All posts filed under: Politics

Public Policy 101: Understanding Policy

It is important for the public to understand how to understand policy, especially when it is in the process of being deliberated and adopted. As a policymaker, I want to share some of the finer points of policy making, especially into today political climate. *My views do not represent the City of Los Angeles or the Department of City Planning. Every year, a large number of policies are deliberated at all levels of government. Some are passed, some are postponed, some are dead upon arrival. In a democratic government, almost all of these policies are heard in some form or another by the public. However, there are a lot of nuances to understanding them and because the public are not generally versed in understanding policy, there are ways to get policies passed by influencing public sentiment or despite public sentiment. To make it easier for you to understand policies, especially those you care about, the following are three important things to look for to avoid supporting a policy on misguided assumptions. They are listed in …

Los Angeles – No to Measure S

Dear Friends in the City of Los Angeles, For those of you who are residents and are able to vote, there is a ballot measure to take an important stand against in next week’s local elections: Measure S. L.A. Times, Governor Brown, Mayor Garcetti, and many others have came out against this measure, (here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here) which will basically prohibit development in the City for the next two years and make it extremely difficult in the years after (to be explained below). For those of you that don’t know, the City of Los Angeles like the rest of California, is in the midst of a housing crisis. With a vacancy rate hovering around 2%, the supply of housing is extremely tight and housing costs are skyrocketing. What most people don’t realize is that at around $56,000, the median wage in Los Angeles is actually not that high, yet average home sale prices have now soared above half a million. That is lunacy. Renters are also suffering, with many paying more than 30% of …

Letters on Tuesdays – A Year to Remember

Dear Wilton, How can I even begin to discuss the issues that not only came to the forefront of, but also stunned stunned our collective consciousnesses last week? As you well know, from the conversations within our family, Donald Trump is to become the next president of the United States. How can I explain to you that a being like him – who disrespects women and woman’s rights, who is a racist, who is a liar, who abuses everyone who criticizes him, who is never prepared, who admits he never reads, who thinks climate change is a Chinese hoax – now has control of the most powerful nation on the planet? How can I tell you to believe that you will live in a world where you will be respected as an equal? The explanation on his rise to power involves the complex web of issues, that we as humans built ourselves, facing every single human being. At the very core of which, probably lies the unnerving question, what are we doing with our lives? What …

A Brief about Letters on Tuesdays

Dear Friends, Starting tomorrow, I will be posting a serials of short essays every Tuesday on a wide variety of topics in the format of letters to my little sister, Wilton. It will be an exploration and a reflection based on my various experiences over the last 27 years. It will also be a creative project to hone and expand my skills in communication and writing. If there is any topic or issue you want me to write about, don’t hesitate to let me know. I hope you will enjoy them! William

A Short About Policy Making

Have you ever wondered about the city you live in: its history, its planning, its development? The Guardian has an incredible 50-part series on the history of urbanization from around the world. The more you read about cities, the more they become a metaphor for life – patience, plans, foundations, and changes. Any sort of urban development can takes years and decades. The saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”. Furthermore, even the best laid plans can be easily swept aside by unforeseen circumstances or self-created consequences. Yet, without plans and goals, a city will cease to exist. Therein lies the paradox of urban planning (and of life) – each action results in an infinite possibility of reactions. You want to capture the current circumstances and anticipate future change, but it is always an impossibility. You create that which you hope to contain, and yet what you hope to contain is based on projections, assumptions, and visions that can easily fall apart in an instant… The building of cities always serves as an expression of the political …

Days on Public Transit

What has the world come to? A slogan that has resonated throughout history, “Stronger Together”, is out-done by a call based on isolationism and division to a fictional, non-existent past. The world, supposedly more interconnected and educated than ever, is fraught with regionalism, fear, and ignorance. This is not to say that the future is not going to be better. The march towards progress and understanding has continued to be unceasing. With the rise of the millennials, who have a better grasp than any generation before of the interconnectedness of humanity, into positions of leadership and power, perhaps the world will truly understand that humanity is one. When I take public transit in Los Angeles to work everyday, I am exposed to the lives, actions, and faces of those less fortunate. Sometimes, it makes me wonder what we can do better to help those that society’s progress continue to exclude and leave behind. Sometimes, it makes me angry because of their own ignorance and their lack of desire to do better. Just today, while on …

Capstone: Variables Associated With Environmental Sustainability – A United Nations Millennium Development Goal

For those following my blog since the start of my Data Analysis and Interpretation Specialization by Wesleyan University through Coursera, this is the final course and the Capstone project. Unlike previous courses, I will move away from urbanization data and try to tackle one of the problems provided by the course’s industry partner. Below is our first assignment – the introduction to my final report. Variables Associated with Environmental Sustainability Using data provided by the World Bank, through DrivenData, this study looks to identify factors associated with the Environmental Sustainability Indicator defined as an United Nations Millennium Development Goal (MDG). Preliminary explanatory variables are Gross National Income, Forest Area, CO2 Emissions, Employment, Foreign Direct Investments, Household Final Consumption Expenditure, Adult Literacy Rate, Urban Population, Investments in Energy, and Energy Use. This mix of both economic and social factors will be examined for associations with the UN-MDG indicator of environmental sustainability. After the associated variables are identified, they will be used to create a model to predict data for the years 2008 and 2012. As a social/urban scientist interested …