Politics, government and public life for Southern California

#DearMayor: LA voters look for relief from city's pot holes

Bureau of Street Services

Alice Walton/KPCC

The profiler is used by the Bureau of Street Services to prepare a street for repaving.

Street Services

Alice Walton/KPCC

Asphalt torn up by the profiler will be recycled into the city's asphalt mix and used to repave city roads.

Dear Mayor landing page

This was true of the responses you gave us when we asked you what you'd like to tell the next Los Angeles mayor to tackle first as part of our #DearMayor initiative.

But the topic came up only briefly when Los Angeles mayoral hopefuls Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel faced off April 22 in a live TV debate co-sponsored by KPCC, KNBC-4 and Telemundo-52. 

RELATED: #DearMayor: What should LA's new mayor work on first?

As much as Angelenos complain about rough drives, the Bureau of Street Services is spending more money than ever. This year, there were enough funds to repair 800 miles of roads and fill 350,000 potholes.

But it's a lengthy process to repair or repave a city road, and finding money to fix streets can be tricky. Street Services had $105 million for repairs this year, and that money comes from a variety of sources. For example, revenue from a 1990 ballot initiative can only be used on streets that have bus lines. Money from gasoline taxes goes to fix neighborhood streets. And money from the federal stimulus? Street services used that to fix 102 miles of roads designated as highways.


California lacks statewide online tools to help voters

Voting booth

Sharon McNary/KPCC

If you need to find your polling place, the state of California is of little help, according to a report from the Pew Charitable Trusts.

So, imagine it's Election Day and you need to find your polling place. In some counties, you can just look it up online from a computer or mobile phone, but in others, you'd have to call your county registrar to look it up for you.

California does not provide voters with statewide voter or election information websites, however,  a bill pending in the state Senate would change that, says David Becker, director of the Pew Charitable Trust's Election Initiatives Project,

The project reports that only California and Vermont have no state-provided tools. But Becker was in Sacramento Tuesday to testify on a remedy bill before the Senate elections committee.

Sen. Alex Padilla's bill SB361 would require the Secretary of State to create online sites to help voters find their polling places, check the status of their voter registration, vote-by-mail or provisional ballot.


State prisons won't rush to move inmates at risk for Valley Fever

Pleasant Valley State Prison is one of the rural facilities where inmates are particularly susceptible to Valley Fever. California’s Central Valley has the highest rates of the disease in the state.

Despite a directive from the federal receiver who oversees California prison healthcare, a spokesman for the state Department of Corrections says the agency will not immediately transfer about 3,300 inmates from two Central Valley prisons rife with Valley Fever.

Valley Fever — a fungal infection also called Coccidioidomycosis that can cause flu-like symptoms — is not contagious. People contract it by inhaling airborne spores dislodged from the soil. California’s Central Valley has the highest rates of the disease in the state.  The rate inside Pleasant Valley and Avenal prisons is even higher. 

Over a recent five-year stretch, 36 inmates at those prisons died of Valley Fever. Some 71 percent of them were African-American. The disease contributed to the deaths of another 40 inmates and hundreds more were hospitalized for treatment.


Maven's Morning Coffee: Wendy Greuel returns contribution, supervisors want local control for Ontario Airport, LAT endorses in city council race

Los Angeles Mayor


Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel continue to fight over the role of independent expenditures in the mayor's race. The Greuel campaign also returned a contribution from a donor who served prison time, after criticizing the Garcetti camp for taking money from someone who went to jail 15 years ago.

Good morning, readers. Welcome to the Maven's Morning Coffee -- a listing of the important headlines, news conferences, public meetings and announcements you need to know to fuel up and tackle your day.

The Maven's Morning Coffee is also available as a daily email. Click here to subscribe.

Today is Tuesday, April 30, and here is what's happening in Los Angeles:


The Wendy Greuel campaign returned a $1,300 contribution from a real estate developer who served prison time in the mid-1990s, reports the Daily News. The returned donation comes a week after the campaign criticized rival Eric Garcetti for receiving campaign contributions from a developer who was sent to prison 15 years ago for financial crimes.

Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel again fought about the role of independent expenditures in the mayor's race during a debate Monday evening, according to the Los Angeles Times. One audience member's thoughts on the millions of dollars spent to promote the two candidates: "Think what that could do for potholes!"


San Gabriel City Council sits in judgment of councilman-elect's residency

Chin-Ho Liao

Courtesy Chin Ho Liao campaign

Chin Ho Liao won a city council seat in San Gabriel's March 5 election, but his residency is being challenged by current council members..

Four members of the San Gabriel City Council have given themselves authority to decide whether a fifth councilman-elect is eligible to take office.

Chin-Ho Liao won a seat in the March 5th election. But the question of whether he really lives in San Gabriel and can be sworn into office has been the subject of testimony before the city council from neighbors, his wife and a former friend who filed the complaint.

Loyola Law School professor Jessica Levinson said it is unusual for a city council to handle this type of decision itself, especially when some of those making the decision campaigned together for defeated incumbents — including Liao's opponent.

"Now their backers are the ones making this decision," she said. "This does not look like a neutral body."

With the wins by Liao and another Asian-American candidate in the election, San Gabriel would have two Asian-American voices on the council for the first time in several years. Only two other Asian-Americans have won elective office in the city's 100-year existence.

Lawyers from the Asian Pacific American Legal Center helped represent Liao at the hearing. Eugene Lee, director of the center's Voting Rights Project, said Asian-American voters' confidence in the fairness of municipal elections is at stake.

"If the City Council succeeds in basically, not seating Mr. Liao, then we believe that would essentially nullify the votes of voters in the city of San Gabriel," Lee said.

Asian-Americans make up a majority of residents in the city, but they are under-represented in the voting population. Lee said barring Liao from taking office could make voters of color less likely to participate in elections.