Mayoral Candidates in Gridlock Over Plans

While incumbent Mayor James Hahn is pushing for small fixes, his challenger Councilman Antonio Villaraigosa looks for major rail network changes, the Daily Breeze reported. Hahn has adopted an incrementalist approach to transportation during the past four years, identifying 25 of the city's worst intersections each year and then giving them traffic signals or other upgrades. Villaraigosa drafted a laundry list of public works projects including at least $4 billion in rail lines and vowed to be more energetic than Hahn in securing money from Sacramento and Washington, D.C.

Plan Shifts Parole Focus
With eight in 10 paroled inmates committing new crimes and returning to prison, lawmakers are advancing legislation that tackles the growing public-safety problem, the Daily News of Los Angeles reported. In response, the chairman of the Assembly Public Safety Committee, Assemblyman Mark Leno, is pushing a measure that would provide early parole releases for well-behaved offenders. That could save $60 million a year, which would have to be spent helping more troubled felons re-enter society and stay out of prison. Although Republican lawmakers oppose the idea, Leno said he is working with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's administration in an attempt to win its support.

Reimagined Miramax Unit Mobilizes
An official announcement isn't due until July and Disney's PR machine is keeping mum, but details about the shape and size of the new Miramax are trickling out, Variety reported. The new Miramax will have an annual total budget of $350 million. It will release six to 10 films a year, with budgets at around $12 million or under. The company's staff will probably be slashed further, with total employees numbering around 50. But not everything will change: The new Miramax will stay in New York and not relocate to Burbank as has been reported. And, it will not be folded into the Buena Vista Motion Picture Group, which comprises the Touchstone and Disney labels.

Adelphia Buy Gives Time Warner a Local Leg Up
Nowhere will the pending sale of bankrupt cabler Adelphia to Time Warner Cable and Comcast be felt more than in the Los Angeles area, which up until now has had an unusually crowded field of cable players in an industry known for regional monopolies, Variety reported. In the deal, Time Warner Cable would suddenly rocket ahead to be the dominant player in the country's number two television market. Adelphia controls 40 percent of the L.A. area, with 1.1 million customers. Time Warner would pick up those subscribers as well as some 850,000 Comcast customers, meaning it would control nearly 70 percent of the L.A. market.

Plans Target Troubled L.A. Schools
After months of study, Supt. Roy Romer will unveil plans today to revamp the Los Angeles Unified School District's most troubled campuses with moves that already are generating controversy, including reassigning staff, hiring outside consultants and rearranging large schools into smaller, more personal educational programs, the Los Angeles Times reported. Romer's proposals come as the superintendent finds himself under increasing pressure from the Board of Education and the federal government to deal with low-performing secondary schools.

Wages Lagging Behind Prices
For the first time in 14 years, the American workforce has gotten an across-the-board pay cut, the Los Angeles Times reported. The growth in wages in 2004 and the first two months of this year trailed inflation, compounding the squeeze from higher housing, energy and other costs. This is the first time that salaries have increased more slowly than prices since the 1990-1991 recession. Though salary growth has been relatively sluggish since the 2001 downturn, inflation also had stayed relatively subdued until last year, when the consumer price index rose 2.7 percent. But wages rose only 2.5 percent.

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