Politics, government and public life for Southern California

LA Mayor Villaraigosa in DC: talking terrorism and immigration reform

L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is in Washington for what could be his final official visit to the nation's capitol.

Antonio Villaraigosa is making one of his last trips to Washington as Mayor of Los Angeles. He's here to remind the Homeland Security secretary that L.A. is a terrorism target, too.

When the bombs went off in Boston last week, Villaraigosa recalled standing at the finish line of the L.A. Marathon last month.

"I did think a lot about what could have happened in our own city, " said Villaraigosa, who added that L.A. has beefed up police presence at sporting events.

Now he's in Washington, meeting with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, reminding her that L.A. is the nation's second largest city. It's home to the largest port in the U.S., and Hollywood, he said, is the face of culture in America.

"By every measure, we are the number two target," Villaraigosa said. "And that means we have to have our share of the resources that we need to protect the residents of our city."

Villaraigosa said it doesn't matter if there's a Democrat or a Republican in the White House — when it comes to a perceived threat from terrorism, there's an east coast bias in Washington: "There's always been. There's no question about it."


Maven's Morning Coffee: 405 project gets delayed, more ambulances for LAFD, Leimert Park might get its Metro stop


Grant Slater/KPCC

Construction on the San Diego (405) Freeway will take a year longer than expected and cost another $100 million.

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 Thursday, April 25, and here is what's happening in Los Angeles:


The widening of the San Diego (405) Freeway will take a year longer than expected and cost an extra $100 million, according to the Los Angeles Times. "The performance of contractors has left a lot to be desired. … They've shown a complete lack of sensitivity and empathy for the community in which they're doing the work," said Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky.

Fire Chief Brian Cummings is moving ahead with a plan to add ambulances at 11 stations throughout the city, reports the Daily News. The president of the firefighters' union calls the plan "reckless" because it will move firefighters to other duties.


Immigration proposals moving quickly on Capitol Hill

Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are expected to offer amendments to the 844 page immigration reform bill beginning tomorrow. But that's not the only action on immigration this week.

Democratic negotiators on the House side briefed their fellow Democrats today on progress on a House immigration bill. Los Angeles Congressman Xavier Becerra, one of those working on a bill, says the eight House negotiators "continues to work well."

The briefing packet included a list of new polls showing support for comprehensive immigration reform, including a path to citizenship.

Tomorrow, an unlikely group of immigration reformers that includes anti-tax activist Grover Norquist and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg will host a conference call to unveil the results of another poll showing Republican voter attitudes on immigration.


Domestic workers renew push for overtime pay and breaks

Domestic Worker Rally

Julie Small/KPCC

Domestic Workers rally at the capitol for paid breaks and overtime.

Domestic workers are once again pushing state lawmakers to approve a bill that would give them overtime pay and breaks. Governor Brown vetoed a similar measure last year; it's unclear what his position is this time around.

There are more than 200,000 domsetic workers in California, most of them in southern California. Amelia Bernachea of Los Angeles said she earned just $70 for a 24-hour day when she recently cared for an elderly woman with Alzheimer's.  

She cooked meals, changed linens, and repositioned the woman every couple of hours to prevent bedsores.  All the while, Bernechea said the woman screamed, "From the sun down, then the whole night and morning-she yells non-stop."

Bernachea said that made it impossible to take any breaks.  Nor did she receive overtime pay for the long hours.


NASA proposes $200 million cuts to planetary science; JPL could suffer

The rover Curiosity and other NASA spacecraft at Mars are now in a radio blackout, as the sun is interfering with transmissions. Curiosity took this self-portrait by combining 66 exposures in February.


The rover Curiosity on Mars took this self-portrait by combining 66 exposures in February.

To meet a 1 percent overall budget cut, NASA is proposing a $200 million cut to planetary science programs next fiscal year. That could be an ominous sign for Pasadena's Jet Propulsion Lab, the brains behind the successul Mars rover missions.

The agency said it shouldn't have to reduce programs as a result. But members of Congress told the head of NASA today they’re concerned the space agency is trying to take on too much without the funds to back it up. 

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, said it sounds like NASA is "going to raid" planetary science "and seriously degrade Mars missions." Schiff, whose district includes JPL, said Congress told NASA it didn't want to see cuts to planetary science.

"They’re just not listening," he said.

NASA head Charles Bolden told lawmakers NASA had to make "some pretty tough choices."