Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Mayoral candidates left to fix city budget in wake of Measure A's failure

Los Angeles City Hall

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Now that the city of Los Angeles' proposed sales tax increase has failed, the mayoral candidates will be forced to put forward more specific budget plans to address a growing deficit.

Los Angeles Mayor race 2013 The failure of the Measure A tax hike in Tuesday’s election means the City of Los Angeles will not have an additional $200 million to solve next year’s expected budget deficit.

The man behind the proposal, Council President Herb Wesson, acknowledged the failure will make things difficult.

“It makes our job that much more challenging,” Wesson said. “I have no doubt, no question that we will do whatever is necessary to put the city’s fiscal house in order. It’s a serious problem and we will address it that way.”

The challenge will fall on the shoulders of the city’s next mayor – either Eric Garcetti or Wendy Greuel. Each campaign has been vague on what the candidate would do to close the projected deficit that next year exceeds $100 million.

“We can’t continue just to cut and to tax our way forward,” Garcetti told KPCC’s Take Two on Wednesday.


LA mayor's race: could Greuel’s union support backfire in contest with Garcetti?

Mayor Race - Eric Garcetti

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The two finalists for the LA mayor's race, City Controller Wendy Greuel and Councilman Eric Garcetti, both have support from labor unions, but her campaign has the financial advantage.

Los Angeles Mayor race 2013 Mayoral hopeful Wendy Greuel won the support of yet another labor union Wednesday – just a day after securing a spot in the runoff against Los Angeles City Councilman Eric Garcetti.

“Wendy is the right candidate for the job in these challenging times,” said Bob Schoonover, president of Service Employees International Union, Local 721. The union represents more than 10,000 trash truck drivers, tree trimmers, sewer workers and other city employees. The union also represents 85,000 other government workers in Southern California.

Schoonover cited Greuel’s “institutional knowledge” and called her a “good problem solver.” Greuel currently serves as L.A. City Controller.

The timing of the endorsement a day after the primary is unusual. Over the past few months, an assembly of union activists failed to agree on a mayoral candidate. Schoonover, a Greuel ally, said union leaders met “by phone” on election night and decided to back her.  He offered no further details.


Former LA Congresswoman Laura Richardson still owes ethics fine

Paul Morigi/Getty Images for It Girl Public

Former LA-area Democratic Congresswoman Laura Richardson was accused of forcing Congressional staff to work on her political campaign. She pleaded guilty to seven counts of ethics violations.

Laura Richardson left Capitol Hill at the end of last year, after losing her re-election bid to fellow Democrat Janice Hahn. But Richardson still has some unfinished business with the House Ethics Committee: according to the National Journal, she hasn’t paid off a $10,000 fine for breaking House rules.

Richardson was formally reprimanded by her House colleagues last summer for forcing Congressional staff to work on her political campaign – something not allowed under House rules. Richardson pleaded guilty to seven counts of ethics violations, including trying to obstruct the investigation and pressuring witnesses. She agreed to pay a $10,000 fine.

But now it appears she hasn’t met the December 1st deadline to pay.

Richardson’s attorney, Joe Sandler, says the former lawmaker has paid “part of it” and has agreed to pay off the full amount. He says he doesn't know how much of the debt remains.


At least two LA council races are headed for a runoff

Gil Cedillo with yard sign

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Former state Sen. Gil Cedillo may be in a runoff for L.A.'s First Council District.

Jose Gardea

Sharon McNary/KPCC

Jose Gardea is hoping the final ballot count will keep him in a runoff for L.A.'s First Council District.

Eighty-three votes.

That's how close veteran politician Gil Cedillo came to avoiding a runoff in his race Tuesday for L.A's First Council District.

There were almost 13,400 votes cast in the race, either in-person or by mail. Cedillo won 49.37% of the votes, his main opponent, José Gardea, garnered 43.28%. The third person on the ballot, perennial candidate Jesse Rosas, won 7.33% of the votes, enough to force a runoff on May 21.


Seems there are votes still to be counted — more than 90,000 citywide provisional or mail ballots that were received in the past few days.

It's unknown how many of those are from CD1, but Cedillo's camp is hoping he'll gain enough votes to get him across the 50% threshold and avoid a runoff. His campaign also has the option of requesting a recount after all the votes are counted. 


UPDATE: Los Angeles city voters reject Measure A sales tax hike

LA Police Shootings

Chris Carlson/AP

Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck, center, and Los Angeles Mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa, left, were staunch supporters of Measure A.

Measure A, the proposed half-cent increase to the city of Los Angeles sales tax, failed 55 percent to 45 percent.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck argued the tax hike was necessary to avoid serious budget cuts to the police and fire departments.

During the campaign, city officials said the tax hike would address persistent budget deficits. Los Angeles faces a $200 million shortfall for the fiscal year that begins July 1. The new tax would have raised about that amount annually.

Like many cities, Los Angeles is struggling to recover from a dramatic drop in revenue since the Great Recession while coping with rising pension and healthcare costs for its employees. Since 2009, L.A. has eliminated more than 5,000 jobs, City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana said.