Angelenos Never Cared Much About Local Politics

Greetings from the City of Los Angeles, where no one knows your name. At last estimate, Los Angeles’ population topped 3.9 million. In 1850, when the city was first incorporated, approximately 1,600 people lived here. In the last 165 years LA’s size and population have changed in almost every conceivable way. But this growth hasn’t […]

One Ballot Initiative, Six Times the Fun

California is huge. I do not necessarily mean that as a compliment. California is the nation’s most populous state. More than thirty-eight million people live in the Golden State. That is roughly twelve percent of the nation’s population. Add up the populations in about twenty-one of American’s least populous states and that will still not […]

Let’s Rate Politicians on Yelp

Yelp is a wildly popular web service that allows customers to offer public reviews of the companies and professionals they patronize. Diners rate restaurants, patients rate their doctors, dentists, and health clinics, and shoppers rate their malls. But, at least so far, Yelp does not allow constituents to rate their politicians. That should change. We […]

2012: The Year We Bid Adieu to Redevelopment Agencies

Crossposted on KCET Hopefully it will be a happy new year for many Californians. It will, however, be a trying time for members of redevelopment agencies and their supporters. Last week the Supreme Court effectively put the nail in the coffin of these post-war era agencies. As a result of a 1945 legislatively-initiated law, California […]

The Real Danger behind the Citizens United Decision

While many elected officials, members of the media, and members of the general public have expressed outrage over the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Citizens United, the real danger of that decision lurks beneath the surface. The decision, which allows corporations to use general treasury funds to make ads that support or oppose candidates for elected office, has been widely criticized as giving corporations a larger voice in elections. There can be little doubt that the Court’s decision will do just that.

However, the truly dangerous part of the decision is not its outcome; it is instead the way that the Court decided the case.

Citizens United is a conservative non-profit corporation which sought to air a movie on Video-On-Demand critical of then-Presidential Candidate Hilary Clinton during her primary election battle with now-President Barack Obama. When it brought its case to the Supreme Court, Citizens United brought forth a narrow challenge, claiming that a portion of Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (commonly known as McCain-Feingold) was unconstitutional only as applied to it. Citizens United had abandoned its much broader claim which asked the Court to declare a provision of McCain-Feingold to be unconstitutional as applied to everyone.