Represent! | Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Maven's Morning Coffee: Nury Martinez wins LA City Council race, sheriff's deputies get raises, LAPD looks at employees' lawsuits

Once she is sworn in, Nury Martinez will be the only woman on the Los Angeles City Council.
Alice Walton/KPCC

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.

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Today is Wednesday, July 24, and here is what's happening in Southern California politics:


Former LAUSD board member Nury Martinez was elected to the Los Angeles City Council's Sixth District with 54 percent of the vote, per the City Clerk's Office.

Ontario Mayor Paul Leon and Pomona Councilman Freddie Rodriguez are headed to a September runoff for the state Assembly's 52nd District, according to the Press-Enterprise. The winner will serve out the remainder of Norma Torres' term.

For the first time in five years, Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies and probation officers are getting raises, according to the Los Angeles Times. The 6 percent pay increases will continue through January 2015. "The board approved a similar pay hike for county firefighters, lifeguards and investigators with the public defender's office last month and also agreed last month to lift a hiring freeze that had been in place for all departments," according to the newspaper.


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Former Vernon official fights city and CalPers to keep his $500k annual pension

Vernon is a small town in L.A. County with a lot of industry and few residents. Former city manager Bruce Malkenhorst was paid more than $900,000 annually.
Eric Zassenhaus/KPCC

The man who became famous for collecting the highest public employee pension in California is now suing his former bosses in the city of Vernon.

Bruce Malkenhorst Sr. retired in 2005 as city manager of the small industrial city with fewer than 100 residents. His final salary was more than $900,000 annually. He was convicted the following year of using city money to pay for personal expenses.

After an audit, CalPers decided last year to cut Malkenhorst's annual payments to $115,000. CalPers said Vernon failed to properly document Malkenhorst's jobs and income to justify the half-million dollar annual payout.

Attorney Steven Berliner, who represents the city, says Malkenhorst is now suing Vernon claiming, "If he doesn't get his entire benefit through CalPers, the city should make up the difference. And that difference is approximately $30,000 a month."


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Prison officials and inmate advocates discuss hunger strike

The Security Housing Unit at Pelican Bay State Prison is used for long-term solitary confinement.
Julie Small/KPCC

California prison officials met Tuesday with advocates for inmates on the third week of a hunger strike. The action was taken to protest the long-term solitary confinement of thousands of inmates with ties to prison gangs.

Thirty thousand inmates joined the protest that began July 8. California’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation reported Tuesday that the number has dropped to 851. 

Department spokesman Jeffrey Callison described the two-hour talks between inmate advocates and high-ranking CDCR officials as "informational" only.  "It is not a negotiating or mediating session," he said.

Carol Strickman, an attorney with Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, described the meeting with officials as “cordial but frustrating" because, "they would not acknowledge the urgency of the situation.”


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L.A.councilman supports Justice Dept. investigation into Trayvon Martin case

Los Angeles City Councilman Bernard Parks says “There have been discussions as to whether these laws called 'Stand your ground' or 'Make my day' are appropriate."
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South L.A. Councilman Bernard Parks on Tuesday introduced a resolution supporting the Department of Justice’s open investigation into the death of Trayvon Martin.

Parks said the resolution calls for the government to conduct an “objective and thorough” investigation into the circumstances of Martin’s death.

“There have been discussions as to whether these laws called 'Stand your ground' or 'Make my day' are appropriate as it relates to using common sense and judgment,” Parks said.

Martin was shot and killed by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, in Sanford, Florida. Zimmerman claimed self-defense, and last Saturday a jury found him not guilty.

Parks credits Earl Hutchinson, president of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable, for giving him the idea for the resolution. Hutchinson joined Parks at a press conference in support of the resolution’s passage.


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Judiciary Committee debates legalization for Dreamers

Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Los Angeles), accompanied by Dream Act supporters, says she won't vote vote for anything else than comprehensive immigration reform
Kitty Felde/KPCC

The House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday discussed for the first time legalization for some undocumented immigrants — those brought to the U.S. as children by their parents. But Democrats say they won't support what they call "Dream Act lite." 

Even the toughest critics of immigration reform, such as Iowa Republican Steve King, empathize with the predicament of Dreamers — kids brought illegally to the U.S. by their parents. "It tugs at my heart, too," King said. But he doesn't support legal status for these young people, calling it "backdoor amnesty."

Other Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee, however, are willing to give it consideration.

Democrats have pushed for the Dream Act for more than a decade. But in this instance, they're saying "no."

L.A. Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard stood in a room filled with Dreamers, saying she'd vote for nothing less than comprehensive immigration reform. "Instead of separating parents from their children," she said, "let's bring the Dreamers and their parents out of the shadows."


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