Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Judge may suspend California’s ban on gay conversion therapy for minors

A federal judge in Sacramento is expected to decide this week whether to suspend a new state law that bans gay conversion therapy for minors.

The new law, set to take effect Jan. 1, prohibits licensed therapists from counseling gay youths to change their sexual orientation.

Counselors and parents sued to overturn the law. The parents have said the therapy helped their teenage sons.  In a 50-minute hearing  Friday, their attorney asked U.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller to stop the ban conversion therapy from taking effect while they pursue a court challenge.

Deputy State Attorney General Alexandra Gordon argued the ban protects young people from a practice that mainstream mental health organizations reject.

Judge Mueller said she plans to issue a written ruling sometime this week.


Bumper crop of new state lawmakers takes office in Sacramento Monday

Ian Calderon (D-LA) is taking over his father's seat in the Assembly.

Redistricting, and California’s new election laws, produced a bumper crop of new state lawmakers and half of them hail from Southern California. They get sworn in Monday in Sacramento.

There are 38 new lawmakers, taking up nearly half of the Assembly’s 80 seats.  The usual turnover is closer to a third. 

Some of the new Assemblymembers from Greater Los Angeles include: Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach); Richard Bloom (D-LA); Raul Bocanegra (D-LA);  Ian Calderon (D-LA); Ed Chau (D-LA); Tom Daly (D-Orange); Cristina Garcia (D-LA); Jimmy Gomez (D-LA); Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-LA); Eric Linder (R-Corona); Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance); Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-Orange); and Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita).

The Senate will swear in nine new members.  But only one of the new Senators, Richard Roth (R-Riverside), is new to the state legislature. The others all served in the Assembly: Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Ventura) was in the Assembly a few years ago. The other six Democrats come directly from the lower house, they include Ricardo Lara (D-LA) and  Steve Knight (R-San Bernardino).


Count still not final in Assembly race, but Santa Monica Mayor Bloom headed to Sacramento for oath-taking

Richard Bloom Betsy Butler

Richard Bloom campaign/Betsy Butler campaign

With only one ballot update left, Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom has a 1,536-vote lead over Assemblywoman Betsy Butler in the close 50th Assembly District race.

It looks as if Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom is safe in assuming he'll sworn into office in Sacramento Monday as the Westside's new assemblyman. Friday's updated ballot count indicates that he's retained and expanded his lead over Assemblywoman Betsy Butler.

With more than 183,000 votes cast in the 50th Assembly District race, Bloom led Butler by 1,536 votes. His lead had been a razor-thin 79 votes a few weeks ago. The district includes Santa Monica, Malibu, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Agoura Hills.

Bloom posted a message on Twitter Friday that his lead appeared to be insurmountable and that he would join other legislators-elect to be sworn in at the state Capitol on Monday.

The outcome of the Bloom-Butler race has taken weeks to determine because so many of the votes cast in Los Angeles County were submitted as labor-intensive mail-in and provisional ballots that need to be verified before they can be counted.


Mark Ridley-Thomas sworn in as chair of Board of Supervisors

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas

Andres Aguila/KPCC

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas was sworn in Friday as the first African-American man to chair the L.A. County Board of Supervisors.

Standing on the lawn of Martin Luther King Jr. Hospital in Willowbrook, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas was sworn in Friday as the first African-American man to chair the Board of Supervisors. 

In his second term as the representative of the Second District, Ridley-Thomas will oversee the re-opening of MLK Hospital, which was previously known as King/Drew Hospital. It was shut down in 2007 following a Los Angeles Times’ series on patient care abuses.

“Even with all that we have done and all of what we have learned, there is still much to do,” Ridley-Thomas said. “Somehow today I hear the voice of one of America’s most prolific inventors. Thomas Edison [said], ‘Opportunity is often missed by most people because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work.'  

“Therefore I pose a question and it’s a simple one: Are you ready to don your overalls and embrace the next four years of opportunity?”


Californian wins the lottery...for a Congressional office

Mercer 20095

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Before they get to sit here, freshman members of Congress have to figure out where they'll work the rest of the time. That's where the office lottery comes in.

On Capitol Hill, this is the day the new crop of freshmen enters a lottery that determines where they’ll work. A Californian got the top opportunity to choose offices.

There's a superstition about dancing when it comes to influencing the luck of the draw in the office lottery. Redding Freshman Republican Doug LaMalfa threw caution to the wind and danced a Michael Jackson moonwalk for luck as he picked his number:  34 out of 70. Democrat Eric Swalwell of Dublin brought his own soundtrack: Journey's "Don't Stop Believing." He drew number 61.

Ventura Democrat Julia Brownley was the first to try dancing - a reluctant swaying to and fro. She won the office lotter and became the first Congressional freshman to choose an office. She wants one in the oldest and grandest House office building. "I seem to like the Cannon building just because of its historical features, I guess."

Brownley says that when she was in the California legislature, the Assembly speaker assigned offices. She says the Congressional process is more fair.

Did Brownley buy a Powerball ticket the other day, too? "I wish I had," she laughed.

One freshman who drew one of the lowest numbers put the best face on it, saying, “there are no bad offices when you’re lucky enough to be here in Congress.”