Villaraigosa Appoints New City Librarian

The San Luis Reservoir in CA | Photo: Kansas Sebastian/Flickr/Creative Commons License

The former director of the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library, who is credited with turning around the troubled system there while he served, has been appointed to be L.A.'s City Librarian -- the highest post of the Los Angeles Public Library -- by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

L.A. City Districts Poised to Change, but Not Without Some Drama

At a Los Angeles reditricting public hearing. | Photo: Cindy Marie Jenkins/Flickr/Creative Commons License

This week the Los Angeles City Council preliminarily approved new lines for city council districts. So we're almost done drawing new districts, right? Not so fast.

What is redistricting? Every ten years we count how many people live in the country, the states, and local jurisdictions. Then we draw new district lines for each of those areas. However, who the "we" is matters greatly. If the "we" is sitting legislators drawing their own district lines, then those boundaries may likely look quite different than if the "we" is an independent commission. Legislators will quite rationally draw lines that consolidate their power bases and help their changes at re-election. Independent commission members will -- hopefully -- draw lines that, among other things, best represent communities of interest.

More 'Broken Windows' When Cities Are Broke

"Broken windows theory" makes the connection - often disputed - between small acts of disorder (unmowed lawns, stranded shopping carts, windows broken) and graver instances of neighborhood decline. Whether they believe in the "broken windows theory" or not, city officials in tract house suburbs like mine act as if they do.

In Westminster, another mid-1950s town, city officials are testing the theory. They're letting the windows stay broken.

Meeting Jackie Lacey and Musings On the American Dream

The day after the California primaries I happened upon Jackie Lacey. When I say, "happened upon," I mean it. I walked into a building where I had other business to attend to and saw the open door to the press conference. There was Chief Deputy District Attorney Lacey, fresh off her primary election victory, heading into the runoff election against Deputy District Attorney Alan Jackson.

Signs of Trouble in Pico House 'For Rent'

Pico House, ca 1870s
| Courtesy of UC Berkeley, Bancroft Library

First, the sellers of Mexican-ish souvenirs on Olvera Street rebelled against a rent hike. A dispute then arose over whose heroes should be remembered on the old plaza, pitting one set of ethnic grievances against another. Next, the bones of early Angeleños were unceremoniously resurrected from their misplaced graves. Then the management of the nearby La Plaza de Cultura y Artes, which was supposed to celebrate the city's Latino origins, imploded.

Meanwhile, two million visitors a year passed through the old plaza while many of its historic buildings stood empty, as they have for for decades, under city management.

L.A. Considers Possibility Of Banning Bullhook Use On Elephants

A Ringling Bros. show | Photo: Joms/Flickr/Creative Commons License

Coincidence or not, a discussion about the use of bullhooks with elephants at Los Angeles City Hall is happening just a few weeks before Ringling Bros. Circus is set to arrive in town.

Los Angeles' Board of Animal Services Commissioners recently voted to recommend the city adopt an ordinance that would prohibit the use of bullhooks and other tools used in elephant training.

Judicial Elections: Bad for Judges, Bad for the Public

A L.A. County Superior Court building in downtown L.A. | Photo: unclebumpy/Flickr/Creative Commons License

It is almost election time again in Los Angeles. Angelenos will have the opportunity to vote on 16 candidates for six open judgeships in the Los Angeles Superior Court. And this is a bad idea.

Most members of the voting public know little to nothing about judicial candidates. This is not surprising. Judicial candidates cannot and do not campaign the way other candidates do. In addition, they are decidedly "down ballot" races, meaning fewer people pay attention to the candidates towards the end of the ballot.

New Battle Begins Over Redevelopment's End

War
| Public access source

It was always going to be ugly, given how we got here.

Governor Brown only meant to threaten cities with the dissolution of their redevelopment agencies. But when cities pushed back, the California Supreme Court - now it seems inevitable - upheld the vaguely written law that shuts down redevelopment and turns agency revenues over to the state for distribution to counties and school districts.

And now a new battle has begun. A coalition of cities - Pasadena, Palmdale, Glendale, Culver City, Huntington Beach, National City, Imperial Beach, Inglewood and Hayward - will try to persuade a Sacramento Superior Court judge Wednesday (05/30/12) to block the California Department of Finance (DOF) from determining what constitutes the "enforceable" debt that cities can claim their redevelopment agencies owe.

Springsteen Concert: Suite Seats for a Sweet Price -- For Gov't Commissioners

Bruce Springsteen in concert last month at the L.A. Memorial Sports Arena | Photo: mbtrama/Flickr/Creative Commons License

The leaders of the scandal-plagued and nearly bankrupt Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena may want to consider some public relations lessons. The arena and the adjacent coliseum, owned by the taxpayers, are somewhere between financial disaster and fiscal ruin. But that didn't stop certain members of its commission (government officials) from using their positions to take in a Bruce Springsteen concert from a suite, replete with a lounge, bathroom, television, and small kitchen, according to the LA Times. (It is vitally important to note that these are not the officials who have been charged with corruption; those individuals include concert promoters, contractors, and property managers).

L.A. Plastic Bag Ban: Council OKs Major Step Toward Complete Ban

Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Paper or Plastic? After action taken today by the L.A. City Council, the phrase may soon be out of date. In a nearly unanimous vote, they gave preliminary approval to ban plastic bags and charge 10-cents for paper ones at around 7,500 stores in the city.