Southern California breaking news and trends

What LA music should you hear when you call City Hall?

The Los Angeles City Council approved a multibillion-budget today that closes a $238 million deficit and temporarily avoids layoffs, but there was one motion that grabbed the spotlight – a request to improve the music Angelenos hear when they call City Hall.

During the course of the budget discussion, Councilman Tom LaBonge asked staff to replace the phone system’s hold music with something inspired by Los Angeles. Councilman Joe Buscaino also asked the engineers to replace the music that plays on Channel 35 before and after the city council meetings.

Among LaBonge’s suggestions for the new hold music:

Coming into Los Angeles, by Arlo Guthrie

Low Rider, by War

Walking in L.A., by Missing Persons

San Fernando Valley, by Bing Crosby

MacArthur Park, by Donna Summer

California Dreaming, by The Mamas and the Papas


LA City Council approves $7.2 billion budget (updated)

Kansas Sebastian/Flickr

The L.A. city budget includes increases in parking fines and the elimination of funds that allow Angelenos to remotely testify before the L.A. City Council.

A $7.2 billion budget that increases parking fines and eliminates the funds that allow Angelenos to remotely testify was unanimously approved today by the Los Angeles City Council.

Tickets for all parking fines will increase by $5, while fines related to handicap parking will increase $10. Those tickets are expected to generate an additional $2.4 million for the city. 

When Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa introduced the budget in April, he warned that 231 employees would be laid off. However, an unexpected influx of property taxes and funds found by the chief legislative analyst means those layoffs will be pushed back until at least Jan. 1, 2013. 

The balanced budget also eliminates a $238 million deficit.

“The real budget solution that the city faces is to get businesses back in the city and to get people back to work and when those things happen, we’ll have a much easier time delivering services to our constituents,” said Councilman Paul Krekorian, chair of the Budget and Finance Committee. 


LA City Council prepares for vote on $7.2 billion budget

Mercer 15657

Chris Hall/Flickr (Creative Commons-licensed)

The Los Angeles City Council is expected to approve the city's $7.2 billion budget on Monday.

Angelenos had their final opportunity to weigh in on the city’s $7.2 billion budget today as the Los Angeles City Council prepares for a final vote on the spending plan.

Council members will meet at City Hall on Monday to discuss and vote on any possible changes to a plan that avoids 209 layoffs -- at least until January. Since Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa released his budget April 20, members of the Budget and Finance Committee have spent more than 40 hours combing through the proposal.

“Is this a good budget? In a perfect world, of course this is not a good budget. Of course we want to do more for the programs that we care about,” said Councilman Paul Krekorian, chair of the committee.

“Given the limitations that we’re facing, given the restrictions that are before us, because of the work that we’ve done today, this is, I believe, a balanced budget that attempts to address the structural deficiencies that we have in our budget.” 


USC professor confirmed to LA's Ethics Commission

Ralph Fertig


Ralph Fertig, a professor at USC, was unanimously confirmed to the city Ethics Commission today.

A USC professor who is known as an advocate for social justice was unanimously confirmed today to the city of Los Angeles’ Ethics Commission. 

Ralph Fertig is an appointee of Controller Wendy Greuel. His term will end on June 30, 2013.

“Democracy only works if we can level the playing field – if we can guarantee equal access and equal rights, which becomes particularly pronounced and essential in the most diverse city on the global, to open up those opportunities and keep them open,” Fertig said during his confirmation hearing.

The newest commissioner is a clinical professor at USC’s School of Social Work. Fertig was previously the executive director of the Greater Los Angeles Community Action Agency, the Metropolitan Washington Planning & Housing Association, and the Washington Welfare Association. 


Maven's Morning Coffee: investigation into assessor expands, LA approves Responsible Banking Ordinance

Photo by John Noguez via Flickr Creative Commons

District Attorney Steve Cooley says he is expanding the investigation into the county assessor John Noguez.

Good morning, readers. Welcome to the Maven's Morning Coffee -- a listing of the important headlines, news conferences, public meetings and announcements you need to know to fuel up and tackle your day.

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Today is Wednesday, May 16, and here is what's happening in Los Angeles:


An investigation into the county assessor is growing as the district attorney intends to seek grand jury indictments, according to the Los Angeles Times. D.A. Steve Cooley says county employees are being told by their union leadership not to cooperate with the investigation. "They're telling potential witnesses that, until they get permission from the No. 1 target, they can't talk," he said.

Banks doing business with the city of Los Angeles will now have to disclose details on their loans and foreclosures in the community thanks to a Responsible Banking Ordinance, reports the Los Angeles Times. Those details, which are already reported under federal law, will now appear on a city website that residents can search by census tract.