Tag Archives: Mike Gatto

Gatto, Frutos Team Up to Battle Campus Crime

Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Burbank) introduced legislation this week to ensure that crimes committed on college campuses are properly reported and investigated thanks to the help and insight of Burbank Councilman Bob Frutos. The legislation, AB 1433, would require colleges to report certain crimes occurring on or near campus to local law enforcement to investigate, if the victim does not request anonymity.

Councilman Frutos, a 28 year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department, sat down for lunch with Gatto last fall at the Burbank Eatery on San Fernando Road. They were discussing a host of issues when the subject of campus crime and public safety arose. Frutos shared his perspective on the underreporting of rapes and other sexual assaults on college campuses, something that has been in the news often.

“Bob Frutos is not just a Councilmember, he’s a veteran cop, someone who has investigated criminal activity for nearly three decades,” said Gatto. “His insight into the issue and the need for campus crimes to be adequately reported and investigated was a catalyst for this bill. Councilman Frutos opened my eyes to this growing problem on a local and statewide level. ”

The legislation comes after several California colleges have been accused of covering-up on-campus sexual assaults because of concerns that higher crime statistics would lead prospective students to choose elsewhere. The unwillingness of campus officials to involve proper non-campus law-enforcement professionals greatly diminishes the chance that a perpetrator is arrested and convicted. This, of course, can allow a perpetrator to strike again.

“Victims of crime should not see their chances of justice hurt, nor should perpetrators be allowed to victimize others, because a school values its public image more than victims’ rights,” said Gatto. “Colleges should focus on teaching, and leave the investigation of crimes to the professionals — local police and sheriffs.”

Two southern California colleges are currently the subject of a federal investigation for their handling of on-campus sexual assaults and other violent crimes. In addition to the federal investigation, five U.S. campuses, including three in California, are the subject of a federal lawsuit alleging violations of Title IX and the Clery Act. The Clery Act is the federal law that requires colleges and universities to disclose (once a year, in an annual report) information about crimes that happen on or near campuses.

In addition to failing to report crimes, several California colleges have also been criticized for failing to notice signs of dangerous or abusive criminal activity. At one state university, the administration admittedly failed to recognize the brutal, racially based abuse of a seventeen-year-old African-American student by his roommates. The abuse was discovered only after the young man was allegedly held captive in his room with a bicycle lock chained around his neck.

“Crimes that occur on campus should not be treated any differently than those that occur elsewhere in our community,” said Assemblyman Gatto. “California law needs to make sure that college administrators involve law enforcement when appropriate.”

Gatto Invites Public to Draft the United States’ First Ever “Wiki Bill”

Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Burbank) announced a groundbreaking opportunity to allow individual citizens to draft a piece of legislation directly via an online Wiki.  Citizens can visit the “Wiki bill’s” website, and by using an interface similar to Wikipedia’s, they can propose, draft, and edit a bill, which Gatto has committed to introducing, after a consensus emerges.  This is the first purely crowdsourced piece of legislation in the United States.

Assemblyman Gatto has advocated for using technology as a tool for citizen engagement.  “This is a great way for people to have a voice in their government,” said Gatto.  “Too often, special-interest groups draft legislation.  In contrast, ‘crowdsourcing’ a bill on the Wiki platform will allow for a fully transparent brainstorming, drafting, and editing process that will incorporate ideas from a large group of people.  The collective wisdom of the public will choose the final product.”

The effort is designed to perfect other citizen-participation mechanisms that are flawed.  For example, the Petitions.WhiteHouse.Gov site allows citizens to propose broad concepts, but has no teeth, in that the public cannot directly draft legislative text, and there is no commitment by the government to act.  On the other side of the spectrum, many reformers (including Assemblyman Gatto) believe that California’s Ballot Initiative process is too strong, because inflexible initiatives can tie the hands of elected officials in perpetuity.  In contrast, Gatto’s Wiki process takes advantage of the ubiquity of the Internet to allow vast numbers of people to participate in their government from the comfort of their homes, and allows other members of the public to see exactly how the process unfolds.  Thus, it is a way to effect real change, but the ideas will also get fully vetted through the normal legislative committee process after Gatto introduces the bill.

To narrow down the submissions in this first trial of the process, Gatto is asking bill drafters to focus their proposals on changes to the California probate code.  This subject matter was selected because it is one where large numbers of specialists exist with an interest in participating (lawyers, CPAs, etc.), but also, since almost everyone has had some experience in handling the death of a loved one, large numbers of the public are also likely to have an opinion on how California’s relevant laws could be improved.

Those interested in participating should visit www.MikeGatto.wikispaces.com.  Once there, users can see what other people have proposed, propose bill text themselves, edit what others have proposed, and view the history of the entire process — just like a Wikipedia entry.  Assemblyman Gatto will introduce whatever consensus emerges by the State Legislature’s bill-introduction deadline, which is in early February 2014.

Assemblyman Mike Gatto Forms 2014 Small Business Advisory Commission

Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Burbank) is seeking applications from local business owners to serve on his 2014 Small Business Advisory Commission.  The Commission will meet several times in the months ahead, with the goal of formulating one or more legislative proposals that will be introduced by Gatto in the upcoming legislative session.

With small businesses employing more than 37% of all workers in the state, Assemblyman Gatto welcomes input from the people working hard to keep our business community strong.   “Small-business owners face the brunt of challenges that affect the economic development of our community.  Incorporating our business members into this dialogue enhances the state’s ability to create a more sensible and less burdensome regulatory environment for our businesses,” said Gatto.

Last year’s Commission voted to ask Gatto to introduce AB 227, momentous legislation which reformed Proposition 65 to protect small businesses from meritless lawsuits.  To the relief of business owners in the 43rd Assembly District and statewide, Governor Brown signed AB 227 into law this year.  The Commission has been an instrumental voice in advising Assemblyman Gatto on challenges facing local small-business owners throughout California.  “Listening to those who have been shortchanged by the law first-hand is an imperative and sacred duty of lawmakers.  I am proud of the historic achievement of last year’s Commission and look forward to working with the 2014 Commission,” said Gatto.

Individuals interested in participating on the Commission should e-mail Assemblyman Gatto at Assemblymember.Gatto@assembly.ca.gov<mailto:Assemblymember.Gatto@assembly.ca.gov> with the subject line ‘Business Commission.’

Services for Joseph Gatto to be held Monday

The family of Joseph Gatto will hold a funeral for their father on Monday, November 25, 2013, at 10:00 am, at Our Mother of Good Counsel Catholic Church (2060 North Vermont Avenue) in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles.

A private reception and graveside burial will follow the funeral mass. Both will be strictly limited to family and close friends of the deceased.

In lieu of flowers, the Gatto family requests donations be sent to one of their father’s three favorite charities:

(1) The Historic Italian Hall Foundation (125 Paseo De la Plaza, Suite 400, Los Angeles, CA 90012; 213-485-8432)

(2) The Los Angeles Community Garden Council (4470 W. Sunset Blvd. #381, Los Angeles, CA 90027; 323-942-WORM)

(3) or, The Tuition Magician, Attn: Joe Gatto Arts Scholarship (4470 West Sunset Blvd. #378, Los Angeles, CA 90027)

Gatto Swear In   06-10-10Joseph Gatto was a passionate artist, jewelry craftsman, teacher, author, and devoted father and grandfather. He retired in 2002 after more than 45 years as an art and design teacher who taught at both the primary and college levels, including Pierce College, California State University at Northridge, California State University at Los Angeles, the Otis Parson Art Institute, and the Art Center in Pasadena. He was also the founder and longtime chairman of the Visual Arts Department at the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts. Joe’s professional accolades include being honored twice at the White House, among numerous other awards and recognitions.

The Los Angeles Police Department’s investigation into Gatto’s death is ongoing. There is no new information.

Gatto Joins Small Business Owners to Celebrate Prop. 65 Reform

Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Burbank) joined business leaders, consumer attorneys and representatives of Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez (D-Los Angeles) today at The Coffee Table Bistro in Eagle Rock, to celebrate the signing of AB 227, a bill by Assemblyman Mike Gatto that reforms Prop. 65 to protect small businesses from meritless lawsuits. AB 227 essentially provides for a “fix-it ticket” for violations based on the most common, everyday substances covered under Prop. 65, such as alcoholic beverages or those that naturally occur when grilling food.

The signing celebration featured speeches by Assemblyman Gatto, Brian Kabateck of the Consumer Attorneys of California, Mira Guertin of CalChamber, Bob Spivak of the California Restaurant Association, and Stuart Waldman of Valley Industry and Commerce Association. Representatives of local and regional Chambers of Commerce and local small-business owners were also present, including Brett Schoenhals, a Gatto constituent and owner of The Coffee Table, located in Gomez’s district, who first brought the issue of unfair Prop. 65 litigation to Assemblyman Gatto’s attention as a member of Gatto’s Small Business Advisory Commission.

“This bill won’t halt all Prop. 65 lawsuits, but will halt almost all unjust Prop. 65 lawsuits,” said Gatto.

AB 227 allows small-business owners who receive notice of a technical Prop. 65 signage violation to achieve compliance within fourteen days and pay a small civil fine. If the business owners comply, they would be safe from legal action — including Prop. 65’s crushing $2,500 per-day retroactive fine, plus legal fees, and the stress of battling unfair litigation.

“Small-business owners strengthen our local economies and create jobs,” said Gomez in a written statement. “I am, proud to stand with my colleague, Assemblymember Mike Gatto, in support of AB 227.”

The bill succeeded against very long odds. It is the first bill to substantively amend Prop. 65 in nearly fifteen years, and only the second one in history. This is because reforming Prop. 65 requires a two-thirds supermajority vote of the Legislature, a very high bar that requires clear consensus.

“I am proud to have brought together groups that are normally on opposite sides of this issue, to craft a common-sense bill that will help California businesses avoid costly litigation, while ensuring that the public still gets prompt and proper warnings,” said Gatto. “It’s not every day that business groups, environmental-justice coalitions, organized labor, and attorneys’ organizations agree on anything, much less how to reform Prop. 65 — a measure that has been nearly impossible to amend since its approval in 1986.”

The idea for the legislation came from Assemblyman Gatto’s Small Business Advisory Commission, formed in 2012 to advise him on challenges facing local small-business owners.

“AB 227 strikes a balance by helping businesses avoid senseless litigation while preserving the public’s ability to obtain proper warnings about dangerous chemicals,” said Gatto. “It shouldn’t cost California’s small businesses thousands of dollars because of issues with a $20 sign.”

Gatto Town Hall Gives Answers to Questions

Assemblyman Mike Gatto, who represents Burbank as part of the 43rd Assembly District, held a Town Hall for residents at the Little White Chapel on Saturday afternoon. Extra chairs were brought out for large crowd of residents that came from all over the district, although a majority of the questions came from Burbank residents.

Assemblyman Mike Gatto talks about his recent accomplishments

Assemblyman Mike Gatto talks about his recent accomplishments

Gatto started out by talking about the recent session and accomplishments including 18 bills that were passed that he had a part in as either the author or was one of the co-authors  The Assemblyman touted his AB 227, which would help protect frivolous lawsuits to small businesses because of loopholes in Proposition 65.

Other major bills that he authored included the way municipalities handled broken parking meters and a revision to the law that gives authorities more time to arrest hit and run suspects.

While he has had his successes, there is still one area that he continues his fight, which is the availability of car pol lanes in non peak hours.  His last attempt was vetoed by the Governor although the same set of rules already apply to Northern California.  He will be taking up the fight again.

A resident addresses Mike Gatto during the Town Hall at the Little White Chapel (Photos By Craig Sherwood)

A resident addresses Mike Gatto during the Town Hall at the Little White Chapel (Photos By Craig Sherwood)

Residents were selected at random and their topics were many, with some being local as well as national in scope.  Gatto had knowledge of each subject thrown at him and sometimes was able to give the audience a short history lesson about some of the origins behind the laws and decisions.

Questions included the death penalty, campaign finance reform, in home care for seniors, rent stabilization in California, Caltrans and the I-5 construction, gravel trucks being covered during transportation, banking laws and why texting laws while driving can’t be more severe.

As simple as the question was, it seemed to hit a cord when it came to texting.  The speaker made the point that if you drive in a car pool lane without a passenger, the fine is around $400 and you risk no one’s lives, yet if you drive and text, you are risking lives and the fine is only $20.

Other topics included the Do Not Call list, concerns about illegals who can now get a drivers license not having insurance, runaway film production, Federal money for rail projects, think tanks about spending future money, teaching administrator salaries, two thirds majority in passing budgets (which is no longer a requirement), standardized testing in schools, overtaxed and over regulated rules on businesses and Prop. 13.

While it was clearly a wide ranging conversation, many of the items are somewhat addressable while some are issues that the federal government has control of.

Assemblyman Mike Gatto had answers to all questions during the Town Hall meeting.

Assemblyman Mike Gatto had answers to all questions during the Town Hall meeting.

Gatto explained that hopefully California is out of the financial situtauion that has crippled the State in recent years and does not anticipate any more cuts to existing programs and hopes that funding will eventually be restored to some of those cut.

When responding to some residents concerns of laws not being followed he responded, “We don’t always need new laws, just better enforcement of the laws in place’.  It does seem that Caltrans, however, does not always follow the law on some projects and is a sore spot of Gatto.

“Caltrans is a tremendous source of frustration for both my family and myself. I am constantly talking to Caltrans (regarding their actions and policies).” About some of the everyday problems that frustrate residents, there was agreement, “Small things are often the biggest nuisance in life”, said Gatto.

In all, there were no confrontations and people were there to have their opinions heard and their questions answered.  No one walked away without an answer and there were plenty of staff members on hand to make sure that individual concerns were met afterward.

Near the end, one resident was worried about the possible loss of Prop.13, to which the Assemblyman said quickly and with authority, “Proposition 13 is not going anywhere soon”.

Gatto’s Hit-and-Run Legislation Signed by Governor

Assemblyman Mike Gatto’s (D-Burbank) bill to address the epidemic of hit-and-run offenses in California was signed into law by Governor Brown today. The legislation, AB 184, provides an additional tool to law-enforcement officers investigating hit-and-run offenses by extending the current three-year statute of limitations for such offenses to six years from the date of the offense.

“AB 184 will allow victims of hit-and-runs and law enforcement to obtain justice from cowards who do everything possible to avoid responsibility for their actions,” said Gatto. “Thousands of hit-and-run victims suffer life-threatening injuries annually. Allowing the perpetrators to avoid prosecution just adds insult to these injuries.”

The Governor’s decision comes just days after yet another deadly week of hit-and-runs in California, including four hit-and-run victims in Gatto’s District. Two hit-and-runs last week in Glendale, left a 75 year old woman, a 59 year old woman, and a 73 year old woman in critical condition. Bookending the Glendale incidents were two fatal hit-and-runs. Last Friday, a 22 year old woman was killed by a hit-and-run driver in Hollywood and on Monday a hit-and-run left a 48-year old man dead in Encino. The hit-and-run epidemic is also spreading to other regions of the state. In the Sacramento region, a 55-year-old motorcyclist was killed on October 1 in a hit-and-run in Orangevale. And hit-and-runs in Oakland, Santa Rosa, Redwood City, and Atherton have left two Bay Area residents dead, and several more seriously injured, all since the beginning of October.

In addition to the recent deaths, many older hit-and-runs around the state remain unsolved, even after months of investigation. Damian Kevitt was struck by a mini-van while on his bicycle in February and dragged more than a quarter-mile down the Interstate 5 freeway in Los Angeles. The collision resulted in dozens of broken bones and the amputation of one of Kevitt’s legs. Kevitt recently began learning how to pedal a bicycle with his new prosthetic leg, while the suspect who hit him remains at large.

“It’s hard for us to encourage people to bike and walk, when our streets are treated like the Wild West,” said Eric Bruins, Planning & Policy Director for the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition. “The LA County Bicycle Coalition commends Assemblyman Gatto for bringing attention to this issue and giving hit-and-run victims hope that their perpetrators might be brought to justice once identified.”

Currently, motorists who flee the scene of an accident can simply “run out the clock” and avoid all criminal liability for seriously injuring or even killing another individual in a hit-and-run. AB 184 provides a significant boost to law-enforcement officers investigating hit-and-run offenses. The Legislature has passed similar changes to statutes of limitations for crimes with hard-to-identify perpetrators, like clergy abuse.

“Hit-and-run offenders cannot be allowed to escape their actions without consequence,” said Gatto. “And hit-and-run victims deserve justice. I hope this law will help some of them to find it.”

The new law goes into effect January 1, 2014.

Gatto Announces Film and Tax Credit Legislation

Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles) and Senator Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) announced today that they will introduce a comprehensive film- and television-production tax credit and other related policies in the 2014 legislative session. Gatto and De León expect to introduce the bill in January 2014, when the legislature returns from interim recess. Since the passage of the last film-tax credit, Gatto and De León have been meeting tirelessly with all affected parties, to try to determine how to improve California’s policies. The Appropriations committees of each house are the final stops for all fiscal legislation before it hits the Senate or Assembly floor.

Film and television production jobs are especially important in Gatto’s district, which includes the cities of Burbank, Glendale, and Hollywood, communities that are home to numerous film and television studios and post-production facilities, including world-renowned studios DreamWorks, Disney, Universal, and Warner Bros. The vitality of the California entertainment industry determines the livelihood for thousands of workers in the industry who live in Gatto’s and De León’s districts. Both Gatto and De León are close with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who has made revamping the tax credit a major policy push.

“I remember when our communities lost all the good aerospace jobs,” said Gatto. “Losing major employers really harms the local economy, so we must do everything possible to make sure that good jobs stay right here.” Gatto is the California State Assembly’s representative on the California Film Commission. The Commission offers production and location assistance, and administers the tax credit.

In the last several months, Gatto and De León have focused their meetings with “below-the-line” workers and local small production professionals affected by the flight of investment. Gatto’s staff has also been collecting think-tank reports and all studies available, to evaluate what works best in the current credit and what needs to be improved to maximize its effectiveness.

“Given the vulnerable state of our economy we can’t afford to hemorrhage any more good paying jobs,” said Senator De Leόn. “First thing in 2014, we need to extend the film tax credit and improve it to maximize job retention and bolster this home-grown industry. I look forward to partnering with Assemblyman Gatto on this effort.”

Senator De León and Assemblyman Gatto invite the public to share their thoughts on how to make the tax credit work best.

“We look forward to hearing from constituents from all sectors of the entertainment community to find out how we can make the tax credit work more effectively to improve and expand California’s economy,” said Gatto.

Gatto Bill Signed into Law is Dog-Gone Good

Assemblyman Mike Gatto’s (D-Burbank) bill to help local governments create dog parks was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown.  The idea for the bill came from Glendale City Councilmember Laura Friedman, who told Gatto that liability concerns were preventing small- and medium-sized cities from siting dog parks.

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 potential dangers.  The current legal situation is muddled, causing many local governments to feel uncertain about potential liability.

Burbank City Councilman Jess Talamantes echoed the importance of AB 265.  “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 supporter, Assemblyman Brian Maienschein (R-San Diego), who served 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 barrier to creating these open spaces, especially in small- and medium-sized cities that cannot afford to self-insure.”

Jennifer Fearing of the Humane Society of the United States emphasized 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.”

Precedent exists for the state limiting liability to encourage specialized open spaces.  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.

Assemblyman Mike Gatto to Host “Virtual Town Hall”

The public is invited to participate in a free, online town-hall meeting hosted by Assemblyman Mike Gatto.  On Wednesday, July 10th, 2013, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., Assemblyman Gatto will be available to answer questions about community issues, provide updates and information about his current legislation, and discuss suggestions for future legislation.

This online community event is free and open to the public.  Participants are not required to provide any personal information or sign-up for any websites, newsletters, or other mailing lists to participate.  Simply visit http://assemblymanmikegatto.blogspot.com at 7:00 PM, Wednesday, July 10, 2013, to join the conversation.  Due to time constraints and a large volume of anticipated questions, not all questions may be addressed at the town-hall meeting.

“Virtual Town Hall” with Assemblyman Mike Gatto

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

7 p.m. to 8 p.m.


Town-hall meetings provide an opportunity for community members to gather together, and speak directly with their elected representatives.  The internet allows modern town-hall meetings to be accessible to everyone, including those who lack transportation options or are less mobile.  Online town-hall meeting also allow for a printable record of the conversation, decreasing the need for rapid note taking, and increasing accountability.  Assemblyman Mike Gatto is proud to invite the public to join the conversation at this virtual town-hall meeting.

“I believe in being as accessible as possible.  What better way than to chat personally with constituents, allowing them to interact from the comfort and convenience of their own home or smartphone?” stated Gatto.  Gatto’s district stretches from the Angeles National Forest through East Hollywood.