George Skelton in L.A. Times on Devolving Power and Money from Sacramento to Local Governments

George Skelton has a “Capitol Journal” column in today’s (Nov. 29, 2010) L.A. Times about how incoming governor Jerry Brown has the opportunity to “revisit” Prop. 13 and the reaction he had to it when he was governor when it passed, by seeking changes in the law that will allow local governments to have more responsibility for raising money for local purposes, including schools, along with more power to raise taxes. Skelton traces the state’s financial crisis back to Prop. 13, and in particular to how the state, at the time flush with a surplus, took over the funding of much of local government to make up for the loss in property tax revenues.

From the column:

But it all started [i.e., the financial crisis] with the state’s response to Prop. 13.

Brown realizes that now, based on his campaign rhetoric. In running for governor again, the former Oakland mayor talked consistently, if vaguely, about returning more power to local governments and the people.

On his website, Brown promised to create a task force to develop a plan. He also vowed to reduce “excessive mandates” for schools. And he asserted that the ways state and local governments share control over health and welfare programs “blur responsibility and drive up costs.”

“I would work to align program responsibility with revenue authority,” he continued, “so that the entity that manages the program is also responsible to pay for it.”

In non-government speak that means the state would unload much of its costs on the counties, but also give them more power to raise taxes to foot the bill for services. Local voters would decide what they wanted to pay for.

To read the whole column, click here.

L.A. Times writes about David Kipen’s Libros Schmibros

David Kipen, known to many in the field of California Studies, has returned to Los Angeles from heading the National Endowment for the Arts’ “Big Read”, and what he’s done is open a new bookstore/lending library in Boyle Heights called “Libros Schmibros.” The Los Angeles Times had a “Column One” article about it Nov. 9.  From the article:

In its few weeks of existence, Libros Schmibros has become a humming salon of activity and a fixture of Boyle Heights’ blossoming 1st Street arts district. The corridor, whose development was partially spurred by the opening of the Gold Line rail extension, includes the Casa 0101 Theater and Corazón del Pueblo, an arts, education and social-action collective across the street from Kipen.

Casa 0101’s owner, the playwright and screenwriter Josefina Lopez, teaches a weekly screenwriting workshop at Libros Schmibros. A speakers’ series featuring local authors has approached Kipen about using his premises to host an after-lecture party.

Kipen likes to joke that he was “the first Jew in decades” to move back into Boyle Heights. The store’s name — “libros” is Spanish for books, “schmibros” is a kind of neo-Yiddish-ism — is both an inside joke and a sly reference to Kipen’s belief that today’s Latino residents of Boyle Heights are the natural successors to the Eastern European Jewish immigrants who helped revitalize U.S. culture a century ago.
. . .

The store, at 2000 E. 1st St., is open Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from noon to 6 p.m., and by appointment “or rapping on the glass.” Its owner usually can be found decked out in shorts, running shoes and a Hawaiian shirt, asking customers what they like to read or commiserating with the neighborhood State Farm agent about the lousy condition of the Dodgers. However, Kipen’s faith in Dodgers announcer Vin Scully, like his faith in literature, remains unshakeable.

” Thomas Pynchon taught me to write and Vin Scully taught me to listen,” he said.

Next Dunning Lecture Nov. 7; Bill Boyarsky on the Chandlers and Inventing Los Angeles [Corrected notice]

he Historical Society of Southern California will present the annual George A.V. Dunning Lecture on Sunday, Nov. 7, 2010, in Los Angeles. The speaker will be Bill Boyarsky, former political writer and city editor of the Los Angeles Times, and current political columnist for His topic will be:

“Inventing Los Angeles:

The Chandlers and Their Times”

The lecture is open to the public and admission is free; reservations will be honored in the order received.  To RSVP, or for more information, contact the HSSC at (323) 460-5632. A reception will follow the lecture. [Please note: this is a corrected telephone number.]

Date and Time: Nov. 7, 2010, 2:00 p.m.

Location: Community Room
Los Angeles Times
145 S. Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Parking will be available in commercial lots on Broadway and on Spring Street.

Next Calif. Studies Dinner Nov. 17; Mark Brilliant on how racial diversity shaped civil rights reform

The next California Studies dinner will take place Nov. 17, 2010 in Berkeley; the speaker will be Mark Brilliant, Assistant Professor, Department of History and Program in American Studies, UC-Berkeley, who will speak on the topic of his new book, The Color of America Has Changed:  How racial Diversity Shaped Civil Rights Reform in California 1941-78.


November 17, 2010
7 :00 p.m. – 10 :00 p.m.
Director’s Room, Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, 2521 Channing St. (just above Telegraph Ave), Berkeley.

The dinner is buffet style. Dinners are free, but guests are asked for a small donation for those partaking of wine and beverages.
PLEASE RSVP by Friday, November 12, 2010, to Delores Dillard, Department of Geography, 507 McCone Hall, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA  94720-4740
phone (510)  642-3903 or FAX (510) 642-3370, or e-mail: