POLITICAL LANDSCAPE:

Congressional representatives will soon start the process of divvying up federal money for public projects in their respective districts.

Local agencies and governments have been sending their list of priority projects to Washington over the past two weeks as part of the annual federal-funding process for each congressional district.

The federal appropriations requests are separate from the wish lists compiled for the coming stimulus funding, which will likely be funneled through existing state channels.

Hundreds of millions worth of “shovel ready” public infrastructure projects have been sent to state agencies in anticipation of President Obama signing the stimulus bill.

With the nation’s focus on the broad $900-billion stimulus package, earmarks this year will be cut roughly in half to less than 1% of the federal budget, officials said.

That means less discretionary money to dole out among dozens of funding requests for multimillion-dollar projects.

“It’s going to be a much different process this year,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, whose district includes Glendale and Burbank.

Glendale sent $21.66 million in projects, including a compressed natural gas fueling station and new pool at Pacific Park, to Congress this week. In January, the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority submitted proposals for a new transportation center and widening Empire Avenue worth a combined $41 million.

Congressional delegates, from Sen. Dianne Feinstein to Schiff, have said federal appropriations this year would be weighted heavily toward public infrastructure projects in an effort to maximize job creation.

Despite the cut in discretionary spending this year, the federal stimulus package should more than make up the difference, but only for its two-year funding cycle, Schiff said.

After that, he warned, funding “dries up.”

Sherman takes issue with executive-pay ‘loopholes’

Rep. Brad Sherman, a Democrat whose district includes Burbank, said he was disappointed that President Obama’s new executive-pay restrictions would not apply to corporations that have already received billions in federal aid.

In a statement issued Wednesday, Sherman also said requiring boards to approve executive perks like lavish parties, private jets and shareholder votes on bonuses amounted to “giant loopholes” and would do little to change the high-spending corporate culture.

Obama introduced new rules this week that limit executive compensation to $500,000 for companies that receive significant federal aid.

Executives would also be barred from cashing in stock options until their companies were doing well enough to repay their federal loans.

Smaller companies could get around the compensation rules if they make the payments public.

The restrictions were part of an effort to rein in large corporate bonuses and compensation packages among companies that have received billions in federal bailout money.

But critics have taken issue with the fact that the rules, which take effect immediately, apply only to future aid recipients and are too vague.

Krekorian’s animal rights bill focus of lawsuit

Assemblyman Paul Krekorian this week lent his support to the state attorney general’s effort to defend his bill that bans the sale of meat from “downed” animals.

The bill, signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Jan. 1, came after the Humane Society released video footage last year of a Chino-based meatpacking plant showed workers abusing cows that were nearly incapacitated on their way to the slaughterhouse.

The largest meat recall in U.S. history ensued, ensnaring 143 million pounds of beef, 50 million of which had been sent to school lunch programs.

The National Meat Assn. and the American Meat Institute are backing a lawsuit seeking to overturn Krekorian’s bill. Beef industry representatives have argued that better enforcement of existing federal safeguards would be sufficient.

Antonovich calls for more background checks

County Supervisor Michael Antonovich on Tuesday called for a report on actions taken to correct deficiencies on employee background checks.

His motion, which the Board of Supervisors unanimously supported, directed county Chief Executive William T. Fujioka to return next week with a report on steps taken so far to ensure convicted felons are properly screened in the hiring process.

The request, which is similar to one made in October, came after the supervisor cited a Los Angeles Times report on a convicted rapist who was hired as an X-ray technician at Martin Luther King Jr. Medical Center and allowed to work, alone, with female patients for years.

Ballot order selected for April 7 municipal election

The secretary of state this week issued the order in which the names on the upcoming April 7 municipal election ballot will appear.

The randomly chosen order put four Glendale City Council challengers in the top five of the ballot, which includes a field of 12 candidates. In the race for the Glendale Unified School District Board of Education, two incumbents in a field of seven candidates secured spots in the top three.

Candidates generally prefer to be at the top of ballot lists because they contend that the more prominent placement provides a slight edge.

Measure U was also assigned as the name for the telephone user tax for the upcoming ballot.

The measure would cut the telecommunications portion of the utility users tax from 7% to 6.5%, but since the updated tax codes would capture evolving technologies, rate payers would likely see little difference in their bills, according to the proposal.

Without the updated tax codes, city officials contend, Glendale could be at risk of losing out on the roughly $8.7 million in revenue the tax generated last fiscal year.

Still, opponents have argued against the measure as an unfair tax and have vowed to fight it.

Similar measures have passed in Los Angeles, Pasadena and other Southland cities.

— Jason Wells


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