Review & Preview

Slowdown Reported: Dockworkers at the Port of Long Beach began a work slowdown that may disrupt cargo shipments to retailers and other businesses. The Pacific Maritime Association, which represents the carriers in the current contract talks, said that Stevedoring Services of America, operator of cargo terminals in 150 ports, was the target of the slowdown. The union action, according to the association, began on Monday. The International Longshore and Warehouse Union have been in a West Coast contract dispute for several months.

Boom Continues: Los Angeles County home prices showed no signs of cooling off in August, with the median price jumping 15 percent, to $267,000, according to DataQuick Information Systems Inc. Economists continue to warn, as they have all year, that the market cannot sustain the price run-up, which has been fueled by low interest rates.

Jobless Update: August unemployment in Los Angeles County fell to 6.4 percent, from 6.8 percent in July, and the state rate dipped to 6.2 percent from a revised 6.4 percent in July. But economists were quick to point out that job growth is at a near-standstill and that the decline might be due to increasing numbers of discouraged workers who have stopped looking and are not counted in the job statistics. U.S. unemployment in August was 5.7 percent, down from 5.9 percent the previous month.

KB Earns: KB Home reported third quarter net income of $83.9 million, compared with $60.4 million for the like period a year ago. Sales for the Los Angeles-based homebuilder rose 5 percent, to $1.23 billion. The company also raised its earnings outlook for the year, to $6.75 a share from $6.50.

Tech Schooling: California's future depends on upgrading the science and technology education it provides, according to a report released by the Milken Institute. While noting that the state remains one of the nation's leading technology centers, the report finds that too few scientists, engineers and technicians are being produced to meet industry demands. In the Institute's State Technology & Science Index, California ranks third nationally, after Massachusetts and Colorado. Maryland and Virginia round out the top 5.

Bill Paying: Adelphia Communications Corp.'s former Chief Executive John Rigas and his three sons are asking a federal bankruptcy judge to lift a freeze on the cable company's assets and allow them to tap into $50 million in directors and officers insurance policies to cover their legal bills. Rigas and his sons face dozens of shareholder lawsuits, a lawsuit by Adelphia, and a civil complaint by the Securities and Exchange Commission. A hearing on the request is scheduled for Oct. 8.

Name Change: Sony Pictures Entertainment has renamed its domestic and international television operations. Columbia TriStar Domestic Television will now operate as Sony Pictures Television and Columbia TriStar International Television becomes Sony Pictures Television International.

Attention Shoppers: United Online Inc. has said it is interested in acquiring the assets of Kmart's, the value-priced Internet access and e-mail service owned by Kmart Corp. United, based in Westlake Village, has 4.8 million subscribers. An auction for BlueLight is set to take place Oct. 7.


VICA Speaks: The Valley Commerce and Industry Association on Tuesday (24th) announces its position on San Fernando Valley secession. VICA, which has been intensely wooed by both proponents and opponents, surveyed its 285 member companies on the secession issue in August and early September. A VICA spokeswoman said 174 companies responded. The press conference announcing the poll results is at 1:30 p.m. at the Warner Center Marriott.

M & A; Meet: Mergers and acquisitions for the middle market crowd will be the topic at a conference on Tuesday and Wednesday (24th and 25th) presented by the Los Angeles chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth. Keynote speakers are Sam Donaldson of ABC News and Gerald Levin, former chief executive of AOL/Time Warner. Session starts at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday at the Beverly Hills Hotel. For information: 310-576-0903 or

Economic Outlook: UCLA's Anderson Forecast lays out its expectations for California and the nation on Wednesday (25th) at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. Daylong session will focus on infrastructure issues facing the state. For information: 310-825-1623 or

Future Calls: Thomas McGrath, executive vice president of Viacom. Inc., and former UN Undersecretary General Robert Muller will be keynote speakers at Digital Hollywood Monday through Wednesday (23rd-25th) at the Beverly Hilton Hotel as attendeeslook at how the latest technology will impact the entertainment industry.

State of State: Michael Milken and Tim Leiweke of Anschutz Entertainment Group are among the speakers on Thursday (26th) at the Milken Institute's 4th annual State of the State Conference. Also featured will be a session on secession and California's business climate. All-day event will take place at the Century Plaza. For information: 310-998-2605 or

Sports Beat: As of late last week, the Dodgers were struggling for the National League wild card spot. Win or lose, the Boys in Blue will finish out the season at Dodger Stadium with a two-game series against the Colorado Rockies (24th and 25th) and four-game series against the San Diego Padres (26th-29th). On Saturday, USC takes on Oregon State at the Coliseum while UCLA is at San Diego State. For golf fans, there's the Ryder Cup (27th-29th) at Sutton Coldfield, England.

Women's Conference: The 16th annual Governor's Conference for Women hosted by Gov. Gray Davis and First Lady Sharon Davis will be held Tuesday (24th) at the Long Beach Convention Center. Keynote speakers include ABC's Cokie Roberts, Carol Bartz, chief executive of Autodesk Inc., and Lorraine Monroe, founding principal of the Frederick Douglass Academy in Harlem.

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