Friday, October 23, 2009

L.A. employee unions agree to pay cuts in light of budget shortfall


A group that represents 22,000 city employees in Los Angeles has approved a new contract that seeks to reduce salary costs at City Hall by $78 million, officials said today.

Workers with the Coalition of L.A. City Unions voted to ratify the contract, which was renegotiated last month by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the City Council. The city is facing a $405-million budget shortfall.

The contract cuts 3.5 hours of pay out of each coalition member’s 80-hour paycheck.

The vote by the coalition’s members will allow the council to move forward with a plan for allowing 2,400 workers to retire up to five years early with full benefits. A final decision on that proposal is expected next week.

-- David Zahniser at L.A. City Hall


L.A. Council ignores Trutanich warning, backs signs for theater at L.A. Live

October 23, 2009
The Los Angeles City Council today unanimously backed city building officials’ authority to issue six controversial sign permits at the L.A. Live entertainment district downtown, a direct challenge to City Atty. Carmen Trutanich’s warning that officials could be prosecuted if they allow the signs to go up.

With today’s backing from the council, Building and Safety general manager Raymond Chan said he plans to issue the permits despite Trutanich’s warning. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa also supports issuing the permits, said Jeff Carr, the mayor’s chief of staff.

The action comes just days after the owner of the downtown entertainment complex, Anschutz Entertainment Group, accused Trutanich of trying to “bully’’ the company by blocking signs for its new Regal Cinemas before the movie theater’s grand opening on Tuesday.

William W. Carter, the chief deputy city attorney, warned the council before its vote that granting the permits to AEG could “unravel” a new sign ban approved by the council in August that prohibits all digital signs, supergraphics and freeway facing billboards. Outdoor advertising companies had successfully challenged the city’s past sign restrictions because the council had granted similar exemptions, he said.

After the vote, Carter said he could not discuss what the city attorney’s response might be but would aggressively defend the council’s decision in court if challenged.

The City Hall fisticuffs are the latest clash in a growing feud between the new hard-charging, outspoken Trutanich and one of downtown L.A.’s most influential companies, AEG, which owns Staples Center and L.A. Live and is a major political supporter of Villaraigosa and other elected officials.

Once it receives the permits, AEG will put up four giant movie posters — including at least one for the Michael Jackson documentary “This Is It,’’ which premieres Tuesday — and signs for two of L.A. Live’s sponsors, Coca-Cola and Toyota.

Chan told the council that the sign ordinance passed in August does not cover projects already approved and substantially underway, including the AEG’s theater at L.A. Live.

-- Phil Willon and Maeve Reston at L.A. City Hall


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