Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Immigration debate in DC worries some California Republicans

US Representative Dana Rohrabacher

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

U.S, Representative Dana Rohrabacher, Republican from California. (File photo)

As comprehensive immigration reform stalls in the U.S. House of Representatives, some Golden State Republicans back home are wringing their hands. They say the rhetoric they’re hearing from GOP Congressmen threatens an already floundering California Republican Party.

“I can’t believe that we’re in 2013, and we haven’t been able to address this issue,” said Downey Mayor Mario Guerra. “To me it’s very much a human issue, and I think the time is now to do something about it.”

Guerra, a lifelong Republican, supports providing a pathway to citizenship for the nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrations – an estimated 2.6 million live in California. But the idea is anathema to Congressman Dana Rohrabacher of Orange County.

“Its really an invitation for everybody in the world to come here and break our laws,” Rohrbacher said. “It makes no sense.”


Prop 8: San Diego County Clerk seeks halt to same-sex marriage licenses, asks Supreme Court to clarify legal questions

Norwalk Same-Sex Marriages

Grant Slater/KPCC

Mari Lopez, a Los Angeles deputy commissioner, holds the hands of Lilyanne McCoy and Sandra Schicora of Lakewood during the marriage ceremony at the LA County Clerk's office in Norwalk. San Diego's county clerk has said the California attorney general doesn't have the authority to direct him to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and is seeking clarification from the state Supreme Court.

Same-sex couples have been getting marriage licenses in California since late last month, ever since Attorney General Kamala Harris directed county clerks to issue the permits in response to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

But San Diego County Clerk Ernest Dronenburg says Harris doesn't have the authority to direct him to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. As he sees it, the federal court decision striking down Prop 8 as unconstitutional applies only to Alameda and Los Angeles counties, home to the two couples who challenged the law.

He wants the California Supreme Court to order him and other county clerks to stop issuing licenses to same-sex couples. What he seeks is clarity in a confusing legal landscape.

"I'm marrying people right now out of the faith that I've got to do what they said to do, but I don't have the surety in my mind that I'm doing it legally," Dronenburg said Monday. "All I want is for the court to tell me it's legal."


California board teams with non-partisan research group to measure realignments’ effects

Mule Creek Prison

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation / EPA

Mule Creek Prison's design capacity is for 1,700 prisoners. At one point the prison housed 3,769 prisoners.

The state board in charge of tracking the effects of California's criminal justice realignment voted Monday to partner with the non-partisan Public Policy Institute of California to get the job done.

The two-year old realignment law diverted tens of thousands of criminals from prisons by making certain felony crimes punishable by jail sentences. It also put counties in charge of monitoring lower-level felons coming out of prison — and sanctioning ex-convicts who violate parole.

But state lawmakers enacted the change without much of a plan for measuring the outcome.

They made the Board of State and Community Corrections responsible for tracking and sharing realignment data with the public. But the board lacks authority to get counties to record or report that data in any particular way.


Maven's Morning Coffee: questions about OC pensions, election time in CD 6, politicians become art subjects

Mercer 5527

Orange County

The Voice of OC looks at the cost of a pension for one of the Orange County supervisors.

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 Monday, July 22, and here is what's happening in Southern California politics:


In Rick Orlov's Tipoff column, Mayor Eric Garcetti adjusts to his new role, city council members get old new cars, and Councilman Tom LaBonge celebrates Hollywood.

A new art exhibit in Highland Park recognizes Mayor Eric Garcetti and members of the Los Angeles City Council, reports the Los Angeles Times. "There's a moody painting of Councilman Gil Cedillo in blue and a sculptural interpretation of City Atty. Mike Feuer. One of the most detailed works is a meticulous etching of City Controller Ron Galperin," according to The Times.


California prison officials deny media access to hunger strikers

Ben Margot/AP

A watchtower rises above the maximum security complex at Pelican Bay State Prison in Crescent City.

Roughly 1,000 inmates in California’s prisons were still on a hunger strike Sunday to protest long-term isolation of inmates believed to have ties to prison gangs.

The mass protest, which is in its third week, has drawn international attention, but prison officials won't allow reporters in to cover the strike.

California’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation denied KPCC’s request to tour any of the four Security Housing Units in the state, where inmates spend up to 22 hours a day in their cells.

“There are a lot of staffing resources being used to manage this mass hunger strike and maintain the safety and security of our institutions,” said spokeswoman Terry Thornton. “When this is concluded we can resume having reporters visits our institutions.” 

Corrections enforced the same policy during hunger strikes in 2011.