Politics, government and public life for Southern California

#DearMayor from Westchester: What should LA's next mayor work on first?

Dear Mayor Westchester

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KPCC political reporter Frank Stoltze speaks with a patron at The Coffee Company in Westchester during KPCC's Dear Mayor event.

Dear Mayor Westchester

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Marco Ramos, an LAX employee, tells LA's next mayor his primary issue.

Dear Mayor Westchester

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Martin Miranda, an employee at LAX, tells the next mayor to beautify Los Angeles and extend the train to his place of work.

Dear Mayor Westchester

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A patron enters The Coffee Company in Westchester where KPCC is holding a Dear Mayor event asking Los Angeles voters what they want to hear from LA's next mayor.

Dear Mayor Westchester

Diane Hayes and her grandmother agree that the city's potholes need attention from the next mayor of Los Angeles.

Dear Mayor Westchester

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Inside The Coffee Company in Westchester where KPCC is holding a Dear Mayor event asking Los Angeles voters what they want to hear from LA's next mayor.

Dear Mayor Westchester

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Tipaoa Filimona tells KPCC his most important concern issue in the mayor's race at our Dear Mayor event in Westchester.

Dear Mayor Westchester

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Sheri Scott tells KPCC her most important issue in the mayor's race at our Dear Mayor event at the Coffee Co. in Westchester.

Dear Mayor Westchester

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KPCC political reporter Frank Stoltze speaks with Ella Kazemi at The Coffee Co. in Westchester.

Dear Mayor Westchester

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Ralf Rainer von Albedyhill of Pacific Palisades wants the mayoral candidates to focus on passing city medical marijuana initiatives.

Dear Mayor landing page

This post is part of our #DearMayor series. Join the discussion by tweeting us using the #DearMayor hashtag. We'll be bringing your responses to our continuing political coverage, and to our April 22nd mayoral debate!

1:43 p.m.: French toast and thanks

We're wrapping up our #DearMayor chat for today. We heard quite a lot from area residents, which we'll be reading over in the coming weeks as we approach the April 22nd mayoral debate. 

We'll keep you posted on future cafe town halls. Meanwhile, we want to extend our deep thanks to Westchester's Coffee Company for hosting us. We're now about to finish off the afternoon with one of their famous French Toasts. 

1:20 p.m.: Blight and business in South LA

Fixing potholes, fighting blight and providing jobs are common concerns we've heard this morning. 

Trudy Goodwin of South Central told us she thinks the area needs the next mayor to help plan revitalization efforts. 

"I'm very concerned with revitalizating those impoverished areas, those blighted areas of South Central, she says, "And also bringing in more jobs for young adults and high school children."

Valerie Doby, too, tells us the next mayor should focus on rebuilding parts of South L.A. that are still struggling after the '92 Riots.

"After the [92] Riots, there just hasn't been a lot to do in that part of Los Angeles. There aren't a lot of restaraunts the grocery stores are not great and the people in those areas really need the opportunity to shop and eat in their community."

Ginneh Smith of South L.A. was more specific about where she's seen pothole problems nearby. 

"We have a lot of potholes and streets that need attention, especially the century corridor from Century and Crenshaw all the way down to LAX. We also have a lot of potholes between Florence and Slauson [avenues]."

Full audio:

RELATED: Your #DearMayor responses

1:38 p.m.: Dear Mayor, Airport issues are high on Westchester residents' minds

We heard earlier today from Paul Coony about his concerns with the planned expansion of LAX deeper into Westchester. That issue seems to be on the mind of a number of area residents. 

John Frost came to talk to us about his worries that an expansion would endager residents' health and cramp traffic.

"They can spread these airports out," he says. "Use Ontario and Palmdale and other areas."

Westchester resident Sandra Bray echoed those concerns saying she wants the next mayor to to "take a stand" against LAX's planned expansion: 

Marco Ramos, an LAX employee and 29-year Westchester resident, echoes both of their concerns, along with beautifying the neighborhood.

11:00 a.m.: Dear Mayor, Let's talk about diversity  

Shirley Sher has concerns about the air quality, the local economy and education, but she also brought up an issue we haven't heard a lot about in this election - inter-ethnic and race relations in the city. 

"I know that LA is full of immigrants and people of different backgrounds," she says, "but there still is a lot of hate crimes there's still a lot of intolerance. We'd just like to see L.A. become more  mixed instead of … separate, people living in separate neighborhoods."

Shirley went on to tell us she felt that the mayor could help in that effort by raising awareness of the issue and getting different communities to talk.

What do you think? Are race/ethnic relations something you think the city and its mayor need to address, or has the urgency faded in recent years?

RELATED: #DearMayor: Share your thoughts on what LA's new mayor should focus on first

10:15 a.m.: Education Education Education 

We've heard a lot from parents, students and teachers about their concerns regarding education funding. The mayor doesn't have direct control over the city's schools, though she or he can us their clout to influence the direction of L.A.'s school system. 

Ella Kazemi, current owner of the Coffee Company where we recorded today's #DearMayor discussion, tells us she wants to see the next mayor to continue to focus on funding city schools and after-school programs.  

Cafe-goer Durshawn Dennis and Twitter follower Franklin Burris, below, agree:

9:45 a.m.: Dear Mayor, It's still about jobs

Clarence Scott had a few concerns for L.A.'s incoming mayor including fixing the streets and hiring more LAPD officers, but the most important issue, he feels, is creating jobs. 

"There's a lot of people unemployed," he says. "If we can get more jobs we can boost the economy. and I think we'd be on our way. "

L.A. (and Southern California in general) has lagged behind much of the nation in recovering from the recession. 

9:20 a.m.: Dear Mayor, Guns are in the news and on voters' minds

Deborah Favorite, a self-described progressive liberal activist, tells us she's looking for mayoral leadership on gun control, and assault weapons in particular.

8:45 a.m.: Dear Mayor, What's your plan for LA's water resources? 

Toni, Arinsberg, the former owner of The Coffee Company, came by to share her concerns with the way L.A. currently handles its water resources.

"From what I understand," she says,  "Los Angeles is currently purchasing water from Orange County -- reclaimed water, cleaned water. Whereas water in Los Angeles is just being taken right out to the ocean and dumped."

Toni also brought a few pictures from the Coffee Company's and KPCC!'s past. Free coffee for the first person to get the name of KPCC reporter at the right of this shot

8:20 a.m.: Dear Mayor, Focus on public transportation and education 

Public education and transportation have come up in many of our #DearMayor conversations.

Dominick Martin is one of those we spoke to this morning. He says the candidate with the best education and transportation plans will win his vote.

8:00 a.m.: Dear Mayor, take your own medicine

LAX employee Michael  Quiles says he wants the  next mayor to protect city employee benefits.

He says he wants to see the next mayor commit to sharing in the pain of public employees by taking cuts in salaries alongside public workers.

7:30 a.m.: Dear Mayor, Keep your promises!

Reporter Frank Stoltze kicked off this morning's talk with Paul Coony, an attorney and longtime resident of Westchester. He says it's important to him that candidates honor their campaign promises. 

"For example," he says. "I recently switched allegiance from one candidate to another because one of them had the courage to make a commitment to an issue that's very important to me here in Westchester and that has to do with the expansion of and the removal of the North runway to a place 300 feet north of where it currently exists."

The expansion of the airport is of great concern to residents in Westchester as it will likely affect a number of homes. 

7:00 a.m.: Coffee's on! 

We're here at The Coffee Company in Westchester to hear what you think the next mayor should focus on first. 

If you're in the area, come over and have a coffee with us, or tweet us using the #DearMayor hashtag.

We'll be bringing your responses to our continuing political coverage, and to our April 22nd mayoral debate!




LA County workers rally for pay raises

SEIU Rally

Alice Walton/KPCC

Thousands of LA County workers rallied outside the Hall of Administration Tuesday in support of pay raises, which they have not received since 2009.

Thousands of county workers rallied outside the Hall of Administration Tuesday in support of pay raises, which they say the $24.7 billion budget can now support because it shows the county is back on solid financial footing.

The workers gathered as County CEO Bill Fujioka prepared to formally present the budget to the Board of Supervisors. 

“Our message to Mr. Fujioka and the board is: it’s time for L.A. County workers to get a raise,” said Marlene Allen of the Department of Public Social Services, addressing the crowd gathered on Temple Street.  “We know the budget that Mr. Fujioka is presenting doesn’t call for any cuts and that’s a good thing because we don’t need cuts. But the question is, does it call for a raise?”

SEIU represents 55,000 county workers, from nurses to clerical workers, who have not had salary increases or cost-of-living adjustments since 2009. As a result, the county has not issued furloughs or layoffs.


Maven's Morning Coffee: Wendy Greuel's budget plan, LAFD wants more ambulances, LAUSD looks to revise teacher investigations

Los Angeles City Hall

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The campaign of Wendy Greuel released a plan Monday that could save the city $175 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 Tuesday, April 16, and here is what's happening in Los Angeles:


Mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel proposed $175 million in savings Monday through parking lot collections and changes to employees' health care benefits, reports KPCC. "The proposal was unveiled after months of complaints from civic leaders that Greuel, the city controller, and her opponent, Councilman Eric Garcetti, have offered too few ideas for closing the budget shortfall," according to the Los Angeles Times.


L.A. Mayor’s Race: Greuel presents budget proposals

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City Controller Wendy Greuel speaking to her supporters in March after moving forward to a runoff against Councilman Eric Garcetti in the race for Los Angeles mayor.

Los Angeles City Controller Wendy Greuel Monday presented a series of proposals which she said could reduce the city’s budget deficit through $175 million dollars in savings and new revenue.

“The ideas we discussed today are a blueprint for how we can close our budget gap so we can get back to providing the services Angelenos depend on,” Greuel said as she unveiled her proposal.

But several of her ideas mirrored those presented by her opponent, City Councilman Eric Garcetti. 

For example, Greuel said the city could save $60 million annually by requiring city workers to contribute more to healthcare costs and changing the design of the city's healthcare package. Garcetti’s plan estimates $40 million dollars in similar savings.

Another idea: collect $20 million dollars from parking lot operators who fail to pay a 10% parking tax. The city’s ad hoc Commission on Revenue Efficiency first presented that proposal last year. Garcetti also endorsed it. City administrators have warned that money would be hard to collect.


Senate approves another federal judge for LA: Beverly Reid O'Connell

L.A. Superior Court Judge Beverly Reid O'Connell has been approved by the U.S. Senate for a seat on the federal bench. She is seen here during her nomination hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

By unanimous vote of 92 to zero, the U.S. Senate has confirmed a new federal judge for Southern California. The bench for the L.A. area is now fully staffed, but that’s not the case elsewhere in the state.

The confirmation means Judge Beverly Reid O’Connell will leave the L.A. Superior Court for the federal bench. University of Richmond Law Professor Carl Tobias says it’s a "great addition" to the court. He says Judge O’Connell is highly regarded in California. She created a program that brings inner city students to the courthouse to talk to judges and lawyers.

Her confirmation means the Central District, which serves the greater L.A. area, is fully staffed with 28 judges.

That isn't the case  for the rest of the country, or for California. Tobias says then state still has five vacancies on the federal bench; other border states have even more.