Politics, government and public life for Southern California

LA City Council President: No DWP deal by Friday

City Councilman Herb J. Wesson Jr.

Andres Aguila/KPCC

L.A. City Council President Herb Wesson says "a significant amount of people" believe the DWP's union contract offer is "an unbelievable deal."

Despite a threat from a union boss that a new contract with the Department of Water and Power must be in place by the end of the week, the president of the Los Angeles City Council said Wednesday that City Hall will move at its own pace. 

City leaders are negotiating a new four-year contract with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 18, which represents almost 90 percent of DWP employees. The new contract does not take effect until late next year, but IBEW boss Brian D'Arcy wants a deal now because the union's current contract includes a pay raise this October. Under the DWP's proposal, its employees would forego that raise until 2016, when they would be given a four percent bump.

d'Arcy told the Daily News he wants to see a new deal in place by Friday or else he will pull the offer to forgo raises. According to City Council President Herb Wesson, that's not going to happen. 


Maven's Morning Coffee: 911 system fails, DWP wants its new contract, Whittier sued over elections

Los Angeles Fire Department Engine

Courtesy Los Angeles Fire Department

Los Angeles' 911 system failed repeatedly in July, 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 Wednesday, Aug. 7, and here is what's happening in Southern California politics:


Los Angeles' 911 system went down repeatedly in the month of July, reports the Los Angeles Times. "Our general dispatch system, both in the human architecture, the technological architecture and the systems themselves, needs a serious upgrade," says Mayor Eric Garcetti.

The head of the union representing Department of Water and Power employees wants the city to approve a new contract by Friday, according to the Daily News. Mayor Eric Garcetti has publicly said he does not like the deal that is on the table, and council President Herb Wesson told the newspaper he needs more time to brief the new council members on the proposal.


LA City Council approves safety review of Venice Beach

Car Into Beachgoers

Maarten Smitskamp/AP

Pedestrians gather as police and fire officials respond after a car drove through a packed afternoon crowd along the Venice Beach boardwalk in Los Angeles, Saturday, Aug. 3, 2013. On Tuesday, the Los Angeles City Council approved a safety review of the area.

In response to this weekend's fatal crash, the city council Tuesday ordered city staff to issue a report on public safety at the Venice Beach Boardwalk within two weeks.

The motion, introduced by Westside Councilman Mike Bonin, states that the city will look into ways of controlling non-governmental vehicle access to the boardwalk. It was unanimously approved. Driving on the boardwalk is already illegal and cars are kept off by physical barriers.

“We learned [Saturday] night that as many as 15 or 20 times a day, people drive on Ocean Front Walk putting life and property at risk,” Bonin said. “There are almost 30 streets that run directly into Ocean Front Walk and almost none of them prohibit vehicular access. That is a huge risk.”

On Saturday, a vehicle drove onto the pedestrian-only boardwalk, hitting and killing a woman visiting from Italy and injuring 16 other people.


Whittier Latinos sue city to force district elections

Whittier Daily News

The Whittier city council includes, from left: Joe Vinatieri, Owen Newcomer, Cathy Warner and Mayor Bob Henderson. (Not seen is council member Fernando Dutra.)

Three Whittier residents have sued the city over its at-large elections, demanding it change over to a district election system.

They say elections in which all voters choose all 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.

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

Under the California Voting Rights Act, the city must abandon its at-large system if voting patterns are polarized — that is, if Latinos mostly vote for one candidate and whites for another.

The Whittier Latino Coalition agreed a few weeks ago to hold off on a lawsuit. But Coalition spokesman Louis Reyes said they decided to proceed with the action after the city hired the same lawyers that represent Anaheim and other cities that are fighting district elections.


Courage Campaign founder appointed deputy chief of staff to Garcetti

Rick Jacobs (at podium), seen here with California Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (right), has been involved with many progressive causes through his work with the Courage Campaign.

Rick Jacobs, founder of the Courage Campaign, a nonprofit focused on progressive causes, was named by Mayor Eric Garcetti as his Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations on Tuesday.

Jacobs was co-director of a political action committee that raised and spent $2.2 million for Garcetti in the May 21 mayoral runoff.

In a memo sent to reporters after the May 21 election, Jacobs credited the PAC with solidifying Garcetti's victory over Wendy Greuel. 

"In an election that saw record spending and low turnout, we believe our highly professional grassroots campaign helped make the difference for Garcetti," Jacobs wrote. 

As the deputy chief of staff for operations, Jacobs will be responsible for external relations, communications, scheduling and protocol.

Garcetti said in a statement: "Rick brings a fresh, outsider's perspective to City Hall. His depth of corporate, non-profit, and political experience will help us make city government work better, and I'm proud to have him on our team."