Politics, government and public life for Southern California

UPDATE: California lawmakers consider Russian proposal on Syria

House Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Xavier Becerra spoke Tuesday morning after a briefing from the White House about next steps regarding Syria.

President Obama will address the nation Tuesday night on possible military action against the Syrian government by the United States. In advance, he was on Capitol Hill speaking with Congress. 

In separate morning meetings with Senate Democrats and Republicans, the President reportedly laid out the administration's options for military action now that it has accepted the Russian proposal for the United Nations to lead discussions about the international community taking charge of Syria's  chemical weapons.

On the House side, it was standing room only in the Democratic Caucus meeting as White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough briefed members.

After the briefing, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California said the Russian proposal has muscle because of the prospect of military action from the United States. And while she’s grateful the President came to Congress to ask for the authority to carry out military action against the Assad regime, Pelosi noted the President still has the power to take  action on his own. "If he sees an opportunity,"  she said,  "we don’t want the Russians to think that his leverage is diminished because of a vote we may or may not succeed with in the Congress." Pelosi calls the Russian offer “good news,” adding she hopes it will work.


Maven's Morning Coffee: new estimate on streetcar, officials try to shut down Vernon plant, Compton mayor talks ambition

LA Streetcar

Los Angeles Streetcar Inc

An estimate for the downtown streetcar did not include the cost of utility work. That could double the tab, according to the Los Angeles Times.

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 Tuesday, Sept. 10, and here is what's happening in Southern California politics:


Building a downtown streetcar could cost twice its original estimate, reports the Los Angeles Times. An original estimate failed to include the cost of utility work, which will add another $166 million to the tab. "I don't want to go down the trail where we have to keep hitting a moving target," Councilman Paul Krekorian told a budget committee on the subject.

Compton Mayor Aja Brown makes an appearance in Vogue. "She intends to rebrand Compton," according to the magazine.


SoCal groups organize against US intervention in Syria

Silver Lake Syria Protest

Grant Slater/KPCC

Sam Patrick of Glendale protests the possibility of war in Syria alongside the Landau family, Peter and his daughter Ada.

Silver Lake Syria Protest

Grant Slater/KPCC

Protesters gather at an intersection in Silver Lake to demonstrate against military action in Syria.

Silver Lake Syria Protest

Grant Slater/KPCC

Protestors are reflected in a passing car in Silver Lake Monday evening.

Silver Lake Syria Protest

Grant Slater/KPCC

Lloyd Hamrol of Silver Lake holds a sign at the intersection of Glendale and Silver Lake boulevards.

Silver Lake Syria Protest

Grant Slater/KPCC

Robert Sandoval of Los Feliz makes an anti-war sign at the intersection of Glendale and Silver Lake boulevards.

As the Obama Administration considers a proposal that Syria turn over its chemical weapons cache to international overseers, and the President prepares to make his case for U.S. military intervention in Syria during a nationwide address scheduled for Tuesday night, anti-war activists across Southern California on Monday urged him to stand down.

“It runs a great risk of reaping the whirlwind of war, and having American boots on the ground,” said Rev. Ed Bacon of All Saints Church in Pasadena. “We have to exhaust every diplomatic option.”

Bacon said he accepts that the Syrian regime appears to have committed an atrocity in launching a chemical attack that killed more than 1,400 people, but said a military response would be “misguided,” and warned it could lead to a wider conflict in the region.


Energy Committee approves four new DWP commissioners

solar panel installation - North Hollywood apartment complex - feed-in tariff program

Steven Kiesling

An LA City Council committee approved four new commissioners to the Board of Water and Power Commissioners Monday. Here, workers install solar panels as part of the utility's program that lets businesses sell solar power from large-scale rooftop arrays to the DWP.

Four new appointees to the Board of Water and Power Commissioners were approved Monday by the L.A. City Council's Energy and Environment Committee, with a vote by the full council expected later this week. 

Despite the recent, tense contract negotiations between the city and the DWP's union, the confirmation hearing was light on policy and personnel issues. Mayor Eric Garcetti's appointees— Jill Banks Barad, Mel Levine, William Funderburk and Michael Fleming — were unanimously confirmed by the committee. Current DWP Commissioner Christina Noonan will remain on the board. 

"My questions have been answered," said committee member Felipe Fuentes at the beginning of the hearing, noting he met with the appointees privately last week. 

During his comments, committee member José Huizar said the recent mayor's race drew attention to the DWP because of the union's strong financial support of Wendy Greuel. For his part, committee member  Tom LaBonge noted the focus on the utility is similar to what the Los Angeles Police Department and Metro experienced in past years. As for policy, the Fourth District councilman pointed out Recreation and Parks is struggling financially now that it has to pay DWP for water and electricity. 


Mayor Eric Garcetti reports for jury duty at criminal courthouse (Updated)

Mayor Eric Garcetti was excused from jury duty Monday afternoon. Back to mayorin'!

UPDATE: Mayor Eric Garcetti was cleared from jury duty late Monday afternoon, according to a spokesman for his office. We're not sure the reason behind Garcetti's dismissal but we hope he told the court: "You guys know my Dad used to work here, right?" 

ORIGINAL POST: If Mayor Eric Garcetti weren't such a responsible citizen, maybe he could actually get some mayorin' done.  

He recently completed two weeks of Naval Reserves duty. And on Monday, he reported to downtown's criminal courthouse for jury duty.  

The mayor was waiting to see if he would be assigned to a case, a spokesman said shortly before 11 a.m. Sounds like Garcetti could use some help coming up with an excuse to get out of the jury pool. Here are a few ideas:

  • Have to get back to City Hall and make sure Council President Herb Wesson isn't giving away the store.
  • Need to mow the Silver Lake Reservoir  Meadow. 
  • Gotta read through the DWP's work rules. 
  • Made an appointment to measure drapes at Getty House.
  • I'm Mayor Eric Garcetti!