Politics, government and public life for Southern California

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." 


Proposed high speed train to Vegas going nowhere fast

XpressWest high speed rail


A digital rendering of XpressWest's proposed high speed train that would run from Victorville to Las Vegas.

You can cancel that high speed train trip to Las Vegas — at last for now. The Department of Transportation has decided to "suspend further consideration" of a $5 billion federal loan application from a private company that wants to link Southern California with the gambling and entertainment mecca.

The Department of Transportation put the XpressWest high speed train project on pause because the company couldn't come up with enough U.S. manufacturers for rail cars and tracks. The department prioritizes projects that use American-made products.

The XpressWest train would take passengers to Las Vegas from Victorville — a connection point with California's proposed high speed train running from Southern California to the Bay Area.

Both projects are subject to a "Made in the U.S." standard.