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LA Voters OK Pension Cuts, Medical Pot Tax; Bell Council Axed

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LOS ANGELES (CBS/AP) — City Councilman Bernard Parks looks to have been narrowly re-elected along with new terms for five other council incumbents after Los Angeles voters went to the polls on Tuesday.

With about 93 percent of precincts reporting, the results point to an electorate focused heavily on fixing the city’s growing budget deficit.

City voters have backed measures that would help plug a $400 million budget hole, including a tax on medical marijuana dispensaries and a plan to scale back police pensions, but decided to dig in their pockets to support funding for city libraries.

By a more than 2-to-1 margin, voters on Tuesday approved a plan that scales back the pensions for police, fire and harbor department employees hired after July 1.

It also requires personnel hired after July 1 to contribute some of their salary to pay for their health pension as a way to lower the city’s mushrooming retiree costs.

Voters also backed Measure M, which would raise up to $10 million a year by charging medical marijuana dispensaries $50 for each $1,000 in gross receipts. Berkeley and other California cities already tax the clinics, while other regions have struggled to ban them entirely.

Besides 10 ballot measures and seven city council races, voters decided on four seats on the Los Angeles Unified School Board.

Incumbents Tamar Galatzan and Richard Vladovic, both backed by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, easily won re-election. Marguerite LaMotte, who was backed by the teachers’ union, also easily won re-election. A fourth vacant seat will likely be forced to a May runoff election.

In a bruising race for the city council’s 14th District, incumbent Jose Huizar was leading challenger Rudy Martinez.

Huizar’s former campaign spokesman was fired after issuing an e-mail saying the campaign was about to put a “political bullet” in Martinez’s forehead.

Huizar mailers also have charged that Martinez failed to cooperate with an investigation into claims that he improperly held a police badge that belonged to an officer who died in the line of
duty in 1979.

In the 8th District, two-term Councilman Bernard C. Parks, a former police chief,  appears to have won a tight race with Forescee Hogan-Rowles.

Voters in the city of Bell elected an entirely new City Council after Lorenzo Velez, the only incumbent who was not indicted, lost his bid for re-election.

Cristina Garcia with the Bell Association to Stop The Abuse (BASTA) tells KNX 1070 the ouster marks the culmination of a long grassroots campaign led by local citizens.

A measure that would tax oil production in the city was heading for defeat. Approvals for two other measures that would tighten control over the quasi-autonomous Department of Water and Power were leading in early returns.

For complete election results, click here. (Page may need to be refreshed for the most up-to-date results)

(TM and © Copyright 2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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