Today’s News: Forum makeover could lift Inglewood; Responding to child abuse; Farmers short on pickers

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Forum redux. The new owners of the once fabulous Forum in Inglewood are aiming to restore the aging venue’s former glory. They’ll announce plans today for a multi-million-dollar makeover and a 2014 reopening featuring the Eagles.

Madison Square Garden Company says the remade Forum will open for business next January. The New York-based entertainment company says the Eagles will be the first in a steady line-up of big name musical acts at the Inglewood arena. The idea is to challenge Staples Center as L.A. area’s premier concert venue. The Forum once held that position – hosting acts ranging from Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones to Nirvana and Prince. But the departure of the Lakers and Kings to Staples Center in 1999 prompted a steep decline in fortunes.

MSG bought the Forum last year for $23 million from Faithful Central Bible Church, which took over the building in 2000. MSG says it will invest $70 million to upgrade technology, install new red velvet seats, repaint the exterior and restore the building’s 72 Roman-style columns.

Inglewood has lost around $800,000 a year since Staples Center opened. MSG is promising the city at least $675,000 each year in ticket, parking and concession taxes. L.A. Times

Child abuse. A blue-ribbon panel that will recommend reforms for L.A. County’s embattled child welfare agency is beginning its work this week. The panel was formed after the death last month of 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez in Palmdale. The boy’s mother and her boyfriend have been charged with torture and murder in the case. Critics say county welfare officials failed to act despite numerous complaints of neglect and abuse. The panel will examine the Department of Child and Family Services, as well as the roles of law enforcement, school officials and health agencies in child abuse cases. A final report is due by the end of the year. L.A. Times

Same-sex marriage. California Attorney General Kamala Harris says the elected clerk of San Diego County is improperly using the state’s legal system to try to prevent same-sex couples from getting married. Harris says in court papers that county clerk Ernest Dronenburg picked the wrong venue when he asked the California Supreme Court to declare that gay marriages remain illegal in all but two of the state’s 58 counties. She says the state court doesn’t have authority to limit a federal trial judge’s order declaring California’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriages to be unconstitutional and prohibiting its enforcement. Dronenburg’s lawyers have until August 9 to respond. AP

No exit. More headaches are coming for 405 commuters. The northbound off-ramp at Sunset Boulevard shuts down at 10 p.m. Friday so Caltrans can finish work on a new off-ramp. It won’t reopen until after Thanksgiving. The work will lead to even more delays on the congested freeway. But Metro officials promise the project will be better for the drivers in the long-run. Until the work is done, Metro is recommending commuters use the exits at Wilshire Boulevard and Moraga Drive to get around the closure. KABC

Slim pickings. California is facing a farm worker shortage for the second straight year, with the state’s $43 billion agricultural industry struggling to pick its crops. Last year, nearly two-thirds of farmers in a California Farm Bureau Federation survey said they didn’t have enough workers to pick their crops, and this year it’s much the same.  The group blames the shortage on demographic and political trends, including an older Mexican population, a lower Mexican birth rate and tighter U.S. border security. The crops feeling the squeeze over the past two years include cherries, wine grapes, leafy greens, strawberries and peaches. KSBY