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April 25, 2014 | Marc Lifsher
State lawmakers have come up with a way to help California cities deal with a proliferation of massage parlors with suspected links to prostitution and human trafficking. New legislation is aimed at fixing an inadvertent loophole created by a 2008 law that created a state-sponsored council to oversee the regulation of legitimate massage therapy businesses, such as spas and clinics. The loophole led to an explosion of massage parlors in many cities. For example, their number grew by nearly 500% to 75 in the city of Huntington Beach between 2009 and 2013.
July 15, 2012 | By Ken Bensinger, Kim Christensen and Jessica Garrison, Los Angeles Times
The decision by three California cities to seek bankruptcy protection in the space of two weeks is unlikely to presage a wave of copycat filings. But it does underscore the mounting financial pressure facing local governments around the country. Collapsing property values and entrenched unemployment have pushed cities and counties to the economic brink. Tax receipts in some locales have shrunk more than 20% over the last three years, and soaring pension costs exceed funding levels by as much as $3 trillion nationwide.
January 29, 2013 | By Alejandro Lazo
A leading measure of home prices in the biggest American cities posted strong year-over-year growth in November. The S&P/Case Shiller 20-city index rose 5.5% from the same month a year earlier, rising in 19 out of the 20 metro areas tracked by the gauge. According to the index, from October to November, prices declined 0.1% -- a normal seasonal slowdown. The data are the latest indication that home prices continued to rise through the end of last year as housing inventory dwindled and demand surged.
June 25, 2012 | Christine Mai-Duc
The Stanton that Alma Barba remembers was just a wedge of a place in the middle of a growing county. There were the strawberry fields and orange groves she'd pass on the way to school, and the town's well-rooted reputation as being impoverished and gang-ridden that she learned to endure. "It was Mayberry-small, but it was horrible," agrees Dave Shawver, who's lived here more than 40 years and has spent the last 24 on the City Council. Today, the gangs are mostly gone. But the poverty is real: The Orange County city is running out of money.
After retiring from his post as police chief in Long Beach, Bill Ellis entered the world of temp workers. No, he's not in the typing pool. Ellis became temporary police chief of West Covina for several months in 1998 and then worked a similar stint last spring in Manhattan Beach. More temporary positions may be ahead for him, all arranged through an unusual agency that helps California cities and counties fill high-end, but short-term, vacancies with retired government executives.
June 7, 2012 | Catherine Saillant and Tony Perry
Landslide victories on ballot measures to cut pension costs in two major California cities emboldened reform advocates, who said they expect a flurry of copycat initiatives and increased support for Gov. Jerry Brown's long-stalled push to curb the state's obligations to its employees. In San Jose, nearly 70% of voters Tuesday approved a plan that gives workers the choice between increasing their pension contribution to 13% of their pay, currently 5% to 11%, or switching to a lower-cost plan with reduced benefits.
April 7, 2014 | By David Zahniser
A veteran Los Angeles building inspector sentenced last month to prison in an FBI corruption case will continue to receive a yearly pension of more than $72,000, according to a high-level retirement official. Samuel In, 66, pleaded guilty last year, admitting as part of a plea agreement that he took more than $30,000 in bribes while working as a senior inspector. He was sentenced last month to 2 1/2 years in prison after a federal prosecutor argued against leniency, mentioning his "substantial" pension.
September 28, 1997
Laurann Cook is the mayor pro tem of Fountain Valley and current president of the Orange County chapter of the League of California Cities. In other words, she is a staunch supporter and propagandist for Orange County cities (Orange County Voices, Sept. 21). Cook says hundreds of millions of dollars in city revenues have been shifted to the state in recent years. And she's basically right. But what she conveniently fails to mention is why the state took the money. The fact is that most of the money shifted from the cities to the state ended up coming back to the same community from whence it came.
May 12, 2002
Re "Thinking Outside Big-Box Zoning," April 29 Your article about the regional implications of city governments that use zoning powers to improve sales tax income touched the edges of the fiscal dilemma faced by California communities but did not address the underlying causes. All cities must have a general plan that balances residential, retail, manufacturing, office, recreation, schools and public uses. The plan reflects geographic and economic factors and community input. The point is, development is done with considerable forethought.
April 1, 2013 | By Marc Lifsher
SACRAMENTO -- California businesses and other special interests quickly learn that playing politics in the ornate chambers of California's Capitol building is more like a barroom brawl than a civics lesson about how bills become laws. Most days, businesses large and small dispatch squads of hired-gun lobbyists to vie for lawmakers' attention and votes. And that lobbying doesn't come cheaply. Last year special interests reported spending $277.5 million on such advocacy, according to the Secretary of State's office.
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