Morning Buzz: Monday 5.16.11

Endeavour launches as Exposition Park awaits its arrival, state Democrats smell a two-thirds majority, the bungling of high-speed rail, more analysis of Caruso's speech, a gay CNN anchor plus books and authors and a bunch of media notes.

Top of the news

The space shuttle Endeavour lifted off this morning on its final mission, commanded by astronaut Mark Kelly. His wife, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, watched as the shuttle launched from the Kennedy Space Center. After the mission the Endeavour will be housed at the California Science Center in Exposition Park. CNN

Christopher Hawthorne on the past, present and future of Exposition Park. LAT

Politics and politicos

State Democrats tired of dickering with Republicans for tax votes "are increasingly hopeful that next year they will elect a majority large enough to make negotiating unnecessary." Bee

California's high-speed rail project "is, to put it bluntly, a train wreck...a monument to the ways poor planning, mismanagement and political interference can screw up major public works," the L.A. Times says in an editorial. It recommends keeping the project but starting over. LAT editorial

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has ordered the top executive at the Department of Building and Safety to resurrect an internal investigations unit that was dismantled a decade ago. LAT

Rick Caruso's speech last week "could have been written in 1993 for his one-time booster Mayor Richard Riordan, or delivered by 2005 mayoral candidate Antonio Villaraigosa." Rick Orlov's Tipoff/DN

When it comes to Caruso, "there’s really only one thing that anyone connected to the Downtown political scene cares about these days: Will he run for mayor?" Downtown News

After years of federal investigations, state oversight and consent decrees, the county Probation Department "remains beset by turmoil." DN

If all goes as anticipated, Metro in the next year would begin construction of a new rail line along Crenshaw Boulevard, complete the Expo Line to Culver City and continue work on an expansion of the Gold Line from Pasadena to Azusa. It would be the first time L.A. would have three rail projects under construction at the same time. LAT

Final pre-election wraps on the runoffs between Luis Sanchez and Bennett Kayser for the school board, and between Scott Svonkin and Lydia Gutierrez for the college board. Those elections, and the primary in the 36th congressional district, are Tuesday. DN

Why Californians don't talk about politics and why it matters. Zocalo Nexus

Ron Kaye's political activism group has issued a "call to action" over plans to trim the fire department budget.

Vivian Myerson, a peace activist and longtime Los Angeles human relations commissioner who won an early legal victory against a controversial LAPD unit that spied on leftists, died Friday at her Hollywood home. She was 100. LAT

Media and media people

The Huffington Post named executive editor Neil Katz as the site's executive news editor. Romenesko

How the Drudge Report has stayed on top as a provider of link traffic to other sites. NYT

CNN anchor Don Lemon revealed his is gay and has a new book coming out, "Transparent." NPR, NYT

Angeleno Daniel Hernandez discusses his new book, "Down & Delirious in Mexico City: The Aztec Metropolis in the Twenty-First Century," with author Daniel A. Olivas. La Bloga

In "Area 51: An Uncensored History of America’s Top Secret Military Base," Annie Jacobsen has "put together a set of strong allegations about Area 51’s covert history." NYT

Carina Chocano reviews new books by Shirley MacLaine and Rob Lowe. NYT

Jack Jones, a retired Los Angeles Times reporter who was part of a team that shared the 1966 Pulitzer Prize for the newspaper's coverage of the Watts riots and their aftermath, died of lung cancer at age 86. LAT


Despite complaints about drunken hooliganism at Dodger Stadium, state regulators rarely visit the ballpark and have issued no citations for liquor-law violations there since 1999. LAT

Eighty sites in California and Arizona significant in the life of Cesar Chavez and the farm worker movement are under consideration for National Park Service protection. LAT

Former actress Mary Murphy, who was notably in "The Wild One" with Marlon Brando, was a package wrapper at Saks Fifth Avenue on Wilshire Boulevard when she was discovered in a nearby coffee shop by a Paramount Pictures talent scout. She died at 80 of heart disease. LAT

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