Where was the mayor?

The Greater Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce held its annual Inaugural Ball at the Century Plaza Hotel Jan. 15 a showpiece event for the city’s business community.

County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky was there. Lt. Gov. Gray Davis was there. But L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan, the business mayor himself, was nowhere to be found.

An odd absence, considering this is an election year and all, but Riordan press secretary Noelia Rodriguez insists that it was not a snub.

“We didn’t get their invitation until Jan. 6,” three days before the event, Rodriguez said. “And typically when someone wants the mayor to take part, there’s a letter attached. We just got this standard invitation.”

By the time the invitation was received, Riordan had made other plans.

But look what he missed

Had he made it to the dinner, Riordan would have gotten a gift bag chock full of goodies from L.A.-area companies. Here’s the contents of one bag:

One AT & T; commuter coffee mug;

One packet of tissues from Rose Hills Memorial Park;

One USC paperback pocket profile;

One refrigerator magnet embossed with “Citibank Bardcard” (attached to an invitation to a production of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”);

One set of nail care items in a faux leather case provided by Farmers Insurance Group;

One piece of See’s candy;

One copy of “The New World of Work” by Patty DeDominic;

One Chevron auto sunshield;

Six grocery coupons from Ralphs Grocery Co.,;

One “76” ball for a car antenna;

Three keychains (two with mini-flashlights);

One block of chocolate from Northern Trust;

One travel toothbrush with a tiny tube of toothpaste from Blue Cross;

One pen from Town Center Drive;

One pocketknife from Pacific Enterprises;

One fold-out address keeper from Bank of America;

And one notepad from Southern California Edison.

Good company

One way to take advantage of the local real estate downturn is to take over luxurious office space vacated by downsizing realty firms. That’s the strategy being pursued by real estate consultancy Kosmont & Associates.

A couple years back, Kosmont moved into a suite at Beitler Commercial Realty Services’ penthouse-floor offices in Sherman Oaks. Those offices at The Tower at Sherman Oaks, which Kosmont now shares with Lee & Associates, are considered the most elegant of all Valley brokerage offices.

Now Kosmont is moving to downtown L.A. and has subleased space at the brokerage office likewise considered to be downtown’s finest: the Cushman Realty Corp. headquarters on the 47th floor of Sanwa Bank Tower.

Advising O’Malley

One of the more blatant attempts to cash in on the looming Los Angeles Dodgers sale was a full-page ad that ran in L.A. newspapers last week.

The ad, placed by Barry Kaye Associates Wealth Creation Centers, carries the screaming one-and-a-quarter-inch headline, “Peter O’Malley, You Don’t Have To Sell The Dodgers!”

The ad details a plan in which O’Malley could pay $20 million for a life insurance policy now that would pay $200 million at the time of the Dodgers owner’s death. That money could be used to pay the estate taxes when the team is passed on to O’Malley’s heirs, the ad states.

“You don’t have to sell the Dodgers for estate tax reasons. You simply have to use my investment alternative method and buy a life insurance policy!” Kaye states in the ad.

Lest you think Kaye’s ad is aimed solely at O’Malley a presumably unlikely customer read on: “Whether you own the Dodgers, a business, real estate or just substantial assets, you can do the same. If you’re worth $363 million, $36 million or $2 million!”

Budget destination

As major U.S. cities go, L.A. is a pretty cheap place to visit, according to a recently released study comparing travel expenses.

Business travelers staying in Los Angeles paid an average of $180 a day including three meals plus lodging in 1996, according to a new guide from Rochester, Wis.-based management consulting firm Runzheimer International.

That average L.A. tab is a bargain compared with the $305 a day to visit Manhattan, the most expensive city in the guide, or $232 a day for San Francisco, the fourth most expensive.

L.A. was ranked 18th most expensive on the list of 200 cities. Other California cities in the book include San Diego at $166 a day, Santa Barbara at $160 a day, Anaheim at $157 a day and San Jose at $145 a day.

The Runzheimer guide is used by corporate travel managers to set travel budgets for the year and to monitor expense reports turned in by employees. So the next time you visit Chicago on business, if you claim too much more than $239 a day (Runzheimer’s average price for that city), expect some heat from the bean counters.

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