Explaining Southern California's economy

LA's Internet speed, cost ranked among worst major cities worldwide

When it comes to Internet security, many experts agree outsourcing can create added risks, even if they disagree on the merits of outsourcing in the first place.

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The newly-released report from New America's Open Technology Institute did note improvements in L.A., but those gains tended to be for the most expensive Internet plans that fewer people use.

When I called up Nick Russo, Policy Program Associate at New America's Open Technology Institute, I told him I had trouble viewing the report he co-wrote, "The Cost of Connectivity 2014." For the third year in a row, it documents that most U.S. cities have far slower Internet speeds than major cities in Europe and Asia. When I clicked to download the study, my Time Warner Cable Internet cut out, as it's wont to do - several times a day.

"I feel your pain," Russo told me from his Washington, D.C. office. "We're in the same boat over here."

Russo told me I would probably have better luck accessing the Internet in American cities that have invested in publicly-owned fiber optic networks, like Bristol, Virginia, Lafayette, Louisiana, and Chattanooga, Tennessee.

"You pay $300 dollars for 500 megabits in L.A. and you pay $70 for 1000 megabits per second in Chattanooga," Russo said. He thinks Internet access in Los Angeles is pricey and slow because there's a lack of competition among providers; and L.A. is hardly alone among major U.S. cities with subpar data speeds. Russo predicts there will be even less choice for customers nationwide if Time Warner and Comcast complete their $45 billion merger.


Herbalife earnings up, but miss Wall Street expectations following class action settlement


A worker cleans the logo on the Herbalife sign as finishing touches are put on the company's building in Torrance, Calif.

Herbalife, the Los Angeles-based marketer of weight-loss shakes and other nutritional products,  posted its most recent earnings report after stock markets closed on Monday. Shares had climbed nearly six percent in the morning, during the first hours of trading since the company announced it was settling a class action lawsuit late Friday.

The new earnings report revealed a $125.1 million increase for the company's third quarter, or $1.45 per share. It was an improvement over the same period last year, but fell short of Wall Street analyst expectations - set at $1.51 per share. 

Late Friday, Bloomberg reported that Herbalife agreed to pay $15 million to settle a class action lawsuit, filed in April 2013 by a former distributor of the company's products.  Dana Bostick, a California housing inspector who'd tried to earn extra income selling Herbalife nutritional products, alleged that the company was a fraudulent pyramid scheme.   


Los Angeles gets $36 million to expand workforce centers, help job seekers

LA Trade Tech

Alissa Walker / Flickr Creative Commons

Mayor Eric Garcetti will announce on Wednesday the opening of a new job center at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College.

Mayor Eric Garcetti plans to announce on Wednesday that the city has received $36 million – mostly from federal grants – to improve and expand its workforce centers this year, with a potential $180 million more coming over the next five years.

At workforce centers, job seekers can get help on their resumes, prepare for interviews or talk to a career counselor.

The grants are meant to bridge a skills gap in the workforce in Los Angeles, where the unemployment rate is holding steady at 8.5 percent. 

“I think we’ve turned a page and a new chapter for putting people back to work in Los Angeles," said Jan Perry, General Manager of the City’s Economic and Workforce Development Department. “We have brought these services directly to the people we seek to serve and closed a skills gap by matching the jobs much more closely at locations like Los Angeles Trade-Technical College and Los Angeles Southwest College."


$800,000 campaign question: Who'll call the shots at the Santa Monica Airport?

Santa Monica Airport 3

Ken Scarboro/KPCC

Neighbors of Santa Monica Airport have complained about noise from the aircraft taking off and landing, and they post signs asking pilots to fly quietly.

On Tuesday, Santa Monica voters are choosing new city council members and playing a role in the elections of a new county supervisor and U.S. Representative. But one of the most contentious and expensive ballot battles in the city may decide the future of the Santa Monica Municipal Airport.

Pilots and jet owners, like actor Harrison Ford, love the Santa Monica Airport.  They see it as an economic engine and an important and convenient place to land and store a private plane.  But many residents of the neighborhoods around it hate the noise and jet fumes it generates.  

It's a debate that's continued for years, and it’s fair to say that the seven member Santa Monica City Council has sided more recently with the angry residents, who either want to shut the airport down, or at least cut back the traffic from larger jets. Earlier this year, the council voted unanimously to continue pursuing control of the airport land and begin looking at options for closing it after July of next year


Fight to control Ontario International Airport heads to court

L.A./Ontario International Airport

David McNew/Getty Images

The City of Ontario has filed a legal claim to gain control over the L.A./Ontario International Airport. (L.A./ Ontario International Airport. Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

A Superior Court judge could rule Friday on whether decades-old agreements that give the city of Los Angeles control over Ontario International Airport (ONT) should be thrown out or fixed.

The city of Ontario has sought to regain ownership of the Inland Empire airport for years. Last year, it took that quest to court. Its lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles says a 1967 Joint Powers Agreement and a 1985 deed transfer that gave L.A. ownership of ONT should be rescinded, or at least revised to include an end date.

Passenger traffic at Ontario Airport fell 40 percent, from 7.2 million passengers in 2007 to nearly 4 million in 2012.  Ontario officials are quick to point out that it wasn't just due to the recession. They accuse Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), the agency that oversees Ontario and LAX, of mismanagement and neglect.