April 15, 2014 |
Most Californians can't afford their rent. The state's affordability crisis has worsened since the recession, as soaring home prices and rents outpace job and income growth. Meanwhile, government funds to combat the problem have evaporated. Local redevelopment agencies once generated roughly $1 billion annually for below-market housing across California, but the roughly 400 agencies closed in 2012 to ease a state budget crisis. In addition, almost $5 billion from state below-market housing bonds, approved by voters last decade, is nearly gone.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 14, 2014 |
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti's first proposed budget calls for hiring 140 firefighters and the start of a sweeping overhaul of the city's 911 dispatch system, part of a bid to speed the response to hundreds of thousands of calls for help each year. The revamped dispatch operation, outlined Monday by the mayor's office as it presented an $8.1-billion spending plan for the coming fiscal year, would unify separate police and fire emergency call centers and gradually replace some uniformed firefighters with lower-paid civilian phone operators.
April 14, 2014 |
Mayor Eric Garcetti dropped no bombshells when he released his first budget Monday. The $8.1-billion spending plan was in line with the theme of his administration so far: focus on basic city functions, improve customer service, control costs and win back public trust. All in all, it's a modest budget from an administration that takes pride in being prudent. Most modest is his plan to trim the business tax. When the proposal was floated earlier this year, Garcetti was going to eliminate the business tax. Phase it out. Get rid of it. Businesses and entrepreneurs hate the city's business tax because it's significantly higher than almost all surrounding cities, and it's based on gross receipts, not profits, so a company could be hit with a big tax bill even if it made no money that year.
April 14, 2014 |
JERUSALEM - The crowd that gathered at the recent grand opening of Cinema City hadn't come for the movies. They were there in droves to protest a government regulation that keeps the 19-screen cineplex closed each week from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. "Jerusalem, wake up!" the protesters chanted as security guards blocked them from entering the lobby. "Nonreligious people are equal too!" The demonstration was the latest skirmish in Jerusalem's long-running "Sabbath wars," which for decades have pitted the city's secular Jewish population against its ultra-Orthodox community over whether shops, theaters and other public spaces can remain open on the Jewish day of rest.
April 13, 2014 |
Business travelers prefer flying Seattle-based Alaska Airlines over any other carrier, but Delta and United Airlines carry the most business travelers in the U.S. Business travelers also love the gourmet sandwiches at Jimmy John's eateries, but most of their expensed meals are eaten at Starbucks or McDonald's. These are among the findings of a new report by Certify, a Portland, Maine-based expense management company that processes 1.5 million business expense transactions each month.
April 11, 2014 |
Saturday night is fight night, with the highly anticipated rematch between Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley set to be broadcast on big screens across the nation. As thousands of fans traipse into bars and restaurants to catch the big fight, a small army of corporate detectives will be lurking in the background, hoping to catch something else. Paid by the promoters of the closed-circuit televised event, these sleuths will be on the lookout for bar owners who show the Pacquiao-Bradley fight without paying the commercial rate, which dwarfs the fee to watch in your living room.
April 10, 2014 |
Wonderfully animated and well-voiced, "Rio 2" is nevertheless too much. Too much plot, too many issues, too many characters. But not too much music. Yes, the musical numbers reach saturation levels, but the Latin-influenced jamming and singing are absolutely fabulous. "Rio 2's" music might even save the 3-D animated action-adventure about endangered South American blue macaws from the terrible 2s that affect so many sequels. The eclectic animal and human cast and respective star voices that "Rio" introduced in 2011 have all reconvened to continue the party.
April 8, 2014 |
WASHINGTON -- Small-business owners were more optimistic about the economy last month and expected sales to increase as a winter marked by severe weather ended, according to survey results released Tuesday. The confidence index from the National Federation of Independent Business rose to 93.4 in March, from 91.4 the previous month. The measure is one of the few monthly barometers of the small-business sector, which is a key driver of the economy. Last month's increase nearly reversed a drop in February, but the index, which can range from 80 to 110, remains historically low as the economic recovery struggles to gain traction.
April 7, 2014 |
For years, Republicans benefited from economic growth. So did pretty much everyone else, of course. But I have something specific in mind. Politically, when the economy is booming - or merely improving at a satisfactory clip - the distinction between being pro-business and pro-market is blurry. The distinction is also fuzzy when the economy is shrinking or imploding. But when the economy is simply limping along - not good, not disastrous - like it is now, the line is easier to see. And GOP politicians typically don't want to admit they see it. Just to clarify, the difference between being pro-business and pro-market is categorical.
April 6, 2014 |
Animation giant Pixar uses technology only as a means to an end; its films are rooted in human concerns, not computer wizardry. The same can be said of the new book "Creativity, Inc.," Ed Catmull's endearingly thoughtful explanation of how the studio he co-founded generated hits such as the "Toy Story" trilogy, "Up" and "Wall-E. " Catmull was a 1970s computer animation pioneer (university classmates included Netscape co-founder Jim Clark), but his book is not a technical history of how the hand-drawn artistry perfected by Disney was rendered obsolete by the processing power of machines.