POLITICAL LANDSCAPE:Schiff introduces resolution

In the wake of the firings of a group of U.S. attorneys, Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales is under fire from a host of U.S. Representatives who are calling for his resignation.

Behind the mounting effort to oust Gonzales is Rep. Adam Schiff, whose district includes Glendale and Burbank.

Schiff and Rep. Artur Davis co-authored and introduced a resolution on Monday expressing no confidence in Gonzales and urging the president to request his resignation.

By Thursday, 117 co-sponsors, all Democrats, had signed on to the bill, according to Schiff's office.

"I've never had a bill gather this much support this fast," said Schiff.

Before becoming a representative, Schiff served as an assistant U.S. attorney in Los Angeles for six years.

"I think all of us that served in the department believe that it's an agency that has to uphold utmost integrity...and faithfully administer justice," Schiff said. "I don't think that we can allow the department to drift for another 1 1/2 years under Mr. Gonzales."

For Schiff, who questioned Gonzales during his May 10 testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, the resolution is the second invocation of his desire to see Gonzales step down.

"I hope you will resign because the department is broken and I don't think you're the one to fix it," Schiff told Gonzales on May 10.

Assembly to battle runaway production

In hopes of keeping the entertainment industry from fleeing California, the California Assembly has formed a new committee to study the issue, Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez announced on Tuesday.

The Select Committee on Preservation of California's Entertainment Industry will be chaired by Assemblyman Paul Krekorian, who represents Glendale and Burbank.

"We're really right at the tipping point of potentially losing this industry altogether and I think that would be a tragedy for California," Krekorian said.

Runaway production has plagued the state's entertainment industry for almost a decade, as other states and countries have started to offer attractive subsidies for film production, Krekorian said.

"Over the last seven or eight years, there has been an increased number of other jurisdictions that are offering lucrative and attractive subsidies to attract television, motion picture and visual effects production outside of California," Krekorian said.

"And to make matters worse, those areas have started to develop the technical infrastructure and human infrastructure."

The new committee, which also includes Assemblymen Anthony Portantino, who represents a portion of Montrose, and Cameron Smyth, whose district includes La Crescenta and Montrose, will investigate a variety of ways to encourage the entertainment industry to stay in California.

"We will conduct a series of hearings to identify in detail the sources of the problem of runaway production and ways that California can be a better partner to the industry," he said.

The solution cannot be purely economic, but the committee will explore tax incentives, Krekorian said.

"We don't need to compete with the rest of the world on a dollar-to-dollar basis, but we do need to be in the ballpark," Krekorian said.

"I just want to be competitive and if we're close, then [California's existing] competitive advantages will prevail."

Bill to protect senior finances is approved

A bill authored by state Sen. Jack Scott that aims to protect senior citizens from financial abuse was approved by the California Senate on Monday.

The bill would require insurance agents, companies and independent agencies to develop suitability standards for issuing annuities to seniors.

Annuities are deferred investment contracts issued by insurance providers that, upon maturation, make regular payments to the buyer.

Under existing law, insurance providers can set the maturation date well beyond the life expectancy of the buyer, said Lisa Matocq, a senior policy aid to Scott who has worked closely on the bill.

"There's nothing in current law that prevents an agent from selling an annuity product to a client that holds their assets for 10 to 15 years," Matocq said.

Scott's bill would not set an acceptable period before maturation, but it would require annuity providers to maintain records of the information used in developing suitability standards and make those records available to the California Department of Insurance for five years.

Senate Bill 573 is the latest version of a similar bill that was introduced in 2005 by Scott, who represents Glendale and Burbank.

The bill, Senate Bill 192, was held in 2006 in the Assembly Insurance Committee.

Senate Bill 192 was opposed by annuity industry lobbyists, including the Assn. of California Health and Life Insurers, and the current bill met similar industry opposition on Wednesday, Matocq said.

"This is a $200-billion industry, so you bet they're opposed," Matocq said.

The bill will now move to the Assembly, where it is expected to meet industry opposition.

Mayor attends child health event

Mayor Marsha Ramos attended a "PADRES Contra El Cancer" event last week at Woodbury University. Padres is an organization that seeks to better the lives of Latino children who are battling cancer and their families.

About 70% of children undergoing treatment for cancer and other blood disorders at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles are Latino, according to the PADRES website.

"This was a great opportunity to celebrate health and educate families about prevention," Ramos said.

Voting expert to speak to club

The Burbank Democratic Club will host guest speaker Lynne Serpe, deputy director of the Political Reform Program of the New America Foundation.

Serpe co-authored a Los Angeles Times opinion piece that discussed how instant runoff voting would improve the election process. S

erpe, who acted as an observer at recent elections in Scotland and other countries, said that runoff voting allows voters to select their choices through a ranking process and avoids expensive runoff elections.

The meeting will be from 7 to 9 p.m. May 31 in Room 2 at McCambridge Recreation Center, 1515 N. Glenoaks Blvd. For more information call (818) 288-2649 or visit www.burbank democraticclub.com.

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