Today’s News: Poll says Greuel is leading mayor’s race; Dems challenge Brown’s education plan; FasTrak fees

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Who’s in first? A new poll finds a dramatic turnaround in the L.A. mayor’s contest – with City Controller Wendy Gruel edging ahead of City Councilman Eric Garcetti by three percentage points. But not everyone is convinced it reflects the true state of the race. The poll by Survey USA It shows Greuel with 45 percent support, Garcetti with 42 percent, and 13 percent of the voters undecided. That’s a huge 12-point switch from the firm’s poll just two weeks ago. It’s also a quite different result than a recent USC-L.A. Times poll that gave Garcetti a 10 percent lead. Greuel was hesitant about putting too much stock in the latest numbers. But she says the poll does indicate a neck-and-neck race with less than a month to go before Election Day. KABC, L.A. Weekly

Education debate. Governor Jerry Brown is getting resistance from fellow Democrats over his plan to revamp the way the state funds education. Senate Democrats have unveiled their own proposal they say better serves the same low-income students that Brown is trying to help. Brown has called school funding a civil rights issue and warned the opponents are in for the “battle of their lives.” He wants to direct more money to school districts with a high percentage of poor students and English learners. The Senate plan would distribute the funds on a per-pupil basis, with some additional money going to districts based on the number of low-income students enrolled. Sacramento Bee

Online classes. Governor Brown wants California’s public colleges and universities to offer more online courses. But if you ask students, it appears they’d just as soon go to class. A new study finds most students prefer face time with other students and their professors, especially if they expect a course to be difficult. The survey by Columbia University Teachers College concludes that demand for online courses may be less than some educators and politicians suggest. More than a quarter of California Community College students currently take at least one online class. L.A. Times

Pondering transponders. L.A. Transportation officials are suspending a monthly $3 maintenance fee for FasTrak transponders. A divided MTA Board voted to ditch the fee for six months. They hope the move will encourage more people to use new toll lanes on the 110 and 10 freeways. The system is off to a slow start, but MTA officials say the number of drivers using the toll lanes has been steadily increasing. L.A. Times

Ambulance plan. L.A. Fire Chief Brian Cummings will brief the City Council today on a plan that would juggle personnel to put 11 more ambulances on city streets. Cummings says he plans to go ahead with the switch despite opposition from labor groups, who are unhappy about the prospect of fewer firefighters on department trucks. Cummings says the department must adjust to fewer fires and more medical emergencies, which now account for more than 80 percent of 911 calls. L.A. Daily News