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Wednesday
Oct272010

L.A. CITY HALL: Police and fire pension reform measure approved for March ballot.... 

* Daily News:  "L.A. Council puts pension reform before voters" - From the DN:

   The Los Angeles City Council agreed Tuesday to ask Los Angeles voters to scale back pensions for new police officers and firefighters to rein in spiraling costs, but balked at a plan to also take control of DWP retirement benefits. If approved by voters March 8, the police and fire pension reforms would save an estimated $152 million over 10 years by requiring new hires to work longer and pay more into retirement and health care systems than current workers.

   "The reason we are having this discussion is for the long term to make this system sustainable," City Administrative Office Miguel Santana told the council. He said over the long term - generally the 30 years before the average worker retires - the reforms would also save $173 million in retirement benefits for every 1,000 new employees hired.

   Pensions for police, fire and civilian employees are costing the city $580 million this year and some officials project the figure could balloon up to $1 billion within three years.

   The proposal would allow police and firefighters who retire at age 55 with 25 years' experience to draw just 40 percent of their salary instead of the current 50 percent. Officers and firefighters who work 33 years would draw a pension equal to 90 percent of the average of their last two years' salary instead of 90 percent of their final year. In addition, new hires would have to pay 2 percent of their salary to cover health care benefits. Currently, police and firefighters contribute nothing for their coverage.

Wednesday
Oct272010

BELL, VERNON...and now also Irwindale.....

****Latest on Bell and Vernon.  And now Irwindale is also in the news....

* Los Angeles Times:   "Four Irwindale officials used public money for Broadway shows, baseball games, prosecutors charge" - L.A. County District Attorney has filed charges of misappropriating public funds against one current Irwindale council member, one former council member, the city's finance director and the city's retired city manager....

* Daily News (AP):  "Recall heads to ballot in scandal-plagued Bell" - Successful circulation of recall petitions against Bell's mayor, vice mayor and one council member (fourth member who had been targeted in the recall drive has already resigned)....

* Los Angeles Times:  "Plan to disband Vernon gains steam" - "The district attorney, who four years ago outlined an effort to get the city disincorporated, is pushing the bid again amid new corruption charges.  He says Vernon is like a fiefdom." - Unusual case being built against the city of Vernon by L.A. County prosecutors; i.e., that the governmental entity is not a true city and, thus, that it should be disbanded....

Tuesday
Oct262010

L.A. CITY HALL: Taxi franchise five-year contract approved; measure to be drafted for ban of campaign money from city contractors; no further action on motion for council to gain authority over DWP's pension plan....

****From the Los Angeles Times:

* "Taxi franchise system renewed by City Council for five years" - Five-year extension approved on a unanimous vote....

* "City Council moves towards banning campaign money from city contractors; unions and developers would be exempt" - Approval given to have a measure drafted for the March ballot, but the council must still take a vote on whether to actually place the contractor contribution ban on the ballot....

* "After DWP union objects, City Council drops proposal to gain authority over the utility's pension plan" - Hundreds of DWP workers show up to "denounce" motion by Bernard Parks to give the L.A. City Council more authority over the DWP retirement system....

Tuesday
Oct262010

JENNY OROPEZA FAREWELL: "Oropeza celebrated at memorial service" 

* Daily Breeze:  "Oropeza celebrated at memorial service" - As one of the more than 500 friends and/or colleagues who attended the service for Jenny Oropeza yesterday, I can say that, yes, this DB piece well captures the mood of the farewell:  That it was somber at times, but largely joyful and frequently humorous....

   As for representatives from the political world, I imagine that it is likely there are many people I didn't spot in this large gathering of politicos from both the past and present.  In addition to Senate Pres. Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, Long Beach City Councilman Robert Garcia and former DNC vice-chair Carmen Perez -- who all spoke as part of the formal service -- some of the other faces I spotted were:  Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas; Los Angeles City Councilmembers Richard Alarcon, Bill Rosendahl and Janice Hahn; Senators Gil Cedillo, Alex Padilla, Rod Wright; Assemblymembers Bonnie Lowenthal and Warren Furutani; Betty Yee, member, Bd. of Equalization.  Also, former Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg; former Senators Richard Polanco and Martha Escutia; former Assemblyman Dario Frommer; former long-time Democratic Party chair Art Torres....

Tuesday
Oct262010

FUNDRAISING RECORD (congressional midterm elections): More than $2 billion being spent on House and Senate races.... 

* Washington Post:  "House and Senate shatter fundraising records for midterm election and may exceed $2 billion" - From the WP:

   House and Senate candidates have already shattered fundraising records for a midterm election and are on their way to surpassing $2 billion in spending for the first time, according to new campaign finance data. To put it another way: That's the equivalent of about $4 million for every congressional seat up for grabs this year.

   The frantic fundraising by candidates has largely been overshadowed in recent weeks by a tide of spending by outside interest groups, most of it targeting vulnerable Democrats. Such groups could spend $400 million or more by Nov. 2. But the latest Federal Election Commission data, along with a new study from a campaign watchdog group, show that most of the money sloshing around the 2010 elections is being raised and spent by the candidates themselves.

   As of last week, House and Senate campaigns reported taking in more than $1.5 billion, exceeding the total collected by congressional candidates in 2006 and in 2008, FEC data show. Most of that money already has been put toward advertising and other expenses.

   The Public Campaign Action Fund, a watchdog group, will release a study Tuesday predicting that House candidates alone could spend nearly $1.5 billion by the time the dust settles on Election Day. The calculation is based on previous elections in which about half of a campaign's money was spent in the final month of the contest. Senate campaigns are also on track to exceed the $550 million mark from 2006, bringing the likely total to $2 billion or more by the time the ballots are counted.

***And, as for why this is level of spending is taking place,  WP piece notes:

   The surge is driven in part by the unusually broad battlefield in the House, where an estimated 90 seats are in play, almost all of them held by Democrats. Many Democratic incumbents are emptying their coffers in an attempt to win the message wars against GOP-allied interest groups.