and swing higher,” Newton said. “I don’t think homelessness is his fault, … but I also don’t believe he can point to much evidence that he’s succeeded.”
Lecturer Jim Newton spoke to Courthouse News about the array of candidates Gov. Gavin Newsom will consider before selecting Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ successor in the U.S. Senate. Newsom will be the first California governor with the opportunity to appoint a senator in nearly 30 years. Newton explained that the governor will have to decide whether he wants a placeholder to fill out the last two years of Harris’ term or someone better suited to defend the seat going forward. California Secretary of State Alex Padilla is a front-runner, Newton said, noting, “It’s a big, coveted, popular job. I think it would be attractive for him to put a Latino in that seat.” Possibilities from the Los Angeles area include Mayor Eric Garcetti and Congressman Adam Schiff, he said. Newton added that former Gov. Jerry Brown would be a good choice if Newsom desires experience and prefers someone who probably would not seek re-election in 2022.
Jim Newton, lecturer and editor of UCLA’s Blueprint magazine, spoke with Nine News Australia about Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s selection of Sen. Kamala Harris as a running mate. Biden and Harris “come from different backgrounds and different parts of the country,” Newton said. “I think her presence on the ticket makes the ticket feel much bigger and much more appealing to a bigger section of the country.” Newton, who has tracked Harris’ career for two decades and interviewed her for the first edition of Blueprint in 2015, called her a tough political figure who has sparred with critics from both the left and right. He added that the selection of the first Black woman on the presidential ticket of a major party shows that Biden is open to “a new idea of America, rather than this country fighting to retain a white-majority establishment political culture.”