Yaroslavsky on GOP Congressional Wins in California

Director of the Los Angeles Initiative Zev Yaroslavsky spoke to the Los Angeles Times about the significance of recent Republican victories in Congress. In November, California Republicans recaptured four of the seven congressional seats that had flipped to Democrats two years earlier. All four winning congressional candidates are from immigrant backgrounds, illustrating that the Republican Party can achieve voter support by avoiding political extremes and appealing to diverse communities. The four congressional districts that flipped back to Republicans still chose Democrat Joe Biden over President Donald Trump, indicating voter desires for moderation instead of extremism. Yaroslavsky expects these districts to be highly competitive for years to come. “For Republicans to be a viable party, they’re going to have to expand their base,” he said. “They can’t just rely on white voters, because that number is dropping. As we’ve seen, the trend is a more purple 50-50 split in these areas.”

Yaroslavsky on Fallout From Assault on U.S. Capitol

Zev Yaroslavsky, director of the Los Angeles Initiative at UCLA Luskin, spoke to KCAL9 News after a mob loyal to President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol. “What happened today did not happen by accident,” said Yaroslavsky, noting that Trump had for weeks called on his supporters to come to Washington on Jan. 6, the day Congress was scheduled to certify  President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. Yaroslavsky said invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from power could have a calming effect on the nation. “It’s been four years of this tension, of this instability, of this constant drone of craziness,” he said. “In the next 14 days, if you have an unstable president, there’s a lot of damage he can do.” Yaroslavsky, who has served as an overseas election observer for three decades, lamented the damage done to the United States’ reputation as a beacon of democracy. “Imagine people all over the world watching the spectacle that we were all watching.” 

Yaroslavsky on What’s Next for Mayor Garcetti

Zev Yaroslavsky, director of the Los Angeles Initiative at UCLA Luskin, weighed in on Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s future political prospects in a piece by Politico. An early supporter of President-elect Joe Biden, Garcetti served as a national campaign co-chair, helped to vet vice presidential candidates and serves as a co-chair of the committee planning the upcoming inauguration. While many presumed Garcetti would land a spot in the Biden administration, he did not, and the mayor has confirmed that he will stay put in City Hall as Los Angeles grapples with pandemic-induced health and budget crises, homelessness and a rise in violent crime. Some observers say Garcetti’s next career move is likely to be a mid-term appointment in the Biden administration. “This is not a time to write Eric Garcetti’s obituary,” Yaroslavsky said. “Biden remembers his friends, and Garcetti is his friend.”

Yaroslavsky on Newsom’s Chance to Reshape State Politics

Zev Yaroslavsky, director of the Los Angeles Initiative at UCLA Luskin, spoke to the Hill about Gov. Gavin Newsom’s opportunity to reshape California’s political hierarchy with his selections to fill high-level vacancies in government. In addition to choosing someone to fill Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ seat in the U.S. Senate, Newsom must replace California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who was nominated as U.S. health and human services secretary in the Biden administration. Once the governor selects their successors, additional powerful posts in state government could open up. “There are a considerable number of possibilities for filling constitutional offices that no governor in the history of the state has had,” Yaroslavsky said, noting that Newsom’s choices will leave an imprint on both state and national politics. “It’s an unprecedented opportunity and responsibility that has fallen in the governor’s lap.”


Yaroslavsky on Funding Olympic Games

Zev Yaroslavsky, director of the Los Angeles Initiative at UCLA Luskin, spoke to Utah’s Deseret News about hosting the Olympic Games in U.S. cities. Salt Lake City hosted the Winter Games in 2002, and Utah is bidding to again play host in 2030 or 2034. Similarly, Los Angeles will host its third Summer Games in 2028. Yaroslavsky said it makes sense to hold future Olympics in places like Utah and Los Angeles because they already have facilities in place. “The cost of putting on the Games is largely in the infrastructure you have to build,” he explained. Yaroslavsky, a former city councilman, worked to prohibit the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles from using general fund money from the city, pushing organizers to find private funding instead. “I am a cheerleader for the Games,” Yaroslavsky said. “But I’m a cheerleader for a Games that doesn’t cost taxpayers money.”

Yaroslavsky on Conflicting Messages from Public Health Officials

Zev Yaroslavsky, director of the Los Angeles Initiative at UCLA Luskin, joined KPCC’s “AirTalk” to discuss confusion surrounding the latest safer-at-home order in the Los Angeles area. City, county and state officials have issued new rules as COVID-19 cases have reached unprecedented levels. However, many residents are confused by conflicting messages from public health authorities and frustrated by contradictions in the new rules. Yaroslavsky agreed that “there has been a messaging problem” at the local and federal levels. “The longer you delay a difficult decision, the more difficult that decision will be when you finally make it,” Yaroslavsky said. “The public has good instincts and want to be communicated with honestly.” He acknowledged that this is an unparalleled crisis and that many health experts are learning more as they go along. “We need to be informed about what we need to do to take ownership in our own households,” he concluded.

Yaroslavsky Defends Right to Access the Justice System

Director of the Los Angeles Initiative Zev Yaroslavsky co-authored an opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times about threats to cut funding for legal self-help service centers, which provide free assistance to Angelenos who cannot afford legal representation. These services are used by 150,000 people a year in Los Angeles County, particularly those in poverty, experiencing homelessness, facing domestic abuse or with limited English proficiency. A decline in sales taxes due to COVID-19 has put the existence of these centers in peril. “We cannot afford to let this happen,” Yaroslavsky wrote. Self-help centers have always been “a place that residents can go to get information they trust and the free legal help they need.” Protecting legal self-help centers is “morally and fiscally the right thing to do,” he concluded. “We must use every tool at our disposal to reach those who need our help, and self-help legal access centers are a key part of that strategy.”

Yaroslavsky Sees Election as a Wake-Up Call

Director of the Los Angeles Initiative Zev Yaroslavsky joined UCLA’s “Then & Now” podcast to discuss the aftermath of the presidential election. On the day Joe Biden was declared winner of the election, “I was not euphoric,” Yaroslavsky said. “I was very happy that Biden won. … I was not happy that 72 million people voted for an incumbent president who spent four years trafficking in racism and bigotry.” He argued that Trump’s refusal to accept defeat is “calcifying the divide and inability of either side to come together and work on behalf of the people in this country.” However, this issue should resolve itself as responsible people move forward in a rational transition process, Yaroslavsky said during the podcast produced by the Luskin Center for History and Policy. “Biden won the presidency, but less than 100,000 votes could have swung the election in another direction,” he said. “This should be a wake-up call that there is still a lot of work to be done.”

Yaroslavsky and Newton Weigh In on Garcetti’s Record

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.”

Yaroslavsky on Crisis in Sheriff’s Department

Zev Yaroslavsky, director of the Los Angeles Initiative at UCLA Luskin, joined KPCC’s “AirTalk” to discuss tensions between the L.A. County Board of Supervisors and Sheriff Alex Villanueva. The supervisors have voted 3-2 to explore options to impeach or reduce the responsibilities of Villanueva. Yaroslavsky, a former L.A. County supervisor, said there is always some tension between the sheriff and the supervisors, but they’ve historically been able to work together to adhere to their constitutional responsibilities. However, he said, Villanueva has violated agreements on constitutional policing issues, including excessive use of force. Yaroslavsky agreed that it is important to raise the idea of changing the way that sheriffs are chosen but said he doesn’t think voters would approve the measure. “The resources and energies that would have to be brought to bear on a constitutional amendment or charter change should be brought to bear on removing him from office in the regularly scheduled election,” he said.