Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Maven's Morning Coffee: Wendy Greuel, Eric Garcetti debate, LAT looks at Million Trees plan, and movement in the assessor's case

MAYORALDEBATE - 4

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

City Councilman Eric Garcetti and City Controller Wendy Greuel check the time, minutes before a 7 p.m. mayoral debate at USC Health Sciences Campus in Mayer Auditorium on Monday.

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 Tuesday, April 23, and here is what's happening in Los Angeles:

Headlines

The mayoral candidates attacked one another Monday evening in a debate hosted by KPCC and NBC 4. Wendy Greuel and Eric Garcetti accused each other of not having the independence to oversee the Department of Water and Power.

Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel recorded video interviews with the Los Angeles Times.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa promised to plant 1 million trees in Los Angeles, but ended up with just 400,000. According to the Los Angeles Times editorial board, "In the end, the mayor may have planted only half of what he promised, but it's fair to see this urban forest as half-full, not half-empty."

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Video: Eric Garcetti, Wendy Greuel go on the attack in LA mayoral debate (updated)

LA Mayoral Debate - April 22, 2013

City Councilman Eric Garcetti and City Controller Wendy Greuel greet each other before a mayoral debate at USC Health Sciences Campus in Mayer Auditorium on Monday, April 22.

Los Angeles Mayor race 2013Mayoral candidates Wendy Greuel and Eric Garcetti attacked one another over questions of integrity Monday during a debate sponsored by KPCC, NBC 4, Telemundo and USC.

Midway through the evening, Greuel brought up an ethics complaint filed against Garcetti by former Controller Rick Tuttle, who is supporting the Greuel campaign. The complaint accuses Garcetti of delaying a 2009 hearing that could have been detrimental to a solar measure supported by the Department of Water and Power union. The controller furthered alleged that Garcetti was too cozy with the utility because he supported rate increases and pay raises for DWP employees.

In response, the councilman noted that the DWP union’s political action committee has supported Greuel to the tune of almost $2 million.

On policy issues, Greuel told the audience she supports the elimination of the gross receipts tax and that, as mayor, she would expand the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools.

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California's Victim Compensation Fund helps pay medical, relocation expenses

Victims of violent crime may need immediate medical or psychiatric care. They may need to move to a new home right away.

The California Victim Compensation Program (CalVCP) helps cover those costs. CalVCP is in the spotlight during California’s Victims’ Rights Month. The program will host a rally near the Capitol on Tuesday.

Executive Director Julie Nauman says CalVCP is a last resort for tens of thousands of crime victims.

"I can’t tell you the number of times that people have come up to me at events and have told me that if it weren’t for this fund, they don’t know how they would have held it together," she said.

Crime victims can claim up to $63,000. They’re also eligible for up to $5,000 for a funeral.

They don’t have to wait for a perpetrator to be convicted to file a claim. The fund administrators can verify a victim’s situation by looking at police reports.   

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Senators take apart immigration bill in second day of Judiciary hearings

Kitty Felde/KPCC

Bill Przyluvki outside immigration hearing in Washington DC.

The Senate Judiciary Committee heard from nearly two dozen witnesses today at an all-day hearing on the 844-page immigration bill.

There was tearful testimony from a DREAMer—a student brought to the U.S. as a child—who implored senators to make her family legal.

Representatives from the high tech industry told the committee members that they'd be willing to pay double for visas to bring in highly educated foreign workers. And they want the government to spend that extra money on education so American students have the skills needed in the computer industry.

And as expected, there were critics who label this immigration measure "amnesty" because it gives people who've entered the U.S. illegally a way to become legal residents.

Ag Workers

Most of the day was spent looking at the provision that allows 112,000 temporary farm workers to enter the U.S.

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Mayor Villaraigosa seeks to renegotiate pay raises, health care costs (updated)

LA City Budget

Alice Walton/KPCC

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced his final spending proposal Monday morning. He wants the next mayor and Los Angeles City Council to renegotiate employee benefits. Doing so could result in a surplus by the end of the next mayor's first term.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s $7.7 billion Los Angeles city budget proposal calls for the renegotiation of pay increases for municipal employees scheduled to take effect next January.  

The 5.5 percent raises would go to 60 percent of the city’s civilian force. The mayor wants the City Council and his successor to renegotiate those raises and force city workers to pay 10 percent toward their health care benefits. Villaraigosa has pointed to a 2007 decision to increase workers’ paychecks by 25 percent as one of the contributing factors to LA’s budget problems.

“I feel compelled and I have felt compelled to make up for that mistake,” Villaraigosa said.

“What if I told you that we have some employees that don’t pay a penny for health care? The notion that we should pay 10 percent of health care is not a radical notion. It’s a sustainable notion.”

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