Tag Archives: Gatto

Assemblyman Mike Gatto’s Father Killed in His Home

LAPD dectectives are still collecting evidence at the scene of Joseph Gatto’s home in Silver Lake after the father of Burbank Assemblyman Mike Gatto was found murdered at the house.

Gatto was found slumped over a chair with an apparent gunshot wound according to police at the scene.  The former nationally recognized art teacher who has been recognized by the White House on three separate occasions. Since his retirement as a teacher, he has been working out of his home creating artwork and jewelry.

Assemblyman Gatto was in Sacramento at the time of the incident. His Communication Director, Justin Hager, issued the following statement, “Joseph Gatto was a retired art teacher and (post-retirement) a jewelry craftsman. He was 78.  The Assemblyman learned of his death by phone in Sacramento.  He is absolutely devastated.  The Los Angeles Police Department is investigating, and Assemblyman Gatto thanks them for their kindness and thoroughness.”

Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. issued the following statement regarding the death of Gatto’s death, “Anne and I extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to the Gatto family in this time of mourning.”

“My heart goes out to the Gatto Family. Joseph Gatto was a friend to all in the neighborhood. My prayers are with the family.” said Los Angeles Councilmember Tom LaBonge.

California Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez released the following statement, “This is a terrible time for Assemblymember Gatto and his family. Those of us in Mike’s Assembly family are keeping the Gattos in our thoughts and prayers. We have faith the Los Angeles Police Department will find the answers to this senseless crime.”

It is the first reported murder in Silver Lake this year according to Los Angeles Police Department reports.


Gatto’s Bill To Protect Communities From Contaminated Properties Signed into Law

Communities struggling with decaying and contaminated properties now have a new tool to revitalize these sites, thanks to Assemblyman Mike Gatto’s (D-Los Angeles) AB 440. The bill passed the Legislature in September, and has now been signed into law by Governor Brown.

Changes to state law in 2011 terminated local governments’ ability to clean up contaminated properties (known as “brownfields”) and recover the costs of contamination from the responsible party. Gatto’s bill restores this authority by explicitly granting local governments these powers. The bill also adds protections for public health by ensuring a robust investigation for pollutants, and vigilant oversight. Lastly, the bill protects taxpayers and innocent purchasers from liability for unanticipated contamination, providing the certainty needed to obtain financing to clean up a brownfield.

“With this new law, the state provides the tools to get rid of those empty lots and shuttered factories that blight our neighborhoods,” said Gatto. “This legislation will foster infill projects, instead of pushing new developments onto pristine open spaces. Without these powers, sites would remain abandoned and continue to contaminate the surrounding community. Now we have a chance to clean them up.”

AB 440 has inspired a rare showing of bipartisan and cross-sector unity, with organized labor, business organizations, local governments, and environmental advocates all expressing support. The Burbank City Council, in its letter urging legislative approval of the bill, applauded AB 440 for ensuring that “local agencies have continued access to a brownfields remediation tool that has proven so valuable in the past.” Several properties have been successfully remediated using similar powers in the past, including the MTA orange-line busway in the San Fernando Valley, which replaced a contaminated railroad right-of-way with a hybrid-powered busway system, bike path, and pedestrian walkway.

“I am glad the Governor has recognized, as I have, the need to give local governments weapons in the battle to reinvigorate the economy and local neighborhoods while updating our cities for the 21st century,” Gatto commented, after the Governor signed AB 440. “This law will be crucial for cities looking to replace abandoned businesses and lots with new housing, green transportation, and urban parks. This law will do a lot of good.”

Mike Gatto’s Bill to Protect Local Governments from Dog Park Liability Passes Assembly

Assemblyman Mike Gatto’s (D-Los Angeles) bill to help local governments create dog parks for their residents passed the Assembly Floor today with a bipartisan vote of 75-0. The idea for the bill came from Glendale City Councilmember Laura Friedman, who told Gatto that liability concerns were preventing cities from opening more dog parks.

“When Glendale was considering opening a dog park, one of the biggest concerns was protecting the City from liability,” said Friedman. “I approached Assemblyman Gatto in the fall and am glad to see real action to address this problem for Glendale and other cities.”

Gatto’s AB 265 limits the liability that cities and counties face when operating dog parks and protects them from litigants who claim, for example, that they were unaware of the potential dangers of such parks. While some laws and legal rulings already limit the liability of cities and counties with regards to parks and public spaces, such limitations have never been codified with specific regard to dog parks, causing many local governments to feel uncertain about their potential financial liability.

Burbank City Councilman Jess Talamantes explained the importance of AB 265 for decision makers. “As a Councilman, I must be responsible with the city’s public finances and ensure that Burbank is protected from liability. Assemblyman Gatto’s bill provides greater certainty that Burbank’s potential future investment in a dog park will not come back to bite us.”

AB 265’s Republican Co-author, Assemblyman Brian Maienschein (R-San Diego), who served for eight years on the San Diego City Council, expressed similar sentiments, saying “this bill would have made my life significantly easier when I was on the San Diego City Council and trying to site a dog park.”

“Dog parks help build safer and stronger communities by providing a public space for neighbors to interact while training and socializing their dogs,” said Assemblyman Gatto. “We should not allow liability concerns to be a major barrier to creating these valuable spaces, especially in small- and medium-sized cities that cannot afford to self-insure.”

Jennifer Fearing of The Humane Society of the United States echoed the social importance of dog parks, especially for animal lovers with physical ailments. “Dog parks enable senior citizens and people with disabilities, who cannot always walk their dogs, a safe alternative,” said Fearing. “The Humane Society is glad for an opportunity to support a bill with the noble goal of nurturing the human-animal bond.”

There is precedent for the state stepping in to limit liability for the public good, especially for the use of public resources that come with some inherent danger. In 1997, the state imposed limited liability under certain circumstances for cities that open skate parks. State lawmakers reasoned that more recreation opportunities were needed, but that skateboarding is inherently dangerous, and should be done at the users’ risk and without massive liability for cities and their taxpayers.

“By offering our communities more certainty on this issue, I believe we can help make more dogs parks available in our neighborhoods, improving the lives of dog lovers and our canine companions,” said Gatto.



The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.

Gatto’s Comprehensive Anti-Swatting Legislation Passes Public Safety Committee

Assemblyman Mike Gatto’s  legislation to criminalize the dangerous and increasingly prevalent crime known as “swatting”, cleared a major legislative hurdle today, passing the Assembly Public Safety Committee by a unanimous vote of 7-0.  Swatting is a perilous prank by anonymous mischief-makers who alert police to a bogus crime situation, prompting a tactical response — sometimes by special weapons and tactics (SWAT) officers — that then involves a high-risk search for phantom assailants.  AB 47 is the legislature’s most comprehensive legislation to address the issue, and the only pending bill to increase criminal penalties for swatting.

AB 47 would increase the criminal fines and penalties for anyone who makes a call to 911 resulting in the deployment of police personnel when no emergency exists.  Under the provisions of the bill, anyone who makes such a call would be subject to a $2,000 fine and a year in jail, and significantly increased fine and jail time if the call results in bodily harm.  Finally, the bill stipulates that any swatting call that results in a death can be considered manslaughter.  Assemblyman Gatto introduced AB 47 on December 19, 2012, even before the recent spate of high-profile swatting incidents.

There have been more than a dozen such calls in the last five months and several law enforcement officers have already been injured.  Many officials, including Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck, fear that it’s only a matter of time before events turn deadly.  The calls thus far have been focused on humiliating celebrities like Justin Bieber, Ryan Seacrest, Justin Timberlake, Rihanna, and in at least one case, to harm a blogger based on his political ideology.

“Swatting is a dangerous prank and a serious drain of public-safety resources away from real emergencies,” said Gatto.   “This bill is not just about protecting folks like Justin Bieber.  It’s about protecting kids playing in the street when emergency vehicles needlessly speed by.  It’s about protecting homeowners and law enforcement when a house is needlessly stormed.”

“Police fear that this potential deadly prank will become more prevalent if we do not do something to elevate ‘swatting’ to a serious crime.  This common-sense legislation will discourage this dangerous activity and allow law enforcement to deploy their officers and precious resources to real crimes-in-progress.”

Cash, Credit, and College: Assemblyman Mike Gatto Hosts Financial “Jeopardy” For Burbank Students

Assemblyman Mike Gatto met with local high school students Thursday as part of an entertaining, interactive, and educational program on financial literacy.  Working in cooperation with Burbank and Burroughs High schools, and the California Society of Certified Public Accountants, the Cash, Credit, and College program was an opportunity for students to prepare for a successful financial future by learning financial fitness in a fun-filled 90 minute program.  Events included multimedia presentations on the importance of budgets, credit, savings, credit cards, and loan essentials by Matt Denny of the California Society of Certified Public Accountants.

Tony Tartaglla Public Affairs with So. California Gas Co. Assemblyman Mike Gatto, and Burbank High Principal Hani Youssef. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Assemblyman Gatto was an active and often humorous participant, doing his best Alex Trebek impersonation during the game of “Financial Jeopardy.”  He was even joined by District Director Jason Insalaco playing Gatto’s over-the-top sidekick, in the style of Rod Roddy.  Both performers kept the high-school students engaged and interested.

“This event is a fun opportunity for young people to learn the basics of maintaining strong finances,” said Gatto.  “Whether they are saving for college, a home, or a hot-rod, I hope that all of the participants learned the importance of living on a budget and saving for the future.”

One surprise for the schools came when Mike Mizrahi, the Regional Public Affairs Manager of SoCalGas presented each high-school principal with a check for $1,250 to be put towards continuing education on financial literacy.  Assemblyman Gatto helped secure the gift and explained that it was essential for students to spend more than one afternoon thinking about financial security.

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

“The long-term-financial success of our young people is essential to creating a stable economy; this money is just one small step towards helping ensure our community’s economic health.”

Burroughs High School Principal John Paramo praised the event for providing students with the opportunity to test their knowledge and interact one-on-one with a respected public official.

“The students sometimes feel like their elected officials are out of reach, Assemblyman Gatto’s participation in this event showed that he is both accessible and fun,” said Paramo. “Burroughs [High School] already has a financial literacy program in its curriculum, but they were more motivated to study up when they knew they’d be playing jeopardy with a State Assemblyman.”

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Current financial literacy statistics have shown a decrease in the baseline financial knowledge levels.  According to the FINRA Investor Education Foundation’s 2010 State-by-State Financial Capability Survey, 23% of young Americans [18- to 34-year-olds] nationally spend more than their household income, 68% do not have money set aside in a rainy day fund, and 34% engage in non-bank borrowing.  A 2010 Charles Schwab Survey found that of those young people who use credit cards, only one-third (33%) pay off their entire balance every month.

Assemblyman Mike Gatto and Wife Danielle Brings New Voter Into the World

Assemblyman Mike Gatto has a new constituent close to home.

Evangelina Felicity Gatto was born to Mike and his wife, Danielle, at 9:55 PM on October 6, 2012.  She weighed 7 pounds, 4 ounces, and was 18 inches long.

“I am overwhelmed with joy,” said Assemblyman Gatto.

Assemblyman Gatto’s first child, two-year-old Elliana, also said she was very excited to have a little sister to share her toys with.

Mike Gatto represents the 43rd Assembly District, which includes the cities of Burbank, Glendale (including part of Montrose), La Crescenta, the Los Angeles communities of Atwater Village, Franklin Hills, Los Feliz, Silver Lake and the San Fernando Valley communities of North Hollywood, Toluca Lake, Valley Glen, and Van Nuys.  He was recently appointed Chairman of the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Gatto’s Green Fuels Bill Passes Senate Utilities Committee

Assembly Bill 1900, authored by Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles), a bill which removes barriers to the development of renewable natural gas (RNG) as a fuel in California, passed the Senate Utilities Committee after a nearly three hour hearing by a vote of 11-0.  In conjunction with AB 2196 (joint authored by Assemblymen Gatto and Wesley Chesbro), AB 1900 will change the counterproductive current regime that forces California companies to waste their natural resources and California utilities to buy RNG out of state.  This bill will also honor existing biomethane contracts signed by municipal utilities throughout the state.

Representatives from Glendale, Pasadena and Los Angeles traveled to Sacramento to support the bill.  Senators heard from tens of stakeholders concerned that utility rates in Burbank and Pasadena would skyrocket unless Gatto’s bill passed.

RNG is natural gas produced by decomposing matter.  It is a by-product of many regular activities.  Landfills, water-treatment plants, and livestock farms all produce biogas.  It can be burned instead of natural gas in electricity-producing facilities, natural-gas-powered vehicles and home appliances, and it is 21 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

The packed room was treated to some humor when Gatto explained, “California has a lot of landfills in urban centers that can produce energy, and also a lot of ‘happy cows’ in rural centers that can do the same.”

Under current law, RNG producers in California are banned from selling their fuel.  The law prohibits landfill gas from being injected into the pipelines that carry natural gas across the state, and imposes such strict testing requirements on other forms of RNG that it effectively prohibits them as well.  Thus, California’s RNG producers are forced to either burn it, or let it escape into the atmosphere, both of which pollute the air.

“Go outside and light a fire so that the smoke blocks your solar panels,” said Gatto.  “That’s the effect of our policies in the biogas arena.  We not only force producers to waste their natural energy source, but we force them to pollute as well.”

Because of California’s ban, many utilities purchase RNG from non-California sources.  This means the jobs from this burgeoning industry are created outside the state.  ABs 1900 and 2196 would protect current contracts with RNG producers around the country, prevent utilities from having to raise rates by expressly allowing them to make good on their existing contracts, but would set up a new system within California to foster local industry and local jobs.  Additionally, the bill allows California producers of RNG, whether big landfills or small farmers, to sell it to utilities in the state, as long as it is demonstrably clean, pure, and safe.

“We can produce renewable power in our state, from sources that occur naturally,” said Gatto. “We can put Californians to work, clean our air, keep utility bills low, and we can stop the insanity of requiring existing producers of biogas to burn it while they use fossil fuels for electricity.  Or we can maintain the status quo, wasting a naturally occurring product, causing greater pollution, and ignoring a tool for diversifying our state’s domestic-energy portfolio.  It’s about time we choose the former.”

California Homemade Food Act Clears Assembly Floor

Assembly Bill 1616, the California Homemade Food Act, authored by Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles), passed the Assembly Floor by a bipartisan vote of 56-17. The Act, which would allow for the sale of certain homemade, non- hazardous foods by creating a structure for “cottage food operations,” now heads to the Senate.

The Assemblyman made a commitment to help micro-entrepreneurs gain access to these neighborhood-based economic opportunities after his constituent, Mark Stambler, was shut down by the Los Angeles Department of Environmental Health last June for selling homemade bread to a local cheese shop. “I am happy to see this effort move on to the Senate,” said Gatto. “My constituents are clamoring for local, healthy foods and want to buy products made by local small businesses like Mark’s.”

The California Homemade Food Act is consistent with recent chances in the laws of 32 other states. Under AB 1616, foods available for sale would include every-day items such as breads, tortillas, dry roasted nuts and legumes, granola, churros, rice cakes, jams, jellies and other fruit preserves, and cookies. The legislation establishes a two-tier system of operations based upon the point of sale or trade. Producers opting to sell directly to the consumer would be subject to registration with the local health department and the completion of a food handler’s course, while producers opting to sell through a retail outlet, such as the neighborhood coffee shop, would be subject to inspections by the local health department. Both would have labels declaring their products “homemade” and have traceable information.

“Our farmer’s markets and street fairs are flourishing parts of neighborhoods throughout the state. They bring a feeling of community in a modern, impersonal world. If we can promote these interpersonal relationships at a time when people are struggling to supplement their family incomes, by removing unnecessary red tape, then we’ve accomplished something important for both the residents of our state and its small businesses,” Gatto commented.

Gatto Introduces Bill to Allow Motorists to Use Smartphones

Assemblyman Mike Gatto who represents Burbank, has introduced Assembly Bill 1708, amending the California Vehicle and Insurance Codes, to give California drivers the option to carry their proof of auto insurance and vehicle registration in electronic form, such as on a smartphone or other personal electronic device.

“This legislation falls into the category of eliminating one of the small hassles in life,” said Assemblyman Gatto, “and it brings a couple of out-dated state laws into the electronic age.”

Under this measure, auto-insurance providers would be authorized to issue proof of insurance documentation in electronic form, if requested by a consumer. Similarly, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) would also provide electronic versions of registration documents when requested. The final aspect of the bill clarifies to law enforcement officials that electronic documentation is equivalent to the paper form.

“It only makes sense for the state where the iPad was designed to remain on the technological forefront,” concluded Gatto.