State Sues Canadian Utility, Alleging Past Overcharges

Attorney General Bill Lockyer also sued British Columbia's provincial utility Powerex Corp. Thursday, accusing it of profiting from up to $850 million in electricity overcharges during the state's 2000-2001 energy crisis, the Los Angeles Times reported. The suit claims that Powerex gouged the Department of Water Resources on numerous occasions, manipulated Western energy markets and contributed to phony shortages of electricity.

Miramax, Disney Acting Like Buddies
With Miramax on a roll with such Oscar contenders as "The Aviator" and "Finding Neverland," talks with parent company Disney have taken a more conciliatory tone and are likely to conclude by the end of the month, Variety reported. The pending deal essentially guarantees an ongoing relationship between Miramax co-founders Bob and Harvey Weinstein and Disney. The Weinsteins' contract is up in September.

MGM's CFO to Be President After Acquisition
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. Chief Financial Officer Daniel Taylor will take over as president of the studio after it is acquired by an investment consortium led by Sony Corp., it was announced Thursday. Other partners in the deal are DLJ Equity Partners and cable giant Comcast Corp., the Los Angeles Times reported.

Arnold: Split up LAUSD
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger waded into the L.A. mayor's race Thursday, saying the Los Angeles Unified School District is too big and inefficient, throwing his support behind candidate Bob Hertzberg's effort to break up the nearly 750,000-student district, the Daily News of Los Angeles reported. Schwarzenegger's statement provoked a firestorm of criticism from other mayoral candidates and Superintendent Roy Romer.

Hahn Tries to Boost Support for Cop Tax
Mayor James Hahn made a last-ditch push Thursday to convince the City Council to vote Friday in favor of placing a half-percent sales tax on the May 17 ballot to fund more police, the Daily News of Los Angeles reported. Hahn called council members who had voted Wednesday for the measure, urging them to help win over opponents. During Wednesday's vote, supporters fell one vote short of the 10 they needed to place the measure on the ballot.

Wine Grape Harvest Declines
The California wine grape harvest declined in 2004 for the second year in a row, aiding an industry that has been plagued by a surplus of fruit and low prices, the Los Angeles Times reported. Due to tighter supplies, grape prices are now rising, the California Agricultural Statistic Service said Thursday in its annual Grape Crush Report.

Rift Within WGA Widens
Tensions between the East and West Coast writers unions exploded Thursday when the WGA West's demand for a greater share of dues was rejected in the East as a "virtual shakedown" and a union-busting tactic more reminiscent of management, the Hollywood Reporter said. WGA East said rules like requiring East Coast-based writers to share dues with the West have been defunct since 1973. And WGA East claimed that WGA West now wants an additional $500,000 in dues as well as another $500,000 for managing services for East Coast members.

State Says Company Tricked Seniors
Regulators on Thursday sued Woodland Hills-based Family First Advanced Estate Planning Inc., claiming it tricked thousands of older Californians into buying unnecessary investment products, the Los Angeles Times reported. California Attorney General Bill Lockyer and Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi accused the company of violating state law in the sale of hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of living trusts and deferred annuities since 1997.The suit seeks more than $110 million in fines and restitution.

Verizon-MCI Talks Advance
Talks between Verizon Communications Inc. and MCI Inc. advanced Thursday, and the two companies could announce a deal in the next few days, The Wall Street Journal reported. While key issues, including exact price and the management of certain operations, weren't settled last night, the paper's sources said those matters could be worked out soon. MCI and Verizon's boards haven't yet voted on the deal.

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