Politics, government and public life for Southern California

California loses nearly 300 years of Congressional seniority with retirements, defeats


Retiring Republican Congressman Jerry Lewis (right) has served in the House since 1979.

You might call it musical chairs, that time in the political calendar when members of Congress make their move up the leadership ladder. But the turnover of more than a dozen California seats in the House means going to the back of the seniority line.

In some ways, nothing’s changed for California. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer still chair key Senate committees. But the real power shift is in the House, where citizen-drawn district lines led to competitive races. California lost 14 incumbents and with them, astoundingly, nearly 300 years of service on the Hill.

Norm Ornstein, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, says losing seniority means losing members in strong leadership positions, "often chairmanships or ranking positions in committees that matter." He says, normally, you'd see some reduction in the clout of a state. "But in a state like California, which has more members than anybody else, which is going to get members on every single panel so that they can effectively argue the case, it’s not as dramatic as it might sound."

California can still claim both the House Majority Whip, Kevin McCarthy, and the Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi. Buck McKeon of Santa Clarita still chairs the House Armed Services Committee; Darrell Issa of Temecula heads Oversight and Government Reform. 


Judge may suspend California’s ban on gay conversion therapy for minors

A federal judge in Sacramento is expected to decide this week whether to suspend a new state law that bans gay conversion therapy for minors.

The new law, set to take effect Jan. 1, prohibits licensed therapists from counseling gay youths to change their sexual orientation.

Counselors and parents sued to overturn the law. The parents have said the therapy helped their teenage sons.  In a 50-minute hearing  Friday, their attorney asked U.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller to stop the ban conversion therapy from taking effect while they pursue a court challenge.

Deputy State Attorney General Alexandra Gordon argued the ban protects young people from a practice that mainstream mental health organizations reject.

Judge Mueller said she plans to issue a written ruling sometime this week.


Bumper crop of new state lawmakers takes office in Sacramento Monday

Ian Calderon (D-LA) is taking over his father's seat in the Assembly.

Redistricting, and California’s new election laws, produced a bumper crop of new state lawmakers and half of them hail from Southern California. They get sworn in Monday in Sacramento.

There are 38 new lawmakers, taking up nearly half of the Assembly’s 80 seats.  The usual turnover is closer to a third. 

Some of the new Assemblymembers from Greater Los Angeles include: Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach); Richard Bloom (D-LA); Raul Bocanegra (D-LA);  Ian Calderon (D-LA); Ed Chau (D-LA); Tom Daly (D-Orange); Cristina Garcia (D-LA); Jimmy Gomez (D-LA); Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-LA); Eric Linder (R-Corona); Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance); Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-Orange); and Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita).

The Senate will swear in nine new members.  But only one of the new Senators, Richard Roth (R-Riverside), is new to the state legislature. The others all served in the Assembly: Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Ventura) was in the Assembly a few years ago. The other six Democrats come directly from the lower house, they include Ricardo Lara (D-LA) and  Steve Knight (R-San Bernardino).


Count still not final in Assembly race, but Santa Monica Mayor Bloom headed to Sacramento for oath-taking

Richard Bloom Betsy Butler

Richard Bloom campaign/Betsy Butler campaign

With only one ballot update left, Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom has a 1,536-vote lead over Assemblywoman Betsy Butler in the close 50th Assembly District race.

It looks as if Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom is safe in assuming he'll sworn into office in Sacramento Monday as the Westside's new assemblyman. Friday's updated ballot count indicates that he's retained and expanded his lead over Assemblywoman Betsy Butler.

With more than 183,000 votes cast in the 50th Assembly District race, Bloom led Butler by 1,536 votes. His lead had been a razor-thin 79 votes a few weeks ago. The district includes Santa Monica, Malibu, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Agoura Hills.

Bloom posted a message on Twitter Friday that his lead appeared to be insurmountable and that he would join other legislators-elect to be sworn in at the state Capitol on Monday.

The outcome of the Bloom-Butler race has taken weeks to determine because so many of the votes cast in Los Angeles County were submitted as labor-intensive mail-in and provisional ballots that need to be verified before they can be counted.


Mark Ridley-Thomas sworn in as chair of Board of Supervisors

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas

Andres Aguila/KPCC

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas was sworn in Friday as the first African-American man to chair the L.A. County Board of Supervisors.

Standing on the lawn of Martin Luther King Jr. Hospital in Willowbrook, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas was sworn in Friday as the first African-American man to chair the Board of Supervisors. 

In his second term as the representative of the Second District, Ridley-Thomas will oversee the re-opening of MLK Hospital, which was previously known as King/Drew Hospital. It was shut down in 2007 following a Los Angeles Times’ series on patient care abuses.

“Even with all that we have done and all of what we have learned, there is still much to do,” Ridley-Thomas said. “Somehow today I hear the voice of one of America’s most prolific inventors. Thomas Edison [said], ‘Opportunity is often missed by most people because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work.'  

“Therefore I pose a question and it’s a simple one: Are you ready to don your overalls and embrace the next four years of opportunity?”