Patt Morrison for April 1, 2010

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It was old school city politics last night, as the Department of Water & Power and the L.A. City Council exchanged contentious votes and words over the controversial “carbon surcharge” that would increase DWP electrical rates to fund renewable energy development. Each side rejected the other’s proposal to boost the price of electricity, and by the end of the night the standoff had effectively killed the effort by Mayor Villaraigosa to impose higher rates for the next three months. First the DWP opted for a larger rate increase, defying the City Council’s earlier recommendations for a smaller surcharge; then, only 45 minutes later, the City Council voted unanimously to veto the rate increase and send it back to DWP for more work. City politics aside, what will this ultimately mean for the average DWP customer in L.A.?
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Maybe a dozen or so people in the entire world saw the financial meltdown coming – and it wasn’t the people who might have stopped it. The book “The Big Short” brings us the men who made billions betting on red – red ink and financial ruin – and how complicating all that risk managed to hide it from the rest of us. Michael Lewis, author of “Moneyball,” “Liar's Poker,” and “The Blind Side,” chronicles the 2008 financial collapse through stories of the people who realized what was happening to the U.S. economy as it was happening — and made fortunes by betting against the markets.
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Are national math standards a solvable problem?

Tasked with creating a national standard for public education the National Governor’s Association enlisted educators and experts. Those in favor believe that the standards will increase academic proficiency and better prepare students for college while those opposed believe that the standards are not only too low but absolutely obtuse. Here in California the tension has multiplied over math. Before the window for public comment closes on national education standards we discuss the great divide also known as California’s math wars.
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Free food for a year? Who wouldn’t sign up for that? That’s exactly what companies like Denny’s (win a “Grand Slam for a Year”) around the U.S. are banking on to get customers in their door and spending money during the recession. Subway is giving 71 customers free sandwiches for a year to promote its “Five Dollar Footlong” sandwich. The marketing strategy is cost effective (the promotion adds up to about $260 per year, per customer) and successful. It’s estimated that 30% to 40% of free food coupons are redeemed as compared to just 1.5% to 2% of coupons offering discounts. And speaking of coupons, coupon redemption is up a whopping 27% from 2008. That amounts to the largest year-over –year increase in twenty years since they started keeping records. So, what have we learned? Free food and coupons work in a tough economy (duh)! Let’s find out how companies are adapting and how consumers are responding to recession marketing.
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