Mayor Begins His Shake-Up of the City's Commissions

Just weeks into his administration, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has started to put his stamp on City Hall by shaking up the citizen boards and commissions that oversee much of what the city does, the Los Angeles Times reported. The new mayor has replaced all but one member of the Police Commission; today, he is expected to appoint new members to the Airport Commission. Ultimately, he could replace more than 300 appointees on 55 boards and commissions. The unique system Villaraigosa presides over was designed to take the politics out of city government. It has also come to symbolize a City Hall beset by corruption and insider influence.


Investor Warns Unocal on Bid
An investment firm that owns more than 1 million shares of Unocal Corp. has told the El Segundo oil giant that it is legally obligated to shareholders to consider an $18.5-billion bid from China's third-largest oil company because it is higher than an offer from Chevron Corp. In a letter Wednesday to Unocal's board, Peter Schoenfeld, chief executive of P. Schoenfeld Asset Management, wrote that "it is your duty to maximize value for stockholders," and that "It is a violation of law for fiduciaries to enter into agreements that bar them from obtaining materially higher offers," the Los Angeles Times reported. On July 20, Chinese CNOOC Ltd said it had no plans to increase its bid after Unocal snubbed its bid in favor of one by Chevron valued at about $17 billion.


A New Source of Hope at King/Drew
Troubled hospital Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center's newest addition is also viewed as perhaps its brightest hope: a long-awaited health center for women, the Los Angeles Times reported. It is housed one floor above the hospital's former trauma center, which was closed in March so King/Drew could devote more attention to correcting serious lapses in management and care. At a hospital that has pared back services and lost hundreds of employees through terminations or resignations, this center, which opened June 20, marks a renewed effort to provide better patient care. On any given day, the center serves roughly 70 patients.


Annex Issues to Be Aired
Castaic and West Ranch residents will meet with city and county officials this week to consider options for their area: remain unincorporated, annex to Santa Clarita or form a new city, the Daily News of Los Angeles reported. Santa Clarita Mayor Cameron Smyth and representatives of county Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich will attend the joint gathering of the Castaic and West Ranch town councils. The issue of how local government should be administered in the growing communities of Castaic and West Ranch now home to more than 37,000 people has simmered in recent months. Castaic Town Council president John Kunak pressed for the meeting so local residents can make decisions about the area, which lies west of the Golden State Freeway.


Sony BMG to Pay $10 Million to Settle Payola Probe
Sony BMG Music Entertainment agreed today to pay $10 million to settle a payola investigation launched by New York Atty. Gen. Eliot Spitzer. The company, one of four that Spitzer subpoenaed last fall as part of his inquiry into the music business, also agreed to stop making the illegal payments and providing expensive gifts to radio stations in return for playing the company's songs, the Los Angeles Times reported. A review of company e-mails by investigators found that Sony employees offered "outright bribes" to radio programmers in the form of vacation packages, electronics and other gifts, Spitzer's office said in a prepared statement.

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