When Your Boss Thinks All You Do is Make Lunch Plans…

Voters in Los Angeles chose three citywide leaders in November who had no experience working for the city and, so far, the new leadership has been interesting.  Calpeek recently discussed some drama around new City Controller Kenneth Mejia.  New City Attorney Hydee Feldstein Soto is making news again.  Calpeek has previously discussed Feldstein Soto’s decision to sue a reporter for posting information the city provided that reporter.  Now, Feldstein Soto has a new controversy brewing.  As the L.A. Times reported last week, Feldstein Soto is shaking up the very popular Neighborhood Prosecutor Program.  For decades, L.A. City Deputy Attorneys have been assigned to work within each LAPD division in an effort to coordinate directly with the community, especially on complicated issues that often involve numerous governments, agencies, and/or non-profit organizations.  Feldstein Soto is apparently not a fan of the program and told the L.A. Times she didn’t want neighborhood prosecutors “sitting in a detective station, waiting for an issue to come in the door or trying to decide where to go for lunch.”  Ouch!  If this is how Feldstein Soto talks publicly about her staff, which includes about 500 attorneys, it is safe to assume there will be more to this story.


Taxpayer Dollars Funding Billionaires

As Calpeek readers know, many of America’s super rich have found ways to profit off of taxpayers.  No, we’re not talking about a former President or Elon Musk’s car company, space program, or the crazy underground burrowing thing.  This billionaire is less well known except to Dodger fans.  Former Dodger owner and current parking lot owner Frank McCort’s new scheme is to build a $300 million gondola that will transport baseball fans from L.A.’s Union Station to the ballpark for “free”.  The L.A. Times has lots of details and speculates on why the man who led the Dodgers into bankruptcy and allegedly “…looted $189 million from the team revenues for personal use…” would give away free rides.  Speculation is that McCourt plans on using the stadium’s parking lots (which he still owns) to build retail space and housing.  Until more is known, taxpayer dollars are being spent on planning by the L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, so if you are a taxpayer in L.A. County, your “free” gondola ride is already not free.  McCourt has a “non-profit” organization paying for other costs.


Will She Stay or Will She Go?

Will she stay, or will she go?  That’s the question on Democrats’ minds in Washington, D.C. when it comes to Senator Dianne Feinstein.  Her absence from her post, due to a reported bout with shingles and a long recovery, has started to cause some issues when it comes to being able to count Senate votes.  And while a few Democrats have started to speak out about their concern of her vacant seat, most choose not to speak about it.  This week, a Politico photographer took a snapshot of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s notes which stated that he was “hopeful” Feinstein would return to the chamber next week, if asked.  Beyond the general question of what she’ll decide to do, the follow-up questions include if she does step down, what will Governor Gavin Newsom do?  Will he appoint someone to the seat?  If so, who?  Would it be one of the current candidates?  Or would he hold a special election (unlikely due to the time the seat would be vacant)?  Regardless, the Republicans aren’t taking pity on the Senator or the despair her absence is causing their fellow Democrats as they recently blocked an attempt by Senate Democrats last month to temporarily fill Feinstein’s seat on the Judiciary panel.


10 Days Is Too Long For Gun Buyers 

Gun advocates are challenging California’s 10-day waiting period for acquiring new firearms.  As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, challengers are saying that the waiting period endangers law-abiding gun buyers who may need to gun-up immediately for self-defense.  And this isn’t the only gun control law that’s under attack.  Other laws being thrown to the courts include the one that limits buyers to just one gun purchase per month, the ban on semiautomatic rifles, and the law that requires new handgun models to “micro-stamp” bullet cartridges so they can be traced, if necessary.  Those of us around the watercooler don’t want to appear to be too liberal, but common sense tells us that if someone feels the need to buy more than one gun a month, or doesn’t want their bullets to be traceable, that maybe a 10-day waiting period is TOO SHORT a time.


State Reparations Task Force Recommends “Down Payments”

CalMatters’ Wendy Fry reported that the California Reparations Task Force published documents on Monday, indicating that it plans to recommend that the state apologize for racism and slavery and consider “down payments” of varying amounts to eligible African American residents.  The documents do not contain a price tag for reparations but do include ways to calculate how much money African Americans in California have lost since 1850 when the state was established.  Loss calculations vary on type of racial harm and length of time in California and range from $2,300 per person per year, to residents for the over-policing of Black communities, to $77,000 total per person for Black-owned business losses and devaluations over the years.  The task force has a July 1 deadline to make recommendations to the Legislature and Governor Gavin Newsom and it expects that actual reparations amounts will be determined by the Legislature.


Getting in the Weeds on Ballot Measure Changes

Although Calpeek loves ballot measures for a variety of reasons, we acknowledge they are not perfect and do not necessarily produce good laws.  Frequently, efforts are made to change the process and 2023 is no different.  Three bills have been introduced to change parts of the process, yet all three face significant hurdles before they could become law.  Dan Walters gives us some details in his latest commentary for CalMatters.  SB 858 and SCA 3 would require the Legislative Analyst’s Office to write the official title for the measure, taking the power away from the Attorney General because the LAO would be expected to write titles that would be less partisan.  SB 532 would change the requirement to explain the impact of a local tax and bond ballot measure.  AB 421 would make it harder to qualify a referendum or an initiative that would overturn an existing law.  


Redaction Palooza

As anyone who writes, well, anything, knows, headlines are incredibly important.  With an overabundance of text these days, clever headlines are essential in order to catch a reader’s attention.  Today, those standing around the water cooler would like to give a shout out to www.PublicCEO.com, billed as California’s Top News for Local Government Leaders, for the title of the ad “Redaction Palooza”.  It’s not only a great title to grab attention; it is a perfect advertising headline for the training series about exemptions to the California Public Records Act.  In order to see the ad, subscribe to the newsletter here.  

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