Index
Monday
Sep012014

L.A. CITY HALL: Downtown Los Angeles, Councilman Jose Huizar, Broadway streetscape plan, "dress rehearsal": "Broadway's Big Changes Begin" .... 

* Downtown News:  "Broadway's Big Changes Begin" - "Pedestrian Areas Added as Traffic Lanes Are Trimmed on Historic Street" - From the DTN:

In the past several years, major changes have come to Broadway. In the wake of the Bringing Back Broadway initiative that 14th District City Councilman José Huizar launched in 2008, the street has seen the arrival of all manner of stores and restaurants. The activity has been particularly pronounced south of Sixth Street, and the once sleepy stretch now has businesses including the Ace Hotel, Urban Outfitters, Umami Burger, the Los Angeles Brewing Company and upscale Swedish retailer Acne.

Still, a new component unveiled yesterday may ultimately have a much bigger impact on Broadway. On Thursday, Huizar unveiled the “dress rehearsal” of a major streetscape plan. The goal is to enhance the pedestrian experience, a task that involves eliminating lanes for cars.

The dress rehearsal cost $1.5 million to implement, and making the program permanent will cost $5 million-$6 million a block. Huizar’s office has pulled together about $5 million, and his spokesman Rick Coca said that commitments from developers who are building new housing projects on the streets will cover sidewalk work on three additional blocks.

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The plan is eventually to move from the dress rehearsal stage, which uses temporary materials, to permanent changes..............................

Monday
Sep012014

POLITICS/BUSINESS: Economic Roundtable, new study, California construction industry, "informal workers": "1 in 6 California construction workers labors in shadows, study finds" ....

* Los Angeles Times:  "1 in 6 California construction workers labors in shadows, study finds" - From the LAT:

Informal workers are growing part of California’s economy — a shift keenly felt in the construction industry, where 1 in 6 workers is either off the books or misreported, new research has found.

Construction businesses in the state employ roughly 895,000 workers, according to a report by downtown Los Angeles research group Economic Roundtable that was released Sunday. In 2011, 143,900 of those workers labored unofficially.

Some 39,800 workers were misclassified by employers as independent contractors, despite not owning their own tools or setting their own schedules. An additional 104,100 workers weren’t recorded at all. In specialty trades such as drywall and flooring, a quarter of laborers are considered informal, according to the Economic Roundtable.

Construction in California is a $152-billion industry, one in which so-called gray employment has surged 400% since 1972. The upswing has been especially pronounced since the most recent recession because only two-thirds of the formal construction jobs that disappeared have since returned.

This year, for each construction job opening nationwide, there are seven unemployed workers, suggesting that some laborers may be shifting voluntarily into the shadow economy. What results, according to lead researcher Yvonne Yen Liu, is an industry where highly skilled and well-paid workers are aging out of the system and being replaced by less-skilled laborers who are often transient because of steep turnover rates............................

Monday
Sep012014

SACRAMENTO: SB 52, expansion, disclosure requirements, statewide ballot measures, commentary (Matier & Ross), "Funny money" ....

***Following up on earlier item noted here (SB 52, requirement, greater disclosure, campaign advertising, state ballot measures)....

* San Francisco Chronicle (Matier & Ross):

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Funny money: Democrats cried foul and demanded a criminal probe during the 2012 election when $11 million in under-the-table conservative money was funneled into attacks on Gov. Jerry Brown's tax hike initiative. So it's odd that many of those same do-gooders quietly killed an effort by Democratic state Sens. Jerry Hill of San Mateo and Mark Leno of San Francisco to expand disclosure requirements so voters would be able to tell who's funding initiative fights.

Republicans were against the change from the outset, but then the Democratic-friendly California Labor Federation weighed in as well, saying the changes would "create uncertainty and confusion for those engaged in ballot measure campaigns."

The bill passed the Senate but languished in the Assembly - where not a single member offered to bring it up for discussion.

Monday
Sep012014

SACRAMENTO: Department of Conservation, Office of Mine Reclamation: "Supervisor in mining office faces conflict-of-interest charges" ....

* Los Angeles Times:  "Supervisor in mining office faces conflict-of-interest charges" - From the LAT:

A supervisor in the California government office that regulates mines is under investigation for alleged conflicts of interest, including co-ownership of a Northern California gold-mining company within his jurisdiction, ethics officials confirmed on Friday.

The California Fair Political Practices Commission is investigating Thomas P. Ferrero, a senior engineering geologist in the Department of Conservation's Office of Mine Reclamation compliance unit. Ferrero is a co-owner of the Miriah Mining Co. Inc. gold mine about 20 miles west of Mt. Shasta.

The FPPC's review marks a turnaround by the agency, which last year advised that Ferrero had no conflict of interest because, among other things, the state regulates surface mining only and Miriah is an underground mine under federal jurisdiction. But the commission opened an investigation this year after receiving new information from Ferrero critics, including former state Mining and Geology Board members and disgruntled reclamation office employees..................

Monday
Sep012014

LOCAL GOVERNMENT (County of Los Angeles): Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, term limits, changes on the board, "realignment of power," stronger labor influence: "Labor looks for realignment of power that could strengthen its hand" ....

* Los Angeles Times:  "Labor looks for realignment of power that could strengthen its hand" - From the LAT:

As the final push begins to fill a key seat on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, union leaders, elected officials and political analysts are anticipating a realignment of power that could strengthen the hand of organized labor in decisions affecting a wide array of public services and the region's largest employer.

Expectations of change already are rippling through pronouncements and policy shifts at the downtown Hall of Administration. . . . . . . .

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Already assured a seat is former U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, who has been called a "warrior for working people" by labor groups. She will represent Supervisor Gloria Molina's eastern county district. Still up for grabs is a seat being vacated by west county Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. The two runoff contenders in that race are former state lawmaker Sheila Kuehl, who built a strongly pro-labor record during her 14 years in the Legislature, and former Santa Monica Councilman Bobby Shriver, a member of the Kennedy political dynasty with its own historic ties to labor.

The county's major labor groups backed Solis and are endorsing Kuehl, who bested Shriver and several other opponents in the primary.

Whatever the outcome of the Kuehl-Shriver contest, the election is likely to mark a pro-labor shift on the powerful board, which oversees agencies dealing with everything from county beaches to foster children and restaurant inspections, said Jaime Regalado, professor emeritus of political science at Cal State L.A...............................