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Bright lights, big city: universal ID cards, digital billboards and roving voters in the news

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Los Angeles City Council met this morning to discuss two controversial issues. One is a proposal introduced by councilmember Richard Alarcon to a Universal City Services Card – a hybrid of ID card, library card and debit card – for those who don’t have a drivers’ license or bank account. Mayor Villaraigosa is championing the card to help undocumented residents access city services and reduce dependency on cash and payday lenders.

Opponents fear it will make it easier for illegal immigrants to violate immigration laws. They’ll also be voting to review proposed new city laws regarding digital billboards. Local residents have complained about glare and distraction caused by flashing advertising displays, but the city is considering loosening restrictions on the billboards, possibly with the benefit of a revenue-sharing deal with CBS Outdoor and Clearchannel. And there’s more political intrigue in the tiny community of Eagle Rock.

The city’s charter allows for “stakeholders” to vote along with residents in elections for Neighborhood Council. That means, anyone who does business – whether it’s shopping at Trader Joe’s or buying a cup of coffee – can cast a vote. Over the weekend, the city was indundated with voters from as far as Ventura County, who had been solicited by council candidates favorable to allowing medical marijuana shops in the area. According to the city’s tally, more than 300 of the 800 votes cast were by “at-large” voters, some no doubt lured by fliers promising $40 worth of medical marijuana to those who could prove they’d voted.

How will the city’s charter play out in the ongoing battle over pot shops in Eagle Rock? What does this mean to voting residents of the city? Should Los Angeles profit from the proliferation of digital billboards? Do you support the idea of a universal city ID card?


Alice Walton, KPCC reporter covering today’s Los Angeles City Council meeting

Raphael Sonenshein, Executive Director, Pat Brown Institute of Public Affairs at California State University, Los Angeles

Frank Stoltze, KPCC reporter covering today’s County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors meeting today