Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Some members of Congress frustrated at being left out of key debates; some long for a return to 'regular order'

Republican Congressman John Campbell of Irvine predicts a return to regular order — at least at the back end of the budget debate, once both the House and Senate pass their own versions.

Freshman Democratic Congressman Mark Takano of Riverside complains that big issues, such as the sequester and raising the debt ceiling, are being shuffled off to select groups without any input from the rank-and-file.

In both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives, select groups of lawmakers are working on immigration reform. These exclusive “working groups” are bypassing the usual legislative process.

As a result, a growing number of members of Congress are longing for the old days when laws were crafted in committees – a return to what's known as "regular order."

But what exactly does that mean?

Donald Ritchie, the Senate Historian, says regular order is what you'd learn in Political Science 101. 

"It’s how a bill becomes law," Ritchie says. "A bill is referred to the committee, the committee hands it over to a subcommittee, the subcommittee holds hearings, reports it back to the committee where it is amended, and then the committee sends it to the floor for the debate."

In other words, what we all learned on “Schoolhouse Rock," where a singing bill was stuck in committee, while: "a few key Congressmen discuss and debate whether they should let me be a law."


Maven's Morning Coffee: Richard Riordan joins Greuel campaign, LA pays out in discrimination case, bids roll in for Crenshaw Metro Line

Richard Riordan


Former Mayor Richard Riordan has joined Wendy Greuel's mayoral campaign as an economic adviser.

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, March 21, and here is what's happening in Los Angeles:


Former Mayor Richard Riordan joined the Wendy Greuel mayoral campaign as an adviser of economic issues, reports KPCC. The LA Weekly points out this is the third mayoral candidate that the former mayor has backed. Riordan tells the Daily News he'll help the campaign look at pension and health care issues, including 401 (k) plans for employees.

In an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times, Sen. Dianne Feinstein makes the case for sending Sulaiman abu Ghaith to a federal U.S. prison, rather than Guantanamo. "Our partners and allies around the world have recognized the strength and legitimacy of the civilian criminal justice system and have cooperated with efforts to bring terrorists to justice in American courts," she writes.


Donors to Los Angeles political campaigns can sometime push contribution limits too far

Los Angeles Mayor


L.A. mayoral candidates Eric Garcetti (l) and Wendy Greuel.

Los Angeles Mayor race 2013

Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel have raised millions of dollars for their mayoral campaigns. But to get that kind of money, they can't just ask a few wealthy people to write big checks.  
Los Angeles limits donations to $1,300 per person or company, so they must get thousands of people to write checks to their campaigns. That seems simple enough, but the law's fine print can get complicated, and that's where some donors look for legal ways around that $1,300 limit. 

A search of public campaign records turned up at least one example: Brothers Lenny, Michael and Joseph Schrage jointly own Universal City Nissan and seven other companies. Each company gave $1,300 to Garcetti's campaign during the primary, for a total contribution of $10,4o0.

Here's the problem: If a person or partnership owns a string of businesses, the city law treats them as if they were just one person – they may give only a total of $1,300.


Los Angeles mayor’s race: In battle for African-American voters, Garcetti wins latest round

Los Angeles Mayor


Los Angeles City Councilman Eric Garcetti is competing with City Controller Wendy Greuel for black support.

Los Angeles Mayor race 2013Wendy Greuel’s repeated references to her early work with the late Mayor Tom Bradley – the city’s towering African-American mayor in the 1970s and 80s – apparently only goes so far.

The New Frontier Democratic Club this week endorsed City Councilman Eric Garcetti for mayor. The club is comprised predominantly of African-American women.

“Eric embraces our city’s diversity and has the experience and vision to bring jobs and opportunity to L.A.’s most challenged neighborhoods,” New Frontier President Patt Sanders said in a statement. The vote was 71 to 22 in favor of Garcetti.

But there’s more to the decision.

The club’s political director, Dallas Fowler, cited attack ads by Greuel’s labor union allies against then-mayoral candidate Jan Perry during the primary. Those ads chastised Perry, who is African-American, for a personal bankruptcy filing two decades ago. Perry has blamed the bankruptcy on the business problems of her former husband.


Mickey Kantor tapped to examine LA city deficit

US Trade representative Mickey Kantor (C


LA City Council President Herb Wesson, wants former U.S. Commerce Secretary Mickey Kantor, center, to head a panel that would examine the city's finances.

Facing projected deficits totaling nearly a billion dollars over the next five years, Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson said Wednesday he wants to appoint former U.S. Commerce Secretary Mickey Kantor to head a panel that would examine the city’s books. Kantor, who served under President Bill Clinton, lives in Los Angeles.

“This would be a high level commission that would review the fiscal stability of the city of Los Angeles,” Wesson told KPCC.

Wesson said it's not that he distrusts the budget numbers from City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana and Chief Legislative Analyst Gerry Miller.

“No, no, no, no,” Wesson said emphatically outside city council chambers. “Sometimes it's just a good thing to have an outside eye.”

Labor union leaders who represent city workers have accused Santana of distorting the city’s financial picture to push an anti-labor agenda. Wesson, who is closely aligned with labor, suggested that Department of Water and Power union chief Brian D’Arcy could sit on the panel.