City of Palmdale
The mayor of Palmdale says the city will appeal a court ruling that found at-large elections are keeping African-American and Latino residents from having fair representation.
A Los Angeles Superior Court judge has found the city of Palmdale's at-large elections have led to racial polarization.
According to the court opinion issued Thursday, the city of Palmdale violated the California Voting Rights Act by continuing to hold at-large elections that disenfranchised African-American and Latino residents. More than half of Palmdale's population is Latino, yet of the city's five council members, just one is Latino. And the city has never had an African-American representative, even though blacks makes up 15 percent of Palmdale's population.
"Nobody likes to give up power. Nobody likes to share power. That's just a human condition," said R. Rex Parris, one of the attorneys who brought the case against Palmdale. He grew up in Palmdale and is now the mayor of nearby Lancaster.
"When you have diverse [cities] such as Lancaster and Palmdale, to bar minority representation in any fashion can only lead to more and more strife and more and more bad decisions," Parris said.
But Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford disagrees. He said Palmdale is an integrated city, and believes the appointed city commissions represent its diversity. Ledford believes the wave of lawsuits challenging cities with at-large elections is motivated by one thing: money.
"I think you look at the 20-year history, you see very little strife or conflict," Ledford said. "But now I believe — and this applies to all cities in California — we are under siege by these trial lawyers because this is a payday. This isn't about voting rights, this is about green. It's not about black, white or brown. It's about green."
The Jewish Journal sat down to talk with Controller Ron Galperin about how he plans to use big data sets to help the city of Los Angeles.
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Today is Thursday, July 25, and here is what's happening in Southern California politics:
The Jewish Journal talks to newly elected Controller Ron Galperin about his plans to use data and technology in elected office. "There is an incredible opportunity … we are seeing this in other local governments as well as in the private sector. How do you take that data and learn from it?” Galperin says.
California Forward looks at the incredibly low turnout in the Los Angeles City Council's special election. "People don’t vote because they did not know there was even an election – very likely the case with the Special Election for District 6," says Common Cause's Kathay Feng.
The offices of the Central Basin Municipal Water District in Los Angeles County are seen in Commerce, Calif., in a Wednesday, June 12, 2013 photo. The state has hundreds of local water districts, which often deal with millions of dollars but operate as quasi-government entities with very little oversight or public scrutiny.
Southern California has dozens of small public agencies that don’t get much attention. The Central Basin Municipal Water District is one of them, but it made headlines last month after getting a federal subpoena in connection with an investigation into State Senator Ron Calderon.
Federal officials have also sought to speak with his brother, political consultant Tom Calderon, who shares a long relationship with the Commerce-based water agency.
Tom Calderon left the state Assembly just over a decade ago and started a political consulting business. One of his first clients was the Central Basin District, which serves a broad expanse of Southeast L.A. County. Over the past several years, Calderon donated $26,000 to board candidates at the district.
LA County Metropolitan Transportation Authority CEO Arthur Leahy does not apologize for going after federal transportation dollars.
Last year’s multi-year transportation bill includes a billion dollars a year in new loans. Today, transportation officials from around the country asked Congress: Where’s the money? But Southern California need not worry: transit projects here are sitting pretty.
Texas officials complained to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee that the Department of Transportation is taking too long to hand out the money, applications are overly complicated, and the new lower matching fund level set by Congress isn’t being used.
James Bass, the top money man at the Texas Department of Transportation, told the committee chair, California Democrat Barbara Boxer, that federal transportation officials demand a “compelling argument” to alter the previous two-thirds matching funds requirement. Boxer replied: "A good compelling argument is what we said."
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.