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Sunday
Feb062011

L.A. CITY HALL: AEG/NFL Stadium, various commentaries....

***Seems that the AEG/NFL stadium proposal (and the naming rights festivities this past week) have stirred up thoughts and commentaries from within the Fourth Estate, including Jon Regardie, executive editor of the Downtown News, Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez and Los Angeles Times State Politics editor Cathleen Decker....

* Los Angeles Times (Steve Lopez):  "Lots of love for stadium idea, but the deal -- not so much" - "People seem thrilled at the prospect of having an NFL stadium in L.A. until they hear the financial details." - From the LAT:

   Last week, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa got a new job: Head cheerleader for the NFL.

    "It is very clear football is coming back to Los Angeles," the mayor gushed at a pep rally for the proposed downtown stadium, and ESPN.com later quoted him saying he has "never seen the city so united" about getting a pro team.

    Really? I decided to put that claim to the test, and what better day to report the results than Super Bowl Sunday?

     At Jim's fast-food joint in Boyle Heights, at Philippe's downtown and at Tolliver's barbershop in southwest Los Angeles, everyone I spoke to was well aware of efforts by Anschutz Entertainment Group to build a downtown stadium and lure a team to play in it. And for the most part, people were thrilled at the prospect — until they heard the details of how the stadium would be financed..............................

* Downtown News (Jon Regardie):  "AEG and the Super Bowl of Marketing" - "Naming Rights Pep Rally Brings the  Football Effort to a Sparkly New Level" - From the DTN:

   When it comes to the effort to return professional football to the nation’s second largest media market, Los Angeles is currently bearing witness to history. I don’t mean that the city is watching a triumphant parade that will culminate in a team coming to a $1 billion South Park stadium/events complex, though that indeed might happen. Rather, I’m referring to the unprecedented marketing effort that Anschutz Entertainment Group, the company behind the Downtown football effort, is unleashing.

   They have a message, but they’ve also got a stadium full of spectacle, sort of like if Andrew Lloyd Webber penned a Broadway stunner about a pigskin and a naming rights deal. By comparison, Eli Broad’s quest to get approval for a $100 million art museum seems like sandlot stuff.

   Over the last several months, the company bankrolled by Colorado billionaire Phil Anschutz and publicly led by President and CEO Tim Leiweke has brilliantly orchestrated a series of announcements, media interviews and even testimony before local government that leaves local fans begging for the future to come quickly. It hit an apex last Tuesday, when a gaggle of elected officials, labor leaders, business figures and sports stars all smiled and did the AEG jiggy dance of joy...............................

* Los Angeles Times (Cathleen Decker- "The Week"):  "Forget the Drawbacks, L.A. just wants to play football" - "The city's power elite is on the 50-yard line, cheering for a team and a stadium all their own." - From the LAT:

   The big party in downtown Los Angeles Tuesday was meant to unveil the proposed Farmers Field football stadium, which its developer hopes will link Staples Center and a refurbished convention facility into an entertainment destination spectacular enough to draw tourists from everywhere. An airship idled overhead, expensive champagne flowed, politicians and titans posed with footballs — their presence aiding developer AEG's efforts to frame the proposal as a foregone conclusion, a train easing out of the station. All aboard!

   As yet, there is no formal plan to finance the field, and no NFL team to put on it, making it difficult to assess how realistic the partygoers' aspirations will prove to be. Still, the gathering underscored two truths about Los Angeles. One is where its political power is amassed. The other is the enduring allure of the Next Big Thing.......................

Saturday
Feb052011

LOCAL GOVERNMENT: Special L.A. County hearing on Jerry Brown "realignment" proposal, plan to shift $1.4 billion in programs from the state to the county....

* Los Angeles Times:  "L.A. County supervisors warn California officials against drastic budget moves" - "Los Angeles County Supervisors say they can't afford California Gov. Jerry Brown's budget ideas, one of which would shift $1.4 billion in programs from the state to the county." - From the LAT:

   At a special hearing Friday to air concerns about Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal to shift responsibilities to the counties, Los Angeles County officials told state lawmakers they wanted to help cut California's deficit but had serious questions about the bottom line.

   If Brown's plan is enacted, county officials estimate they would assume $1.4 billion in additional program responsibilities beginning this year. They said the county — which currently operates with a $24.2-billion budget — would not have the money or program expertise to absorb certain elements of the plan so quickly.

   Four of the five county supervisors spoke at the hearing called by the state Assembly's Budget Committee, chaired by Bob Blumenfeld, (D-Van Nuys). All seemed to agree that the governor's plan did not appear to offer sufficient funding for the programs the county would be asked to take over.

   ****

   "To put it simply," Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said, "if the state proposes to save money by shifting both program responsibilities and the funding for them to counties, where will the savings be? Can it really be that local governments are so much more efficient that citizens will receive the same or higher levels of public service at substantially reduced cost?" Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said, "We understand the nature and extremity of the fiscal crisis facing the state. All we ask of the state is this: Don't make matters worse."

   Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley, delivering some of the day's most pugnacious remarks, took issue with Brown's plan to send 37,000 nonviolent offenders to serve their terms locally either in jail or under the supervision of the county Probation Department.........................

Saturday
Feb052011

MORNING MEMOS: Jerry Brown budget, questions raised regarding future of absentee ballot programs; CD 12 election, Los Angeles Times endorses Mitch Englander; Zine wants examination of top L.A. city salaries; turmoil within LAPD gang units; Gavin Newsom, good Democratic soldier for Jerry Brown; death of prominent local business leader Lee Harrington.... 

***Funding issues in connection with local governments' ability to continue offering absentee ballots. Turmoil within LAPD's gang units. Los Angeles Times endorsement of Mitch Englander for open seat in Council District 12. Gavin Newsom as good Democratic soldier for Gov. Jerry Brown. Councilman Dennis Zine wants review of salaries of top L.A. city employees. Death of prominent local business leader Lee Harrington....

* Sacramento Bee:  "Absentee ballots on Jerry Brown's chopping block?" - Gov. Brown proposes to stop reimbursing local governments for processing absentee ballots. Local officials express doubts about their ability to continue without funding from the state....

* Los Angeles Times (Sandy Banks):  "Will L.A. gang units' turmoil lead to benefits later?" - Will turmoil within LAPD's gang units lead to a doomsday scenario?  or will this lead to new officers, with new approaches to the battle against street crime?

* Daily News:  "Head of L.A. economic development group dies while surfing" - Death of Lee Harrington, age 64....

* Los Angeles Times (editorial):  "Mitch Englander in City Council District 12" - "He's the best of several good choices to fill a Valley seat." - Los Angeles Times endorsement of Mitch Englander for open seat in CD12....

* Daily News:  "City official wants to compare salaries of top City Hall employees" - Councilman Dennis Zine wants the city to examine the salaries paid to general managers and their top staff as part of an overall examination of city finances....

* San Francisco Chronicle (Marisa Lagos):  "Newsom plays ball with Brown on the budget" - It appears that Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is going to be a good Democratic soldier for Gov. Jerry Brown when it comes to the budget.....

Saturday
Feb052011

L.A. CITY HALL: L.A. Dept. of Water & Power, No. 2 executive Raman Raj "will step down immediately"....

* Los Angeles Times:  "New DWP manager announces that No. 2 executive will step down immediately" - From the LAT:

   The No. 2 executive at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is stepping down, according to a memo issued Friday by the utility’s new general manager.

   DWP General Manager Ron Nichols said that Raman Raj, hired in 2007, would return to a job in the private sector. He had been a supporter of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa who raised money for his 2005 campaign. “Effective today, any pending matters that would have required his attention should be forwarded to the office of the general manager,” Nichols wrote.

   Raj, once criticized for being too close to leaders of the union representing utility workers, served in a key position last spring just as the DWP was threatening to withhold $73.5 million from the city budget unless the City Council agreed to approve a new electricity rate increase. He also was at odds with former General Manager H. David Nahai between 2007 and 2009, according to officials familiar with the DWP.........................

***ALSO, Ron Kaye LA: "Three Short Sentences End Raman Raj Reign at DWP"

Friday
Feb042011

POLITICS (National): House Republicans propose $32 billion in cuts from agency budgets, Democrats vow to fight; changing demographics, number of Hispanics and Asians "skyrockets" in Virginia....

* Washington Post:  "House Republicans propose $32 billion in budget cuts" - From the WP:

   House Republicans pledged Thursday to slice more than $32 billion from agency budgets over the next few months, firing the opening shot in a battle over government spending that is likely to dominate debate heading into the 2012 presidential campaign. The figure, announced by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), represents an unprecedented rollback that would force some domestic agencies to immediately slash spending by as much as 20 percent, independent budget analysts said.

   Democrats immediately vowed to fight the proposal, calling it a short-sighted plan that would kill many critical government services and slow the burgeoning economic recovery. But a group of conservative Republicans is demanding even deeper cuts and vowing to offer a plan to slash $100 billion from agency budgets when House leaders bring a spending bill to the floor Feb. 14.

   ****

  The GOP proposal marks the first step in what promises to be an unusually complicated and contentious budget season, with much at stake for both parties. President Obama has vowed to fight for new investments aimed at combating a 9.4 percent unemployment rate, and Republicans are looking to make good on their campaign promise to rein in explosive growth in spending since he took office two years ago............................

* Washington Post:  "Va's number of Hispanics and Asians skyrockets as White population dwindles" - From the WP:

   Soaring numbers of Hispanics and Asians pushed Virginia's population over 8 million in the past decade, transforming the state into a far more diverse place, according to census figures released Thursday. The state's white population barely grew. As a result, fewer than two-thirds of all Virginians are now white.

   Northern Virginia cemented its position as the state's growth engine, responsible for half of the state's increase of 922,000 people in the past decade. Almost 40 percent of the growth in the state occurred in three Northern Virginia counties: Fairfax, Prince William and Loudoun.

   The 2010 Census numbers underscore how the home of the former capital of the Confederacy is evolving into a mosaic of races and ethnicities from around the world. It has grown by a third in the past two decades, and its very character is changing. Today, seven of 10 Virginians live in three big urban areas, and Virginia's once-mighty rural areas are shrinking. Dozens of small towns, mostly in the rural southwest and Southside, lost residents.

   ****

   Statewide, the number of Hispanics almost doubled, to 632,000. Hispanics now make up 8 percent of Virginia residents, and a third are younger than 18, a harbinger of future growth as young people come of age and have children. In contrast, just about one in five of all non-Hispanics in Virginia is a child. The state's Asian population also took off, climbing by 68 percent in 10 years.

   In a state that in living memory had anti-miscegenation laws on the books, there was a striking jump in the number of Virginians who describe themselves as multiracial. The number rose from 90,000 to 233,000 in the past decade. A third of the growth was in Northern Virginia, and most of the rest was in the Hampton Roads area and Central Virginia. Although the numbers were much smaller, multiracial residents also doubled in many rural sections of the state.......................