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Opinion L.A. Observations and provocations from The Times' Opinion Staff
Blatter quitting FIFA doesn't necessarily mean change is afoot

In the end, the emperor self-deposed.

Sepp Blatter’s announcement Tuesday that he would step down as the president of FIFA, world soccer’s scandal-racked governing body, is as welcome as it is tardy. Blatter was reelected to his fifth four-year term as president Friday, just two days after top FIFA officials were trundled off in handcuffs following their indictments on racketeering charges. The election result was just as skewed as the votes awarding World Cup tournaments to Russia in 2018 and four years later to Qatar – a tiny nation with a tiny soccer presence, no sports infrastructure, and 115-degree heat for a tournament to be played outdoors.

Not that Blatter's reelection was rigged, but the power and politics of FIFA make Washington influence-peddling and old-style political machines seem like amateur hour (Bloomberg dissects it nicely here).

Blatter has not been accused of direct involvement in the bribery scandal that is unfolding in New York, which is where the indictments were...

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Homeboy's $15/hour question: What about jobs for the unemployable?

What does the City Council hope to accomplish by raising the minimum wage in Los Angeles?

The obvious answer is something along the lines of, "To lift full-time workers out of poverty." But if that's the goal, why is the council focusing on the wage and not the poverty?

I ask this in light of my colleague David Zahniser's piece Monday about Homeboy Industries seeking a partial exemption from the mandate to pay no less than $15 an hour by 2020. Specifically, the nonprofit wants to exempt workers who spend no more than 18 months in its transitional employment program, which helps former gang members with a combination of on-the-job training and counseling.

Without the exemption, Homeboy warned, it would have to cut its program by more than a third, eliminating 60 of its 170 slots. Bear in mind that this is a transitional program, designed to impart job skills, create references and otherwise help participants go on to better jobs. No one is supposed to spend years in one of these positions,...

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Immigrants in U.S. illegally should not automatically be denied bail

The Supreme Court today made a smart call in rejecting the appeal of an odious Arizona law trumping the established legal principle that bail for those charged with criminal offenses should be based on risk of flight and threat to the community.

The case grew out of Arizona's 2006 constitutional amendment approved in a voter referendum that denied bail for people living in the U.S. illegally, who have been charged in Arizona with a serious felony. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last year that the law was unconstitutional.

In essence, according to a court summary of the opinion, the judges ruled the law was "a scattershot attempt at addressing flight risk" and that the blanket denial of bail was "excessive in relation to the state’s legitimate interest in assuring arrestees’ presence for trial."

The law, at heart, was an attempt to further punish those living here illegally by denying a constitutional right to which all in the United States are entitled, regardless of citizenship...

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'Jezebel Effect' poisons conversations on gender and sexual violence

In the world of opinion writing, there’s something called the “to be sure” paragraph. A sort of rhetorical antibiotic, it seeks to defend against critics by injecting a tiny bit of counter-argument before moving on with the main point. “To be sure, meat has protein and tastes delicious, but most experts agree that a mostly vegetarian diet is best.” “To be sure, it rained a few times this year, but California remains in the worst drought in recorded history.”

In my last column, which asked whether the high visibility of activism around rape on college campuses has obscured the fact that there’s even more rape happening off college campuses, I trod a little lightly in “to be sure” territory. I didn’t think it was necessary; it should go without saying that there is no excuse for sexual violence. Besides, I’ve said it many times in other columns.

In fact, I’ve been writing about campus activism and women's issues a lot lately, usually with such strenuous “to be sures” that I sometimes feel...

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Potholes and crumbling roads, brought to you by libertarian negligence

The L.A. City Council approved a budget that would, among many other things, allow the city to fill 350,000 potholes.

Which is nice and all, but it leaves me asking three questions:

If the council hadn't been able to agree on a budget, would the city simply ignore potholes?

Without a budget in place, how would the city pay the many motorists who would sue for damage, such as broken axles, caused by poorly maintained streets? Actually, there's an answer to that: They'd simply reject the lion's share of the claims — only 10% are successful.

What would happen if the potholes never got fixed? The libertarian "the government that governs best is the government that doesn't exist" hypothesis is my tongue-in-cheek suggestion in today's cartoon.

Actually, I know the answer. I've seen the state of roads after decades of libertarianism/negligence — and my back has felt it — in Afghanistan before the U.S. began road reconstruction around 2005.

Some roads there disintegrate into gravel and ruts à...

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Uncertain prospect of hard numbers on police shootings

Ever wonder why we don't know how many civilians are killed or hurt by police every year? It is because collecting data on these incidents has not been much of a priority. Few people even noticed the lack of such data until a rash of highly publicized cases of unarmed black men killed by police officers last year.

That has changed dramatically, and even the FBI chief has recently called for better collection of use-of-force cases. But it's not clear it will be a priority for California legislators this session.

A bill to require all California law enforcement agencies to report when someone dies or is hurt when interacting with police died in the Assembly Appropriations Committee this week, presumably because of the estimated $3.3-million price tag for state corrections to comply.

Just how many forms are we talking about here? This estimate alone seems to support the need for better data.

There is another data collection bill still active. But AB 71 by Assemblyman Freddie Rodriguez (D-Pomona)...

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