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Wednesday
Mar062013

LOCAL GOVERNMENT: City of West Hollywood, approval, Measure C, term limits for City Council, three four-year terms, not retroactive to current council members....

* Los Angeles Times:  "In milestone, West Hollywood approves terms limits for City Council" - From the LAT:

West Hollywood voters on Tuesday approved a ballot measure establishing term limits for City Council members.

All but one of the five members of the West Hollywood City Council have spent more than a decade in office. With all 11 precincts reporting, Measure C, establishing term limits, was passed with 2,690 votes in favor and 1,653 votes opposed, according to unofficial results released by the city. Measure C will limit council members to three four-year terms. The term limit, however, would not be retroactive, city officials said. Each existing council member will be allowed three additional four-year terms after the measure's adoption.

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Previous attempts at term limits were rejected. In 1997, voters balked at a measure that would have limited council members to two consecutive terms.

Voters on Tuesday also reelected two incumbent councilmen, John Duran and Mayor Jeffrey Prang, who were running. Seven others competed for those seats.

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Additional ballots will be counted at West Hollywood City Hall in the coming days, city officials said. Those ballots will be counted in the city's final, official election results.

Wednesday
Mar062013

POLITICS/TRANSPORTATION: California high-speed rail project, analysis, new challenges, potential hurdles to moving forward with construction....

***Following up on most recent earlier item noted here....

* Sacramento Bee (Dan Walters):  "California bullet train faces new challenges" - From the Bee:

Facing a looming federal deadline for moving dirt, managers of California's bullet train project are trying to clear away legal and political impediments that threaten to delay the project. They resolved two of the lawsuits that challenged the project on environmental grounds, but two legal requirements - one in federal law, another in the bullet train bond issue - remain as potential hurdles for building the initial line in the San Joaquin Valley.

The federal issue was raised last week in a letter to the California High-Speed Rail Authority from Rep. Jeff Denham, a San Joaquin Valley Republican who chairs the House subcommittee on railroads. Denham questioned why California had not sought approval of the project from the federal Surface Transportation, a successor to the old Interstate Commerce Commission, as apparently required by federal law................

With the CHSRA hoping to break ground within a few months, the failure to clear the project through the federal board, or get an exemption from it, could become a new weapon in the arsenal of groups that oppose the bullet train.

Wednesday
Mar062013

LOCAL GOVERNMENT (Orange County): Orange County Attorneys Association, lawsuit to be filed over contract terms, requirement that county lawyers pay more toward their pensions....

* Orange County Register:  "Attorneys' union plans to sue county over pensions" - From the Register:

Leaders of a union representing attorneys employed by the County of Orange say they will sue the county after the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday imposed contract terms that require the lawyers to pay more toward their pensions.

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The Orange County Attorneys Association represents almost 500 lawyers who work in the district attorney, public defender, county counsel and child support services offices. Their last contract expired in 2011. Negotiations on a new one failed to produce an agreement.

A sticking point was pensions. The county is pushing all of its employee unions to pay the full employee share of their future pensions, which some unions have been paying for years. The attorneys objected, saying the county in 2000 offered to pick up a portion of the employee share in lieu of a 3.5 percent wage increase that other unions received. Since they never got that raise, the attorneys argued they should get one now that the county wants them to pay the full employee pension contribution.

With no agreement on a contract, the supervisors voted 5-0 to impose the county's final offer, with no salary increase. The county says it will save $5.5 million a year, with $4.7 million of that coming out of retirement costs. Before the vote, Larry Yellin, a veteran homicide prosecutor in the District Attorney's Office, warned the supervisors that the union would sue, claiming the imposition of higher pension contributions is illegal under Gov. Jerry Brown's 2012 pension reform law..................

Wednesday
Mar062013

SACRAMENTO: Announcement, new chair of Senate Committee on Environmental Quality, Jerry Hill (San Mateo), influential spot as Legislature weighs overhauling the California Environmental Quality Act....

* Sacramento Bee:  "Jerry Hill chosen to head environmental committee" - From the Bee:

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, has tapped Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, to fill former senator Michael Rubio's place atop a key environmental committee. Steinberg announced in a statement that he was nominating Hill to chair the Committee on Environmental Quality. It will be an influential post as the Legislature weighs overhauling the California Environmental Quality Act.

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Critics, including Gov. Jerry Brown, have said CEQA is in need of reform, saying cumbersome environmental requirements unnecessarily stall development. Environmental groups have begun mobilizing to protect the law. Rubio was expected to be a leader in the process until his abrupt resignation two weeks ago.....

Wednesday
Mar062013

LOCAL GOVERNMENT: Redondo Beach, AES power plant initiative, Measure A trailing by 383 votes, 1,600 late and provisional ballots still outstanding....

***Following up on most recent earlier item noted here....

* Daily Breeze:  "Measure A, Redondo Beach's AES power plant initiative, losing by 383 votes" - From the DB:

Redondo Beach's Measure A, which could determine the fate of the waterfront power plant that dominates the city skyline, was narrowly defeated at the polls Tuesday. However, with just 383 votes separating the yes and no votes and 1,600 late and provisional ballots still outstanding, the tally could shift.

Measure A failed with 51.7 percent of ballots containing a "no" vote.

City Clerk Eleanor Manzano said the late vote-by-mail and provisional ballots will be counted beginning Monday.

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Turnout was just over 25 percent.

The two precincts in District 2 - where the seaside AES power plant is located - overwhelmingly voted in favor of the measure. But that turnout failed to offset the "no" votes elsewhere.................