Breaking Up is Hard To Do

The news today is filled with discussions around a proposition that will be on the November ballot. Quoting the LA Times:

If a majority of voters who cast ballots agree, a long and contentious process would begin for three separate states to take the place of California, with one primarily centered around Los Angeles and the other two divvying up the counties to the north and south. Completion of the radical plan — far from certain, given its many hurdles at judicial, state and federal levels — would make history. […] Northern California would consist of 40 counties stretching from Oregon south to Santa Cruz County, then east to Merced and Mariposa counties. Southern California would begin with Madera County in the Central Valley and then wind its way along the existing state’s eastern and southern spine, comprising 12 counties and ultimately curving up the Pacific coast to grab San Diego and Orange counties. Los Angeles County would anchor the six counties that retained the name California, a state that would extend northward along the coast to Monterey County.

Of course, this proposal will never go all the way: it has to pass Congress at the national level, and they would be loath to create something that might topple the balance of power in either the House or Senate. That’s why neither Puerto Rico nor DC have achieved statehood: they’d come in a strongly Democratic. But there are so many other problems with this proposal. One can easily see why the last successful state split was West Virginia, during the Civil War, in an era where there wasn’t much state level infrastructure.

But splitting California would have so many problems:

  • What would be the state postal code? After all, both NC and SC are taken. CN and CS and CA?
  • You think the state bureaucracy is bad now? Splitting means duplicating and recreating all of the government bureaucracy: Three governors, Three Lt. Governors, Three of every executive, Duplications of staffs and such. Where does the money to pay for all of that come from?
  • How will you divide infrastructure and infrastructure maintenance, especially when Caltrans districts straddle and cross state lines?
  • Think about all costs associated with resignage. Almost every sign on state highways would need to be replaced if they referenced the state name or used the state highway shield.
  • What do you do about funding of multiyear infrastructure improvement projects? How do you split the bonded indebtedness of projects that straddle state lines?
  • How do you handle water, especially when all of the major urban areas are importing their water from new California states?
  • How do we divide the costs of prisons, when they aren’t evenly distributed across the new states?
  • Think about the mess this creates for Cal State and UC, as they now become multiple systems? How would USC react to there being another USC (and note that both SCU and CSU are also taken)? How will UNC react to their being another UNC (and note that both NCU and CNU are also both taken)?

Most importantly, would I have to do the Californias Highway Pages?

Seriously, if you want to break up a state, break up Texas. They already have the Congressional approval to do so. Malcolm Gladwell of the Revisionist History podcast has a great episode on the subject; even the Texas Law Review cites it. Hint: No matter how you do it, the Republicans will lose, and lose big.


Shaping Factors

Over lunch, I was reviewing my accumulated potential news chum links. There had been some interesting articles over the last few days that had piqued my interest (got it right this time), but what would theme? Then it hit me — a connection between articles. All of these have to do with factors that shape our perception and our history, especially in California and Los Angeles in particular.

  • Drawing the Line. Curbed LA had a recent article of late on Los Angeles History 101, presenting 13 defining moments in Los Angeles history. Item #8 was redlining, which was the process of distinguishing particular neighborhoods for particular ethnic and economic groups. That article provided some interesting history, including the fact that many communities in Southern California were “sundown” towns, where blacks were not permitted after sundown (these include Hawthorne, Palos Verdes and South Pasadena). It also mentioned “redlining”: When the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation was established in the 1930s as part of the New Deal, it was meant to bolster the housing market. It also assessed and ranked the value of land and risks according to a neighborhood’s economic and racial makeup. Depending on the community, certain groups were barred, or loans were more risky. The redlining connected to their item #9, which is the dark history of how the Dodgers acquired the land for Dodger Stadium, as well as items #10 and #12, the Watts Riots and the Rodney King Riots. This dovetailed with an article in the Atlantic looking at the practice of redlining in more detail. That article went into the racist history of both the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles, showing how the redlining shaped the racial tensions that impact the city to this very day. Look at the redlining maps, and then look at where the racial issues boiled over in Chavez Ravine, Watts, and South LA. Then think about other LA incidents such as the Zoot Suit Riots, and you’ll see the racist history of California in gory detail.
  • Water and Land. Another defining moment in the Curbed LA article is #3, Water and Mullholland. Water enabled the city to grow, but at a great cost. Water is also key to California’s growth, and there was a great article on that a few months ago talking about the central valley of California, water rights, and the small number of farmers that own vast acreage and shape politics and policy in the San Joaquin Valley.  The article talks about Stewart Resnick. . Last time Resnick checked, he owned 180,000 acres of California. That’s 281 square miles. He is irrigating 121,000 of those acres. This doesn’t count the 21,000 acres of grapefruits and limes he’s growing in Texas and Mexico. He uses more water than any other person in the West. His 15 million trees in the San Joaquin Valley consume more than 400,000 acre-feet of water a year. The city of Los Angeles, by comparison, consumes 587,000 acre-feet. It looks at the impact of Resnick’s companies, such as Pom Wonderful (of Cuties fame). He is one of the largest growers of pistacios. And, of course, he owns a mansion in Beverly Hills.
  • Perceptions. Our perceptions are shaped in various ways. The Washington Post had an interesting article (use incognito or private mode if blocked by their paywall) about how social media shaped and spread a historical lie. This is the lie that “The Democrats created KKK.”, and it involves a purported photo of a Klan march captioned: “This photo was taken at the 1924 Democratic Convention. It was known as the ‘Klanbake’ (just in case you want to Google it).” The problem? There was no Klan march at the 1924 Democratic convention — the photo was actually taken in Wisconsin — nor was the convention ever actually known as the “Klanbake.” Read the article for the full details and disputation. But we’re seeing other shaping perceptions, notably in the form of faked videos of celebrities. Often called “deepfakes”, these are used to create “celebrity porn” or fake news, with politicians saying things they never did. Of course, we see the video and believe our eyes — seeing is believing, right? Wrong. Now even what we see is faked.  So here’s a good guide on how to recognize “deepfake” videos.



News Chum: Of Local Interest

As I continue to clear out some news chum before starting work on the highway pages, here are some chum items of local-ish interest;

  • “This Land” Becomes Real – Gentrification in Watts. In the play “This Land” which we saw recently, a key aspect of the plot was the gentrification of the community of Watts. Turns out — they were right. As one real estate developer said, “There is cheap housing in L.A. … The American dream is still affordable in Watts, Compton and all the forgotten ghettos.” Ralph McLaughlin, chief economist at the online real estate site Trulia, took a quick look at the numbers and said home values in Watts and Compton are at post-recession highs, indicating “increased demand to live or invest” in these areas. And who gets pushed out, and where do they go to live….
  • Get Your Tacos Now – Music Center Renovation. Well, there goes Tito’s Tacos as a reliable low-cost dinner option before the Ahmanson. The Music Center will be renovating their plaza creating a stronger outdoor performance venue and redoing the restaurants in the process.  Note to self: Remember to get dinner in NoHo before you get on the Red Line to go to the Ahmanson or Taper for a while. Still, they need to do this — in particular, the escalators up to the plaza, because finding the elevators from the street is always a pain.
  • As if By Magic – Proposed Hilton Universal Expansion. The Hilton Universal City has announced a proposal to expand the hotel. Thank you, Harry Potter. There are still many hurdles to overcome, including the site plan for the studio itself (the hotel is not on studio land). What I’m trying to figure out is precisely where they plan to build this addition, given the layout of the space and the hotel towers. I’m guessing it is going over the meeting space, but I’ve only seen a drawing, not a map. Not many more details here.
  • Cutting the Cord — AT&T Removing Undersea Cable. Moving a bit further northwest, AT&T is planning to remove an undersea cable that runs from San Luis Obispo to China. The cable, part of the China-U.S. Cable Network, was retired from service in December 2016. In total, the 18,600-mile, $1.1 billion cable paid for by an international coalition of telecom companies connects the United States with China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Guam in a loop and had a capacity of 80 Gigabits, or 100 million phone calls at a time, according to a website that tracks submarine cable networks. The cables connect into a greater system at an AT&T terminal building about 10 miles inland on Los Osos Valley Road. Now it’s obsolete, and as Yoda says, pulled up it will be.
  • Why Mother, You’re Growing – Mothers Market Expansion. Lastly, in the expansion of yet another natural food chain, Mother’s Markets are expanding into Los Angeles. Founded in Orange County in 1978 by a group of yoga enthusiasts, the pioneering organic grocery store said it is adding stores next year in Signal Hill and Manhattan Beach. The Signal Hill store, at 2475 Cherry Ave., is an anchor at a new development called Heritage Square. The store is slated to open in early 2018. The Manhattan Beach store, at 1700 Rosecrans Ave., is slated to open in the summer of 2018.



Of Historical Interest

Over the past few weeks, there have been quite a few articles I’ve uncovered related to California and Los Angeles history:

Speaking of going away….



Chum Locally: Southern California News Chum

userpic=los-angelesThis collection of news chum (perhaps the ultimate for this trip, or the penultimate) all relates to Southern California:

ETA: Some sad news:



Doubles and Singles: News Chum for Everyone

userpic=observationsNow for the rest of the news chum, which seems to fit into the theme of doubles and singles — that is, we have a bunch of groupa-twos and a few singlets:


Independence Weekend News Chum Stew

Observation StewIt’s been stewing on the stove for two weeks because I’ve been so busy. Let’s hope it is still tasty and flavor-right. Here’s your news chum stew for the last two weeks:



Saturday Chum Stew: Water, Vegas, Revolts, and Death. A Typical Week.

userpic=observationsSaturday, and time to clear out the news links before a busy weekend. Hopefully, you’ll find something of interest in these: