Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Villaraigosa backs Measure A on March ballot to increase sales tax

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck appeared at a press conference Monday in support of Measure A, which would increase the city's sales tax. Without it, the LAPD could lose 200 to 500 officers, according to the city's top budget official.

A proposed half-cent sales tax increase that city leaders say will generate $100 million in its first year was endorsed Monday by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. 

The mayor’s backing comes months after he said the Los Angeles City Council needed to do more to cut costs and raise revenues.

“We cut a third of the L.A. civilian General Fund budget,” said Villaraigosa at a Monday morning press conference. “We’ve had consolidations of departments, we found efficiencies. We’ve done everything that we can.

“The fact of the matter is, when you look at the kinds of tough decisions that we’ve made … I can now support a sales tax increase,” he said.

The tax increase, if approved on the March 5 ballot, would take effect in October. It would bring in an estimated $100 million in its first year and $200 million a year going forward. Without the tax increase, the size of the Los Angeles Police Department could drop by 200 to 500 officers, according to a report released last week by City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana.


JPL's 'Mohawk Guy' to sit with First Lady at State of Union

JPL's Bobak Fedowsi shows off his festive Mars-landing haircut

Sanden Totten/KPCC

JPL's Bobak Fedowsi shows off his festive Mars-landing haircut. He'll sit in the first lady's box Tuesday night during the president's State of the Union address.

President Obama will highlight immigration reform at Tuesday's State of the Union address. The White House has invited an Iranian-American flight director from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory to highlight the president's call for more visas for math, science and engineering experts.

When the Rover Curiosity made its safe landing on Mars last summer, President Obama called to crongratulate the science team at the Jet Propulsion Lab.  He mentioned "the mohawk guy," flight director Bobak Ferdowsi, saying he'd considered trying Ferdowsi's distinctive hairstyle.

Now, the "Mohawk Guy" is going to the State of the Union, sitting with Michelle Obama. The White House says the First Lady's box will include various guests whose lives would benefit from the president's proposals.

Those guests represent victims of gun violence, military families and people championing the cause of immigration reform. Ferdowsi will illustrate one element of the immigration debate: the need for more visas for highly trained immigrants in science, technology, engineering and math — so called STEM visas.


Maven's Morning Coffee: Villaraigosa supports sales tax increase, an endorsement for Ron Galperin, and the latest on the mayor's race

LA Mayor Villraigosa Discusses Immigration Reform In Washington

Alex Wong/Getty Images

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will announce his support of Measure A at a morning news conference.

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 Monday, Feb. 11 and here is what's happening in Los Angeles:


Mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel's proposal to hire 2,000 more police officers and 1,000 more firefighters and paramedics by 2020 is drawing ridicule, according to the Los Angeles Times. "It's not doable. It's not real. It's an arithmetic problem, to quote Bill Clinton, and the arithmetic does not add up," said county Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who has not endorsed in the mayor's race.

The Daily News looks at the mayoral campaign of a long shot -- Emanuel Pleitez. "It was a very difficult time to try to run without any endorsements, without any institutional support and all of the political folks saying you don't have a shot," he says of the work to reach the city's matching funds threshold.


Freshman Calif. Congressmen settling in to life on Capitol Hill

Freshman Congress

Kitty Felde/KPCC

Freshman Republican Congressman Doug LaMalfa says voting was more clear in the California legislature where you knew "what you were voting on."

Freshman Congress

Kitty Felde/KPCC

Democrat Congresswoman Gloria Negrete-McLeod of Ontario says House votes come fast, "so you have to really be on your toes to know what you’re voting on."

California’s crop of freshmen lawmakers is adjusting to life in Congress. They're still the new kids on the Hill, but after a month in Washington, they've got a sense of how the House works ... and doesn't.

Republican Doug LaMalfa and Democrat Gloria Negrete McLeod aren't rookies in the classic sense: They bring to Washington a combined two decades of legislative experience in Sacramento. But both say lawmaking is different in D.C.

McLeod says the votes come fast, "so you have to really be on your toes to know what you’re voting on." She receives a short synopsis of bills from party leaders, but she makes it a point to go online and read the actual bill and background information. "I want to read what I'm doing," she says.

LaMalfa says "the rule thing" makes voting less than "user friendly" to anyone tuning in to C-SPAN — or for new members learning the ropes. For example, when members cast votes on a Motion to Recommit.


Can Marco Rubio's State of the Union rebuttal sway Latinos to the GOP?

Romney Accepts Party Nomination At The Republican National Convention

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (FL) will deliver the Republican response to President Obama's State of the Union speech on Tuesday.

Tuesday night, the President will deliver his State of the Union address. Delivering the Republican response will be Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. At least one Latino activist is not impressed.

Senator Rubio says he’ll talk about how limited government and free enterprise helped make his “family’s dream come true” in the U.S. The son of Cuban immigrants will offer his rebuttal to the President’s speech in both English and Spanish. Rubio is pushing a Senate immigration bill that includes a path to citizenship.

Hector Sanchez, chairman of the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda, says he’s seen Rubio evolve on immigration. But to win the hearts and minds of Latino voters, the rest of the GOP needs to drop what Sanchez calls its “anti immigrant messaging.” He says what they're doing has a "direct repercussion" on Latino communities and they need to "move away from that."

Sanchez cites a rise in hate crimes against Latinos. He says the Republicans know they can't take back the White House until it can win 30 percent of the Latino vote.