Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Maven's Morning Coffee: profile of a labor leader, corruption in LA County, battle in Costa Mesa

Car Wash MALDEF Unions

Grant Slater/KPCC

A new Los Angeles Times profile calls Maria Elena Durazo one of the most influential political figures in Los Angeles.

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, June 24, and here is what's happening in Southern California politics:


The Los Angeles Times does a deep dive on Maria Elena Durazo, who is described as "probably the single most influential individual in Los Angeles politics."

The Sacramento Bee's Dan Walters editorializes on corruption in Los Angeles County. "We should not be depending on the FBI to root out corruption. If it's endemic – in L.A. or elsewhere – state and local authorities should be attacking it vigorously," he writes.


Historic designation expected for former Tuna Canyon internment camp

Tuna Canyon Internment Camp

David Scott/The Scott Family and Little Landers Historical Society

A stylized aerial view of the Tuna Canyon Detention Station. More than 1,000 people of Japanese descent were held here before being transferred to longer-stay camps further inland or out-of-state.

At least one acre of the former Tuna Canyon Detention Station that is now the site of the Verdugo Hills Golf Course is expected to be designated a historic-cultural monument by the Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday. 

During World War II, the detention center held more than 2,000 people, mostly Japanese-Americans. The golf course is now owned by Snowball West Investments, which wants to build a housing subdivision on the property. Designating something a historic-cultural monument means there are additional reviews if changes are made to the site.

“We need to commemorate the sacrifices, the pain of our forefathers, the men and women who went through such a devastating experience,” Councilman Ed Reyes, chair of the Planning and Land Use Management Committee, said last week. 

City staff initially denied the designation, arguing that the site no longer has any of the original structures. But Councilman Richard Alarcon, who represents the area, noted the city already has 19 historic-cultural monuments without buildings.


A busy week ahead on Capitol Hill and at Supreme Court

U.S. Capitol Building

Win McNamee/Getty Images

Washington faces numerous deadlines this week

This week could be the busiest of the year in our nation's capital. There are imminent deadlines for a wide range of issues.

We'll start in the Senate, where Majority Leader Harry Reid promised a vote on an immigration bill before the end of the week.  A compromise on border security between Republicans and the Senate "Gang of Eight" means there are likely enough votes to pass a comprehensive  measure before Congress leaves town for the 4th of July holiday.

Student loans are set to double after June 30th and there is also talk of a bipartisan Senate deal to link new federal student loans to Treasury bonds with borrowers guaranteed a fixed rate for the life of the loan.

There's also a fight coming to a head between Senator Barbara Boxer and the head of the Nuclear Regulatory Agency. Allison MacFarlane has a June 30th deadline — the day her term expires — to turn over thousands of pages of documents related to San Onofre before Boxer, who heads the Environment and Public Works Committee, schedules a vote on her reconfirmation. Boxer says she's been getting more papers every day, "but I haven't gotten them all. And the minute I get them all, we will move forward with it."

Across the street, the U.S. Supreme Court typically closes up shop for the summer on June 30th. That means the High Court has 11 decisions to unveil this week — including cases on affirmative action, California's Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act. 


California has options on prisoner releases

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Unless a court intercedes, California will have to reduce its prison population by about 9,500 inmates by the end of the year.

After federal judges on Thursday ordered California to shed more than 9,000 inmates from prisons by the end of the year, Gov. Jerry Brown said the state would request an "immediate stay" of the ruling.

While the state awaits a response, it must be prepared for a denial, which would mean implementing the reduction plan corrections officials submitted in May.

The plan addresses a 2009 order the judges issued to limit the number of inmates state prisons can hold to 110,000. The court did that to relieve overcrowding it determined had caused inmates to fall ill or even die from treatable or mild diseases because they lacked access to basic medical and mental healthcare.

When the state submitted its plan, this is how Secretary of Corrections James Beard described the approach: “We provided a plan which consisted of the best of the bad options.”


Longtime City Hall staffer appointed to run Convention Center

Convention Center

Anschutz Entertainment Group

The Los Angeles City Council confirmed Robert Ovrom as the new executive director of the Convention Center Friday. Above is AEG's rendering of what a new convention space could look like.

The Los Angeles City Council confirmed Robert "Bud" Ovrom's appointment as executive director of the Convention Center Friday. 

The appointment comes at an uncertain time for the Convention Center. The L.A. City Council is considering a proposal that would allow the private Anschutz Entertainment Group to take over day-to-day management of the city asset. A rival company, SMG World, has filed a protest against that recommendation, arguing AEG lacks the experience to run a large convention center.

Hanging over all this is the question of whether the NFL will return to Los Angeles. The city has already agreed to allow AEG to tear down part of the convention center to make way for a stadium if a pro team returns to L.A. A new wing, Pico Hall, would be built to make up for the lost space.