Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Villaraigosa says Riordan plan for city worker pensions "may cost more"

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa

Jerod Harris/Getty Images for BGR

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has "concerns" about the city employee pension put forward by former mayor Richard Riordan.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa issued a statement Wednesday expressing reservations about a pension reform plan from one of his predecessors, former Mayor Richard Riordan.

"I have concerns that Mayor Riordan's pension plan may cost more money than the current system and hinder our efforts to recruit the best for our police department."

Under Riordan's plan, new city workers would be placed in private 401(k)-style pension plans.  Villaraigosa worries aspiring police officers would be less interested in working at the L.A.P.D. and instead go to cities that continue to offer defined pension packages.

Riordan's plan - staunchly oppposed by city labor unions - would also require current city workers to contribute more of their salaries to the pension fund, and would freeze city contributions during bad economic times.  The former Republican mayor argues the city faces bankruptcy if voters fail to approve his plan.  He hopes to collect enough signatures by Dec. 7 to place it on the May ballot.


Los Angeles City Council schedules special election for May

Los Angeles City Hall

Alice Walton/KPCC

A special election for the Los Angeles City Council's next Sixth District rep will be held on May 21, 2013 at a cost of $400,000.

A special election to fill an upcoming vacancy on the Los Angeles City Council is set for May 21, 2013.

The L.A. City Council voted 12-0 to hold an election that day to fill the vacancy that will be left when Councilman Tony Cardenas is sworn into the U.S. House of Representatives on Jan. 3. A runoff election is scheduled for July 23. 

It will cost $400,000 to hold the special election. It could have cost more than a $1 million if the primary were not held the same day as the city’s municipal election runoff.

The city council could have voted to appoint a new council member to serve the remainder of Cardenas’ term, through June 30, 2015. However, the L.A. City Council has not chosen that option since the 1960s when John Ferraro was appointed to the council. With this election, it means there will be seven new members of the Los Angeles City Council next year.


Maven's Morning Coffee: LAFD response plans, DWP in Owens Valley, taxes for downtown streetcar



The Los Angeles Fire Department is looking at plans to send firefighters and paramedics to emergencies before fulling understanding the nature of 911 calls. Doing so could speed up response times by 50 seconds.

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 Wednesday, Nov. 21, and here is what's happening in Los Angeles:


The Los Angeles Fire Department is looking at a strategy for speeding up response times -- sending firefighters and paramedics to emergencies before fully determining the nature of a 911 call, according to the Los Angeles Times. The "quick launch" program, which reduced response times by 50 seconds, was discontinued in 2006 because it required too many resources.

A member of SEIU Local 721 was disciplined Tuesday for encouraging members to sign fake names and addresses to former Mayor Richard Riordan's petition to dramatically change the city's retirement system, reports the Daily News. "SEIU Local 721 in no way recommends that its members or anyone else falsify signatures. We are against that kind of behavior," a spokesman told the newspaper.


Cities aim to recoup $30 million in fees from Los Angeles County

Monday’s state Supreme Court ruling that Los Angeles County overcharged municipalities for administrative services could mean a modest but important boost for strapped city budgets.

"It’s all very important and this money’s going to go right back to city general funds that pay for police and fire and other important local services," said Chris McKenzie of the League of California Cities.

Counties manage property tax collection for cities and charge them a fee for the service.  After California’s state legislature enacted a couple of complex tax swaps to plug a budget hole, counties began managing more property tax dollars for cities.

McKenzie said the counties were supposed to provide the service at cost. 

"Apparently L.A. County and other counties that followed the guidelines were charging in excess of their actual cost."


More than 170,000 votes counted, only 79 separate Westside Assembly candidates

Richard Bloom Betsy Butler

Richard Bloom campaign/Betsy Butler campaign

The race between Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom and Assemblywoman Betsy Butler for the Assembly's 50th District remains too close to call.

Two weeks after the election, voters in one Westside Assembly district still don't know who will represent them in Sacramento. 

Tuesday's updated count of mail-in ballots has reduced Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom's lead in the race for the 50th District down to a mere 79 votes over incumbent Assemblywoman Betsy Butler. More than 170,000 votes have been counted.

Both candidates are Democrats who ended up in the general election because of the state's new "top two" law, which calls for the top finishers in the primary to advance to the general election, even if they're from the same party.

 The 50th district includes the cities of Santa Monica, Malibu, West Hollywood, and Beverly Hills. 

With 216,000 mail-in, provisional and drop-off ballots left to count in the Nov. 6 election, the County Registrar-Recorder's office has been performing updated counts twice each week. The next count is set for Friday.