Politics, government and public life for Southern California

CA Congressman's new post another roadblock for high speed rail?

Courtesy California High Speed Rail Authority

A rendering of a station for high-speed rail in California.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was on Capitol Hill today to reassure Californians that high speed rail is one of President Obama's highest priorities. It's not necessarily the top priority on Capitol Hill.

Republican Congressman Jeff Denham of Fresno has been one of the most vocal critics of California's high speed rail project. In 2012, he introduced an amendment to the transportation bill that would have forbidden a dime to be spent on the project.

Denham says the lack of promised private investors in a project that's more than doubled its budget means California taxpayers and the federal government are left holding the bag.

Denham was just named chairman of the railroads subcommittee on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Denham says rail transportation is "the backbone of America's economy" and he's looking for "more cost-effective and innovative approaches" to passenger and freight rail service.


Maven's Morning Coffee: city attorney debate, delay on storm water fee, economic impact of Farmers Field


Roberto (Bear) Guerra/KPCC

City Attorney Carmen Trutanich and the men running against him in the spring primary debated earlier this week. The Los Angeles Times has the video.

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, Jan. 16, and here is what's happening in Los Angeles:


Los Angeles Times writer Jim Newton recaps a recent debate among candidates for city attorney. "Although devoted in part to questions of faith, morality and responsibility, the discussion also featured a number of sharp exchanges over the effectiveness of the incumbent, Carmen Trutanich, and the credentials and ideas of his challengers," according to the post, which includes video.

A vote on whether to place a storm water pollution fee on the ballot was deferred by the L.A. County Board of Supervisors, reports the Los Angeles Times. The protest period will remain open for another 60 days.


LA councilman proposes ban on possession of high-capacity magazines



A Los Angeles City Councilman wants to ban the possession of high-capacity ammunition magazines.

One day before President Obama is set to announce new gun control measures, the city of Los Angeles is looking to tighten its own laws by banning the possession of high-capacity ammunition magazines.

California state law prohibits the sale and manufacturing of high-capacity magazines, but the law does not specifically ban possession. A motion from Councilman Paul Krekorian asks the City Attorney’s Office and Los Angeles Police Department to report back on how a ban could be implemented. 

“This gap in the law threatens public safety, because on the streets of Los Angeles, high-capacity magazines pose a daily threat to our citizens and police officers,” Krekorian wrote in his motion.

The Public Safety Committee will consider the motion.

The president is scheduled to speak Wednesday at 8:45 a.m. PT. It was just one month ago that a gunman opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, killing 20 children and six adults. 


DWP union, entertainment industry join forces to back Wendy Greuel

Wendy Greuel and Eric Garcetti

Wendy Greuel Campaign/Eric Garcetti campaign

An independent political action committee is raising funds on behalf of LA mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel. No such group has surfaced in support of her main rival, City Councilman Eric Garcetti.

The union that represents employees with the Department of Water and Power is partnering with the entertainment industry to spend big money in support of mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel.

Working Californians, which is backed in part by IBEW Local 18, hired campaign veterans Ace Smith and Sean Clegg to run the PAC.

The campaign of Greuel's main rival, City Councilman Eric Garcetti, used the news to make a fundraising pitch to supporters Tuesday: 

"A few people with a vested interest in the election, spending unlimited amounts of money to keep change from coming to City Hall is not what we need in Los Angeles. Eric is the progressive candidate that wants to move Los Angeles forward but he can only do that with your help. "

No such independent campaign has filed paperwork in support of Garcetti, according to the Ethics Commission. Through Dec. 31, Garcetti has raised $3.6 million, about $127,000 more than Greuel has garnered. 


LA's proposed $3 billion-dollar street bond hits the skids

Mercer 10161

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Members of the Los Angeles City Council say more public input is needed before a $3 billion bond proposal is sent to voters. A bond backed by Councilmen Mitch Englander and Joe Buscaino would have been dedicated to road repairs.

A proposed $3 billion bond to repair Los Angeles streets failed to win enough support from the City Council Tuesday and will not appear on the May ballot.

The proposal from councilmen Mitch Englander and Joe Buscaino was referred back to the Public Works Committee. The two men expect it to appear on a ballot in a year or two.

“If we want to remain a world class city and attract new businesses and jobs," said Buscaino, "it is vital that we demonstrate Los Angeles is a city of the future and not a crumbling relic of the past. Our streets are one of the most visible and important components of our infrastructure, and there is no question that they are in poor condition and must be repaired.”

There may not be a question about road conditions in L.A., but several city council members expressed concern that the bond was being rushed to the May 21 ballot. The bond proposal would have provided enough money to fix thousands of miles of failing streets over a 10-year period, but it would have taken property owners almost 30 years to pay off the bond. The annual cost of the proposal would have varied, but property owners would have paid, on average, an extra $100 a year.