Politics, government and public life for Southern California

With Ray LaHood leaving the cabinet, will Antonio Villaraigosa have a job in the White House?

Obama Accepts Nomination On Final Day Of Democratic National Convention

Alex Wong/Getty Images

Is Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa headed to Washington, D.C.? Ray LaHood's decision to step down as U.S. Transportation Secretary gives teeth to speculation that the mayor could join Obama's White House.

The White House announced Tuesday that U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood will step down from his cabinet position. With that news, Los Angeles political insiders are wondering whether this could be Antonio Villaraigosa’s big moment.

With the L.A. mayor in the home stretch of his second term, speculation continues as to what Villaraigosa will do next. His name is frequently mentioned for a possible cabinet position with the Obama Administration. Villaraigosa chaired the 2012 Democratic National Convention and spent the better part of the year traveling around the country to campaign for the president. He is a frequent guest on cable news and Sunday morning talk shows. And on July 1, he will be unemployed. 

In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, the mayor sounded open to a move to Washington, D.C.


Maven's Morning Coffee: mayoral debate, extortion convictions, delay in airport contracts

LA Mayors Debate


The top five candidates for Los Angeles mayor participate in their first televised debate, aired on NBC LA, on January 28, 2013 at UCLA.

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.

The Maven's Morning Coffee is also available as a daily email. Click here to subscribe.

Today is Tuesday, Jan. 29, and here is what's happening in Los Angeles:


A decision on whether to overrule the Board of Airport Commissioners' vote on three public education contracts was delayed by an L.A. City Council committee, according to the Daily News.

Former labor leader Tyrone Freeman was convicted on federal charges of taking money from his union members, reports the Los Angeles Times. "The government's case against Freeman centered on an alleged scheme in which he was accused of boosting his salary by illegally directing Local 6434 money to the affiliated organization he led, California United Homecare Workers," according to The Times.


LA mayoral race 2013: Candidates for Los Angeles mayor are cautious during live TV debate

LA Mayors Debate


The top five candidates for Los Angeles mayor participate in their first televised debate, aired on NBC LA, on January 28, 2013 at UCLA.

The top five candidates for Los Angeles mayor faced off Monday night in a debate focused on the city budget deficit, jobs and the economy. The televised event was an opportunity for the candidates to reach a much wider audience than previous community forums.

None of the candidates stood out – or stumbled.

RELATED: Stakes high for candidates in televised LA Mayoral debate

“As mayor, I am going to get this economy back on track,” City Councilman Eric Garcetti said. “That is the way to balance our budget.”

Garcetti, like the rest of the candidates, opposes a half- cent sales tax hike on the March ballot – a tax the city administrative officer has said is desperately needed. L.A. faces a projected $200 to $320 million deficit annually over the next five years.

“We can’t tax and cut our way out of this,” Garcetti said.


LA mayoral race 2013: Jewish vote could be key to Los Angeles mayor's race

General Election - Grant

Grant Slater/KPCC

A vote-counting machine and voting stickers.

Five candidates for mayor in the March 5th Los Angeles primary election will debate Tuesday night at Sinai Temple on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles.

There's a good reason why L.A.'s mayoral hopefuls are courting Jewish voters.

Even in an election with a low voter turnout, Jewish voters tend to turn out in large numbers - and in a primary election with a low voter turnout expected, the candidate who wins the lion's share of Jewish votes could win a spot in a May runoff election.

RELATED: Candidates for Los Angeles mayor are cautious during live TV debate

During a debate this month at Beth Jacob, a modern orthodox congregation in Beverly Hills, three leading candidates for Los Angeles mayor talked up their affinity with the Jewish community.

City Councilman Eric Garcetti, who's a member of a progressive non-denominational Jewish congregation, pointed to family history.


Lancaster mayor sues Palmdale over alleged voter discrimination

Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris

Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris is suing neighboring Palmdale over alleged voter discrimination.

The mayor of Lancaster is suing a neighboring city, arguing that the way Palmdale conducts its elections is keeping black and Hispanic residents off the City Council.

Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris, who grew up in the high-desert city of Palmdale, says he wants to see his old hometown begin electing officials by district rather than at large.

Parris, who also has a high school in Palmdale named after him, said Monday he has signed on as co-counsel to a lawsuit challenging the city's election process.

The action is scheduled for trial in May in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Palmdale city spokesman John Milnar did not immediately respond to a request for comment.