May 30 – June 5
Council Vote: The Los Angeles City Council voted to override Mayor James Hahn’s veto of a $5.1 billion budget, rejecting a plan by Hahn that would have added hundreds of police officers while cutting spending from most city departments and increasing fees on many services. Hahn vetoed the council plan because he said it didn’t include enough funding for the additional police officers.
New Forecast: UCLA economists revised downward their forecast for the state’s economy this year. Statewide job growth was revised to 0.4 percent from 0.7 percent, meaning 45,000 fewer jobs than anticipated.
Ovitz Business: A Delaware judge ruled that Walt Disney Co. shareholders could proceed with a suit against executives of the Burbank-based entertainment company over ex-president Michael Ovitz’s $140 million severance package. Disney officials said the ruling doesn’t address the merits of investors’ claims that board members didn’t exercise enough oversight of Ovitz’s compensation package.
Merrill’s Back: The Orange County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to support county Treasurer John Moorlach’s request to use Merrill Lynch & Co. as an investment broker. The vote comes nine years after the county filed for bankruptcy over a bad bet on interest-rate derivatives, most of which were sold by Merrill. The brokerage firm paid the county $400 million five years ago to settle allegations over investments that led to the bankruptcy, the largest such municipal filing in U.S. history.
Dead Deal: Haim Saban (photo) pulled out of a $2.3 billion contract to buy Germany’s biggest television broadcaster, ProSiebenSat1 Media AG from KirchMedia GmbH. L.A.-based Saban dropped the takeover offer because he failed to agree with KirchMedia and creditor banks on details of the transaction.
Tenet Tax: Tenet Healthcare Corp., now under federal investigation for its Medicare billing, said the Internal Revenue Service is demanding $269 million in back taxes and interest to settle returns for 1995, 1996 and 1997. No payment is now due, pending an appeal. The agency also disallowed a deduction on part of a payment Santa Barbara-based Tenet made in 1994 to settle a government probe of psychiatric hospitals.
Health Care Ruling: The California Supreme Court has limited the power of hospitals to recoup costs of treating low-income patients. The ruling means California health care providers won’t be entitled to any damages or settlement money that patients on the Medi-Cal assistance program recover through lawsuits. Hospitals are required by law to treat accident victims regardless of their ability to pay. The ruling stems from a case involving Scripps Health in San Diego County.
Enron Fallout: A former manager of Enron Corp.’s energy trading unit was arrested and accused of being the architect behind a scheme to manipulate California power prices as energy costs surged more than two years ago. John Forney was accused of wire fraud and conspiracy. Two other Enron traders have pleased guilty and are cooperating with the Justice Department’s investigation. Forney’s attorney denied he did anything criminal.
Radio Hold: Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Michael Eisner said the Burbank-based entertainment company has no plans to sell its radio assets after hinting last year that he would consider selling stations for the right price. “We don’t want to sell it,” he told an investment conference in New York. “We are doing unbelievably well in the radio business.” Eisner said the company has received offers to buy the stations.
June 9 – 15
Rice Review: National security advisor Condoleezza Rice (photo) delivers a keynote address to a Town Hall Los Angeles breakfast on Thursday (12th) at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel. Rice is expected to discuss President Bush’s trip to Europe and the Middle East. Session starts at 8 a.m. For information: 213-628-8141.
Economic Reports: A few more clues this week on the economy’s future direction. On Thursday (12th), it’s April business inventories and on Friday (13th), it’s May producer prices and the University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment numbers.
Sports Beat: The Dodgers are out of town all week and the Galaxy are home on Saturday (14th) against the Kansas City Wizards. The big national sports story is the U.S. Open golf from Olympia Fields Golf Club outside Chicago. Tiger Woods will be favored to reclaim the national title, again, but his play of late would not suggest a repeat performance.
Film Fest: The 9th annual Los Angeles Film Festival gets under way on Wednesday (11th) and continues through the 21st. The opening night selection will be Lions Gate Films’ “The Cooler,” starring William Macy (photo) and Alec Baldwin. The festival concludes with IFC Films’ “Camp.” The Festival Center will be located at 8000 Sunset Plaza; screening facilities will include the Laemmle Sunset 5 Theaters and the ArcLight Cinema Dome. For information: 866-FILM-FEST.
Chick Talk: L.A. City Controller Laura Chick will discuss Los Angeles economic development on Wednesday (11th) during a luncheon session of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce at the Fountain Court Restaurant. She’s also expected to discuss the conflict between Mayor James Hahn and the City Council over the city budget and some of the audits of city agencies that her office has conducted. For information: 323-469-8311.
Gamble Revisited: The turn-of-the-century arts and crafts movement in California will be celebrated over the weekend (13th-15th) at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel. Lots of workshops and exhibits on tap, along with tours of the famous Gamble House. For information: 949-494-9499.
Peddles Away: The annual AIDS/Lifecycle trek between San Francisco and Los Angeles gets underway on Sunday (8th) and runs until Friday (14th). Event is sponsored by the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center.