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

Cities aim to recoup $30 million in fees from Los Angeles County

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Monday’s state Supreme Court ruling that Los Angeles County overcharged municipalities for administrative services could mean a modest but important boost for strapped city budgets.

"It’s all very important and this money’s going to go right back to city general funds that pay for police and fire and other important local services," said Chris McKenzie of the League of California Cities.

Counties manage property tax collection for cities and charge them a fee for the service.  After California’s state legislature enacted a couple of complex tax swaps to plug a budget hole, counties began managing more property tax dollars for cities.

McKenzie said the counties were supposed to provide the service at cost. 

"Apparently L.A. County and other counties that followed the guidelines were charging in excess of their actual cost."


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More than 170,000 votes counted, only 79 separate Westside Assembly candidates

The race between Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom and Assemblywoman Betsy Butler for the Assembly's 50th District remains too close to call.
Richard Bloom campaign/Betsy Butler campaign

Two weeks after the election, voters in one Westside Assembly district still don't know who will represent them in Sacramento. 

Tuesday's updated count of mail-in ballots has reduced Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom's lead in the race for the 50th District down to a mere 79 votes over incumbent Assemblywoman Betsy Butler. More than 170,000 votes have been counted.

Both candidates are Democrats who ended up in the general election because of the state's new "top two" law, which calls for the top finishers in the primary to advance to the general election, even if they're from the same party.

 The 50th district includes the cities of Santa Monica, Malibu, West Hollywood, and Beverly Hills. 

With 216,000 mail-in, provisional and drop-off ballots left to count in the Nov. 6 election, the County Registrar-Recorder's office has been performing updated counts twice each week. The next count is set for Friday.


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LA City Council votes to place sales tax increase on March 2013 ballot

A sales tax increase backed by Council President Herb Wesson was approved for the March 2013 ballot in a vote of 11-4.
Andres Aguila/KPCC
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A sales tax increase that could generate hundreds of millions of dollars for the City of Los Angeles will appear on the March 2013 ballot.

The Los Angeles City Council voted 11-4 Tuesday to place the tax measure on the March 5 ballot. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said he will return the measure to the council without his signature, which will allow the measure to appear on the ballot. 

Council President Herb Wesson proposed the tax increase, saying it could bring in $215 million a year for basic city services. Los Angeles is expected to start the next fiscal year in July with a $216 million deficit. 

Villaraigosa released a statement that said:  "I will not ask the people of Los Angeles to support higher taxes until the City Council makes progress on a set of new reforms that will make us more efficient, accountable and competitive. We must tie new revenue to new reforms.” 


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Maven's Morning Coffee: Tony Cardenas to Congress, NFL possibly to the Rose Bowl, LA County owes cities millions

L.A. City Councilman Tony Cardenas is headed to Washington, D.C. to be the San Fernando Valley's newest congressman.

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.

The Maven's Morning Coffee is also available as a daily email. Click here to subscribe.

Today is Tuesday, Nov. 20, and here is what's happening in Los Angeles:


A dozen Asian-American politicians will be in Congress starting Jan. 3, which will create the largest caucus of Asian American and Pacific Islander members in any single congressional session, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Congressman-elect Tony Cardenas hands out turkeys and talks about his transition to Washington, D.C. with KPCC. "I will be trying my best to make sure that various departments get grants to my community," he says of his work in D.C.


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Turkey, transition and tradition: Tony Cardenas moving from local to national political scene

L.A. City Councilman Tony Cardenas is moving to Congress, meaning he'll represent about a half-million more constituents.
Sharon McNary/KPCC

California voters are sending fourteen new members of Congress to Washington in early January. Tony Cardenas is one of them. Monday afternoon, the Los Angeles City Councilman  took a few minutes during his annual turkey giveaway for needy families to reflect on the coming change.

He'll represent his current 200,000 San Fernando Valley constituents, plus another half-million in the 29th Congressional District to which he was elected Nov. 6.

It's Cardenas' tenth consecutive year on the food distribution assembly line, handing out the frozen birds to families who were nominated to receive Thanksgiving gifts by local schools and non-profit groups. After about 20 minutes of transferring turkeys into bags and receiving the thanks of the last of the families, Cardenas' hands are chilled.

The turkey hand-out has become something of a tradition. Now Cardenas is hoping he doesn't draw the short straw in another tradition — the lottery for new members' office space on Capitol Hill.

"One office, they say, is notorious because people walk through your office to go to the bathroom, which I think is just not nice," Cardenas said.

As he concentrates on moving from local to federal government, Cardenas says he needs to let go of issues such as filling potholes and fixing street lights.

"Now, as a congressman, I have to discipline myself to understand that that's not my responsibility directly," he said. "However, I will be trying my best to make sure that various departments get grants to my community."

Cardenas sees it as returning tax funds to the community, and he's already getting requests. He told the crowd he will focus on policy issues such as creating a path to permanent residency and citizenship for immigrants.

Cardenas is taking one of his City Hall staffers with him to Washington; the rest of his D.C. staff will be people who have experience navigating the federal labyrinth.

"It's a very confusing place, literally," he said. "The tunnels are like mazes and it's hard to find the offices and find your way around. It's going to take a bit of time for me to acclimate."

Constituents such as Antonia Lamas, while thankful for the bag of food, are also focused on the bigger picture, and on what Cardenas can do for them in Washington."The most important thing," she said, "is that he get immigration laws implemented and enforced so that we all benefit."


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