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Tuesday
Aug312010

And it appears that the "Bell" may continue to ring? Report of yet more unusual financial transactions emanating out of Bell City Hall....

* Latest news regarding the financial dealings out of Bell City Hall is that, according to documents reviewed by the Los Angeles Times, then-Bell City Manager Robert Rizzo provided city loans of nearly $400,000 to two businesses without any collateral and without any other authorizations or approvals.  Excerpt from the LAT:

   Then-Bell City Manager Robert Rizzo gave city loans of nearly $400,000 to two businesses without public discussion, approval from the City Council or collateral to back the loans, according to documents reviewed by The Times. One of the loans, $300,000 given to a local Chevrolet dealer in 2008, is the subject of a court fight because the dealer went out of business within a year of receiving the loan, having repaid nothing......

  The second loan was given to the Steelworkers Old Timers Foundation in 2005, a senior citizens group run by George Cole, who was on the Bell City Council then. It is unclear whether the $72,000 loan was repaid. After saying that he would discuss the loan, Cole did not return calls seeking comment.

   Several experts said the secret loans violated basic tenets of municipal government and appeared to violate Bell's charter, which requires that all contracts be approved by the City Council. "This is a complete breakdown of checks and balances," said veteran municipal lawyer Michael G. Colantuano. "It's plainly illegal."

 

Tuesday
Aug312010

So, Manny is gone, but what to do about all of those wigs?

* O.K., everyone, Manny Ramirez is now a member of the Chicago White Sox, and Mannywood and its fans are officially no more.  But what about all the novelty Manny wigs that had become popular with so many Manny loyalists?  According to the Yahoo Big League Stew Sports blog, here is at least one response to this question:

   TMZ had a report on Tuesday morning that said the Chicago White Sox were looking into the possibility of also taking all those novelty Manny Ramirez wigs off the hands of the Los Angeles Dodgers.  But Big League Stew has learned that any possible consignment arrangement between the two teams is a no-go.

   The wigs — which once equaled Botox and purse dogs as the most desired accesory around Los Angeles — will have to hope that the Dodgers sign Arizona Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald.

   Here's what White Sox marketing honcho Brooks Boxer said in an email to BLS:

"We did inquire about [the wig] availability directly to the Dodgers. The catch was that the wigs were sewn into Dodger skull caps. I don't think our fans can be tricked into believing the blue cap with "L-A" is a black cap with "S-O-X". So no extra baggage charge for Manny's flight east.

"We are looking at retail options for our fans, including wigs, pending on his look once he gets into games. We are on a long road trip so it gives us some time to figure out what items will work with our fans. The Manny driven items of most value to our fans if put to use would be their postseason tickets."

Tuesday
Aug312010

Port of Los Angeles: Delay of enforcement of ban on independent truckers....

* As reported here earlier, a federal court judge last week ruled in favor of the Port of Los Angeles with regard to the component of the Clean Trucks Program that bans independent truckers.  And also that the American Trucking Association said it is their intent to appeal the ruling.  Latest on this, from the Daily Breeze, is that the port says it does not intend to move ahead to immediately enforce the ban even if a federal judge were to lift an injunction that would allow the entire program to move forward.

The delay, according to the DB, is aimed at developing a plan that would give trucking companies enough time to comply with provisions of the program that were deemed last Thursday to be legal by U.S. District Judge Christina Snyder.  From the DB:

   "This is an important victory for the Harbor Department, however, enforcement ... cannot take place instantaneously," Geraldine Knatz, executive director of the Port of Los Angeles, wrote in a letter delivered to the Board of Harbor Commissioners. Knatz said she will discuss the matter further during a harbor commission meeting set for next month.

   Port staffers, Knatz said, may recommend an extension allowing freight haulers to comply with new off-street parking limits, maintenance provisions, a requirement to show financial capability and a mandate to hire employee drivers rather than independent owner-operators.

 

Tuesday
Aug312010

Los Angeles City Hall: Golf cart rental saga, next chapter....

* Los Angeles Times reports that the latest twist in the years-long saga over operation of golf cart concessions at seven city 18-hole courses is that officials at the Department of Recreation & Parks have decided that they are capable of renting out the carts themselves and are recommending to the Recreation & Parks Commission that the city both terminate its contract with Kishi Golf, the long-time concessionaire, and also drop plans to award the contract to Ready Golf. 

For anyone who has followed any of the history of this saga, one can only speculate as to the politics involved here.  As to the response from both Kishi and Ready Golf, neither is happy, with each entity expressing themselves along these lines....

Tuesday
Aug312010

California government transparency, state employee salaries....

* "Government transparency and salaries" -  Los Angeles Times editorial today says that "a stalled Assembly bill would add not just legislative staff to the salary disclosure list but also dozens of top-paid administrative positions within the state bureaucracy."  The editorial also argues that, in light of the pay scandals that have generated so much public attention this summer, it is not enough for the Legislature to say that it governs itself on this issue simply by rule, but, rather, that salary disclosure should be covered by statute and that legislation on this issue, now stalled in the state Senate, should move forward.  From the LAT:

   It's safe to say that the pay scandals in the city of Bell this summer have prompted new interest among Californians in how much money is paid to public officials. What's less clear is whether revelations about Bell's misdeeds will result in a new era of government transparency.

   ***

   The salaries of legislators, and of a handful of constitutional officers, have long been available at the website of the California Citizens Compensation Commission. But the stalled bill, AB 2064 by Assemblywoman Alyson Huber (D-El Dorado Hills), would add not just legislative staff to the disclosure list but also dozens of additional top-paid administrative positions within the state bureaucracy.

   What's good enough for county, city and school officials should be good enough for state leaders. A voluntary rush to publish Senate salaries is nice, but not nearly as meaningful as a quick vote for good-government legislation.