Patt Morrison for January 18, 2011

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Two shot at Gardena High School

A murky picture has emerged from Gardena High School, where apparently a gun in a student’s backpack accidentally discharged in a backpack, shooting two students. For a country that is already jittery about gun violence and mass shootings, today’s news is unnerving, even if the early indications are that the gun was not fired as part of a wider plot to attack the school. What are the conditions of the injured students and why was a gun brought to the school in the first place?
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Governor Jerry Brown is being accused of dumping California’s $17.2 billion deficit on California’s cities and counties. Mayors and county leaders are biting their nails over what the outcome will be of the governor’s shift of costs to counties coupled with his cut of social services funding. Brown plans to shut 398 active redevelopment agencies, which provide 304,000 jobs annually, in order to gain control over the $5 billion in property taxes that the local entities currently get. Tax incentives for businesses like rewards for job creation will be eliminated. A 1% increase in sales tax and a 1% increase in vehicle license fees will be extended. In Los Angeles, welfare benefits for an expected 37,000 families will be cut. With less jobs, more taxes, and less safety net, how are cities and counties—and their citizens—going to cope?
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TitleWave: Tom Rachman’s The Imperfectionists

Author Tom Rachman earned prodigy-like status with his first novel, The Imperfectionists, which examined the inner workings of an international newspaper’s newsroom and its inhabitants through a series of vignettes. Each chapter delves deeply into the life of a different employee and offers windows into the workplace and humankind, paralleling its subject’s mandate to "report on the idiocy and the brilliance of the species." Replete with all characters one could imagine in a newsroom—the crotchety old news editor with a secret soft side, to the green-behind-the-ears intern trying to hack it as a reporter, The Imperfectionists paints an endearingly complex picture of humanity against a poignant backdrop of the failing newspaper industry. *Tom Rachman will be in conversation with Carolyn Kellogg of the Los Angeles Times tonight at 7 pm at the Mark Taper Auditorium
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Compton Latinos go to court to revamp elections

60% of Compton is Latino and yet, no Latino has ever held a city office. 8 Latinos have run for city council since 1969, but none were victorious in the traditionally African-American community. Today, three Latinos from the Latino Chamber of Commerce are taking Compton to court to combat what they argue is racially polarized voting. They are suing the city under the California Voting Rights act and if they win, they want to restructure the city council elections through a complicated redistricting process that would give more opportunity to Latino and minority candidates. Compton’s city council is chosen at large, and where there is racially polarized voting, that can mean few opportunities for minority candidates. Today’s debate echoes the one that took place decades ago, before White Flight and political organizing put the political power in the hands of Compton’s black residents. A move to district-elections has opened the doors to minorities in cities like San Francisco and throughout the South but is it the answer in a city like Compton with only a 7% voter turnout? Is a move to district elections the answer or is the problem more fundamental than that?
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For chronically underachieving schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District the writing appears to be on the wall—if you cannot fix your problems of low test scores and high drop out rates, the district will fix it for you. First it was Fremont High School that underwent “restructuring,” where all of the teachers were dismissed from the school and invited to reapply for their old jobs. Now Jordan High School near Watts, a school that has performed so poorly that only 2% of its students have tested proficient in math, will udnergo an even more radical restructuring than Fremont High. Jordan will be split into three school subdivisions, all on the same Jordan High campus—two of the subdivisions will be run by private charger companies (Green Dot and the Alliance for College-Ready Public Schools) and the third by Mayor Villaraigosa’s Partnership for Los Angeles Schools. Using charter school companies to turn around low performing schools has been tried in the past with mixed success, but it speaks the desperation of the situation at Jordan that such tough measures were needed. Can the restructuring model work for LAUSD’s worst schools?
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Guns on campus – a right, or very wrong?

A Gardena High School student was taken into custody this morning after a gun he was carrying in his backpack went off, injuring two other young people. First reports say the shooting was an accident, but in a time of great concern over increasing violence and arguments over gun control, how does a student bring a gun to campus without detection? We ask who should be responsible for school safety –the district, the parents, the police? Or should we all just weapon up… hmmm?
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