LAX Directors' Plan to Begin Makeover Is Challenged

LAX directors are preparing to move forward next week with the first part of the airport's $11 billion-plus modernization before obtaining federal approval for the plan and before completing an environmental review of the initial project, the Daily Breeze reported. The Board of Airport Commissioners is scheduled to vote Monday on whether to begin looking for companies to tackle the first LAX modernization project, a $255 million renovation of the southern runway complex, which will include shifting the southernmost runway closer to the city of El Segundo. The FAA is scheduled to issue its decision on the LAX modernization by the end of this month.

Hahn Offers Production Rebate Ahead of Governor's Plan
Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn unveiled a new production incentive plan Thursday to complement the more wide-ranging package under consideration by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, The Hollywood Reporter said. Hahn's anti-runaway production proposal is a straight rebate, in which companies would get back 5 percent pf their below-the-line costs on the first $12.5 million in production costs, provided that at least 75 percent of that work is done in the city of Los Angeles. If approved without revision, the plan would disburse as much as $15 million in the first year, ideally beginning with the new fiscal year in July.

Roads Are Poorer After Pouring Rain
City motorists dodged thousands of potholes during this winter's storms, as neglected streets are in shoddy condition and more than two-thirds of them need repairs, the Daily News of Los Angeles reported. It took nearly 10,000 hours in overtime to fill more than 25,000 potholes since Jan. 7, but the repairs may not last more than a couple of years because the roads are in such poor condition. And there's no relief coming anytime soon, as fewer than 4 percent of the problem streets are slated to be resurfaced under the current L.A. city current budget. The budget provides $44 million for 135 miles of resurfacing, $7.1 million for 300 miles of sealant and $1.6 million to pave the city's dirt streets.

Edison Rates to Rise 5 Percent in April
Average rates charged to Southern California Edison Co.'s 4.6 million electricity customers will jump about 5 percent next month, with the biggest share of the increase falling on residential customers, according to decisions issued by the state Public Utilities Commission on Thursday. Beginning April 14, residential ratepayers who use more than 350 kilowatt hours per month , about 60 percent of the total , should see their bills go up by 7 percent to 8 percent, adding about $5 to their monthly bill, Edison said. Small and large commercial users should get hit with only a 1.5 percent increase, while rates for industrial customers are scheduled to rise by 4 percent, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Pierce College Bares Sex Ad
How desperate for money is cash-strapped Pierce College? Desperate enough that it rented its baseball field to the X-rated Spice channel cable network for $5,000 to shoot a racy promotional video, the Daily News of Los Angeles reported. The move outraged some students and raised questions about how far colleges should go to raise money. But Pierce officials aren't blushing, calling the move an easy way to make money. The Spice Digital Network used the Joe Kelly baseball diamond on March 7 and 8 to its shoot baseball-themed provocative layouts. Woodland Hills-based Pierce is one of nine campuses of the Los Angeles Community College District.

New Low for Late Mortgage Payments
Rising real estate prices have helped push California's mortgage-delinquency rate down to its lowest level in 25 years, an industry group said. Only 2.04 percent of the state's homeowners were at least 30 days late on their home-loan payments in the fourth quarter, the Mortgage Bankers Assn. said, the lowest since at least 1979, the first year the group began keeping records, the Los Angeles Times reported. The percentage of California households that fell into foreclosure in the three months ended Dec. 31 was 0.15 percent, the slimmest rate for the fourth quarter since 1988, according to the group. The foreclosure rate, however, was up from 0.13 percent in the third quarter.

Rigases' Request for New Trial Is Rejected
Adelphia Communications Corp. founder John Rigas and his son Timothy, who face sentencing April 18 on fraud and conspiracy charges, lost their bid for a new accounting fraud trial, Bloomberg News reported. U.S. District Judge Leonard Sand in federal court in New York rejected claims by John Rigas and Timothy Rigas that a U.S. prosecutor knew a witness lied to jurors. The ruling eliminated one of the last hurdles between the two men and sentencing.

Marsh Names Erburu Non-Executive Chairman
Marsh & McLennan Cos., the world's largest insurance brokerage, Thursday said it had named Robert Erburu as non-executive chairman, the Associated Press reported. Erburu became lead director and de facto head in October when Chairman and Chief Executive Jeffrey Greenberg resigned after a bid-rigging lawsuit from the New York attorney general's office. Erburu joined the board in 1996, the same year he retired as chairman of Times Mirror Co., the former publisher of the Los Angeles Times. Times Mirror was acquired by Chicago-based Tribune Co. in 2000.

No Credit Cards for Web Tobacco Sales
Major credit card companies will no longer handle Internet sales of cigarettes under a nationwide agreement announced Thursday, the Associated Press reported. The accord, which is effective immediately, is aimed at illegal dealers who try to avoid sales taxes or sell to underage customers. Virtually all credit card companies signed off on the agreement with officials of 10 states and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which is effective immediately.

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