Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Segregation on Capitol Hill: Democrats and Republicans kept apart from the start

Newly-elected Democratic Congressman Raul Ruiz has made a few Republican friends during orientation in D.C., but he won't name them because cross-party fraternization is frowned upon.

This week, California’s 14 freshman members of Congress are back in Washington for a second week of orientation. But much of the training is segregated, with Democrats on one side of Capitol Hill and Republicans on another.

During morning sessions, the newbies all learn about setting up a website, how to send constituent mail, how to staff an office. But from lunchtime until late into the evening, Democrats and Republicans are separated. 

Republican Congressman Doug LaMalfa of Redding says, during afternoons with his GOP colleagues, he's witnessed the "hot debate" about conference rules and amendments. "They didn’t take very long to get the verbosity up here," he observed.

Even the meals are segregated.  Speaker John Boehner’s fancy dinner for newcomers in Statuary Hall was GOP only; Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi held her own party for Democratic freshmen.


What's next for Riordan's pension plans?

Richard Riordan


Former L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan has dropped his effort to place pension reform for city employees on next Spring's municipal ballot.

Now that he’s dropped his effort to place his pension plan on the May municipal ballot, former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan says he’ll go directly to union leaders to seek their support.

“I think this has to be worked through the unions, because in L.A. the unions control the city council,” Riordan said.  Most members of the council had expressed opposition to his plan.

It was a quick turn of events Monday for the wealthy businessman.  After campaigning for weeks to place his pension reform plan on the ballot, he announced that his paid signature gatherers simply did not have enough time to collect the 265,000 signatures needed by a December 28th  deadline.  They had collected more than 100,000 so far, according to a spokesman.

But Riordan also conceded city labor unions helped foil his campaign by loudly denouncing it and sending members to grocery stores to discourage people from signing his petition. Riordan, 83, says he will not give up.


Latino leaders endorse Wendy Greuel for mayor of Los Angeles

Wendy Greuel

Greuel Campaign

Mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel announced a long list of endorsements from Latino leaders Monday, including many local politicians she would have to count on if elected.

To become the next mayor of Los Angeles, candidates must build coalitions and, to that end, Wendy Greuel announced Monday a slate of Latino leaders who back her run for the city's top job. 

The list is similar to a move made by Councilman Eric Garcetti, who is the only Latino in the mayor’s race. (He is of Mexican ancestry on his father’s side.) Several months ago, Garcetti released his own list of Latino supporters.

However, Greuel’s supporters include politicians whose votes she would likely need if elected. They include: current L.A. City Councilman Jose Huizar; Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes, who is running for city council; and LAUSD board member Nury Martinez, who will likely run for a council seat.

Also endorsing Greuel are: L.A. City Councilman Tony Cardenas, who is headed to Congress; State Sen. Alex Padilla, a former member of the city council; and Assemblyman-elect Raul Bocanegra.


Prosecutors: Former campaign treasurer should serve 8 years for embezzlement case

kinde durkee

California Democratic Council, Henry Vandermeir/AP

Federal prosecutors want former campaign treasurer Kinde Durkee to spend eight years in prison for stealing millions of dollars from her clients.

A former Democratic campaign treasurer who stole $7 million from her clients over a dozen years should be sentenced to 97 months in prison, federal prosecutors said Monday.

Kinde Durkee is scheduled for sentencing on Wednesday in Sacramento. In a memo, prosecutors are asking for more than eight years behind bars and an unspecified amount of restitution. Durkee pleaded guilty to five counts of mail fraud in March.

“This sentence will reflect the seriousness of the offense, provide just punishment and afford adequate deterrence,” according to the memo filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. 

Authorities say Durkee misappropriated money from her political clients, including U.S.  Sen. Dianne Feinstein. That money was used to pay her mortgage, credit card bills and even payroll at Durkee & Associates. Prosecutors say this is the largest embezzlement case ever to be prosecuted against a campaign treasurer. 


Filing dates set for LA City Council special election

Exterior view of Los Angeles City Hall

California Historical Society/USC Digital Archives

Anyone planning to run for the L.A. City Council's special election next May must reside in the Sixth District beginning Jan. 5, 2013.

Los Angeles has  established the filing dates for candidates interested in running for the Sixth District City Council seat. The incumbent councilman was elected to Congress and will vacate the position.

Potential candidates for the Los Angeles City Council’s Sixth District must reside in the district beginning Jan. 5, 2013, the City Clerk’s Office announced Monday. 

The special election for the CD 6 seat will be held on May 21. The filing and nominating petition periods both start on Feb. 4  and candidates must live in the district at least 30 days before filing campaign papers. Candidates must also be registered to vote in the San Fernando Valley’s Sixth District by the time they are elected to office.

The incumbent councilman, Tony Cardenas, was elected to Congress in the Nov. 6 election. He will be sworn into office on Jan. 3.