Environmentalists file suit over Ballona nature center; LAUSD deputy chief rips School Board; Dodgers’ drive

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todaysnewsbanner2Ballona Wetlands. Environmentalists suing a state agency to stop a nature center? It sounds odd, but that’s the scenario playing out over a proposed educational facility in the Ballona Wetlands near Marine del Rey.

The Annenberg Foundation wants to build a $50 million interpretative nature center in what is known as Area C of the 600-acre Ballona Wetlands. The philanthropic organization says the center would include an auditorium, classrooms and exhibits on local wildlife.

But environmentalists say Annenberg is not being completely upfront about its plans. The L.A. Times reports the Ballona Wetlands Land Trust has sued the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to gain access to records about the center. The group’s president said in a statement that Annenberg’s real motivation for pursuing the nature center is to build a companion animal center to facilitate pet adoptions. The Trust accuses the Department of Fish and Wildlife of failing to keep the public informed about the project.

Some environmentalists have described Anneberg’s proposal as a theft of public land that had been slated for wildlife development.

Annenberg says its plans for the center are a work in progress and not ready to be released.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife has not commented on the suit.

District dissension. A top LAUSD official has announced plans to leave his job at the end of the year – but he’s offering up a scathing critique of the Board of Education before he goes. Deputy Superintendent Jaime Aquino says the current Board majority has started to micromanage everyday functions of district officials and thwart reform efforts – leading to paralysis and diverging agendas. He says the current political climate makes it impossible for him to act in the best interests of students. Aquino – the district’s top manager for academic initiatives – is a close associate of LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy. L.A. Daily News

la riverL.A. River repair. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has endorsed a $453 million plan that would restore an 11-mile stretch of the L.A. River. It was one of four plans studied by the Corps. and it was not the one favored by environmentalists and the city of L.A. The plan backed by the Army Corps would restore nearly 600 acres of habitat, remove stretches of concrete from the river’s bottom and create a freshwater marsh. River advocacy groups would like to see more done. They’re endorsing a billion-dollar proposal to restore even more habitat, create terracing on some banks and connect the river to L.A.’s state historic park. There’s now a 45-day window to gather public comments about the different river restoration proposals. Congress must authorize funding to pay for the work and quick action is not expected. KCBS

Obamacare push. President Obama’s grassroots organization raises money and political awareness for the White House agenda. And one of the biggest things on its to-do list is to successfully implement the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. That’s happening today all around Southern California. Organizing for Action will spread out across Los Angeles to host several events to educate people about the plan. Obamacare is set to expand federal Medicaid spending in about two dozen states, California included. While other states have rejected the plan, the Golden State is going forward with getting a head start on the Affordable Care Act. Starting next month, people will be able to sign up for the California Health Exchange. Huffington Post

Giant headache. The Dodgers attempt to reach their first World Series in 25 years hit a roadblock this weekend in the form of the rival San Francisco Giants. The Dodgers lost three of four to the Giants, including an embarrassing 19-3 shellacking Saturday night. Several key players sat out with injuries over the weekend. That’s the bad news. The good news is that the Dodgers still have a 10-and-a-half-game lead in the National League West division with fewer than 15 games to go in the regular season. They open a four-game series with the Diamondbacks in Arizona tonight. If they win two, they’ll clinch the division. ESPN