Last updateMon, 27 Apr 2015 9pm

LOS ANGELES Monday, April 27th 2015 11:48

  • Issue: LA City Workers Make Much More Than Private Sector

    Peter Jamison & Catherine Saillant

    Date: Apr 28, 2015 

    For almost a year, the labor groups representing roughly 20,000 Los Angeles city workers have battled at the bargaining table for people like Marshall Turner. 

    Turner supports his union. Yet when it comes to his job, he's not complaining. A 59-year-old garbage-truck driver, he made $95,696 last year including overtime. His three decades of city employment enabled him to buy a four-bedroom Rancho Cucamonga home and provide for five children. He recognizes his privileged place in an economy that has grown increasingly bleak for blue-collar workers. 

    "I feel blessed at the city of Los Angeles," he said recently over a ramen lunch during a break from collecting trash in South-Central. 

    That sense of satisfaction is not misplaced — at least not when it comes to his paycheck. Among the city workers who are currently threatening to strike amid contract negotiations that have stalled over pay and other issues, many collect salaries higher than those who do similar jobs in both the public and private sectors, a Los Angeles Times analysis has found.  (Read the rest.) 

Thu Apr 30, 2015 @11:30AM -
Town Hall: Raising the Minimum Wage
Fri May 01, 2015 @11:00AM - 02:00PM
Women for a New Los Angeles Luncheon
Fri May 01, 2015 @12:00PM - 05:00PM
Women for a New Los Angeles
Fri May 08, 2015 @ 8:00AM - 08:00PM
Greenlining Institute 22nd Annual Economic Summit in L.A. May 8
Wed May 13, 2015 @11:30AM -
Reflections on Leadership in the Museum World from an Outsider

Amazing! 500 years of NYC … in 60 seconds

LA Watchdog Jack Humphreville guesting on LA Roundtable … Making a Difference

‘Infinity’ folks … Mariah Carey’s latest








Passing the Buck

The Buck Stops Here

Most men in the early west carried a jack knife made by the Buck Knife Company.  When playing poker, it was common to place one of these Buck Knives in front of the dealer so that everyone knew who he was.  When it was time for a new dealer, the deck of cards and the knife were given to the new dealer.  If this person didn't want to deal, he would "Pass the Buck" to the next player.  If that player accepted, then "the Buck stops here".




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