Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Maven's Morning Coffee: LA's poet laureate, City Hall avoids layoffs, attacks in the city attorney's race

Democratic National Convention: Day 1

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will announce the city's first poet laureate later this morning.

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 Friday, Dec. 7, and here is what's happening in Los Angeles:

Headlines

The city of Los Angeles has its first poet laureate: Eloise Klein Healy. "She writes lovingly of helicopters and bougainvillea, of strip malls and Santa Anas. Car thefts and stabbings are part of the backdrop. Freeways wind freely through her verse," according to the Los Angeles Times.

Despite threats of layoffs, the Los Angeles Police Department and Personnel Department both say they've found the $3 million needed to keep almost 100 employees in their jobs through the end of June, reports KPCC. City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana advocated for the layoffs, noting the city is missing out on $55 million in anticipated revenues.

Read More...

Profile: Westminster’s Tri Ta first elected Vietnamese American mayor

Tri Ta

Westminster Mayor-elect Tri Ta and his wife Anh Doan outside KOCE after a public T.V. interview. Ta will be the first elected Vietnamese American mayor in the country. (11/28/12)

Tri Ta laughs at the suggestion he’s a celebrity in his community, even though, seemingly, every Vietnamese American media outlet has called him for an interview.

“I never call myself any star,” he says, sitting in the lobby of a local public television station where he was just interviewed. “I’m only a humble person, and I love to serve people.”

Ta, 39, says that’s why he ran for City Council in the Orange County city of Westminster six years ago, and why he ran for mayor. He beat businesswoman Penny Loomer in November, thanks to nearly unanimous support from Vietnamese Americans and the backing of longtime Mayor Margie Rice, who is retiring.

Westminster is home to the Little Saigon neighborhood, and has the largest concentration of Vietnamese Americans in the nation – about 35,000. Orange County is home to nearly about 190,000 Vietnamese Americans.

Read More...

LA City Council's Budget Committee avoids layoffs for LAPD clerks

City Councilman Paul Krekorian

Andres Aguila/KPCC

L.A. City Councilman Paul Krekorian chairs the Budget and Finance Committee, which voted Thursday to avoid layoffs through the end of the fiscal year.

Looks like it won't be a blue Christmas for more than 90 City of L.A. workers after all.

The Los Angeles Police Department and city Personnel Department have identified enough money to keep 96 employees in their jobs through the end of next June, members of the City Council Budget and Finance Committee were told Thursday.

By the end of this year, 93 LAPD clerks and three employees with the Personnel Department were to be laid off. The reductions were part of a budget plan approved by the City Council. Appearing before the committee, police and personnel representatives testified they had found the $3 million needed to keep the employees.

Councilman Paul Koretz voiced his opposition to the layoffs, noting that a $3 million loss would be worth it to keep people in their jobs. 

“The difference that $3 million will make, I think, is insignificant enough in terms of the morale difference of laying people off when you don’t have to," Koretz said. "I would think we’d be better off being $3 million shorter and not having to do layoffs during this period."

Read More...

Fans and foes debate California's high speed rail on Capitol Hill

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told a Congressional committee Thursday that California's proposed high speed rail line is attracting private investors.

California’s high speed rail project was under the microscope at a Capitol Hill hearing Thursday. Both the federal and state governments have committed start-up money for the project, but the prospect of additional funds from Washington remains uncertain.

Plans call for the first segment of California’s high speed rail to end in Bakersfield, the district of Republican House Whip Kevin McCarthy. He told the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee that Congress wants to invest in infrastructure, but he has doubts about this venture.

"What you want, you also need a plan for," McCarthy said "A plan that works, a plan that is tested, a plan that is audited, and a plan that has a review. And I have real doubt of the viability, the cost, and if and when this will ever be built."

McCarthy and other California House members have asked the Government Accountability Office to review the state's high speed rail project. That review is expected to be completed by February.

Read More...

House Transportation chief to LA: Build light rail to LAX... or else

Hearings On BP Oil Spill Continue On Capitol Hill

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Rep. John Mica (R-FL) is calling on Mayor Villaraigosa to find a way to bring lightrail all the way to LAX.

Angelenos aren’t the only ones griping about how difficult it is to get to and from L.A. International Airport on public transportation. On Thursday, the outgoing chairman of the powerful House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee made it clear that he’s not happy either.

At a hearing on high speed rail, Republican Congressman John Mica of Florida wanted to get something off his chest about a slower version of rail.  He asked El Segundo Democrat Janice Hahn to deliver a message to L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa: get light rail all the way to the airport – or else.

Hahn agreed, saying "the thought that people stop a mile short, try to get on a shuttle and get to the airport is the reason people aren’t taking public transportation."

Mica brought it up again later in the hearing, saying as outgoing Chairman, "I no longer will be able to stop all the projects until he gets that done. I‘ll just torpedo a few." 

Read More...