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How Local Politics Shape Federal Policy

Business, Power, and the Environment in Twentieth-Century Los Angeles

Sarah S. Elkind

Publication Year: 2011

Focusing on five Los Angeles environmental policy debates between 1920 and 1950, Sarah Elkind investigates how practices in American municipal government gave business groups political legitimacy at the local level as well as unanticipated influence over federal politics.

Published by: The University of North Carolina Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents/Illustrations and Maps

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pp. vii-ix

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xii

This project began with the World War II and California Conference at the Huntington Library organized by Roger Lotchin in 1995, in which I was honored to participate. It was nurtured by the Los Angeles History Group; I cannot imagine a more welcoming and intellectually engaging...

Abbreviations

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pp. xiii-

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INTRODUCTION: BUSINESS INTERESTS, SPECIAL INTERESTS, AND THE PUBLIC INTEREST

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pp. 1-15

When Americans imagine their democracy, they envision government institutions that protect and nurture the public interest. So far, so good. But this vision quickly gets complicated and contradictory: Americans vilify equally the influence of uninformed public opinion and that of so- called special interests. And yet interest groups have played a role...

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CHAPTER ONE: OIL AND WATER: The Public and the Private on Southern California Beaches, 1920–1950

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pp. 17-51

Los Angeles beaches have changed since the 1920s. Old photographs reveal people lounging in the sand, playing in the waves, and fishing from piers. They show lifeguard towers and crowds of umbrellas. But these crowds play in the shadow of oil rigs and ornate beach clubs that have...

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CHAPTER TWO: INFUENCE THROUGH COOPERATION: The Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce and Air Pollution Control in Los Angeles, 1943–1954

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pp. 52-82

In the summer of 1943, an acrid cloud settled over downtown Los Angeles. On the streets below, cars collided as “lacrimous fumes” blinded drivers.1 City officials received letter after letter complaining that the smoke destroyed the community, “depressed . . . [the] spirits,” interfered...

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CHAPTER THREE: FLOOD CONTROL AND POLITICAL EXCLUSION AT WHITTIER NARROWS, 1938–1948

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pp. 83-116

Interstate 605 runs north along the San Gabriel River from the coast at Seal Beach to the San Gabriel Mountains near Duarte. About halfway along, the road climbs up over a saddle in the hills that separate the San Gabriel Valley to the north from the coastal plain below. There it passes...

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CHAPTER FOUR: PRIVATE POWER AT HOOVER DAM: Utilities, Government Power, and Political Realism, 1920–1928

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pp. 117-147

When approached by road from the Nevada side, Hoover Dam appears first in glimpses. Its 726-foot-high mass, its triumphant sandy arched face, its art nouveau details are revealed slowly; the final impressions are of majesty and an unproblematic celebration of technology so tangible...

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CHAPTER FIVE: THE TRIUMPH OF LOCALISM: The Rejection of National Water Planning in 1950

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pp. 148-177

In December 1928, in an editorial announcing that the Senate had finally passed the Boulder Canyon dam bill, the New York Times lamented that Congress had missed an opportunity to plan the development of all the Colorado River’s resources for the benefit of the entire region and nation...

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CONCLUSION: SMALL GOVERNMENT AND BIG BUSINESS IN THE MID-TWENTIETH CENTURY

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pp. 178-184

The recommendations of the President’s Water Resources Policy Commission of 1950 languished for many reasons. Among them was the fact that implementing river basin planning required Congress members who held the power to approve federal river projects to surrender this...

Notes

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pp. 185-238

Bibliography

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pp. 239-249

Index

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pp. 251-267


E-ISBN-13: 9781469602707
E-ISBN-10: 1469602709
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807834893
Print-ISBN-10: 0807834890

Page Count: 288
Illustrations: 2 line drawings, 1 map
Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: The Luther H. Hodges Jr. and Luther H. Hodges Sr. Series on Business, Society, and the State

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Subject Headings

  • California -- Economic policy -- 20th century.
  • California -- Politics and government -- 20th century.
  • Environmental policy -- California.
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