Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Congress: turn down the helicopter noise

helicopter hearing

Erika Aguilar/KPCC

Residents filled a Sherman Oaks middle school cafeteria last year to attend a public hearing hosted by the Federal Aviation Administration on noisy helicopters.

California lawmakers are once again pushing federal aviation officials to regulate helicopters flying over L.A. County neighborhoods. Residents have been complaining for years about the noise.

Democratic Congressman Henry Waxman understands the appeal of seeing movie star homes from the air, but he says with the canyons and the valleys in the L.A. area, the sound is amplified "and we’ve received many, many complaints about the excessive noise from these helicopters."

Waxman has joined California Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, as well as House Democrats Brad Sherman and Adam Schiff, in reintroducing a bill requiring the Federal Aviation Administration to set guidelines on flight paths and minimum altitudes for choppers flying over L.A. County. 

Congressman Schiff says it wouldn’t eliminate all helicopter noise — police and emergency responders would be exempt from the restrictions. But he says it would have "the greatest impact on paparazzi that hovers over Lindsey Lohan’s apartment every time she has a court appearance or some of the tours in the Hollywood Hills or the Rose Bowl."

Schiff says he's had several meetings with neighborhood residents that were interrupted by helicopter noise. "They came flying overhead," he says, "and we had to cease the conversation until they left."

Southern California lawmakers have been urging the FAA to do something about helicopters over L.A. County for several years. The FAA is scheduled to release a report on chopper noise in May, but it may include guidelines rather than new rules. The bill would make regulations mandatory, not voluntary.

There is a precedent for helicopter restrictions: New York's Long Island already has chopper rules in place to restrict noise.

 

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Another California Democrat says it's up to the White House on climate change

Henry Waxman

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Democrat Rep. Henry Waxman says it's up to the president to act on climate change.

Congressional Democrats say it's up to President Obama to use his executive powers to fight climate change. That's the message from California's top environmental Democrats.

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Los Angeles) was the chief architect of the climate change bill passed by the House three years ago. That measure died in the Senate.

But Waxman, who's the top Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee, says Congress hasn't been interested in acting on climate issues since Republicans became the majority in the House.

Instead, he's calling on the President to develop a plan for the administration to take action on fighting greenhouse gas emissions.

President should act on his own

Waxman insists the President has "an enormous amount of authority" to do that — and to do it with Congressional help.

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Sherman/Berman election tiff continues post-Berman

The Democrat on Democrat Congressional race that pitted longtime member Howard Berman against incumbent Brad Sherman was expensive. And nasty. And the fallout continues on Capitol Hill.

Blame it all on Citizens United. An independent expenditure by a political action committee bought mailers designed to encourage Republicans to vote for Sherman. The mailer angered fellow Democrats.

And it cost Sherman the top Democratic job on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Now, it's cost him a plumb role on a subcommittee.

Sherman reportedly had hoped to step into the top Democratic spot on the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee on Foreign Affairs. But a member with less seniority, Ted Deutch of Florida, jumped into the race, collecting the votes to make it happen. According to Politico.

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NRA bashing from California's Congressional Democrats

U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said Friday that the NRA's proposal "is really nothing more than a distraction."

After the National Rifle Association called Friday for armed police officers at every local school, California members of Congress were swift to react to the proposal.

Democratic U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein didn’t dismiss the NRA proposal out of hand. "If school districts want to hire armed security guards," she said, "I support that. It’s a decision each school district should make." Feinstein added that one-in-three public schools in America already have armed security on staff.

Feinstein again called for a renewal of her assault weapons ban. "The NRA’s blanket call to arm our schools is really nothing more than a distraction," she said. "It’s a delay tactic."

Democrats on the House side were equally critical. Grace Napolitano of Norwalk said it was "just like the NRA. Sell more guns. Arm everybody." West L.A.'s Henry Waxman sait it was "very cynical for the NRA to blame everybody but themselves for the gun disasters, the killing that we’ve been seeing in recent years." And Janice Hahn of Carson said the NRA’s solution "is so out of touch with reality and so out of touch with what the American people want right now."

Hahn supports the assault weapons ban, but wants to do something about the guns already out there. She sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi asking that $200 million in any fiscal cliff deal be set aside to buy back assault weapons: "I want to get the ones that are already out there and get them off the streets."

Waxman also supports Feinstein’s assault weapons ban, and a ban on magazine clips for those weapons. He also suggests a look at our culture’s “glorification of violence” and an examination of our mental health system.

Mental health is the top issue for Congresswoman Napolitano. She says families need education to help identify those with mental health problems and the resources to treat them. She says families should be able "to have the funding to pay for the expensive psychiatric treatment for those who need it."

Most Republican House members have been silent on the issue, but Congressman Buck McKeon of Santa Clarita issued a statement saying there should be a “thorough dissection of our country’s mental health and family services.” He also suggests looking at “problematic” enforcement issues with current gun laws.

And a spokesman for Irvine’s John Campbell says the Congressman doesn’t support a “single solution approach to solving what is clearly a multi-faceted problem,” but does believe we should have a national debate about the root causes of the violence at Newtown.

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Redistricting shakes up California's Congressional races; Bono Mack trailing

U.S. Capitol Building

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The flag waves in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

The story of this year’s California Congressional races is — surprise! — money: money from the parties, money from PACs (including one started by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg), money from siblings, and money from the candidates themselves.

36th Congressional District — Coachella Valley:

In an apparent upset, Republican incumbent Mary Bono Mack is losing to Democrat Raul Ruiz. Bono Mack was a prime target for Democrats. Ruiz is an emergency room doctor. Both parties poured in the money, flooding both the Palm Springs and LA TV market with political ads.  Bono Mack's husband Connie Mack gave up his House seat to run for the US Senate in Florida. He lost.

RUIZ: 51.4%; BONO MACK 48.6%

35th Congressional District — Chino

N.Y. Mayor Michael Bloomberg dropped $2.5 million of PAC money into Democratic State Senator Gloria Negrete McLeod’s campaign to defeat veteran Democratic Congressman Joe Baca. The Congressional baseball team loses its star pitcher. It was a bad night for the Baca family as well; the Congressman's son Joe, Jr. lost his race for the state assembly. 

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