Politics, government and public life for Southern California

How much power comes with being LA's mayor?

Former Los Angeles Mayor James Toberman served six one-year terms in the late 19th Century.

Tom LaBonge

Los Angeles City Councilman Tom LaBonge on the balcony atop City Hall.

Atop City Hall, in what’s known as the Tom Bradley Tower, portraits of L.A. mayors adorn the walls.  Councilman Tom LaBonge, as usual, can hardly contain his excitement.
“Its Toberman! James Toberman,” LaBonge exclaims.

LaBonge, the city’s unofficial historian, reads the plaque below the man with a bushy white handlebar mustache who served six, one-year terms in the late 19thcentury.

“He got Main Street paved for the first time," says LaBonge, "and he turned out a new electrical system.”

But in the pantheon of best-known big city mayors in the United States, historians often point elsewhere. They cite Chicago’s Richard Daley and New York’s Fiorello La Guardia.  

It's easy to understand why, says Raphe Sonenshein, director of Cal State L.A.’s Pat Brown Institute. They wielded more power.


Another California Democrat says it's up to the White House on climate change

Henry Waxman

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Democrat Rep. Henry Waxman says it's up to the president to act on climate change.

Congressional Democrats say it's up to President Obama to use his executive powers to fight climate change. That's the message from California's top environmental Democrats.

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Los Angeles) was the chief architect of the climate change bill passed by the House three years ago. That measure died in the Senate.

But Waxman, who's the top Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee, says Congress hasn't been interested in acting on climate issues since Republicans became the majority in the House.

Instead, he's calling on the President to develop a plan for the administration to take action on fighting greenhouse gas emissions.

President should act on his own

Waxman insists the President has "an enormous amount of authority" to do that — and to do it with Congressional help.


Gov. Brown puts a price tag on protecting major water supply

Gov. Jerry Brown gave his third State of the State address since returning to California's top office.

A joint session of the legislature gathered to hear Gov. Jerry Brown's State of the State address.

Gov. Jerry Brown makes his entrance to deliver the annual State of the State address.

Assembly Speaker John Pérez and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg await Gov. Jerry Brown's arrival for his State of the State address.

Assembly Speaker John Pérez jokes with Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom prior to Gov. Jerry Brown's State of the State address.

In his State of the State address Thursday, Gov. Jerry Brown reiterated his pitch to protect California’s water supply. But in a speech lawmakers repeatedly interrupted with applause, Brown’s plea to spend billions on water elicited silence. He was speaking to a joint session of the legislature, but his message is really for consumers — and the agencies that supply water to them.

RELATED: Graphic: Gov. Brown's 2013 State of the State key words and themes

“My proposed plan is two tunnels, 30 miles long and 40 feet wide, designed to improve the ecology of the Delta, with almost 100 square miles of habitat restoration," Brown said. "Yes, that’s big, but so is the problem.”

Brown said the plan is designed to protect the Delta’s water supply from an earthquake, a hundred-year storm or a rise in sea levels. The project would cost an estimated $14 billion to construct  the tunnels, and $5 billion to operate them. So who foots the bill? 


Laura Chick endorses Ron Galperin for controller

Ron Galperin

Kenna Love

Former city controller Laura Chick threw her support behind Ron Galperin's campaign Thursday.

The fiery former city controller Laura Chick endorsed Ron Galperin Thursday in his race to become Los Angeles’ next fiscal watchdog.

Galperin is chair of the city's Commission on Revenue Efficiency and president of the city's Quality and Productivity Commission. He is running against Councilman Dennis Zine and former real estate executive Cary Brazeman for the controller's office. (Incumbent Controller Wendy Greuel is running for mayor.)

Chick said in her endorsement: “Too often Los Angeles' leaders have relied on poll tested sound-bite solutions rather than rolling up their sleeves and making the tough decisions to implement long-term solutions to improve the City's operations. Ron Galperin has the courage, energy and drive to take the City Controller's Office to that next level."


Street art: Gorillas in the midst of L.A. City Council District 11 campaign

Gorillas Venice

Gonzo Rock

Isabelle Alford-Lago's mural on a Venice street depicting gorillas on the march was altered recently at the homeowner's request to add a campaign message for L.A. City Council candidate Odysseus Bostick.

Two years ago, artist Isabelle Alford-Lago accepted a homeowner's invitation to paint a graffiti-prone wall on 20th Avenue, one of Venice's small walking streets. Alford-Lago, known for her gorilla depictions around Venice, painted four primates on the wall, marching purposefully along.

The mural was recently altered to add a campaign message in a cartoon speech balloon: "We're voting 4 Odysseus Bostick City Council."

Homeowner Gonzo Rock, who commissioned the original artwork, had another artist do the alteration, with Alford-Lago's approval. Rock's a fan of Bostick, who is running in Council District 11.

"He's a guy with a really big heart and even bigger mind," Rock said.

Bostick is one of ten candidates in the 11th District race for City Council, hoping to succeed incumbent Bill Rosendahl. Rosendahl, who is undergoing treatment for cancer, stepped out of the race last year to focus on his health.