Lawmakers talk high-tech, school funding and homelessness at Palos Verdes Chamber of Commerce event

October 11, 2019
In The News

The Palos Verdes Chamber of Commerce’s annual legislative forum wooed a handful of the South Bay’s heavy hitters to the Palos Verdes Golf Club on Friday, Oct. 11, for an afternoon of pitch-making, cheer-leading and oversized homemade cookies.

The quartet of coastal lawmakers — Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance; state Sen. Ben Allen, D-Redondo Beach; Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi, D-Torrance; and Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn — shared much common verbiage, beaming over the newly re-booming local aerospace industry, vowing to boost spending on education and promising to continue seeking solutions to the mammoth homelessness riddle.

Murasutchi launched a gentle jab at Lieu, whose sparring with President Donald Trump has blossomed his national political profile.

“Since Ted Lieu is always on TV, I get mistaken for him all the time,” Murasutchi said with a smile. “I have no idea why.”

Murasutchi also basked in the rekindled glow of the South Bay’s share of the high-tech “Silicon Beach” sector — as did his peers — celebrating the array of higher-paying jobs given  by employers such as Hawthorne’s SpaceX and Redondo Beach’s Northrop Grumman.

Lieu noted that he and Ken Calvert, R-Corona, recently launched the California Aerospace Caucus and serve as its co-chairs. Lieu, who described himself as a “recovering computer science major,” described the mission of the caucus as celebrating such operations as El Segundo’s Space and Missile Systems Center, securing and retaining aerospace assets, and streamlining the process of securing government contracts.

Murasutchi, though, also bemoaned that some employers in the sector still can’t find sufficient local talent to fill their open positions — and promptly segued into his efforts to secure greater state funding to admit more home-state residents into the University of California system.

Allen, for his part, spun tales of the recent marathon closing sessions of the state Legislature, during which scores of bills were sent to Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has until Sunday to sign or veto them.

The Santa Monica-raised senator, said he was pleased that the governor has joined him in fighting for elections free of influence from foreign or domestic forces — embracing such efforts as redistricting reforms. He’s also pushing for greater transparency, including trying to pass for rules that would require disclosing who paid for signature-seeking petitions, and campaign-propelled e-mail and political advertising.

Allen also applauded recent homeless-program funding for the state’s cities secured via the legislature — but all on the panel concurred that it will take more money, people power and creativity to solve the crisis.

Hahn said she was heartbroken that some 60,000 people sleep on the streets each night in L.A. County, many victims of disease, sexual assault and predatory drug pushers. She echoed the frustration of many California leaders when she described how residents of her county chose to tax themselves via Measure H, only to see homeless numbers rise anew in January.

She urged the governor to declare the situation an emergency. But she also ticked off reasons for hope, such as her efforts to secure master lease agreements with motels; at motels, she said, “we can get practically a whole encampment inside tonight.” Then the next day, she said, they could charge social workers to strategize paths to keep people off the street.