When Congress Comes Calling, UCLA Luskin Students Are All Ears Former lawmakers and their spouses share their insider view of life in leadership and legislation

By Stan Paul

Reaching across the table was good form at a luncheon discussion with a bipartisan group of former members of Congress visiting the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs on Oct. 7.

The former U.S. representatives — two Republicans and two Democrats — and their spouses held informal breakout discussions with Luskin Master of Public Policy (MPP) students and undergrads in the school’s Public Affairs minor program. UCLA Political Science graduate and undergraduate students also participated.

“Congress has come to us,” said Mark Peterson, chair of the Luskin School’s Department of Public Policy, as he introduced the guests, all members of the United States Association of Former Members of Congress (FMC). The Washington D.C.-based nonprofit organization is dedicated to promoting an understanding of the role of Congress and the importance of public service in the United States and abroad.

Lynn Schenck (D-CA, 1993-95) shared her experience in public service and fielded questions from students on subjects ranging from the California ballot to emerging democracies.

“Democracy is hard work,” said the UCLA alumna (BA ’67) and lawyer who served in California Gov. Jerry Brown’s cabinet — in his earlier term — and as deputy secretary for the state’s department of business, transportation and housing. She later became the first woman to represent San Diego in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“You have to have an interest in people,” Schenk advised the future leaders and policymakers, stressing the importance of making connections. “Start now — stay in touch with people.”

Joining Schenck and Pete Weichlein, CEO of the Former Members of Congress Association, were Bob Clement (D-TN, 1987-2003), Phil Gingrey (R-GA, 2003- 2015), and Peter Smith (R-VT, 1989-1991), all of whom had a front row seat to the inner workings of Congress and life in Washington. Conversations with the couples buzzed from the start, a wide range of talking points that included this year’s historic presidential election, the economy, social media, taxes, immigration, super PACs and the pressures of fundraising.

Ramandeep Kaur, a first-year MPP student, said she appreciated the opportunity to participate one-on-one in a discussion with a former Republican representative.

“I am definitely not a conservative Republican but this gets me out of my bubble,” said Kaur, who spoke with Gingrey and his wife, Billie.

Also part of that discussion was MPP student Estefania Zavala, who said she gained insights about the difficulty of working across party lines as well as the time and effort spent on running for re-election. “What I took away from the conversation is that the process needs to be streamlined so that our elected representatives can focus on policy and not partisan politics,” Zavala said.

Axel Sarkissian, a political science major completing the Public Affairs minor at the Luskin School, said that hearing about the day-to-day aspect of governing “from the people who did it” was an invaluable experience.

“As a student of government, I study Congress and policymaking from an academic perspective,” Sarkissian said. “Being able to hear the candid thoughts of political leaders who put these things into practice created an interesting frame of reference for my future studies.”

One topic brought up by students dominated the conversation, said Peter Smith, a former representative from Vermont and founding president of Open College at Kaplan University: “Where did all the partisanship come from at the expense of compromise? When did it change and how can we get it back?”

“I was very impressed with their preparation from their studies and their interest,” said Smith, who also served as a state senator and lieutenant governor in Vermont. “They are looking for ways to be involved in public policy that can be productive.”

Real-World Experience for Public Policy Students In Applied Policy Project presentations, Luskin students pitch policy solutions for clients and get feedback from faculty and peers

By Stan Paul

As graduation looms, Public Policy students from UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs face an annual rite of passage — a culmination of two years of study known as the Applied Policy Project (APP). Getting a master’s degree hangs in the balance.

In teams of two or more, the students present their research to a gallery of policy experts from the Luskin School. Standing before wide-screen projections that illustrate the results of seemingly endless hours of study and investigation, the sharply dressed students review complex policy issues and present possible solutions. As fellow students cluster nearby to show support, Luskin faculty, project advisers and clients listen intently and evaluate each project’s effectiveness. Was there enough attention to detail? Is the concept logical? Is it relevant? Persuasive? And, most importantly, is it supported by evidence?

These challenging presentations are only part of the process. The Master of Public Policy (MPP) candidates also face follow-up questions from faculty and colleagues, who inquire about options researched but not presented, or merits of the solutions they have proposed.

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This year, client projects ranged from local transportation, policing and social justice issues to international employment, education and the well-being of workers in developing countries. State issues such as high-speed rail and health care reform were addressed, as were the short-term rental market and electric vehicle charging options.

The clients included the Southern California Association of Governments, the Coalition for Engaged Education, the California High Speed Rail Authority and Covered CA, among others.

“Public Policy education isn’t about abstractions,” said Mark Peterson, chair of the Department of Public Policy. “It’s about deriving effective solutions to real problems and being able to communicate the value and efficacy of those solutions to decision makers. The Applied Policy Projects put our MPP students in that real-world arena. Their oral presentations and the probes from the faculty put their ideas and analysis to the test in real time, just the preparation our graduates need as they take up positions in government agencies, nonprofit organizations and private firms striving to address the pressing issues of the day.”

The three-day APP program featured 62 students and 18 presentations, each lasting 20 minutes, followed by 10 minutes of Q&A. Here are highlights of three of the students’ talks, which took place in May:

Medical Education for Future Leaders

What do medical students need to learn today to become leaders in medicine for the future?

Three MPPs — two of them also current UCLA medical students — devoted their project to finding an answer to this question. Their project is no mere thought experiment. The UCLA Geffen School of Medicine, which has already begun to address this issue, is the client for the project to determine the needs and direction of a modern, forward-looking medical school and the education it provides.

MD-MPP students Monica Boggs and Maggie Chen, and their project partner Jeffrey Lyu, an MBA-MPP student, presented their findings and made recommendations to their client-partner, Clarence J. Braddock III, the vice dean for education and chief medical education officer for the Geffen School of Medicine.

“Physicians need to have the understanding that they are part of something bigger,” Lyu said during the presentation. “What’s encouraging is that the school is already moving in that direction.”

Among the recommendations of the group:

  • Improving curricular tracking
  • Fine-tuning candidate selection, including attention to identified attributes and “character traits.”
  • Identifying faculty champions and growing grassroots communities to promote information-sharing among faculty to build knowledge among faculty and provide role models for students
  • Communicating a commitment to identified attributes such as awards for faculty and students that demonstrate “attributes essential to the physician of the future.”

“This one is going to hit the ground running,” said faculty adviser Wes Yin, associate professor of Public Policy. Yin said the students will present their project again for the medical school.

Filling Policy Gaps

For some students finding solutions to problems can arise from other new or existing policy solutions.

Take the newly opened Expo Line extension linking downtown to Santa Monica by light rail. While the new line provides a long-anticipated transportation solution between these two areas, the volume of ridership remains uncertain. In anticipation of this, the City of Santa Monica, as client, commissioned a group of MPPs to look at how to increase ridership given that West L.A. — and Los Angeles in general — is stubbornly “auto-centric.”

The students, Abdallah Daboussi, James Howe, Natalia Sifuentes and Takehiro Suzuki, looked at the question of how to create incentives for ridership to help Santa Monica toward development of a sustainable goal of “no net new vehicle trips.” The group recognized the barriers created by the cost of an entire round-trip and availability of first/last-mile connections, as well as built-environment limitations such as which stations are already in place, and a lack of interest by the City of Santa Monica in building new parking, Daboussi explained.

“Our job was to fill in those gaps,” Daboussi said, adding that the accompanying criteria included analyzing the impact of cost, the level of political acceptance and compatibility with the surrounding environment and existing infrastructure. To do this, the RIDERS (Ridership Increases by Developing Expo Line Solutions) team conducted on-site assessments and used GIS (Geographic Information System) data to gauge land use around the existing stations.

Possible solutions included creating public-private partnerships with commercial parking, incentives for the elderly and disabled, a public service announcement program that included free radio spots and an installation of “wayfinding” signs to help riders easily navigate to area stations. The students also recommended creating a means to connect with the Expo Line for those who use a bicycle as part of their daily transportation.

Worker Well-Being

Another MPP group looked at the challenge of increasing the well-being of urban workers in India. Availability of jobs in general is important, but other factors are just as necessary.

“It’s not just about job quantity but also about job quality” in the distribution of well-being and motivation, said team member Kurt Klein.

Second-year MPP student Wajenda Chambeshi discussed some of these factors, including jobs in which workers have the opportunity to move up. Strategies to bolster employment and the labor market are needed, as are ways to give a voice and representation to workers.

The client for the project was the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) and the adviser was Manisha Shah, associate professor of Public Policy and APP coordinator. Shah has studied anti-poverty programs and workfare schemes in India, as well as development around the world.

Yin provided some context about how much time the Luskin students spend working on the presentations. “Students have been working on the projects since the summer before their second year of the program,” said Yin. He added that students may start fully committed to an idea at the outset, but part of the process is narrowing their focus once they realize the scope of these issues.

Yin said he was impressed with this year’s students and that their hard work has materialized into “actionable” items for their clients.

Tae Kang, an MPP candidate who was part of an APP presentation to the Coalition for Engaged Education, said the process is stressful but provides valuable experience for UCLA Luskin Public Policy students.

“While I was a bit nervous to present in front of my brilliant professors and colleagues, I was more excited that this would be the culmination of all of our hard work, all the challenges we have overcome, and the relationships we have formed,” Kang said. “And as I took that first step forward and that next step, I could not have been more excited and honored to be in this program.”

Charitable Giving in L.A. County Down $1 Billion New study conducted by UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs finds decline in giving since 2006 amid urgent and rising need in Los Angeles

A study commissioned by the California Community Foundation (CCF) and conducted by the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs finds that local giving is on a decline, with Los Angeles County residents declaring $7.16 billion in 2006 charitable deductions compared to $6.03 billion in 2013.

“The Generosity Gap: Donating Less in Post-Recession Los Angeles County” shows that in many L.A. communities donations are ebbing as needs surge, particularly for families in poverty, youth, the elderly and the homeless. Released today at the Center for Nonprofit Management’s 501(c)onference, the report combines IRS data with a first-of-its-kind survey that asks Angelenos about their charitable giving to L.A. causes. It explores the current fiscal context for giving and offers a snapshot of the behaviors, patterns and motivations by Los Angeles County donors.

“Local nonprofit organizations form a powerful network dedicated to serving the county’s most vulnerable residents, but we know they are stretched for resources,” said Antonia Hernández, president & CEO of the California Community Foundation. “We as a collective region must tap into our talent and generosity of spirit to build stable organizations that can make a lasting difference in Los Angeles County.”

Some of the report’s major findings include:

  • Los Angeles County residents are donating less to charitable causes than they did in 2006. And those with greater capacity to give are giving a lower proportion of their household income overall.
  • Median nonprofit revenues continue to decline dramatically in Los Angeles County.
  • White, Latino, Asian American/Pacific Islander, African American and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender donors in Los Angeles give at similar rates across most causes. They vary, however, in the proportion of their giving that goes mostly or entirely to locally focused organizations.
  • Given the opportunity to make a large gift to Los Angeles, donors’ highest priority would be ending homelessness. But, of their contributions to basic needs causes and combined-purpose organizations in 2015, only one-third went to locally focused nonprofits.
  • Planned giving is strongly connected with support for locally focused charitable causes, through both bequests and current contributions, especially among donors under 40.

“UCLA and CCF are local institutions that seek to transform donations from a few into opportunities for many,” said Bill Parent, project director and lecturer in the Department of Public Policy at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. “It is our hope that a better understanding of charitable giving in the region can benefit donors and nonprofits alike, as we work together to build better futures for all Angelenos.”

Commemorating its 100th year, CCF has hosted a range of activities to inform and inspire L.A. residents to give back to their community, whether through volunteering their time, donating to their favorite causes or creating a legacy for future generations. CCF aims to draw attention to complexities, trigger dialogue and encourage solutions to Los Angeles County’s most pressing challenges with this study.

The Generosity Gap was drawn from a research project developed by Bill Parent, former director of the Center for Civil Society and lecturer in the UCLA Luskin Department of Public Policy, and Urban Planning professor Paul Ong. The primary authors of the report are Luskin Civil Society Fellow J. Shawn Landres and Shakari Byerly (MPP ’05). Luskin doctoral students Silvia Gonzales (MURP ’13) and Mindy Chen (MSW ’12), of the Luskin Center for Neighborhood Knowledge, provided research and data analysis support.

The full report is available here.

Voting in California: Reimagining What’s Possible Panel Discussion Co-Sponsored by UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs Focuses on the Future of Voting in California

 

By Bijan White

The UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and the California Association of Clerks and Elected Officials brought together a group of distinguished figures from the public and private sectors, including California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, on January 14 to discuss the mechanisms and modernization of the voting process.

With the upcoming 2016 elections in sight, the implications of the vote and the voting process have once more come under question. Experts remind us of the near-sacred importance of the vote as an act of citizenship, as well as the logistical enterprise it represents. The voting process demands the highest level of anonymity, which becomes complicated when faced with the massive scale of the ballot registration and counting process.

Prior to the panel, Mark Peterson, chair of the Luskin Department of Public Policy, commented on the necessity of such discussions. “If there is one institution in American politics which demands clarity and transparency, it’s voting,” Peterson said, emphasizing how important this is in California, which represents such a vast voter base. “We’ve seen the consequences of logistical errors in the voting system in 2000. Democrats were voting for Buchanan in Florida because they could not interpret the layout of the ballot sheets.”

The panel began with opening remarks from Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris, associate dean of the Luskin School of Public Affairs. While stressing the importance of the vote, Loukaitou-Sideris mourned its dwindling importance in the collective mind of the youth. “Nowadays, teens are more focused on when they can drive than when they can vote,” she said. However, its importance should not be overlooked, she added. “Many of the great issues our society faces are tackled through the process of voting within our democracy.”

Moderator Dave Bryant, political reporter for KCBS2 and KCAL9, broached the subject of the use of technology in the voter process. “We are looking to the future to modernize the voting process,” Bryant said. “In Los Angeles, for example, voter turnout is in the single digits.”

The need for reform within the voting process to boost voter turnout is rising, but many of the panelists urged caution. “While striving for improvement, the risk of taking one wrong step is great,” said Jeffrey Lewis, chair of the Department of Political Science at UCLA. “We should not be so harsh to judge slow progress.”

Data analyst expert Christopher Hetch stressed the logistical nightmare the voting process represents. “Relying on paper for communication is antiquated,” Hecht said. “We can create new ways to educate people, reach voters and increase turnout.” Reaching voters, providing and making the information needed for the voting process accessible, and providing convenient methods of casting ballots are all factors surrounding voter engagement, he said.

The concept of civic engagement was discussed by Conan Nolan, political reporter for KNBC-TV and host of NBC4’s News Conference, who criticized the lack of civic education in newer generations. “We have lost a sense of training citizens in public education.” Nolan said. “Most voters come from families who voted — they learned the importance of this process.”

Engaging the next generation of citizens, according to Nolan, is a responsibility that the state should embrace because “citizenship is learned.” However, Padilla noted the diverse demographics of the nation. “We can’t assume all families can teach their children about the importance of civic engagement,” Padilla said.

The concept of online voting was discussed and proved to be controversial. “Online voting is not something we are ready for because of security and privacy issues,” Padilla said. The ballot must have the highest degree of anonymity, he added. “The internet provides data, not secrecy.”

But, Hetch countered that “we need to build the trust needed for people to feel comfortable voting online,” arguing that there are currently ways to ensure the security needed for online voting. Others, such as Nolan, rejected the concept based on principle. “The spirit of our most sacred right is manifested in going to the voting center with your fellow citizens.” The concept of online voting degrades that ideal, Nolan said.

Despite the obstacles and disagreements presented by the panelists, many palpable solutions were presented, some of which are already underway. Padilla noted the establishment of Senate Bill 450, which will allow California counties to implement a new elections model that includes mailing every voter a ballot, expanding early voting and enabling voters to cast a ballot at any vote center within their county.

In conclusion, Lewis captured the essence of the debate: “We should strive to make it so that no one who desires to vote ends up unable to do so.”

Marijuana Legalization Could Have Unknown Impacts on Child Welfare Marijuana use and density of dispensaries, has effects on child abuse and neglect

(Photo source: http://www.dailytitan.com

(Photo source: http://www.dailytitan.com

Social Welfare professor Bridget Freisthler released a study July 18 examining how marijuana use and the concentration of marijuana dispensaries in a given area contribute differently to child abuse or neglect.

Freisthler cites data from a national study showing illicit drug use was a factor in 9.5% of cases of physical abuse and about 12.5% of all neglect cases. In California, physical abuse is defined as “physical injury inflicted by other than accidental means on a child,” while child neglect is described as “the negligent failure of a person having the care or custody of a child to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter, medical care, or supervision.”

As marijuana has become more available over the past two decades, due to increased legalization for either medical or recreational purposes, the lasting effects of changing marijuana legislation on social problems are still largely unknown.

This changing legislation around marijuana use has left child welfare and public health professionals without a standardized way to determine best practices regarding issues related to parenting and child abuse and neglect for parents who use marijuana for recreational or medical purposes.

“Child welfare systems rely heavily on federal guidelines, and as norms and laws around marijuana continue to change the child welfare system will have to figure out the standard upon which to evaluate cases,” Freisthler said. “That’s part of the problem: There’s currently no guidance as to what should happen in the system.”

Freisthler and her co-authors Paul J. Gruenewald and Jennifer Price Wolf, of the Prevention Research Center at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, examined the relationship between this increased availability of marijuana and its correlation with abusive and neglectful parenting.

The study found that parents who reported using marijuana in the past year engaged in physical abuse three times more frequently than those who did not, while having greater densities of storefront marijuana dispensaries was related to more frequent physical abuse. Interestingly, no significant relationship was found between child neglect and marijuana use.

In other words, marijuana use and the concentration of marijuana dispensaries in a given area is related to more frequent use of physical abuse, but were not related to child neglect.

As marijuana use becomes more common due to changing norms and laws allowing for recreational use, legalization may result in higher rates of physical abuse in the general population, according to the study.

“Child abuse and neglect aren’t on the radar when it comes to the discussion about the legalization of marijuana,” Freisthler said. Overall, her study probes those “unintended consequences of policy change around marijuana.”

Freisthler and her co-authors suggest future studies to understand how child welfare workers look at risks associated with medical marijuana use and how this corresponds with other types of licit (e.g., alcohol or prescription drugs) and illicit substance use.

In addition to her research, Freisthler leads the Spatial Analysis Lab in the department of social welfare and the Child Abuse and Neglect Social Ecological Models Consortium.

This project is funded by grant number P60-AA-006282 from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and grant number R01-DA032715 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Social Welfare professor Bridget Freisthler released a study July 18 examining how marijuana use and the concentration of marijuana dispensaries in a given area contribute differently to child abuse or neglect.

Freisthler cites data from a national study showing illicit drug use was a factor in 9.5% of cases of physical abuse and about 12.5% of all neglect cases. In California, physical abuse is defined as “physical injury inflicted by other than accidental means on a child,” while child neglect is described as “the negligent failure of a person having the care or custody of a child to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter, medical care, or supervision.”

As marijuana has become more available over the past two decades, due to increased legalization for either medical or recreational purposes, the lasting effects of changing marijuana legislation on social problems are still largely unknown.

This changing legislation around marijuana use has left child welfare and public health professionals without a standardized way to determine best practices regarding issues related to parenting and child abuse and neglect for parents who use marijuana for recreational or medical purposes.

“Child welfare systems rely heavily on federal guidelines, and as norms and laws around marijuana continue to change the child welfare system will have to figure out the standard upon which to evaluate cases,” Freisthler said. “That’s part of the problem: There’s currently no guidance as to what should happen in the system.”

 

Freisthler and her co-authors Paul J. Gruenewald and Jennifer Price Wolf, of the Prevention Research Center at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, examined the relationship between this increased availability of marijuana and its correlation with abusive and neglectful parenting.

The study found that parents who reported using marijuana in the past year engaged in physical abuse three times more frequently than those who did not, while having greater densities of storefront marijuana dispensaries was related to more frequent physical abuse. Interestingly, no significant relationship was found between child neglect and marijuana use.

In other words, marijuana use and the concentration of marijuana dispensaries in a given area is related to more frequent use of physical abuse, but were not related to child neglect.

 

As marijuana use becomes more common due to changing norms and laws allowing for recreational use, legalization may result in higher rates of physical abuse in the general population, according to the study.

“Child abuse and neglect aren’t on the radar when it comes to the discussion about the legalization of marijuana,” Freisthler said. Overall, her study probes those “unintended consequences of policy change around marijuana.”

Freisthler and her co-authors suggest future studies to understand how child welfare workers look at risks associated with medical marijuana use and how this corresponds with other types of licit (e.g., alcohol or prescription drugs) and illicit substance use.

In addition to her research, Freisthler leads the Spatial Analysis Lab in the department of social welfare and the Child Abuse and Neglect Social Ecological Models Consortium.

This project is funded by grant number P60-AA-006282 from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and grant number R01-DA032715 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Study: Asian American Electorate Expected to Double by 2040 New data collected by the Center for the Study of Inequality predicts an increase in Asian American political power in the next 25 years

By 2040, there will be over 6 million more registered Asian American voters in the U.S. than there are today, an increase of more than 100 percent and proof that Asian Americans are one of the fastest growing electorates.

That finding is just one of the results of a new report coauthored by Paul Ong, a professor of Urban Planning and Public Policy at UCLA Luskin with a joint appointment in Asian American Studies. The study explores the implications this growing segment of the population has for the U.S. electorate and upcoming political races through detailed demographic estimations.

According to the report, which augmented information from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Asian American electorate will double to 12.2 million in 2040, a 107 percent increase. Due to their growing numbers, the Asian American population will have the potential to play a key role in tight presidential elections and close political decisions. The report is the first in a series of publications throughout the year that are expected to cover a broad range of topics including culture and multigenerationalism.

The report was prepared in partnership with the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS), a national organization committed to promoting Asian Pacific American participation and representation at all levels of the political process, from community service to elected office. The report was coauthored by Elena Ong, a consultant to APAICS.

“These results provide a context for understanding the relative size and potential impact of Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs), as well as the current and future roles of (the population’s) leaders in serving two of the fastest growing racial populations in America,” Paul Ong said.

“This study shows that Asian Americans will have a growing presence and stronger voice in our national debates for years to come,” said Senator Mazie Hirono (HI), the first Asian American woman elected to the U.S. Senate. “I look forward to continuing to work to grow the pipeline of Asian American leaders who will amplify the voice of our community and continue the fight to overcome the challenges we face.”

Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27.), the Chairwoman of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, commented, “As AAPIs become more engaged in the political process, it is important now, more than ever, that our government both represents and responds to the needs of our diverse communities.”

In the report, the term Asian American is defined in diverse terms ranging from solely Asian to multiracial Asian Americans with mixed backgrounds in terms of culture, ethnicity, nativity and other factors. According to the report, multiracial Asians will have a larger growth rate of 130 percent versus Asians alone, who are expected to grow by 75 percent.

“Electoral candidates will need to understand that the Asian American vote is not a monolith,” the report says. “They will need to understand the political concerns and priorities of Asian Americans are both unique and complex, shaped in part by age, nativity, multiracial and other evolving demographic composition.”

Changes within the Asian American population could also have an impact on the electorate beyond the 2016 presidential election cycle. For instance, while the younger, U.S.-born Asian American population aged 18 to 34 currently constitutes the majority of Asian American voters, the report estimates that by 2040, 57 percent of registered Asian American voters will be over the age of 34.

“(Knowing this information) would help elected officials reach out to Asian American voters in a language, and in a communication preference, that is in tune with the Asian American voter’s immigration status and age-cohort,” Ong said.

According to the report, the difference in race and age may suggest that the growing population will have different needs, including more emphasis on foreign policy, international relations, trade and immigration to accommodate for the concerns of foreign-born Asian American adults.

In 2015, 44 percent of naturalized Asian American registered voters are over the age of 55, but by 2040, 53 percent will be, according to the study. As a result, the youth and middle-aged share of the political landscape will decline. Older, naturalized Asian American voters are likely to demand different needs, such as native-language registration forms, town halls, e-booklets and ballots in order to vote.

Conversely, authors suggest that populations under 34 are likely to share U.S. values and advocate for issues such as equality, health care affordability and college affordability, among others.

“Given the enormous diversity by age and nativity, along with ethnicity and nationality and socioeconomic class, there is a daunting challenge of creating a common political agenda that unites Asian Americans into an effective and cohesive voting bloc,” the report said.

Though the report focuses on political implications, the impacts of the demographic shifts can be extrapolated into other areas of governance. Among other things, these projections are important for understanding the social, cultural and economic dimensions affecting the development of public policies such as new educational programs, English as a Second Language programs, and occupational and social programs for Asian American citizens of all ages.

The report, titled “The Future of Asian America in 2040,” is available via the Center for the Study of Inequality, a research center headed up by Paul Ong and housed at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and APAICS. Commentaries are also hosted there from elected officials and scholars exploring the dynamics of race and politics in America today.

Repeating History But Innovating: Social Housing and Urban Policy in Latin America Blog post from Professor Paavo Monkkonen via Global Public Affairs @ Luskin

Paavo-map-blog.jpeg

By Paavo Monkkonen, Faculty Cluster Leader of Global Urbanization and Regional Development; Professor of Urban Planning

Although the major urbanization boom in Latin America occurred many decades ago, cities across the continent continue to grow rapidly and problems associated with adequate, affordable, and well-located housing are widespread. Housing policies designed to provide new, subsidized housing to low-income households still dominate (though the state no longer builds housing, providing assistance through the housing finance system instead), in spite of agreement among most experts that they are not the best way to ameliorate urban housing problems.

Unlike the inner-city public housing projects of the United States, public housing projects in Latin America are generally composed of small single-family homes located in far-flung outskirts of cities. They therefore suffer not only from problems associated with concentrated poverty, but more importantly a lack of urban amenities, poor public services, and a large distance from employment opportunities. Brazil’s most infamous peri-urban public housing development Cidade de Deus, portrayed in a film of the same name, was built in 1964 yet the new housing policy Minha Casa, Minha Vida is criticized for many of the same problems. Mexico has the largest finance driven social housing program in Latin America, and as a recent OECD report documents, faces major problems in new housing developments that lack public services, access to jobs, and as a result, among the highest vacancy rates in the world. In fact, scholars are framing the Mexican housing policy as a social interest housing planning disasterSocial housing programs in Chile and in Colombia face surprisingly similar criticism.

The philosopher George Santayana famously stated, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Kurt Vonnegut’s more prescient and useful retort is that “we’re doomed to repeat the past no matter what.” Thus, perhaps the challenge to policymakers (and scholars) is simply to make sure our iterations of past approaches are innovative in some aspects. And there are innovations. Two notable areas are first, the application of inclusionary housing ideas in the design of public housing programs, and second, policies to promote densification of more accessible parts of cities with services.

Chile is the farthest along in taking seriously the idea of inclusionary zoning/housing – regulations that promote the integration of market-priced properties and subsidized properties in the same multi-unit buildings or within neighborhoods – in public dialogue and action. A notable example is the Project of La Chimba in the city of Antofagasta in northern Chile built from 2003 to 2005. In spite of shifting to demand-side housing subsidies in the 1990s, low-income homebuyers continued to be pushed into certain types of new housing developments that shared the same problems as those previously built by the public sector, including social segregation. To address this problem, a project was developed in Antofagasta that purposely had a range of housing types in the same neighborhood, including some market rate and some affordable to voucher holders. A case study of this project by Hector Vasquez Gaete will be available shortly from Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.

New policies to promote housing construction in central cities are also being implemented in Latin America, with the goal of adding housing where there are already services, amenities, and access to employment. For example, property tax rates on vacant land in Brazil are on average five times higher than on land that has been developed. More aggressively, Bogota (which also has higher tax rates for vacant land) implemented a policy that forces the sale of vacant land that is not developed within two years of being identified. Land is then developed for social housing.

In order to make progress in the design of housing policies so that they do not repeat past mistakes and improve the lives of those living in Latin American cities, comparative research on what works, what does not, and why, is necessary. Fortunately, this type of investigation is ongoing and several notable examples have been recently completed; for example an overview book from the Inter-American Development Bank, a paper by Eduardo Rojas, and an edited volume on the inner-suburban neighborhoods of Latin American cities by Peter Ward, Edith R. Jimenez Huerta, and Mercedes Di Virgilio.

Original post at http://global.luskin.ucla.edu/

Luskin Center sets out to make L.A. a greener place to live, work The Luskin Center for Innovation has set a goal to produce research that will help Los Angeles become more environmentally sustainable

By Cynthia Lee

Green power. Solar energy incentives. Renewable energy. Smart water systems. Planning for climate change. Clean tech in L.A. For the next three years, the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation has set an ambitious goal to produce research that will help Los Angeles and state and federal agencies reach the Holy Grail of environmental sustainability.

Five Luskin scholars are working on initiatives that could change how residents, businesses, industries and government meet the challenge of living more sustainably. The Luskin center is carrying out a mission that was broadly outlined by Chancellor Gene Block in his inaugural address on May 13, 2008: to marshal the university’s intellectual resources campuswide and work toward intense civic engagement to solve vexing local and regional problems. “I believe that UCLA can have its greatest impact by focusing its expertise from across the campus to comprehensively address problems that plague Los Angeles,” the chancellor told an audience in Royce Hall.

With an agenda packed with six hefty research initiatives, the center is diving into that task under the leadership of its new director, J.R. DeShazo, an environmental economist and associate professor of public policy who also heads the Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies. DeShazo took the reins in October when the center moved from the Chancellor’s Office to the School of Public Affairs, a move that took advantage of the school’s outward orientation. “It’s focused on policy solutions, so this is a natural place for us to grow,” DeShazo said. “But even though the center is located here, we’re very cross-disciplinary. We have researchers from chemistry, public health, engineering, the Anderson management school, the Institute of the Environment (IoE) and public policy.”

The five scholars working on the six initiatives are DeShazo; Yoram Cohen, an engineering professor and director of the Water Technology Research Center; Magali Delmas, professor of management and the IoE; Hilary Godwin, professor of environmental health sciences; and Matt Kahn, professor of economics in the departments of Economics and Public Policy and IoE. “We started off by identifying problems that our community is facing and that it can’t solve,” DeShazo said. Then, they asked two questions: “Does UCLA have the research capacity to address this deficit? And can we find a civic partner who can make use of this new knowledge?” Proposals were prioritized by a 16-member advisory board with a broad representation of business and nonprofit executives, elected officials and a media expert. Among the high-profile board members are State Senators Carol Liu and Fran Pavley; Mary Nichols, chairman of the California Air Resources Board; Los Angeles Council President Eric Garcetti and Controller Wendy Greuel; Assemblymember Mike Feuer; John Mack, chairman of the Police Commission; and William Ouchi, professor of the Anderson School and chairman of the Riordan Programs.

“We take our research ideas and develop real-world solutions that can be passed on to a civic partner with whom we can engage and support,” DeShazo said. “We let them carry through with the politics of policy reform as well as the implementation. We don’t get involved in advocacy.” An array of local green research DeShazo recently completed Luskin’s first initiative with his research on designing a solar energy program for L.A. that would minimize costs to ratepayers. His research – the basis of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s new energy policy – proposes a solar feed-in tariff that would help everyone from homeowners and nonprofits to commercial property owners buy solar panels and be able to sell their solar energy to utility companies for a small profit.

Other Luskin research initiatives involve creating smart water systems for Southern California with water reclamation, treatment and reuse (UCLA researcher Cohen will work in partnership with the Metropolitan Water District); helping local governments plan for climate change (DeShazo with the California Air Resources Board and the Southern California Association of Governments); and reducing toxic exposures to nanomaterials in California (Godwin with the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health.) In another initiative in partnership with the Mayor’s Office and the California Air Resources Board, researchers are compiling a database of jobs created by clean tech activities in L.A. County and will document best practices that other cities have used to attract and support clean tech development. Luskin’s Kahn is working with the Sacramento Municipal Utility District to pinpoint what determines how much electricity is used by residential and commercial consumers and how the district can market its major green energy programs to increase participation.

Finally, Delmas is looking into whether the Green Business Certification Program approved recently by the City Council will reduce the overall carbon footprint of small businesses. The program offers incentives and assistance to small business owners in L.A. to become more efficient and less wasteful in their everyday practices. Those businesses that meet certain “green” criteria will be certified as being environmentally friendly. Her partner in this venture is the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

Mark Peterson on Passage of Health Care Reform Professor Mark Peterson recently went on Minnesota Public Radio to provide analysis on the historic passage of this week's health care reform bill

Professor Mark Peterson of the Department of Public Policy provided analysis of the historic passage of this week’s health care reform bill; he was featured on “Midmorning” with Kerri Miller on Minnesota Public Radio (along with David Drucker, staff writer for Roll Call; and Terry O’Neill, president of the National Organization for Women).

The following is an excerpt from the hour-long program:

KERRY MILLER (Midmorning, Minnesota Public Radio): “Mark, you hear competing arguments about this—the President will say economic recovery is linked to health care reform because it will allow businesses to do better planning, people aren’t going to be so worried about higher premiums, but then you hear Republicans say, ‘Look, this is going to be a jobs killer’ because you’ve got companies that are now going to have to offer health insurance because they’re going to pay a penalty if they don’t.”

MARK PETERSON: “Yes, and there are points to be scored on both sides of that, I think that it’s very important to make that linkage with the economy.  It is important to note that if the Congress had not passed any legislation at all and we continued under the current set of arrangements, the status quo was not going to be a stable experience.  Premiums were going to shoot up quite dramatically, millions more would be losing insurance, and a lot of that is also a drag on the economy as well.  And so you have to compare what is going to happen in the future under the bill, with what would have happened without the bill.

It’s also the case that there are many ways in which businesses right now, that really cannot afford to provide health insurance for their employees—small businesses—by 2014 as the exchanges are being set up, those businesses ultimately will have access to the exchange and be able to provide insurance to their employees at a much, much better rate than they can possibly do now in the small group market.”

Listen to the complete interview here.