Releases & Statements

Speaker John A. Pérez Joins with Community Leaders to Announce Bold Collaborative Education, Jobs Support Effort

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Boyle Heights Neighborhood Collaborative to Implement Comprehensive Plan Supporting Children on the Pathway to Higher Education, 21st Century Careers

LOS ANGELES - Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) joined with Los Angeles community leaders including Los Angeles Unified School District President Mónica García and California Endowment President Dr. Robert Ross to highlight a comprehensive community plan, the Boyle Heights Promise Neighborhoods (BHPN) Collaborative, aimed at supporting children on their pathway to higher education, leading to 21st century careers.

"Getting Californians back to work is one of our biggest priorities on the state level, and providing a quality education for our youth is the key to preparing them for the 21st century economy," Speaker Pérez said.

The BHPN Collaborative unveiled their proposal for a collective program to change how services, systems and conditions address the early learning, academic, health, safety and emotional wellness needs of children, youth and families in the Boyle Height community. The proposal will be submitted to the United States Department of Education, with the implementation grants for Promise Neighborhoods expected to begin in September.

"Our ability to build bridges within our community, connecting schools, families, teachers and businesses is integral to creating a sense of accountability for how our students perform," Pérez added.

Inspired by the model of the Harlem Children’s Zone, Promise Neighborhoods across the country have developed plans to transform struggling neighborhoods into thriving communities and through a highly competitive process, Boyle Heights in Los Angeles was selected as one of only 21 communities in the nation to receive a Promise Neighborhoods Planning Grant. Planning Grantees were given a year to produce a strategic proposal to address the issues specific to their community in pursuit of an implementation grant.

Announcement by Speaker John A. Pérez on Formation of Legislative Records Task Force

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SACRAMENTO – Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) announced today the formation of a legislative records task force to be led by Assembly Rules Committee Chair Nancy Skinner.  The text of the Speaker’s announcement appears below:

“Members, I’d like to welcome each of you back from spending time in your districts.  I hope you had a productive few weeks meeting with your constituents.  Today, I rise to make a brief announcement.

“From the day I was elected Speaker, I have talked about the importance of open government.  This is an issue that continues to be of paramount importance to me today.

“As Speaker, it is my duty to carry out the policies and procedures of the Assembly as established in our internal rules, statutes and the state constitution.  It is also my duty to lead this Chamber forward when those policies need to be updated.  That time has come.

“Members from both parties have expressed concerns to me about making Assembly expenditures more accessible.  To that effect, I am announcing that Rules Chair Nancy Skinner will lead a task force to review the statutes, rules and procedures governing legislative records.

“Ms. Skinner will have a proposal to unveil by the beginning of next year’s session.  I believe that updating our policies to reflect the 21st century world we live in is a vital step toward that effort.

“How taxpayer dollars are expended is public information, and it is our job to ensure that the public has access to it.  Currently, at my direction, all Assembly staff salaries are available on a publicly accessible web site, and we release audits of the Assembly budget annually.

“The Task Force, under Rules Chair Nancy Skinner will review our current statutes, rules and procedures, and I look forward to hearing their recommendations and conclusions.

“We have difficult work ahead of us in the next few weeks, and certainly, the efforts to restore health to our struggling economy and create new jobs will continue to be our primary focus for both this year of the session and next.  Thank you.”

CONTACT: John Vigna (916) 319-2408

Website of Speaker John A. Pérez: www.asmdc.org/speaker

Statement from Speaker John A. Pérez on the Death of Former Assemblymember Dick Floyd

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SACRAMENTO – Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) released the following statement honoring former Hawthorne Assemblymember Dick Floyd:

“I was deeply saddened to learn of the death of my friend, former Assemblymember Dick Floyd. He was one of the legendary figures of California politics, and the respect he commanded among his colleagues and constituents was unquestioned. He was an outspoken—sometimes notoriously so—advocate for those Californians whose voices are not always heard in government. Mr. Floyd was a passionate defender of all Californians, and I will truly miss him.”

CONTACT: John Vigna (916) 319-2408

Website of Speaker John A. Pérez: www.asmdc.org/speaker

In Case You Missed It: Ventura City Manager: Disincorporating Vernon is the Right Thing to Do

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SACRAMENTO – In case you missed it, the Los Angeles Times today published an opinion piece penned by Ventura City Manager Rick Cole highlighting issues surrounding the city of Vernon — including recent guilty pleas by former officials — and his belief that Speaker John A Pérez’s (D-Los Angeles) disincorporation bill must pass:

“In announcing the guilty plea of yet another disgraced Vernon official this month, L.A. Deputy Dist. Atty. Max Huntsman put the issue squarely: “All the crimes that happen there happened because of the misrepresentation of Vernon as a city, when it's not.... It's a corporation.” Former Vernon City Administrator Donal O'Callaghan, who racked up $785,000 in pay in 2009, admitted felony charges that he illegally hired his wife for lucrative consulting contracts.”

“Despite a torrent of corruption and abuses, it's been impossible to either generate public indignation or genuine reform because Vernon has no actual "citizens" in the typical sense.

“No one can move to Vernon. The entire housing stock is controlled by members of the City Council or the city government itself. The last time interlopers sought residence there (in a warehouse), the city cut off their electricity, hired armed guards to tail them and canceled their voter registration forms. Ironically, the three would-be voters shared the same motive as Vernon's officials. They wanted control of Vernon's $4.1-billion assessed tax base. With a dozen or more confederates, they could have grabbed power, but only if the city actually held an election. Instead, the City Council abruptly canceled the election. It took a court order to reschedule it and another to count the votes months later.

“That was in 2006, and it was the first contested election that Vernon had held in 25 years. If you think this bizarre perversion of democracy looks more like Enron than your local government, you would have put your finger on why reform is literally impossible in Vernon.”

“After passing the Assembly with overwhelming bipartisan support, the Pérez bill is awaiting a final vote in the state Senate. Business lobbyists have turned some Republican support, and labor allies have picked away Democratic votes. There is no powerful and well-funded lobby for public integrity. Only public opinion can turn the tide. If Vernon wins, we all lose.”

Vernon, the smallest city in California by population has only 96 residents, virtually all of whom live in heavily subsidized, city owned housing; and are either employed by the city or connected to city officials. News reports have documented the many incidents of corruption in Vernon, including rampant cronyism, illegal uses of public funds, voter fraud, and bloated salaries and pensions, including awarding a Vernon official the largest public pension in the state.

View the full article here: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-cole-vernon-20110727,0,292161.story

Website of Speaker John A. Pérez: www.asmdc.org/speaker

CONTACT: John Vigna (916) 319-2408

Speaker Pérez’s Medi-Cal Waiver Demonstration Project Bill Signed into Law

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Legislation Works to Clarify Elements of California Bridge to Reform Demonstration Project, Offers Californians Quality Health Care Opportunities

SACRAMENTO – Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez’s (D-Los Angeles) AB 1066 has been signed into law by the Governor. The bill defines how public hospitals will receive billions of dollars through the California Bridge to Reform Demonstration Project, in which California receives $10 billion in federal funds to provide health care services during the transition to full federal health care reform.

Applauding Governor Brown for signing the bill, Pérez stated, “AB 1066 works to promote a demonstration project that is key to Californians receiving care as federal health care reform moves forward. This legislation allows our state to tap into billions of federal dollars—allowing our counties and hospitals to provide the care Californians need before federal health care reform takes hold.”

The federal demonstration project provides critical stabilization funding to public safety net providers as they shift their delivery systems to meet the requirements of federal health care reform.

AB 1066 ensures that the demonstration project, which will operate under a federal Medicaid waiver, conforms to the federal requirement—guaranteeing both timely and accurate receipt of federal dollars and proper funding allocations among each of the specific participating public hospitals.

The legislation allows full implementation of two previous bills, AB 342 and SB 208, legislation authored by Speaker Pérez and Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) last year that established the Bridge to Reform Demonstration Project in an effort to maintain health care services while full federal health care reform is put in place.

CONTACT: John Vigna (916) 319-2408

Website of Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez: www.asmdc.org/speaker

In Case You Missed It: New Woes Cap off Bad Week for City of Vernon

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SACRAMENTO – In case you missed it, this week has seen a plethora of new stories on the City of Vernon undercutting Vernon officials’ credibility as reformers, pointing out the staggering debt load those officials have accumulated and new legal woes for former Vernon officials.

  • On Sunday, the San Francisco Chronicle published an op-ed by Erwin Chemerinsky, the Dean of Law at UC Irvine, who forcefully argued that Speaker John A. Pérez’s (D-Los Angeles) effort to disincorporate Vernon is on solid constitutional ground, stating “simply put, since it is the Legislature that ultimately creates cities, it is the Legislature that can decide to disincorporate them. There is no authority, in California or elsewhere, that once a city has been incorporated it has a constitutional right to exist forever. Nor have developments in the last century lessened the Legislature’s power in this area.” To date, every independent legal expert who has weighed in on the question of disincorporation has affirmed the Constitutionality of the Speaker’s effort, seriously undercutting the claims of lawyers on Vernon’s payroll who argue otherwise.
  • On Tuesday, Fox 11 reported that “even with its future in question, Fox 11 has learned that Vernon is still racking up debt big time—issuing more than $19 million in bonds on top of the more than half a billion Vernon already owes.”  In fact, if Los Angeles County had the same level of debt as Vernon, the total would be more than 50 trillion dollars.
  • On Wednesday, KCBS Reporter Dave Bryan reported that Vernon officials have seriously undercut their credibility as reformers by paying the medical bills for Bruce Malkenhorst—the former Vernon City Administrator and admitted felon who claimed to work six jobs simultaneously to collect a pension of more than $500,000 per year (which is by far the largest taxpayer-funded pension in California). The City Council also approved $68,000 in payments to Eric Fresch, the “poster child for out of control municipal compensation,” whose inappropriate practices as a Vernon official have been well documented by numerous news outlets. The payments were approved at the June 21 City Council meeting—just one day before Vernon City Administrator Mark Whitworth appeared before the Senate Committee on Government and Finance where he claimed “I have enacted reforms that addressed every concern from the speaker’s office .” As the Speaker noted in the interview with Mr. Bryan, these actions prove that Vernon’s reform rhetoric is merely that—rhetoric.
  • On Thursday, Capitol Weekly reported that “inch by inch, the move by Assembly Speaker John Pérez to abolish the city is moving forward” while noting that Vernon spent $560,000 taxpayer dollars in the first quarter of this year, with this quarter’s numbers expected to be significantly higher. Yet despite the hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars Vernon is spending to fight disincorporation, the pro-disincorporation effort has been successful in seeking approval at every single legislative forum where the issue has come up—four votes in the Legislature, a vote of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, and by the councils of the three cities bordering Vernon.
  • Also on Thursday, Eastern Group Publications reported that Donal O’Callahan, another former Vernon official accused of corruption, will begin his trial on self-dealing charges. O’Callahan served as Vernon City Administrator before being indicted by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office for illegal self-dealing when he was “accused…of hiring his wife, Kimberly McBride, as a $40/hour bookkeeper for the city.” The story also reported a comment by O’Callahan’s attorney noting that “McBride was hired with the knowledge of city officials.”

See below for article links:

Erwin Chemerinsky: Can a state dissolve a city?

Stripping Vernon of cityhood making headway

Trial For Ex-Vernon Official Expected To Begin Today

CONTACT: John Vigna (916) 319-2408

Website of Speaker John A. Pérez: www.asmdc.org/speaker

In Case You Missed It: Erwin Chemerinsky: The Legislature Unquestionably Has the Power to Strip Cityhood from Vernon

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SACRAMENTO – In case you missed it, Dean of the University of California, Irvine School of Law and respected constitutional lawyer, Erwin Chemerinsky recently penned an opinion piece for the San Francisco Chronicle weighing in on the constitutionality of Speaker John A. Pérez’s (D-Los Angeles) Assembly Bill 46, a bill to disincorporate any city with a population under 150:

“Simply put, since it is the Legislature that ultimately creates cities, it is the Legislature that can decide to disincorporate them. There is no authority, in California or elsewhere, that once a city has been incorporated it has a constitutional right to exist forever. Nor have developments in the last century lessened the Legislature’s power in this area.”

Vernon, the smallest city in California by population has only 96 residents, virtually all of whom live in heavily subsidized, city owned housing; and are either employed by the city or connected to city officials. News reports have documented the many incidents of corruption in Vernon, including rampant cronyism, illegal uses of public funds, voter fraud, and bloated salaries and pensions, including awarding a Vernon official the largest public pension in the state.

Speaker Pérez’s AB 46 will next be heard by the State Senate.

View the full column here: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/07/10/INQN1K7C6H.DTL

CONTACT: John Vigna, Robin Swanson (916) 319-2408

Website of Speaker John A. Pérez: www.asmdc.org/speaker

Speaker Pérez’s Food Access Bill Passes Through Senate Health Committee

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SACRAMENTO – Speaker John A. Pérez’s (D-Los Angeles) bill to eliminate food deserts through increased access to healthy and nutritious foods passed through the Senate Health Committee today, receiving bipartisan support.

Pérez’s AB 581 establishes the California Healthy Food Financing Initiative, a program that aims to eliminate food deserts — large geographic areas with little to no access to affordable, quality, healthy foods — and increase access to healthy and nutritious foods. The bill also positions the state to receive federal dollars as part of President Obama’s Health Food Financing Initiative — a partnership between the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Health and Human Services, and Treasury, to invest $340 million nationwide.

“Through the California Healthy Food Financing Initiative, we have the potential to provide healthy and nutritious food choices for all Californians,” Speaker Pérez said. “By creating a pathway to increased healthy food access, we can start to eliminate food deserts; improving people’s quality of life through healthy eating.”

Residents in food desert areas do not have access to a selection of healthy foods including fruits, vegetables and dairy products. Research has shown that these residents of food deserts, which occur in both rural and urban areas, generally have higher incidences of premature death, and certain types of diseases including diabetes, cancer, obesity, heart disease.

“AB 581 marks a big step in giving Californians the opportunity to access affordable healthy food,” Pérez added.

AB 581 received unanimous bipartisan support on the Assembly floor, and sailed through the Assembly Agriculture Committee and the Assembly Health Committee on unanimous votes before passing through the Senate Agriculture Committee and Senate Health Committee.

The bill now heads to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

CONTACT: John Vigna (916) 319-2408

Website of Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez: www.asmdc.org/speaker

Speaker Pérez’s AB 781 Clears Senate Governance and Finance Committee

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SACRAMENTO – Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez’s (D-Los Angeles) AB 781, which is a companion bill to the Speaker’s disincorporation bill (AB 46), passed through the Senate Governance and Finance Committee today. Pérez addressed issues raised by the business community, labor, and others with regards to the city of Vernon—a city that would be affected by AB 46—with a history of corruption allegations, indictments and convictions for offenses including voter fraud.

“I am pleased the Senate approved my bill to establish a successor government to take the place of the corrupt and unaccountable city council that has run Vernon like a fiefdom for decades,” Speaker Pérez said. “Today’s action takes us one step closer to protecting the jobs and ending the corruption in Vernon.”

AB 781, which must be passed by the Legislature for AB 46 to go into effect, protects the jobs of city workers and local businesses; preserves current business friendly practices, services, and policies; expands civil service protections; and extends the role of governing to include local residents, businesses, employees, and neighboring communities by creating a Community Services District comprised of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to provide municipal services in the territory of the former city. The Community Services District will provide the same quality services that were provided by the former city, including fire protection, water, telecommunications, electric and gas utilities, and street maintenance.

“AB 781 protects businesses and workers by replicating the good parts of Vernon’s government, while eliminating the mechanisms that have enabled a toxic level of corruption to continue unabated for decades, and provides for the guarantees that businesses and workers need to keep their businesses contributing to our economy,” Pérez added.

Vernon is the smallest city in California by population with only 96 residents, virtually all of whom live in heavily subsidized, city owned housing; and are either employed by the city or connected to city officials. This has effectively created a situation where the city is both the landlord and the supervisor for the residents of Vernon, giving Vernon officials an unprecedented level of economic control over the electorate and removing any semblance of an independent electorate to hold city officials accountable. News reports have documented the many incidents of corruption in Vernon, including rampant cronyism, illegal uses of public funds, voter fraud, and bloated salaries and pensions, including awarding a Vernon official the largest public pension in the state.

AB 781 will next be heard by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

CONTACT: John Vigna, Robin Swanson (916) 319 2408

Website of Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez: www.asmdc.org/speaker

Speaker John A. Pérez Statement on Governor's Signature of On-Time Budget

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Fiscal Year Begins With Spending Plan in Place that Closes Deficit, Eliminates 75 Percent of Ongoing Structural Deficit

SACRAMENTO - Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) released the following statement on the Governor's signing of the California Budget:

"Today's signing marks the conclusion of one of the more memorable budget processes in recent memory. Democrats have made the tough decisions necessary to help get control of our finances by eliminating more than 75 percent of our structural deficit. As we move forward we will continue to press the case for new revenues to close the remainder of the gap so that we can make the kind of investments that will create jobs and grow our economy out of the recession."

CONTACT: Robin Swanson or John Vigna, (916) 319-2408