Clipped wings

Charles Rinehart, chairman and CEO of H.F. Ahmanson & Co., got plenty of heat last week for supposedly intimating that Great Western Bank workers would be the first to be fired if Ahmanson succeeds in its hostile takeover.

Rinehart, in an hour-long interview with the Business Journal last week, insisted that he intimated no such thing, but he did concede that plenty of cost-cutting moves would be undertaken. The workforce would indeed be trimmed, and lots of branches closed, he confirmed. Details on which specific employees and branches would be cut, however, are still several months away.

But Rinehart didn’t hesitate to single out one Great Western workhorse he plans to dispose of immediately upon taking control the Great Western corporate jet.

“One point where we’ll save money that won’t have a big impact we won’t keep the plane,” he said. That cut isn’t due to a redundancy, either. Ahmanson has no plane.

Why government likes brokers

His background is in real estate, but Steve Soboroff is getting to be an expert in the public sector as well.

Soboroff was tapped by Mayor Richard Riordan both to head the Los Angeles Recreation and Park Commission and to lead efforts to bring pro football back to town.

And his efforts along those lines have given him some insights into why politicians often pick real estate people to carry out special assignments.

“Real estate people are used to getting paid only on completion of a deal,” Soboroff noted during last week’s annual Brokers Awards sponsored by the Business Journal.

Government workers, on the other hand, “only get fired on completion of a deal,” he said.

Real estate pioneers

Location, Location, Location.

Those words weren’t uttered by a hot-shot L.A. real estate broker. Instead, they came from an unlikely source Rev. Monsignor Terrance Fleming.

Fleming, speaking last week before downtown business leaders, was describing the new Cathedral at the corner of Grand Avenue and Temple Street. He said securing prime pieces of real estate is nothing new for the Catholic Church in California.

“I think Father Junipero Serra was the patron saint of real estate developers,” said Fleming about the religious figure who built missions throughout the state. “Ever notice how all of the missions have great views?”

Spanish rules

What’s the most valuable second language to know if you’re in business? Spanish, of course, according to a recent survey by the Accountemps temporary staffing service.

And that’s by a big margin, with almost two-thirds of the executives polled saying it was their first choice for a second language.

What might not be so easy to guess are the runner-up languages. Here they are, in order of preference:

Japanese (16 percent), Chinese (11 percent) German (4 percent) and French (2 percent).

In a similar survey done in 1989, Spanish was chosen by 44 percent of those polled, while Japanese was given top importance by 33 percent.

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