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POLITICS/DEVELOPMENT: Newhall Ranch, proposed "neo-suburb," report, analysis, effort "to oust a watchful judge"....

***Following up on most recent earlier item noted here....

* LA Weekly (Beth Barrett):  "Newhall Ranch vs. Judge Ann I. Jones" - "Investors behind a vast proposed neo-suburb try to oust a watchful judge."- From the Weekly:

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ann I. Jones wasn't buying the state Department of Fish and Game's conclusion that a plan to preserve the endangered San Fernando Valley spineflower would work just fine once Newhall Land and Farming Co. built its master-planned suburb for 60,000 people off the I-5 near Magic Mountain.

"They were saying 'Trust us,' but she felt the law required more than just a piece of paper signed by somebody with an advanced degree," says John Buse, attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. "That's when we knew she had a lot of mettle."

The center joined with Friends of the Santa Clara River, Santa Clarita Organization for Planning the Environment, California Native Plant Society and the Wishtoyo Foundation, and last month won a stunning ruling when Jones rejected the Newhall Ranch Environmental Impact Report (EIR). Newhall Land immediately appealed.


Even when they disagree with Jones, lawyers and advocates involved in past major land-use battles describe her with such terms as "very, very bright," "extremely thorough," "fair" and "gutsy." So when Newhall Land alleged a conflict of interest on Jones' part — and asked that Jones voluntarily disqualify herself from the lawsuits over its first two subdivisions — the legal community was incredulous.

Laurie Levenson, a Loyola Marymount University law professor, predicted an "uphill battle" for the deep-pocketed investors out to oust Jones................