Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Democrats divided on how much to expand MediCal under healthcare reform law

SCA 5 fallout

KPCC

State Assemblywoman Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) says "health and human services has been the stepchild of the budget process forever.”

California's plan to expand MediCal as part of federal healthcare reform is now being reconsidered as the state measures the financial burden that will ultimately come.

Nearly 8 million Californians use MediCal, the state’s healthcare program for low income residents. When Congress passed the Affordable Care Act, state officials committed to expanding the program — especially since the federal government agreed to pick up most of the tab.

If California implements the full expansion, it could enroll 1.5 million uninsured adults. But the Gov. Jerry Brown's administration appears to be backing away from full expansion.

At a recent symposium on healthcare reform, California's Secretary of Health and Human Services, Diana Dooley, said there’s a risk in moving too fast.

“I don’t want to be on the hook for promising things we can’t deliver,” Dooley told hundreds of healthcare advocates. “So if we disappoint early because we didn’t go as far as people want, it’s because we have to build this on a solid foundation and be ready to make it real over the long-term.”

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Leading mayoral candidates announce endorsements from Latino elected officials

Supervisor Gloria Molina

Andres Aguila/KPCC

County Supervisor Gloria Molina endorsed Wendy Greuel for mayor Friday. Meanwhile, Ed Reyes backed his City Council colleague Eric Garcetti.

The two leading candidates for mayor of Los Angeles released dueling endorsements Friday, each highlighting support from prominent Latino politicians. 

Ed Reyes endorsed his L.A. City Council colleague Eric Garcetti. They have served together since 2001. 

Reyes issued a statement that said: “For more than a decade, Council member Eric Garcetti has been a strong and independent voice for the people of Los Angeles. He marshaled this city through our most challenging economic times while preserving jobs and saving taxpayers millions of dollars. His experience and strong leadership are what Los Angeles needs.”

After that announcement, City Controller and mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel countered with a statement of endorsement from Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina. 

“Wendy Greuel will focus on creating jobs, reducing traffic congestion and strengthening our public schools,” Molina said. 

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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.

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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.

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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."

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