Beer, bowling and spuds

Car insurance, home prices and business taxes notwithstanding, L.A. is actually a pretty cheap place to live especially for those who like the, shall we say, simpler things in life.

According to the latest cost comparison by the American Chamber of Commerce Research Association, a six-pack of premium domestic beer here runs about $3.99, well below the $4.24 national average. Likewise, bowling is cheaper here than in any other major metropolitan center in the nation.

Finally, a sack of potatoes in L.A. runs around $3.99, compared to $4.42 in Washington, D.C., $5.08 in Boston, $4.47 in Manhattan and $5.65 in Philadelphia.

As the New Los Angeles Marketing Partnership observed after the statistics were released, “Los Angeles isn’t generally thought of as the least expensive American city, but it’s just about the best place in the country to buy beer!”

It’s a living

Making sure that everybody else’s job is running smoothly may be the job to have these days.

Salaries for senior-level human resource positions that were available in 1996 rose 15 percent over those open in 1995 to an average of $127,235, according to a survey conducted by L.A. based Smyth, Fuchs & Company, Inc., a management consulting firm.

According to the survey, things were looking especially good for human resource types on the West Coast, where the average salary for all HR jobs was $97,547 the highest in the country. Jobs in the retail industry provided the highest salaries for all levels of human resource managers and executives at an average of $115,000.

Ironically, an industry that has undergone recent downsizing had the most job openings for HR managers and executives banking/financial services had 17 percent of the total openings.

Charles Preston, senior vice president at Smyth, Fuchs, thinks the explanation is simple with fewer workers on staff, companies are counting on their personnel departments to help them be more effective with the ones they’ve got.

Who’s Hayden?

If mayoral hopeful Tom Hayden is counting on L.A.’s Latino voters to help him unseat incumbent Mayor Richard Riordan, he’s still got quite a bit of work to do.

In a recent poll of Latino voters by the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute in Claremont, fully 66 percent of those questioned had never even heard of the state senator from West Los Angeles.

Fifteen percent of those polled said they would support Hayden, compared to 34 percent who expressed support for Riordan.

Of course, Riordan doesn’t exactly have cause to be smug.

More than half of the city’s Latino voters remain undecided about L.A.’s April election. And 35 percent of the respondents either did not recognize Riordan’s name or stated that they did not know enough about him to have an opinion.

Add Hayden:

While he may be relatively unknown to Latino voters, Hayden is taking strides to win the science fiction fan vote.

Hayden, along with a cadre of supporters, was recently spotted in Westwood shaking hands and handing out fliers for more than an hour at a long line to get into a showing of “Star Wars.”

Hayden, however, was not spotted inside the theater for the late-night showing.

Miller’s crossing

It’s Miller time in Santa Monica.

When the Miller Group recently moved from West L.A. to Santa Monica, the advertising agency was suddenly flooded with calls from people in need of a private eye. It seems that another company called the Miller Group a private detective firm headed by Mike Miller was already located in Santa Monica.

Account executive Lara Wardrop at the ad agency says her firm has also received calls for Suissa Miller Advertising, Miller Imaging (a photo store located just across the street from the Miller Group) and Miller’s Outpost.

“When people dial ‘411,’ sometimes they’re given this number and sometimes they’re given the number for the other Miller Group,” Wardrop said.

Fortunately, she said the agency and the private investigations firm have worked out a deal to exchange important answering machine messages left with the wrong company.

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