Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Prison realignment: Counties, local law enforcement unlikely to see any major fix

Prison Realignment

Bear Guerra/KPCC

Officer Craig Suzuki takes information from a young gang member. In an example of some of the miscommunications that can happen with between departments with the new prison realignment system, the Unit meant only to verify the man's address (a prerequisite for release) and was surprised to find him home — after having been freed a year ago.

California’s Realignment law  was the Brown Administration’s solution to reduce overcrowding in state prisons. The law (AB109) sends lower-level felons to serve sentences in county jails. But the state hasn’t reduced the prison population enough to satisfy a federal court, and 9,600 more inmates must be released by year’s end.

That means dozens of this year's bills seeking to mitigate the effects of realignment on public safety are dead in the water.

Nick Warner, the Legislative Director for the California State Sheriffs' Association, said it's no secret that tens of thousand of felons California lawmakers shifted to the counties under realignment turned out to be more dangerous and in need of more health care and rehabilitation than most counties can provide.

"The higher level offenders we have under county supervision and in county jails is indisputably and, I think, globally recognized as problematic," Warner said.


Maven's Morning Coffee: tension in LAUSD, FPPC gets new executive director, an endorsement for the LA City Council

Los Angeles schools Supt. John Deasy  sp

AFP/AFP/Getty Images

Superintendent John Deasy had threatened to leave LAUSD depending on the outcome of the recent school board election. Despite Richard Vladovic's win as board president, Deasy will stay on.

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 Monday, July 8, and here is what's happening in Southern California politics:


The Los Angeles Times looks at Superintendent John Deasy's difficult relationship with the new school board president, Richard Vladovic. Prior to the recent board election, Deasy had threatened to leave LAUSD if Vladovic were elected to lead the board.

Meanwhile the Los Angeles Times looks at the man leading the Inglewood Unified School District. "The district has depleted its reserves, burned through nearly half of the emergency funds and is operating at a $17.7-million deficit. Budget woes are worsened by the loss of funding for students who have been fleeing the district for nearby independently run charter schools," according to The Times.


Congress to tackle student loans and immigration this week

"Children Uniting Nations" 4th Annual National Conference

Paul Morigi/Getty Images for It Girl Public

L.A. Congressman Xavier Becerra is part of the House "Gang of 7" that is crafting an immigration reform bill.

Congress returns to work this week after the Fourth of July break with two big issues on its plate: student loan rates and immigration.

For college students taking out federal loans, all eyes are on the Senate where a bi-partisan group of lawmakers is trying to sell a compromise. Student loan rates doubled on July first, but any deal will likely make the new rate retroactive. The fight is over how high above the ten-year Treasury bill rate the interest rate for loans should be, and whether that number should be fixed.

Wednesday is the big day in the House when Republicans meet behind closed doors for what is expected to be heated debate over how to proceed on immigration reform. Republican Speaker John Boehner says he won't bring anything to the floor without a majority of his party's support. Several tough piecemeal bills have already cleared the Judiciary Committee. The bi-partisan "Gang of Seven," which includes L.A. Congressman Xavier Becerra, still hasn't presented its comprehensive bill.

Time is running out for action on Capitol Hill. Congress is scheduled to adjourn for the summer in early August. 



What’s next for Wendy Greuel?

Wendy Greuel

Wendy Greuel Campaign

Wendy Greuel may jump right back into politics after losing to Eric Garcetti in the LA mayor's race.

Wendy Greuel says she’s taking a much-needed break after her loss to Eric Garcetti in the Los Angeles mayor’s race and leaving the L.A. city controller's office on July 1.

“This will be the first time in my entire life that I will be off work for more than ten days,” Greuel said.  “I’m kind of a workaholic.”

Greuel, 52, recalled that she graduated from UCLA on a Thursday, for example, and went to work for Mayor Tom Bradley on the following Monday. The rest of her biography is well known by now – she worked in the Clinton Administration, for Dreamworks, and was elected to the L.A. city council before serving as City Controller.

“The advice I’ve gotten from so many people is don’t jump too quickly into whatever you’re going to do next,” she said in a recent conversation.

But Greuel offered that she may return to politics right away. She said supporters have talked to her about running for one of two offices next year.


Nuclear Regulatory Commission coming west for San Onofre update

Allison MacFarlane is the newly-confirmed chair of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is coming to Southern California next month for a public meeting about the next steps in de-commissioning the San Onofre nuclear power plant.

Regulating what happens to nuclear fuel at facilities such as San Onofre is part of the NRC's purview, says agency chairwoman Allison Macfarlane, whose appointment to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was confirmed late last month.

Macfarlane is an expert on that side of the nuclear energy equation. She got her PhD in geology from MIT and has researched environmental policy and security issues related to nuclear energy. She also served on a presidential commission that looked at strategies for dealing with nuclear waste.

Step one, Macfarlane says, is moving spent fuel into a pool. She says it's "like a swimming pool, but 30-40 feet deep." About 200 fuel rods — 12-feet high, each about the diameter of a quarter — are bundled together and held in racks at the bottom of those pools. The water provides both cooling and protection from radioactivity.