Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Boxer says Villaraigosa would make "fine" Transportation Secretary

Democratic National Convention: Day 1

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Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa gets a thumbs-up from Senator Barbara Boxer to be the next Secretary of Transportation - if there's a vacancy.

He's not officially announced he's leaving. But the possibility that Transportion Secretary Ray LaHood may step down is fueling speculation about who might replace him.

This morning, U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer of California told a room full of reporters she  thinks L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa "would be terrific" at the job.

Boxer heads the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which championed Villaraigosa's idea of expanding transportation loans to communities willing to put up their own tax money to pay them back. Congress approved a billion dollars a year to fund the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act - or TIFIA program.

Boxer likes the idea so much, she wants to create a similar program to help landlords and developers make buildings energy efficient, suggesting it should be called the BIFIA program.


Maven's Morning Coffee: Californians at inauguration, audit at Hall of Administration, Carmen Trutanich as an outsider



Which California politicians got the best seats at President Obama's inauguration? CapitolAlert takes a look.

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


In Rick Orlov's Tipoff column, Rep. Brad Sherman feels the sting of former Rep. Howard Berman's friends, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa pushes for an Economic Development Department, and Catherine Mulholland gives her great-grandfather's thoughts on running for mayor.

CapitolAlert checks out where California's politicians sat at the inauguration. "If proximity to power is a gauge of clout in Washington, only a few California politicians made it to the inner circle. That would be the rarefied space on stage, close to the president as he delivered his inauguration address," according to the piece.


LA mayoral race 2013: Candidates on best behavior in Empowerment Congress debate

LA Mayoral Candidates

Frank Stotlze/KPCC

LA mayoral candidates (from left): Eric Garcetti, Wendy Greuel, Kevin James, Emanuel Pleitez, and Jan Perry

The five leading candidates in the L.A. mayoral race were on their best behavior in this morning’s debate sponsored by the Empowerment Congress.

The hour-long forum stood in sharp contrast to a debate three days ago, which was marked by pointed attacks against L.A. City Controller Wendy Greuel by her three top opponents. In today’s debate, held at USC’s Bovard Auditorium, the candidates refrained from going after each other.

Members of the Empowerment Congress were selected to ask questions of the candidates. The organization was founded by L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas to improve life for south Los Angeles communities, and the questions reflected those communities’ priorities.

The candidates were asked how they would use the arts to revitalize the area’s most neglected communities; whether they back “supportive housing” for the mentally ill and homeless; how they would try to get a Metro stop at Leimert Park; how they would reduce the number of gun deaths; how they would engage with neighborhood councils; and how they would add “economic justice” to the economic development agenda.


Senator Dianne Feinstein urges US mayors to support renewed gun control

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Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Senator Dianne Feinstein is poised to introduce a bill that would renew the federal ban on assault weapons.

Next week, California’s senior U.S. Senator, Democrat Dianne Feinstein, will introduce a bill that would renew the federal ban on assault weapons. Feinstein was the author of the 1994 law that Congress allowed to expire after a decade.

Today, she called on U.S. mayors for support, saying it’s more difficult now than at any time in her four decades of public service to pass what she called “reasonable gun regulation.”

Feinstein, who became mayor of San Francisco after Mayor George Moscone was gunned down in 1978, spoke at the winter meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

Feinstein warned that gun organizations will do "whatever they can do" to prevent regulation of firearms in this country, calling that "really too bad."

She said she’d give each mayor a list of the 150 guns she proposes to ban. Feinstein said the bill will include money for voluntary gun buy-back programs – and she assured the mayors that no one would confiscate guns in private hands.


California mayors lobbying federal officials for relief from regulations

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Kitty Felde

Redondo Beach Mayor Mike Gin will be in Washington, DC with other California mayors, lobbying for reduced federal regulation.

Nearly four-dozen mayors from across California will be in Washington this weekend for the winter meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. They'll be meeting with federal officials to push for more federal dollars or less federal regulation.

Redondo Beach Mayor Mike Gin said cities are hampered by federal requirements that end up costing them money.

For him, the fight is over treatment of water from its 1960’s icon, the Seaside Lagoon. He says the city takes  seawater to create a saltwater, heated, sandy bottom pool. He said they have to chlorinate the water when they pump it into the lagoon. They dechlorinate it before discharging it back into the bay.

The discharge has to meet federal and local sandards. Gin said Redondo Beach sometimes gets fined "and those violations can be very costly."