Public Policy Professor Mark Peterson was cited in a New York Times article discussing the prospects for Sen. Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare for All” proposal. Even if elected president, Sanders would probably not have sufficient support in Congress to achieve universal health coverage, the article noted. In the past 70 years, no legislation to advance universal health care has succeeded without Democratic control of all three branches of government and a supermajority in the Senate, which Sanders would be unlikely to have. Peterson pointed out that even if the rules were changed to require a simple majority to pass the legislation, “there is not any guarantee that the 51st Democrat would be willing to support Medicare for All or anything close to it.” Many Democrats in the House and Senate oppose Medicare for All, advocating instead for improving the Affordable Care Act or pursuing a new government-run “public option” that would compete with private insurance.
Mark A.R. Kleiman, emeritus professor of public policy at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and one the United States’ pre-eminent experts on drug and crime policy, died July 21 after a long illness. He was 68.
Kleiman’s long list of publications includes his most recent co-authored books, “Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know” (Oxford University Press, 2012) and “Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know” (Oxford, 2011), as well as “When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment” (Princeton University Press, 2009).
He also worked at the United States Department of Justice, serving as director of the Office of Policy and Management Analysis, Criminal Division, and as the associate director for Drug Enforcement Programs. And he held posts as deputy director for management and director of program analysis for the city of Boston.
“Mark was a rare breed in academia, a truly Renaissance mind,” said Mark Peterson, professor of public policy in the UCLA Luskin School and one of Kleiman’s colleagues. “I quickly realized that he was both the smartest person in the building and among the funniest, with a quick wit that often required educational sophistication to fully grasp.”
Peterson added: “I can say that his network was simply enormous, encompassing friends, colleagues, mentees and protégés, graduate and undergraduate students, media figures, state and federal policymakers, all of whom he helped, he informed, he guided, and he just simply cared about.”
Kleiman also authored numerous journal articles, book chapters, technical reports and policy memos, as well providing articles and commentary for news media and book reviews and for professional publications. He served as editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis and was a referee for numerous professional policy journals. He also was an active blogger on “The Reality-Based Community,” focusing on public policy analysis of the criminal justice system, substance abuse, and drug policy in the United States and abroad.
Kleiman, who was born in Phoenix and grew up in Baltimore, graduated magna cum laude in political science, philosophy and economics from Haverford College. He earned his master’s in public policy and doctorate in public policy at Harvard.
He came to UCLA in 1996 shortly after the founding of the graduate program in public policy in what was then known as the UCLA School of Public Policy and Social Research. He served on the faculty of the Luskin School until retiring in 2015. He later joined the faculty of New York University, where he was affiliated with NYU’s Wagner School and served as director of the crime and justice program at NYU’s Marron Institute of Urban Management.
Prior to UCLA, Kleiman held academic posts at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, and at the University of Rochester. He also served stints as a visiting professor at the Batten School of Leadership and Policy at the University of Virginia, Harvard Law School, and the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy. He was a visiting fellow at the National Institute of Justice.
In addition, Kleiman served on the National Research Council as a member of the Committee on Law and Justice, and he was chairman of the board of the Los Angeles-based Botec Analysis Corporation, a research and consulting firm that develops solutions to issues in public policy in the areas of crime, justice and drug policy.
“Mark leaves behind a legacy — us,” said former student Brad Rowe, who earned his master’s in public policy in 2013, and who later worked closely with Kleiman. “He was a teacher first and foremost.”
Rowe said that Kleiman was a demanding instructor, but “he could always make you laugh with his ready-made arsenal of anecdotes.”
Rowe, who now teaches a public policy course at UCLA Luskin and serves as the school’s intellectual successor to Kleiman on drug policy, continued, “And, wow, I’ve rarely met someone who so loved seeing justice done.”
UCLA was the launching point and incubator for many of Kleiman’s ideas, Rowe recalled. “It was a safe haven where he valued the commitment this group has for thought and action rooted in truth, equality, dignity and public safety.”
Albert Carnesale, UCLA chancellor emeritus and professor emeritus of public policy and mechanical and aerospace engineering, first met his future colleague during Kleiman’s time as a doctoral student at Harvard.
“In addition to being an extraordinary fount of original ideas, deep insights, and rigorous and revealing analyses, he was a devoted mentor to generations of students, a valuable colleague, a caring friend, and a compassionate and effective advocate for fairness and justice,” Carnesale wrote in an email after learning of Kleiman’s death.
Former student Jaime Nack, the president of Three Squares Inc. and who graduated with a master’s in public policy in 2002, wrote: “Mark Kleiman was an amazing professor … He truly cared that we mastered the material. He knew it would serve us in life and in our careers.”
No services are planned. He is survived by a sister, Kelly Kleiman, who posted on social media: “If you are moved to honor him, please donate to the NYU Transplant Institute, the ACLU, or any Democratic candidate.”
By Gabriela Solis
With the next U.S. Census in 2020 drawing near, political and community leaders are working now to plan strategically and ensure that all communities are accurately counted in Los Angeles.
With that in mind, a recent panel discussion hosted by Sonja Diaz, executive director of the Latino Policy and Politics Initiative (LPPI), focused on issues related to the 2020 Census.
The Trump administration has pushed to add a question about respondents’ citizenship status to the 2020 Census, and accurate counts of communities across Los Angeles are threatened, many experts say. According to research by UCLA Professor Matt Barreto, 69.9 percent of Latinos, 39.4 of blacks and 99.9 percent of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders expressed concern that the citizenship question would lead to their immigration status being shared with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
“Community groups need to prepare … With or without a citizenship question, there will remain major concerns and fear among our communities,” Barreto told a crowd on the UCLA campus during an April 24 panel discussion about the Census.
Barreto, who is faculty co-director of LPPI, and other experts have noted that billions of dollars in federal program funding is at stake. The Census also determines the number of representatives for each state in the U.S. House, so an undercount could cost California some political clout.
To ensure this does not happen, community organizations can play a vital role.
Erica Bernal-Martinez is chief operating officer of the National Association of Latino Elected Official (NALEO) Educational Fund, the nation’s leading nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that facilitates full Latino participation in the American political process. Even without a citizenship question, Bernal-Martinez said, many vulnerable communities are often undercounted.
Members of Bernal-Martinez’s organization work closely with community leaders across the United States in an effort dubbed Get Out the Count. This year, children are one of the campaign’s focuses, because “400,000 Latino children were not counted in the 2010 census,” she said.
Los Angeles County represents a fourth of the state’s population, and it is one of California’s hardest-to-count regions, particularly within the county’s most diverse neighborhoods in central and east Los Angeles, and south to Compton. But there are best practices that can increase participation even in communities that often have low civic engagement.
For example, Berenice Nuñez, vice president of government relations at Altamed, shared her agency’s tactic to promote election participation in communities with low-propensity voters. Altamed is the largest federally qualified health center in California, and the organization produced an innovative voter mobilization campaign aimed to inform, empower and mobilize their patients and employees during the November 2018 midterm elections.
The campaign included such strategies as canvassing, registering legal residents to vote, distributing bilingual voter guides, sending phone messages about upcoming elections while patients were on hold, and providing transportation assistance on Election Day.
An analysis conducted by LPPI of Altamed’s campaign found remarkable success for the strategy. The Latino vote increased by 432 percent in South Gate and 330 percent in Boyle Heights, which were two targeted communities.
“I challenge you to join us at the table to make sure our communities are counted,” said Nuñez, who encouraged community leaders in attendance at a UCLA event in April to use the Altamed campaign as a model for future elections — and to ensure participation in minority communities during the 2020 U.S. Census.
Mimi Walters, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 2014 to 2019, shared her personal pathway to political office, “From Orange County to Washington, D.C.,” at a noontime talk May 9 to an audience that included graduate students and undergraduates from the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. The Republican former lawmaker, who represented California’s 45th district, also served previously in both the California State Senate and State Assembly. Walters talked about what it took to win campaigns from student government in high school to a seat on her local city council in Laguna Niguel to state and federal seats. For Walters, success has come through preparation that included volunteer work, participation in and support for other candidates, and fundraising. “I said, ‘If I really want to do this, I better learn how to campaign.’ So I got involved in other people’s races. I worked on other people’s campaigns. That is how I learned how to run a race.” She added, “The other thing … when you go and volunteer for somebody’s campaign and you someday want to run, they remember.” Navkaran Gurm, a first-year pre-major in Public Affairs, said he was impressed by Walter’s talk and how candid she was about what is required to seek elected office. “It was a good intellectual exchange. She gave us the facts and inside look at the life of a politician,” Gurm said.
Zev Yaroslavsky, director of the Los Angeles Initiative at UCLA Luskin, provided in-studio commentary on KCAL9 following President Trump’s second State of the Union address. Yaroslavsky said Trump played to his base, spending almost 20 minutes speaking about immigration, but was also smart to acknowledge the record number of women now serving in Congress. “He was not as inflammatory as he’s been in the past. Let’s wait 12 hours and see what he tweets in the morning,” Yaroslavsky said. The former Los Angeles County supervisor also spoke about the changes in State of the Union addresses over the years. “It’s a television show,” he said. “In the old days, there was more substance, there was less theater. … During the civil rights movement and in the Vietnam War, the stakes were very high. So the theater was real, it wasn’t manufactured as it has been in recent decades.”
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.”
Sonja Diaz, director of the UCLA Luskin-based Latino Policy and Politics Initiative, spoke with the San Francisco Chronicle about the potential political repercussions of declaring a national emergency to secure funding for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, an action that President Trump is contemplating. Declaring an emergency would allow Trump to secure funding for the wall without congressional approval. This action may please Trump’s current base; but it could also benefit Democrats by ending the government shutdown triggered by the budget battle over border security while allowing them to keep the campaign against the wall alive. Diaz commented on the impact that building the wall may have on Trump’s chances of reelection. “In 2020, states like Arizona and Texas [with surging Latino turnout] are going to be critical,” she said. “This is going to be very impactful on who they choose on that ballot.”
UCLA Luskin Public Policy’s Joel Aberbach commented in a Roll Call article about House Democrats and the risks of launching rigorous oversight of President Donald Trump on many fronts. Aberbach said Democrats would be wise to “pick things that don’t get stymied right away by total obfuscation or refusal to cooperate.” He added that, in today’s hyperpartisan atmosphere, the results of investigations into Trump may not change how voters feel about him. “We may be at a point where people who sympathize with Trump aren’t going to accept anything as legitimate” grounds for impeachment, he said. “And people on the other side will accept almost anything.” Aberbach is a distinguished professor emeritus of political science and public policy at UCLA.
ABC News spoke to Zev Yaroslavsky, director of the Los Angeles Initiative at UCLA Luskin, for its report on Orange County Republican Dana Rohrabacher’s bid for reelection to the House of Representatives. Rohrabacher, the article noted, is a staunch Reaganite who took an unexpected ideological turn in advocating closer ties with Russia. In the November 2018 midterm elections, he is one of several California Republicans scrambling to defend his seat. Observers noted that Rohrabacher’s longevity and conservative record give him a strong change of reelection. “He’s been around for almost 30 years in Congress,” said Yaroslavsky, who has known Rohrabacher for decades. “Don’t underestimate him because he will fight.”
In an opinion piece for the political news website The Hill, UCLA Luskin’s Martin Gilens, professor of public policy, joins co-author Benjamin I. Page of Northwestern University in proposing a set of reforms that would actually increase democratic responsiveness. They say their research indicates that the most important and most promising changes fall into five groups: 1. Give equal political voice to all citizens; 2. Curb the political power of money; 3. Democratize the electoral process; 4. Improve House and Senate representation of all citizens; 5. Overcome remaining sources of gridlock.
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