Good morning and welcome to LA on the Record, our City Council newsletter. It’s David Zahniser, with a lot of help from Rachel Uranga, Julia Wick, Dakota Smith, and Jany Libor.
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If there’s one agency that will need strong oversight from Mayor Karen Bass in the coming years, it’s Metro.
Drug overdoses have become an urgent problem on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s transit network. Customers have expressed alarm at rising crime on the system’s buses and trains. Rail passenger numbers are still well below pre-pandemic levels.
So it’s no surprise that Bass has focused in recent days on filling the Metro board seat previously held by the former councilman. mike boninwho lobbied for free fares and a cadre of unarmed ambassadors to improve traffic safety.
Bass, a Metro board member, told The Times that he intends to choose a board member to replace Bonin and has interviewed three candidates for the position. His choice could prove crucial to the future of the county agency, which is building new rail lines to the Westside, Los Angeles International Airport and elsewhere while facing new financial pressures.
A politician who is actively seeking the seat is Councilor Eunises Hernandez, who took office in December and has a district with subway and light rail stations. Another is Councilor Monica Rodriguezwhich is based in the San Fernando Valley, where a light rail line is planned along Van Nuys Boulevard.
Politically, those two come from very different places. Rodríguez took office in 2017 with strong support from construction unions and the Los Angeles Police Protective League, which represents LAPD officers. Hernandez was endorsed by the Democratic Socialists of America-Los Angeles and Ground Game LA, who have called for the defunding or abolition of the LAPD.
Both women have shown an independent streak, sometimes voting no when all or most of their colleagues voted yes. Rodríguez cast no votes on redistricting, a south los angeles hotel project and changes in the city censorship process. Hernandez recently opposed an LAPD gun buyback programa plan to send LAPD personnel to a symposium on policewomenand, perhaps most critically, a $54 million extension of Metro’s police contract, which she called a misuse of public funds.
It’s not yet clear if Bass is seeking such fierce independence. The mayor’s power in Metro stems from the fact that she appoints three of Metro’s 13 board seats. That makes it essential that she and the other three stick together as they seek to advance the mayor’s transit agenda, she said. richard katzwho served on the Metro board under mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
“It takes seven votes to do something there. The city’s Los Angeles chapter is four, and that gets you that much closer to reaching your goal if you can count on all four votes,” she said.
One area in which Hernández has an advantage: She is backed by a coalition of pro-transit and anti-poverty groups, which sent a letter Bass endorsing her for the Metro job. laura raymonddirector of the Alliance for Community Transit-Los Angeles, told The Times that Hernandez will “fight for equity and representation” on behalf of low-income and black transit riders.
Meanwhile, there is another candidate for the Metro seat: Alderman katy yaroslavskiformer assistant county supervisor Sheila Kuehl, who spent eight years on the Metro board. Yaroslavsky, like Hernández, is a newcomer to the council. Metro is expanding the metro’s Purple Line into Yaroslavsky’s Westside district, while also planning a north-south Sepulveda Pass rail line that would run through his district.
Yaroslavsky expressed interest in those two projects, as well as efforts to build affordable housing on Metro properties. “However, the decision rests with the mayor alone, and any of the highly qualified candidates for the position would be an incredible addition to the Metro board,” he said in a statement.
Bass expects to make his decision within a week. His spokesperson Zach SeidlHe said the mayor’s priority for the agency is to “boldly address homelessness and make Metro safer for everyone.”
“He will soon be announcing a new board member who is aligned with his urgent agenda for Metro and our city,” he said.
Status of the situation
— LION MASS: In the months leading up to taking office in 2020, Los Angeles City Councilmember Kevin de Leon earned more than $100,000 working for the non-profit AIDS Healthcare Foundation. Now, The Times’ Liam Dillon, Benjamin Oreskes and Doug Smith have given an in-depth look at that work, saying it raises “uncomfortable questions about De León’s handling of problems at the residential hotels the foundation owns in his district.” .
— SEE POINT WAIT: The City Council delayed a vote on whether to accept a donation to allow the Los Angeles Police Department to purchase a robot dog, which would climb stairs, open doors and be used for reconnaissance. Opponents are pressing the council, which now has several outspoken critics of the LAPD, to reject the nearly $280,000 donation, saying the robot dog, also known as “Spot,” will be used to terrorize low-income neighborhoods and communities of color.
— SEPARATION FROM THE POLICE: Three officers were shot and a suspect was killed during an hour-long standoff between police and a probationer in Lincoln Heights on Wednesday. In a bizarre quirk of the moment, the incident featured the use of at least one LAPD robot. Bass visited the injured officers the night of the incident, telling them that “their city stands with them.”
— (EXTREMELY SLOW) PASS TO INDIA: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has again approved the nomination of former mayor Eric Garcetti to become the US ambassador to India. A full vote in the Senate could take place as early as next week.
— GIMME SANCTUARY: Three council members called for an ordinance declaring Los Angeles a “sanctuary city,” prohibiting city personnel or resources from being used in federal immigration enforcement. The law is being pushed by immigration groups ahead of next year’s presidential election. florida governor ron desantisa presumptive Republican candidate in the race, has focused on cracking down on people in the country without authorization.
— EVALUATING HHH: The Daily News took a long look for the successes and failures of Proposition HHH, the $1.2 billion bond measure to build affordable housing for Los Angeles’ homeless population. “Housing is being built,” said former city administrative official Miguel Santana, who chaired the bond oversight committee. “It’s not being built as fast as it should be, but it’s being built.”
— CHAN’S TRIAL DELAYED: A federal judge asked to postpone the federal corruption of the former deputy mayor for three weeks Raymond Chan on Monday, after learning that the defense attorney Harland Brown he remained hospitalized. The measure delays witness testimony until March 27. Prosecutors say they are down to their last four witnesses.
— SUSPENDING THE 6: The Times published its guide to the seven candidates running to replace the former councilor nury martinez in District 6, which encompasses parts of the central and eastern San Fernando Valley. The election is on April 4, with a runoff set for two months later.
— ON THE HORIZON: Council races of 2024 continue to take shape, with TreePeople’s policy director Manny Gonzalez throwing his hat on the run to replace Pablo krekorian in District 2, which encompasses parts of the eastern San Fernando Valley. Gonez is married to an LAUSD board member. kelly gonzalez, who won re-election in November.
Krekorian finishes late next year, creating an open race for his Valley seat. former assemblyman Adrian Nazarian, a former Krekorian chief of staff, is also among the candidates.
BACK IN PERSON: With the city’s COVID-19 emergency officially over, the City’s Planning Commission held its first in-person meeting in three years Thursday, reviewing development proposals in Hollywood, Echo Park and other locations. Next week, the Board of Police Commissioners resumes its face-to-face sessions.
The MRT legal battle
Los Angeles City Councilman Corruption Trial Suspended Mark Ridley-Thomas it began this week, with federal prosecutors casting the former county supervisor as a conniving operator eager to “monetize” his position and cover up a sexual harassment investigation against his son.
Ridley-Thomas’ defense attorney strongly denied alleged corruption by the federal government and characterized him as a lifelong public servant who has focused on serving his constituents, The Times’ Matt Hamilton reports.
The veteran politician has a legal team that is partially funded by a series of high-profile donors. Ridley-Thomas has portrayed the accusation as an affront to the black community and the cause of social and racial justice, a view shared by many at an interfaith prayer service held on the Sunday before the trial began. The trial continues next week.
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- Where did Inside Safe go? Bass’ initiative to get homeless Angelenos off the streets ventured deep into the San Fernando Valley this week. Extension workers entered Councilman by Bob Blumenfield district, visiting camps along the Los Angeles River between Canoga Park High School and Lindley Avenue. The operation moved at least 44 people inside, according to Blumenfield’s office.
- On the docket for next week: low and alderman traci park will attend the Brentwood HOA. meeting Monday night. The next day, Park and other members of the council’s Public Safety Committee are scheduled to vote on two of the mayor’s Police Commission nominees.
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