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The Legitimacy Crisis in City Hall

by Scott Frazier
March 26, 2020

Los Angeles has been torn apart in the past decade by scandal and crisis. The Great Recession that served as the capstone for the criminal administration of George Bush II in the aughts gave way in the Obama years to maybe the most unequal economic recovery in history. The rich became dizzyingly richer, and, in Los Angeles as elsewhere, the average resident was laden down with longer work hours, falling real wages, and ever-more expensive rent.

When we review the unsurpassed challenges we faced here in the 2010s – among them an unconstitutionally overfull prison system, the worst homelessness crisis and the least affordable housing in the country, a resurgent national xenophobia aimed at migrant Angelenos – it is no wonder that we have become so troubled by the apparent incapacity of our leaders to lead. In each case, the response of the City has been faltering and dilatory; in an era that seemed to demand urgency and vision, the council […]

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John Lee: Resignation or Recall

by Scott Frazier
March 19, 2020

On March 9 – barely more than a week ago, but in a Los Angeles that nonetheless belongs to the irrecoverable pre-pandemic past – Mitchell Englander surrendered himself to federal custody in response to a warrant issued for his arrest. Englander, who, as a councilmember from 2011 until 2018, was until recently one of the most powerful people in the city, now has been formally accused of contriving during the final 16 months of his tenure to obstruct the ongoing FBI investigation into the corruption pervasive within City Hall.

If the indictment, handed down by a grand jury in January and unsealed last week, should prove true, Englander was exercising his influence as a member of the Planning and Land Use Management committee to connect a smart-home and cabinet vendor with some of the wealthiest apartment builders in the county. The indictment details trips to Las Vegas and Palm Springs, replete with clichés of low-rent criminality – gambling, lavish nightlife, transactional […]

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LA’s Election Results: What Happened

by Hayes Davenport
March 10, 2020

A week ago, when it seemed less stupid for tens of thousands of people to pack together in line to touch the same iPad, LA had an Election Day.

That Election Day, depressingly, is not even close to over. There are still about 32% of votes left to count. The guy who runs our elections, County Registrar Dean Logan, is taking his precious time “making sure the results are accurate” or some stupid thing. More like Slow-County Registrar Dean Logan!!!!

But we have a decent idea of what went down at this point. The newest update should come later this afternoon (Tuesday), at which point this post will be updated.

Here’s what happened in some of LA’s most important local races:


LA has 15 Councilmembers. They’re the most powerful city legislators in the country: each of them has more than 250,000 constituents, they control a $10 billion […]

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Show Notes: “Raman Down a Dream” (Ep. 108)

by Scott Frazier
March 9, 2020

It’s Monday, March 9th! Last week was a big one, with voters going to their polling places voting centers all over the county for the first major election of the year.

First, Alissa brings up the way that the fear over Coronavirus has and hasn’t changed our behaviors locally. Many of the people who stand potentially at risk of the virus, and particularly seniors, don’t have information from the City and County about the disease. Helping your neighbors out and checking in with them is preparation!

Scott wants to talk about city council redistricting, which will begin ramping up later this year and get going in earnest following the completion of the decennial census. In Los Angeles, redistricting is extremely political and districts are gerrymandered to break up potentially powerful voting blocks. Scott says that as recent election cycles have continued to show the emergence of a powerful progressive politics locally (and perhaps for the first time), city councilmembers might be trying to figure out how to dilute that power during redistricting.

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Show Notes: “Fire Straits” (Ep. 106)

by Scott Frazier
February 24, 2020

It’s Monday, and we’re back with another episode. Hayes is out of commission (feel better, Hayes!) but Alissa and Scott are holding it down in his absence.

First, we talk about how hard it is to find a Metro electric bike in the central city’s bike share network. It turns out only 40 out of 1000 bikes are electric. This is a bummer for people who are not that into being sweaty when they show up at their destination!

We’ve also been noticing that Uber’s dockless Jump bikes have been making a comeback, after they all but disappeared from city streets following a fight between the ride-hailing giant and the city of Los Angeles over user privacy last fall. Scott and Alissa discuss why Uber is the only company who seems to have a problem with LA’s data requests and whether or not it actually poses a risk for user privacy. At CityLab, Laura Bliss has an article that breaks down the […]

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LA Podcast 2020 Voter Guide: Primary Edition

by LA Podcast
February 18, 2020

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Reconsider the Palm Tree

by Lisa Kwan
December 19, 2019

Los Angeles needs more shade trees. We deserve more oaks, willows, and the lesser-known (but equally distinguished!) camphor and pepper trees. We need them to cover us at boozy picnics or our children’s soccer matches. On a cloudless July sky, a walk around the block feels more like a plunge into a sea of asphalt. Planting more shade trees would bring a vast improvement to our city’s climate resilience and public health. 

And yet, they are missing from our most vulnerable neighborhoods. Instead we get palm trees, and we love them so much for what they symbolize that we perpetuate their suffering until they retaliate.

Palm trees are the first things I look at when I sense an earthquake or a storm. A disaster feels imminent when they rock nauseously from the bottom of their stalks. Other times it’s the rotting […]

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LA Podcast November 2018 Voter Guide

by LA Podcast
November 5, 2018

Hi! This is the complete, probably unnecessarily thorough voter guide put together by the hosts of LA Podcast, a weekly podcast about what’s going on in LA.

Every measure and candidate at the state, LA county, and LA city level are described and endorsed with our opinions below. We didn’t cover any local elections for cities other than Los Angeles, though.

“Wait. I do not want to read this entire thing. I just want a cheat sheet I can save to my phone and use in the voting booth, then go back to living my life.” Okay, here you go:

If you finish this guide and are still thirsty for more hot ballot action, we recommend checking out Voter’s Edge California and the DSA-LA voter guide, which has a ton of campaign finance information that we didn’t cover.

Here’s a table of contents:1. State Props2. LA City and County Props3. Statewide Elections4. Congressional Elections5. State Senate6. State Assembly7. Sheriff and […]

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