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377 posts
  • Congressional races
(Olivier Douliery / TNS)

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Democrats in the state’s congressional delegation are going to put their thumbs on the scale in some key House primary races to make sure strong Democratic candidates are among the top two facing voters in the fall.

“They may be subjected to criticism for that, but I’d rather be criticized for winning than criticized for losing,” Pelosi (D-San Francisco) said.

Under the state’s top-two primary system, the two candidates receiving the highest number of votes advance to the general election in November, regardless of party. Democrats fear that high numbers of primary hopefuls could split the vote and leave the party without candidates in high-stakes congressional races in November.

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On paper, California’s “top two” open primary made sense: When one political party dominated an election, the weaker party could support a consolation moderate.

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Former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa
Former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (Los Angeles Times)

Law enforcement supporters of Antonio Villaraigosa called on gubernatorial race rival John Chiang to apologize for an attack ad and take it down, as an independent fact-checking organization said it contained falsehoods about Villaraigosa’s tenure as mayor of Los Angeles.

The move comes as the union representing LAPD rank-and-file officers donated $250,000 to a new independent expenditure committee supporting Villaraigosa’s bid for governor.

The ad dispute is over the testing of rape kits while Villaraigosa was mayor.

  • California Legislature
Democratic state senators and housing advocates hold a news conference on their budget proposal at the Capitol on Wednesday.
Democratic state senators and housing advocates hold a news conference on their budget proposal at the Capitol on Wednesday. (Liam Dillon / Los Angeles Times)

A group of California’s Democratic state senators wants to nearly triple Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed spending for low-income and homeless housing.

The plan would put $1 billion of the state’s projected $8.8-billion tax windfall toward financing low-income housing projects, supporting local efforts to provide rental assistance and shelters for homeless residents, and funding other programs. By comparison, Brown proposed $359 million for homelessness programs in his revised budget unveiled last week.

“We cannot hold our heads up high as we walk down the streets in our communities and in effect step over folks that are sleeping in doorways or that are living in tent encampments,” said Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), one of the plan’s authors. “We can do better. We will do better.”

  • Governor's race
Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas at a meeting in 2013.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas at a meeting in 2013. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas on Wednesday endorsed Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom for governor, lauding his fellow Democrat’s work on municipal passage of universal healthcare and fighting homelessness as mayor of San Francisco.

The new backing means three of the five supervisors have endorsed Newsom in a key county ahead of the June 5 primary.

“He is a rather rare leader who not only can rally people behind a bold vision for change, but also has the commitment and determination to see those changes through,” Ridley-Thomas said in a statement provided to The Times by the Newsom campaign. “Gavin has stuck his neck out for all of our communities, and he has set an example for other municipal leaders throughout the state.”

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  • State government
California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra on Wednesday announced extortion charges against operators of the website Mugshots.com.
California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra on Wednesday announced extortion charges against operators of the website Mugshots.com. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

California’s attorney general said Wednesday he has filed extortion and money laundering charges against owners of the website Mugshots.com, accusing them of posting mugshot photos and then charging those pictured money to remove the the photos from the internet.

California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra said the four people charged received more than $64,000 in removal fees from some 175 Californians over a three-year period. Nationally, the scheme took in $2 million in from 5,703 people over the same period. 

The site posted mugshots taken from law enforcement websites even if the people who were arrested never had charges filed against them or later had them dropped. The mugshots can make it harder for them to get jobs and housing, Becerra said.

  • California Legislature
A sheriff's deputy looks over a block of cells at the Fresno County Jail.
A sheriff's deputy looks over a block of cells at the Fresno County Jail. (Gary Kazanjian / For The Times)

California state auditors will soon begin a detailed examination of city and county jails that have formal partnerships with federal immigration agents — including how much local agencies are paid and whether holding immigrants has forced the early release of other inmates.

The audit was approved Wednesday by a joint panel of the California Legislature. Supporters said it will be the first comprehensive look at the immigration enforcement activities playing out in as many as a dozen jails in the state.

“We simply do not have the details that can piece together the big picture of this practice,” said state Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), the lawmaker who requested the audit. “The data is important to provide transparency and accountability.”

  • Governor's race
  • 2018 election
  • California Democrats

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Delaine Eastin released a television ad on Tuesday that features clips of most of her rivals in the race agreeing with her during a series of debates.

“We’ve got to, as Delaine says, play offense,” Democratic front-runner Gavin Newsom says.

Antonio Villaraigosa repeatedly says “I agree with Delaine” in the spot — on job creation and school funding. “Your point is well taken, Delaine, as usual,” the Democratic former mayor of Los Angeles also says.

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  • Congressional races
  • 2018 election
Natasha Alexenko of Natasha's Justice Project speaks in favor of more timely testing of rape kits in Sacramento on Tuesday.
Natasha Alexenko of Natasha's Justice Project speaks in favor of more timely testing of rape kits in Sacramento on Tuesday. (Jazmine Ulloa / Los Angeles Times)

Less than a month after police arrested a man suspected of being the Golden State Killer — one of California’s most prolific serial rapists — state lawmakers in Sacramento on Tuesday said they want to ensure all sexual assault kits are counted and swiftly tested.

Under a bill by Sen. Connie Leyva (D-Chino), law enforcement agencies would have to submit rape kits to crime labs within 20 days of their collection, and labs would have no more than 120 days to test them. Another bill by Assemblyman David Chiu (D-San Francisco) would require a statewide audit of all untested exams.

Funding has been a major hurdle for similar proposals in the past. At least half a dozen bills that have died or been vetoed over the last decade would have required law enforcement to tackle backlogs and speed up the examination process for survivors.