State of City address to focus again on gangs, schools

first_img 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! It’s time for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to give his annual State of the City address, and it appears that Wednesday’s speech will focus on two themes he has espoused for the past several months: gangs and education reform. The backdrop will be East Valley High School in Panorama City, one of Los Angeles Unified’s newest campuses. Opened two years ago, East Valley High was designed as a model smaller school with specialized curriculum in performing arts, media and business. The mayor is expected to cite the school as an example of how the district needs to change, and he also is expected to talk about Los Angeles police efforts to crack down on the grim realities of gang crime. The mayor’s address is scheduled for 5 p.m. Wednesday before an audience of students, parents and invited guests. The next day, Villaraigosa is set to release his proposed budget for the coming year. So far, he has said the only area of budget growth will be for the Los Angeles Police Department. When it comes to the city’s budget, paranoia is running high in in the neighborhood council movement, ever suspicious of official moves that could jeopardize funding. Rumors have been spreading among neighborhood councils that Villaraigosa plans to eliminate the annual $50,000 each council gets because of the city’s tight financial situation. But aides to the mayor insist that’s not so. “The mayor just named a new general manager that everyone likes,” one aide said, referring to the appointment of Carole Baker Tharp to the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment that oversees the councils. “The last thing he is going to do is undercut her like that.” City Controller Laura Chick’s reputation has grown so much that other regions have begun to seek her out for her expertise. Chick recently was a featured speaker at Duke University in North Carolina where Erwin Chemerinsky, who chaired the Elected Charter Reform Commission, now teaches. Chemerinsky asked Chick to talk about her work as controller, her efforts to uncover waste and fraud, and how she reshaped the office. Chick also recently testified before the San Diego City Council on charter reform as that council looks to tackle the issue. This week Chick will host the elected controllers from Long Beach, Oakland and Berkeley to discuss common issues. For a freshman assemblyman, Mike Feuer has been all over the place lately — fueling speculation about a possible return to the Los Angeles City Council. While Feuer’s political advisers discount that idea, the assemblyman has been holding a variety of hearings and news conferences locally and in Sacramento. Rumors have spread that Feuer will follow the lead of Richard Alarc?n, who stepped down from the Assembly to return to the City Council. Feuer — who has a full term left under term limits and a potential third term under voter-approved Measure R — represented the 5th District seat now being vacated by Councilman Jack Weiss, who wants to run for city attorney. But Feuer’s political advisers say he is happy with the Assembly job and not looking at a potential return to the City Council in the immediate future. Feuer can serve in the Assembly through 2012 before term limits would oust him there. All of this makes it easier for Chick, if she decides she wants to run for Weiss’ seat. Cliff Ruff, one of the good guys in the LAPD and the Los Angeles Police Protective League, is pulling the pin later this month after 41 years of active duty. Ruff, who lives in Agoura Hills and joined the department in 1965, has been a league director for 17 years, including a term as league president. Ruff said it was not an easy decision, but one he couldn’t avoid because of mandatory retirement rules under a department program called DROP. “It’s kind of a funny feeling knowing after 41 years of having one employer that things will change,” Ruff said. — Rick Orlov, (213) [email protected]last_img read more