Politics, government and public life for Southern California

9/11 Anniversary: talking to the LAPD’s top terrorism cop

Mercer 1580

Brian Watt/KPCC

A dozen years after 9/11, LAPD Deputy Chief Mike Downing says its important to remain vigilant. Terrorism is a "low volume, high consequence threat."

When he wakes up in the morning, LAPD Deputy Chief Mike Downing often looks at the news from overseas first.

“We are paying a lot of attention to what’s going on in Syria right now,” he says.

Downing, 54, heads the department’s Counter Terrorism and Special Operations Bureau. He says his officers are watching for any violent reaction here, should the U.S. take military action.

“Whether it be an anti-war protest, or whether it be a Syrian diaspora that has family over there – the emotions are very high,” he says.

The deputy chief says part of his job is to urge various groups that may be angry with the U.S. to engage in dissent peacefully.  "We can be a model in terms of how we deal with conflict."

A dozen years after Al-Qaeda terrorists attacked the United States, Southern California remains a prime target, Downing says. Los Angeles International Airport, the L.A.-Long Beach port complex, and dozens of entertainment venues make it “target rich.”


Mayor Eric Garcetti is not too tied up to tweet

Eric Garcetti Twitter

Alice Walton/KPCC

Mayor Eric Garcetti scrolls through his Twitter feed looking for his favorite accounts.

If you're an Angeleno whose trash hasn't been picked up for days, who would you contact? The Bureau of Sanitation? Your city councilman? What about Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti?

That's what one woman did (@LoricidexDoom) via Twitter. And it worked, even after — or perhaps, because — she threatened to dump her trash outside the mayor's house. It's just one example of the mayor using social media to spread his "back to basics" message. 

"Whenever I have the chance or have a little break, I will look at my own account and try to respond to as many as I can or where it’s appropriate," Garcetti told KPCC during an interview in his office, which he, of course, tweeted about. 


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.

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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.