Port of L.A. Redevelopment Bill Stalls in Committee

Attacked by critics as a way to divert county property tax revenue, state legislation that would designate the Port of Los Angeles as a redevelopment area failed to make it out of the Assembly's Local Government Committee this week, the Daily Breeze reported. The bill could return in January, said Los Angeles Councilwoman Janice Hahn, who testified in favor of the legislation in Sacramento. Los Angeles County representatives testified against the measure. The bill, backed by the Port of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles City Council, was viewed by supporters as a way to help pay for the port's multi-million-dollar waterfront redevelopment and port security.

Body Shop Closure Puts Car Owners in a Fix
More than 2,000 customers of M2 Automotive Inc. were without their cars this week after the chain of body shops was shut down when the owners ran out of money, the Los Angeles Times reported. Santa Monica-based M2, which operates a chain of 27 body shops, was forced to close last weekend after negotiations with a potential buyer collapsed. Creditors of the privately held company, which had been for sale since last fall, stopped funding operations and froze its bank accounts. If an auction set for this weekend of the company's estimated $3 million in assets is successful, new owners may have the shops reopened early next week.

Villaraigosa Backs LAUSD Reform
Mayoral candidate and Los Angeles City Councilman Antonio Villaraigosa said Thursday that the next mayor should have "ultimate control" of the Los Angeles Unified School District, and responsibility for the performance of its 810 schools, Copley News Service reported. The move comes two days after Mayor James Hahn called for the power to appoint three school board members. Villaraigosa said he would build consensus for a ballot measure that would make Los Angeles more like Chicago and New York, where mayors have already gained power over public schools.

Time Warner in Charge
Cable giant Time Warner Inc. will likely dominate the L.A. region once the multibillion-dollar deal with Comcast Corp. to buy bankrupt Adelphia overcomes the necessary regulatory hurdles, analysts said. That begins by transferring all Adelphia subscribers nearly 1.5 million to Time Warner, which currently provides cable TV access to at least 125,000 subscribers in Los Angeles. There are more than 3 million cable subscribers in the region, the Daily News of Los Angeles reported. The deal is expected to close in the next nine to 12 months. Adelphia said a majority of its 2,600 employees in Southern California affected by the deal will be absorbed by Time Warner and Comcast.

Warner Expected to Get Paramount Ex-President
Former Paramount Pictures President Donald De Line is expected to sign a film production deal with Warner Bros., the Los Angeles Times reported. De Line lost his job at Paramount when new studio Chairman Brad Grey recruited veteran TV executive Gail Berman. De Line had been a Paramount executive just 14 months.

Feds Assert Liquefied Natural Gas Controls
Congress on Thursday stripped Oxnard and Long Beach of the authority to decide whether they can approve a proposed liquefied natural gas terminal at the port, the Daily News of Los Angeles reported. By a 194-237 vote, the House stamped out an effort to assert local control over where new liquefied natural gas terminals should be placed as well as whether a potential facility meets a community's safety and environmental standards. Things may change when the legislation gets to the U.S. Senate, but for now the word from Congress is that the federal government has near complete say-so over approving sites for the controversial facilities.

PUC Delays Plan to Lift Rates
Big-box retailers, factories and other large electricity users Thursday won at least a one-year reprieve from a plan by state regulators that would increase their electricity rates when hot weather spurs high consumption, the Los Angeles Times reported. On a 4-0 vote, members of the California Public Utilities Commission followed an administrative law judge's recommendation to delay until the summer of 2006 or 2007 a proposal that would allow utilities to as much as triple rates for high-volume industrial and commercial customers for short periods. Business lobbyists said they were pleased with the decision and were determined to argue against a similar proposal if it comes back next year.

CKE to Restate Results to Correct Lease Errors
CKE Restaurants Inc., parent of the Hardee's and Carl's Jr. hamburger chains, said it would restate some past financial results because of errors in the way it accounted for leases, Reuters reported. The restatement will increase the Carpinteria company's accrued rent expense by about $2.4 million for periods up to and including fiscal year 2002. To account for increased rent expense from 2003 through 2005, CKE will take a charge of about $250,000 in the fourth quarter.

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