Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Maven's Morning Coffee: anniversary of Occupy, medical marijuana referendum, Richard Alarcon's prelim hearing wraps up

Wall Street Protest Spreads To Other Cities

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The Occupy movement celebrates its one-year anniversary.

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


The Los Angeles Times looks back at the Occupy movement on its one-year anniversary.

The Los Angeles City Council will decide today whether to repeal its ban on medical marijuana clinics or put the issue on the March 2013 ballot as a referendum. "At this point, I'm more concerned with enforcement on illegal, for-profit dispensaries, which the federal government is currently engaged in," Councilman Jose Huizar told City News Service.


California's Asian-American voters include many who are undecided and nonpartisan

Party identification among Asian Americans

National Asian American Survey

A majority of California Asian-American voters choose neither Republican nor Democratic party registration.

A new study of California's Asian-American voters shows about 30 percent are undecided about the presidential race. That's a much higher rate of undecided voters than the overall population, which tends to be about 7 percent undecided.

Slightly more than half of all Asian-American voters in the state register as non-partisan, said UC Riverside political science professor Karthick Ramakrishnan.

"Asian-Americans are the most heavily immigrant group in the United States so it takes them a while to gain familiarity with the U.S. political system and figure out where they fit in with respect to the parties," Ramakrishnan said.

Another factor is that Asian-American voters receive the least amount of contact from political parties and campaigns, he said. And despite having fairly high levels of education, their turnout at the polls is among the lowest of any race or ethnic group, said Ramakrishnan.


Berman camp claims Sherman used campaign bank account for personal gain

Getty Images

Democrats Howard Berman, left, and Brad Sherman are incumbent Congressmen who find themselves vying for the same seat because of redistricting.

The Berman-Sherman fight got a little nastier Monday.

Behind in the polls, the re-election campaign of Congressman Howard Berman accused rival Congressman Brad Sherman of “potential impropriety” when he earned interest on loans he made to his own campaign. The Berman campaign also said Sherman’s re-payment schedule allowed him to collect more interest. Over two decades, that amounted to $461,000, the Berman campaign alleged. 

“Congressman/CPA Brad Sherman has devised a scheme to use his campaigns as vehicles for self-enrichment and personal profit,” said Brandon Hall, senior advisor to the Berman campaign. (Sherman is a Certified Public Accountant).

In a statement, Sherman spokesman John Schwada responded that the practice was “completely legal,” and that the Congressman always charged interest that was at least two percent less than the rate he would have received “had he simply left the money in the bank.”  He noted other members of Congress engage in similar practices.


Richard Alarcon's preliminary hearing wrapping up with testimony on rotten eggs, soiled furniture

City Councilman Richard Alarcon

Andres Aguila/KPCC

The preliminary hearing for Richard Alarcon is expected to wrap up Tuesday. Prosecutors have said that spoiled food in the refrigerator was one sign the LA city councilman did not live at his legal residence.

As the preliminary hearing for Richard Alarcon finally winds down, attorneys for the L.A. City Councilman and his wife are focused on a peculiar question: how can you tell the expiration date of eggs?

The hearing for Richard and Flora Alarcon is expected to end Tuesday morning. Lawyers have been in and out of court since the middle of August. Richard Alarcon was first charged with 18 felonies, including voter fraud and perjury, back in August of 2010 when prosecutors announced that he had lived outside of his city council district. Flora Alarcon was charged with six similar felonies. 

Earlier this year, the charges were dismissed by a judge, then immediately refiled by the District Attorney’s Office. Both Alarcons have pleaded not guilty. Judge  M. L. Villar de Longoria is expected to rule, perhaps immediately, whether the Alarcons should stand trial.


Fung Bros. comedy video asks: 'Does your Asian mom vote?'

Andrew Fung in "Does your Asian mom vote?" video

screengrab from http://youtu.be/QlzXHL4N_M4

In this fantasy sequence from "Does your Asian mom vote?" a young man learns he might not get to college.

A provocative question is circulating on YouTube with a question for young voters in the San Gabriel Valley. It's the comedic Fung Brothers, David and Andrew, asking:  "Does your Asian mom vote?"

It shows their mom (actually, it's an actress, uncredited on the video) scurrying around the kitchen as the boys eat breakfast. They say they are going to vote. She tells them to mind their studies and not get involved in things that don't affect their prospects for success, like getting into medical and law school.

"What is one thing that will happen if you don't vote, huh?" she demands. Cue the fantasy sequence.

The Fung Brothers video (here they tell us the seven things Asian American teens love) is part of a larger campaign by the Asian Pacific American Legal Center and 13 community partners with ties to Asian population groups in Southern California to encourage greater registration and voting.