Rick Caruso is many things. Developer. Billionaire. Philanthropist. But he’s no Enrico Caruso.

Earlier this month, Caruso – the developer, that is – received the True Blue Award from the Los Angeles Police Foundation, a non-profit that raises money to supplement the city-funded Los Angeles Police Department.

As former president of the Police Commission, Caruso – best known as the man behind popular shopping destinations the Grove and Americana at Brand – said he was honored to be given the distinction during the foundation’s 15th annual fundraising gala. He was responsible for bringing former Police Chief Bill Bratton to Los Angeles in 2002.

“I have a great affection for the LAPD. A big part of my life was there,” he said. “So I agreed to do it; we raised a lot of money and had a lot of fun.”

Chef Wolfgang Puck catered the event on Paramount Studio’s New York street back lot; actor Mario Lopez served as host. Caruso said the evening yielded more than $1.5 million for the foundation.

But perhaps the most memorable part of the night for Caruso came as one of his idols took the stage after dinner. Singer-songwriter Paul Anka, who famously penned lyrics for Frank Sinatra’s signature song, “My Way,” insisted Caruso join him in front of the crowd to sing a silly, customized version of the song.

Caruso obliged, though insisted he’s not much of a singer.

“I think I am somewhere close to pathetic,” he said. “I don’t want to make a living doing it, but I can make other people sound really good.”

Not So Sweet Smells

Now that the weather is getting warmer, lawyer Kristen Nesbit figures she’ll soon get calls from desperate bosses seeking to resolve a pesky workplace problem: stinky workers.

Nesbit, an attorney in the downtown L.A. office of employer defense law firm Fisher & Phillips LLP, has become the go-to person when companies need advice on how to deal with smelly colleagues.

It started four years ago when a client approached her looking for a tactful way to notify an employee about a body odor problem; this employee was wearing sweaters on hot summer days.

“Somehow those issues subsequently came across my desk,” Nesbit said. “Each spring and summer, I would see a spike in these cases.”

Over time, Nesbit learned to treat these cases with sensitivity.

“You never know if there’s some underlying medical condition,” she said.

A good tactic is to approach the employee in a friendly manner, she said, and ask about hygiene routines, such as: “After you exercise, do you shower?” After a time, the company representative should break the news that some have complained about body odor.

On one occasion, Nesbit, 33, has had to put her own advice to work. Management at her firm asked her to talk to a colleague about offensive perfume odor.

“At first it was kind of hard to talk to her about this,” she said. “But I came to her more as a friend. We discussed the perfume she uses and her workout routine. Eventually, I told her about the odor problem. And things did improve.”

Staff reporters Bethany Firnhaber and Howard Fine contributed to this column. Page 3 is compiled by Editor Charles Crumpley. He can be reached at ccrumpley@labusinessjournal.com.

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