POLITICS/BUSINESS: West Coast ports, continuing contract dispute: "Top official says West Coast ports 'on the brink of collapse'" .... 

* Daily Breeze:  "Top official says West Coast ports 'on the brink of collapse'" - From the DB:

West Coast ports are five to 10 days away from gridlock and a forced lockdown unless contract talks can be resolved with the longshore workers union, the head of the group representing employers at 29 West Coast ports said Wednesday.

Publicly discussing labor talks for the first time since negotiations began in May, Pacific Maritime Association CEO James McKenna told reporters in a conference call that the PMA made its latest offer to the International Longshore and Warehouse Union that includes raising pay by about 3 percent annually, maintaining employer paid health care and pushing the maximum pension benefit by 11.1 percent to $88,800 annually. He described the proposed five-year contract, which was presented Tuesday to the ILWU, as “generous” and “comprehensive.” Still, he said that both sides remain far apart on six issues, including wages, pensions and the arbitration process.

McKenna said that an agreement must be reached soon because West Coast ports are on “the brink of collapse” with ships parked along the West Coast waiting to be unloaded and production slowing to a crawl. A work stoppage could drain $2 billion a day from the U.S. economy, according to the National Retail Federation, National Association of Manufacturers and U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Only 50 percent of cargo is being moved through the Pacific Northwest, while yards remained crowded with containers in Southern California. McKenna blamed some of that congestion on the ILWU, which he said refuses to dispatch crane operators. (The ILWU has consistently refuted this claim, saying PMA did not train enough operators for the jobs.) “The system can only take so much,” McKenna said. “At some point, this will collapse under its own weight.”

Seventeen container ships remained at anchor Wednesday at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, according to the Marine Exchange of Southern California.

The ILWU said this is the second time in recent memory that employers have threatened to shut down the ports when negotiations are approaching their final stages and added that the union hasn’t been on strike over a contract since 1971. Union officials said despite congestion — which they say is caused by employers — they will keep the ports open for business and keep cargo moving .......................


L.A. CITY HALL: Proposed Los Angeles apartment earthquake retrofit plan: "Renters won't have to shoulder quake retrofit costs, L.A. councilman vows" ....

* Los Angeles Times:  "Renters won't have to shoulder quake retrofit costs, L.A. councilman vows" - From the LAT:

Since Los Angeles embarked on plans to require costly retrofitting of thousands of earthquake-vulnerable buildings, some apartment renters have feared the costs of the work would be passed on to them. The city is already ranked as one of the least affordable for renters, and a recent USC study said rents were expected to rise by an average of 8% over the next two years. But there are growing signs that city officials are going to try to protect renters. The head of the City Council's housing committee recently pledged that tenants would not face huge rent hikes as a result of earthquake retrofits.

"Let's be very clear as we move forward: This burden of this new mandate, this new obligation, will not be transferred to tenants in this city.… It's not going to be a pass-through of 100% to tenants," Councilman Gil Cedillo said last week to a packed room of owners and tenants rights group members. "We will work hard with all of you here to find the resources at various levels — state, federal, philanthropic, market — to help bear the brunt of these costs," he said.

Some kind of deal that satisfies tenants could clear the way for Mayor Eric Garcetti's earthquake safety proposals ............................


L.A. CITY HALL: Los Angeles City Council elections: "L.A. City Council candidates pledge to take pay cut if elected" ....

* Los Angeles Times:  "L.A. City Council candidates pledge to take pay cut if elected" - From the LAT:

As L.A.'s election season heats up, several candidates for City Council are taking aim at lawmakers' six-figure salaries — the highest among the nation's largest cities — saying they would return part of their pay if elected.

Former L.A. County Supervisor Gloria Molina, running for an Eastside council seat, said Thursday that she would cut her city pay by roughly two-thirds if she succeeds in ousting Councilman Jose Huizar. Nonprofit leader Tomas O'Grady, looking to replace Councilman Tom LaBonge in a Silver Lake-to-Sherman Oaks district, said he would give up half his salary. And one of O'Grady's rivals, businesswoman Sheila Irani, said she would divert $50,000 of her pay to neighborhood grants. Compensation for L.A.'s council has tripled since 1990 and is now $184,610 per year. "I frankly don't think we're worth" that much, said Irani, a former LaBonge aide.

A Times survey found L.A. lawmakers' pay exceeds that of their counterparts in the nation's five largest cities. And four years ago, the Pew Charitable Trusts reported that L.A. had the highest average council salary among 15 big cities studied. Phoenix and Houston currently pay $61,600 and $62,580, respectively. New York City, with 51 council members, offers a base salary of $112,500, with up to $20,000 more for top council leaders.

In L.A., political analysts say promises to cut pay are largely symbolic in light of the city's $5.1-billion general operating budget. But they add that a pledge to give up pay can help candidates stand out politically — especially in the crowded, 14-contender primary race to replace LaBonge.


In Huizar's downtown-to-Eagle Rock district, Molina framed her pay-cut pledge as part of a larger critique of her opponent and the city's budget, which she called "a mess." She said she would use her salary reduction to bolster basic services. But Molina's pay-cut promise has been a moving target . . . . . . . .


For his part, Huizar has no intention of giving up a portion of his salary, Skelton added. "He's got kids to support. He's got a family," he said. "I don't think he's in a position where he could take half the salary."


AFTERNOON MEMOS: Sacramento, "Leland Yee case: Ex-legislator pleads not guilty to latest charges"; Sacramento, "See the 20 most expensive political campaigns in California"; Sacramento/Los Angeles, "Isadore Hall wants Janice Hahn's House seat if she runs for county post" .... 

***Various items this afternoon from across the spectrum of politics and/or public policy....

* Sacramento Bee:  "See the 20 most expensive political campaigns in California"

* Los Angeles Times (PolitiCal:  "Isadore Hall wants Janice Hahn's House seat if she runs for county post"

* San Jose Mercury News:  "Leland Yee case: Ex-legislator pleads not guilty to latest charges"


POLITICS (National, State): Barbara Boxer, U.S. Senate seat, "all signs" pointing to Antonio Villaraigosa candidacy: "All signs point to Villaraigosa Senate run, Nunez says" ....

* Los Angeles Times (PolitiCal):  "All signs point to Villaraigosa Senate run, Nunez says" - From the LAT:

One of Antonio Villaraigosa’s closest friends and advisors said Thursday that all signs were pointing toward the former Los Angeles mayor declaring his candidacy for U.S. Senate within the next two weeks.

Former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez, who speaks often with the former mayor, said Villaraigosa’s enthusiasm for the Senate race has grown steadily in the four weeks since Democratic incumbent Barbara Boxer announced she would not seek reelection. Villaraigosa, a Democrat, is “very, very close” to settling on a team to run the campaign, Nuñez said in an interview. “There’s still a possibility that he decides not to run,” Nuñez said. “I doubt that’s going to be the case.”

State Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris, also a Democrat, is the only major candidate in the contest so far. For more than three weeks, Harris has been raising money for the June 2016 primary – an arduous task, given California’s high campaign costs and the $2,700 federal limit on donations from individuals. Any top-tier candidate needs to raise several hundred thousand dollars a week, experts say.

Harris also has been quick to line up supporters, including . . . . . . . .

Villaraigosa, a former state Assembly speaker, will relish the role of underdog if he gets in the race, said Jimmy Blackman, who was a top Villaraigosa aide in the Legislature and the mayor’s office. “Campaigns get ugly, and Antonio respects Kamala Harris, but this is business,” Blackman said .........