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Mayor Eric Garcetti addresses Cal State LA's Pat Brown Institute policy conference

October 5, 2017
By Jillian Beck | Cal State LA News Service


Mayor Eric Garcetti touted Los Angeles’ position as a global city and its growing influence as a player in international trade in his keynote address at the annual policy conference of the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at Cal State LA.

“A city that is ready to step up and respond to its biggest challenges, to reach for its loftiest opportunities – that’s L.A.,” Garcetti said to a packed room in the L.A. Hotel Downtown. “That’s our trade policy – to trade on our assets, whether they be geographic, human or the values that we embody in a world that so badly needs them today.”

Cal State LA has a unique relationship with Los Angeles, said Cal State LA President William A. Covino.

“Our students and alumni, faculty and staff, are a vital part of the city,” Covino said.

The mayor discussed Los Angeles’ exports and investment in infrastructure and addressed the theme of the daylong conference, “Should California Have Its Own Trade Policy?” The program featured in-depth discussions on international trade and investment policies and examined the role California, the nation’s largest state and the world’s sixth largest economy, should play in the arena.

“Mayor Garcetti has effectively positioned Los Angeles on the world stage. Cal State LA stands with him to ensure that the Los Angeles and California economies thrive,” said Cal State LA Executive Vice President Jose A. Gomez, who also serves as chair of the Pat Brown Institute Board of Advisers.

Raphael Sonenshein, PBI’s executive director, introduced and led a question-and-answer session with the mayor at the conference.

“We were honored to have Mayor Garcetti as our keynote speaker. His close friendship with the university and the Pat Brown Institute has helped forge a great tie between Cal State LA and the city of L.A.,” Sonenshein said. “His visionary comments about how L.A. is seen in the world were really inspiring and gave a bigger picture to the trade question that we might not otherwise have had.”

LA Mayor and PBI Executive DirectorSonenshein moderated a morning session, “The Politics of Trade,” which focused on California voters' and elected officials' views and actions – or inaction – on trade issues.

Los Angeles and California receive benefits as major global economic drivers, but voters often believe the opposite, said Robert Shrum, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC, citing the findings of a March 2016 USC Dornsife/LA Times Poll that found many Californians skeptical of the positive impact of international trade.

"There's an assumption that California must be pro-trade – it's not," Shrum said on the panel.

Shrum was joined by Carla Marinucci, senior writer for POLITICO California Playbook, and Joann Lo, co-director of the Food Chain Workers Alliance. Lo described trade as a top concern for labor, especially the need to advocate for stronger safeguards and enforcement mechanisms to protect workers' rights and the environment.

Pointing to the greater divisiveness and salience of trade issues in the 2016 election, Marinucci said few politicians are talking about the tangible impacts on people and communicating how the effects of automation and trade are intertwined.

"It's going to be interesting to see how this plays out in not only the 2018 election, but in 2020," Marinucci said.

The conference was co-sponsored by World Trade Center, Los Angeles and the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation. Other speakers included Panorea Avdis, director of the California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development; Stephen Cheung, president of World Trade Center, Los Angeles; John Grubb, chief operating officer of the Bay Area Council; Mickey Kantor, former U.S. trade representative and secretary of commerce; Vilma Martinez, president of the Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners; and Rodrigo Tavares, author of Paradiplomacy: Cities and States as Global Players and former head of the São Paulo State Government’s Office of Foreign Affairs.

Garcetti also discussed the newly created Mayor’s Office of International Affairs and an export initiative supporting local small and medium-size businesses. He addressed Los Angeles’ upcoming role as host of the 2028 Olympics and the city’s beneficial relationships with its many Sister Cities across the world, including Berlin, which has a delegation in L.A. this week to meet with the mayor and his staff.

The mayor praised Gov. Jerry Brown’s action on sanctuary state legislation.

“Today, the governor signed the sanctuary [state] legislation, which I was glad that he did, because it’s a statement that this is a place where people can still come to and will be welcome, and we will protect them,” Garcetti said, while also noting the need for immigration reform.

Garcetti and Sonenshein both praised the work of Civic University, a partnership between Cal State LA, PBI, and the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office, which offers a non-credit certificate program to community members covering the processes and the important functions of the Los Angeles city government.

“At the end of the day, it all comes back to expanding the sphere of who participates in California – to engage, to inform, to participate,” Sonenshein said. “That’s really why we’re here today.”

Photos: Above, Mayor Eric Garcetti. Bottom, Garcetti and PBI Executive Director Raphael Sonenshein. (Credit: Ty Washington/Cal State LA)

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California State University, Los Angeles is the premier comprehensive public university in the heart of Los Angeles. Cal State LA is ranked number one in the United States for the upward mobility of its students. Cal State LA is dedicated to engagement, service, and the public good, offering nationally recognized programs in science, the arts, business, criminal justice, engineering, nursing, education, and the humanities. Founded in 1947, the University serves more than 28,000 students and has more than 245,000 distinguished alumni.

Cal State LA is home to the critically-acclaimed Luckman Fine Arts Complex, Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs, Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center, Hydrogen Research and Fueling Facility, Billie Jean King Sports Complex and the TV, Film and Media Center. For more information, visit