Clarifying Comments

A few days ago, I attended a presentation on by David Flaks. David is the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation’s (LAEDC) Chief Operating Officer, and he was discussing LAEDC’s new LA County Strategic Plan.

A few hours later, I was called by a Ventura County Star reporter, Stephanie Hoops. She asked for my thoughts on the plan. I gave them to her, and she accurately reported them. They were on the web in a few hours and in my morning paper the next day.

For reasons that still elude me, some people have interpreted my comments as somehow dissing the LAEDC.

I had three comments:

  • The plan was not very specific. Well, of course it wasn’t very specific. Los Angeles County is probably the World’s most diverse metropolitan area, with 88 cities, almost every ethnic or cultural group on earth, and dozens of languages spoken. The document was developed to attract broad concurrence. LAEDC went to a lot of trouble and effort to get everyone’s buy in. That would be impossible in Los Angeles County for any document with specificity. Any document that will attract broad support in Los Angeles County must necessarily be vague.
  • The plan will probably not achieve its proponents’ goals. Here, I made the assumption that the goal was to create a measurable change in the Los Angeles County’s economic future. If that is the goal, then they probably won’t be successful. You just can’t do that with a vague document. Besides, many of Los Angeles’ challenges originate in Sacramento, and much of what goes on there is beyond Los Angeles’ control.  If, on the other hand, the proponents’ goals were less ambitious, say to begin moving Los Angeles County’s policies toward creating a more business-friendly environment, the plan could very well achieve its purpose. This brings me to my final comment.
  • It was worthwhile to develop the plan. California faces serious and persistent economic challenges, and most of those challenges are a result of policy. We must move toward more business-friendly policies throughout California if we are to meet our obligation to provide economic opportunity to all Californians. This document, and many more like it, is a necessary step in moving California toward a consensus that encourages California policies that will result in the vigorous economy necessary to achieve the opportunity that Californians once took for granted.

I don’t see how this can be interpreted as negative toward the LAEDC. It is certainly not meant to be.

Finally, some people seem to think I speak for the University. That’s just not true. The University lets me say what I choose to say, but they don’t always like it. It is testament to the strength of the University’s commitment to academic freedom that it continues to support me even when I’m controversial.

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