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News of the Day: Thursday, June 17

* LAX Hotels, living wage ordinance in the news (LAT ) again....  This time by way of a lawsuit filed against the LAX Hilton by a group of current and former employees:

"The Hilton Los Angeles Airport Airport allegedly hired scores of workers through a subcontractor in an illegal scheme to circumvent a city law mandating that airport-area hotels employees receive a 'living wage', according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday.      

 "The civil suit, filed on behalf of some 150 current and former hotel workers allegedly cheated out of legal wages, seeks back pay for affected employees and a court injunction ordering that Hilton comply with the city's living wage law in the airport area."  

The issue is an important one to organized labor, which has been pressing for adoption of living wage ordinances not just in Los Angeles but also elsewhere across the country.  And with the business community often opposing the laws as being too costly and burdensome. 

With regard to the LAX Hilton, the hotel has for some time been the target of picketing by Local 11 of the Hotel and Restaurant Employees union (UNITE HERE) as part of a long-time drive to organize the hotel.  As for the litigation that has just been filed, UNITE says they support the workers' efforts but that they are not directly involved in it and that the lawsuit is not directly linked to the organizing drive or the boycott.  

* L.A. City layoffs moving forward.....    With the July 1 fiscal year deadline rapidly approaching, it appears that negotiating sessions to stave off a round of job layoffs were not successful sessions.  The sessions were held yesterday between the city's employee negotiating committee -- composed of the mayor and four council members -- and union officials with regard to holding up pink slips to 278 employees effective July 1.  Key issue at hand continues to be city officials' argument that the layoffs could be avoided if the unions agree to some form of concessions, something which the union officials say is unacceptable to their members.  (LAT) (DN)  

* Food trucks controversy continues, escalates.....   Food truck afficionados love them, established local restaurants not so much, particularly in terms of owners' arguments that the trucks both take away business and take up scarce metered parking spaces that the restaurants say they need..  So, now Councilman Tom LaBonge -- who represents the Miracle Mile area where the trucks have proliferated -- has stepped into the fray with the introduction of two motions that could lead food trucks to being banned on many city streets.  According to the LAT, LaBonge's efforts have generated a campaign by food trucks owners and some of their patrons against the proposals as well as against the councilman himself.

* Bill Rosendahl says "no" to Bundy Village as currently proposed (Rosendahl statement):

"I do not support the project as currently proposed.

"In February 2010 I supported “in concept” the development of senior housing and medical services at Bundy Village.  I expressed my concern about the size and scale of the project, and its traffic impacts.

"I made it clear that the project must be refined to address my concerns, and my constituent concerns, about the project’s traffic impact and scale.  Since that time, the project has not been refined to do so.

"I encourage the developer to go back to the drawing board with a project that has dramatically less traffic and significantly more community support." 

* L.A. Chamber successfully defeats anti-business proposal at L.A. City Council....  Full cost recovery  effort of developer fees will not be implemented at this time; instead, the city will stick with an agreement reached last year with city officials to do this over a three-year period.   The Chamber is pleased with the council vote to uphold the 2009 phase-in plan.  From Chamber e-newsletter:

"The Chamber applauds the L.A. City Council's vote Tuesday to uphold a 2009 agreement between the business community and City officials. Known as 'full-cost recovery,' the agreement called for a three-year phase in period for higher overhead fees on land use applications. The Chamber joined building trades unions to oppose a motion introduced by Councilmember Paul Koretz to reverse this agreement and increase fees immediately. 'Saddling projects with higher fees now is counterintuitive when there is 40 percent unemployment in the construction industry', said Chamber VP of Public Policy Samuel Garrison. "'We applaud the City Council for putting jobs before politics and keeping this  agreement intact.'"

 * Wendy Greuel audit; Councilman Paul Koretz not happy with DWP....   "'Trying to lie to the council and scam us is outrageous and I don't think we can just let it go'", said Koretz, who chairs the council's Audits & Governmental Efficiency Cmte., as part of a discussion regarding motion asking for a report from the mayor and the DWP "spelling out the form of punishment that will result from the DWP's threat" to withhold the $73.5 million from the city budget three months ago.  Koretz "said he also wants to know whether Villaraigosa's office had a hand in the DWP's threat.  'I suspect there are folks in both offices who are responsible, because the mayor was clearly pushing hard' for the rate increase....'And the DWP was the agency that transmitted all this misinformation.'"  (LAT)  

* Carson City Council not happy with contents of a Hallmark graduation card....    Daily Breeze reports that the Carson City Council voted unanimously this week in support of a resolution urging Hallmark to withdraw a graduation card (video) that contains the words "black hole" from all stores across the country where the card is sold.  The issue was raised by the Carson-Torrance branch of the NAACP, which protested the card on the grounds that the words sound too much like "black whore" or "black ho" and that the group believes the wording in the card is the source of severe emotional pain for its members because it is a disguised racist attack on black women.  (DB)   

* Sacramento term limits measure unlikely to qualify for statewide November ballot....   Sacramento Bee reports that a measure to change current term limits for legislators looks unlikely to make it onto the November ballot.  The measure, backed by the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor and the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, would create a 12-year cap on legislative terms, either all in one house or split between the Senate and the Assembly, and, unlike a prior failed effort to amend the term limits law, this one would not apply to politicians currently in office or those elected this year.    And, although supporters turned in the 694,000 valid voter signatures from across the state that are needed to qualify the measure for the ballot, this figure is not enough to qualify on the basis of a random sample process.  Instead, Secretary of State Debra Bowen directed county election officials to conduct a full verification of all voter signatures, which is a process that will likely take the effort beyond the June 24 qualifying deadline for the November ballot.  A spokesman for the campaign effort supporting the measure says he is confident the full count will show they have the necessary number of valid signatures and that the measure will then go on the next statewide election ballot after November.  (Sac Bee

* State budget deficits, Sacramento -- and Albany:  questions, political issues regarding "budget borrowing".....   Here in California, Attorney General (and Democratic gubernatorial nominee) Jerry Brown "has concluded that Assembly Democrats' plans to borrow billions to help ease the state's $19.1 billion deficit could be illegal" under Proposition 58, the ballot measure approved by voters in 2004 that "prohibits various kinds of borrowing to fund year-end budget deficits...."  The governor is pleased with the A.G.'s opinion.... (Sac Bee)  

And lest we forget that California is not the only place where legislators are struggling to find ways to put together a budget without taking the unpopular steps of cutting services and/or without raising taxes, today's New York Times reports that yesterday, in Albany, Governor David Paterson "dealt a potentially fatal blow to the centerpiece of his lieutenant governor's tenure by declaring that he would accept no borrowing to help resolve the state's budget crisis."   "'I will not sign a budget that has any deficit financing in it', he said.  'I don't want any borrowing, tobacco funds or any other way of meeting this end'....'I think that will clear this up once and for all, so that we don't have to discuss it any further.'"  "Yet, despite what Mr. Paterson said, a new budget will almost certainly include borrowing.  The governor's staff said that a recently agreed-upon plan to allow the state and local governments to borrow billions of dollars from the state's pension fund remained on the table...."  Also, "legislative leaders would not rule out further borrowing."  (NYT)

* And, also from Sacramento, the latest regarding CalPERS, the use of placement agents and management fees....   Sacramento Bee reports that "two more private equity firms have agreed to cut management fees for CalPERS and stop using the controversial middlemen known as placement agents when pitching deals" to the fund.  The two new firms are Ares Management (of Los Angeles) and Relational Investors (of San Diego).  Earlier this year, in what is viewed as a major breakthrough in this regard, CalPERS secured an agreement with Apollo Global Management (New York) to cut its fees by $125 million and to stop using placement agents.   (Sac Bee)

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