The Slower Reality of California High-Speed Rail

High speed rail constructionWhen California voters approved construction of a bullet train in 2008, they had a legal promise that passengers would be able to speed from Los Angeles to San Francisco in two hours and 40 minutes.

But over the next decade, the state rail authority made a series of political and financial compromises that slowed speeds on long stretches of the track.

The authority says it can still meet its trip time commitments, though not by much.

Computer simulations conducted earlier this year by the authority, obtained by The Times under a public records act request, show the bullet train is three minutes and 10 seconds inside the legal mandate. …

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Times

Jonathan Gold’s Los Angeles

Los Angeles Times food critic Jonathan Gold at the Los Angeles Times Food Bowl Food for Soul at the Ace Hotel Downtown on Friday, May 5, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Dan Steinberg/Invision for Los Angeles Times Food Bowl/AP Images)

The passing this week of Jonathan Gold, Los Angeles’s Pulitzer Prize-winning restaurant critic, reminded us of why we have lived in Southern California for more than four decades. When we arrived in L.A. in the 1970s—from New York and Montreal, respectively—the city was known largely for glitter and celebrities but little else. The food scene wasn’t much to write home about, though it was better than the awful cuisine in most of the country. A newcomer was likely to be introduced to Tommy’s Burgers, or perhaps a local taco joint with a menu that hadn’t changed in decades. Fine dining was largely of the stargazing variety—Perino’s, Chasen’s, Musso and Frank—which meant generally so-so food but a bettor’s chance to spot a celebrity.

Jonathan Gold helped to change all that. He was from L.A., and he embraced his inner Angeleno while driving through this vast region in his old truck. He was no aesthete in the model of the New York Times’s Craig Claiborne, who favored fancy restaurants serving small portions. Gold embraced L.A. in its vastness, and if there was too much food on the plate—as long as it was good, hell, why not?

Yet Gold was also a discerning critic of haute cuisine. We eventually found many of our favorite splurge restaurants—Providence, the now-closed Campanile, and Angelini Osteria—through his reviews in either the LA Weeklyor the Los Angeles Times, in his book Counter Intelligence, or on KCRW’s Good Foodprogram. These restaurants also reflected L.A.’s growing sophistication as a cultural center. The big difference for Gold was that the food, not the movements of the “in” crowd, assumed the leading role.

Gold made his greatest finds not in Beverly Hills—though he appreciated Nate and Al’s, considering it near the top of the “deli hierarchy”—or on the Sunset Strip, but through his explorations into the long-neglected culinary riches of the not-so-fancy L.A. He found his muse not in dashing restauranteurs backed by big investors but among small, largely ethnic entrepreneurs who, at least initially, made their living feeding their own compatriots. Perhaps his sympathy for these self-starters meant that he didn’t write many negative reviews. Why write about a trek out to Reseda (in west San Fernando Valley) to sample a bad taco or tasteless dumpling? Gold’s knowledge came from trying many places and choosing the best among them. It seemed that he had tried every taco, Thai, and Chinese joint around in search of the perfect barbacoa, noodle, or dumpling. Then he’d tell us all about it in prose that was as much about place as about food. He made the vastness of Los Angeles not just comprehensible, but wonderful.

Gold captured not only a food movement but also a demographic wave. Until the 1960s, greater Los Angeles was an immigration afterthought, a largely white city with marginalized Latino and African-American enclaves. The food reflected the palate of the Midwest, a condition that still prevails in some areas, including near our home in northeastern Orange County. As immigration laws changed, Southern California emerged as a destination, much like New York earlier in the century, for a dazzling array of newcomers. They came from Mexico and Central America, and from the Middle East and Asia. In 1960, Los Angeles County was 80 percent white; in 2014, Caucasians made up barely 30 percent of the population, while Latinos rose to nearly half, and Asians made up nearly 15 percent. This influx turned L.A. into a gourmand’s dream. Gold guided us to restaurants mainly frequented by the natives of their local countries, many located in unglamorous parts of the city, from the San Fernando and San Gabriel Valleys to gritty streets like Pico Boulevard, on which Gold took it upon himself to visit every restaurant at least once.

Most of our favorite places to eat are places that Gold discovered for us. They include Guelaguetza, an Oaxacan restaurant as far removed from conventional mass-market Mexican food as Burger King is from a Parisian steak tartare with frites. Other favorites include Jitlada, a spicy Southern Thai-oriented place in a rundown part of Hollywood that we love to take our New York relatives to experience. More often, when we lived in the Valley, we visited other Gold discoveries such as our go-to takeout joints, Sri Siam in North Hollywood and Dos Arbolitos in North Hills.

But perhaps nothing attracted us, and Gold, more than the Asian food mecca known as the San Gabriel Valley, in the city’s eastern suburbs. Formerly a largely Taiwanese bastion known as “little Taipei,” the area now has an Asian-American population larger than those in Los Angeles proper, San Francisco, and Chicago, and it tops the Asian-American populations of 42 states. It offers a staggering array of diverse tastes. You’ll find the best noodle houses and dim sum joints, as well as high-end seafood restaurants.

When we moved to Orange County three years ago, what we missed most was Gold’s L.A., that eclectic jumble of strip malls, ethnic enclaves, markets, and restaurants of every description. Many Orange County eateries, as is common in newer areas, have all the originality of scripted sitcoms. Yet Gold helped us even here. Unlike some Angeleno sophisticates, Gold went where his truck and his nose took him. He was the journalistic equivalent of Frank Lloyd Wright, who wrote that “after all is said and done, he—the citizen—is really the city. The city is going wherever he goes.”

Orange County has also become a magnet for immigrants, many seeking single-family homes, better schools, and less-congested freeways. In fact, immigration in Southern California is basically stagnant in the old L.A. core but rising quickly in the outer suburbs. In 1960, Orange County was 90 percent white, but today it’s less than 50 percent. The Latino population has grown to more than 30 percent, while Asians now make up almost 20 percent of the population.

Gold gathered the culinary fruits of remarkable diversity in this once-homogeneous suburb. He spotted the few good European restaurants, like Marche Moderne, but had a particularly keen eye for ethnic-driven successes like Taco Maria, an innovative Mexican-influenced spot in Costa Mesa that ranked in his top ten Southern California eateries.

But Gold glittered most in the obscure places. He was our guide to the great Vietnamese strips—Bolsa, Westminster, and Magnolia— brimming with endless pho and hip Asian joints. There are some slightly more elegant restaurants, like Brodard Chateau, a magnet for fine Vietnamese food. One of the more recent discoveries, now a personal favorite, is Irenia, a Filipino eatery in Santa Ana. Here’s Gold describing its charms:

Dilis (small salty fish) is a powerful food, both metaphorically and in its unmistakable pungency, which can water your eyes from across the room. It is by no means a rarity—dilis is among the most common Filipino snacks—but it takes on a special resonance in this Santa Ana dining room, even when you give up and dump them all onto a bowl of rice. Irenia is a modern restaurant, part of the new Filipino food movement flashing through Southern California, but I suspect that the kitchen cares as much about feeding the appetites of its grandmothers and uncles as it does about making the scene. It is not an accident that Irenia is named for the chef’s grandmother.

Like all the places Gold discovered across Los Angeles, Irenia epitomizes the region’s spirit of enterprise, social mobility, and innovation. In the face of regulatory burdens, high taxes, and real estate costs, the people who run these places represent Southern California’s chances for retaining an entrepreneurial ethos.

We hope that others, including those determined to rein in our often-unsightly sprawl, will recognize that expansiveness is key to Southern California’s unique energy. If they do, they will be following in the footsteps of Jonathan Gold, who discovered it first and had a great time getting there.

California’s Shameful Poverty Crisis

PovertySeven years ago, the Census Bureau began calculating poverty by a new “supplemental” method, responding to criticism that the half-century-old official poverty rate was too simplistic and inaccurate.

The new method quickly gained wide acceptance as much more accurate because it included more forms of income and, most importantly, adjustments for widely varying costs of living.

Almost immediately, California achieved the dubious distinction of having the nation’s highest poverty rate, mostly because of its high costs of living, especially housing. Currently, it’s still No. 1 with a 20.4 percent poverty rate, more than twice that of No. 50 Vermont.

The Public Policy Institute of California and Stanford University’s Center on Poverty followed suit, using a similar methodology to calculate poverty rates for the state’s 58 counties.

Their California Poverty Measure currently tabs the state’s rate at 19.5 percent with Los Angeles County the highest at 24.9 percent and Placer County the lowest at 13.1 percent.

PPIC and Stanford also calculated an additional “near-poverty” rate of 19.2 percent, which implies that nearly 40 percent of Californians are coping with economic distress.

And now we have an even deeper dive into persistent economic despair in the nation’s richest state.

United Ways of California, a coalition of local organizations that raise money for charities, commissioned “Struggling to Stay Afloat,” which delves into poverty not only at the state and county levels, but right down to neighborhoods.

Moreover, the new study breaks down the data not only geographically, but by race or ethnicity, gender, occupation, marital status, education and other factors.

Overall, it found that “1 in 3 households in California, over 3.3 million families – including those with incomes well above the (official) federal poverty level – struggle every month to meet basic needs.”

Not surprisingly, Latinos have the highest poverty of any ethnic group, with 53 percent of households having incomes that fall below the “real cost measure.” The incomes deemed to be adequate vary widely from community to community, depending on local living costs.

All three of these statistical exercises are telling us the same thing – that California has an immense poverty problem rooted more in high living costs than in its family incomes. And housing is the most important cost driver.

The political response to California’s poverty crisis has been tepid, even though Democrats who dominate its politics often denounce economic disparity.

Raising minimum wages and welfare grants and offering a state tax credit to the working poor may have some impacts on the margin. However, the extra incomes they generate are quickly consumed by higher housing costs, plus the higher gas taxes, local sales taxes and energy bills being imposed to deal with other political priorities.

Poverty must be attacked at its roots, such as the ever-worsening shortage of housing, which drives its costs ever-upward, and the lack of education and training for good jobs that employers want to fill, but can’t.

Capitol politicians have sidestepped the politically difficult task of overcoming local opposition to housing construction, or reducing environmental red tape. The state Democratic Party just endorsed a ballot measure that would make local rent control ordinances easier to enact, thus discouraging new housing investment even more.

Nor has the dominant party been willing to buck the union-led education establishment and insist on more accountability for educating poor kids – more than half of the state’s 6 million K-12 students – so they can break their families’ poverty cycles.

Cowardice and tokenism cannot and will not erase California’s shameful status as the nation’s most poverty-ridden state.

This article was originally published by the San Jose Mercury News

The Bank of Los Angeles: A Blank Check for the City?

Photo courtesy of channone, flickr

Photo courtesy of channone, flickr

Last Tuesday, the Los Angeles City Council passed a Herb Wesson sponsored motion, without any discussion, that requested “the City Attorney, with the assistance of the Chief Legislative Analyst, to prepare and present the documents necessary to place on the November 2018 Ballot the necessary amendment to Section 104(g) of the City Charter to authorize the City to form a municipal bank.”

The proposed City owned Bank of Los Angeles would “provide financial services to residents, reinvestment in the City to support the development of affordable housing and local infrastructure, and banking solutions for other local businesses that are not currently served by the commercial banking industry.”  There have also been discussions about the Bank serving the unbanked, cash intensive pot industry.

Yet despite all the hype associated with the municipally owned Bank of Los Angeles, the City has not prepared a business plan or even an outline of a plan for the Bank.  Rather, the City is asking us to give the City Council and Mayor Garcetti a blank check to establish the Bank despite a well thought out report by the Chief Legislative Analyst that identified numerous problems.

These limitations include that there is no identified source of funds to capitalize the Bank (estimated to be more than $1 billion), that City funds could not be deposited in the Bank for at least three years, that the Bank would have difficulty providing adequate collateral to support the City banking requirements, that the Bank would have difficulty qualifying for deposit insurance, and that start-up costs would be “exorbitant” with no available sources of cash to cover these losses.

After listening to the February 28 meeting of the Ad Hoc Jobs Committee where the Chief Legislative Analyst’s report was discussed, it was apparent that the members of the City Council have no clue about the banking business, the need for excellent management and strong credit standards, and that loans are not grants and need to be repaid.

Rather, the members of the City Council view the Bank as a source of cash to fund their pet projects and those of their cronies. But loans, both principal and interest, need to be repaid on a timely basis if the Bank is to remain solvent.   Otherwise, the Bank is out of business, the equity capital is wiped out, and the depositors take a hit.

This was certainly the case with the Los Angeles Community Development Bank that was established after the 1992 riots with money from the Federal Government.  But this loan fund that was under the control of the City Council closed its doors in 2004 because too many of the politically connected borrowers failed to meet their obligations.

However, with the Bank of Los Angeles, it is our money, not the Washington’s, that is lost if the Bank tanks.  And it the City takes a hit, it would have an adverse impact on the already poor level of service we receive from the City.  …

Click here to read the full article from City Watch LA

Massive Immigration Protest Takes Over Downtown Los Angeles

Demonstrators flooded downtown Los Angeles on Saturday to protest against the Trump administration’s immigration policies.

Thousands of demonstrators, along with a handful of high-profile celebrities, lawmakers, and activists, participated in the Families Belong Together-Freedom for Immigrants March, demanding border agents reunite separated immigrant children from their parents who illegally crossed the Southern border.

Armed with signs that read, “Children are not criminals,” and “compassion has no border,” demonstrators began protesting outside Los Angeles city hall at 11:00 a.m.

Grammy award-winning singer John Legend and his wife Chrissy Teigen participated at the event and urged demonstrators to do more than protest the Trump administration’s immigration policies on social media.

“You can’t just talk about it or tweet about it. You’ve got to do something,” said Legend.

“I know that opening up Twitter right now feels like it can be a horror show, so much of the news is shocking and maddening and depressing,” the singer added. “I think some of us have a strong temptation to just disengage, but we can’t. We can’t do that. I can’t do that. I have to do something.”

The rally featured multiple speeches from activists from open-borders groups, including Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA).

In her address to rally attendees, CHIRLA’s Melody Klingenfuss introduced herself as “undocumented, unapologetic and unafraid.”

“We will not stop until all the families are judged by the content of their character and not the possession of a legal piece of paper,” Klingenfuss said.

The open-borders activist then led the crowd in a chant against the President —”Trump, where’s your heart!?” they shouted.

Leading California lawmakers, including Sen. Kamala Harris, Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti and Rep. Maxine Waters fired up the crowd with pro-immigration speeches.

“If you are pro-family, you cannot separate families,” Garcetti told demonstrators. “Mr. Trump, do your job. ICE, do your job.” “We’ve got a message for the White House,” the mayor added, “We care, and so should you.” Harris told attendees that today’s protest against the administration’s immigration policies represents “an inflection moment.”

“This is a moment in time that is requiring us to look in a mirror and ask a question, and that question is, ‘Who are we?’ I believe the answer is `We are better than this,’” the 2020 hopeful said.

California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, State Sen. Kevin De Leon, Secretary of State Alex Padilla and members from the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Women’s March LA Foundation also participated in the event.

Organizers for the march says an estimated 55,000 people attended the Los Angeles protest.

The Los Angeles rally was one of 700 demonstrations taking place across the county this weekend.

“Other #FamiliesBelongTogether Southern California rally locations include Pasadena, Irvine, Malibu, Laguna Beach, Carlsbad, National City, Ramona, San Diego, Palm Springs, Moreno Valley, Riverside and Temecula,” reports NBC 4.

This article was originally published by Breitbart.com/California

Gov. Jerry Brown signs his final state budget, California’s largest yet

California schools, healthcare and social services programs will see spending increases under the state budget signed Wednesday by Gov. Jerry Brown.

The $201.4-billion plan, which takes effect next week, is the final budget of Brown’s eight-year tenure. It is also the third consecutive blueprint that includes notably higher-than-expected tax revenue, a sizable portion of which lawmakers are diverting into the largest cash reserve in California history.

“This budget is a milestone,” Brown said at an event in Los Angeles. “We’re not trying to tear down, we’re not trying to blame. We’re trying to do something.”

Lawmakers sent Brown the budget last week, and he chose to sign it Wednesday without any line-item vetoes — unusual in comparison to previous governors, but consistent with his recent budget actions. ..

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Times

What Could go Wrong in Building Tiny Houses for Homeless?

Tent of homeless person on 6th Street Bridge with Los Angeles skyline in the background. California, USA. (Photo By: Education Images/UIG via Getty Images)

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors just voted to go forward with a pilot program to house homeless people in tiny houses in the backyards of single-family homes. And if you pay taxes in L.A. County, you’re going to pay for it.

The program will pay $75,000 to homeowners who agree to have a tiny house constructed on their property, or $50,000 to upgrade an illegal dwelling unit, like a converted garage. The selected homeless person or family will pay rent, covered by low-income vouchers. Tenants would contribute 30 percent of their incomes. Taxpayers, presumably, would make up the difference.

If you ever drove by a homeless encampment and said to yourself, “The government ought to do something,” you probably never thought that what it would do is move the residents of the encampment into a backyard next door to your own house, at your expense.

But that might very well happen.

L.A. County is testing this concept in a pilot program that will cost $550,000.

Here’s how it will work for homeowners: The county will provide a maximum subsidy of $75,000 to build two or three new “accessory dwelling units” or ADUs, sometimes called granny flats. The subsidy will be provided in the form of a loan that will be gradually forgiven, with the principal reduced for every year that the unit is used as homeless housing. After 10 years, the loan will be completely forgiven and the homeowners can evict the homeless tenants and do whatever they wish with the units.

What could possibly go wrong?

Well, for starters, the many families currently living in bootleg housing could find themselves evicted so the owners can take advantage of $50,000 in government loans to legalize the units so they can house somebody else.

That means that this program, if it’s ever scaled up, could vastly increase the homeless population almost overnight.

Something else that could go terribly wrong is the “magnet effect.” That’s when people in other counties and states see the backyard tiny-house option as a great opportunity and move to L.A. County to take advantage of it. That could increase the homeless population even more. Then there’s the obvious problem.

Here’s how Supervisor Sheila Kuehl described the homeless population: “Many, many of them are just regular people like you and me who just lost their job or lost their house and really don’t have other choices.”

That may be, but many, many of them are not regular people. Many, many of them are people with issues that will make them terrible tenants and horrible neighbors.

Suppose the people who are chosen by the county to live in the homeless housing choose to abuse drugs, damage property or become a nuisance to the neighbors or the neighborhood. What’s the plan?

That was probably one of the questions that stalled a plan for backyard homeless housing in Multnomah County, Oregon, where Portland is located. The pilot project was set to build four tiny homes last year, but was delayed by a cluster of concerns over locations, legalities and tax consequences.

It turned out that Portland’s strict rules about how close a house can be to a tree meant that there were fewer available locations than expected.

Then there was difficulty working out legal agreements between the homeowner and the homeless tenants, between the tenants and the property manager and between the property manager and the county.

There was also the question of how to compensate homeowners for the trouble. The county initially planned to make pre-fab tiny houses available for free, but that would have triggered unpleasant tax consequences. So they worked out a plan to sell the houses to the homeowners and offer financing similar to what’s being proposed here. And Oregon property owners can have their $75,000 loan forgiven in just five years, not 10.

The city of Los Angeles is spending a $100,000 grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies to study the feasibility of backyard homeless housing within the city’s boundaries. Maybe this will solve the problem of homelessness in a way that will inspire the world. Or maybe it will be the start of a wave of gated communities with HOA agreements that don’t even allow adding a birdhouse without a two-thirds vote of the board.

olumnist and member of the editorial board of the Southern California News Group, and the author of the book, “How Trump Won.”

Yes, NPR: Illegal Immigration Does Increase Violent Crime

ICE-Immigration-AgentsAs members of an alien caravan beat their fists at the gates, the experts provide the rationalization for inviting them in.

John Burnett wrote last week for National Public Radio, “four academic studies show that illegal immigration does not increase the prevalence of violent crime or drug and alcohol problems.” But Burnett curated studies that conflate much and misinform plenty.

My favorite among the four is Alex Nowrasteh’s Cato Institute study, because you could tell Burnett pulled it from the top of a pile he kept on hand for just such occasions, to convince Americans that the decay they’re witnessing in their communities is actually “cultural enrichment.”

The Cato study selectively sources data from the Texas Department of Public Safety (TDPS), and it notes that what we’re reading is the “[a]uthor’s analysis” of that data. In other words, Nowrasteh presents data in a way that suits his ends. Data analysts, like those in Cato’s salon, have an interest in producing specific results. Or as one data analyst says, “they know the results the analysis should find.”

Nowrasteh’s study claims that among 952 total homicides, “native-born Americans were convicted of 885 homicides,” while “illegal immigrants were convicted of just 51 homicides.” Setting aside the fact that those 51 killings — like all crimes committed by illegal aliens — were completely avoidable, a few other questions come to mind.

First, how many of those “native-born” convicted killers were anchor babies? That is, how many of those convicted killers have parents who entered the country illegally? How many arrived through chain immigration?

That is a fair question, considering Latino gangs recruit heavily from kids as young as 10 years old, and the fact many of these immigrants come from countries with some of the highest homicide rates in the world.

Mexico is the most dangerous conflict zone in the world outside of Syria, with some Mexican states more deadly than Afghanistan. Looking at mass shootings since 2000 that have left at least four people dead, we find that first and second-generation immigrants account for 47 percent of all such shootings. The anchor baby question, when considering the pervasiveness of the violent narcoculture in Latin America (that we now import), is valid.

Second, “convicted” is an operative word. The Cato study only takes into consideration killers who were caught, properly identified and convicted.

Consider that Kate Steinle’s killer was not convicted either of manslaughter or murder. He committed the crime, but he wasn’t convicted. In fact, there was confusion over the killer’s identity as he used 30 aliases, had been deported five times, and committed seven felonious crimes. Federal authorities stated his name was “Jose Inez Garcia-Zarate,” but the criminal alien left a trail through the “immigration system and criminal courts for nearly a quarter of a century as  Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez and Juan Jose Dominguez de la Parra,” to name just two others.

Texas has porous borders and it’s a sad fact that illegal aliens enjoy the luxury of moving relatively freely across the border, whether for trafficking operations or simply for the purpose of avoiding Mexican authorities. A sizable number of illegal aliens work with drug cartels that operate within the United States. Some of them are killers.

“In 2009,” writes Steven A. Camarota for the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), “57 percent of the 76 fugitive murderers most wanted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) were foreign-born. It is likely however that because immigrants can more readily flee to other countries, they comprise a disproportionate share of fugitives.” How many of those were illegal aliens?

In fact, an internal Texas Department of Public Safety report revealed that between 2008 and 2014, 177,588 illegal alien defendants were “responsible for at least 611,234 individual criminal charges over their criminal careers, including 2,993 homicides and 7,695 sexual assaults.” Maybe the Texas authorities didn’t trust Cato with the good stuff. Or maybe Nowrasteh didn’t ask.

One thing is certain: the more substantive TDPS report paints illegal immigration in a much less favorable light than does the report selected by Cato and promulgated by NPR.

But the TDPS report also comes with a glaring caveat. “The 177,588 criminal aliens identified by Texas through the Secure Communities initiative only can tag criminal aliens who had already been fingerprinted,” writes J. Christian Adams, a former U.S. Justice Department employee.

“That means that the already stratospheric aggregate crime totals would be even higher if crimes by many illegal aliens who are not in the fingerprint database were included,” Adams concludes.

Cato, then, is misinforming Americans and perhaps hoping that no one looks below the surface of Nowrasteh’s study. This is not surprising as Cato emphatically endorses open borders, or as I prefer to call it, civilizational suicide. Thus, Burnett chose this specious source because it aligned with his cosmopolitan prejudices. Neither is a good look for a NPR.

A second study Burnett highlighted reports on “50 states and Washington, D.C., from 1990 to 2014 to provide the first longitudinal analysis of the macro‐level relationship between undocumented immigration and violence.” Assuming crime statistics are accurately reported, it stands to reason that if we look at immigration nationwide, lumping all “undocumented immigrants” into the same pool, things might not appear as bad as they actually are.

Crime statistics, however, aren’t always accurately reported — remember that Steinle’s killer won’t be reported as a homicide conviction. Although crime has decreased nationwide, it has risen in certain cities and counties. A “macro-level” glance might miss that.

In counties like Los Angeles, which has a high concentration of illegal aliens, authorities don’t have the best track record when it comes to accurately reporting crime, prompting investigations every now and again. Nevertheless, Los Angeles County has also seen crime rates increase, while they have fallen elsewhere across the nation.

Echoing Burnett, Steve Lopez writes in the Los Angeles Times that concern over sanctuary policies and tying immigration to higher crime rates is baseless. He maintains that it is a bigoted political formula and not much else. Lopez invokes Wayne Cornelius, a UC San Diego professor emeritus, “who has studied immigration for decades,” and “said there is no correlation between sanctuary cities and crime rates.”

Neither Burnett, Cornelius, nor Lopez understand why “14 Southern California cities and two counties have passed ordinances, and in some cases filed lawsuits,” against state sanctuary laws. After all, say the experts, sanctuary policies don’t protect bad guys; and noncitizens—specifically illegal alien Latinos—are less likely to engage in crime than the “native-born” population anyway.

If you don’t believe Lopez, take it from Cornelius. He received the Order of the Aztec Eagle, the highest honor bestowed upon foreigners by the formalized narco-kleptocracy Mexico calls a “government.”

To understand how unethical and fundamentally obscene this narrative is, a look at California’s history with sanctuary policies, crime, and immigration might be instructive.

City of Angels

The beginnings of sanctuary can be traced back to a 1979 Los Angeles memorandum stating: “Officers shall not initiate police action with the objective of discovering the alien status of a person. Officers shall neither arrest nor book persons for violation of title 8, section 1325 of the United States Immigration code (Illegal Entry).”

California progressives, in their brilliance, decided to adopt sanctuary just as the Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, was coming onto the scene — although other Latino gangs were already entrenched in California.

Born in the barrios of Los Angeles in the 1980s, the membership of MS-13 was comprised of “refugees” from El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua. This is relevant, considering the origins of the migrant activists demanding asylum from the United States today.

As a token of their appreciation to the United States, these foreigners formed the rank and file of one of the most vicious gangs in the world. It didn’t take long for the Mexican Mafia, or “la eMe,” to incorporate MS-13 into its Latino gang alliance, a coalition that came to be called the “Sureños.” More than a dozen gangs, including Hezbollah, Los Zetas, the Sinaloa Cartel, and the Gulf Cartel, all operate under the Sureños alliance.

In 2007, federal agents discovered businesses in Los Angeles that were peddling cocaine and counterfeit designer clothing in a front operation run by the Mexican mafia that financially benefited Hezbollah.

Between 1990 and 2000, the Latino population of the United States increased by 63 percent—from 22 million to 35 million. Suffice to say, the Immigration and Naturalization Service was overwhelmed. So were prisons. More to the point, this wave of mass immigration meant more recruits for Latino gangs.

Manhattan Institute Fellow Heather Mac Donald recounts how a “confidential California Department of Justice study reported in 1995 that 60 percent of the 20,000-strong 18th Street Gang in southern California is illegal; police officers say the proportion is actually much greater.” The 18th Street Gang collaborated with la eMe “on complex drug-distribution schemes, extortion, and drive-by assassinations, and commits an assault or robbery every day in L.A. County”; and the gang “has grown dramatically over the last two decades by recruiting recently arrived youngsters, most of them illegal, from Central America and Mexico.” As early as the 1990s, Latinos were importing narcoculture to the United States.

“In 1997, the INS simply had no record of a whopping 36 percent of foreign-born inmates who had been released from federal and four state prisons without any review of their deportability,” writes Mac Donald. “They included 1,198 aggravated felons, 80 of whom were soon re-arrested for new crimes.”

Mass immigration also brought with it a violent prejudice all too well known in Latin America: vitriolic hatred directed at blacks.

The Southern Poverty Law Center reports that in the 1980s when Highland Park in Southern California it “fell heavily under the control of the Mexican Mafia . . . eventually becoming fundamentally racist as a result.” As deceptive and dishonest as it often is, even the feverishly leftist SPLC couldn’t deny what was happening, because doing so would mean denying the plight of one of America’s protected minority groups for the sake of another.

Still, none of this seemed troubling enough to cinch up the border at the time. By 2000, “nearly 30 percent of federal prisoners were foreign-born,” Mac Donald writes. She adds that the L.A. County Sheriff also “reported in 2000 that 23 percent of inmates in county jails were deportable.”

Considering how difficult it is for minorities to be convicted of hate crimes, it is impressive that not only did Latino illegal aliens bring crime, they brought prolific amounts of hate crime the likes of which put the Klan to shame. By 2007, 75 percent of Highland Park residents were Latino, while just 2 percent were black.

Latinos developed a singular reputation for carrying out coordinated hate crimes that defied national trends. “Researchers found that in areas with high concentrations, or ‘clusters,’ of hate crimes, the perpetrators were typically members of Latino street gangs who were purposely targeting blacks,” the SPLC reported.

Los Angeles became home to random “racially motivated crimes” perpetrated throughout “the 88 cities of Los Angeles County by the members of Latino gangs.” Among these Latino gangs were “the Pomona 12 in the city of Pomona, the 18th Street Gang in southwest Los Angeles, the Toonerville gang in northeast L.A., and the Varrio Tortilla Flats in Compton.”

But the violence from Latino gangs against blacks wasn’t limited to Los Angeles. The same SPLC report notes that “six members of a Latino gang in Carlsbad, California, were arrested and charged with hate crimes for allegedly hurling racial slurs at a black teenager—who police said was not a gang member—while kicking and punching him.”

Meanwhile in Fresno, California, two Latino gang members “were convicted of attempted murder in what police described as the random hate-crime shooting of a 41-year-old black man.” Police reported that “the shooters used racial epithets and told the victim, ‘We don’t like your kind of people on our street.’”

The viciousness of Latino gangs was matched only by its pervasiveness. Although different in some respects, Latino gangs shared two common characteristics: hatred toward blacks and ranks augmented with illegal aliens thanks to porous borders.

Citing U.S. attorney Luis Li, Mac Donald noted that the “leadership of the Columbia Lil’ Cycos gang, which uses murder and racketeering to control the drug market around L.A.’s MacArthur Park, was about 60 percent illegal in 2002.”

The Cycos gang was controlled by a member of la eMe, an illegal alien, who ran the gang from prison, “while serving time for felonious reentry following deportation.” By 2004, “95 percent of all outstanding warrants for homicide [in Los Angeles] (which total 1,200 to 1,500) target[ed] illegal aliens,” and as many as “two-thirds of all fugitive felony warrants (17,000) [were] for illegal aliens.”

To argue, as Burnett, Lopez, and Cornelius do, that “there is no correlation between sanctuary cities and crime rates” is to offer a bad joke. But the litany of Latino gangs goes on, while the intelligentsia preaches tolerance to the communities that have been terrorized by this nightmare.

In 2009, 147 alleged Varrio Hawaiian Gardens members—that’s a Mexican gang—were indicted “on charges ranging from racketeering to kidnapping and attempted murder.” These crimes, said U.S. Attorney Thomas O’Brien, were motivated by “explicit racial hatred.”

The scale at which these gangs coordinated and mobilized against blacks was terribly formidable. In 2012, la eMe “put the word out for Hispanic street gangs to stop battling each other, to ‘focus on getting the blacks out’ of their territories,” writes Eva Knott, citing a police gang specialist.

The violence hasn’t stopped, and neither have the lies about sanctuary or illegal immigration.

In 2016, the “Eastside Latino gang tried to firebomb black families out of a community the suspects claimed as their own,” to “get the nigger out of the neighborhood,” federal authorities said. One firebomb landed in a room where a mother had been sleeping with her baby, but the family managed to escape.

The George W. Bush Administration made some headway in dealing with Latino gangs, but Democrats during the Obama era enabled them to replenish their ranks. Under Democratic Party leadership, California enacted a plan to release 13,500 inmates every month to reduce overcrowding, including those sentenced for “stalking” and “battery.” Early release of “nonviolent, low level prisoners,” coupled with ICE field offices being directed to cease arresting gang members for immigration violations or minor crimes, meant Latino gangs could resupply their numbers. This happened at the same time that California made it even harder for immigration authorities to apprehend and deport illegal aliens. Indeed, from 2015 to 2017, California denied 3,348 ICE detainer requests.

“Progressive” policing meant preventing federal authorities from screening thousands of dangerous aliens, when one in four “MS-13 gang members arrested or charged with crimes since 2012 came to the U.S. as part of the Obama-era surge of Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC).”

Jessica M. Vaughan, director of policy studies for the CIS, reports that “ICE officers were no longer permitted to arrest and remove foreign gang members until they had been convicted of major crimes.” This resulted in gang arrests plummeting, “from about 4,600 in 2012 to about 1,580 in 2014.”

Vaughan also notes the “location of these MS-13 crimes corresponds with locations of large numbers of UACs who were resettled by the federal government.” MS-13 gang members have been apprehended after entering the country by claiming they were refugees “fleeing the violence in El Salvador.” Indeed, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen last month warned Congress that gangs like MS-13 “recruit young children, they train them how to be smuggled across our border, how to then join up with gang members in the United States.”

This is the insanity that sanctuary, mass immigration, and inability to enforce border security or immigration laws have wrought.

The Politics of Propaganda

Between 2005 and 2012, the Los Angeles Police Department incorrectly classified 14,000 assaults as minor offenses, “making the city’s crime rate look significantly lower than it really is.” Josh Sanburn reports that the LAPD routinely classified aggravated assaults as “simple assaults,” therefore artificially reducing the city’s numbers for violent crime.

“We know this can have a corrosive effect on the public’s trust of our reporting,” said Assistant Chief Michel R. Moore, who oversees the LAPD’s system for tracking crime. “That’s why we are committed to . . . eliminating as much of the error as possible.”

Then, the LAPD did it again. The department “misclassified nearly 1,200 violent crimes“ in 2014, “including hundreds of stabbings, beatings and robberies.” That’s not exactly an inconsequential clerical error. With this correction, the rate of serious assaults during that time would have been around 14 percent higher than what the LAPD reported, while overall violent crime would have shown 7 percent higher. This problem is “systemic,” according to a San Fernando Valley LAPD captain.

Capt. Lillian Carranza says “the department’s systemic pattern of under-reporting certain crime statistics” isn’t just skewering crime data, “it affects the way we deploy resources, the support we get from federal grants, and in my case and in my officers case, who gets the support of discretionary resources and who doesn’t.”

Carranza said she found errors “in categorizing violent crimes that were never fixed” that resulted in LAPD “under-reporting violent crime for 2016 by about 10 percent.” Carranza said she believes “staff members may have falsified information,” or “cooking of the books . . . in order to get promotions, accolades and increased responsibility.”

Progressives love to bash cops, but they avoid connecting the dots between underreporting serious crime and violent crime, with regions where illegal aliens are concentrated appearing safer than they are.

Why should Californians assume Los Angeles is the only city obfuscating the truth about sanctuary policies, immigration, and crime? California is the state, after all, where Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, an outspokenly progressive Democrat, tipped off illegals to an ICE sweep, claiming a “duty and moral obligation as mayor to give those families fair warning when that threat appears imminent.” She had a duty and moral obligation least of all to American citizens, it seems.

Oakland also happens to be one of the least safe cities in America.

CityRating reports Oakland’s violent crime rate in 2016 as higher than the national average by 259.04 percent, higher than the California average by 220.13 percent. Oakland’s property crime rate was higher than the national average by 129.96 percent, higher than the California average by 120.75 percent. Further, CityRating reports an overall upward trend in crime based on “data from 18 years with violent crime increasing and property crime increasing,” and based on this trend, “the crime rate in Oakland for 2018 is expected to be higher than in 2016.”

When Mayor Schaaf refuses to enforce the law, she contributes to Oakland’s growing crime problem.

Still, why do people like Krishnadev Calamur claim that “[s]tudy after study after study” show “[i]mmigrants largely commit crimes at a lower rate than the local-born population”? Calamur says those “numbers are true even of the children of immigrants.”

Because “study after study after study” conflate the children of immigrants whose parents entered our country legally holding a postgraduate degree, like many Nigerians do, and the children of Latino gang members, whose parents entered the United States illegally. Both are second-generation, both are lumped together, but they are not the same. Sometimes, these studies even conflate legal and illegal aliens.

“Fact Checker” Salvador Rizzo writes for the Washington Post, “every demographic group has its share of criminals, but the research shows that immigrants commit crimes at a lower rate than the U.S.-born population.”

“Fact Checker” may not be an appropriate title for Rizzo.

Like Calamur, Rizzo argues, “most of the available data and research say immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than the U.S.-born population.” But a closer look at Rizzo’s narrative is instructive of other common misinformation tactics.

First, Rizzo makes no distinction between legal and illegal alien crime statistics, when lumping the two together will obviously give a better impression of illegal alien crime alone.

Second, in later immigration “fact checks,” Rizzo uses data that excludes non-violent crimes committed by illegals, such as identity theft, racketeering, arson, most property crimes, drug and alcohol-related crime, grand theft, counterfeiting, fraud, and so forth. Human trafficking involves dangerously transporting vulnerable people, often women and children, against their will, but this offense can be labeled “non-violent.”

Suffice to say, Rizzo’s fact-checking is extremely misleading.

A look at U.S. Sentencing Commission data from 2016, pertaining to 67,742 felony and Class A misdemeanor cases, shows noncitizens accounted for 41.7 percent of all offenders. Further broken down: noncitizens accounted for 72 percent of drug possession convictions, 33 percent of money laundering convictions, 29 percent of drug trafficking convictions, 23 percent of murder convictions, and 18 percent of fraud convictions. Commission data doesn’t report on state and local prisons and jails, but the Government Accountability Office does.

The GAO found that among 251,000 criminal aliens incarcerated in federal, state, and local prisons and jails, these criminal aliens were arrested 1.7 million times, for nearly 3 million combined offenses. Fifty percent had been arrested at least once for assault, homicide, robbery, a sex offense, or kidnapping—around half had been arrested at least once for a drug violation. The GAO consistently reports the number of noncitizens (legal and illegal aliens) constituting 25 percent of the federal prison population. That slice of the pie would require noncitizens to commit crimes around three times the rate of citizens.

Not only do these data show 7 percent of the population accounts for one-fifth of all federal murder convictions, but when Rizzo excludes non-violent crimes, he clearly excludes a staggering lot. Thus, Rizzo deliberately avoids confronting a mountain of data that directly contradicts his narrative.

Like Burnett, Lopez, Cornelius, and Calamur, Rizzo is willing to deny that communities have been and continue to be violently afflicted, while criminals have been given sanctuary, just because it satisfies his liberal paternalism. Minorities must be shielded from criticism, even if that means offering up the very principles that attracted them to this country, particularly those of justice and the rule of law, on the altar of progressivism. …

Click here to read the full article from American Greatness

 

Pedro Gonzalez, a writer based in California, is a Mount Vernon Fellow of the Center for American Greatness.

Making the Housing Shortage Worse

Rent ControlWe have a severe housing shortage, and last week our mayor said that he’d help make matters worse.

If Eric Garcetti gets his way, rent control could be imposed on far more apartments in Los Angeles and throughout the state. That’d be great for the few folks lucky enough to get a rent-controlled unit. It’d be bad for everybody else.

That’s not a surprising statement. Studies have shown that. Let’s look at one of the latest.

A working paper published in January by the National Bureau of Economic Research examined the effect of a 1994 ballot initiative in San Francisco that slapped rent control on smaller buildings constructed before 1980. Three economists followed what happened to those buildings and compared their fate to similar buildings constructed after 1980.

So what happened? First, there was a reduction in the number of rent-controlled units as landlords decided to convert their buildings to condos or otherwise redevelop their properties. In fact, rent-controlled buildings were 10 percent more likely than the non-rent-controlled buildings to convert, “representing a substantial reduction in the supply of rental housing,” the report said.

Second, there was a 25 percent reduction in the number of renters living in rent-controlled units compared to 1994, largely because of “landlords demolishing their old housing and building new rental housing,” the study said. “New construction is exempt from rent control.”

So there was a drop in the number of rental units as well as a decrease in the number of tenants who enjoyed rent control. No surprise there.

In short, rent control makes matters worse, which pretty much every informed person knows with the apparent exception of Garcetti. What was a teeny bit more surprising was the working paper’s assertion that rent control increased gentrification as well as worsened income inequality in the city.

How so? One of the authors of the working paper, Rebecca Diamond, an assistant professor of economics at Stanford University, was quoted as saying that rent control “pushed landlords to supply owner-occupied housing and new housing – both of which are really the types of housing consumed by rich people,” she said.

“So we’re creating a policy that tells landlords, ‘It’s much more profitable to cater to high-income housing taste than low-income housing tastes.’”

In other words, rent control makes matters much worse.

What’s particularly alarming about last week’s news is that the current move to impose more rent control would make matters even worse than you might expect. That’s because the proposed statewide ballot initiative that would roll back the Costa-Hawkins Rental Control Act (the initiative which Garcetti last week called a news conference to endorse), would not only give cities the green light to allow rent control to be slapped on apartments built after 1978, but it would take the extra step of limiting the ability of landlords to raise rents after one tenant leaves. The way it works now is that when one tenant leaves a rent-controlled unit, the rent can immediately catch up to market rates for the incoming tenant. Rent increases are limited thereafter, until that tenant leaves.

That provision alone is a killer. It would mean landlords would be doomed to falling further and further behind market rates. That means more apartment buildings would not pencil out, and landlords would rush to empty out their buildings, scrape the ground and construct something new – something that’s not an apartment building. We’d see declines much greater than 25 percent in tenants enjoying rent control.

Look, the yearning to do something is understandable. After all, rents have popped up alarmingly and even folks with good incomes are being priced out of homes. But imposing more rent control would only choke supply and make matters much worse.

The real issue is supply. If we had more construction, the shortage would eventually disappear. But for that to happen, developers need to feel confident that they can build with the certainty that they can earn enough income to pay their mortgage and other bills and get a reasonable return. Right now, they can’t. And mayoral endorsements of rent control make matters worse.

ditor and publisher of the San Fernando Valley Business Journal.

This article was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

Homeless may get mobile showers at Los Angeles Metro stations

sanfranciscohomelessAs the homeless population continues to grow in Los Angeles, the agency that operates public transportation in the county is considering putting showers in or near some of its train stations in an effort to promote hygiene.

Metro’s Board of Directors unanimously approved a motion on Thursday following a four-month study to examine a pilot hygiene and mobile shower program, which would also examine incorporating public restrooms at all new rail stations on the system.

“I hope that when we look at this, it’s a first start, it’s about a humanitarian issue in my opinion because we do have a very diverse population that uses our rail and bus services and our hubs,” Metro Director and Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis told board members.

Solis, who spearheaded the study for the pilot program, said the program would be collaborated with the Los Angeles County’s Office of Homeless Initiative, Department of Public Health, Department of Public Works, and other relevant departments. The pilot program, if adopted, would first roll out at the Westlake/MacArthur Park and North Hollywood stations. …

Click here to read the full article from Fox News