Friday, August 26, 2011

"California workers wasted state funds, audit says"

Jessica Levinson was quoted in this piece in the SF Chronicle by Joe Garofoli.

Here is an excerpt:

"None of this is going to mean that California doesn't still have a structural deficit," said Jessica Levinson, a professor of law at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles and political reform expert. "But at a time when people are trying to feed themselves or pay for college, any amount of waste is offensive."

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

"Dear California Lawmakers: Time to Disclose Your Budgets and Expenditures"

Jessica Levinson's latest post on KCET.org is here.

Here is an excerpt:

It is time to enact common sense rules that allow the public to see the money given to and spent by, their elected representatives. If there is truly confidential information, then it should be determined whether such information can be redacted. 



"San Bernardino County supervisors reverse course on naming buildings"

Jessica Levinson is quoted in this piece in the Contra Costa Times.

Here is an  excerpt:

Jessica Levinson, a professor at Loyola Law School, said campaign-contribution limits for state legislators, who typically have a much larger constituent base and whose campaigns are more expensive to run, may not translate well for San Bernardino County's elected officials.

She said the FPPC may lack the resources to do what Rutherford is proposing.

"I think the FPPC is strapped. They're not awash in extra resources," Levinson said.

Still, the fact that the issue remains on the table in San Bernardino County and proposals are being made is a positive sign, Levinson said.


"I think it's a step in the right direction," she said.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

"Want to give surplus money to California? Proposal would make it easier"

Jessica Levinson is quoted in this article in the Sacramento Bee.

Here is an excerpt:

Jessica Levinson, a political analyst and Loyola Law School professor, said that people tend to prefer giving to a specific cause, not a catch-all like state coffers.

"I think people like more control of their money," she said.
 
Levinson said she would not be surprised if LaMalfa's program eventually were used as a weapon to argue that people are overtaxed already.
Tax opponents could use it as ammunition if Californians are told they can pay higher taxes if they want to, but few do, she said.

"They'll say, 'Look, no one pays,' " Levinson said.
 

Friday, August 19, 2011

"How Much Does it Cost to be Mayor of Los Angeles?"

Jessica Levinson's latest post on KCET.org is here.

Here is an excerpt:

One of the problems with our current system is that fundraising prowess is used as a proxy for popularity. There is, of course, some correlation. However, fundraising ability, at most, demonstrates popularity with a certain segment of society, those who can and want to give campaign contributions.

So let's try to hear from all the candidates, and not make the balance of their bank accounts the only thing by which we measure their ability to lead the city. The best fundraiser may make the best mayor. But in the words of the Gershwins, "It ain't necessarily so."

Monday, August 15, 2011

"Dear Californians, You Don't Matter"

Click here for a KCET article about California's endorsement of the National Popular Vote program. It would change the way we elect presidents.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

"Redistricting, Round Two: Drawing Local Legislative Lines"

Jessica Levinson's latest article on KCET.org is here


Here is an excerpt:


"Just when you thought we were almost done talking about redistricting, it's time to refuel and prepare for another round of discussions about legislative line drawing - this time on the local level. The latest redistricting battle concerns lines for the little known, but super power powerful five-member Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors."

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

"County redistricting starting to heat up"

Jessica Levinson is quoted in this article in the Daily Breeze.

Here is an excerpt:

In a Q&A below, Jessica Levinson -- a Loyola Law School professor and moderator of a recent Z√≥calo Public Square panel on redistricting -- makes the case for why this really matters.

Q: What's at stake in the Los Angeles County redistricting process -- for the supervisors and for county residents?

The composition of the little-known, but nonetheless uber-powerful, Board of Supervisors will be determined in the Los Angeles County redistricting process. This mighty group is limited to three consecutive four-year terms. The group is so powerful that it has been nicknamed the "five kings."

Every 10 years we count how many people live in legislative districts throughout the country, including the five supervisorial districts for the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors. Boundary lines are drawn based on the number and local and residents in those districts. This redistrict process occurs to ensure that residents in each district are fairly represented.  

Q: Why should your average citizen -- or non-citizen -- care about this fairly obscure process?

The five-member, non-partisan county Board of Supervisors make up the county's governing body. Their decisions can have sweeping, significant repercussions for the residents of the County.

 With only five members and so many residents in the county, each member represents (almost) 2 million people. About 25 percent of the state's residents live in Los Angels County. Therefore, these five individuals wield enormous influence. Again, the way the boundary lines are drawn will help to determine who can be victorious in each of those five districts. 

Q. So why isn't anyone really paying attention to the county's redistricting? Do you expect that to change when board hearings start next week?

First, the independent redistricting, which has just released its final maps for state and congressional legislative districts, sucked up much of the oxygen in the redistricting debate. 

The Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing about proposed boundary lines next week, and I expect politicos, policy wonks, and interested persons will then turn part of their attention to the County's redistricting process.

Second, who among us can even name all of the members of the Board of Supervisors? If we can't name them, and possibly don't know what they do, we're not going to be particularly enthralled by the process of drawing new boundary lines for them.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

"Legal Defense Funds: An Ethical Dilemma?"

Jessica Levinson's latest post on KCET.org is here.

Here is an excerpt:

"[Villaraigosa] committed ethical violations and then he raised private funds to cover the costs of those violations. In essence the mayor's initial failure to disclose free tickets given to him -- very likely in attempt to curry favor with him -- has provided the mayor with yet another fundraising opportunity, and hence another crop of donors perhaps trying to curry their own favor with our city's chief executive."

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

"US Debt Deal Likely To Cut Billions in Calif. Health Care, Education"

Jessica Levinson's interview on KNX 1070 is here


“I think that we could see cuts everywhere,” said Jessica Levinson, a visiting professor at Loyola Law School who studies political reform and budgetary issues. “I think there will be a new normal in which it’s not realistic to say, ‘This sector has to remain untouched’.”