Disney Closes Unit Devoted to Pixar Sequels

The first casualty of Walt Disney Co.'s acquisition of Pixar Animation Studios came Monday when the Burbank entertainment giant shuttered a computer animation unit created to make sequels to such Pixar hits as "Toy Story" and "Finding Nemo." Nearly 20 percent of the 168 artists, production managers and support staff were told they would lose their jobs effective May 26, the Los Angeles Times reported. The remaining 136 will be absorbed into Disney's feature animation division. Dubbed "Circle 7" after the Glendale street where the unit sits, the sequels operation was set up last year when Disney's lucrative partnership with Pixar was strained and in danger of dissolving.

Former Mayor Gets 16 Years in Scam
Former Lynwood Mayor Paul H. Richards II was ordered Monday to serve nearly 16 years behind bars, a sentence federal prosecutors described as one of the longest in any U.S. public corruption case. Richards, a former attorney, was convicted in November of steering city contracts to a front corporation he secretly owned. The scheme could have netted Richards more than $6 million, although he managed to siphon off only $500,000 before authorities interrupted, the Los Angeles Times reported. Richards was ousted from the Lynwood City Council in a 2003 recall election after 17 years in office amid allegations of corruption and cronyism.

Ex-Labor Leader Pleads Not Guilty
A former Southern California labor leader pleaded not guilty Monday to federal charges she diverted more than $36,000 in union funds to help the campaign of a city council candidate. Janett Humphries, the former president of Service Employees International Union Local 99, was charged in a federal indictment earlier this month on one count of conspiracy and 17 counts of embezzling union funds. She faces up to five years in prison on each count, the Associated Press reported. Prosecutors allege Humphries conspired with former City Councilman Martin Ludlow to put political operatives on the union's payroll and used union funds to pay for phone bills and other expenses during Ludlow's successful 2003 campaign. The pair tried to cover up the scheme by falsifying documents and removing or altering union records.

Bonuses Swell Pay for Police, Firefighters
L.A. police and firefighter bonuses soared last year to $80 million, accounting for nearly three-quarters of the $117 million in bonus payments to all municipal workers, the Daily News of Los Angeles reported. Payments have quadrupled over the past five years as labor negotiations expanded the number of available bonuses and the number of employees eligible to get them. Now there is extra pay for everything from shift differentials and bilingual premiums to marksmanship bonuses and uniform allowances. The steepest climbs have been in the Police Department, where bonuses have grown by an average of 22 percent annually since 2001. In the Fire Department, the annual rise has averaged 41 percent.

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