January 9, 2009 Archives
Some of the greatest model airplane flyers have flocked to Ontario this weekend for the 11th Annual Academy of Model Aeronautics Expo. KPCC’s Inland Empire reporter Steven Cuevas says they’ll fill the skies with the latest in miniature aeronautics.
Steven Cuevas: In the old days, the noise of model planes - and their unpredictable flight patterns - relegated pilots to isolated parks and fields. These days, model aircraft rely on electric motors. That means planes are quieter and pollute less than their gas-fueled ancestors.
Today’s “electrics” are also faster, weigh less - and are more precise in flight. That enables young pilots like Nick Maxwell to pull off some pretty crazy moves.
The 19-year-old is famous on the model flying circuit for his crash-defying stunts. He’ll be showing off those moves this weekend in Ontario. If you can’t make it check out some of his work on the AMA Web site.
[Sound of electric helicopter]
The AMA Expo will also feature remote control trains, boats, and rockets. The 11th Annual Academy of Model Aeronautics Expo will soar through Sunday at the Ontario Convention Center.
The Salvation Army has signed on some well-heeled celebrities for a charity effort. KPCC’s Patricia Nazario says tomorrow’s event isn’t just for loafers.
Patricia Nazario: Organizers are calling it the first celebrity charity shoe-throwing competition.
Melanie Griffith and her husband, Antonio Banderas, are among a dozen actors who’ve confirmed they’ll participate.
The competition features children’s, ladies’, and men’s categories. Whoever throws their shoes the farthest in each category will receive a “Golden Shoe Award.”
The Salvation Army is collecting all the shoes at the event: sneakers, boots, pumps – you name it. Organizers plan to donate half the bundle directly to needy families, instead of selling them at Salvation Army stores.
The star-studded event is open to the public. Participants must sign in – and must bring a pair of new or barely used shoes to toss.
Note: The event at the Rancho Park Golf Course in West Los Angeles takes place from noon to 2 o’clock Saturday.
- January 9, 2009 5:26 PM
- Categories: Arts
A congressional oversight panel has accused the federal Treasury Department of not adequately monitoring $350 billion in taxpayer money it lent to financial institutions through the Troubled Assets Relief Program.
Economist Christopher Thornberg said it isn’t easy to determine where every dollar goes.
Christopher Thornberg: “Realistically, the concept of tracking this money, it’s just silly.”
Joseph Mason teaches business at Louisiana State University and the Wharton School. He said Treasury officials have never articulated what they’d use the troubled asset money for.
Joseph Mason: “We’re still making up policy as we go along based upon some made up understanding that’s only in the treasury secretary’s head about the causes of this crisis, and so far that hasn’t worked very well.”
Mason and Thornberg spoke with KPCC’s “Patt Morrison.” Members of a congressional oversight panel say the Treasury’s lack of oversight has hindered its ability to restore confidence in financial markets. They’re calling for more transparency and for stricter regulations on banks and other lending institutions.
The jury in the federal corruption trial of former Orange County sheriff Mike Carona hasn’t reached a verdict yet. But KPCC’s Susan Valot says the panel did send a note to the judge this morning.
Susan Valot: Like yesterday, the jury in Santa Ana met for about four hours but did not reach a verdict. The 11 men and one woman are trying to decide whether Carona is guilty of accepting thousands of dollars in cash and gifts in exchange for political favors.
The case centers around charges of conspiracy, mail fraud, and witness tampering. The jury’s asked the judge if it can get a list of “overt acts” that happened after October 25, 2002. That’s the date that marks the statute of limitations.
Prosecutors listed 64 “overt acts” that happened both before and after that date. At least one such act is needed for a conviction. The jury also asked the judge for a list of the exhibits, with titles. The judge gave the jury both lists.
L.A. County officials have certified a petition drive to form a city in unincorporated East Los Angeles. KPCC’s Molly Peterson reports that people there are looking forward to their next steps.
Molly Peterson: The county commission that handles local government formation certified the effort Wednesday. State Senator Gloria Romero has represented East L.A. for a decade. She says more than enough people signaled their support for cityhood.
Gloria Romero: And the numbers we got back from the people of L.A. was an overwhelming si se puede. Yes we can.
Peterson: Now, Los Angeles County will require East L.A. to analyze whether it can it thrive as an economically viable city. That’ll take $100,000 and several months.
The area is a densely-packed home to 140,000 people, mostly Latinos. East L.A. Residents Association treasurer Gustavo Camacho says cityhood advocates want the kind of public services they see in neighboring areas.
Gustavo Camacho: As communities around us progress, they provide a bigger quality of life for their residents. Unfortunately, East Los Angeles has always been seen as a donut hole. Where all communities around it grow, but this community hasn’t been able to grow at same pace others have.
Peterson: Cityhood in East L.A. isn’t a new idea – its last effort failed 35 years ago. Just six years ago, voters in L.A. County rejected the most recent incorporation effort, in the Hacienda Heights area.
- January 9, 2009 5:14 PM
- Categories: Politics/Public Affairs
The events of September 11, 2001 left an indelible mark on President George W. Bush’s first year in office. Allan Hubbard, the president’s former assistant for economic policy, spoke with KPCC’s “Patt Morrison” about the way the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon influenced the Bush administration’s economic policies.
Allan Hubbard: “9/11 obviously became… and the war on terror became the number one priority of the president, but he continued to pursue his economic goals; also including free trade, dealing with the biggest fiscal challenge in the country, which is the entitlement.”
Hubbard said that despite the current recession, he believes that during the last eight years the president and his administration have done an excellent job handling the nation’s economy. Hubbard is now chairman of E&A Industries, an Indianapolis-based firm that acquires manufacturing companies.
As Labor Secretary-designate Hilda Solis faced a U.S. Senate confirmation hearing today, a couple of Southern Californians announced they’ll run for her seat in Congress. Here’s an introduction from KPCC’s Patricia Nazario.
Patricia Nazario: The first is Democratic state senator Gilbert Cedillo. The East L.A. native has represented the Alhambra, Maywood, San Marino, Vernon, and South Pasadena in Sacramento for eight years.
Cedillo, a grandfather, is the highest-profile contender for the 32nd District congressional seat. That district stretches across East L.A. and the San Gabriel Valley.
Cedillo’s most identifiable opponent, for now, is 26-year-old Emanuel Pleitez. The son of a single mom was born and raised in East L.A. Pleitez graduated from Wilson High School in 2001 and from Stanford University two-and-a-half years ago. He took time off from college to work on Antonio Villaraigosa’s city council and mayoral campaigns.
Pleitez plans to formally announce his candidacy for Solis’ seat at his old high school. He’s already started to form his campaign out of his best friend’s parents’ home in El Sereno, while they’re gone to work.
Note: Cedillo launched his campaign today. The Pleitez announcement is scheduled for tomorrow morning.
- January 9, 2009 4:35 PM
- Categories: Politics/Public Affairs
Downtown L.A. lofts for sale – to the highest bidders – all at once! A developer demonstrated new technology today it will use to auction off 79 lofts in downtown L.A.’s Rowan building simultaneously - rather than the traditional one at a time.
The Web-based technology allows pre-approved bidders to keep tabs on the highest bids for all the units up for auction - and adjust their bidding strategy as the auction continues. Bill Stevenson helped develop the technology. He says it helps sellers move faster, and learn more about what buyers are willing to pay.
Bill Stevenson: “It’s difficult to get sales quickly in this market. We don’t, exactly where to price either. Nobody is an expert out here. What we’ve done is we’ve set these reserve prices - these minimum bids - at what we believe are below the market, and say, ‘OK now, you - the buying public - tell us where the market really is.’”
The minimum bid on the cheapest loft is $195,000. Stevenson says the building - at 4th and Spring Streets- had pre-sold 120 of its 206 lofts, but the rough economy and construction delays knocked that number down to around 30.
- January 9, 2009 2:51 PM
- Categories: Business/Economy
Banking leader Citigroup’s announcement that it will try to work with mortgage borrowers to stem the tide of foreclosures sits well with the author of a Sacramento bill that aims to do the same thing. Assemblyman Ted Lieu spoke with KPCC’s “AirTalk.”
Ted Lieu: “What this will do is allow consumers to modify their loans in bankruptcy. But I do think it’s important to have these loans be modified prior to bankruptcy because we don’t want to have that be the only option to a homeowner.
“And so we’ve introduced the California Foreclosure Prevention Bill, which establishes a 90-day moratorium on foreclosures and allows a bank to avoid it if they modify, or have a program to modify, people’s loans.”
Citigroup - one of the few major banks to favor concessions to homeowners – faces a fight from financial industry lobbyists. Other lenders maintain that altering mortgage loans would drive up the cost of borrowing for a home.
- January 9, 2009 2:37 PM
- Categories: Business/Economy
The East Los Angeles Residents Association is declaring its independence today. The group’s president, Oscar Gonzalez, says it has gathered enough petition signatures to move the question of independent cityhood closer to a vote in another year or so.
Oscar Gonzalez: “I think that what people want is access to local government. Why not East L.A.? We’re a county of 10 million residents. And we believe that we just have outgrown the size of the representation that we’re presently being provided.”
Gonzalez says forming unincorporated East Los Angeles into a city would improve roads, reduce crime, and provide better services for kids and seniors. People who live in East L.A. will work to raise money for a comprehensive financial analysis, to determine whether the proposed city would be economically viable.
Six years ago, voters in L.A. County rejected the most recent incorporation effort, in the Hacienda Heights area.
- January 9, 2009 2:30 PM
- Categories: Politics/Public Affairs