La Sombrita means “little shade” in Spanish. And that is what you get with the newly installed La Sombritas: little shade. If you live in the Los Angeles media market, you have probably seen stories about the lame attempt to provide shelter (and lighting) at bus stops. It might provide partial shade for one person, if the sun is in the correct position, at a cost of $2,000+. Not only is it a terrible waste of time, effort, and money, but then city officials touted it to the press. La Sombrita is actually a perfect example of the failure of elected leaders and bureaucrats. How it came into existence should be taught in every public administration class. For those wondering why most L.A. city bus stops don’t have shelter or lighting, read the L.A. Public Press story which explains all the sad details. Those with good intentions are trying to work around the city bureaucracy, but maybe it is time to change the city instead of “working around it.” Instead of adding shelters with lighting to bus stops, the City of L.A. created a bus stop bureaucratic nightmare, then added for-profit corporations and philanthropic organizations (rich people needing an excuse for a tax break). Those involved with bus stops (and everything about bus stops) include L.A. Metro, StreetsLA (aka Bureau of Street Services), the Sidewalk and Transit Amenities Program, Bureau of Street Lighting, L.A. Sanitation, L.A. Department of Water & Power, L.A. Department of Transportation, L.A. City Planning, Tanzito-Vector, Inside Street Media, then add the mayor’s office, the local council office, and City Administrative Office. It is well past time for some leadership to tackle the mess that prevents the city from implementing solutions to simple problems.
Scaring Politicians Into Compliance, Not
Those standing around the water cooler work in and around California government and politics. We are not naïve yet even we were surprised to hear about a $200 fine that was given to a politician 2 ½ years after a violation. We do not believe that delay will inspire any politician, or almost anyone else, into complying with a law. The fine was issued by the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) which administers, interprets, and enforces the Political Reform Act. Maybe it’s time for the FPPC to receive additional funding and hire more staff so the fines are issued in a timely manner. Like, way more timely. Like, maybe within a month of the violation? In this case, the fine was issued to Sacramento City Councilmember Sean Loloee for waiting 7 months past the deadline to file his Statement of Economic Interest. Although everyone required to file a SEI should do so by the deadline, being able to see Loloee’s SEI could help clarify accusations made against him. Calpeek has previously discussed that Loloee appears to think rules don’t apply to him. The Sacramento Bee has written numerous stories detailing accusations that he skirts all types of laws. The problem may be, in part, that there are not significant, timely, or effective penalties for violating laws. Maybe it’s time to take the FPPC’s budget authority out of the hands of the very people they oversee. Crazy idea?
The Impact of the Steinberg Void
Former Assemblymember and State Senator, Darrell Setinberg, has been Mayor of Sacramento for 7 years. He is not running for re-election in March, which sets up a battle to see who will be the capitol’s next mayor. Candidates have months before they need to officially file to run, yet, according to the Sacramento Bee, there are already five serious and experienced candidates who have declared their candidacies: epidemiologist and former city committee chair Flojaune Cofer, special advisor to the state attorney general Maggy Krell, former councilmember Jeff Harris, former councilmember Steve Hansen, and former councilmember and current assemblymember Kevin McCarty. The Bee also provides detailed information for the candidates running for city council – 4 seats are up. Sounds like the Sacramento campaign scene will be busy through the end of next year.
Chesa Boudin’s New Gig
If you were worried about Chesa Boudin being able to find a job since being ousted as San Francisco’s District Attorney, worry no more. Recently, Boudin announced he’s spearheading a criminal justice center at UC Berkeley’s School of Law. As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, the aim of the new Criminal Law & Justice Center is to chip away at criminal justice reforms by gathering and interpreting data and creating the infrastructure to file lawsuits. Boudin reinforced his new path as founding executive director of the center in an opinion piece titled “Why I’m not running for office in 2024”. In the piece, Boudin shares that “… rather than seek another elected office in 2024, I’m choosing a different path for now — one that is still consistent with my lifelong commitment to fixing the criminal legal system, ending mass incarceration and innovating data-driven solutions to public safety challenges.” He then goes into greater detail on what he hopes he’s able to accomplish in his new position and states “As I learned during my two-and-a-half years as San Francisco’s elected district attorney, it takes far more than winning elections to achieve lasting progress.”
La Jolla: Hasta La Vista San Diego?
The high-end community of La Jolla, which is currently considered a community within the City of San Diego, is looking to go out on its own. According to Fox 5 news, Trace Wilson, who serves as the President of the Association for the City of La Jolla, said a separation would ultimately uplift the entire region. This isn’t the first time this proposal has been floated, but Wilson said this version has been in the works for nearly two years. However, the process to go it alone isn’t easy. In order to move forward, fiscal impact studies will need to be completed and 25% of La Jolla residents will need to support the idea. From there, votes will need to happen in the City of San Diego and the proposed City of La Jolla.
Not every state in the nation allows for the direct democracy process that Californians overwhelmingly support: initiatives, referendums, and recalls. In these cases, voters are asked to make decisions and vote without having to go through a “representative” to have their support or opposition counted. According to the latest survey by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), 79% say the referendum process is a “good thing.” Despite the overwhelming support, Californians are also ready for some reforms. For example, voters favor reigning in “special interests at the signature gathering stage” and support the creation of a citizens committee to review initiatives, hold public meetings, and make recommendations for the Secretary of State’s Voter Guide. Some of these reform efforts are in the works. You can read the details here and there are links to previous surveys..