November 19, 2009 |
In the NBC comedy "Parks and Recreation," Amy Poehler plays Leslie Knope, an upbeat, low-level bureaucrat determined to make the fictional town of Pawnee, Ind., a better place. Leslie's cheerful, tireless ambition in the face of cynics is echoed by series creators Greg Daniels and Michael Schur, who previously gave us "The Office." And who can blame them? Few industry observers thought "Parks," which launched as a midseason replacement last spring, would survive even this long. First, there were production delays to accommodate Poehler's pregnancy.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
October 6, 2009 |
Bureaucratic bungling, red tape and political gridlock don't come cheap -- especially when they get in the way of paying California's bills. The state has shelled out more than $8 million in late-payment penalties to vendors, contractors and others over the last two years because Sacramento did not send the checks when they were owed, records show. The late budget last year was one reason bills didn't get paid when they were due, but not the only one. Confusion over which offices should make payments, delays in invoices being sent from field offices to headquarters and shortages of staff to pay the bills also are responsible.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
October 5, 2009 |
One of the more damning and insulting words in the family dictionary is "arrogant." It's normally used behind the subject's back. In public, it should be deployed guardedly, even by a politician. Generally, when someone tosses around that adjective, the hurler had better be on solid ground and not living in a glass house, or mansion. So it was a bit grating recently to read that billionaire political novice Meg Whitman had called state civil servants "selfish and arrogant" in officially announcing her candidacy for the Republican gubernatorial nomination.
September 12, 2009
There is a palpable weariness in much of Los Angeles of the professional candidate -- the politician who wins election to an office, then leaves it to run for another, seemingly with the sole object of keeping his or her career going. Such candidates often seem so plugged in to a network of consultants, slate mail specialists, fundraisers, city contractors and mutual endorsements from others just like them that their elections appear inevitable, even if their records of accomplishment are scant.
August 16, 2009 |
When Sarah Palin said that the emerging healthcare reform legislation would lead to "death panels" and government rationing of care, her language was explosive, but her premise about rationing was not. The most critical test of any reform proposal is whether it will empower individuals or impose on them. It is a fact that the leading bills in Congress would increase the power of government and decrease individual freedom. You cannot spend an additional $1 trillion of taxpayer money and reduce the role of government.
August 14, 2009 |
Opponents have unleashed a torrent of hyperbolic claims and heated invective in an effort to stop President Obama's healthcare reform. But the president shouldn't be surprised by the rhetoric. Three-quarters of a century ago, nearly identical denunciations were used in an attempt to kill legislation that created one of the country's most popular government programs: Social Security. Though no one was talking about "death panels" back then, opponents claimed that Social Security would result in massive government control.
August 10, 2009 |
Congress gave the Federal Reserve the power to enact rules to protect consumers from unscrupulous mortgage lending in 1994. But as the years passed and risky subprime loans inflated the housing bubble, restrictions on lenders never came. It wasn't until last summer, long after the bursting bubble triggered the deep recession, that the central bank adopted rules prohibiting unfair, abusive or deceptive lending practices. The 14 years it took the Fed to act are now cited by Obama administration officials, consumer advocates and lawmakers as a key reason for scrapping a fragmented regulatory structure spread across multiple agencies and replacing it with a new Consumer Financial Protection Agency.
July 11, 2009 |
The grief-numbed parents of Hermosillo buried their babies and waited for answers. When none came, they marched. When they got desperate, they traveled the thousand miles to Mexico City and marched some more. They carried banners with photos of their children -- 48 in all -- killed when fire tore through a crowded day-care center named ABC. More than a month after the June 5 blaze in the northern state of Sonora, satisfying answers are in short supply.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
June 28, 2009 |
A nubby black cloth covers the sole window in Frank Lucero's Hemet living room, casting a perpetual dusk over his refuge, a space as cramped as the prison cells where he spent a decade. He can't bear the light. Even an overcast day on the sprawling range shadowed by the San Jacinto Mountains brings on headache, dull pain in his right eye and ghostly sensations in the empty socket of his left.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
May 20, 2009 |
"Your attention, please. Will Antonio Villaraigosa please report to the principal's office at Roosevelt High. Immediately." Yes, folks, I'm once again calling out the Education Mayor, as he has called himself. The L.A. mayor attended Roosevelt in Boyle Heights as a kid and took control of it last July along with nine other schools he promised to rescue. "Judge me by what we do in these schools," Villaraigosa said in September.