Did Beverly Hills Police Target Black Shoppers on Rodeo Drive? What Records and Emails Show

Last month, two attorneys summoned reporters to the steps of Beverly Hills City Hall to make a disturbing accusation. Police had deliberately targeted Black shoppers along the city’s famous Rodeo Drive.

The proof, they said, was in the numbers: A special team of officers assigned last fall to patrol the opulent shopping corridor arrested dozens of people for minor infractions such as jaywalking or riding scooters on a sidewalk and all but one of them were Black, they alleged. They labeled it brazen, illegal racial profiling.

A closer examination of the Beverly Hills Police Department’s Rodeo Drive Team offers a more complicated picture of the operation, shedding light on how it started and raising new questions about why the overwhelming majority of the people arrested were Black.

Click to read the full story at Los Angeles Times


How California Laws Are Stealing Christmas

We’ve all heard about it by now – the supply chain crisis and the bottlenecks at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.  Last month, the “dwell time” – the time a container stays on a terminal between unloading from a ship and removal by a truck was six days – an all-time record.  As of last week, there were 100 ships idled off the coast of California waiting to unload goods. Fifty-seven more ships were in berth at the ports.

Pres. Biden’s plan to run 24/7 operations at these ports, however, has brought on a new problem. Many of the shipping containers that spent weeks waiting to be unloaded are now being left at nearby neighborhoods. CBS Los Angeles reported that one company, which had a capacity of 65 containers on its lot, lined up additional containers in front of some people’s homes in Wilmington. The owner is asking for residents’ understanding until the containers eventually get hauled off.

Clearly, running operations 24/7 hasn’t solved the problem.  One critical link in the chain is truck drivers.  In California, there are more than 70,000 mostly minority owned independent truckers operating in the state, 17,000 of which are registered to bring goods in and out of the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports. These independent contractors or owner-operators (OEs) often work with multiple trucking companies – a business model that has been the standard at California ports for many decades.

AB 5, however, changed the rules for doing business. Now, trucking companies must hire drivers as employees and not as contractors.  To avoid running afoul of the law, trucking companies have shied away from hiring OEs.

The California Trucking Association, the California Retailers Association, the Western Growers along with several business groups have joined forces to lobby Gov. Newsom to declare a state of emergency in order to suspend AB 5 along with AB 701, a recently signed law that regulates quotas at warehouse distribution centers such as those of Amazon’s, which I had written about in detail here.

In the letter to Newsom, the coalition wrote, “Let’s be clear, we are not asking for your leadership in order to ensure there are toys on the shelves for Christmas; we are asking for your leadership in order to ensure working families have access to affordable medical supplies, diapers, and other basic necessities.”

As an old communications hand, I respectfully differ with the coalition members — it should absolutely be about Christmas.  While there’s no question of the widespread negative economic consequences from a prolonged supply chain mess, the best way to change politicians’ minds is this nightmare scenario: no presents under the tree, that is, if there is even a tree.

So, it wasn’t a surprise when Dee Dee Myers, Bill Clinton’s former press secretary and now director of California’s Office of Business and Economic Development, said yesterday that there would be no declaration of a state of emergency.  The fact is, even in the darkest days of the pandemic when the state’s small businesses appealed to Newsom to suspend AB 5, the Governor shook it off as “noise, noise, noise.” The same went for suspending the minimum wage increase.

Sure, the holidays mean big business for California and the U.S. economy, but after almost two years of the pandemic, people want to feel joy and hope.  And there’ll be a little less of both if the necessities are more expensive, and the things that make for holiday celebrations – bubbly water, Christmas lights, and turkeys, are not to be found.

There are heroes and villains in every story, and what politician doesn’t want to be the one who saved Christmas?  It’s not too late for the Newsom to change his mind.  In three years’ time when the supply chain crisis will return for election year scrutiny, the Guv could claim that thanks to him, Americans feasted on roast beasts.

Rowena Itchon is senior vice president of the Pacific Research Institute.

How Local Independent Commissions Are Changing California Redistricting

Long Beach is home to one of the busiest ports in the U.S., a city-owned airport, the birthplace of rapper Snoop Dogg and, of course, the beach. 

It’s also home to many different communities: a Cal State campus, young professionals and senior citizens downtown in need of affordable housing, a 45% Hispanic population and the largest Cambodian community outside of the Southeast Asian nation. 

How these communities are grouped into new election districts could reorder the city’s priorities. For decades, the Long Beach City Council drew its own districts. But this year, redistricting is in the hands of a new independent commission, aimed at preventing council members from drawing maps to their own political advantage. 

The new commission is hearing from residents, including environmental justice advocate Theral Golden, who spoke about Long Beach’s “kill zone” — also known as the “diesel death zone,” or “asthma alley.” 

Golden and others argued that because the corridor north of the port is currently divided into four council districts, residents can’t be as effective in fighting port-caused pollution.

“We are looking for something that will give someone who will represent us in a manner in which we can solve some problems,” Golden told the commission in June.  

California has a dozen new local independent commissions in this round of redistricting, a process that will create districts for elections from 2022 to 2030 based on the 2020 Census, the once-a-decade nationwide population count. 

These new panels are coming up with districts that in some places have never been redrawn, or have not been altered significantly, despite changing populations. Taking redistricting power away from office holders could mean changes in representation and city priorities.

This local movement was preceded by a state-level independent commission created by voters in 2008. That commission is busy holding public hearings and working on new boundaries for congressional and legislative districts that, in some areas, could impact who is elected. It is getting the lion’s share of attention. 

But the city and county commissions demonstrate, again, that all politics is local.   

Reforming redistricting’s ‘wild, wild West’ 

The new local independent redistricting commissions were authorized by the 2019 Fair MAPS Act, passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom as a way to prevent political gerrymandering. 

The push in Long Beach for an independent panel came mostly from the city’s Cambodian community, whose political power was diluted when it was split into four council districts by the city council’s last redrawing in 2011.  

Despite that division, in December 2020, Suely Saro, a community advocate born in a refugee camp in Thailand, became the first Cambodian American on the Long Beach City Council and one of a few in the nation.

In 2018, a community group, Equity for Cambodians, teamed up with California Common Cause, a government reform group that pushed for the Fair MAPS Act, to lobby for the new commission. Later that year, voters changed the city charter to create the panel.

Click here to read the full story at CalMatters.com

Newsom A Barrier To Tech Progress

In 2013, then-Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom wrote “Citizenville: How to Take the Town Square Digital and Reinvent Government.” The book advances the idea of how government could use technology to “house the needs, concerns, information and collaboration of an enlightened digital citizenry.” The book was both well-written and compelling.

Given the innovative ideas advanced in his book, it was disappointing to see the governor veto two bills that would have used technology to improve citizens’ accessibility to their government.

First, Senate Bill 675 would have authorized a county board of supervisors, if they so choose, to allow property owners either over the age of 62, or those individuals on SSID regardless of age, to pay their property tax in monthly installments. But the ability to bill in monthly installments, ubiquitous in the private sector, and already possible in states including Idaho, Michigan, Ohio, and Texas, was apparently too much for the Golden State. Gov. Newsom vetoed the bill, stating that Californians struggling to pay their property taxes already had options and that the bill contained “significant administrative and fiscal burdens.”

Despite Proposition 13, many retirees and seniors on fixed incomes still struggle to pay their property taxes in two big lump sums.

SB 675 simply would have given homeowners an additional option to pay their taxes in a timely manner and, at the same time, allowed them to incorporate property taxes into their monthly budgets. But the governor’s newfound fiscal restraint when it comes to investing in things that would benefit the taxpayer and the inability for government to implement widely accessible technology apparently got in the way.

To read the entire column, please click here.

The Kids Most Definitely Are Not All Right

The latest NAEP scores indicate a very troubled education system, and eliminating standardized tests certainly won’t solve the problem.

On the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), or “nation’s report card,” test scores in both reading and math declined for 13-year-old students, the first drop registered in 50 years. The test showed that the decline was concentrated among the lowest performing students. Peggy Carr, commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, who has been working with these data for 28 years, was shocked to see the decline. “I had to ask the question again of my staff. Are you sure?’ I asked them to go back and check,” she said.

It’s important to note that this test was given in early 2020, right before the pandemic-related shutdowns in the spring. At that point, then Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos granted a blanket, one-year “accountability waiver.” But in February 2021, with the Biden administration in place, new Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said he’d “require states to administer the federally mandated tests in the spring, with an asterisk: They had the option of giving shorter, remote, or delayed versions.”

Bad idea. Per researcher Dan Goldhaber, “Using different versions of tests makes the results less comparable across different years and school districts.” And shorter tests produce less “actionable” information about individual student achievement in the short term. Nevertheless, the trend to disparage, eviscerate and ultimately do away with standardized tests is all the rage these days.

It’s also happening on the college level. Brandon McCoy, education policy expert at the Manhattan Institute, reports that the standardized test “has slowly lost its pride of place in college admissions over the past decade. By 2019, the number of schools going test-optional had risen to 1,050. The pandemic has catalyzed this trend, with at least 1,400 colleges in 2021 making the move to test-optional. College systems around the country are now permanently eliminating the requirement for the SAT and ACT; the University of California system is doing away with the tests altogether.”

Of course, the education establishmentarians will do anything to discredit low test scores because it makes them look bad. In fact, the teachers unions are actively working to eliminate any kind of standardized assessments because they know that if they don’t, public fury – especially from parents – could lead to reforms that could hurt the unions’ bottom line. The unions invoke terms like “test and punish” and “high-stakes testing” to put a bad spin on the assessments. But this is like a fat person blaming the bathroom scale for his obesity. A good test is diagnostic, explains where things are amiss, and may show ways to make improvements. No matter, the unions don’t care. And these days they have a new weapon – tests are racist, they say. For example, the Massachusetts Teachers Association is speaking out against the state’s standardized test, insisting that it has “allowed white supremacy to flourish in public schools.” The teachers union is endorsing a bill that would eliminate getting a passing score on the test as a graduation requirement in the state.

In Canada, Teri Mooring, president of the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation, quipped that standardized testing is “hurtful” and blamed a “right-wing think tank” for misusing results to “inappropriately rank B.C. schools,” which contributes to “entrenching both real and perceived inequities.”

The National Education Association also makes the absolutely baseless claim that testing children is racist. “From grade school to college, students of color have suffered from the effects of biased testing.” The union goes on to say, “Since their inception a century ago, standardized tests have been instruments of racism and a biased system,” and that “students of color, particularly those from low-income families, have suffered the most from high-stakes testing in U.S. public schools.”

Instead, NEA wants to promote “authentic assessments that reflect the broad range of students’ learning and skills, including creativity, leadership, critical thinking, and collaboration.” In other words, they want the tests to use highly subjective assessments, which the union will have a heavy hand in controlling.

Click here to read the full article at the California Policy Center

Explore OC: Newport’s Back Bay is a paradise for birds, plants and people

A wake of turkey vultures sit in a dead tree, the prickly pear cactus are blooming on the bluffs above and herons pick through the marsh grass feeding on small fish and critters.

Not too far away, cyclists, hikers and runners circle them all on the 10.5 miles of trail that is part of one of the most beautiful and diverse watersheds in Southern California: the Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve and Ecological Reserve.

The views it offers visitors can be stunning, making it a pleasant getaway among Orange County’s urban sprawl.

In the 1960s, there were plans to develop the upper bay with homes and boat docks, dredge the marsh and re-configure the shoreline. After a lawsuit and public campaign drew attention to the ecological importance of the area, it was designated a reserve in 1975.

Additional acreage has been added over the years and today about 1.5 square miles of habitat have been preserved.

Estuaries such as The Back Bay (that’s what the locals call it), where fresh water and salt water come together with little wave action, serve several purposes for Mother Nature, and that also means visitors can enjoy everything from bird watching to paddle sports up close to its marshes.

The area is a migratory path for the Pacific Flyway, a stopping point for more than 190 species of birds.

Click here to read full article at the Orange County Register

Escape Artist

Phillip Abbott Luce died quietly, of natural causes, in December 1998, in his native Springfield, Ohio. He had also lived quietly, at least as far as the wide world could tell, for many years before his death, but his life was not always so. To my generation of ’60s-era Young Americans for Freedom, Phillip Abbott Luce was a hero: a former radical who had twice traveled illegally to Cuba under the auspices of the pro-Red Chinese Progressive Labor Party, who had been indicted and who testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee as a result, and who awoke from his communist daze in 1965 to be born again as an author, lecturer, and organizer against his lost faith. Like many others who later broke with the god of leftism, Luce sought to take some good from his bad experience by telling the truth about it. In The New Left, his first post-communist book, published in 1966, he wrote that he would “feel that the public exposure of my own political aberrations has resulted in something worthwhile” if he succeeded in keeping “one young person from wasting the time that I did in the Communist movement.””

Phillip Luce’s beginnings appear somewhat uncertain. According to the Ohio Department of Health, he turned 63 on his last birthday before he died, having been born October 17, 1935. But three of his books say he was born three years later, in 1938. “Young people feel that anyone over thirty is an enemy,” he wrote in The New Left, so perhaps the birth dates in the books (published between ’65 and ’68) were hedged to keep him within the age limits of his audience’s trust. That would have been fitting in a way — a parting indulgence in characteristic New Left irresponsibility about facts in particular and reality in general. The ease with which the left falls into self-delusion and into deceiving others is a recurring theme in Luce’s post-communist writing. Another is the left’s gross irresponsibility in stirring up trouble, as when it calmly casts whole, huge categories of people — anyone over 30, for instance — as “enemies.””

These are the elements that combined, finally, to drive Luce out of communism: at last he saw that the left’s super-charged determination to act, to make things happen, especially to tear things down, alongside its blasé unconcern for reality — for the actual context or consequences of its frantic destructiveness — cannot be reconciled with one’s own humanity. He began his break when he discovered he “had become part of a leadership [in the Progressive Labor Party] actively involving a number of young persons, some of them personal friends, in a series of plans in which the participants had no idea of the consequences.” Specifically, Luce found himself among people setting others up for personal disaster, encouraging and facilitating them, for instance, in skipping bail on a federal indictment, going “underground” as fugitives, secretly holding and moving guns in New York City, and fomenting riots, all as part of bringing on an “armed insurrection” that would lead to a new American civil war.”

I discovered that I had deluded myself into believing that this world held the answer to the future and that Communism was basically humanitarian in its approach to politics. No one duped me into joining, and the struggle to see through my folly has been a great personal struggle. You don’t discover early some morning that everything you believe in, and perhaps have staked your life on, is a myth. The act of breaking with Communism was the most difficult one of my life.”

Phillip Abbott Luce, a child of “middle-class Republican parents,” grew up in the Midwest where, he said, “I led the usual childhood. Graduation from high school led me to college at Miami University of Ohio, where I ran track” — not, he commented, what, at first glance, would appear to be an ideal background for “any role in an American Communist organization.””

But he left school, partly, he wrote, as a result of trouble with the administration over publishing an off-campus humor magazine. He traveled south, where his radicalization began after he resumed his education at Mississippi State University. It was the mid-1950s, and Luce had an off-campus job in a print shop that happened to be owned by the treasurer of the Mississippi White Citizens Councils. He learned enough about the Councils’ racist doings to get himself kicked off the campus newspaper for attacking them in his weekly political news columns, where he also blasted the Mississippi Legislature. He returned to Ohio in 1958, devoting his Master’s thesis at Ohio State University to a study of the Mississippi Councils from 1954 to 1958. “The civil rights struggle was in full bloom,” he wrote. “Picketing, sit-ins, boycotts, and freedom rides all captured the imagination of many young American students.” His Mississippi activities had automatically placed him in the forefront of the “radical left.””

But it was not communist ideology per se that attracted him. He was reading a lot of Marxist literature but, as he later wrote, “while I was drawn to Marxism as an intellectual concept, I was really emotionally involved in a general rebellion.” In this Luce echoed many of his fellow “leftists.” He described his generation of college students as widely diverse, but united in a general “feeling of frustration with American society …. all are rebelling against some facet of the complexity, the indifference, and what they feel to be the neurotic ways of American life.””

At the time, the liberal media reported this rebelliousness as a broad repudiation of America’s political and social institutions and traditional way of life. But, as Luce viewed what was happening from the inside, for most of those involved, the rebellion was not directed against the clear ideas on which our nation was founded and which guided its first century and a half. On the contrary, what a lot of “the kids” were fed up with was the smug vacuity known as liberalism that had largely replaced our founding ideas in post-war America: an intellectually empty, conformist materialism hypocritically posing as history’s greatest flowering of both reason and moral sensibility. As Bill Buckley summed it up: “Liberals often talk about hearing other points of view, but are usually surprised to find there are other points of view.””

“Heaven forbid,” Luce wrote in The New Left, “that a young person may decide to take a position other than the prevailing middle-of-the-road liberalism, whether on fluoridation or on foreign aid …. In this country, when one voices strong political viewpoints, he is automatically labeled a zealot, a Communist, or a McCarthyite. The era of the 1960s is the era of the nullification of politics.” It was an era of intellectual confusion and timidity in which “most parents pose as liberals, but often act like social conservatives and feel it’s better to remain quiet than to involve yourself.” The “kids”’ reaction was often to take this empty “ism” to its logical, absurd conclusion, as if to say: OK, you want vacuity, we’ll show you the real thing. “Pot, Kama Sutra sex, bennies, and bra-less females,” Luce wrote, “also are expressions of alienation from traditional society.” And also, there was Communism, seeming to offer an outlet that, in stark contrast to liberalism, possessed a clear moral purpose and a firm assurance about its actions and objectives.”

After receiving his Master’s degree, Luce began to participate in the activities of the Communist Party, which he considered “the only organization of any radical significance around.” Soon, however, he found he had fled one set of stultifying conformities for another. In the fall of 1961, he moved to New York and attempted to go to work on a moribund Communist Party monthly literary magazine called Mainstream. He joined other young writers there in an effort to infuse new ideas and youthful energy into the publication. The group set up a meeting to discuss their plans with American Communist Party head Gus Hall in Hall’s top-floor office at Party headquarters in New York.”

“Hall’s office had the warmth of a barren, unheated attic,” Luce recalled. “Empty bookcases lined the walls, and except for a conglomeration of mixed chairs and a desk, the only ornamentation was a blackboard. This blackboard was utilized by the ‘comrades’ whenever they wanted to mention someone’s name without its being recorded by the FBI …. A personification of paranoia! Such blackboards, I later discovered, adorn all of the cubbyhole offices at the CPUSA. Hall’s appearance was as stark as the physical layout. As he leaned back in his chair, his feet on the desk, he constantly fingered a clothespin and certainly resembled Captain Queeg a lot more than Lenin.” Hall, of course, vetoed any notion of new ideas or youthful exuberance for Mainstream.”

But Luce moved on to become editor of Rights, the house organ of the Emergency Civil Liberties Committee, a group founded in 1951 by “old radicals” Corliss Lamont, I.F. Stone, and others. Clark Foreman, its director, Luce wrote, was “always too independent to join the CPUSA.” Luce thought Foreman was “probably the only ‘old’ radical who understood and sympathized with the frustration and impatience of the young radicals.” Luce credited his own “need for independence, which Clark helped instill in me” with leading him later to break with Communism.”

In 1963, Luce led 58 fellow radicals on his first illegal trip to Cuba. When he returned, he was indicted and subpoenaed to appear before the House Un-American Activities Committee. “We literally swaggered into the hearing room,” Luce wrote, “determined to give the Committee a bad time. When asked my name, I sarcastically replied, ‘Phillip Abbott Luce, as in Henry and Clare Boothe.’” A fine joke, effectively conveying the contempt he felt for an established order he had not yet made any serious effort to understand. “I joined Progressive Labor,” Luce wrote, “because I had a vision of the future and a hatred for the present.” The “vision,” apparently, consisted of little more than vindicating and appeasing the hatred. “I felt that perhaps a united Communist venture could oust the present government. I overlooked all that I knew of the history of the Communist movement, the purges, etc., and held to a belief that Progressive Labor was really interested in individual freedom and the betterment of the people.””

He finally looked honestly at Communism when the “vision” moved outside his imagination and began shaping the real world he and his fellow radicals inhabited. In 1964, his Communist superiors asked him to “go underground,” to become a fugitive, and to help incite violence. Luce refused, and looked back later at that step as his first toward a formal exit from Communism. He wrote that he refused partly out of concern for his friends in the movement. He recalled one in particular, whom he called “Frank,” who was never “familiar with the theories of Marxism-Leninism,” who had “joined the Communist set because his friends were members, because it gave him a somewhat self-fulfilling role, and because it was the ‘cool’ thing to do …. During the time I knew him, he was lied to, used, and constantly put upon, because he was considered a valuable tool. His youth may well allow him to ‘grow out’ of the movement. One of the people for whom I left PL was Frank; I could not take the responsibility for inciting illegal acts which might involve him without his knowledge and for which he would certainly suffer.” Luce also, unlike many leftists, never felt alienated from his parents. After his break, he wrote that he had tried unsuccessfully “through the years” to keep his “political radicalization” from touching them, knowing they would be hurt by it. “The only thing I would ever try to redo in my political past would be to spare them, if that were possible, the blight of having had me as a ‘Communist son.’””

After leaving and denouncing the left, Phillip Luce was subject to the routine torrent of abuse from former friends and colleagues. “Borrowing a chapter from the Nazis,” he wrote, “they believe that the more often a lie is repeated, the more people are prone to accept it as truth. Nothing is too scandalous for them, and I am constantly amazed at the fact that at one time I was a close associate of people capable of such deceitful behavior.” But he also knew he had been one of them in this regard, admitting that he had systematically deceived himself in overlooking “all that I knew of the history of the Communist movement, the purges, etc. ….””

Luce’s escape from communism led him to Young Americans for Freedom, the organization Bill Buckley had founded with other members of the burgeoning post-World War II conservative movement in America. YAF was intended to provide a conservative alternative to Students for a Democratic Society — SDS, a group of leftist radicals about as devoted to democracy as were their heroes in North Vietnam. Luce became a special YAF field representative for organizing anti-New Left resistance on college campuses. He spoke at hundreds of them throughout the United States debating his former allies. He appeared frequently on radio and television, published five books, and wrote many widely-read articles exposing the left. One of Luce’s friends recently recalled the time: “His debates with radical leaders like Tom Hayden and Jerry Rubin were legendary. He pulled no punches. He was flamboyant, usually dressed in denim, smoking cigars. He brought crowds to their feet. His writing style was dynamic. His first-hand accounts of real communism could not be countered by the radical leaders of the day. He knew who they were, he knew their tactics. He was fierce, unyielding and determined in his battle to crush their socialist propaganda.””

But, for all that, in many ways Luce remained a man traveling alone. No major figure joined him from the left, which remained dominant on campus until the end of the Vietnam War. His long hair, Viking-style mustache, and counter-culture clothing set him apart, to put it mildly, from other YAF speakers. A friend who came to know him well in the 1970s described Luce as more poet than political activist. I vividly recall a 1967 trip with Phil to the Whisky on Sunset Strip where he introduced me to the “Doors.” Luce’s Bohemian soul, as much after Communism as before it, defined his personality. His political activity came as a by-product of it. Although he was a darling of YAF’s conservative activists, he always remained something of an outsider.”

After the war, campus political organizing became more difficult, and both YAF’s and the left’s influence and activity waned. Luce continued to develop anti-Communist programs outside the United States, but he was largely forgotten. When he died, only a short notice was circulated among his former friends. His death certificate lists his “usual occupation” as “Political Aide” and his “kind of business” as “U.S. Government.” Along with the rest of us, Phil had the great good fortune to live to see the fall of the Soviet’s Evil Empire.”

In The New Left, Luce noted the cost of breaking with the left by quoting the words of another ex-communist, Hede Massing: “You have lost your first set of friends when you leave the fold. Then, when your battle of conscience has been fought and won, and you go out into the open, you have lost your second set of friends. Now you are alone.” Luce commented: “You are alone, but not isolated.” He devoted himself from that point on to drawing together the forces of resistance to Communism to defend the country that he finally, through a long, painful ordeal, had come to know and love.