Politics, government and public life for Southern California

LA City Councilwoman-elect Nury Martinez named caretaker for district

Nury Martinez

Nury Martinez Campaign

Nury Martinez finished well behind Cindy Montañez in the primary, but stormed back to win Tuesday's general election for a vacant San Fernando Valley City Council seat.

One day after her comeback victory, Councilwoman-elect Nury Martinez was named the official caretaker of the Los Angeles City Council's Sixth District while she waits to be sworn into office. 

The Los Angeles City Council voted 12-0 to name Martinez the chief deputy of the San Fernando Valley's Sixth District pending certification of her win over Cindy Montañez. Unofficial results from the City Clerk's office show Martinez winning the district with 54 percent of the vote. 

It was a stunning loss for Montañez, who placed first in the May primary with 43 percent of the vote in a field of six opponents. In that race, Montanez received 7,241 votes, yet in yesterday's runoff she received just 4,093 votes. Her defeat came even with a fundraising advantage —  $535,000 compared to Martinez's $290,000. 


Inland Empire runoff for California Assembly seat threatens Democratic supermajority

Voting booth

Sharon McNary/KPCC

A typical voting booth and machine used throughout Los Angeles County.

In a nine-candidate primary to fill the vacant 52nd Assembly District seat, Ontario Mayor Paul Leon and Pomona City Councilman Freddie Rodriguez emerged as the top two candidates.

They will face off in a special election on Sept. 24 in an unusual runoff: A nonpartisan versus a Democrat. The election will be closely watched because the Democratic supermajority in the Assembly could be affected by the outcome.

In Tuesday's election, Leon recently dropped his Republican registration to run in the assembly race as a nonpartisan candidate. He received 25.1 percent of the primary vote. Rodriguez is a Democrat who secured the endorsement of the California Democratic Party with the support of Sen. Norma Torres. He pulled in 21.6 percent of the vote.

As predicted, turnout in the election was low, with just 8.1 percent of voters in the Los Angeles County portion of the district casting ballots and 9.2 percent on the San Bernardino County side.


Maven's Morning Coffee: Nury Martinez wins LA City Council race, sheriff's deputies get raises, LAPD looks at employees' lawsuits

Nury Martinez

Alice Walton/KPCC

Once she is sworn in, Nury Martinez will be the only woman on the Los Angeles City Council.

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, July 24, and here is what's happening in Southern California politics:


Former LAUSD board member Nury Martinez was elected to the Los Angeles City Council's Sixth District with 54 percent of the vote, per the City Clerk's Office.

Ontario Mayor Paul Leon and Pomona Councilman Freddie Rodriguez are headed to a September runoff for the state Assembly's 52nd District, according to the Press-Enterprise. The winner will serve out the remainder of Norma Torres' term.

For the first time in five years, Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies and probation officers are getting raises, according to the Los Angeles Times. The 6 percent pay increases will continue through January 2015. "The board approved a similar pay hike for county firefighters, lifeguards and investigators with the public defender's office last month and also agreed last month to lift a hiring freeze that had been in place for all departments," according to the newspaper.


Former Vernon official fights city and CalPers to keep his $500k annual pension

City of Vernon

Eric Zassenhaus/KPCC

Vernon is a small town in L.A. County with a lot of industry and few residents. Former city manager Bruce Malkenhorst was paid more than $900,000 annually.

The man who became famous for collecting the highest public employee pension in California is now suing his former bosses in the city of Vernon.

Bruce Malkenhorst Sr. retired in 2005 as city manager of the small industrial city with fewer than 100 residents. His final salary was more than $900,000 annually. He was convicted the following year of using city money to pay for personal expenses.

After an audit, CalPers decided last year to cut Malkenhorst's annual payments to $115,000. CalPers said Vernon failed to properly document Malkenhorst's jobs and income to justify the half-million dollar annual payout.

Attorney Steven Berliner, who represents the city, says Malkenhorst is now suing Vernon claiming, "If he doesn't get his entire benefit through CalPers, the city should make up the difference. And that difference is approximately $30,000 a month."


Prison officials and inmate advocates discuss hunger strike

Pelican Bay SHU

Julie Small/KPCC

The Security Housing Unit at Pelican Bay State Prison is used for long-term solitary confinement.

California prison officials met Tuesday with advocates for inmates on the third week of a hunger strike. The action was taken to protest the long-term solitary confinement of thousands of inmates with ties to prison gangs.

Thirty thousand inmates joined the protest that began July 8. California’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation reported Tuesday that the number has dropped to 851. 

Department spokesman Jeffrey Callison described the two-hour talks between inmate advocates and high-ranking CDCR officials as "informational" only.  "It is not a negotiating or mediating session," he said.

Carol Strickman, an attorney with Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, described the meeting with officials as “cordial but frustrating" because, "they would not acknowledge the urgency of the situation.”