Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Los Angeles City Council schedules special election for May

Los Angeles City Hall

Alice Walton/KPCC

A special election for the Los Angeles City Council's next Sixth District rep will be held on May 21, 2013 at a cost of $400,000.

A special election to fill an upcoming vacancy on the Los Angeles City Council is set for May 21, 2013.

The L.A. City Council voted 12-0 to hold an election that day to fill the vacancy that will be left when Councilman Tony Cardenas is sworn into the U.S. House of Representatives on Jan. 3. A runoff election is scheduled for July 23. 

It will cost $400,000 to hold the special election. It could have cost more than a $1 million if the primary were not held the same day as the city’s municipal election runoff.

The city council could have voted to appoint a new council member to serve the remainder of Cardenas’ term, through June 30, 2015. However, the L.A. City Council has not chosen that option since the 1960s when John Ferraro was appointed to the council. With this election, it means there will be seven new members of the Los Angeles City Council next year.


Maven's Morning Coffee: LAFD response plans, DWP in Owens Valley, taxes for downtown streetcar



The Los Angeles Fire Department is looking at plans to send firefighters and paramedics to emergencies before fulling understanding the nature of 911 calls. Doing so could speed up response times by 50 seconds.

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 Wednesday, Nov. 21, and here is what's happening in Los Angeles:


The Los Angeles Fire Department is looking at a strategy for speeding up response times -- sending firefighters and paramedics to emergencies before fully determining the nature of a 911 call, according to the Los Angeles Times. The "quick launch" program, which reduced response times by 50 seconds, was discontinued in 2006 because it required too many resources.

A member of SEIU Local 721 was disciplined Tuesday for encouraging members to sign fake names and addresses to former Mayor Richard Riordan's petition to dramatically change the city's retirement system, reports the Daily News. "SEIU Local 721 in no way recommends that its members or anyone else falsify signatures. We are against that kind of behavior," a spokesman told the newspaper.


Cities aim to recoup $30 million in fees from Los Angeles County

Monday’s state Supreme Court ruling that Los Angeles County overcharged municipalities for administrative services could mean a modest but important boost for strapped city budgets.

"It’s all very important and this money’s going to go right back to city general funds that pay for police and fire and other important local services," said Chris McKenzie of the League of California Cities.

Counties manage property tax collection for cities and charge them a fee for the service.  After California’s state legislature enacted a couple of complex tax swaps to plug a budget hole, counties began managing more property tax dollars for cities.

McKenzie said the counties were supposed to provide the service at cost. 

"Apparently L.A. County and other counties that followed the guidelines were charging in excess of their actual cost."


More than 170,000 votes counted, only 79 separate Westside Assembly candidates

Richard Bloom Betsy Butler

Richard Bloom campaign/Betsy Butler campaign

The race between Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom and Assemblywoman Betsy Butler for the Assembly's 50th District remains too close to call.

Two weeks after the election, voters in one Westside Assembly district still don't know who will represent them in Sacramento. 

Tuesday's updated count of mail-in ballots has reduced Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom's lead in the race for the 50th District down to a mere 79 votes over incumbent Assemblywoman Betsy Butler. More than 170,000 votes have been counted.

Both candidates are Democrats who ended up in the general election because of the state's new "top two" law, which calls for the top finishers in the primary to advance to the general election, even if they're from the same party.

 The 50th district includes the cities of Santa Monica, Malibu, West Hollywood, and Beverly Hills. 

With 216,000 mail-in, provisional and drop-off ballots left to count in the Nov. 6 election, the County Registrar-Recorder's office has been performing updated counts twice each week. The next count is set for Friday.


LA City Council votes to place sales tax increase on March 2013 ballot

City Councilman Herb J. Wesson Jr.

Andres Aguila/KPCC

A sales tax increase backed by Council President Herb Wesson was approved for the March 2013 ballot in a vote of 11-4.

A sales tax increase that could generate hundreds of millions of dollars for the City of Los Angeles will appear on the March 2013 ballot.

The Los Angeles City Council voted 11-4 Tuesday to place the tax measure on the March 5 ballot. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said he will return the measure to the council without his signature, which will allow the measure to appear on the ballot. 

Council President Herb Wesson proposed the tax increase, saying it could bring in $215 million a year for basic city services. Los Angeles is expected to start the next fiscal year in July with a $216 million deficit. 

Villaraigosa released a statement that said:  "I will not ask the people of Los Angeles to support higher taxes until the City Council makes progress on a set of new reforms that will make us more efficient, accountable and competitive. We must tie new revenue to new reforms.”