Politics, government and public life for Southern California

LA city unions insist scheduled pay raises should be honored

Los Angeles City Hall

Alice Walton/KPCC

The Coalition of LA City Unions presented its financial proposals to the Budget and Finance Committee Monday.

Members of the Coalition of L.A. City Unions presented their financial proposals Monday to the Los Angeles City Council's Budget and Finance Committee, maintaining that the city should retain the 5.5 percent pay raises that are scheduled to take effect in January.

The committee is in its second week of budget deliberations on Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's $7.7 billion budget. Citing the city's precarious financial situation, the mayor proposed withholding the raises. He also wants city workers to pay 10 percent toward their health care. 

The coalition represents 22,000 public sector employees, from librarians to 911 operators to maintenance staff.

In an opening statement, Julie Butcher with SEIU Local 721, told the committee labor believes the city's budget is in good shape. Butcher also referred to a Los Angeles Times article that found money for the scheduled raises exists in a reserve account. 


Maven's Morning Coffee: mayoral candidates find common ground, Rick Caruso takes a crack at the city budget, "political swatting" takes over campaigns


Maya Sugarman/KPCC

In their latest debate, Wendy Greuel and Eric Garcetti found common ground on policies related to teacher evaluations, neighborhood improvements and immigration reform. They also agreed that neither is "dishonest."

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 Monday, May 6, and here is what's happening in Los Angeles:


It looks like Wendy Greuel and Eric Garcetti found plenty of things to agree on at Sunday's debate, reports the Los Angeles Times. The two have similar positions on teacher evaluations, neighborhood improvements and immigration reform.

In Rick Orlov's Tipoff column, Jan Perry and Kevin James develop a talk show, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa looks for a library, and Rick Caruso gets honored.

KPCC looks at the math behind Los Angeles' pension plans. An average city worker will get an annual pension of $46,000 after 30 years on the job. For police officers and firefighters, that figure is more like $66,000.


LA Mayor’s Race: The city pension problem facing Garcetti and Greuel

Jacob Miller, who works as a care technician at the Los Angeles Department of Animal Services, is covered by the L.A. City Employees Retirement System. Under that system, the average worker who retires this year after 27 years on the job would receive an annual $46,000 pension for life.

One of the biggest challenges facing the next mayor of Los Angeles is the ballooning cost of pensions for city employees. Those costs eat into other city services such as street repairs and paramedics.

To get a sense of the challenge, meet Jacob Miller. He ‘s worked at the Department of Animal Services for 11 years.

"If you are dropping off an animal, or adopting, or redeeming your own pet that got lost, I'm the person you would talk to,” Miller explains after working an overnight shift. “And I make sure your pet is comfortable while it’s at the shelter."

Miller, 34, recalls the words of his father, who also worked in the public sector: "He said, 'Once you have a city job, you're set for life. They're going to take care of you.'”


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.


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.