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Tuesday
Sep142010

ETHICS COMMISSION: No free tickets to high-level officials if donor has business pending before the city....

* Los Angeles Times reports that the City Ethics Commission voted today to propose that high-level officials be barred from receiving free entry to concerts, sports events and other cultural activities if the donor of the ticket has business pending before the city.  Excerpts from the LAT as to various elements of today's meeting and the actions taken:

-- On a 4-1 vote, the panel said such a ban should apply even in cases in which an elected official, city commissioner or high-level manager is performing a ceremonial duty, such as handing over a city proclamation....... Commissioner Nedra Jenkins, an appointee of former City Controller Laura Chick, cast the lone vote against the proposal, saying elected officials make the city look good by performing official duties at awards shows, film festivals and other events..... The commission will need to vote a second time on the specific language to be included in an ordinance. Then the measure would head to the City Council for a vote before going into effect.

-- The Ethics Commission also voted to seek an ordinance requiring high-level officials to disclose the free tickets they receive from businesses or individuals that do not have business pending before them. And the commissioners voted 4-1, with Jenkins opposed, to bar gifts of any amount from companies that do business with the city.

-- Any changes to the city’s ethics law require approval from the City Council, which has shown a great reluctance to pass new measures backed by the panel. For the last 12 months, the council has declined to take up a measure from the commission that is designed to eliminate loopholes in its lobbying ordinance.

-- Even as commissioners sought to ban high-level officials from accepting gifts from companies that do business with the city, they also voted 4-1 to recommend a provision that gives some leeway to officials who did not know that the source of the gift had a contract or another matter pending before a city agency.  Commissioner Marlene Canter opposed that provision, calling it a loophole that would make enforcement of the gift ban more difficult. "If we keep it at zero, it’s just a lot better for the people who are involved,” said Canter, a former school board member.

Tuesday
Sep142010

CONTROVERSY OVER INSTALLATION OF SPEED HUMP LEADS TO MURDER CHARGE....

* I guess I really don't quite know the moral of the story here, only that it is one that perhaps warrants attention....  Washington Post reports on a homeowner in Virginia who was unhappy about cars speeding past his house and who, to address this, had worked through the appropriate channels to get a speed hump installed near his home to slow down the traffic.  Only to then end up being shot by someone who had become unhappy (obviously, one might say, very happy....) about the traffic-slowing measure.  From the WP:

   Stephen A. Carr worked aggressively, but patiently, to try to slow down the cars that flew past his house in the Burke area of Fairfax County. Most of his neighbors applauded his help, and earlier this year a speed hump was installed in front of his house.

   But David A. Patton evidently was not a fan. In June, court and police records show, Patton angrily confronted Carr about the speed hump outside Carr's house. Patton was charged with misdemeanor assault. His trial was set for Thursday.

   On Sunday night, police say, Patton went further. Witnesses told police he burst into Carr's house, tied up Carr and his girlfriend and, when Carr struggled, fatally shot him in the head, court records allege. Patton, 44, was arrested a short time later in Carr's back yard and charged with murder.

Tuesday
Sep142010

"COUNCILMAN GARCETTI FINALLY GETS TO BE MAYOR": On TV show....

* Sorry to be a bit tardy on this (in that the reference is to last night), but still thought this post from The EastsiderLA worthy of mention:

   Garcetti, the Council District 13 representative who lives in Echo Park, has remained reluctant to say whether he will or won’t run for mayor. But, at least for a brief time tonight, Councilman Garcetti will be known as “Mayor” when he appears as the leader of Los Angeles during an appearance on “The Closer” on TNT..........

   The mayoral role is a promotion for Garcetti, a member of the Screen Actors Guild who had a few minor acting roles as a child. Earlier this season on “The Closer,” Garcetti  appeared in the  background during a scene in which  his father, Gil Garcetti,  a former Los Angeles County District Attorney who now serves as a consultant for the show, played a police chief.  

Tuesday
Sep142010

CITY OF L.A. SIGNS GREEN POWER AGREEMENTS: Firms in Sylmar and in Shenzen, China....

* "Mayor Villaraigosa signs green power agreements" -- From Rick Orlov report in the Daily News:

   In what officials are calling a major milestone in the city's effort to develop more green-power sources, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Monday signed agreements with firms in the San Fernando Valley and China. The city-owned Department of Water and Power will work with Quallion LLC of Sylmar, and BYD Inc., based in Shenzhen, on a project to be located at Pine Tree Wind Farm in the Tehachapi Mountains. The companies plan to invent batteries that will be able to store energy generated by wind or solar power, then release electricity to the DWP power grid at night or during periods of high demand.

   "This is an important step forward in building technology that does not even exist yet," Villaraigosa said. "What we are looking to develop is a way to store energy so that we don't have to use it as it is developed. It will allow us to guarantee stable power."

   The companies plan to share technology and information, with the goal of being able to develop a five- to 10-megawatt energy-storage system by year's end.

* "L.A. signs with Chinese battery giant to store power" - From the San Francisco Chronicle (AP):

   The city of Los Angeles has signed a deal with a major Chinese manufacturing firm to develop a battery project that would store renewable energy and release it to the power grid. City officials on Monday signed the agreement with BYD Co. Ltd that would see the company work with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to create an electric storage facility at a wind farm in the Tehachapi Mountains northwest of the city. The facility would store between five and 10 megawatts of power and could release it as needed.

   Quallion, a high-tech battery manufacturer in Sylmar, will also be involved in the project.

   BYD is locating its North American headquarters in Los Angeles.

Tuesday
Sep142010

WILLIE BROWN: On Jerry Brown, Meg Whitman, Nancy Pelosi; California governor's race, national political scene....

* In his San Francisco Chronicle column this week, Willie Brown offers some thoughts on a number of topics, political and otherwise.  In terms of his commentary relating to the political scene, there is an interesting quip about Jerry Brown, an observation about what percentage of the Democratic vote Whitman would need to win in November and also his thinking about the House and Senate elections.  Excerpt from the Chronicle:

   As for the national scene, I think the Republicans are going to win the Senate race in Florida. The Senate seat in Kentucky is at best a toss-up. But my bet is that the Democrats win Colorado, Connecticut and Nevada. So the Democrats hold the Senate for sure.

   As for the House, the Republicans would have to run the table to take out Pelosi. Democrats need 218 seats to hold on to the House. They probably have 214 guaranteed, so if Pelosi can engineer victories in just a handful of contested races, the Democrats are home free.

   I don't think the congressional picture is as bad for Democrats as the pundits are making it out to be. For all the talk about how November will be a referendum on the economy or on President Obama, congressional elections are still about how people feel about their individual member of Congress.