Raise Some Eyebrows?

Here’s a no-interest story about the LA City Council that might raise some eyebrows.

Recently they had to cancel the Tuesday council meeting because a security meeting ran over in time.

Details of what was being discussed at this meeting are scarce. However, the fact that the LA City Council failed to meet and address the many issues on its plate is an ominous sign.

Today we are faced with numerous threats to our security and LA is a hub city where people from all over the world come and go on to other destinations or set down roots. In fact, LA is one of the great melting pots of America.

So, with all the controversy going around of late with the rash of shootings and the rise of violent crime, one could forgive the council from running over.

Or…

Does this mean the city leaders are planning something that the majority of LA citizens are going to object to in yet another measure that will infringe on our already sparse civil liberties? The presidential race is heating up and this would be an opportune time to make such an announcement and hope it gets buried in all the commotion of the presidential debates and caucus results that are taking center stage on the nightly news.

If you remember all the commotion when the LA City Council passed a resolution ending “Corporate Personhood” endorsing the striping corporate America of their rights as an entity, as perceived under the constitution. This directly affected the contribution of campaign funds to individuals that were deemed unsuitable by the powers that be. This effectively dried up funding for those who wished to go against the status quo here in LA.
So, this observer is wondering what exactly they up to are in city hall.

It has to be a dozy and something that may affect residents throughout the city and in the wake of the current machinations involving Apple and the FBI with Silicon Valley taking an opposing stance to the FBI gaining access to iPhone content.

LA’s Public security may be looking to weigh in on the matter and have new unenforceable regulations put on the citizenry.

Look at the recent ongoing tiff over gun storage in the home that the City Council wants to bring down upon those who own firearms to lock them up in a safe that in itself would hinder or delay access to a weapon should a crime or home invasion were to occur.

Of course, let us not forget the recent resolution concerning giving asylum to Russia’s gay community at a time when the council can’t make the budget requirements as they stand right now. Not to mention a statewide drought that should be high on the city council’s agenda but doesn’t seem to make the cut when it comes time to take action.

So, it is perhaps it is time to cut ancillary meetings short instead of the main job that the city council was hired to do by the people of the city.

There is a whole list of things that should keep the council working overtime to wit:

Unemployment for the city’s youth and what to do about the rising gang crime that results from having not enough jobs
What to do about the Syrian refugees that are entering the LA area and how are they going to deal with the care and housing of the many thousands who are expected to arrive
When is the LA City Council going to take on the issue of racial discrimination that is still a part of city politics for city job hiring
There is also the matter of education and the fact that budget cuts for the inner city as well as the rest of the education system are forcing many to delay or even cancel their education plans.

In fact, budgets are rushed through that are insufficient to run the schools at the minimum staffing levels required and not to mention that the practice of hiring and firing is linked to test scores where the tests don’t have any bearing on the courses being taught.

In some cases, teachers are forced to clip coupons, as they aren’t making a living wage.

So, how it is the city can afford iPad for each student and yet not find the cash to make sure the teachers have enough money so they can eat from week to week. Even at the Playground acting classes for kids, they are having huge pay cuts. How are the kids supposed to learn if the students are not getting paid.

Perhaps it’s time the city council stops worrying about what’s going on and Russia and take a look at the teacher Gulag they are creating in the City of Los Angeles.

City Council opted

​ In November, the City Council opted to rescind the plan in order to make changes after being faced with serious criticism and being hit with a lawsuit by a nonprofit group, Fix The City. According to Fix The City, this revolutionary plan would actually generate greater air pollution by reducing the number of traffic lanes, while also endangering public safety and adding to the already problematic traffic congestion.

​ In September the City Council voted to let the city bid on hosting the 2024 Olympic Games. Shortly afterwards the United States Olympic Committee announced that Los Angeles would serve as the nation’s bid for the 2024 games. As of yet, no final decision has been made.

​ In early December, the City Council voted to allow some reserve and retired police officers to own firearm magazines that could hold more than ten rounds of ammunition. Although a number of citizens and gun control activists highly contested this decision, the LAPD had argued that exempting these individuals from the citywide ban (which hadbeen passed just a few months earlier in July) would ensure they were better able to face and respond to potential threats to public safety. This argument is what swayed the Council to vote 11-4 to approve the exemption.

​ Another issue that the City Council was forced to rule on involved the purchase of body cameras for members of the LAPD.Although they had been set to approve the purchase of more than 6,000 cameras at a cost of around $57.6 million over a five year period of time in December 2015, they backtracked due to concerns about logistics and the massive cost. Councilman JoeBuscaino, a former police officer, stated that they would rather see this money spent on reopening a jail in San Pedro and additional patrols.

​ In late December 2015, the City Council unanimously accepted the resignation of Los Angeles County’s Probation Department chief, Jerry Powers, effective January 4, 2016. This was after county officials were forced to hire an outside law firm to investigate allegations that Powers and one of his top deputies, Kim Renner that he hired with a salary of $160,000, were involved in an inappropriate romantic relationship. It was also alleged that Powers had hired her without requiring that the appropriate background checks be performed. Unfortunately, his resignation is the third time in five years that the probation chief has left his position. Officials are expected to begin the search for the next probation chief in January 2016.

​ In Los Angeles, it seems as if there is always some type of huge political issue being debated, decided upon, and debated upon again. For themore than 18 million people living in the Greater Los Angeles area, as of 2014,this means thatpolitical changes are to be expected. How these changes affect their lives remains to be seen.

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LAUSD

los angeles county map

​ Another political issue involving the LAUSD centered on the school board’s mandate that all schools use restorative justice instead of punishment by 2020. Designed to help students, parents, teachers, and counselors communicate their concerns when conflicts arise, many teachers have quietly voiced concerns that it will just make the schools even more unruly, particularly those in the crosshairs of rival gangs, such as Augustus Hawkins High School.

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THE LOS ANGELES CITY COUNCIL
​ In January, the Council made an attempt to reduce underage drinking and alcohol abuse by approving a plan to ban any advertisements for alcoholic beverages from being posted on public property. This included both city managed and city owned property, including buses.

los angeles capital

In October 2015, three members of the Los Angeles City Council, David Ryu, Paul Koretz, and Marqueece Harris-Dawson, made an uncharacteristic political decision. They requested that their salaries remain the same instead of taking the 2.4% salary increase that was announced for city officials in August.It is interesting to note that members of the City Council are paid more in LA than in any other city in the United States. In fact, their 2015 salary of $184,610 means they are also paid more than Governor Jerry Brown and most members of Congress. Although they did not specify what would be done with the money they refused, in the past it has been donated to charities in the Los Angeles area.

​ Also in October, the City Council voted to require that any stored handguns be disabled or locked up if they weren’t close to the registered owner’s hand. This decision, which was met with arguments by gun rights activist,was made in response to the rising number of deadly gun accidents and youth suicides throughout the United States. On a side note, the City Council overturned a 136 year old ban during the same month. The ban had made urban beekeeping illegal. Now, beekeeping is permitted in the backyards of single family homes, as long as buffer zones are in place and the owner ensures that there is a source of water at their hives.

​ In August, the City Council approved a new transportation plan that would completely alter the streets over the next two decades. The plan includes adding hundreds of miles of bicycle lanes and bus only lanes, as well as pedestrian safety features aimed at convincing more residents to leave their car at home when possible. Known as the Mobility Plan 2035, it still faces plenty of opposition from residents who maintain that the city is built around owning a vehicle. They believe that this plan will result in even greater congestion and more traffic.

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Illegal Residents

Illegal residents also became eligible for California’s Low Cost Auto Insurance Program and were given the right to apply for student loans funded by the state to assist them in attending California State University or University of California campuses. Finally, a law went into effect stating that anyone in the country illegally will no longer be required to provide a Social Security number in order to obtain a state licenses to work as a physician, security guard, nurse, hair stylist, and several other jobs.

HELPING THE HOMELESS IN LOS ANGELES
​ In September of 2015 the Los Angeles City Council declared a state of emergency on homelessness and requested $100 million to help alleviate the growing problem. On the same day, Mayor Garcetti announced a proposal to streamline and fast track the process of obtaining affordable housing, as well as make it easier for faith institutes, such as churches, and nonprofits to operate safe parking programs and shelters. He also opened up the possibility of allowing the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority to utilize city facilities as shelters. In a final attempt to combat the problem, Mayor Garcetti also requested $100 million annually to fund permanent housing for the homeless and create a foundation reserved to this issue.

​ Although the mayor made $13 million readily available for short-term rental assistance for veterans, he, along with the rest of theCity Council, was heavilycriticized in November for not following through with their efforts. In a statementCity Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson, co-chairman of the homelessness andpoverty committee,reported that the city was simply taking their time to ensure everything was done right. The mayor stated that the delay was merely a part of the legislative process, while the other homelessness committee co-chairman, City Councilman Jose Huizar, reported that the council was on target to deliver its complete plan to eliminate homelessness in January 2016.

​ In November MayorGarcettiruled out declaring homelessness to be at a state of emergency in Los Angeles, which was met with criticism. This is largely because storms from El Nino are expected to hit the area in January 2016, leaving the homeless with nowhere to go. In response the City Council is attempting to add additional beds to the city’s winter shelters, open public buildings as temporary shelters, and allow homeless individuals who own a car or RV to sleep in them in church parking lots.

THE MANY POLITICAL ISSUES INVOLVING THE LOS ANGELES UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT
​ TheLA Unified School District (LAUSD) was heavily critiqued in 2015 by residents of California, as well as reporters from across the world, for a number of issues, some of which were ongoing from the previous year. For example, the use of bond funds to purchase laptops and iPads to the tune of $1.3 billion remained a significant source of contention. The situation grew worse when students began to use these devices to hack into various systems that had once been deemedunhackable. The school system did receive a $4.2 million settlement in September 2015 as the result of faulty software being loaded onto the Apple devices. This money is reported to be marked for buying other computers through a grant program.

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The News

When the clock turned to 12am on January 1, 2015, hundreds of new laws went into effect in Los Angeles while others did not kick in until July. For residents of the City of Angels, this was just the start of numerous political changes involving everything from new regulations regarding the use of aerial drones to the rights of immigrants living in the city illegally. The following looks at the major current events involving politics that took place in Los Angeles over the last year.

THE NEW LAWS
​ In Los Angeles, many of the new laws for 2015 were the direct result of an incident that had occurred within the previous year. For example, in response to the Isla Vista shooting in May 2014 that killed six students and injured thirteen more, law enforcement agencies were required to adopt policies requiring officers to check the state gun registry database prior to making a visit to anyone who is considered dangerous. This event also resulted in a law that allows the police to temporarily take guns from anyone the court had determined to be a threat to themselves or others. In addition, a law went into effect that extended the statute of limitations for prosecuting public bribery cases, while also doubling restitution fines for public officials who take or seek bribes. This was in response toformer Senator Ron Calderon’s indictment on 24 federal charges, including corruption, money laundering, and federal bribery, in 2014.

​ Additional law changes that effected Los Angeles area residents included:
•Courts arenowrequired to report to the state Department of Justice within one business day when an individual has become prohibited from possessing a firearm.

•Groundwater pumping rules were put in place to regulate how much water businesses residents can draw from the aquifers. In addition, homeowners associations were no longer allows to fine residents who did not water during their lawns during a drought.

•Universities and colleges were required to adopt a standard of clear consent for students engaged in sexual activity. In other words, all participants should give affirmative consentbefore sexual contact is made.If a rape is reported on a college or university campus, the police will look for proof of affirmative consent before going any further.

•Records of juvenile offers will now be automatically sealed if they finish all court imposed orders.

•Los Angeles public schools, as wellas those across the state, are nowrequired to publish the number of boys and girls involved in each sport to demonstrate that both sexes have equal access to all athletic programs.

•As of July 1, 2015, hotels with 300 or more rooms arerequired to pay a minimum wage of $15.37 an hour to every employee, regardless of their position.In June 2015, Mayor Eric Garcetti signed an ordinance raising the minimum wage for all residents of Los Angeles to $15 an hour by theyear 2020, a $6 increase from what it is today.

POLITICS AND IMMIGRATION
​ New immigration laws also had a tremendous impact on anyone living in Los Angeles. For example, undocumented immigrants who are in the United States illegally were given the ability to apply for a driver’s license, as long as they are qualified and can prove their identity and where they live. Additionally, employers are prohibited from discriminating against anyone who holds this type of license.