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April 6, 2010 | By Jerry B. Epstein
Imagine you are deeply in debt. But you are also less than a year away from paying off the mortgage on a nice home that you want to continue living in. Someone comes in and offers you enough money to pay off a small portion of your outstanding bills if you will sell them your house. As part of the deal, you would have to live in the house for 20 years, paying rent to the new owners that would amount to many times what you were paid for the house. Would you do it? Not likely. Yet, late last summer, with little study and without public hearings or input from the real estate experts who serve on the relevant state building authorities, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Legislature agreed to sell 11 state office building complexes, including the Ronald Reagan and Junipero Serra state buildings in downtown Los Angeles.
March 19, 2010 | By Duke Helfand
A consumer group Thursday called on California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner to release all documents related to his investigation of proposed double-digit rate increases by Anthem Blue Cross for customers who buy individual policies. Consumer Watchdog also asked Poizner to hold at least four public hearings across the state as part of his inquiry into premium increases by California's largest for-profit insurer. Woodland Hills-based Anthem agreed to delay its rate hikes of as much as 39% until May 1 while an outside actuary, hired by Poizner's office, reviews the company's spending on medical claims.
February 4, 2010 | By Mike Boehm
The Los Angeles City Council unanimously shot down a proposal Wednesday that would have eliminated guaranteed city funding for the arts, after listening to often-impassioned pleas during a public hearing on cutting government services and jobs in the face of a municipal budget crisis. The council also showed no appetite for a recommendation by City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana that would have erased the $4 million arts grants program. Olga Garay, executive director of the Department of Cultural Affairs, said she would try to find at least $500,000 in savings in her current budget, as Santana has proposed.
January 13, 2010 | By Jim Puzzanghera
The heads of major Wall Street firms admitted mistakes in leading up to the financial crisis today but didn't take direct blame as they answered some tough questions at the first public hearing of a government panel investigating the causes of the meltdown. "There's no doubt we as an industry made mistakes," said John Mack, chairman of Morgan Stanley. Among those mistakes were making large bets on the continued rise in housing prices and selling securities and other products made up of subprime mortgages.
December 23, 2009 | By Oscar Avila and Kristen Schorsch
Facing anxious citizens afraid of becoming terrorist targets, federal officials confirmed Tuesday that some of the most notorious Guantanamo detainees could be sent to Illinois if the Obama administration buys a state prison. The proposed federal prison in Thomson would be the site for military tribunals for five alleged plotters in the 2000 bombing of the U.S. destroyer Cole, said Alan Liotta, the Defense Department's principal director for detainee policy, at a public hearing on the plan.
December 3, 2009 | By Tony Barboza
An Orange County assemblyman has joined other local politicians who have changed their minds about selling the Orange County Fairgrounds to help balance the state budget. In a letter Wednesday to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Assemblyman Jose Solorio (D-Santa Ana) said that although he had voted for the July bill that authorized the state to sell the fairgrounds, a public hearing he held last month in Costa Mesa with fellow Assemblyman Van Tran (R-Garden Grove) raised serious concerns that convinced him it should be halted.
November 17, 2009 | By Ari B. Bloomekatz
A long-awaited geological study for a proposal to complete the 710 Freeway as a tunnel under either the San Gabriel Valley or northeast Los Angeles found that such a project would be scientifically feasible. The findings mark a small step in what even supporters say is a long road for the tunnel idea, which was proposed by transportation officials and some politicians after residents fought for decades against completing the 710 as an above-ground freeway. The tunnel has also generated opposition, and building it would be significantly more expensive than a regular freeway.
September 24, 2009 | Dan Weikel
Concerned that proper procedures were ignored by administrators, a Los Angeles City Council committee on Wednesday threw out a $250,000 contract for a consultant to study the city's taxi industry. Members of the transportation committee voted unanimously to end a contract with Nelson/Nygaard, hired in June to study the working conditions of taxi drivers and the city's franchise system. Drivers own their cars but must pay fees to cooperatives for services such as dispatch, insurance and marketing.
July 1, 2009 | Carol J. Williams
Corrections officials heard overwhelming condemnation of proposed new lethal injection procedures Tuesday at the first-ever public hearing on execution methods in the state. Contrary to the solid majority of Californians who in opinion polls expressed support for the death penalty, only two out of more than 100 speakers supported a resumption of death sentences once legal hurdles are cleared.
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