Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Another Californian rises in House leadership

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Kitty Felde/KPCC

Congressman Xavier Becerra in front of Capitol. His fellow Democrats have chosen him to serve as their Caucus Chairman, moving him to the #4 power position in the House of Representatives.

LA Congressman Xavier Becerra took a step up in Capitol Hill leadership this morning.

His fellow House Democrats elected him as their new Caucus Chairman.

Becerra says the job is similar to that of a member of Congress. "Just as I have to represent 700 thousand people in my Congressional district," he says, "I now have to represent 200 Democrats in the House and do everything possible to make sure that they do well."

The move means Becerra becomes the number four Democrat in the House.

California also claims the top Democrat in the House, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and the number three Republican, Congressman Kevin McCarthy, the GOP House Whip.


Maven's Morning Coffee: LAFD billing breach, San Bernardino stops pension payments, a look at sidewalk memorials


Los Angeles Fire Department

The Los Angeles Times is reporting on a major security breach at the Los Angeles Fire Department, where a billing company inappropriately accessed patients' Social Security numbers.

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, Nov. 29, and here is what's happening in Los Angeles:


A billing company used by the Los Angeles Fire Department illegally obtained personal information from patients, including Social Security numbers and birth dates, reports the Los Angeles Times. A criminal investigation is ongoing. As many as 900 people may have been victimized.

The city of San Bernardino has stopped making payments to its employee pension plan, according to KPCC. Representatives for CalPERS want to sue the city for the $13 million it should have received this fiscal year.


Richard Bloom's lead grows again over Betsy Bloom

Richard Bloom Betsy Butler

Richard Bloom campaign/Betsy Butler campaign

Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom leads Assemblywoman Betsy Butler in the close 50th Assembly District race.

An updated ballot count in the close race to represent Westside cities in the state Assembly shows Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom ahead of incumbent Assemblywoman Betsy Butler by 1,246 votes. That's a lead of less than one percent of the more than 181,000 votes counted in the race.

Both candidates are Democrats. Butler represented a different area before district lines were redrawn. Under a new state law, the top two candidates in a district advance to the runoff, even if they are from the same party.

The Registrar-Recorder has been updating the results after twice-weekly counts of mail-in, polling place drop-off and provisional ballots. Some 70,000 to 75,000 ballots countywide remain to be processed and counted by the Dec. 4 deadline to report final results to the Secretary of State. It's unknown how many of those include votes from the 50th District.


Congressional fight focused on citizenship for undocumented immigrants

Democratic U.S. Rep. Grace Napolitano of El Monte spoke Wednesday at a Congressional Hispanic Caucus event to call for comprehensive immigration reform.

Suddenly, immigration is the buzz word on Capitol Hill. A pair of Republican Senators floated their idea Tuesday for giving legal status to illegal young people, and the House of Representatives is expected to vote Friday on a visa bill. But the chances of a comprehensive immigration bill passing both the House and Senate anytime soon remain slim.

Shortly after the election, House Speaker John Boehner seemed to open the door to immigration reform. He called for a "common sense, step-by-step approach, it would secure our borders, allow us to enforce our laws and fix a broken immigration system."

L.A. Congressman Xavier Becerra, a top Democrat in the House, says Boehner isn’t the only Republican talking immigration, citing both talk show host Sean Hannity and Super PAC leader Karl Rove.

"The question is no longer if," said Becerra, "it’s when.  Will we get a solid, sensible bill done? That’s the question."


OC's Ed Royce confirmed as new Chairman of House Foreign Affairs Committee

Fullerton Congressman Ed Royce, about to start his 10th term, will take over a key House committee.

It’s official: Republicans have chosen an Orange County Congressman to lead the powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Ed Royce was the odds-on favorite to chair Foreign Affairs, since he had the blessing of the outgoing chairman. Royce sees nuclear proliferation as a top threat. And he’d like to see foreign aid tied to results.

Royce, who's served in the House since 1993, says he knows the foreign aid budget will likely be smaller.  He says when you look at the budget deficit, it’s a safe bet that everything’s going to be affected.

"The military budget’s going to shrink, the foreign aid budget’s going to shrink some," he said in an interview Wednesday. "Our goal has to make certain that we do the best with what we have left in the budget." 

Royce wants the U.S. to work with the international community to bring African war lords like Joseph Kony to what he calls the “bar of justice.” Royce says that doesn’t mean he supports the International Criminal Court. The U.S. withdrew its support of the ICC over concern U.S. soldiers would be accused of war crimes.