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Thursday
Nov102011

L.A. CITY HALL: Announcement, selection of Andrew Westall as executive director of Los Angeles City Council Redistricting Commission, to coordinate all of the commission's work preparing proposed new council district maps...........

***It's official. Following up on earlier report here, Andrew Westall has now officially been named as executive director of the Los Angeles City Council Redistricting Commission. From press release:

   The Los Angeles City Council Redistricting Commission today announced the selection of Mr. Andrew Westall as its Executive Director. Mr. Westall will coordinate the Commission’s work, including supervising Commission staff, oversight of community outreach, coordination of public hearings, submissions of public comment, and administrative oversight of the autonomous staff who will be overseeing the preparation of proposed maps for the consideration by the Commission.

Thursday
Nov102011

MISCELLANEOUS (Food and Drink): Report, "hot dog renaissance" in Los Angeles, L.A. now the country's No. 1 consumer of hot dogs....

***And on perhaps a somewhat juicier, tastier note....

* Los Angeles Times:  "Los Angeles is enjoying a hot dog renaissance" - "It's boom time for hot dogs in L.A.  Pink's and Tommy's are going strong, with newcomers Dog Haus, Federal Bar, Slaw Dogs, Coney Dog and Payaya King raising the stakes." - From the LAT:

   ****

   . . . .Los Angeles is in the midst of a hot dog renaissance, with a cluster of recent openings signaling a hunger for that most sentimental of meals: tender tubular meat in a bun covered with toppings, or naked except for mustard.

   Like the burger before it, and in tandem with the current German sausage craze, the hot dog has gone gourmet, with restaurants taking it seriously enough to dream up all kinds of wild combinations. In addition to the tried-and-true, like Pink's and Tommy's dogs, diners can now nosh on the Sooo Cali at Dog Haus in Pasadena, which waters mouths with mixed greens, chopped tomatoes, tempura-fried onions, house-made spicy basil aioli and avocados; or the Vegan Weena, on the new hot dog menu at North Hollywood's Federal Bar, which is a meatless dog topped with chipotle, avocado, cilantro cream and tropical fruit salsa. Then there's the Picnic Dog at Pasadena's Slaw Dogs, which tops a humble grilled dog with barbecue sauce, onion, potato salad and a crisp pickle spear.

   The purists also have a seat at the beefy banquet, with places like Coney Dog, Papaya King and Hollywood's Township Kitchen Americana & Saloon paying reverent homage to Detroit, New York and Chicago-style dogs. The first two go so far as to ship in all their ingredients from Detroit and New York in order to replicate their favored dogs as closely as possible. Binder even had a bun steamer custom-made in Detroit that steams the buns from all directions so that they become as soft as marshmallows and just as mild in flavor.

   The raison d'être for the recent boom, say wiener enthusiasts, is twofold, and butterflied in the same bun: economics and tradition. The recession is making diners search for value without losing flavor (see the recent food truck boom), while at the same time causing them to go gooey for the traditions of their simpler youth, which, if you were raised in America, were likely wrapped up in hot dogs at some point or another. And Los Angeles, according to the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council, is the country's No. 1 consumer of hot dogs, beating out New York City and San Antonio/Corpus Christi...................

Thursday
Nov102011

AFTERNOON MEMOS: Report, Controller John Chiang, state has $1.5 billion revenue shortfall for first four months of fiscal year; new terminal set to open at John Wayne Airport; Antelope Valley College, suspected embezzlement of $500,000; Rep. Darrell Issa, probe of California Air Resources Board.... 

***Various items this afternoon from across the business and political spectrum....

* Sacramento Bee:  "Controller John Chiang says California has $1.5 billion cash gap"

* Daily Breeze:  "Ex-college accountant suspected of embezzling $500,000"

* Los Angeles Times:  "New terminal set to open at John Wayne Airport in O.C."

* Sacramento Bee:  "Rep. Darrell Issa opens probe of California Air Resources Board"

Thursday
Nov102011

POLITICS (National): Largest municipal bankruptcy filing in U.S. history, $4.1 billion, Jefferson County, Alabama.....

* USA Today (AP):  "Alabama county files for largest municipal bankruptcy" - From USA Today:

   Alabama's most populous county filed the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history Wednesday, years after being plunged more than $4 billion into debt by a corruption-riddled sewer project. 

   Just two months after it seemed Jefferson County could stave off embarrassment by striking a deal with creditors, talks broke down over about $140 million, said Commissioner Jimmie Stephens, who made the motion to file for the protection. Since 2008, commissioners have tried to avoid the move to settle the debt, which resulted mostly from a mix of outdated sewer pipes, the lagging economy, court rulings and public corruption.

   The filing does not wipe out the whole $4.1 billion, said commission president David Carrington, who wasn't certain how much the county will have to pay back. A plan would have to be worked out in bankruptcy court and approved by a judge and at least one group of creditors, Carrington said. The bankruptcy's financial burden for residents and employees likely won't be known until that plan is in place, he said.

   Still, the four men and one woman on the board in their 4-1 vote decided it was time to bring the issue to an end and remove the cloud hanging over the county, home to Birmingham, the state's largest city, commissioners said. "Jefferson County has, in effect, been in bankruptcy for three years," Stephens said...................

* Los Angeles Times (Nation Now):  "Alabama governor criticizes massive bankruptcy filing" - From the LAT:

   The decision by Jefferson County, Ala., commissioners to forgo a proposed settlement with creditors and file for the largest municipal bankruptcy in American history is not sitting well with some of the players in the drama, including Gov. Robert Bentley.

   But county leaders apparently thought they had no other choice. "Bankruptcy is a measure of last resort," Commissioner Joe Knight said of the Chapter 9 filing to help deal with the county's $4 billion-plus debt load, according to the Birmingham News. "In my mind, we have reached the last resort."

   On Wednesday, Bentley said he feared the decision by the state's most populous county would jack up borrowing costs for other municipal governments in Alabama.

   ****

   The disaster in Jefferson County, home to the city of Birmingham, was caused in great part by the refinancing of a sewer system upgrade that relied on exotic interest-rate swaps. Those swaps went awry in the 2007 mortgage industry crisis, resulting in soaring interest rates and payments the county couldn't make.

   The deals were also hatched in a culture of corruption..................

Thursday
Nov102011

LOCAL GOVERNMENT: Redondo Beach, plan revealed, AES preliminary proposal to rebuild Redondo Beach power plant, controversial issue, company seeking to build support for its proposal....

* Daily Breeze:  "AES reveals plan to rebuild its Redondo Beach power plant" - From the DB:

   A controversial proposal to rebuild the Redondo Beach power plant was publicly unveiled this week, with corporate executives calling the plan an opportunity to modernize the aging gas-fired energy facility along North Harbor Drive.

   ****

   The public unveiling, made during a Tuesday presentation at a Redondo Beach City Council meeting, comes as AES battles growing public resistance to its rebuilding proposal.

   A group of residents, backed by Councilman Bill Brand, vehemently opposes the AES plans, calling the existing facility a plague on the area and accusing AES of a range of violations, from environmental neglect and corporate profiteering to intentionally misleading the public by, in part, quietly submitting plans with the state to avoid public scrutiny. Officials from AES adamantly deny those allegations, arguing that their facilities are clean and safe and that no official rebuilding proposal has yet been submitted.

   AES has filed a nonbinding proposal with the State Water Resources Control Board detailing its plan to comply with California's new ocean-water policies, and company officials say the proposal is not a building application. But once such an application is submitted to the state, AES officials say, it will go through a public hearing process that could stretch up to two years.

   Meanwhile, the movement by the citizens group, Building a Better Redondo, has gained traction. An online petition opposing the new plant had 2,118 signatures by Wednesday afternoon.

   ****

   The Redondo Beach power plant must be rebuilt to comply with California energy standards. Under a new renewable energy standard that went into effect this year, all utilities in California are required to obtain at least 33 percent of their electricity from clean, renewable sources by 2020. Power plants also will be required to phase out the "once-through cooling process," whereby seawater is used to cool the plant's turbines. The new plant will be air-cooled rather than relying on seawater. The project to rebuild the plant is expected to cost AES around $630 million.

   ****

   Permits for the new plant will need to be approved by the California Energy Commission and South Coast Air Quality Management District. An application by AES is expected to be submitted by June 2012. A regulatory process that will include a series of public hearing will likely follow. The entire process, from application submission to final construction, could stretch more than seven years. AES officials hope to bring the new plant online by 2018.

   ****

   But in the meantime, AES continues to embark on a public relations campaign to build support for its proposal. And residents continue to mount an opposition campaign, soliciting support through blog sites, public meetings and email blasts..............