Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Maven's Morning Coffee: independent expenditures for the LA City Council, Eric Garcetti's green credentials, tax break for TV production

Election Day Voting Polling 16:9

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At least $4 million in independent expenditures has been spent ahead of next week's city primary, reports the Los Angeles Times.

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 Wednesday, Feb. 27, and here is what's happening in Los Angeles:

Headlines

The LA Weekly reports Eric Garcetti helped CODA Automotive move to Los Angeles with $1 million in redevelopment money and now the company is in financial trouble. "The city's contract calls for CODA to refund its money in full if it moves to another city within five years. But the contract makes no provision for reimbursement if CODA goes bankrupt," according to the Weekly. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times reports Garcetti may have an interest in a Beverly Hills oil lease.

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City leaders hope voters go for sales tax increase with Measure A

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John Rabe

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa are backing the Yes on Measure A campaign, saying it's crucial to maintaining public safety.

Next week, Los Angeles voters will be asked whether to increase the city’s sales tax by a half-cent.

Measure A would increase L.A.s sales tax from 9 percent to 9.5 percent. That would be higher than the sales tax in New York City and Chicago, but would match the rate in Santa Monica, Inglewood and El Monte. L.A. city leaders, including Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, are boosting Measure A as a way to close the city’s looming $216 million deficit.

“I know there are some who will [ask] ' Is this the right time?' But the fact of the matter is, when you look at the kinds of tough decisions that we’ve made, when you look at the cuts, the efficiencies, the consolidations of departments that we’ve made over the years, I can now support a sales tax increase,” Villaraigosa said at a recent news conference.

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Senator Boxer to NRC: 'Careful' before restarting San Onofre

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Alex Wong/Getty Images

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), head of the Environment and Public Works Committee, has been meeting every few weeks with the chairman of the NRC about the shuttered San Onofre nuclear plant.

Southern California Edison officials will meet with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Wednesday to press for permission to restart one of San Onofre’s nuclear reactors at limited power. California’s junior Senator says the NRC has to be “very careful” before allowing San Onofre to start up again.

As head of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Barbara Boxer has been meeting every few weeks with the chairman of the NRC. Boxer says she’s “satisfied” the agency is taking safety concerns at San Onofre seriously.

The California Democrat says if Edison tried to build a nuclear power plant in that location today — over a newly-discovered earthquake fault, with eight million people living within 50 miles of the plant — the NRC would never grant permission. "There’d be about as much chance of getting a plant there as putting it on the moon."

Boxer says documents from a whistle blower show SoCal Edison was trying to avoid having to reapply for a permit and was “aware” the repairs made to the plant aren’t the ones that should have been done.

The two reactors at San Onofre have been shut down for more than a year since a leak of radioactive steam. Edison officials did not return phone calls Tuesday afternoon for comment.

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Farmers tell Congress immigration reform must include guest workers

Drought Forces Water Cutbacks To Southern California Farms

David McNew/Getty Images

A farmer told the House Judiciary Committee that whether Congress passes comprehensive immigration reform or not, the agriculture community needs a guest worker program "now."

The need for skilled farm workers was the topic of a hearing on Capitol Hill Tuesday.  It’s one part of the immigration puzzle that most lawmakers agree on – in principle. The devil is in the details.

Chalmers Carr, a farmer who grows peaches in South Carolina, told the House Judiciary Committee there aren’t enough legal workers in America to pick the crops. He said whether Congress passes comprehensive immigration reform or not, the agriculture community needs "a guest worker program now."

Several farmers testified the current H2-A visa program is cumbersome, choked with red tape, and doesn't provide enough workers.

But the debate over farm labor divides in the same way as the larger immigration debate: what to do about the estimated 11 million undocumented people already in this country. Several lawmakers estimate non-citizens make up anywhere from half to 80% of the workforce in America's farm fields.

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CA lawmakers move to amend rape loophole in 1872 law

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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

California Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg is shepherding a bill through the legislature to update a rape law that's been on the books since 1872.

Members of the Senate Public Safety Committee voted 6-0 Tuesday to advance a bill that would change a “historic anomaly” in California law that makes it a felony to rape someone by impersonating their spouse, but doesn’t apply to unmarried people.

Lawmakers vowed to amend the 1872 law to protect all victims after a court of appeals threw out the rape conviction of Julio Morales early this year. 

Morales was a guest at the home of an 18-year-old woman in 2009. She was asleep in her bedroom when he entered and began having sex with her. The victim awoke, but initially mistook Morales for her boyfriend.  She resisted when she realized he wasn't. 

In January, California's 2nd District Court of Appeals threw out Morales' rape conviction. The ruling said Morales could not be charged with rape in this circumstance because his victim was single.

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