Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Maven's Morning Coffee: recruiting South LA voters, an audit of AIDS Healthcare, Mayor Bob Foster talks about leaving office

A voter fills out her ballot during early voting before the 2012 presidential election at the Gila County Recorder's Office in Globe, Ariz., on Oct. 26.

Joshua Lott/Reuters/Landov

Groups in South Los Angeles are using a new strategy between elections to increase turnout at the polls.

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 Friday, July 19, and here is what's happening in Southern California politics:


In South Los Angeles, some groups are using "integrated voter engagement" to increase turnout in elections, reports KPCC. "Their common goal is to increase voting among those who are feeling state budget cuts the most— young and low-income voters, people of color and immigrants," according to the station.

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation hopes to block an audit by Los Angeles County, according to the Daily News and KPCC. The group calls the financial review "retaliatory" and "illegitimate."


Strategy to boost voting in South LA is both high-tech and personal

Ben Toney and Carmen Miller

Sharon McNary/KPCC

SCOPE organizer Benjamin Toney visits with South LA resident Carmen Miller about becoming more active in civic life.

KPCC has embarked on a series called Project Citizen, which looks at the rights, responsibilities, traditions and privileges that come with being a citizen. Among them is the right to vote. But fewer than one-in-five Angelenos in South L.A. voted in the May city election. A nonprofit group is using a strategy that combines personal contact with high-tech tools to transform non-voters in South L.A. into active participants in civic life.

In the most recent municipal election, residents of District 9 in South Los Angeles were flooded with campaign workers in the hotly contested city council and mayoral election. Despite the election-season attention, only 17 percent of the district's registered voters cast ballots.

Iretha Warmsley, who has lived in South L.A. for 20 years, said she used to be among the many residents who could vote, but didn't: "I didn't respect voting, all these years, and I'm 47. I just didn't care."


Little recourse for attorney barred from visiting California prisoners during hunger strike

SHU Bunk

Rina Palta, KPCC

A bunk in the Security Housing Unit at Pelican Bay State Prison in Crescent City, CA. (August, 2011)

Four California prisoners required medical treatment and a fifth was referred to a physician on the 11th day of a hunger strike to protest the long-term isolation of inmates, health care officials said Thursday.

About 30,000 inmates initially joined the protest, but the number has fallen to fewer than 1,500. That could be the result of a tougher approach being taken by the state since the last hunger strike two years ago.

Officials won’t divulge the location of strike leaders who have been relocated. They have confiscated food from the cells of some inmates who say they are striking and refuse to eat prison meals but still have purchase foods from the canteen. 

And in a written order this week, California’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation banned attorney Marilyn McMahon from visiting clients participating in the hunger strike. The department also took legal documents out of the cells of strike leaders who are a party to a lawsuit McMahon brought in federal court.


AIDS Healthcare Foundation asks judge to delay LA county audit

Mercer 20732

Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

AIDS Healthcare Foundation President Michael Weinstein.

The fight between the AIDS Healthcare Foundation and Los Angeles County took another turn Thursday. The Foundation asked a federal court to delay a county audit of the agency, claiming it would jeopardize patient care. AHF also accused the county of pursuing the audit in retaliation for the Foundation's criticism of the county's handling of its AIDS programs. The county rejected AHF's claims about compromising patient care as "bogus," and said the audit is "routine."

"The devotion by AHF staff of additional time during July and August…is highly likely to have a deleterious impact on the health of some AHF patients," the foundation said in its request for a temporary restraining order.

The county wants to start its audit of how AHF uses county-administered federal AIDS money on Monday. AHF wants at least a five-week delay.


Mayor Garcetti's appointments to Metro board include Westside, Valley councilmen

metro bus busses mta

Photo by Metro Transportation Library and Archive via Flickr Creative Commons

Mayor Eric Garcetti named Jackie Dupont-Walker and L.A. City Councilmen Paul Krekorian and Mike Bonin to the Board of Directors of Metro, which oversees the buses, light rail lines and subways of Los Angeles County.

One of the perks that comes with being mayor of Los Angeles is a seat on the Metro Board of Directors — and the authority to make three appointments to the transit agency. Mayor Eric Garcetti flexed some of his political muscle Thursday by naming two city councilmen and a nonprofit leader to the board. 

Councilmen Paul Krekorian and Mike Bonin and Jackie Dupont-Walker, president of the USC Master Plan Advisory Committee and president of the Ward Economic Development Corp., will join the 13-member board. Dupont-Walker was also Garcetti's appointee to the city's 2011 Redistricting Commission. 

Metro oversees the buses, light rail lines and subways of Los Angeles County, along with a $5 billion budget. 

"I want to make sure we're careful and strategic with our transportation dollars," Garcetti said in a statement. "That's the only way we're going to make a real difference in the traffic congestion that costs us billions of dollars in lost productivity and billions of hours in time away from our lives."