Politics, government and public life for Southern California

California high-speed rail pairs with Amtrak for cost and clout

HighSpeedRail.KF.011713

Kitty Felde/KPCC

California High Speed Rail Authority CEO Jeff Morales, Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Szabo, and Amtrak President Joe Boardman. (L-R) Photo credit: Kitty Felde/KPCC

California’s high speed rail czar is in Washington, D.C. this week to mend political fences - and to find partners who can help make it tougher to derail California’s cut of new federal rail funding.

He may have made progress with both.

Jeff Morales, CEO of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, met this week with Republican Congressman Jeff Denham (R-Fresno), the new head of the House transportation subcommittee that oversees railroads.

Morales says Denham, a long time critic of California's high speed rail project, has questions and concerns - and he says it's the California High-Speed Rail Authority's responsibility to answer them.

"We’re confident we can do that," says Morales. He described his meeting with Denham as a "good step."

Morales also announced California is partnering with Amtrak to shop for locomotives and passenger cars - what railroad types call "train sets." These "train sets" will be a complete set of cars, and the high-speed version will have the power to run the train embedded in each car.

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LAPD union decides to sit out the city attorney race ... for now

Mercer 1891

Los Angeles City Attorney's Office

Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich failed to secure an endorsement from the Police Protective League, which helped him win the office in 2009.

The powerful union that represents rank-and-file Los Angeles police officers has declined to endorse a candidate in the race for city attorney during the primary election.

“We are not getting in yet,” said Tyler Izen, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League. “We will probably stay out until the general election.”

The decision may most affect Greg Smith, an attorney who often represents police officers in claims against the city.  Smith enjoys a close relationship with the union, and was hoping its endorsement would propel him into a runoff with one of the other two better-known candidates – incumbent City Attorney Carmen Trutanich or former State Assemblyman Mike Feuer.

Smith was unable to secure the necessary six votes from the nine-member union board. But the union also declined to support Trutanich, who they helped win the office in 2009 with more than $700,000 in independent expenditures.

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Maven's Morning Coffee: mayoral race roundup, drama on the Metro board, Jerry Brown discusses state's finances

Mayoral Candidates

Photos courtesy of candidates' campaigns

The top mayoral candidates debated in Sherman Oaks Wednesday. The feisty debate focused on Wendy Greuel. Meanwhile, a new poll from ABC 7 finds Eric Garcetti in the lead.

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 Thursday, Jan. 17, and here is what's happening in Los Angeles:

Headlines

The LA Weekly questions what the mayoral candidates have done for renters' rights. "(Wendy) Greuel, (Eric) Garcetti and (Jan) Perry have eagerly publicized 'affordable housing' projects they backed, even as many projects fell short of replacing affordable units quietly lost to city-subsidized gentrification and luxury developments they embraced," according to the piece.

A new poll from ABC 7 finds Eric Garcetti leading in the mayor's race. At the same time, one in five voters remain undecided.

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LA mayoral race 2013: Wendy Greuel wins important backing from LAPD labor union

Wendy Greuel

Wendy Greuel Campaign

Controller Wendy Greuel's campaign for mayor was endorsed Thursday by the Los Angeles Police Protective League. The union represents rank-and-file LAPD officers.

Los Angeles mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel scored a major endorsement Wednesday when she won the backing of the union that represents nearly 10,000 rank-and-file LAPD officers.

In past elections, the Los Angeles Police Protective League has made large, independent expenditures supporting political candidates in the city.  It spent more than $700,000 helping City Attorney Carmen Trutanich win office in 2009.

Union President Tyler Izen issued a statement that said: “Wendy recognizes the importance of putting public safety first while at the same time working on issues that people really care about, like creating jobs, fixing potholes and fighting waste, fraud and abuse in city government.”

The union chose Greuel — a former city councilwoman and currently the city controller — over her chief rival, L.A. City Councilman Eric Garcetti, and Councilwoman Jan Perry and attorney Kevin James.

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Former Villaraigosa aide gets endorsement in LA City Council race

Matt Szabo

Marta Evry

Former Deputy Mayor Matt Szabo was endorsed Wednesday by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Szabo is one of a dozen candidates running for a city council seat in the Hollywood area.

A longtime deputy to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa picked up an endorsement Wednesday from his old boss for his city council campaign in the Hollywood area.

Matt Szabo is one of a dozen candidates hoping to replace outgoing Councilman Eric Garcetti in the Thirteenth District.

Szabo is well known to those inside City Hall. He worked for Villaraigosa for six years, handling budgetary issues.

Previously, he worked for then-Councilwoman Wendy Greuel and former Mayor Richard Riordan.

Outside City Hall, Szabo is facing an uphill battle to raise campaign funds.

The latest finance report, posted Jan. 10, shows the Szabo campaign with $83,253.

In contrast, former Public Works Commissioner John Choi posted $189,268 and Alex De Ocampo with the Saban Family Foundation reported $134,056.

“Matt is tenacious and decisive, knows how to lead in a crisis and is not afraid to take on the biggest challenges for the benefit of the community he serves,” Villaraigosa said in a statement. “Matt Szabo will make a great councilman, and the residents of District 13 will be fortunate to have him on their side as their voice in City Hall.”

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