Stories for February 1997

Monday, February 24


Unions are stepping up their efforts to organize L.A.-area workers. Many are literally taking to the streets in what they see as a fight against local businesses.

Charter Candidates

PRECEDE: Here is a look at the rival fields of candidates in the April 8 L.A. election for a charter reform commission. Voters will elect one representative from each district.

Small Biz

More and more small businesses are recognizing that outsourcing non-strategic functions can positively impact their bottom line.


Charles Rinehart, chairman and CEO of H.F. Ahmanson & Co., got plenty of heat last week for supposedly intimating that Great Western Bank workers would be the first to be fired if Ahmanson succeeds in its hostile takeover.

Letter Herbst

As this year's List of L.A.'s top office/retail property management firms illustrates, consolidation in real estate ownership is translating to consolidation in the property management field.


A great advancement in the treatment of prostate cancer and possibly a great investment is in the offing, if Westside investment banker Steven Kriegsman is right on his hunches.

Movie List

Even when its primary franchise falls flat, Walt Disney Co. dominates the field in the competition between motion picture studios.


Strolling about the irregularly-shaped complex, which celebrates its 15th anniversary next month, reveals almost as much about L.A. chic as it does about brand-name retail.

Company Index

Albert C. Martin & Associates 6


After more than a year of intense negotiations, developers of a proposed sports and entertainment complex said they will now give full attention to building the facility adjacent to the L.A. Convention Center.


Is this high jumping stock market "irrationally exuberant, as Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan fears? Or is it for real?


ALHAMBRA If you're a cable TV subscriber in the United States, there's about a one-in-four chance that your programming comes to you via fiber-optic technology developed and manufactured by Ortel Corp. in the San Gabriel Valley.


After sitting vacant since its completion more than four years ago, Long Beach's glitziest beachfront condominium highrise has a new owner and its luxury units could go on sale as early as this spring.

Hyatt Riot

It's been called the Continental Hyatt, the Hyatt on Sunset and, most recently, the Hyatt West Hollywood.


The Eagle Theater in Eagle Rock can thank Winston Evans and Bill Barsocchini for its new lease on life.

Letter Schatz

In the Feb. 10 Special Report, Who's Who Law, Erwin Chemerinsky's alma mater was misidentified. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School.


Bad news for Los Angeles: The terribly misguided living wage proposal is headed to the City Council, where there appears to be more than enough votes for passage and maybe even enough to overturn an expected veto from Mayor Richard Riordan.


The planned merger between broadcasting giants Evergreen Media Corp. and Chancellor Broadcasting Co. probably won't lead to major operational changes at the five affected L.A.-area stations, industry observers said last week.

Knabe Profile

When Don Knabe was elected to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors last November, he was no stranger to the board or even to his own position on it.


When the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously last week to slash the business tax for multimedia companies, it was the end of more than two years of pleas from the burgeoning industry.

Marlet Column

When most of us think about animal regulators, we picture gruff dog-catchers with big nets who swoop down on hapless puppies, toss them in a truck and haul them off to a doggy compound, where unclaimed mutts are systematically knocked off.


Atlas just became The Shotmaker Co.'s new president and chief operating officer. And though the name might not ring any bells, the work being done probably will.

Letter HMO

On behalf of the five Los Angeles-based health maintenance organizations represented by the Health Care Headquarters Association, we appreciate the Business Journal's attention to our recent discussion with the City of Los Angeles.


In recent years, group purchasing and business alliances have grown increasingly popular among California employers looking for health care coverage, and with good reason. By pooling resources, businesses can wring lower premiums out of managed care plans


Following months of bitter debate, the controversial "living wage" ordinance appears headed for passage.


In the world of California philanthropy, $3 billion to spend on discretionary health care projects would usually be considered a bundle.

Computer Column

President Clinton, trying to do something about the state of education in America, is promoting a program to "connect every classroom and library to the Internet by the year 2000."


With the April 8 election a month and a half away, L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan and the city's union workers are fielding rival slates of candidates for a proposed citizen's commission to reform the City Charter.


After nine years of court challenges and regulatory delays, Proposition 103 is finally hitting the road.

Great Western

Among all the issues surrounding last week's attempt by H.F. Ahmanson & Co. to take over Great Western Financial Corp., one question stands out:


SunAmerica Inc. announced that vice chairman Jay S. Wintrob has been elected to its board of directors. Wintrob, 39, has been with the financial services company for the past decade. He is president of SunAmerica Investments, which manages an $18 billion


A Los Angeles Superior Court judge has confirmed an arbitration panel's decision awarding $85 million in damages to the original developer of Santa Monica's Shutters At The Beach hotel.


Los Angeles holds its breath awaiting (and fearing) a new owner for the Dodgers, and baseball loses its last family-owned franchise. Strange as it may seem, tax laws are largely to blame.

RE Column

It took nearly a decade to assemble the site, navigate entitlement gauntlets, complete development plans, and secure tenant and financial commitments, but developers Bob Flaxman and Jamie Sohacheski finally have their Venice Crossroads retail center under


Beverly Hills didn't get its much-anticipated Bloomingdale's department store but it looks as if the site will be developed into a high-end retail or entertainment center.


Not far from the "Happiest Place on Earth," some unhappy shareholders of Walt Disney Co. will gather this week for what is expected to be an unusually raucous annual meeting.

Letter Rabinowitz

Metro Rail is dead! DEAD!! Oops, sorry. My mistake. It's not. But it looked dead. The Feds were going to strangle its money supply. People were already marketing "Metro Rail est Morte" tee shirts. The Metropolitan Transit Authority was doing everything i

Monday, February 17


Although it's the health maintenance organizations that have been loudly demanding a lower tax rate, a less-publicized proposal to help another industry is expected to reach the Los Angeles City Council this week.


Senate President Pro Tem Bill Lockyer, the state's top Democratic legislator, has softened his opposition to reforming the state's eight-hour overtime rule.

List Story

Andersen Consulting LLP continues its reign as the largest management consulting firm in Los Angeles. And like many of its competitors, the firm has added to the number of consultants it employs in the L.A. area, according to this week's List.


Car insurance, home prices and business taxes notwithstanding, L.A. is actually a pretty cheap place to live especially for those who like the, shall we say, simpler things in life.


In the late 1960s, the Exposition Park area was considered a major center of commerce in Los Angeles.


Maintaining good client relations is a trait Bob Thibault has picked up since taking a part-time job at Disneyland 21 years ago.

Letter Sullivan

Unfortunately, I provided you the name of the wrong defendant in the unfair competition act case mentioned in my opinion article "California Tort Reform is Overdue" in your Jan. 27 edition.

Letter Dear

I have to take issue with Michael Milken's assertion that downtowns are in a state of irreversible decline ("Milken say downtowns are dying off," Jan. 27).


Flying the entire family to Disneyland or Walt Disney World can be an expensive proposition. Add to that hotel and incidentals and the price really takes off.

Computer Column

A couple of months ago, this burning question seemed to be settled: Most of the major companies providing access to the Internet for PC users had decided on a "single fee" system. In most of the United States, it was $19.95 per month for unlimited access

Credit Unions

The Supreme Court will decide as early as this week on whether to hear a case that could drastically dampen future growth at credit unions, including some of the nation's largest credit unions that are based in L.A.


One of the biggest barriers to exploring and exploiting outer space is the years of planning that's required to get a mission off the ground.


With a new $200 million capital infusion, the long-stalled Playa Vista is now expected to break ground this summer and Gary Winnick, not Rob Maguire, is the one in charge.

Edit 2

One of the more striking and distressing numbers to come out of the Business Journal's Investing special report (pages 23-30) is the still-limited amount of venture capital flowing into Los Angeles.


Due to a clerical error, the law firm of Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton did not submit its survey results for the Business Journal's List of largest law firms that ran Feb. 10. In fact, the firm has 142 attorneys in L.A. County, which would have plac


The investigation and prevention of corporate crime is suddenly becoming big business so much so that law and accounting firms are flocking to compete with private investigators for the job of solving L.A.'s white-collar crimes.

Letter Nathan

I read with great interest John H. Sullivan's guest opinion on California tort reform ("California tort reform is overdue," Jan. 27). It should be labeled a piece of fiction. Lawsuits in this state are down substantially over the past 10 years. Insurance

Health Column

They're at it again. State Sen. Herschel Rosenthal, D-Van Nuys, and Keith Bishop, commissioner of the Department of Corporations, have been waging a letter-writing war against each other over the pending mergers of Health Systems International with Fo

Company Index

Accuratings 1

RE Column

Almost exactly one year after purchasing the former Glendale Federal Bank headquarters building in downtown Glendale, William Wilson & Associates has found a 50,000-square-foot "replacement" anchor tenant.


John N. Feren has been named vice president and program manager for the MD-17 program at McDonnell Douglas' Military Transport Aircraft division in Long Beach. Feren, 41, moves to the position from Douglas Aircraft Co., where he was vice president in char


In a Feb. 10 profile, the Business Journal incorrectly reported the title of Stephen Frank. He is president and chief operating officer of Southern California Edison.

Letter Stauff

I read with interest Daniel Taub's interview of Tom Hayden ("Candidate Hayden," Feb. 3). It is apparent that Hayden is a man who takes himself seriously (still). It is amazing that anyone else does (or did).


Howard Hughes Corp. is preparing to relinquish a 16-story office tower in Westchester's Howard Hughes Center to its mortgage lender, company officials said last week.


ITT Corp. said, "Thanks, but no thanks," to Hilton Hotel Corp. last week, filing a federal court motion in an attempt to block a hostile takeover bid by the Beverly Hills-based hotel giant.


With a group of health maintenance organizations threatening to leave the City of Los Angeles because of high taxes, a tax equity study now circulating in draft form could be the blueprint for making L.A. more friendly to business.


INDUSTRY This city is so dedicated to serving its business community that a McDonald's located just off the freeway here doesn't serve hamburgers.


Next month, more than 20,000 runners will jam the city's streets for the L.A. Marathon which in the 11 years since its founding has become one of the city's biggest annual public events.

Market Column

Four years ago, Bruce Miller walked away from Foote, Cone & Belding to start up a quirky little ad agency in Santa Monica.


If Carl Terzian doesn't have your business card, you probably don't get out enough.


With all but one incumbent seeking reelection, the April 8 primary races for eight Los Angeles City Council seats are shaping up as decidedly one-sided affairs.

Larry Kanter

The U.S. dollar's surge against the world's major currencies is making waves for Southern California's international trade community.


Are your finances pretty simple just wages, retirement contributions, a little investment income, and maybe a deduction for mortgage interest and taxes? Is your tax situation for '96 pretty much as it was in '95?


So what's up with financier's Leon Black's bid to buy up Arcadia-based Santa Anita Realty Enterprises Inc., owner of the Santa Anita racetrack?


In its first sign that it is open to compromise, the Burbank City Council has proposed a scaled-down expansion of Burbank Airport in return for a limit on the number of new flights.


What's worse than another driver who cuts you off in traffic? How about one who does so while blithely chattering away on a cellular phone.


Aura out of whack? Chi not flowing like it should? In need of an herbal tonic? Soon you may need look no further for a dose of holistic healing than your friendly neighborhood HMO.

Small Biz

It was recently reported that corporation startups in California last year were the highest since 1989. According to the report, a total of 48,301 new businesses were incorporated in the state and a significant percentage of those are family run.


Picture students working together in a school science class studying local rainfall and flooding, and collecting information on the Internet from local weather stations.


While most of Hollywood's attention last week focused on the dominance of independent films in this year's Oscar derby, another sea change appears to be unfolding one that, for movie-goers, could hold far more significance.


When Indonesians turn on their television sets and catch a Jackie Chan movie or a Latin soap opera, they have a Sherman Oaks company to thank.


And that apparently grim statistic, according to a number of local economists, actually qualifies as good news.

Monday, February 10


Grace Robertson has been named to head the Advanced Transport Aircraft Systems group of McDonnell Douglas Military Transport Aircraft in Long Beach.


The City of Los Angeles' gross receipts tax is among the oldest taxes in Southern California, dating back to the 19th century.


At a time when other Internet start-ups are struggling to stay online, a Culver City firm founded by 28-year-old Danni Ashe is struggling just to meet customer demand.

Letter Ahmanson

I do not agree with critics who say the Mayor Richard Riordan's trade efforts ("Riordan's trade troubles," Jan. 27) fall short and that Tina Choi has not been of any help to further our foreign trade.


The coffers of the campaign to rewrite Los Angeles' city charter are being filled by many of the biggest names in L.A.'s business community.

Delta Deal

The morning sun hasn't even peeked over the L.A. horizon yet, and Nick Forde has already done more than many of his colleagues will do all day.


What do you do when Rupert Murdoch decides to downsize your department out of existence?


With Spanish-language radio leading local ratings and Spanish-language KMEX Channel 34 broadcasting Southern California's most-watched television news, ever-growing numbers of advertisers are buying air time on Spanish-language stations.


What happens when your medical plan refuses to give you the care you believe you need? There's an appeals procedure. But it isn't much good if you're in mortal danger or serious pain, or you're being thrown out of the hospital just a few hours after major


How can the little guy compete with a giant corporation? Perhaps better than you think.


Shops on Beverly Hills' Rodeo Drive report that the millionaires and billionaires buying their baubles these days come not from Tokyo and Silicon Valley, but from Beijing and Jakarta.


As it has been, so it is: The largest law firm in Los Angeles County remains downtown Los Angeles-based O'Melveny & Myers, the powerhouse outfit with 259 local lawyers.


America On Line Inc.'s inability to handle increased user demand has left local business subscribers ready to jump ship.


When 20th Century Fox unveils its movie "Volcano" later this year, audiences will get an eerie feeling.


The big HMOs in Warner Center have been making headlines over the last couple weeks. Not coincidentally, Warner Center and HMOs are topics that dominate most of this week's column.


Have a small business question? Beginning next month, the Business Journal will introduce a weekly advice column on the ins and outs of running a small business and we're looking for questions.

Dating Side

They're cute and cuddly, and they're the hottest gift item for Valentine's Day since chocolate and roses.


Otherwise, why would Angelenos pay up to $20,000 for a shot at finding the romance of a lifetime?


Once again, the Simpson trial has captured the public's imagination. For a few hours last week, the relentless fascination with the case resurfaced as a civil jury found Simpson responsible for the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.


Except for the developers themselves, perhaps no one is more interested in seeing a new sports and entertainment complex built in downtown Los Angeles than Diane McGraw.

Company Index

Acacia Research Corp. 10


With Los Angeles still recovering from recession, Mayor Richard Riordan and City Council members pledged to turn City Hall into a business-friendly environment and help L.A. regain its economic strength.


The Anaheim Mighty Ducks filed suit last week against West L.A.-based Fox Sports West, claiming the cable sports network damaged its reputation and jeopardized merchandise sales and game attendance by shifting the team's games to a little-watched star


WESTCHESTER When veteran developer Howard Drollinger looks down Sepulveda Boulevard here in the shadow of Los Angeles International Airport, he sees something he hasn't seen in decades.

Letter Tamers

Learning that we were not the only group to be disappointed by the Office of the Mayor's seeming lack of concern for international trade was a relief to us but remains a major concern to our city.

Computer Column

Suffering America Online (AOL) users, furious that the company has taken on more customers than it can handle and frustrated by the resulting breakdowns in service, may be caught between temptation to cancel AOL and reluctance to do so because of the inco


A recent ruling by the California Supreme Court has increased concern among employers over whether to provide recommendations for former employees seeking employment elsewhere.


Through an agreement reached in a bankruptcy matter, local real estate developer Roy McNeill has agreed to relinquish one of the San Fernando Valley's premier office towers the 21-story McNeill Plaza in Sherman Oaks to mortgage lender John Hancock Mut


Stephen Frank is president and chief operating officer of Edison International, parent company of Southern California Edison Southern California's largest electric utility.

Letter Winter

Tina Choi may have been inexperienced, but she is an intelligent and capable individual. During her tenure in the trade position she worked hard and long hours to learn the business she had been hired to assist.


The City of Los Angeles is not financially liable for losses a would-be developer suffered when the city pulled the plug on the First Street North redevelopment project, according to a Los Angeles Superior Court decision.

Barber oped

With President Clinton now focusing on education, discussions of major health care reform issues may fall off the political agenda.


Seeking to cut costs to business, Gov. Pete Wilson has issued an executive order requiring all state agencies under his control to review the necessity and cost effectiveness of their regulations by 1999.


Consumers probably won't be able to buy a television set equipped with one of those notorious "V-chips" until next year, but two Southern California companies are preparing to roll out devices that make existing TV sets more parent-friendly.


Saying it needs a partner for the new deregulated power market, the Los Angeles Board of Water and Power Commissioners has approved a wholesale and retail power marketing alliance between the Department of Water and Power and Duke/Louis Dreyfus.


When Pasadena officials consider a plan this spring for boosting biotechnology in the city, William Opel will be there to urge them on.

Market Column

The publishers of most of the big dailies in Southern California are engaged in a big food fight.


The Cabbage Patch Snacktime Kids doll didn't just eat hair; it munched up a good-sized chunk of Mattel Inc.'s fourth quarter earnings.


In what could be a sign of the times, the proxy solicitation firm MacKenzie Partners Inc. has opened up a branch in Century City to help those involved in corporate takeover battles, mergers and tender offers.

Monday, February 3


Every evening at about 6, Kim Culmone, a downtown L.A. textile designer, climbs into her Mitsubishi Mirage and merges onto the southbound Harbor Freeway, en route to her home in Brentwood.


Here's a tale of two trucking companies that sheds some light on how to navigate the tricky waters of a sale.


After a dozen years of planning, construction is set to begin this month on an $80 million affordable housing community transforming an aging government-built project into 624 new homes.

Edit 1

For a state that fancies itself as being at the leading edge of workplace accommodation flextime, telecommuting, etc. California has been lagging badly on the basic issue of when to pay overtime.


The insurance companies that sell disability policies are finally discovering America.


Each year thousands of businesses in Los Angeles don't pay their city taxes. And for years city officials didn't do much about it.


In a bid to become the world's largest hotel and gaming company, Hilton Hotels Corp. last week launched a hostile bid to buy rival ITT Corp. for $10.5 billion.


The Los Angeles Dodgers last week ended a 23-year relationship with West L.A.-based KABC-AM (790) by signing a radio broadcasting contract with Burbank-based KIIS.


In the film "Jerry Maguire," actor Cuba Gooding Jr. stars as an unusually loyal football player.


American Honda Motor Co. debuted its new EV-Plus car at three Southern California dealerships last month, but with little of the fanfare that marked the Dec. 5 rollout of General Motors Corp.'s EV-1.

Edit 2

Cynics will have a field day with the proposal by several elected city officials to get tough on abusive panhandling.

LA Mag

Los Angeles magazine could fetch as much as $20 million if Walt Disney Co. opts to sell it separately from its other magazine and newspaper holdings, though most analysts believe it is worth only $10 million to $15 million.


Northrop Grumman Corp. is the last major Los Angeles-based aerospace employer and the maker of such groundbreaking aircraft as the B-2 stealth bomber. But it's run into some recent disappointments.


It's an old saw in Hollywood that independent filmmakers get the critical acclaim, while the big studios sweep up all the money.


Tom Hayden made the transition from student activist in the '60s to state Senator in the '90s.

Company Index

AH Warner Center Properties LLC 28

Fast Track

VAN NUYS On busy Van Nuys Boulevard near Vanowen Street, just down from Mom's Donuts and Casa de Cadillac, is a blue two-story building with a slightly dilapidated look.


With the increasing likelihood that the L.A. Lakers will move to a new downtown area, Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling is in talks to move his NBA team from the aging Sports Arena in Exposition Park to a proposed new venue in Inglewood.

Market Column

On the list of things not to do in 1997, put this at the top: Start a new Internet content business that depends on advertising for survival.

Letter Lax

I generally hold the L.A. Business Journal in high regard in it's reporting, and I can hardly fault Larry Kanter for clearly missing the big picture in his story relating to the announcement by Guess? to move its production to Mexico ("Guess defection unl


Nick Brestoff has decided to start his own law firm and in the process, he has acquired such high-profile clients as former Lincoln Savings & Loan chairman Charles Keating.

Health Column

With Valentine's Day just around the corner, three long-awaited health care mergers are teetering on the verge of conjugal bliss or at least fatter gross revenues.

Bagel War

It's 8:30 a.m. at Noah's New York Bagels in Brentwood the busiest of the chain's L.A. area shops and business isn't exactly booming.


Behind the recent appointment of Henry Cisneros as president of Univision Communications Inc. is one very shrewd Jerrold Perenchio.


When Hughes Electronics Corp. agreed last month to sell its aerospace and defense units to Raytheon Co. for $9.5 billion, a cloud of uncertainty settled over the Westchester-based company's 11,000-plus L.A.-area workers.


When most talk about "shell companies," or "buying a public shell," there is usually a hint of nefariousness in the air, possibly because of the unfair association with the classic "shell game."


James R. Phillips has been promoted to vice president and general manager of McDonnell Douglas' MD-95 program. Phillips succeeds John Wolf, who announced his retirement effective March 28.

Computer Column

Every once in a while a new product or service comes along that consumers absolutely love.

Letter Nelson

L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan, who has been criticized for not doing enough to promote foreign trade, is expected this week to announce a new alliance between the city and the World Trade Center Association.

Gartner op-ed

Now, here's a commercial real estate landlord-tenant match made in heaven or haven, as the case may be.


The Mouse seems to have thoroughly digested the TV network it ate for lunch and is ready to jump into the pool, if last week's splash of activity by Walt Disney Co. is any indicator.


The remarkable thing about this year's List of health maintenance organizations serving Los Angeles County is how little the various plans have changed in ranking over the past 12 months.