Politics, government and public life for Southern California

LA mayoral race 2013: Candidates on best behavior in Empowerment Congress debate

LA Mayoral Candidates

Frank Stotlze/KPCC

LA mayoral candidates (from left): Eric Garcetti, Wendy Greuel, Kevin James, Emanuel Pleitez, and Jan Perry

The five leading candidates in the L.A. mayoral race were on their best behavior in this morning’s debate sponsored by the Empowerment Congress.

The hour-long forum stood in sharp contrast to a debate three days ago, which was marked by pointed attacks against L.A. City Controller Wendy Greuel by her three top opponents. In today’s debate, held at USC’s Bovard Auditorium, the candidates refrained from going after each other.

Members of the Empowerment Congress were selected to ask questions of the candidates. The organization was founded by L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas to improve life for south Los Angeles communities, and the questions reflected those communities’ priorities.

The candidates were asked how they would use the arts to revitalize the area’s most neglected communities; whether they back “supportive housing” for the mentally ill and homeless; how they would try to get a Metro stop at Leimert Park; how they would reduce the number of gun deaths; how they would engage with neighborhood councils; and how they would add “economic justice” to the economic development agenda.


Senator Dianne Feinstein urges US mayors to support renewed gun control

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Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Senator Dianne Feinstein is poised to introduce a bill that would renew the federal ban on assault weapons.

Next week, California’s senior U.S. Senator, Democrat Dianne Feinstein, will introduce a bill that would renew the federal ban on assault weapons. Feinstein was the author of the 1994 law that Congress allowed to expire after a decade.

Today, she called on U.S. mayors for support, saying it’s more difficult now than at any time in her four decades of public service to pass what she called “reasonable gun regulation.”

Feinstein, who became mayor of San Francisco after Mayor George Moscone was gunned down in 1978, spoke at the winter meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

Feinstein warned that gun organizations will do "whatever they can do" to prevent regulation of firearms in this country, calling that "really too bad."

She said she’d give each mayor a list of the 150 guns she proposes to ban. Feinstein said the bill will include money for voluntary gun buy-back programs – and she assured the mayors that no one would confiscate guns in private hands.


California mayors lobbying federal officials for relief from regulations

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Kitty Felde

Redondo Beach Mayor Mike Gin will be in Washington, DC with other California mayors, lobbying for reduced federal regulation.

Nearly four-dozen mayors from across California will be in Washington this weekend for the winter meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. They'll be meeting with federal officials to push for more federal dollars or less federal regulation.

Redondo Beach Mayor Mike Gin said cities are hampered by federal requirements that end up costing them money.

For him, the fight is over treatment of water from its 1960’s icon, the Seaside Lagoon. He says the city takes  seawater to create a saltwater, heated, sandy bottom pool. He said they have to chlorinate the water when they pump it into the lagoon. They dechlorinate it before discharging it back into the bay.

The discharge has to meet federal and local sandards. Gin said Redondo Beach sometimes gets fined "and those violations can be very costly." 


Board of Public Works President Andrea Alarcon resigns following child endangerment investigations

Andrea Alarcon

Courtesy NBC Los Angeles

Andrea Alarcon announced her resignation Friday, less than two months after her daughter was found unattended at City Hall after a late night reception.

The president of the Los Angeles Board of Public Works announced her resignation Friday, less than two months after her daughter was found unattended at City Hall after a late night reception.

Andrea Alarcon has been on leave since November when her daughter, 11, was found in City Hall alone shortly before midnight.

Alarcon came under fire after she was accused of going out drinking one night last fall while leaving her 11-year-old daughter unattended at City Hall.

The incident came as Alarcon faced drunk driving and child endangerment charges in San Bernardino County.

“After much deliberate thought, I have decided to resign from my position as the president of the Board of Public Works and have submitted my letter of resignation to the mayor. I understand and have prayed deeply on the gravity of my actions. I have profound regret for the missteps of my past,” Alarcon said in a statement.


LA City Council confirms general manager to oversee neighborhood councils

Los Angeles City Hall

Alice Walton/KPCC

Grayce Liu will lead the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment as it looks to redefine stakeholders and encourage greater participation.

The woman who has overseen the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment for the last six months was unanimously confirmed by the Los Angeles City Council Friday as DONE's new general manager.

Grayce Liu was named the interim general manager last August after BongHwan Kim left the position for a job in San Diego. The Department of Neighborhood Empowerment is responsible for overseeing the city’s 95 neighborhood councils.

“I’m looking forward to working with the neighborhood councils and continuing to find opportunities for neighborhood councils to work within the city council system and the city family system as well,” Liu said.

The confirmation comes as the Board of Neighborhood Commissioners is working to clarify when a resident can be involved with a local board. The city charter opens membership to anyone who “lives, works, owns property in the neighborhood and also those who declare a stake in the neighborhood.” This created problems last year when medical marijuana clinic owners encouraged their customers to vote in the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council, where dispensary owners are locked in a fight with neighborhood leaders over the proliferation of pot shops.