Today’s News: Election Day arrives in L.A.; County-USC expansion?; Cell phone giveaway

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Vote. Municipal elections are underway around Southern California this morning, including the high-profile mayor’s race in the city of Los Angeles. None of the eight candidates for mayor of L.A. is expected to win an outright majority. The big spenders, City Councilman Eric Garcetti and City Controller Wendy Greuel are the favorites to reach a March run-off. But City Councilwoman Jan Perry, businessman Kevin James and technology executive Emanuel Pleitez could sneak in. L.A. voters will also decide on a city controller, city attorney, eight council seats and a half-cent sales tax increase. There are also several seats up for grabs today on the Los Angeles Board of Education. L.A. City Clerk, L.A. Times, L.A. Daily News

Crowded hospital. L.A. officials are considering adding 150 more beds at the overcrowded County-USC Medical Center. The hospital, which opened in 2008, has 600 beds. That’s 224 fewer than the aging facility it replaced. County officials have called the hospital’s emergency rooms dangerously overcrowded, with some patients waiting up to 12 hours to be treated. AP

School finances. The number of California school districts in financial jeopardy has dropped by a third in less than a year. The current number is 124, down from 190 since last May, according to state schools Superintendent Tom Torlakson. Part of that has to do with the state contributing more money to local schools from revenue generated by Proposition 30, the state sales and income tax increase approved by voters last November. L.A. Times

Phone giveaway. Californians who earn less than $15,000 per year now qualify for free cell phones and free wireless phone service. The federal program aims to help homeless people and other low-income residents keep in touch with family, friends and potential employers. The program was approved yesterday by the state Public Utilities Commission. Sacramento Bee

Animal management. Kathy Riordan – the daughter of former Mayor Richard Riordan – has been dismissed from the Los Angeles Animal Services Commission. The Daily News reports that Riordan was told by the mayor’s office that she’ll be replaced :”with someone who has more to offer.” Riordan was the longest-serving member of the commission. Three other commissioners have stepped down in the past year. L.A. Daily News