Backers of an initiative to increase the cigarette tax by $1 per pack and raise taxes on other tobacco products to expand financial aid for California residents enrolled at public universities received permission this week from Secretary of State Debra Bowen to begin gathering signatures.
What backers have dubbed as The California Residents College Accessibility and Affordability Act of 2014 would annually generate $800 million from the cigarette tax increase and $45 million from the tax increase on other tobacco products, according to an estimate prepared by the Legislative Analyst's Office and Director of Finance Ana J. Matosantos.
An attorney representing people in three Los Angeles council districts accused city officials this week of illegally using race as the basis for redrawing council district lines. Leo Terrell, who is black, said the redrawn boundaries were created to strengthen the black voting bloc in the 10th District represented by Council President Herb Wesson, while carving Koreatown into several different districts, effectively diluting the voting power of the predominantly Asian neighborhood.
Terrell told CNS the lines of the 10th District were drawn to "ensure a guaranteed re-election" for Wesson, who is black.
"Shame on this city when minorities disenfranchise minorities," he told the City Council on Wednesday.
The Los Angeles City Council gave final approval today to placing two initiatives on the May 21 ballot aimed at regulating medical marijuana dispensaries, and gave preliminary backing to a third measure that Councilman Paul Koretz called a "superior" hybrid of the other two.
The vote on Koretz's proposal was not unanimous -- with council members Joe Buscaino, Mitch Englander, Jose Huizar, and Bernard Parks objecting -- meaning it must come back to the council for final approval next week.
The two petition-driven initiatives that received final approval today both address medical marijuana issues, but using different tactics.
The City Council preliminarily agreed today to ask Los Angeles voters in May to support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution declaring that corporations are not people -- an effort to limit their ability to influence elections.
The measure sponsored by City Councilman Richard Alarcon and supported by campaign finance reform groups is a response to the U.S. Supreme Court's 2010 decision in the case Citizens United v. FEC. The court ruled 5-4 that corporations have the same rights as individuals to use money as a form of political speech. The ruling effectively allowed corporations and unions to spend unlimited amounts of money on political campaigns.
Laura Chick today endorsed attorney Ron Galperin for city controller, a job she held from 2001 to 2009.
Galperin also earned the endorsement from Chick's predecessor, Rick Tuttle, who served as city controller from 1985 to 2001.
The current city controller, Wendy Greuel, decided not to seek another term and instead run for mayor in the March 5 municipal primary election.
Galperin is running against three-term City Councilman Dennis Zine and businessman and civic activist Cary Brazeman. Three other candidates, Jeff Bornstein, Analilia Joya, and Ankur Patel qualified for the ballot but have not raised any money for the campaign.
Chick said Galperin, an attorney who headed two separate commissions focused on finding ways to save the city money and operate more efficiently, has "innovative ideas for finding efficiencies to save taxpayer dollars and make Los Angeles more transparent and accountable."
The Los Angeles City Council gave preliminary approval on Tuesday to place two medical marijuana initiatives before voters on the May 21 citywide election ballot.
The council voted 8-4 on each of the initiatives, requiring a second majority vote of the 15-member council next week.