Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Maven's Morning Coffee: DWP goes against ratepayer advocate, bridge safety questioned, Justin Bieber causes problems for Calabasas

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A solar program has caused a small riff between the Board of Water and Power Commissioners and the ratepayer advocate.

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.

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Today is Friday, June 21, and here is what's happening in Los Angeles:


The Board of Water and Power Commissioners went against the advice of the ratepayer advocate when it decided to push ahead with the solar feed-in tariff program, reports the Daily News. "(Fred) Pickel said he now plans to take his concerns to the public and will work with the neighborhood councils to try to slow down the feed-in tariff program in which customers are compensated for the amount of energy generated from their solar roofs," according to the paper.


Governor, Legislature agree to fix public records bill (Updated)

Schwarzenegger Holds Press Conference On Passing Of California Budget

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The State Capitol was the scene of political maneuvering Thursday over the fate of the Public Records Act.

Seeking to quell a media outcry over access topublic records, the governor's administration on Thursday said it agrees with a fix-it bill moving through the Legislature that restores a mandate for local governments to comply with document requests.

The governor's spokesman, Evan Westrup, told The Associated Press that the governor's office supports the new approach taken by the Democratic leaders in the Assembly and Senate.

The leaders have pledged to undo language that threatened the public's access to government documents. The language is contained in a budget bill the Legislature approved last week and sent to the governor.

Earlier Thursday, the Assembly passed legislation that restores the local government mandate for complying with the state Public Records Act, and the Senate leader then said his house will take up the bill soon.


How will the Senate border security deal play on the House side?


SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

The U.S. Senate has worked out a border security compromise to jumpstart the immigration debate.

The U.S. Senate cleared a hurdle in the immigration debate Thursday, unveiling a compromise on border security.

The "border surge" amendment is an alternative to harsher GOP measures, including one that requires a 90 percent apprehension rate at the border before the legalization process begins.

The deal is designed to score GOP votes for a comprehensive immigration bill. But the Senate deal might not fly in the House.

The amendment by a pair of Republican senators, John Hoeven of North Dakota and Bob Corker of Tennessee, with the blessing of the "Gang of Eight," would grant permanent residency to the estimated 11 million undocumented U.S. residents after doubling the number of border patrol agents and completing 700 miles of fencing along the U.S./Mexico border.

But Republican Congressman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, who heads the House Judiciary Committee, says what you do on the border is important, "but it doesn't solve the problem by any means by itself." Goodlatte says a third of those "not lawfully present" in the U.S. overstayed their visas. Interior enforcement, he says, is also vital.


US Supreme Court makes it harder to get tougher penalties

Prop 8: Reporters outside SCOTUS

Kitty Felde/ KPCC

The reporter scrum in front of the Supreme Court Thursday hoping for rulings on Prop 8. Instead, the court ruled on a California sentencing case.

California's burglary law came under attack at the U.S. Supreme Court Thursday morning. Justices ruled the state's broad definition of the offense makes it more difficult to use as an enhanced punishment in sentencing. 

The case revolved around Matthew Descamps, who in 2005 was arrested on felony gun charges in Washington state and ultimately convicted. Prosecutors invoked the Armed Career Criminal Act, which increases penalties when there are three prior convictions for a "violent" felony, including burglary. Descamp had pleaded guilty to burglary in California in 1978. But the state's legal description of the crime is broad and even includes shoplifting.

Prosecutors at the time wanted to find out exactly what Descamp had done and searched around in old records to see whether the burglary met the federal standard. In an 8-1 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled such action was unacceptable.


State has not paid any reimbursements for local Public Records Act compliance

Jerry Brown Delivers California State Of The State Address

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

California's Democratic leaders (from left) Assembly Speaker John Pérez, Governor Jerry Brown and Senate President Pro-Tem Darrell Steinberg have resolved differences over maintaining the state's role the Public Records Act.

While the legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown wrangle over whether the state should continue to foot the bill for local governing bodies to comply with the Public Records Act, here's a little known fact:

Since 2002, when a court ruled that California is responsible for such reimbursements, the state has not paid out any money to comply with the ruling.  

After the ruling, the Commission on State Mandates had to review a test claim from a local government or school board to determine what aspects of the mandate actually increase their costs. Test claims were submitted by the Riverside School District and Los Angeles County, which initiated the legal challenge that led to the state being found financially responsible.

The commission only recently concluded that the Public Records Act has some reimbursable costs. The dollar amount for what the state owes locals is unknown.  The Legislative Analyst's Office estimates it's in the tens of millons.