On politics in the Golden State

Category: antonio villaraigosa

Villaraigosa urges Brown to sign immigration bill

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa urged Gov. Jerry Brown to sign legislation that would prohibit local law enforcement from detaining arrestees who are illegal immigrants as well as effectively blunt federal deportation efforts
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Wednesday urged Gov. Jerry Brown to sign legislation that would prohibit local law enforcement from detaining arrestees who are illegal immigrants as well as effectively blunt federal deportation efforts.

Villaraigosa's comments came during a lunch panel at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., where the mayor is serving as chairman of the proceedings. Asked about the measure, which passed the Legislature last week, he said the governor should "absolutely" sign it.

"Gov. Brown should sign it," Villaraigosa said at the panel event, which was sponsored by the National Journal, ABC News and Univision. "I expect him to sign it."

He added: “California needs to be different from Arizona."

Advocates of the bill have argued that California should use the legislation to distinguish itself from such states as Arizona, which sparked a national firestorm with its tough anti-illegal-immigration law.

The California measure is aimed at blunting federal immigration enforcement, in particular the Secure Communities program, under which fingerprints of arrestees are shared with immigration officials who can issue hold orders.

Advocates say the proposed state legislation will prevent illegal immigrants from being detained and possibly deported for relatively minor legal entanglements such as traffic infractions and misdemeanors. Under the bill, arrestees who have previous convictions for a serious or violent felony will still be detained.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca is among the California sheriffs who have said they plan to defy the legislation if Brown signs it, and continue to hold suspects when requested to do so by federal authorities.

Sheriffs say the measure would put them in a difficult position by forcing them to renege on their obligations to the federal government.


Legislature OKs cost-cutting pension bill

A conservative assemblyman gets in his right jabs

California Senate OKs bill that would blunt deportation efforts

-- Michael J. Mishak in Sacramento and David Lauter in Charlotte, N.C.


Photo: Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa addresses delegates Tuesday during the opening night of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

Villaraigosa says he'd like to be governor of California [updated]

As Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa prepares to take the gavel for the Democratic National Committee’s national convention in Charlotte this summer, Yahoo! News asked whether the termed-out mayor could be the nation’s first Latino president.

Villaraigosa assured his interviewer that he has no interest in national office, but he does have another job in mind after 2013, when he will be forced from Getty House.

"The job I've said to people I would like is I would like to be governor of the state of California," he said.

Villaraigosa spokesman Teddy Davis was not immediately available to comment on the mayor’s statement.

Villaraigosa opted not to run for the job when it was last open in 2010. Gavin Newsom briefly challenged Jerry Brown in the Democratic primary before dropping out of the race, eventually running for lieutenant governor.

Last year, Villaraigosa gave a speech to the Sacramento Press Club urging state lawmakers to consider changes to Proposition 13, the 1978 law that placed limits on residential and commercial property taxes. Brown said he does not believe voters are interested in changing the law.

Brown is eligible to run for another term in 2014. New state election rules will allow voters of any party to vote in the 2014 primary election, with the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, advancing to a November 2014 runoff.



California parks face a $54-million question

Berman goes negative on Sherman with new website

California Democratic Party endorses Gov. Brown's tax measure

— Anthony York in Sacramento

An earlier version of this post said Villaraigosa made his comments to ABC News. The comments were made to Yahoo! News, which has a content-sharing arrangement with ABC.

Photo: California Gov. Jerry Brown, right, signs legislation authorizing initial construction of the state's $68-billion high-speed rail line, with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and state and city officials looking on at Union Station earlier this month. Credit: Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images.

Death penalty repeal pits Mayor Villaraigosa vs. former Gov. Wilson


Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa goes up against former Gov. Pete Wilson in a debate over the death penalty that will be coming soon to mailboxes throughout California.

Villaraigosa signed the ballot argument to be included in the official state voter guide on Proposition 34, which would repeal the state’s death penalty if approved on the November ballot. Wilson signed the "no" argument.

"Proposition 34 lets serial killers, cop killers, child killers and those who kill the elderly, escape justice," says the argument against the measure, also signed by Keith Royal, president of the California State Sheriffs’ Assn., and Marc Klaas, who became an advocate for crime victims after his 12-year-old daughter, Polly, was murdered.

The argument endorsed by Villaraigosa, on the other hand, said the ballot measure will save "millions every year" and said more than 100 innocent people have been sentenced to death in the U.S., including some who have been executed.

"We’ll never execute an innocent person with Proposition 34," says the argument that is also signed by former state Atty. Gen. John Van de Kamp and retired Superior Court Judge LaDoris Cordell.


Jerry Brown gives Apple's new 'spaceship' campus a boost

Gov. Brown signs bill aimed at public officials convicted of felonies

Amber Alert is 10 years old in California, has helped hundreds of children

-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento

Photo: Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, in a file photo, has signed the ballot argument in favor of a measure that would repeal the death penalty in California. Credit: Michael Nelson / EPA

California politicians praise Obama's support for same-sex marriage

Top California politicians hailed President Obama's statement of support for same-sex marriage on Wednesday.

Assembly Speaker John Perez (D-Los Angeles), the first openly gay person to hold that position, said he was "very proud" of the president's statement, made in an interview with ABC News.

"As with many Americans, his views on this issue have evolved toward an embrace of dignity, respect and justice for every American," Perez said in a statement.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who has pushed the Democratic Party to include the issue in its national platform, said on Twitter that "love doesn't care if you're gay or straight. Love doesn't discriminate."

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) issued his own statement saying, "I have never been more proud of our President than I am today." He added, "Denying the right for any two people to marry is discrimination."

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, another outspoken supporter of same-sex marriage, called Obama's comments a "historic moment" on Twitter. "So proud to see our President come out in support of marriage equality and full equal rights for ALL Americans," he wrote.

Same-sex marriage was briefly legal in California, thanks to a state Supreme Court decision in 2008, but voters passed Proposition 8 later that year, banning it with a constitutional amendment.

[Updated 5:10 p.m.: Gov. Jerry Brown refused to defend Proposition 8 in court when he was attorney general. He posted on Twitter that, "Equality before the law is a pillar of American democracy. I applaud President Obama's support for the right of same-sex couples to marry."]


Obama declares support for same-sex marriage

Romney declines opportunity to comment on gay marriage

Gay-marriage backers on Obama: "Big day for all Americans"

-- Chris Megerian in Sacramento

Villaraigosa has Prop. 13 in his sights [Updated]

Photo: Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at the Capitol in Sacramento last year with other California mayors. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated PressLos Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa once again jumped on the third rail of California politics on Monday, telling lawmakers that businesses are unfairly exploiting Proposition 13, the constitutional amendment limiting property tax increases.

"Proposition 13 has fallen victim to the law of unintended consequences,” he said during a Capitol hearing. "What was conceived of as a measure to relieve the tax burden on homeowners has had the effect of benefiting commercial property owners at the expense of homeowners."

Villaraigosa has urged changes to Proposition 13 before, calling it a “corporate tax giveaway” in August and urging Gov. Jerry Brown to "test the voltage in some of these so-called third-rail issues."

At issue is a provision in the constitutional amendment that prevents sharp increases in property taxes except when there's a change in ownership. This was intended to provide homeowners with financial security, but businesses have used legal maneuvering to avoid costly reassessments. As a result, homeowners have paid an increasing share of property taxes, according to a recent report from the California Tax Reform Assn., a Sacramento-based advocacy group.

"A system which allows the richest corporations in the world to pay virtually nothing in tax on acres and acres of prime commercial land must be re-examined and reformed," the report said.

Villaraigosa said Proposition 13 still serves an important purpose and suggested a "grand bargain" that would increase protections for taxpayers but limit exemptions for businesses. Such a compromise might include expanding the sales tax to apply to services, he said.

[Updated at 4:17 p.m: Villaraigosa expanded on his criticisms in a conversation with L.A. Times reporters, saying "Prop. 13 is broken. It needs to be fixed."]

Depending on whom you ask, Proposition 13 is either the root cause of California’s financial crisis or the state’s saving grace.

Liberal opponents say the constitutional amendment has created inequity and choked off funding for schools and other government services. Others point out that new homeowners pay higher rates than their neighbors because their property assessments are more recent.

But conservative supporters say Proposition 13 is the dam protecting California residents and businesses from a wave of tax increases.

"Prop. 13 is one of the few business incentives that California have left, because, quite honestly, we are high-taxed enough in many other areas and the regulatory climate is not exactly conducive to business development," said Assemblywoman Diane Harkey (R-Dana Point).

[Updated 4:17 p.m.: A report released Monday by Californians Against Higher Property Taxes said removing Proposition 13 protections for businesses would increase taxes by roughly $6 billion and decrease the state's economic output by $71.8 billion over five years.

"A lot of the burden will be carried by small businesses," said Michael Shires, a public policy professor who worked on the study.]

The taxpayer anger that led 65% of voters to approve the constitutional amendment in 1978 has made politicians wary of seeking any changes to it.

When billionaire Warren Buffett suggested the system was unfair while he was serving as an adviser to then-candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger, the former bodybuilder joked that he would make Buffett do 500 sit-ups if “he mentions Prop. 13 one more time.”


Villaraigosa targets Prop. 13 in Sacramento address

Gov. Jerry Brown talks Prop. 13 on first day in office

Jerry Brown says Prop. 13 could be tested if budget talks fail

-- Chris Megerian


Photo: Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at the Capitol in Sacramento last year with other California mayors. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press

11 candidates qualify for L.A. Council race to replace Hahn

Eleven candidates qualified Thursday for the race to replace now-Congresswoman Janice Hahn on the Los Angeles City Council.

They include Assemblyman Warren Furutani (D-Gardena), who is backed by the Democratic Party and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and former Councilman Rudy Svorinich Jr., who is only eligible to run for another term due to a change in term limits. Meanwhile, the fire and police unions are each backing separate candidates.

-- Kate Linthicum at Los Angeles City Hall

Villaraigosa against waiving environmental rules for NFL stadium

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Magic Johnson
L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa expressed skepticism Tuesday that the Legislature would give a proposed NFL stadium downtown an exemption from environmental lawsuits.

"I don’t think they are going to do that, and I don’t think they should," Villaraigosa said in an interview with reporters in The Times' Sacramento bureau. "I think the public wants a level of transparency, and I think we’ve had it up to now."

Stadium developer Anschutz Entertainment Group is working on state legislation to limit the type of legal challenges that could be pursued based on environmental issues.

AEG Chief Executive Tim Leiweke said last week his firm is asking for "protection from frivolous lawsuits from those who are trying to get a competitive advantage or those who are just trying to destroy the process."

Legislation has not yet been introduced, but a state Senate committee is holding a public hearing next week to determine whether lawmakers should grant AEG protection from lawsuits similar to what they approved for a competing football stadium proposed in the City of Industry.

Read more about Villaraigosa and the proposed football stadium on the L.A. Now blog.


California redistricting: New districts OKd by citizens panel

Jerry Brown seeks to scuttle high-paid job for ex-GOP leader

Former Assemblyman Richard E. 'Dick' Floyd, 80, passes away

-- Patrick McGreevy

Photo: L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Magic Johnson give their support to the proposed NFL stadium downtown. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

Villaraigosa takes aim at Jerry Brown in Sacramento speech

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and California Gov. Jerry Brown. Credit

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa came to Sacramento on Tuesday and called out Gov. Jerry Brown for “aiming low” and being unwilling to challenge Proposition 13.

“Gov. Brown, I say we need to have the courage to test the voltage in some of these so-called third-rail issues, beginning with Proposition 13,” read an advance copy of his speech to the Sacramento Press Club this afternoon.

He said the state budget passed by legislative Democrats and signed by Brown earlier this year simply “patched the leaks” of the state’s unstable fiscal ship, but did little to solve the state’s long-term problems.

After failing to earn bipartisan support for his plan for higher vehicle, income and sales taxes in the Legislature, Brown has said he is working with various interest groups to craft a new tax plan for the ballot in 2012. Brown has been unwilling to discuss publicly what mix of taxes he is considering, but has been shy about suggesting changes to Proposition 13, the limit on state property taxes passed by voters in 1978.

Villaraigosa offered the governor some ideas.

Continue reading »

Lance Armstrong and proponents of proposed cigarette tax see tough fight ahead

Cyclist Lance Armstrong campaigned in Los Angeles on Monday with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for a state ballot initiative that could go before voters as early as June and would impose a $1 tax on tobacco products to fund cancer research.

“When you walk through the institutions of this state, the potential there is tremendous,” the seven-time Tour de France winner said during a news conference at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. “Whatever happens and is created, or is invented, or changes in California, goes everywhere .... We will have more and more cancer survivors all over the world.”

The initiative, which would raise as much as $855 million in its first year of implementation, according to an analysis by the state’s legislative analyst, could be placed on the ballot as early as June if Gov. Jerry Brown succeeds in calling a special election to address the state’s budget gap.

But organizers of the initiative, co-chaired by Armstrong -- who recently retired from cycling -- and former state Senate leader Don Perata, acknowledged Monday that they could have a difficult road ahead. In 2006, an initiative that would have raised the cigarette tax by $2.60 was defeated after tobacco companies spent $66 million on an opposition campaign.

Earlier this month, a campaign committee sponsored by the tobacco company Philip Morris USA Inc. —  Californians Against Out of Control Taxes and Spending — was formed to oppose the proposed cancer research measure. Philip Morris has contributed $128,116 to the committee, according to a Feb. 17 filing with the California secretary of state. A spokesman for Altria, the parent company of Philip Morris USA, said in an e-mail that it formed the committee “to explore and evaluate our options regarding this measure.”

The campaign committee sent out a news release after Armstrong’s appearance Monday, stating that the ballot measure would create “a huge new government bureaucracy for cancer research.” Speaking on behalf of the campaign committee, Teresa Casazza, president of the California Taxpayers’ Assn., said in a statement that the measure was “flawed and poorly written.”

“At a time when California is faced with a crippling budget deficit of more than $25 billion, we can’t afford to start a new program spending nearly $1 billion a year -- especially one with no accountability to the taxpayers,” Casazza said.

The revenue raised by the proposed $1 tax would be parceled out by a nine-member citizen commission and would not be accessible to California lawmakers for the state’s budget problems.

Perata acknowledged Monday that the governor “would prefer it to be on next year’s ballot,” but he noted that once a measure qualifies, it must be placed on the next state ballot. Brown has not taken a position on the measure, but a major anti-tax campaign by tobacco interests could complicate the governor’s efforts to get California voters to agree to extend existing income, sales and vehicle tax increases to help close the state’s $26-billion budget gap.

“The question is, will voters get confused by extending some taxes to benefit education and healthcare with a tax that is going to be on a cigarette … that goes to cure cancer,” Perata said. “I think the voters are smart enough to make that distinction.

“We’re stuck with the cards we’re dealt,” the former Senate leader added about the timing. “We’re going to do what we need to do, and we’re going to be successful, and I hope he [Brown] is as well, because everything riding on this state is going to happen in June,” Perata said.

If there is no special election in June, the cancer research measure would go before voters in February 2012, the next scheduled election.

-- Maeve Reston


L.A. City Council agrees to allocate $52 million in redevelopment funds, preventing a state grab

Just as debate has heated up over the future of redevelopment agencies, the Los Angeles City Council voted Wednesday to allocate up to $52 million in redevelopment funds for public works projects around the museum planned by billionaire Eli Broad.

The council agreed unanimously to spend the money on the same day that Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and other California mayors met with Gov. Jerry Brown to discuss his plan to eliminate redevelopment agencies. That vote ties up the money, preventing it from being used by officials in Sacramento to close a $25.4-billion budget gap.

The $52 million would go toward the construction of a parking garage, a pedestrian plaza and new sidewalks south of Walt Disney Concert Hall. Villaraigosa’s appointees at the Community Redevelopment Agency endorsed the proposal last week.

To read more about the vote, go to L.A. Now: L.A. City Council agrees to speed up spending redevelopment money.

-- David Zahniser at Los Angeles City Hall


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