Saturday, August 31, 2013

More than you wanted to know about the state budget?

It may be more than you wanted to know, but a draft chapter for California Policy Options 2014 on the California state budget (with some references to UC) is available at:  [Click on pdf to download.]

Supreme Court Challenge to Michigan Proposition Could Void Prop 209

Prop 209, banning affirmative action in public university admissions, was passed by California voters in 1996.  The final vote count in favor was actually slightly higher than the chart here - from preliminary data shortly after the election - shows.  (54.6% yes rather than 54.5%.) 

Prop 209's history goes back to an earlier action by the Regents banning affirmative action at UC.  (The Regents later repealed the ban but, by that time, Prop 209 took precedence and the repeal had no effect.)

The LA Times today carries a report of a challenge at the Supreme Court to a similar proposition in Michigan and indicates that a voiding of the Michigan ban would likely apply (would likely void) Prop 209.  California's attorney general supported the challenge. [Excerpt]

California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris urged the Supreme Court on Friday to strike down a Michigan voter initiative that bans "preferential treatment" based on race in its state colleges and universities, a ruling that would likely invalidate a similar ban approved by California's voters in 1996...For a second term in a row, the high court is set to consider a major test of affirmative action in state universities. In June, the court revived a white student's challenge to a race-based admissions policy at the University of Texas. In October, the court will consider a constitutional challenge that comes from the opposite direction. Lawyers representing black and other minority students are contesting Michigan's ban on affirmative action. Separately, the University of California's president and 10 chancellors filed their own brief Friday highlighting the ban on affirmative action. "More than 15 years after Proposition 209 barred consideration of race in admissions decisions … the University of California still struggles to enroll a student body that encompasses the broad racial diversity of the state," they said...

Full article at,0,2784755.story

You can see the action of the UC Regents banning affirmative action below:

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Secret of Groundbreaking

Apparently, there can be big secrets in groundbreaking as the headline above indicates.  And the big secret of the Sept. 10 groundbreaking for the UCLA Grand Hotel is that you have to break ground before the groundbreaking.  So although not much seemed to happen on the site of the Grand Hotel at the Ackerman bus turnaround and parking structure #6 after it was blocked off last July 8, now work actually seems to be occurring.  I wouldn't say that I saw feverish activity when I passed by yesterday, but there was work being done.
A view of the Great Wall of UCLA.
Someone going to work and a machine to break ground.
Work being done.

Another view of the Great Wall.

Now the question is, when we look back at all of this some time in the future, what will folks think of it?  I passed a fellow who claimed to be from the future standing at the site and this is what he said:

Of course, I have no idea what he meant.

Waiting to find out what it means

Room for waiting
Inside Higher Ed is reporting today that the reason the higher ed establishment has been relatively quiet about the Obama plan for higher ed performance standards, tuition, etc., is because no one really knows what it means or what in detail is in the plan. They're all waiting to find out. See

It's tough to wait:

Note for the Regents

Here's a quote from Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters.  Might be something for the Regents (and our incoming UC president Janet Napolitano) to keep in mind:

...Tom Hayden, the politician/journalist who protected Brown's left flank when he was paddling his political canoe to the right three-plus decades ago, points out in a new Rolling Stone article about Brown that the governor tends to become very stubborn when he's wrong on an issue. "He does have a problematic side," Hayden told Rolling Stone. "He's the kind of guy who, when he knows he's wrong, argues harder."...

Walters' column deals with Brown's current fight with the federal courts over prison overcrowding.  But the observation is of more general interest.

The column is at

No clear outcome from court hearing on UCLA Japanese Garden

This seems to be the season for uncertain outcomes of court proceedings, as our prior post notes.  The Beverly Hills Courier is reporting that a hearing on Aug. 28, apparently about continuing the current injunction barring the sale of the Hannah Carter Japanese Garden in Bel Air by UCLA, resulted in claims by opposing attorneys but no outcome.

Blog readers will know that the garden, once the property of a former Regent - Edward Carter - was given to UCLA which at a later point said it would maintain it in perpetuity.  An associated residence on the property was occupied by the widow of Regent Carter.  When she died, UCLA got permission from a court in Oakland to sell the property without a guarantee that the garden would be maintained.  If you use the search engine on this blog to search under "Japanese Garden," you will find the history of this case.  Apart from family members, there is an interest in conserving the garden by conservation groups and neighboring homeowners.

We have noted here that litigation is expensive and the outcomes are often not predictable.  UCLA has a habit of not dealing with groups that might be adversely affected by its projects - think Grand Hotel - and ending up in court.  Sometimes opposing groups actually have something to say that UCLA might benefit from hearing.  Imagine that!

To read the Courier article, you have to download the pdf of the Aug. 30 edition.  The article is on pages 1 and 18.  Go to

As the article notes, the same Sam Morabito who came up with the Grand Hotel concept had his fingers in the Japanese Garden affair.

Unclear Consequences of Ruling on VA Uses for UCLA Sports & Other Events

There is a news report today that a court has ruled that the VA property that is almost adjacent to UCLA has been improperly used for purposes other than veterans' health care. UCLA rents space at the VA for sports programs. Over the years, there have been uses for theaters and other events for the general public.Some commercial businesses have also rented space. Recently, there was a Shakespeare theater group at the VA in an open-air venue. 

Exactly what the ruling - which is temporarily stayed for 6 months - might mean for such uses, including those by UCLA, is unclear.

Apparently, one purpose of the suit was to get the VA to do more for homeless vets, although it is unclear that it will have that consequence since the court cannot force the VA to undertake such activities.  There has been some history of local residents having concerns that the VA was planning uses that might add to neighborhood traffic, etc. 

You can read about the ruling at and,0,658539.story

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Various UC Campuses Cleared of Anti-Semitism Charges

Inside Higher Ed reported yesterday that UC campuses at Berkeley and Santa Cruz had been cleared of charges of allowing an anti-Semitic atmosphere due to anti-Israel student activities.  The campuses received letters from the US Dept. of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) clearing them on free speech grounds.  An article appeared later in the LA Times indicating the same conclusion was reached for UC-Irvine.

You can find an official letter to one of the campuses from OCR through the first link.  But the unofficial word from the investigatory team at OCR may be here:

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

50th Anniversary

Martin Luther King at UCLA, April 27, 1965

Last Martin Luther King Day, I posted a personal remembrance of the March on Washington at There was a Facebook audio link to New York City radio commentator Jean Shepherd’s report on the March, broadcast a day after the event, in that posting.  Here, for the 50th anniversary today of the March, is the same broadcast in three segments (total duration around 40 minutes) in easier-to-access YouTube links:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Report: I-405 Through Sepulveda Pass Is Nation's Busiest Freeway

Busiest? How can they say that?
But they do say it:

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Judge Refuses to Dismiss Charges in UCLA Chem Lab Accident Case

A judge today denied a motion to dismiss criminal charges against a UCLA chemistry professor stemming from a laboratory fire that killed a 23-year-old research assistant.
Professor Patrick Harran, 44, is charged with three counts of willful violation of an occupational safety and health standard causing the death of Sheharbano "Sheri" Sangji. Prosecutors say he was responsible for training Sangji and making sure that she wore protective gear. Defense attorneys argued that their client could not be held criminally liable because he wasn't Sangji's employer... Judge George G. Lomeli disagreed...

Full Story at 

As has been noted in the past, what needs to happen in this case is that the DA needs to back off and leave this matter - which she inherited from her predecessor - to civil litigation.  

Monday, August 26, 2013

AAUP takes tough line on Obama Higher Ed Proposal

In an official statement, the AAUP has taken a tough position in criticizing the Obama proposal to condition federal aid for higher ed on performance standards: "In an attempt to rein in rising tuition and skyrocketing debt President Obama has announced a plan for performance based funding for higher education. Under his plan colleges would be rated on affordability, graduation rates and earnings of graduates. While we applaud the President for raising concerns over rising tuition and student debt, concerns that we share, we also believe that the President’s proposal will do little to solve the problem and will likely result in a decline in the quality of education offered to working class and middle class students, particularly students of color. Unfortunately, the President’s plan is little more than a version of the failed policy of 'No Child Left Behind' brought to higher education..."

Full statement at

Unfortunately, there is more heat than light in the statement.  What is needed is line-by-line analysis of the plan.  And there needs to be some analysis of how much of it would require action by Congress - which is not in a mood to do much in the way of acting on anything.  Generally, it can be said that all incentive plans - whether in the workplace or any other situation - turn out to have potential perverse side effects.  If money is conditional on some metric, it is sometimes (often) the case that you can game the metric in ways that compromise the goal.  But to make such an analysis of the plan at hand, we need careful scrutiny of the details.  AAUP needs now to follow through on the details.

Toughness only gets you so far:

Alternative Rankings

The Washington Monthly publishes a “social” ranking of universities on the basis of affordability, access by lower-income students, “service” to the society, as well as research.  UC comes in very well in that ranking with UC-San Diego on top and Riverside is second.  Berkeley is fifth and UCLA is tenth.  The introductory article to the ranking concludes with the following statement: 

...State lawmakers, meanwhile, must be told that the free ride of college budget cutting is over. The U.S. Department of Education should establish new standards of state support for higher learning, and set deadlines for states that don’t meet them. The prospect of losing federal student aid and research money would galvanize state business leaders and college officials to fight budget cuts that are currently being passed along to families who can ill afford them. It would be easy to let the great American higher education compact gradually crumble under the weight of expediency and institutional ambition. We know this because the process is already under way. But that kind of shortsighted thinking isn’t what built America’s best colleges, and it won’t give us all the system of higher learning we badly need. 

Full article at:

Now with all that said, I am generally skeptical of such rankings and, although a methodological statement is included, I am not sure exactly what gets rewarded how.  The purpose of such rankings is mainly to attract readers to the magazines that publish them (You didn’t know that?) more than to achieve any other goals.  Absent an actual database, it is hard to know what is going on.   And the weighting schemes tend to be subjective (arbitrary?). But the methodological statement is at:

Is the UC Pension Fund Other People’s Money?

The LA Times today is running a story about a group that wants the UC Regents to divest their funds from “fossil fuels.”  [If you listen to the recordings of past Regents meetings on this blog, you can hear the group's representatives speak at recent public comment sessions.]  We have a student regent-elect who has pushed in the past to divest from Israel.  When a school shooting incident occurred in Connecticut not so long ago, UC divested from gun companies.  Court decisions regarding public disclosure of info from UC investments in private equity funds have made it difficult for UC to invest in such funds.  [No such disclosure constraints are imposed on private universities.]  On a somewhat related issue, is running a story about CalPERS which includes some info on an initiative passed in 1992: “But investments made for social goals can conflict with the CalPERS duty to give member benefits top priority. Proposition 162 in 1992 also gave CalPERS sole control of its funds, a safeguard against legislative raids or meddling.”  

There is a cautionary note here which can be summed up in a number: 7.5%.  That is the rate of return currently assumed over the long-term for annualized earnings in the UC pension fund.  If the fund turns out to earn less than that – and there is no guarantee that it will earn 7.5%/annum over the long term - the unfunded liability will in fact be higher than currently estimated and ultimately there will be a tapping of the UC budget in some way to pay for it.  There is also a simple fact.  While there is no guarantee UC will be able to earn 7.5%, there is no way it will earn 7.5% in a normal economy with a normal inflation rate (if we ever get back to that) by investing only in U.S. Treasury securities.  That is, there is a virtual guarantee we won’t get the needed 7.5% without holding stocks over the long run.  The current yield on a conventional 30-year Treasury bond is below 4%.  [And maybe some folks would object even to holding Treasuries because of this or that federal policy.]  

The most general rule of finance is to have a broad portfolio which includes many different assets.  Yes, you can always find some period in which some stock or set of stocks – which represent a practice or activity you don’t like – earned less than some other.  But any broad portfolio is going to include some stocks of some firms somebody doesn’t like because of something those firms do. 
As has been pointed out many times in this blog, the UC pension fund is not an old folks’ issue.  Retirees will get their pensions regardless of how pension investment is managed.  If you are a young faculty member or other UC employee and plan to stay at UC for a long career, however, the pension fund is not “other people’s money” that can be redirected away from something somebody doesn’t like without cost to you and your colleagues or co-workers.  No, that doesn’t mean that every investment decision UC has ever made was wise.  But it does suggest that 7.5% is not just an abstract accounting figure; anything that is done by the Regents in UC investing policy has to focus on 7.5%.

There is an obvious attraction to other people’s money.  The question is whether you are the other people:

Sunday, August 25, 2013

UCLA History: Sleeper

The women's dorm for the old Vermont Avenue campus of UCLA before the move to Westwood.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Night Owl Alert

For those night owls who work late at UCLA or are in the area, yet another 405 alert:

A portion of the northbound 405 Freeway in the Sepulveda Pass will be closed Saturday night for work on the Mulholland Bridge, authorities said. Beginning at 11 p.m., all northbound lanes will close from Getty Center Drive to Greenleaf Street/Ventura Boulevard. The connector ramp from the 101 Freeway to the northbound 405 will also close as will three lanes of the southbound 405 to provide a work buffer. All lanes of the roadway are expected to reopen at 9 a.m. Sunday...

Full story at,0,6709325.story

Public-Private Pay

From time to time, news sources such as the Sacramento Bee and the San Francisco Chronicle update their databases of pay of state employees including UC. Yours truly from time to time has posted objections on privacy and ID theft grounds to such posting and has challenged the news sources to post their own payroll data.  Not surprisingly, they have yet to agree - and for good reason.

It's not that there cannot be salary abuses - either in the public or the private sector.  But there are ways to deal with that problem, mainly by posting pay by occupation without individual names, using distributions and charts, etc., or confining the by-name disclosures to top officials.

In any event, such postings bring about the expected angry comments by folks who are annoyed that anyone in the public sector gets paid more than they do, or for the wealthier critics, more than their cleaning help.

Along with this debate comes the general issue of whether public employees are paid more than private.  As economists routinely point out, such comparisons of simple averages mean little unless there are adjustments for occupational composition and other factors relevant to pay.  But such pointing out of the need for adjustment has never hindered popular comparison of the simple averages.

A variation of this practice occurred a couple of days ago in the Sacramento Bee when a report appeared noting that a Census Bureau comparison found that simple average public pay in California (all levels of government) was about a fourth higher than simple average U.S. pay for all states combined.  See The underlying Census report can be found at

But as in other comparisons, you want to make adjustments. One is for the local labor market; what is the general level of pay in the private sector in a particular state?  Last week, a database came online provided by the California Business Roundtable - a business/employers group - which takes available labor market and other data and provides convenient access.  According to that source, annual public sector pay in California is about 5% below the private annual wage.  Go to and scroll down towards the bottom.  This finding is actually rather surprising result because public workers tilt toward white collar more than private and because of the quite large higher ed component of the public sector in California (including UC).  But, again, it all goes to show that without adjustment for more detailed components of pay, comparisons of simple averages don't tell you much.

It's tough when you don't know what the meaning is:

Friday, August 23, 2013

A little bit of action on the UCLA Grand Hotel

I took my weekly perambulation to the "work" site of the Grand Hotel on campus this past Wednesday morning, about 9:30 am.  As noted in prior posts, although the area was fenced off July 8, the "groundbreaking" is not scheduled until Sept. 10.  So not much seems to be happening other than some digging up of landscaping. Anyway, I did see a few construction vehicles on the site. (If you click on the two bottom photos and look closely, you might be able to make a couple of the vehicles out.) The only person I saw in the site wasn't wearing a hard hat or any other obvious worker clothing and was talking on a cell phone.  He strolled out of the one open gate toward the back of the now-closed parking structure #6.  Maybe everyone was at a late breakfast at the time.  It continues to appear that the early closing of the site on July 8 was intended to make a statement rather than to get construction going.  What statement was that?  Click on the link at the bottom.

The statement:

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Audit coming to Berkeley and one other UC campus

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, after a hearing at the legislature on complaints that UC-Berkeley failed to follow up adequately on student allegations of sexual assault, there will be an audit there and one other yet-to-be-named UC campus.  Excerpt:

...The audit will take up to seven months and will look at practices at UC Berkeley and three other campuses to be determined: one at UC and two at CSU. Representatives of UC and CSU at the hearing were clearly moved by the testimony and said they would cooperate with the audit. "As a woman, as a mother who has a daughter who attended college and had a stalker herself, to listen to what happened, this is an important matter," said Linda Williams, an associate chancellor of UC Berkeley. "My heart is heavy."

Full story at

The Bus Plan for Higher Ed

The White House released the plan for higher education this morning.  As per yesterday's post, the plan will be promoted via a presidential bus tour.  Before I get into the plan, I might note that like the Regents and governor, the President is interested in use of technology - think MOOCs - to reduce costs, etc.  And like the Regents and governor, he seems to have problems with his own use of technology.  The screenshot you see here was take 3 hours and 45 minutes after the plan was officially released, but it doesn't show the plan.  All that was available was info from yesterday that the plan would be released today. 

However, Inside Higher Ed does have a lengthy article on the plan and a copy of the White House media release (which has yet to appear on the White House website).  The full article is at:

Excerpt from the article: President Obama appears to be making good on his vow to propose a "shake-up" for higher education. Early Thursday, he released a plan that would:

  • Create a new rating system for colleges in which they would be evaluated based on various outcomes (such as graduation rates and graduate earnings), on affordability and on access (measures such as the percentage of students receiving Pell Grants).
  • Link student aid to these ratings, such that students who enroll at high performing colleges would receive larger Pell Grants and more favorable rates on student loans.
  • Create a new program that would give colleges a "bonus" if they enroll large numbers of students eligible for Pell Grants.
  • Toughen requirements on students receiving aid. For example, the president said that these rules might require completion of a certain percentage of classes to continue receiving aid.
The White House media release, courtesy of Inside Higher Ed, is at:

It's unclear at this stage how much of the proposed agenda can be done by administrative regulatory fiat and how much would require cooperation from the currently-gridlocked Congress.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Movers and Shakers on the Tuition Bus

The original Shakers didn't have a bus.
From Inside Higher Ed: President Obama plans to take on rising tuition prices with speeches later this week that the White House promises will include fresh, serious proposals. But those claims were met largely with skepticism here, even from supporters of the president’s repeated pledge to shake up higher education. On Tuesday the White House distributed a message from Obama in which he said would seek to make college more affordable with “real reforms that would bring lasting change.” The president said he would release the plan’s details during a two-day bus tour that begins Thursday...

The president means business, an Obama spokesman this week told the White House press corps. And the administration is keeping a tight lid on the plan until Thursday.
“It’ll be good,” the spokesman said...

Full article at

It's not even Thursday yet, but already we can feel it:

Regents: Have We Got a Deal for You!!

The image shown here is from a November 2004 video of a Santa Monica city council meeting, which appears to be the first such meeting the city videoed.  It is still on the web nine years after the event.  In contrast, the stated policy for Regents meetings is that video will be preserved for one year only.   

The current policy also seems to mean that audio of the event as a file is not being made available as a public document as it was before the current calendar year.  To obtain the audio to archive under current policy – as we have been doing – you have to play the video into a recorder in real time.  So every one hour of meeting time requires one hour of recording time.

Santa Monica's website also allows embedding as shown below and in fact allows embedding of just desired portions of the meeting. Thus, the video-related software available from Santa Monica is more sophisticated than that used by the Regents, even for their only-preserve-one-year model..

If Santa Monica can preserve its videos indefinitely and with better software, so can the Regents.  It might be noted that UC has more employees than Santa Monica has population.  The UC budget is something like $22 billion.  The Santa Monica city budget for all funds combined (not just the general fund) is a little over $0.5 billion.

So here’s the deal, Regents.  When you get your technology up to the level of Santa Monica, we can resume talking about the use of IT at UC for courses.  You know, MOOCs and all that stuff.  This is a very generous offer because we at UC are way, way ahead of you in use of IT as illustrated by your archiving policy.  But we understand you have problems.  How about it?

Video from the November 2004 Santa Monica city council meeting is below: [The actual discussion at the meeting begins at around the 29 minute mark.]

  Get Microsoft Silverlight

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

UCLA History: Cord

During the summer doldrums, we continue to provide scans of pictures from UCLA's history as shown in the book, "California of the Southland," published by the alumni in 1937.  You can pick what you like as interesting from the 1936 picture above.  There is the presence of Gov. Frank Merriam who had been Lieutenant Governor and then became governor on the death of the sitting governor.  Merriam was elected in his own right, defeating author Upton Sinclair in 1934 in the great EPIC campaign.  If you don't know about that, you should.  So start by Googling it.

Another item of interest is the car in the background, which appears to be a 1936 Cord.  No, that's not a misprint for Ford.  See the picture below of a 1936 Cord which seems to match the photo above:
More on the 1936 Cord's history:

Monday, August 19, 2013

See No Evil

The caption to this photo from the Bangkok Post reads "Students wear paper blinker 'anti-cheating' headgear as they take an examination at Kasetsart University's agro-industry faculty."  The article goes on to report that the experiment has been abandoned.  Inside Higher Ed pointed me to this story.

See and

A modest proposal: Instead of hats, how about earphones playing:

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Directional Issues

Good advice from Horace because of you're traveling east on Wilshire and want to go north on the 405, you are soon to have problem.  And others will likely have a problem as those who want to go north shift to the Sunset Blvd. on ramp - or just get confused.

See below:

The eastbound Wilshire Boulevard on-ramp to northbound 405 Freeway will close for 90 days starting Thursday, Aug 22. Once rebuilt, the on-ramp will have nearly 300 percent greater capacity. It is the last extended ramp closure that will be required for the Wilshire Interchange, as well as the last of its kind for the entire freeway improvements project. Motorists who normally utilize this on-ramp to access the northbound I-405 from eastbound Wilshire are encouraged to plan ahead to determine alternate routes, allow extra time to reach destinations, eliminate unnecessary trips to avoid peak congestion and/or consider ridesharing and public transit options. The extended duration closure is required for the contractor to demolish the existing on-ramp and build a new, significantly longer freeway on-ramp that, when complete, will have nearly 300 percent greater capacity than the current freeway ramp...


Note that the 90-day period will extend well into the UCLA fall quarter.  So watch your directions:

UCLA History: Bookstore

If you are getting the sense from recent posts of historical photos from UCLA that not much happens in current events in mid-August, you are correct.  So - given the dearth of exciting events - here is another photo showing the bookstore in Kerckhoff in the mid-1930s.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

UCLA History: Meal Time

Here's another photo from "California of the Southland," the book published by UCLA alumni in 1937.  The student affairs building at the time was Kerckhoff Hall, long before the larger Ackerman Union was built.  Above is the student cafeteria in Kerckhoff.

Friday, August 16, 2013

UCLA History and Current "Intentions" for UC

We have been running some scanned photos from "California of the Southland," a book published by the UCLA alumni in 1937.  Here we seen registration in 1936.  If you read the caption, you will note that women made up a slightly larger percent of enrollment back then.

Let's move to enrollment nowadays.  When the legislature passes a budget, it includes various statements of "intent" about how money should be used.  UC's budget - despite constitutional autonomy - does not escape from such quasi-directives.  Technically, UC might not use money as directed, but not doing so could affect next year's allocation, so...

In any event, the Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) compiles of lists of intention.  For UC, we find: 

Item 6440-001-0001—University of California: Enrollment Funding. The Legislative Analyst, in consultation with the University of California, the California State University, and the Department of Finance, shall review the state’s current approach to enrollment funding, including a review of current funding per student and the marginal cost funding formula, and submit a report to the Legislature by January 1, 2014 with recommendations on how to fund enrollment going forward to promote access, quality, and other state higher education goals. 

You can find this statement on page 10 and the entire list of intentions at:

There are other intentions for UC in the area of capital projects at Merced and San Diego (Scripps) which you can find on pages 27-28.

One thing you can be sure of:

More 405 Night Time Stay Away Periods

More difficulties coming for those who spend late hours at UCLA and use the 405 freeway:

The I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements contractor will continue removing falsework on the Mulholland Bridge in the Sepulveda Pass on Saturday nights over the next two weekends. Metro says this will require full directional freeway closures from Valley Vista Drive to Skirball Center Drive between the hours of 11 p.m. until 9 a.m. 

Saturday, Aug. 17: Full southbound freeway closure, from Valley Vista to Skirball, from 11 p.m. until 9 a.m. Northbound #1,2,3 lanes will be closed as a buffer. Closures start at 11 p.m. and last until 9 a.m.     

Saturday, Aug. 24: Full northbound freeway closure, from Skirball to Valley Vista, from 11 p.m. until 9 a.m. Southbound HOV, #1 and 2 lanes will be closed as a buffer. Closures start at 11 p.m. and last until 9 a.m...

And let's not hear any nasty cracks about the "falsework"! 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Groundbreaking Notes

Yesterday, we noted that the groundbreaking for UCLA's Grand Hotel would be on September 10.  We have also noted that after blocking off the Ackerman bus turnaround and parking structure #6 on July 8, nothing much seems to have happened in the way of actual work on the site.

Lest you think no one has been inconvenienced by the no-work blocking off, comes this from the Santa Monica Big Blue Bus on its off-hour service:

New transit hub: Ackerman Terminal is closed for construction so BBB will use a new transit hub located on Charles E. Young Dr. and Manning Ave. Weekdays from 8pm to 7am and all day on weekends: Buses heading towards campus will detour onto Charles E. Young Dr. You can disembark at the stop on Westwood Plaza (outside of the Jules Stein Eye Center) or on Charles E. Young Dr. (in front of P2).For riders leaving  campus: please note that BBB is no longer able to serve the stop on southbound Westwood Blvd. at the Medical Center. You can catch a bus from Charles E. Young Dr. (in front of P2) or at any BBB stop on Hilgard Ave., Le Conte Ave, or on southbound Westwood Blvd. at Weyburn Ave. Rapid 12 weekdays: If you are heading towards campus, buses will follow the same detour and serve all stops noted above. For riders leaving campus: please note that BBB is no longer able to serve the stop on southbound Westwood Blvd. at the Medical Center. You can catch a bus from Charles E. Young Dr. (in front of P2) or on southbound Westwood Blvd. at Weyburn Ave. 


And there appears to be a back story to the fact that the Santa Monica bus was earlier diverted from off-hour service that used to go to the bus terminal behind the Faculty Club.  Those who follow the Grand Hotel affair will know that the original plan was to demolish the Faculty Club to make way for the hotel.  That plan would have made the bus terminal behind the Faculty Club difficult to access.  However, one (just one!) neighbor had been complaining about noise from the buses.  Normally a single complainer would not trigger a wholesale transit shift by the university.  But it was certainly convenient to use the complaint to begin shifting buses elsewhere when it was thought that the Faculty Club would be the site of the Grand Hotel.  So the shift decision was made (and then - thanks to widespread campus protests - the site was shifted away from the Faculty Club anyway).

The fact is that the entire project has been one of bad decisions that pile up one after another.  But no one can reverse the ultimate decision and so the bulldozers are coming September 10.  I happened to note this quote from the latest Mitchell's Musings column: 

"Academics reading this musing will undoubtedly be able to cite many examples in which university administrators are unable to reverse direction on misguided policies, absent tremendous negative fallout."  

I wonder what Mitchell was thinking of?  Source:  [Click on the pdf option.]

Anyway, since the groundbreaking is scheduled and the bulldozers are coming, I am indebted to Jim Chalfant of UC-Davis for this modest proposal for the event:

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Waiting for Sept. 10 and the Grand Hotel

We have been posting pictures of working not being done at the (former) Ackerman bus turnaround and parking structure #6 since the area was closed off on July 8.  Yesterday was no exception as the photos below show.  No workers could be seen.  But the riddle of no-work can now be partly explained.  We are waiting for a grand groundbreaking for the Grand Hotel on Sept. 10, as indicated on the invitation towards the bottom. (Scroll down):

A clearer version of the invitation can be viewed at the link below:

Exactly why the bus turnaround and parking structure had to be closed two months before the grand ceremony in a waiting game isn't clear.  But we do have some advance info on the entertainment to be provided which may have an explanation:

Where Time Doesn't Stand Still

Below are photos of four separate clocks in hallways on the same floor of a building on the north end of campus.  The photos were all taken within two minutes of each other.  None of the clocks show anywhere near the same time.  I won't identify the building but perhaps someone with a knowledge of theoretical physics can explain the time discrepancy.  Didn't Einstein say something about this phenomenon? 
Well, maybe Einstein can't help - according to the lyrics, anyway:

Could we average the four clocks on the theory that no clock can be off by more than 12 hours?