CRA Backs Downtown Hotel Financing

The Community Redevelopment Agency on Thursday recommended approval of a $16 million loan for a planned 56-story hotel adjacent to the city's Convention Center, despite concerns that the project could hurt existing downtown hotels. Commissioners said they believe the private sector is taking most of the financial risk in the hotel and a massive entertainment complex that they said is expected to help revitalize downtown and turn around the Convention Center. But opponents said they will go to court to fight the loan as well as a preliminary package of $66 million in breaks on paying the city's hotel-room tax for 25 years and on some fee waivers, the Daily News of Los Angeles reported. They said it's unfair to provide a single hotel owner with a loan of public funds.

Getty Kept Items to Itself in Probe
The J. Paul Getty Trust, which has said it was fully cooperating with an Italian investigation into the antiquities trade, did not disclose a series of letters and photographs showing its chief antiquities curator maintained relationships with dealers suspected of selling looted art. The Getty's antiquities curator, Marion True, is facing trial in Rome this fall on charges that she conspired to traffic in ancient artifacts stolen from Italian ruins and smuggled out of the country. Italian authorities have identified 42 objects as stolen and have demanded their return. According to a confidential memo written in 2001 by the Getty's criminal defense lawyer to Chief Executive Barry Munitz, and obtained by the Los Angeles Times, an internal review of Getty files turned up letters from the suspect dealers and True, as well as Polaroid photographs of artifacts.

Southland Once Again Smog Capital of U.S.
Despite a mild smog season so far, and continuing efforts to cut pollution, L.A. is likely to take back the title of smog capital of America from Houston and the San Joaquin Valley. So far, the Southland has logged 76 smoggy days under the nation's more stringent ozone standards nearly double Houston's 41 dirty days and more than the San Joaquin Valley's 61 smog days, the Daily News of Los Angeles reported. The region's smog level has remained flat for the past several years after two decades of pollution-reduction efforts that cut the number of smog days from nearly 200 to the current level. Most of the bad-air violations occurred in Santa Clarita, San Bernardino and Riverside.

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