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 …

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 …

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 …

Coming Together, Falling Apart

In reality, equilibrium is only an observation over a large scale of time, but at any specific time period, things are more like a pendulum, swinging from one end of the spectrum to the next. Looking at the world today, and the violent conflicts that seem to escalate in scale, it would appear that the world has forgotten the horrors of war – the incredible devastation of the two World Wars that obliterated most of Europe – and the resulting need for international unity and harmony. As the old Chinese saying goes “after a long time together, it ought to separate, after a long time divided, it ought to come together”. In many ways, if we look at the history of the world, that is exactly how things play out. The world gets smaller, then it divides and feels farther apart. The Macedonian Empire disintegrated into separate polities, only to reunite again under the Romans. The Mongolian tribes were brought together into the largest empire ever seen only to fall apart. In some ways, faced with …

Bombing Oil Fields and Fighting Islamic State

Has anyone given thought to the political, economic, and environmental consequences of such destruction? Has anyone thought about the devastating environmental impact of bombing oil fields? For the most part, the majority of the people under IS control are innocent. Yet, this sort of destruction and retaliation by the West, is exactly what drives the youth to join in the extremist movement. How can anyone be alright with the destruction of their livelihood and of their environment?