Patt Morrison for July 6, 2010

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When the L.A. City Council and the DWP first proposed lawn watering restrictions last year there was some moaning and groaning among homeowners that the strict water rationing would lead to ugly front yards across the city. But Los Angelenos got in line and had seemed to embrace the Monday/Thursday watering rules, until water manes started bursting under streets in various neighborhoods. Today the City Council hopes to rectify that problem by changing the water formula for when people are allowed to turn on the sprinklers, but it gets a little a complicated. There’s also the question of compliance because while the majority of the city’s residents seem to be following the rules there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence on any block throughout L.A. that people still willfully blow off the restrictions. Will “water cops” be issuing tickets to scofflaw sprinklers?
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AIG and Goldman Sachs take the hot seat

Derivatives, derivatives, derivatives: that was the hot topic at the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission last week. The bipartisan group tasked with figuring out how our economy melted down called on executives from AIG, Goldman Sachs, scholars, and regulators to help explain what the heck a derivative is and why they played a role in the collapse of our economy. If you have ever wondered what the notional value of over-the-counter derivatives were in 2008, the answer is $684 trillion. That’s trillion with a “t”. According to the chairman of the commission, that’s ten times the GDP of all nations. David examines all this risky business.
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The troubled environmental agenda of Barack Obama

Among the long list of promises and potential that Barack Obama carried with him into the White House, one of the greatest expectations of his supporters was that he would bring a radically different environmental agenda than his predecessor George W. Bush. Two years on and President Obama’s supporters have several reasons to be disappointed. While the continuous gushing of oil into the Gulf of Mexico is the most visual reminder of failed environmental regulation and oversight, the President’s inability to pass a comprehensive carbon emissions control bill in Congress is probably the biggest let down. The President’s chief environmental adviser is here to talk about the Administration’s bolstering of national parks, and how they plan to eventually fulfill the promise of being true environmentalists.
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The new Fremont High

Last December, South L.A.’s Fremont High School became the first school ever in the Los Angeles Unified School District to undergo a controversial process known as “restructuring” or “reconstitution,” an aggressive plan under the No Child Left Behind Act that allows districts to reconstitute a chronically underperforming school, dismiss all teachers and rehire no more than 50% percent of its faculty before reopening. The method closely mirrors programs that Secretary of Education Arne Duncan implemented with varied success in Chicago’s public school district. While not technically “fired,” teachers were outraged and felt they had no input in the decision—about 60% of Fremont’s teachers reapplied for their jobs by the March deadline. They were frustrated by an administration that they claimed continued to fail them, while that administration said they were fed up with a school culture grown complacent with underachievement. If restructuring is successful at Fremont, it will have ramifications for schools nation-wide. Today, the school reopens with its re-hired and newly hired staff. Patt continues her series looking at the restructuring of Fremont High.
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Almost over overdrafts

It looks like it’s a win for the people, kind of. New rules have been installed to control the fees that banks issue associated with overdrafts. But the downside is that the rules only apply to ATM withdrawals and one-time-only debit card purchases, not including monthly deductions for subscriptions or automatic payments. Overdrafts are a huge source of revenue for banks, reason enough to offer their customers “free” checking accounts, just in case they overdraft their account. Consumer advocates say the new rules aren't enough - some are even calling for boycotts to paying these fees. So even though it’s not the best-case scenario, is this a step in the right direction?
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