Index
Friday
Feb142014

L.A. CITY HALL: Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, nonprofit trusts, Brian D'Arcy, $40 million, "legal loophole": "DWP Union Boss Taps a Loophole to Hide $40 Million".....

* LA Weekly:  "DWP Union Boss Taps a Loophole to Hide $40 Million" - From the Weekly:

An odd legal loophole soon will play a central role in the municipal pissing contest over two mysterious L.A. Department of Water and Power "training institutes" that have secretly spent $40 million in public money. Veteran union boss Brian D'Arcy is hoping that exploiting a bit of ambiguous language will let him hide the books.

"D'Arcy versus Galperin" has become a much-watched war between D'Arcy, who works his magic largely behind the scenes for some 8,600 DWP employees, and L.A.'s newest political voice, city Controller Ron Galperin, who campaigned on a platform of government transparency.

Galperin wants the complete financials of the two nonprofit groups, the Joint Training Institute and the Joint Safety Institute, whose employees operate in offices at a DWP power plant in Sunland, on L.A.'s far northern edge.

   ****

Can the books of two private organizations that are entirely funded by a public utility owned by the people of L.A. really be off-limits to the city's auditor?

D'Arcy's attorney, D. William Heine, argues that's exactly what's required by the city charter, state law and the U.S. Constitution's protection from unreasonable searches. Heine's first argument in his legal briefs, however, is that founding papers filed to create the two nonprofits years ago state that the groups' board of trustees cannot order more than one audit yearly.

Mining that loophole, the always-strategic D'Arcy headed off Galperin's planned audit when, at 12:05 a.m. on Jan. 1, as a union trustee, D'Arcy requested his own audit of the two institutes — by a hand-picked, private CPA. D'Arcy's legal team says Galperin has no business conducting a second, and independent, audit requested by trustees who represent DWP management.

   ****

Galperin and City Attorney Mike Feuer successfully pressed this week for an early hearing before Superior Court Judge James Chalfant, now set for March 18................................

Friday
Feb142014

POLITICS/AVIATION: Santa Monica, court ruling, dismissal, city's lawsuit to gain control of airport: "Federal judge throws out Santa Monica's lawsuit over airport ....

 Los Angeles Times:  "Federal judge throws out Santa Monica's lawsuit over airport" - From the LAT:

The effort to close Santa Monica Airport suffered a major setback Thursday when a federal judge threw out the city’s lawsuit that sought to wrest control of the facility from the federal government.

U.S. District Judge John F. Walters dismissed the claim that title to the oldest operating airport in Los Angeles County should be returned to the city because the action was brought too late under the statute of limitations. Walters also threw out the allegations that the city was denied due process and that the federal government did not properly compensate the city for taking the property in violation of the U.S. Constitution. The judge said the city failed to first seek compensation for the airport in the Court of Federal Claims.

City Atty. Marsha Moutrie said the judge’s 17-page ruling will be evaluated to determine Santa Monica’s options. “Of course, we are disappointed. But there is likely much work to come,” she said.................

Friday
Feb142014

LOCAL GOVERNMENT (County of Los Angeles): SEIU Local 721, union vote, approval of new contract: "L.A. County union approves new contract"....

* Los Angeles Times:  "L.A. County union approves new contract" - "SEIU members vote to approve new contract with L.A. County after months of negotiations and a strike by social workers." - From the LAT:

After months of contentious negotiations that culminated in a strike by county social workers in December, Los Angeles County employees represented by Service Employees International Union Local 721 voted to approve a new labor agreement.

The union's members have been voting on the proposed deal over the past three weeks, and polling ended Wednesday evening. SEIU is the county's largest public employee union, representing about 55,000 county workers including nurses, social workers and public works staff. According to the union, 95% of those who voted supported the agreement.

The deal includes a 6% raise over three years, an additional $200,000 to be contributed by the county to a rideshare subsidy program, and an agreement to hire 450 children's social workers by October. . . . . . . .

The county will also increase its contribution to employee healthcare plans by 7.2% to cover rising premiums, and will contribute an extra $500 to each worker's flexible benefits plan over the next year.

Social workers' high caseloads were a major issue in negotiations. . . . . . . .

   ****

The timing of the pay increase had been one of the last lingering issues.........................

Thursday
Feb132014

POLITICS/TRANSPORTATION (Metro, Los Angeles County): Public restrooms at Metro stations, study results, costly, security issues: "Metro's hardest seat to get"....

* Zev Yaroslavsky's weekly web blog:  "Metro's hardest seat to get" - From Zev's blog:

As the saying goes, “When you gotta go, you gotta go.” That’s true whether you’re in a restaurant, a concert hall or riding a subway. But, despite public demand, installing restrooms at Metro stations is no easy business, according to the transportation agency, which recently undertook a study of the issue. “We want to ensure that our customers have a great riding experience and have resources when a need arises, but there are a lot of elements that have to be factored in,” says Debra Johnson, Metro’s interim chief operating officer.

Although the agency has been grappling with the issue of public restrooms for years, Metro’s Board of Directors ordered a new look in November after residents near the Pierce College Station of the Orange Line busway in the San Fernando Valley complained that some riders were urinating in public. Among other things, Metro installed a video camera and monitored the area for 30 days, but couldn’t corroborate those complaints.

At the same time, the agency also was asked to take a look at the potential need for publicly-accessible restrooms at subway, light rail and bus rapid transit line stations throughout the system. The bottom line, according to a report that will be presented to the board later this month: Increasing the number of restrooms would not only be costly but could create crime problems unless security is enhanced at each location.............................

Thursday
Feb132014

POLITICS (State, Local/San Diego): Report/analysis, Republican Kevin Faulconer victory in San Diego mayor's race: "San Diego mayoral victory puts Faulconer high on state GOP ladder"....

* Los Angeles Times:  "San Diego mayoral victory puts Faulconer high on state GOP ladder" - "Kevin Faulconer benefited from seemingly campaigning as an independent, including being a moderate on social issues, and the low voter turnout." - From the LAT:

SAN DIEGO — As Mayor-elect Kevin Faulconer prepares to take power at City Hall, voters here are well aware what the game plan of a Republican mayor looks like. It's the strategy used by former Mayor Jerry Sanders, a Faulconer supporter, as he struggled to pull the city out of a financial mess: Keep city spending low, maintain a tight rein on labor unions, support business interests to help create jobs.

But less clear is what Faulconer's surprisingly easy victory Tuesday over Democratic Councilman David Alvarez — 55% to 45% — means for the statewide GOP, which now holds no statewide offices. "Faulconer overnight goes from minority member of the City Council to the highest ranked and highest profile Republican in the state," said Carl Luna, a political science professor at San Diego Mesa College.

Allan Hoffenblum, a former GOP strategist who now publishes the nonpartisan California Target Book, said Faulconer's victory shows that Republicans can still win big races "if they have the right candidate," noting that Faulconer campaigned as a fiscal conservative who is moderate on social issues, including supporting gay marriage and abortion rights. "If you want to elect more Republicans, make sure you have a candidate who is a good fit for the district instead of one who passes some ideological litmus test," Hoffenblum said.

   ****

As Democrats and Republicans alike analyzed Faulconer's victory, both sides focused on the sharp drop-off in turnout from November 2012 when [Bob] Filner was elected as the city's first Democratic mayor in two decades. In that election, turnout was 68%; on Tuesday it fell to approximately 38%. Faulconer's politics, plus a low voter turnout, helped him to victory in a city where Democrats hold a 40% to 26% edge in voter registration over Republicans, with independents at 29%.

   ****

Faulconer, 47, a former public relations executive and now a two-term City Council member representing beach districts and Point Loma, never stressed his party affiliation. . . . . . . .

   ****

Faulconer's victory makes San Diego the largest city in the country with a Republican mayor................