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LOS ANGELES Friday, July 3rd 2015 8:21


The Declaration of Independence Meant Something Different to America’s Not So Independent Slaves

Amy Goodman
WHO WE ARE-“What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July?” asked Frederick Douglass (photo above) of the crowd gathered at Corinthian Hall in Rochester, NY, on July 5, 1852. “I answer,” he continued, “a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which lie is the constant victim. To him,…

Trumping Trump: Shun the Donald, Boycott His Palos Verdes Golf Course

Bob Gelfand
GELFAND’S WORLD-I believe that it's really Donald Trump's hair. I seem to be unique in this belief. It's nice to be unique in some way, but what bothers me is that I have also been nearly unique, until now, in arguing that Trump should be shunned and boycotted. But times change. It's been a traumatic week both for Donald Trump and for the…

LA’s Sidewalks: Penny Wise and Pound Foolish

Jack Humphreville
LA WATCHDOG-The City of Los Angeles is expected to spend $1.4 billion over the next 30 years to repair our sidewalks pursuant to a Settlement Agreement involving the Willits class action lawsuit that alleged that the City was not in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. While the yet to be disclosed Settlement Agreement appears to…

Is It Really a Golden State or Is It Just One of Those Hollywood Illusions?

Dennis Zine
JUST THE FACTS-Is Los Angeles really part of a Golden State or is it a place to remember as you move to greener pastures? I pose this question following my recent visit to Chicago and other cities east of the Rockies. My travels to the east coast were part of my reserve LAPD duty. I was part of the group of LAPD Reserve Officers escorting the…

Want to Save The Bullet Train, Governor … Get Better Bullet Points!

Ken Alpern
GETTING THERE FROM HERE-George W. Bush had Iraq. Barack Obama has ObamaCare. And Jerry Brown has HIS bullet train. Not OUR bullet train, mind you, but HIS bullet train. And like Iraq, and like ObamaCare, the bullet train that was meant to help all of us, and which was promoted with great fanfare and wonderful intentions, has to survive the test of…

LA: Hit-and-Run Capital of the World May Be Getting an Alert System

Damien Newton
LA’S STREETS - After last week’s warning that CA Assemblymember Mike Gatto’s legislation to create a “Yellow Alert” system was imperiled by Senate Transportation and Housing Committee staff and the California Highway Patrol’s (CHP) objections, there was a feeling of a looming showdown before today’s committee hearing. Assembly Bill 8 would create…

LA’s Citywide Sign Ordinance: By, For and Of Special Interests

Barbara Broide
IRATE PRIVATE CITIZEN’S OPEN LETTER-I write this letter not as a representative of my local homeowners association or neighborhood council, both of which have come out in support of the sign ordinance that limits new signage to sign districts in specified commercially zoned areas and who seek enforcement of and the issuance of citations to signs…

Now Is the Time For True Courage

Abby Zimet
FURTHER-Britanny 'Bree' Newsome - the filmmaker, organizer, activist and aspiring Super-Woman who memorably, determinedly climbed the flagpole at South Carolina's capitol to remove the Confederate flag - has spoken out for the first time about her feat, which she views "both as an act of civil disobedience and as a demonstration of the power…

When Did the American Civil War Really End and … Did Shenandoah Really Save the Whales?

Paul Hatfield
PERSPECTIVE - When did the American Civil War end? Could it really have been late June or early November of 1865? April 9, 1865 is the date widely accepted, and for good reason: it marked the surrender of General Lee’s army at Appomattox, Virginia. It was a foregone conclusion that other field commands would quickly follow suit. In fact, they did,…


  • Costco: Free Range Liars!

    Christian Cristiano
    WELLNESS POLITICS-Eight years ago grocery retailer Costco (COST) pledged to transition out of using eggs from chickens in small cages to cage free…
  • 10 Things Over-Thinkers Are Tired Of Over-Thinking

    Lindsay Holmes
    WELLNESS-While writing this intro, I deleted the first paragraph approximately six times. My thoughts ranged from "Just get to the point already" to…
  • Can Procrastination Give You a Heart Attack?

    Christian Cristiano
    WELLNESS-A study posted in the journal of behavioral medicine linked procrastination with hypertension and cardiovascular disease. Specifically…

Sun Jul 05, 2015 @ 5:00PM - 09:00PM
Twilight in the Garden: Little Tokyo Concert Series
Thu Jul 16, 2015 @12:00AM
LA Equality Awards RSVP
Thu Jul 30, 2015 @ 6:00PM - 08:00PM
A Taste of Chatsworth

Fail! Fail! Americans don’t know why we celebrate the 4th of July

Awwww! Tornado separates dog and owner … dog waits!









What Even the Romans Knew: You Gotta ‘Build and Fix the Damn Roads’

GETTING THERE FROM HERE - When asked what government is supposed to do as its primary mission, the talking point of “building or fixing the roads” always comes up among the first of several critical functions that are needed at either the local, state or federal level. National defense, safety and security and similar functions/talking points are also common cited. Where does the “building or fixing the roads” come from, considering how the roads and other transportation projects are the first to get cut by either American political party?

Historically, the “building or fixing the roads” phrase extends from ancient Roman times and survives to this modern day, probably because with roads come commerce, and with commerce comes the ability of people to economically thrive and enjoy an enhanced quality of life (either through enhanced mobility or greater access to a wider variety of goods).

Also historically, the phrase was premised on the concept of self-reliance—if you didn’t labor, produce or trade, you didn’t eat or live too well. Unfortunately, we currently endure a nanny state that caters to corporate, military/industrial, education, union and/or other elites, as well as a variety of ne’er-do-well types that have to be “fed” before the vital functions of government (such as the assurance and enhancement of commerce) can be establish by “building or fixing the roads”.

In today’s urban reality, the need for transportation lies well beyond “the roads” and includes rail, air travel and even pedestrian and bicycle-oriented transportation options that ensure and enhance commerce. Furthermore, the ability to “cyber-commute” (which is often forgotten as one of the most efficient, pleasant and environmentally-friendly methods of communication, shopping or employment) is also a growing and changing alternative to confront.

A sober but unavoidable truism that gets forgotten in the ridiculous wars surrounding transportation funding and prioritization is that NONE of the aforementioned methods of travel pay directly for themselves. Whether it’s a fee, government subsidization or private funding, ALL of these transportation options require money to build and also to operate.

Cars need gas, insurance and maintenance. So do trains and planes. Roads and rail lines need large amounts of money for construction and operation, as do airports, cell towers, power lines and wireless networks.

However, they virtually and decidedly ALL pay for themselves indirectly through the commerce and powered economy engendered through transportation and related infrastructure projects. Yes, there are roads to nowhere, airports to nowhere, rail lines to nowhere, bridges to nowhere, etc., but by and large the well-conceived projects pay for themselves a lot sooner than most skeptics realize.

Which is why one of our greatest current economic challenges is the perilous and narrow strait we must navigate with respect to appropriate transportation funding. We have to confront the careful and narrow path between the Scylla and Charybdis of both political parties, and between the extreme left and extreme right who continuously and repeatedly thwart the common sense and well-being of the average American.

Which is why the GOP appears so cruel and heartless when it opposes virtually all transportation spending as “pork”, and which is why the Democrats appear so naïve and fiscally-irresponsible when it prioritizes transportation behind (as opposed to being in front of) other, less defined and less meritorious priorities.

Which is also why many Americans probably agree with President Obama when he believes that House Majority Leader Boehner will (or at least should) see the light with respect to the House passing a right-sized transportation/infrastructure bill.

And which is also why many Americans probably agree with Republican House Representative Bobby Schilling of Illinois when he believes that—despite being critical of the stimulus law enacted before he was elected—more of the money should have been devoted to infrastructure projects. [link]

As with the voter-approved bonds in Sacramento from the Schwarzeneggar era, the stimulus package enacted the year after President Obama took office was sold as transportation/infrastructure (T/I)…but had a lot of unproven, more fiscally-nebulous OTHER priorities that left T/I as a relatively small minority fraction of what would otherwise have been a more voter-accepted and economy-rebuilding effort had the money been spent for what it was advertised.

Education, affordable housing, union money grabs, social services and a variety of other priorities got in the way of the barebones, economy-focused T/I packages in both Sacramento and Washington, and if anyone complained he/she was decried as hating teachers, students, poor people, minorities, the disabled, puppies, bunnies, flowers and just about anyone or anything else that could be trotted out as needy and in need of support.

Except that with an economy in the doldrums, the essentials have to be prioritized—something which both political parties have a problem with as they forget how the national rail and interstate highway systems have been the primary factors for the world power America became over the past two centuries. These rail and highways systems are responsible for the economy that pays for all of the other governmental priorities that have now superseded the T/I core priority they've always relied upon.

Perhaps the GOP and the Democrats in Washington can rededicate the remaining, unspent stimulus funds to the T/I funding bill being debated in the House, and tell other priorities’ lobbyists that they won’t really help our economy, and that a haircut is needed for everyone in government—but not with the T/I priority always taking the biggest hit.

We need more transportation funding (provided that it’s properly vetted and spent well, as we're seeing in LA County through its recently-passed Measure R), and we need education, military and entitlement programs to really have their bloated budgets be right-sized and spent more cost-effectively

What worked for the Romans two thousand years ago still works today for the average American: we want the government to just build and fix the damn roads (or rail, or what have you)…and we can take care of ourselves from there.

(Ken Alpern is a former Boardmember of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently cochairs its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee. He is co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chairs the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at The views expressed in this article are solely those of Mr. Alpern.) -cw


Tags: political party, infrastructure, Romans, GOP, building and fixing roads







Vol 9 Issue 54

Pub: July 8, 2011