SoCal Week in Review 03.05


SoCal Week in Review gives you the week's best Southern California links, articles, and web-related curiosities.

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Don't doubt that Los Angeles is a food city. In fact, if you lump the finest of our culinary establishment into a single, Manhattan-size arena, you've got something of a Food Mecca on your hands. Unfortunately, the best eateries are too far dispersed for this dream to be realized. So what would it take for our city's food to achieve international acclaim? Well, for starters, triple the food trucks, encourage some late-night dining, and, for gosh sake, improve the transport.

You have to admit that Los Angeles has become a bit more closely integrated in the last ten years, and a large part of that can only rightfully be attributed to the internet. The web has created a decentralized community environment that has once disparate groups now banding together in communication. But there are still those today being left out of the loop, leading a number of non-profits to provide digital services for them, the internet-less, to get in on the fun.

Of course, our increasing inter-neighborhood conversation cannot be entirely attributed to digital connections. Popular new "Gang Tours," which travel through the birthplaces of bloods, crips, etc., might seem unsettling voyeuristic, but they also highlight a newfound interest in segments of the city that have too often been forgotten or ignored.

The long-awaited 'March 4th Protests' came and went on Thursday, and we should commend students for holding their own throughout the state. Yet, you can't help but feel for the administrators as well, their hands tied by the budget crunch. Really, student anger would best be directed towards Sacramento -- something already being done by many.

Imperfections aside, Mayor Villaraigosa is right to ask Angelinos to take the census seriously. The conclusions of the round-up have wide-ranging policy implications for our future, ranging from the number of received Congressional representatives to the amount of money to be directed towards our classrooms. If the city really did miss out on $206 million in the last decade due to undercounting, as the Mayor alleges, we can't afford to make the same mistake twice, not in this economic climate, anyway.

The direness of the situation was even further driven home by Friday's report that California will not receive a dime of federal educational aid. The Obama administration reasons that the state's unwillingness to impose a performance-based pay scale amounts to an unwillingness to reform a failed system, a decision they believe does not warrant support. I understand the system is flawed, but it's also just barely staying afloat. This is not the time for the White House to wave its moral compass in front of us.

Keeping on with the 'no money here' news, it seems that state employees routinely amass "unused vacation time" in order to retire with nifty bonuses, often nearing the six-figure range. We know that this doesn't quite top the A.I.G. business, and, yes, it seems odd to attack employees for skipping out on vacation, but, still, those are tax dollars that shouldn't have been spent as well as ammo for those who call the state's spending ludicrous.

And yes, most Californians do believe excessive government spending to be the state's root problem. Right or not, our collective conscious doesn't blame the recent collapse on increasingly meager tax returns. Okay, that's not quite true: thirty percent want to see some combination of tax increases and reduced spending. But when only thirteen percent want spending to remain at the status quo, you just know that change is soon to come.

An impressive amount of the citizenry isn't satisfied to simply vote in a new day, either; they actually want to be a part of the process. In fact, 31,000 have signed up to participate in the resdistricting of the state. The political consequences will be far-reaching, and making sure the districts are properly divvied up in accordance to adequate demographic--not political--data will be crucial to avoiding another thirty years of manipulative gerrymandering.

Also, no surprise here: Big Oil is funding a petition to kill a piece of anti-pollution legislature. If the Supreme Court's recent decision to allow corporate takeover of the political sphere has any positive consequences, it's that we'll finally know the real 'when, where, and how' of big business pushing around its weight. Hoo-rah, hoo-rah.

Image by flickr user erjkprunczyk. It was used under the Creative Commons.