Results tagged “Los Angeles Politics”

November 1, 2013

Levenson2.jpgBy Professor and David W. Burcham Chair in Ethical Advocacy Laurie Levenson

This op-ed originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

It is time to seriously consider a civilian oversight board for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to consider such a proposal next week. If approved, it could be a big step toward remedying some of the ongoing problems in our county jails.

The last few years have been tough for the department, which has been plagued by jail scandals, committee inquiries and even a federal investigation. Despite the efforts of committed professionals within and outside the department to monitor abuses in the jail system, the problems have continued. Meanwhile, the public has only been invited into the process once the situation has reached crisis dimensions.

A citizen oversight board has the advantage of providing a constant outsider view of the operations of the Sheriff's Department, very much in the same way that the Los Angeles Police Commission monitors the Los Angeles Police Department. Rather than gearing up to deal with the next inevitable crisis, the Board of Supervisors should focus on what monitoring will be the most effective in preventing scandals in the first place.

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March 20, 2013

Jessica Levinson Summary Judgments Blog.jpgBy Associate Clinical Professor Jessica A. Levinson

Mayoral candidates Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel are now in the final stretch of their campaign to become the next mayor of Los Angeles. Following the March 5 election, both candidates will seek to motivate voters to go to the polls. But what voters? According to preliminary numbers, only 16 percent, yes that's right, only one out of six voters went to the polls or mailed in ballots. In a city divided over so many issues, it seems elections have managed to unite 84 percent of eligible Angelenos in laziness, boredom, apathy, or all of the above.

In Los Angeles, the second most populous city in the nation, there are approximately 1.8 million eligible voters and 3.8 million residents. This means approximately 290,000 voters weighed in on decisions that will affect nearly four million people. Another way of thinking of this is that each voter voted for the interests of 12 people living in Los Angeles.

I cannot claim to have a comprehensive knowledge of the reasons behind this significantly depressed turnout, therefore I cannot seek to propose solutions to this problem. But I do know that by sitting out elections we are giving a few of our fellow Angelenos, those who cast ballots, a great deal of power over the face of our city government. In essence what we have is a city of residential representatives who chose our political representatives. But, of course, no one appointed or elected this first group -- they merely decided to take part in our democracy.

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January 12, 2012

levinson.jpgBy Visiting Associate Clinical Professor Jessica Levinson

This piece originally appeared on

Redistricting seems to be the one governmental process that can unite members of both aisles. And by unite I mean join together in fighting each other tooth and nail. I have previously detailed the numerous fights -- both at the courthouse and in the ballot box -- surrounding the newly drawn state legislative lines. Now comes word that a fight is brewing on the local level as well.

Valley leaders are asking for the creation of new city council maps. Specifically, representatives for the San Fernando Valley are urging the creation of six districts completely contained in the Valley. These districts would not stretch over the hill. Currently there are seven city council districts in the Valley. So why would they want fewer districts? Two of those districts stretch over the hill into West Los Angeles and Hollywood.

The creation of six districts totally contained in the Valley would therefore increase the voice of those living, as we say in L.A., "over the hill." This strategy makes sense, at least to those living in the Valley. A representative who has to consider the needs of constituents on both sides of the hill would likely be be less attuned to the needs of constituents in the Valley than someone representing a district wholly contained in the Valley.

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October 10, 2011


Visiting Associate Clinical Professor, Jessica Levinson originally published this on KCET's "1st and Spring" blog.

Depending on your perspective Los Angeles' gross receipts tax on businesses either provides much needed revenue -- to the tune of $425 million per year -- or harms economic growth. Last week the City Council's Jobs and Business Development Committee suggested it is the latter. Specifically, the committee asked the city to study halting the tax for new businesses or eliminating it all together. The tax is essentially a tax on the revenue that businesses generate. The tax ranges from about $1 per $1,000 to $5 per $1,000.

Read the complete blog post.

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