Exclusively Online | Spring 2015 Issue

Blueprint goes public

Blueprint hit the ground running Wednesday night with a rousing example of what it can do and what it can be.

By Jim Newton

Blueprint hit the ground running Wednesday night with a rousing example of what it can do and what it can be.

Hosted by Chancellor Gene Block at his official university residence, some 150 elected officials, journalists, judges, academics and students gathered to celebrate Blueprint, discuss its first issue and consider the challenges it examines – notably, the marshalling of research and data in pursuit of public safety.

Mayor Eric Garcetti, fresh off Wednesday’s City Council approval of his proposed hike in the Los Angeles minimum wage, said data now drives decision-making across all departments in his administration. Already, the use of data has revolutionized policing; now, he and his aides are applying it in other fields, seeking to develop and employ metrics that will improve services from DWP call times to Fire Department response times.

As he and I spoke before the audience, Garcetti pulled out his cell phone – joking that he was checking his Instagram account – and scrolled through the feeds he gets instantly on the city’s performance across a range of fields, from building permits to violent crime.

Among those who attended Wednesday’s launch party: former Gov. Gray Davis, District Attorney Jackie Lacey, former Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky (now my neighbor at UCLA), Councilmembers Paul Krekorian, Bernard Parks and Gil Cedillo, U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Kim Wardlaw, U.S. District Court Judge Margaret Morrow and Police Chief Charlie Beck, whom I profiled in our first issue. Also there, the actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus (she plays the President of the United States on HBO’s Veep), and her husband, actor-writer-director Brad Hall.

Midway through the evening came a timely reminder of how research and public policy intersect: Garcetti was reflecting on the wave of protest and anxiety that has accompanied so many encounters between police and minorities across the country in recent months. It reminded him, Garcetti said, of some work that a professor somewhere – at UCLA, he thought – had done regarding the reactions of police when they encounter young African-American men. As Garcetti paused to try to recall the name of the researcher, a professor in the audience called out: “Phillip Goff.”

Phillip Goff indeed. I handed Garcetti a copy of Blueprint’s first issue and opened it to page 23. That’s where Erika Hayasaki profiles Goff and looks at the research the mayor was citing. Garcetti tucked the magazine under his arm and said he would read the article on the way home that night.

That’s how change happens, how policy moves beyond a political debate and taps intelligence and research. We’re one day old, and we’re moving the dial.

 

 

Jim Newton

Jim Newton

Jim Newton is a veteran author and journalist who spent 25 years as a reporter, editor, bureau chief, editorial page editor and columnist at the Los Angeles Times. He is the author of three critically acclaimed books of biography and history, and he teaches at UCLA.

Post navigation

Related

research

Police Racism: A Search for Answers

In Ferguson, Charleston, Baltimore and beyond, the nation confronts charges of police racism. One researcher is breaking new ground.