Patt Morrison for August 17, 2010

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Over the past several months, the FBI and other law enforcement agencies have opened investigations, along with the California attorney general Jerry Brown’s office and L.A. County district attorney Steve Cooley’s office, into several local city governments over various allegations of corruption. From the now infamously high salaries of Bell’s city council, to the questionable city contracts in Maywood and the residents of Hawaiian Gardens gathering signatures in an effort to recall two city council members, corruption seems to be spreading across the Southland. What’s more, with media coverage depleted by a recession, there’s little investigative reporting serving those communities and many of the community members close enough to catch wind of the corruption don’t have the resources to hire legal representation. Patt talks with some whistleblowers and community activists about the seemingly widespread corruption popping up across LA County and how these groups got their voices heard.
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And the fight continues: Two weeks after Judge Vaughn Walker heartened supporters of same sex marriage by ruling Proposition 8 unconstitutional, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed to take up the case on appeal and in the process extended a stay on the marriage ban until at least December. As gay couples across California were preparing to exchange vows on Wednesday, which was the deadline for the temporary stay put in place last week by Judge Walker, county clerks were preparing for potentiality of thousands of weddings. Instead they’ll have to wait for the 9th Circuit to rule on the case—while the appeal was inevitable but the stay on marriages has to be a disappointment. We examine the legalities of the case as it makes its slow march toward the U.S. Supreme Court.
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It's been a tumultuous year for L.A.'s Department of Water & Power. After putting a sprinkler rationing program into effect, water mains started bursting all over the city; after proposing a hefty increase to power bills to fund new renewable energy programs, the City Council burst in a show of defiance; and after initially denying a promised $75 million transfer in revenues into L.A.'s general fund, the L.A. Controller burst with outrage, accusing the DWP of playing politics with city finances. The interim general manager of the DWP embodies the delicate position in which the city utility finds itself, straddling the line between influential offices in L.A.'s political universe and handing down policy decisions with huge implications, from city infrastructure to the push for new green energy sources. We talk to the head of DWP about how the relationships in city government will impact the future of your water & power bill.
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Foreclosures up, loan modifications down

The foreclosure crisis shows no sign of slowing—July marked a 4 percent increase in the number of foreclosure filings, up 10 percent from the same time last year. The Center for Responsible Lending is releasing a first-of-its-kind report that focuses on the character and makeup of those affected by the foreclosure crisis here in California. It examined 600,000 foreclosures in the state and found that race and geography play an important role. Another key aspect of the foreclosure crisis is those trying to avoid it by seeking mortgage modifications. But, many homeowners aren’t getting the help they need. A ProPublica questionnaire found that banks are routinely neglecting to comply with government rules, losing documents and giving false information. Many homeowners complain that the process has become an aggravating, never-ending saga of phone calls, endless paperwork, and confusion. Meanwhile, the crisis isn’t subsiding. If the loan modification process was easier would it help keep more people in their homes? Should the federal government be doing more to ensure the process is effective?
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Celebrities... we love them, we love to hate them, and we love scrolling through endless paparazzi photos of them walking their dog, eating a burger, doing things – just like us! But what do we really know about what’s going on in their lives, especially when we see pictures of certain celebs stumbling out of clubs or partying their way through a movie? In his book Star Island, author Carl Hiaasen takes us into the life of 22-year-old pop star Cherry Pye, whose hard-partying ways have led to her handlers hiring a stunt double to appear as the conscious and un-intoxicated Cherry. Hiaasen brings back some of his favorite past characters, whose lives are intertwined with Cherry’s. It’s a journey into the life of a celebrity and paparazzi culture, but in typical Hiaasen-manner, hilariously outlandish. Hiaasen talks with Patt about our society’s strange obsession with celebrity.
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