Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Ethics Commission fines two Villaraigosa donors in mayoral money laundering case

US-POLITICS-VILLARAIGOSA

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa speaks during a luncheon at the National Press Club ON January 14, 2013 in Washington. Villaraigosa spoke about immigration reform, gun laws and other issues.

Two donors to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's 2009 election campaign have been ordered to pay $35,000 in fines as a penalty for campaign money laundering, the Los Angeles Ethics Commission said Thursday.

Cindy Baek, who works in the real estate title industry was fined $15,000. She is accused of soliciting donations from business acquaintances to the Villaraigosa campaign, which is legal, and then reimbursing those who gave, which is not.

She reimbured $6,000 in contributions that were given in others' names in June 2008, the Ethics Commission report said. City and state laws require campaign donors to give only their own funds in their own names. Baek did not return a call seeking comment about the fine.

The commission also fined Young Ran Kim for laundering $8,000 contributions to the Villaraigosa for Mayor 2009 campaign. Those contributions were made in others' names in June 2008. Contact and background information for Kim was not immediately available. Contributions from him do not appear on the city campaign finance website.

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Governor still determined to dismantle state's enterprise zones

Mercer 4045

Brian Watt/KPCC

Then-deputy LA mayor Austin Beutner and Laurie Hughes of the "Gateway to L.A." business improvement district at the 2010 announcement of the Century Boulevard corridor as a state Enterprise Zone.

California lawmakers plan to vote Friday on a $96.3 billion state budget.   The plan includes many of the Governor’s key proposals, including one to change the funding formula for public schools.  But one significant omission will be Brown’s plan to eliminate enterprise zones.

In an 11th hour press release, Brown vowed to continue his fight to  “redirect” $750 million a year in state tax credits for businesses that invest in economically-depressed areas known as enterprise zones. The program is supposed to stimulate job growth and development, but Brown called it “wasteful” and “inefficient.”

The governor wants to spread the tax credits to businesses anywhere in the state that invest in manufacturing or that hire long-term unemployed, unemployed veterans or people on public assistance.

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Senate avoids poison pill; immigration debate advances

Senate Republicans Address The Press After Their Policy Luncheon

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

California Democrat Barbara Boxer has half a dozen amendments she wants added to the Senate immigration bill.

Immigration reform jumped a giant hurdle Thursday as Senate Democrats killed a poison pill amendment designed to stall legalization of an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants. It's the first of a long list of amendments to the Senate's immigration reform bill — including one that could help L.A. and other Southern California counties.

The amendment from the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, Charles Grassley of Iowa, would have postponed legalization for undocumented immigrants until the U.S.-Mexico border is secure for six months. The measure failed 57-43 in a procedural move by Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada. 

It's the first of many amendments, including a number of tough border security measures. But the way the Majority Leader handled this first amendment infuriated Grassley, who labeled the "so-called open and fair process a farce."

California Democrat Barbara Boxer has proposed several amendments, including one that would reimburse providers — such as L.A. County — for the cost of treating uninsured, undocumented patients in hospital emergency rooms. She called it a "national opportunity to say counties and cities are going to have this extra burden and let's help them a little bit."

The Senate bill currently forbids spending federal dollars on health care for undocumented people.

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Maven's Morning Coffee: lights out for medical marijuana clinics, a commission on child welfare, a step back for reform in Anaheim

H. Lee

Federal authorities have ordered 100 medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles County to close.

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 Thursday, June 13, and here is what's happening in Los Angeles:

Headlines

Federal prosecutors are cracking down on a 100 medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles County, reports the Daily News. "The government's actions represent the latest effort to enforce federal laws and the newest challenge to California's 17-year-old, voter-approved law allowing the sale of marijuana as a medicinal treatment," according to the paper.

L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas wants a blue ribbon commission created to look at child protection, reports KPCC. The 10-member board would be tasked with reforming the Department of Children and Family Services. Meanwhile, an editorial from the Los Angeles Times seems to endorse the idea. "The supervisors should see this as the last, best and final opportunity to leave behind a county child welfare system that works, or at least one that is on the road to improvement."

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California Counties and state lawmakers reach provisional plan for Medi-Cal expansion

Thousands Attend Free Temporary Health Clinic In Los Angeles

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Thousands of uninsured patients attend a free temporary health clinic In Los Angeles.

After months of wrangling over how to pay to expand Medi-Cal--California’s  health care program for low-income residents--counties and state lawmakers have sketched out a formula for splitting the costs.

California opted to expand Medi-Cal by more than a million people next year as part of federal health care reform.  

In exchange, the Brown Administration asked counties to relinquish hundreds of millions of dollars they get from the state each year to treat the poor at public hospitals and clinics.  The thinking was that counties costs would drop because many of those people would be eligible for Medi-Cal.

But local officials pushed back.

LA County lobbied for a cost-based formula for figuring out how much money, if any, counties should give back. 

“The most important thing for L.A. County was to have an agreement with the state where our costs are taken care of as it relates to the Medi-Cal expansion in addition to making sure that our safety net is sustained, ” county Assistant Chief Executive Officer Ryan Alsop said Wednesday.

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