Thursday, April 10, 2014

Some Comments on the New LA 2020 Report

Civic leaders in Los Angeles have released a reasonable new report listing action items for improving the city's economic performance and quality of life.  Here is a link to the LA Times article about it.

I must say that the report's first two policy proposals are goofy.  Here is the first one

1. Create an independent ‘Office of Transparency and Accountability.’

What do these words mean?  This entity already exists and it is called UCLA and USC.  Both strong universities have a number of urban scholars who could be paid small amounts of money (perhaps $10,000 to commission a data driven report on how the city is performing.   This would be a better use of money than hiring 10 new government employees at $100,000 each and each of them does not have a Ph.D and doesn't know how to analyze "big data".  Such professors would be "arm's length" from the politicians and wouldn't have a conflict of interest.   The Luskin School has plenty of faculty who do contract work for the state of California, why aren't these scholars doing contract work for the city?  There would be ways to design such research contracts so that the researchers would have their autonomy and would not be punished for "bad" findings.  Through competitive research the truth will emerge and accountability can be achieved.  

2.  Create a truly independent oversight and rate-setting body for DWP.

DWP is a public sector job maximizing sluggish institution.  This agenda is very good for its incumbents but not good for its customers, tax payers, or the environment.   DWP's union leaders are smart people who know they have a very very good deal. They are not going to allow anyone to mess with that.