Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Attention federal workers: fiscal cliff or not, come to work Jan. 2

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Kitty Felde/KPCC

Congresswoman Linda Sanchez (D-Lakewood) says she's optimistic that a deal can be reached to avert the fiscal cliff.

If Congress can’t come up with an agreement by Monday night, we go over the fiscal cliff. That means not only higher taxes, but also automatic cuts to defense and domestic programs.

What could that mean for federal employees? There are about 150,000 of them in California — about a third of them in the defense industry.

If we go over the fiscal cliff, federal employees do have to report for work Jan. 2 and beyond. Budget cuts could mean furloughs, but federal workers will get at least 30 days notice.

The Office of Personnel Management — essentially the human resources department for the federal government — has posted fiscal cliff guidelines on its website, including answers to the most frequently asked questions.

But here are a couple of notes: If you’re furloughed, you can’t swap it out for sick leave or vacation days. And even if you love your job so much you want to “volunteer” and work for free, you can’t.

As for the chances of avoiding a fall off the cliff, Democratic Congresswoman Linda Sanchez of Lakewood says she’s optimistic. She's getting on a plane to join her colleagues in Washington for a rare Sunday session.

"We don’t know if there will be a deal," said Sanchez, "but we’re being called back, my sense is, in the event that there is a deal that gets put together. We’re hopeful that can happen and I’m optimistic that a deal can get done because it’s not that tough! It just requires a little bit of give and take."

Happy New Year? We’ll have to wait and see.

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Maven's Morning Coffee: fraud in the Assessor's Office, Rep. Jerry Lewis leaves Congress, crime down in LA

Photo by John Noguez via Flickr Creative Commons

The Los Angeles Times looks at how massive fraud could have allegedly taken place in the county Assessor's Office.

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

Headlines

The Los Angeles Times looks at how such massive fraud could allegedly be carried out in the Assessor's Office. "At least part of the answer lies in the obscurity the assessor's office, the lack of outside scrutiny and the sheer size of the property tax rolls, which make it difficult to detect reductions, even when they amount to hundreds of millions of dollars," according to The Times.

Rep. Jerry Lewis is leaving Congress after three decades of service. The congressman tells KPCC that after his first two years in Washington, D.C., "I came within an inch of going back to California and running for Lieutenant Governor because it was so inane."

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Redlands Congressman Jerry Lewis bids farewell to 3 decades on Capitol Hill

Jerry Lewis

Kitty Felde/KPCC

Retiring Congressman Jerry Lewis (R-Redlands) reflected on his long political career, which ends with him as Chairman Emeritus of the House Appropriations Committee.

He shares a name with a famous comedian but, on Capitol Hill, California Congressman Jerry Lewis is the big celebrity.

The longtime Republican lawmaker from Redlands is stepping down after more than three decades in Congress. Lewis looked back on his political career from his favorite spot in the Capitol: the elegant office of the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

Lewis chaired the influential committee for two years. When he remodeled the chairman’s office, he replaced the carpet with blue and gold tiles. Lewis is a die-hard UCLA fan. His beloved dog is named Bruin. But Lewis said it was geography, not the design, that made this office special. It's right off the House floor.

"To the say the least,"  said Lewis, "it’s nicely situated for the chairman."

Lewis described Appropriations as the heart of the work Congress does. It’s close to his heart as well, and the reason he decided to return to Capitol Hill after a rough freshman term.

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Maven's Morning Coffee: abuse in county jails, opposition to water measure, questions on neighborhood council elections

LA Jails

Reed Saxon/AP

Sheriff Lee Baca says he is working on reducing violence in Los Angeles County jails.

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

Headlines

KPCC looks at the laundry list of abuse allegations that come out of the L.A. County Sheriff's Department. "It’s hard for us on this side of the table to really know what goes on within our jails. Use of force by far is one of the most difficult issues," says Supervisor Gloria Molina.

Anger at City Hall seems to be the theme for the race in Los Angeles' Third District, according to the Daily News. Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield is among the six candidates who have qualified for the March ballot.

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Ridley-Thomas says black political power holds steady in LA

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MarkRidleyThomas.com

LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas argues African Americans are retaining their political power in the region.

For years, as the number of Latino and Asian voters soared, analysts predicted African-Americans would wield less power in Los Angeles.  It rankles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who represents South L.A.

“The pronouncement of the demise of African American political power has been and continues to be premature,” Ridley-Thomas said.

He made that statement while attending the swearing-in of Jackie Lacey as District Attorney — the first African-American (and first woman) to hold that post.  Lacey built a multi-ethnic coalition to defeat a white man in November.

“African-American elected officials have been, and continue to be, smart enough to know how to win in multi-racial environments,” said Ridley-Thomas, who became the first black male to chair the Board of Supervisors this year.

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