As Filmmaking Surges, New Orleans Challenges Los Angeles

Appearing in:

Forbes.com

For generations New Orleans‘ appeal to artists, musicians and writers did little to dispel the city’s image as a poor, albeit fun-loving, bohemian tourism haven. As was made all too evident by Katrina, the city was plagued by enormous class and racial divisions, corruption and some of the lowest average wages in the country.

Yet recently, the Big Easy and the state of Louisiana have managed to turn the region’s creative energy into something of an economic driver. Aided by generous production incentives, the state has enjoyed among the biggest increases in new film production anywhere in the nation. At a time when production nationally has been down, the number of TV and film productions shot in Louisiana tripled from 33 per year in 2002-2007 to an average of 92 annually in 2008-2010, according to a study by BaxStarr Consulting. Movies starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Morgan Freeman, Harrison Ford are being made in the state this year.

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President Obama Courts Silicon Valley’s New Digital Aristocracy

Appearing in:

The Daily Beast

President Obama’s San Francisco fundraiser with the tech elites today, along with the upcoming IPO for Facebook, marks the emergence of a new, potentially dominant political force well on its way to surpassing Hollywood and even Wall Street as the business bulwark of the Obama Democratic Party.

In 2008 the industry gave Obama more than $9 million, three times what it raised for any other politician; it was the first time the digerati outspent Hollywood. The numbers will surely go up this year.

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Who Stands The Most To Win – And Lose – From A Second Obama Term

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Forbes.com

As the probability of President Barack Obama’s reelection grows, state and local officials across the country are tallying up the potential ramifications of a second term. For the most part, the biggest concerns lie with energy-producing states, which fear stricter environmental regulations, and those places most dependent on military or space spending, which are both likely to decrease under a second Obama administration.

On the other hand, several states, and particularly the District of Columbia, have reasons to look forward to another four years. Under Obama the federal workforce has expanded — even as state and localities have cut their government jobs. The growing concentration of power has also swelled the ranks of Washington‘s parasitical enablers, from high-end lobbyists to expense-account restaurants. While much of urban America is struggling, currently Washington is experiencing something of a golden age.

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The Sun Belt’s Migration Comeback

Along with the oft-pronounced, desperately wished for death of the suburbs, no demographic narrative thrills the mainstream news media more than the decline of the Sun Belt, the country’s southern rim extending from the Carolinas to California. Since the housing bubble collapse in 2007, commentators have heralded “the end of the Sun Belt boom.”

Yet this assertion is largely exaggerated, particularly since the big brass buckle in the middle of the Sun Belt, Texas, has thrived throughout the recession. California, of course, has done far worse, but its slow population growth and harsh regulatory environment align it more with the Northeast than with its sunny neighbors.

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Political Footballs: L.A.’s Misguided Plans For A Downtown Stadium

Appearing in:

Forbes.com

Over the past decade Los Angeles has steadily declined. It currently has one of the the highest unemployment rates (roughly 12.5%) in the U.S, and there’s little sign of a sustained recovery. The city and county have become a kind of purgatory for all but the most politically connected businesses, while job creation and population growth lag not only the vibrant Texas cities but even aged competitors such as New York.

Rather than address general business conditions, which sorely need fixing, L.A. Mayor Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the other ruling elites have instead focused on revitalizing the city’s urban core, which has done little to boost the region’s overall economy in generations. The most recent example of such foolishness is a $1.5 billion plan to build a football stadium, named Farmers Field, downtown,unanimously approved by the city’s City Council and backed by the city’s “progressive” state delegation.

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Silicon Valley Can No Longer Save California — Or The U.S.

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Forbes.com

Even before Steve Jobs crashed the scene in late 1970s, California’s technology industry had already outpaced the entire world, creating the greatest collection of information companies anywhere. It was in this fertile suburban soil that Apple — and so many other innovative companies — took root.

Now this soil is showing signs of exhaustion, with Jobs’ death symbolizing the end of the state’s high-tech heroic age.

“Steve’s passing really makes you think how much the Valley has changed,” says Leslie Parks, former head of economic development for the city of San Jose, Silicon Valley’s largest city. “The Apple II was produced here and depended on what was unique here. In those days, we were the technology food chain from conception to product. Now we only dominate the top of the chain.”

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The Golden State Is Crumbling

Appearing in:

The Daily Beast

The recent announcement that California’s unemployment again nudged up to 12 percent—second worst in the nation behind its evil twin, Nevada—should have come as a surprise but frankly did not. From the beginning of the recession, the Golden State has been stuck bringing up a humbled nation’s rear and seems mired in that less-than-illustrious position.

What has happened to my adopted home state of over last decade is a tragedy, both for Californians and for America. For most of the past century, California has been “golden” not only in name but in every kind of superlative—a global leader in agriculture, energy, entertainment, technology, and most important of all, human aspiration. Read more

Lost Angeles

Appearing in:

The City Journal

It seems appropriate that the city where America’s movies are made has enjoyed such a dramatic trajectory. Los Angeles began the twentieth century with barely 100,000 residents. By century’s end, 4 million people were living there, making it the nation’s second-largest city, while another 6 million were occupying the rest of Los Angeles County.

But in the new century, Los Angeles has begun to fade, and it can’t blame its sorry condition on the recent recession. The unemployment rate is one of the highest among the nation’s largest urban areas. Streets are potholed. Businesses and residents are fleeing. In virtually every category of urban success, from migration of educated workers to growth of airport travel, Los Angeles lags behind not only such fast-growth regions as Dallas, Houston, and Raleigh-Durham, but also historical rivals like New York.

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How Los Angeles Lost Its Mojo

Appearing in:

Wall Street Journal

Los Angeles today is a city in secular decline. Its current political leadership seems determined to turn the sprawling capitalist dynamo into a faux New York. But they are more likely to leave behind a dense, government-dominated, bankrupt, dysfunctional, Athens by the Pacific.

The greatness of Los Angeles stemmed from its willingness to be different. Unlike Chicago or Denver or New York, the Los Angeles metro area was designed not around a central core but on a series of centers, connected first by railcars and later by the freeways. The result was a dispersed metropolis where most people occupied single-family houses in middle-class neighborhoods. Read more

California Wages War On Single-Family Homes

Appearing in:

Forbes

In recent years, homeowners have been made to feel a bit like villains rather than the victims of hard times, Wall Street shenanigans and inept regulators. Instead of being praised for braving the elements, suburban homeowners have been made to feel responsible for everything from the Great Recession to obesity to global warming.

In California, the assault on the house has gained official sanction. Once the heartland of the American dream, the Golden State has begun implementing new planning laws designed to combat global warming. These draconian measures could lead to a ban on the construction of private residences, particularly on the suburban fringe. The new legislation’s goal is to cram future generations of Californians into multi-family apartment buildings, turning them from car-driving suburbanites into strap-hanging urbanistas.

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