Airport Project Money Disputed

Federal authorities are questioning millions of dollars in road improvements and other projects promised to neighbors of LAX as part of a proposed settlement, the Daily Breeze reported. The money helped persuade those neighbors to begin backing down from lawsuits they filed against a plan to overhaul the airport. But the FAA cautioned the airport might not have the authority to spend money on some of the projects. The agency singled out a plan to improve Century Boulevard and streets in El Segundo. It also questioned an airport offer to pay for street lights and job training in nearby neighborhoods. Federal law limits airports to spending their revenue on projects directly related to their own operations or air transportation.

Chick Audit of LAUSD Backed
Pressure on Los Angeles school officials to hire Controller Laura Chick to audit the district intensified Tuesday as the City Council weighed whether to support the move. Councilwoman Wendy Greuel introduced a motion calling on Los Angeles Unified School District to invite Chick to conduct the audit to review the organization's operations and find efficiencies. The action is needed because Chick has no authority to audit any LAUSD operations and must be asked to conduct such a review, the Daily News of Los Angeles reported. School officials have questioned whether Chick's audit is needed because several audits already have been conducted and others are planned.

Port Willing to Fight State Over Plans
In a direct challenge to state authorities, Los Angeles harbor commissioners this week agreed to move forward with an analysis of beautification and parks projects. Attorneys for the State Lands Commission say the projects contain some elements that do not conform to spending restrictions on the state's ports. The unanimous vote late Monday only authorizes moving forward with a cost and feasibility analysis. But even spending money on that could land the Port of L.A. in hot water with the state, the Daily Breeze reported. The projects including a San Pedro welcome park, a youth sailing center in Wilmington and beautification in San Pedro were chosen by the port's citizens advisory panel as priorities for spending a portion of $50 million from a court settlement fund.

County Health Vote Delayed
Los Angeles County supervisors decided Tuesday to postpone a vote on whether to split the Department of Health Services in half to better prepare for threats such as bioterrorism and bird flu, and tackle diabetes, obesity and other existing epidemics. The supervisors voted 4-1 to continue the matter, saying a contract outlining the relationship between the two agencies would not be ready until Jan. 19. Under the proposal, which faces a final vote after a Feb. 7 public hearing, the Public Health portion would become the Department of Public Health and would no longer be a division of the massive Department of Health Services, the Daily News of Los Angeles reported. The plan would help officials manage care as the Department of Health Services eyes an $889 million shortfall.

DWP Workers' Pay Hike Divides City Hall
As one city employee union flooded Los Angeles City Hall with protesters demanding the same salary increases won by Department of Water and Power workers, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa signaled to the department's managers Tuesday that they also were unlikely to get the same terms. More than 250 members of the Engineers and Architects Assn. packed the council chambers and spilled into the halls Tuesday, warning the council that it will see "further disruptions and noise" if they are not given the same contract approved in September for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 18, which represents more than 90 percent of DWP employees, the Los Angeles Times reported.

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