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What's L.A.'s problem?

The Opinion page asked various Californians about the biggest troubles Los Angeles will face in 2007. Here's what they said.

December 27, 2006

`City of Insecurity'

David Nadelberg

Creator-producer of "Mortified"

LOS ANGELES, City of Brotherly Loathe. We live in a psychologically challenging town. Sure, we've got great food, scenery, history, art and people. Just don't tell anyone that you actually feel that way.

L.A.'s big problem is that no one who lives here is allowed to officially admit they like it. Those who confess affection are immediately branded with scarlet letters deeming them plastic or shallow.

Outsiders love to tell me how phony everyone in L.A. is. After all, they've seen "Entourage." But people are phony everywhere ... and nice everywhere. You find the city you're looking for. I've looked for and found a city of people who dream huge and fall hard and get up to try again. I admire that. Even when I'm too plastic and shallow to admit it.

So I suggest that L.A. change its motto from the relatively decorative "City of Angels" to the more relevant "City of Insecurity & Creeping Sense of Inadequacy." In a town built on battered ambitions, celebrating our shared shortcomings is our best hope to achieve L.A.'s long-overdue sense of civic pride.

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Fund an LAPD surge

Heather Mac Donald

Author of "Are Cops Racist?" and a fellow at the Manhattan Institute

LOS ANGELES has the opportunity to change criminology forever -- if it would only fund its police force adequately. Los Angeles Police Chief William J. Bratton is driving down crime in L.A. through his data-driven policing methods. But he is working with one hand tied behind his back because of the LAPD's enormous understaffing.

Received wisdom holds that crime levels are determined by poverty and other "root causes" and that police can only respond to infractions after the fact. The Bratton policing revolution has disproved that by holding local police commanders accountable for violence reduction and by basing policing strategies on rigorously analyzed, up-to-the-minute crime data.

While violence is rising across the country, crime continues to go down in those cities where Bratton's policing concepts hold sway -- besides L.A., most notably in New York. But criminologists still look the other way.

Give the LAPD more cops -- at least double the meager 1,000 promised over the next five years -- and the ensuing crime rout would allow law-abiding residents of South Los Angeles to lead their lives in relative peace. And even the most anti-police theoreticians could no longer ignore the power of properly managed law enforcement to bring safety to troubled neighborhoods.

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Living in the soon and now

Peter Mehlman

Television and film writer

OUR CITY'S most pressing problem is change. Everything around here changes too much, too fast. You come back from lunch and life is nowhere near where you left it. Los Angeles has always been at the forefront of innovation, so it won't be easy finding the cutting edge of stagnation, but it has to happen.

No city buys into "change is good" like Los Angeles. New. Newer. Newest. We want it all. But look around at the sunken eyes of everyone in town flailing to keep up. We're tired. We're lost. Our complexions aren't even that good.

Sure, L.A. has lots of problems that need changing. But L.A. will always have lots of problems. It's a subversive thought, but if it's broken, we don't really have to fix it.

We need to embark on a program of sweeping permanence in which we convince the populace that everything at this very moment is fast enough, light enough, loud enough, sweet enough, profitable enough, likable enough, stain-resistant enough.

We have to start living in the now. Or at least the soon. Starting Jan. 1, we need to gather our most inventive minds and find a way of keeping everything exactly the same. On Jan. 2, the mayor should officially announce that, like a dream house, Los Angeles is finally finished.

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`Diversity without adversity'

The Rev. Cecil L.

"Chip" Murray

Retired senior pastor of the First AME Church and lecturer at the USC School of Religion

LOS ANGELES faces a challenge that will either make us or break us: to have diversity without adversity -- different folks and folks who are different not allowing their differences to make a difference.

The sunshine ranks high as the magnet pulling people west, but pluralism and multiculturalism are the gold rush of this millennium. We are spiritually hungry for each other, for the best in each other -- and we know that our social problems are not because of accident or descent, but to ascent that is hindered by closed opportunities that cause the upward bound to lament and resent.

The world is watching this one-of-a-kind City of Angels to see if liberty and justice in fact work for all.

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Take a hard left

Sean Bonner

Co-founder of blogging.la

LOS ANGELES has been a pioneer when it comes to equal rights for just about any group of people you can think of. The glaring exception: left-hand-turners.

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