Politics, government and public life for Southern California

District Attorney investigates complaint in Hollywood area council race

Mitch O'Farrell (L) and John Choi

Frank Stoltze

The CD13 race between Mitch O'Farrell, left, and John Choi isn't as friendly as it looks here. Allegations of voter fraud and xenophobia have surfaced in recent days.

The District Attorney's Office is investigating a complaint that campaign workers in a Hollywood area city council race illegally filled out ballots for voters. 

The complaint was filed by the John Choi campaign against his opponent Mitch O'Farrell. According to the campaign, the O'Farrell camp mishandled ballots and outright voted on behalf of constituents in the Little Armenia neighborhood. The O'Farrell campaign denies all the allegations. 

"This is the most blatant and widespread case of voter fraud I've seen in 20 years of political campaigns," said Mike Shimpock of the Choi campaign. "They are literally stealing this election. This needs to be stopped."

In response, an attorney for the O'Farrell campaign sent a cease-and-desist letter and countered with its own accusation that the Choi campaign violated election laws by completing ballots for voters. 


Maven's Morning Coffee: the lifestyles of Greuel and Garcetti, alleged voter fraud in CD 13, a look at the medical marijuana measures


Maya Sugarman/KPCC

The Los Angeles Times contrasts the upbringings and lifestyles of Wendy Greuel and Eric Garcetti.

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 10, and here is what's happening in Los Angeles:


The Los Angeles Times contrasts the upbringings and lifestyles of Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel. The two candidates "have been criticized for having nearly indistinguishable records during their more than 10 years at Los Angeles City Hall. But when it comes to their lifestyles, they dwell in very different worlds," according to The Times.

The District Attorney's Office is investigating allegations that a candidate in CD 13 inappropriately filled out voters' ballots in Little Armenia, reports the Los Angeles Times. John Choi has accused his opponent Mitch O'Farrell of voter fraud and illegal electioneering activities.


LA city voters could dramatically reduce access to medical marijuana

Los Angeles City Council Votes To Ban Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

David McNew/Getty Images

Reed Moran smells a variety of marijuana shown to him by President and CEO Sam Humeid (L) of the Perennial Holistic Wellness Center medical marijuana dispensary, which opened in 2006, on July 25, 2012 in Los Angeles.

David McNew/Getty Images

A budtender pours marijuana from a jar at Perennial Holistic Wellness Center medical marijuana dispensary, which opened in 2006, on July 25, 2012 in Los Angeles.

Medical Marijuana

Bear Guerra/KPCC

Cody Blake, 27, an employee at Perennial Holisitic Wellness Center in Studio City, displays one of the dispensary's popular marijuana strains.

Medical Marijuana

Frank Stoltze

The display case at Perennial Wellness Center notes the support of the UFCW.

Sam Humeid

Frank Stoltze

Sam Humeid owns and operates Perennial and ran for the Los Angeles City's 1st council district.

Los Angeles city voters will choose between three medical marijuana measures on the May 21 ballot. At stake is the fate of hundreds of marijuana dispensaries.

A Studio City strip mall is home to the Perennial Wellness Center. You wouldn’t know it’s a medical marijuana dispensary, except for the telltale green cross and opaque windows. Inside, owner Sam Humeid shows off his array of products.

“We have a shelf full of edibles,” he said. “Everything from teas and honey sticks to full strength brownies and peppermint patties.”

When one of his regular customers walks in, Humeid warmly greets him. Kevin Kipnis, 49, prefers marijuana to codeine or anything stronger for the back pain he suffers as a result of a car accident.

“Usually a couple hits in the morning, couple hits at night, and I’m pretty good,” he said.


LA City Council Race: Choi accuses O’Farrell of xenophobic attacks

Mitch O'Farrell (L) and John Choi

Frank Stoltze

Mitch O'Farrell, left, and John Choi are competing to represent the 13th city council district in Los Angeles.

In a heated exchange at a debate in Hollywood Wednesday night, 13th District city council candidate John Choi accused rival Mitch O’Farrell of attempting to stir xenophobia among voters.

“My opponent has continued to attack me from day one, using language like ‘new arrival,' ‘outsider,’ and ‘not one of us,’” Choi told an audience inside Karapetian Hall at St. Garabed Armenian Church. “That type of language has been used for decades to raise xenophobic fears of outsiders and immigrants.”

Choi, 32, who is Korean American, pointed to a red campaign mailer that features a grainy picture of him above the words “not from our community.”

O’Farrell, 52, disavowed the mailer, which was sent by an independent committee. “I didn’t like it anymore than you did, John. I thought it was a terrible picture,” O’Farrell said. “Any sort of hint of discrimination has no place in a campaign.”


Poll: Wendy Greuel leads Eric Garcetti in mayor's race

Los Angeles Mayor


The mayor's race is neck and neck, according to a poll released Thursday. According to the Pat Brown Institute, Wendy Greuel leads Eric Garcetti by one point.

With just 12 days to go before the mayoral runoff, a poll released Thursday finds Wendy Greuel leading Eric Garcetti by one point — a statistical dead heat.

The survey from the Pat Brown Institute at Cal State L.A. is the latest sign of how unpredictable the race has become. Greuel leads with 46 percent, with Garcetti at 45 percent. Nine percent of voters were undecided.

The numbers are in dramatic contrast to a USC/L.A. Times poll released on April 20th that showed Garcetti with a 10-point lead.

Raphael Sonenshein, executive director of the Pat Brown Institute, cautioned that comparing polls is like comparing apples and oranges, as each survey has its own makeup of participants. As for why there may have been such a shift in support in the past three weeks,  he said: "It could be that more people are tuning into the race who weren’t tuned in before."