Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Let him eat cake: Happy Birthday, Mayor Villaraigosa

Los Angeles City Hall gadfly John Walsh with his cake for the mayor.

City Hall gadfly John Walsh wanted to recognize the mayor's birthday.

Antonio Villaraigosa isn't always a popular figure around Los Angeles City Hall.  But John Walsh nonetheless came Wednesday bearing cake for the mayor. 

Walsh, one of the best-known government gadflies in L.A., had stopped by Hollywood’s Red Ribbon restaurant and grabbed a mocha-flavored cake. The icing read: “Mayor Villaraigosa, Happy 60th Birthday."

“He tries to hide his birthday because he wants people to think he’s younger,” said the always-suspicious Walsh, a 69-year-old retired public school teacher.

Walsh added: “Of course, we invited Charlie Sheen” — a reference to the mayor’s recent photo taken in Baja Mexico with the bad boy actor. Walsh himself is something of a bad boy at City Council and other meetings where he often loudly shouts loudly his criticisms.  Here’s a choice clip from an MTA board meeting.


House Democrats look for answers to prevent gun violence

Grace Napolitano (D-Los Angeles), foreground, serves on the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force.

House Democrats heard a long list of suggestions Wednesday afternoon from law enforcement and health experts about how to prevent gun violence. Gun owners also weighed in on possible legislation.

Democratic Congressman Mike Thompson of Napa County repeated the line he uses every time he introduces himself as head of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force: "I’m a hunter," he said. "I’m a gun owner and I believe that law-abiding citizens have a Second Amendment right to own firearms."

Thompson invited a pair of fellow gun owners to testify, including James Cummings, a hunter and member of the National Rifle Association. Cummings warned that any gun laws must be both practical and enforceable. He pointed out that since the original assault weapons ban expired, the number of those weapons in America has tripled.


LA City Council to review airport's public education contracts

LAX Thanksgiving

Ben Bergman

Councilman Dennis Zine, a candidate for city controller, wants to review contracts awarded by LAX to educate the public on delays caused by ongoing construction.

The Los Angeles City council is looking into nearly $4 million in contracts to educate travelers on construction at LAX. 

The Board of Airport Commissioners approved three contracts totaling $3.8 million last week:

  • The Phelps Group, $1. 6 million
  • AdEase, Inc., $1.55 million
  • Nothing Films, Inc., $690,000

Los Angeles World Airport’s Mark Adams told the city council that their purpose is to explain to passengers why the terminals and nearby roadways are under construction and how it'll affect their travel plans. 

“What this is to do is to inform the traveling public, inform locals, inform anybody who would be coming to LAX about the nature of the impacts that they would see at LAX and what is coming to LAX after that construction period,” Adams said.

Councilman Dennis Zine, a candidate for city controller, introduced a motion to review the decision. The board's seven members are appointed by the mayor. The councilman, who represents the third district, said he was particularly concerned that two of the contracts were given to companies based outside the city. (The Phelps Group is Santa Monica-based; AdEase is out of San Diego.)


Maven's Morning Coffee: DWP's solar program, governor talks community colleges, Beverly Hills publishes employees' salaries

solar plant


The Department of Water and Power's solar buyback program is starting up as planned, despite some concerns from the Los Angeles City Council.

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


The Department of Water and Power's solar buyback program will move forward, reports KPCC, despite concerns from the Los Angeles City Council.

Which Way, LA? discusses Gov. Jerry Brown's plans for community colleges.

A Daily News editorial explores why politicians label themselves as outsiders when election season rolls around. "Their implied message: Hey, blame the insiders, not those of us who just happen to have held public office for four or eight or 12 years!"


Experts tell congress more mentally ill are victims than perpetrators of gun violence

Democratic U.S. Rep. Grace Napolitano held a hearing Tuesday on gun violence and the mentally ill.

West Covina Democrat Grace Napolitano held briefing on mental illness and gun violence Tuesday, one of a series of hearings expeced on gun violence.

Dr. Thomas Insel, Director of the National Institute of Mental Health, said the mentally ill are 11 times more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators of it. He said researchers are working on better tools to detect mental illness sooner.

"Just as in cardiology, where most cardiologists spend their time preventing heart attacks, you’ll see a point where most people who invest in mental health are investing their energy in preventing psychosis, so that you actually catch somebody long before they reach that crisis point where there is the highest likelihood of very bad outcomes."

Napolitano is sponsoring a bill to pay for on-site mental health services in schools.  Minnesota Senator Al Franken is sponsoring the Senate bill.