Gardena Gets Another Extension on Debt
Gardena has received another extension on $26 million in bonds that were due at the end of the month, but the mayor said more time to pay the bill is not enough. When the newest extension ends Nov. 30, the city will have had a year since the bonds were originally due. Gardena is paying about $1 million annually to keep up with the interest obligations on the debt, but little is going toward the principal. The city publicly discussed bankruptcy before receiving its first extension last year. The debt is the result of two programs begun in 1993 a city-backed insurance company and a first-time home-buyers program that failed and left Gardena a $26 million, the Daily Breeze reported.
Rush-Hour Road Work Ban in Store
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is set to announce today that he will ban rush-hour road construction to ease congestion and devote more funds to street paving. The mayor’s directives begin to fulfill campaign promises and complement Councilwoman Wendy Greuel’s proposal to enact a tougher city roadwork ban. The city already has a ban on rush-hour road construction, but city officials say it’s rarely enforced. The mayor’s executive directive will tell all department heads to prohibit roadwork on major streets from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., and to assign staffers to start enforcing the ban. Exceptions will be made for emergency repairs and large-scale projects that tie up the streets for several days, the Daily News of Los Angeles reported.
Mayor Hopes to Resolve Union Contract Tensions
Seeking to ease tensions over a proposed five-year deal that would give 8,000 DWP workers pay raises as high as 30 percent, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said Thursday that he believes a resolution can be reached, the Daily News of Los Angeles reported. The contract, which already has been approved by the City Council, raised the ire of other unions and drew questions about whether the city can change it. On Wednesday, union chief Brian D’Arcy warned that Department of Water and Power employees represented by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 18, could strike if no deal is reached before their contract expires Oct. 1.
State Limits Hybrids in Fast Lanes
Owners of hybrid cars in California began applying for $8 decals Thursday that will allow them to drive solo in carpool lanes. But some drivers are going to be disappointed: The state says only three hybrids , the Honda Civic, Honda Insight and Toyota Prius , will be allowed. That leaves four others on the market the Honda Accord, Toyota Highlander, Lexus RX 400h and Ford Escape off the list. The national highway bill signed into law on Wednesday allows states to let hybrids into carpool lanes. But California passed a law last year that sets stricter standards than the national standards for mileage and emissions, the Los Angeles Times reported. Despite the strict rules, most of the 57,000 registered hybrid cars in the state will be allowed in the diamond lanes.
Tribune Chief Denies Chicago-L.A. Rift
The president of Tribune Publishing, Smith dismisses reports of animosity between the company and top brass at the Los Angeles Times, its biggest newspaper. Though Times Editor John Carroll resigned last month over budget battles with Tribune, Smith said he and the paper’s new leaders are “fundamentally in sync” about the future, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. Some in L.A. say an atmosphere of mistrust lingers between the Times and Chicago-based Tribune, which bought the paper in 2000. After his resignation, Carroll told Newsweek “the ongoing debate over resources” contributed to his move a possible reference to Tribune pushing hard for budget cuts at the Times in the face of slowing ad sales at the paper.
Coastal Panel Fights Drilling Plans
The California Coastal Commission voted unanimously Thursday to object to federal efforts to extend three dozen oil and gas leases off the state’s coastline so that oil companies could begin exploratory drilling. The commission, which includes appointees of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, concluded that federal authorities failed to provide sufficient information on the potential for oil spills and other environmental risks. The disagreement focuses on 36 offshore oil tracts between Oxnard and San Luis Obispo that were leased to oil companies decades ago but never developed into working undersea oil fields, the Los Angeles Times reported.