County Health: County and state health officials met with their federal counterparts in an effort to seek financial aid for the county's ailing health department. While Bush Administration officials didn't make any promises, they agreed to keep meeting to try to work out a solution. Meanwhile, Gov. Gray Davis said he was open to calling a special session of the Legislature to address the crisis. Still, supervisors said they plan to move ahead with an Oct. 29 vote that could convert two hospitals into outpatient clinics to help close a budget deficit projected to hit $750 million in three years, though the move could be reversed.
FCC Action: The Federal Communications Commission voted to block the purchase of Hughes Electronics Corp., owner of satellite service DirecTV by EchoStar Communications Corp. The action came after the Justice Department had agreed to review possible "major revisions" to the terms of the proposed merger. The revisions being discussed would be more than the national pricing plan the companies had submitted in an attempt to allay concerns of regulators. Meanwhile, a top Hughes executive said that the proposed EchoStar purchase would probably be canceled unless regulators approve it by a Jan. 21 deadline.
Grocery Deal: Members of the Teamster's union voted to approve a three-year contract covering 5,000 workers at Ralphs, Albertson's, Vons and Stater Bros. The contract calls for wage increases averaging 50 cents an hour for the first year and 45 cents for each of the next two years. The contract also includes keeping health care coverage at current levels.
Mighty Muppets?: Haim Saban, who landed $1.4 billion last year when he sold Fox Family Worldwide to Walt Disney Co., was in talks to buy Jim Henson Co. from German firm EM.TV & Merchandising AG., several news organizations reported, citing sources. The deal was said to be in the $100 million range, well below the $680 million EM.TV paid in 2000.
USC Forecast: The Los Angeles region's economy is in for "sluggish, uneven growth" in 2003, according to a report released by the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate. While the local economy should outperform the national economy, factors such as potential war with Iraq and next month's congressional elections could affect the magnitude and timeframe of an economic recovery.
Campaign Cash: The anti-secession campaign has raised $4.7 million in contributions, mostly from large business and labor interests, while the pro-secession forces in the San Fernando Valley have raised a little over $500,000. The anti-secession group, still comfortably ahead in the polls, launched a media blitz that is expected to continue in the weeks leading to the November election.
EIDC Inquiry: The Los Angeles City Council has directed City Controller Laura Chick to conduct an audit of the beleaguered Entertainment Industry Development Corp. The audit is to determine whether the agency is fulfilling its contract with the city especially with regard to paying for city services on film location shoots. The quasi-public agency has been under fire for possible financial irregularities.
Homeless Vote: The Santa Monica City Council passed two controversial ordinances that would limit free outdoor meals to the homeless and make it illegal to sit or lie in the doorways of businesses between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. if a sign is posted to that effect.
Earning Churning: Banks and technology firms lead off the next earnings season, with quarterly reports due from Hughes Electronics, Northrop Grumman, Cathay Bancorp and PFF Bancorp. A buying spree seems not to have hurt earnings for Northrop, a member of the S & P; 500 Index. It is projected to announce third quarter earnings per share of $1.57, nearly twice the 84 cents recorded for the like-year earlier period.
Secession Roundtable: In what is being billed as the "Last Word" in the secession debate, UCLA's School of Public Policy and Social Research, Extension and Office of Government & Community Relations sponsor a three-hour discussion on Saturday (19th) beginning at 9:30 am. Scheduled to take part are L.A. Mayor James Hahn and Hollywood and San Fernando Valley secession leaders Gene LaPietra and Richard Katz. Information: (310) 794-6810.
Biz Talk: Earvin "Magic" Johnson, former Secretary of State James Baker and CNN business anchor Lou Dobbs will be among the speakers at the West Coast Business Leadership Conference on Friday (18th) at Staples Center from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets are from $175 to $350. For information: 213-365-6300.
Hispanic Conclave: The United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce holds its annual convention Wednesday through Saturday (16th-19th) at the Los Angeles Convention Center. The convention includes a variety of seminars and a business and career expo that will feature 200 exhibitors. For information: 202-842-1212.
Valley Meet: All 110 candidates for a new San Fernando Valley city have been invited to a reception on Monday (14th) sponsored by the Valley Industry and Commerce Association and the Valley Leadership Conference. The reception at the Airtel Plaza Hotel in Van Nuys (7277 Valjean Avenue) will run from 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Whoopi Talks: Academy Award-winning actress Whoopi Goldberg will kick off the Distinguished Speakers Series in Pasadena on Wednesday (16th) at Pasadena Civic Auditorium. Goldberg is the first of eight talks running through next May. Tickets for the 8 p.m. event range from $30 to $50. For information: 626-449-7360.
Sports Beat: The Kings season gets into full swing with home games on Thursday (17th) against Colorado and on Saturday (19th) against Vancouver. On the college front, UCLA is at California and USC faces Washington at home. The Lakers are still in pre-season mode.
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