Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Mayors Villaraigosa and Bloomberg to talk gun control Friday — separately (UPDATED)

LA Mayor Villraigosa Discusses Immigration Reform In Washington

Alex Wong/Getty Images

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa included comments on gun control in his speech earlier this week at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.

UPDATE: Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will not appear with NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg at a Friday press conference as originally scheduled. A Villaraigosa spokesman gave no reason for the change of plans. L.A.'s mayor will discuss gun control on two cable news channels Friday.

ORIGINAL STORY: L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa teams up with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg at the U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting Friday in Washington to target gun violence. The mayors say they will keep the pressure on Congress to pass an assault weapons ban and other gun control measures.

Villaraigosa also wants stronger background checks, data bases for the mentally ill, and Congressional approval of a new director for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

Earlier this week, at the National Press Club, Villaraigosa attacked members of Congress and others who use the Constitution as an excuse not to act, saying: "They use the Second Amendment to defend the unconscionable, to defend what’s wrong, to defend what doesn’t make sense to the vast majority of us. And that’s the challenge."

Vice-President Joe Biden on Thursday asked the Conference of Mayors for help with the White House gun proposals.

Both California and New York already have an assault weapons ban. Villaraigosa co-authored California’s law when he was Assembly Speaker. Bloomberg has put up millions of his own dollars to support political candidates willing to tackle gun control issues. 


California high-speed rail pairs with Amtrak for cost and clout


Kitty Felde/KPCC

California High Speed Rail Authority CEO Jeff Morales, Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Szabo, and Amtrak President Joe Boardman. (L-R) Photo credit: Kitty Felde/KPCC

California’s high speed rail czar is in Washington, D.C. this week to mend political fences - and to find partners who can help make it tougher to derail California’s cut of new federal rail funding.

He may have made progress with both.

Jeff Morales, CEO of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, met this week with Republican Congressman Jeff Denham (R-Fresno), the new head of the House transportation subcommittee that oversees railroads.

Morales says Denham, a long time critic of California's high speed rail project, has questions and concerns - and he says it's the California High-Speed Rail Authority's responsibility to answer them.

"We’re confident we can do that," says Morales. He described his meeting with Denham as a "good step."

Morales also announced California is partnering with Amtrak to shop for locomotives and passenger cars - what railroad types call "train sets." These "train sets" will be a complete set of cars, and the high-speed version will have the power to run the train embedded in each car.


LAPD union decides to sit out the city attorney race ... for now

Mercer 1891

Los Angeles City Attorney's Office

Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich failed to secure an endorsement from the Police Protective League, which helped him win the office in 2009.

The powerful union that represents rank-and-file Los Angeles police officers has declined to endorse a candidate in the race for city attorney during the primary election.

“We are not getting in yet,” said Tyler Izen, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League. “We will probably stay out until the general election.”

The decision may most affect Greg Smith, an attorney who often represents police officers in claims against the city.  Smith enjoys a close relationship with the union, and was hoping its endorsement would propel him into a runoff with one of the other two better-known candidates – incumbent City Attorney Carmen Trutanich or former State Assemblyman Mike Feuer.

Smith was unable to secure the necessary six votes from the nine-member union board. But the union also declined to support Trutanich, who they helped win the office in 2009 with more than $700,000 in independent expenditures.


Maven's Morning Coffee: mayoral race roundup, drama on the Metro board, Jerry Brown discusses state's finances

Mayoral Candidates

Photos courtesy of candidates' campaigns

The top mayoral candidates debated in Sherman Oaks Wednesday. The feisty debate focused on Wendy Greuel. Meanwhile, a new poll from ABC 7 finds Eric Garcetti in the lead.

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.

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Today is Thursday, Jan. 17, and here is what's happening in Los Angeles:


The LA Weekly questions what the mayoral candidates have done for renters' rights. "(Wendy) Greuel, (Eric) Garcetti and (Jan) Perry have eagerly publicized 'affordable housing' projects they backed, even as many projects fell short of replacing affordable units quietly lost to city-subsidized gentrification and luxury developments they embraced," according to the piece.

A new poll from ABC 7 finds Eric Garcetti leading in the mayor's race. At the same time, one in five voters remain undecided.


LA mayoral race 2013: Wendy Greuel wins important backing from LAPD labor union

Wendy Greuel

Wendy Greuel Campaign

Controller Wendy Greuel's campaign for mayor was endorsed Thursday by the Los Angeles Police Protective League. The union represents rank-and-file LAPD officers.

Los Angeles mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel scored a major endorsement Wednesday when she won the backing of the union that represents nearly 10,000 rank-and-file LAPD officers.

In past elections, the Los Angeles Police Protective League has made large, independent expenditures supporting political candidates in the city.  It spent more than $700,000 helping City Attorney Carmen Trutanich win office in 2009.

Union President Tyler Izen issued a statement that said: “Wendy recognizes the importance of putting public safety first while at the same time working on issues that people really care about, like creating jobs, fixing potholes and fighting waste, fraud and abuse in city government.”

The union chose Greuel — a former city councilwoman and currently the city controller — over her chief rival, L.A. City Councilman Eric Garcetti, and Councilwoman Jan Perry and attorney Kevin James.