Politics, government and public life for Southern California

NRA bashing from California's Congressional Democrats

U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said Friday that the NRA's proposal "is really nothing more than a distraction."

After the National Rifle Association called Friday for armed police officers at every local school, California members of Congress were swift to react to the proposal.

Democratic U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein didn’t dismiss the NRA proposal out of hand. "If school districts want to hire armed security guards," she said, "I support that. It’s a decision each school district should make." Feinstein added that one-in-three public schools in America already have armed security on staff.

Feinstein again called for a renewal of her assault weapons ban. "The NRA’s blanket call to arm our schools is really nothing more than a distraction," she said. "It’s a delay tactic."

Democrats on the House side were equally critical. Grace Napolitano of Norwalk said it was "just like the NRA. Sell more guns. Arm everybody." West L.A.'s Henry Waxman sait it was "very cynical for the NRA to blame everybody but themselves for the gun disasters, the killing that we’ve been seeing in recent years." And Janice Hahn of Carson said the NRA’s solution "is so out of touch with reality and so out of touch with what the American people want right now."

Hahn supports the assault weapons ban, but wants to do something about the guns already out there. She sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi asking that $200 million in any fiscal cliff deal be set aside to buy back assault weapons: "I want to get the ones that are already out there and get them off the streets."

Waxman also supports Feinstein’s assault weapons ban, and a ban on magazine clips for those weapons. He also suggests a look at our culture’s “glorification of violence” and an examination of our mental health system.

Mental health is the top issue for Congresswoman Napolitano. She says families need education to help identify those with mental health problems and the resources to treat them. She says families should be able "to have the funding to pay for the expensive psychiatric treatment for those who need it."

Most Republican House members have been silent on the issue, but Congressman Buck McKeon of Santa Clarita issued a statement saying there should be a “thorough dissection of our country’s mental health and family services.” He also suggests looking at “problematic” enforcement issues with current gun laws.

And a spokesman for Irvine’s John Campbell says the Congressman doesn’t support a “single solution approach to solving what is clearly a multi-faceted problem,” but does believe we should have a national debate about the root causes of the violence at Newtown.


Maven's Morning Coffee: DA declines Andrea Alarcon case, the meaning of Henry's Tacos, and it's the end of the world

Exterior view of Los Angeles City Hall

California Historical Society/USC Digital Archives

The District Attorney's Office will not prosecute Andrea Alarcon, president of the Board of Public Works, on child endangerment charges.

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 Friday, Dec. 21, and here is what's happening in Los Angeles:


The Los Angeles Times looks at what's made Henry's Tacos a San Fernando Valley landmark, at least for its customers. "Food stands like Henry's Tacos began popping up around Los Angeles in the 1940s and became popular quick-lunch destinations in a city with a mild climate. Many have closed in this era of the drive-through," according to the piece.

The District Attorney's Office says it will not prosecute Andrea Alarcon, president of the Board of Public Works, in a child endangerment case, according to the Daily News. The case was referred to the City Attorney's Office for review.


California Congress members learn their committee assignments

Office of Rep. Karen Bass

Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) has landed a seat on the House Judiciary Committee.

Santa came early for several members of Congress: House leaders on Thursday announced committee assignments for both veterans and newcomers.

Republican Congressman Gary Miller will now be the number two Republican on the House Financial Services Committee. Miller, who just won reelection in a new district in San Bernadino, has served on that committee for more than a decade and has been active on housing and mortgage issues.

Irvine Congressman John Campbell also serves on Financial Services and has landed the top spot on the Domestic and International Monetary Policy Subcommittee.

On the Democratic side, a trio of California Congresswomen are taking on new committees. L.A.'s Karen Bass adds the Judiciary Committee to her "things to do" list. Oakland Congresswoman Barbara Lee, who's served for a decade and a half in Washington, will now serve on the House Budget Committee.


Congressional gun owner Mike Thompson tapped for House gun control leadership

Northern California Democratic Congressman Mike Thompson has been asked by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to coordinate the party's gun control legislation.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has asked California Congressman and longtime gun advocate Mike Thompson to head a Democratic task force to coordinate House legislative efforts in the wake of the Newtown, Connecticut tragedy. 

Thompson, who represents the Northern California wine country, is working the halls of Congress — on both sides of the aisle.

Thompson says he’s been meeting with colleagues, trying to find consensus on what Congress should do to respond to the elementary school shooting. He hints that some of those conversations have been with Republican members, but declined to name any GOP Congressmen he's met with.

"I don’t think we need to do that right now," Thompson said Thursday. "We’re working on this thing and I don’t want to jeopardize it. If I find allies, I want to keep working with them."

House Republicans have been mum on any of the gun control proposals suggested by Democrats —  at least so far. That could change after the National Rifle Association holds a very public press conference Friday.

This year, Thompson was named one of eight "surprisingly pro-gun Democrats” by Guns and Ammo magazine.


Sen. Dianne Feinstein turns thumbs down to Bin Laden movie 'Zero Dark Thirty'

Zero Dark Thirty

Still from the film "Zero Dark Thirty" starring Jessica Chastain.

Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images

Senator Dianne Feinstein joins other elected officials in criticizing the film "Zero Dark Thirty." File: Feinstein (D-CA) questions witnesses at a hearing on Capitol Hill on March 30, 2011 in Washington, D.C.

The movie "Zero Dark Thirty" has been getting rave reviews and has been named movie of the year by the New York Film Critics Circle. But a trio of U.S. senators, including California Democrat Dianne Feinstein, calls it a "dangerous combination" of fact and fiction.

Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, joined Republican colleague John McCain of Arizona and fellow Democrat Carl Levin of Michigan in putting their complaints in a letter to Sony Pictures, which released the movie. ("Zero Dark Thirty" is now playing in Los Angeles area theaters.)

The three call the film "grossly inaccurate and misleading in its suggestion that torture resulted in information" that led to finding Osama bin Laden. They acknowledge the film is fiction, but note that it opens with the words "based on first-hand accounts of actual events."