Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Maven's Morning Coffee: mayor's race gets serious, bond for road repairs, endorsements in CD13

Mayoral Candidates

Photos courtesy of candidates' campaigns

The race for mayor is getting serious. Jan Perry tells the Daily News not to underestimate her, while Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel bicker about the controller's audits.

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 Monday, Jan. 7, and here is what's happening in Los Angeles:

Headlines

In Rick Orlov's Tipoff column, Councilman Bill Rosendahl donates campaign funds and the mayor's race gets serious.

Los Angeles Times writer Jim Newton looks at the county's Department of Children and Family Services and why more children are being removed from their homes. "If we think the child is safe, we leave the child with the biological parents. Sometimes, of course, that's just not possible," said Philip Browning, head of DCFS.

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Rep. Karen Bass promotes new law to help foster kids stay in school

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Kitty Felde/ KPCC

Congresswoman Karen Bass of Los Angeles is behind a law that will allow social workers access to education records of foster children.

One of the bills awaiting President Obama’s signature makes an important change to the laws that govern children in foster care. Democrat Congresswoman Karen Bass of Los Angeles championed the measure.

Bass co-founded the Caucus on Foster Care Youth when she arrived on Capitol Hill two years ago.

The first piece of legislation from the caucus seems minor, but Bass says it has big consequences. It allows a social worker access to a young person’s educational record. Bass says the original restrictions in the federal education code were designed to protect a child’s privacy.

"The problem," says Bass, "is that the average youth in the foster care system attends three-to-five high schools. And what winds up happening [to] kids, if they’re transferred and transferred, they wind up repeating course after course after course." Bass says when you do that to a 14- or 15-year-old, they stop going to school.

Bass says the idea for the legislation emerged from a nationwide listening tour, in which foster kids and social workers weighed in on steps Congress could take to improve the nation’s foster care system. That listening tour continues through this year. 

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The annual dance between Governor and legislature begins in Sacramento

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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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.

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

The US Capitol building and Congressiona

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

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.

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

Los Angeles City Hall

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

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.”

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