Index
Wednesday
Jul102013

SACRAMENTO: California Coastal Commission, commentary (Dan Morain), departure of Comm'r. Steve Blank: "Hard choices, strong stands to protect coast"....

***Following up on earlier item noted here (California Coastal Commission, resignation of Steve Blank, criticism of current approach being taken by the commission)....

* Sacramento Bee (Dan Morain):  "Hard choices, strong stands to protect coast" - From the Bee:

Steve Blank made enough money from Silicon Valley startups that he could retire at 45, buy 660 acres south of Half Moon Bay and build a mansion above one of California's most pristine beaches. He's also an environmentalist who until recently was one of 12 California Coastal Commission members and is struck by what hasn't happened to California's coast: It hasn't become the Jersey Shore. That's because of what he proudly calls the uncompromising and unreasonable stands taken by the Coastal Commission.

Developers and property rights advocates denounce the commission, believing landowners should be able to do as they please with their precious slices of California. But over the decades, the commission has resisted becoming a captive of the businesses it regulates and the lobbyists who represent them.

Blank had commission stories to tell in 2007 when Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed him. He had wanted to build his mansion on a bluff directly above Año Nuevo State Park, where elephant seals sun themselves, feast, mate and molt. He found himself playing a game of "regulatory Twister" with the commission, winning approval only after spending an additional $3 million and agreeing to build his spread well back from the bluff, out of sight from the highway below.

Rather than becoming embittered, Blank became a believer. California, he said, has been conducting a grand experiment. By imposing strict coastal zoning and sticking to it, California has "preserved a huge economic engine." However, Blank issued a warning two weeks ago when he resigned from the commission, first in a speech to the California League of Conservation Voters and later to me.

"You don't want lobbyists on the commission. You don't want commissioners who hate the commission. You don't want environmentalists who check out," he said – all of which he worries is happening. "If you make a mistake on an insurance regulation or an air quality regulation, you can change that. Once you bulldoze a wetland, it's gone," Blank said.

Clearly, the commission is in a transition.................

Wednesday
Jul102013

POLITICS/EDUCATION: Los Angeles Community College District, local area colleges, sanctions, accreditation issues: "Los Angeles community colleges begin to deal with sanctions"....

* Daily News:  "Los Angeles community colleges begin to deal with sanctions" - From the DN:

Los Angeles Mission College President Monte Perez had shut off his smartphone and sat down for a late afternoon movie when he had a bad feeling about the accreditation of his campus. He stepped out of "The Heat" on the eve of the Fourth of July holiday to discover a state accreditation commission had not only pulled the plug on City College of San Francisco, it had placed warnings -- its lightest sanctions -- on L.A. Mission and L.A. Valley colleges as well.

"They were a little sneaky, because the San Francisco thing is huge," Perez said of the late Wednesday online announcement. "I suspected we might get sanctioned. I saw that we had gotten a warning and said, 'It's doable -- we can fix this in a year.' "

The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges sanctioned the Los Angeles schools and others after they'd submitted self-evaluations and had undergone peer reviews in the spring. Earlier, three of nine campuses in the Los Angeles Community College District had been at risk of losing accreditation, including one with a warning and two on probation.

After the commission's late July 3 announcement, a third of district schools were still being sanctioned, but with less severe warnings. Of the three San Fernando Valley community colleges reviewed, L.A. Mission and L.A. Valley colleges were warned, while Pierce College was in the clear. In addition, L.A. Southwest College, which had been under probation, was downgraded to a warning.

The colleges can reaffirm their accreditation in a year by fixing such commission recommendations as better budgets, college planning and student learning outcomes, officials said. Or they can lose it in two years if they don't...............

Wednesday
Jul102013

L.A. CITY HALL: Los Angeles World Airports, preliminary response, controller's audits, LAX modernization project: "Airport officials take issue with auditors' findings about LAX construction".... 

***Following up on earlier item noted here (LAX, controller audits, criticism, management, modernization project)....

* Daily Breeze:  "Airport officials take issue with auditors' findings about LAX construction" - From the DB:

Los Angeles World Airports officials pushed back Tuesday against charges by auditors that airport executives underestimated the number of construction change orders that would be required to complete the new Tom Bradley International Terminal. Given the project's compressed schedule, officials said, such changes were expected.

The audit, released last month by the Los Angeles City Controller's Office, found that the high number of change orders -- essentially unforeseen construction costs -- have made it difficult for airport executives to effectively manage the $1.9 billion international terminal project at Los Angeles International Airport.

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Officials were also accused of not allowing the city's Board of Airport Commissioners to properly weigh in on construction issues. They took issue with that charge Tuesday as well.

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An LAX spokeswoman noted the responses are preliminary and that final responses will be delivered to the City Controller's Office by July 22.............

Wednesday
Jul102013

L.A. CITY HALL: Los Angeles Fire Department/Los Angeles Board of Fire Commissioners, criticism, ambulance service arrangement with L.A. Dodgers: "Fire commissioners criticize LAFD's ambulance deal with Dodgers"....

* Los Angeles Times:  "Fire commissioners criticize LAFD's ambulance deal with Dodgers" - From the LAT:

A draft contract for the Los Angeles Fire Department to continue providing medical care at Dodger Stadium came under criticism from fire commissioners after department officials disclosed that the arrangement has required shifting on-duty units from other areas and will ask taxpayers to foot part of the bill.

Since spring, the LAFD has stationed three ambulances at Dodgers home games to provide medical care. The department planned to prevent the city from paying the cost by staffing the units with off-duty firefighters who volunteered to be paid overtime by the Dodgers. However, fire officials said Tuesday they have reassigned on-duty firefighters from other parts of the city for 13 games because of a lack of volunteers. They also reported that the terms of a draft agreement hammered out with the Dodgers would cover only the time firefighters spend at the stadium, leaving the city to pay for moving the units to and from the team’s home in Chavez Ravine.

Several fire commissioners, including board President Genethia Hudley-Hayes, were swift to criticize the draft, suggesting that the board would not approve the deal until the Fire Department strikes more favorable terms. "As much as we love the Dodgers, it is a commercial venture,” said Commissioner Alan J. Skobin. “If they can spend $20 million for a player, I don't see why we're being nickel-and-dimed."

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The contract’s total cost to the city had not been calculated; but fire officials defended the arrangement, arguing that serving the stadium’s large crowds -- which can swell to greater than 50,000 -- are part of the department’s mission...........

Wednesday
Jul102013

L.A. CITY HALL: Los Angeles City Council redistricting, litigation, Wesson, Parks, allegations, "too many Mexicans": "Memo alleges race was discussed in L.A. council district mapmaking"....

* Los Angeles Times:  "Memo alleges race was discussed in L.A. council district mapmaking" - From the LAT:

A high-level staffer to Los Angeles City Councilman Bernard C. Parks has alleged that an aide to Council President Herb Wesson dismissed a plan for redrawing political boundaries by saying it would put “too many Mexicans” into Wesson’s council district.

Parks’ son and chief of staff, Bernard Parks Jr., said in a memo that Wesson deputy Deron Williams made the statement last year during protracted behind-the-scenes negotiations over new council boundaries for two South Los Angeles council districts. In his memo, Parks Jr. said that in January 2012 he discussed an alternative map for Council Districts 8 and 10, which are represented by Parks and Wesson respectively, with Wesson's staff. Parks Jr. said the alternative plan was dropped in early February, after Williams told him “there were too many Mexicans” in an area that would have been assigned to Wesson's district.

“I informed [Williams] that [Parks’ office] would not have any part of drawing district lines based solely on race,” Parks Jr. wrote. “He said something about the need [for Wesson's district] to remain a ‘black seat.’”

The memo was posted on Parks' city website earlier this year, along with other redistricting documents. Attorney Leo Terrell, who is representing six L.A. residents suing over the redistricting process, called a news conference Wednesday to discuss the "too many Mexicans" allegations.

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Wesson spokesman Ed Johnson had no comment on either the memo or the lawsuit. . . . . . . .

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Parks Jr. also said in his memo that Mayor Eric Garcetti, while serving on the City Council, told him that Wesson was trying to increase the number of black voters in his district. During that conversation, Garcetti said that issues were being handled "in more of a transactional way" with Wesson as president, Parks Jr. said. Garcetti spokesman Yusef Robb said the mayor has no comment.