As Filming Leaves, So Do Benefits for Taxpayers

California loses more than $10 million in tax revenue when a larger-budget $70-million movie is made elsewhere, said the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp in its study on the effect to state revenue of runaway film and TV production. The report is timed to coincide with the latest legislative proposal in Sacramento that would offer tax incentives to encourage producers to keep shooting in the state. The sponsors of the report, a coalition of labor and industry groups, want to show how much working-class families and taxpayers benefit from filming. Proponents are hoping to convince legislators that L.A. and California face growing competition for its film and TV business from other states and countries, the Los Angeles Times reported.


Gold Line Extension Switches to Fast Track
As part of a massive transportation funding bill, Congress deemed the Foothill Extension of the Pasadena Gold Line light rail a high-priority project and earmarked $21 million to kick off some initial construction. Tucked into the same legislation, signed this month by President Bush, is special language that would make the project eligible for funding after years languishing near the rock bottom of regional transit planners' priority list, the Los Angeles Times reported. Exultant officials in the San Gabriel Valley credit Rep. David Dreier (R-San Dimas) with giving the project new life. A recent changing of the guard at the MTA may also boost the plan to build the line between east Pasadena and Montclair in an existing rail corridor at a total estimated cost of $1.3 billion.


Mayor Favors Westsiders for L.A. Commissions
L.A.'s two affluent Westside council districts, including one that runs from Los Angeles International Airport to Pacific Palisades, have become fertile ground for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa as he looks to fill the city's boards and commissions, Copley News Service reported. Twenty-three of the mayor's 71 commission nominees or nearly one out of every three selected by Villaraigosa so far have come from the two districts that take in Westchester, West Los Angeles and the canyons above Beverly Hills. While Villaraigosa has yet to fill the positions of 240 commissioners, his first wave of mayoral appointments has surprised some at City Hall, who say they thought the mayor would reach deeper into working-class and underrepresented communities.


Northridge Wal-Mart Opponents Heartened
Stymied in previous efforts to block plans for a Wal-Mart, Northridge-area neighbors hope to use a recent state Court of Appeal ruling and new environmental studies to derail the controversial project, the Daily News of Los Angeles reported. Residents fear the store proposed across from Northridge Fashion Center will trigger traffic jams in an already congested area and put some retailers out of business. Critics note that Wal-Mart already operates three stores within seven miles of the site and question the need for another. The opposition group, called Citizens to Preserve Northridge have now pinned hopes on a recent decision by the state's 5th District Court of Appeal that required cities and Wal-Mart to study the potential economic impact of the discount store on surrounding businesses.


Governor Enacts Few Reform Proposals
Though he came into office promising to reshape a state bureaucracy, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has yet to embrace the bulk of the recommendations his own experts offered a year ago, the Los Angeles Times reported. Schwarzenegger's California Performance Review last August proposed reconfiguring the state's agencies into 11 unified departments. It also suggested 279 specific ways it said would make government more efficient and save $32 billion over the next five years. But most of his ambitious proposals to reshuffle state agencies have not been enacted or have been downscaled. Schwarzenegger has rejiggered only one area of government: the state's prison system.

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