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L.A. CITY HALL: Gambol Industries, report on today's L.A. City Council committee hearing....


* Daily Breeze:  "Hahn backs down from plan to build Gambol shipyard at Southwest Marine" - From the DB:

   After nearly two years, Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn today finally backed down from a plan to build a new shipyard at the site of the Southwest Marine terminal amid concerns that it would delay dredging work at the Port of Los Angeles. However, Hahn recommended that the Board of Harbor Commissioners seek out a suitable site for a ship building and repair business at the nation's busiest port.

   "We really need to begin looking at that because I think the win-win situation is going to be to bring a shipyard to the Port of Los Angeles," said Hahn, whose district includes the port. "I think there's a need, I think we can do it. It was the coming together of the community on this process that I think showed me that it is a viable project to bring a shipyard to the port." Port officials did not immediately comment on Hahn's recommendation, which will be considered Tuesday by the full City Council.

   Hahn's about-face came after myriad warnings that the port's Main Channel dredging project would be delayed up to three years if Long Beach-based Gambol Industries was allowed to build a new shipyard at the shuttered Southwest Marine site on Terminal Island.........................

***UPDATED, with report from the LA Weekly:  "Dana Rohrabacher Gets Involved In Gambol Shipyard For Port of Los Angeles" - From the Weekly:

      L.A. Councilwoman Janice Hahn voted today to overrule the Harbor Commission, siding with Gambol Industries in their long-running battle to build a new shipyard at the Port of L.A.

   Hahn was the only council member who showed up to today's hearing at the Trade, Commerce and Tourism Committee, so the outcome of the vote was not in doubt. Hahn has long supported the project, and strongly disagrees with Port of L.A. staffers who say it will delay the port's Main Channel Deepening Project, which all agree is critical to the port's future.

   What was more of a surprise was that Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Huntington Beach, has now weighed in on this. Like Hahn, he is in favor of the shipyard. Hahn and Rohrabacher occupy opposite ends of the political spectrum, but on this they see eye-to-eye.


    In testimony today, Brian Moore of the Army Corps of Engineers testified that Gambol's proposal could mean a two or three year delay to the dredging project, due to the hurdles involved in getting new regulatory approvals.

   In a Jan. 21 letter, Rohrabacher asked the Army Corps to reconsider its position. "I am requesting that you give Gambol the opportunity it rightfully seeks to 'prove the merits of its proposal,' in a timely manner consistent with both rational environmental practices and the importance of a project that will create 500 to 1,000 jobs," Rohrabacher wrote.

   The proposal has split labor groups, with the building trades in favor and longshoremen against. At the meeting today, David Arian -- a past international president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and a current Harbor Commissioner -- warned that Rohrabacher's involvement showed that the issue is "spinning out of control."  "We cannot have both (the dredging and the shipyard) at this moment in history," Arian said. "Anybody who tells you anything else is bullshitting you."

   Hahn replied, "I see it differently and I'm not bullshitting myself.

   Hahn was alone at the hearing because Bill Rosendahl is recuperating from surgery and Tom LaBonge apparently found something better to do. As a result, her recommendation to move forward with Gambol's proposal will require 10 votes instead of eight when it comes to the City Council next Tuesday.


POLITICS (National): Illinois Supreme Court rules Rahm Emanuel eligible for Chicago mayoral election....

* Washington Post:  "Rahm Emanuel ruled eligible for Chicago mayoral election" - From the WP:

   The Illinois Supreme Court ruled today that former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel meets the residency requirements to run for Chicago mayor, overturning a lower court ruling and re-installing him as the race's frontrunner. "This is a situation in which, not only did the candidate testify that his intent was not to abandon his Chicago residence, his acts fully support and confirm that intent," the court wrote in the ruling, which you can read in full here.

   The ruling comes just days after a divided appellate court panel said that Emanuel was ineligible to run for may because he had not lived in Chicago for the past year. Emanuel's lawyers argued that he had been serving the country in his capacity as chief of staff to President Obama and had always intended to return to Chicago even though he was renting his home to a tenant. The state Supreme Court agreed.

   Emanuel's legal victory comes less than a month before the Feb. 22 primary where polling suggests he is a clear frontrunner......................


POLITICS (State, Local): Legislation to ban pardons in final days of governor's term; Bell; restructuring of Belmont High School; CalSTRS appointee....

***A few items dealing with state and/or local politics....

* Sacramento Bee:  "Bill would ban pardons in final days of governor's term"

* Los Angeles Times: "Bell police angry at possible elimination of their department; residents say proposal is premature"

* Los Angeles Times:  "Struggling Belmont High to be restructured" - "Most employees will have to reapply for their jobs and agree to a curriculum in which the school's nearly 1,300 students will be taught in English, Spanish and Mandarin."

* Sacramento Bee:  "CalSTRS appointee helped with controversial pension report"


AFTERNOON MEMOS: New White House press secretary named; Jerry Brown budget proposal, polling regarding redevelopment agencies; measures introduced to curb soaring home prices, in China.... 

* Washington Post:  "White House picks Jay Carney as new press secretary" - From the WP:

   President Obama has chosen Jay Carney to serve as his new press secretary, replacing longtime loyalist Robert Gibbs who is leaving his post in mid February, according to a senior Administration official. The White House will also name Office of Health Reform Nancy-Ann DeParle and current White House director of scheduling and Advance Alyssa Mastromonaco as deputy chiefs of staff.

   Carney, who is currently communications director for Vice President Joe Biden, came to the White House in 2009 after a long career in journalism in which he served -- among other posts -- as Washington bureau chief of Time magazine.

   The White House had made clear they were interested in tapping an outsider for the post -- particularly after Bill Daley was tapped as the new chief of staff. It's not clear whether the White House believes Carney to be an outsider as he has spent the last two years within the Administration.

   Replacing Gibbs is no easy task as he enjoyed a very close relationship with Obama dating back to 2004 when he worked on the president's Senate campaign. Gibbs is expected to open his own consulting operation and appear on television as a prominent surrogate for the president. He will also be involved in the planning stages of Obama's reelection bid, which will be led by current deputy White House chief of staff Jim Messina.................

* New York Times:  "Beijing Intensifies Effort to Curb Rising Home Prices" - From the NYT:

   China released several government measures on Wednesday aimed at curbing the growth of housing prices and preventing a property bubble from threatening its fast-growing economy. The State Council, China’s cabinet, ordered cities to better manage the supply of land, raise tax rates on the sale of apartments or houses held for less than five years and set price control goals for new homes. The government also said it would raise the minimum down payment for buyers of second homes to 60 percent from 50 percent.

   The measures were released on the council’s Web site late Wednesday, after a meeting led by the prime minister, Wen Jiabao, China’s top economic planner.

   The announcement represents Beijing’s latest attempt to gain some control over one of the nation’s most contentious issues: the affordability of housing and the prospect that soaring property prices could endanger the country’s economic boom..........................

* Los Angeles Times:  "California Gov. Jerry Brown defends cutting redevelopment agencies" - From the LAT:

      As California's big-city mayors rallied in Sacramento to save redevelopment agencies from the fiscal chopping block, Gov. Jerry Brown defended his proposal to ax them in his budget — and argued that he would be doing so with public support.

      Sitting at the head of a wooden picnic table in his cabinet room, Brown called the redevelopment agencies a "piggybank" that the state needs to crack open to fund education and local services as California grapples with a $25.4-billion deficit over the next 18 months. He said that shutting down the state's nearly 400 municipal redevelopment agencies is a critical part of his budget plan and would save $1.7 billion.


   Redevelopment has become a flashpoint in the budget debate. State Controller John Chiang announced this week that his office would dispatch auditors to review the books of 18 redevelopment agencies. Cities say the agencies create jobs and transform blighted areas. But projects often involve subsidies that some labor unions call corporate welfare.

   A new poll from the Public Policy Institute of California suggests that voters are on Brown's side. The survey, released late Wednesday, shows 66% of Californians support phasing out funding for redevelopment agencies and using it for schools and other services. The poll also found that two-thirds of Californians support Brown's plan for a special election on taxes and a majority is satisfied with the governor's budget proposal............................


SACRAMENTO: Public Utilities Commission, selection of commission president?

* Capitol Weekly:  "After appointments, PUC presidency still up in the air" - From Capitol Weekly:

   Gov. Jerry Brown appointed a flurry of new members to the state Public Utilities Commission and the California Energy Commission this week, but a question that has bedeviled the Capitol for weeks remained unanswered: Will there be a new president of the PUC?

   Brown has a third vacancy he can fill immediately on the PUC, but he declined to fill a third vacant seat on the panel when he announced his other appointments on Tuesday. That seat, vacated by Commissioner Nancy Ryan, who Brown shifted to the commission staff, means that the governor can fill the slot with another appointee. He can also name a president – or not. The title does not follow the position.

   The current PUC president is Michael Peevey, a former president of Southern California Edison and Edison International. He has headed the PUC for nearly a decade, and he has been a regulatory figure of unusual influence. His connections at the highest levels of the administrations of Gray Davis and Arnold Schwarzenegger translated into power at the PUC, where he was accompanied by political allies.

   But now the political landscape has shifted dramatically. Both of Brown’s appointments are viewed as aggressively pro-consumer – ratepayer activist Michael Florio, 58, a lawyer with The Utility Reform Network, and Catherine Sandoval, 50, a Santa Clara University law school professor and communications expert, and a Rhodes Scholar. Florio, particularly, has battled the PUC for decades over rates the power of the huge investor-owned utilities, and has not been particularly sympathetic to Peevey, the former utility executive.

   Brown is believed to favor John Geesman, a political supporter and former Energy Commission executive, as his third appointment to the PUC, and would be a likely choice as president. But within the administration, there was concern about doing the presidential appointment at the same time as the others because of potentially negative effects on the energy markets. Peevey is not expected to stay on the PUC if Brown names another person as president. The departure of a figure so well-versed in utility operations could cause concern......................