Today’s News: Foes say fight over rail yard isn’t done

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Green light for rail yard. Depending on whom you ask, the $500 million port railway yard that’s planned four miles from the docks will either solidify the local ports’ position as the key West Coast hub for international shippers and reduce pollution – or unnecessarily put tens of thousands of South Bay residents at risk of noxious emissions.

Despite objections from environmental groups and neighboring communities, the L.A. City Council has approved the massive Burlington Northern Santa Fe yard. Backers say the facility will eliminate thousands of truck trips on the 710 Freeway by allowing truckers to unload their containers closer to the ports. They argue that the massive upgrade in cargo handling capacity and efficiency is needed to keep L.A. and Long Beach competitive with other U.S. ports when super-giant freighters start sailing through a much-wider Panama Canal in 2015.

But opponents, including the South Coast Air Quality Management District, say the rail yard sits too close to homes – just 20 feet in some cases. They insist the truck and rail traffic will be responsible for poisonous fumes drifting into adjoining neighborhoods. They’ve vowed to sue to stop the yard from being built. L.A. Daily News

Maldonado’s challenge. Former California Lt. Governor Abel Maldonado says he’ll spearhead a drive to overturn Gov. Jerry Brown’s prison realignment program. Maldonado could make the realignment fight a cornerstone of his campaign if – as expected – he runs for governor next year. L.A. Times

Mayor’s race. The union representing L.A. police officers is kicking in another $850,000 to help elect Wendy Greuel. The donation is the single biggest contribution in the two-year mayoral campaign. The Police Protective League has now spent $1.4 million on Greuel’s candidacy. In terms of overall campaign spending, that trails only the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. The DWP union has put nearly a $1.5 million into efforts to elect Greuel. L.A. Daily News

O.C. Budget hit. Orange County will have to pay the state $73.5 million in a dispute over vehicle license fees. …And the county could be on the hook for three times that amount. A Superior Court Judge has sided with the state in the legal fight over the fees. The Orange County Register reports that the state’s total bill could exceed $200 million because the dispute goes back three years. It’s unclear if the county will appeal. Orange County Register

Jackson trial. In the final days of his life, Michael Jackson was telling people that god was speaking to him, according to a producer on the pop star’s comeback tour. Alif Sankey testified in the wrongful death suit brought against concert promoter AEG by Jackson’s family. Sankey said she and tour director Kenny Ortega shed tears over Jackson’s frail and seemingly confused state after a rehearsal on June 19, 2009. Jackson died five days later. CNN

Police shooting. A jury has awarded $8.8 million to the family of a robber who was shot and killed by Culver City police. Lejoy Grissom was pulled over by police who suspected that he held up an electronics store. The officers ordered Grissom out of his car. He complied, but one of them fired three shots that struck the unarmed man. Grissom had committed the robbery. L.A. Times