L.A. County Art Museum Nears Hiring of Director

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art is close to naming a new director, and the leading candidate is Michael J. Govan, director of the New York-based Dia Art Foundation and a specialist in contemporary art. After a quarterly museum trustees meeting Wednesday, the facility's top staff and board officials stressed that no vote had been taken, the Los Angeles Times reported. Sources said that in recent weeks the search committee has focused on a single name. Govan, 42, has served 11 years as director of Dia, which owns one of the world's foremost collections of art made since 1960.

Studio to Trim Jobs, Revamp Ranks
About 240 people will lose their jobs in the wake of Paramount Pictures' purchase of DreamWorks SKG. Half of the cuts will come at Viacom Inc.-owned Paramount, which employs 2,000 worldwide, while DreamWorks will cut 120 from its staff of 515, the Los Angeles Times reported. Paramount handed out pink slips to 25 mid-level executives Wednesday in its marketing, finance, international, human resources and computer systems divisions. A second round of layoffs, affecting about 95 workers, is expected next week, primarily in domestic distribution. At Paramount, the cuts are a byproduct of overlaps created by the studio's $1.6-billion acquisition of DreamWorks.

Special-Election Factions Spent $303.9 Million
Campaign committees battling over the eight propositions on last November's special election ballot spent a record $303.9 million, according to campaign reports filed this week, the Associated Press reported. The previous record for spending on ballot measures in a single California election was $253.6 million, set in November 2004. All eight of the initiatives, including four promoted by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, went down to defeat despite the spending barrage. Schwarzenegger contributed $6.5 million of his own money to his losing cause.

Westfield vs. Caruso Could Go to Voters
The corporate parent of the Westfield Santa Anita mall said Wednesday it will ask Arcadia voters to impose two new regulations on its mall rival, developer Rick Caruso. The Westfield Group will seek a special election in November to prevent Caruso from charging for parking or erecting large billboards at the proposed Shops at Santa Anita. Westfield is battling Caruso over the future of the south parking lot of the racetrack. Caruso plans to build an 800,000-square-foot outdoor mall on the site, which is next door to Westfield Santa Anita. Westfield fears the competition could harm its bottom line, the Pasadena Star-News reported. Westfield was expected to wait until after the City Council approved the Caruso project to challenge it at the ballot box.

Long Beach Condo Complex Planned
A high-powered development team that includes the brother of Las Vegas mogul Steve Wynn offered the first public look Wednesday at plans to build the city's two tallest buildings. The $1 billion sail-shaped development of three residential buildings would yield 1,300 upscale condominiums on the parking lot behind the city's World Trade Center. Molasky Pacific California LLC purchased a 5.6-acre parcel at a parking lot used by the Hilton Long Beach Hotel and World Trade Center for $18 million in March 2005, the Long Beach Press-Telegram reported. Plans call for a seven-story building, along with towers of 45 stories and 55 stories. Individual units would measure between 800 and 1,400 square feet. Estimated selling prices would start in the $700,000s.

Carson Planners Approve Mall for Toxic Dump
Plans to turn a toxic dump into a $700 million shopping center breezed through a possible roadblock this week as the Carson Planning Commission approved an environmental impact report and zoning changes for the project. Carson Marketplace, touted as the largest shopping center development site in L.A. County, is the latest proposed development for the 157 acres. The City Council will review the project, which could generate $5.6 million annually in redevelopment funds from property taxes, $4.9 million in city sales taxes and 2,500 permanent jobs, the Daily Breeze reported. The barren field at Del Amo Boulevard and the San Diego (405) Freeway would be home to 2 million square feet of commercial space, a hotel, convention center and up to 1,550 houses.

Vote to Put End to Boeing Strike
Boeing Co. union machinists on Wednesday voted to approve a new collective bargaining agreement and are expected to return to work on Monday, ending a strike that had dragged on since early November. The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers notified Boeing that Local 725, representing 600 employees at Boeing facilities in Huntington Beach, Vandenburg Air Force Base and at a portion of Long Beach's C-17 program, had ratified the new contract, the Long Beach Press-Telegram reported. The new contract is effective through Oct. 23, 2008. About 1,500 Boeing workers voted to go on strike in November after talks stalled on a new contract.

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