Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Congressmen Schiff, Sherman push for night time curfew at Valley airports

Prison Realignment

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Two Los Angeles Democrats are trying again to get the Federal Aviation Administration to allow curfews at regional airports in Burbank and Van Nuys, after years of complaints by residents about late night jet noise.

Bob Hope Airport in Burbank was one of the first airports in the country to ban late night flying. Van Nuys Airport had a partial curfew. But federal law got rid of local restrictions.

Burbank then spent millions of dollars over a decade trying to persuade the FAA to allow a 10 pm to 7 am curfew. The FAA turned the city down, saying it would create an "undue burden on commerce."

Congressmen Adam Schiff of Burbank and Brad Sherman of Sherman Oaks are introducing the "Valley-Wide Noise Relief Act." Schiff said these communities should be allowed to keep the curfews the had in place before Congress preempted local control.

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Sequestration holiday for IRS, EPA, OMB and other federal workers

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1040 tax form.

The Internal Revenue Service took quite a beating on Capitol Hill this week for targeting Tea Party and other groups for particular scrutiny. So they're probably relieved to have the day off. The IRS is just one federal agency not open today because of sequestration.

If you haven't received your tax refund check, you can try calling the IRS help line to find out what's up. But this is what you'll hear: "Due to current budget situation, all IRS offices are closed today."

No human will be answering that phone until Tuesday, after the Memorial Day holiday. If you need tax advice before that, the IRS suggests looking at its website.

The IRS isn't the only agency to take a "furlough Friday" due to the mandatory budget cuts known as sequestration.

The Environmental Protection Agency, Housing and Urban Development, and the Office of Management and Budget – about 5 percent of the entire federal workforce – are also taking the first of several unpaid days off to deal with the across the board cuts.

An ABC/Washington Post poll released Friday finds more than a third of Americans say the sequestration is affecting them personally.

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LA City Council approves $7.7 billion budget

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Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's $7.7 billion budget was approved by the Los Angeles City Council. (Photo: Mayor Villaraigosa at celebration for Port of L.A. main channel deepening project).

A $7.7 billion spending plan for the city of Los Angeles was unanimously approved Thursday by the city council. 

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has five days to sign the budget, which keeps in place 5.5 percent raises for 60 percent of city workers. An expected $216 million deficit was closed in part because of pension reform and an increase in property, sales and hotel tax revenues. 

"I am happy the city council has approved my proposed budget, which hands to the next administration a more financially secure city while restoring core city services," Villaraigosa said in a statement. 

He went on to say:

I thank the council for preserving a 10,000 officer Los Angeles Police Department and funding our innovative and highly effective Gang Reduction and Youth Development programs.  I’m also grateful they agreed to increase services that are critical to the quality of life and well-being of our residents, including sidewalk repair, tree trimming, meals for the elderly, and graffiti removal.

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Still waiting for House immigration bill: health care still stumbling block

Retiring House Democrat Henry Waxman

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L.A. Democrat Henry Waxman advising Democrats in "Gang of Eight" on healthcare for undocumented immigrants.

House Speaker John Boehner put pressure on the "Gang of Eight" to come up with an agreement on immigration reform Thursday, saying the House will not simply take up the bill emerging from the Senate. Health care appears to be the stumbling block.

The Affordable Care Act provides federal subsidies to lower-income Americans to help them buy insurance in health insurance exchanges.

Los Angeles democrat Henry Waxman, one of the architects of the Affordable Care Act,  said House Republicans want to require undocumented immigrants on the path to citizenship to be insured, just like everyone else. But they also want to forbid spending federal dollars to help them pay for it.

"You can't require somebody to buy something they can't afford and then deny them the ability to get any help," said Waxman.

There is also the issue of emergency room care.

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LA mayor's race: Why did so few voters show up? Blame economics

Voting booth

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Typical voting booth and the Ink-a-Vote ballot marking machine used throughout Los Angeles County.

?Los Angeles Mayor race 2013Tuesday's Los Angeles city election drew 19.2 percent of the city's voters to the polls, according to unofficial results from the L.A. City Clerk's office.

But in some areas, voter turnout was much lower (you can see just how low on our interactive map). And while some blame voter apathy on candidates who were too similar in positions to spark much drama, others see it as a symptom of economic dysfunction.

More than 1,100 people are registered to vote at the True Ever-Faithful Baptist Church on 111th and Main Street in South Los Angeles. But on Election Day, only 117 cast ballots. That's a  10 percent turnout, one of the lowest rates in the city.
 
Oscar Barrett, 47, has lived here most of his life and says he's registered to vote. But he doesn't see the point of voting, even though he's standing right across the street from his polling place.

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