Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Valley councilman wants to install free Wi-Fi citywide

Los Angeles City Councilman Bob Blumenfield

Grant Slater/KPCC

L.A. City Councilman Bob Blumenfield wants to install free wireless Internet throughout the city of Los Angeles. Former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa pushed a similar plan in 2007.

How might a newly installed L.A. City Councilman from the outer reaches of the San Fernando Valley quickly make his mark?

How about by proposing to equip the entire city of Los Angeles with free wireless Internet.  

Councilman Bob Blumenfield chairs the Innovation, Technology and General Services Committee. His proposal would make Los Angeles the largest city in America to implement a Wi-Fi program.

"We live in a world where success is increasingly tied to ability access to information," Blumenfield said. "Los Angles has already made great strides towards enhancing government openness through technology, from live simulcasting of council meetings to the MyLA311 mobile application. Providing universal access to the Internet is a natural and necessary extension of these efforts.”


Former mayoral candidate confirmed to Public Works in contentious hearing

Public Works

Alice Walton/KPCC

The Los Angeles City Council unanimously confirmed Mayor Eric Garcetti's nominees to the Board of Public Works Tuesday. From left to right, Matt Szabo, Mike Davis, Kevin James, Barbara Romero and Monica Rodriguez. The mayor's wife, Amy Wakeland (far right), joined the commissioners in the front row.

A former mayoral candidate was questioned about his comments on climate change and immigration Tuesday during a confirmation hearing to the Board of Public Works. 

Despite the grilling, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved Kevin James to the only paid commission in the city. As a Public Works commissioner, James will receive an annual salary of $136,000. Public Works is a policy-making board responsible for approving construction of public projects and overseeing the departments responsible for sanitation, street maintenance and graffiti removal. 

The vote came after four other nominees — Matt Szabo, Mike Davis, Monica Rodriguez and Barbara Romero — sailed through the confirmation process. Mayor Eric Garcetti's wife, Amy Wakeland, joined the nominees in the front row of the council chamber for the hearing. A mayoral spokesman said Wakeland was hanging out at City Hall and decided to stay for the council meeting. 


Corrections Dept. gets bad report about health care at Corcoran Prison (updated)

Getty Images

Independent investigators found an array of problems that they say threaten the health and safety of inmates at Corcoran State Prison.

As California's Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation deals with an ongoing hunger strike and having to move more then 2,500 inmates this week from two prisons plagued by Valley Fever, the department received another bit of bad news Monday: Independent court investigators have found medical care at Corcoran State Prison to be sorely lacking.

In a report filed in Federal Court, three independent investigators found an array of problems that they say threaten the health and safety of inmates at the Central Valley prison:

“Clinical supervision of providers and oversight of medical care at Corcoran is grossly inadequate and threatens the safety of patients.”

Among the findings:

--Medical staff were observed repeatedly failing to wash their hands before treating patients. 


Maven's Morning Coffee: Asian-American political community, child welfare commission, Q&A with new LA councilman

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas

Andres Aguila/KPCC

A blue-ribbon commission backed by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas will meet this week to talk about improving the child welfare system.

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, July 30, and here is what's happening in Southern California politics:


KPCC looks at how the Asian-American community is recruiting young people to get involved in politics. "Political analysts talk a lot about growing Latino political influence in California, but Asian Americans are the fastest growing group of voters. By 2025, Asian Americans are projected to be 18 percent of California’s population and comprise more than 12 percent of registered voters," according to the station.


Asian-American academy seeks to develop new political leaders

Danny Chee Kwan, Iraq War Veteran, Asian American politics

Frank Stoltze

Danny Chee Kwan is an Iraq War veteran who is participating in an Asian American leadership academy in Southern California.

Danny Chee Kwan, Iraq War Veteran, Asian American politics

Frank Stoltze

Danny Chee Kwan is an Iraq War veteran who is participating in an Asian American leadership academy in Southern California.

For four years, Danny Chee Kwan served in the U.S. Marine Corps. But it’s not his two tours in Iraq and Afghanistan that inspires his interest in politics. It is his experience of coming home.

“The reason I want to be politics is so I can do more to help returning veterans,” Kwan said. “I’ve had six friends that actually committed suicide not too long ago. That’s more than the amount of friends that I had killed in combat.  There’s something seriously wrong with that.”

Kwan, 25, is one of nine young people selected by the Center for Asian Americans United for Self Empowerment – or CAUSE – for its summer leadership academy. The San Gabriel resident will work on veteran’s issues with Congresswoman Grace Napolitano as part of an internship program.

As Asian-Americans seek to exercise more political power in Southern California, CAUSE is working to find new young leaders who might run for office or serve in government.