Politics, government and public life for Southern California

CA lawmaker pushes services for mentally ill to reduce prison and jail crowding

Mercer 556

Max Whittaker/Getty Images

File photo: California State Senate President Pro Tem Sen. Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) wants to expand mental care in prisons. An estimated 20 percent of active parolees — roughly 10,000 people — were diagnosed with mental illness while in prison.

People with mental illness who end up in jail for minor crimes often stay longer because there’s no place for a judge to send them for treatment.

“Many of these individuals are arrested for low-level offenses,” says Nevada County Sheriff Keith Royal, who heads the California State Sheriffs Association. ”We have now become the new mental health asylums because of the closing of the state hospitals.”

Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) wants to solve that problem by expanding treatment for the mentally ill. He proposes building or contracting 2,000 residential crisis beds that offer short-term treatment, and adding 200 mental health triage counselors at community clinics and homeless shelters to help people with mental disorders get medical care, alcohol-and-drug treatment, and housing.


CA lawmaker fires back on plastic pistols; calls for ban on 3-D printers for guns

The "Liberator" is a plastic pistol fashioned by a 3-D printer by a company in Texas.

Just two days after a Texas group posted a video purporting to be the first firing of a gun printed on a 3-D printer, State Senator Leland Yee (D-SF) said he’ll seek to ban that use of the technology.

In a press release rushed out Tuesday, Yee said as amazing as 3-D technology is, “We must ensure that it is not used for the wrong purpose with potentially deadly consequences.”

Defense Distributed, the group that posted the video, offers a free download of the gun's blueprint on its Wiki Weapons website. The 3-D gun is made of plastic parts, except for the nail used as the firing pin.

The single-shot weapon is being hailed by some visitors on the company's website as a way to avoid gun registration laws.

Yee said California should be “proactive” about stopping the potential proliferation of guns that “are invisible to metal detectors and that can be easily made without a background check.”


LA City Council votes to restore LAFD to full staffing

Los Angeles Fire Department Engine

Courtesy Los Angeles Fire Department

The Los Angeles City Council voted 12-0 to give the LAFD the funding it needs to staff 11 ambulances without removing personnel from fire engines. The $1.56 million will keep the plan afloat through June 30.

Following concerns that a newly-implemented plan that moved 22 firefighters to ambulance duty would jeopardize public safety, the L.A. City Council voted Tuesday to give the Los Angeles Fire Department an additional $1.56 million for the next two months. 

Fire Chief Brian Cummings launched a plan Sunday that deployed 11 additional ambulances in the city. But, council members and the firefighters' union expressed concern that removing 22 firefighters from engines to staff those ambulances could hinder LAFD when it comes to putting out fires.

The money will keep the ambulances in service and the engines fully staffed through June 30, which is the end of the fiscal year. 

Council President Herb Wesson backed the supplemental funding, even though it will cost $13 million to maintain the proposal in 2013-14. The council president said he wants the next mayor to have the flexibility to work with the fire chief on the plan. 


Maven's Morning Coffee: Councilman seated in San Gabriel, a loan in the mayor's race, Roz Wyman Day in LA

Chin Ho Liao

Alice Walton/KPCC

Chin Ho Liao, left, will be seated on the San Gabriel City Council despite questions about his residency.

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 Tuesday, May 7, and here is what's happening in Los Angeles:


The San Gabriel City Council agreed 3-1 to seat a councilman-elect despite questions of his residency, reports KPCC. Chin-Ho Liao was elected March 5, but a complaint alleging that he lived outside the city limits meant he was not sworn in until now.

Wendy Greuel loaned her campaign $100,000, according to the Los Angeles Times. The latest campaign finance reports will be posted by the Ethics Commission on Thursday.


San Gabriel City Council decides to seat councilman-elect

Chin-Ho Liao and legal team

Sharon McNary/KPCC

Attorneys Deanna Kitamura, center, and Nilay Vora, left, celebrate on hearing that Councilman-elect Chin-Ho Liao, right, will be permitted to take his seat on the San Gabriel City Council.

The San Gabriel City Council voted 3-1 Monday to set aside a challenge to the residency of councilman-elect Chin-Ho Liao and let him take the oath of office.

When Liao takes his council seat Tuesday evening, it will be two months after the election. Soon after the votes were counted, a resident of the city filed a complaint alleging that Liao did not live in San Gabriel as required by law. The City Council chose to hold off installing him in office and held hearings that included testimony from his Liao's neighbors, wife and acquaintances.

At Monday's meeting, the council focused on two issues: whether Liao had a physical presence in the city and whether he intended to remain in San Gabriel.

A majority of the council agreed that Liao resided in the city for the March election. He had rented an apartment in San Gabriel last November, changed his drivers license and voter registration address, and neighbors said he appeared to be living within the city. But other key indicators of his domicile did not follow — tax records, health insurance and other records kept his out-of-city address.