Cutting L.A. School Sizes Would Be No Easy Task

While the two men running for L.A. mayor have unveiled some outsized plans, few initiatives are more ambitious than the "Small Schools Pledge," which calls on the next mayor to ensure by 2015 that every school within the LAUSD has no more than 500 students, Copley News Service reported. Mayor James Hahn and Councilman Antonio Villaraigosa signed the pledge in recent weeks, and have since tried to one-up each other over who supports it more. But neither candidate has provided much information on how he would help the LAUSD achieve its goal -- which would mean reducing the size of hundreds of existing campuses as well as that of 100 new schools being planned or built.

Gibson Tunes Up Deal With Universal
Gibson Guitar Corp. has partnered with Universal Studios and House of Blues Concerts to rename the Universal Amphitheater and extend its brand via theme parks and filmed entertainment. The Universal City concert venue will become known as the Gibson Amphitheater at Universal CityWalk in the first step in a 10-year deal between the guitar maker and the studio, Variety reported. Gibson is paying in the low seven figures annually, and the deal could generate nearly $15 million for Universal.

Ports Duke It Out for Ship Traffic
The adjacent complexes in Los Angeles and Long Beach are competing with each other with upgrades to attract the lucrative cargo container business, the Los Angeles Times reported. The Port of Los Angeles built an island in San Pedro Bay with 58 million cubic yards of concrete to woo the world's largest shipping conglomerate. Now, more ships turn left instead of right after passing through the breakwater as they move 1 million containers of cargo a year in and out of the Port of Los Angeles, instead of neighboring Long Beach. The Los Angeles-Long Beach matchup is unique. Although many harbors vie to receive a piece of the ever-growing international shipping traffic destined for the United States, no two major U.S. ports do it in such close proximity.

Hahn's Anti-Gang Plan Has Its Skeptics
Mayor James K. Hahn's latest crime-fighting proposal is massive in scope: an injunction prohibiting L.A. gang members from congregating within the city's 470 square miles. But the plan, announced March 28, has elicited deep skepticism from legal scholars and gang experts, who doubt that it would survive a court challenge and wonder how it could be realistically enforced, the Los Angeles Times reported. The proposal has already served a political purpose for Hahn as he fights for reelection against City Councilman Antonio Villaraigosa. The topic has allowed Hahn to project a tough-on-crime message and it has given him a pretext to argue that Villaraigosa is weak on crime.

California Hotel Deals Up in 2004
California hotels remained popular with real estate investors for a second consecutive year in 2004, as both the number of hotels sold and dollars spent again grew 20 percent or more. Investors spent nearly $2.2 billion in snapping up 320 hotels in the state last year, according to a survey by Costa Mesa consulting firm Atlas Hospitality Group. That compared with almost $1.8 billion spent on 267 hotels in 2003 and reflected increases of 23 percent and 20 percent, respectively, the Los Angeles Times reported. Expect more of the same this year, Atlas President Alan Reay said.

IPO Volume Surges in First Quarter
U.S. companies sold more stock in initial public offerings in the first three months of this year than in any first quarter since 2000, as economic growth fueled stock sales and reduced demand for convertible bonds and agency debt, Bloomberg News reported. The value of IPOs sold in the first three months of 2005 rose 47 percent to $10.1 billion from a year earlier, the highest amount since a record $18 billion was sold in the first quarter of 2000. Convertible bond issuance dropped 61 percent to $6.6 billion, a fifth of 2002's level. U.S. agency debt sales fell 40 percent to $177 billion from last year's peak.

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