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Category: bankruptcy

L.A. Votes: Garcetti, Greuel reach out; how the tax vote varied

How LA voted
After winning spots in the May 21 mayoral runoff, Wendy Greuel and Eric Garcetti are back on the campaign trail and heavily courting two distinct constituencies -- black Democrats in South Los Angeles and white Republicans in the San Fernando Valley.Election Memo

The candidates are also increasingly highlighting their plans to revitalize the city’s economy -- a reaction, some argue, to widespread criticism that Greuel and Garcetti failed to offer many specifics during the primary.

Many eyes turned to failed mayoral candidates Jan Perry and Kevin James, whose supporters could be key to winning in the May runoff. Perry has not endorsed, but had harsh words for Greuel’s ties to labor. James met with both remaining candidates in recent days as he decides whether to endorse.

FULL COVERAGE: L.A.'s race for mayor

The Times analyzed voter trends in the other big contest on the ballot: the half-cent sales tax increase that L.A. city voters rejected. The results showed a tale of two cities, with voters in the poorest parts of Los Angeles who are most dependent on city services more likely to support the measure, while residents in more affluent swaths were more likely to be against it.

Columnist Steve Lopez weighs in on Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's supporting the sales-tax proposal as vital for retaining key city services, and then claiming that the city’s finances are rosier than believed after the tax failed at the ballot box.

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-- Seema Mehta

Comments, questions or tips on city elections? Tweet me at @LATSeema

State slams San Bernardino in redevelopment assets review

The State Controller's Office slammed the struggling city of San Bernardino in a review of assets formerly belonging to its redevelopment agency, saying the city inappropriately transferred or withheld more than $500 million in assets, including land, buildings and money.

The city filed for bankruptcy protection last summer, citing a $46-million general fund deficit.

The state's more than 400 redevelopment agencies, which used tax increment revenues for economic development and affordable housing projects, were dissolved in February 2012 and successor agencies were charged with disposing of their assets.

The state controller's review argued that San Bernardino's redevelopment agency "inappropriately" transferred $108 million to the San Bernardino Economic Development Corp., a nonprofit whose six-member governing board includes three members appointed by the City Council.

"The purpose of the asset transfer was to protect the RDA resources from elimination," the controller's report said.

Continue reading »

L.A. Votes: Dismal turnout, mayoral runoff, and failed sales tax

PHOTOS: Los Angeles voters go to the polls

This post has been corrected. See below for details.

After months of buildup and millions of dollars spent on a blizzard of television ads and mailers, Los Angeles voters went to the polls Tuesday and selected Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel to advance to a mayoral runoff. The long-time City Hall hands don’t have any plans to let up the day after the primary. They will be busy on the campaign trail on Wednesday, with Greuel expected to pick up the endorsement of another union representing city workers.

Rivals Jan Perry and Kevin James did not offer their concessions Tuesday night. James, who has never held elected office, received a hair more support than Perry, a three-term  Los Angeles councilwoman, in the final tally. A key question going forward will be whether they endorse Garcetti or Greuel, because their supporters could propel one of the finalists to victory.

Turnout in the city races was dismal at 16% in a contested mayoral primary. That’s lower than four years ago, when an incumbent was running for reelection. Political experts have speculated that the distinct lack of enthusiasm may have been caused by voter fatigue after a bruising and long presidential contest, coupled with a lack of excitement about the mayoral field. 

RESULTS: Los Angeles primary election

The voters who turned out overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to raise the city’s sales tax by a half-cent to one of the highest in the state. While all the major mayoral candidates opposed the measure, its failure creates a new headache for the next mayor of the city, which will face budget deficits projected at $216 million a year and more.

The city school board races saw an inordinate amount of outside spending, with two camps pouring millions of dollars into the contests. One side is funded by supporters of the policies advocated by L.A. Unified Supt. John Deasy and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa;  New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg wrote a $1 million check for that camp. The other side has the support of teachers unions. The result is a mixed bag for both sides, with board president Monica Garcia, a Deasy supporter, and Steve Zimmer, a union-backed candidate, both winning reelection.

Sacramento veterans lead in City Council races, and the city attorney and controller are also headed for a runoff.

INTERACTIVE MAP: How your neighborhood voted

Vote-counting took hours, but the greatest drama of the day took place in the morning. A morning shooting occurred outside a polling place in Watts, injuring a poll worker and halting voting for 30 minutes. The 35-year-old victim’s injuries were not life threatening. Police described the incident as a possible “love triangle” and are seeking a suspect.

Columnist Steve Lopez checked in on Election Day with the voters he has been in periodic touch with since January. They voted, despite their frustration with the field and with City Hall. “No one is turning cartwheels,” Lopez wrote.

[For the Record, 9:56 a.m. March 6: An earlier version of this online post gave the wrong name for  L.A. Unified School District Supt. John Deasy.]

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-- Seema Mehta

Comments, questions or tips on city elections? Tweet me at @LATSeema 

Photo: Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel speak to supporters during election night gatherings. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times; Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

L.A. Votes: Election Day! Candidates barnstorm, new controversies emerge

Garcettigreuel
Tuesday is election day in Los Angeles, and voters will weigh in on who should be the city’s next mayor and decide on a measure that would boost the city’s sales tax. Also on the ballot are contests for city controller, city attorney, eight council districts, and board seats for the Los Angeles Unified School District and the Los Angeles Community College District. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., and voters can also drop off mail-in ballots at polling stations. Election Memo

After many months of campaigning and a frenzy of television ads and mailers, voters still have few details of how the top mayoral contenders would deal with the city's financial problems.

In their final push before voters headed to the polls, the candidates barnstormed Los Angeles. Eric Garcetti had an early morning meeting with union workers in Wilmington before embarking on a “whistle-stop” tour, taking public transit to greet voters throughout the city. Greuel completed a swing that took her to 30 events in the three days preceding Election Day, including testing out her moves with an elementary school drill team.  Jan Perry campaigned not only for herself,  but also against Measure A, which would raise the city’s sales tax to 9.5%. Kevin James hit the Original Farmers Market with former Mayor Richard Riordan.

WHERE THEY STAND: Los Angeles mayoral candidates in their own words

Candidates in the down-ballot races were also busy. City Atty. Carmen Trutanich, who is facing a tough reelection bid, returned to the campaign trail Monday after taking time off because of the death of his mother on Saturday. And Eastside council hopeful Gil Cedillo put out a call from California Gov. Jerry Brown.

Last-minute controversies continued to dog the candidates. The California chapter of the National Organization of Women and Garcetti slammed radio and Web ads by Greuel and her allies that pointed out that Perry declared bankruptcy years ago. And county supervisor and fellow Republican Michael Antonovich cried foul over a James fundraising plea that purported to come from Antonovich. The supervisor said the appeal included comments he never made. James’ campaign manager apologized.

The candidates are voting today, but they will continue to woo voters around the city, mindful that in what is expected to be a low-turnout contest, a small number of votes could swing key races. After the polls close, they will settle in and wait for the results before speaking at election night parties.

PHOTOS: Los Angeles voters go to the polls

The public might get a brief respite from campaign ads because the top two candidates continuing to the May 21 runoff in any unresolved races must begin raising donations again. As for the losers, they will have to decide whether to endorse one of the rivals they have spent months attacking.

For comprehensive coverage of today's developments and tonight's results, visit www.latimes.com for  updates from the campaign trail, scenes from election night parties, Web chats with the reporters covering the races, and video reports.

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-- Seema Mehta

Comments, questions or tips on city elections? Tweet me at @LATSeema

Photo: Mayoral candidate Eric Garcetti, left, and mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel, right, talk to media after casting his ballot at separate polling stations. (Irfan Khan and Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

L.A. Votes: Greuel and her allies step up attacks

Greuel600
With just days to go before voters make their choice for mayor, one of the presumed front-runners, Wendy Greuel, and her allies launched a multi-pronged attack against her rivals, signaling that the city controller may be in a more precarious spot than she expected going into the March 5 primary.Election Memo

Greuel ramped up her attacks on chief rival Eric Garcetti, alleging that his family’s financial connection to a controversial oil drilling operation has endangered children and raised questions about his environmental credentials. Garcetti responded that his family’s property has never and will never be used to extract oil, that the attack smacked of desperation, and highlighted Greuel’s donations from oil and gas interests.

WHERE THEY STAND: Los Angeles mayoral candidates in their own words

In a further sign that Greuel is under pressure, the independent effort backing her bid released on Thursday a television attack ad against Garcetti, as well as a negative radio spot aimed at Jan Perry, who some believe is making inroads into Greuel’s support with her aggressive mail campaign.

Kevin James sought to underscore the city’s pension liabilities, saying he is the only candidate in the mayoral race with the independence to deal with it. And his campaign called for the release of communications between Greuel, her chief strategist and the head of the union that is the primary backer of the independent committee that has spent $1.7 million to date to support her bid.

To boost his long-shot mayoral run, Emanuel Pleitez is literally running across the city, in sneakers and baby-blue athletic shorts.

It’s Friday. Time for more financial reports from candidates. Check out www.latimes.com later Friday night to see the details from the last financial disclosure reports before election day.

-- Seema Mehta

Comments, questions or tips on city elections? Tweet me at @LATSeema

Photo: Candidate for Los Angeles mayor Wendy Greuel participates in a mayoral debate at the Cal State Los Angeles' Pat Brown Institute of Public Affairs. The debate was moderated by ABC7's Marc Brown. (Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times)

Greuel backers launch anti-Perry radio ad in L.A. mayoral race

An independent committee backing Wendy Greuel’s mayoral bid unveiled a radio ad attacking Jan Perry over her past financial problems, a possible signal that the controller's supporters feel they need to shore up her standing as Tuesday’s primary election approaches.

The ad, paid for by a group largely funded by organized labor, starts with emergency vehicle sirens and mimics a news radio broadcast.

“Jan Perry wants you to put her in charge of L.A.’s budget. Who’s Jan Perry?” the announcer says. “Alert: Jan Perry filed for personal bankruptcy. Twice. The L.A Times says Perry failed to pay $375,000 in taxes. And when Jan Perry’s colleagues declined another pay raise, the fourth in two years for the highest-paid city council in America, Jan Perry took the money.”

In 2006, The Times reported Perry’s failure to pay taxes, which she and her then-husband, Douglas Galanter, blamed on problems stemming from his law practice. The liens have since been resolved. Perry has filed for bankruptcy, but once, not twice. She and Galanter filed for bankruptcy protection jointly in 1994, and Galanter filed in his name only in 1999, records show.

Perry has been making a hard play in Greuel’s home base of the Valley, citing her own fiscally conservative bona fides and filling mailboxes with glossy fliers. Some have dismissed Perry's candidacy because she trails Greuel and Councilman Eric Garcetti in fundraising, but Greuel and her supporters are increasingly attacking Perry.

A Perry strategist said the effort, primarily funded by the union representing city utility workers, showed that the veteran councilwoman was gaining in the contest.

Eric Hacopian, Perry's campaign consultant, said Greuel's city-employee-union backers have "resorted to personal attacks in order to prevent Wendy from coming in third on Tuesday."

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-- Seema Mehta

L.A. Votes: Candidates face scrutiny, new ads, funding deadline

 Los Angeles mayoral candidates Eric Garcetti, Wendy Greul, Kevin James, Jan Perry and Emanuel Pleitez at a candidate debate at Loyola Marymount University on Feb. 5. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

With one week until Election Day, every move by the mayoral candidates is being closely scrutinized for signs of what they believe is happening among voters below the radar in what is expected to be a  low-turnout election. And no one is being watched more closely at the moment than Jan Perry, who is waging a blistering mail campaign against Wendy Greuel.Election Memo

Greuel’s recent decision to respond may signal that Perry is making headway in the five-candidate contest. But the aggressive, and some would argue questionable, nature of Perry’s mail campaign is drawing scrutiny as well, with county Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky the latest to speak out about the Perry campaign’s tactics.

Perry was also the subject of the latest Times profile in a series  about turning points in the candidates' lives. For the veteran city councilwoman, the decision to attend a Rose Bowl game shifted her life’s trajectory.

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Meanwhile, Eric Garcetti’s ability to make tough decisions faces scrutiny by some who say his desire for compromise can cause problems for the city councilman that would be exacerbated if he was mayor.

The money and ad wars continue in the race.

Better Way L.A., an independent committee backing Republican Kevin James’ bid, received a $200,000 donation that will allow it to continue airing television ads on James’ behalf. The Super PAC had been in jeopardy of running out of money at a crucial time, and James himself had said he would  welcome another infusion of cash from the Texas billionaire who has largely bankrolled the effort. His desires were answered, but by a different Texas billionaire. (Those Texans have a rather notable interest in California, no?)

FULL COVERAGE: L.A.'s race for mayor

In a sign of the importance of the Latino vote in next week’s contest, Garcetti and Emanuel Pleitez took to the Spanish-language airwaves with new ads.

The next reporting deadline for fundraising is Wednesday night, so the candidates are feverishly trying to pump up their dollar figures for the last finance report before Election Day. Michael Reagan, the son of late President Reagan, weighed in with a request for James. Houston Mayor Annise Parker put out a call for Greuel, who has two fundraisers planned today.

Garcetti, meanwhile, sent out an Obama-esque email to supporters with the subject line “Unbelievable,”  railing against special-interest spending in the race and urging voters to pledge their support to him.

INTERACTIVE MAP: How Los Angeles voted

In the city attorney’s race, incumbent Carmen Trutanich and former lawmaker Mike Feuer hammered each other during a radio debate on KCRW-FM (89.9)'s "Which Way, L.A.?" Feuer continued to call Trutanich's tenure a failure and Trutanich derided Feuer's lack of courtroom experience, a message he echoed in a television ad released Monday. All this occurred as the campaign of Greg Smith, a largely self-funded, dark horse candidate, appeared to gain steam with a stream of new endorsements.

Seven days to go.

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Comments, questions or tips on city elections? Tweet me at @LATSeema 

Photo: Los Angeles mayoral candidates Eric Garcetti, from left, Wendy Greuel, Kevin James, Jan Perry and Emanuel Pleitez appear at a candidate debate at Loyola Marymount University on Feb. 5. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

Yaroslavsky blasts Perry for mailer that implies he opposes Greuel

Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky
This post has been updated. See below for details.

County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky slammed mayoral candidate Jan Perry’s campaign on Monday for a mailer that implies that he opposes Wendy Greuel, the latest in a series of controversial mail pieces put out by the city councilwoman attacking the city controller.

"I am very disappointed that the Jan Perry for Mayor campaign has used one of its mailings to falsely convey the impression that I have taken sides in this year's election for mayor,” Yaroslavsky said in a statement. “In fact, I have remained neutral in this election in thought, word and deed.”

The mailer features a picture of the bespectacled, longtime county supervisor pointing his finger, next to the words, “Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky: On Wendy Greuel’s Budget Plans.” Critical quotes from Yaroslavsky that appeared in The Times are highlighted, with the conclusion, “Wendy Greuel: Can’t Be Trusted!”

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The mailer says that Yaroslavsky was discussing Greuel’s budget proposal, but the quotes were more narrowly targeted at Greuel’s proposal to increase the size of the city’s police and fire departments.

Yaroslavsky toyed with a mayoral run. Since he decided against it, the three elected officials running have  sought his endorsement. He has remained neutral in the March 5 primary and has said he doesn’t know if he will endorse in the runoff.

Yaroslavsky said in his statement that he has been openly frustrated in all of the candidates’ lack of specifics about “the precarious state of the city's finances.”

WHERE THEY STAND: Los Angeles mayoral candidates in their own words

“Those criticisms have not been exclusively aimed at one candidate. On the contrary, they have been aimed equally at ALL the major candidates who, in my judgment, have not realistically addressed what they would do about the city's financial challenges,” he said. “While my quoted comments are in the public domain, it is not appropriate for the Perry campaign to use them to imply that I endorse or oppose any of the candidates for mayor, because I do not."

[Updated, 2:59 p.m. Feb. 25: The Perry campaign stood by the mailer. “Supervisor Yaroslavsky is an extremely sophisticated individual and exceptional public servant who made his distaste for Wendy Greuel's budget plans and her disregard for the city's current fiscal crisis very clear, and on the public record,” said spokeswoman Helen Sanchez. “The councilwoman's mailer in no way implies the supervisor endorses any candidate; it merely restates his opinion.”]

Perry, who is fiercely trying to win over supporters in Greuel’s home base in the Valley, has been criticized over several mailers in recent weeks. On Friday, two prominent Democratic leaders blasted a mail piece that implied that Greuel was a Republican, despite the fact that she has been a registered Democrat for more than two decades. Mailers that criticized Greuel’s votes on matters that Perry herself voted for led Greuel’s campaign to label Perry a “hypocrite.”  A quote from Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was used in one Perry mailer aimed at Latino voters to suggest he was backing her candidacy, when he has not endorsed in the contest. Another mailer, directed to areas where the mayor is less popular, characterized Greuel's candidacy as an extension of the Villaraigosa era.

Perry and her campaign have defended the mail pieces as typical, targeted campaigning.

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twitter.com/LATSeema

Photo: Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

L.A. votes: Next mayor's big challenges, questions about union influence

Los Angeles mayoral candidates Jan Perry, Kevin James, Eric Garcetti, Wendy Greuel and Emanuel Pleitez stand at a debate at UCLA's Royce Hall.

The nation’s eyes were fixed this weekend on the Oscar race unfolding in Hollywood. But with just days to go before the citywide March 5 election, local political contests were getting just as hot and heavy.Election Memo

The Times took a wide-angle look at the challenges facing the city as voters pick a successor to termed-out Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. City leaders have already cut hundreds of millions of dollars out of everyday services and ongoing maintenance to stay afloat, but the next chief executive will have to make hard decisions, especially in light of costly, ill-timed spending commitments made at City Hall and a failure to adjust to the region's weakening economic foundation.

That hard fact has prompted some to question two city unions’ heavy financial backing of Wendy Greuel in the race. Greuel defended her record, saying as controller she has scrutinized many city agencies and has worked on behalf of taxpayers.

FULL COVERAGE: L.A.'s race for mayor

Greuel is not the only one receiving outside aid in her bid. Kevin James, who has received nearly a half-million dollars of support from an independent committee, issued a plea for new funding from the Texas billionaire who has thus far bankrolled much of the effort. Meanwhile, James continued to attack Greuel for her ties to the union representing  many workers from the city’s Department of Water and Power.

The first in a series of profiles of the mayoral candidates examines the past and present statements of James.

The mayoral candidates made their Oscar picks for best movie, and tried to use the focus on Hollywood bonanza to woo voters. James highlighted his endorsement by the Bring Hollywood Home Foundation in a fund-raising appeal that warned, “Imagine a Hollywood with no Oscars because the industry was run out of town by our city's bad policies.” Greuel put out a mailer featuring the head of her rival, Councilman Eric Garcetti, superimposed on an Oscar statue with the headline, “And the award goes to... ERIC GARCETTI. Worst Performance By A Politician In A Leading Role.”

Continue reading »

Mayoral election: Kevin James would 'love' new donation from billionaire

Kevin JamesMayoral candidate Kevin James said Saturday that he would be “thrilled” if the Texas billionaire who has bankrolled a Super PAC supporting his bid would donate more money in the closing days of the race.

“If Harold Simmons wants to drop another million, it can certainly come quickly but I have no idea whether it’s in the bank or not, but I would love to hear about it,” James said while nibbling on bacon at the Original Pantry Café in downtown Los Angeles.

“With the ad that’s produced, if Harold Simmons sees just how close we are to making this runoff [and donates], it can be I’m sure quickly put on television and radio, and I’d be thrilled to see that,” he said.

FULL COVERAGE: L.A.'s race for mayor

Simmons has donated $600,000 to Better Way L.A., an independent committee that is backing James’ bid. Candidates and independent committees cannot legally coordinate, but they frequently use the media to send signals.

James doesn’t have the money to go on air, but Better Way L.A. has been airing television ads promoting James’ candidacy for more than a week that have boosted his standing in the race.

The committee on Friday reported dismal fund-raising numbers in city disclosure documents, raising only $9,700 during the last reporting period and $64,000 cash on hand during the final days before the March 5 primary. It takes at least a couple hundred thousand dollars to air a decent number of ads in Los Angeles for a week., so without a new infusion of cash, the ads will likely stop when James needs them the most.

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James made the remarks after greeting voters at the Original Pantry Café with former Mayor Richard Riordan, who owns the restaurant.

Unfortunately, many of the diners at the downtown landmark were not from Los Angeles. James met visitors from as far away as Korea and Great Britain, and many from communities outside of Los Angeles.

“I’ve seen your commercials,” Susan Friedman told James and he happily interjected, “OK good!”

WHERE THEY STAND: Los Angeles mayoral candidates in their own words

“But I live in Orange County, so sorry,” the Huntington Beach resident concluded.

“Well, tell everybody you know,” James said.

Greeting a family from East Texas, James advised, “Spent lot of money in our city, and don’t get a parking ticket, all right?”

But some Angelenos whom James ran into were amenable to his candidacy, notably because of his endorsement by Riordan.

Hector Cano, 61, said he would likely vote for James.

“I haven’t gotten into the race yet but if he’s following Mr. Riordan’s steps, he will be a good man,” said the Van Nuys resident. Riordan “was a great mayor.”

David Impastato agreed.

“I’ll be voting for you,” the 71-year-old Park La Brea resident told James.

“The endorsement from him means a lot because I’m a great admirer of what he did here,” the retiree said.

Riordan weighed in late in the contest, not giving his nod until Feb. 15.

“I had to make sure he had a chance of winning,” Riordan said. “He’s the only one that has a way to keep our city out of bankruptcy.”

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-- Seema Mehta

Photo: Kevin James participates in a mayoral debate at the Cal State Los Angeles on Feb. 18. Credit: Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times

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L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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