Southern California breaking news and trends

Orange County Transportation Authority opposes elimination of federal transit funding

Chris Yarzab/Flickr/Creative Commons

L.A. public transportation may lose all funding if bill H.R. 7 passes into legislation as is.

The Orange County Transportation Authority and other transit authorities across the country are urging Congress to keep federal public transit funding in place. 

H.R. 7 is the bill that would fund a five-year, $260 billion transportation overhaul, with the goal of fixing roads, bridges and other transportation infrastructure. But it includes a provision that would wipe out the federal Mass Transit Account, which public transit officials say would eliminate dedicated funding for public transportation. The Orange County Transportation Authority’s Will Kempton says that if part of the bill is approved, the OCTA would lose $58 million in funding — about 19 percent of its already hurting budget for buses.

"Without that, we are going to be looking at having to go back to the actions that we took in the past two years, of again reducing service and potentially laying off employees as a result of the loss of a major source of operating funding," he said.


'Live from the Kodak Theatre' is dead; Oscars to reference 'Hollywood and Highland Center'

kodak theater hollywood and highland

Photo by mninha via Flickr Creative Commons


The phrase "live from the Kodak Theatre" is dead. Sunday's Oscars will not go location nameless, however. Instead, the 84th Annual Academy Awards telecast will be announced as "live from the Hollywood and Highland Center in Hollywood, California," per the request of the property's landlord the CIM Group, ABC 7 reports.

The forthcoming vague voiceover follows a court approval earlier this month to end Kodak's sponsorship of the 3,300-seat theater. The iconic company signed a naming rights deal for $74 million in 2000, but asked to cut short its contract after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

As for finding a new identity for the glamorous venue, "CIM has engaged Premier Partnerships to search for a new naming rights sponsor. However the process is complicated since a major brand would not want to pay $50 million or more for their name to be on the venue unless they are assured the Academy will keep the Oscars there for the term of the deal. That is yet to be seen," explains the Hollywood Reporter.


SAG members sue to block AFTRA merger (updated)

SAG Awards Show

Mark J. Terrill/AP

Screen Actors Guild President Ken Howard is seen onstage at the 18th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards. He lauded the merger then, but there is significant opposition to it.

Dozens of members of the Screen Actors Guild who oppose a merger with AFTRA filed a lawsuit [PDF] today asking for an injunction to stop the upcoming vote on the proposed merger. Martin Sheen, Ed Harris, Valerie Harper and former SAG presidents Ed Asner and Alan Rosenberg are among the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

It accuses the Guild’s Board of Directors of breaching its fiduciary duty to conduct a proper study of the effects of the merger on Guild members’ pension and health benefits. 

“They have done nothing of substance to support their claims that the proposed merger will protect SAG member benefits. The average SAG member makes less than $10,000 per year. They need to know that all necessary due diligence was done to protect them," said David Casselman, the attorney representing the plaintiffs.


Abuse accusations didn't stop LAUSD substitute teacher from teaching in Inglewood

An LAUSD substitute teacher was investigated three times for sexual misconduct with students before he quit in 2007 to work for the Inglewood Unified School District, the L.A. Times reported today.

George Hernandez, 45, was never arrested or charged in the LAUSD cases.

But when the third investigation was completed, Hernandez quit teaching in L.A. and started working for the Inglewood Unified School District.

There, he taught for nearly three years before police found a videotape they say shows him molesting a second-grade girl at school in Inglewood. He was charged, but fled, and is a fugitive.

"This is an outrage," Kathleen Carroll, an attorney who worked for the state Commission on Teacher Credentialing, told the Times.

A few other points from the Times story:

• LAUSD could find no evidence it reported Hernadez to the state credentialing commission, which would have prevented him from working in other districts.

• The Inglewood school district broke its own policy by not doing a full background check on Hernandez.

• The mother of the Inglewood girl is suing, alleging that LAUSD is liable for not taking action against Hernandez.