Politics, government and public life for Southern California

SoCal Rep. Lowenthal takes a big swing at redistricting with new bill

California Pensions

Rich Pedroncelli/AP

Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) fought for redistricting reform when he served in the state legislature

California has 14 new members in Congress this year — more than a quarter of the state's delegation. Much of the turnover can be traced to California's citizen-drawn redistricting map. Now, one of the state's freshman lawmakers wants to expand citizen redistricting commissions nationwide.  

With the idealism of a modern-day Don Quixote, Long Beach Democrat Alan Lowenthal admits his idea will be an uphill struggle. (You can read the full text of his bill below.)

Lowenthal says the last straw for him was in 2001 when the California state legislature — with lots of input from Congress — redrew Congressional district lines, eliminating the seat of Long Beach Republican Steve Horn. Lowenthal, himself a state assemblyman at the time, disagreed politically with the former Cal State Long Beach president,, but says Horn "was in that district all the time. People liked Horn. He represented us."

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Garcetti names LA’s first Chief Sustainability Officer

Matt Petersen

Flickr/Yahoo

Global Green USA CEO Matt Petersen, LA's first Chief Sustainability Officer, says “cities are on the front lines of solutions to climate change and creating a clean energy economy.”

Signaling he intends to focus on creating a more environmentally-friendly Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti Friday named Global Green USA CEO Matt Petersen as the city’s first Chief Sustainability Officer.

“I am proud to have him lead my citywide effort to make every neighborhood healthier, create green jobs, and hold every city department responsible for cleaner air and water,” Garcetti said in a statement.

Since 1994, Petersen has led Santa Monica-based Global Green USA. It is the American affiliate of Green Cross International, which was founded by former Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev to “foster a global value shift toward a sustainable and secure future,” according to the group’s website.

Petersen, 46, has worked to create greener cities and advance solar energy and fuel-efficient car markets, according to the mayor’s office. In 2008, Time Magazine recognized him for helping New Orleans rebuild a greener community after Hurricane Katrina.

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Is Congress sick and tired of fighting with itself?

"No Labels" is a bipartisan group of lawmakers trying to find common ground across party lines.

Nearly six dozen members of Congress from both parties appeared at a recent "No Labels" rally.

Democratic Congressmen Alan Lowenthal of Long Beach (front) and Jared Huffman of San Rafael join the bipartisan group "No Labels."


Members of Congress are headed home for their summer recess, interrupting an unusual phenomenon that cropped up in recent weeks: little bits of bipartisanship breaking out on Capitol Hill.

On a recent afternoon — the hottest day, so far, of this summer — nearly six dozen members of Congress marched out under the noonday sun onto a podium, American flags at their back and bottles of water at their feet. One by one, lawmakers stepped forward, giving their pitch for the merits of working together.

It was a public rally to show bipartisan support for a package of bills endorsed by a group that calls itself “No Labels.” Two California Republicans and nine Democrats identify themselves as “No Labels Problem Solvers,” including GOP freshman David Valadao of Hanford. He says every person running for office always talks about bipartisanship and  working across the aisle. "This is an opportunity for me to do that and find opportunities to do that," said Valadao, "and find issues where we get along."

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US Supreme Court rejects California Gov. Brown's request to halt state prison releases (Updated)

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The State of California has lost its latest appeal to halt prisoner releases ordered by a federal court to ease overcrowding.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday rejected Gov. Jerry Brown’s argument that a lower court's prisoner reduction order threatens public safety.

The state had sought a stay of a lower court's ruling, which the Supreme Court denied. Unless the High Court agrees a formal appeal from the state,  California will have to reduce its prison population by roughly 9,000 inmates by year's end. 

The justices gave no reason for the denial. Justice Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented, saying they would have granted the stay.

The Secretary of California's Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Jeffrey Beard, responded with a written statement, saying the state will pursue its appeal  to the U.S. Supreme Court “so that the merits of the case can be considered without delay.”

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Spike in marriage licenses follows Prop 8 demise

U.S. Supreme Court Issues Orders On DOMA And Prop 8 Cases

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

In the first month since the U.S. Supreme Court allowed gay marriages to resume in California, requests for marriage licenses grew dramatically throughout Southern California.

Southern California county clerks have seen a flood of couples requesting marriage licenses after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in late June ended California's ban on same-sex unions.

Los Angeles County issued 47 percent more marriage licenses this July than in the same month last year. Applicants don't list their genders, so no one at the County Clerk's office was willing to attribute the increase to same-sex couples.

San Bernardino County was up 30 percent, and Orange County 23 percent.

The really big increase was in Riverside County — particularly in the desert town of Indio.

As soon as the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Prop 8, the mayor of Palm Springs started promoting his gay-friendly resort city as a destination for same-sex marriages. The local tourism bureau website features same-sex as well as heterosexual couples.

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