Last updateFri, 29 May 2015 4pm

LOS ANGELES Saturday, May 30th 2015 11:28


  • WHO WE ARE-Earlier this month, I arrived in San Diego following five days of driving across the country from Wisconsin. I pulled into my friend’s driveway, brought my things inside, and went back to my car to park it on the street. Almost immediately, a cop’s siren and flashing lights went off. I’d left my license in my friend’s apartment, so I…
  • The Hunting Ground: Human Truths of Campus Rape

    Susan Rose
    CALIFORNIA MOVES AGAINST RAPE-On May 13, California moved aggressively against rape on campuses, issuing a directive to all state colleges to “notify authorities when a sexual assault is reported.” Attorney General Kamala Harris and U.C. president Janet Napolitano jointly issued a set of guidelines to encourage collaboration between campuses and…
  • Santa Barbara Spill Underscores Why We Can’t Allow Arctic Oil Drilling

    Ryan Schleeter
    PLANET WATCH-Last week, a major oil spill in Santa Barbara County made headlines after a ruptured pipeline dumped as much as 105,000 gallons of crude oil on the California coastline. The spill stretches across roughly nine miles of state beach with tens of thousands of gallons entering marine protected areas in the Pacific Ocean. The spill took…
  • How Will David Ryu Honor His Campaign Pledges?

    Jack Humphreville
    LA WATCHDOG-In a race that focused on local issues, outsider David Ryu (photo) outpolled City Hall insider Carolyn Ramsay by almost 10 points (54.8% to 45.2%), representing a margin of over 2,300 votes. Yet, since less than 16% of Council District 4’s 153,000 registered voters bothered to vote, Ryu was supported by less than 9% of those eligible…
  • $15 an Hour: If This Ain't Socialism, Then What SHOULD We Call It?

    Ken Alpern
    CONSIDER THIS-Funny how when you accuse, or even suggest, to a liberal (or is it "progressive"? or is it "reformist"?) that he/she is socialist, they get all bent out of shape. One reason that Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont is so respected is that he says it like it is--he's a sincere socialist who means what he says and says what he means. One…
  • California Dreaming: Booms to Busts, the Optimists are Still Searching for the Gold

    James Preston Allen
    AT LENGTH-At a meeting I attended recently with the management of the Port of Los Angeles, a civic leader voiced his enduring optimism for a bright and successful future. I gave the unsolicited reply, “an ounce of skepticism is worth a pound of optimism.” Others at the meeting said aghast, “Oh, no. How would anything ever get accomplished?”…
  • LA’s Homeless: Not a lost Cause

    Denyse Selesnick
    MY TURN-I was both surprised and rather pleased about the reaction to my recent article. Apparently, many people in Los Angeles are realizing that the Homelessness isn’t just City Hall’s challenge but affects all of our neighborhoods. Even more important, it doesn’t just affect us economically but impacts our sense of humanity and fair play. Yes,…
  • Senate Race: Choosing Kamala or Loretta Comes Down to North vs. South … California

    Joe Mathews
    CONNECTING CALIFORNIA-Are you a Kamala or a Loretta? Attorney General Kamala Harris and Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez—the two leading candidates for the state’s open U.S. Senate seat next year—confront Californians with a choice. But it’s not a choice about competing policies or political visions. Californians don’t have political arguments about…
  • From Tragedy, Healing

    Mike Newhouse
    GUEST WORDS-In the days after Brendon Glenn was killed, in the heart of Venice, I was starkly reminded of one of our community's biggest challenges. But, my perspective may surprise you. What first came to mind was not how we police. It was not about racism or homelessness. It was not about mental illness, or the insidious nature of drug or…


  • Can Marijuana Really Kill Cancer?

    Christian Cristiano
    Marijuana enthusiasts have been speculating for years that pot can actually combat certain types of cancer, but it wasn’t until recently that…
  • Study: The Best Way to Quit Smoking … Bet On It

    Francie Diep
    WELLNESS-Oftentimes, money speaks louder than words. Apparently, that aphorism applies to cigarettes too. A new study finds that money incentives…
  • Can Strawberries Help Fight Cancer?

    Christian Cristiano
    WELLNESS-There have been a number of studies over the years that could show evidence of strawberries fighting off cancer. Tong Chen lead a study…

Alert! World’s 10 most dangerous animals

Smashing good job. World’s leaders beating each other up

Trevor Noah warming up for takeover of the Daily Show









Twenty Years After the Riots: An Expo Line

ALPERN AT LARGE - I’ve no doubt that some readers will consider me hopelessly naïve, and others will consider me naively hopeful, when I suggest that one of the best ways for the City of LA to get past the 20th anniversary of its divisive riots is to focus on the more cohesive promise that we have with the new Exposition Light Rail Line, or “Expo Line”.  
Certainly the riots, which began over racial animus after the police acquittals surrounding the Rodney King beating, helped prevent both the Expo Line and Wilshire Subway from being built for at least 10-20 years.  Having fought for the Expo Line over the past decade as one of the louder Westside grassroots voices (and as one of the most economically- and politically-conservative advocates), I witnessed the following:

1) The myriad individuals (who were clearly in the voting minority, as Measure R revealed) from the Westside who kept asking, “Who will be using this rail line?  Who do we want to let into this neighborhood?”  As if that all-too-obvious “code” would be ignored.

2)  The small but loud number of individuals (who were also in the voting minority) from the Mid-City who raised all sorts of cries of racial double-standards, and who made all sorts of divisive statements references of “Westside interlopers” and other epithets.  As if that all-too-obvious “code” would be ignored as well.

3) The politicians of all racial stripes and political backgrounds who fought the ordinary Joes and Janes who wanted this no-brainer of a rail line, and were willing to exploit racial divisions in our “open-minded City of the Angels” to both delay and confound its construction.  As if the rest of us were being fooled into ignoring the greater need to come together and to provide an alternative to the nightmarish I-10 freeway from Santa Monica to Downtown LA.

4) The developers who did and still do want to kill any benefit of this Expo Line by exploiting the daylights over convenient schticks of “affordable housing” and “transit-oriented development”.  As if we were all too stupid to recognize their profit-driven efforts to overbuild in a manner that threaten to worsen, not benefit, our traffic, density, environmental and health impacts, and overall quality of life.

5) The uber-environmentalists who wanted to focus on saving the planet when this line will do more in simply saving our sanity.  As if we would ignore a new light rail line that demands no carpooling, with no congestion pricing that allows better mobility by virtue of who can pay more, and which will allow any of us to jump ahead of those stuck on the I-10 during rush hour without having to worry about HOV lanes, rush hour, the cost of gas and where to find parking Downtown.

So the first phase of the Expo Line is here with lots of pomp and celebration by political and institutional individuals and entities who, in previous years, threw one monkey wrench after another in the way of building this line.  

I just hope that they remember—as I certainly do—the end of the groundbreaking ceremony for Phase 1 of the Expo Line.  And I mean AFTER the dignitaries and transit advocates left, when two nameless individuals quietly started shoveling away the ceremonial dirt that we all had fun posing in front of with shovels.  Because it is the nameless individual who most wanted this line, and will most likely use this line, for no other reason that enhanced mobility leads to a better economic future.

Meanwhile, as the headlines scream how the Expo Line is forging its way into the Westside and how the Westside is reorienting its commercial future around this new light rail line), it’s hoped that the Mid-City and Downtown will not be treated like “chopped liver”.

Because the Crenshaw District, USC, the Downtown Convention Center and everywhere in-between are now more easily accessed by individuals throughout and even outside LA. County.  The Westside will be connected—later this year—to MetroRail when this line reaches Culver City, and then only in 2015-16 when the second phase opens to West L.A. and Santa Monica.  Right now, it’s the Mid-City’s turn to crow, and Downtown’s turn to crow, about their new addition.

And it was in these regions where much of the worst rioting occurred twenty years ago, and a younger Hector Tobar of the LA Times and others witnessed a self-destructive orgy of immolation in neighborhoods which should have been blessed with the pride that everyone desires.

And it is in these same regions that economic uncertainty (and the misery that goes along with it) still exists, despite the passage of time, as well as racial and demographic shifts, that should have healed and made moot so much of what went wrong twenty years ago.

It’s 2012 now, and a Latino is now a sincere “transportation Mayor” for the City of Los Angeles.  An African-American is now a sincere “transportation President” for the United States of America.  An old-but-still-energetic white liberal from a bygone political era is now a sincere “transportation Governor” for the State of California.

But it will be the political, business, and grassroots organizations and individuals who are out of the spotlight, and who just want to feed and help their families, and who want to fulfill their career aspirations, that determine whether this light rail line will succeed or fail to live up to its hype and hope.  

The success of the Expo Line will hopefully enhance an extended Measure R to expedite other projects such as the Downtown Light Rail Connector  and the Wilshire Subway (Purple Line) extension to the Westside.

Yet all of these projects, each as overdue as the Expo Line, were and are delayed by the LA Riots of twenty years ago.  So while I wish I could say that racial animosities, racial obsession, political egos and human nature have improved in the last twenty years, it is a safer bet to say that we’re all more experienced and smarter than we were twenty years ago.

More building of rail lines, roads and infrastructure, and less rioting, would certainly be a nice working paradigm for a twenty-first century Los Angeles…but whether that’s just me being naïve or hopeful, only time will tell.

(Ken Alpern is a former Boardmember of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Vice Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee. He is co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chairs the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at He also co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at   The views expressed in this article are solely those of Mr. Alpern.) -cw

Tags: Ken Alpern, Transportation, Riots, Expo Line, Rodney King, Los Angeles, Westside

Vol 10 Issue 35
Pub: May 1, 2012