Politics, government and public life for Southern California

South Los Angeles prepares for new city council member

The historic Dunbar Hotel on Central Ave. is being re-made into senior housing.

One of the most competitive campaigns on next Tuesday’s ballot is the crowded race for the Los Angeles City Council’s Ninth District.

Central Avenue is the historical heart and soul of the district, but a lot has changed since its heyday of the 1930s and ‘40s. The Dunbar Hotel at Central and 42nd St. once hosted Billie Holiday, Lena Horne and Louis Armstrong. Now, after years of decay, the Dunbar is being remade into senior housing.

“We pretty much hit rock bottom, I would say, right after the Watts riots," says Vivian Bowers of Bowers and Sons Cleaners, which is located on Central. "And then again in ’92 when we had the Rodney King riots. It was pretty devastating. Drugs and gang violence kind of took over the area,” 

Sitting in a back office, Bowers talks about how she once thought about relocating the business. But she stayed and, a few years ago, Bowers used city redevelopment money to refurbish her building’s façade.

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CA Assembly, Senate pass healthcare reforms for individuals

Both houses of the California legislature approved bills Thursday that set new rules for how health plans handle individual customers in California.

Currently, 1.5 million Californians buy their own health insurance.  That number is expected to grow to 5 million next year when the federal Affordable Care Act takes effect and requires everyone to get insured.

The measures passed Thursday aim to make it easier for people to purchase individual plans, starting Jan 1, 2014.

They both prohibit companies from rejecting people for pre-existing conditions.  Both allow insurers to set premium rates for customers based on age, family size and where they live.  

The bills differ on how to standardize ratings based on geographic regions. That part is still “under negotiation.”

 

 

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Greuel goes on offensive over Garcetti's oil connections

Oil wells provide the background for archery class at Beverly Hills High School in 1937. Eric Garcetti's family granted drilling rights to a property it owns about a half-mile away.

Big Oil washed over the race for Los Angeles mayor Thursday when City Controller Wendy Greuel called on her chief rival, Councilman Eric Garcetti, to end his relationship with the drilling company Venoco.

At issue is a 1998 lease agreement allowing the company to drill for oil and gas under a  Wilshire Boulevard property owned by Garcetti's family. Under the agreement, Venoco could slant drill from nearby Beverly Hills High School, as first reported Tuesday in the Los Angeles Times.

“It is absolutely wrong that Eric is allowing children to be put in danger by leasing his property to this company,” Greuel said Thursday.

Garcetti immediately shot back: “This is a desperate attack by a desperate Wendy Greuel.”

The testy exchange between the candidates comes just days before the March 5 election. Greuel and Garcetti have been neck-and-neck atop the polls and they are expected to advance to the May 21 runoff. 

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Maven's Morning Coffee: the future of public education, race in CD 9, a profile of Kevin James

lausd school bus

Photo by superterrific/dana byerly via Flickr Creative Commons

In a debate hosted by the United Way, the leading candidates for mayor all appeared to support the superintendent and criticize the teachers' union.

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, Feb. 28, and here is what's happening in Los Angeles:

Headlines

In a debate hosted by the United Way, the leading mayoral candidates all appeared to back LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy and criticize the work of United Teachers Los Angeles, reports the Daily News.

The LA Weekly looks at the racial politics of the city's Ninth District. "While Los Angeles' demographics are changing, and neighborhoods are becoming more Latino, the old African American guard still wants to maintain three seats on the City Council," according to the paper.

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Kevin James, the conservative talker, looks for an upset in LA mayoral race (Photos)

Kevin James Profile

Grant Slater/KPCC

Kevin James looks for members of his staff after a candidate forum at John Burroughs Middle School in Hancock Park.

Kevin James Profile

Grant Slater/KPCC

Mayoral candidate Kevin James speaks to a campaign staffer at his headquarters, a second-floor suite in an office building at Sherman Oaks.

Kevin James Profile

Grant Slater/KPCC

Mayoral candidate Kevin James and Caroline Kennedy talk over questions before a speakers event at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center.

Kevin James Profile

Grant Slater/KPCC

Kevin James introduces Caroline Kennedy to an audience before she gives a speech at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center.

Kevin James Profile

Grant Slater/KPCC

Former radio host Kevin James prepares his notes before a conversation onstage with Caroline Kennedy. James has hosted a series for prominent speakers in Redondo Beach for years.

Kevin James Profile

Grant Slater/KPCC

Mayoral Candidate Kevin James speaks to a group of businessmen with connection to the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in a hotel in San Pedro.

Kevin James Profile

Grant Slater/KPCC

Mayoral candidates Emanuel Pleitez and Kevin James discuss the news of an investigation into improper campaign funds that touched the top three candidates in the race after speaking at a forum in San Pedro.

Kevin James Profile

Grant Slater/KPCC

Mayoral candidate Kevin James introduces his parents to a campaign volunteer after a candidate forum at John Burroughs Middle School in Hancock Park.

Kevin James Profile

Grant Slater/KPCC

Kevin James speaks with a campaign aide after a candidate forum at John Burroughs Middle School in Hancock Park.

Kevin James Profile

Grant Slater/KPCC

Mayoral candidate Jan Perry and Kevin James talk about the campaign after a candidate forum at Mount Gilead Baptist Church in South Los Angeles.

Kevin James Profile

Grant Slater/KPCC

Kevin James and a staffer leave a forum at Leo Baeck Temple in the Sepulveda Pass.

Kevin James Profile

Grant Slater/KPCC

Kevin James speaks with audience members and his parents before a candidate forum at John Burroughs Middle School in Hancock Park.

Kevin James Profile

Grant Slater/KPCC

Former US attorney Kevin James speaks at a candidate forum at Mount Gilead Baptist Church in South Los Angeles.

Kevin James Profile

Grant Slater/KPCC

Mayoral candidate Kevin James talks with a supporter after a forum at Leo Baeck Temple in the Sepulveda Pass.


Growing up, Kevin James struggled to speak sometimes.

“I had severe asthma,” he explains.  “I sometimes slept in an oxygen tent when I was young.”

As an adult, James loves to talk. For almost nine years, until  2011, he was a late-night, conservative talk radio host. On this day, he readily offers a reprise of his on-air shtick.

“It’s Kevin James on another night across Los Angeles,” he booms.  “So where should we start? Let's talk about this really exciting mayoral candidate. His name is Kevin James!” 

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