Stories for January 2005

Monday, January 31

Stocks Rise on Mergers, Iraq Election Turnout

Stocks ended higher on Monday, boosted by a flurry of mergers and investors breathing a sigh of relief that elections in Iraq proceeded with less bloodshed than expected.

Mattel Shares Soar on Earnings, Sales

Mattel Inc., the world's largest toymaker, said fourth-quarter profit rose 33 percent over the year-ago period, boosted by a tax gain and the biggest sales increase in two years.

Former Vans Executive Pleads Guilty in Kickback Scheme

A former Vans vice president has pleaded guilty to charges he took $4.7 million in kickbacks and bribes from Chinese manufacturers of Vans shoes and clothing.

Union Pacific Struggles to Get on Track

The Metrolink wreck was the latest in a series of headaches for Union Pacific, which carries a third of the nation's freight traffic by rail.

State of Stem

While institutions in Los Angeles and elsewhere are gearing up for $3 billion in statewide grants for accelerated stem cell research, the field is still in its infancy

Hotels Avidly Courting Travelers on Web Sites

Hotel operators are seeking to take back market share from online booking services that offer rooms at deep discounts.

Hilton Fourth-Quarter Earnings Fall

Hilton Hotels Corp., the number three U.S. hotel company, said Monday that fourth-quarter earnings dropped 3 percent from one year ago.

Charisma-Challenged Hahn Faces Fight for Re-Election

"Charisma-challenged" Mayor James Hahn was expected to coast to a second term but now finds himself in an unexpectedly tight fight to keep his job.

Rain Puts Challenge in Keeping Carpets Clean

Rudy Chacon, owner of a ChemDry of the Future franchise, said the recent rains both helped and hurt his carpet-cleaning business.

Nature of Stem Cells Opens Research Possibilities

Despite extensive debate about stem cells and their use, there has been considerable confusion about what they are exactly, and what they do. Here are some basics.

L.A. Stories

The Business Journal asks Harold Vogel, the former senior entertainment industry analyst at Merrill Lynch, for his thoughts on the Academy Awards.

Report: Newcomers Transforming Downtown L.A.

New residents who have moved in since 2000 report median household income of about $90,000, according to survey conducted by the L.A. County Economic Development Corp.

Disney Earnings Rise as Theme Park, Network Profits Recover

Walt Disney Co. reported a 5 percent increase in first-quarter net income, citing strong TV and cable ad revenues and improved theme park performance.

Build Out

Since 2000 Signal Hill general contractor Doug Lopez has devoted much of his attention to promoting software that he wants to become the Priceline of the windows industry.

Investors Go Off Diet in Cinnabon Purchase

A Westwood private equity fund is betting on the high-calorie, high-carb cinnamon bun -- so much so that it has acquired 86 Cinnabon outlets in 22 states, including 14 in L.A. County.

Hilton Tests Market With Handful of Properties for Sale

Hilton Hotels Corp. has decided to sell several of its owned properties with an eye toward "balancing" revenue streams, according to Robert M. La Forgia, the company's chief financial officer.

Next Generation Banker Taking Care of Clients' Wealth

All that time in her mother's office has paid off for Stasia Washington, recently appointed a vice president for wealth management at Union Bank of California.

The Race Is On

The fact that there will be $3 billion available for stem cell research over the next decade has set off a scramble among institutions around L.A. to position themselves for funding grants.

Padilla Hasn't Found the Time To Focus on L.A. Mayor's Race

With the March 8 primary fast approaching, one presumed ally of Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn has stayed on the sidelines.

SBC to Acquire AT & T; for $16 Billion

SBC Communications Inc. said on Monday it will buy AT & T; Corp., creating one of the nation's largest telecoms and ending the independence of its former parent.

Local Venture Deals Surge 35 Percent in Fourth Quarter

Venture capital investments in Los Angeles County jumped 35 percent in the fourth quarter of 2004 to $254.9 million from $189 million in the year-ago period, according to the PriceWaterhouseCoopers MoneyTree survey.

Cargo Left on the Docks Causing Ports Headaches

The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach will petition a statewide group to impose storage charges earlier on cargo left on the docks.

Parking Lot Titan Prepares to Build Up

Unlike the developers who get the most attention in the Downtown renaissance, Joe Lumer, one of the largest owners of surface parking lots in the area, has flown under the radar.

Cherokee Shares Surge as Board Mulls Potential Sale

The Van Nuys-based brand marketing company said it has hired an investment bank to assist its board in "considering possible strategic alternatives."

Gas Prices Push Higher

For the third week in a row, gas prices moved higher in Los Angeles, according to data from the Energy Information Administration.

Income Up Record 3.7 Percent in December

Personal income shot up by a record 3.7 percent in December on a big dividend payout by Microsoft Corp., a government report showed on Monday.

Torch Passes at Hispanic Ad Agency With Bilingual Trend

When H & #233;ctor and Norma Orc & #237; went into business nearly 20 years ago, they were among the first generation of ad agencies to connect national brands to a then-underserved Hispanic consumer base.

Spotlight on Hawaiian Gardens

Hawaiian Gardens, the tiny city of 15,000 that long has been dependent on the success of the card club bearing its name, is trying to bring new players to the table.

Dining on Crow

Donald Salk ventured beyond his dental practice to invest in Chef Roy Yamaguchi's first solo effort, a Euro-Asian restaurant called 385 North.

Newsmakers

A selection of the awards and promotions of L.A.'s movers and shakers across many industries.

Activision Breaks New Ground Beyond Skateboarding Games

Investors tend to focus on companies that are No. 1 in their sector, which explains why Activision Inc., the No. 2 player, gets short shrift when compared with Electronic Arts Inc.

'No Man Has Been More Dynamic Than I Have'

Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn met with Business Journal editors and reporters to discuss his candidacy for another term. Here are excerpts from that interview.

Amgen Falls Ill From Medicare Payment Shifts

Shares of Amgen Inc. slipped when the company cut its 2005 earnings and revenue guidance, in part due to changes in the Medicare payment system for oncology drugs.

Marsh & McLennan to Pay $850 Million Settlement

The world's biggest insurance broker agreed to pay $850 million in restitution to end an investigation into bid rigging, price fixing and the use of hidden incentive fees.

L.A.'s Downtown Renaissance Resulting in Parking Shortage

Downtown Los Angeles faces a looming parking shortage, according to an initial study by the Community Redevelopment Agency of Los Angeles.

Stock Tables Shrink in Face of Newsprint Costs, Internet

The L.A. Times' combination of high newsprint prices and easy availability of market information on the Internet makes financial agate increasingly expendable.

City Seeks Trainer for Avoidance of Harassment Cases

The city of L.A., seeking to comply with a state law requiring the schooling of its 10,000 supervisors on avoiding sexual harassment, is looking for a firm to do the training.

Business Briefs: National Lampoon, Occidental Petroleum, Univision

National Lampoon has a new CEO, Occidental Petroleum is awarded interests in oil exploration blocks in Libya, and Univision and Time Warner Cable reach a carriage deal.

Charter, Citing Competitive Growth, Seeks Deregulation

Charter Communications Inc., the lone cable television franchisee in Long Beach, has petitioned federal officials to be relieved of city regulatory oversight, in a move that could eventually lead to higher rates.

Balsamic Duo

Friends since elementary school, chefs Josiah Citrin and Raphael Lunetta made a big splash when they opened JiRaffe in Santa Monica in 1996.

Friday, January 28

Tribune Co. Reports 35.4 Percent Drop in Fourth-Quarter Earnings

The drop for the owner of the L.A. Times is largely due to charges for anticipated settlements related to misstated circulation figures at two New York papers and companywide layoffs.

Maguire Properties Agrees to Buy CommonWealth Portfolio for $1.5 Billion

Maguire Properties Inc. announced Friday it had agreed to acquire a 10-building portfolio of office buildings from an affiliate of CommonWealth Partners for $1.51 billion.

Stocks Fall Due to Concerns Over Growth, Iraqi Vote

Stocks ended lower Friday on a weaker-than-expected reading on the nation's economic growth and worries ahead of the upcoming Iraq election.

Crude Prices Fall on OPEC Speculation

Oil prices dipped Friday on speculation OPEC would not cut production at a meeting Sunday, although concern about Sunday's elections in Iraq limited the fall.

U.S. Fourth Quarter Economic Growth Slows, GDP Up for 2004

The economy grew at a weaker-than-expected 3.1 percent annual pace last quarter, but for all of 2004 it expanded at its fastest clip since 1999.

CIM Group Purchases Toys R Us Site in Santa Monica

CIM Group Inc. has purchased the Toys R Us building and a second smaller retail store in downtown Santa Monica, according to the firm's development principal.

Update: Nunez Appoints Health Care Panel Members

Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, D-Los Angeles, on Friday named the members of a special legislative committee to focus on the health care crisis in public and private hospitals.

L.A. Gas Edges Back Toward $2 Per Gallon

The average price for regular unleaded gasoline in the city of L.A. rose for the second week in a row, up 1.9 cents over last week, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California.

SUV Driver's Arraignment Delayed in Train Accident Case

The arraignment of Juan Manuel Alvarez, the 25-year-old who allegedly caused the Metrolink train crash, on charges of murder has been delayed until Feb. 15.

Hilton Hotels Selling Off 10 of its Properties

Hilton Hotels Corp. has decided to sell several of its owned properties with an eye toward "balancing" revenue streams, according to the company's CFO.

Procter & Gamble to Acquire Gillette for $57 Billion

The Procter & Gamble Co. is buying shaver and battery maker Gillette Co. for $57 billion in stock in a deal that would create the largest producer of household goods.

Thursday, January 27

Stocks Turn Mixed After Two Winning Sessions

Stocks were a mixed bag Thursday due to uneasiness about the Iraqi election, soft earnings from Caterpillar Inc. and word of SBC's potential bid for AT & T;.

Investors Continue to Wade Into Market as Tenants Jump Around

An improving economy and a jump in lease renewals and expansions led to a mostly bullish outlook for downtown at the close of 2004, when its vacancy rate dipped to 19.1 percent.

Earnings Roundup: DirecTV, International Rectifier, Hanmi Financial

A number of local companies in the Los Angeles area reported higher earnings on Thursday.

SBC, AT & T; Reportedly Talking Merger

SBC Communications Inc. is in talks to acquire AT & T; Corp. for at least $15 billion to gain more business clients, according to published reports.

Factory Orders Climb 0.6 Percent, Unemployment Claims Fall

Orders to U.S. factories for durable goods rose a solid 0.6 percent last month, helped by strong demand for communications equipment, said a government report.

Amgen Profit Rises on Drug Sales

Amgen Inc. reported a 26 percent jump in fourth-quarter profit, based on higher sales of its Aranesp anemia medicine, but warned of slower revenue growth this year.

Update: Charges Filed Against Man Accused of Triggering Train Disaster

Prosecutors filed charges late Wednesday against the Compton man who authorities believe triggered the collision of two Metrolink commuter trains near Glendale that killed 11 and injured nearly 200.

Oil Prices Up on Iraq Election Worries

Oil futures prices rose Thursday as traders braced for potential disruptions ahead of Iraq's elections on Sunday or a possible supply cut from OPEC ministers meeting the same day.

Wednesday, January 26

Study: Working Families Make Up Majority of Those Living in Poverty

Nearly six in 10 families living below the poverty line in California are working families, according to a statewide study released on Wednesday.

Santa Monica to Start Talks on Rebuilding Santa Monica Place

The Santa Monica City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night for the city to enter into negotiations with Macerich Co. to tear down and rebuild Santa Monica Place mall.

Stocks Ride Earnings Reports to Second Day of Gains

Stocks extended their gains Wednesday on a rosy outlook for Oracle, better-than-expected earnings from Texas Instruments and a drop in crude oil prices.

Former L90 Executive Indicted

A former executive of Internet ad firm L90 has been indicted by federal prosecutors on charges he fraudulently booked revenues to boost the company's performance.

Update: Metrolink Trains Collide in Atwater Village, Killing 10, Injuring 200

The death toll in the collision of two Metrolink commuter trains near Glendale has hit 10 and could rise, with nearly 200 injured in the early Wednesday crash, according to news reports.

Report Finds 'Favorable' Economic Outlook in L.A. County

Economists at the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. predict employers will add 66,000 new jobs this year countywide, a 1.6 percent increase.

Upgrade of L.A. Times Plant is Expected to Boost Ad Revenue

The L.A. Times has nearly finished a $45 million upgrade of its printing presses as part of a plan by the Tribune Co. to raise sliding ad sales at its flagship newspaper.

Update: Oil Prices Dip After U.S. Inventory Rise

Oil futures dropped below $49 per barrel Wednesday after the U.S. government said the nation's oil supply grew. and before an upcoming OPEC decision on output.

Tuesday, January 25

Landmark Sunset + Vine Complex Sold for Near $165 Million

Developer Larry Bond and partner Canyon Johnson Realty Advisors have sold the 625,000-square-foot mixed-use project Sunset + Vine for slightly less than $165 million.

Avery Dennison Shares Surge on Strong Profit, Outlook

Shares of Avery Dennison Corp. soared Tuesday after it reported a 41 percent jump in fourth-quarter profits, buoyed by demand for office products and the strong euro.

Cherokee Signs Retail Branding Deal With Essence Magazine

Cherokee Inc. has signed an exclusive licensing agreement with Essence Communications to get the Essence magazine brand onto shelves of major retailers.

Interview: Oscar Nods Propel Small-, Big-Screen Sales

Veteran entertainment analyst Harold Vogel of Vogel Capital Management says nominated films often get a new lease on life at the box office, as well as for ancillary markets like DVDs.

L.A. County Home Prices Dip Slightly in December

The median-priced home in L.A. County fell by 2.4 percent to $463,450 in December from November, according to the California Association of Realtors.

Arden Preparing for More Acquisitions

Arden Realty Inc., the biggest owner of office buildings in L.A., will sell off nearly 25 percent of its portfolio while buying higher-priced properties throughout Southern California.

KB Home Registers $500 Million of Stock on Behalf of Insiders

Homebuilder KB Home filed papers on Tuesday that would allow 15 of its top executives to sell more than half a billion dollars worth of stock.

Scaled-Back FBI Project Met With Caution

Community groups remain concerned about plans to redevelop the Federal Building on Wilshire Boulevard, despite word that the project may be scaled back.

New Rules on DNA Samples Mean Cops Need More Labs

Local law enforcement officials, compelled by Proposition 69, are scrambling to find lab sites and train employees to handle the expected increase.

U.S. Existing Home Sales Down in December, Up in 2004

Sales of existing homes in the United States fell by 3.3 percent in December from a record November high, a trade association report showed on Tuesday.

Stocks Break Four-Day Losing Streak as Confidence Rises

Stocks rose on Tuesday, jutting higher on strong earnings reports and positive consumer confidence data, with the Dow logging its best percentage gain since Dec. 21.

Oil Prices Rise on Weather, Iraqi Election Worries

Crude oil futures prices rose slightly Tuesday on forecasts for milder winter weather and on concerns about Sunday's OPEC meeting and potential militant attacks on Iraq's oil infrastructure.

U.S. Consumer Confidence Gains in January

U.S. consumer confidence rose for the second month in a row in January, suggesting the economy would continue to grow in the first half of 2005.

Monday, January 24

Vacancies Remain on High Side Despite Sharp Boost in Activity

Fourth-quarter real estate activity in Mid-Cities.

Upgrade of L.A. Times Plant Is Expected to Boost Ad Revenue

The Los Angeles Times has nearly finished a $45 million upgrade of its presses as part of a plan by Tribune Co. to raise sliding ad sales at its flagship newspaper.

Union Pacific's Fourth-Quarter Profits Take a Nosedive

Union Pacific Corp.'s fourth-quarter 2004 profit fell 76 percent due to weather-damaged tracks in Southern California and Nevada that hampered the company's ability to move freight.

Update: Oil Stops Short of $49 on U.S Blizzard

Crude oil futures closed just south of $49 a barrel Monday as a weekend blizzard in the U.S. Northeast boosted demand for heating oil.

Covenant Banning Abortions at Two Hospitals Is Dropped

The Sisters of St. Joseph have agreed to drop their requirement that abortion and other reproductive health services not be offered at the hospitals in perpetuity.

'People's Republic' Continues Its Oceanfront Evolution

When residents tried to restrict rent hikes in the 1970s, the rules enacted led to the city's famous nickname, "The People's Republic of Santa Monica."

'I Have a Lot of Support Throughout the City'

Antonio Villaraigosa discusses his decision to enter the mayoral race, his loss of labor support and his lack of confidence in Mayor James Hahn.

But iPod Can't Stop the Beat at Music Stores

The iPod can't stop the beat at music stores, although big-box discounters are outpacing the independents.

Industrial Buyers Seek Rehabs While Office Market Stagnates

Fourth-quarter real estate activity in South Bay.

New Rules on DNA Samples Mean Cops Need More Labs

Under Proposition 69, law enforcement officials have to take DNA samples from more criminals, but local agencies lack the lab capacity to do so.

Real Deals

Richard Ziman made his real estate reputation by selling his portfolio before the market crashed in 1989-90 and then buying at the bottom several years later.

Villaraigosa's Luster Has Dimmed Second Time Around

As Antonio Villaraigosa nears the final stretch of his second try for mayor, even his closest friends and allies say the magic is missing.

Federal Judge Approves Supermarkets' Settlement With Unionized Janitors

A federal judge approved a $22.4 million class action settlement between unionized janitors and the three California grocery chains they alleged violated minimum wage laws and failed to pay overtime.

City Council Unlikely to Place Tax Hike for Police on May Ballot

L.A. City Council President Alex Padilla on Monday said the City Council would not act in time to place a half-cent sales tax hike before voters in May to pay for more police officers.

Santa Monica Paces Submarket As Dot-Com Recovery Persists

Fourth-quarter real estate activity in Westside.

Apple Racks Up 250 Million Music Downloads

Apple Computer Inc. announced Monday that consumers have purchased more than 250 million songs from iTunes since its launch, a rate of nearly 1.25 million per day.

Entertainment Company Influx Boosting Activity in Submarket

Fourth-quarter real estate activity in Wilshire Corridor.

Investors Continue to Wade Into Market as Tenants Jump Around

Fourth-quarter real estate activity in Downtown.

Supply Dwindles as Big Deals Cluster Around Business Parks

Fourth-quarter real estate activity in San Gabriel Valley.

L.A. Stories

Stories about the odd and interesting events in and around Los Angeles.

Stocks Fall on Earnings Concerns, Oil Prices

Stocks finished in negative territory for the fourth straight session Monday amid concerns about corporate earnings and rising oil prices.

Disappearing Wings

Workers recall the glory days of the Los Angeles aviation industry in light of Boeing's announcement that the end of 717 production is at hand.

Dearth of New Space Pushes Office Vacancy Rate Lower

Fourth-quarter real estate activity in Ventura County.

Charges Seen as Way to Widen Probe

By exerting pressure on Fleishman-Hillard through a billing probe, investigators are hoping for the cooperation of people with direct knowledge of government corruption.

Newcomer From Old Family Strikes Independent Pose

Bobby Shriver, one of the city's new councilmembers, discusses issues facing the community.

Industrial Market Remains Tight Thanks to Business Relocations

Fourth-quarter real estate activity in North County.

Sales Activity Paces Action; Vacancy Rates Continue Slide

Fourth-quarter real estate activity in San Fernando Valley.

Dignity at the White House

Good for Barbara Boxer. For at least a few moments, the Democratic senator from California saw fit to challenge the administration's decision to go to war with Iraq.

Dollar Dips Against Euro

The dollar opened slightly lower against the euro Monday, erasing some of its recent gains, after a report showed that the world's central banks are stocking up on euros.

Suit Aims to Halt Federal Funds To Accomplish Mission Rehabs

An advocacy group has filed suit to stop $10 million in federal funds from being used to repair 17 of the 21 Spanish missions in California, including the Mission San Fernando Rey de Espa & #324;a.

Valley Neighborhood Attempts To Address Its Visibility Issues

Winnetka, a West San Fernando Valley neighborhood long overshadowed by larger neighbors, is trying to reassert itself these days, and members of the business community are leading the charge.

Apple Reshapes Core of Music Marketing

Linked to the phenomenal sales of iPods, downloads have grown exponentially, creating new opportunities in the record business.

The Battle for Santa Monica

Macerich Co.'s plans for three 21-story towers would have "freaked out" the community not too long ago, one activist says, but the times seem to be changing.

Blend Trend

Peralta Family Wine Co. takes the product that vintners won't sell, blends it to smooth out the rough edges, then bottles and distributes it nationwide.

Investors' Willingness to Accept Lower Returns Prompts Churn

Fourth-quarter real estate activity in Los Angeles County.

CIM Readies Supermarket Site As Costs Force Reconfiguration

After a series of long delays and expensive cost overruns, CIM Group Inc. is ready to start construction on what will be downtown L.A.'s only supermarket.

Bay Area Groceries, Unions Reach Tentative Deal

After months of negotiations, a tentative settlement has been reached between the unions representing 30,000 Bay Area workers and the grocery chains that employ them.

Mudslide Coup Brought KCAL Pride, Not Profit

Exclusives such as the footage of the La Conchita mudslide are rarely a source of big paydays for the photographers who shoot them or the stations that own the copyrights

Occidental Posts 74 Percent Profit Surge on Higher Oil, Gas Prices

Occidental Petroleum Corp.'s fourth-quarter profit rose 74 percent, as the company benefited from higher prices for crude oil and natural gas.

Burbank, Pasadena Lead Market As Vacancies Continue to Slide

Fourth-quarter real estate activity in Tri-Cities.

City National, Regulators in Talks on Bank Secrecy Laws

City National Bank, known for its service to celebrities and other wealthy clients, is expected to enter an agreement with regulators for violating anti-money laundering laws.

Newsmakers

The promotions and awards of L.A.'s movers and shakers.

Large Trades Generate Activity As Pace of Leasing Diminishes

Fourth-quarter real estate activity in Hollywood.

Arden Preparing for More Acquisitions

Arden Realty Inc. is doubling up its bet on the local economy, which executives believe is poised for strong job growth and higher rents.

Gas Prices Rise for the Second Straight Week in L.A.

Gas prices continued to move up in Los Angeles for the week ended Jan. 24, according to data from the Energy Information Administration.

Puck Steakhouse to Dance into Regent Beverly Wilshire Space

The Regent Beverly Wilshire's Dining Room will be closing in March to make way for a nontraditional steakhouse concept from Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group.

Developers Struggle to Keep Up With Rapidly Growing Market

Fourth-quarter real estate activity in Inland Empire.

Bid to Boost Janitors' Pay Fails As Workers Don't Heed Strike

Unionized janitors at two county-owned hospitals have failed in a bid to bring their contract in line with counterparts who work as public employees.

$500 Million Sought in Tax Amnesty Plan

Next week (Feb. 1), the state embarks on its first general tax amnesty in 20 years, allowing individuals and businesses to pay back taxes without fear of state penalties or prosecution.

Software Houses Make Moves That May Be Preludes to IPOs

Two local software companies have taken steps that position them better for possible future initial public offerings.

Friday, January 21

Oil Prices Push Down Indexes

A surge in oil prices sent the major stock indexes to their lowest level of the year Friday as investors overlooked strong earnings from General Electric Co. and United Technologies Corp.

CIM Readies Supermarket Site as Costs Force Reconfiguration

After a series of long delays and expensive cost overruns, CIM Group Inc. is ready to start construction on what will be downtown L.A.'s only supermarket.

Actors Unions, Studios Agree on Contract

Hollywood's two major actors unions announced late Thursday they have agreed to a new contract with film and TV producers worth $200 million over three years.

Judge OKs Anaheim Team's Name Change to L.A. Angels

An Orange County Superior Court judge ruled Friday that former the Anaheim Angels may keep their new name, the "Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim."

Update: FCC's Powell to Resign

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Powell said on Friday he plans to step down after four years as chief regulator of the telecommunications and media industries.

Update: Oil Prices Rise Above the $48 Mark

Oil futures prices rebounded above $48 per barrel on Friday due to concerns about possible OPEC production cuts and frigid weather in the Northeast.

Thursday, January 20

Investors Continued to Drive Up L.A. Commercial Property Prices in 2004

While last year may turn out to be a record year for office building sales, returns buyers were willing to accept on commercial real estate investments grew even smaller.

Activision Acquires Game Developer Vicarious Visions

Activision Inc., the nation's second-largest videogame publisher, has bought closely held Vicarious Visions for an undisclosed price to help it develop new games.

AQMD Sues BP West Coast Products for $183 Million

The South Coast Air Quality Management District has hit BP with a second lawsuit over alleged violations of air quality regulations at its Carson refinery.

Update: Oil Prices Drop After Energy Report Shows Rise in Inventories

Oil prices slid on Thursday after a bigger-than-expected jump in U.S. fuel inventories eased fears of a winter squeeze.

Leading Economic Indicators Rise Again

The index of leading economic indicators increased by 0.2 percent in December, the Conference Board reported Thursday, pointing to sustained, gradual growth.

Bush Sworn in for New Term

At the stroke of noon, as the Constitution dictates, President Bush was sworn in for a second term on Thursday and pledged to work to heal a country divided by the Iraq war.

FBI Says No to New, Huge L.A. Headquarters

Plans to build a massive new headquarters for the Los Angeles office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation may be scrapped in favor of a smaller alternative.

Think Tank Proposes $3 Billion 'Toll Tunnel' Link with Palmdale

Citing a crisis in public funding for transportation projects, a local think tank has proposed building the tunnel through the San Gabriel Mountains connecting Glendale and Palmdale.

Round Two in Naming War Between Anaheim, Angels Baseball

Friday morning, the parties are set to face off again over Angels owner Arte Moreno's decision earlier this month to rename the team the "Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim."

Stocks Extend Losses, Set New Lows for New Year

Stocks dropped Thursday as investors pushed aside strong earnings from Citigroup Inc. to focus on disappointing tech sector earnings from eBay Inc. and and Qualcomm Inc.

Burkle Seeks Seal on Divorce Papers Based on Security

Privacy protections and public access are on a collision course in the battle over whether financial documents in billionaire Ron Burkle's divorce case should remain open.

Wednesday, January 19

Jobless Claims Make Biggest Drop in Three Years

The number of Americans filing initial claims for jobless aid sunk 48,000 last week, the largest drop in more than three years, said the Labor Department.

Stocks Slip as Mixed Earnings Results Overshadow Economic Data

Stocks sunk Wednesday as strong economic numbers were eclipsed by mixed corporate results, including earnings from Motorola Inc., that failed to impress investors.

Dollar Shakes Two-Month High Against Euro

The dollar fell from its high against the euro on Wednesday, losing momentum after Tuesday's rally due to strong data on foreign capital flows to the U.S.

Consumer Prices Drop, Housing Starts Rise

A drop in energy costs pulled U.S. consumer prices down last month, but core inflation rose and housing starts surged, according to data released Wednesday.

Local Software Start-Up Raises $15.8 Million in Venture Funding

El Segundo-based software company iRise Inc. has received $15.8 million in late-stage funding from Morgan Stanley Venture Partners.

Doctor Joins the Move Toward 'Concierge' Medical Practices

Some doctors are starting "concierge" medical practices, joining a budding movement of physicians opting out of the traditional insurance system.

Democrats Won't Back Any Mayoral Candidate, L.A. Times Reports

After Mayor Hahn and his challengers spent months lobbying committee members, the county Democratic Party will not back a candidate in the March 8 election.

Fed's 'Beige Book' Says Economy's Stronger

The pace of U.S. economic activity continued to pick up in most of the country in late November through early January, the Federal Reserve said Wednesday.

Independents Battle Chains Over L.A.'s Animal Lovers

The shrinking number of independent pet shops hold off the onslaught of big-box pet supply chains by offering specialized services for their customers.

Irvine Co. Drops Out of Bidding for CommonWealth Portfolio

The Irvine Co. is no longer interested in buying the portfolio of Los Angeles-based CommonWealth Partners LLC, declining to discuss why.

Mayor Hahn Proposes $500 Million Housing Bond

L.A. Mayor James Hahn, who is locked in a tough re-election campaign, on Wednesday proposed putting a $500 million housing bond before L.A. voters sometime in 2006.

TV, Film Production Days Up 19.2 Percent Over 2003

Summer production of reality TV programming helped location filming in L.A. County reach record-high levels in 2004, but there are signs the pace may slow this year.

Tuesday, January 18

Union Pacific to Re-Open Storm-Damaged Routes

The railroad announced Tuesday that the last two of its four storm-damaged Southern California routes will re-open Jan. 24.

Stocks Rise on Slight Drop in Crude, Bank Profits

U.S. stocks rose Tuesday after crude oil stepped back from a seven-week peak and higher fourth-quarter profits arrived from the financial sector.

Ryland Group Rides Housing Boom to Strong 4Q Earnings

Homebuilder Ryland Group Inc. reported a dramatic increase in fourth quarter net income, exceeding analysts' estimates and raising its profit guidance for 2005.

Home Prices Continue to Rise but Pace of Sales Slows

Prices in L.A. County continued their skyward ascent in December, but sales dipped over the year-prior period, according to research by DataQuick Information Systems.

Jacobs Engineering Group Lands Four Large Contracts

The contracts are with the Army's Edgewood Chemical Biological Command, the Army Corps of Engineers' Nashville District, Petro-Canada and BA Energy Inc.

'Circus' Atmosphere at Celebrity Trials Restricting Media Access

Reporters say access to the court system is becoming more and more limited all the time, particularly when judges don't allow cameras in the courtroom.

Gas Prices Rise for First Time in Months

For the first time in more than two months, gas prices inched up slightly in L.A. for the week ended Jan. 17, according to the Energy Information Administration.

JibJab to Launch Animated Short to Coincide with Bush Inauguration

The latest online animated short by JibJab Media will debut Tuesday evening, two days before President Bush's inauguration, exclusively on Yahoo's movie portal.

Australian Officials Arrive Seeking to Drum Up Investments

Oz government officials are in town this week to promote investments from California in the wake of a bilateral trade agreement that went into effect in January.

Update: Crude Prices Settle After Surging to Almost $50 a Barrel

Oil prices on Tuesday held onto gains made over the past three weeks after soaring to a seven-week high above $49 a barrel on fears of frigid temperatures in the Northeast.

Dodgers, Angels Face Marketing Challenges

Which ball club is more unpopular? It's a close contest with the Dodgers dismantling last year's division-winning team and the Angels changing to L.A. Angels of Anaheim.

Dollar Moves on U.S. Asset Flows Report

The dollar responded on Tuesday to a Treasury Department report that showed the largest amount of foreign money flowing into the U.S. in November in five months.

Monday, January 17

News Chain Merging Its Circulation Departments

The Los Angeles Newspaper Group has begun consolidating circulation functions of its eight regional newspapers in a move to cut costs and improve customer service.

In the Dock: Public v. Private

Privacy protections and public access are on a collision course in the battle over whether financial documents in billionaire Ron Burkle's divorce case should remain open.

Shares of Farmer Bros. Jump as CEO Death Prompts Speculation

Nearly a week after its chairman and chief executive committed suicide, Farmer Bros. Co.'s stock continued to rise as speculation swirled that the company could be sold.

Reaching Out

Dan Grunfeld of Public Counsel offers free legal aid to those in need with special emphasis on immigrants and marginalized youth.

Pepper Supplier's Appeal Rejected

A pepper supplier sued over its Subway contract had its appeal of a $502,000 judgment rejected.

Controversy Brews Over Utility's Sale In Valencia

Cerberus Capital Management LP, on the cusp of becoming northern L.A. County's biggest landowner, tries to seal details of its purchase of a local water utility.

Kilroy's Compensation Plan Draws Critique from Analysts

Kilroy Realty Corp.'s compensation plan for its senior executives may cut into its fourth quarter earnings, according to analysts at Banc of America Securities.

Newsmakers

The awards and promotions of L.A.'s movers and shakers in various industries.

Irvine Co. Interest in CommonWealth Portfolio Is Strong

The Irvine Co. has shown strong interest in the roughly 5.5 million-square-foot office portfolio of CommonWealth Partners LLC, according to sources familiar with the sale process.

Small West Hollywood Hotels Draw Cash

More than $30 million has been invested in buying and renovating two of the city's sub-150 room hotels as part of an ongoing revitalization of the wider hotel market.

'Circus' Atmosphere at Celebrity Trials Prompts Strict Limits on Media Access

Judges exercise wide discretion in restrictions of electronic media in trialcoverage in the courtroom and around the courthouse.

Growing Chinese Trade Results in Wider Litigation

A growing number of Chinese companies are suing their U.S. customers over mundane contract disputes -- and being sued in return.

Talk the Talk

Sports Marketing & Entertainment Inc. books celebrities such as Jay Leno and Magic Johnson to speak at corporate gatherings and perform at fundraisers.

Production Not Threatened for Now

While talks between the unions representing actors and film and television producers were suspended indefinitely on Jan. 9, there is no sign that production might be impacted by a work stoppage.

Northern Front

Tim and Liza Goodell are taking over food and beverage operations at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel and bringing their Red Pearl Kitchen concept to Burbank and Pasadena.

Do No Harm

Dr. Marcy Zwelling-Aamot has opened a "concierge" medical practice, joining a budding movement of doctors who are opting out of the traditional insurance system.

Retired Air Force Officer Glides Into New Aviation Role

After a lifetime of moving around, Ken Combs is finally looking to settle down.

Flavored Tortillas Make Tumaro's Future Bright

Brian Jacobs, whose family acquired Tumaro's Tortilla in 1997, is now a vice president at the company.

State Budget Cuts Aren't Hitting Cities, Counties as Hard

Local governments have more manageable funding cutbacks in Gov. Schwarzenegger's new budget proposal, thanks to an agreement struck with the governor last year.

Consumers Join Governor in Calling for Drug Purchasing Pools

Last year, when Gov. Schwarzenegger proposed a prescription drug purchasing pool as an alternative to buying drugs in Canada, he was derided for caving in to the drug industry. How times have changed.

Storms Expose Vulnerabilities of L.A.'s Traffic System

Road closures due to mudslides in the canyons between the San Fernando Valley and the L.A. basin have exposed the vulnerability of the city's commuting system.

Platinum Equity Buys Two Marketing Firms from Vivendi

L.A.-based investment firm Platinum Equity said Monday it purchased two European club-based marketers of DVDs, CDs and video games from Vivendi Universal.

Rains Offered Some Troublesome Insights

You can usually spot newly arrived journalists to Los Angeles because they always want to write about how folks here make such a big deal about the rain.

Massive Battle Looms Over How the State Will Be Run

The stage is set for a landmark battle between Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislators over structural reform of state government.

Northrop's Finance Chief to Resign, Successor Named

Northrop Grumman Corp. has named Wesley G. Bush as CFO, succeeding Charles H. Noski, who will leave the company to pursue other professional interests.

Insurance Industry Bristling Under Commissioner's New Requirements

New regulations proposed by Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi following the scandal at Marsh & McLennan Cos. are under broad attack by the industry, which calls them unnecessary, confusing and illegal.

Dodgers, Angels Face Marketing Challenges

Both the Dodgers and the Angels will have to answer to the fans, the first team for dismantling its popular roster and the second for pledging allegiance to L.A.

Update: Oil Looks for Direction as U.S. Braces for Cold

Oil prices held firm Monday, clinging gains made in the last week as the U.S. Northeast braced for a cold snap that could test low winter fuel supplies

Update: Dollar Makes Up Slight Gains Over Euro, Yen

The dollar started the week in Europe with minor gains on the euro, which was at $1.3071 in late trading after hitting $1.3127 during the day.

Chinese Bid Stirs Unocal Stock, But Analysts Remain Dubious

Though takeover talk has injected some excitement into Unocal Corp.'s stock, analysts were unimpressed last week by the rumored $13 billion bid by Chinese oil and gas company CNOOC Ltd.

Sales Tax Contest Sets Definition of Big-Box Retailers

In what lawyers involved said was the first published opinion on the issue, a three-judge panel in 2nd Appellate District clarified which businesses can receive municipal relocation incentives.

Friday, January 14

Ford Comes to Hollywood to Be a Star

Ford Motor Co. has become the first car company to set up a talent agency whose sole purpose is to get its vehicles in movies and TV shows.

Leinart to Stay at USC

USC's Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Matt Leinart said Friday he will return to the Trojans for his senior year instead of joining the NFL.

L.A. County Gains Jobs in December, Unemployment Drops

L.A. County added 25,900 jobs in December as its unemployment rate fell to 6.1 percent, down from 6.9 percent a year ago, the state Employment Development Department reported.

Actors, Producers to Resume Negotiations

Actors and producers, who suspended contract negotiations on Jan. 9, have agreed to resume the talks Wednesday, Jan. 19.

Farmer Brothers Names Family Member to Board

Farmer Brothers Co. named Carol Farmer Waite to its board to fill a vacancy created by the recent death of her brother, Chairman and Chief Executive Roy E. Farmer.

Update: Oil Prices Rise for Fourth Straight Day

Crude oil futures prices reached levels not seen since late November as traders pinned a 6 percent rise in the past week on supply snags and expectations of colder weather.

Update: Boeing to End Production of Long Beach-Based 717 Jet

After years of sluggish sales, Boeing Co. has finally pulled the plug on its Long Beach-based 717 commercial jet program.

Stocks Rise as Prices Land Softly and Industrial Output Climbs

Stocks rose on Friday as investors welcomed a lower-than-expected drop in wholesale prices and soaring industrial output indicated healthy economic growth.

Update: Dollar Extends Gains on Lower PPI, Industrial Output Rise

The dollar rallied a bit against the euro on Friday after U.S. producer prices fell more sharply than expected and industrial output rose more than had been forecast.

Insurance Industry Bristling Under Commissioner's New Requirements

New broker regulations proposed by John Garamendi are under broad attack by the insurance industry, which calls them unnecessary, confusing and illegal.

Miramax, Disney Said Near Split, L.A. Times Reports

Walt Disney Co. and its Miramax Films unit have moved closer in recent days to breaking up their testy relationship, according to sources familiar with the negotiations.

Update: Damaged Roads Hamper Commute; Ventura Freeway to Reopen

Damaged roads hindered commutes and crowded freeways connecting the San Fernando Valley with the L.A. basin Friday morning, as a few canyon passes remained closed.

Thursday, January 13

Medical Corps Sends Doctors to Hot Zones

Nancy Aossey, executive director of Santa Monica-based International Medical Corps, sees the best and worst of humanity as she deals with crises across the globe.

Update: Apple Shares Up 10 Percent on Strong Earnings

Shares of Apple Computer rose nearly 7 percent Thursday, boosted by quarterly profit and revenue jumps on strong sales of its massively popular iPod music players.

USC's Leinart Postpones Decision on Going Pro Until Friday

USC fans waiting to find out whether Matt Leinart will stay and try to win another national championship or jump to the NFL will have to wait one more day.

Update: Hahn Declares Storm-Related Emergency, Seeks State Aid

Roads reopened, city work crews continued clean-up efforts and Mayor James Hahn declared a state of emergency after storms saturated the L.A. basin.

Update: Irvine Co. Leads Early Bidders on Marquee Portfolio

The Irvine Co. has submitted the top informal valuation of the 5.5 million-square-foot office portfolio of CommonWealth Partners LLC, according to sources familiar with the sale process.

Napster Adds 50 Percent More Subscribers in Third Quarter

The digital music downloading service said it had a 50 percent boost in paid subscribers in the quarter ended Dec. 31, finishing calendar 2004 with 270,000 subscribers.

Two Flooded Union Pacific Rail Lines Remain Closed

Although Union Pacific Corp. expected to have three of its five weather-damaged routes open by today, the remaining rail lines will be closed indefinitely.

Co-founder of Gelson's Dies, L.A. Times Reports

Bernard Gelson, co-founder of the upscale grocery chain that bears the family name, died at 84 earlier this week.

L.A. Investor Purchases Baseball's Milwaukee Brewers

The sale of the Milwaukee Brewers to Mark Attanasio for $223 million was made official Thursday after Major League Baseball owners approved the deal.

Update: Crude Prices Move Above $48 a Barrel on Supply Concerns

Oil prices surged more than $2 on Thursday to their highest level in six weeks as a cold snap hit the Midwest and traders were split on market direction.

Dollar Lower Against Euro on Retail Sales, Jobless Claims

The euro held above the $1.32 level Thursday after December U.S. retail sales, excluding autos, were slightly below economists' forecasts while jobless claims rose last week.

Weak GM Profit Outlook, Higher Energy Prices Hurt Stocks

Stocks plunged on Thursday as a jump in oil prices above $48 a barrel fomented concern about higher energy costs and GM provided a weaker profit outlook.

Update: Former Fleishman-Hillard VP Indicted on Federal Wire Fraud Charges

John Stodder, who who managed a $3 million contract with the Department of Water & Power, was indicted federal prosecutors on charges he helped submit $250,000 in fraudulent bills to the city department.

Wednesday, January 12

Group Plans to Push for Schwarzenegger Agenda, L.A. Times Says

Business and taxpayer groups with close ties to Gov. Schwarzenegger have banded together to raise tens of millions of dollars to support his initiatives.

Cold Forecasts, Potential OPEC Cuts Boost Oil

Crude oil prices rose Wednesday due to increased demand for heating oil and the possibility of further OPEC production cuts.

City National Posts 12 Percent Quarterly Profit Growth

City National Corp.'s bump in fourth-quarter net income is driven by strong loan growth and a dramatic jump in trust and investment fees.

Update: Dollar Drops Against Euro As Trade Deficit Rises

The dollar fell sharply against the euro Wednesday after figures showed that the U.S. trade deficit soared to an all-time high in November.

Stocks Move Higher by Market Close

Stocks surged late in the day on Wednesday, as better-than-expected earnings prompted investors to buy beaten-down shares.

Appreciation Among Downtown Lofts Outpaces Priciest Markets

Except for five exclusive Westside neighborhoods, condos downtown are higher than the median per-foot price of condos in every ZIP Code in L.A. County.

More Nursing Homes Meeting Standards, Study Finds

Nursing homes in L.A. are improving, but many still have a long way to go, according to a study of nursing home quality sponsored by the California HealthCare Foundation.

Update: Portions of Coldwater, Laurel Canyon Reopen but Delays Linger

Southern Californians continued to face inconveniences large and small Wednesday from several days of heavy rains that saturated the region.

L.A. Families Can't Buy as Much House as They Once Could

The L.A./Long Beach market ranked as the sixth least affordable housing market in the nation, according to a report recently issued by Economy.com.

Trade Gap Swells Unexpectedly to All-Time High

The trade deficit widened in November to $60.3 billion on record levels for imports of oil, consumer goods and farm products, a government report showed Wednesday.

Tuesday, January 11

O.C. Office Vacancy Dips Below 10 Percent Mark

Orange County's office vacancy rate dipped below the psychologically key threshold of 10 percent in the fourth quarter, Voit Commercial Brokerage LP said Tuesday.

Scientist Says He Should Have Disclosed Herbalife Interest

Nobel Prize winner Louis Ignarro said he should have disclosed his financial interest in an Herbalife product when he co-authored research on benefits of the product's ingredients.

Apple Debuts New Products in San Francisco

Apple Computer Inc. Chief Executive Steve Jobs unveiled the company's newest gadgets Tuesday at the MacWorld Exposition in San Francisco.

L.A. County to Explore Forming Separate Health Authority

The L.A. County Board of Supervisors moved forward on the idea Tuesday, acting on a scathing report on its management of Martin Luther King Jr. Medical Center.

Hotel Bel-Air Plans Facelift for its Grande Dame of Restaurants

The Hotel Bel-Air is redoing its renowned restaurant and as could be expected, little expense is being spared.

Update: Storm Became a Mixed Blessing for Area Businesses

While the five-day deluge that swamped Southern California through Tuesday morning may be a thing of the past, area businesses saw it is a mixed blessing.

Update: Crude Oil Prices Above $46 on Weather, Supply Woes

Oil prices moved above $46 a barrel Tuesday as a cold spell loomed, supply problems afflicted producers, and potential OPEC production cuts worried investors.

Energy Workers Union to Merge with Steelworkers

If members approve a merger of the United Steelworkers of America and PACE at votes in April, it would create the nation's largest industrial labor union.

Stocks Sink on Earnings, but Intel Jumps in After-Hours

Stocks sunk Tuesday as investors were put off by weak-earnings from aluminum producer Alcoa Inc. and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. issued a sales warning.

Dollar Dips Against Euro for Second Day

The dollar slipped Tuesday against the euro, which was trading at more than $1.31 following a positive report on the German economy, Europe's largest.

Monday, January 10

Dollar Drops Slightly After Gains

The dollar eased back a bit Monday after last week's major gains against the euro as markets looked ahead to the midweek release of U.S. trade data.

More Nursing Homes Meet Standards

Nursing homes in Los Angeles are improving, but many still have a long way to go, according to a new study.

Contract Negotiations Between SAG, Studios, Producers Break Down

Negotiations between actors and TV studios and producers on a new national three-year contract fell apart over the issue of "promotional launches."

Fidelity Dumps Bulk of Holdings in 99 Cents Only

Fidelity Management & Research Corp., the largest institutional shareholder in 99 Cents Only Stores, has cut its stake in the struggling discount retailer.

Residents, Developers Differ on Need for Influx of New Homes

Tujunga's first settlers yanked boulders from the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains to build their one-story stone cottages.

Popcorn, Nuts, Pretzels Making a Tasty Venture

Ross Wallach had sold about $100 million worth of commercial real estate through the 1990s when a close friend asked him to be his partner in a popcorn business he started out of a garage.

Head of Coffee Roaster Farmer Brothers Dies Unexpectedly

Roy E. Farmer, chairman and chief executive of Torrance-based Farmer Bros. Co., died on Jan. 7 at the age of 52, the company said.

Upgrades Sought for Emergency Warnings

State officials, mindful of the destruction from last month's tsunami, are looking at ways to boost spotty warning systems.

Buyer of Long Beach Hilton Hunts More West Coast Sites

Fresh off its $77 million acquisition of the Hilton Long Beach Hotel and Executive Meeting Center, HEI Hospitality said it will try to acquire an additional three to five West Coast hotels.

Business Issues Get Short Shrift in State of State Speech

California's business climate, so central a theme in Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's first State of the State speech, got barely a mention the second time around.

News Corp. in $6 Billion Deal for Rest of Fox

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. said it would buy the remaining 18 percent of its Fox Entertainment Group Inc. unit in a stock swap worth roughly $6 billion.

Gas Prices Continue Edging Downward

While gas prices inched up slightly in much of the U.S. for the week ended Jan. 10, they kept up a slow descent in Los Angeles and the state of California.

Newsmakers

The promotions and announcements of leaders in various industries in and around Los Angeles.

Napster Reloads, Takes Aim at Apple and Its High-Flying iPod

After a three-year battle with record companies that landed it in bankruptcy court, Napster has resurfaced as a publicly held company -- this time it has the industry's blessings.

Scientist Says He Should Have Disclosed Herbalife Interest

A UCLA scientist said he should have disclosed his interest in Herbalife to a journal that published research he co-authored that dealt with ingredients in one of the company's products.

Stocks End Higher, Spurred by Merger Announcements

U.S. stocks ended slightly higher on Monday as enthusiasm over a flurry of mergers diverted investor focus from the upcoming barrage of corporate earnings.

Platinum Health Care Gets New Shine After Changing Practices

State regulators have lifted a cease and desist order against Platinum Health Plus three months after cracking down on it and other discount health plans, maintaining some are fraudulent.

Contract Talks to Resume at Spanish-Language Stations

Negotiations are set to resume between the union representing more than 2,100 L.A.-area TV production workers and two Spanish-language stations.

Schwarzenegger Plans to Curtail Spending in New Budget

Gov. Schwarzenegger unveiled a 2005-06 budget that would fund education, social services and health care programs at levels below what current law requires.

Couple Bickers Over Lifestyle in Court Papers

Ron Burkle's divorce from his estranged wife of 28 years offers a glimpse into the personal lifestyle of one of L.A.'s wealthiest businessmen.

November Wholesale Inventories Up 1.1 Percent

Inventories at U.S. wholesalers climbed 1.1 percent in November, after October's 1.1 percent gain, as stocks increased across a variety of categories, a government report showed on Monday.

L.A. Times Gets Rid of Sarcastic Cat, Replaces It With Hipper Comic

Nap-happy lasagna-loving Garfield gets weekdays off after his years of service at the Los Angeles Times as the newspaper tries to rejuvenate the funny pages.

Satellites, Buoys and Sensors Help Scientists Track Earth and Ocean Conditions

A host of technologies to protect Southern California from natural disasters are either in place or in development.

Storm Halts NY Times Delivery to Southern California

Southern California subscribers didn't get their papers today as rains disrupted the satellite transmission carrying the Monday edition from New York to its local printer.

Jewish Journal Makes Switch to Free Distribution

The Jewish Journal adopts free distribution in a push for growth and severs its ties to the Jewish Federation to affirm its editorial independence.

CBS Ousts Four for Bush Guard Story

Four CBS News employees, including three executives, have been fired for their role in reporting a disputed story about President Bush's National Guard service.

Good Look

Big Machine made a big splash by contracting to remake the look of the newsmagazine show "20/20."

Developers Paying Up for Raw Land in Downtown L.A.

Prices refuse to cool off for developable downtown Los Angeles lots.

KCBS Reassigns Special Assignment Team, Ending Award-Winning Run

KCBS has disbanded its Special Assignment team, which produced investigations that were heavily promoted during sweeps.

Hotel Bel-Air Plans Facelift for Its Grande Dame of Restaurants

The owners of the Hotel Bel-Air are redoing its storied restaurant with revamped d & #233;cor and a new menu.

Economy in China on Upswing But Market Plays May Be Dicey

Despite the hype about China's phenomenal economic growth, Los Angeles investment advisors are telling clients to be wary.

Update: Crude Oil Prices Settle Under $46 a Barrel

Crude oil prices dipped below $46 a barrel Monday after morning concerns that a U.S. cold spell could strain thin winter fuel supplies drove up the price by nearly $2.

A Marriage Unravels Unhappily

The estranged wife of billionaire Ron Burkle is threatening to dismantle a 1997 post-marital agreement she says unfairly benefited the supermarket magnate, according to divorce papers.

Appreciation Among Downtown Lofts Outpaces Priciest Markets

Prices of new condos are steadily going up in anticipation of development activity.

Shell to Sell Bakersfield Refinery to Flying J Inc.

Shell Oil Co. has agreed to sell its 73-year-old Bakersfield refinery to Flying J Inc., a privately held retail distributor of diesel fuel.

Final Wave of Storms Expected Tonight; Some Relief Tuesday

Periods of heavy rain were forecast for Southern California through at least Tuesday morning, as the area continues to be under flash flood watches and warnings after several days of unrelenting storms.

World of Pain

With devastation in South Asia still front-page news, the phones were ringing off the hook last week at the offices of International Medical Corps.

City Suit Against Hotel Sites Draws Interest From Across State, Region

Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo fired off the first lawsuit against online services he said have routinely refused to pay millions in hotel occupancy taxes.

Medical Corps Sends Doctors to Hot Zones

Nancy Aossey, executive director of Santa Monica-based International Medical Corps, sees the best and worst of humanity as she deals with crises across the globe.

Year-End M & A; Action Could Flow Into 2005

Merger activity surged in the fourth quarter, driven by easy financing and strong corporate profits that sparked billion-dollar deals in Southern California.

Finding the Local Angle

It's been an accepted maxim in the news biz that Americans care a lot more about our own pain and suffering than those on the other side of the globe. Then came Dec. 26.

Friday, January 7

Stocks End First Week of 2005 Down

Stocks ended the first week of 2005 lower, as jobs data came in close to expectations and Wall Street showed caution ahead of earnings reports next week.

AQMD Requires Steeper Pollution Cuts

The South Coast Air Quality Management District on Friday tightened its pollution credit trading program -- likely costing businesses hundreds of millions of dollars.

Strong Winter Storm Slams Region

The first of three storms hit L.A. Friday, bringing rain to coastal areas, raising fears of flooding, and promising to drench much of the region for days.

Update: Chinese Company Eyes Unocal Takeover

The estimated $13 billion acquisition of Unocal, the ninth largest oil producer in the United States, would dwarf previous purchases of U.S. companies by mainland Chinese rivals.

MTA to Give Companies Discounts if Workers Use Mass Transit

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is trying to entice employees at major companies to use mass transit or carpool.

December Hiring Less Than Expected

U.S. employers added 157,000 new jobs in December, fewer than expected, bringing the year-end total to 2.2 million, the best showing in five years.

FDA Approves Anti-Cancer Drug Abraxane

American Pharmaceutical Partners Inc. received FDA approval late Friday for Abraxane, a key drug on which the company has been pinning much of its future growth.

Dollar Sinks on Slightly Lower Jobs Data

The dollar fell on Friday after a government report showed lower-than-expected U.S. jobs growth in December.

Update: Crude Futures Slip After Surge

Crude futures dipped Friday, little changed from Thursday's $2 surge in prices, as OPEC ministers weighed the timing of a potential output cut for the spring.

IRS Raps Death Row Records Headquarters

The IRS foreclosed on the Beverly Hills headquarters of Death Row Records, the notorious rap label founded by Chief Executive Marion "Suge" Knight.

L.A. Area Gas Prices Dip Below $2 Per Gallon, AAA Reports

For the first time in nearly 11 months, the average price of a gallon of gas in the L.A. area slipped below the $2 per gallon mark, AAA said.

Thursday, January 6

Holiday Retail Mixed Nationwide, Local Companies Fare Well

Last-minute shoppers gave retailers nationwide an overall respectable, but mixed, 2004 holiday season. A number of local companies ended up doing well.

Will Gov. Schwarzenegger Support a Repeal of Overtime?

The business-friendly Schwarzenegger administration may get behind business groups with plans to revoke California's daily overtime law.

CommonWealth Partners to Sell Off $1.7 Billion Portfolio

CommonWealth Partners LLC has listed its entire portfolio of 13 properties, including 777 Figueroa St. and three Glendale office buildings.

Liz Claiborne Acquires Los Feliz Designer C & C; California Inc.

The clothing designer has purchased C & C; California Inc. for an initial equity stake of $28 million, plus additional payments over three years based on the future earnings.

Jobless Claims Jump, Shows Uneven Recovery

Initial U.S. jobless claims surged unexpectedly last week by 43,000, their highest level since late September, a government report showed on Thursday.

Walt Disney Chief Eisner Paid $8.3 Million in 2004

Walt Disney Co. CEO Michael Eisner was paid $8.3 million last year, 14 percent more than in 2003, the company said in an SEC filing released Thursday.

Investment Group Buys Long Beach Hilton for $77 Million

Investment firm HEI Hospitality has acquired the Hilton Long Beach Hotel and Executive Meeting Center for $77 million.

Viacom Taps Brad Grey for New Studio Chief

The third-largest media company has hired talent agent and producer Brad Grey as chief executive and chairman of its Paramount Motion Picture Group.

Two Lawsuits Try to Stop Major LAX Overhaul

Two lawsuits seek to halt Mayor James Hahn's $11 billion overhaul of LAX, alleging the city of L.A. failed to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act.

Northrop to Cut 2,500 Jobs if Ship Spending Trimmed

The world's largest builder of warships said proposed Pentagon spending cuts would force it to eliminate 2,500 jobs at shipyards in Louisiana and Mississippi.

Dollar Keeps Up Rally Against Euro

The dollar kept up its post-holiday run Thursday against the euro, which dropped below $1.32 for the first time in more than three weeks.

Stocks End Mixed Amid Rise in Unemployment Claims

Blue chips ended higher Thursday despite a sharp rise in unemployment claims and mixed holiday sales reports from the nation's retailers.

Update: Oil Prices Shoot Above $45 a Barrel

Oil prices jumped nearly $2 on Thursday after a big fall in U.S. natural gas inventories triggered renewed concerns about winter fuel stocks.

Wednesday, January 5

Update: Delta Air Lines Slashes Fares, Its Shares Fall

The nation's third biggest carrier cut its fares on Wednesday by up to 50 percent nationwide, prompting fears of a fare war and sending its shares sharply lower.

L.A. Workers Confident About Job Market, Survey Says

Workers in L.A. were more confident about the job market in December than those nationwide, but they were less happy with their current positions.

Limits on Use of Federal Aid Crimp L.A. Security Efforts

Local officials heralded Tom Ridge's announcement that L.A.would get nearly $65 million in homeland security funds -- but they say it's not enough.

Schwarzenegger Proposes Sweeping Slate of Reforms

Governor uses State of the State speech as a platform for his proposals, and threatens to go directly to voters if Legislature balks at implementing them.

Stocks Slump for Third Day in New Year

Wall Street's 2005 decline continued Wednesday as concerns about inflation and higher interest rates sapped buyer confidence.

Marina del Rey Apartment Complex Fetches $305 Million

After buying four Vegas casinos last year, L.A.-based private equity firm Colony Capital LLC will pay $305 million for the Water Terrace apartments.

Senior Fleishman-Hillard Executives Leave Amid Investigation

Three employees who had management responsibility on the $3 million-per-year contract with the city's Department of Water & Power now part of a criminal investigation have left.

LAX Passenger Traffic Continues Climb in November

The number of passengers traveling domestically and internationally at LAX rose in November, increasing 9 percent over the year earlier.

Oil Prices Fall as U.S. Heating Fuel Supplies Rise

Crude oil futures prices fell Wednesday after the government reported substantial increases in gasoline and heating oil inventories.

TV Guide Publisher to Launch New Weekly Celeb Magazine

Gemstar-TV Guide International Inc. will publish a full-sized celebrity magazine as a companion to its flagship television publication by mid-spring.

ISM Non-Manufacturing Index Rose to 63.1 in December

Growth in the U.S. services sector rose in December, although employment declined slightly, according to a private survey published Wednesday.

U.S. Job Cuts Rose in December

U.S. planned job cuts rose in December, making it the second worst month for layoffs last year, according to a report released Wednesday.

Kaiser Taps Head of New York City Hospital System

Kaiser Permanente is drawing from the nation's largest public hospital system for the new chief of its Southern California operations.

Mortgage Applications Fall as Rates Ease

During a short holiday week, consumers' applications for home refinancing and purchasing fell despite a drop in fixed mortgage rates.

Utility Tax Considered for Gardena Bailout

Gardena city officials, caught in a cash crisis, are considering raising the utility tax by 25 percent without bringing the issue to a citywide vote.

Tuesday, January 4

Late Flurry of Venture Deals Bodes Well for New Year

Tougher competition for deal flow in 2004 and a flurry of year-end investments are signaling that 2005 may be a robust year in the venture capital market.

Factory Orders Show Strong Gains in November

U.S. factories saw orders go up by 1.2 percent in November, the fastest rate in four months and a sign the manufacturing sector was gaining momentum with the new year looming.

Federal Reserve Inflation Concerns Drive Down U.S Stocks

Stocks slumped Tuesday, with the Nasdaq hitting its lowest point in a month, as the Federal Reserve's concerns about inflation helped erase nearly a month of gains.

Schwarzenegger to Require HMOs to Provide All 'Medically Necessary' Drugs

The Schwarzenegger administration released Tuesday what one official called the clearest and most comprehensive regulations in the nation governing HMO pharmaceutical benefits.

Update: Oil Prices Up After Sliding 3 Percent on Monday

Crude oil futures jumped Tuesday as traders remained concerned about tight supplies of heating oil and after reports that Saudi Arabia had delivered on its promise to scale back output.

Executive Moves: DreamWorks, IMPCO and On Assignment Announce Changes

DreamWorks SKG names a new president and COO, IMPCO Technologies Inc. gets a new chief executive and president, and On Assignment Inc.'s CFO will soon retire.

More Cities Plan to File Lawsuits Against LAX Renovation

The cities of Inglewood and Culver City are expected to file lawsuits on Thursday aiming to halt the $11 billion renovation of Los Angeles International Airport.

The Dollar Fights Back

The greenback gained for a second day against its major rivals Tuesday.

Broadcom Signs $183 Million, Eight-Building Lease in Orange County

The Irvine-based chipmaker has signed a 10-year lease to move its headquarters to the city's University Research Park, taking 685,000 square feet in new buildings.

Community Anxiety Increases as VA Site Planning Proceeds

After more than a decade of debate, development of the nearly 400-acre Veterans Administration campus is beginning to move forward.

CEO O'Neill Quits Mitsubishi for Reynolds & Reynolds

Finbarr O'Neill has resigned as CEO of Mitsubishi Motors North America to take a job as president and CEO of Reynolds and Reynolds Co.

LAX Plan Subject of El Segundo Suit, L.A. Times Reports

A lawsuit filed by the city of El Segundo alleges Los Angeles' plan to expand the airport is based on flawed environmental data, the paper reported Tuesday.

L.A. Sues Online Booking Services Over Unpaid Hotel Taxes

L.A. City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo is suing a dozen online hotel reservation Web sites, alleging they've failed to pay as much as $10 million a year in occupancy taxes to the city.

Monday, January 3

Auditor Quits Merisel Over Its Leadership, Lack of Operations

Deloitte & Touche LLP dropped Merisel Inc. from its auditing roster last month after the common stock of the technology distributor was delisted by the Nasdaq.

Sony Takes No. 1 Film Distribution Spot, Disney Falls to Third

Sony Pictures Releasing finished 2004 as the largest motion picture distribution company ranked by domestic box office returns according to preliminary numbers from Nielsen EDI.

Tenet Healthcare Corp. Sells Off Five More Hospitals

Subsidiaries of Tenet announced Monday they have completed the sale of five acute care hospitals, including Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center.

Most Employees: Aerospace Corp. Prepares Liftoffs

Local organizations offer a range of services, from supporting charities

Radio Lobbyists Heading North Seeking Greater Political Capital

Radio executives are lobbying politicians to send some ad dollars their way, instead of buying time on TV only.

It's Official: Los Angeles Angels

Major League Baseball's newly minted "Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim" are facing the threat of a lawsuit from Anaheim city officials.

CommonWealth Partners to Sell Off $1.7 Billion Portfolio

CommonWealth Partners LLC has listed its entire $1.7 billion portfolio of 13 properties, including the 53-story tower at 777 Figueroa St. and three Glendale office buildings, according to sources who have seen the listing.

Utility Tax Considered for Gardena Bailout

City officials consider a utility tax to help fund a $26 million loan repayment.

Port Could Skirt Revised Leasing Policy for Tenant

The Port of L.A. may lease additional acreage to one of its major tenants without offering the property to other operators a move opposed by City Controller Laura Chick.

Dealers Rev Up Sales Thanks to Auto Show Contacts

Car dealers can't make sales at the L.A. Auto Show, but they can make valuable contacts with potential buyers.

Napster's Back as Trading Begins on Nasdaq

Los Angeles-based file-sharing pioneer Napster Inc. returned to the public eye on Monday with its Nasdaq debut, falling about 5 percent in mid-afternoon trading.

Villaraigosa, Parks Emerge as Strong Hahn Challengers

With two months to go before the mayoral primary, Antonio Villaraigosa and Bernard Parks are emerging as the leading challengers to incumbent James Hahn.

Most Assets: All Student Loan Jumps Into Originations

Local organizations offer a range of services, from supporting charities to researching rocket science.

Community Anxiety Increases As VA Site Planning Proceeds

After more than a decade of debate, development of the federal Veterans Administration campus the most valuable open tract of Westside real estate is beginning to move forward.

Dollar Starts the New Year Strong Against the Euro

The dollar started 2005 on a strong note on Monday, gaining more than a cent from last week's record lows against the euro.

ABC's Numbers for Kobe/Shaq Matchup Dunk KCAL Figures

The Christmas Day Lakers-Miami Heat contest that reunited Shaq and Kobe gave ABC the highest ratings for a regular-season NBA game since 1998.

L.A. Stocks Far Outpacing Broader Indexes

The LABJ 200 stock index outpaced larger indexes in 2004, thanks to the region's ties to the Asian boom and a new wave of IPOs.

Report Calls for Independent Control of King/Drew

Consulting firm cites mismanagement, says L.A. County Board of Supervisors should immediately hand over control of the medical center to an independent body.

U.S. Lures U.K. Tourists With Ads

An L.A. ad agency hired by the Commerce Department has launched an advertising campaign in the U.K. promoting travel to the United States.

Paramount Looks Beyond Risk-Averse Strategy In Choosing Grey

Barring any last-minute complications, Hollywood talent manager Brad Grey is expected to be named head of Paramount Pictures.

Greatest Asset Gain: Athletics at Kare Youth League

Local organizations offer a range of services, from supporting charities to researching rocket science.

CEO Salaries Can Be Generous But Pay Is Low at Small Outfits

Executive pay at non-profits ranges from modest to majestic.

Gas Prices Continue Inching Downward

For the week ended Jan. 3, gas prices kept up a slow descent in Los Angeles and the state of California, finally dipping below the $2 mark.

Construction Spending Drops in November

Construction spending slipped in November by 0.4 percent, the first drop in 10 months, as private builders slashed spending on residential and commercial projects.

Building Up

By approving more than $30 billion in school construction bonds, voters have been fueling the fortunes of a small Santa Monica architectural and design firm.

Business Journal Launches New Site

The Business Journal launches a live online edition that features breaking news on local companies and the economic scene.

Pace of Factory Growth Climbs

Manufacturing activity picked up in December, expanding for the 19th consecutive month, boosted by an increase in new orders and despite a decline in employment

Late Flurry of Venture Deals Bodes Well for New Year

Tougher competition for deal flow in 2004 and a flurry of year-end investments are signaling that 2005 may be robust for the venture capital market.

Update: Oil Down 3 Percent as Winter Stays Mild

Oil prices slid 3 percent on Monday, the first trading day of 2005, on expectations that more mild U.S. weather at the start of the New Year will limit heating oil demand.

Wal-Mart's December Sales Jump 3 Percent

The world's biggest retailer, said it expects December sales to be up 3 percent, the top end of its sales estimate, on better-than-expected post-Christmas spending.

Peck/Jones Headed to Bankruptcy Court Under Chapter 7

The 89-year-old construction firm that built some of L.A.'s landmark buildings has been forced into bankruptcy proceedings by its creditors.

Power Player

Jay Wintrob started his career as an attorney before joining Kaufman & Broad. He's now president of AIG Retirement Services and sits on the boards of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, the J. Paul Getty Trust and KCET.

Mountain High Ski Resort Goes on Block

The Mountain High resort in Wrightwood, the top draw of its type in Southern California and among the biggest in the state and nation, is up for sale.

Update: Rain Likely Much of the Week

A flash flood warning was issued this morning for parts of western Los Angeles County as a powerful winter storm is bringing periods of heavy rain and high wind throughout the area.

Two Early Events Will Set Year's Tone for Schwarzenegger

As Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger outlines this week how he intends to deal with an estimated $8 billion budget deficit, the big question is whether he will try to deal with Democrat lawmakers or go directly to the people again.

Daily News: Abuse Cited in High County Pension Rates

L.A. County Supervisor Gloria Molina plans to introduce a motion calling for a case-by-case fraud review of the pensions for county firefighters and sheriff's officers.

Guatemalan Restaurant Chain Plays Chicken With Big Brands

The Guatemalan flavors of Pollo Campero will soon be battling for market share in a chicken war against El Pollo Loco and KFC.

Strong Retail Sales in L.A. Buck Weaker National Trend

Area retailers appear to have had a better holiday shopping season than those in other parts of the country.

Contractor Peck/Jones Headed for Bankruptcy Court Under Chapter 7

Building contractor Peck/Jones has been forced into Chapter 7 proceedings.

Look Down the Rug Is the Soul of the Room

Abbas M. Firouzi travels the world and scours auctions and estate sales to stock Pasadena Rug Mart, which he bought in 1986 after emigrating from Iran and studying engineering and business.

Newsmakers

Newsmakers in selected industries.

Universal Stays on Watch List Despite Cash From Spinoff

Universal Care Inc. has unloaded its San Diego County Medi-Cal and Healthy Families businesses to Molina Healthcare Inc.

Worlds of Service

A little-known student lender tops our list of the 50 largest charitable nonprofit organizations in L.A.: All Student Loan is number one with $850 million in assets.

Limits on Use of Federal Aid Crimp L.A. Security Efforts

Local officials heralded Tom Ridge's recent announcement that the region would receive as much as $65 million in homeland security funds this fiscal year.

Once Again, It's Time for the Crystal Ball

A strange thing happened to my spate of predictions for 2004: A bunch of them were right.

Stocks Off to Slow Start in 2005

Stocks finished lower on Monday after one report indicated job growth may be diminishing and another showed an unexpected drop in construction spending.

Eagles Bandmates Not Playing in the Same Key

Even though the Eagles checked out of a partnership with their guitarist, they're finding they can never leave.