Stories for March 2002

Monday, March 25

Analysis: Making City More Livable

Real Estate Special Report L.A. Turns Inward

Trammell Crow's Industrial Portfolio Given Huge Boost

Real Estate Special Report L.A. Turns Inward

The Grove: Latest Example of Caruso's Main Street Feel

Real Estate Special Report L.A. Turns Inward

L.A. Stories/The Roving Eye

Weekly Columns

Conservative Tack Taken in KABC's Play to Gain Share

One conservative talk show host knocked KABC-AM (790) out of its spot in the Top 10 among L.A. radio stations. Another conservative could get it back on the list.

Weekly Briefing: Ex-Owner of Auto Shop Cooks Up New Career

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Shapell Builds on Popularity of Northridge Porter Ranch Project

Real Estate Special Report L.A. Turns Inward

LABJ Forum: Light at the End of the Tunnel?

The Federal Reserve last week inched toward an interest-rate hike, fueling speculation that the 12-month recession was finally drawing to a close. But while some are confident that an economic recovery is on the horizon, many believe that the downturn cou

Lancaster Project Attracts First-Time Buyers to Region

Real Estate Special Report L.A. Turns Inward

Rookie Broker Delivering Big At Studley's Downtown Office

Real Estate Special Report L.A. Turns Inward

"Leap of Faith" Lands IBM Critically-Acclaimed Space

Real Estate Special Report L.A. Turns Inward

Defense Contracts Play Role In CSC's Rising Share Price

Corporate Focus

Executive Summary - Retained Executive Search Firms

Weekly Column; The Pacesetter - KORN/FERRY INTERNATIONAL

Proposed Limits Irk Billboard Landlords

As L.A. city officials seek to curb the proliferation of billboards and reduce the thousands that already dot the urban landscape, property owners throughout the area stand to lose a steady and sometimes significant source of income from billboard lease p

Insurers Hire Firm To Keep Track of Surgical Problems

Health Care

Powerful Reaction When Talk Turns To Electric Deals

POLITICS by Howard Fine

Binder Venture Fund Closing About $40 Million Short

Coastview Capital LLC, the biomedical venture capital firm started by former Amgen Inc. chairman Gordon Binder, expects to close its first fund within the month, but it will total $60 million far less than the $100 million anticipated.

2001 Meltdown Strengthened VC Survivors, Larta Says


KCAL Kicking Into Soccer Coverage With Galaxy Deal


Reporter Shortage A Threat to Courts

Los Angeles Superior Court is bracing for a shortage of court reporters that could paralyze the movement of cases through the legal system as early as this fall.

Use of Liens By Hospitals Challenged

In a decision being trumpeted by California's hospital industry, a state Court of Appeal panel has upheld the right of health-care facilities to place liens on monetary damages won by injured patients they treat even after the hospitals received payment

Los Angeles Learning From Other's Mistakes, Successes

As Los Angeles embarks on its experiment in neighborhood councils, it joins a small group of other cities with similar bodies, though never on such a large scale.

Ex-Macy's Site Draws Crowds

Real Estate Special Report L.A. Turns Inward

Children's Retailer Will Try for Fresh Start on East Coast


My Favorite Sites

Jonathan Anastas - Senior Vice President, Kovel/Fuller Advertising

Gone Fishing

Importing for major hotel and casino clients as well as the local pet shop, Sea Dwelling Creatures Inc. provides exotic fare from world's oceans.

Massive Retail Project Pulls Hollywood From Doldrums

Real Estate Special Report L.A. Turns Inward

Street Noise Sounds Like Art in West Hollywood

The last thing West Hollywood needs is more traffic noise. So why has the city hired an artist to provide just that?

Multiple Bonds May Put Undue Strain on State's Credit Rating

State legislators are considering placing four multibillion-dollar propositions on the November ballot. If all four make it, voters will face a record $23 billion in bond measures.

INTERVIEW: Seeing Green

With tourism hit hard by the effects of Sept. 11, the dot-com collapse, unaffordable housing and highly contentious retail wage and development issues, Santa Monica finds itself a microcosm of the broader Southern California economy.


People in the Business News

Review & Preview

Weekly Column - News Summary and Preview of upcoming events

Vans Emulates Mainstreamers By Rifting Into Record Business

Vans Inc., the seller of athletic shoes and T-shirts for the extreme sports set, is used to tapping into a consumer generally suspicious of behemoths like Nike Inc. and Reebok International. Now, it's taking the bet one step further by entering the music

Nostalgic Burbank Empire Center Has Air of Success

Real Estate Special Report L.A. Turns Inward

LAUSD Auditioning to Land Bigger Role in Hollywood

L.A.'s schools want to get more into show business and with it, the money from shooting movies and TV shows on its campuses. The Los Angeles Unified School District has hired the Entertainment Industry Development Corp. to manage and market its campus-f

Art Keeps Slow Renaissance Of NoHo Community Alive


Smaller Lenders See Gains In Big Bank's Trade Retreat

Several major domestic and international banks have cut back their foreign trade finance operations in Los Angeles, laying off staff but creating an opportunity for L.A.'s base of small community banks to gain market share.

Semel's Footprints Evident in Yahoo's Move South

In setting up a new sales office in Santa Monica, Yahoo Inc. is trying to make good on the promise brought by Terry Semel, the former Warner Bros. chief who replaced Tim Koogle as chief executive last spring.

Executive Summary - Contingency Search Firms

The Pacesetter - DNA Search Inc.

Living With the Past

Machine-tool manufacturer has breakthrough business and a problem

Judge Scolds Local Satellite Operator Seeking Dismissal


EUniverse Mulls New L90 Deal While SEC Probe Pushes Ahead

EUniverse Inc., which earlier this month withdrew its $55 million offer for troubled online marketer L90 Inc., remains interested in the company's assets and may yet make a play for several pieces.


Letters to the Editor

Huge Deals Establish New Lease on Life for Arco Plaza

Real Estate Special Report L.A. Turns Inward

LAUSD Taking Long View With Beaudry Building Deal

Real Estate Special Report L.A. Turns Inward

More NFL Talk: Duck and Cover

COMMENT by Mark Lacter

Processing is Replacing Packing in Revitalized Vernon

Real Estate

La Habra's Big Screen King Still Outdoing Large Chains

Odds are you know Paul Goldenberg as the king. And you wouldn't be alone. Goldenberg, owner of Paul's TV & Video in La Habra, is etched into Southern California's cultural landscape as the king of big-screen TVs. Millions of people, from sports fans to m

National Golf Nearing Pact With Distressed Course Operator

National Golf Properties Inc. is set to announce final terms of a planned merger with its primary tenant, golf-course operator American Golf Corp., and other interests controlled by National Golf Chairman David Price.

L.A. Inaugurates Era of Neighborhood Councils

Call it L.A.'s grand experiment in local governance.

Monday, March 18

Union Vote Flap is A Question of "Si" Or No for Market

A vote to unionize immigrant workers at a Koreatown supermarket has been challenged by both sides. Retail by Deborah Belgum

Russian Treasure Trove Yields Catalog for New Classical Label

During his three decades as a record producer, Denny Diante has worked with everyone from Barbra Streisand to the Grateful Dead. None of that experience, however, could have prepared him for his latest venture cataloging, digitizing and marketing a 400,

Air Travel Still Weak as Wary Tourists Spend Money Close to Home

When it comes to getting out, Angelenos are staying home.

Seeking Riches, Partners Turn to Porn

Clayman and Tsiamis say the company they co-founded in 1996, VS Media Inc., is a profitable venture that reaps double-digit margins on about $20 million in annual revenues. From Porn.

Limousine Company Gets Back In Gear Following 9-11 Slump

Like so many small business owners in L.A., Michael Nogueira feels like he's finally back in action. Six months after the terrorist attacks left his limousine and party planning business in a shambles, Nogueira said he's getting a sense that the bad days

Time Warner Boosts Cable Offerings to Battle Satellite TV

West San Fernando Valley cable viewers are the first in the United States to have a 402-channel lineup, according to Time Warner Cable officials, who have tripled their channel choices in the last two months as part of an effort to compete with satellite

Weekly Briefing: Video Store Stays Away From Blockbuster Titles

Patty Polinger and Cathy Tauber, who have been friends since pre-school, decided to go into business together in 1985.

Hollywood Parking Ills Cost City

Shortfall: Revenues from the Hollywood & Highland parking garage will not be enough for a bond payment.

KIIS-FM Tops the Charts in Radio Revenue Production

Media Column by Claudia Peschiutta


Investment guru William O'Neil has parlayed his self-taught knowledge of the stock market into a variety of businesses, including Investor's Business Daily.

My Favorite Sites

Favorites websites of John S. Schuster, Partner, Howrey Simon Arnold & White LLP.

Partner Shuffle Leaves New Look at Morgan Lewis

The Los Angeles office of Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP has started the year on spin cycle.

County's Latest Terrorism Plan Seeks $9 Million for Health Lab

What does tracking plague among cats and constructing a new public health lab have in common? They're part of the county's proposed bioterrorism strategy...

Blood Firm Says It Needs Funding

Careside Inc., the Culver City-based startup that manufactures blood testing machines for doctor's offices and clinics, is quickly running out of cash despite a steady rise in sales.

L.A. Stories/The Roving Eye

Weekly Columns

Review & Preview

Weekly Column - News summary of past and upcoming week.

New Market Found Tracing Illegal Swaps

Hired to help track illegal sharing of copyrighted music files, a small North Hollywood software firm has found that some legitimate good has come from Napster.

Changes on Tap for Burbank Mall

Center Trust Inc., owner of the long-struggling Media City Center mall in Burbank, is preparing to renovate the property at a cost of as much as $30 million.

County Health Revamp Urged By Top Official

The new head of the financially troubled county health department this week will outline to the Board of Supervisors plans to overhaul the county hospital network in a move that eventually could save hundreds of millions of dollars.

Buying Binge Helps Shore Up Position in Battered Ad Market

Technology Column by Christopher Keough

Peace Down, Property Values Up for Grove Neighbors

While leading a pre-opening tour of The Grove at Farmers Market last week, developer Rick Caruso spoke of the "residual value" of the 575,000-square-foot retail center, which he said would increase property values for nearby homeowners.

Fill-in-the-Blank Ballot May Boost Re-election Effort

POLITICS by Howard Fine

Before You Light Up...

Comment by Mark Lacter

Liability in Court Death Is a Security Issue

Cecil Mills' phone rang with another report of an arrest in Los Angeles Superior Court. This time, someone had tried to smuggle a 14-inch World War I fighting knife into the Los Angeles County Courthouse. The arrest was the fourth that week.

Media, Tech Stocks Show Strength

It's been a rocky ride, but six months after the Sept. 11 attacks many of L.A.'s stocks are doing just fine. Powered by strength in the fundamentals of a number of technology, media and homebuilding companies, the LABJ Index of 200 publicly traded compani

Las Vegas Challenging L.A. for Lucrative Convention

Los Angeles is at risk of losing one of its biggest and most profitable conventions as organizers of the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) consider moving the annual event to Las Vegas.

Telecom Infrastructure Play Dogs Engineering Company

Corporate Focus by Anthony Palazzo

Small Business Profile: Secret Shoppers

For 30 years, Hilli Dunlap Enterprises has worked incognito by hiring out "mystery" customers to rate business service.

Development Foes File Suit to Block El Segundo Project

LAW by Amanda Bronstad

Firms Ready to Grab Andersen Clients, Staff

L.A. accounting firms large and small are quietly gearing up for an all-out war for accounting firm Arthur Andersen's clients and its staff.

L.A.-Area Kmart Landlords Facing Big-Box Problem

Real Estate Column by Danny King

Departure an Option for Golf REIT Chief

National Golf Properties Inc. Chairman David Price may be willing to give up operating control of the Santa Monica REIT as part of an equity infusion that would restructure the finances of the ailing firm and its affiliates, according to sources familiar

LABJ Forum: And the Winner Will Be...

The U.S. may be at war, but many Angelenos have another issue on their minds: the 74th Academy Awards. It's a year where there's no clear-cut favorite to sweep. But any uncertainty will be resolved on March 24 when the winners are announced at the new Kod

Simon Could Hold the Fiscal Cards in Race With Davis



Back in Bel-Air, New Manager for Hotel; People in the News

Flurry of Wireless Deals Aimed at Dominating Market

Wireless games developer JAMDAT Mobile Inc., betting on an unproven U.S. market, has been moving aggressively to tie up potentially valuable software licenses.

Spotlight on Burbank

Restaurants, Movie Screens Create Vibrant Nightlife Lure

Metropolitan Life to Sell BP Plaza, One of City's Tallest Towers

Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. is putting up for sale BP Plaza, the fifth-tallest building in downtown Los Angeles.

Management Buyout of Henson Appears Likely

A management buyout of Jim Henson Co. appears likely as troubled EM.TV & Merchandising AG decides what to do with the Hollywood-based creator of the Muppets, sources close to the company said.

Effective Marketing Strategy Has Its Impact Beyond Sales

Entrepreneur's Notebook by Sharon Berman


Letters to the Editor

Monday, March 11

Commentary: So Much For Catastrophe

Comment by Mark Lacter

Biotech Firm Raises $42.8 Million

Agensys Inc., a four-year-old Santa Monica biotech company, closed a $42.8 million private placement financing last month, a cash infusion it said would help boost its genetic research efforts into cancer treatment products.

Weekly Briefing: Boating Clients Lead to Business on Solid Land

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People in the News; Airline Slump Boosts Mercury's Service

Atrium Project Leasing in Tough El Segundo Market

Real Estate by Danny King

Lawyers Face State Scrutiny In Toxic Torts

Kamran Ghalchi in late December was preparing to let 3,000 businesses know he planned to sue them because they had failed to notify employees and customers that they were in the presence of harmful chemicals.


Letters to the Editor

Smaller Agents Voice Concern Over Proposed SAG Pact

Opposition to the proposed franchise agreement between talent agents and the Screen Actors Guild is emerging from a little-heard quarter: smaller agencies that could lose out to the big boys.

Expansion Strategy Playing Role in CPK Profit Squeeze

Investments & Finance; Corporate Focus by Anthony Palazzo

LABJ Forum: The Governor's Race; Issues & Answers

Speculation over who would win the GOP primary for governor and take on incumbent Democrat Gray Davis in November came to an end last week when Republican Bill Simon handily defeated former L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan. But the real campaign is just getting

Tarrant Begins Push to Double Volume of Mexican Operations

Italian Eatery Rosti On Block Following Parent's Bankruptcy. Retail by Deborah Belgum

Miramax Will Back New L.A.-Centric Magazine

Miramax Films, fresh from its failed investment in the recently folded Talk magazine, is putting more money in a new publishing venture to debut this month: Los Angeles Confidential.

Lining Up for Homeland Bounty

Hundreds of L.A.-area firms are lining up to get a piece of President Bush's $38 billion request for homeland security.

Medicare HMO Adopting Austerity Plan to Stay Alive

Health Care by Laurence Darmiento

Survival of Medical Clinic in Doubt Due to Mounting Debt

The Community Health Foundation medical clinic, which has been plagued with accusations of billing irregularities, owes up to $6.5 million or more in debt that may force it to shut down.

Deal With Military Vendor Boosts Software Developer

Technology by Christopher Keough

Insurer Receives Downgrade After Warning on Loss

SCPIE Holdings Inc., a leading Southern California underwriter in the troubled medical malpractice insurance sector, has had its rating downgraded in anticipation of a "substantial" year-end and fourth-quarter loss.

Election Fails to Yield Advertising Windfall For L.A. TV Stations

A last-minute deluge of political advertising leading up to last week's primary didn't live up to the expectations of local media executives.

Maverick Chief Elicits Faith With Folksy Style

Shareholders of Scope Industries are banking on the wits of one man, Chief Executive Meyer Luskin. Shareholders, likening Luskin to Berkshire Hathaway's Warren Buffett, say it's his ability to make good investments that has brought value to Scope.

Art House Theater Chain Bailing Out Of Delayed Hollywood Retail Project

Laemmle Theatres, the West Los Angeles-based art house chain, has pulled out of negotiations with developer CIM Group LLC to be the anchor tenant on a proposed 60,000-square-foot retail development in Hollywood.

Executive Summary

Title Companies

L.A. Morning Show Appealing to Broader Audience

Media by Claudia Peschiutta

People Interview: Shuffling the Deck

Under the leadership of Managing Partner Paul Irving, venerable L.A. law firm Manatt Phelps & Phillips revamps while remaining close to its political base.

Battle Lines Are Fixed In Global Asset Brawl

This week, the wrangling begins over Global Crossing Ltd.'s proposal to sell itself out of bankruptcy court for $750 million to two Asian firms.

Mum's The Word as Downtown Boutique Inn Nears May Debut

At a time when most hoteliers are rolling out the red carpet to lure tourists as occupancy rates slump, Andre Balazs is taking the opposite approach.

Hollywood Boulevard Merchants Not Getting Into Spirit of Academy Awards

Not everyone is happy that Hollywood is coming back to life. The community's renewed popularity is making some shop owners angry as several event-related street closures recently have caused them to lose business.

Campaigning Gaffes Eroded Riordan's Once Huge Edge

"This was not an election won by Bill Simon," said local attorney and Republican Sheldon Sloan. "It was an election lost by the Riordan campaign and it shows that, no matter how many advantages one has going into a campaign, there's no substitute for comp

Progress Slow on Post 9-11 Plan to Spark Economy

Organizers of last November's summit on the post-Sept. 11 economy claim that progress has been made on a broad range of issues, according to a report being released this week by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp.

My Favorite Sites

Favorite Websites of David Cullipher, President, Digital Deviants

Spotlight on San Pedro: New Development Approach Brings Artists to Downtown

Downtown San Pedro was once a bustling blue-collar haven, where nearby shipbuilders and cannery workers would drop buy for drinks after a hard day's work. But one-by-one, the shipbuilders and canneries closed, and the downtown merchants who relied on thes

Japanese Content Importer Angles for a Backwards Hit

Media & Technology: It might seem unorthodox to read a comic book from back to front, but John Parker swears it's going to be a big hit.

Small Business Profile: ShortCuts

Robert Farina's Cimarron Group has cut feature film trailers for years now he's looking to diversify his client base by leveraging that creativity

Review & Preview

Weekly Column

The Truth Is That "Strategic" Lying Is a Stupid Policy

Editorial by Leonard Pitts, Miami Herald.

L.A.'s Unknown Soldier

Despite Business and Civic Ties, City Vague on Simon

Northrop Can Learn Lessons From Lockheed's History

In pursuing the hostile takeover of TRW Corp., executives at Northrop Grumman Corp. might well be studying Lockheed-Martin Corp.'s debt-laden buildup in the mid-'90s and learning a few lessons.

L.A. Stories / The Roving Eye

Weekly Columns - Register Now or Sign On - It's FREE!

Monday, March 4

My Favorite Sites

Favorite Websites, by Wes Nichols, Co-founder and Managing Partner, Direct Partners

Amgen Founder Binder Said Nearing $100 Million in Fund

Almost a year after starting a local biomedical venture capital firm, retired Amgen Inc. Chairman Gordon Binder is close to raising his first fund, which is set at $100 million, sources say.

Taste of Home

Jeff Lim started out fast and hasn't looked back, building a growing chain of markets catering to expatriate Filipinos

Weekly Briefing: Chocolate in the Blood, A Shopkeeper Returns

Weebly Column

Aecom Planning IPO to Pay Debt On Acquisitions

The parent company of Los Angeles architecture and engineering giant DMJMH+N (formerly Daniel Mann Johnson & Mendenhall) plans to raise as much as $473 million in an initial public offering to be completed in the coming months.

Software Firm's Real-Time Backup Aims to Halt Losses

His computer seizing up and in the process making an important document disappear, Richard L. Liuag at first did what everyone does: get aggravated and call the tech department.

Pieces Coming Together on South Central Project

Having secured agreements on about a quarter of the property it needs for a $20 million South Central shopping center, Majestic Realty Co. officials expect building to begin in about a year.

New Districts Proposed for LAUSD Board Members

POLITICS by Howard Fine

The World According to Milken

Economic, Charitable Pursuits Driving One-Time Dealmaker

Hughes Faces Lawsuit Claiming Misrepresentation

Rockwell Collins Inc. soon will go to trial against Hughes Electronics Corp. over breach of contract, claiming that the El Segundo-based electronics giant misrepresented the value of the in-flight entertainment business it purchased in 1997.

L.A. Stories/The Roving Eye

Weekly Columns

COMMENTARY: More Haves, Have-Nots

Comment by Mark Lacter

25 Attorneys Who Bring Big Business to Their Firms

Who's Who Law L.A.'s Rainmakers

Northrop's No-Lose Position In Unsolicited Bid for TRW

Corporate Focus by Anthony Palazzo

Marina Company Buys E-Storage Rival

Xdrive Technologies Inc., the Internet storage company from Santa Monica turned software supplier from Marina del Rey, has acquired competitor FreeDrive Inc. for an undisclosed price.

Veteran Lawyer Discovers Freedom in Solo Act

Who's Who Law L.A.'s Rainmakers

Smaller Firms More Reliant on Pull of Single Attorney

Who's Who Law L.A.'s Rainmakers: In the world of onetime lawyer and bestselling author John Grisham, the Rainmaker is a brash kid with an eye for truth who lands the big client for his down-and-out boss.

Video on Demand's Future as Business Called Doubtful

The promise of delivering movies, concerts and other programming to consumers wherever and whenever they want has proven too tempting to ignore for film studios, cable companies and a handful of Internet entrepreneurs, many of them based in Los Angeles.

Shares of Drug Firm Rebound as Earnings And Revenues Climb

The stock of American Pharmaceutical Partners Inc., one of L.A.'s newest public companies, finally climbed above its $16 offering price last week after tumbling from a $22 a share high following its December IPO.

Prices for Prestige Homes Falling, But Only Slightly

Real Estate by Danny King

Variety Spices Up Weekly in Bid to Boost Subscriptions

Media by Claudia Peschiutta

Pressure Gets Serious as Oscar Writer Searches for Right Humorous Material

ABC has a lot riding on the work of a man many people recognize as that weird-looking guy on Hollywood Squares.

Day in the Life of a Rainmaker

A Hollywood executive has been fired. He's hurt, angry and ready to sue his former employer, and he's turned to Brian O'Neill, a founding partner of O' Neill, Lysaght & Sun LLP, for a little fatherly advice.

L.A. Faces New Snag in Push for Fiber Optic Network

Once again, L.A.'s hopes for wiring the city with a fiber optic network appear to be waning, the result of deteriorating capital markets in the telecom sector.

INTERVIEW: Top of the Class

Tim Haight, dean of Cal State L.A.'s business school, is bringing the campus national recognition

Review & Preview

Weekly Column


Letters to the Editor

Slavery's Over, Its Bias Lingers

Commentary by LEONARD PITTS

Attacks Spur New Look at Statewide Rail Project

It's long been considered the ultimate California pipe dream: a 700-mile high-speed rail network from San Diego to Sacramento, also connecting L.A. to the Bay Area. And no wonder, given its projected of cost $25 billion and a buildout time of 10 to 20 yea

Santa Monica's "Black Hole" Ready to Move Into the Light

Spotlight on Ocean Avenue

PEOPLE: Newsmakers

People in the News

Roman Re-Establishes Ties to Animation Firm

Three years after leaving Film Roman to open a smaller production business, animator Phil Roman, who founded the company two decades ago, is re-establishing ties.

Milken Interview: Accounting, Sept. 11, Cancer Research

The following are excerpts from an interview with Michael Milken, conducted at the Milken Institute in Santa Monica by Business Journal Editor Mark Lacter. The transcript was edited for clarity.

LABJ Forum: Music Industry's Sour Notes

The music industry can claim some success against online piracy, but the battle to boost record sales remains to be won. Sales at U.S. retailers dropped 4.1 percent to the lowest levels in years, according to the Recording Industry Association of America,

East L.A. Hospital Acquired as Catholic Operator Leaves Town3

Carondelet Health System Inc. has reached a deal to sell Santa Marta Hospital, the last of its Los Angeles County facilities, to a new for-profit company out of Newport Beach.

Girding for Gridlock at The Grove

The March 15 opening of The Grove at Farmers Market, L.A.'s newest shopping center, could be met with massive traffic problems as thousands of cars a day are added to what is already an increasingly congested part of the city.

Networking, But Not Selling, is Fine in Social Settings

Entrepreneur's Notebook by Evon G. Rosen

Personal Debts Cloud Outlook Of Golf Rescue

National Golf Properties Inc. Chairman David Price, now in the midst of a struggle to save his golf empire, borrowed heavily against his paper fortune in the mid to late '90s, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

2002 Brings Little Relief as Slump at Hotels Continues

Retail by Deborah Belgum