TOSS THE CALENDARS! Ice the champagne! Find yourself a party and get ready for the fireworks! Wait — the fireworks part makes sense, it being almost the Fourth of July and all, but New Year's Eve is six months off. Isn't it?
For most of us, the year starts on Jan. 1. But in city, county and state politics, the real year starts July 1. That's the day the budget kicks in for local governments and, in those years when the Democrats and the Republicans are getting along and are speaking with the governor, for the state as well. It's the time many new laws take effect — you'll pay more for recyclable bottles and cans beginning Sunday, for example.
With the beginning of this year, of course, comes the end of the last:
In Sacramento, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vowed to reform health insurance, fix an overcrowded prison system in danger of judicial takeover and reinvent the redistricting process. Let's hope they remain works in progress.
In Los Angeles, voters — knowingly or otherwise — relaxed City Council term limits. That gave hope to Sacramento politicians who want to do the same thing, and set in motion a political recalculation that sent one ex-councilman home from the Assembly after just a few weeks in office and led another councilman to swear off a long-presumed run for the Board of Supervisors.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa devoted much of his political capital to legislation that would put him in charge of the Los Angeles Unified School District. He achieved political success and judicial defeat, as Assembly Bill 1381 was ruled unconstitutional. His reform plan now rests in the hands of a new school board majority friendly to him and his plan to take direct authority over clusters of low-performing schools. As power shifts to the new board leadership, so does the obligation to upend decades of passivity.
County supervisors found time while not fixing King-Harbor Hospital to throw a lavish retirement bash for Chief Administrative Officer David Janssen, then somewhat sheepishly begged him to stay when it became clear that virtually no one else in the world wanted the job. They then reinvented the position, wisely, by turning over to Janssen some of their management power. So he returns, even as others come and go.
As president of the Police Commission, John Mack blended the stolid watchfulness of an establishment figure with the critique of a community activist, and it would be dishonest to underestimate the value of having an African American head the panel. But the City Charter dictates that, although he will stay on the commission, his tenure at the top must end. The new commission president must ensure that LAPD Chief William J. Bratton continues to respond to civilian oversight.
It could be a big new year. Enjoy the party.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times