Tag: Los Angeles Dodgers

Mar 28 2012

Flap’s California Morning Collection: March 28, 2012

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Fallbrook, California

Good Wednesday morning!

The California Legislature is in session.  Today’s schedule is here.

The California Assembly’s Daily File is here and the California State Senate’s here.

Governor Jerry Brown has some public events today.

Gov. Jerry Brown’s calendar today includes a California National Guard ceremony at which Col. Sylvia R. Crockett will be promoted to general.

It’s a milestone for the Golden State: She’s the first Latina to attain that rank in the California National Guard, according to the governor’s office.

Crockett, who’s now assistant division commander for the 40th Infantry Division as well as director of strategic communications for the California Military Department, started her career with the California National Guard in 1982. The ceremony starts at 11 a.m. in the the governor’s Capitol office.

Brown is also scheduled to speak with police chiefs, sheriffs, district attorneys and others at the 20th annual legislative day of the Alliance of California Law Enforcement. That talk starts at 1 p.m. at the Sacramento Convention Center.

On to today’s California headlines:

Calif. Democratic treasurer perpetrated $7M fraud

Democratic campaign treasurer Kinde Durkee defrauded at least 50 candidates, officeholders and political organizations out of $7 million in a scheme that dates back more than a decade, according to a court filing made Tuesday by federal prosecutors.

The U.S. attorney’s office in Sacramento filed the additional charges in federal court, providing the most detailed account to date in a case that has left some Democratic candidates scrambling for campaign cash in an election year.

Such filings typically are a prelude to a plea, but prosecutors would not confirm such a development or offer any further details.

Durkee, who heads Durkee & Associates in Burbank, was arrested in September and charged with suspicion of mail fraud after millions of dollars disappeared from the campaign accounts of U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, other Democratic members of Congress and several Democratic state lawmakers.

The filing details a complex shell game in which Durkee shifted campaign money to cover an array of personal and business expenses.

In one example, $23,000 taken from Feinstein’s account was used to help pay American Express credit card charges from the Los Angeles Dodgers, Amazon.com, Disneyland, Trader Joe’s and Turners Outdoorsman.

Magic Johnson group to buy Dodgers for record $2B

A group that includes former Lakers star Magic Johnson and longtime baseball executive Stan Kasten agreed Tuesday night to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers from Frank McCourt for a record $2 billion.

The price would shatter the mark for a North American sports franchise, topping the $1.1 billion Stephen Ross paid for the NFL’s Miami Dolphins in 2009.

Mark Walter, chief executive officer of the financial services firm Guggenheim Partners, would become the controlling owner.

The deal, revealed about five hours after Major League Baseball owners approved three finalists for an intended auction, is one of several steps toward a sale of the team by the end of April. It is subject to approval in federal bankruptcy court.

“I am thrilled to be part of the historic Dodger franchise and intend to build on the fantastic foundation laid by Frank McCourt as we drive the Dodgers back to the front page of the sports section in our wonderful community of Los Angeles,” Johnson said in a statement.

As part of the agreement, the Dodgers said McCourt and “certain affiliates of the purchasers” would acquire the land surrounding Dodger Stadium, including its parking lots, for $150 million.

Rallying around Brownley

As expected, the region’s Democratic establishment is rallying around Assemblywoman Julia Brownley of Oak Park in the 26th Congressional District as party leaders and activists seek to consolidate enough support behind a single candidate to ensure a second-place finish in the June primary.

The challenge has been discussed here before at some length: With four Democrats on the ballot, a strong Republican in Sen. Tony Strickland of Moorpark and a strong independent in Supervisor Linda Parks of Thousand Oaks, Democrats are in danger of not qualifying a candidate for the November election under the state’s new primary election system, in which only the top two finishers, regardless of party affiliation, make it to general election ballot.

California courts scrap $2 billion tech project

One of the largest public technology projects in California history is history.

Faced with mounting criticism about the cost, the state Judicial Council, the policy arm of the courts, on Tuesday voted to pull the plug on a $2 billion computer upgrade for California’s 58 trial courts.

The decision ended a 10-year quest to electronically unify the nation’s largest state court system, a goal that ballooned in price as California hit its worst budget crisis in years.

The council chose instead to give local courts the ability to choose their own tech improvements, setting aside $8.6 million to study that issue and perhaps salvage scraps from the abandoned project.

The computer upgrade has divided a judicial branch trying to weather more than $600 million in budget cuts over the past three years. With courts cutting hours to the public and laying off workers, the tech upgrade became a primary target of critics who said judicial leaders should abandon the project and use the money to restore or maintain other operations.

Hundreds of court employees from the Bay Area and elsewhere rallied outside the state building in San Francisco to press for an end to the tech project.

“It’s just not the right time to go forward with this project,” Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge James Herman, a council member who prepared a report on the upgrade, said after a nearly all-day hearing.

And, finally, Dan Walters on the California Judicial Flap:

Enjoy your morning!

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Nov 01 2011

Flap’s California Morning Collection: November 1, 2011

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California Railroad Museum, Sacramento, California

The California Legislature is not in session.

Today it is all about High Speed Rail.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority seeks to answer its doubters today, unveiling a new business plan at 11 a.m. at a spot that showcases a different kind of train – the California State Railroad Museum.

The Sacramento Press Club, which saw the authority cancel an announcement event twice, has to be feeling snubbed, but at least the visuals will be better. Authority Chair Tom Umberg will be there, along with board members Dan Richard, Mike Rossi and Jim Hartnett, and CEO Roelof van Ark.

Much is riding on the reception to the plan, which needs legislative approval to proceed with building the first phase of the project in the Central Valley.

On to today’s headlines:

Cost projection for California bullet train jumps to nearly $100 billion

California’s bullet train will cost an estimated $98.5 billion to build over the next 20 years, an amount far higher than any previous projection, according to a business plan scheduled to be unveiled Tuesday.

The estimate includes possible future inflation that will drive up the cost of the line, which would send trains at up to 220 mph from Southern California to the Bay Area.

The cost growth results in large part from a major revision in the construction schedule. In the past, the state assumed the system would be completed by 2020 but now assumes construction would be finished in 2033. That stretched-out schedule and an assumption that future inflation would average 3% per year are two key reasons the overall estimated cost of the system almost doubled in the new business plan.

In the past, the California High Speed Rail Authority has estimated the cost of the system would be $43 billion, based on construction being finished in 2020.

The California High Speed Rail Authority, the state agency running the project, plans to unveil the new business plan at a news conference Tuesday morning in Sacramento.

The authority’s past two plans have been sharply attacked, not only by opponents but many supporters, for offering unrealistic construction cost and ridership figures. The authority wants to begin construction next year and hopes  to gain approval from the Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown for appropriations from a bond issue that would build a $6.3-billion segment from Fresno to Bakersfield.

The price of the system has long been a moving target.

When the first business plan surfaced, it projected a $34-billion cost. By 2009, the estimate had jumped to $43 billion, in part because the authority included future inflation in the estimated cost of building the system over the next decade.

Calif. rail project to cost $98B

The new business plan for California’s high-speed rail system shows the nation’s most ambitious state rail project could cost nearly $100 billion in inflation-adjusted funding over a 20-year construction period, according to a draft copy of the plan shared late Monday with The Associated Press.

But the plan also says the system would be profitable even at the lowest ridership estimates and wouldn’t require public operating subsidies.

The report estimates the actual cost at $98.5 billion if the route between San Francisco and Anaheim is completed in 2033. The plan assumes private investment will account for roughly 20 percent of the total cost, with much of the rest coming from additional borrowing.

The initial estimate to build the system when voters approved bond funding for it in 2008 was $43 billion. In non-adjusted, 2010 dollars that amount is now $65.4 billion, showing the costs have risen significantly.

“This is us telling it like it is to the public – no sugar-coating, no baloney,” said Dan Richard, one of two appointees Gov. Jerry Brown made to the California High-Speed Rail Authority last summer.

The business plan will be publicly released Tuesday during a news conference at the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento.

It also calls for retaining the most controversial aspect of the proposed rail line – starting construction in the Central Valley. Critics want to start in more populated areas of southern or northern California in case money runs out before the full system is finished, which they worry would create a “train to nowhere.”

Frank McCourt appears close to agreeing he’ll sell Dodgers

After a two-year battle to keep the Dodgers through a bruising divorce and a bankruptcy filing, owner Frank McCourt appears close to agreement with Major League Baseball on a bankruptcy settlement in which he would agree to sell the team.

McCourt would get some control over the sale, people familiar with the negotiations said Monday. The purchase probably would include Dodger Stadium and the surrounding parking lots in a package that could command a record price of $1 billion or more.

The negotiations are fluid, and settlement talks could fall apart at any time, said the people, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the confidential discussions. McCourt has not reached any final decision to sell, another person cautioned.

Dodgers spokesman Robert Siegfried, asked Monday whether a settlement appears close, said the team had no comment “to such kinds of inquiries.” MLB spokesman Pat Courtney also declined to comment.

McCourt has long vowed not to surrender the Dodgers. In April, as Commissioner Bud Selig appointed a trustee to oversee the team and attendance plummeted at Dodger Stadium, McCourt insisted he would not sell.

However, analysts suggested McCourt now might be willing to sell for a simple reason: Even if he won in court, he could lose.

Occupy Oakland: City braces for general strike

From schools and downtown stores to the nation’s fifth busiest port, Oakland is bracing for Wednesday’s citywide general strike, a hastily planned and ambitious action called by Occupy protesters a day after police forcibly removed their City Hall encampment last week.

Occupy Oakland has since returned to Frank Ogawa Plaza, but the leaderless group is still asking workers and students in the city to take the day off to come downtown and protest economic inequality and corporate greed.

Major goals will be protesting at banks or corporations that refuse to shut down for the day, then marching in the evening to the Port of Oakland to try to shut down the night shift.

Some employees and businesses downtown, where the core activities are scheduled, intend to participate, while others plan to carry on as normal – hoping there won’t be a resumption of last week’s violent clashes between protesters and police.

“The entire world is tired of the greedy corporations controlling everything, and now is the time that people are doing something about it,” rapper Boots Riley, an organizer of the strike day, said Monday. “All over the world, people are looking to Oakland.”

Enjoy your morning!

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Sep 01 2011

Los Angeles Marathon Founder Bill Burke Makes $1.2 Billion Offer for Los Angeles Dodgers

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Do you think Frank McCourt is interested?

Frank McCourt has been offered $1.2 billion to sell the Dodgers, The Times has learned.

The bid is headed by Los Angeles Marathon founder Bill Burke and funded in part by Chinese investors, according to a letter sent to McCourt on Tuesday. The letter was disclosed to The Times by two people familiar with its content but not authorized to discuss it publicly.

Please, Frank, take the money and run……

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