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Friday
Oct072016

POLITICS/TRANSPORTATION: Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Measure M, sales tax increase, fundraising: "Campaigns supporting Metro's transportation tax bring in more than $4.5 million" ....

* Los Angeles Times:  "Campaigns supporting Metro's transportation tax bring in more than $4.5 million" - From the LAT:

Supporters of a proposed sales tax increase that would fund a dramatic expansion of Los Angeles County’s passenger rail network have contributed more than $4.5 million this year, campaign disclosures show. More than three-quarters of that amount came from developers, organized labor, engineering firms and other groups that could see financial gains from the Southern California infrastructure building boom that Measure M would create, a Times analysis found.

The “Los Angeles County Traffic Improvement Plan” would fund transit operations, highway upgrades and nearly a dozen rail lines and extensions, including a tunnel through the Sepulveda Pass and connections to Claremont, Van Nuys and Artesia. Measure M would raise an estimated $860 million per year, or about $120 billion over four decades.

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California law bars Metro officials from using taxpayer funds to advocate for Measure M. But several coalitions of advocates and politicians have taken up the fundraising and lobbying mantle. That includes the Yes on M campaign, which reported nearly $4.4 million in contributions between Jan. 1 and Sept. 24 and has spent less than 5% of its cash on hand. 

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Of the $4.4 million, $675,000 came from a committee spearheaded by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, which has reported $800,000 in contributions this year from organized labor, filings show. A fundraising group run by Move L.A., the nonprofit that urged passage for the Measure R half-cent tax in 2008, has raised just over $55,000, including a large donation from Jacobs Engineering and a series of smaller donations from engineers, consultants and architects. 

The largest single contribution to pro-Measure M groups came from HNTB Holdings. The independent political action committee arm of the Kansas City, Mo.-based construction company donated $550,000. Other donors include the construction and engineering companies Parsons Brinckerhoff and Aecom.  

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Opponents to the Metro measure have not formed an official fundraising committee, but .................

Friday
Oct072016

L.A. CITY HALL: Development/land use, Venice: "Housing vs. Offices: A Battle on the Beach" ....

* The Argonaut:  "Housing vs. Offices: A Battle on the Beach" - "A building planned for the Venice Boardwalk has the right look and feel, but city officials have concerns about its use." - From The Argonaut:

The architect and developers planning an ambitious mixed-use development to replace a parking lot on the Venice Boardwalk at Sunset Avenue are contemplating their next move after city officials ruled against the project last month.

The West Los Angeles Area Planning Commission halted the development process on Sept. 9 by upholding an appeal by Neighbors for a Sustainable Venice Beach, a group of Venice residents and business owners seeking to downscale or stop the project.

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The part of the boardwalk where the developer wants to build is zoned for commercial and mixed-use development, City Planner Kevin Jones said in a prior interview, but commissioners wrestled with that definition and the implications of California Coastal Act protections.

Commissioner Thomas Donovan paraphrased former Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s famous declaration regarding the definition of porno-graphy when he gave his opinion on the project. “Mixed-use isn’t defined here, but I know it when I see it. And I don’t see it here,” Donovan said. Commissioner Joseph Halper concurred. He said ....................

Friday
Oct072016

POLITICS/TRANSPORTATION: California high-speed rail project, departure, Chief Deputy Director Dennis Trujillo: "Deputy chief of state rail authority will leave by end of the year" ....

* Los Angeles Times:  "Deputy chief of state rail authority will leave by end of the year" - From the LAT:

The second in command at the California High-Speed Rail Authority, Dennis Trujillo, will leave the organization by the end of the year, according to an internal announcement. Trujillo, chief deputy director at the authority, was among a wave of executives brought in by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2012 after he decided to commit his political future to the $64 billion bullet train project. Tthe authority was riddled with vacancies in a number of key executive jobs. Dan Richard, rail authority board chairman, said one of his top priorities was filling the ranks so the project could solve some of its problems.

The rail authority’s senior staff learned of Trujillo’s exit in an email from chief executive Jeff Morales, who made light of the departure by noting that Trujillo needs to work on his golf game and may be wearing shorts in the future. Rail authority spokeswoman Lisa Marie Alley confirmed that Trujillo is leaving, saying that he would be pursuing other opportunities.

Trujillo’s departure stirred speculation among rail authority insiders about who else among Brown’s political appointees will leave the agency during his last two years as governor. Brown’s successor will likely come in with a different agenda that will affect how the project progresses—or if it will even survive ...................

Friday
Oct072016

SACRAMENTO: California Public Employees' Retirement System, CalPERS board, politics/ history?: "How a governor's bid to exert control over California's public pensions backfired"; also,"A CalPERS primer: The rules on public pensions in California -- and who makes them" ....  

* Los Angeles Times (John Myers):  "How a governor's bid to exert control over California's public pensions backfired" - "Gov. Peter Wilson tried to wrest key powers from the CalPERS board. A labor-led counterattack left the board more independent than ever." - From the LAT:

Facing an unprecedented budget deficit shortly after taking office in 1991, Republican Gov. Pete Wilson made an unusual request of the state’s largest pension fund: Can you be more liberal in your predictions about the stock market?

If the California Public Employees’ Retirement System raised its official projection of investment growth, Wilson said, the state’s required contribution to the pension fund would go down by more than $300 million. CalPERS rejected the idea, but Wilson still needed a way to balance the books. So he proposed a sweeping reorganization of CalPERS that attempted to grab more than just pension cash.

What happened next helped chart the course of pension politics over the past quarter century — and ensured that the autonomy of public pension funds would be spelled out in California’s constitution ....................

***ALSO, Related:

* Los Angeles Times (Jack Dolan):  "A CalPERS primer: The rules on public pensions in California -- and who makes them

Thursday
Oct062016

POLITICS (National, Local/New York City): NY State Joint Commission on Public Ethics, NY City Mayor Bill de Blasio, investigation: "Ethics Panel Investigating de Blasio's Nonprofit Is Said to Issue Broad Subpoena" .... 

* New York Times:  "Ethics Panel Investigating de Blasio's Nonprofit Is Said to Issue Broad Subpoena" - From the NYT:

A state ethics panel investigating Mayor Bill de Blasio’s political nonprofit organization has served a sweeping subpoena on City Hall seeking communications among the mayor, his aides, the nonprofit, its donors and consulting firms that worked for it, people with knowledge of the matter said.

The scope of the subpoena suggests a widening of the investigation by the State Joint Commission on Public Ethics, which enforces state lobbying laws and has been focused on whether the group, the Campaign for One New York, illegally lobbied the city in 2015. At the same time, several lawyers representing donors to the group who have been contacted by the panel said the inquiry also appeared to be focused on whether some donations from lobbyists or their clients who have business before the city actually constituted undisclosed gifts to the mayor. Any such undisclosed gifts would violate state lobbying laws.

The subpoena was served on Sept. 14, just four days after a State Supreme Court judge in Albany rejected the group’s effort to quash two earlier subpoenas from the panel. The judge ordered the nonprofit and several consulting companies that had done work for it and for Mr. de Blasio’s mayoral campaign to provide almost all of the documents sought by the panel, also known as Jcope. In doing so, the judge rejected arguments . . . . . . . .

The new subpoena, according to people familiar with it, seeks ..................