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Wednesday, Feb 8, 2023

Morning Headlines

Clippers to Build Practice Facility at Playa Vista Site

The Los Angeles Clippers plan to settle into a new $20 million practice facility in fall 2006 in the Playa Vista development. Clippers officials said Thursday their new 35,000-square-foot training center will cover a 2-acre parcel near Centinela Avenue and a new connector called Bluff Creek Drive, in the same area DreamWorks SKG considered building new studios before plans were abandoned in 1999, the Daily Breeze reported. The land deal is the first in Playa Vista’s office park section and gives the basketball team a permanent home. The Clippers have been practicing at Spectrum Club in El Segundo.

Pension Funds Urged to Oppose CNOOC Bid

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, the largest and third-largest U.S. pension funds, should oppose CNOOC Ltd.’s bid for Unocal Corp., state Controller Steve Westly said. Westly, who sits on the boards of both funds, sent letters to other members urging them to vote against an acquisition of the El Segundo-based oil company by China’s CNOOC. Westly said a union of the two posed a threat to U.S. security and might be blocked by regulators, Bloomberg News reported.

SAG, Producers Reach Deal on TV Animation

The Screen Actors Guild reached a tentative agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers on a three-year contract covering TV animation productions. The agreement includes a 3 percent increase in minimum pay for workers, effective July 1, and a 1 percent increase in contributions to the union’s benefit plans, beginning Jan. 1. The guild’s national board will consider the proposed contract later this month, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Private Pollution Pact Is Criticized

Steamed by a privately negotiated state pact on locomotive diesel exhaust controls they say will not adequately protect communities near rail yards, local smog authorities and environmentalists will make a joint appeal today for state regulators to rescind the controversial agreement, the Daily Breeze reported. While the state Air Resources Board says the plan is a good way to get quick, voluntary reductions in diesel emissions by limiting locomotive idling, requiring cleaner fuels and providing for the repair of smoky engines, critics say the agreement undermines local efforts to improve air quality. The ARB announced its agreement with Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway and the Union Pacific Railroad Co., taking the local region’s smog agency by surprise because the pact was never publicly revealed until it was signed.

WGA Targets Reality TV

On Thursday, a dozen television writers, with the help of the Writers Guild of America, West, filed a class-action lawsuit against eight production companies and TV networks. The suit alleges “gross violations” of California’s labor laws that govern the payment of overtime, wages and meal breaks, the Daily News of Los Angeles reported. Production companies for some of the shows had the plaintiffs sign employment agreements that could amount to 12-hour workdays, seven days a week, according to the lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court. The complaint names a number of production companies as defendants, including Next Entertainment and Telepictures Productions, as well as the broadcast networks that aired the shows: ABC, CBS, WB and TBS.

LAUSD Placed on Financial Watch List

Los Angeles Unified and eight other Los Angeles County school districts were placed Thursday on the state’s financial watch list after overspending their budgets in 2003-2004. LAUSD made its first appearance on the list predicting “impending financial problems” after it overspent its $5 billion budget by $253 million, the Daily News of Los Angeles reported. The Annual Financial Report of California K-12 Schools points to a dire future for public school finances and warns that nearly 80 districts may not be able to pay their bills in two years. For the first time in 12 years, school districts overall spent more money than they received, with 552 districts overspending a total of $682 million.

Indictment Heats Up Probe of Law Firm

The recent indictment of two alleged participants in an illegal kickback scheme has added momentum to a three-year federal probe targeting the nation’s top class-action law firm, the Los Angeles Times reported. Milberg Weiss Bershad & Schulman wasn’t named in the charges unsealed June 23 against Seymour M. Lazar, an entertainment lawyer from Palm Springs. But allegations detailed in the document make clear that the real targets are Milberg Weiss and former partner William S. Lerach, who heads a firm based in San Diego. The 17-count indictment accused Lazar of receiving $2.4 million in “secret and illegal kickback payments” in exchange for serving as lead plaintiff in more than 50 class actions, most of them shareholder suits in the 1980s and 1990s.

PNM Agrees to Pay $1 Million to Settle Power-Trading Probe

PNM Resources Inc., owner of New Mexico’s largest utility, has agreed to pay $1 million to end a federal investigation of its electricity-trading practices during the California energy crisis of 2000 and 2001. PNM didn’t violate California’s market rules by moving electricity around the Southwest for power traders at Enron Corp., El Paso Corp. and Morgan Stanley, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said in an order dated Wednesday. The utility owner still faces a lawsuit over its trading practices filed by California Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer, Bloomberg News reported.

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