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Maven's Morning Coffee: LAFD response times, Democrats win a supermajority, mayoral candidates debate finances
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. 15, and here is what's happening in Los Angeles:
The hillside communities of Los Angeles often have longer wait times than densely populated areas when they call 911 for a medical emergency, according to the Los Angeles Times. "The findings reinforce the obvious risks of living in L.A.'s scenic and desirable canyon enclaves, where wildfires and mudslides are a perennial concern and narrow and winding roads can slow rescue vehicles," reports The Times.
The Democrats have won a supermajority in the state Assembly, reports The Sacramento Bee. "Democrats also are assured of a supermajority in the Senate, marking the first time since 1883 that the party has wielded such power in the Legislature," according to the newspaper.
Candidates for Los Angeles mayor discuss pension reform at Koreatown debate
Just when you thought you’d had enough of politics, here comes the race to succeed Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Four candidates faced off Wednesday in a forum sponsored by the Korean American Coalition.
Among the topics: Former Mayor Richard Riordan’s proposed ballot initiative to dramatically overhaul city pensions and move new city workers into 401 (k) style plans. The plan would likely reduce benefits for city workers.
“I oppose the proposed ballot initiative,” said Councilman Eric Garcetti. He argued Riordan’s plan initially would cost more, and that the city would not realize any savings for 15 years.
City Controller Wendy Greuel warned the proposal - staunchly opposed by powerful labor unions – might send police officers to surrounding cities with more generous benefits.
LA City Council special election slated for May at $400K cost
A special election to fill the vacancy that will be left by Los Angeles City Councilman Tony Cardenas’ move to Congress will cost the city about $400,000, according to a report from the city clerk.
The Sixth District seat will open too late to make it onto the March 2013 ballot. The City Clerk's office said there needs to be reasonable notice for prospective candidates to meet residency requirements and organize their campaigns.
The estimate assumes the primary for Cardenas' seat will be held on May 21, 2013, which is the runoff date for the mayor’s race, as well as city attorney, controller and eight city council seats. If the CD 6 primary isn't held on that day, the estimate will increase to well over $1 million.
The report states: “The $400,000 cost is based upon the number of precincts in CD 6 and presumes an estimated 15 to 20 candidates filing papers to run, normal at-poll voting methodology, and the necessity of administering both the primary and runoff elections."
Californians in House leadership: one keeps his post, another hopes to move up
Now that Nancy Pelosi has said she wants to stay on as House Democratic leader, other party members are assessing their standing. On Wednesday, another Californian formally launched his campaign to move up the leadership ladder.
L.A. Congressman Xavier Becerra is currently the fifth-ranking Democrat in the House. Now he’s sent a formal letter to colleagues, throwing his hat in the ring for the number four spot — Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. Becerra says relationships are the key to advancement: "It’s developing the friendships that let you get to the point where you can actually ask for a vote."
Becerra has several things going for him: Pelosi is one of his biggest fans. And a quarter of the freshman Democratic class comes from his home state. "The more Californians there are," says Becerra, "the greater opportunity I have to try to have them be with me, supportive of me."
Pelosi staying on as Democratic House leader
Former House speaker Nancy Pelosi says she’ll run to keep her job as the Democratic leader in the House. Pelosi bristled at suggestions she should have stepped aside for a younger generation of Democrats.
Pelosi said she decided to run again, in part, because her kids’ support, and because of a message she said she heard over and over again from fellow House Democrats, "don’t even think of leaving.”
Pelosi cited the role of money in politics, including billions of dollars spent on the presidential campaign, as one issue for the new Congress. “Our founders had in mind a government of the many," she said, "not government of the money.”
Pelosi surrounded herself with dozens of fellow female House members. She pointed out California’s Democratic delegation now has a majority of women. Those women – mostly middle-aged and older – were not happy when a younger reporter suggested the 72-year old Pelosi was hurting the party by staying on instead of encouraging younger leaders. There were hisses and cries of "discrimination!" Pelosi called the question “offensive” and said while men in their 30s were running for office, she was raising kids.