Law + Policy

In Hoboken, Humility Proves Stronger Than Hate

Hoboken, New Jersey: birthplace of Frank Sinatra, modern zippers, the edible ice cream cup and, if some historians are to be believed, baseball (although the good people of Cooperstown, New York might beg to differ).

And on November 7, 2017, Hoboken’s voters scored another first, electing Ravinder “Ravi” Singh Bhalla ‘95—who proudly calls himself “everything Donald Trump hates”—as the city’s 39 th mayor and the first Sikh mayor in the city’s history.

An American In Paris: Foreign Service Officer Turned Librarian

Ask an American expatriate “Why did you leave the country?” and more often than not you’ll get an explanation that begins “There was this guy…” or “I met a woman…” Ask Jeffrey Hawkins, a former foreign service officer who has lived in some ten countries on four continents since graduating from Cal 30 years ago, and you’ll hear a different story. “In my case,” he says, “I met a language.” Although actually, in the very beginning, there was a woman too.

Talk of the Town

You might not expect the mayor of Berkeley to show up for a meeting in dad jeans and running shoes. Or to be just 33 years old and living in a rented apartment with two roommates. Or to engage a reporter in a freewheeling discussion on some of the most controversial topics of the day without an aide or PR flack in attendance. But then again, Berkeley wasn’t expecting Jesse Arreguín ’07, who swept into office in 2016 in an upset victory over Councilman Laurie Capitelli, who had been endorsed by former Mayor Tom Bates.

From the Summer 2018 Our Town issue of California.

Up in Arms about Flamethrowers? Take Aim at Handguns Instead.

Elon Musk has taken some heat over the past few months for selling flamethrowers through his firm, The Boring Company. The devices aren’t actual flamethrowers, though, hence their name: Not a Flamethrower. ­They’re more like hypertrophied blowtorches, perfect for caramelizing a crème brulee the size of a garbage can lid, perhaps, but thankfully unsuited for combat. Musk’s devices use propane and spout a three-to-four foot fixed flame. True military flamethrowers spew burning jellied gasoline up to 150 feet.

Q&A: Former FEC Commissioner Ann Ravel on Dark Money

When most people think of Watergate, they likely think of the hotel break-in, the Saturday Night Massacre, or the Nixon tapes. But few know that, at its heart, Watergate was a campaign finance scandal. The Watergate Hotel burglars were paid with campaign funds, and the subsequent investigation uncovered millions in illegal payments to the Nixon White House by corporations—some of which arrived in bags of cash.

Sports Sociologist Harry Edwards on NFL “Plantation Mentality”

Now that a few days have passed, the decision by National Football League owners to fine teams with players who do not “stand and show respect to the flag and the [national] anthem” hardly seems Solomonic; rather than ameliorating tensions, it almost assures another football season marked by player protests, discord both inside and outside the League, and acrid tweets from President Donald Trump.

Will Secession Ever Succeed? Revisiting a Centuries-Old Conflict

A lot has changed since the 1992 Summer Olympics brought worldwide attention to the northeast Spanish region of Catalonia and its capital, Barcelona. Today, Catalonia—the birthplace of architect Antoni Gaudí and painter Salvador Dalí, and one of Spain’s wealthiest regions—is in a bitter political struggle with the central government in Madrid over the issue of Catalan independence.

Former Times Reporter Gambles on ‘Golden’ Opportunity

For a journalist it seemed the ultimate dream gig: working for the Great Gray Lady herself, the New York Times—but operating from a lovely California beach town, not the dreary main newsroom in Manhattan. And indeed, Mike McPhate appreciated his position as producer of the Times’ newsletter, California Today. He had, after all, paid his dues.

A Cal Labor Expert Explains Hidden Restaurant Industry Practices

Saru Jayaraman, director of UC Berkeley’s Food Labor Research Center and lecturer with the Goldman School of Public Policy, has spent the last two decades advocating on behalf of restaurant workers. This may not seem glamorous but Jayaraman’s efforts recently brought her to the red carpet alongside comedian Amy Poehler at the Golden Globes, to HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, and to interviews with NPR and 60 Minutes.

Is WaterFix Another Megaproject Gone Awry?

The 20 th century was the century of the megaproject, and as usual, California pointed the way for the nation. Southern California’s freeway system and the State Water Project, both largely completed by the 1970s, were mighty testaments to the conceit that we could build our way out of any problem. That view, of course, has since been tempered by inconvenient realities.

Silicon Valley Wants to Hack Your Kid’s School

For some years now, Republicans have endeavored to “fix” American education by promoting charter schools, vouchers and merit-based raises. Progressives typically have decried these efforts, maintaining they come at the expense of public schools, particularly public schools that serve disadvantaged students. Variation in educational achievement, they claim, has more to do with student demographics, district funding and English proficiency than, say, the educational chops of individual teachers.

“Toe-to-Toe with the Rooskies?” We Ask Steven Weber

The Mideast returned to a high boil last week with the launching of more than a hundred cruise missiles by the U.S., Britain and France against Syrian chemical weapons depots. In the run-up to the strike, President Donald Trump lashed out against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Russia, tweeting promises of destruction from above:  “Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice, and new and ‘smart!’” Trump inveighed.

Will the EPA Really Trump California’s Fuel Standards?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has decreed a roll-back of fuel economy and greenhouse gas emission standards for automobiles, benefitting automakers and oil companies while predictably enraging environmentalists. In making the announcement, EPA administrator Scott Pruitt declared the CAFE (for Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards set by the Obama administration were too high and “didn’t comport with reality.”

A Train Going Nowhere: How Can We Get U.S. Infrastructure On Track?

The news cycle is spinning with such ferocity that it may be hard to remember that it was only a couple of weeks ago that infrastructure was Topic A, with the Trump administration announcing a new initiative to fix America’s potholed roads, repair its spavined bridges, and spiff up its energy delivery systems. But even while the general focus has shifted, Berkeley engineers and public policy analysts are thinking about possible remedies to our infrastructure woes.

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