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Thursday, Jun 8, 2023

The Business Digest

Romer Will Head LAUSD

The Board of Education unanimously agreed to appoint former Colorado Gov. Roy Romer superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, making him the first non-educator to lead the huge and beleaguered district.

Romer said he would resign immediately as chairman of the Democratic National Convention Committee. His immediate priorities as LAUSD superintendent include helping interim Supt. Ramon C. Cortines select leaders of 11 mini-districts being created through a massive reorganization. The reorganization takes effect the first week of July, the same time Romer takes over.

Newhall Ranch Project Stalls

In a decision emphasizing the importance of guaranteed water supplies for future housing projects in California, a Kern County judge temporarily blocked construction of the 22,000-home Newhall Ranch development the largest residential project in L.A. County history.

The ruling by Superior Court Judge Roger D. Randall, following a court battle between Los Angeles and Ventura counties, requires the developer to prove it can acquire enough water from the State Water Project and an underground storage aquifer to support the proposed community.

The decision buttresses a point raised repeatedly by water suppliers in recent years: that large new suburban developments should not be approved until the developer can demonstrate an ability to provide water during drought without forcing existing users to ration supplies.

The project site is just across the border from eastern Ventura County.

Panel Calls for Open Access

Acting on an issue that has attracted national attention, a Los Angeles City Council committee voted to require any cable company that wants its franchise renewed to open its high-speed cable lines to firms providing Internet services.

The approach is hotly opposed by many cable companies that see it as an unnecessary and burdensome government regulation that ultimately would hurt consumers. Perry Parks, a vice president of MediaOne, said city officials would be better off letting the market work to create competition, rather than trying to mandate it.

Under the proposal, cable companies would have to open their lines by 2002, when their franchises with the city expire. City Councilman Alex Padilla sponsored the measure, which could go to the full council for consideration as early as this week.

Mattel Move Defended

Mattel Inc.’s new chief executive defended the company’s $40 million-plus severance package to former CEO Jill Barad, saying the board was obligated to fulfill her contract and even sweeten it in order to quickly make a leadership change for the good of the company.

Robert Eckert, who has been on the job three weeks, offered shareholders little more than a sympathetic ear at the El Segundo-based toy maker’s annual meeting.

Shareholders, furious with seeing Mattel lose $7 billion in market value over the past year, interrupted Eckert several times to rage against board members who presided over the decline.

Eckert, the former head of Philip Morris Cos.’ Kraft Foods division, asked shareholders to hold their questions until the end of his presentation but gave up once it became clear that many were willing to shout from their seats if they were not recognized.

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