Patterico's Pontifications


Steve Lopez on Traffic

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:10 am

Steve Lopez has a cute column about berating the local transportation chief for driving a Hummer. Lopez’s snide mocking of the transportation chief is entertaining, no doubt. But with the space and prominence he has, it’s too bad that he chooses to make a mountain out of this particular molehill, while ignoring an actual mountain in plain view.

The molehill is the issue of the chief’s Hummer. After the mayor’s press secretary told Lopez that questions about the Hummer were off limits, Lopez made it his first question:

What’s with the Hummer? I asked as soon as we were seated in de la Vega’s office.

De la Vega gave me a cold stare, his lips sealed. Then he looked at Szabo, who said we were there to talk transportation.

I asked about de la Vega’s background and he dropped the mummy act, telling me he’d gotten a master’s in urban planning from UCLA. He was also Mayor Dick Riordan’s traffic chief and a member of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board.

So you’d think he’d know better.

I just can’t get past it, I told de la Vega. A Hummer?

And then I noticed a quote on his wall from Rosa Parks.

“Every person must live their lives as a model for others.”

I read the quote to de la Vega, who clammed up again.

“Should we all drive Hummers?” I asked.


Very clever.

But I have a serious question: what do you figure causes the traffic in L.A.?

I’m no expert, but I’m thinking that having a couple million illegals can’t be helping matters much.

Remember when we had a Day Without [Illegal] Immigrants? The traffic was never better.

I couldn’t help but think of that day when I read Lopez’s column.

But Lopez doesn’t mention the issue of illegal immigration in his traffic column. No, it’s far more important to yap on about whether a single city official is driving a Hummer or some other type of vehicle. Because that’s what’s really causing the problem.

30 Responses to “Steve Lopez on Traffic”

  1. Mexican/Latino/illegal are all terms that are now as off limits as the “N” word. Our illustrious Mayor was on Paula Zahn last nite “discussing” gang violence, and it turned to Mexican gangs. Our mayor insisted race had nothing to do with the escalating gang violence here. A total crock. For everyone’s info, Mexican gangs have been a serious fact of life in LA since the thirties. Many gang members now are third and fouth generation. The oldest gang that I know about is the White Fence Gang that terrorized LA and points as far north as Fresno in the forties. The very first thing I learned about Mexicans when I moved to LA was the high school warning: “Six Mexicans can, and will, kick the shit out of one white guy.” The Mexican gang violence, like the Black gang violence, is confined almost exclusively to their own “working class” area of town. The gangs own the streets where Mexican shop owners and street vendors ply their trades and all must pay a “tax” to a gang or they can forget about it. End it? Not if the loony left as represented by CNN’s Paula Zahn, and the head in the sand politicians as represented by our mayor are in charge of any conversation to end it.

    Duke (2d4db0)

  2. When the 1984 Olympics came to LA there was a huge fuss that our traffic would be hopelessly tangled.

    Yet businesses and government all pulled together, with flex days and staggered work times and everyone was amazed at how great the traffic flowed…

    Didn’t take that long for everything to go back to status quo.

    Darleen (543cb7)

  3. Lopez, as usual, misses the point. The Transportation chief drives one of the small Hummers–either the H2 or the H3 (n.b. the fellow’s press secretary protested that the Chief’s Hummer was “smaller than a Yukon”).

    I’ve always looked at the H2 and the H3 as sort of “cartoon cars”–wannabe vehicles based on very ordinary SUV chassis. I think that only a jerk with concerns about his own testosterone level would buy one of them instead of the real thing. (That is assuming he had any real need for a Hummer). So my concern with the Transportation Chief is his judgment, not his vehicle.

    On the other hand, when you see young mothers in Encino parking their Land Rover in the Gelson’s parking lot with rhino bars over the front end of the vehicle (just in case there is a mass jail break at the Los Angeles Zoo) maybe the Transportation Chief is just fitting in.

    Mike Myers (4d9a65)

  4. If people were allowed to work four, ten-hour days, commuter traffic would drop 20%. Workers would reduce their gas bill by 20%, put 20% less mileage on their cars and have an extra day off each week.

    But to protect the workers, Democrats wouldn’t allow this. They would demand overtime pay for work in excess of eight hours per day in order to protect the “workers” from an extra day off and lower bills.

    Perfect Sense (b6ec8c)

  5. I remember the magical times of the Olympics, too. If we just implemented one or two elements of the plan, traffic would improve. The traffic has to be hurting the economy–takes over two hours to get to LA from OC, so that must cut into the income of restaurants, music, etc.

    But it’s all about Lopez and his snark. Because he can. Because he’s the LAT, dude!

    Patricia (824fa1)

  6. Heh. I saw “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?”. With its climate, LA is the perfect place for an above-ground public transportation system. Bring back the trolley cars.

    nk (2ab789)

  7. If it’s his Hummer, no problem. If the government is providing it, Hmmmm.

    This reminds me of our local Metro Transit Authority board, which has meetings out in the suburbs to address the rumors of problems of inadequate access to the system. The MTA hired limos to take the board members out to the suburbs, and then home, as there was not bus service. But the access problems were only rumors. In other news, the MTA continues to provide a “company car” to each board member, and does not provide them with a bus pass.

    Government. I’m here to help you, and you do what I say.

    htom (412a17)

  8. This one part shows a shocking deviation from the usual LA Times braindamage:

    the mayor hasn’t sold me on whether rail would be the best use of that money in a city where people go in a million different directions to get here and there.

    I say: More freeway lanes, fewer carpool lanes, legalize California and Alaska oil, continue to push for green tech.

    Wesson (c20d28)

  9. Patterico–

    I noted the traffic reduction that day, too, but because of the other people staying home (legal immigrants in sympathy, other legal workers forced to stay home because businesses closed, etc) it’s not that clear. Many illegals ride the bus, after all.

    Then again, one gets the feeling that reducing cars by 10% does wonders for traffic. Enforcing the insurance laws would be easier to get done, I think.

    Kevin Murphy (805c5b)

  10. By the way, Lopez is wrong calling the Hummer a 2-ton vehicle. Its 6400 lbs, which is over 3 tons.

    Kevin Murphy (805c5b)

  11. How to sell subways in LA: Tokyo. Every issue we have, squared, and subways work well there. Of course, the real problem with subways in LA is building enough of them. If we had built freeways the way we are building subways, we’d be about ready to start on I-5, having just completed the Pasadena and Hollywood Freeways.

    Kevin Murphy (805c5b)

  12. The traffic in L.A. was pretty good during the 1984 Olympics. I think L.A. should host the Olympics every year.

    Steverino (d27168)

  13. Re: ’84 Traffic
    It’s too late to re-implement the ’84 scheme, or any parts of it. We now have more than 2-million people here in the Greater LA area that were not here in ’84. And the only infrastructure imporvement since then is the I-105, which, as built, was scaled back from its’ original plan.
    Now, if you can figure out how to deport 3-million illegals…

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  14. How to sell subways in LA: Tokyo. Every issue we have

    What? Tokyo is built on a lake of crude oil?

    Darleen (543cb7)

  15. Perfect Sense, I’m all for working 4 days a week. If the work week was only 4 days, I don’t believe that most democrats would be against a 10 hour day either.

    At least in my state, employers can work you more than 8 hours a day without paying overtime anyway. Overtime is only paid when a person works over 40 hours a week. Not only that – there are ways around paying overtime no matter how many hours the employee works. One way I think is called a “salary.”

    Psyberian (de47c4)

  16. Perfect Sense, I’m all for working 4 days a week. If the work week was only 4 days, I don’t believe that most democrats would be against a 10 hour day either.

    Time to check your beliefs, Psyberian. In the 90s, California passed a law allowing employers to pay a 4×10 work week without overtime above 8 hrs/day. The law was overturned by Democrats after the unions complained. Hard to believe, isn’t it?

    Steverino (dbe234)

  17. in re: 4×10 work week,

    Man, that sounds nice. I can’t see why anyone would object to that.

    Leviticus (3c2c59)

  18. Leviticus,
    in my experience, most businesses that feel that they only need to be open 4 days already are. (at least where I am.) I have worked 4×10 at some jobs, but those tended to be jobs where there was no or minimal customer interaction. Most businesses need/want to have their employees available when their customers want them. On a related note, the shift i liked best was a 3×12/4×12 alternating weeks. Any manufacturing facility that runs 7×24 would save money and maintain or increase production with this kind of schedule. It would also reduce traffic and costs to the employees. this would also affect many more people in most areas, since manufacturing still employs a substantial amount of people near major transportation hubs.

    Pol Mordreth (e154a8)

  19. I can understand the need to be open whenever the customer calls, but I’m sure that shifts could be staggered to ensure that this was the case. Nobody is saying, for instance, that everyone need have the same day of the week off.

    Leviticus (ed6d31)

  20. Leviticus,

    Not all businesses have an unlimited workforce. How do you stay open for customers 6 days a week if you have a retail store with 2 employees and a 4-day workweek? Someone will be left alone in the store at least 2 days a week, meaning there is a greater likelihood of shoplifting or customers who leave because they don’t want to wait for assistance. Not to mention the problem with restocking and answering the phone. And there are more small businesses like this than most people realize, especially when you include the service industry.

    In addition, not all employees like extended workdays, especially if they have families. Working women may not have access to 10-11 hour a day childcare or they may not want to leave their children in childcare that long, even if they do get an extra day off each week.

    DRJ (f4c219)

  21. True, true.

    I should’ve been more specific with my original comment and said, “Why would anyone argue against giving the option of a 4×10 workweek?”

    Your argument for families and small businesses makes sense, but there are other groups whose situations could be used to construct a potent argument to the contrary (which is pretty much the case in every debate).

    Leviticus (ed6d31)

  22. I agree. Our business offers flex time to all employees and all but one uses that option, but we’re fortunate to have a very nice group of people. Flex time is good for them and that makes it good for our business, but it took concessions by everyone to make sure there weren’t any gaps that left us unable to get the work done when it was needed.

    Flex time seems easy but it actually requires a too-large workforce – which is not efficient – or give and take on both sides to make it work. All it takes is one person who won’t or can’t be flexible and you have the formula for hard feelings and bad results.

    DRJ (f4c219)

  23. when the last gallon of gas is refined out of the last barrel of oil to be pumped out of the ground, it’s going in my gastank!

    assistant_devil's_advocate (87657d)

  24. ADA,

    You’re going to have to live a long time if you want the last gallon of gas because we just keep finding more and more of it, even here in the US.

    DRJ (f4c219)

  25. In addition to those here illegally, legal resident immigrants also play a role. There are about 300-400,000 or so Central Americans in the U.S. under “TemporaryProtectedStatus” going back several years (and recently extended another year). I’d imagine a large part of that number lives in L.A., specifically Koreatown and thereabouts.

    TLB (0c89cb)

  26. Steve Lopez can find SUVs in LA, but he can’t locate a gang member ?

    Desert Rat (ee9fe2)

  27. Steverino, I wasn’t talking about California. Like I said, “at least in my state” there is no overtime pay for working over 8 hours in a day. But with many of us on salaries anyway, I see no reason to object to it.

    I’m not familiar with California law or if there were other reasons to reject the 4 day work-week proposal. For example, would an employer have to pay overtime if a person worked more than 4 days a week? I’m not sure you have their reason(s) straight.

    Psyberian (de47c4)

  28. Lopez makes his living by mocking and degrading others and making snide remarks that he thinks are cute. His tone is always “see how smart I am and how clueless others are.” In other words, he’s a perfect LA Times columnist. No surprises with the Hummer article.

    jon webb (1329d4)

  29. “Lopez makes his living by mocking and degrading others and making snide remarks that he thinks are cute. His tone is always “see how smart I am and how clueless others are.” In other words, he’s a perfect LA Times columnist.”

    Well said.

    Vermont Neighbor (cd4d85)

  30. Wendy…

    \”…For a businessman who invested years of hard work and large amount of money, the word \”revenue increase\” are two words which mean big reward for a job well done…\”…

    Wendy (11a68f)

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