In a BBC News article relating the launch of Sen. Kamala Harris’ presidential bid to a resurgence of Democratic power in California, Public Policy lecturer Jim Newton weighed in on the so-called Golden Age for California Democrats. Harris, Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Gov. Gavin Newsom represent a consolidation of the Democrats’ progressive wing. Newton explained, “You don’t have to look back very far for [California] to be fairly reliably Republican. This notion of it being an absolutely rock-solid Democratic bastion is a relatively new phenomenon.” After decades of economic failure, California is reaping the benefits of rapid economic expansion. Experts do predict a downturn, but Newton still sees opportunity for Democrats. “There’s going to be a downturn, and how Newsom handles that really will help send the message of whether this state is something different or just better than most at riding an upward business cycle,” he said.
A Los Angeles Times opinion piece on the cultural clashes exposed by Sunday’s Super Bowl confrontation between New England and Los Angeles quoted Michael Dukakis, former Massachusetts governor and visiting professor of public policy at UCLA Luskin. Despite the geographical and cultural divide, the article noted that there are connections between Massachusetts and California that defy surface stereotypes. “Yes, the places are totally different,” said Dukakis, who for the past 24 years has spent fall term at Boston’s Northeastern University before heading to UCLA for the winter term. But Dukakis added, “In recent years California and Massachusetts have come together politically for the Democrats.”
UCLA Luskin Professor Ananya Roy commented to media outlets about the Housing Justice in Unequal Cities Conference held Jan. 31-Feb. 1. UCLA’s Institute on Inequality and Democracy collaborated with the Los Angeles Community Action Network (LA CAN) in Skid Row to put on a conference that delved into L.A.’s housing crisis. As director of the Institute on Inequality and Democracy, Roy spoke to Knock LA about the importance of UCLA being “an institution that serves the city.” In an article in Next City, Roy highlighted the discrepancy between the abundant anecdotal evidence of “Latino and black households being pushed out of the city” compared to the sparse systematic data available. Roy explained the importance of partnering with community residents and organizations that “tell us where the gaps in knowledge are and how our research should address those gaps.”
View photos from the conference
Associate Professor of Urban Planning and Public Policy Paavo Monkkonen was featured in the Los Angeles Times and KTLA 5 News explaining the results of a recent UCLA study that highlighted a discrepancy between the amount of land necessary to fulfill Gov. Gavin Newsom’s housing goals and the amount of land the state of California has set aside for development. Cities and counties have set aside enough land for the construction of 2.8 million homes out of the 3.5 million housing units Newsom aspires to build in the next seven years, the report found. Monkkonen explained that “because not all that land can be developed quickly for home construction, the state would probably have to double or triple the amount of land zoned for housing for the governor to reach his goal.” He said the report “shows pretty clearly that it’s going to be a hard slog to actually get 3.5 million housing units built.”
Public Policy lecturer Brad Rowe discussed the future of cannabis regulation with other research and policy experts at the North American Cannabis Summit in Los Angeles, featured in an article and video broadcast on ABC 7. The decriminalization and legalization of cannabis in various states across the country has prompted public health and safety concerns. Rowe commented, “It is important for us to think about insecticides, pesticides, metals, molds, other things we don’t want in our products, and this new regulated regime will help get better quality to the consumers.” Despite efforts to establish a safer market and ensure higher quality, over-regulation of the cannabis market has resulted in a growing black market. Experts at the summit concluded that, while legalization should lower production and distribution costs, over-regulation serves as fuel to the black market.
Public Policy Professor Mark Peterson commented on the intersection of politics and social media in a Daily Bruin article discussing the new generation of millennial politicians. Following a historical shift in the demographics of the House of Representatives after the 2018 midterm elections, young politicians like Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are incorporating their knowledge of social media navigation to engage their followers in the behind-the-scenes of politics. According to Peterson, Ocasio-Cortez’s “interactions on social media are giving a lot of people previously excluded from systems of information a look into an institution that many don’t know a lot about.” Social media engagement appears to be making politics more accessible and interesting to the American public. It remains to be determined what role social media will play in the future of politics, but Peterson said he “understands Ocasio-Cortez’s efforts to document her public service and broadcast it to the average American.”
Public policy lecturer Jim Newton recently published an opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times denouncing police unions’ “blanket attempts to shield [police] records.” Police shootings across the country have prompted demands for more transparency in law enforcement. A new law in California, SB 1421, requires that “records of police shootings and other uses of force be made public,” including “cases in which officers were investigated for dishonesty or sexual assault.” According to Newton, police unions are resisting the law by arguing that it “only applies to new records created after the law took effect.” Newton compares SB 1421 to other sunshine laws like the Freedom of Information Act, where access to “old documents … shed substantial new light on American history.” Newton acknowledges the special circumstances that may require withholding certain records from the public, but stresses the importance of transparency as a “crucial tool for keeping police accountable.”
An article about the tax proposal New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez described on “60 Minutes” refers to UCLA Luskin Public Policy Professor Martin Gilens’ research to shed light on the discrepancy between American opinions about taxes and the powerful influence of conservative multimillionaires. Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal to tax income over $10 million per year at a top rate of 60 or 70 percent sounds radical but actually aligns with registered voter polls, including both Democrats and Republicans, the Intercept article said. Gilens’ research, conducted with political scientist Benjamin Page of Northwestern University, highlights the concentration of power in the hands of the wealthy few. Gilens explains, “Not only do ordinary citizens not have uniquely substantial power over policy decisions; they have little or no independent influence on policy at all. By contrast, economic elites are estimated to have a quite substantial, highly significant, independent impact on policy.”
In a Los Angeles Daily News article detailing the aftermath of the United Teachers Los Angeles strike, Urban Planning Professor Chris Tilly discussed the complicated dynamic of faculty relationships following the collective action. As teachers returned to their classrooms after the six-day walkout ended, some schools reported strike-created divisions among faculty. According to Tilly, an open dialogue will be essential to navigating tension between the teachers who participated in the United Teachers Los Angeles walkout and those who chose not to strike. Due to the relatively short duration of the strike, Tilly predicted that “there are going to be some bridges to rebuild and communication channels to establish but I wouldn’t expect it to be a highly traumatic strike.” Tilly urged administrators and union leaders to foster dialogue in order to move forward.
Women have good reason to be concerned for their safety and fear harassment on public transportation, according to UCLA Luskin’s Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris, who has studied women’s use of transit around the world for decades. “We know that women are much more afraid than men,” commented the UCLA urban planning professor in a Wired story about new research on the overall experiences of riders, especially women, on public transportation. “As expected, many more women are sexually harassed, and it is a big concern and extremely under-reported,” Loukaitou-Sideris said, suggesting that better strategies — like more lighting at and around stations and more working staff nearby — be implemented so that riders feel safer when using public transportation. Loukaitou-Sideris also commented on KPCC 89.3 radio’s “Air Talk” regarding ways to increase ridership and make transit safer for women.