Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Maven's Morning Coffee: free marijuana in neighborhood council elections, new laws for digital billboards, first look at City Services Card

Medical Marijuana

Bear Guerra/KPCC

The recent neighborhood council election in Eagle Rock includes allegations of free marijuana for voters and an unusually large number of at-large voters representing medical marijuana interests.

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 Tuesday, Oct. 16, and here is what's happening in Los Angeles:


The neighborhood council elections in Eagle Rock took a turn when voters were promised free marijuana and encouraged to vote for pro-medicinal cannabis candidates, reports the Los Angeles Times. Of the 800 votes cast in the election, 300 came from at-large voters who do not live Eagle Rock but may have business interests there.

A Los Angeles City Council committee will get its first look today at the proposed City Services Card, which would give undocumented immigrants access to banking and library services, reports the Daily News. "What this is intended to do is to help increase financial literacy so people will have access to banks and be able to open accounts," said Councilman Richard Alarcon.


California's Latino members of Congress campaigning for fellow politicos

A Democratic party official says Congresswomen Linda, left, and Loretta Sanchez are "our best messengers to Latino voters in these districts where the Latino vote is critical to our success."

Congressional candidates are busy getting out their messages to voters in these last few weeks before the November election. With the Latino vote being targeted around the country, a number of rising Latino Congressional stars are also working hard outside of their districts.

Redistricting has made this a particularly busy election year for Congressional Californians. Democrat Loretta Sanchez of Anaheim says when she learned in January what her new district would look like, she began knocking on the doors of "as many of the homes that are new to the district." She's also been registering new voters in her redrawn district.

But Sanchez has found the time to help out a fellow Democrat, State Senator Alan Lowenthal, who’s running for an open Congressional seat in Long Beach where 34% of district residents are Latino.


Which California Congressional seats are in danger?

Republican Tony Strickland and Democrat Julia Brownley are in a close contest for U.S. House District 26, which includes most of Ventura County.

With the election just three weeks away, four California Congressional seats currently held by Republicans are now considered up for grabs. 

The latest analysis by "The Hill" shows Modesto's Jeff Denham's race has moved from "leaning Republican" to "toss up" status. He's facing a tough challenge from former astronaut Jose Hernandez in a newly-drawn district that's almost equally split between Democrats and Republicans, with one-in-five voters declining to align themselves with either party. The district is 40 percent Latino, 46 percent white.

Three other GOP seats deemed "tossup" are currently held by Dan Lungren in Sacramento, Elton Gallegly of Simi Valley, and Brian Bilbray in San Diego.

Gallegly is retiring and his open seat is being sought by Republican Tony Strickland and Democrat Julia Brownley, both of whom serve in the California State Legislature. The district has been re-drawn and now includes most of Ventura County except for Simi Valley.


Molly Munger to pull TV ad criticizing Gov. Brown's Prop 30 ballot measure

Proposition 38 backer Molly Munger is pulling a TV ad that attacks Gov. Brown's rival measure.

The controversial TV ad attacking Proposition 30, Governor Jerry Brown's measure to restore funding for public education, is reportedly being pulled from the airwaves.

The ad was financed by civil rights attorney Molly Munger, who is pushing her own alternate measure on the November ballot, Prop 38. The ad said the campaign for Gov. Brown’s tax initiative misleads the public about how the tax revenue would be spent.

Munger told a Sacramento TV station that the negative ad will be pulled by Tuesday.

The California PTA, Prop 38’s main supporter, disagreed with the negative tone of Munger’s ad.

“We asked both campaigns to step back and de-escalate and move forward, and that’s what the Prop 38 campaign is doing”  state PTA board member Patty Scripter said Monday.

Prop 38 strategist Nathan Ballard added: "After we ran the comparative ad for a week, we made our point, and now we are moving on to an ad that spells out the benefits of Prop 38."


Round Two: Congressmen Howard Berman, Brad Sherman on KPCC (Video)

Physical Debate

YouTube/Howard Berman

Congressman Brad Sherman swings his arm around Congressman Howard Berman during a debate Thursday night, October 11 in the San Fernando Valley.

Four days after an angry physical confrontation at Pierce College, Congressmen Howard Berman and Brad Sherman face off in a debate on KPCC Monday (Scheduled for 11:30 a.m. on AirTalk).

Last Thursday, Sherman, 57, suggested Berman, 71, had initiated the clash, which was videotaped, when he moved to his side of the stage and waved a finger in Sherman’s face. One witness said it was Sherman who appeared “out of control” when he swung his arm around Berman with enough force to make him wobble.

(See the video below.)

“It was Brad who was the one who lunged at Howard,” said Jewish Journal Reporter Jonah Lowenfeld, who is closely following the congressional race. “Howard may have been a little closer to Brad than Brad wanted. But Brad was certainly the one who upped it.”

“This was not a wise or carefully considered action,” Sherman later told KPCC.