Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Money flows into legal defense funds for suspended California senators

The State Capitol in Sacramento

Craig Miller/KQED

The State Capitol in Sacramento

Sen. Leland Yee Appears In Court On Corruption Charges

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MARCH 31: California State senator Leland Yee leaves the Phillip Burton Federal Building after a court appearance on March 31, 2014 in San Francisco, California. State Senator Leland Yee appeared in federal court today for a second time after being arrested along with 25 others by F.B.I. agents last week on political corruption and firearms trafficking charges. Yee is free on a $500,000 unsecured bond. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

California Legislature

Rich Pedroncelli/AP

State Sen. Rod Wright, D-Inglewood, speaks to the Senate Monday, Sept. 9, 2013.

Ron Calderon

Rich Pedroncelli/AP

FILE - In this Monday June 10, 2013, file photo State Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, left, holds a brief news conference during first appearance at the Capitol since the FBI investigators raided his offices in Sacramento, Calif. Sen. Calderon was a no-show with an unexcused absence after at least a half-dozen FBI agents carted boxes from his Sacramento offices following a more than six-hour search in June 2013. Sen. Calderon did not answer any questions and no details have been given for the search and no charges have been filed. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)


California has tight restrictions on the amount political candidates can collect for campaigns; but when it comes to legal defense funds, donors can be far more generous. 

The state senate voted last March to suspend three members who had been charged or convicted of felonies.  Now several corporations, political action committees and even a few politicians have stepped up to help pay the legal bills for senators Ron Calderon and Rod Wright. Senator Leland Yee also has a committee to collect legal defense donations. 

Under state law, none of these legal defense funds will be subject to limits, as long as the amounts are not unreasonably higher than the expected defense costs.

Wright is scheduled to be sentenced Wednesday on charges of perjury and voting fraud charges stemming from living outside his district. His fund collected more than $150,000.  Most came from state-regulated industries -- energy, metals, telecommunications,  insurance, casinos and teachers.

Read More...

10 little-known facts about American labor and Labor Day

Ohio Labor Day

Jason Perlman/Flickr

Labor Day parade in Marietta, Ohio.

Labor Day used to signify the last day of summer vacation, the turning point when voters started paying attention to the November election, the date when the Dodgers or Angels being in first place actually meant something.

But what do you really know about "labor" part of Labor Day? Here are ten facts to share over the weekend holiday.

  1. California has a greater number of union members than any other state  - 2.4 million.
  2. California lags behind New York in the percentage of its population that belongs to a union - nearly one in four, or 24 percent of New Yorkers are union members. About one in six, or 16 percent of Californians are union members
  3. Teachers are the largest group of union workers nationwide
  4. More than a third of all public sector workers are union members
  5. Just one in 15 workers in the private sector are union members
  6. The lowest number of union members can be found in agriculture, finance, and restaurants and bars - just about one percent of that population.
  7. The first Labor Day holiday wasn't on a Monday. The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City.
  8. The Jewelers Union of Newark marched in that first Manhattan parade, bringing a band that played a lesser known hit "When I Put This Uniform On" from Patience, the Gilbert and Sullivan comic opera.
  9. A dozen years later, in 1894, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday.
  10. There's a dispute about who invented Labor Day; but whoever it was, his name was McGuire - or is it Maguire? Some say Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, first suggested a day to honor those "who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold." But there's also a machinist named Matthew Maguire of the International Association of Machinists who is said to have proposed the holiday in 1882.

Read More...

Maven's Morning Coffee: LAPD releases names in shooting, Mayor defends wage proposal, indicted senators use campaign funds for defense

Erika Aguilar/KPCC

The Los Angeles Police Department named the two officers involved in the shooting of Ezell Ford.

Good morning, readers. Welcome to the Maven's Morning Coffee -- a listing of the important headlines, news conferences, votes 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 Friday, Aug. 29, and here is what's happening in Southern California politics:

Headlines

LAPD released the names of two officers who shot Ezell Ford, a mentally ill African-American man who was unarmed at the time of the shooting, reports KPCC. One of the officers was named in a 2011 civil lawsuit for allegedly beating a man and using pepper spray on him. That case was eventually dismissed.

During his appearance on KNX 1070, Mayor Eric Garcetti defended a proposal to increase the city's minimum wage. "We see Democrats and Republicans alike say the minimum wage is too low. There are lots of people who work full time that are below the poverty level, and when they need services, it’s the rest of us who pay for it," he said, per a write-up in the Daily News.

Read More...

Maven's Morning Coffee: DWP billing problems, Hilda Solis asked to testify, will state of Jefferson become a reality?

DWP

Alice Walton/KPCC

Customers with the Department of Water and Power continue to have billing problems and long wait times when they call to complain.

Good morning, readers. Welcome to the Maven's Morning Coffee -- a listing of the important headlines, news conferences, votes 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 Thursday, Aug. 28, and here is what's happening in Southern California politics:

Headlines

The Hollywood Reporter looks at why Mayor Eric Garcetti's office allowed Live Nation's Made in America festival to come together without going through "the usual bureaucratic red tape." "Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino is a highly connected donor to national-level Democratic candidates ... And the skeptics point out that Live Nation's registered city lobbyist, Joshua Perttula, served as an adviser on Garcetti's transition team and remains close to the administration," per the Reporter.

Read More...

Maven's Morning Coffee: Mayor Garcetti pushes new minimum wage, City Hall settles sexual harassment lawsuit, what's the future for ride-sharing companies?

Eric Garcetti

Alice Walton/KPCC

Mayor Eric Garcetti is expected to announce a new minimum wage proposal next week.

Good morning, readers. Welcome to the Maven's Morning Coffee -- a listing of the important headlines, news conferences, votes 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. 27, and here is what's happening in Southern California politics:

Headlines

Mayor Eric Garcetti is expected to announce a proposal next week that would increase the city's minimum wage to more than $13/hour, according to the Los Angeles Times, Daily News and LA Weekly. "Businesses will have to address the increased costs. They will either increase their price or lay people off or move their business," said Stuart Waldman with the Valley Industry and Commerce Association.

The city of Los Angeles will pay $75,000 to a former aide to Councilman Mitch Englander who sued the city and alleged she had been sexually harassed in the office, reports the Los Angeles Times. In her lawsuit, the former aide alleged the councilman suggested she was interested in public safety so "she could walk into the fire stations and be naked in front of the male firefighters." Englander has maintained that the allegations were false.

Read More...