Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Will a million online signatures push Congress to take up student loan debt relief?

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LA Public Library/Hollywood Citizen News/Valley Times Collection

Fifty years ago, if you had an issue you wanted to fight for, you set up a card table and asked people for signatures on a petition, like the Chatsworth Junior Women's Club did to save oak trees in 1964. Today, the petitions are online - but are they more convincing?


It showed up in my Facebook account this morning: a link from a playwright friend that reads "Win This Campaign, Support the Student Loan Fairness Act (H.R. 1330).

That's the bill introduced late last week by Democratic Congresswoman Karen Bass from Los Angeles. It's the first House measure this session to address the trillion dollar debt carried by students around the country.

The bill promises to "increase purchasing power, strengthen economic recovery, and restore fairness" in financing higher education in the United States. It does that through student loan forgiveness and caps on interest rates on federal student loans, among other methods.

Signon.org signs on to the campaign

The Bass bill has support from the progressive website Signon.org. It's funded by by Moveon.org, and it features citizen petitions on everything—from "Tell Harry Reid Put the Assault Weapons Ban in Gun-Control Bill" (only 634 signatures) to "President Obama: Don't Appoint Villaraigosa" to a cabinet position because of his "disappointing" record (2,589 signatures).


President Clinton endorses Greuel for LA mayor

Former President Bill Clinton Gives Closing Remarks At The Int'l AIDS Conference

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Clinton endorsed Wendy Greuel for Los Angeles mayor Monday.

Former President Bill Clinton endorsed Los Angeles City Controller Wendy Greuel for mayor Monday. The backing comes at a crucial time for Greuel, who shook up her campaign team over the weekend amid concerns over messaging.

"Wendy is a smart, dedicated, and creative problem-solver.  She knows how to make government work for ordinary people,” President Clinton said in a statement.  Greuel worked for Clinton’s Department of Housing and Urban Development in the 1990’s, and was an early backer of Hillary Clinton in her 2008 bid for president. The Clintons place a high value on loyalty.

"President Clinton has been a role model for me of what strong leadership can mean in terms of creating jobs and building coalitions,” Greuel said. “This endorsement demonstrates the momentum we are determined to build through May 21."


San Gabriel residency challenge delays installation of new City Council members

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.

The San Gabriel City Council will review a resident's complaint that a councilman-elect Chin Ho Liao does not live in the city and should not be sworn in to office Tuesday evening.

Liao placed second in the unofficial vote totals from San Gabriel's March 5 election to fill three council seats. The retired nuclear engineer has long lived in unincorporated territory just outside the city.

Before the election, Liao told the Pasadena Star News he moved to an apartment within city borders six months earlier. Fred Paine, the San Gabriel resident who filed the challenge, said Liao made a similar move into a city apartment in 2011 when he ran for the council, returning to his house outside the city after he lost. The city received the challenge March 19.

The City Council had been scheduled to certify the election results and swear in new members Jason Pu, Liao and incumbent Kevin Sawkins that evening, but cancelled those actions pending review of a complaint made to city officials and the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Public Integrity Unit.


Maven's Morning Coffee: Sheriff Baca's next step, Antonio Villaraigosa's exit interviews, a payday in Sacramento

LA Jails

Reed Saxon/AP

The Los Angeles Times reports Sheriff Lee Baca pressured Undersheriff Paul Tanaka to retire. Also, the Daily News editorial board looks at his leadership potential for the future.

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 Monday, March 25, and here is what's happening in Los Angeles:


In Rick Orlov's Tipoff column, Mickey Kantor looks at the city's finances, the state gets a tab for special elections, and Matt Szabo returns to City Hall.

Sheriff Lee Baca pressured Undersheriff Paul Tanaka to retire because he became a political liability, reports the Los Angeles Times. "Tanaka has not ruled out running for sheriff himself, challenging his boss in the 2014 election," according to the newspaper.


Words of commitment and legal questions surround Prop 8 case

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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A display of political buttons opposing Proposition 8 during a 2010 San Francisco rally to celebrate the ruling to overturn the voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage.

On Tuesday, the US Supreme Court hears oral arguments on California’s Proposition 8, which restricts marriage to one man and one woman. The following day, the justices will hear arguments on the federal Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA.

Word of commitment

The Proposition 8 case is Hollingsworth v. Perry. "Perry" is Kris Perry, half of a lesbian couple from the Bay area.

But there’s another couple in the suit: a gay couple from Southern California, fitness instructor Paul Katami and multiplex theater manager Jeff Zarillo. It’s been a long four-year journey through the courts for the two men.

In a conference call with reporters, Zarillo said the case brought the couple closer together, and made them want even more to claim the title “married.”

"Having access to that language, it affirms the commitment that we have built," said Zarillo. "That word is so important and if it wasn’t so important, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation."