Index
Wednesday
Feb192014

POLITICS/EDUCATION: California community colleges, momentum building, four-year bachelor's degrees: "Bachelor degrees from community colleges on California horizon"....

* Oakland Tribune:  "Bachelor degrees from community colleges on California horizon" - From the OT:

California's community college students could soon stay put -- and pay a lot less -- to earn what they thought they would have to go elsewhere to get: a four-year bachelor's degree.

As the demand for college graduates grows, many states are turning to their two-year schools for help -- and California might do the same, allowing community colleges to offer four-year degrees that aren't readily available at nearby public universities. "Now is the time to look at what innovations might be good for the state, and what might actually save us money in the long run," said state Sen. Marty Block, D-San Diego, whose Senate Bill 850 would authorize the change.

The startup would be small scale -- just one program per campus for a select few college districts.

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But big questions remain about cost, tuition rates, faculty credentials and whether bachelor's degrees would divert community colleges from their mission as California's two-year steppingstone to four-year campuses or trade jobs. And both critics and advocates worry the state won't adequately fund the programs.

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Previous bills have gone nowhere in the Legislature, but the state budget outlook has improved, and momentum is building.......................

Wednesday
Feb192014

L.A. CITY HALL: Los Angeles World Airports, LAX, public relations contracts: "A year after controversy, LAX wants more money for public relations contracts"....

* Daily Breeze:  "A year after controversy, LAX wants more money for public relations contracts" - From the DB:

A year ago, it was a hot campaign issue in the race for Los Angeles city controller.

Los Angeles International Airport wanted to spend $3.8 million over three years on three public relations consultants, all of which were based outside city limits. The city’s Board of Airport Commissioners had approved the contracts without debate, and that bothered Councilman Dennis Zine, who just happened to be running for city controller, the job charged with monitoring government waste.

Zine organized a press conference at City Hall. He called for a City Council review of the contracts, noting that the city has the right to reverse decisions made by city boards. This newspaper’s editorial board even criticized the contracts, saying public relations work should be done by Los Angeles city employees employed by the airport. Zine even put together a campaign mailer on the issue.

The airport and the airport commission retreated. The contracts would instead be one-year contracts, and airport staff would need to return to the airport commission each year to ask for more money.

It is now a year later, and Zine lost his race. Airport staff members, meanwhile, say they need another year of services from the three firms — The Phelps Group, AdEase Inc. and Nothing Films Inc. — so that the public will be informed about improvements at the nation’s third-busiest airport. At today’s Board of Airport Commissioners meeting, airport staff is seeking $1.2 million more for the work. If approved, it would push the value of the contracts to almost $2.7 million over two years. Staff could return again next month for another chunk of money.

In asking for the additional funds, airport staff members are making roughly the same arguments they did in 2013 when Zine stepped in.....................

Wednesday
Feb192014

MISCELLANEOUS: Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, new girlfriend: "Villaraigosa's New Girlfriend, Kim Honig, Is 31 and Lives in New York"....

* LA Weekly:  "Villaraigosa's New Girlfriend, Kim Honig, Is 31 and Lives In New York" - From the Weekly:

Since leaving office in June, former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has been spending a lot of time in New York with his new girlfriend.  Kim Honig, 31, is a Manhatan-based sales director for a financial software company. She and Villaraigosa have been dating for several months. "It's serious," says a source familiar with the ex-mayor's dating life.

The relationship is Villaraigosa's first serious romance since he broke up with TV personality Lu Parker in May 2012.

At 31, Honig is younger than the mayor's previous two girlfriends. . . . . . . .

Villaraigosa and Honig were photographed together at a benefit in East Hampton, New York, last August. The event was a fundraiser for the Prostate Cancer Foundation. The couple was also photographed with Michael Milken, the former junk-bond kind who is chairman of the foundation. The event was a fundraiser for the Prostate Cancer Foundation.

Honig works for TIM Group, which sells financial software to institutional brokers....................

Wednesday
Feb192014

L.A. CITY HALL: Proposed increase in hotel workers' minimum wage, request for economic study before proceeding with ballot measure: "L.A. council members to seek economic study before mininum wage hike"....

* Los Angeles Times:  "L.A. council members to seek economic study before minimum wage hike" - "Three members who proposed a living wage for workers at hotels with more than 100 rooms are asking their colleagues to request a review of the effects of paying $15.37 an hour." - From the LAT:

Los Angeles City Council members opted Tuesday to seek an economic study before moving to enact one of the highest minimum wages in the country — $15.37 for workers at big hotels — a review that opponents hoped would slow or stop the proposal.

Council members Mike Bonin, Nury Martinez and Curren Price asked fellow council members to request a review of the economic effects of ordering a "living wage" for workers at hotels with more than 100 rooms. There are 87 hotels of that size in Los Angeles.

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The council voted seven years ago — when it imposed higher wages on hotels near Los Angeles International Airport — to only expand such regulations after studying the potential effect on businesses and on consumer prices.

"This is a great victory," said Carol Schatz, chief executive of the Central City Assn., which represents downtown businesses. "We have been saying we understand the reasons you want to do this, but the question is, what are the possible unintended negative economic impacts? Now we will look at that and make an informed decision."

Gerry Miller, the council's chief legislative analyst, said his office would decide the parameters of the study, possibly considering suggestions from the public about what should be part of the review. Consultants will then be asked to submit proposals on how they would review the effects of the hotel wage law.

Some city officials, including then-Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, suggested in 2007 that the wage controls at LAX and on city contractors should be extended only in rare instances. . . . . . . . .

It was hard to tell Tuesday which of those conditions supporters of the hotel wage thought they could satisfy, or if they would justify the measure in some other way......................

Wednesday
Feb192014

SACRAMENTO: Medical malpractice lawsuits, proposed initiative to raise $250,000 limit on pain and suffering, supporters, opponents: "Voters may decide medical malpractice cap".... 

* Los Angeles Times:  "Voters may decide medical malpractice cap" - "Lawyers and consumer groups are getting signatures for a ballot measure to increase 1975's pain and suffering limit of $250,000. Doctors and insurers have already raised $33 million to fight it." - From the LAT:

SACRAMENTO — A protracted political battle over California's medical malpractice law may be coming to a new front: the voting booth.

For decades, trial lawyers and consumer groups have railed against limits on certain damages in malpractice cases, arguing that such restrictions deny victims fair compensation for grisly medical mistakes. Insurance companies, doctors and other healthcare providers have been equally vigorous in defending the law, saying it is crucial to controlling costs and maintaining the availability of care.

Now, the lawyers' side has proposed a ballot initiative that would raise the limits on malpractice awards for pain and suffering. The measure would appear on the fall ballot, but both camps are already amassing war chests and firing opening shots in what would certainly be a bruising and costly fight. "Visions of dollars signs are dancing in the heads of political consultants up and down the state," said Bruce Cain, professor of political science at Stanford University. "This is a big-time bonanza for them."

If the measure makes the ballot, it will unleash a torrent of negative advertising about greedy lawyers and negligent doctors.

The initiative's backers have until March 24 to submit signed petitions to place their proposal on the ballot.

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The lawyers have unsuccessfully challenged the limits in the courts and the Legislature.

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This year, there's a new spin on the old conflict. . . . . . . .

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The measure's backers have raised $1.7 million so far, mostly from law firms and individual attorneys, as well as from the advocacy group Consumer Watchdog. They have spent $800,000 circulating petitions.

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The opponents' cash advantage is already apparent. They have raised more than $33 million ....................