Villaraigosa Won’t Seek LAUSD Control for Now
L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa softened his push for a City Hall takeover of Los Angeles public schools Monday, saying he wants to focus first on other educational measures, such as initiatives to improve campus safety. Villaraigosa, who made the city’s underperforming public schools a central focus of his new administration, said he will convene a panel of education experts on July 29 to advise him on how to assist the Los Angeles Unified School District on safety, health care and after-school programs. While he said the mayor should be in charge of schools, Villaraigosa refused to say when or if that should happen, Copley News Service reported.
Buyers Snap Up Homes in June
Southern Californians bought houses in record numbers during June despite prices hitting all-time highs in each of the region’s six counties. A total of 35,454 new and previously owned houses and condominiums sold from Ventura to San Diego counties, 2.1 percent more than a year earlier and an increase of 14.8 percent from May, said DataQuick Information Systems. During June, the region’s median price gained an annual 14.5 percent, to a record $465,000, but annual increases softened, the Daily News of Los Angeles reported. In the Los Angeles County market, the median price jumped 14.7 percent, to $475,000, while sales increased an annual 2.8 percent, to 11,673 transactions.
On Campus, Legal Music Services
In an effort to curb piracy among college students, the University of California and California State University systems on Monday announced a deal to offer legal music and movie download services to 600,000 students, the Los Angeles Times reported. The agreement with Cdigix Inc. is the largest since campuses began searching two years ago for alternatives to the illegal peer-to-peer downloading that clogged their computer networks and put students in legal jeopardy. Cdigix’s contract gives administrators at all 13 UC and 23 Cal State campuses the option of offering online music and movie services to students. UC and Cal State also are negotiating with other providers , such as Napster Inc., Sony Corp. and Mindawn , to give campuses a choice of services.
PierPass Program Makes Waves
With more than 4,000 shippers signed up, a new system designed to move cargo during off-peak hours and relieve congestion in the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach is set to kick off Saturday. But a labor union trying to organize truck drivers said the new hours pose an unfair burden to truckers and will hold a rally Friday at noon in San Pedro. The overnight and weekend hours are designed to encourage port customers to use cargo operations on nights and weekends by charging extra fees during regular daytime shifts. The expanded hours are geared to reduce pollution, cutting down on trucks that idle as they wait for terminal access during daytime hours, the Daily Breeze reported.
Officials Reject Plan for Tracks
The quest to introduce a high-speed train across California hit a bump on Monday when L.A. City Council members told rail officials to avoid building tracks anywhere near the planned Taylor Yards State Park, the Los Angeles Times reported. The park is being carved out of an old rail yard along the Los Angeles River, north of downtown. It is next to two routes being considered by the California High Speed Rail Authority. On Monday, the City Council’s River Committee passed a resolution urging the authority to look for other routes. But the resolution has no binding power. Earlier this year, the rail authority eliminated a route that would have tunneled under Elysian Park and emerged in the middle of the new Cornfields State Park, north of Chinatown.
L.A. County Settles Suit by Legal Newspaper
L.A. County decided Monday to pay $40,000 to a legal newspaper to settle a lawsuit against the district attorney’s office over a 2002 search warrant that investigators executed at the paper’s downtown headquarters. The search, part of a broad probe into corruption allegations involving the city of South Gate, shut down the Metropolitan News-Enterprise for three hours and drew fire from 1st Amendment experts. The paper’s owner and editor sued Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley, alleging that the search warrant was too broad and that Cooley libeled him in a statement saying Grace “refused to cooperate” with a judge’s order, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The Force Is With Fox
Darth Vader, Brad and Angelina and four superheroes propelled 20th Century Fox to the $1 billion mark in domestic grosses in near-record time, according to final box office figures released Monday. The studio, which had three films in the top 10 last weekend, was boosted by the release of “Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith.” The movie industry had been plagued by a record streak that had 2005 grosses trailing behind 2004’s for 19 consecutive weekends. That resulted in year-to-date attendance being down by nearly 10 percent compared with the year before, the Daily News of Los Angeles reported. Fox managed to hit the $1 billion mark faster than any studio in history except for Sony Pictures Entertainment, which crossed it four days faster back in 2002.