Mayor Eric Garcetti will deliver his first State of the City speech tonight, offering a preview of how Los Angeles will deal will projected $242 million budget deficit and laying out his spending priorities for the next fiscal year. (Listen at kcrw.com/news24 at 5pm).
His speech comes one day after the release of a report that makes a number of recommendations for improving what its authors call a crisis of leadership in the city. Three months after issuing a blistering assessment that characterized L.A. as “a city in decline,” the 20-20 Commission has laid out 13 steps for getting the city’s fiscal house in order. They include merging the ports of L.A. and Long Beach and boosting the minimum wage to $11 an hour. Garcetti’s speech is scheduled for five this evening at the California Science Center.
A Blue Ribbon Commission on Child Protection is ready to conclude that L.A. County’s system to protect abused children is in a state of emergency and needs a total overhaul. The panel is scheduled to approve its final recommendations today. It has found many problems with how L.A. County protects its most vulnerable children, including infants who spend hours on the desks of social workers because of a shortage of foster homes and children who don’t receive the minimum number of monthly visits from overworked caseworkers. Officials with the Department of Children and Family Services say its staffers are competent and committed as they look after well being of more than 150,000 children annually.
A plan to provide free preschool to all California 4-year-olds has passed its first legislative hurdle, but it faces skepticism from Gov. Jerry Brown. Senate Democratic leader Darrell Steinberg is pushing hard for the nearly $1.5 billion universal kindergarten program, noting that a recent report found that low-income children hear 30 million fewer words than their higher income peers by age three, setting them back in school. He says free preschool would help poorer kids catch up. The proposal passed a Senate education committee yesterday, but Brown has not included funding in his proposed budget.
Former Bell Assistant City Administrator Angela Spaccia will find out how long she has to spend behind bars today. Her sentencing comes one day after five former Bell City Council members agreed to a plea bargain that will likely send them to prison for four years for inflating their salaries at public expense. An L.A. jury convicted them of some corruption charges, but deadlocked on others. The plea deal means they avoid another trial and possibly much longer prison terms. Prosecutors are recommending about 17 years in prison for the 55 year-old Spaccia, who was convicted on 11 corruption-related counts.
The City of Irwindale has declared the Sriracha hot sauce plant a public nuisance. Once a formal resolution is adopted at the next City Council meeting, owner Huy Fong Foods will have about 90 days to stop spicy odors that neighbors say burn their eyes and throats or face closure. The declaration is the latest volley in an ongoing dispute between Irwindale and Huy Fong Foods. The city has already sued the maker of the popular Sriracha sauce for violating its development agreement. The South Coast Air Quality Management District is also involved. The air-quality agency has been conducting tests around the plant and has offered to help Huy Fong come up with a mitigation plan.