Plan to remake Jordan Downs hits a federal snag

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JORDANDOWNSAn ambitious plan to transform one of the City of L.A.’s biggest and oldest low income housing projects has suffered a big setback. City officials say they’ve lost out on a bid for a $30 million federal grant that was to be used to jump start the long-delayed Jordan Downs rebuilding project. Current blueprints call for turning the neglected and at times dangerous housing for the poor into a mixed-use and mixed-income development with stores, restaurants, community services and green space. Officials estimate the project would cost about $700 million. Housing officials say they are committed to moving forward, but acknowledge that failing to secure the federal is a considerable setback.

SEXTONThe son of a high-ranking Sheriff’s Department official says he was recruited by the FBI to secretly record conversations with his father – and former Sheriff Lee Baca. The allegation is the first indication that federal agents targeted Baca as part of their ongoing investigation into inmate abuse and corruption inside the Sheriff’s Department. The L.A. Times reports that the revelation came in court papers filed by Deputy James Sexton. He’s one of seven deputies charged with obstructing the FBI investigation. His father, Ted Sexton, serves as Homeland Security Chief for the L.A. Sheriff’s Department.

L.A.’s new earthquake czar says yesterday’s moderate shaker is a reminder that Los Angeles still has a long way to go to prepare for the Big One. Caltech seismologist Lucy Jones says that despite years of retrofitting, the city still has thousands of dangerously unreinforced buildings. Yesterday’s magnitude 4.4 temblor occurred on a little-noticed fault near Mulholland Drive in the Santa Monica Mountains. Damage was minor and no serious injuries have been reported.

cantil-sakauyeThe state’s courts are on the verge of no longer being able to provide timely access to the legal system, according to California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, and she calls that a civil rights crisis. Funding for state courts has been slashed by about $1 billion over the past several years. Cantil-Sakauye says that about two million Californians seeking redress for discrimination, wrongful termination, foster care and other civil complaints have been denied their day in court because of the cutbacks. Governor Jerry Brown has proposed increasing funding for the courts by about $105 million next year. But the Chief Justice says a lot more is needed.

saganAn astronomical gift for the Planetary Society. The Pasadena-based space society founded by Carl Sagan says it’s received a $4.2 million donation from an anonymous benefactor— the largest single contribution in its history. CEO Bill Nye says the money will help the group with its technology, research, advocacy and education programs. Those include tracking near-Earth objects; developing spacecraft that use solar sails for propulsion; and searching for intelligent life outside of the solar system.