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Blumenberg Says Trump’s Welfare Reform Plan Misses a Key Piece: Transportation 

UCLA Luskin’s Evelyn Blumenberg is quoted in a Washington Post article about whether a Trump administration order to toughen work requirements for welfare recipients overlooks a well-documented link between transportation and employment.  “Since the 1990s, things have become much more difficult for welfare recipients,” said Blumenberg, a transportation expert and professor of urban planning. “And I have not seen an upswell in movement for supporting the transportation part of this.” Cars play a key role in access to jobs that are “suburbanizing.” Blumenberg said, “It’s a touchy subject in transportation circles, where funds are focused on increasing access to public transit, even though poor people more than anyone need the flexibility and instant mobility of having a car.”


 

Decriminalizing Latinos Is Focus of Criminal Justice Gathering Latino Policy & Politics Initiative brings together scholars, policymakers and nationally known advocates for the Latino community for a day of presentations, discussions and workshops

A recent gathering at UCLA Luskin included a full-day of programming related to efforts to advance visibility on the experience of Latinos in the criminal justice system across the United States.

Dozens of experts and scholars on Latino issues at the local, state and national levels gathered on campus May 31, 2018, for a day of presentations and workshops organized by the Latino Policy and Politics Initiative (LPPI) and LatinoJustice PRLDEF. Attendees included a number of nationally known advocates for Latinos, including LatinoJustice President Juan Cartagena.

“It is so reaffirming seeing Latinx people talking about these issues,” Cartagena told a packed classroom of workshop participants, including several UCLA Luskin students. “Everyone in this room should be listed as experts.”

The sessions began with an introduction from Dean Gary Segura, who was also one of the participants in a high-level strategy workshop focusing on Latino civil rights and the U.S. criminal justice system.

He told attendees that he helped found LPPI in part to address a shortfall in research about issues of importance to Latinos, including inequalities in the criminal justice system.

“People across the ideological divide agree that this is an issue for the Latino community,” said Segura, who said he hoped the day would provide an opportunity for attendees to “think constructively about the things that have to happen” in order to bring about change.

Matt Barreto answers a question during the opening panel, which was streamed live over social media. Photo by Les Dunseith

A discussion hosted by LPPI’s founding director, Sonja Diaz, followed with Cartagena and Matt A. Barreto, a professor of political science and Chicana/o Studies at UCLA and the other co-founder of LPPI. They zeroed in on the fact that national discussions have historically downplayed the impact on Latinos of criminal justice policies related to policing, mass incarceration or unequal rates of prosecution.

“Why are Latinos invisible in this discussion?” Barreto asked. “It’s because we are invisible in the data.”

For example, the U.S. Census has historically grouped Latinos with whites in its tabulations based on ethnicity. And this shortcoming has been replicated in much of the research at the state and local levels.

“So many people don’t count Latinos,” Barreto said. “This makes advocacy impossible.”

Today, some states still do not count Latinos as a separate group, he said. Even when Latinos are specified in the data, “some counties have better data than others.”

Discussions like this one continued for several hours, and participants had an opportunity to hear from wide range of people — scholars, policymakers and community advocates. That evening, the participants viewed a sneak peek of the in-progress documentary, “Bad Hombres,” by award-winning filmmaker Carlos Sandoval, and then heard from the director, Cartagena, UCLA lecturer Virginia Espino, and from some of the people featured in the film.

Noting an “insurmountable amount of knowledge of Latino criminal justice knowledge on the stage,” second-year UCLA Luskin student Gabriela Solis Torres participated in the gathering and shared her impressions via social media, saying, “I am so honored to be in the same of the room as such inspiring leaders.”

View additional photos in an album on Flickr

 

 

 

Panel, Presentations Focus on Social Justice Issues

On June 7, 2018, students from UCLA Luskin presented research on issues relevant to social justice, followed by a panel discussion about empowering immigrant communities in Los Angeles. Moderated by Val Zavala, formerly of KCET, the panel included Joseph Villa of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights; Daisy Esqueda and Nicole Mitchell of LAUSD; Jyotswaroop Kaur Bawa of the California Immigrant Policy Center; and Reshma Shamasunder of Asian Americans Advancing Justice. The event was organized by three student groups at UCLA Luskin: Policy Professionals for Diversity and Equity, Social Workers for Collective Action, and Planners of Color for Social Equity.

View photos on Flickr:

Social Justice in Policymaking

Amplifying the Voice of Latinos Latino Policy & Politics Initiative at UCLA Luskin fills a critical research gap and provides a think tank around political, social and economic issues

By Les Dunseith

The new think tank at UCLA known as the Latino Policy & Politics Initiative (LPPI) has moved quickly to bring together scholars and policymakers to share information that can help political leaders make informed decisions about issues of interest to Latinos.

One of the goals of LPPI, which received its startup funding from the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and the Division of Social Sciences, is to provide better access to information to help leaders nationwide craft new policies.

“It is impossible to understand America today without understanding the Latino community and the power that it wields. And this institute is going to do that,” Scott Waugh, UCLA executive vice chancellor and provost, told the crowd at the official launch of LPPI in December 2017.

Representatives of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and throughout UCLA were among a crowd of about 175 people that also included elected officials, community activists and other stakeholders who gathered in downtown Los Angeles. The co-founders of LPPI — Professor of Political Science and Chicana/o Studies Matt Barreto, UCLA Luskin Dean Gary Segura and LPPI Executive Director Sonja Diaz MPP ’10 — “have a vision that reaches not just inside the School of Public Affairs but reaches out across the campus in areas like health, education, science, the arts — wherever Latinos have made a difference and continue to effect change in a profound way,” Waugh said at the launch event.

LPPI founders Matt Barreto, Gary Segura and Sonja Diaz, front row, joined with their 2017-18 student assistants for a formal portrait in March. Also on hand was Director of Development Ricardo Quintero, far left. Photo by Les Dunseith

LPPI works with UCLA faculty to produce research and analyze policy issues from a Latino perspective — aided by an enthusiastic and dedicated team of students from UCLA Luskin and other schools. For example, students associated with LPPI were involved in the production of two recently released reports:

  • An empirical analysis of Fruitvale Village in Oakland, California, that assessed aggregate census tract socioeconomic outcomes to evaluate changes for those living there compared to those living in similar communities in the Bay Area.
  • A state-by-state analysis of Latino homeownership, plus data research on national disasters and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for the 2017 Hispanic Homeownership Report issued by the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP).

Gabriela Solis, a UCLA Luskin MPP and MSW student whose focus at LPPI is on housing and displacement, provided some of the information in the NAHREP report, working from raw Census data.

“My background is in homelessness in L.A. County and extreme poverty,” said Solis, a policy fellow at LPPI. “With this research and learning about homeownership rates, and who gets to buy homes and who gets loans, it’s something that I had really never thought about too much. It’s been really interesting.”

Several students also traveled to Sacramento in February, during which LPPI visited legislators and their staffs, and presented applied policy research before the California Latino Legislative Caucus.

LPPI’s inaugural Sacramento legislative briefing included research on three policy areas: the Latino Gross Domestic Product; Criminal Justice and Bail Reform; and the impact of Social Science Research on DACA litigation.

Sofia Espinoza MPP ’18 was also a Monica Salinas fellow during her time as a student. She focused on criminal justice in her schoolwork, so joining the effort in Sacramento dovetailed nicely with her interests.

“Being on our Sacramento trip and meeting with all Latino legislators and aides, that’s really important,” Espinoza said. “The higher up you go in academia, to see people who look like you doing amazing work, I think that is really a value add for LPPI.”

LPPI Director Diaz said her student team includes a mix of graduate students like Solis and Espinoza and undergrads with an interest in public affairs and
Latino issues.

Celina Avalos, wan undergraduate student in political science, served as special projects associate for LPPI during the 2017-18 academic year.

“A lot of it does have to do with political science, what I hope to do in the future,” she said. “My main focus was never on policy. But being here in LPPI and working with [Diaz], I have gotten more passionate about it — how impactful public policy actually is.”

Diaz said the LPPI students work as a team. “For the undergrads, what is great is that they have a seat at the table,” she said. “There is integration. There is cohesive learning. We are learning from each other. The students are on the calls with the external stakeholders. They are going on these trips. They are supporting our events.”

The undergrads also see first-hand what it is like to be a graduate student involved in impactful research efforts.

“Working with the graduate students, I get to hear from them and see the work that they are doing,” Avalos said. “I have found it really inspiring seeing these Latino women — honestly, I look up to them. I see them doing their research work and think, ‘Wow, look at them.’ It has definitely changed my perspective on what I hope to do in the future.”

The inspirational potential of LPPI was an important motivation for Segura in getting the new research center underway and finding a home for it at UCLA.

Segura, who secured approval to hire additional UCLA Luskin faculty members with expertise in Latino policy, said the day-to-day work being done by LPPI helps bolster UCLA’s capacity to provide role models for its Latino students.

“I genuinely care about every research opportunity that I have with LPPI,” Espinoza said. “And it really hits close to home. It gives you an added desire to do well and a drive to succeed.”

Segura said of the LPPI students: “I have been at events with them. I have seen them present on our behalf. I have seen the product of their work. And they are doing great.”

The students fully embraced LPPI’s goal to advance knowledge about Latinos through work that actually involves Latinos themselves.

“It’s why we do what we do,” Espinoza said. “It’s motivating.”

For more information about how to support LPPI, contact Ricardo Quintero at (310) 206-7949 or by email at rquintero@luskin.ucla.edu.

A version of this story also appeared in the Summer 2018 edition of Luskin Forum magazine.

UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation Wins Sustainable Impact Award

The UCLA Meyer and Renee Luskin Center for Innovation was awarded the Sustainable Impact Award by the Los Angeles Business Council on April 19, 2018, at the organization’s 12th annual Sustainability Summit. Attending a VIP and awards reception at the summit were Meyer and Renee Luskin and JR DeShazo, director of the Center for Innovation. “The award recognizes the impact that Meyer and Renee’s generous gift has had on Los Angeles through UCLA. I felt grateful to be able to receive it with them,” said DeShazo, who also serves as the chair of Public Policy at UCLA Luskin. The award cited the Center for Innovation for its “leadership in developing cutting-edge strategies to spur renewable energy and energy efficiency in California.” The award further recognized the Center for “supporting the creation and implementation of state and local policies, investments and plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” This year’s summit featured regional leaders such as Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti for a discussion on West Coast climate leadership. The two-day summit also included expert panels about clean energy and climate change, as well as water management, resources and security. — Stan Paul

View photos on Flickr:

Sustainable Impact Award

The Art of Shaping Opinion: Lessons From Three Experts Visiting Public Policy faculty draw on rich life experiences to share their wisdom about influence, advocacy and persuasion with UCLA Luskin’s future leaders

 By Stan Paul

The U.S. Constitution, by design, sets up a weak and limited government. In short, “it is set up to fail,” says William Schneider, a visiting lecturer this spring at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.

“The wonder is that it actually does work. What makes it work is public opinion,” says Schneider, a leading U.S. political analyst and professor at George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government, who is teaching the undergraduate course “Public Opinion and Public Policy.”

Schneider, who has covered every U.S. presidential and midterm election since 1976 for numerous news outlets and publications, is among a group of top scholars from across the nation adding depth and breadth to the world-class faculty at the Luskin School.

Schneider’s class follows offerings from visiting professors Steven Nemerovski from Columbia University and Gary Orren from Harvard, who taught during winter quarter. All three visitors from the East Coast explored influence, advocacy and opinion-making as tools to effect policy change.

For Schneider, the Constitution works when there is “a strong sense of public urgency. In other words, a crisis.”

He explores this thesis — “and why the U.S. is more bitterly divided than at any time since the Civil War” — by looking at policy battles over civil rights, the financial crisis and terrorism. The course also focuses on the way public opinion has shaped policy on issues such as abortion, immigration, same-sex marriage, gun control, health care and military intervention.

A core element of American populism is the belief that politics is the enemy of problem-solving, he says. “That’s why we often elect political outsiders,” says Schneider, whose new book, “Standoff: How America Became Ungovernable,” will be published in May 2018. Schneider hopes his students will learn that “there is a reason why you can’t run government like a business. Business is not a democracy.”

When Orren, the V.O. Key, Jr., Professor of Politics and Leadership at Harvard, arrived at the Luskin School this winter, he made a convincing case for taking his graduate-level class, “Persuasion: The Science and Art of Effective Influence.”

“Persuasion lies at the heart of our personal and professional lives, whether the goal is to convince one person in a face-to-face encounter, influence a small group in a meeting, sway an entire organization or win over the public,” his course description said.

“It is challenging enough to lead those who agree with us,” says Orren, who has taught at Harvard for nearly half a century and also worked as a political advisor in local, state, national and international election campaigns. “But inducing others to willingly follow us when they are initially skeptical or opposed to our goals — persuading them — is the greatest challenge facing aspiring leaders.”

That pitch, and a recommendation from a Harvard alum she knows, convinced second-year MPP student Farah Setyawati to take Orren’s course.

“I like the course because it has a unique exposure to psychology. It got me thinking a lot about human behavior,” Setyawati says.

She now pays attention to body language and “reading the room,” and recognizes the importance of knowing the client. She also likes the required “three-minute pitch” exercise that allowed her to practice her presentation skills.

When Nemerovski brought his popular undergraduate course, “Advocacy and the Legislative Process,” from Columbia to the Luskin School, he immediately brought up the dreaded “L word” — “how society feels about lobbyists and are they the scourge of the earth or something. We talk about that up front and get past that immediately,” Nemerovski says. “Then the whole class is about strategy, … the role of advocacy and the tools needed to navigate successful outcomes.”

In addition to a career as an academic, the Columbia professor has worked as a political lobbyist, TV program host and author of “Third Party,” a series of political novels. He drew on that vast experience to bring in a number of guests with first-hand experience in advocating for legislation:  a state representative from Illinois; two former California Assembly members; and Dan Glickman, a former member of Congress from Kansas, U.S. secretary of agriculture in the Clinton administration, and former head of the Motion Picture Association of America.

When students have “heard four or five people in this industry say it’s all about trust, your word is your bond, when they leave the class … they’re going to understand what this is about — trust and word and bond,” Nemerovski says.

“One of my guest speakers actually commented that my class asks better questions than the more sophisticated groups he speaks to. That really speaks for the class and their enthusiasm for the speakers,” he says.

UCLA undergraduate student Axel Sarkissian says the course has been among the most interesting he has taken and has given him a better understanding of “how lobbying is done, an important lesson for those of us interested in government and for anyone interested in public engagement.”

“I have particularly appreciated Professor Nemerovski’s efforts to integrate practitioners — politicians, lobbyists and others — into the course. Hearing their perspective on how they interact with each other and what effect this has on policy has been fascinating,” says Sarkissian, who is completing the Luskin School’s undergraduate minor in Public Affairs.

Nemerovski challenges his students to become “citizen lobbyists.” During winter quarter, they were asked to lobby their congressperson on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), also known as the Dream Act.

“I can’t tell them what to think — whatever side they may be on — so they have to decide what they think and they have to act on it,” says Nemerovski, who notes that part of the exercise is to wrangle not only with the issue but what actions they need to take. “I’ve been watching them struggle with it — ‘how am I really going to do this?’”

Nemerovski also places students on each side of a bill. Some must develop strategies to pass it, others to defeat it.

“They will walk in with a strategy and I will poke holes in it,” Nemerovski says.

But he adds: “I always tell my kids the first day of class they’re going to have fun.”

Shackling the Leviathan Balancing the citizenry’s wants with the state’s needs is critical for a successful society, says 2018 Perloff lecturer Daron Acemoglu

By Zev Hurwitz

Governments with too much or too little power can be problematic. Just ask Daron Acemoglu, the 2018 Perloff lecturer at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.

In his remarks on May 8, 2018, at the Luskin School, Acemoglu reviewed some of his most recent work about institutions and societal outcomes. The event shared a title with his upcoming book, “The Narrow Corridor to Liberty: The Red Queen and the Struggle of State Against Society,” which he is co-authoring with James A. Robinson.

When it comes to issues of authority, Acemoglu said, striking the right balance is key. Too much or too little state power can lead to catastrophic violence and warfare.

“A lot of social and political theory is built around avoiding these sorts of scare scenarios,” he said.

At one extreme, a society where the government loses its means to govern can lead to chaos. Acemoglu shared a picture of the decimated city of Mosul, Iraq, following an ISIS takeover in 2014.

“This is an iconic case of what happens when a government’s law enforcement function collapses and anarchy prevails,” Acemoglu said.

On the flip side, governments with too much power can perpetrate the chaos directly. Such is the case with the state-led persecution of the Rohingya minority in Myanmar.

“What’s remarkable about this is that it wasn’t caused by the collapse of the state but was actually perpetrated by the state,” he said.

Another example of a government’s unchecked power, Acemoglu said, is China’s use of mass-pooled data to maintain social order.

Acemoglu’s upcoming book discusses the notion of “Shackling the Leviathan.” The Leviathan, as he describes it, is a large-scale controlling state entity, either a governmental institution or a ruler. “Shackling” the Leviathan is the process by which the state’s non-elite public obtains control of the Leviathan’s operations by instituting checks and balances. Acemoglu cites the United States and United Kingdom as nations that have successfully tamed the Leviathan.

“Once you create an environment in a society where its citizens shackle the Leviathan, not only does this pave the way for the emergence of liberty, but it fundamentally changes the nature of politics,” he said.

Even in modern times, some societies have managed to exist largely in peace with either extreme or absent governing structures. The Tiv in Nigeria operate without any centralized government, Acemoglu noted.

For states that successfully shackle the Leviathan, Acemoglu says, the challenge becomes maintaining the status quo. The “Red Queen” refers to a line in Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland,” in which the monarchic leader notes, “It takes all the running you can do to stay in the same place.” Maintaining such a balance between state and citizen control is often a work in progress, and a painful one at that.

“You have to keep on running,” he said.

Acemoglu is an economics professor at MIT focusing on political economy. His prior work includes research on the role of institutions in economic outcomes for various countries.

The Harvey S. Perloff Lecture Series is named for the founding dean of the UCLA Graduate School of Architecture and Urban Planning, which has since evolved, in part, into the Luskin School. The event was sponsored by UCLA Luskin Urban Planning and Public Policy and by Global Public Affairs.

Urban Planning Professor Michael Storper introduced the speaker by noting similarities between Acemoglu’s lecture and Perloff’s own work in regional economics.

“There’s a kind of interesting continuity over time with the themes of this lecture,” Storper said. “Institutions are the foundations of economic and social work.”

Nearly 75 students and faculty members were in attendance at the evening lecture, which was followed by a reception.

Transforming New Urban Culture

On April 30, 2018, GPA hosted a lecture by Mayor Ridwan Kamil from Bandung, Indonesia. Bandung is Indonesia’s third largest city. As an architect turned mayor, Kamil increased efforts to build a smart city technology to improve government service. Fortune recently included him in its list of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders, citing his efforts to use software applications to improve efficiency and sidestep bureaucracy.

Click or swipe below to view a Flickr album of the talk.

Mayor of Bandung, Indonesia

Gross Fellowship Recipients Meet Their Benefactors at Luncheon

Click or swipe below to view a Flickr album of photos of the 2018 fellowship recipients with Cal and Marilyn Gross and UCLA Luskin Director of Development Ricardo Quintero:

2018 Gross Fellowship

Alumni Share Advice with Urban Planning, Public Health Students

The event was organized by students. Pictured, from left to right, are Rae Spriggs (MURP & MPH), Teddy Tollin (undergraduate geography major), Rebecca Ferdman (MURP & MPH), Tsai, Jasneet Bains (MURP & MPH), Diaz, Cristina Valadez (MPH), Simunovic, and Ali Goodyear (MPH). Click or swipe below to view a Flickr album of additional photos:

 

BEPHC alumni event