Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Freshman Democrat Alan Lowenthal wants bipartisan honeymoon to last

California Pensions

Rich Pedroncelli/AP

State Sen. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, gives a thumbs up to Sen. Gloria Negrete McLeod, D-Chino Hills, as the Senate approved a pension reform bill that she carried, at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., Friday, Aug. 31, 2012.

On Capitol Hill it feels more like a party than the first meeting of the 113th Congress.

Democrat Alan Lowenthal has taken the oath of office to represent Long Beach – He’s one of 14 California freshmen. Lowenthal, who brought his niece and grandson to the House floor, says he hopes the day’s bipartisan spirit prevails beyond today. He insists all the new members, Republicans and Democrats alike, are committed to each other to try to work together. "That’s why we were elected," he says.

He says everyone told him once you’re here, that’s gonna end. "You’ll get caught up in the way it operates and that will be the end of that." 

But Lowenthal says he remembers former US Senator Alan Simpson saying, "the only way you’re going to keep that feeling is if you all keep meeting together."

That bipartisan spirit faced its first test this afternoon with a vote on House rules that contains a provision supporting the federal Defense of Marriage Act. That law prevents same-sex spouses from receiving federal benefits; it faces a challenge in the US Supreme Court. The vote was 228-196, split mostly along party lines.


Negrete-McLeod’s Congressional win sets off year of musical chairs in California legislature

Freshman Congress

Kitty Felde/KPCC

Gloria Negrete-McLeod of Chino compare notes with Democrats (from left) Scott Peters of San Diego, Alan Lowenthal of Long Beach, and Jared Huffman of Humboldt during orientation week at the Capitol.

San Bernardino Democrat Gloria Negrete-McLeod resigned her seat in the California state senate on Wednesday to become a new member of the US House of Representatives.

Her departure sets in motion a game of musical chairs that could last through the fall.

Assemblywoman Norma Torres (D-Pomona)  has said she'll run against San Bernardino County Auditor-Controller Larry Walker for the 32nd state senate district. 

Governor Jerry Brown has to pick a date for a special election — that’s at least 4 months off. A primary election a couple of months before that could resolve the matter if one candidate wins a majority of votes. Otherwise, the two candidates with the most votes progress to a general election.  Under that scenario, the 32nd District could remain vacant through April.

Even with the seat open, state senate Democrats still control a supermajority that empowers them to raise taxes without Republican votes. 


Okay, you're a California Congressman...now hire a staff

Republican freshman Congressman David Valadao of the Central Valley, seen here with son Conner and daughter Madeline, assembled a staff with people who worked for him in Sacramento, along with a few D.C. veterans.

Democratic freshman Congressman Alan Lowenthal of Long Beach was among the new members who were accompanied by family members, including grandson Avi and niece Angela.

Democratic freshman Congressman Mark Takano, posing with well-wishers after his swearing-in, relied on advice from a colleague when building his staff.

Republican freshman Congressman Doug LaMalfa of Redding filled half his staff with veterans from his Sacramento legislative office.

Democratic Congresswoman Gloria Negrete McLeod hired two staff members from her State Senate office.

The first meeting of the 113th Congress was full of pomp and ceremony. Fourteen California freshmen gathered their friends and families and raised their right hands to become the newest members of the U.S. House of Representatives. Their biggest challenge at the moment is staffing their offices.

Six-year-old Madeline Valadao witnessed history on the House floor as the new Congress began its work. "The worst part was having to stand up," she says, "and the good part was when my dad got sworn in."

Her dad is freshman Congressman David Valadao, a Republican from the Central Valley.  Valadao landed a prized spot on the House Appropriations Committee. He brought what he calls his “team members” from the two years he served in the California legislature. He’s also hired “two or three” D.C. locals. "As long as they’re open minded and willing to work, and willing to think for themselves," he says, "that’s what I need on my team. I don’t need any ‘yes’ people around me."


Report: Sequestration could mean $115M loss for Los Angeles

Los Angeles City Hall

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The city of Los Angeles could take a $115 million hit if the federal government moves ahead with severe spending cuts in March.

The city of Los Angeles could experience a $115 million financial hit if Congress fails to reach a financial agreement that would avert sequestration this spring. 

About $92 million of that would come from housing and housing assistance programs. Another $23 million would disappear from community development and public safety programs. This week’s Congressional action pushed sequestration – automatic spending cuts – to March 1.

“The impacts of sequestration to the city are very much a possibility if Congress fails to act on a plan to reduce the deficit by $1.2 trillion over 10 years by March 1, 2013,” City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana wrote in a report to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the Los Angeles City Council.

The specific programs he listed in the report include:

  • Section 8 Housing
  • Community Development Block Grants
  • Community Oriented Policing Services
  • Byrne Justice Assistance Grants 


Maven's Morning Coffee: DWP lobbying contracts, matching funds in mayor's race, medical marijuana makes way onto May ballot

Mercer 8291

Getty Images

A report from the controller found the Department of Water and Power awarded four contracts that bypassed the utility's competitive bidding process.

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 Thursday, Jan. 3, and here is what's happening in Los Angeles:


The Department of Water and Power bypassed competitive bidding processes when it awarded four lobbying contracts, according to the Los Angeles Times. Controller Wendy Greuel determined the contracts with Mercury Public Affairs should have been terminated.

A fifth mayoral candidate, Emanuel Pleitez, has qualified for matching funds, reports KPCC. The 30-year-old candidate will also participate in his first mayoral debate this evening.