Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Maven's Morning Coffee: Former LA City Council aide arrested, Board of Supervisors votes against oversight, the politics of education in South LA

Los Angeles City Councilman Curren D. Price

Grant Slater/KPCC

A former City Hall lobbyist and aide to Councilman Curren Price was arrested Tuesday for allegedly taking part in an embezzlement scheme.

Good morning, readers. Welcome to the Maven's Morning Coffee -- a listing of the important headlines, news conferences, votes 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 Wednesday, Aug. 6, and here is what's happening in Southern California politics:

Headlines

A former lobbyist and aide to L.A. City Councilman Curren Price was arrested in an embezzlement scheme involving a member of the West Basin Municipal Water District. Prosecutors say Rob Katherman funneled money from his nonprofit to Ronald Smith in order to cover his personal expenses, including school tuition and tennis and dance lessons for his children. Los Angeles Times, KPCC, Daily Breeze

A proposal to create a civilian oversight panel for the Sheriff's Department was defeated by the Board of Supervisors. One of the dissenting votes, Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, argued the Office of the Inspector General should have time to take shape before a new body is created. "When everyone's in charge, no one's in charge," he said. Los Angeles Times, KPCC

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Maven's Morning Coffee: Mayor supports Chief Beck, Legislature considers water bond, low turnout expected in LAUSD special election

Eric Garcetti

Alice Walton/KPCC

Mayor Eric Garcetti says he has confidence in police Chief Charlie Beck, despite recent media reports on his possible involvement in disciplinary cases.

Good morning, readers. Welcome to the Maven's Morning Coffee -- a listing of the important headlines, news conferences, votes 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 Tuesday, Aug. 5, and here is what's happening in Southern California politics:

Headlines

Mayor Eric Garcetti continues to support police Chief Charlie Beck despite allegations that the chief may have influenced a disciplinary case involving his daughter, report KPCC. "This is a police chief I’m very happy with and has done a great job," the mayor told reporters at City Hall.

The state Legislature has a week to craft a new water bond for the Nov. 4 ballot, reports the Sacramento Bee. "Beyond partisan maneuvering, the two biggest variables are the size of the bond and the specific projects it would finance. (Gov. Jerry) Brown has proposed $6 billion, while other proposals floating around the Capitol range upward to the $11.1 billion pending measure," according to the piece.

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Maven's Morning Coffee: Negative campaigning for LAUSD, civilian oversight for Sheriff's Department, the "Rizzo Tax" in Bell

A student on his way to school walks pas

Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

The race for the LAUSD Board of Education is getting nasty as Alex Johnson and George McKenna battle it out for an open seat.

Good morning, readers. Welcome to the Maven's Morning Coffee -- a listing of the important headlines, news conferences, votes 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 Monday, Aug. 4, and here is what's happening in Southern California politics:

Headlines

In Rick Orlov's Tipoff column, Mayor Eric Garcetti learns the troubles of travel, Angelenos fight for parking ticket reform, and residents find what its costs to fight City Hall.

The campaign between George McKenna and Alex Johnson for the LAUSD Board of Education has turned negative as the younger candidate, Johnson, attacks the other's 40 years of experience, reports the Los Angeles Times. "Attacking McKenna's reputation has been part of a strategy to overcome a distant second-place finish for Johnson in the June primary," per the Times.

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The city of Bell keeps paying a 'Rizzo Tax' long after corrupt officials go to prison

Bell Economy - 2

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

The old Western Auto Supply store is now city-owned. An associate of former Bell City Manager Robert Rizzo owned the shop.

Bell Economy - 1

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Western Auto on Atlantic Avenue in Bell is slated for demolition by the end of the summer. The 2 1/2-square-mile city has almost 40,000 residents but very little retail. This site could become a new shopping center.

Bell Economy - 3

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Western Auto was also home to a gun shop. It's one of several parcels in Bell that current city administrators hope to turn into new commercial opportunities.

Bell Economy - 4

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

The city of Bell was almost bankrupt when former City Manager Robert Rizzo left. There was $300,000 left in the city's general fund.

Bell Economy - 5

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Since the scandal in Bell, City Manager Doug Willmore, left, and Contracts and Facilities Manager Alex Fong are among those left to pick up the pieces.

Bell Economy - 6

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

The city is hoping for larger businesses to settle in Bell. Recently, the city council passed a package of incentives to attract developers.

Bell Economy - 7

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

This empty lot on Florence Avenue was set to be a new sports complex under former Bell City Manager, Robert Rizzo. The funding came from a voter-approved recreation bond, but the complex was never built.

Bell Economy - 8

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

A Bell city leader made more than $90,000 a year to help run the city's food bank inside what used to be the Golden Bakery, just across the street from City Hall.

Bell Economy - 9

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

This lot on Atlantic Avenue in Bell used to be a Chevrolet dealership. It's one of several unused spaces that administrators hope to attract new businesses to move into.

Bell Economy - Doug Willmore

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Bell City Manager Doug Willmore is working to bring new businesses into the city. Since the scandal, Willmore and other Bell city administrators have reduced the city's debt by 46 percent from $137 million to $74 million.


The last of seven Bell city officials convicted in a major public corruption scandal was sentenced last week. But the financial crimes committed by the former Bell officials left the tiny city in Southeast Los Angeles County deep in debt,  its local economy in tatters.

"One of the big crimes of Robert Rizzo isn't just what he did, it's what he left behind," said Rizzo successor, City Manager Doug Willmore. "He left this small working class city $137 million in debt."

Willmore calls that debt and other ongoing financial burdens on residents, "The Rizzo Tax." Rizzo is now serving a 12-year prison term for public corruption and tax evasion. Possibly the greatest damage he did during his time in office was to the city's business base.

Willmore said so many businesses left town that the city's sales tax revenue these days is half what it was a decade ago. Sparse retail activity means low sales tax revenue - and that's money that cities rely on to pay police and firefighters and to provide parks and maintain roads.

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Maven's Morning Coffee: LAFD report on nepotism, money in Board of Supervisors race, what caused DWP's pipe to burst?

LAFD ambulance

Photo by KristaLAPrincess via Flickr Creative Commons

The Fire Commission will consider a report Tuesday on nepotism within the department.

Good morning, readers. Welcome to the Maven's Morning Coffee -- a listing of the important headlines, news conferences, votes 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, Aug. 1, and here is what's happening in Southern California politics:

Headlines

The water pipe that burst near UCLA Tuesday is just one part of Los Angeles' "infrastructure crisis," Councilman Mitch Englander told the Los Angeles Times. It's unclear whether a plan to speed up the pipe replacement project would result in higher water rates. "If I were there now, I'd be knocking on the mayor's door with a program for massive acceleration of pipe replacement," said former DWP General Manager David Freeman.

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