Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Whittier to consider changes to city elections in wake of California Voting Rights Act suit

Whittier Latino Coalition

Sharon McNary/KPCC

Members of the Whittier Latino Coalition include homemaker Lisa Lopez, in the striped shirt. She is one of three Whittier residents who is suing the city with the Coalition's support, demanding the city create council district elections.

Whittier City Council photo wall

Sharon McNary

The back wall of the Whittier City Council chambers is lined with dozens of photos of past mayors and council members, of whom only one has been Latino in the city's 115-year history. Some residents have sued to change the way council members are elected in the city that is two-thirds Latino.

Patricia Lopez

Sharon McNary/KPCC

Patricia Lopez addresses the Whittier City Council in support of changing at-large elections to a district election format.

Miguel Garcia, plaintiff

Sharon McNary/KPCC

From left, Louis Reyes, Miguel Garcia and George Ledesma of the Whittier Latino Coalition at a Whittier City Council meeting. Garcia is a plaintiff in a lawsuit to force the city to abandon its at-large elections in favor of district elections.

Whittier Daily News

The Whittier city council.


The Whittier City Council will consider putting a new election system – which may include district elections – on the ballot at its next meeting, the board voted Tuesday evening. The decision comes after a Latino Coalition lawsuit accusing the city of violating the California Voting Rights Act.

Attorney Miguel Garcia, homemaker Lisa Lopez and Whittier College student Jafet Diego filed the suit, demanding the city switch to district elections. 

They say elections in which all voters choose the five council members are keeping Whittier's 67 percent Latino majority from selecting council members they prefer. Only one Latino, a popular high school football coach, has ever won a Whittier council election.

The city released the following statement  from Mayor Bob Henderson about the potential changes expected to be discussed at the next council meeting :

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LA City Council: What happens if DWP workers strike?

Los Angeles City Councilman Gil Cedillo

Grant Slater/KPCC

L.A. City Councilman Gil Cedillo has asked DWP officials to look at the impact of a strike by the utility's workforce. That assumes a contract is not reached by next June, even though council President Herb Wesson has said he wants a deal in place by Labor Day.

Contract negotiations between the city of Los Angeles, the Department of Water and Power and the union representing its workerforce, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers are ongoing but some on the inside are already asking: what happens if DWP workers strike?

A motion from Councilmen Gil Cedillo and Curren Price asks the DWP and city officials to report back in four months with an analysis of what would happen if the union's 8,291 employees -- 87 percent of the utility's workforce -- went on strike. A strike could only happen if IBEW Local 18's contract expires next June without a new agreement in place. 

Even though the current agreement does not expire until next summer, L.A. city leaders want a deal done by Labor Day in order to delay 4 percent cost-of-living increases scheduled to take effect on Oct. 1. 

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Long Beach language plan includes Spanish and Khmer, but not Tagalog or Vietnamese

Prach Ly Cambodia Town

Mae Ryan/KPCC

Prach Ly stands in front of a restaurant in Long Beach's Cambodia Town

Long Beach's plan to better assist the 21 percent of its residents who don't speak English well has drawn criticism that it doesn't do enough to help the city's population of Filipino and Vietnamese residents.

The current proposal calls for language assistance in Spanish and in Khmer, the language spoken by the city's Cambodian population. But the plan's lack of services for Filipino speakers of Tagalog, or those who speak Vietnamese, will be the focus of a rally before Tuesday's council meeting to review the plan.

The city rolled out a draft plan in July, outlining services for the 13 percent of residents that speak mostly Spanish. A 1973 state law requires cities to provide assistance to non-English speakers if they number 5 percent or more of the population.

After some protest, officials included the Cambodian language Khmer, spoken by another 2 percent of residents.

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Maven's Morning Coffee: LAPD's impound policy rejected, councilman denies harassment complaint, Moreno Valley politician arrested

los angeles police department lapd seal

A judge has ruled that LAPD's relaxed policy on vehicle impounds conflicts with state law.

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, Aug. 13, and here is what's happening in Southern California politics:

Headlines

The Los Angeles Police Department's relaxed vehicle impound policy was struck down by a judge Monday, reports KPCC. The policy that allowed unlicensed drivers to avoid a 30-day impound was found to conflict with state law.

Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar is denying sexual harassment allegations made by his former deputy chief of staff. Francine Godoy filed her complaint with the state's Department of Fair Employment and Housing. Council President Herb Wesson has authorized the Personnel Department to form an independent committee to look into the accusations. Los Angeles Times, KPCC.

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Former staffer files sexual harassment complaint against Councilman Jose Huizar

City Council Los Angeles

Mae Ryan/KPCC

A former staffer to Councilman Jose Huizar has accused the Los Angeles politician of discrimination, harassment and retaliation.

The former deputy chief of staff to Councilman Jose Huizar has accused the Los Angeles politician of harassment, discrimination and retaliation in a complaint filed with State Department of Fair Housing and Employment.

The complaint was filed by Francine Godoy, who worked for the councilman from 2006 until earlier this year. She is now with the Bureau of Sanitation, according to the department's personnel division. 

An attorney for Godoy, Michael Eisenberg, told KPCC, "We are not speaking about the allegations at this point in time."

In her June 7 complaint, Godoy stated, "I was subjected to sexual harassment (quid pro quo and hostile work environment) and retaliated against when I refused advances." 

She further  states that she was asked "impermissible non-job-related questions," demoted, denied employment and promotion, forced to quit, terminated, and denied the ability to run for office. 

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