Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Maven's Morning Coffee: Trial of Robert Rizzo, San Bernardino in bankruptcy, investigation into Venice hit-and-run

Mercer 15780

Irfan Khan/AFP/Getty Images

Former Bell City Manager Robert Rizzo will have his trial in Los Angeles County, a judge ruled.

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. 29, and here is what's happening in Southern California politics:

Headlines

San Bernardino is eligible for bankruptcy protection according to a federal judge, reports KPCC. "The city asked the bankruptcy court to allow restructuring of its debts, including those it owes its own employees and retirees. A mediator will now work with the city and creditors to negotiate payment of debts," per the station.

The trial of Bell's Robert Rizzo will not be moved to another county, according to the Los Angeles Times. Rizzo is facing 69 counts of falsifying public records, perjury, conspiracy, misappropriating public funds and conflict of interest. According to his attorney, the public perception of Rizzo is that he is a "scoundrel and should spend rest of life in jail."

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Judge rules San Bernardino is eligible for bankruptcy protection

berdoo bankrupt

Steven Cuevas / KPCC

The San Bernardino City Council voted last summer to seek bankruptcy protection in a case that is being watched closely by other financially-strapped cities.

A federal judge ruled Wednesday that the City of San Bernardino is eligible for bankruptcy protection. The city, facing a $24 million deficit, filed for bankruptcy a year ago.

The city asked the bankruptcy court to allow restructuring of its debts, including those it owes its own employees and retirees. A mediator will now work with the city and creditors to negotiate payment of debts.

While San Bernardino is a fairly small city, with a population of about 213,000, the case is being watched closely by officials in other debt-stressed cities in California, and also in bankrupt Detroit. They are watching to see whether the bankruptcy court will let them change pension contracts. That matter was not taken up by the court Wednesday.

San Bernardino has also asked the court to let it reject its collective bargaining agreements with police, firefighter and employee unions. Wages and benefits make up about three-quarters of the city’s budget. The city expects to save about $26 million with the personnel cuts they’ve imposed.

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Los Angeles City Council paves way for return of murals

Kevin Ferguson/KPCC

The Los Angeles City Council voted 13-2 to lift a decade-long moratorium on public art murals.

With a 13-2 vote, the Los Angeles City Council took steps Wednesday to overturn a a ban on murals, although the question of whether art displays belong on single-family homes remains unanswered. 

Because the ordinance did not receive a unanimous vote, it must receive a second vote by the council next week. 

"The city of Los Angeles was once known as the mural capital of the world," said Councilman Jose Huizar, who sponsored the ordinance. "The city of Los Angeles was known as  a place where it supported the arts, where we had free expression on our walls, and where we wanted to make sure that we continued to allow the artists' communities to flourish."

The new ordinance would allow non-commercial murals to once again be created throughout Los Angeles. A decade ago, a ban on murals was put into effect as the city struggled to regulate commercial billboards. Now, the Department of Cultural Affairs will have the authority to permit murals that will:

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Maven's Morning Coffee: Governor's prison plan, evaluations at LAUSD, CEQA gets a fresh look

Gov. Brown Signs Legislation At Google HQ That Allows Testing Of Autonomous Vehicles

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Gov. Jerry Brown wants to spend $315 million this year to move inmates to local lockups and out-of-state facilities. California is under a federal court order to reduce its prison population.

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. 28, and here is what's happening in Southern California politics:

Headlines

Gov. Jerry Brown wants to spend $315 million this year to put inmates in local lockups as a federal court demands California reduce its prison population, reports the Sacramento Bee. The spending proposal puts the governor at odds with other Democratic leaders. Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg is expected to release his own plan later this morning.

Mayor Eric Garcetti named a USC associate dean as the chief of the Office of Immigrant Affairs, reports KPCC. Linda Lopez will be responsible for helping immigrants connect with city services.

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Latinos pressure Whittier city council to hold public vote on district elections in June 2014

Plaintiffs in Whittier voting lawsuit

Sharon McNary/KPCC

Whittier College student Jafet Diego, homemaker Lisa Lopez and attorney Miguel Garcia are the three Whittier residents who sued the city under the California Voting Rights Act. The lawsuit calls on the city to create city council voting districts, which they expect would give Latino candidates a better chance to win elections. Only one Latino has won election to the Whittier City Council since 1989, and one was appointed.

Whittier City Council members said they didn't want to cut the city into council election districts, but decided Tuesday to place the decision in voters' hands to avoid a costly legal battle.

Three Whittier residents had sued the city to overturn its at-large elections, in which voters throughout the city select all council members.

They said the at-large system diluted Latino voting power and prevented them from electing candidates of their choice. The lawsuit claims the at-large system violated the California Voting Rights Act, a 2002 law which requires local governments to create voting districts if at-large voting results in racially polarized voting patterns.

After four hours of public comment and discussion, the Whittier City Council unanimously decided to put a district plan before voters on the June 2014 ballot.  

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