Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Maven's Morning Coffee: the powers of the LA mayor, neighborhood councils grow up, Carmen Trutanich calls himself independent, gorillas in the CD 11 mist

LA Mayor Villraigosa Discusses Immigration Reform In Washington

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KPCC looks at why being mayor of Los Angeles is far from leading Chicago or New York, where mayors have greater control.

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 Friday, Jan. 25, and here is what's happening in Los Angeles:


KPCC looks at the powers of the Los Angeles mayor. "The limits on mayoral power are the result of California’s progressive era early in the 20th century.  Those limits mean successful mayors must avoid a top-down leadership style and focus on building relationships," according to the station.

Neighborhood councils are flexing their muscles and coming into their own, according to the Daily News. The latest example came with City Hall's proposed $3 billion road repair bond. Neighborhood councils called for a 60-day delay and were able to create a dialogue around the measure.


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."