A Gloomy Corruption Summer
For those who live in Los Angeles, it seems like the gloomy winter weather will never end. The same can be said for corruption in L.A. City Hall. On Tuesday, another city councilmember was indicted. This time it was Curren Price, who also served in the state Assembly and Senate. The 10 count indictment by the L.A. District Attorney’s office includes allegations of grand theft by embezzlement, perjury, and conflict of interest. The L.A. Times has, at least, three articles about Price along with an editorial calling for him to resign. One of the more puzzling, or blatant, alleged crimes is having the city provide medical benefits for his soon-to-be wife, while he was still married to another woman. Price has said the allegations are false and he has done nothing wrong. If Price is found guilty, he will be the fourth councilmember to be convicted (or pleaded guilty) in the last four years. The other three are Mitch Englander, Jose Huizar, and Mark Ridley-Thomas. That does not include the racist tape scandal that forced former Council President Nury Martinez to resign, contributed to the re-election loss of Gil Cedillo, and may have destroyed the career of Kevin De Leon. Those standing around the water cooler are pretty confident that it is time for extensive reform and house cleaning in L.A. City Hall. The fact is, there is still a lot more corruption in the building.
Questions Raised Regarding Annie Lam’s Financial Success
As Assemblymember Anthony Rendon prepares to hand over the Speaker’s throne to Assemblymember Robert Rivas this summer, questions have been raised around the success of Annie Lam (Rendon). According to the Los Angeles Times, Lam’s financial success has risen along with her husband’s term as Speaker. Those of us at Calpeek don’t enjoy the idea of questioning a woman’s success based upon her husband’s career. One could say that perhaps Rendon’s success is due to Lam. Regardless, according to the L.A. Times, Lam’s income went up exponentially over his term as speaker with her clients often dealing in the world of Sacramento politics. One example the article cites is the League of California Cities reportedly paying Lam’s business nearly $600,000 over the past year and a half as the League of California Cities lobbied lawmakers on bills related to housing, homelessness and public safety. It’s such payments and her close proximity to one of the state’s most powerful politicians that raises an eyebrow or two. But it is important to point out that Lam is not being accused of any wrongdoing. The Rendons are not the first power couple in Sacramento whose legislature/business ties have drawn questions. The L.A. Times points to others including Senate leader Toni Atkins, Governor Gavin Newsom, Attorney General Rob Bonta all of whom have all been scrutinized for relationships their spouses held along with several other lawmakers who are married to people who work for organizations that lobby the Legislature or have a financial stake in legislation. Until Sacramento passes a law that states that spouses of elected legislators are required to give up their profession, remain under house arrest, and be a stay-at-home parent, we predict such stories and reports will continue to surface.
Summer Heats Up As Labor Contracts Expire
This summer could heat up across California as labor contracts expire and workers are fed up, resulting in the potential for strikes. As the Writers Guild of America enters their seventh week of strike, members of the Screen Actors Guild could be joining them soon after having voted last week to go on strike, if an agreement isn’t reached by June 30. Additionally, Unite Here Local 11 members, who work in hotels, restaurants, airports and in other hospitality jobs across Southern California and Arizona, voted to strike as their contract sets to expire on June 30 as well. As reported by CalMatters, Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the California Labor Federation, told KCRW that the issue at hand is the mega-million dollar corporations who keep paying their CEOs and stockholders while not sharing the wealth with workers. Time will tell if workers will be striking or liking based on the direction of negotiations.
State Budget Deadline Nears
This week was a big week in Sacramento as everyone and their brother and sister made a last-minute play for funding in the 2023/24 state budget as a $31.5 billion spending gap needs to be filled. The Assembly and the Senate published their proposed budget last Sunday, which must pass the legislature by Thursday in order for them to continue to get paid. The next step is for leadership and the Governor to agree on what the final budget will be by July 1. According to CalMatters, programs that could face the chopping block include public transit, student career training, food stamps, and homelessness programs.
Giving a Shout Out to an Attorney
Veteran political attorney Stacey Shin has hung up her own shingle and opened Shin Law Corporation. Calpeek congratulates Stacey on opening her new firm and wishes her years of success. We know that working on finance and political compliance issues with politicians, elected officials, activists, donors, and vendors is far from easy. A George Washington Law School graduate, Shin worked for the Federal Election Commission and most recently spent 13 years with Kaufman Legal Group in Los Angeles. Those who work on political campaigns have noticed that the industry needs more attorneys, compliance staff, fundraisers, and others who are essential to running an effective campaign. You can reach Stacey at stacey.shinlawcorp.com
Party in Sacramento!
One must be a political junkie to consider the Sacramento Mayor’s race a party, but Peekers try to be enthusiastic and encouraging. We are often happy when viable candidates join a race and make it more interesting. In just a few weeks, the race has attracted numerous strong candidates now that incumbent Mayor Darrell Steinberg announced he will not seek re-election. So, we are pleased to update last week’s peek about the race to let everyone know that former Dr. Richard Pan has announced his candidacy. Pan, a pediatrician, most recently served in the state Senate.
Party of Ring of Truth
It must be a challenge to choose a name for a new political party. The latest on the list of those trying to qualify, per the Secretary of State’s office, is the Ring of Truth party which hopes to be on the March 2024 primary election ballot. If it, and others succeed, California voters could choose from the California Women’s Party and Common Sense Party in March. As Calpeek has previously discussed, there are 7 others attempting to qualify for the November 2024 General Election. Not to be pessimistic, but since the bar is high to qualify a new party, it is unlikely that we will see any new parties in the future. But it would be fun. The contact person for the Ring of Truth party is Barack D. Obama Shaw. That’s a good name for a politician.
There seems to be no cure for secession fever. And it does appear contagious. Maybe someone should alert the Centers for Disease Control, although given who seems to be suffering from the fever, that may not be an effective solution. Most of the secessionists are the types who oppose government (while they try to form their own government) and were opposed to the CDC’s efforts to control COVID. As Calpeek discussed in February, folks in Tuolumne County want to leave California and form the state of Jefferson. Nothing crazy to see there. In August 2022, we discussed San Bernardino County’s efforts to secede and become the state of Empire. According to the Sacramento Bee, a group (at least two people although one is a county supervisor) in El Dorado County want to secede and become the state of the Republic for El Dorado. Calpeek does not necessarily think it would be productive for California counties to secede, but it sure would be interesting.