This week, we held the 2nd in a series of Town Halls on Clean Money. The town hall this week was well attended and the panel was very informative. Kitty Felde moderated a discussion with Susan Lerner from the California Clean Money Campaign, Steve Levin from the Center for Governmental Studies, and Bill Boyarsky from the LA Ethics Commission. In addition to going over the history of campaign finance reform and the basics of Clean Money, the panel discussed the two breaking campaign finance news stories of the day:
1) The Supreme Court's Ruling on Vermont’s Campaign Spending Limits
2) Clean Money Ballot Initiative for State Elections Qualifies for the November Ballot
As I have blogged before, Clean Money is a public financing system that will help take money out of politics. Instead of politicians having to find money in the pockets of lobbyists and developers to run viable campaigns, they can instead choose to be publicly financed and therefore more likely beholden to the public. It is not a perfect system, but in Arizona, Maine, and Vermont voter participation has increased as have the diversity and number of candidates.
Bill strongly believes that if we can take the money out of politics, government will be given back to the people and much of the public’s lost trust in government can be restored. Thank you to all who attended and all who participated. This issue is gaining momentum and the more people who know about it, the more likely we can make elections and public policy the work of the people, as it should be.
For more information on Clean Money & Campaign Finance Reform, please visit one or more of the following websites: http://www.caclean.org/
(California Clean Money Campaign), http://www.cgs.org/
(Center for Governmental Studies), or http://www.ethics.lacity.org/
(Los Angeles Ethics Commission).
Have a great 4th of July!
- Aaron Gross
Deputy Chief of Staff
LAPD and LAX Police: Together at Last
Today, I joined Mayor Villaraigosa, Chief Bratton, Lydia Kennard, and Councilmembers Garcetti, Hahn and Weiss to announce the new agreement between LAPD and LAX police.
For too long, the two agencies have attempted to come to a consensus in terms of their respective duties at LAX. As mentioned in today’s Daily Breeze article
, both sides had fought to maintain independent authority.
Today, the dispute has ended and the two agencies stand as one in an effort to improve public safety.
I am delighted with the memorandum of understanding between the airport police and the LAPD. This agreement establishes a unified front to protect the airport, makes safety and security the highest priority at LAX and provides each unit with joint authority over airport security issues. It also updates an official protocol, which clearly defines the roles and responsibilities of both organizations.
The airport police and LAPD can now work together, efficiently and effectively, to better serve the public and better protect the airport. This is definitely a step in the right direction for our City’s public safety.
Grand Opening of Westchester Fire Station
This past weekend, residents of the Westchester community came out in droves for the grand opening of Fire Station 5. The opening was a great success, with local youth groups in attendance including cheerleaders from the Paseo Del Rey school, who performed routines for some pre-ceremony entertainment. The local brownie and cub scout groups kicked off the ceremony by leading the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Chief Reagan of Fire Station 5 introduced his battalion members, who protect the Westchester community each day, and Chief Roupoli of the Fire Department acknowledged the other community leaders and VIPs in attendance.
When Bill spoke to the hundreds who had gathered in the new station, he commended the Fire Department for their hard work and also thanked the community for coming together so strongly to support the Department. He also recognized that the station was built with money from Proposition F and said that Westchester residents should be proud of their commitment to improving such vital facilities throughout our City.
Overall, it was a wonderful event that really highlighted what I think makes Westchester so special: the commitment to community, dedication to improving the lives of others, and the small-town feel that makes this area so unique.
Westchester Field Deputy
More Support for Our Youth
The City Council today voted unanimously to find ways to expand gang diversion programs in the neighborhoods around Venice and Del Rey.
I introduced this motion two days after the fatal shooting of Agustin Contreras and a day after I held a Town Hall in Venice focused on gang violence and rising community tensions.
In addition to expanding gang prevention and intervention programs, my motion also:
- Directed City officials to prepare an exhaustive list of job training and youth employment programs and promote them to youth in Venice, Del Rey and neighboring communities.
- Directed the Community Development Department to find ways to provide training in fundraising and grantwriting for community gropus steering young people away from gangs.
-Directed the Human Relations Commission to work with LAUSD and local organizations to help quiet tensions and prevent retaliatory attacks.
-Directed city agencies to work with LAUSD and community groups to create a "Safe Passages" program for Venice High, Mark Twain Middle School, and other local campuses.
I believe this is a great step toward providing more and better services for the young people living in Venice and Del Rey. These neighborhoods are too often forgotten or ignored due to the affluence of surrounding communities. Our young people need more programs and services to offset their feelings of hopelessness and despair created by poverty and lack of opportunity. Without these much-needed programs and services, social conditions perpetuate a cycle of violence. We must do all we can to provide youth, especially at-risk youth, with true support. This means bringing all entities together to further positive change.
In Need of Funding?
Council District 11 is brimming with creative, imaginative and talented people dedicated to providing our community with arts and cultural programs. It's so nice to be able to spread the word that the City of Los Angeles, through its Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA), is preparing to receive grant applications from non-profit arts and cultural organizations.
The City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs just released its annual grant application booklet for non-profit arts/cultural organizations. 501c3 organizations may apply for partial funding of their public projects that take place in the City of Los Angeles between July 1, 2007 and June 30, 2008. These proposed projects should foster active community participation, promote intercultural exchange or/or offer geographic dispersion of high-quality arts/cultural programs for any one or several types of resident or tourist audiences.
Projects may include, but are not limited to: dance concerts or dance classes; literature events or publications; film festivals, public television or media programs; music concerts or music classes, theatrical plays or theater workshops; folk arts projects or cultural heritage presentations; museum programs or design exhibitions; arts education or variety art series; and outdoor festivals.
Grants generally range from $1000 to $75,000, depending upon the size of the applicant organization and the peer review score for the proposal.
Application review and ranking will take approximately eight months. Applicants will receive panel feedback and/or a City contract for selected services by May 1, 2007.
PLEASE NOTE: Applications must be postmarked by Friday, August 11, 2006.
Guideline booklets are available at our Westchester and West Los Angeles field offices, all City branch libraries, through the mail (send self addressed envelope pre-stamped with one dollar postage to: DCA Grant Program Office, 201 N. Figueroa Street, Suite 1400, LA CA 90012), on DCA's website www.culturela.org and at community workshops.
Workshops are currently scheduled for:
Thursday, July 13, 2006
John Muir Library
1005 W. 64th St.
LA, CA 90044
Council Districts 8, 1, 9, 10, 11 and 15
Saturday,,July 15, 2006
10am - Noon
Venice-Abbot Kinney Library
501 S. Venice Blvd.
Venice, CA 90291
Council Districts 11, 5, 10 and 15
If your organization meets the basic eligibility criteria listed above, please attend a free instructional grant workshop. You do not need to RSVP. If you have questions about eligibility, please call the DCA Grant Program staff at 213.202.5566.
DCA also offers grants for Individual Artists (booklets available in mid-September with deadlines in late October) and a support program specifically for Outdoor Festival/Parade Partnerships (booklets available in early November with Deadline of December 8, 2007).
Act now...this could be a terrific chance for your organization to get some much needed financial help.
Special Projects Deputy
Remembering David Asper Johnson
This week's edition of The Argonaut
, the local newspaper in the southern part of CD11, has a two-page insert full of letters of tribute to publisher David Asper Johnson, whose untimely passing a few weeks ago shocked and saddened all of who knew him.
The tribute insert is not available online, so please go out and pick up a copy. The letter I sent the Argonaut, which is excerpted in this week's paper, follows:When Dave Johnson and I first met, we hit it off like oil and water. But in the end, we belonged to a mutual admiration society.
When I first decided to run for office, everyone told me I needed to meet David Asper Johnson. I had never heard of him. He was an influential and respected voice, they said. He knew more about Westchester, Playa del Rey, Mar Vista, Del Rey, Venice and the Marina than anyone, they told me.
Dave and I met for lunch, brokered by a mutual friend. I was brimming with enthusiasm and full of ideas. But I was new to running for office and still unfamiliar with much of the district. Dave did not quite know what to make of me, but he let more than a few people know that he was less than impressed. Frankly, the feeling was mutual.
Over the next several months, all that changed. As a candidate who tried to be virtually everywhere, I was impressed to see Dave at so many community events, reporting and socializing at the same time. And this was while he was in semi-retirement!
Dave's news coverage was fair and exhaustive. He covered all sides of an issue, never played favorites, and always put his readers first. That's no small feat for a community newspaper, where an angry advertiser or a handful of disgruntled readers can easily make an impact on revenue or circulation.
While his news coverage was strictly objective, his opinion columns (accompanied by that signature caricature) were another matter entirely. Dave pulled no punches, and had no sacred cows. If he was not pleased with something, he could skewer you – and skewer you good. But if he was happy with you, he could make you a hero.
A few weeks before the primary election, the LA Times ("the little downtown daily," as Dave called it) endorsed my opponent and trashed me pretty bad. A few days later, Dave's endorsement came out. He backed me strongly, and it meant a lot.
A friend called the day the Argonaut editorial was published. "Congratulations," he said. "Dave Johnson's Argonaut endorsement means a lot more than the LA Times."
He was right. When Dave Johnson spoke, people listened.
A few days before he died, I spoke to Dave while he was in the hospital. Our initial animosity long forgotten, we complimented each other's work. He gave me some advice, and I gave him some encouragement. We both certainly expected to see him back at work before too long.
We'll all miss Dave Johnson: his fine journalism, his acerbic wit, his civic-mindedness. Fortunately for all us, his legacy lives on in these pages week after week.
God Bless you, David.
City Council Approves $50,000 Reward
From our press release file:
ROSENDAHL LEADS COUNCIL COLLEAGUES IN APPROVING $50,000 REWARD IN SLAYING OF VENICE HIGH STUDENT
LOS ANGELES- The City Council today voted unanimously to approve Councilman Bill Rosendahl’s motion to offer a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the individual responsible for Agustin Contreras's death.
Rosendahl, who represents the Venice area, submitted the motion two days after the shooting in reaction to the death of the teenager, who was killed Monday, June 5 at Venice High School.
"We need to do right by Agustin Contreras and his family," Rosendahl said. "We must find the person responsible for this heinous crime and bring them to justice."
Described as a good student unaffiliated with gangs, Contreras was killed while defending his younger brother from a reported gang robbery and assault. The suspect was identified as an African-American male wearing a gray sweatshirt, jeans and a red hat. The suspect is not believed to be a student at Venice High School.
Although it has been reported that a large crowd of people witnessed the shooting, no one has come forward with information regarding the shooting.
Rosendahl urged the public to aid in the identification of the suspect.
"My greatest hope is that this reward will help bring witnesses forward,” Rosendahl said. “We cannot afford for another innocent life to be taken, for another mother or father to suffer the loss of a child."
LAPD Pacific Division homicide detectives can be reached at (310) 482-6313. For anonymous tips, please call the department’s anonymous tip line at (887) LAWFULL.
Venice Canals Ceremony
From our press release file:
ROSENDAHL JOINS CITY OFFICIALS, COMMUNITY MEMBERS FOR VENICE CANAL SLUICE GATE CEREMONY
LOS ANGELES-Committed to improving the quality of life within the district, Councilman Bill Rosendahl joined City officials and the Venice Canals Association (VCA) for a ceremony unveiling newly repaired sluice gates in the Venice Canal.
Rosendahl worked closely with the City’s Bureau of Street Services and members of the Venice Canals Association, to ensure the sluice gates were fully operational. The gates, also known as tidal gates, were completed a year and a half ahead of schedule and will help to provide better water quality and improve wetland vegetation within the Venice Canals.
Rosendahl, who presented Tim Ory, Electrician Supervisor for the Bureau of Street Services, with a commendation certificate during the ceremony, praised the gates timely repair.
“I would like to thank Tim Ory and the Bureau of Street Services for their commitment to the community,” Rosendahl said. “This repair is essential to protecting the community and providing proper care for our canals.”
Rosendahl also praised members of the Venice Canals Association and his Venice Field Deputy, Mark Antonio Grant for their leadership on the project.
“This swift repair would not be possible without the collaboration of community leaders and City staff,” Rosendahl said. “I would like to thank the Venice Canals Association and my Venice Field Deputy, Mark Antonio Grant, for the hard work and commitment shown on this project."
Nadine Parkos and Paul Scibetta, Co-Presidents of the Venice Canals Association thanked Rosendahl’s office for facilitating repair efforts.
"This urgent repair would not have been possible if it were not for the close working relationship with Bill Rosendahl who made it happen,” Nadine Parkos said. “What took us more than 10 years to work on, they were able to get done in 6 months."
The Canals were restored in the early 1990s by the City of Los Angeles. As part of the restoration project, five new sluice gates and a new gate control system were installed at Grand Canal at Washington Boulevard. The gates, operated and maintained by the City’s Bureau of Street Services, are opened at high and low tide to allow seawater to flow into and out of the canals, which creates a flushing action and prevents stagnation. Over the past twelve years, several of the sluice gates deteriorated to the point that they no longer opened and closed properly, allowing water to leak through them, which put the community at risk during extremely high tides and severe storms.
Recognized as a historic landmark locally and nationally, the Venice Canals provide public boating recreation to residents and tourists alike. The urban wetland celebrates its centennial anniversary this year.
LA Joins County in VA Property Litigation
As a veteran of the Vietnam-era, I am outraged that the federal government would attempt to sell land that is dedicated to veterans. There is no excess land available for development, just underutilized land in need of more services for veterans.
The City Council unanimously voted today to join the County of Los Angeles in filing litigation against the federal government to stop them from selling off chunks of the VA property in Brentwood. I brought this motion forward with my colleague Jack Weiss because we need to hold the Army accountable. They have tried to rush this sale through with no scrutiny and no public input. They have violated their own rules in the process and have shown a lack of respect to local governments, to the local residents and, most tragically, to the veterans that the property was intended to serve.
This lawsuit is about respect. It is about the federal government respecting local governments and their land use decisions. It is about the federal government respecting their own rules. It is about the federal government respecting the intent of those who donated this piece of property for the benefit of old soldiers. Finally, it is about the federal government having respect for our veterans, who have given so much to us all. We have a sacred duty to honor their sacrifices and protect this property for them.
Tragedy in Our Community
Yesterday was a day like any other day. Most of us were all doing what we normally do as we meet the activities of our daily lives, when the word came out that shots were fired at Venice High School, with a student from the school being the victim of a possible fatality.
As I left the office to go to the campus, I called the councilman to notify him, who, at the same time, was calling me to see what was going on. He also heard about the shooting, had canceled his scheduled meeting, and was on his way to the scene. I briefed Bill on what little I knew at the time and told him I would give hm more details when I arrived on the campus.
As I turned the corner off of Walgrove and onto Venice Boulevard, I pulled into a scene right out of any one a the many crime dramas that are a part of our television culture; except this was real.
I called Bill and he, with his sense of the journalist, wanted to know the basic questions of who, what, when, where, why and how. The difference here, though, was that this was not a journalist asking these questions. It was a man concerned about the welfare of his community. It was a neighbor wondering how could this happen in his community. It was a leader asking about the promptness of the response from the police department. And it was a fellow human being inquiring about the condition of the victim.
There was tension in his voice and frustration accompanying his words, as he negotiated the traffic along the 10 Freeway in his race to get to the scene. When he finally arrived, he immediately met with Captain Williams, whose briefing realized Bill's worst fears; the victim, who had just turned 17, had been mortally wounded.
Bill spoke to the public, through the lens of the news cameras, and expressed his outrage of the act and his sadness at the result. There would be an investigation; we continue to hope there will be an apprehension and an arrest. But none of that would bring this child back to life; and that was what was weighing so heavily on his mind and so deep within his heart.
A town hall meeting had already been scheduled to address racial tensions within the Oakwood Community. Bill wanted the town hall meeting to serve as a forum for healing. It was set for Tuesday, June 6. No one ever thought that Monday, June 5, would provide a tragic prologue.
-Mark Grant, Venice Field Deputy
SCRAA: A New Day for LA
Today, the City of Los Angeles took a giant step towards turning our regional air traffic rhetoric into reality. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced this morning that the City of Los Angeles will rejoin the Southern California Regional Airport Authority (SCRAA) and that I will be the City’s representative. Congresswoman Jane Harman and Supervisor Don Knabe, both longtime supporters of regional aviation, were also on hand to voice their support for this monumental step, as was Assemblyman Ted Lieu, who represents the district previously held by the late Mike Gordon, whose name is almost synonymous with regionalization.
SCRAA has come and gone several times. It was originally assembled in 1985 and has representatives from the City of Los Angeles, the County of Los Angeles, Riverside County, San Bernardino County, and Orange County. We hope to persuade both Ventura and San Diego Counties to join as well, so that we can have everyone at the table together to work on this issue.
This is a new day for the City of Los Angeles. No longer will LAX have to shoulder the burden of our region's air traffic. I'm very optimistic that SCRAA can provide the framework we need to equitably spread air traffic throughout Southern California and I look forward to our first meeting.
Santa Monica Airport: Making Progress
Great news from Sacramento
. . . Yesterday, the State Assembly passed AB 2501
, legislation offered by our hard-working Assemblyman Ted Lieu
that would give us an essential tool to help protect West Los Angeles, Mar Vista and Santa Monica neighborhoods from pollution from idling jets at Santa Monica Airport.
It has been a long and lonely battle for airport neighbors to get anyone to pay attention to their complaints about noise, pollution and other ill effects from the airport. During my campaign for office last year, I highlighted this issue, and have begun to hold public hearings
on the issue.
I am very pleased by the news that the Assembly has taken leadership on this issue. I strongly urge the Senate and the governor to support this crucial piece of legislation, which is a first step in protecting our neighborhoods from the ill effects of the airport.
Let me also commend Ted Lieu for his leadership in Sacramento, and acknowledge the efforts of the Concerned Residents Against Airport Pollution
; particularly Marty Rubin and Joan Winters, for their hard work in crafting and promoting the legislation.
I also want to thank my City Council colleagues for their unanimous support of my resolution, putting the City of Los Angeles officially on record as a strong proponent of this legislation.
Stay tuned for further developments on this issue.