Politics, government and public life for Southern California

CA prisons chief says state remains at odds with federal court order

California Prisons

Rich Pedroncelli/AP

California Corrections Secretary Jeffrey Beard (seen here in a file photo) said Friday "We don’t think we need to do any more" to reduce the state's prison population.

Less than 12 hours after California followed a court order and submitted a plan for reducing its prison population, the state's prisons chief called it “the best of the bad options.” 

Speaking at a press conference Friday morning, Secretary of Corrections Jeffrey Beard said, "We don’t think we need to do any more, and that’s why we haven’t submitted a plan before this.  We’re only doing this under court order.”

Last month, a panel of three District Court judges court ordered California officials to determine  how to shed 9,500 inmates from state prison system before year's end. It was the latest development in a legal fight dating to 2009 when the judges ruled that overcrowding was the primary reason inmates lacked adequate mental and medical care.

The following year, the judges ordered California to reduce the prison population by 40,000 inmates within two years. The state's appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was denied. Despite sending large numbers of inmates to county jails, the state has struggled to meet the federal mandate.

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Tension mounts in San Gabriel in fight over councilman-elect's residence

Chin Ho Liao

Alice Walton/KPCC

Chin-Ho Liao, left, appeared with U.S. Rep. Judy Chu, community college trustee Mike Eng at a news conference Friday calling for Liao to be seated on the San Gabriel City Council.

Several prominent Southern California politicians gathered Friday for an emotional — and at times tense — news conference to call on San Gabriel city leaders who have blocked the swearing-in of a new councilman following questions of his eligibility. 

Congresswoman Judy Chu, State Sen. Ed Hernandez, State Assemblyman Ed Chau and Community College Trustee Mike Eng urged the San Gabriel City Council to let Chin-Ho Liao begin his term of office. Liao was elected to the city council March 5. However, two weeks later, a resident filed a complaint alleging Liao lives outside the city limits and therefore is not eligible to serve. 

The San Gabriel City Council held a recent hearing on the residency issue, but Liao's supporters say an independent third party should have been brought in because the council is made up of two candidates Liao challenged for the open seat and two incumbents who supported candidates other than Liao. The results of that hearing will be announced on Monday. 

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Maven's Morning Coffee: DWP lawsuit dismissed, Daily News endorsements, councilman's cancer in remission

Mercer 7058

Omar Omar/Flickr

A federal court dismissed a lawsuit from the Department of Water and Power that contested what it needed to mitigate in the Owen's Lake.

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 Friday, May 3, and here is what's happening in Los Angeles:

Headlines

A federal court dismissed the Department of Water and Power's lawsuit against a regulatory agency tasked with controlling dust on the Owens Lake, reports the Los Angeles Times. The lawsuit was prompted by the Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District's " 2011 order that the city control dust on an additional 2.9 square miles of lake bed, a job that could cost ratepayers another $400 million," per The Times.

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UPDATE: State files court-ordered plan to reduce prison population

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

California filed a plan late Thursday detailing how it will reduce its prison population by year's end. A federal court ordered the reduction in order to improve medical and mental health care in the lockups.

California will seek to reduce inmates' sentences while increasing its use of private prisons to meet a court-ordered population cap by the end of the year, under a plan Gov. Jerry Brown filed late Thursday.

The plan calls for increasing early release credits for inmates and freeing elderly and incapacitated prisoners, while slowing the return of thousands of inmates who are being held in private prisons in other states.

The Democratic governor intends to seek a delay of those steps while he appeals the ruling on overcrowding, which already has been upheld once by the U.S. Supreme Court.

He filed the plan after federal judges last month threatened to cite him for contempt it they find he is not following their previous order to cut the number of inmates.

The state already is sentencing thousands of lower-level offenders to county jails instead of prison, and Brown argues that he can't do more without endangering public safety.

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Bill Rosendahl announces cancer in remission 10 months after diagnosis

City Councilman Bill Rosendahl

Andres Aguila/KPCC

L.A. City Councilman Bill Rosendahl announced Thursday that his cancer is in remission. When he was diagnosed last summer, he was given just months to live.

Westside Councilman Bill Rosendahl was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer last summer but now he is officially in remission, he announced Thursday in a YouTube clip. 

Last August, Rosendahl announced he was suffering from cancer of the ureter, which is a tube that connects the kidney and bladder. In this latest video, Rosendahl said he was given just months to live.

"Frankly I was given a death sentence," he said. "The diagnosis said I was Stage 4 and I wouldn't be around by the November election."

Rosendahl did not seek a third term of office — a decision he now credits for his good health. His chief of staff, Mike Bonin, won the March primary and will be sworn in on July 1. The councilman also attributed his good health to medical marijuana. 

"Without it, I would not be alive today," he said. 

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