Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Maven's Morning Coffee: fraud in the Assessor's Office, Rep. Jerry Lewis leaves Congress, crime down in LA

Photo by John Noguez via Flickr Creative Commons

The Los Angeles Times looks at how massive fraud could have allegedly taken place in the county Assessor's Office.

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. 28, and here is what's happening in Los Angeles:

Headlines

The Los Angeles Times looks at how such massive fraud could allegedly be carried out in the Assessor's Office. "At least part of the answer lies in the obscurity the assessor's office, the lack of outside scrutiny and the sheer size of the property tax rolls, which make it difficult to detect reductions, even when they amount to hundreds of millions of dollars," according to The Times.

Rep. Jerry Lewis is leaving Congress after three decades of service. The congressman tells KPCC that after his first two years in Washington, D.C., "I came within an inch of going back to California and running for Lieutenant Governor because it was so inane."

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Redlands Congressman Jerry Lewis bids farewell to 3 decades on Capitol Hill

Jerry Lewis

Kitty Felde/KPCC

Retiring Congressman Jerry Lewis (R-Redlands) reflected on his long political career, which ends with him as Chairman Emeritus of the House Appropriations Committee.

He shares a name with a famous comedian but, on Capitol Hill, California Congressman Jerry Lewis is the big celebrity.

The longtime Republican lawmaker from Redlands is stepping down after more than three decades in Congress. Lewis looked back on his political career from his favorite spot in the Capitol: the elegant office of the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

Lewis chaired the influential committee for two years. When he remodeled the chairman’s office, he replaced the carpet with blue and gold tiles. Lewis is a die-hard UCLA fan. His beloved dog is named Bruin. But Lewis said it was geography, not the design, that made this office special. It's right off the House floor.

"To the say the least,"  said Lewis, "it’s nicely situated for the chairman."

Lewis described Appropriations as the heart of the work Congress does. It’s close to his heart as well, and the reason he decided to return to Capitol Hill after a rough freshman term.

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Maven's Morning Coffee: abuse in county jails, opposition to water measure, questions on neighborhood council elections

LA Jails

Reed Saxon/AP

Sheriff Lee Baca says he is working on reducing violence in Los Angeles County jails.

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 Thursday, Dec. 27, and here is what's happening in Los Angeles:

Headlines

KPCC looks at the laundry list of abuse allegations that come out of the L.A. County Sheriff's Department. "It’s hard for us on this side of the table to really know what goes on within our jails. Use of force by far is one of the most difficult issues," says Supervisor Gloria Molina.

Anger at City Hall seems to be the theme for the race in Los Angeles' Third District, according to the Daily News. Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield is among the six candidates who have qualified for the March ballot.

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Ridley-Thomas says black political power holds steady in LA

Mercer 4596

MarkRidleyThomas.com

LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas argues African Americans are retaining their political power in the region.

For years, as the number of Latino and Asian voters soared, analysts predicted African-Americans would wield less power in Los Angeles.  It rankles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who represents South L.A.

“The pronouncement of the demise of African American political power has been and continues to be premature,” Ridley-Thomas said.

He made that statement while attending the swearing-in of Jackie Lacey as District Attorney — the first African-American (and first woman) to hold that post.  Lacey built a multi-ethnic coalition to defeat a white man in November.

“African-American elected officials have been, and continue to be, smart enough to know how to win in multi-racial environments,” said Ridley-Thomas, who became the first black male to chair the Board of Supervisors this year.

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2013 critical year for Sheriff Lee Baca and Los Angeles County jails

Alex Wong/Getty Images

Sheriff Leroy Baca testifies during a hearing before the House Homeland Security Committee March 10, 2011 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.

This is one in a series of year-end stories that look back at the most memorable pieces KPCC reporters worked on in 2012 and look ahead at a key issue that will be the focus of coverage in the coming year.


The scene repeated itself throughout the year: whenever the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors discussed the jails, someone showed up to tell a story of alleged abuse.

The week before Christmas, it was Eva Flores, whose 26-year-old son is awaiting trial at the county’s most problematic lockup: Men’s Central Jail in downtown L.A.

“Without any cause, he was pepper sprayed on his face,” the Maywood resident told the board through a translator.  “He got several broken bones in his back and a broken nose. These happened while he was handcuffed.”

It was impossible to immediately confirm the account.

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