Lakers leader. If the Lakers are to win a championship this year, they’ll have to do it without Phil Jackson. Speculation was rampant that the man known as the “Zen Master” would return for a third stint with the team. But the Lakers have hired former Phoenix Sun and New York Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni instead. The L.A. Times reports that the team was unwilling to meet Jackson’s demands, including an ownership stake in the club. L.A. Times
Fast track. L.A.’s first toll expressway kicks into gear today on the 110 Harbor Freeway. Computers, lights and new electronic signs have been activated in the center median of the freeway. Solo drivers can now buy a transponder and access the carpool lanes between Exposition Park and Carson. The quicker ride will cost drivers between $4 and $7, depending on the time of day. Which Way, L.A.?
Church fight. San Francisco’s most prominent African-American church has rejected a pastor who previously headed L.A.’s First A.M.E. Church. Leaders of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church say the appointment of The Rev. John Hunter could impair the legacy and reputation of the church community. Hunter’s tenure at First A.M.E. was controversial. The pastor settled a sexual harassment lawsuit, dealt with a federal tax investigation and was accused of questionable use of church credit cards. L.A. Times
Stolen heritage. Councilman Jose Huizar wants L.A. to put up $25,000 to help catch thieves who made off with bronze plaques from a Mexican-American war memorial in Boyle Heights. Police believe the three plaques were taken by people who wanted to melt them down and sell the metal. They were stolen last month from a monument on Cesar Chavez Avenue that was erected in 1947. L.A. Times
Trendsetter. Gov. Jerry Brown predicts that California will be a national leader in a new category: raising taxes. In an interview with CNN, Brown said that passage of Proposition 30 shows that voters believe new taxes should be part of the mix when it comes to solving budget deficits. He expects other states – and the federal government – to follow suit. But Brown said that, with passage of Prop. 30, he does not believe that California needs another tax hike. CNN