Mayor Wants Businesses to Back NFL Plans

With NFL owners expected today to announce their plan for returning to the Southern California market, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said Monday that he will bring local business leaders together next month in a demonstration of Los Angeles' support, the Los Angeles Daily News reported. The National Football League owners are expected to announce today that they will commit several million dollars to review sites in Los Angeles or Anaheim - or both - where a stadium would be built. Barring any last- minute changes, NFL owners will be asked to authorize spending up to $10 million on further architecture and engineering studies for stadium proposals at the Coliseum and in Anaheim, several sources said. Villaraigosa said he talked with Tagliabue on Thursday and the owners of several teams Friday and came away encouraged about Los Angeles' prospects.

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SEC Cites Crowell Weedon
Securities regulators on Monday sanctioned Los Angeles-based investment firm Crowell, Weedon & Co., saying it violated customer identification requirements mandated by the Patriot Act, the Los Angeles Times reported. The Securities and Exchange Commission said the action was its first enforcement of rules designed to protect the financial system from money laundering and terrorism, although no such crimes were alleged in this case. Instead, the company was cited for failing to follow federal rules for confirming the identities of new customers from October 2003 to at least April 2004. Crowell Weedon, which opened its doors in 1932, neither admitted nor denied that it broke any rules. The company agreed to comply with the rules, and no fine was levied. "Crowell, Weedon & Co. is pleased to have resolved this matter," the firm said in a statement. "There was no allegation that the firm's facilities were used for money laundering." The company added that as a result of the SEC's probe, Crowell Weedon "enhanced its account opening and anti-money-laundering procedures."
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Knott's Owner to Acquire Five Theme Parks
Cedar Fair, the owner of Knott's Berry Farm and several Soak City water parks in Southern California, said Monday that it would buy five theme parks from CBS Corp. for $1.24 billion in cash, the Los Angeles Times reported. With its purchase of CBS' Paramount Parks unit, Cedar Fair would nearly double its revenue and attendance. The deal also would allow CBS to unload the theme parks , including Great America in Santa Clara, Calif. , that it inherited when it split with Viacom Inc. and focus on its broadcasting businesses. When the deal is complete, Sandusky, Ohio-based Cedar Fair would own and operate 12 amusement parks and six water parks with combined annual revenue of almost $1 billion and attendance topping 25 million.
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State's Foreclosure Activity Rising
Foreclosure activity in California and other Western housing markets is on the increase in part because high-risk adjustable-rate loans are beginning to reset to fully amortized payment schedules, the Los Angeles Daily News reported. During the year's first three months, all types of foreclosure activity in California jumped an annual 33.6 percent, to 28,550 incidents, according to Sacramento-based property tracker Foreclosures.com. Notices of defaults, one of three indicators tracked and the first step in the foreclosure process, increased 36.5 percent, to 20,515 incidents. And the number of real estate-owned properties, the final step in the process and notification that there is a new owner, increased 27 percent, to 1,41l. The creative adjustable loans that helped buyers jump into high-priced markets such as Southern California will continue to impact foreclosure activity as the market continues its shake-out.
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LAX May Offer Shortcut for Frequent Fliers
Los Angeles International Airport would offer some travelers a fast pass through security under a long-awaited program it hopes to launch by the end of the year, the Daily Breeze reports. The program, known as Registered Traveler, would create express lanes through airport security for card-carrying travelers who have passed special background checks. The federal Transportation Security Administration plans to establish the program on a trial basis in as many as 20 airports in the coming months. The TSA has not yet announced the first round of airports that will begin registering travelers this year. But LAX, which hosted a limited tryout of the program in 2004, fully expects to be on the list. LAX would be an important proving ground for Registered Traveler because it screens more passengers on any given day than any airport in the country. Airport managers expect the program to shorten security lines for everyone; but others, from travel executives to the American Civil Liberties Union, have raised concern.
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Howard's Expands with New Distribution Center
Howard's Appliance & Big Screen is ramping up its operations to keep pace with growing customer demand and stay ahead of the competition, the Pasadena Star-News reports. The company's new 172,000- square-foot distribution center in Pico Rivera is a big part of that strategy. The La Habra-based retailer completed the move to its new distribution center in late March. The new building replaces a 66,000-square-foot facility in El Monte the company has used for several years. Howard's - which operates eight stores throughout Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside counties - is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. The privately held business hopes to open two to four more stores over the next five years.
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