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Saturday, Feb 4, 2023

Morning Headlines

Grand Ave. Questions Raised

When L.A. County supervisors voted to approve a $1.8-billion project to revitalize downtown’s Grand Avenue last week, they did so despite their own analyst’s warnings that the project poses several financial risks for the county. The warnings came in an unpublicized report obtained by the Los Angeles Times. Allan D. Kotin, who advises the county on real estate ventures, said in a report last month that the county could benefit from a more detailed analysis of the estimated development costs. Kotin said the arrangement puts the county at risk if the project goes over budget or if the downtown real estate market cools. If the costs significantly increase, he wrote, the county could be required to provide subsidies , or the planned park might not be built.

Troubled Hospital Gets New Chief

For the first time in almost four years, a permanent chief executive has been hired to run the troubled Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center. Antionette Smith Epps, director of systems operations at Baptist Health System in Birmingham, Ala., will start at King/Drew on Oct. 17 , one day before the L.A. County Board of Supervisors holds a public hearing to consider closing the hospital’s pediatric, obstetric and neonatology wards, the Los Angeles Times reported. Smith Epps’ appointment was welcomed by many of those working to fix King/Drew, who said she was a vibrant leader who was coming into the job with no illusions. She will be paid $225,000 annually.

Will Political Egos Fumble NFL’s Return to L.A.?

As the NFL nears a decision on a deal with the Los Angeles Coliseum Commission, tensions are growing among key players that could scuttle an agreement to bring professional football back to L.A. With a deal likely to be cut within the next two months, insiders are concerned about the developing role of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in what has been three years of negotiations between the Coliseum Commission and NFL officials over the state-owned facility. Officials worry Villaraigosa’s increasingly active role including recent comments reiterating opposition to using tax dollars to lure a team could inflame NFL officials who have been skittish about the Coliseum, the Daily News of Los Angeles reported.

Anger Over Iger Comments

The tension in Hollywood over declining box office receipts heated up Thursday as the head of the trade organization for movie theaters accused the chairman of The Walt Disney Co., Robert A. Iger, of leveling a “death threat” against his industry, The New York Times reported. John Fithian, president of the National Association of Theatre Owners, was responding to a recent statement by Iger to analysts that movie studios need to accommodate changing consumer demand by releasing films simultaneously in theaters and on DVD. Fithian said simultaneous release would damage the theater industry and weaken the marketing potential of theatrical releases. In his comments on Aug. 9, Iger called the box office decline “a wake-up call” for the industry.

Stage Set for Fundraising Free-For-All

The Federal Election Commission ruled Thursday that members of Congress are free to raise unlimited sums to support or oppose California ballot measures , a blow to one of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s key initiatives, the Los Angeles Times reported. The ruling is likely to intensify the expected flood of campaign advertising aimed at California voters this fall. Schwarzenegger already can raise unlimited amounts for his ballot measures and plans to spend millions promoting three of them. The FEC ruling opens what could become a big hole in the federal law that limits campaign money. Depending on how aggressively lawmakers decide to exploit that opening, interest-group money could pour into the state on other high-profile issues in November.

L.A. Council Starts Early on Summer Recess

The Los Angeles City Council may get an early start on its summer recess, with Friday’s meeting expected to be canceled for lack of a quorum, the Daily News of Los Angeles reported. With two vacancies on the 15-member council, it has become increasingly difficult in recent weeks to get at least 10 members for the quorum required to do business. Today’s meeting would have been the last before the council’s annual recess, but four of the remaining 13 members did not expect to attend. Council members, who are paid $143,838 a year, traditionally take the two weeks before Labor Day as a recess.

South Bay Congresswoman Upbeat About Aerospace

After months spent fighting to spare the Los Angeles Air Force Base from closure, the aerospace industry is enjoying a financially robust year and anticipates an even brighter future, Rep. Jane Harman, D-El Segundo, said Thursday at the annual Aerospace Outlook luncheon in Westchester. The unique relationship between private companies like Northrop Grumman and LAAFB was responsible for saving the facility from closure or relocation during the recent federal Base Realignment and Closure process, Harman said. The aerospace industry and LAAFB account for 65,000 jobs in the South Bay and $60 billion a year in contracts, the Daily Breeze reported.

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