Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Mayor Villaraigosa headed to Brazil, Chile, Colombia on trade mission

Democratic National Convention: Day 1

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will travel to South America at the end of the month on a nine-day trip to promote trade and tourism.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa just got done traveling around the country on behalf of President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign. Now he’s breaking out his passport for another trip – a trade mission to Chile, Brazil and Colombia. 

The mayor and executives from the Port of Los Angeles, Los Angeles World Airports and Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board will be in South America from Nov. 24 through Dec. 3.

“The future of Los Angeles is tied closely to our neighbors in South America," said Villaraigosa said. "As we strengthen and build our local economy, we must leverage our assets in this global marketplace to create jobs here in Los Angeles."

“With two previous trade missions, we worked to develop strong economic ties with Asia," Villaraigosa added. "Now, we’re going to strength our relationships in South America to increase investment, trade and tourism in L.A.”


LA City Council on Tuesday considers putting sales tax increase on March 2013 ballot

City Councilman Herb J. Wesson Jr.

Andres Aguila/KPCC

A sales tax increase backed by Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson was approved Friday by a committee. It could appear on the city's March 2013 ballot.

A proposal to increase the city of Los Angeles’ sales tax in an effort to close a fiscal deficit was one step closer Friday to making it onto the March 2013 ballot.

Members of the Rules, Elections and Intergovernmental Relations Committee unanimously agreed to ask Los Angeles voters to increase the city’s sales tax from 8.75 percent to 9.25 percent. If the rate is increased, city officials say it would generate between $208 million and $215 million a year for the city’s General Fund, and it would put Los Angeles on par with Santa Monica. The city's deficit for the next fiscal year is expected to be $216 million. 

“It nets us the most amount of money," said L.A. City Council President Herb Wesson. "If you look at what happened Tuesday night, out of 36 elections statewide, 29 of them were successful where it related to an increase in the sales tax." 


Maven's Morning Coffee: Jan Perry on pensions, LAPD warns of layoffs, a look at voter turnout statewide

Jan Perry

Courtesy of Perry campaign

L.A. City Councilwoman Jan Perry wants city workers to pay more into their pension and health care plans.

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, Nov. 9, and here is what's happening in Los Angeles:


In a mayoral-type address, Los Angeles City Councilwoman Jan Perry said city workers need to pay more money into their pension and healthcare plans, reports KPCC. Perry's proposal would raise $44 million a year -- less than what's needed to cover the city's deficit.

Police Chief Charlie Beck warns that the Los Angeles Police Department will have layoffs unless the city increases its sales tax by half a percent, according to the Los Angeles Times. As many as 500 police officers could be impacted. "I don't want to panic my workforce. But I wouldn't be here if I didn't think it was a severe threat on public safety in Los Angeles," he told The Times.


California election turnout: In search of a million missing voters

Polling Election Day 2012

Mae Ryan/KPCC

Voters cast their ballots in the McDonald's Playroom in Hollywood on November 6th, 2012.

Among all the numbers emerging from Election Day, here's a significant one: About one-million fewer Californians appear to have turned out to vote this year than in 2008, according to exit polls and the California Secretary of State.

Turnout in the state is expected to be close to 70 percent, according to a Field Poll estimate. However the actual number won't be known until counties finish processing mail-in and provisional ballots – expected no later than mid-December. Turnout in the 2008 election was 77.5 percent.

While all voting groups turned out in lower absolute numbers, the percentage of different groups' participation as voters reflects the growing diversity of California's population and the increasing willingness of some traditionally low-turnout groups to cast ballots.

Black voters were not a disproportionate part of that missing million. The rate of participation among African American voters remained constant in the state – about eight percent of the electorate.

Voting is especially strong among black voters ages 18 to 29, said Peter Levine, who studies the youth vote as director of the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University.

"African-American youth have very high turnout, often the highest turnout of any young group, so they are more than pulling their weight among young voters," he said. "And their desire to vote is not just a product of enthusiasm for Barack Obama because it goes back to a big jump that first occurred in 2004."

Some pollsters said young voters weren't as engaged this year. But, at least in California, young voters of all races and ethnicities turned out in strong numbers on Tuesday – making up 28 percent of the electorate – that is eight points higher than in 2008.

"It looks like fewer people voted in California in 2012 than in 2008, but a higher proportion of people who voted were young," Levine said.

That's partly because the millennial generation is more engaged in everything – politics, news, social media. But the political parties also reached out to young voters. Prop 30 supporters mobilized to get college-age and other young voters to support that tax measure's promises to forestall budget cuts and tuition increases.

What about Latino voters? Were they a big part of the missing million?

University of California, Irvine political scientist Louis DiSipio said exit polls indicate Latinos increased their share of ballots cast in the presidential election to 22 percent of the electorate, up four points from the last one.
"The electorate in California in 2012 got closer to the diversity of the population as a whole," DiSipio said.

The participation of Asian-American voters was up to 11 percent, two points more than in 2008, according to exit polls. In California, voters can get language assistance at polling places in a half-dozen Asian languages.

University of California, Riverside political scientist Karthick Ramakrishnan said Asian-American voters were particularly motivated by the education-centric campaign for Prop 30, and a desire to support Asian candidates.

Which brings us to the white vote.

Non-Hispanic whites remain the biggest portion of the electorate, but their voting numbers are swiftly declining. They represented only about 55 percent of the turnout in California–down eight points from 2008.


Jan Perry seeks to play fiscal conservative in LA Mayors race

Jan Perry

Courtesy of Perry campaign

L.A. City Councilwoman Jan Perry is running for mayor in next Spring's election.

In what was billed as a major policy speech on pension reform Thursday, Los Angeles City Councilwoman and mayoral candidate Jan Perry said city workers must pay more into their pension and healthcare plans.

“This has to begin with an honest conversation with our city employees about our finances and the hard choices that we have to make to solve our budget crisis,” Perry said to supporters and journalists at the Japanese American National Museum in downtown L.A.

Los Angeles faces an estimated $1 billion dollar deficit over the next five years, she said. Employee wages and benefits comprise the biggest portion of the city budget.

Perry said city analysts project a $73 million increase in revenue next year.  But employee costs will jump $208 million – mostly because of the rising costs of healthcare and pensions.