Friends and colleagues of Assemblyman Mike Gordon are saluting the former mayor for his activism with downtown renewal and his opposition to LAX expansion, and are speaking of him as an accessible politician who led a purposeful life. Gordon, who was diagnosed with a brain tumor just two months after winning his 53rd District seat, died Saturday after suffering complications from that illness. He was 47. Gordon left behind a big legacy in the small town nicknamed "Mayberry by the Sea," emerging as a fighter to retain Los Angeles Air Force Base. Gordon is also credited for reaching out to residents and business owners, creating a popular dog park and revitalizing the city's sluggish downtown business district, the Daily Breeze reported.
County Increases Aid to the Homeless
Following a recent count that found more than 90,000 people living on the streets, Los Angeles County political leaders have decided to step up efforts to put an end to homelessness. Last week, the Board of Supervisors set aside $24.6 million to attack the problem, the largest single investment of local funds ever by the county or the city. The allocation is a small piece of the county's $19.6-billion budget, but it represents a shift in thinking about an issue that has failed to engage the attention of many officials, the Los Angeles Times reported. Proposals include remaking the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, the city-county agency that administers homeless funds, to be more directly involved in policymaking and more accountable to county and city governments.
LAX Office Rental Market Stays Grounded
The office market around LAX remains one of the weakest in Los Angeles County, the Los Angeles Times reported. Almost a third of its 4 million square feet on West Century, La Cienega, Aviation and Sepulveda boulevards is empty and not expected to fill up anytime soon. The airport office market has been criticized as having few amenities for tenants such as aging buildings, excessive noise and few lunch options. Although the area's office vacancy rate reached 31.6 percent in the first quarter of this year, owners of some of its best buildings are growing optimistic.
Milberg Weiss Faces Fraud Probe by U.S. Prosecutors
Milberg Weiss Bershad & Schulman, a U.S. class-action law firm, is being investigated by federal prosecutors in Los Angeles for possible fraud, conspiracy and kickbacks, and criminal charges may be brought against both the firm and its principals, The Wall Street Journal reported. The inquiry focuses on allegations that the firm made secret, illegal payments to plaintiffs who appeared in lawsuits brought by the firm. The firm has received subpoenas and that is cooperating with the investigation being carried out by the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles. In a statement, it described the allegations as baseless. A grand jury convened last October in L.A. has been hearing evidence of alleged illegal payments in suits filed against oil, biotechnology and chemical companies.
Overhaul of Prop. 13 a Pricey Proposition
A proposed initiative ending Proposition 13 protection for commercial property would cost Los Angeles County taxpayers more than $26 million annually to implement, according to an analysis by the California Assessors' Association. The Tax Fairness Act has received almost $2.4 million from a group of influential public employee unions to circulate petitions placing the measure on the June 2006 ballot. Proponents say it would generate $2.8 billion per year in additional property tax revenues statewide, the Daily News of Los Angeles reported. The Tax Fairness Act would allow commercial property to be assessed at significantly higher rates, more in line with their current value. Revenue generated would be reserved for education, transportation-improvement projects, public safety and a property tax relief program for senior citizens.
MTA's Snoble Gets Graded
The MTA board completed a performance review of the agency's top executive as it considers whether to renew the contract of one of L.A. County's highest paid public employees. CEO Roger Snoble wants to continue in the $302,375-a-year-job managing the $2.8 billion agency, but is forgoing a pay raise this year and is reorganizing top staff, the Daily News of Los Angeles reported. Mayor-elect Antonio Villaraigosa, who plans to take the helm of the MTA board in July, has asked Snoble to postpone major changes until then. Snoble was hired in October 2001 under a four-year contract. His tenure has been rocked by the state's budget crisis, which diverted $5 billion from transportation statewide, forcing the agency to eliminate 500 jobs.
Lawndale Competing for Sales of Fireworks
Lawndale's Parks, Recreation and Social Services Commission will go head to head with local non-profit groups in hawking sparklers this Fourth of July, hoping to earn money for events slashed in nasty budget sessions of years past. The eight fireworks stands scattered around town have usually been reserved for local no-nprofit groups, but the City Council amended laws this year to allow the commission to host a booth. The city could be liable for damages should a resident be injured from defective fireworks purchased at a city commission-sponsored booth which is why booths have a $10 million insurance policy provided by the stand's fireworks supplier, the Daily Breeze reported.
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