Study Lauds Alameda Corridor's Successes

The Alameda Corridor has helped reduce air emissions by consolidating freight rail operations and easing traffic congestion at more than 200 rail crossings in its three-year history, said a study released by Weston Solutions Inc. Commissioned by the Alameda Corridor Transportation Authority, the analysis found the rail corridor has eliminated 3,863 tons of pollutants since 2002, including a 32 percent annual reduction in nitrous oxide and 40 percent reduction in particulate matter, the Daily Breeze reported. The study looked at the effects on air quality of consolidating 90 miles of rail lines into a single 20-mile expressway that runs from the Port of Los Angeles to downtown Los Angeles.


House of Blues Ends Attempt to Sell Concert Unit
House of Blues Entertainment Inc. said it won't sell its concert unit, four months after it hired UBS AG to handle offers, the Wall Street Journal reported. The only serious bids were less than the $110 million to $120 million industry executives said House of Blues wanted for the unit, which owns or books events at 19 large venues in the U.S. and Canada. This was the second time since 2002 that House of Blues had tried to sell the unit and then ended a possible sale. Clear Channel Communications Inc. and Nederlander Concerts LLC were said to be among the bidders.


Officials Call for LAUSD Panel
Two top elected officials in Los Angeles plan to create a commission to look at ways to reform the Los Angeles Unified School District, from the number of school board members and the amount they are paid to how much of a role the city should play, the Daily Breeze reported. With civic leaders growing increasingly alarmed by dropout rates in the sprawling LAUSD, school board President Jose Huizar and Los Angeles City Council President Alex Padilla will discuss plans today for a city-school commission focusing on governance of the school board, which is currently dictated by the city charter. Neither Huizar nor Padilla would discuss their plans.


Apartment Smoking Bans May Widen
With 82 percent of California's apartment dwellers favoring smoking restrictions in their buildings, the American Lung Association will roll out plans today to make smoke-free complexes more widespread, the Daily News of Los Angeles reported. The campaign, "Smoke-Free Choice: A New Amenity in Multi-Unit Housing," will be the topic of a daylong symposium at the University of Southern California. Los Angeles City Councilman Alex Padilla has sponsored a motion requiring that some new multiunit affordable housing be designated nonsmoking. And landlords are discovering that designating their buildings as nonsmoking is a good marketing tool.


California Asks Court to Order Power Refunds
California asked the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday to order more than $6 billion in refunds for alleged electricity overcharges during the state's 2000 to 2001 energy crisis, the Los Angeles Times reported. California has asked the court to step in because the state contends that federal energy regulators failed to protect consumers as power prices skyrocketed and blackouts raked the regions served by Edison International's Southern California Edison Co., PG & E; Corp.'s Pacific Gas & Electric Co. and Sempra Energy's San Diego Gas & Electric Co. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission indicated it might require energy companies to pay $3.3 billion for manipulating power prices in California's market.


Checks to Buy Soka Site Disappear in Delivery
The state's 30-year quest to buy the Soka University property as open space was delayed this week when checks worth $8 million disappeared in transit, officials said Wednesday. The glitch is not expected to scuttle the purchase of land in the Santa Monica Mountains, but may push it back a few days past the Friday deadline. The $35 million deal involves a consortium of state and federal agencies that have been eyeing the 588-acre Soka University property, formerly razor magnate King Gillette's ranch, on Mulholland Highway in Calabasas, the Daily News of Los Angeles reported. The university decided to sell its land and move out after failing in repeated attempts to expand its facilities.


FCC Denies Request by Tribune
Regulators said Wednesday that they had denied Tribune Co.'s request for a permanent waiver of U.S. media-ownership rules that would let the company hold a newspaper and television station in the same area in Connecticut, Bloomberg News reported. The Federal Communications Commission extended Tribune's temporary waiver. Tribune owns both the Hartford Courant and the WTXX TV station in Waterbury, Conn. The company has been trying unsuccessfully to sell the TV station, the FCC order said. Tribune also owns The Los Angeles Times and TV station KTLA.


Book Thrown at 2 Suspects in Spam Case
A U.S. district judge in San Francisco on Wednesday froze the assets of Los Angeles residents Peonie Pui Ting Chen and Rick Yang after the state sued them for allegedly sending more than 1 million unsolicited e-mails. They face penalties of as much as $1 million per unwanted advertising campaign, the Los Angeles Times reported. Their lawyer, John Chu, said in court that his clients were innocent.


U.S. Bancorp to Expand in Stores
U.S. Bancorp, the sixth-biggest U.S. bank, will install 333 automated teller machines at Walgreen Co. stores in California and Nevada to expand in the West, Bloomberg News reported. Minneapolis-based U.S. Bancorp said its U.S. Bank subsidiary would install 312 ATMs in California and 21 in Nevada. U.S. Bancorp will about double its ATMs in California to 684, and will boost its ATMs in Nevada to 119. The bank has 306 branches in California and 40 in Nevada.

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