Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Maven's Morning Coffee: LA's sales tax, an Assembly race lawsuit, a ruling on digital billboards

City Councilman Herb J. Wesson Jr.

Andres Aguila/KPCC

L.A. City Council President Herb Wesson is pushing a plan to increase the city of LA's sales tax by a half penny.

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, Oct. 31, and here is what's happening in Los Angeles:


The Los Angeles City Council will consider a batch of tax measures later today for the March 2013 ballot. Councilman Herb Wesson is pushing a proposal to increase the city's sales tax by a half-cent. The Los Angeles Times has a rundown of what will be heard this morning.

The wife of Republican Matthew Lin, a candidate for the state Assembly, sued her husband's political opponent, Ed Chau, after he published her Social Security number in a mailer, reports KPCC. "We've never really seen this in any other campaigns before, so this was completely unexpected," Lin's campaign manager told the station.


Judge tentatively rules for FPPC in Prop 30 donation case

A Sacramento Superior Court Judge tentatively ruled Tuesday that an Arizona group must hand over more information about its $11 million dollar donation to a campaign against Proposition 30 — Governor Jerry Brown's tax hike to fund public schools. 

California’s Fair Political Practices Committee went to court seeking the source of the money, arguing that voters deserve to know who provided the funds to Americans for Responsible Leadership. The FPPC's Ann Ravel said it asked to see e-mails, phone texts, checks, and board meeting minutes:

“Once we see those documents we’ll be able to make a determination as to whether or not the donors to that organization need to be disclosed because they knew, or should have known, that their contributions were going to a political campaign in California.” 


[UPDATED] Assembly candidate's wife sues over opponent's ad showing confidential information

Tax liens naming Matthew Lin

Ed Chau for Assembly campaign ad on YouTube

Images of old tax liens against Assembly candidate Matthew LIn appear in this video ad, "Lifestyles of the Rich and Republican," posted by the campaign of his opponent, Ed Chau. Lin's wife sued, alleging that her identifying information appears in Chau's videos and mailers.

The wife of Republican Assembly candidate Matthew Lin has sued his opponent, alleging he invaded her privacy and put her at risk of identity theft by publishing her Social Security number in mailers and videos seen by thousands of San Gabriel Valley residents.

Joy Lin filed the lawsuit against Democratic candidate Ed Chau. (UPDATE: Superior Court Judge Edward Simpson on Wednesday issued an order temporarily barring the Chau campaign from further displaying Joy Lin's Social Security number and he set a Nov. 27 hearing in the case.)

The candidates are running in the 49th Assembly District — the first in the state with a majority Asian-American population. Though the district has more registered Democrats than Republicans, about 30 percent of its voters do not identify with a political party. Lin won the June primary by more than 15 points. 


Congress: Inland Democrats Takano and Ruiz get Villaraigosa endorsement

Emergency room physician Raul Ruiz is running against Republican incumbent Mary Bono-Mack in a Coachella Valley district that includes Palm Springs.

Mark Takano

UC Riverside Extension

Mark Takano is a Democrat running for Congress in the 41st District. He is a teacher and trustee in the Riverside Community College District.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has endorsed Democratic Congressional candidates Mark Takano and Raul Ruiz.

Villaraigosa made the announcement during a Tuesday press conference at the Los Angeles County Democratic Party's East Los Angeles office.

Takano, a teacher, is running in the newly-drawn 41st District in the Inland Empire. His opponent is longtime Riverside County Supervisor John Tavaglione, a Republican.

Until the recent redistricting, the 41st District was more Republican. It includes Riverside, Moreno Valley, Lake Matthews, Mead Valley and Perris.

Ruiz, an emergency room doctor, is running in another recently redrawn district, the 36th, in Palm Springs.

Analysts consider the race a toss-up between Ruiz and seven-term Republican incumbent Mary Bono Mack. That district used to be reliably Republican, but after the remapping it now merely leans that way. The district is about 40 percent Latino.


Absentee voters: If you don't do this, your ballot may not count

I Voted

David McNew/Getty Images

Voting by mail is easy, but not fool-proof. Check the requirements for submitting a valid ballot that's sure to be counted.

Today is the last day in California to apply for a vote-by-mail ballot to participate in next Tuesday's election.

Michael McDonald studies voter behavior at George Mason University in Virginia. He says it’s important to review your ballot before mailing it in to make sure you’ve provided some sort of ID.

“Mail balloting is a more complicated process than voting in person and many people fail to take that step," he says. "Their ballot then only counts provisionally until the voter can provide that identification. Many of those ballots go uncounted in the election because people aren’t aware.”

First-time absentee voters in California must send off ballots with either a valid driver's license number, the final four digits of their social security number, or a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement or paycheck, according to the California Secretary of State's Office, if they have not previously verified their identities when registering to vote by mail.

From the Secretary of State's Office's website:

"In person" voters must show a "current and valid photo identification" or "a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows the name and address of the voter."

"Absentee voters" must submit with their ballot one of the documents listed above.

... The requirement only applies to voters who have never voted in the county in a federal election. Persons who were already registered as of January 1, 2003, or who change address within the county and re-register, are not required to show ID to vote.

Second, voters who do not register to vote "by mail" are not required to show ID to vote.

Third, Section 303(b)(3) states that if the voter provides his or her driver's license number, or the last 4 digits of his or her social security number, on the form to register to vote, and the elections official can verify the number is correct, then the ID requirement does not apply.

McDonald says election officials across the county threw out 400,000 absentee ballots during the last Presidential election because voters didn’t follow instructions.

Correction: An earlier version of this story didn't note that the identification requirements only applied to absentee voters voting in a federal election for the first time.