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From schools to the LAPD, from gangs to prisons, here are a few ideas for state and local representatives.

June 30, 2007

CITIZENS OF democracies have every right to suggest resolutions for their hired help in public office. The Times offered more traditional wishes for the more traditional New Year, on a national and global scale. This midyear list of resolutions doesn't supersede that one, but is directed at our state and local representatives at the beginning of their new political year.

We call upon them to resolve to:

* Put the education of children and young adults ahead of political power plays. Experiment. Assess. The issue is not whether Antonio Villaraigosa's school board will be better than the last or whether those who have impugned the school district's reputation get their comeuppance. Try whatever improves the minds of and prospects for L.A.'s students.

* Recommit to a transparent Los Angeles Police Department. Understand that even as allegations of racism against officers become less supportable, a closed discipline system keeps mistrust of the LAPD alive.

* Grasp that political interests and public interest come together in the opportunity to loosen state legislative term limits and remove party control over the redistricting process. Let go of the conflict of interest that makes political line-drawing an insider's game. Dare to be rewarded with a chance at more time on the job for good behavior.

* Say it out loud: Children are being lost to gangs in part because of the decades-long, systematic dismantling of public-supported youth services. Relabeling a sailing program, for example, as an anti-gang plan is an unacceptable substitute for reinvesting -- that means money, as well as attention -- in youth opportunity and public safety.

* Examine, deeply and critically, Los Angeles County. Determine whether a structure of no single accountable leader, established in the 19th century for a few hundred thousand people, serves a 21st century society of more than 10 million. Hint: It doesn't.

* Do something about Sheriff Lee Baca's program of early release. Sentences mean nothing, and the law means little, if offenses carry no actual punishment.

* Stop studying prisons and start fixing them. Find the courage to allocate funding for the return of correction to the state corrections system.

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