The race is on

Jan 18, 2011

Hoping to beat Gov. Brown's budget clock, redevelopment agencies across California are jump-starting hundreds of millions of dollars worth of projects. One, in Citrus Heights, even met on a holiday to approve the spending. The Bee's Brad Branan, the Chronicle's Marisa Lagos and the Long Beach Press' Paul Eakins take a look.


From Branan: "Los Angeles approved $930 million in projects, while Fremont signed off on up to $140 million in work, and Citrus Heights authorized about $60 million for redevelopment."


"Riverside County expects to discuss $155 million in redevelopment projects today. Redevelopment advocates said the votes are a reasonable defense against what they call Brown's unreasonable proposal. Public employee unions that expect to benefit from the governor's plan called the decisions deceptive and shortsighted."


From Lagos: "Why does it matter? Well, Gov. Jerry Brown wants to eliminate the 60-year-old, $5 billion a year program as part of his plan to close the state's $25.4 billion budget gap. Under the proposal, the state's 390 redevelopment agencies would disband July 1, and any money that hasn't already been committed to a project would flow back to cities, counties and school districts."


"That's right: under Brown's plan, if a redevelopment agency has already signed a contract or issued a bond, the project in question will keep the funding. So now, it looks like some local officials want to do an end run around the governor's grand plan. This is sure to set up some interesting fights both in Sacramento and around the state."


From Eakins: "The council is being asked to encumber $886 million in current and future redevelopment area tax revenues "to support revitalization of neighborhoods" in the city's seven redevelopment zones through the 2021 fiscal year..."


"The money would pay for planned projects such as the Eastside Police Station, North Long Beach Library and Fire Station 12 in North Long Beach, as well as future potential projects. City officials also want to use $138.5 million of current and future redevelopment housing set-asides, which is funding that must be spent on housing under state law, for affordable housing projects through the 2016 fiscal year."


Brown's plan to push the redevelopment agencies into extinction isn't the only issue worrying the locals. He also wants to cut enterprise zones, which allow businesses tax and hiring breaks in return for locating in sketchy areas. The Oakland Trib's Rick Radin has the story.


"Local officials and businesses are concerned that Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal to eliminate an enterprise zone program will drive firms out of low-income areas such as Richmond that have benefited economically."

"Cutting the program would save $343 million in 2010-11 and $581 million in 2011-12, aiding Brown's efforts to balance the state budget, according to the state Department of Finance, which argues that the program does not provide a statewide benefit and should be eliminated."

Meanwhile, a pair of state Senate elections may be settled in the first round of balloting, which means the newly approved "top-two" primary system likely won't be tested. From the LA Times' Jean Merl.

"Only two candidates will be on the ballot to replace former state Sen. George Runner (R-Lancaster), who resigned his 17th District seat after his recent election to the state Board of Equalization. One of the candidates is his wife, former Assemblywoman Sharon Runner, also a Republican, who is considered the strong favorite in this longtime GOP stronghold..."


"With eight people on the ballot in the South Bay-based 28th state Senate district, a runoff could be needed to determine who will succeed the late Jenny Oropeza (D- Long Beach). Oropeza died shortly before the Nov. 2 election and was reelected posthumously....Most observers give the edge in that race to former Assemblyman Ted Lieu, a Torrance Democrat whose lower-house district overlapped half the Senate district."

Politics is show business for ugly people, as the saying goes, but Hollywood isn't doing much better than Sacramento lately: Tinseltown is going through its own economic pain. The LAT's Dawn C. Chmielewski and Meg James have the story.

"To paraphrase Apollo 13 astronaut Jack Swigert, "Hollywood, we have a problem." The industry that was supposed to be immune to economic downturns looks like it's going to have some re-entry problems as the economy begins to recover."

"Broad swaths of the entertainment business declined in 2010.DVD sales were off 13%. Music CD purchases plummeted 19%. Video game sales as well as concert and theater attendance also fell. Even the turnout for America's favorite pastimes — baseball and NASCAR — was down. And swift changes in technology will make it difficult for Hollywood to capture pre-recession levels of revenue."


Finally, we turn to our "What  a Strange, Strange Trip Its Been" file to see some video of a California mother who took a 1950s trip on LSD, long before most of the '60s counterculture ever heard of Acid. Yo, mama!


"An American biographer - doing research for a book on pioneers in the field of hallucinogenic drug experimentation - has stumbled upon footage of a prim and proper housewife struggling with the effects of LSD. The bizarre and slightly creepy footage shows a doctor dosing up the young woman and filming the consequences.

Biographer Don Lattin said he came across the footage while preparing a group biography of British writer Aldous Huxley, philosopher Gerald Heard, and Bill Wilson, the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. Mr Lattin said: 'It's from a television programme, circa 1956, about mental health issues."


Wonder if they filmed Cary Grant...

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