Southern California breaking news and trends

AEG exec to appear before city council committee

AEG President and CEO Tim Leiweke gives


AEG President and CEO Tim Leiweke gives a press conference in front of the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, in 2009. He's expected to answer questions about the company's impending sale on Monday.

The Los Angeles City Council's Ad Hoc Stadium Committee is scheduled to meet Monday morning and is expected to hear from AEG president Tim Leiweke about how the company's pending sale might affect its proposal to build a downtown football stadium.

Last week, the Anschutz Entertainment Group announced it is on the market. The company, which owns Staples Center and L.A. Live, has proposed building a stadium in the same vicinity. The project has been in development with the city for years. 

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said last week that AEG owner Phillip Anschutz has assured him a buyer will be found who will accept the terms of the pending development agreement with the city.

The agreement calls for the city to issue more than $300 million in bonds to pay for demolishing and replacing the Convention Center's West Hall to make room for the stadium. The bonds would be repaid through revenues from a special tax district in the area and from AEG lease payments. 


Labor threatens to sue Los Angeles over pension plan

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa

Jerod Harris/Getty Images for BGR

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa supports a plan to reduce pension benefits for future city employees.

The union that represents City of Los Angeles employees is threatening to sue the city if it adopts a proposal to reduce retirement benefits for new civilian workers.

The change in pension benefits could save the city as much as $4.3 billion over a 30-year period, according to a report released Tuesday.

The plan reflects months of negotiations behind closed doors. Highlights include:

  1. The retirement age would increased from 55 to 65
  2. Retirement benefits would be based on 75 percent of an employee’s final compensation, instead of 100 percent
  3. Cost of living adjustments would be capped
  4. Healthcare benefits for dependents would be eliminated 

City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana believes the benefits for new hires are not subject to bargaining with the unions. However, the president of SEIU Local 721 called the report “an end run around collective bargaining.” 


Mayor Villaraigosa accuses Prop 32 campaign of misrepresenting his remarks

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa

Andres Aguila/KPCC

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa believes the Proposition 32 campaign is misrepresenting his remarks to make it seem that he supports the ballot measure.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa lashed out today at the Proposition 32 campaign for suggesting that he supports the measure that would prohibit labor unions from deducting political contributions from members' paychecks.

In a letter to the campaign, the mayor accuses supporters of misusing his remarks on the failure of a state senate bill to suggest that he supports Prop 32. SB 1530  would have made it easier to dismiss teachers involved in drug and sexual abuse cases, but it was strongly opposed by teachers’ unions. In an Associated Press story cited by the campaign, Villaraigosa called the defeat a “cynical political manipulation.”

Those remarks were then picked up and used in a Yes on Proposition 32 commercial posted to YouTube. However, in a letter released today, Villaraigosa said that his comments were taken out of context by the campaign.


Richard Riordan: LA headed for disaster without pension reform (updated)

Former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan and business community leaders on Wednesday called for an overhaul of the city’s pension system that would include changes for current employees. 

Speaking before the Executive Employee Relations Committee, Riordan told Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and several city council members that basic services — such as the police department and sidewalk repair — could be decimated without significant reductions in what the city pays toward employees’ retirement. He and leaders from the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce want to see charter amendments on the ballot to change the city’s pension system.

The proposal would affect the pensions of current employees by capping their salaries, which determine retirement benefits.

Including current employees in pension reform would almost certainly be challenged in court. Voters in San Jose and San Diego recently approved pension reform for their employees. Immediately after the election, the City of San Jose asked a federal court for a prompt ruling on legal issues that may arise as a result of the vote. 


The final days of LA's medical marijuana clinics?

Frank Stoltze/KPCC

Medical marijuana clinics will close in about 40 days, under a new Los Angeles city ordinance.

It could be the final days for medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles, with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa expected to sign the Los Angeles City Council's ordinance to shut down the clinics. 

The mayor has 10 days to sign off on the law. 

"The mayor has long supported a limit on dispensaries while preserving access for those with a verifiable medical need as prescribed by state law," according to a statement from Villaraigosa's office. 

Under the city council's plan, patients may grow their own medical cannabis in collectives no larger than three people. Primary care givers may continue to distribute the drug, as well. The City Attorney's Office believes there are currently 800 to 1,000 pot shops in Los Angeles. 

Americans for Safe Access, which supports the nonprofit shops that distribute medical marijuana, has called for a referendum to overturn the law.