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Yaroslavsky on Newsom’s Chance to Reshape State Politics

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


 

Diaz on California’s Neglect of the Latino Electorate

Sonja Diaz, executive director of the Latino Policy and Politics Initiative at UCLA Luskin, spoke to the New York Times about California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s deliberations in filling the Senate seat held by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Choosing a Latino for the powerful post would help reverse California’s history of neglecting the influential constituency, Diaz said. Latinos make up 40% of the state’s population, yet its voters have never elected a Latino senator or governor. In addition, the state’s voters have supported anti-immigrant policies such as Proposition 187, which has been blamed for creating a nativist road map for other states. “If we’re being honest with ourselves, California has a role to play in the invisibility of Latinos,” Diaz added in a New York Times newsletter. Going forward, she said, Newsom has the opportunity to turn the tide by elevating a powerful “Latino figurehead” who could help grow a bench of Latino leaders around the country.

Newton Speculates on Candidates to Fill Harris’ Senate Seat

Lecturer Jim Newton spoke to Courthouse News about the array of candidates Gov. Gavin Newsom will consider before selecting Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ successor in the U.S. Senate. Newsom will be the first California governor with the opportunity to appoint a senator in nearly 30 years. Newton explained that the governor will have to decide whether he wants a placeholder to fill out the last two years of Harris’ term or someone better suited to defend the seat going forward. California Secretary of State Alex Padilla is a front-runner, Newton said, noting, “It’s a big, coveted, popular job. I think it would be attractive for him to put a Latino in that seat.” Possibilities from the Los Angeles area include Mayor Eric Garcetti and Congressman Adam Schiff, he said. Newton added that former Gov. Jerry Brown would be a good choice if Newsom desires experience and prefers someone who probably would not seek re-election in 2022.


Newton on What Harris Brings to the Democratic Ticket

Jim Newton, lecturer and editor of UCLA’s Blueprint magazine,  spoke with Nine News Australia about Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s selection of Sen. Kamala Harris as a running mate. Biden and Harris “come from different backgrounds and different parts of the country,” Newton said. “I think her presence on the ticket makes the ticket feel much bigger and much more appealing to a bigger section of the country.” Newton, who has tracked Harris’ career for two decades and interviewed her for the first edition of Blueprint in 2015, called her a tough political figure who has sparred with critics from both the left and right. He added that the selection of the first Black woman on the presidential ticket of a major party shows that Biden is open to “a new idea of America, rather than this country fighting to retain a white-majority establishment political culture.” 


 

Steinert-Threlkeld on Social Media Response to Kamala Harris

Assistant Professor of Public Policy Zachary Steinert-Threlkeld spoke to Zenger News about the growing role of social media in recent election cycles. Social media engagement with stories about Joe Biden hit a high the week the Democratic presidential candidate named Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate. Social media has become a more significant part of the political process than in previous election cycles, Steinert-Thelkeld explained. This increase in social media engagement makes it difficult to draw comparisons with Donald Trump’s selection of Mike Pence as his running mate in 2016. However, Steinert-Thelkeld highlighted the differences between the vice presidential candidates. “I think it’s more about the person that people are responding to as opposed to the four-year difference,” he said. “Pence is not that exciting. Pence is like the Biden now, and Kamala is like the Trump then.”


California Is Up for Grabs, Yaroslavsky Says

Director of the Los Angeles Initiative Zev Yaroslavsky spoke to the Guardian about the political climate surrounding the California Democratic Party Convention, a three-day gathering that took place in San Francisco. Fourteen Democratic presidential candidates for the 2020 election converged at the convention in hopes of securing support from California voters. Yaroslavsky described California as “the leader of the resistance to Trump,” where voters “care more about replacing Trump than about where someone fits ideologically.” Yaroslavsky predicted that California will play a critical role in the 2020 election, explaining that “whether it’s on healthcare, the environment or offshore drilling, disaster aid or a woman’s right to choose, from A to Z, [President Donald Trump] is always looking for ways to punish California. … There’s a lot at stake for California in this election.” According to Yaroslavsky, “California is up for grabs and it’s likely to be up for grabs for some time.”


Newton on ‘Golden Age’ for California Democrats

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.


New Magazine Adds to LA’s Policy Conversation UCLA Blueprint, a new magazine bringing together policy research and civic leadership, debuted at a Wednesday event

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By Cynthia Lee
UCLA Newsroom

UCLA has launched a new magazine that aims to inform ongoing conversations on major public policy issues facing Los Angeles and California, serve as a public resource and highlight relevant campus research.

UCLA Blueprint — written and edited by veteran journalists and astute observers of local and state government — debuted this week with an issue focused on public safety and criminal justice. The magazine is a partnership between the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and UCLA External Affairs, whose public outreach programs facilitate the campus’s role in addressing societal challenges.

At a Wednesday night event marking the magazine’s inaugural issue, Chancellor Gene Block said civic engagement has been one of his top priorities since the beginning of his administration. “UCLA engages with the greater Los Angeles community in myriad ways. And I am delighted to say that the launch of UCLA Blueprint is very much in keeping with our ongoing civic engagement efforts…. It’s dazzling in every way.”

Among the guests celebrating the launch of Blueprint was former California Gov. Gray Davis (left), standing with UCLA Chancellor Gene Block and Blueprint Editor-in-Chief Newton.

About 125 guests attended the event at the Chancellor’s Residence, including community and business leaders, UCLA administrators and faculty, journalists and government officials. Among them were Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, former California Gov. Gray Davis, former Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, City Controller Ron Galperin and Los Angeles City Councilmembers Gil Cedillo, Paul Krekorian and Bernard Parks.

The event featured a wide-ranging conversation between Garcetti and Blueprint Editor-in-Chief Jim Newton, covering crime, the mayor’s extensive use of real-time data and metrics to monitor the pulse of the city, Los Angeles’ booming tech sector, the recent minimum-wage increase and other topics in the news.

Newton is a former Los Angeles Times writer and editor of 25 years, the author of biographies on Earl Warren and Dwight Eisenhower, and a co-author of a memoir with Leon Panetta.  He said before the event that the magazine is intended to strengthen UCLA’s ties to civic life and share faculty expertise in a way that serves the greater good.

“Much of the work of city, county and state government in California is now done without the benefit of serious research,” said Newton, a senior fellow at the Luskin School and lecturer in communication studies, where he teaches courses on journalism ethics and writing. “Largely, that’s a product of budgets — governments just don’t have the kind of research capacity they used to have. By bringing UCLA research to the attention of policymakers, better policy can be made.”

In the editor’s note in the first issue, Newton wrote that he spent more than two decades “watching sausage being made in city, county and state government (and occasionally the school board), often baffled by the basis for decisions. Why doesn’t the subway go to the airport? Why does the region capture so little rainwater? Why do some drug offenders spend more time in prison than those convicted of violent crimes? The poison in each case is politics. The antidote is research.”

Newton emphasized before Wednesday’s event that Blueprint is not an academic journal. “We’re striving to make it serious and journalistic, a general-interest magazine that’s accessible to people beyond the core policy community,” he said. “This is a region that is famously disengaged on matters of serious government policy, and this magazine is intended to draw people into those conversations and give them the information they need to help them participate.”

Replete with bold, attention-getting graphics, the first issue of Blueprint takes a sweeping look at criminal justice and public safety from a variety of entry points. Beck, the LAPD’s top cop, talks about how policing has changed. UCLA Luskin researcher Michael Stoll reveals what’s behind the surge in the U.S. prison population. UCLA psychologist Phillip Atiba Goff explains how he measures hidden racial bias in law enforcement. And in a Q&A, California Attorney General Kamala Harris talks about the biggest challenge she has faced in fixing the state criminal justice system.

There’s also a profile of a community activist whose call for reform of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has been transformed into a rallying cry among protesters nationwide — “Black lives matter.”

Newton said the debut issue addresses criminal justice and public safety because police use of force is increasingly in the headlines and because the topics are familiar to him — he covered the LAPD as a reporter for five years.

In the discussion Wednesday, Garcetti reflected on the recent unrest in Baltimore and L.A.’s own problems.

“We had Rodney King.… We had the consent decree. We had Ramparts,” he said. “It is through the trauma that we went through that Los Angeles is a more resilient city and [has] a more resilient [police] department.… What a police chief says, what a mayor does, who we collectively are as a city in moments of potential trauma is, first and foremost, what good policing — good public safety — is all about.”

Blueprint’s second issue, due out this fall, will focus on economic and social inequality and include an interview with Joseph Stiglitz, recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, a Columbia University economist and respected author. Newton said he hopes the magazine will grow into a quarterly publication, and he plans to hold public events to extend the discourse around each new issue.

“Not only are we trying to create a conversation online and in print,” Newton said, “but a literal conversation where we will gather together policymakers, journalists, academics and other thoughtful people and hope that they learn from each other.”

 

Events

Analyzing the Latino Vote in the 2020 Elections

America’s largest and diverse non-white voting bloc has made it clear that they are important actors in American politics, from Pennsylvania to Arizona.

Effectively mobilizing the Latino electorate is critical to the success of any campaign, from the White House to down-ballot. As we continue to confront our nation’s intersecting crises on our path to economic recovery, understanding the electoral preferences of Latino voters is essential to highlighting the nation’s policy priorities in a new decade. This conversation will highlight how record levels of Latino turnout impacted the outcome of key races, including in this cycle’s marquee battleground states, and what it means for the coming year.

Join us virtually for a powerful conversation moderated by María Elena Salinas, award winning-journalist.

Panelists:

Matt Barreto, professor, Political Science & Chicana/o Studies, UCLA

Tom Perez, chairman, Democratic National Committee

Mercedes Schlapp, senior advisor, Trump-Pence 2020 Campaign

Rudy Soto, former Democratic nominee for Congress

RSVP today.

Presented by the Aspen Institute’s Latinos and Society Program and the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative based at UCLA Luskin.