Entries in Los Angeles (7)


Los Angeles Mayor Talks Immigration Reform, Gun Laws

Jerod Harris/Getty Images for BGR(WASHINGTON) -- Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said fights on the debt ceiling and spending cuts should not distract Congress from efforts to fix a “broken immigration system” and introduce new comprehensive immigration legislation in 2013.

“They should be able to walk and chew gum at the same time,” said Villaraigosa to a crowd of around 70 in Washington, D.C., Monday.

Villaraigosa characterized the current immigration system as “long on enforcement and short on opportunity.”

The mayor also presented a six-part plan for achieving legal residency, which includes an employment verification system, border protection and criminal background checks.

“Legalization should be earned, but not be unattainable,” said Villaraigosa, one of the top-elected Latino officials in the United States and a fierce advocate for a comprehensive immigratrion bill.

The mayor has also become active with other big-city mayors, such as New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, on the issue of gun violence. And one month after the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Villaraigosa repeated calls for tougher gun laws.

“It’s an abomination that we don’t have an assault weapons ban,” said Villaraigosa.

Villagairosa also called for setting up universal background checks and a “beef-up” of mental health resources.

As for his future in the public sector, Villaraigosa wouldn’t give any specifics, saying only that he is “focusing on the job at hand” until the end of his mayoral term in June.

He is widely considered a potential 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, or as a good contender to join President Obama’s cabinet.

Villaraigosa previously served as the chairman of the 2012 Democratic National Convention.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Emanuel Pleitez Looks to LA's Underserved in Mayoral Bid

Emanuel Pleitez/Facebook(LOS ANGELES) -- Emanuel Pleitez believes he's the man who can fix Los Angeles' most pressing problems. But first he'll have to overcome long odds to win the city's mayoral race next year.

The 30-year-old Pleitez is in a crowded field of candidates vying to lead the nation's second-largest city, including established political figures such as City Councilman Eric Garcetti, Councilwoman Jan Perry, and City Controller Wendy Greuel. A recent poll shows Pleitez receiving only two percent support against his better-known candidates. The candidates will go before voters for the first time in a non-partisan primary on March 5.

But Pleitez, the son of immigrants from Mexico and El Salvador, believes that he can use his experience growing up in the El Sereno neighborhood of East Los Angeles to energize disadvantaged communities and put together a winning coalition.

"I'm doing this because there are a bunch of folks in L.A. who are disaffected, disappointed, and frankly unimpressed with the candidates they have," he said in an interview with ABC/Univision. "That's not a spoiler, that's the person who should be considered the best mayor."

Pleitez isn't new to the political scene. He ran in a 2009 congressional special election to replace then-Rep. Hilda Solis (D), who was selected to serve as secretary of labor. But he lost the Democratic nomination to Judy Chu. Before that, Pleitez worked on Obama's transition team. After his failed bid for Congress, he served in the administration's Economic Recovery Advisory Board headed by former Fed chairman Paul Volcker.

He also worked at big-name financial institutions and management consulting firms such as Goldman Sachs and McKinsey and Company, which he left this year to serve as an executive at L.A.-based tech firm Spokeo. But he always returns to his roots -- his mother was pregnant with him when she immigrated to the U.S. and he became the first member of his family to graduate from college, getting a degree from Stanford. Pleitez tries to present both his humble origins and his star-studded résumé as positives.

"It's not like I'm coming out of nowhere," says Pleitez. "I've got more relevant experience to actually understand solutions, but more importantly, know what it's like to struggle and actually understand these problems firsthand."

Yet, Pleitez has experienced some trouble breaking through. Earlier this month, he failed to meet fundraising benchmarks to participate in a televised candidates debate. But a group of young supporters protested the event, chatting "Let Pleitez debate!" L.A. Weekly reported. Pleitez tells ABC/Univision he has been invited to at least half a dozen future candidate forums and debates.

Though the number seem stacked against him, Pleitez insists his campaign's use of technology and social media, as well as door-to-door contacts, will help him turn out enough of his voters to win on Election Day, especially from neighborhoods in East and South L.A. that have traditionally been neglected by other political campaigns. It's akin to a scaled-down version of President Obama's successful voter outreach strategy.

"My message sticks, it's a question of whether I get in front of the right voters," he said. " I'm completely confident that we're going to rise in the polls, especially in the next month or so. I don't care where I am now, I care where I am on March 5."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


US Commerce Secretary John Bryson Taking Medical Leave of Absence

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Secretary of Commerce John Bryson is taking a medical leave of absence after a bizarre series of car accidents over the weekend in Los Angeles left him unconscious behind the wheel, and he was cited by police for leaving the scene of an accident -- a felony offense.

Bryson has not been charged and he passed a breathalyzer Saturday night.

"I notified President Obama this evening that effective immediately I am taking a medical leave of absence so that I can focus all of my attention on resolving the health issues that arose over the weekend," Bryson wrote in a memo to Deputy Secretary Dr. Rebecca Blank, who will take over for the time being.

A statement from the Commerce Department earlier Monday suggested that Bryson had some sort of seizure.  He was treated overnight Saturday and released on Sunday.

By Monday evening he had stepped down from his post for a medical leave.  It is not clear if the hiatus will be permanent.

"Secretary Bryson informed the White House tonight that he will be taking a medical leave of absence from his position as Commerce Secretary as he undergoes tests and evaluations," said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney in a statement.  "The President's thoughts are with Secretary Bryson and his family during this time.  Secretary Bryson assured the White House that the Commerce Department staff will not miss a beat in their work helping America's businesses compete."

Bryson was allegedly driving his Lexus traveling southbound on San Gabriel Boulevard at 5:05 p.m. Pacific Time when he rear-ended a Buick that had stopped and was waiting for a train to pass, authorities said.

Bryson got out of his car, spoke to the three males in the Buick, "then left the scene, hitting the same car as he left the scene," read a joint statement from the San Gabriel Police Department and Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.  "The three males followed him in their car while calling San Gabriel Police officers via 911 and asking for assistance."

In yet another bizarre twist to the story, about five minutes later, Bryson allegedly hit a Honda Accord containing a man and woman in the city of Rosemead and "was found alone and unconscious behind the wheel of his vehicle."

The law enforcement statement said that two of the three men in the Buick and one of the occupants of the Honda complained of pain as a result of the collisions.  The men in the Buick were treated by paramedics.  The statement said that the investigation was in its preliminary stages and "there is no indication that alcohol or drugs played a role in the collisions."

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama Hails Foo Fighters at Los Angeles Fundraiser

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- President Obama kicked off a hiatus from Washington politics and policy making Wednesday night with two star-studded fundraisers at the sprawling Holmby Hills estate of soap opera producer Bradley Bell and his wife Colleen, a bundler for Obama’s re-election campaign.

More than 1,000 guests, each forking over $500 for the Obama Victory Fund, huddled before a concert stage in the Bell’s backyard lined by lit palm and eucalyptus trees.  The Grammy Award-winning Foo Fighters played a set for the crowd before Obama arrived.

“Love the Foo Fighters!” Obama said, drawing applause after taking the stage.  “They were so tired of winning so many awards so they said, ‘Let’s do something else tonight.’”

The group performed hits “Learn to Fly,” “Hero,” “Walk,” and “Everlong,” among others, according to a campaign official at the event.

Actors Jack Black and Rashida Jones -- both high-profile Obama supporters -- were also in attendance and spoke to donors before reporters arrived.  Los Angeles mayor and newly-appointed chairman of the Democratic National Convention Antonio Villaraigosa and Charlotte, N.C., Mayor Anthony Foxx were also in the crowd.

“The main message I’ve got for you tonight is it’s not going to be easier this time, it’s going to be harder this time,” Obama told supporters of the escalating campaign.  “I’m going to need you.  You’re going to carry this thing like you did in 2008."

“If you are ready for one more round, if you’re ready for one more fight … if you’re still saying there’s change out there we can believe in,” he said, “I promise you there is nothing that can stop the United States of America.”

Later, Obama spoke to an intimate group of 80 donors, which included actors George Clooney and Jim Belushi, at a dinner inside the luxurious Bell home.  To dine with Obama, supporters cut a check for $35,800 apiece.

“I think people beneath all the pain and hurt they feel still want to believe change is possible,” Obama said.  “Our job over next year is to make sure they can channel that optimism and come together to create the kind of country we want for our kids and grandkids.”

Obama will spend the entire day in California fundraising on Thursday.  He will attend and speak at four events in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Los Angeles Mayor Slams Mitt Romney on Immigration

Los Angeles Mayor Slams Mitt Romney on Immigration(WASHINGTON) -- Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa pounced on Mitt Romney’s immigration stance Wednesday night before a crowd of Washington, D.C., lawmakers and officials honoring the mayor for his public service.

“For the first time in modern memory, a major political party is poised to nominate a presidential candidate who has abandoned immigration reform and instead advocates self-deportation,” he said.

Villaraigosa, who was presented with the 2012 Edward R. Roybal Award for Outstanding Public Service by the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, didn’t mention Romney by name, but called out the GOP front-runner for rejecting past bipartisan efforts on immigration reform.

“Democrats and Republicans have recognized that our immigration system is broken and that it needs to be fixed.  Now they haven’t always agreed on the route but they’ve agreed on the destination," the mayor said.  “Unfortunately, now the likely Republican nominee for president has clearly rejected this rough consensus.”

As immigration reform continues to be a hot-button issue on and off the campaign trail, Villaraigosa reminded the crowd that the country was built by immigrants.

“We know that the reason we came here was because this was the place that embraced us.  This was the place that said, ‘If you work hard, and you play by the rules and believe in this great country, you will be rewarded.’  We love that America,” the California-born Democrat said.

Villaraigosa, 59, also used the stage to call for the passage of the DREAM Act and the payroll-tax cut.  While honored that he was awarded for his public service, he noted that there was still much work to do.

“We can’t let every proposal for a path to citizenship be drowned out by a knee-jerk chorus of opposition,” he said.  “We can’t be a country where ‘show me your papers’ is routinely heard on our sidewalks and in our streets.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


President Obama Heckled as Antichrist at House of Blues

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- Speaking at a campaign fundraiser at the House of Blues in L.A. Monday night, President Obama was interrupted by a heckler shouting “Jesus Christ is God!” repeatedly as he was physically removed from the event.

As the young man shouted from the front row that the president was an antichrist, Obama’s loyal supporters drowned out the heckler’s rant with boos and chants of “Four more years! Four more years!”

While Obama initially looked befuddled -- the heckler interrupted him before he even finished delivering his thank-yous at the top of his remarks -- the president ultimately laughed it off. “First of all, I agree that Jesus Christ is the Lord. I believe in that,” Obama jokingly responded to the tirade.

Later in the event, another far more friendly heckler shouted, “Don’t forget medical marijuana!” as Obama touted health care reform.

“Thank you for that,” the president responded.

That man was allowed to remain in the event.

Once the interruptions subsided, the president got down to business selling the American Jobs Act, the $447-billion proposal that has become the cornerstone of his re-election campaign in recent weeks, and positioning himself as a warrior for the middle class.

“We’re in this together and the question is: How do we make sure we’re going to be creating the same kind of America that allows the next generation to succeed?” he told the roughly 1,000 supporters who each paid $250 or more for a ticket. “So we’ve got to make some choices and we’ve got to decide what are we willing to pay for and make sure that those of us who’ve benefitted the most, that we’re giving something back.”

Promoting his deficit-reduction plan, the president argued for tax reform and the need for the nation’s wealthy to pay their “fair share.”

“Republicans are going around talking about, ‘Well that’s class warfare,’” Obama told the rowdy crowd. “You know what, if asking a billionaire to pay the same tax rate as a plumber is class warfare, then sign me up! I’ll wear that charge as a badge of honor. The only warfare I’ve seen waged is against the middle class.”

Notably absent from the president’s sixth fundraiser over the past two days were any attacks on his Republican rivals for the presidency. Instead, Obama spoke generally about the fight ahead, urging his supporters to have faith that he can lead the nation to a better future because, “We’ve got a lot more to do.”

“I know that over the last two and half years you’ve gotten tired,” he said. “I know sometimes you’ve gotten discouraged. I know that! I know it’s been tough....But look, here’s the thing, I never promised you easy. If you wanted easy you wouldn’t have campaigned for Barack Hussein Obama.

“What I promised was that there was a vision of America out there that we believed in,” he said. “What I promised was that if we worked hard, we could achieve that vision.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama’s L.A. Campaign Office Vandalized

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- Vandals smashed windows and fired BB-gun pellets at President Obama’s campaign office in Westside Los Angeles, three days before the president was set to arrive in the area for a series of re-election fundraisers.

The Los Angeles Police Department said the attack, first reported by the Los Angeles Times, occurred at 7:25 p.m. Thursday. No one was inside the office at the time, and there were no injuries.

“This does raise some concern ahead of the president’s visit next week. I’m sure,” LAPD media relations officer Gregory Baek told ABC News.

Baek said the department had not identified any suspects but is continuing to pursue leads.

The U.S. Secret Service is also aware of the incident and is closely following the investigation.

“We continue to monitor all incidents, whether it be vandalism like this or any events tied to the president,” said spokesman Max Milien.

An Obama campaign aide confirmed the incident but offered no further comment. It’s not clear whether other offices have been targeted recently.

Obama visits L.A. Monday as part of a three-day western states campaign swing that includes fundraisers in San Francisco, San Diego and Seattle.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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