Index
Tuesday
Oct282014

INTERNATIONAL: Washington Post feature, "An American Dream Deferred" ....  

* Washington Post:  "An American Dream Deferred" - "Javier Flores hoped for a reprieve from President Obama, but he was deported to Mexico, leaving his family behind" - From the WP:

In La Mixtequita, Mexico

Javier Flores awoke again to the raspy ring of a water-damaged phone, and he lifted himself out of the hammock that had become his bed. He splashed river water on his face and pulled on his only pair of pants, designer jeans he had been wearing when two U.S. immigration officers stopped him on his way home from work. Now it was a few weeks later, and the jeans were stiff with sweat and caked in mud from the lime groves. They hung off his waist.

He stumbled toward the phone in predawn darkness, stepping over a chicken before answering on the fifth ring. The call was from the family he had left behind in Akron, Ohio. On the other end of the line he could hear his wife and children eating breakfast.

Nineteen days since he had been deported to Mexico, and each one had begun like this.

 

“Good morning,” said Javier, 31, and when nobody responded he spoke louder. “Buenos dias?” he said. He could make out what sounded like a spoon clanking against a bowl. “Hello?” he said again, and then finally he heard his wife. “Hello?” she said. “Hello? Hello? Are you there?” He tried to respond but she couldn’t hear him, and after a few seconds she hung up.

He ran his hands along the phone’s wiring to check the connection. He had bought the phone for his parents in 2002, when he first left the impoverished countryside of southern Mexico for the United States. The phone had sat next to the family Bible ever since, its cords snaking across ceilings and blocking doorways on their way to the lone electrical outlet that only sometimes worked. There was no cellphone service in La Mixtequita, population 900. No high-speed Internet or mail delivery, either. The landline was the only connection he had left to 13 years in Ohio, to a wife and four American-citizen children, who at this moment were calling him again...............................

Tuesday
Oct282014

L.A. CITY HALL: Politics, government policy, affordable housing: "Liberal Cities Like L.A. Face Much Higher Housing Prices" ....

*  LA Weekly:  "Liberal Cities Like L.A. Face Much Higher Housing Prices" - From LA Weekly:

The Democrat-Republican divide often comes down to the difference in how we believe America can best prosper. Democrats say the collective power of the people can protect the financial interests of the everyday worker. Republicans often argue that freedom from government fosters economic well-being.

It turns out the Democrat way of doing things doesn't seem to help middle class citizens when it comes time to make the biggest purchase of their lives. More often than not, left-leaning areas like Los Angeles suffer worse housing affordability (actually, we're the worst), according to real estate website Trulia:

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L.A. is one of 28 "dark blue" markets in which Democrat Barack Obama trounced Republican Mitt Romney for president by at least 20 percentage points in 2012. Prominent dark blue cities also include New York and San Francisco. Guess what else they have in common?

Yes—they're the most unaffordable cities in America when it comes to housing, not only according to Trulia but also according to other reports we've highlighted in the past. The website says that these "blue markets have lower home ownership and greater income inequality than red markets."

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The only red area to buck that trend was overpriced Orange County, which voted for Romney even though it is technically on the fence and quickly turning blue when it comes to party registration.

Where did the Democrats go wrong? Trulia says it's not clear. Some policies benefit red-state home buyers more while others benefit Democrats..........................

Tuesday
Oct282014

LOCAL GOVERNMENT (County of Los Angeles): Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Zev Yaroslavsky seat: "L.A. County supervisorial race a money battle between labor, business" ....

* Los Angeles Times:  "L.A. County supervisorial race a money battle between labor, business" - From the LAT:

The pivotal race to replace retiring Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky has become a money battle between labor unions and business interests, with fundraising approaching $8.4 million. Sheila Kuehl and Bobby Shriver have directly collected a combined $5.1 million, according to a Times analysis of thousands of contributions. An additional $3.2 million has been raised by independent committees not controlled by the candidates.

The Times found that union-affiliated donors contributed $2.1 million to help elect Kuehl, a former state senator endorsed by major county labor groups. That's nine times the amount of labor-related donations supporting Shriver's supervisorial bid. Former Santa Monica Councilman Shriver and committees supporting him have taken in about $1 million from individuals and companies associated with the real estate, financial services and construction industries. That's more than four times the comparable donations received by Kuehl.

The fundraising underscores that although both are liberal-leaning Democrats, Kuehl is viewed as more labor-friendly and Shriver more sympathetic toward business, said Loyola Law School professor Jessica Levinson, who studies elections.

Yaroslavsky, also a Democrat, is considered a swing vote on the Board of Supervisors, and he's built a reputation as a fiscal watchdog willing to stand up to employee unions. The stakes in the race are high because the winner would be the deciding vote on a variety of spending and policy issues, including pay-and-benefit packages for the county's 100,000-member workforce and how tightly development will be regulated. "What we're deciding is how far left of center is the next county supervisor going to be," Levinson said.

Here's a look at who's contributing to the candidates and the independent groups supporting them .................................

Tuesday
Oct282014

L.A. CITY HALL: Political satire, The Regardie Report: "Happy City Hall--oween VII: A Guide to Downtown's Scariest Building" ....

* Downtown News (Jon Regardie: "The Regardie Report"):  "Happy City Hall--oween VII: A Guide to Downtown's Scariest Building" - From the DTN:

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES - Navigating City Hall can be tricky and, sometimes, downright scary. You’re never quite sure who is friend and who is foe, and alliances can change faster than they do on an episode of “Survivor.” It’s the rare person who enters the building and comes out unscathed.

Things get even spookier on Halloween. In honor of the holiday and the administrations of Eric Ghoulcetti and Council President Herb Witchin, here lies the seventh annual, 100% made-up guide to the building. Abandon hope all ye who think you can change the system.................................

Tuesday
Oct282014

L.A. CITY HALL: Los Angeles City Council, commentary (Steve Lopez): "With L.A. council, ceremonial nonsense gets in the way of real action" ....

* Los Angeles Times (Steve Lopez):  "With L.A. council, ceremonial nonsense gets in the way of real action" - From the LAT:

This has been such a busy year for members of the Los Angeles City Council, you have to wonder if their coffee is spiked with Red Bull.

OK, they may have dropped the ball on a few small things, including broken streets, mansionization and slow emergency response times. But consider all the things they've accomplished.

In February, for instance, the council renewed support for sanctions against Iran. Imagine the jolt that delivered to Tehran. In April, they voted to ban elephant trainers in traveling circuses from using bull hooks within city limits. But the ban doesn't take effect until 2017, so if you've got an elephant you're fond of, my advice is that you park it in Burbank or Pomona for the next 27 months.

Also in April the council created Renter's Day to highlight the need for more affordable housing, but at last check, even that radical action hadn't made a dent in the problem.

In May, our city leaders passed a resolution urging administrators in the Rialto School District to express remorse for a project asking eighth-graders to decide whether the Holocaust actually occurred. In June, the council delivered a proclamation honoring the 116th anniversary of Philippines Independence Day. A lazy City Council would have waited for the 120th anniversary.

Aug. 6 was declared El Salvador Day, Aug. 20 was selected as Jiff the Pomeranian Day. And then last week the council outdid itself, surpassing even its recognition of Meatless Mondays in 2012 or its declaration of support in 2013 for adjunct professors.

On Monday, City Council members moved forward to ban the growing of genetically modified crops in Los Angeles. But they acknowledged the ban was "largely symbolic," given the scarcity of farming in the city. Symbolic, and nonbinding. Then, on Tuesday, the council unanimously approved a resolution backing a UFW contract. Not that it has any say in the matter. The deal involves a grower in Fresno.

For all of this, I think the L.A. City Council still has a long way to go before topping the L.A. County Board of Supervisors. . . . . . . . .

All of this, by the way, has a purpose: namely, to make sure that elected officials recognize the people who got them elected and remind those same people that the next election is never too far away.

To be fair, L.A. City Council members all do some good work in a job that's harder that it might look. But ceremonial nonsense, which eats up a lot of staff time, is no substitute for real work. And that's where we've got trouble............................