Critics blast L.A. County’s planned $2 billion jails fix

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A divided L.A. County Board of Supervisors has voted to move forward with a $2 billion plan to replace the dangerous and overcrowded downtown Men’s Central Jail. The County will also undertake an extensive study of how it can keep mentally ill individuals out of the jail system. The plan calls for a new 4,800-bed jail next to the current jail downtown. The facility would be designed for inmates with mental health issues, but it would also include space for high-security inmates, those with substance abuse problems and inmates in need of medical treatment. The Lynwood women’s jail would be also replaced by a new facility in the Antelope Valley. Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky voted no. He calls the plan too expensive and says he expects the costs to rise. Other critics say the county should hold off making a decision about replacing Men’s Central until the conclusion of federal investigation looking into inmate abuse and corruption in the jail system.

The Beverly Hills City Council is weighing on the growing flap over the Sultan of Brunei’s ownership of the Beverly Hills Hotel. The council approved a resolution urging the leader of the tiny Southeast Asian nation to divest his ownership of the hotel, and the Hotel Bel-Air. Protestors have targeted both hotels in recent weeks over harsh new laws in Brunei directed at gays and women. Human rights activists and celebrities such as Jay Leno and Ellen DeGeneres have called for boycotts of the hotels. An executive says that laws in Brunei have no bearing on management of the hotels. He says a boycott would only hurt hotel workers. And he said the Sultan has no intention to sell.

The proposed design for a California driver’s license for immigrants in the country illegally does not meet national security standards. Homeland Security officials have told California’s Department of Motor Vehicles that the license would need to state on its face that it cannot be used for federal purposes and that it should contain a unique design or color. California had been planning to hand out licenses to immigrants with different lettering on the front and a notice on the back that the card isn’t a valid federal ID. The DMV says it will work with lawmakers, communities, and federal officials to design a license that meets everyone’s needs.

LAXGetting to, from and around LAX is about to get more challenging. A $7 billion dollar facelift of the airport will ramp up in a month and continue until 2019. Airport officials have kicked off a “pardon-our-dust” outreach campaign aimed at helping travelers get around blocked-off roads and fenced-off areas inside terminals. The campaign includes multimedia, signs, and websites providing tips and information about areas to avoid and detour routes. The airport facelift includes resurfaced roads; upgraded restaurants; and terminal makeovers aimed at bringing natural light inside. There will also be more bathrooms and ports for plugging in electronic devices.

LATINOARTLatino art is getting a boost in L.A. and across the region. The Getty Foundation has announced $5 million in grants to bring Latino and Latin American art and culture to Southern California. The initiative – called “Pacific Standard Time: Los Angeles/Latin America” – marks the first time locally that Latino and Latin American art will be researched and displayed on a large scale. The project includes a number of Southern California institutions, from the Autry to the Skirball, LACMA, The Hammer Museum, and others, stretching from San Diego to Santa Barbara. It’s the third of iteration of Pacific Standard Time, which started in 2011.