On November's ballot, tucked among the local measures affecting only Los Angeles, is curious Measure R, a plan by the Los Angeles City Council to provide each of the 15 council members an extra $570,000 in pay.
With the Democratic primary victories of Debra Bowen for secretary of state, and Mike Feuer and Alex Padilla for State Legislature, Los Angeles -- of all places -- is playing a role in whether Sacramento becomes a less incendiary and gridlocked place.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's recent handling of protests by pro-illegal immigration crowds showed a man awkwardly straddling opposing sides of a political chasm that divides Angelenos who have all supported him. And his lack of deftness leaves doubt about whether he can bridge this gap as well as whether he can keep some of his most fundamental and important promises.
Can Los Angeles' schools be fixed by a man who loves to be loved, who with his union allies opposed education reform and whose wife is an educator with no presence in the fight for reform?
This is not democracy. The California legislature stole our democracy while we slept. All districts in California are now rigged this way. That's why, in California in the fall of 2004, not a single state legislative or Congressional seat changed party hands.
With newly elected Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa making school reform one of his key agenda items, and with education dominating the budget struggle in Sacramento, it's worth examining why the education debate usually centers on an emotional struggle over cash rather than actual reform.
In his speech to the National Education Association (NEA) a few days ago, Villaraigosa said, "Don't think that this effort to make our schools the best that they can be will come cheap. That's ludicrous, that's snake-oil salesmanship."
He's espousing a view long held by unions, including the NEA and the California Teachers Association. But the truth is that dramatically increasing classroom funding in the United States has proved surprisingly irrelevant.
When Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger reformed California's disastrous workers' comp system in 2004, I was bothered by the effort expended by Sacramento's elected Democrats to fight reform in order to protect their lawyer allies who were gaming the badly broken system.
Although the Democrats controlled the state legislature and governorship for five years, they adopted only tepid reform under Gov. Gray Davis, aimed largely at reducing doctor and drug costs -- not the main causes of the worst workers' comp crisis in America.
The race for Los Angeles mayor features two consummate insiders who are close to one another ideologically and disagree on few issues, posing a question: With Sacramento politics offering a clash of political tectonic plates and big, competing reforms, why is the mayor's race lacking in big ideas?
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is picking a fight with longtime powers in Sacramento instead of trying to be everybody's pal, raising a question of whether he can bring voters along with him who are torn by their desire for good government but angry over mounting partisanship.
Voters, according to a recent Mervin Field California Poll, are open to the governor's four reform ideas heading into a probable November special election, even though voters don't personally approve of Schwarzenegger as much as they once did.
With the candidates for Los Angeles mayor increasingly invoking the name of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on the campaign trail, a buzz is breaking out over whether Schwarzenegger will endorse any of the challengers to Mayor James Hahn.
Political analysts agree on one thing: The Nov. 2, 2004, California congressional and state legislative elections were the most anti-demo-cratic and frightening results yet of the so-called "safe seats" scheme, in which the winners are known long before Election Day.
Sam Kermanian is one of many Jewish Republicans in Los Angeles reaching out to immigrants on behalf of President Bush, yet perhaps the biggest news of all is that such committed immigrant activists in the Republican Party are no longer red hot news.
Kermanian, an Iranian Jewish immigrant, is still rawly aware of how people's lives in his native Iran are under the strict control of Islamist radicals.
About a year before Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a major reform of California's disastrous workers' comp system, the same basic reforms were fought and eventually killed by elected Democrats trying to protect lawyers who gamed our broken system but gave heavily to Democratic campaign coffers.
It's spring in Sacramento, and that means the Capitol steps are jammed again with protesters against government cuts -- the first protesters to show up in mid-March were thousands of community college students demanding that California taxpayers continue paying the nation's steepest college subsidies per student.
One year ago, Gov. Gray Davis was calling for across-the-board cuts in every state department except the prisons, mass layoffs of workers and huge bites out of most programs for the disadvantaged.
The radical outsiders in Sacramento are the moderates and pragmatists, a strange truth that was brought home dramatically this month, when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Legislature compromised on a ballot measure to refinance the state's huge debt and hem in future
spending excesses by the Legislature.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's choice of former Mayor Richard Riordan for state education secretary has education experts worried that despite his reputation as a pro-skills, pro-reform guy, Riordan's not all he's cracked up to be. These experts see Riordan as the power broker who spent far more time trying to fix school construction than classroom instruction -- the source of California's long education nightmare. Indeed, among a throng of educators who see California's new, intensive skills-based instruction producing miracles in grade schools, where achievement is up significantly after a generation of downward spiraling, Riordan might be stunned to hear that he is Worry No. 1.