Today’s News: Garcetti’s fundraising pledge; ‘Parent trigger’; Toyota settlement

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Political pledge. “Thanks, but no.” That’s the response City Councilman Eric Garcetti is getting to his proposal for the major candidates in the March 5th mayoral election to forgo money they get from outside funding sources. Garcetti says he wants to lessen the influence of political action committees and other outside organizations in the contest. He’s asking the candidates to sign a pledge – he calls it the People’s Pledge – to donate half of the money they receive from outside groups to charity. But so far, none are biting. A spokesman for City Controller Wendy Greuel says Garcetti made the move in response to Greuel’s endorsement this week by the Police Protective League. He called the proposal “an Eric Garcetti is afraid of Wendy Greuel pledge.” Garcetti currently leads the fundraising race. L.A. Daily News

Struggling schools. Parents at one of L.A.’s lowest performing elementary schools are demanding sweeping changes. It’s the first time the so-called “parent-trigger” has been attempted in LAUSD. About 100 parents from 24th Street Elementary School in the West Adams neighborhood showed up at an LAUSD Board meeting yesterday. They presented a petition signed by parents of more than two-thirds of students calling for the school to be converted to a charter campus. Meanwhile, The L.A. School Board is considering a proposal by charter operator Green Dot to reorganize Locke High School. When Green Dot moved into the dysfunctional Watts school in 2008, it was the first time an outside charter operator took over an LAUSD campus. Green Dot insists improvements have been made, but incoming ninth-graders have continued to struggle. The L.A. Board of Education is scheduled to vote on the reorganization plan next month. L.A. Times

Charter growth. One in 13 public school students in California attends a charter school – and the Golden State is home to more than 1 in 6 of the country’s six-thousand charter campuses. Those are the latest findings from the National Alliance for Public Schools. The charter school advocacy group says the alternative public schools continued to grow at a prolific rate in 2012. Los Angeles has long been a hub of the charter school movement. LAUSD has more charter schools and more charter students – 110,000 – than any district in the country. The Alliance says about 1 in 6 L.A. students now attends a charter. Daily Breeze

PUC shortcomings. A scathing new audit concludes the state Public Utilities Commission spent more money than it reported and gave inaccurate information to Sacramento lawmakers about fees consumers pay each month. The audit by the state Department of Finance found that the widespread budget errors by the PUC meant lawmakers were given accurate data that they relied on to make policy decisions. In one case, a PUC staffer made an $81 million typographical error. The audit was launched after the PUC reported starkly different data to the Department of Finance and the state Controller’s Office. PUC officials say they agree with most of the findings and are taking steps to correct the problems. Sacramento Bee

Toyota settlement.
A federal judge in Orange County approved a settlement in a big sudden-acceleration lawsuit against Toyota. The settlement was drawn up about a month ago, although terms haven’t been released. The case was brought by the family of a Utah couple killed in a 2010 crash. It’s considered a bellwether for hundreds of other wrongful death and personal injury cases set to begin next month. Last month, Toyota agreed to a settlement worth more than $1 billion to resolve hundreds of lawsuits claiming economic losses suffered by Toyota owners. AP