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

California lawmakers pressure White House ahead of Vietnamese presidential visit

Ed Royce (R-Fullerton), head of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, is joined by Reps. Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) and Loretta Sanchez (D-Anaheim) to protest human rights abuses in Vietnam.
Kitty Felde/KPCC

The President of Vietnam meets with President Obama later this week — just the second time a leader from that country has visited the U.S. since the end of the war. In anticipation, a bipartisan group of California lawmakers are pushing President Obama to pressure his Vietnamese counterpart to stop human rights abuses. 

At a Tuesday press conference, lawmakers cited a long list of alleged abuses: religious leaders tortured with electric prods, the arrest and beatings of three dozen young dissidents, bloggers – the closest thing Vietnam has to a free press – locked up.

Fullerton Republican Congressman Ed Royce, who heads the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said the Vietnamese government "continues to round up anyone who continues to speak the word 'democracy' or speak the word 'human rights.'" He said it’s the responsibility of the U.S. to live up to its agreements, including the one with Vietnam that requires progress on human rights.


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Maven's Morning Coffee: Election Day in the Valley, upheaval in Cudahy, the archbishop discusses immigration

Voters in the city's Sixth District will vote for a new councilwoman today.
Frank Stoltze

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, July 23, and here is what's happening in Southern California politics:


It's Election Day in Los Angeles' Sixth District. "Turnout could be low because the unusual, stand-alone city contest comes just two months after city voters chose a new mayor, city attorney, controller and six new council members, and eight months after voters reelected the president," per the Los Angeles Times.

Over at Los Angeles Magazine, Raphael Sonenshein puts together a to do list for Mayor Eric Garcetti.


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Immigration debate in DC worries some California Republicans

U.S, Representative Dana Rohrabacher, Republican from California. (File photo)
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

As comprehensive immigration reform stalls in the U.S. House of Representatives, some Golden State Republicans back home are wringing their hands. They say the rhetoric they’re hearing from GOP Congressmen threatens an already floundering California Republican Party.

“I can’t believe that we’re in 2013, and we haven’t been able to address this issue,” said Downey Mayor Mario Guerra. “To me it’s very much a human issue, and I think the time is now to do something about it.”

Guerra, a lifelong Republican, supports providing a pathway to citizenship for the nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrations – an estimated 2.6 million live in California. But the idea is anathema to Congressman Dana Rohrabacher of Orange County.

“Its really an invitation for everybody in the world to come here and break our laws,” Rohrbacher said. “It makes no sense.”


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Prop 8: San Diego County Clerk seeks halt to same-sex marriage licenses, asks Supreme Court to clarify legal questions

Mari Lopez, a Los Angeles deputy commissioner, holds the hands of Lilyanne McCoy and Sandra Schicora of Lakewood during the marriage ceremony at the LA County Clerk's office in Norwalk. San Diego's county clerk has said the California attorney general doesn't have the authority to direct him to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and is seeking clarification from the state Supreme Court.
Grant Slater/KPCC

Same-sex couples have been getting marriage licenses in California since late last month, ever since Attorney General Kamala Harris directed county clerks to issue the permits in response to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

But San Diego County Clerk Ernest Dronenburg says Harris doesn't have the authority to direct him to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. As he sees it, the federal court decision striking down Prop 8 as unconstitutional applies only to Alameda and Los Angeles counties, home to the two couples who challenged the law.

He wants the California Supreme Court to order him and other county clerks to stop issuing licenses to same-sex couples. What he seeks is clarity in a confusing legal landscape.

"I'm marrying people right now out of the faith that I've got to do what they said to do, but I don't have the surety in my mind that I'm doing it legally," Dronenburg said Monday. "All I want is for the court to tell me it's legal."


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California board teams with non-partisan research group to measure realignments’ effects

Mule Creek Prison's design capacity is for 1,700 prisoners. At one point the prison housed 3,769 prisoners.
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation / EPA

The state board in charge of tracking the effects of California's criminal justice realignment voted Monday to partner with the non-partisan Public Policy Institute of California to get the job done.

The two-year old realignment law diverted tens of thousands of criminals from prisons by making certain felony crimes punishable by jail sentences. It also put counties in charge of monitoring lower-level felons coming out of prison — and sanctioning ex-convicts who violate parole.

But state lawmakers enacted the change without much of a plan for measuring the outcome.

They made the Board of State and Community Corrections responsible for tracking and sharing realignment data with the public. But the board lacks authority to get counties to record or report that data in any particular way.


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