Southern California breaking news and trends

LA City Council moves forward with campaign finance reform recommendations

Pile of money

Tracy O./Flickr Creative Commons

The Los Angeles City Council agreed today to revise the city's matching funds program, though questions remain on the details.

A proposal to change how the City of Los Angeles provides public dollars to candidates for their political campaigns could give more power to small-time donors.

The Los Angeles City Council voted 13-0 Wednesday to ask the City Attorney for a draft ordinance that would implement a host of campaign finance reforms. They include a provision that would provide $2 in public funds for every qualified dollar a candidate receives in the primary. The match would increase to $4 per qualified dollar in the general election.

The city would match the first $250 for city council candidates and the first $500 for citywide candidates.

Under current rules the city matches, dollar-for-dollar, the first $250 of an individual’s contribution to a qualifying candidate. A total of $100,000 is available to a candidate in the primary and $150,000 in the general. The city currently has $12 million in its matching funds account, which comes from the general fund. 


Three high-profile Angelenos back Wendy Greuel for mayor

Courtesy Wendy Greuel

Controller Wendy Greuel's mayoral bid is backed by former Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg, labor leader Dolores Huerta and John Mack, formerly of the Los Angeles Urban League.

Controller Wendy Greuel is a leading candidate to be the next mayor of Los Angeles and on Wednesday she announced the endorsements of three prominent Angelenos, which she hopes will show her support in three key communities.

Supporters of the controller's mayoral bid include former assembly speaker Bob Hertzberg, labor icon Dolores Huerta and John Mack, the former president of the Los Angeles Urban League and a member of the Police Commission.

The Greuel camp is hoping the endorsements reflect support in the San Fernando Valley, African-American and labor communities.

"Wendy Greuel’s authenticity, her passion and drive for excellence in city government, coupled with her proven ability to deliver tangible results for the residents of LA are why I’m pleased to give her my enthusiastic endorsement," Hertzberg said in a press release from the campaign.


Maven's Morning Coffee: pension reform, new taxes, ban at pet shops

Exterior view of Los Angeles City Hall

California Historical Society/USC Digital Archives

Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez surveyed the 2013 mayoral candidates on what they would do regarding pension reform.

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.

The Maven's Morning Coffee is also available as a daily email. Click here to subscribe.

Today is Wednesday, Aug. 22, and here is what's happening in Los Angeles:


Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez asked the city's mayoral candidates what they would do on pension reform and ended up getting some choice quotes from former Mayor Richard Riordan. "(Wendy) Greuel and (Eric) Garcetti are owned by the unions, and the only reason I'd support Zev is that [the unions] don't like him," he told The Times. Also, "When I announced I was going to run, my psychiatrist resigned."

Commercially-bred cats, dogs and rabbits would be banned from Los Angeles pet shops under a new law being considered by the Los Angeles City Council, reports the Daily News. L.A. City Councilman Richard Alarcon questions the city's ability to enforce the ban, should it take effect.


Union: More pension 'reform' out of the question at LA City Hall

Los Angeles City Hall

Alice Walton/KPCC

At City Hall, there's a fight brewing over pension reform. The mayor and city council members agree that retirement plans need to change, but labor leaders say they are done making concessions.

The president of the Los Angeles City Council is hoping for “peace, not war” in the ongoing retirement talks with city employees, but one union said on Tuesday that it's done talking about pension reform.

City council members met behind closed doors today to discuss moving forward with plans to reduce pension costs. It was just a week ago that former mayor Richard Riordan and a coalition of business leaders took to City Hall to demand reform that includes:

  • Giving voters the power to change employees’ benefits
  • Capping salaries when pension costs get too expensive relative to pay
  • Creating a new pension tier for new employees

Following the closed session discussion, the city’s top budget official, Miguel Santana, was directed to conduct an actuarial study and look at creating a new pension category for future city employees.


2 tax increases could appear on Los Angeles' spring ballot

City Councilman Paul Krekorian

Andres Aguila/KPCC

As chair of the Budget and Finance Committee, Councilman Paul Krekorian told his colleagues it's time to get real about how the city of Los Angeles will close its structural deficit.

The tax that homebuyers pay when they purchase property in the city of Los Angeles would double next spring under a proposal to reduce the city’s ongoing deficit.

A measure to increase the city’s documentary transfer tax should appear on the March ballot, according to a recommendation from City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana. The proposal would increase the tax from $4.50 per $1,000 of a home sale to $9 per $1,000.

For the average homebuyer, that would increase the tax from $1,733 per home sale to $3,465.

During the housing boom that coincided with fiscal year 2005-06, the city received $217 million from the tax. That’s in contrast to this year, when budget officials expect to receive $150 million from the documentary transfer tax.

The projected deficit for fiscal year 2013-14, which starts July 1, is $216 million. Councilman Paul Krekorian, chair of the Budget and Finance Committee, told his colleagues that it's time to face reality.