Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Maven's Morning Coffee: Tony Cardenas to Congress, NFL possibly to the Rose Bowl, LA County owes cities millions

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via cd6.lacity.org

L.A. City Councilman Tony Cardenas is headed to Washington, D.C. to be the San Fernando Valley's newest congressman.

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 Tuesday, Nov. 20, and here is what's happening in Los Angeles:

Headlines

A dozen Asian-American politicians will be in Congress starting Jan. 3, which will create the largest caucus of Asian American and Pacific Islander members in any single congressional session, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Congressman-elect Tony Cardenas hands out turkeys and talks about his transition to Washington, D.C. with KPCC. "I will be trying my best to make sure that various departments get grants to my community," he says of his work in D.C.

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Turkey, transition and tradition: Tony Cardenas moving from local to national political scene

Los Angeles City Councilman Tony Cardenas

Sharon McNary/KPCC

L.A. City Councilman Tony Cardenas is moving to Congress, meaning he'll represent about a half-million more constituents.

California voters are sending fourteen new members of Congress to Washington in early January. Tony Cardenas is one of them. Monday afternoon, the Los Angeles City Councilman  took a few minutes during his annual turkey giveaway for needy families to reflect on the coming change.

He'll represent his current 200,000 San Fernando Valley constituents, plus another half-million in the 29th Congressional District to which he was elected Nov. 6.

It's Cardenas' tenth consecutive year on the food distribution assembly line, handing out the frozen birds to families who were nominated to receive Thanksgiving gifts by local schools and non-profit groups. After about 20 minutes of transferring turkeys into bags and receiving the thanks of the last of the families, Cardenas' hands are chilled.

The turkey hand-out has become something of a tradition. Now Cardenas is hoping he doesn't draw the short straw in another tradition — the lottery for new members' office space on Capitol Hill.

"One office, they say, is notorious because people walk through your office to go to the bathroom, which I think is just not nice," Cardenas said.

As he concentrates on moving from local to federal government, Cardenas says he needs to let go of issues such as filling potholes and fixing street lights.

"Now, as a congressman, I have to discipline myself to understand that that's not my responsibility directly," he said. "However, I will be trying my best to make sure that various departments get grants to my community."

Cardenas sees it as returning tax funds to the community, and he's already getting requests. He told the crowd he will focus on policy issues such as creating a path to permanent residency and citizenship for immigrants.

Cardenas is taking one of his City Hall staffers with him to Washington; the rest of his D.C. staff will be people who have experience navigating the federal labyrinth.

"It's a very confusing place, literally," he said. "The tunnels are like mazes and it's hard to find the offices and find your way around. It's going to take a bit of time for me to acclimate."

Constituents such as Antonia Lamas, while thankful for the bag of food, are also focused on the bigger picture, and on what Cardenas can do for them in Washington."The most important thing," she said, "is that he get immigration laws implemented and enforced so that we all benefit."


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2 women to lead LA District Attorney office under DA-elect Lacey

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Jackie Lacey's campaign website

Los Angeles District Attorney-elect Jackie Lacey takes office December 3, 2012.

For the first time in history, women will hold the top two jobs at the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office.

Jackie Lacey – who was elected as the first woman and first African American DA earlier this month – has named Sharon Matsumoto as her chief deputy.  Matsumoto is a rare breed in the office: she is well liked by competing factions and served in top management positions for both the current DA Steve Cooley and former DA Gil Garcetti.

“I am proud to announce the selection of the members of our executive management staff, and look forward to working with them and all of you to fulfill the mission of our department,” Lacey said in an office memorandum.

Lacey also appointed Bill Hodgman, who led the O.J. Simpson prosecution team, as one of three assistant DAs.  He will oversee most prosecutions.  To get an idea of his demeanor, here’s an excerpt from a People Magazine article from 1995 about Hodgman at the O.J. trial:

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LA's mayoral candidates propose alternatives to sales tax increase

Mayoral Candidates

Photos courtesy of candidates' campaigns

The top mayoral candidates, Wendy Greuel, Kevin James, Jan Perry and Eric Garcetti, all oppose the proposed sales tax increase.

A final vote to place a half-cent sales tax on the City of Los Angeles’ spring ballot is scheduled for Tuesday, but the top mayoral candidates have already come out in opposition to the proposal.

The tax increase, backed by council President Herb Wesson, could bring in as much as $215 million a year. Mayoral candidates and current council members Eric Garcetti and Jan Perry voted no in last week's initial vote.

Fellow candidate Wendy Greuel, L.A.'s City Controller, is also opposed. So is attorney Kevin James, who calls the proposed tax shortsighted — with some pointed words about Wesson's argument that the tax would give officials "breathing room" to come up with long-term solutions.

“I can translate it for you in just a few words – kicking the can farther down the road. That’s what breathing room means,” James said of the proposal. 

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GOP incumbents officially defeated in 3 close Congressional races (map)

Democrat Raul Ruiz unseated Republican incumbent Mary Bono-Mack in a Coachella Valley district that includes Palm Springs.

It’s been nearly two weeks since Californians cast their ballots, but it finally looks as though all 53 of the state’s Congressional races have winners, including three races that had been too close to call.  

All three races went to Democratic challengers.  California’s Secretary of State says absentee and provisional ballots have put emergency room doctor Raul Ruiz more than 7,800 votes ahead of Palm Springs incumbent Republican Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack.

Another physician, Sacramento’s Ami Bera, defeated 17-year incumbent Dan Lungren by 5,600 votes. Bera isn’t surprised Californians voted out the incumbents. He says there's "a real sense of frustration with this last Congress and their inability to address the issues that face our nation." 

Down in San Diego, incumbent GOP Congressman Brian Bilbray has conceded to port commissioner Scott Peters, who is more than 5,000 votes ahead.

The results mean California's Republican delegation has shrunk from 19 members to 15.

Officially, the races won’t be certified until mid-December. But all three Democrats will return to Washington next week for round two of freshman orientation. 

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