Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Audit: Caltrans workers falsified safety data on Southern California road projects (PDF)

A state audit released Thursday says lax management at Caltrans allowed technicians to collect pay for work they never did and to falsify data on the safety of 11 construction projects. Read the complete report below.

California’s Bureau of State Audits also found that the transportation agency took years to ensure the suspect projects were sound.
The four-year probe found that a Caltrans supervisor paid a couple of technicians $13,700 for work they did not do.

One of the workers falsified data on the safety of three construction projects, including the La Sierra Avenue bridge in Riverside, and a retaining wall at Braddock Avenue on the I-5 Freeway in Los Angeles.
A whistle blower told the state auditor about the abuses  in 2009. That same year Caltrans identified the affected projects – but didn’t test their soundness until October 2011.


City controller candidate accuses opponent of illegal collaboration with PAC

Ron Galperin

Kenna Love

City Controller candidate Ron Galperin

Ron Galperin's city controller campaign has filed a complaint with the City Ethics Commission alleging an independent political action committee illegally sent out a mailer that duplicates one used by rival Dennis Zine.

Zine, who represents the San Fernando Valley Third District, is running against Galperin, an attorney and business owner in the May 21 runoff election.

Political action committees that independently spend money on behalf of candidates in city races are barred from coordinating with the candidate's campaign. That includes using the same campaign materials, said David Graham-Caso, a Galperin spokesman.

The complaint said the pro-Zine committee, L.A. Citizens for Fiscal Reform,  circumvented state and city campaign finance laws by sending a copycat mailer. Brad Rosenheim,  Fares T. Wehbe, Deborah P. Wehbe  and the Wehbe Family Trust were named on the mailer as the financial backers. According to documents filed with the Ethics Commission, Rosenheim and the Wehbes each gave the committee $2,000.


LA mayor's race: Jan Perry endorses Eric Garcetti; Magic Johnson endorses Wendy Greuel

Magic Johnson

Alice Walton/KPCC

Former NBA star Magic Johnson endorses Wendy Greuel for mayor.

Eric Gracetti

Alice Walton/KPCC

Mayoral candidate Eric Garcetti accepts the endorsement of his former opponent Jan Perry.

Los Angeles Mayor race 2013It was a busy day for candidates in the mayor’s race, with both Wendy Greuel and Eric Garcetti picking up major endorsements with less than eight weeks before the runoff.

Entrepreneur and former Lakers star Earvin “Magic” Johnson endorsed the Greuel campaign. Johnson has a track record of backing winning mayoral candidates, with Jim Hahn in 2001 and Antonio Villaraigosa in 2005.

“We know that she’s a problem-solver," Johnson said outside the West Angeles Church of God. "We already know that she has the skill and the talent and the expertise to get the job done.” 

Other African-American leaders who have endorsed Greuel, including County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, the Rev. Cecil "Chip" Murray and LAPD Commissioner John Mack.  The Los Angeles Sentinel newspaper, a longtime presence in the African-American community, also endorsed Greuel's campaign.


Maven's Morning Coffee: endorsements in mayor's race, a major project in Hollywood, Zev Yaroslavsky on gay marriage

Los Angeles City Hall

Alice Walton/KPCC

A major development in Hollywood will get a public hearing this morning in the city Planning Commission.

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


Big day for endorsements in the mayor's race. Former candidate Jan Perry will endorse Eric Garcetti later this morning. In the afternoon, Magic Johnson will back Wendy Greuel.

Wendy Greuel took the city's entire leadership -- including Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa -- to task Wednesday for the economic downturns experienced by Los Angeles, reports the Daily News. "I'm putting the city leadership, everyone together. And particularly (Eric Garcetti) as president of the City Council, they could do better in making sure we have better jobs in Los Angeles, and (in) getting out of this economic slump," she said.


San Gabriel council refuses to swear in councilman-elect amid residency challenge

Chin-Ho Liao

Courtesy Chin Ho Liao campaign

Councilman-elect Chin Ho Liao placed second in the unofficial vote totals from San Gabriel's March 5 election to fill three council seats.


Before a standing-room-only audience at San Gabriel City Hall, two winning City Council candidates were sworn into office, but a third was not permitted to take the oath amid questions about where he lives. One council seat remains vacant.

The City Council decided to investigate whether candidate Chin Ho Liao actually lived in an apartment he rented within city limits during his run for office, said city spokeswoman Jessica Hsu.

The council acted in response to a San Gabriel resident who filed a complaint alleging that Liao never moved out of his home in an unincorporated area just outside the city.

Hsu said that while Liao had legal standing to run for the San Gabriel City Council based on his identification documents, the law also requires that he live in that place. She said the city had not determined who would conduct the investigation.