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One Serious Problem Gone (Jewish Journal, February 1, 2012)

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The City Council's Shameless Pander (The Wide Angle, October 20, 2011)

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Stout Awards Honors Olney, Morrison and Mantle (The Wide Angle, October 20, 2011)

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Dance With Who Brung ‘Ya (Jewish Journal, September 28, 2011)

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Jury Got It Right in the ‘Irvine 11’ Case (The OC Register, September 23, 2011)

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'Irvine 11' Muslim student protesters found guilty on both charges (KPCC’s Airtalk, September 23, 2011)

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Voting Rights Act Outdated in Modern Day LA (The Daily News, August 21, 2011)

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When Did Carrying An ID Become A “White Thing”? (The OC Register, August 15, 2011)

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Bill Crafts Disneyland Version of History (The Sacramento Bee, July 14, 2011)

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An Education Game Changer (The Wide Angles, July 12 2011)

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A Flotilla of Fools (The Wide Angle Blog, July 8, 2011)

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Advocacy, the Academy and Mushy Thinking (The Wide Angle Blog, July 1, 2011)

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Tragic Fiction comes to Life (The Wide Angle, June 23, 2011)

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Coalition Sues to Keep Circumcision Ban Off Ballot (The Jewish Journal, June 22, 2011)

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The Circumcision Wars (The Wall Street Journal, June 3, 2011)

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Male Circumcision Ban Proposed in Santa Monica (The Jerusalem Post, May 25, 2011)

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Right Goal, Wrong Strategy (The Wide Angle Blog, May 11, 2011)

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The Bus Has Left the Station (City Journal, April 1, 2011)

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UCLA Leads the Pack (The Wide Angle Blog, March 29, 2011)

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Mixed Race Marriages and Our Attitudes (The Wide Angles, March 25, 2011)

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The Uncle Tom Accusation, Again (The Wide Angle Blog, March 18, 2011)

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A Forward Looking Decision in Civil Rights (The Wide Angle Blog, March 9, 2011)

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A Rising Wave of Anti-Semitism (Los Angeles Times, September 16, 2009)

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The Wide Angle, A Community Advocates Blog (July - September, 2009)

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Israeli Consul General, Palestinian Lobbyist Reach Mock Peace Agreement (Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, May 6, 2009)

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Critical Issues Seminar—Mock Peace Summit in conjunction with the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy and KPCC (KPCC's Airtalk, April 29, 2009)

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In Battle Between Teachers, LAUSD, It’s the Kids Who Lose (Daily News, March 6, 2009)

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L.A. at the Tipping Point (www.RonKaye.LA, February 13, 2009)

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Theatrics by the Teachers (Daily News, February 8, 2009)

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Chicago Vs. Los Angeles Their Supe Is Obama’s New Education Man. Our Supe is Nice But… (LA Weekly, January 23, 2009)

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Critical Issues Seminar—Millennials Remaking America with KPCC (KPCC's Airtalk, January 21, 2009)

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The Good News About Gaza in America (Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, January 21, 2009)

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What Oakland Should be Protesting (Los Angeles Times, January 19, 2009)

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Calling All Radical Reformers to LAUSD (Daily News, December 14, 2008)

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Attention Politicians: Pandering Won’t Fly (Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, November 12, 2008)

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Presentation to Ayaan Hirsi Ali of Ziegler Prize for Courage of Conviction (Japan American Theatre, October 22, 2008)

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The Problems and Potential of South L.A., A Dust-Up Exchange between Joe R. Hicks and Earl Ofari Hutchinson (Los Angeles Times, August 11-15, 2008)

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Find Fresh Ideas to Battle Hate, Letter to the Editor (Los Angeles Times, August 4, 2008)

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Fast Food Freeze is a Good Choice for South LA by Jan Perry, Los Angeles Times, August 4, 2008)

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Do You Want Poppycock With That? by Tim Rutten (Los Angeles Times, August 2, 2008)

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Fast-food Moratorium is Meddling (Los Angeles Times, July 31, 2008)

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Critical Issues Seminar on the Role of Race in the 2008 Elections in conjunction with the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy and KPCC (KPCC's Airtalk, June 27, 2008)

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Shalom is not Funny (Letter to the Editor, Los Angeles Downtown News, June 23, 2008)

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A Dangerous and Precedent Setting Intrusion (Jewish Journal, June 13, 2008)

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“Ziman and Lee” (Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, May 16, 2008

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We Don’t Need More Gabfests on Diversity (Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, May 2, 2008)

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Families Deserve More than a Moratorium (Los Angeles Times, Blowback, April 10, 2008)

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On Any Given Sunday, Rev. Wright is Wrong (www.theroot.com, March 26, 2008)

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Obama’s Minister (KPCC’s Airtalk, March 18, 2008)

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LA Gang Violence Spikes (Associated Press, March 6, 2008)

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Critical Issues Seminar on The State of the Black Civil Rights Movement Today in conjunction with the Los Angeles Public Library and KPCC (KPCC's Airtalk, February)

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Asking Too Much (Los Angeles Times, January 31, 2008)

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Playing a Frayed and Faded Race Card (Jewish Journal, January 18, 2008)

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Limiting Fast Food Outlets---Path to Better Health? (KCET’s Life & Times, December 20, 2007)

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The State Bar and Revealing Data on Minority Passage Rates (KCET’s Life & Times, December 18, 2007)

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Divisions in the Jewish Community—Talking About Jerusalem (KCET’s Life & Times, December 12, 2007)

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Do Los Angeles’ Anti-Gang Programs Work? (KCET’s Life & Times, December 6, 2007)

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Sharpton Leads Call for Federal Investigation of Hate Crimes (Los Angeles Times, November 17, 2007)

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Race Card Backlash (Los Angeles Times, October 30, 2007)

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Critical Issues Seminar on Charter Schools in conjunction with the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy and KPCC (KPCC's Airtalk, October 5, 2007)

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The Private Lives of Public Officials (KCET’s Life & Times, Kitchen Table Conversation, October 2, 2007)

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“Smart Growth” and Los Angeles Planning (KCET’s Life & Times, Kitchen Table Conversation, September 20, 2007)

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Civil Rights in Louisiana (To the Point, KCRW-FM, September 20, 2007)

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The Racial/Ethnic Educational Achievement Gap (KCET’s Life & Times, Kitchen Table Conversation, September 12, 2007)

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Board Vote Not Aimed At Students (Los Angeles Daily News, September 9, 2007)

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Healthcare Reform and Politics (KCET’s Life & Times, Kitchen Table Conversation, September 5, 2007)

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The Constitution and Sex Offenders (KCET’s Life & Times, Kitchen Table Conversation, August 30, 2007)

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‘Profiles in Courage’ ( Jewish Journal, August 24, 2007)

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Where’s the Fire? (Washington Post, August 2, 2007)

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Race and Politics in a Changing South LA (KCET’s Life & Times, Kitchen Table Conversation, June 20, 2007)

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Gangsta Rap and its Impact (KCET’s Life & Times, Kitchen Table Conversation, June 13, 2007)

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Mexican Americans and Drunk Driving (KCET’s Life & Times, Kitchen Table Conversation, June 6, 2007)

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Baseball and the Decline in African-American Players (KCET’s Life & Times, Kitchen Table Conversation, May 30, 2007)

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Los Angeles Unified’s New Board (KCET’s Life & Times, Kitchen Table Conversation, May 23, 2007)

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Hollywood and its Impact on Political Discourse (KCET’s Life & Times, Kitchen Table Conversation, May 16, 2007)

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New Times and the NAACP (KCET’s Life & Times, Kitchen Table Conversation, May 9, 2007)

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Downtown Homeless and the LAPD (KCET’s Life & Times, Kitchen Table Conversation, May 2, 2007)

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Immigration and the new Sanctuary Movement (KCET’s Life & Times, Kitchen Table Conversation, April 25, 2007)

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The Teachers’ Union and School Reform, (KCET’s Life & Times, Kitchen Table Conversation, April 18, 2007)

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Drop the Race Card (Washington Post, April 15, 2007)

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The Takeover of the Times (KCET’s Life & Times, Kitchen Table Conversation, April 11, 2007)

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The Governor’s Health Care Plan (KCET’s Life & Times, Kitchen Table Conversation, March 28, 2007)

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Racism in the LA Fire Department? (KCET’s Life & Times, Kitchen Table Conversation, March 14, 2007)

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Critical Issues Seminar in conjunction with the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy and KPCC (KPCC's Airtalk, February 26, 2007)

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“Has the Nanny State Gone Too Far?” (KCET’s Life & Times, Kitchen Table Conversation, February 28, 2007)

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“Justice Takes A Beating In Long Beach Racial Hatred Case” ( Jewish Journal, February 16, 2007)

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“Gang ‘Marshall Plan’ - Will It Work?” (KCET’s Life & Times’ Kitchen Table Conversation, February 14, 2007)

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“Living Wages or Dying Businesses?” (KCET’s Life & Times Kitchen Table Conversation, January 31, 2007)

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“Gangs of New York and LA” (Jewish Journal of Los Angeles, January 26, 2007)

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KCET’s Life & Times transcript of Kitchen-table Conversation regarding “The Future of the Middle Class in Los Angeles” (Life & Times, January 17, 2007)

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“Does Abe Foxman Have An Anti-Anti-Semite Problem?”, (New York Times Magazine, January 14, 2007)

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KCET’s Life & Times Transcript of Kitchen-table Conversation regarding “Military Recruitment on Campus---Right or Wrong?” January 3, 2007

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KCET’s Life & Times Transcript of Kitchen-table Conversation regarding “Is There An Assault on Christmas?” December 13, 2006

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Racism Claims a Stretch" (Daily News, December 1, 2006)

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KCET’s Life & Times Transcript of Kitchen-table Conversation regarding “What is Racism Today?” November 29, 2006

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"Racism in Entertainment", (KCRW's "Which Way LA?", November 27,2006)

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KCET’s Life & Times Transcript of Kitchen-table Conversation regarding “Border Fence---Boondogle or Barrier?” (life & Times, November 15, 2006)

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“LA’s Jews and Other Minorities---Oh How They Danced” (Los Angeles Jewish Journal, November 11, 2006)

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KCET's Life & Times Transcript of Kitchen-table Conversation regarding "Racial Profiling and a National ID Card" (Life & Times, October 18, 2006)

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Critical Issues Seminar in conjunction with the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy and KPCC (KPCC's Airtalk, October 9, 2006)

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KCET's Life & Times Transcript of Kitchen-table Conversation regarding "Immigration Debate Divides Conservatives" (Life & Times, October 5, 2006)

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KCET's Life & Times Transcript of Kitchen-table Conversation regarding "Drugs in Sports" (Life & Times, October 3, 2006)

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Award Dispute", KPCC's Airtalk, September 15,2006

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"Two Faced On Terrorism", Los Angeles Times, September 14, 2006

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Award to Islamic Leader Hathout Stirs Dispute", KCRW's Which Way LA?, September 14, 2006

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KCET's Life & Times Transcript of Kitchen-table Conversation regarding "California's High School Exit Exam?", ( Life & Times, August 23, 2006)

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"4 Los Angeles Latino Gang Members Convicted of Anti-Black Conspiracy" (Los Angeles Times, August 2, 2006)

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"Muslim Council's Bias All Too Clear" (Los Angeles Daily News, August 1, 2006)

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KCET's Life & Times transcript of Kitchen-table Conversation regarding "UCLA's Minority Admissions, (Life & Times, July 19, 2006)

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KCET's Life & Times Transcript of Kitchen-table Conversation regarding "Celebrity Causes--Ego or Altruism?", ( Life & Times, July 13, 2006)

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Did Anti-Semitism Take Root at the South Central Farm? (Jewish Journal, June 23,2006)

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KCET's Life & Times Transcript of Kitchen-table Conversations regarding Immigration and Employment (Life & Times, June 21,2006)

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KCET's Life & Times transcript of news segment on the South Los Angeles Farm controversy (Life & Times, June 6, 2006)

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KCET's Life & Times transcript of Kithcen-table Conversation regarding the Mayoral takeover of the Los Angeles Unified School District (Life & Times, June 6, 2006)

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Letter to the Editor regarding Race, Religion, and Demographic Change (Los Angeles Times, June 4, 2006)

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KCET's Life & Times transcript of Kitchen-table Conversation regarding Hybrid Cars and Energy Conservation (Life & Times, May 23, 2006)

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KCET's Life & Times transcript of Kitchen-table Conversation regarding Teen Sex (Life & Times, May 18, 2006)

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KCET's Life & Times transcript of Kitchen-table Conversation regarding Black Brown Tensions in LA (Life & Times, May 2, 2006)

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Debate education policy, not race (Los Angeles Times, April 22, 2006)

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KCET's Life & Times transcript of Kitchen-table Conversation regarding Fatherless Parenting (Life & Times, April 11, 2006)

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Border Protests Not Fight for Civil Rights (Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, April 7, 2006)

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KCET's Life & Times transcript of Kitchen-table Conversation regarding Black-Brown tensions (Life & Times, April 4, 2006)

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Civil Rights? How About Lawlessness? (Los Angeles Times, April 1, 2006)

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KCET's Life & Times transcript of Kitchen-table Conversation regarding Immigration (Life & Times, March 30, 2006)

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Differing Views of Race in L.A. Collide in 'Crash' (Los Angeles Times, March 2, 2006)

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Disputed Film Draws Muted Response (Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, February 10, 2006)

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Blacks vs. Latinos at Work (Wall Street Journal, January 24, 2006)

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The Munich Concern Is Us--Not Film (Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, January 20, 2006) with Dr. Michael Berenbaum

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NAACP Leader Turned Heads By Backing Tookie (Baltimore Sun, January 15, 2006) Joe Hicks quoted

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Munich Portrays Real World Issues (Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, December 23,2005), with Dr. Michael Berenbaum

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New Farrakhan Embodies Old Message (Los Angeles Jewish Journal, October 21, 2005)

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Levees Let Loose An Ugly Flood of Black Paranoia (Los Angeles Times, October 2, 2005)

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Lessons From the Ruins (LA Weekly, August 12, 2005)

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Let's Make A Diploma Mean Something (Los Angeles Times, August 27, 2005)

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Police Beating of Minister Disputed (Los Angeles Times, August 27, 2005)

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We Only Burned Ourselves, Baby (Los Angeles Times, August 7, 2005)

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Knee-jerk Activists and Their Tantrum Politics (Los Angeles Times, July 24, 2005)

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"Crash" Is No Picture of the Real Los Angeles (Los Angeles Daily News, June 24, 2005)

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Hit Film Paints Inaccurate Picture of Diverse LA (89.3 KPCC Perspectives, June 23, 2005)
Joe Hicks, the vice president of Community Advocates, says the hit movie Crash ...
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Jackson Trial Reaction Shows How Unimportant Race Is in US (Los Angeles Daily News, June 19, 2005)

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"Reel Life" (Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, June 10, 2005)

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Joe Hicks talks about the election results (89.3 KPCC AirTalk, May 18, 2005)
with KPCC's Larry Mantle and reporter Adolfo Guzman Lopez, Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, Raphe Sonenshein, Bill Rosendahl, Rick Caruso, Antonia Hernandez, , Joel Kotkin and D.J. Waldie.
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  David A. Lehrer
Joe R. Hicks
 
Latest Headlines
 

The Problems and Potential of South L.A., A Dust-Up Exchange between Joe R. Hicks and Earl Ofari Hutchinson (Los Angeles Times, August 11-15, 2008)


Serving South L.A.

Joe R. Hicks says L.A.'s black leadership is stuck in the past. Earl Ofari Hutchinson says government and businesses, not local leaders, have failed South L.A.


August 11, 2008

Today's question: Have residents of South L.A. and surrounding communities been well-served by their political leaders? Would Bernard Parks or Mark Ridley-Thomas better serve the area as an L.A. County supervisor? All week, Joe R. Hicks and Earl Ofari Hutchinson debate the problems and potential of South Los Angeles.

Quit the race-based politics

Point: Joe R. Hicks


I think it would be difficult to argue that South L.A. has been well-served by either its elected leadership or those who have claimed the mantle of community leadership.

The titanic and increasingly nasty struggle between City Councilman Bernard Parks and state Sen. Mark Ridley-Thomas for the 2nd District seat on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in many ways should be about recasting black political leadership. Instead, it has shaped up as a contest that is confined by the same old politics of racial representation.

There was a time in the history of the city when L.A.'s marginalized black community needed leadership that spoke for and acted in its interest. I grew up in South L.A., attended public schools there and knew that my life then was circumscribed by narrowly drawn lines of race. The Los Angeles Police Department was feared for its practices in my neighborhood. Today, the city's black population is in numerical decline, the LAPD is a diversified and reformed force, demographic change has redefined the city's neighborhoods, and racial discrimination can hardly be described as a major issue for the city's black residents.

Change began, in part, with the election in 1973 of Tom Bradley as mayor, and also in rhythm with the civil rights revolution that swept the country in the 1960s, which transformed the racial landscape in our nation. Although race has become an increasingly less problematic aspect of life for L.A.'s black residents and educational and employment opportunities have opened up, black leaders continue to function as if their job is to represent and speak for blacks as opposed to performing the actual job of legislating and representing the districts they were elected to lead -- regardless of the skin color of their constituents.

A classic example of this conundrum was the approach taken by much of the city's black leadership, elected as well as the omnipresent "community activists," who failed to serve the actual interests of the black, brown and poor South L.A. residents by arguing that Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital should remain open -- despite fatal flaws that facilitated the deaths of patients.

In large measure, the problem is that black leadership, elected or otherwise, functions as an adjunct of liberal, Democratic Party politics that continue to be wedded to high taxation, an expansion of government spending and the belief that government programs have a solution for all the problems of urban communities. They do not.

This approach was recently spotlighted by City Councilwoman Jan Perry's fast-food ban. The City Council approved this nanny-state moratorium, which for one year bans new fast-food restaurants in a 32-square-mile swath of South L.A.. This is supposedly due to disproportionate levels of obesity and diabetes there, yet the ban will only harm business and employment prospects while delivering a message that South L.A.'s residents can't make their own decisions about what to eat. All of the City Council members representing districts in and around South L.A. voted for this intrusive, insulting ban.

Truth be told, haven't new conditions made race-specific leadership largely irrelevant? In the 21st century, don't black Americans need a new narrative that isn't based on racial victimization and the alleged continuation of racial oppression? I argue that this is indeed the case, and it will require a new type of leadership -- one that is not based on skin color.

Joe R. Hicks is vice president of Community Advocates Inc. and a KFI-AM (640) talk-show host. He is a former executive director of the Los Angeles City Human Relations Commission and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Black leaders aren't the problem

Counterpoint: Earl Ofari Hutchinson


Joe, you're as predictable as the sun rising in the Sahara in July. I can always count on you to make the cheapest of cheap arguments when it comes to the alleged failing of black elected officials and activists to solve the chronic problems that plague South L.A. Your hit against them is always the same: They are Democrats, they have a trained constituency, they are generally outspoken on issues of poverty and police abuse and they believe that government can and should play a major role in providing services to South L.A.'s poor.

Joe, the hard reality is that the towering problems of gang violence, miserably failing public schools, Great Depression-level unemployment among young black males, the lack of affordable housing and the virtually nonexistent medical facilities of South L.A. have nothing to do with lousy, self-serving and ego-driven black leaders. They exist because of the decades of neglect by government agencies and private industry. Sixteen years after the 1992 riots, South L.A. does not have a single full-service public hospital. It has only a handful of quality markets and retail stores, a smattering of banks and a few new low- to moderate-income housing projects.

The fact that government agencies and the corporate sector reneged on their wildly inflated and politically expedient promises to remake South L.A. following the riots can't be blamed on black elected officials and community activists. They have repeatedly bumped their heads against the hardened and racially insensitive bureaucratic wall in an effort to push government to spend more on new programs. They have tried to persuade major businesses to shed their racial paranoia about the area and set up shop in South L.A.

As for seasoned black pols Ridley-Thomas and Parks, I do agree that voters must put their feet to the fire at every turn. But that fire is to battle for more public and private resources to dent the poverty and neglect that plagues South L.A.

Joe, that's far different than your reflexive smackdown of them for failing to wave a magic wand and make these problems instantly disappear. Parks and Ridley-Thomas know there will be plenty of eyes watching the one who finally ends up in outgoing Supervisor Yvonne B. Burke's seat. I have not endorsed either candidate. They would both bring qualities to the Board of Supervisors that would help South L.A. They would fight for more business investment and spending on job programs, attack soaring school-dropout rates, improve police-minority relations and, yes, push for the reopening of King-Harbor Hospital as a full-service facility -- which, by the way, this "community activist" proudly fought not to keep open as an inferior, substandard killing machine, but as a quality hospital.

Ridley-Thomas and Parks won't get a pass from my organization and other community leaders if they fail to fight as hard as they can for the interests of South L.A. In the end, they'll be judged on how intense and relentless they wage that fight. But of course, Joe, that won't be enough for you. They're black leaders, making them failures in your eyes.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His new book is "The Ethnic Presidency: How Race Decides the Race to the White House."

 

From the Los Angeles Times

A kinder, gentler LAPD?

Earl Ofari Hutchinson says the LAPD and other police forces still have a long way to go. Joe R. Hicks says gangs, not police, are the true scourge of South L.A.


August 12, 2008

Today's question: Have relations between the LAPD and South L.A. residents improved? What about other cities and their police departments? Previously, Hutchinson and Hicks debated the quality of South L.A.'s political leadership.

Unfinished business

Point: Earl Ofari Hutchinson


In the past, the Los Angeles Police Department had a justifiable national reputation as the poster department for murderous and abusive treatment of African Americans and Latinos. During its big, bad years, the LAPD was in every sense an occupying army in South L.A. Officers went where they pleased, did what they pleased and cracked heads when they pleased, all with the blind-eye acquiescence of city officials. Two massive riots, the Rodney King beating, the Rampart scandal, the Christopher and Webster commissions and a federal consent decree all made it obvious that the LAPD had to change.

It has to an extent, and former LAPD Chief Bernard Parks and present Chief William Bratton deserve much credit for shaving off some of the worst of the department's practices. But that doesn't let the LAPD -- and with it the L.A. County Sheriff's Department and the Inglewood Police Department -- completely off the hook. All three departments patrol a big chunk of South L.A.

According to a statewide recent report, complaints of police abuse are at a near record high. In almost all cases, the complaints come from black or Latino residents. The Wild West-style shoot-up of an unarmed car-chase suspect by sheriff's deputies in Compton in 2005 and the Inglewood Police Department's recent killings of 19-year-old Michael Byoune and postal worker Kevin Wicks still show that far too many officers in South L.A. and surrounding areas are still too quick on the draw. In almost all cases, their victims are black or Latino.

The oft-used excuse for the tough policing, crime sweeps and even the disrespect many residents of South L.A. say the police routinely treat them with is the war against gangs. This is part fact and part self-serving myth. There is a serious gang problem, and many young people are killed by gang members. But that's no excuse for police breaking the law to uphold the law. That's no justification for police making few distinctions between hard-core gang members and young folk dressed in hip-hop attire who have committed no crimes and have no gang affiliation. It's certainly no justification for abusive practices.

Bratton, Parks and other big-city police chiefs understand one thing: There's no single issue that's a bigger minefield in officer-minority tensions than unchecked and abusive police practices. When officers abuse their authority and trigger toothless investigations that inevitably result in complete exoneration, that sends the horrible message that police have an open license to beat, maim and even kill with absolutely no fear of punishment. Worse, it fatally poisons relations between police and minorities.

LAPD officials have worked hard to change that. But there is still much more work to be done before residents of South L.A. are totally convinced that the LAPD is really the kinder, gentler and protective police department that residents have always wanted.

What's really eating South L.A.

Counterpoint: Joe R. Hicks


Earl, at least you and I agree on one thing: Abusing law-enforcement authority undermines the ability of police departments to develop something critical to maintaining law and order in all communities, including South Los Angeles.

I have publicly questioned the shootings of Byoune and Wicks and have called for a comprehensive investigation of these incidents. However, what has all too often been the predictable course of action is for community activists, craving relevance and driven by the cheap lure and sensationalism of easily accessed TV camera crews, to rail against the police before any facts emerge -- facts that may be inconvenient to some, but ones that matter. The knee-jerk reaction in nearly every such case is to reach back into history to refer to the LAPD (or other local police agencies) as jackbooted oppressors.

We all know the history of the LAPD and its historic record of abusive behavior toward minority residents. But even you admit that positive changes have occurred within the LAPD (as well as other large urban police departments nationally), especially regarding the use of force. Before Bratton's tenure, the LAPD had back-to-back black chiefs in Willie Williams and Parks and today has more Latino officers than white officers. Combined with the more than 1,100 black officers and a growing number of female officers, the LAPD is a force of diverse racial and ethnic origins. Yet, it is still often referred to by activists as a racist force. Go figure. Bratton, the current chief, is a veteran of urban policing and has bent over backward to create the best possible relations with black elected officials, community leaders and clergy.

Something to which you give only the briefest mention is the extent to which crime and violence is an over-arching characteristic of South L.A.'s neighborhoods -- something that often forces violent confrontations with law enforcement. Is there any real disagreement over whether the police or dirt-bag gang members are the problem?

Last month, 8-year-old Jasmine Sanders was killed while playing behind an iron gate by a stairwell of her apartment building in South L.A. The suspected killer is believed to be a gang member who was shooting at rivals. This is an all too familiar story. In 2003, black victims made up 39% of the city's 505 homicides, and 36% of the murder suspects were black -- although only 11% of the city's population is black. Homicide detectives working in South L.A. see caseloads often 40% above their counterparts in other parts of the city. Witnesses are hard to come by because the penalty for "snitching" is often death.

One response from local elected officials, headed by City Council members Janice Hahn, Tony Cardenas, Jan Perry and (surprisingly) Parks was a toothless call last April for a 40-hour moratorium on gang violence, something the thugs quickly violated -- to the surprise of almost no one.

Much progress has been made since the days when Rodney King was beaten by a circle of LAPD officers. Let's not give this such short shrift.

Finally, Earl, do not confuse predictability with consistency. Calling my critique of L.A.'s black leadership on Monday a "smackdown" is a cheap -- and false -- shot. Where sound leadership is exhibited, I support and praise it. Any failure of black leadership is not based on some cultural paralysis; in my view, it is based on flawed policy and practices that all too often are derived from identity politics.

 

From the Los Angeles Times

Dust-Up

Seizing South L.A.

Joe R. Hicks says using eminent domain to benefit private developers is an abuse of government power. Earl Ofari Hutchinson says eminent domain, if exercised fairly, can be a useful tool to improve South L.A.'s economy.


August 13, 2008


Today's question: How extensively -- if at all -- should eminent domain be used to boost South L.A.'s economy? Previously, Hicks and Hutchinson debated police-minority relations and the quality of South L.A.’s political leadership.

Government reaching too far

Point: Joe R. Hicks


I am a self-described political conservative who has strong reservations about the intrusion of government on the lives of ordinary citizens and the resultant restrictions on individual liberty. Consequently, I do not favor the wholesale use of eminent domain to resurrect the economy of South Los Angeles.

My fears over the ability of government to abuse eminent domain increased considerably after the 2005 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Kelo vs. City of New London, which upheld government's ability to seize private property for economic development purposes. Here, a small group of private-property owners challenged the ability of New London, Conn., to take their homes and businesses just to redevelop the land to generate higher tax revenues. They lost in another of the then-usual 5-4 decisions that frustrated conservatives prior to the appointments of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. to the Supreme Court.

Growing up as I did in South L.A., I recognize the desperate need to revitalize the economy of a part of the city to which I remain attached. As a youth, I can remember the Goodyear rubber plant that used to be there along with the General Motors assembly plant close by in South Gate. There was a steel mill in Huntington Park that used to employ hundreds of South L.A. residents, mostly men, who raised families and paid mortgages. As you have pointed out, Earl, since the riots that devastated South L.A. in 1965 and 1992, the economy of this area has languished. Prior to these two bloody episodes in L.A. history, shopping, banking and living was far easier than it is today for South L.A. residents. I'll leave the effects of illegal immigration on South L.A. to a future Hicks-Hutchinson Dust-Up.

The practice of eminent domain has been abused throughout history. When many of the nation's highways and railroads were built, landowners were sometimes told that their properties were condemned, given a few dollars and told to go to court if they wanted "just compensation." Eminent domain has also been utilized to "clear blighted areas," as was the case in Washington during the 1950s. The Supreme Court has upheld this use of eminent domain, and certainly the U.S. Constitution and most state constitutions allow government to take private property, with compensation, for a "public use." However, courts over the years have allowed cities and towns to stretch the definition to include economic-development projects on the principle that one private owner can create more jobs and tax revenue than another.

My fear is that this view of eminent domain can run rough-shod over poor people in places like South L.A. who have little access to the kind of legal representation needed to fight City Hall. I oppose the large-scale use of eminent domain in South L.A. as a redevelopment device. Let's just do the heavy lifting in that part of the city (clean out the gangs, allow increased competition that would force public schools to do their jobs and reduce crime and violence) to make it more business-friendly and allow market forces to determine the pace and scope of development.

Eminent domain done right

Counterpoint: Earl Ofari Hutchinson


Here's a surprise: I actually agree with you, Joe, that state and local governments can create much mischief with their rampant, unregulated and unaccountable use of eminent domain. They can trample on the rights of home and business owners in poor communities by arbitrarily snatching their property without approval and not paying fair compensation. They can badly butcher, mangle and distort the constitutional provision that requires eminent domain to be used solely for the "public good" by turning seized property into a giveaway to private developers. More often than not, there is no assurance, let alone accounting on the developer's part, that local government will benefit from increased tax revenues or that poor communities will be revitalized. The misuse of eminent domain deepens the suspicion on the part of the poor that government works to enrich corporations and developers at their expense.

The Supreme Court's Kelo ruling in 2005 did nothing to alleviate those fears. Nor did it do much to protect poor communities from those potential abuses.

Having said that, you and I part company, Joe. I am not a self-described conservative ideologue; I am a pragmatist. You say that eminent domain has little, if any, value for poor communities. Nothing could be further from the truth. Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy made clear in his Kelo opinion that any exercise of eminent domain for economic development must have primarily a public purpose rather than a merely incidental one.

There are countless examples in which local and state governments have used eminent domain for the public good in poor neighborhoods by promoting small business development, creating jobs, building schools, improving transportation and providing affordable and senior citizen housing. The creative and fair use of eminent domain has been used to build moderate-income housing on Chicago's South Side and in Bedford-Stuyvesant in New York. Eminent domain enabled new schools to be built in West Philadelphia and helped create a mix of retail stores, low- to moderate-income housing and a light manufacturing center in Boston's Roxbury District. Civil rights leaders, community activists, business leaders, educators and housing and land-use planners have hailed such public-private partnerships for providing opportunity and hope in mostly poor black and Latino communities.

The implementation of new light-rail and redevelopment projects and the building of affordable housing could be torpedoed by a flat ban on the use of eminent domain. The key to making eminent domain work the right way is for government to demonstrate that it will really benefit the public. State and local governments must demonstrate that they will deal in good faith with the owners of property targeted for seizure prior to exercising eminent-domain power. They must provide a detailed cost-benefit analysis, a comprehensive land-use plan, public hearings with full community input and iron-clad safeguards that fair market value will be paid for any and all properties taken.

Joe, you are right: Protecting private property is important. But it's just as important that governments have all the tools they need to facilitate economic development in poor communities. Eminent domain is one of those tools. Even self-described conservatives shouldn't object to the legitimate public use of that tool.


Dust-Up

Defusing black-brown tension

Earl Ofari Hutchinson says elected officials haven't done enough to stop racially motivated violence. Joe R. Hicks says our leaders must address illegal immigration to decrease black-brown tension.


August 14, 2008

Today's question: Is black-brown tension in L.A. something to be concerned about? Previously, Hutchinson and Hicks debated the use of eminent domain to improve commerce, police-minority relations and the quality of South L.A.’s political leadership.

Silence from black and Latino officials

Point: Earl Ofari Hutchinson


The question is not whether black and brown tensions in L.A. are something to be concerned about, but what can be done to reduce the tensions. A recent Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission report found that hate crimes have jumped to a five-year high in the county. The bulk of the crimes were committed by blacks and Latinos and against each other -- a loud alarm that racial tensions in some parts of L.A. County have escalated to a dangerous point.

The reasons for the tension and violence are well known. They are competition for a scarce supply of low-end jobs and school and health services, jitters over illegal immigration, gang turf battles, language differences and, yes, racial and cultural bigotry on both sides. High on that list is the abysmal and shameful failure of black and especially Latino elected officials to leap to the front line in the fight to promote black-Latino harmony.

I've lost count of how many times I have implored Latino elected officials, organizations such as the Mexican American Political Assn. and La Raza Unida and Latino church and business leaders to dialogue at our weekly Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable. I've lost count of how many times I and a small but gutsy band of determined black activists have stood in front of schools and at street corners after violent clashes between blacks and Latinos, calling for unity and dialogue. And every time, I have wondered why Latino leaders weren't standing with us. I've lost count of the times I have begged Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to speak out on black and brown violence and jump-start programs that provide resources for job creation and gang violence prevention programs. The response has been a deafening silence.

I and others have made the same pitch to black elected officials and religious leaders -- and have gotten the same deafening silence. I even challenge you, Joe, to drop your stand-above-the-fray posture that belittles our efforts at establishing community peace and to roll up your sleeves, get down in the trenches and help us. The silence from black and Latino elected officials and mainstream leaders has cost lives, deepened suspicion and ill will and further soured black-brown relations in some neighborhoods.

The picture, however, is not total doom and gloom. Following brawls between black and Latino students at Jefferson, Locke and a handful of other high schools, black and Latino parents, teachers and administrators organized rallies, marches and speak-ins on the violence, causing some tension to be loosened. But this was a people-to-people effort rather than one led by elected officials.

Los Angeles police Chief William Bratton has recently admitted the possibility of racial motives in some of the black and Latino violence, while L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca has screamed loudly that such violence is a potentially explosive problem. They are the rare exceptions among public officials. The question, Joe, is this: Will you join me in challenging others to speak out?

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His new book is "The Ethnic Presidency: How Race Decides the Race to the White House."

The illegal immigration elephant

Counterpoint: Joe R. Hicks


This is an area of discussion, Earl, where the differences between you and I tend to narrow somewhat -- but not completely.

As you say, the real issue isn't that there is a problem but rather what can be done about it. You seem frustrated that Latino elected officials and community leaders have ignored your calls to engage in "dialogue." Indeed, their ambivalence on this issue has been shameful. But as someone who led this city's Human Relations Commission (separate from the county's panel), I've lost track of the time we spent constructing "dialogues" and "conflict resolution" sessions. Guess what? As much research has shown, they simply don't work.

In fact, all of the so-called multicultural approaches that had been adopted by government, public schools and even the corporate world have had an adverse effect. Under intense pressure from people like you, Earl, the more race and cultural pride have been emphasized and "differences" bizarrely celebrated, the more conflict has become an expression of that racial pride. South L.A.'s public schools are a prime example; they've seen several nasty brawls between black and brown students, all of whom seemed intensely proud of their respective identities. Similarly, jails are hotbeds for racial conflict, and candidates for the Los Angeles Board of Education have run campaigns with the message that the board ought to "look like the majority of students."

Calls for "dialogue," no matter how well-intended, are simply not what's needed. I quickly realized this during my lengthy efforts in places such as Harbor Gateway, Hawaiian Gardens, Pacoima and Venice, among other places where the bullets have been flying. The No. 1 issue is the omnipresence of gang members, which makes everyday life a dicey proposition. It is an area in which law enforcement has a critically important role to play.

But there is another issue that you quickly pass over -- the effect of illegal immigration. Harvard economist George Borjas estimates that illegal immigration accounted for a 7.4% decrease in the employment rate of unskilled black males from 1980 to 2000. The local effect has been stunning. The number of blacks employed as janitors in L.A. went from roughly 2,500 in the late 1970s to only 600 by 1985. While traditional black leadership has been largely silent on this issue, this topic has been the buzz of every black barbershop in South L.A. for more than a generation. Illegal immigration combined with rampant gang violence has resulted in "black flight." L.A.'s black population has declined by about 123,000 in the last 15 years, while the Latino population, propelled by illegal entry and a high birth rate, has grown by more than 450,000.

Although I won't join you in the call for dialogues and street-corner prayers, I will continue to be a voice for reason and an advocate for appropriate actions to deal with black-brown tensions. Toward that end, we must enforce workplace sanctions against illegal labor; end protections for illegal immigrants; make the eradication of gangs a city budgetary priority by making sure law enforcement has the tools and personnel to do the job; and talk openly and honestly about the role of race in L.A.'s gang warfare, which has taken all too many young lives. One such life was that of 17-year-old Jamiel Shaw II, killed by someone who shouldn't have even been here.

 

Dust-Up

If money weren't an issue

Joe Hicks says South L.A. would benefit from more competition in business and education. Earl Ofari Hutchinson says government should play an active role in fixing struggling neighborhoods.


August 15, 2008

Today's question: Imagine local leaders had all the resources they need to fix South L.A.'s problems. What should be their priorities? Previously, Hicks and Hutchinson debated black-brown violence, the use of eminent domain to improve commerce, police-minority relations and the quality of South L.A.’s political leadership.

What government can do — and what it shouldn't

Point: Joe R. Hicks


The usual argument from elected and community leaders is that they need more resources or that there is a need for "investment" in South L.A. communities. Of course, it is not the role of government to "invest" tax revenues but to budget tax dollars in ways that are appropriate to governmental mandates. What has stood in the way of dealing with the problems of South L.A. is not a lack of money but the belief that government's role is to act as some sort of nanny that has a tax-funded program for every ailment.

What South L.A. needs is leadership that understands the proper role of government and what ought to be left to the private sector. The pressing problems of economic malaise, joblessness, poverty, violence and failing public schools and the challenges of changing demographics are on my short list of issues needing resolution. Let's examine some of these as space allows.

Joblessness: Other than employing workers in its agencies, government does not "create" jobs. And although it can increase employment through contracts with private agencies, the notion that government can "invest" in jobs is nonsense. What government can do is create a better employment atmosphere by cutting red tape and regulations that make it difficult for businesses (small, medium or large) to expand or initiate operations. The stifling bureaucracy of City Hall works against the interests of South L.A.'s residents, who need a business climate that is open to any legitimate job-creating initiative.

Education: If employment opportunities increased, so would the need for an educated workforce that can understand and carry out the demands of its employers. With an embarrassingly high dropout rate and students who struggle to pass high school exit exams that are based on eighth-grade expectations, the problem is obvious. Los Angeles Unified School District officials clamor for increased funds, yet, as stunning examples across the nation show, more spending per pupil does not translate into higher-performing students. What's needed is increased competition through vouchers and charter schools that would force the district to perform at higher levels -- or shut down.

Public safety: More resources are needed to increase the number of men and women in uniform serving in local law enforcement. As far as large metropolises go, Los Angeles is the most under-policed city in the nation. Budgetary priorities must be shifted to allow for more sworn officers. Crime and violence are concerns in all parts of L.A., but it is an especially pressing problem for South L.A. residents, who are besieged by gangs and random criminal violence. To help pay for more police, city leaders should dissolve outmoded departments and commissions.

Demographic change: There can be no legitimate racial or ethnic claims on any part of Los Angeles. Today's South L.A. has been reshaped by new patterns of immigration, an age-old American story. But local leaders, understanding that immigration is primarily the responsibility of the federal government, should not encourage lawbreaking by way of sanctuary policies that have conspired to push down entry-level wages and overburdened the taxpayers' ability to provide education and healthcare services.

It is reasonable to ask if our leaders who claim to act in the interests of South L.A. have addressed these priorities. I argue that they have not, and have instead focused on items that are counterproductive -- such as a day-laborer ordinance for big-box retailers, a ban on new fast-food restaurants and a symbolic 40-hour moratorium on gang violence.

Don't dismiss government

Counterpoint: Earl Ofari Hutchinson


Joe, you pretty much get it right that high joblessness (especially among young black males), terribly failing public schools, gang violence and ethnic population shifts have wreaked much havoc on the quality of life in South Los Angeles. But, as always, we part company on how these problems should be solved. You dismiss any active role for government in solving South L.A.'s social and economic problems, and, by extension, you infer that government has done much to exacerbate those problems.

You have it backward. The reason the chronic problems you ticked off plague South L.A. -- and indeed, many other major urban neighborhoods in America -- is precisely because of a tattered legacy of neglect and broken promises in the form of a massive outflow of tax dollars, reduced services and halfhearted initiatives by government and private industry.

Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital is one glaring example. The L.A. County Board of Supervisors and the federal government did not provide adequate funding, training, staffing and management to the hospital. The result was predictable: The quality of care, level of staffing and competence of personnel sank. I'll list a few other problems.

Joblessness: Despite your erroneous contention, Joe, government can create jobs -- lots of jobs. It does this through providing tax breaks and incentives to create and expand industrial parks; guaranteeing federal Small Business Administration loans; providing subsidies to private employers that are directly earmarked for job-training and hiring programs; creating public-private partnerships with retailers and developers; and directly funding healthcare services, nutrition programs and after-school and recreation programs.

Education: The evidence is sketchy that vouchers and charter schools -- the pet education scheme of Joe and other conservatives -- are a solution to fixing public schools. They aren't. Thousands of needy students have no access to the handful of vouchers and compact, micromanaged charter schools that already exist. Those students remain in overcrowded, ill-equipped and poorly administered public schools. The answer, then, is to spend more to reduce classroom size, hire and train teachers, provide up-to-date textbooks and computers and physically maintain and upgrade facilities. Studies have repeatedly shown that schools will all the resources they need are crucial in bumping up achievement scores and curbing the astronomically high inner-city school dropout rates.

Gang violence: It is undeniably a major problem in South L.A. But studies have repeatedly shown that gang violence and high crime stem not from lousy homes, lousy families or lousy genes, but rather from lousy employment opportunities, lousy educational opportunities and a lousy number of recreational facilities. Joe, it will take large-scale government resources and initiatives to meet those needs.

The chronic problems of South L.A. won't be fixed by engaging in empty political pandering on scapegoat issues such as immigration or by dumping more money into an already bloated police/criminal-justice complex. The problems won't be solved by taking potshots at sound, proactive initiatives such as limiting the number of big-box retailers that provide poor benefits and pay or fast-food joints that serve unhealthy food, or by denigrating heart-felt, proactive actions such as anti-murder violence moratoriums.

I would use any and every resource I had to implement creative, intelligent initiatives to combat the problems of joblessness, faulty education, gang violence and inadequate healthcare. A failure to use resources -- especially public resources -- that way simply promotes the same old delusion that these problems can be solved by your Band-Aid solutions, Joe.

 

 
   
 
 
   

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