De Leon to seek Feinstein’s Senate seat

LOS ANGELES — State Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon formally began his campaign for the U.S. Senate Oct. 18 at Los Angeles Trade Technical College, saying it is time for California to play a leadership role in the nation’s governance.

“As a state, we are 12 percent of the nation, 17 percent of its job growth and 25 percent of its GDP growth,” he said. “We have the fastest-growing companies and the largest and most diverse work force in America.

“We’re also a state that passionately agrees that every human deserves life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, no matter who you are, where you come from, … what god you pray to, what language you speak or who you love,” he said.

In announcing his plans to challenge his fellow Democrat, Sen. Dianne Feinstein Oct. 15, de Leon said his legislative record “infused progressive California values in important policy efforts like immigration, women’s rights, quality education, civil rights, job creation and fighting climate change.

“I was raised by a single mother with a third-grade education,” de Leon said in an email. “She worked her hands to the bone cleaning houses to provide for me and I have never forgiven those humble roots.”

De Leon, D-Los Angeles, said he will stand against President Donald Trump’s administration, which he says “disregards our voices, demonizes our diversity” and “attacks our civil rights, our clean air, our health access and our public safety.”

Speaking to the crowd at Trade Tech, de Leon said government should not separate families through deportation.

“We celebrate diversity,” he said. “We don’t deport it. We don’t ban it and we sure as hell don’t wall it off. Not in California.”

According to his state Senate biography, de Leon, 50, was raised in the San Diego barrio of Logan Heights. He graduated from Pitzer College, was a community organizer, taught English as a second language and U.S. citizenship courses, and worked for the California Teachers Association and National Education Association.

De Leon served in the Assembly in 2006-2010, was elected to the state Senate in 2010 and as president pro tem in 2014.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein

The 84-year-old Feinstein announced Oct. 9 that she plans to seek a fifth full term.

“I am running for reelection to the Senate. Lots more to do: ending gun violence, combating climate change, access to health care, I’m all in!” she tweeted.

Feinstein was first elected in 1992 to fill the remaining two years of the term Republican Pete Wilson was elected to in 1988, then resigned after defeating Feinstein to be elected governor in 1990.

The day after she announced her candidacy for a fifth full term, Feinstein held a fundraising reception in Beverly Hills. The suggested contributions were $1,000, $2,700 and $5,400, and $100 for young professionals.

The contribution limit to a Senate candidate is $2,700 per election. Donors who give the maximum for a primary campaign can again donate the maximum for the general election.

The reception’s chairs included former Walt Disney Co. CEO Michael Eisner, former Paramount Pictures CEO Sherry Lansing and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Garcetti and his wife Amy Elaine Wakeland, also a reception chair, wrote a note to potential donors asking they give to Feinstein so she could avoid a challenge from a fellow Democrat, which would drain resources from the attempt to oust seven California Republican House members as part of the Democrats’ efforts to regain control of the House.

The note also praised Feinstein as a “powerful ally since Eric became mayor” in 2013, “helping secure hundreds of millions in federal funds for our transportation infrastructure and to revitalize the LA River.”

The note called Feinstein “a tireless fighter to house the homeless, clean our air and water, protect our Dreamers and create a pathway to citizenship for all 11 million undocumented immigrants who live in the U.S.”

The fundraiser prompted a rally by activists who want Feinstein to support single-payer health care, which organizer Lauren Steiner called “a litmus test for progressive Democrats.”

De Leon voted in favor of SB 562, the Healthy California Act, which would create a single-payer health care system in California.

The bill was approved by the Senate June 1. Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Paramount, announced June 23 it would remain in the Assembly Rules Committee until further notice.

Silicon Valley billionaire Tom Steyer has indicated that he is also considering a challenge to Feinstein. No strong Republican contenders have emerged.

Under California’s “top-two primary” system the two candidates receiving the most votes in the June primary will advance to the November 2018 general election, regardless of party.

De Leon is fighting history in his challenge to Feinstein. No elected California senator has lost a bid for re-election since 1976 when Democrat John Tunney was denied a second term by Republican S.I. Hayakawa.

No sitting member of the Legislature has won a “top of the ticket” race in California (governor or senator) since Democrat Culbert Olson was elected governor in 1938.


City closes escrow on property along L.A. River

LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles leaders hailed the close of escrow March 3 on nearly 42 acres of property key to the city’s plan to revitalize the Los Angeles River.

The city paid the Union Pacific Railroad $59.3 million for the land alongside the river, called the Taylor Yard G2 plot, and estimates its development will cost $252 million, including the purchase price. The state has agreed to contribute $25 million.

“We’ve always considered G2 to be the crown jewel in our vision to revitalize the L.A. River, and that’s why I have been committed to fighting for the resources to finally return this land to the people of Los Angeles and the wildlife that call it home,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said.

“We got it done, and now this vast site can transform how Angelenos connect with the natural world —because it will allow for habitat restoration, and open more than a mile of direct access to the river for local communities that have been cut off from it for too long,” he said.

The Taylor Yard G2 acreage is on the east bank of the L.A. River in Cypress Park. Development of the plot will connect it to Rio de Los Angeles State Park and with the Bowtie parcel, another state park.

The plot is a side project connected to a possible $1.4 billion U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plan to revitalize 11 miles of river running through the Elysian Valley and return it to a more natural state.

“It has been a process to secure the G2 site in Council District 1, but we have finally done it” said Councilman Gil Cedillo, whose First District includes the land. “G2 is the most integral part of the L.A. River Revitalization Master Plan for Northeast L.A., for it is the only direct access point to the river from the communities in our district. It is the beginning of the future for the L.A. River as we imagine it.”

“I’ve been focused on revitalizing the L.A. River for the better part of a decade, including fighting for the $25 million budget allocation that made it possible for us to acquire this parcel,” state Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León said. “We have a long way to go to realize our dream of a healthy L.A. River as a vibrant social and recreational center of our city, but today the future looks brighter than ever.”

“Today, Angelenos now own the largest available piece of property along our Los Angeles River,” City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell said. “Parcel G2 is a keystone for habitat restoration identified in our Los Angeles River Revitalization Master Plan, and I commend everyone involved for the tremendous lift to acquire this asset for all of Los Angeles to enjoy.”

The land is expected to take five to 10 years to develop before the public will get to use the space due to the significant environmental cleanup that will need to be done.

While city leaders celebrated the acquisition of the land, the future of the larger $1.4 billion revitalization plan is unclear. The council voted in 2013 to split the cost 50/50 with the Army Corps of Engineers, but the Army Corps has only agreed to pay 20 percent. There is also the looming threat by President Donald Trump to cut off federal funding to so-called “sanctuary cities,” which could end up applying to Los Angeles.

Los Angeles is expected to be a target because of the LAPD’s longstanding policy of not initiating contact with a person simply to determine their immigration status, and other stances city leaders are taking to oppose Trump.


L.A. DIGEST: Mitchell to chair Senate budget panel

LOS ANGELES — State Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, has appointed state Sen. Holly J. Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, to chair the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee.

Mitchell is the first African American and only the second woman to chair the committee in the history of the state.

“I am honored by the confidence that [Sen. de Leon] has bestowed upon me and am humbled by the tremendous responsibility that comes with crafting a budget that reflects the values of all Californians,” Mitchell said. “The coming year will require the entire Senate Budget Committee to work together to protect the interests of vulnerable Californians. I look forward to leading our work in representing the priorities of the Senate.”

During her six years in the Legislature, Mitchell has proposed more than 50 bills that have been passed into laws. Her legislation seeks to improve human services, expand access to health care, secure women’s reproductive rights, protect the environment, end the trafficking of minors, defend the civil rights of minorities and the undocumented and, above all, help children growing up in poverty to thrive.

Mitchell represents the 30th Senate District, which stretches from Culver City to South Los Angeles, and includes the Crenshaw District, USC, downtown and a portion of Inglewood.

Architect chosen

for Compton High

COMPTON — The Compton Unified School District has selected the DLR Group, an international architecture firm with offices in Los Angeles, Sacramento and Riverside, to design the new Compton High School campus.

The school board voted overwhelmingly for DLR after a selection process that narrowed the choice to two national firms.

“This is an exciting moment for our school district,” school board President Satra Zurita said. “DLR demonstrated they are the perfect company to create this board’s vision to transform our oldest campus into a model of a 21st century educational environment.”

“We will essentially build the high school campus of the future,” board Vice President Micah Ali said. “We will create a campus that supports our students to excel academically as well as in athletics, the arts and especially the high-tech digital arts where the jobs of the future await our graduates.”

The total cost of the project is expected to reach nearly $200 million. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2019 with completion scheduled five years later.

Casino to ring

in the new year

INGLEWOOD — The new Hollywood Park Casino will partner with Power 106 for a New Year’s Eve celebration Dec. 31. J Cruz and DJ Eman will host the casino’s event to ring in the new year starting at 9 p.m.

Patrons can enjoy music, dancing, hors d’oeuvres, party favors, a midnight champagne toast, and can spin to win up to $100,000. Entry is just $25 per person and is open to guests 21 and over. Free entry will be granted to those who purchase dinner inside the Century Bar & Grill. A special menu has been created.

Attire is dress to impress.


Free dance show

features hip-hop

BEVERLY HILLS — The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, 9390 Santa Monica Blvd., will host dance Sunday with Debbie Allen and Friends from noon to 2 p.m. Jan. 15.

Every second Sunday of the month, three-time Emmy Award-winner Debbie Allen offers free, outdoor dance events for the whole family. On Jan. 15, hip-hop master Chantel Heath will fill in for Allen and will lead an introduction to hip-hop.

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