Index
Tuesday
Jul022013

POLITICS (State, Local): Ron Calderon, Tom Calderon, Central Basin Municipal Water District: "Subpoena spotlights Southern California water district's projects with Calderon ties".... 

* Sacramento Bee:  "Subpoena spotlights Southern California water district's projects with Calderon ties" - From the Bee:

One of a flurry of subpoenas delivered after an FBI raid on the Capitol offices of Sen. Ron Calderon last month went to a Southern California water district, seeking documents related to "federal grants and/or funding to include Federal Stimulus dollars." It makes clear that federal investigators want to know more about contracting at the Central Basin Municipal Water District, where Ron's brother, former Assemblyman Tom Calderon, made hundreds of thousands of dollars serving as a consultant for nearly a decade.

Left unsaid is why federal money is a subject of inquiry in what increasingly appears to be a wide-ranging probe of the Calderon family's activities. But two federally funded projects involving the district have drawn scrutiny and allegations of impropriety even as water rates doubled in the last five years.

In one case, Central Basin moved to award a federally funded contract to a water company whose leadership included Tom Calderon. In the other, Ron Calderon had a hand in postponing an audit of Central Basin's federally funded pipeline project, which had drawn the ire of mayors and water managers in southern Los Angeles County.

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Tom Calderon, whose name also appears in the subpoena, says he had no role in obtaining money for the federal projects or in determining where the money was spent. "I'm not a federal lobbyist," Calderon told The Bee. "I advised the general manager on strategy pertaining to Central Basin, and we met on a weekly basis, and that's what I did. We had a lobbyist in Sacramento and a lobbyist in D.C., and they carried on all the lobbying work, and my role was strictly strategy."

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In his interview with The Bee, Tom Calderon strenuously denied having done anything to influence contracting decisions..................

Tuesday
Jul022013

POLITICS/TRANSPORTATION (Bay Area): Bay Area Rapid Transit District, BART strike into second day, no signs of immediate return to bargaining table, both side still far apart on key compensation issues....

***Commuter chaos in the Bay Area....

* San Jose Mercury News:  "BART strike moves into second day, still with no labor talks set" - From the MN:

As expected, the Bay Area woke up Tuesday morning to a second day of the BART strike, meaning another round of gridlock on the freeway and packed buses.

BART and its unions have no immediate plans to return to the bargaining table and appeared to be far apart on several key compensation issues. Neither side budged Monday, a day after BART's labor deal expired, resulting in the transit agency's first strike in 16 years. No labor talks were scheduled for Tuesday, either. The agency even seemed to be preparing for a longer struggle Monday evening, doubling from 18 to 36 the number of chartered buses that would pick up commuters................

* San Francisco Chronicle:  "BART talks in limbo as strike paralyzes commute" - From the Chronicle:

As commuters slogged about the Bay Area without BART on Monday, the transit agency and its striking unions both said they're eager to resume bargaining and end the rail system's first work stoppage in 16 years. Yet nobody showed up at the bargaining table. And it's not clear when they will................

 

Tuesday
Jul022013

SACRAMENTO: Calderon family, itemization of spending reports: "Calderon family's spending itemized: Golf, retreats, eyelashes"....

* Los Angeles Times:  "Calderon family's spending itemized: Golf, retreats, eyelashes" - From the LAT:

Expense reports filed over a decade of the Calderon family's engagement in the California Legislature sheds light on the variety of ways political funds can be spent. The expenses include $1 million spent at golf resorts, $220,000 on steak dinners, $4,000 for cigars, and $325 for a set of false eyelashes. The filings also show $1.3 million charged on credit cards, where expenses are not itemized and the monthly bill sometimes topped $27,000.

The reports, filed with the California secretary of State's office, cover 23 political accounts active since 2000 for former Assembly Majority Leader Charles Calderon, his brothers Sen. Ron Calderon and former Assemblyman Tom Calderon, and Charles' son Assemblyman Ian Calderon. All hail from the Los Angeles County town of Montebello and have represented districts in or near there.

The reports detail extended stays in spa resorts and hideaways in such settings as Las Vegas, Hawaii, Tahoe and Palm Springs. The getaways are sometimes listed as fundraisers, but also as conferences, retreats and “holiday” events.

The expenses include more than $135,000 spent on trips to Vegas, $115,000 on events at the Bandon Dunes Resort in Oregon, and $101,000 for trips to Hawaii during which Calderon family members sometimes also accepted "gifts" to attend conferences at those locations at the same time, staged by two California foundations that don’t reveal their funding sources or publish public agendas.

Gifts can be a big part of public office..............

Tuesday
Jul022013

L.A. CITY HALL: Mayor Eric Garcetti, first day in office, meeting with local chambers of commerce -- smaller chambers -- but not local larger business groups: "Mayor talks business with local chambers but skips the big groups".... 

* Los Angeles Times:  "Mayor talks business with local chambers but skips the big groups" - From the LAT:

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti spent his first morning as mayor discussing jobs and city services with business leaders from San Pedro to Century City while sending a not-too-subtle message to the organizations that backed his opponent, former City Controller Wendy Greuel.

Garcetti conducted a round table with more than a dozen chambers of commerce. . . . .asking for ideas about ways to make the city more business friendly. Notably absent were three of the city’s largest business organizations, all of which backed Greuel, who lost to Garcetti in the May 21 election. Garcetti said he plans to bring in the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce and those other big business groups at a later date.

“We don’t have some of the larger entities here today because I want to help them rethink their role in the city as well and reconstitute themselves,” Garcetti told the group. . . . . . . .

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Gary Toebben, chief executive of the L.A. Area Chamber of Commerce, did not respond directly to Garcetti's remarks, instead issuing a statement saying he attended Sunday's inauguration ceremony. “I ... was excited to hear the mayor lay out his priorities. which include much of the chamber’s agenda," he said. "We look forward to working with him to make this shared vision a reality."

The top executive of the Valley Industry and Commerce Assn., which also was not invited Monday, said he did not view Garcetti's comments as a slight. Some of the chamber officials that showed up are VICA members, said Stuart Waldman, the group's president. Oftentimes I’m the one contacting them and telling them they need to engage on city issues," Waldman said. "So I think it’s great that the mayor’s office is reaching out to them."

Monday's meeting came one day after Garcetti delivered an inaugural speech that placed a huge emphasis on job creation.............

Monday
Jul012013

L.A. CITY HALL: Opinion L.A. (Los Angeles Times), public access to Los Angeles City Hall: "Angelenos deserve better than the service entrance at City Hall".... 

* Los Angeles Times (Opinion L.A. - Robert Greene):  "Angelenos deserve better than the service entrance at City Hall" - From the LAT:

For Sunday’s mayoral inaugural, city workers removed (thank goodness) the big sign at the top of City Hall’s grand Spring Street ceremonial granite steps. Perhaps you know the sign. It says, “CITY EMPLOYEE ENTRANCE ONLY. PUBLIC ENTRANCE LOCATED ON MAIN STREET.” On Monday, so far, that sign remains refreshingly absent.

Mayor Eric Garcetti, please, don’t put it back.

As surely as City Hall is a symbol of Los Angeles municipal government, so is that sign, and the one just like it at the similarly grand Second Street entrance. The message symbolizes the unnecessary separation that government has inserted between itself and the people it serves.

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It’s essentially the service entrance. How is that not a message about what City Hall really thinks of the public?

The member of the public goes in, gets scanned, is compelled to produce identification and has to wear a silly sticker that says “VISITOR.” The reason is ostensibly security. . . . . . . . .

Of course, they do own the place. Besides, a few blocks away, the Central Library -- a building of much the same shape as City Hall, constructed in the same era but with the added history of actual security problems, including at least two arson fires -- three entrances are open to the public. When an expansion was planned and built in the 1980s and ’90s, library officials acknowledged that all those different ways to go in and out created a security problem. But that was outweighed, they said, by the importance of making clear to the public in all directions that this was their building and was open to them.

And City Hall? Is that not a public building, a temple of democracy, in addition to being a workplace for elected officials and public employees?

The new mayor spoke at his inaugural about making it clear that City Hall is open for business, and that’s great. He meant it figuratively, of course. . . . . . . .

But that kind of access starts with the real thing. . . . . . . .

Security is important. But the mayor is a smart guy, and he has smart people working for him. They can figure out how to keep people safe and still send them the message that the building is a public place.........