The LA Podcast

The Blog

Metro’s Oscar Nightmare


by Alissa Walker
May 3, 2021

From the director of Traffic. Photo by Alissa Walker

“You have got to be kidding me,” I said to no one in particular as I looked to the right, where a security guard for the Oscars was pointing me towards what looked exactly like a freeway ramp. It probably shouldn’t have surprised me that he told me to walk that way, a route with three “no pedestrian” signs, plus an additional sign that said “NO PEDESTRIANS” in words in case you missed the other three. But after spending 45 minutes trying to get to Union Station from the Little Tokyo side, with every street lined with signage reading “AWARD PERMIT ONLY LIMO/VALET” dead-ending in 8-foot chain link fences, a group of us on foot determined that this ramp — which apparently was, technically, a freeway ramp, but only for buses — was […]

Continue Reading

My Year as a YIMBY


by Roderick D. Hall
April 19, 2021

Monica Rambeau and Wanda Maximoff in a screen capture from Marvel Studios’ WandaVision.

Let me begin by stating that this is a critique of the approach taken by the YIMBY movement within California, not a critique of the solutions the movement is advocating for — though there is certainly room for that. I was employed by the movement from February 2020 to March 2021, and for me it was an exciting opportunity to move to a place I could call home while organizing for more “affordable” housing. However, as the events of 2020 begin to unfold, so too did my understanding of the movement I was employed by. And what caused me to disengage and eventually feel disgusted by the work I was doing was the ways in which it was being approached. I want to discuss the approach because […]

Continue Reading

Los Angeles to Settle Federal Abuse Complaint at LAPD Summer Camp


by Scott Frazier
February 28, 2021

On Monday, the City of Los Angeles is poised to formally authorize a settlement in the amount of $145,000 arising from allegations of child abuse at a 2019 “character building camp” organized and run by the Los Angeles Police Department. The settlement brings to an end a case in which children were said to have been ridiculed and threatened for limited English speaking ability, and made to punch one another as punishment for misbehavior.

The camp in question was part of the LAPD’s “Jeopardy Program,” which is described online as “a gang prevention/intervention program” for minor children “dedicated to helping [them] avoid a life of crime.” According to the LAPD the program is intended to help children “feel safe and develop physically and mentally,” showing them “there are concerned adults who will care about them now and in the future.”

Goals listed include “improv[ing] self-esteem,” “improv[ing] conflict resolution and other life-affirming skills,” and “decreas[ing] violent and other inappropriate behavior.”

All of this stands […]

Continue Reading

LA (and California) Got Jobbed by the Rent Relief Package


by Hayes Davenport
February 3, 2021

In the last federal stimulus package, the one from December, there was $25 billion dedicated to rental assistance for low-income tenants. This is good!

California is getting a little more than 10% of that money — $2.6 billion. This seems stupid. We should be getting more.

California makes up 12% of the population of the US.We have a higher percentage of renters than the average state (45% to 37% nationally).Our median rent is the second-highest in the country, just behind the state that is an actual island paradise.California has the third-highest unemployment rate right now (Hawaii also #1).

You’re telling me Montana got $200 million for rent relief in this package? That’s like $200 per person! We only got $62 a person! $62 in California buys you a carton of eggs. Montana doesn’t even want this freaking money! They’re holding back $183 million of it “in reserve”!!!

Why is it only the Republican administrations that shamelessly reward the states that voted for […]

Continue Reading

Improbably Rosy Predictions Underlie Newsom’s Abrupt Lockdown Switch-Off


by Scott Frazier
January 27, 2021

A powerful man, looking harried and desperate for a win, is speaking to a digital scrum of reporters and members of the public. His constituents are tired of severe shutdown measures. He feels pressure mounting from all sides – but especially from corporate interests – to produce some good news. New daily Covid cases have fallen sharply and a key metric that tracks the disease’s spread has fallen far below the level at which new daily cases might be expected to grow in the coming days. 

While admitting things are looking up and acknowledging the feelings of hope inspired by the still new vaccine rollout, he stops short of giving in to demands to relax restrictions. His administration, he says, will take a look at the matter in mid-February and not before. He concludes: “I think people want to see us making sure we don’t throw [recent progress] away by having a premature relaxation and then another big surge of infection.”

This […]

Continue Reading

What is up with this new California variant?


by Hayes Davenport
January 19, 2021

Kids are drawing pictures of the new coronavirus. That's a good thing. -  Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Very excited to announce that California has formed a brand partnership with a terrifying new COVID strain. The “California variant” has now received a dedicated headline in the LA Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and DEADLINE, BABY!!!

All of these articles mention the fact that this new variant might be more transmissible and also might be more resistant to available vaccines — which, if true, would be at least in the running for the most devastating single development in human history.

I read all the articles about this variant, completely lost my shit, and then looked into the data a little more. Now I am an expert and will calmly share the knowledge I’ve accumulated.

Let’s start with the reasons this strain might be something to worry about, followed by the reasons […]

Continue Reading

A Co-Conspirator on City Council


by Scott Frazier
January 13, 2021

As City Councilmember Mitchell Englander drove in furtive circles through the thicket of one-way streets downtown, he turned to his passenger and whispered under the din of the radio. Moments before, he had boosted the volume to an ache-inducing roar, the better to hide his words if someone happened to be listening. It was imperative that no one should hear him roughly coaching the man sitting next to him to deliver short rehearsible falsehoods:

“You just say ‘I was so drunk I don’t remember calling.’”

“‘No I didn’t arrange a massage for anybody.’”

“‘He shook my hand and said hello, that was it.’”

“‘He asked me a couple times how much does he owe me, he and John owe me, and I didn’t have an amount.’”

“‘…he and John owe me…’”

“‘…he and John…’”

ImageEnglander: “I couldn’t be happier… we couldn’t ask for a better representative for CD12.” Quote and screen capture from Councilmember John Lee’s Public Swearing-In Ceremony.

The passenger, Andy Wang, a purveyor of […]

Continue Reading

We Built This Target


by Alissa Walker
December 29, 2020

An LA Podcast exclusive: Alissa performs an original song from her forthcoming album Knee Deep in the CEQA

Continue Reading

Tell me why it isn’t time for a two-week shutdown


by Hayes Davenport
December 5, 2020

Source

Last night, the available ICU capacity in the counties that make up the state’s new definition of “Southern California” dropped to 13.1% — a decrease of 7.5 percentage points from the previous day.

This is happening in a terrifying context in LA County: almost every metric of the pandemic’s severity is picking up speed right now.

Three weeks ago, there were 966 people hospitalized with COVID in the county, and about 2,500 new cases a day. At the time that was cause for mild panic — it was a significant increase from what we’d been seeing a few weeks earlier, and public health officials started sounding the alarm and urging people to stay home.

Yesterday there were 2,668 people in the hospital and 8,860 new cases. Both are records. We will set new ones when the updated numbers come out this afternoon. This is unequivocally the most dangerous […]

Continue Reading

The plan: paint green energy solutions as racist


by Hayes Davenport
November 28, 2020

Nathan for You" The Anecdote (TV Episode 2017) - IMDb

Absolutely wild article in the LA Times this week by Sammy Roth, superstar energy reporter (subscribe to his climate newsletter). This story is about the natural gas industry using race and progressive language to promote fossil fuel use. A lot of it is about SoCalGas.

The Southern California Gas Company is the company that distributes gas to every home in Los Angeles. Their natural gas, is wafting around menacingly underneath your building right now. Two days ago you probably burned the SoCalGas piped into your kitchen to brown the cranberry onions and broast the turkey beans.

Many people think SoCalGas is a city-owned utility, because they associate it with the Department of Water and Power. It is not. SoCalGas is a private corporation and always has been. They started with 43 gas lamps along Main Street downtown in 1867 and are now the largest natural gas distribution utility in America. They […]

Continue Reading