Political Landscape: Antonovich takes the county reins

On Tuesday Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich started his year as "county mayor" – or chairman of the board of supervisors – with an address laying out his priorities.

The 30-year veteran of the board, whose vast district stretches from Claremont to Lancaster and Chatsworth – and includes Glendale and Burbank – warned of on-going budget woes.

"It's going to be a very challenging year when you consider that we're faced with about a $26 billion deficit at the state level and nearly a $14 trillion deficit at the federal level," he said, according to prepared text of the speech. "That's going to require every city, county and school in our state to take a little different approach on how we do our job."

Antonovich, a Republican, has warned of severe cuts in the years ahead. He has asked for a close examination of the county's pension system and said public unions will have to make concessions for the county to close the budget gap.

In his speech he decried the effect of term limits on the state legislature, and repeated his call for state lawmakers to implement a two-year budget cycle to make life more predictable for local governments and school districts. Antonovich also touted new programs the county will launch in 2011.

One is his own initiative to bring letter grades to convalescent homes. The grading system, to take effect Jan. 1, is a variation on the county's successful system for rating the health and safety conditions at restaurants.

"I want to ensure that that is fully in force so that the families of those loved ones who are placed in convalescent hospitals will know before they place them the rating of those facilities, not afterwards when it's too late to do anything," Antonovich said.

Also on Jan. 1, the county will expand housing, job and other services for emancipated foster youth. These young adults often face severe obstacles establishing themselves when they reach 18 and become independent. The county received federal support for expanded services several years ago, but funding was tied up at the state level until now.

"We want to see that these young people have the ability to have those critical services, otherwise their only options, many times, sad to say, is the county jail, the county morgue or the cemetery," Antonovich said.

Antonovich criticized the federal government for not acting more quickly in the wake of the Station Fire. Communication problems between federal and local agencies and a shortage of firefighting aircraft contributed to a slow initial response to the fire, which killed two firefighters, damaged dozens of structures and blackened 160,000 acres in 2009.

"It's been over a year since the Station Fire and the reforms that this board has recommended and our fire department has recommended have still not been fully adopted at the federal level," Antonovich said. "We need to ensure that those reforms are being adopted."

Antonovich also called for a countywide earthquake disaster preparedness day. When it comes to a big quake, Antonovich said, "We're overdue. But that doesn't mean we can ignore that problem and I'd like to see a full exercise this year."

Los Angeles County includes 88 cities and 134 unincorporated communities. Roughly 1.5 million people live in the unincorporated areas.

Schiff helps impeach federal judge

The U.S. Senate impeached a federal judge from Louisiana Wednesday, in a case prosecuted in part by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank). Schiff, a former federal prosecutor, and Rep. Robert Goodlatte (R-Va.) were the lead House managers who tried Porteous before a panel of senators in September.

On Wednesday, the Senate convicted Porteous, a Bill Clinton appointee to the bench in New Orleans, on four articles of impeachment. The charges included taking kickbacks from law firms in exchange for favorable outcomes in court, soliciting and accepting unlawful gifts and making false statements.

Porteous is only the eighth judge in the nation's history to be impeached and removed from office.

"Judge Porteous engaged in a persistent pattern of corruption throughout his career, on both the state and federal bench," Schiff said in a statement. "Allowing him to remain a judge would have eroded public confidence in the courts and made a mockery of the federal judiciary. I have great admiration for how the Senate conducted the trial, which was eminently fair to both sides, and the House is grateful that a corrupt judge has now been removed."

Delegate hopefuls need to register by tonight

California Democrats are gearing up to choose delegates to the 2011 and 2012 California Democratic conventions.

Twelve people from the 43rd Assembly District, which includes Glendale, Burbank and nearby parts of Los Angeles, will be elected to represent the area at the conventions. The 2011 California Democratic Convention will take place in Sacramento in April.

Thomas Patrick O'Shaughnessy, the party official who is supervising the election, said the delegates are the "grassroots" members of the party who join elected officials such as Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) and Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Silver Lake) representing the district at the convention

Democrats interested in running must file by Thursday, Dec, 9, at 5 p.m. at http://www.cadem.org/ADEM.

Any registered Democrat may vote for delegates. The election takes place Sunday, Jan. 9, at the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 80, 2520 West Olive St., Burbank.

For more information, contact O'Shaughnessy at (818) 848-8639 iwwthom@yahoo.com.

FOR THE RECORD: This corrects an earlier version that incorrectly included Simi Valley in Antonovich's district.

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