Explaining Southern California's economy

LA Auto Show: The glorious gullwing Mercedes SLS AMG

Perhaps thankfully, I'm nearing the end of the videos I shot while at the press days for the LA Auto Show last week. 

But here's a last one, because...well, because I love the British racing green cars. You just don't see them that often anymore. And in this case, I think the Mercedes SLS AMG looks pretty sharp in that storied tone. The gullwing doors don't hurt, either.

The show runs through through Nov. 27, so you've got plenty of time to go down and check out this ride — which has quite a history — in the flesh.

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Innovative Occupy LA deal to move from City Hall under fire

Occupy LA March - November 17

Eric Richardson / blogdowntown

A protester is arrested during a Thursday afternoon Occupy LA march that did not have police permits.

Well, that didn't take long. Just as an innovative deal between the City of LA and Occupy LA protesters — a deal that would have gotten the protesters off City Hall's lawn and into 10,000 square feet if office space — was floated, it was criticized. 

But it may still be in play. And if it is, it's consistent with the very enlightened stance LA has taken toward the Occupy Movement since it set up camp at City Hall almost two months ago.

This is from the LA Times:

Images of cops in riot gear rousting Occupy encampments across the nation have become ubiquitous in recent weeks, as many cities try to prevent the tent gatherings from becoming troublesome permanent fixtures. But Los Angeles has taken a different tack.

Officials have been quietly searching for common ground with Occupy representatives for several weeks, culminating in a highly unusual offer announced by protesters Monday: If the campers move off the City Hall lawn, the city will lease them work space for $1 a year, as well as provide land for protesters to garden.

As political blow back to the proposal mounted Tuesday, city officials backed away slightly from the offer, according to Scott Shuster, a protester who said he has been present at the meetings, which are headed by Villaraigosa's deputy chief of staff, Matt Szabo. Shuster said it was unclear whether that offer was still on the table.


Is Linda Katehi the right person to be running UC Davis?

Occupy UC Davis Protests Police Pepper Spray Incident

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

DAVIS, CA - NOVEMBER 21: UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi (C) wipes her eye as she is escorted to a car after speaking to Occupy protestors during a demonstration at the UC Davis campus on November 21, 2011 in Davis, California. Thousands of Occupy protestors staged a demonstration on the UC Davis campus to protest the UC Davis police who pepper sprayed students who sat passively with their arms locked during an Occupy Wall Street demonstration on November 18. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

In the aftermath of the UC Davis pepper spray incident, when campus cop Lt. John Pike unleashed the nasty dispersing agent on a group of Occupy protesters who had refused to leave the university's quad, Chancellor Linda Katehi has been standing her ground, cooperating with an investigation rather than resigning.

This sounds like a prudent course of action and has attained some credibility, especially now that former LA Police Chief and New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton — not a man to be trifled with — has been appointed by UC to lead to lead the inquiry.

But of course, the outcome is already baked in the cake. Chancellor Katehi, who reportedly ordered the campus cops to remove the protesters and their tents from the quad, is now fighting for her career. She's just thrown the offending officers under the bus, declaring that they defied her order to avoid a repeat of an earlier action against Occupy at UC Berkeley, which turned ugly.


Did the pepper spray cop use excessive force at UC Davis?

AP Photo/The Enterprise, Wayne Tilcock

In this Friday, Nov. 18, 2011, photo University of California, Davis Police Lt. John Pike uses pepper spray to move Occupy UC Davis protesters while blocking their exit from the school's quad Friday in Davis, Calif. Two University of California, Davis police officers involved in pepper spraying seated protesters were placed on administrative leave Sunday, Nov. 20, 2011, as the chancellor of the school accelerates the investigation into the incident.

In just a few days, UC Davis campus cop John Pike has entered his 15-minutes-of-infamy. All it took was a can of weapons-grade pepper spray and a group of Occupy protestors. And the web. And Photoshop. You get the idea. News travels fast and then gets twisted to various creative purposes.

The question is, Did Pike use excessive force in dealing with what looked to many like a peaceful demonstration? I think he probably could have held off on the pepper spray. But Higher Ed Live points out that what observers might think is non-violent protest can be perceived differently by police. Cited is a report that grew out of a similar protest at UCLA in 2008, which Higher Ed Live references:

[O]ne very interesting issue was addressed when the report looked at UCLA PD’s use-of-force regulations. This issue was that among the factors to be considered in determining the reasonableness of force is “whether the suspect is actively resisting arrest or attempting to evade arrest by flight.”

This is the very issue that is at the heart of last Friday’s incident at UC Davis. Were the students sitting linked arm-in-arm peacefully protesting, or actively resisting police? Were campus police within their rights to deploy force to disperse them?

At UCLA at least, here’s what the report finds:

“It appears from interviews and correspondence that many students and faculty members were under the impression that…locking arms with others to block a pathway would be regarded by police as passive and peaceful resistance not justifying the use of force. In fact, demonstrators who stand, sit, or lie down with arms locked to one another are engaged in ‘active resistance’ as UCLA and other police departments understand that phrase…”


Street art Beaujolais Nouveau revives a great business story


Matthew DeBord

Is has arrived! And this time, the Beaujolais Nouveau gets a rad street art label. Move over, flowers and colorful abstractions! Wine marketing marches on!

In the wine world, the third Thursday in November is a small big deal. That's because it's when the Beaujolais Nouveau, the first French wine of the current vintage (2011 in this case), hits bars, stores, and restaurants. This is all an outgrowth of the fact that when the Beaujolais Nouveau originally appeared in France, it was an excuse to indulge in a wine-soaked harvest hootenanny.

The wine itself is nothing to write home about: it's a light, thin, fruity red, designed to be made fast and drunk even faster (Allez!). But it's become something of the Thanksgiving institution in the U.S., given that it shows up right before Turkey Day.

The King of Beaujolais, Georges Duboeuf, dispatches many thousands of colorfully labeled bottles of his now-world-renowned Beaujolais by boat and plane to the far-flung corners of the globe.