SCLPC President’s Blog

President’s Blog – October 2015

The Trump Effect

Luis AThe presidential candidates have generated considerable media coverage the past couple of months. With only a short break during the Pope’s visit, news stories about the candidates, particularly the wealthy Republican candidate from New York, have dominated the media.

Without getting into partisan politics, we take notice this month in our newsletter how that particular candidate has impacted Latinos. Because Donald Trump’s comments were directed specifically at “Mexicans,” it’s been almost impossible to avoid discussion and debate on how his comments have affected our community.

We asked a cross-section of our newsletter readers – local Latino elected officials from throughout the four county region – to weigh in on this discussion and offer their comments. Again, we want to emphasize we’re not viewing this through a partisan lens, but rather, a “Latino lens.” How do we as Latinos respond when such a high-profile individual makes such incendiary remarks? And how, as Latino policymakers, should we react?

What we learned from comments submitted by our friends and colleagues, is that if nothing else, the volatile language that has emerged from the presidential campaign, is generating considerable debate and even activism in our community.

This isn’t a new phenomenon. We experienced it before during Pete Wilson’s Prop 187 campaign in 1994, which was approved by nearly 60% of California voters. In addition to generating increased Latino voter turnout, that initiative also sparked the birth of what some have called, “The Children of 187,” a generation of Latino activists who became motivated and politicized by the controversial measure. We know some of you are members of that generation.

Given the dismal Latino voter turnout from recent California elections, many of us believe, even hope, the controversy surrounding Mr. Trump’s comments may generate a similar reaction. Perhaps it can motivate Latinos who aren’t registered or who don’t vote regularly, to get involved. It is certainly generating considerable discussion and debate about immigration reform.

And maybe, on some high school or college campus, it has already sparked the birth of yet another generation of activists, young people who will one day be the leaders and policymakers that will follow in our footsteps.

Luis Ayala is the Board President of the Southern California Latino Policy Center and the Mayor of Alhambra.

President’s Blog – Sept. 2015

The Birth of a Hackathon

Luis AAs elected officials we go to meetings. Lots of meetings. All of them are important but, unfortunately, not all of them are as productive as they can and should be. I’ve learned over the years the most productive gatherings are those that generate action – some kind of forward movement that creates results.

With that as a measure our Latino Policy Forum last June at Cal State LA was a resounding success. Not only did we organize very productive panels but our event has fostered an exciting project in the Southeast Cities that we hope to replicate in other parts of the region.

Thanks to the leadership of Cudahy Mayor Cristian Markovich, South Gate Mayor Jorge Morales and South Gate City Council Member Belen Bernal, the Southern California Latino Policy Center is organizing the first-ever “hackathon” in the Southeast Cities.

hackathonThe weekend event, called “wehack: Southeast Cities,” is scheduled for November 13-15 and hosted by our friends at East LA College. It will feature teams of programmers and computer coders, all competing for prizes to create the most effective apps and software aimed at solving problems for Southeast Cities residents. “Hackers” will tackle issues such as helping working parents find affordable child care, creating a rideshare app for residents who have to drive long distances to get to work every day, and maybe even an app helping health conscious residents find healthy food choices (where are the veggie taco trucks in Huntington Park?)

And while the event should be fun for all those “hackers” and hopefully productive for residents of the Southeast, there are more serious issues we hope to tackle with this hackathon.

AVV_5077As we all learned during our “21st Century Cities & Schools” policy forum, Latinos are very enthusiastic users of technology, but we are woefully under-represented in the tech workforce. We’re missing out on thousands of high-paying technology jobs because too many of our young people aren’t getting the training and education they need for those jobs. Through this event we hope to generate the conversations and action we need to address this – as well as highlight the opportunities that schools like ELAC are already offering to prepare students for tech careers.

Not a bad result for just a simple Saturday morning meeting last summer.

Hon. Luis Ayala is the Board President of the Southern California Latino Policy Center and the Mayor of Alhambra.

President’s Blog – May 2015

Luis AModern Technology is Going to Save Our Cities and Schools!

(If we can figure out how to use it)

Luis Ayala, Latino Policy Center Board President and Vice-Mayor, City of Alhambra

There’s no question digital technology has changed our lives. Who knew one day we would be able to buy airline tickets and pick our seats; participate on an important conference call and see everyone’s faces; and check on our kid’s grades all on our phones! But making sure all that technology makes our life easier and not more complicated is a daily challenge.

The same is true for those of us who lead cities, schools and colleges. We know technology can be a powerful tool to serve our residents and our students. Hi-tech classrooms are transforming education. City residents can go online and see the inner workings of local government. I remember recently watching a Monterey Park Recreation worker turn the lights on for a soccer field using his cell phone. But how do we, as policymakers, determine what technology is best? Which technology is most cost-effective? Which tech tools are going to produce the results we want? These are important questions that for many of us there are no easy answers.

That’s why we decided to focus on technology at our next annual Latino Policy Forum. Our event, 21st Century Cities and Schools, is designed to provide you with useful resources and give you the chance to connect and engage with education and civic leaders who have found ways to make technology work effectively for their cities and schools.

We all want to be connected via wifi to the Internet – why rely on Starbucks? But should a city invest in a larger wifi network? What does that cost and are they ways to use that wifi to stimulate economic development? Tablets are now the hottest education tool but we’ve all read the headlines about what happened at LAUSD and their ipads. What can schools do to make sure they use tablets and other digital tools effectively?

Our Policy Forum will make use of some hi-tech software to conduct a real-time survey of participants and we’re featuring panelists from cities, schools and tech companies such as Facebook to help us bridge our own digital divide.

Register today for our Forum but you’ll have to do it the old-school way and call us. We’re working on getting 21st Century technology for our website but we’re not quite there yet!


President’s Blog – April 2015

Luis AWhat You Signed Up For

As you well know there are many challenges we face as elected officials. There are many issues our communities are facing with a debilitating economy and infrastructure, the most severe drought we’ve had in California in a long time among other things. However, I want to take this opportunity to thank your for your service!!

You have made a courageous decision to pursue this kind of public service and you should be commended – you should be proud of yourselves. I want to particularly congratulate all the newly elected officials, those who have just joined our ranks. You will never work as hard and receive less compensation in return for those efforts but you have been awarded an amazing opportunity to lead and serve and you will probably spend the rest of your political career trying to balance those two. Leadership is more than “being the boss.” It means using your vision to guide your community towards success – hopefully towards a better life for their families. And it means serving – listening, researching, working hard to become a better policymaker – a better leader. This is probably the only job that provides such little preparation yet has such incredible demands.

My colleagues and I created the Southern California Latino Policy Center to prepare and help educate leaders like you, who want to learn and do a better job in improving each of their communities and the service to their constituents. We want to learn how to be more effective policymakers – more effective leaders.

Our monthly newsletter, the first edition, represents that effort. This year we’ll launch a couple of other projects designed to help all of you. We are creating Tip Sheets – simple background “guides” to help you understand and steer through some typical policy challenges. We are also proud to announce our Summer 2015 Latino Policy Forum, scheduled for June 6 at Cal State LA. This year we’re focusing on technology and how we can use it as a policymaking tool for our school districts, cities and community colleges. More information about this event and the organization can be found on this website.

Our Summer 2015 Latino Policy Forum, like all of our events and tools, will be free to all Latino elected officials. We encourage you to attend and invite other elected officials! We know most of you are part-time policymakers with full-time jobs and other commitments. We understand your time is challenged so we design our events and tools to make the most of your time.

On behalf of our organization’s Board of Directors and our members, thank you for your service.

Luis Ayala
Board President, Southern California Latino Policy Center
Vice Mayor, City of Alhambra