In this week's State of Affairs, KPCC political reporters Alice Walton and Frank Stoltze take a look at President Barack Obama's latest visit to Southern California, the minimum wage and the race for governor.
It's a busy week for southern California. President Obama is in town today. Earlier this week Joe Biden was in town and he met with Mayor Eric Garcetti for a roundtable discussion on increasing the minimum wage. Meanwhile, some members of the city council introduced their own minimum wage proposal. How do the proposals differ?
Alice Walton: "Four members of the City Council introduced their own proposal. This is from council members Mike Bonin, Curren Price, Nury Martinez and Gil Cedillo. They want to do the mayor's plan, which is to increase wages to $13.25 an hour by 2017, but then they want to accelerate that and push the wage to $15.25 by 2019. That is a departure from the mayor's plan. The mayor has said he supports steadying that idea, bit he's not yet endorsing that $15 an hour figure."
Frank, you recently reported that the federal government has found L.A. County jail officials haven't done enough to help inmates who suffer from mental illness. There's talk of a federal consent decree, which would dictate how the county can operate its jails. How significant would this be?
Frank Stoltze: "We're at a critical moment for the L.A. County Sheriff's Department, and the jails, and maybe a critical moment for criminal justice in Los Angeles County...This particular consent decree relates specifically to folks who are mentally ill inside the jails -- about 3,500 of the 19,000 inmates -- and the federal government is saying you're not providing adequate care to these folks. So we're at this moment, and it's a huge deal."
Looking ahead to November, Gov. Jerry Brown isn't just ahead in the polls, he's ahead in fundraising, with more than 24 million dollars. He started spending that money this week on a couple of television commercials but they weren't ads for his reelection. What were they about?
Alice Walton: "Jerry Brown has taken some of his campaign funds to push Proposition 1, which is a $7.5 billion water bond, and Proposition 2, which is basically a rainy day fund for the state with the slogan, 'Save Water, Save Money.' So voters are seeing Jerry Brown on the air, they are seeing his face, and if their TV is on mute, maybe they think it's an ad for the governor's race. But he's taken some of his $24 million blanketing the airwaves to push the propositions. That's where he's putting his efforts, he's not really putting his efforts into his own re-election campaign."
Meanwhile, several polls suggest Republican Neel Kashkari will lose. Alice, you spoke with Kashkari, what might his campaign mean for the Republican Party here in California?
Alice Walton: "I talked to the vice chair of the [Republican] party, and she said they're tying to run more women, they're trying to run more diverse candidates, and really pick people who reflect their communities...Also they're trying to embrace candidates like Kashkari who don't represent all of the Republican party platforms. He supports abortion rights, he supports same-sex marriage, those are not issues typically embraced by the Republican party, but they want to win, they want to start seeing bodies in these offices. So if they can find a Republican who they can agree with on most of the issues, they're more likely now to endorse them, to support financially, to stump for them. Because they realize they really need to be reaching Californians."