Politics, government and public life for Southern California

The annual dance between Governor and legislature begins in Sacramento

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California Governor Jerry Brown (R) presents his annual budget this week, which may set different priorities than those of Assembly Speaker John Perez.

California’s legislature reconvenes in Sacramento Monday, just days ahead of when the Governor will release his annual budget proposal. 

The plan sets out Brown's  top priorities for the year.  Legislative leaders will then respond with goals of their own. But both sides have already signaled some of the key issues they hope to tackle this year.

Topping the list: how to expand Medi-Cal by January 2014 as part of federal health care reform.  The Brown administration has cautioned against increasing state spending on insurance for the poor too rapidly. Meanwhile, some legislators are already trying to restore Medi-Cal benefits that were cut in recent years.

Assembly Speaker John Perez told members last month the legislature must figure out the best way to implement changes to save money in the long term, while expanding coverage to millions of uninsured Californians right away.


Home for some new representatives is a House office building in DC

The US Capitol building and Congressiona

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The U.S. Capitol building and Congressional office buildings are seen from the air over Washington, D.C. Some freshman lawmakers use the couches in these office buildings as a home away from home. (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

One of the challenges facing California’s 14 Congressional freshmen is where to live in D.C. Democrat Alan Lowenthal of Long Beach sent his wife out to look for housing. Mark Takano, a Democrat from Riverside, found an apartment within walking distance of the Capitol.

But more than a few members choose to sleep on a couch… in their office. Republican Doug LaMalfa of Redding will be joining an estimated 75 members who camp out in their offices when Congress is in session. After a day's work and perhaps dinner with colleagues, he says, you can "read up on some of the legislation or some of the things coming down the pike. You can read yourself to sleep."

LaMalfa, who’s leaving his family back in California, says he wants to get a “real world feeling” about the way Congress works before he commits to a residence. He says a bad decision could be expensive and a “pain in the rear” to get out of.


Garcetti goes on the offensive against Greuel in LA mayor's race

Los Angeles City Hall

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The race to become L.A.'s next mayor is the backdrop for a kerfuffle between leading candidates Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel.

L.A. mayoral frontrunners Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel entered into what appears to be their first public spat of the campaign Friday.

At a morning press conference, Greuel, who serves as Controller for the City of Los Angeles, announced she had issued subpoenas “to compel AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile, and Sprint Nextel Corp to hand over the City’s cell phone bills from 2006 – June 2011.”  She said it was part of a larger investigation into the city’s wireless phone contracts.

“This billing information is crucial in determining whether the cell phone carriers provided the city with optimized savings and billed the City accurately for wireless services,” Greuel said.

She said the subpoenas are a follow up to a 2011 audit that found individual city departments failed to ensure that cell phone carriers complied with requirements to “optimize” phone plans to fit the departments’ usage.  “As a result, the initial audit found that the city regularly paid more for cell phones than necessary.”


Dan Lungren looks back at nearly two decades in Congress

Former Congressman Dan Lungren, 66, doesn't have immediate plans because he hadn't planned on losing his re-election bid in November.

The new Congress was sworn in this week, but one veteran lawmaker missing was Dan Lungren, who served constituents in both Northern and Southern California.

The Republican spent ten years in the House representing his native Long Beach, ran and won the state Attorney General’s job, then ran again in 2005 to represent a Sacramento district. But he was defeated in November by a Democrat.

Lungren ended nearly two decades on Capitol Hill exactly where he started: in the same two-room Longworth House Office Building suite. Back in 1979, Lungren says this was freshman turf— a small office for him and, next door, a room for his receptionist, some staff, and his personal assistant ("At that time we called them secretary"). His entire legislative staff was in an office on another floor. A slightly fancier office now houses the boss of the House Administration Committee, a job Lungren has turned over to a new chairman.


Race for LA mayor: Watch archived video of Thursday night's debate

First L.A. mayoral debate of 2013

Frank Stoltze/KPCC

Five candidates for mayor of Los Angeles debated at Beth Jacob Temple in Beverly Hills on Thursday.

In advance of the L.A. mayoral primary scheduled for March 5, CivicCare — an organization serving to engage and educate Jewish voters in the Greater Los Angeles community — hosted a mayoral debate Thursday moderated by David Suissa, President of the Los Angeles Jewish Journal.  


CivicCare's L.A. Mayoral Jewish Community Debate 
Beth Jacob Congregation (Beverly Hills)
January 3, 2013 | 7:30-9:30 p.m.


  • Eric Garcetti (Councilmember)
  • Wendy Greuel (City Controller)
  • Kevin James (Former Assistant US Attorney)
  • Jan Perry (Councilmember)
  • Emanuel Pleitez (Businessman)


CivicCare is focused on improving voter turnout, engagement and education primarily in the Jewish Community. The mission of CivicCare is to be a voice for all corners of the Jewish Community in the Greater Los Angeles Area.

CiviCare was founded to make sure that all members of the Jewish Community, regardless of affiliation level, have the opportunity and feel comfortable to fully engage in the political process at all levels of local government.

In addition to encouraging Jewish voters to be educated, the initiatives also focus on the importance of developing relationships with local elected officials at the State, County, and City level and in engaging students at the high school and college level to understand the impact they can make at the local level.