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Tuesday
Jul222014

L.A. CITY HALL: Los Angeles World Airports, Board of Airport Commissioners approval, construction of new terminal for wide-body aircraft: "Planned LAX terminal will provide more room for wide-body jetliners" ....

* Los Angeles Times:  "Planned LAX terminal will provide more room for wide-body jetliners" - From the LAT:

The modernization of Los Angeles International Airport continued Monday with the approval of a new $900 million terminal that will add gates for wide-body aircraft and help eliminate a major inconvenience for travelers.

Airport commissioners unanimously approved construction of the northern half of a midfield concourse west of the Bradley International Terminal, which is undergoing its own expansion and renovation.  Commissioners also certified the project's environmental impact report and approved a three-year, $50-million contract for Skanska and W.E. O'Neil. The joint venture will provide pre-construction services and construction management.

The project will add gates for the largest jetliners in service and eventually eliminate the airport's remote gates that require passengers to deplane into the open and take buses to Bradley's immigration, customs and baggage claim areas.

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Although plans for the new concourse include a tunnel to Bradley for international travelers, some passengers will still have to be bused to other terminals until a proposed people-mover is built ....................

Monday
Jul212014

LOCAL GOVERNMENT (San Gabriel Valley): Rosemead, sentencing, former Mayor John Tran, witness tampering, bribery and extortion case: "Ex-Rosemead Mayor John Tran gets 21 months for witness tampering" ....

* Los Angeles Times:  "Ex-Rosemead Mayor John Tran gets 21 months for witness tampering" - From the LAT:

Ex-Rosemead Mayor John Tran was sentenced Monday to 21 months in federal prison for witness tampering to resolve a bribery and extortion case involving a real estate developer. Tran faced up to 25 years in prison for his alleged role in the bribery scheme. But he agreed in November to plead guilty to two felonies -- attempted witness tampering and making a false statement to an FBI agent. Prosecutors dropped bribery charges in the deal that also required Tran to pay $38,000 in restitution -- the amount federal prosecutors said he took in bribes. He will begin serving his sentence in October.

Tran was accused of accepting bribes from the developer of a mixed-use project in Rosemead while serving on the city council. Tran met the witness in a September 2011 meeting at a Starbucks in South Pasadena, telling her that she should say they did not meet recently and that she never gave him money, according to prosecutors. He later lied to the FBI about the money, prosecutors said in court papers.

In 2012, Tran admitted to the bribery charge and ended a bid for the 49th state Assembly district and stepped down from the El Monte Union High School District board. But later that same year, he withdrew the plea, citing new information about the witness, identified as developer Tammy Gong, saying it cast doubt on her testimony. In March 2013, federal prosecutors obtained a new indictment...........

Monday
Jul212014

SACRAMENTO: California drought, questions, enforcement, new water waste penalty: "California's new water waste penalty also applies to government, but who will enforce it?" ....

* Sacramento Bee:  "California's new water waste penalty also applies to government, but who will enforce it? - From the Bee:

When California water officials last week passed new regulations making wasting water a crime, they also handed a new tool to government watchdogs. In a little-noticed provision of the regulations adopted Tuesday, the State Water Resources Control Board declared that public agencies – in addition to individuals and businesses – can be prosecuted for a criminal infraction and fined $500 per day for certain categories of water waste.

Those categories include using a hose to wash off sidewalks and driveways; watering landscaping so much that water runs off into streets or gutters; washing vehicles using a hose without a shutoff nozzle attached; and using potable water in a decorative fountain unless it recirculates that water. The law is expected to take effect Aug. 1 and continue for 270 days, unless renewed by the water board.

For now, it remains unclear how a criminal water waste violation would be enforced against a government agency. The state water board has no plans to be a first responder on such violations, said George Kostyrko, a spokesman for the agency. Instead, he said, citizens should report violations to the relevant local water provider.

Many water providers in the Sacramento region have reported they do not plan to levy the new $500 criminal penalty. Instead, they will follow their own administrative enforcement procedures. Almost universally, this begins with at least one warning notice, followed by a small fine if a violation continues.

An additional twist rises when it comes to citizens reporting water waste by cities and counties: In some cases, that means asking one government agency – the local water district – to intervene with another................................

 

Monday
Jul212014

SACRAMENTO: AB 2293, rideshare services, big $$$ lobbying: "Ride services up against big lobbying push in Sacramento" ....

* San Francisco Chronicle:  "Ride services up against big lobbying push in Sacramento" - From the Chronicle:

With a market valuation of $17 billion, San Francisco's Uber is the darling of Silicon Valley venture capitalists. But in Sacramento, where legislation is unfolding that could shape the future of the app-based ride service, its valuation means little.

Political power in the state capital comes from relationships cultivated over decades, and building those connections costs money. Uber and fellow San Francisco ride service startups Lyft and Sidecar are exploding in popularity nationwide, but in Sacramento, they're being vastly outspent by their opponents when it comes to lobbying. Eventually, observers say, that disparity could cost them.

"I feel sad to say it, but in order to play the game, an industry needs to spend money in order to get access," said Kathay Feng, executive director of the California chapter of the nonpartisan Common Cause, which tracks the influence of money in politics. Because these companies are new, and spend less money on lobbyists and next to nothing funding political campaigns, "they have less access."

Nowhere is this disparity more evident than in AB2293, a bill that would require the ride service companies' insurance to cover its drivers from the instant they turn on their smartphone app ..............................

Monday
Jul212014

POLITICS (National): U.S. Senate, dysfunction, "intensely personal war between the leadership offices": "Leadership war stymies Senate mission" ....

* Washington Post:  "Leadership war stymies Senate mission" - From the WP:

The Senate went three months this spring without voting on a single legislative amendment, the nitty-gritty kind of work usually at the heart of congressional lawmaking. So few bills have been approved this year, and so little else has gotten done, that many senators say they are spending most of their time on insignificant and unrewarding work.

The big issues have been sidelined by political and procedural battles and an intensely personal war between the leadership offices. Senators say that they increasingly feel like pawns caught between Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), whose deep personal and political antagonisms have almost immobilized the Senate. The two men so distrust each other, and each is so determined to deny the other even the smallest political success, that their approach to running the Senate has been reduced to a campaign of mutually assured dysfunction.

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The problems are so severe that a rump caucus of Democrats and Republicans has been meeting secretly, trying to break the logjam, to no avail.

The situation is so alarming that former Senate leaders, including Thomas Daschle (D-S.D.) and Trent Lott (R-Miss.), are mounting a public intervention to try to steer the chamber back toward effectiveness and maybe even some of its grand traditions. “The Senate has degenerated into a polarized mess,” the former majority leaders recently wrote in a report that criticized both sides.

If the situation seems suddenly more urgent, it is just an escalation of an old problem..........................